Month of… June

So here’s our VERY belated June. June was ridiculous, busy and so so so exciting.

20140717-134626-49586449.jpg

I turned 26 and celebrated by spending 6 hours in the car with my little family to start our holiday in Wales. We walked along miles of Welsh coast line, ate far too many fish and chips, saw jellyfish the size of Georgiana and spent evenings letting the girls dance to cheesy music!

I got to see some of my favourite people at BritMums Live but I ended up missing out on the second day because Dean surprised me with an insanely sparkly diamond ring and a very big question! I honestly never thought he’d pop the question, but we’re now in full on planning mode and are well on our way to a 2016 winter wedding. By the way – don’t you think I’ll have the CUTEST flower girls!?

We were lucky enough to have tickets to see Kings of Leon that same weekend, so we headed off to The Bowl (which luckily for us is a 5 minute drive from our front door!) and got to celebrate our engagement with lots of our friends listening to some amazing music! Lucky, lucky us… Although we didn’t feel so lucky when we woke up the next morning with a banging hangover and a 3 year old covered in fresh chicken pox! Oh well, you can’t win them all!

We finished June off by having a fantastic time with Alice and her family at Center Parcs! The kids spent 90% of the time in the pool, and Alice even snagged dinner reservations at a table that overlooked soft play so we actually got to eat our food! Amazing!

June, you were awesome! I don’t believe for a second July will have anything on you but I’m willing to give it a try!

Gruffalo Hunting at Salcey Forest

Way back in May we heard of a local Gruffalo trail. Both our girls are absolutely Gruffalo obsessed so we knew this wasn’t an opportunity to be missed! Despite the fact it had rained and rained and rained and rained during the whole week leading up to our planned day out the sun thankfully shone and we made our way to Salcey Forest. Francesca immediately spotted a sign telling us to head to the play area to begin our Gruffalo hunt and was ridiculously excited! Georgiana obviously was a little less aware but still started bouncing up and down in the pushchair as soon as she saw the beginning of the trail marked by mouse!

20140709-215650-79010883.jpg

20140709-215650-79010407.jpg

20140709-215649-79009934.jpg

20140709-215649-79009405.jpg

The trail was super easy to follow and was littered with lots of little signs to reassure you that you’re going the right way. Soon the girls had found Fox and Owl (although Fran was a little disappointed that Owl wasn’t up in a tree!), and after some serious searching we also spied Snake!

20140709-215652-79012856.jpg 20140709-215656-79016867.jpg 20140709-215657-79017885.jpg 20140709-215656-79016355.jpg 20140709-215657-79017368.jpg 20140709-215655-79015829.jpg

 

Once we reached the end of the trail we headed to our favourite part of Salcey Forest, the tree-top walk. You get the most gorgeous views from up there and on a clear day you can see for miles and miles. I have a bit of a fear of heights though so never ever seem to take photos as I spent the entire time clinging on to the rail with one hand and the girls with the other! The whole forest is just beautiful though and we could (and often do!) walk around hours.

20140709-215654-79014386.jpg 20140709-215651-79011367.jpg 20140709-215653-79013889.jpg 20140709-215654-79014880.jpg 20140709-215653-79013360.jpg 20140709-215651-79011861.jpg 20140709-215652-79012355.jpg

 

We had such a busy June that these photos feel like they were taking months and months ago! Looking through them has made me really crave a relaxed weekend like this again, I think they’re the best kind!

 

He put a ring on it!

This month has been a bit of a whirlwind. I celebrated my 26th Birthday on the 9th of June, on the same day we took ourselves off on holiday to Wales (which surprised me and was insanely brilliant – more on that another time), I briefly attended Britmums Live (once again I’ll come back to that soon), Frankie caught chicken pox, we saw Kings of Leon… oh and Dean proposed!

engagement ring

After 5 years, 2 children, a mortgage and a cat he got down on knee and asked me to be his wife. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was exactly how I wanted it to be. Just the two of us, in a lovely hotel room with a bottle of champagne ready. I cried before saying yes and then cried again when the ring didn’t quite fit! I think it’s fair to say I was a bit of an emotional mess – no change there.

It’s such a strange thing because I’ve always felt like so many other things in our life have been important than getting married. Telling Dean I’d done a positive pregnancy test after being together for only 9 months was a pretty big deal (understatement of the century), deciding to take that journey together will always be the moment we decided ‘this is it, together forever in some form or another’. Making the leap from living in the house Dean owned to buying one together was our next step, sorting out a mortgage and making a house in our family home was, for me, a massive decision. Never in a million years did I think I’d own a beautiful house at 23. Realising we wanted to try for a second baby was the scariest path I’ve ever taken, and everything that happened afterwards built an unbreakable bond between us. I don’t think I ever realised just how much I love and need Dean until we held hands over our tiny baby’s hospital bed and willed her to get better.

I think I’ve maybe been in denial about the whole marriage thing, it’s no secret that I was ready for him to propose but I never thought that I really wanted to get married. We didn’t ‘need’ to get married, we’d already signed bits of paper together and made life changing decisions – but actually this is the first thing we’ve done just for us. I know we come as a four but sometimes it’s nice to remember that we started as a two, for a very brief time back in 2009 we were just two people that were randomly introduced in the pub and who very quickly fell in love. I am so looking forward to celebrating THAT relationship, I appreciate our lives as Mummy and Daddy every single day but rarely make the time to focus on where it all began.

I’ll try not to bore you over the next 18 months or so with too much wedding stuff but I’m not going to deny I’m excited! As my gorgeous friend Alice put it “THERE’S GOING TO BE A WEDDING!”.

Month of… May

I know it’s a massive cliche but this year is going SO fast! I can’t believe we’re in June already. Georgiana turned 18 months the other day! June is always incredibly busy for us, and this year is no exception – we don’t have a free weekend day all month. My birthday, a week away by the seaside, BritMums, days with friends, amazing live music and so much more fun to be had in the next few weeks. I can’t wait! For now here’s our month of May according to instagram
may

An amazing weekend at Blogtacular, a first haircut for Georgie, walks in the beautiful sunshine, watching the crazy rain through the window, having fun with chalks, ice creams, cucumber G&Ts and coffees, cake making, 5 year anniversary celebrations, house progress and two little girls slowly becoming best friends.

 

Photos by Frankie #1

Francesca absolutely loves using my our iPhones and iPads. Like a lot of 3 year olds she is super competent with the touch screen and can find exactly what she’s looking for in seconds. Lately she’s grown bored of the kids apps and almost always goes straight for the camera.

Originally I would just find hundreds of selfies, mostly of just eyes and forehead! Then she figured out how to flip the camera back and forth, and how to change the filters. Boy oh boy has she upped her game, Fran now literally spends hour snapping away. She likes taking pictures of her toys, Georgiana, and whatever’s going on out the window. Here’s some of her latest ‘work’ along with some captions for them that the artiste herself came up with!

image

“my pink kitchen really close”
image

“Daddy’s grey towel and my pink towel!”
image

“Mummy and Daddy’s bed”
image

“what I can see from a bedroom”
image

“that is Daddy and Georgie”
image

“Georgie is laughing and Mummy put the washing over there”
image

“Hello Kitty near my Crocs”
image

“Baby on the table”
image

“Mummy picked Georgie up”
image

“Bobby on a stripey cushion”
image

“Bobby and the blanket”
image

“my new fringe”

Frankie’s Bedroom : Part One

When we bought our house in December 2011 I was SO excited about all the space. We moved from a teeny tiny modern house to a 3-bed-3-reception-double-height-galley-kitchen bundle of loveliness! The only problem we had was that we had absolutely nothing to put in our new abode… We bought a sofa, an armchair and Frankie’s nursery furniture with us from the old house, but everything’s else had to be acquired. Our only option at the time (considering we moved a week before Fran’s birthday and 3 weeks before Christmas) was to take the easy route and head to Ikea. We knew that slowly but surely we’d be able to replace our temporary ‘Swedish’ purchases with more solid long lasting ones.

Some of the things we bought in The Biggest Ikea Shop Ever haven’t really stood the test of time: 2 and a half years later our sofas are sagging, and the dining table is looking a little cheap but other things have got along beautifully. One of the biggest shocks is just how much we’ve fallen in love with our cheapy £20 ‘Rast’ drawers. They are a Pinterest favourite for makeover projects but up until recently we left ours plain, and it slotted nicely in to G’s tiny nursery.

image
 

We’ve embarked on Fran’s bedroom makeover recently and as she’s got so much space in her room we thought it would be good to put all the girls clothes in there together. So I pinched the two Rast drawers from G’s room and was super relieved when they fit perfectly in to the biggest alcove in Fran’s bedroom. Once they were in a big room they looked a little plain so I decided to take the route of many before me and give them a lick of paint.

It was ridiculously easy to do and I adore the result. All we used was a couple of tester pots of BnQs own brand ‘Duck Egg’ and some standard brilliant white paint we already had kicking around. I dragged the two bits of furniture out in to the garden on a sunny day and set about removing the drawers, and then unscrewing the handles. Once everything was apart I gave the frame a thing layer of brilliant white, just to stop the blue colour sinking in too much and to even out some of the darker knots in the wood.

While that was drying (it only took 20 minutes in the sunshine) I dipped each handle in to the blue paint and then used one of Frankie’s paintbrushes to spread it over the whole thing. Then I went back to the frames and painted those blue too, it was so sunny that by the time I’d finished painting the second one the first one was ready for it’s second coat. I ended up doing 3 coats on both the frames and the handles so the colour popped a bit more.

Once we’d reassembled the drawers they were ready to go back in to Fran’s room, and personally I think they look gorgeous. We won’t be keeping anything too heavy or rough on top of them firstly because they’re very low to the ground so the girls can easily pull things off, and secondly because the paint hasn’t been sealed in any way so it’ll scratch easily. For such cheap I’m not too fussed about them getting scratched a little and I know I can always give them a new coat of paint if necessary.

image 
Please excuse the holes in the walls next to the ‘Frankiepants’ sign, we’re still yet to fill in all the holes from the insane amount of shelves the old owner had all over the house! Frankie’s room phase two will hopefully see the holes disappear, a fresh coat of white paint, something pretty on the wall and the last few babyish things being moved out. I’m really looking forward to sharing it once everything is finished!

Blogtacular Blogtacular!

You know when you build something up to be amazing and special and inspiring and interesting and brilliant and just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? 9 times out of 10 you’re disappointed, because most things can’t live up the hype, occasionally they do though – and that just makes it even more special. Way back in September I saw my first glimpse of a blogging conference that was about creativity, design and believing in yourself – I could tell straight away that I wouldn’t be sat in a stuffy room listening to the same lecture for the millionth time about bloody follow links!

The conference was Blogtacular, and since the very first Wednesday #blogtacular chat I’ve been hooked on the idea. I snapped up an early bird ticket and have been counting the days ever since. I was massively gutted when I recently realised I wasn’t going to be able to make the first part on the Friday evening, I can’t believe I missed out on the keynote from Joy Cho! But on Saturday morning I was finally ready to make the short journey in to London and made my way to the The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Just arriving was inspiration in itself. The building is stunning, and each room has a unique feel about it. One of my favourite things about Blogtacular was that it was a reasonably small event – there weren’t hundreds and hundreds of bloggers being herded about! I really, really hope that they keep this for next year – each session felt very intimate, even the keynotes and q&a’s that were held in the main lecture room felt personal. All the small details were spot on – the beautifully compiled ‘goody bags’ were amazing, not a pointless leaflet or 50ml moisturiser sample in sight!

blogtaculAR

It really felt like Kat and Kat had thought about everything – The above photos, taken by Will Ireland courtesy of Mollie Makes, have been made available for everyone to use in their coverage of the day. It meant I could leave the DSLR at home and not charge my iPhone every 30 minutes. Such a genius idea.

The range of sessions were like nothing else I’ve ever been to. They had an interactive and open format, but even the ones that took a more traditional approach had me captivated. Unfortunately one of my biggest blog crushes, Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar, wasn’t there in person but had recorded a video interview. It was funny and interesting, and a great start to the Saturday. Next up was Anne Ditmyer from Pret a Voyager, she put such a great message across about valuing yourself as a blogger and going after the things that you think are worth it – “You hold the key to your own success”.

I really enjoyed hearing from the guys behind Mini Moderns. The way their business has evolved was so interesting, and I feel like they’ve given me the confidence to really think about how I want this blog to be perceived. One of my favourite parts of the day was the ‘Blog Business’ session, all 4 panelists were fantastic but Allison Sadler made a huge impression on me. She comes across as one of the most genuinely lovely and fabulous people out there, you can really see that her blog and business is a true reflection of her personality, and ultimately I think that’s what makes it such a success.

Rounding off the day we were treated to a panel of experts discussing different aspects of the magazine and ‘blogazine’ industry. It was amazing to hear about how different publications approach things, and the range of panellists (freelance, magazine, online and independent editor) made it such an interesting talk.

Finally it was time for the closing keynote from Natalie Lue, I hadn’t heard of Natalie or Baggage Reclaim before but her story is an inspirational one that made me giggle and think in equal measures. She really is a fantastic source of empowering sentiments and anecdotes. Then it was all over, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a little tear when Kat & Kat closed with a the story on how Blogtacular came to them (in a dream no less!) – I’m already saving my pennies so I can attend again next year!

Recipe: Chicken Salad (#MorrisonsMum)

Over bank holiday weekends (espically sunny ones) we like indulging in gardening, long walks with the girls, and lots of good food and drink. Over the last long weekend we were treated to £80 from Morrisons to spend instore. I had never shopped at a Morrisons, I don’t think I’d even been inside one before so I was intrigued to see how it compared both financially and in terms of quality to my usual supermarket. So this is my 100% honest opinion on it (and a quick chicken recipe at the end!)…

morrisons

The Shop 

I know this contradicts popular opinion but I really didn’t like the ‘Market Street’. Most supermarkets have aisles for a reason, and that is so trolleys can easily go up and down and pass each other without getting in the way of the food – I was at Morrisons on a busy Sunday morning and found it almost impossible to actually see what was on offer in the ‘market’ area. When I did get a chance I was massively impressed though, I’ve never seen samphire in a UK supermarket and if I was going to make a special meal that called for unusual fresh ingredients I would head to Morrisons without a doubt.

The rest of the shop wasn’t entirely to my taste, I prefer smaller supermarkets but I was pleasantly surprised with the range of products on offer and I think if you’re used to shopping in a large supermarket then Morrisons would be ideal.

The Quality

We’ve had really varied quality from the food we bought. The fruit and veg that was under the ‘misters’ on Market Street has lasted extremely well and the herbs are easily the best I’ve ever bought. I am less than impressed with the meat though. The mince was extremely fatty and unfortunately a packet of chicken breasts were definitely after there best when I opened them yesterday despite the ‘best before’ date being the 10th.

The Price

There is no denying that Morrisons is extremely cheap. The meat offers were the best I’ve seen and I don’t think they can be beaten on store cupboard essentials. I was most impressed with the insane fresh food offers – some of the prices of peppers, mushrooms, lettuce etc were absolutely brilliant.

In summary I’ll say again what I said before, I wouldn’t think twice about going back to Morrisons (on a quiet day!) for their Market Street but I think that the lower prices represents a lower quality on things like meat! Massive props for the sheer range and accessibility of interesting vegetables though!

chicken salad

Chicken Salad Recipe (Price per serving = £2.12p)

You’ll need:

  • 3 Chicken Breasts
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • 100g of cherry tomoatoes
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 cooked beetroot
  • Spring onions
  • Paprika
  • Oregano

Method:

  • Start off by cutting the chicken breasts and sweet potatoes in to bite size pieces. Try to keep them an even size so they cook at the same speed.
  • Heat up a heavy based pan and add a dot of butter and splash of olive oil. Cover the chicken pieces in paprika and oregano, and cook in the pan until cooked through and sizzling. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
  • Add some more oil to the pan and add the sweet potato pieces with a sprinkle of sea salt. Also add the bacon to the pan. Leave on a low heat, turning regularly while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Chop the cherry tomatoes, beetroot and spring onion and mix together with the chicken in a large bowl.
  • Once the bacon is crispy remove from the pan and set to one side. Add the spinach to the pan with the nearly cooked potatoes and keep it moving to help it wilt.
  • Add all this to salad bowl and mix everything together.
  • I like to eat this with the bacon on top so it stays crispy. Even my 3 year old and 1 year old like this meal (minus the spinach)!

Disclaimer: We were sent £80 of Morrisons vouchers in exchange for this review.

Review: Funky Giraffe Bibs & Clothing

Looking back on our 3 and half years of parenthood so far I can honestly say we’ve had a 50/50 success rate in buying genuinely useful things for the girls. I wish we hadn’t bought the heavy travel system, the weaning bowl that supposedly ‘sticks’ to the table or the toddler toilet seat that was never sat on, but we still use our nappy bin every single day and I am so glad we splashed out on a tandem pushchair when G came along.

One of the other random purchases on the reasonably short list of ‘things that were worth it’ are bandana bibs. They were something that were recommended to me when Frankie finally started cutting her first teeth at 11 months. The constant line of dribble that went from her mouth to her chest was grim and left 2 or 3 tops a day utterly soaking.

Georgiana has been using them since her first tooth cut through at around 4 months, she’s never been as dribbly as Fran but she still wears a dribble bib every day to keep her tops clean and her chest damp free. We were recently sent 5 new bibs by one of our favourite companies, Funky Giraffe. As a little surprise for Frankie we were also sent a dress (I had no idea they even did clothing!) and you can read on to find out more about that.

image

I’ve said before that G is quite small for her size so I went the normal size bibs. They have 2 sets of poppers so can be adjusted to fit a range of sizes, we still use ours on the smallest settings. The bibs are soft and wash brilliantly, thankfully they come in a huge range of colours and designs (we even picked out an easter themed one to go in G’s basket) so there is always something to suit your taste and your little’s wardrobe!

As you can see, Georgiana doesn’t stay still long enough for me to get a decent photo anymore but what I was trying to photograph was just how neatly they sit under her chin. She never gets a damp top, and we tend to have her in one all day as she’s quite messy with snacks and drinks too.

Funky Giraffe are all about getting your moneys worth so it’s worth keeping an eye on there website for multi buy offers and other big discounts!

image

 

Next up, Frankie was sent a gorgeous stripey dress. As I said before I had no idea they even did clothing so it was a lovely surprise for Francesca to receive something just for her! Just like the bibs it’s beautifully soft and washes fantastically, I’ve washed it 5 or 6 times already and the shape and material are still perfect.

photo1

The sizing is spot on and it’s a good length, perfect to wear with leggings in cooler weather or bare legs on those much anticipated summer days! Since realising how lovely Funky Giraffe’s clothing is I’ve ordered G a few bodysuits which have been equally high quality. The only thing I would change about them is the website, when ordering from it I find it a bit clunky and old fashioned but their delivery is super speedy so I’ll let them off ;)

Disclaimer: We were sent 5 bibs and a dress in exchange for this review. All words and photos are my own.

 

Things about Francesca

The little tiny baby I gave birth to nearly 3 and a half years ago has recently become a real, proper person. Francesca has recently developed a personality that has us laughing to our sides hurt, fuming with rage and smiling 99% of the time. She is witty and clever, and has a huge array of interests. I am so scared that one day I’ll try to remember a little snippet of her at this age and I won’t be able to recall anything. She is developing so quickly, so I feel it’s time to store some of her ‘isms’.

bunny

Her tendency to over use the word ‘really’. Fran has taken to adding an extra word on to any sentence that contains a request, for example “I think I need a packet of crisps Mummy, really” and “It’s not dark outside so I probably shouldn’t go to bed, really”. It’s a totally nonsensical way of talking that she totally pulls off.

Her kickass style. Our darling big girl has always had a ‘thing’ for accessories, you rarely see her without a handbag (oh which she has many… far too many!) or random headpiece. It might not always be the most practical thing for a toddler to tote, she recently spent an entire session at music club wearing a bicycle helmet, but she knows what she wants to wear and she goes for it. Getting dressed in the morning can take some serious time as she likes to choose her own outfits… pink Frozen t-shirt, pink spotty tutu over skinny jeans, pink hightops and pink cowboy hat was a recent outfit of the day.

outfit

Her love of all things ‘Happyland’. Our girls are very lucky with the amount of toys they have. Christmas and Birthdays (and random Tuesdays) are sometimes a bit overwhelming but we try to keep toys on rotation so that they never get bored and appreciate everything they have. However the big box of Happyland that they’ve accumulated gets dragged out in the playroom every single day. Fran has her favourite people who are regular laid out for a sleepover or set up in a conga line, and the Happyland treehouse is the scene for many toy weddings, toy playdates and toy arguments!

happyland

Her ever changing feelings towards Georgiana. Some days these sisters are thick as thieves, they play delightfully together and Francesca tells me hundreds of times just how much she loves ‘Narna’ (a nickname that unfortunately for Georgie has stuck). Other days I can’t leave them alone together for 2 minutes without an almighty hair pulling fight breaking out. But some things never change, every single morning Georgiana is the first person Fran wants to see and every night they have a goodnight kiss and ‘love you’. Heart melting I tell you!

Her lists. Most afternoons when Georgie goes down for a nap Francesca asks for some paper and a special pen (a biro… I’m not sure why she’s so enamoured by them but I’m just going with it), and she writes me some lists. Obviously they are lots of lines of squiggles, with a random readable ‘F’ or ‘E’ but afterwards she sits me down and tells me all the things she’s written about. Usually we get a lists of friends, dinners she likes and her favourite films. It makes me laugh because they are so consistent, they are always the same friends, dinners and films. She sure does know her own mind.

I flipping love this kid!