♡ Pipkin Clothing
As I stood slumped against the wall of Mstr L’s school yesterday, waiting for the school gates to open, deep in thoughts about life, I became distracted (something that happens very easily these days). This lovely little boy standing next to me was wearing a pair of blue cord fitted shorts. I say shorts, but they were more tapered bloomers, with sweet little buttons at the bottom.
I immediately asked his lovely nanny where, oh where, did they come from. She said she would ask his mother and text me, to which I responded – “just pull out the label and have a peek…go on!” Shameless. I agree.
Pipkin was the label of choice, and I just LOVE all their stuff. Girls and boys, there is sure to be something you will find for your little one.
Have a look below at my favourites.
I have recently stumbled across a site called Arambha and I have fallen in love with everything they have to offer!
The lovely Georgie, founder of Arambha, lives in Ethiopia with her husband and two boys. Inspired by the traditional techniques used for making clothes and shoes, as well as the country’s passion for vibrant colours, Georgie has developed a gorgeous range of children and women’s clothing, handmade by local artisans (using local materials and recycled, where possible). Georgie has ensured that all artisans involved are paid a fair living wage, which is well above the average wage.
I adore the little moccasins (and have even ordered a slate grey pair for myself, with neon pink trimming!). The girls dresses are SO beautiful, as are the scarves too.
See below for my favourites…
♡ Boden Kids
Mstr L is into the full swing of summer term, and is yet to fully comprehend that his two heavenly teachers will sadly not be with him come Year 1. There will undoubtedly be tears when I eventually have to break this to him. He is such a softie, which I adore, and much prefer to tough and overly confident.
Every monday his school sends out a list of the forthcoming week’s menu. I immediately mentally flag, highlight and red ring the offending rice puddings (and anything else with resembling consistencies) and remind him not, I repeat not, to even try it. I know that it would only result in a call from the lovely school nurse, yet again, telling me that he has been sick everywhere. It’s just not worth it.
Mstr M has recently started nursery, and was positively drowning in his older brother’s smock. Utterly adorable and heart wrenching. It amazes me how much tougher I have become with number 2. I was in tears with Mstr L as he, also in tears, clung onto me for dear life, pleading with me not to leave. Traumatic, to say the least.
Mstr M, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. He is so strong minded, and despite initially crying, I peeked around the corner and watched in amazement as he picked up the toy phone and had a full on conversation, finishing it off with “yeah yeah, bye bye” (no idea where he gets that one from). He then waddled over to the art table and just got stuck in. He is so happy there, and eats his packed lunch (pasta. Always has to be pasta, in his bright red yumbox) next to his new chums.
I now have a few (LOVELY) mornings to myself, and despite initially toying with the idea of getting a dog (immediately shot down by well meaning friends and family!!) we are thinking of getting a Siberian cat, being that it is hypoallergenic, as Mstr L is allergic.
Master L is desperate for a cat and currently owns a pet snail (called Snail) who lives in a pierced tupperware box as a home, complete with leaves and a water bottle top as a water bowl. I am in a major dilemma as what to do with Snail though, as I fear he may have a short life in this tupperware box. I will of course do my best to prolong this much loved snail’s life, but I am not yet ready for the death chat. We do have quite a few snails in our garden though, so not all is lost.
With summer just around the corner, I am on the hunt for some fun clothes for the boys. Well, Mstr L, to be precise, as the littlest one gets all the hand me downs. I cannot resist popping into the basket the odd matching item as well though (something that genuinely used to make me cringe). Now I fully embrace the look, just not on a daily basis, mind.
Boden is always guaranteed to help out on the kids’ clothes front. See below for my favourites, and for those of you with girls, the flamingo playsuit is just too much. In fact, there’s a lot of flamingo love going on below, as well as my favourite lobsters, skulls and anchors too…
♡ Dotty Dungarees
I am a huge dungarees fan (on children, I might add. Not so much adults). They look just adorable on both girls and boys. I grew up wearing them myself, and think that they are perfect for mucking around in.
Needless to say, when I spotted this wonderful site called Dotty Dungarees, I was instantly hooked. Set up by Alice Goldsmith and Georgie Parr in 2013, and inspired by their own brood, this lovely company prides itself on using only the softest materials in an array of bright colours. What I particularly love about their dungarees is that you can turn them up, so they last a whole year. I will definitely be investing in some for the boys.
On another note, I noticed that their website had been illustrated by the super talented Alice Peto, which led me to look at her painting site again, www.paintedbyaiice.com. This gorgeous penguin print below would make the loveliest present for any lucky child, as would any of her prints, quite frankly. And don’t even get me started on her beautiful penguin ovenware.
Mstr L has already been to see Father Christmas, and has specifically asked him for a ‘goopy machine’. I have no idea what this is, and neither did Father C. We actually exchanged looks of bewilderment.
I am hoping that this V Tech, voice activated, Mega T Rex will dispel all notions of goopy machines. This (ridiculously cool) toy transforms from a T Rex into a construction vehicle and actually follows your command. I’m not joking. Boy heaven.
♡ My Little Cherry Pie
Just a quick post to tell you about ‘My Little Cherry Pie‘ and their gorgeous bunny ears.
If you are after the loveliest present for a child, then these lavender filled (read potentially sleep inducing) bunny ears are perfect.
The actual ears are made from the softest fleece material and come in a wonderful array of colours.
I recently received the most gorgeous extra large version in a black and white chevron, with pale grey ears. There is also a tiny pouch (which would be ideal for the tooth fairy also) containing a lavender heart insert. Heavenly. So much so, that I may order one for myself.
The boys are smitten with theirs already and, coincidentally, or maybe not, Mstr L has dramatically improved his sleeping habits. He was previously waking approximately three times a night for a (painfully) long time.
I bet I’ve tempted fate by putting this into words now. Drat. But it’s true…
So Mstr L went back to school yesterday and seems to be loving it, which is a massive relief. I was totally fine up until the night before, then I seemed to spontaneously burst into tears at random moments, without warning. Yes. I was an emotional mess.
For those of you who have to make packed lunches for nursery or school (yawn), I want to introduce you to this genius and lifesaving product called YumBox.
We have had one for a few months now, and it has revolutionised lunch time. I’m not joking. This wonderfully coloured (and dishwasher friendly) box is split into six little compartments and is designed to be nutritionally balanced. The unique design helps with portion control as well – so great for adults too.
The boys love theirs and we take them pretty much everywhere we go. I tend to put in little sausages (thank you M&S), slices of avocado, humous (of course), carrot batons, cut up pieces of whole meal pita bread, cheese cubes and blueberries with yoghurt. The ingenious lid is leak proof too, so there is no hideous mess.
There are some wonderful meal ideas on their Instagram page, so be sure to check it out for inspiration. Though pricey, (£24.95 plus postage) this really is one of the best things I have bought for the boys, and I thoroughly recommend it. I am also very tempted by the new panino one for myself!
The lovely people at Yumbox have kindly offered a 10% discount for readers. Simply use the code ‘HeartBeatFaster‘ at checkout.
♡ Mummy Hughesy
Mstr L’s superhero themed birthday party is coming up and I have ordered this incredible cape, mask and iron on patch for his t shirt by Mummy Hughesy. I don’t own a sewing machine, and even if I did, it’s debatable as to whether or not I could turn it on.
Mummy Hughesy is a seriously clever and talented lady and can conjure up any sort of cape you may have in mind for girls and boys, and the prices are very reasonable. They would make such lovely presents for any child.
In other news Mstr L received a tick (as in the small arachnid) as a going away present from a recent trip away. I immediately frenzy googled what to do with this little critter, and was advised by Dr Google to remove immediately. My poor little lamb was then subjected to a tweezer attack by his mummy, resulting in me beheading the tick and unable to remove the rest of the tiny body from his arm.
Chelsea and Westminster hospital A&E was our next port of call as Dr G informed me that it is vital that antibiotics should be taken straight away to prevent Lyme disease and infection, especially if part of the body is left embedded. All was sorted by the wonderful Doctor at C&W and he is currently on his two week course of antibiotics (aka banana medicine).
We are now counting down the days until his last day at nursery and I am dreading it already. I know for one that I will be in tears. He has his first trial morning at his Big Boy’s School on Thursday and I am preparing him for this with serious ice cream and sticker bribes.
I really can’t believe that my little man is going to school already.
♡ Fun Storage Ideas
I’m always on the hunt for fun storage ideas and have become somewhat preoccupied with trying to tidy our house and rid us of unnecessary clutter. See below for some of my favourite storage ideas.
Mstr M has no interest whatsoever in soft baby toys and rattles anymore, so these are all going to the local charity shop. He is, however, very into his older brother’s trucks and fire station, which really doesn’t go down very well with Mstr L.
I’m trying to teach him the notion of sharing, but this doesn’t always work. I can also empathise with him because they really were his toys originally, and it is probably annoying to have his baby brother chewing away on his favourite fireman figure.
My friend recently forwarded me this article with regards to children sharing and I think that it is really interesting. We’ve all had that awkward moment on a playdate when your child grabs his/her friend’s toy (or vice versa) and an angry, tear filled scene unfolds.
I normally tell my boy to hand over the toy and share (even though he may have only just picked it up, which really isn’t fair of me), and the other mother tells her child to play with something else, desperately waving another toy in their face. Both children then look at their mothers in bewilderment as the advice is conflicting. Then comes the tears. Both mothers then mumble some sort of apology along the lines of “no, no. He/She HAS to learn!”. Basically they’ve learnt nothing except that their mothers are confusing creatures.
This article suggests that we should teach our children to say “You can have it when I’ve finished”, showing positive assertiveness. So no more sharing in our house. It’s turn-taking time, and I’m definitely going to give it a shot.
♡ Little Carousel Gallery – Children’s Art
If you are looking for some art work for children, then you should definitely check out Little Carousel Gallery. All pieces are hand made by British art school graduates and are personally chosen by LCG for their potential, making them great investment pieces.
I particularly love the work by Hwa Seon Yang and Alice Stallard and think that they would make such special Christening or newborn presents. I love the idea of buying a piece that would look just as lovely hung on the wall when the child is grown up – something they can treasure forever. See below for my favourites:
♡ American Apparel Alphabet Ts
If you are after a little present that is good value and has a personalised touch, then I think that these American Apparel ‘Alphabet T shirts’ are perfect.
They are £13 and come in an array of very cool colours. I’m definitely going to get one each for the boys, and maybe a stash for the present drawer.
♡ ‘Claire On Cloud 9′ Cushions and Mobiles
We had a little excitement last week when having some work done in the garden. I asked the workmen if they wouldn’t mind removing our old broken barbecue, along with its attached canister of propane gas. A fairly innocuous task … so I thought.
While in the process of feeding both boys, I looked outside to see all three men hopping about looking panicked. The men then rushed inside, while simultaneously calling the fire brigade, and ushering us out of the house. Somehow the pipe of the canister had been cut and foul smelling gas was literally pouring into the (very enclosed) garden.
Five minutes later there were two fire engines outside, sirens blazing, and approximately twenty firemen. I would have counted properly but was too busy dying of embarrassment in the corner. Mstr M, who was still seated in his highchair, eating al fresco, was loving the spectacle and Mstr L couldn’t have been more excited if he tried – of course.
The lovely fireman in charge sat him in one of the fire engines and gave him a little tour, making one very happy (and strangely mute) boy. After many profuse apologies and offers of tea, they were gone.
Mstr L still jumps for joy when he sees a fire engine whizz by and assumes (shouts to all that will listen) that it is coming to our house to rescue mummy from gas.
In other news, I’ve recently come across these amazing cushions and mobiles by Claire on Cloud 9. Claire Halson set up this very cool company from her home in South Oxfordshire, where she makes each item by hand.
All of her gorgeous cushions and mobiles would make the loveliest addition to any nursery and would be brilliant presents for both boys and girls.
See below for my favourites – I am particularly tempted by the lightning bolt cushion (£25).
♡ Amy Kent Bespoke Rugs
I’ve been hunting around for a rug for Mstr M’s room for a while now, and there really aren’t that many inspiring choices out there. It wasn’t until I came across Amy Kent‘s bespoke rugs that I changed my mind.
All of the bespoke rugs are individually hand knotted on looms in a cottage industry near Varanasi, India. They can be customised according to material, shape and colour and the designs are so incredibly beautiful.
I am particularly drawn to the rugs inspired by nature, for example the birds and fish designs below and those that have architectural qualities such as the Pimlico Arches, also below.
Here are a selection of my favourites, all of which can be ordered here.
♡ Ruff & Huddle
We are currently undergoing a huge Spring clean and I am desperately trying to de clutter. Easier said than done. The very professional and efficient guys at ‘Fabulous Cleaners‘ are working their magic and cleaning our carpets as I type. This is not a pleasant job as they are puke covered, courtesy of the lovely sick bug we have all had of late.
One particular gem (that for once was not bug related) involved Mr A. He was so overcome by a spectacularly pungent nappy that before he knew it, he was projectile vomiting into the loo. Mstr L then walked in on his Daddy puking, and proceeded to himself projectile vomit all over the sitting room floor. Yes. It’s always fun in our house. Combine this with a few splashings of calpol, milk, mud and play doh, the task evidently requires some hard core cleaning equipment.
We are also slowly but surely sorting out the garden and are in the process of booking Easigrass. Adding some Easigrass to our garden will not only brighten it up but will make it perfect for those little feet come Summer.
See below for this amazing brand Ruff & Huddle. This ultra cool brand was set up by two young parents who were tired of the clothes available for children. The AW ’13 collection was designed by Zakee Shariff and you can see his influence running throughout the range. See below for my faves, in particular the ‘Full of Beans’ T shirts.
♡ Scout & Co
Mstr L is really starting to outgrow his ‘Strider’ balance bike and the time has come for him to get a Big Boy’s Bike. Mr A and I have been deliberating over whether to wait for until his birthday (July) or just bite the bullet now. The seat cannot go up anymore, so we are going to go for it.
He is very excited about this prospect and is adamant that it will “NOT HAVE STABISERS!” (sic). The idea of the balance bike is that they get used to balancing right from the start therefore making the transition to BBB much easier. Watch this space.
I have just found out about Scout & Co and am totally in love with everything they have. Gorgeous design led products, clothes, interiors, cards, arts and crafts and more. See below for my favourites (I particularly love the alphabet melamine sets).
♡ Monkey & Mole Moccasins
I have just come across this lovely company called Monkey & Mole that sells beautiful handmade leather moccasins for babies and toddlers. The company was set up by Chrissy, who designs and makes the moccasins herself after her own child pretty much refused to wear socks and shoes.
When Mstr L was younger, he had some moccasins that a friend kindly brought over from the States. He lived in them and they were so soft and comfortable. I wanted to get some more for him in the next size up, but they were so expensive and I would have had to pay shipping on top. So, I’m very happy to see some being handmade in our very own country and that are reasonably priced too.
Each pair is £35 and come in a variety of colours. They are perfect for little crawlers and most importantly, stay on! See here for more details.
♡ La Coqueta
We went to a lovely children’s party the other day. There was a rubber duck race on Barnes’ duck pond, the father dressed up as a dragon and the children (dressed as knights and princesses) chased him across the common with water bombs. It was such a fun party and the children had an amazing time.
Spanish friends of the hosts were there, and I couldn’t help but admire their gorgeous little boy who was dressed impeccably. The Spanish, along with the French, just know how to dress their children. Their children also seem to stay very, very clean – much to my bemusement. (I’ve read ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’ and I’m still none the wiser.)
One brand that I’ve recently been introduced to is La Coqueta. Based in London, this incredible company was founded by a Spanish mother of FIVE:
“I feel there is a need for traditional, timeless fashion for children which also incorporates a chic and contemporary style for our modern world. I have found this with the Spanish designers I work with and can wholeheartedly say all the collection is ‘Proudly made in Spain’. Our clothing and shoes are beautifully made, functional and hard-wearing. As a mother of five, I know how important it is to find easy care clothes that stand the test of time, can be passed on to the next baby and still look great.”
Have a look below and see just how beautiful their clothes are.
♡ Lucy Dodwell Cards & Gifts
When we had the boys we received from the lovely Lucy Dodwell a gorgeous card and sweetest little personalised framed map. They sit proudly on Mstr M’s chest of drawers and so many people ask about them.
Lucy set up her company after having her two children, and creates gorgeous personalised cards and gifts from her home in Buckinghamshire. I’m a massive fan of personalised cards and presents, and think that they are such a thoughtful touch. All of Lucy’s cards and gifts can be bought here.
♡ Little Pop Studio
I am totally in love with Mstr L’s new ‘Batboy’s Watercolour Print’ by the lovely and talented Bianca at Little Pop Studio. Bianca creates these awesome watercolour prints from her home in New Zealand, as well as taking commissions turning your photos into art. I love the simplicity of the Batboys and Batkids’ Watercolour Prints and they look SO cool hung on the wall.
If you want to get your hands on one in the UK, the very stylish Home and Kids are taking pre-orders (£25 for an unframed print) and are available here.
♡ Chelsea & Westminster Hospital
Half term has been a riot. Vomiting bugs left, right and centre with colds/coughs and a bit of conjunctivitis thrown in for good measure. We are, fingers crossed, all better now though.
A quick trip was made with Mstr M to the amazing A&E down the road at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The poor little boy had a temperature of 39.9 (and rising) after being given doses of calpol and ibuprofen.
We have been there a few times now, and I’m always amazed by how incredible they are. You are seen pretty much straight away and all the lovely doctors and nurses are so good with the little ones.
Our boys were born at C&W and both births were fairly straight forward (fear not, I’m not about to give a birth story. Yawn). I also managed to get my very own lovely doula that was part of the NHS programme. Her name was Lucy and she was an Angel. I have to admit I never thought of having a doula before as I thought that they would irritate me. This was far from the case and, apart from Mr A (of course!), was the best support I could have dreamt of.
After giving me an incredible reflexology massage (to try and speed things up) the day before, I came back the following day in labour. Lucy, by chance, had just finished helping somebody else so I became her next patient. Lucky Lucy.
We immediately went into the ‘Relaxation Room’ which was a warm, dimly lit room with stars projected onto the ceiling, a bed, bath and huge bean bag (that Mr A promptly passed out on). Lucy calmed me down, made me cups of tea and ran me a bath. Simple pleasures that meant the world at the time. I did turn demonic at one point and she didn’t even flinch, but instead reassured me with her amazingly soothing nature and totally calmed me down.
The NHS Labour Ward at C&W is fantastic and I had the most amazing experiences both times. One good tip though is to ask to be put on the waiting list for a private room as soon as you get in, and if you are lucky (I was, second time round) you will get one. It will be the best £250 you will spend.
♡ Jonathan Adler
Mstr L had his first dentist appointment yesterday at the fantastic ‘NHS Dentist‘ bang opposite us. I was probably more nervous than him as the mere smell of the place makes my heart beat faster, and not in a good way. That would just be weird.
I had prepped him by watching a few back to back ‘Peppa Pig’ episodes of when Peppa visits the dentist. I thought all was well until he bloomin’ well went and remembered the (nightmarish) dentist scene in ‘Finding Nemo’. He brought this up as we were sitting in the waiting room, so I just firmly (but kindly) said ‘No no. That’s NOT how it’s done. Remember PEPPA. She had FUN!’ He didn’t look convinced.
The dentist was brilliant though, and she completely relaxed him by letting him lie on me on the reclining chair. All was well teeth wise and we counted together 20 of them. The dental assistant very sweetly rewarded him with two stickers, making his day. Done and dusted for another six months.
I walked past Jonathan Adler yesterday and couldn’t resist popping in for a browse. This shop, along with The Conran Shop, always inspires me. The majority of items, particularly the ceramics, would make the most amazing wedding presents. See below for my favourites, all of which can be bought online here.
♡ Scandinavian Minimall
One of my favourite online shops is Scandinavian Minimall. I buy a lot of the boys’ clothes here and they have fantastic sales where you can pick up a real bargain. See a selection of my favourites below from the site.
I am completely obsessed with Mini Rodini, as I’ve previously mentioned in a post. Their prints are just fantastic (see elephant and giraffe prints below) and they always have a very good selection for boys and girls. Here are the boys in their penguin outfits from the site (!)
Boy’s clothes (in general) can be spectacularly dull, and I am really not one to dress them in chinos and a shirt. Maybe occasionally, and only if I really have to. Like once a year.
I LOVE colour and fun prints, and until they become of an age where they refuse, my boys will forever be adorned in tiger, penguin and elephant prints!
♡ Swoop, Swoop, Crash, Bang
I went on a girls’ skiing trip last weekend in France and it was such fun. I haven’t skied in a long time but thankfully my lovely friend was in the same predicament, so we just took it easy and stuck to the green slopes (with lots of well deserved breaks in between).
I managed to fall over a couple of times, both alarmingly while I was standing and not remotely downhill. It’s the getting up part that I particularly struggle with. My poor friend somehow managed to fall under the chair lift, much to the horror/amusement of us all. She was ok though, more shaken than anything though slightly hysterical with laughter.
We ate LOTS of cheese and bread, climbed treacherous mountains in the dark, bum sledged down treacherous mountains with our head torches on and laughed a lot. It was perfect and so nice to go somewhere completely different, complete with fresh alpine air.
While browsing Mothercare the other day I came across Jools Oliver’s lovely ‘Little Bird‘ new Spring collection. It is so sweet. See some of my favourites below:
♡ Nearly One
I have been doing lots of research on car seats of late (thrilling) as Mstr L needs to move up from his Maxi Cosi Pearl to a Stage 3 seat, and Mstr M definitely needs to move on from his baby seat.
After much deliberation we decided on the Maxi Cosi Rodifix with integrated isofix base. It is very comfortable, will last him until he is 12 and most importantly is safe.
The seat has a recline function which is perfect for those longer journeys and it is very easily installed. I can’t admit to installing it to begin with though as the lovely guys at Halfords in Battersea had that job (free of charge and the seats are match priced). They were incredibly helpful and explained the pros and cons of each seat.
In other news Mstr M turns ONE next week, which is quite frankly insane. I cannot believe a whole year has passed since my littlest man was born. I will be making my version of red velvet cake as I have done every year for Mstr L. Not so great on the icing front, but it’s definitely improving.
Mstr L has just received his nursery report which very much made us chuckle. Alongside his written report was photographic evidence of him proposing to a little girlfriend of his. She was apparently crying and his response was to get down on one knee and ask her to marry him. Totally heartbreaking.
She better have said yes.
♡ Brrrr It’s Cold Outside
We have recently joined Eddie Catz in Putney. The boys absolutely love it. Mstr L runs around like a lunatic making friends as he goes, and Mstr M (and one of us) hang out in the Wow Toys (best toys – no batteries needed) sectioned off area for babies.
It is surprisingly fun and you can actually have a relaxing time there. It is the perfect place for Mstr L to let off steam and for me or Mr A to chill out on one of their huge sofas, sipping a coffee reading the latest gossip magazine/The Times.
It is definitely going to become a regular for us – minus the parking in Waitrose car park past 5pm, when it very much shuts and the gates are firmly locked with a huge chain and guarded by a man who makes you pay overnight (extortionate) fees as you are desperate and with tired children…
On a sales note, the lovely Olivier Baby and Kids is having an amazing one at the mo. See below for some of the gorgeous pieces on offer. I think that they would make such lovely presents for newborns and are perfect for wrapping up warm in this increasingly cold weather.
Snood (love that word): £20 Baby Mittens: £14 Jumper: £40 Heart Bobble Hat: £20 Star cardigan: £40 Raspberry bonnet: £18 Baby Booties: £18
♡ Skin & Bliss
I have just completed the entire boxset of Breaking Bad on Netflix (somewhat late to the party) and it was SO good. I averaged about three episodes per night and Mr A basically lost me for two whole weeks. I refused to engage in conversation while getting my BB fix and became somewhat irritable when asked what was going on half way through. I’m not sure what to do with myself now and am suffering major withdrawal symptoms. All is well though as Season 3 of Girls is back soon. Phew.
Mstr L is back at nursery and loving his longer days (and his packed lunches). He is particularly looking forward to his Playball classes starting up again. Every Wednesday the two of us go to a nearby Church hall for his Playball class with his friends. The teacher is fantastic and has them all enraptured. No misbehaving in this class.
I’ve been trying to ignore all the annoying sales emails (in fact I’ve been unsubscribing to pretty much every email I receive). I do tend to buy the majority of the boys’ clothes in sales though, and there are some fantastic bargains to be had. Over the next few weeks I will try to cover some of my favourite online stores.
Skin & Bliss is a current fave that I have recently come across and they have some really lovely things on offer. See below for some of my favourites, the majority of which are on sale now:
♡ New Year, New Me…
Happy New Year! We had a very chilled one which was really lovely and much needed to be honest. The thought of dealing with children and coping with a horrendous hangover makes me shudder.
So, I am just back from the running shop (guess what one of my New Year’s resolutions is?!) where I bought a monstrous looking sports bra, some wrap around ear phones and a hand held water bottle. I’m raring to go. Just raring. My friend Sarah has spurned me on as she is doing a marathon a mere few months after giving birth. Hard core. So, now I have all the gear… Watch this space.
The boys are on fine form, although Mstr M has had a bout on conjunctivitis followed by the obligatory colds which they both seem to permanently have. We have spent the rest of the holidays pottering around, heading to Eddie Catz and seeing various friends. It has been so, so lovely having Mr A around all holiday and the boys just adore having him here. So sad he is back at work today.
Mstr L starts back at nursery on Wednesday and will be doing two extended days until 3pm for his last two terms there. In September he will be starting Big Boy School (sob sob). I know I will be in tears on his last day at nursery and his first day at school and am bracing myself already.
So, what with these extended days, he will be eating at nursery as of next week. I have already sneaked a peek at the variety of foods other kids are getting, and considering sandwiches are his favourite thing in the world (avocado sandwiches, to be precise) I’m rather looking forward to doing some fun creative things with his food. He already has a very cool ‘Goodbyn’ lunchbox (similar available at the amazing Alex and Alexa) which we both decorated with the stickers provided. He loves it and is so excited already.
♡ Christmas Part Two
Well, Christmas is sadly over and it was perfect. We awoke to Mstr L shouting the house down with excitement that Father Christmas had been. Everyone then ‘clambered’ into our bed and opened Mstr L’s stocking.
He “oohd” and “aaahd” at every present and was a very happy boy. Mstr M, who’s first Christmas it was, wasn’t so fussed about what was going on, but was very content to play with all the sparkly wrapping paper.
After breakfast we all jumped into the car and went to the family Mass at the Church where we married. Mstr L immediately located a boy in the pew behind us who is at nursery with him, so that kept him entertained. It always amuses/puzzles me when I look around the congregation and see all the restless boys (with their parents desperately struggling to restrain them, yet remaining dignified-ish) with the girls just sitting there, patiently…
We sat directly (on purpose) next to the loveliest nativity set, so Mstr L popped over there regularly to check out baby Jesus and the lambs (along with various other parents with their children/boys, hoping that they too will burn off some excess energy).
My family then came over to our house and we had a lovely day. Mstr L was over the moon with all his presents, but we saved the best for Boxing Day – his fireman/police station and the source of many a threat.
We have had a few problems putting him to bed of late, and I’m ashamed to admit it frequently results in us threatening that he won’t get his fireman/police station unless he gets into bed…and stays in bed, quietly. We are now stuffed.
One of his favourite presents is from my parents – a huge (A1 in size) set of pens, crayons, paints and pencils. He loves anything to do with art, so is one happy boy. As is the carpet cleaner.
He also LOVES this Robofish (available here), which now has pride of place in his bedroom. It is so cool and swims around the bowl for five minutes at a time. Both boys were in awe. The carpet in Mstr L’s room wasn’t today though as the lot hit the floor, a bit like his lovely playdate’s clothes as she was invited into his wigwam. House rules…
Mstr M received some other lovely gifts too – and one of my favourites is this beautiful dressing gown by ‘My First Years‘. It has his name embroidered on it and is super soft.
After eating our delicious Christmas feast, drinking copious amounts of wine and downing many a shot of coffee, we then tucked into our delicious cake – courtesy of ‘Rachel’s Cake House‘ who make the most delicious cakes ever.
It was a really lovely rich and m***t chocolate cake, adorned with the sweetest snowman and pretty bow. Traditional fruit cake is like something out of a nightmare for me, along with Christmas pudding and the censored (but truly descriptive) word above.
After watching ‘Downton Abbey, Christmas Special’ (which wasn’t very Christmassy or special, I felt) we pretty much passed out. Hard core ravers THAT we are.
All in all, a perfect Christmas Day, full of family and fun.
So the boys are very much looking forward to next week (I speak on behalf of Mstr M). Mstr L is loving the ever increasing pile of presents, as any three year old does, and the house is full of twinkly fairy lights and a variety of decorations (some naffer than others).
Mstr L has made some lovely homemade cards adorned with trees and glitter and all bought from my favourite Poundland!
If you are after any last minute gift ideas, Not On The High Street has some amazing things on offer. These Wild Things animal dresses and dungarees are gorgeous and I love these House of Carvings wooden engraved letters. The Artful Kids‘ railway and autobahn track tape is such a fun way to decorate any room, along with this personalised cloud cushion by Modo Creative.
For the budding chefettes out there, there are these Auntie Mims’ personalised wooden spoons and who can resist a personalised bean bag by Teeny Beanies? I also love the initialled Alphabet Bags purses and am very tempted by the amazing Claire Close large colouring in paper – perfect for any party, and something children can join in on together.
We went to Winter Wonderland on Thursday and it was amazing. Mstr L loved all the rides and I even managed to blag a little ‘Despicable Me’ character for him in one of the games. He currently sleeps with it next to him at night.
Mr A and the boys’ Aunty N had a ride on the Wilde Maus roller coaster, and looked suitably terrified upon exiting (I am not a rollercoaster girl. I loathe them and heights). I did manage to go on the Haunted House ride however, and the most terrifying part of this was being attacked with a giant pom pom at the end of it by one of the men that works there.
Mstrs L and M are a 1/4 Bavarian, so the Bavarian Village within Winter Wonderland not only appealed to my husband (beer, lots of it) but it was a good introduction to all things Bavarian. All in all a really lovely afternoon out and definitely worth a visit.
Have a lovely Christmas and see you in the New Year xx
♡ Portable North Pole – Personalised Father Christmas Video Message
My lovely Godmother recently told me about this amazing website called Portable North Pole where you create a free personalised video message from Father Christmas himself. It is so sweet and I have just made one for Mstr L.
All that I did was upload a photo and put in his age, what he is up to (at nursery) and what he needs to do in order for Father C to visit (listen to his mummy and daddy!). You are then sent a link to your amazing personalised video. Click here for the website.
On another Father Christmas note, we went to see the Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas play at The Lyric Theatre at the weekend, and Mstr L LOVED it. He actually sat still for a good 45 minutes and was totally mesmerised. I love that he completely understands Christmas this year and it amazes me how the magic and excitement of Christmas is brought back into our lives. This is definitely my favourite time of year!
♡ Born Gifted Christmas Decorations
As I mentioned before, we are buying our Christmas tree this week. Mstr L is very excited, and I am even more so.
Last year we had a small table top tree and this year we will definitely be doing the same, what with having a little crawler in our midst.
My parents have a hamper full of gorgeous Christmas decorations and it was always such fun decorating the tree each year. The hamper is crammed with old glass baubles, lights that have been meticulously recoiled by my father, wooden decorations and the beautiful Angel that belonged to my Grandma. My mother also brings out the loveliest little nativity set and various little birds spring up in all the nooks and crannies in our family home. It is so lovely and with a roaring fire, two cats curled up – Christmas couldn’t be more perfect.
Now that I have my own little family, I really want to start collecting decorations just like these. Pretty, glistening glass baubles, traditional hand painted wooden decorations and some fun colourful crocheted ones for the boys would be lovely.
While browsing the fabulous Born Gifted I spied quite a few pieces to add to our collection. See below for my favourites that are available here. There are some adorable wooden nativity sets that Mstr L would like and I particularly love the crocheted snowman and reindeer.
Mstr L is playing a Christmas tree in his second ever Christmas play at nursery. He has been singing his songs for the past few weeks (adorable) and we can’t wait to see it. I have to admit to buying a tree costume online though (£6.99) and have already overheard some of the mothers talking about what they have created. Gulp.
I think his tree outfit could definitely pass as handmade…
♡ Lost My Name Personalised Children’s Book
Just a quick one to tell you about this fab present idea called Lost My Name.
This brilliant company creates a gorgeous personalised book for girls and boys. You simply put your child’s name and gender into the box provided, and hey presto, your lovely book with the sweetest story containing your child’s name will be delivered to you.
Each book costs £18.99 with free worldwide shipping and is available here. Definitely going to get some for the boys!
♡ Maileg Toys
We are big Maileg fans in our house. Mstr M has a little collection going, and I’ve recently ordered the sweetest Maileg tree decorations.
This amazing Dutch company make the most beautiful toys and are best known for their lovely bunnies. Mstr M has two of the bunnies in his room and the coolest pirate rattle. They are such simple toys and come in lovely muted colours. You can even buy accessories for the bunnies such as little houses, stoves and cars for them!
They are perfect heirloom toys and I really like the idea of collecting them. I am slightly in love with the matchbox mice and pixies in a tin. See below for my favourites that are available to buy at Bijou Lifestyle, a gorgeous online shop.
We are going to buy our tree this week and Mstr L is rather excited. It is going to have to be a table top one though as Mstr M is very much on the move. Mstr L is also very keen to get going on his chocolate advent calendar – and anybody that knows me well, knows that I demolished the chocolates from my calendar on the 1st December at school, year upon year. I’m not proud. Here’s hoping he hasn’t inherited that gene.
♡ Petiotes Personalised Cushions
For lovely personalised children’s cushions and drawstring bags, look no further than Petiotes. Started by Laure, a French mother of two who previously worked in the fashion industry, Petiotes provides a variety of accessories for children and their mums. We bought a gorgeous navy cushion with a dinosaur on it for Mstr L a few years’ ago and are going to buy one for Mstr M soon.
They are lovely and come in such sweet designs – and what’s great is that you can design them yourselves. They would make brilliant Christmas presents, are very reasonably priced (£30 for a cushion) and are available here.
♡ Honey Jam Toy Shop
I love Portobello Road, particularly on a week day. If I ever end up there at the weekend, I instantly regret it. There are too many people (tourists) and I become frustrated by the lack of movement when walking down the road. Portobello Road rage.
Week days, however, are quite different. I love browsing the stalls, looking at random old batman comics (I want to frame some of these for Mstr L’s room), glass trinkets, antique maps (a particular favourite of my husband’s) and rounding it all off with a cup of tea and a cupcake from Hummingbird. Heaven.
One of my favourite shops is just off Portobello Road, and is called Honey Jam. We were in there a few weeks ago and picked up some gorgeous policeman pyjamas for Mstr L – which double up as a fancy dress outfit.
Whenever I walk in to Honey Jam, I think to myself how lovely it must be to have a traditional toy shop like this. My precise words to my husband were “oh, wouldn’t it be AMAZING to have a shop like this?”. He looked at me blankly.
I think the shop is utterly magical and it completely transports you back to your childhood. It is crammed full of beautiful keepsake toys, large and small (see a selection below), and I could happily while away the hours browsing – depositing my husband at the Walmer Castle pub first, of course.
♡ Lanco Bath Toys
Mstr M is a real biter. He tries to eat anything he can lay his little hands on. This is obviously down to major teething, but watching him chow down on a bath duck last week and then watch in horror as black stuff squirted out – I was revolted. I will never understand why bath toys have holes in. It’s disgusting. I try and clean them out everyday, but obviously didn’t quite get this one clean enough.
I then decided to throw away all the skanky ducks and replace them with some lovely new toys, and I found this sweet pack by Lanco. The 100% natural rubber ‘Ocean’ set includes a crab, dolphin and octopus. They are PVC and BPA free, have no holes in, and can be used as teethers outside the bath. They cost £13.49 and can be bought here.
Mstr L is totally obsessed with crabs, so he is very happy about this new addition to bath time. We have a fresh fish shop directly opposite our house and we have to pay daily (sometimes more) visits to see his beloved crabs and lobsters.
When the lovely men that work there see him running in, they go straight to the crabs or lobsters and pick up a wriggling one for him to touch. Mstr L giggles with delight, then shouts “Thank you! See you later crabs”.
I buy fish from them every week to keep everyone happy.
♡ Jenny Maizels
I was with my Mum a few weeks’ ago browsing The (gorgeous) Cross shop in Notting Hill, and immediately snapped up these fab Jenny Maizels’ iron on patches.
I was actually going to save them for a stocking filler, but the temptation was too much. They are amazing and come in such cool designs – for boys and girls. I love the idea of jazzing up a boring pair of trousers or top and have just added this lovely robot to Mstr L’s jeans!
Jenny Maizels has such a lovely range of products, and has illustrated books and fabrics too. I love her designs and have already ironed on various patches to both boys clothes! I am very tempted by the adorable cushions too.
See below for other lovely Jenny Maizels products, all available here.
♡ Cololo Duffel Coats
When I was a child I used to live in a navy wool duffel coat. I think that they are such timeless coats and look so charming on children.
I have come across this fantastic company called Cololo who make the most gorgeous children’s duffel coats, in an array of beautiful colours.
The coats can be customised with coloured ‘boggls’, for example ducks, trains, cars, flowers and rainbows. The traditional wooden toggle is then attached to each boggl.
They are amazing and would make such perfect presents. I would choose a navy coat with yellow duck boggls!
Each coat is £45.00 and available here.
♡ Childs Farm Tangle Tamer by Denman
Just a quick post to tell you about this limited edition Childs Farm Tangle Tamer, by Denman. Let’s face facts, those tangle taming brushes have revolutionised bath time, and now you can own an even prettier one. £10 online here.
I LOVE their bath and shower range too, and Mstr L has a real penchant for the oh so apt ‘Caked in Mud Hair and Bodywash, for dirty rascals’.
All the products smell delicious, and contain natural and organic ingredients, which is especially great for Mstr M who has occasional eczema.
I think these gift sets below (£11.50) would make lovely Christmas presents, and come in handy little bags too.
♡ Little Timbers Personalised Clocks
I love personalised presents. There is nothing lovelier than a gift that shows real thought has gone into it.
I have come across these amazing clocks made by a company called Little Timbers, and I think that they would make perfect Christmas presents for kids. They are very reasonably priced too, all falling under the £30 mark.
The clocks are handmade using birch ply wood, stained with water-based coloured wood stain, and can all be personalised. They are also silent (so no keeping them up with annoying tick tocks!) and come complete with batteries. There are three different styles to choose from: round clocks, shape clocks and pendulum clocks, and the range covers all children’s favourites.
I am definitely going to be getting some for the boys!
♡ Lucky HBF readers get a 10% discount online, using the code ‘HBF13 ♡
♡ Oeuf NYC
Another brand that gets my heart beating faster, is Oeuf NYC.
I first spotted their designs while browsing the ridiculously chic children’s department in Liberty (not a shop I frequent often, I have to admit, but if I’m ever in town – I can’t resist a peek). Needless to say, Mstr L now has a very lovely 100% baby alpaca superhero hat!
Oeuf also has an incredible furniture, toy and jewellery range. The skull and pigeon cushions below particularly caught my eye.
I just love the designs, and the superhero theme that runs throughout the collection is fantastic.
Girls will look gorgeous in the clothes too, and I personally love a tomboy look.
I was a complete tomboy myself, living in OshKosh dungarees, and hating dresses. My favourite toy was an action man that said ‘under cover’ when you pulled its cord. This could be the result of three brothers though…
♡ Belle & Boo
I’m sure everybody already knows about the wonderful Belle & Boo, but browsing through a variety of websites for Christmas present inspiration, I am once again struck by how lovely everything is.
We have been given numerous gifts over the years from this gorgeous company. Created and illustrated by Mandy Sutcliffe, Belle & Boo has grown and grown, and is available in over 500 stockists. Their products are so distinctive, and have a real vintage feel to them.
Based on a little girl named Belle and her best friend, bunny Boo, we can all follow the exciting adventures of this mischievous little couple and their friends. The books are a particular favourite of Mstr L’s, and I think the cowboy and Indian prints are just perfect for any child’s room.
As I mentioned before, Mstr L has the hot air balloon wall sticker on his wall, and not only does he love it, the quality is incredible (people have actually asked if it is hand painted!). Mstr M has a little rabbit Boo sticker on his wall, which I’m sure he will love when he becomes a little more aware of his surroundings. In the meantime, I admire it every single day!
Belle & Boo have covered everything: books, clothing, gift wrap, cards, art, home wares, stationery and wall decor, and are all very reasonably priced. See a selection of my favourites below.
I’m going to be posting various Christmas present ideas over the next few weeks, hopefully making it a little easier for you all – after all, it’s not long to go…
I have been dying to share the lovely clothing company Waddler with you for a while now.
This beautiful fair trade collection is produced and originated in Bolivia, when Marina and Philip Thompson went travelling in South America with their son Finn. Craving some adventure and excitement, and saying goodbye to restrictive London life, they found themselves in a spellbinding country, where children live freely.
Inspired by the refreshing environment and free spirited children wearing their 100% baby alpaca clothes, Waddler was born – and they haven’t looked back since.
The clothes are so novel, exceptionally soft and utterly desirable. Mstr M wore his wolf suit from the moment he was born (a February baby) and it kept him so cosy and warm, while looking utterly adorable (they have even brought out an adult bear suit, which I am very tempted by).
Just have a look at the collection below. I challenge anyone not to be bowled over by their charming designs.
♡ Lullabuy and The Conran Shop
I have recently come across this incredible website called Lullabuy, that sells the most unique and coolest nursery products. Think animal heads, funky wall stickers, modern wardrobes, crazy little cars, space age prams… Everything on the website is drool worthy, and completely awe inspiring. A great place to look for a really special Christmas present for a child.
Also amazing is The Conran Shop. The children’s section is just incredible, and I love every crocheted item by Ann-Claire Petit.
Mstr L’s room is pretty much complete, and I have gone for a sky/space theme (hot air balloons and astronauts). He has a lovely Belle and Boo hot air balloon wall sticker, a collection of hanging miniature hot air balloon models that I found on ebay, a teepee from Habitat, his mini kitchen, striped GLTC rug and his Aspace white bed, with the duvet set shown below.
I wish I could say he loves going to bed, but alas this is just not the case (and yes, we have one of those Gro clocks, and we tell him every night that he is not allowed to get out of bed until the sun comes up. He just ignores it/us, and prefers to stick to the real sun).
He loves his room though, and whenever friends come over for a play date, he immediately takes them up there (and subsequently trashes it).
Mstr M’s room, however, is very much a work in progress. I initially went down the obligatory bunny themed route, but now want to lose the baby tones. Items from Lullabuy that have caught my attention are:
I love the idea of putting a collection of little cars or lego people in this house below (which can be attached to the wall)
These cushions by Fern Living are gorgeous, and add a perfect splash of colour to any room:
I’ve also noticed that they stock these didicars, one of which we have – and are the best fun (they can take adult weight as well). Needless to say, we probably have more fun on them than the boys.
From The Conran Shop are these beautiful finds:
We are definitely going to get this crocheted one below (Mstr M’s nick name is Mushroom!)
This nightlight is just too sweet…
A good friend of mine has this map on her son’s wall, and it looks amazing:
This rug is pretty damn lovely too…
♡ Win Green
We went on a lovely play date yesterday, and Mstr L was in complete awe of his little lady friend’s Win Green play house. He has actually not stopped talking about it since.
Win Green have been around since 2001 and make the most beautiful, 100% cotton, hand-woven and hand-dyed (using traditional Indian weaving and dying techniques) play houses and accessories. They have a play house to suit all tastes: Princess Castle, Fairy Cottage, Toy Shop, Garage, Fire Station, Gingerbread Cottage, Pirate Shack and more.
As I have two boys, I am particularly fond of the Pirate Shack, and can see it already in my (dream) play room. The large size (134cm long x 110cm wide x 165cm high) is perfect (if you have the space) as it can fit quite a few children in. You could fit in their little kitchen (that all kids seem to have) very easily too. On the other hand, the small size (110cm long x 74cm wide x 110cm high) is also great if you want to put it in your child’s bedroom.
What I particularly love about them is that they are real heirloom toys, which is the massive appeal. I can definitely see one of these gorgeous play houses being handed down from generation to generation, and it would make the most perfect and special Christmas present.
I can already see the boys having sleepovers in theirs, armed with torches, midnight feasts and no sleep being had.
♡ Pound Land
Where I live, there has been an explosion of one pound shops. Every other shop seems to be trying to out do each other on the 99p stakes. I occasionally pop in to a few of them to see what they have, but Pound World and Pound Land (fairly recent additions) win hands down.
I have bought so much stuff from them both. All Mstr L’s creative bit n bobs (he is obsessed with painting and drawing) comes from here. I buy paints, A3 pads of white paper, play dough (though this has recently been banished from the house as it is just too messy), felt tips, sticker pads, water pistols, litre bottles of bubble mixture. I could go on. I have even bought Mstr L a Halloween outfit from here, all for the bargain price of (you guessed it) £1.
If Mstr L is ever in need of a little treat or present for good behaviour (!), I give him a £1 coin and tell him he can have one toy – and he just loves it. I’ve quickly learnt how easy it is to spend money on toys, and for them to be rejected after a day’s play.
It’s the small things they love, like the water shooter, played with every day in the summer. His colouring pads also give him endless amounts of fun, and if we ever go out somewhere where I know he is going to have to sit patiently, (something very few three year olds are capable of, and something I avoid like the plague) I always bring his bag full of colouring pencils, pads and stickers. He is in his element.
We get lots of our cleaning stuff from here too, for example Dettol spray – and if you trot just a little further down the road, a well known supermarket is selling the same for three times the price. Mstr M loves the ‘Plum’ pouch puddings (perfect if you are going out) and Mstr L loves the Annabel Karmel banana crisps, so we stock up on these regularly too.
I’m definitely going to buy some little things for their stockings – though I’m not entirely sure that Mstr L is wanting one, shock horror. I recently ditched the dummy (something I should have done a long time ago) and made the mistake of telling him that Father Christmas was going to take them, and in return, leave a lovely stocking. I then realised that there is no time like the present, so scrapped the story of Father C, and swapped it for the dummy fairy. What was I thinking?
We are currently on night six of doing well with no dummy, but he seems to forget that the dummy fairy has been and gone (along with his beloved dummies) and is instead focusing on this evil man, Father Christmas, who has stolen them. Whenever I mention Christmas he gets quite cross, and tells me that in no uncertain terms is Father Christmas allowed to enter our house.
I fear that meeting the man himself might be a fatal error, so am hesitant in booking Santa’s Grotto.
♡ Quentin Blake
My favourite books in the world are by far Roald Dahl’s. I grew up on them, and have such fond memories of my parents reading them to me when I was little.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny the Champion of the World, The Witches and George’s Marvellous Medicine were particular favourites. Quentin Blake’s illustrations have been firmly etched on my mind, and I would decorate my entire house in Osborne and Little’s Blake wallpaper and fabric if I could (though it could be a slight overkill!).
I bought some of the cockatoo fabric a few year’s ago, and had some cushions made up with the material – they are such fun, and add great colour to any room. We also have the accompanying book, which Mstr L adores (he has hysterics every time he sees the naughty cockatoos’ faces as they hide from Monsieur Dupont!).
We are also deliberating over which wallpaper to decorate Mstr M’s room in, and the ABC 123 print is a real contender at the moment. In my dream playroom (which only exists in my dream house, on pinterest, along with the hugest tree house, in our dream garden) I would go for the awesome black ABC 123 wallpaper. Just amazing.
We have very kindly been given the coolest Quentin Blake print for Mstr M’s christening from his Uncle (Mstr P), which already has pride of place on his wall.
Lucky Mstr M also has this fab ‘Ten Frogs’ book too – so I am getting him accustomed to a bit of Quentin Blake, before I plaster his room entirely in the print.
On a side note, this umbrella would make such a cool Christmas present (Uncle P?…)