Illustrated Teacup

Family | Lifestyle | Food | Tattoos | Southampton

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Christmas Gifts for your geek friend


I always always find Dann incredibly difficult to shop for, in fact, guys in general are pretty hard to shop for. So my fail-safe is always geek inspiration.

Of course I know that not all geeks are guys, but I will admit this guide was inspired by the guys in my life, and a little something, something for the geeky girls.

So I've pulled together some of my absolute favourite geeky gifts, perfect for any lovable nerd.


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Monday, 20 November 2017

Christmas Gifts for a toddler


Christmas shopping for kids, particularly babies and toddlers, can be a bit of a mine field. What do kids really want? And possibly more importantly, what does mum and dad want the kid to have?

To kick off my gift guide season, I've put together a few of my favourite finds, perfect for toddlers - including a mix of keepsake items, as well as role playing toys and educational and fun play room additions.
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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Welcome to Paradise.... Wildlife Park


About seven years ago, okay, almost exactly seven years ago, Dann took me to a zoo for my 21st birthday and paid for me to be a big cat keeper for the day. It was probably the best gift I've ever received and has stayed with me as one of the best experiences of my life, and paved the way for my trip to South Africa in 2012.

So when we were invited back to Paradise Wildlife Park* I jumped at the chance. Taking Henry to a place that holds such great memories was an absolute must, and as it just so happened to be my birthday weekend, it was the perfect excuse.

We also took along Danns sister and her girls to have a big family trip out and it was all kinds of perfect.


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Friday, 17 November 2017

Why we're not a perfect outfit family


The other day on the way to nursery with Henry it kind of hit me that his outfit was pretty ridiculous! And I have to admit right now, it was partly my doing, so I can't entirely blame Dann for the "dad outfit".
So on this particular day he was wearing
A white long-sleeve vest
A black t-shirt
A handmade Flash romper (from his very talented Auntie Sammie)
An orange and grey dribble bib
Bright green Dinosaur wellies
A dinosaur woolly hat (it was cold, hence the extra t-shirt layer and the hat.)


And I realised that literally none of that matched - apart from the wellies and hat.

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

#OneLessWorry How We Get Christmas Ready


My favourite time of year is almost upon us, but I have to admit I usually start my Christmas prep way before December hits.
I like to think I'm a pretty organised person, and that quality seems to go into over-drive when I start planning Christmas.

One of my favourite things about Christmas is actually the present buying. I just love buying gifts, and I really love shopping for them. Searching out that perfect gift just gives me a little buzz, especially when I know they are going to love the gift.

But this means preparing early as one thing I have learnt from becoming a mother is shopping centres, kids and crowds are a cocktail for catastrophe, even if the pushchair does give you ample storage for all those bags.

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Sunday, 5 November 2017

How we transformed our conservatory into a playroom



When we bought our home two and a half years ago we were a little perplexed on what to do with the conservatory that was unceremoniously attached to the back of our house.
I must admit, it's never really been something I've wanted, though it wasn't a deal breaker having one either. We just struggled to know what to do with the space. It's a large area, but with it being colder than the rest of the house in the winter, and warmer in the summer, it's a difficult space to use. 

For a long while the room was used for storage or like an over sized cupboard of junk and miscellaneous home items. Then we discussed turning it into an adult den/escape, filled with plants, a little storage and seating. However we finally decided to combine the last plan into a playroom too. The playroom we had upstairs wasn't really practical and would eventually become a second bedroom. Plus we got the rabbits and decided to house them in the conservatory too, so playroom/conservatory is what we've created. 

And it's fast becoming my favourite room in the house. 

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Friday, 3 November 2017

Yellow Coats and Sea Views


Aren't these matching coats just the cutest?
After falling in love with this photo on Pinterest, I knew I had to get matching coats for Henry and I.

It's always been a bit harder to do the matching outfits thing. It's not quite so easy as the mum and daughter co-ordinated dresses (and no lie, if I ever have a daughter, you can be sure that I will do doing matching dresses!) but I'll take the mum and son clothes when I can.

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

The parenting happiness gap, and why I'm happier now as a parent


I strangely enjoy reading about happiness. 
I mean who doesn't love things that make you happy, and can lead you to having a happier life. 

If you consider how much negativity there is in the world, finding ways to increase your own personal happiness can only be a bonus right? 

What I find most interesting about the whole 'happiness concept' is how competitive it is. Who's happier? Women or Men? Adults or Children? The rich or the poor? Parents or non-parents?

And that last one is the one I want to talk about most.
Apparently parents are definitely less happy than their non-parent counter-parts. 
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Friday, 27 October 2017

Thank You Notes #7



October is one of my favourite months of the year because Autumn is in full swing, and I love a bit of Halloween even if I hate trick or treaters, scary horror films and I'm not big on fancy dress!

And although this month has been low on the adventure front, we have gotten a lot done, and celebrated a lot too.

Also how cute are these photos from a little trip to the woods. It's one of my favourite things to do if we're at a loose end, get outside and enjoy some nature. We love being outside and I just find parenting so much easier when Henry is occupied outdoors, although everything is achieved at a much slower pace.

So here's my thank you notes, starting with outdoors fun with my boys.
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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Autumn Maple Bagel Skewers



Autumn is the best time for lots of home cooking, and treating yourself. It's getting colder so why not, right?
I was going to name this a Halloween and Bonfire Night treat, but to be honest, I want it every night, so an Autumn treat it is.

I don't think there is is much better than sweet yummy carbs, and although I'm not a huge bread fan, I can eat bagels daily (I really feel like I would be perfectly at home in New York.... bagels, cheesecake and shopping.... that's me happy!)

So when I was challenged to come up with a recipe for the New York Bagel Company's new Mini Maple Bagels*, I knew I was up for a fun little treat.
I wanted to create something that associates with the two autumn holidays - Halloween and Bonfire Night - and make something that we can have year after year.

And the Maple Bagel Skewers with homemade caramel toffee sauce was born.

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Monday, 23 October 2017

Dinosaurs arent just for Christmas - Wookey Hole Dinosaurs


OK that title was more for fun than anything as this post has literally nothing to do with Christmas, but there are dinosaurs... I promise. I pretty much just wanted an excuse to share some of the photos we took when we went to Wookey Hole at the beginning of the month, and share a little bit of our experience there. 

I went to Wookey Hole for the first time back when I was a kid. I think I was about 11 years old, so we're talking 16 years ago, and although I had some pretty good, though vague memories about the place, I knew I wanted to go back, especially as we were already in the area. 

I have to admit, the place has been updated a lot since I was there last, but I guess after 16 years, you kind of have to expect that. 

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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Photobook fun with Lifecake


We're a little obsessed with photos... in case you hadn't noticed. 
I take literally so many, and I can't share them all on social media. Well I could but I think a lot of people would probably start to get a little frustrated with the photo spam. 
And I really think my photography addiction has escalated since I had Henry. I just don't want to miss a cute photo opportunity, or capture a memory. 

Although I do really believe in being in the moment too, I just can't help having a camera in hand to grab those candid moments and the fun family photos. Plus I have literally the worst memory, so I find having photographic evidence really helpful for remembering all our little adventures and family moments. 

Since last year, we've been using the Lifecake app to store a good (read very high) percentage of Henry's photos. These include ones of him on his own, but also family ones too. And we basically have an online photobook, in time order (the app reads the meta data of the image and orders them in date order based on the image information - though you can edit if it isn't correct). You can read all about the app in this post from last December - look out for the very cute Henry photos at six months old!!

Although I do love having all our images backed up (again... I literally have our photos backed up in so many places as I worry I'm going to lose them all!) and the timeline is fab, nothing beats real printed images. 
I, of course, have photo albums to put my printed off images, because they are my ultimate faves. But I also really love photobooks, especially as gifts. 

Lifecake have now introduced their own photobook* service, and I was asked to make a little video all about the process.
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Friday, 20 October 2017

Eating sand and other things my toddler does that makes me pull my hair out



Does anyone else get up in the mornings and just wonder where their day is going to go, because to be honest, every day with a toddler brings new challenges and fun experiences.

One thing I've really noticed with toddlers is their sense for adventure - well at least with my toddler anyhow - and also their complete lack of fear and repercussion. I guess in some respects it is kind of wonderful. Wouldn't it be great if we could do things without worrying about the consequences. I'm not talking criminal or really dangerous, but like taking that leap of faith, but every single day, without a worry.

Of course, most of their exploring and discovery comes at the expense of parental worrying, and stress.
I've talked previously about the love and worries of motherhood, which protects our littles from harm the majority of the time.

However, with all this adventure and learning comes a lot of "no's" and "be careful's" and the like. I'm trying very hard to step back and let Henry find out things for himself. Let him learn his own abilites, strengths, weaknesses and build his own confidence and resilience, but oh man sometimes it is so so hard.... especially when I see him doing things that literally have my hair falling out (aside from him actually physically pulling my hair out - I genuinely think a hair transplant might be the answer, I've even googled FUE hair transplant cost* just because!)

So what things does my toddler do that make me want to pull my hair out from the root?

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Autumn Home Decorating



Autumn is the best season isn't it?
I pretty much think it is a holiday in itself.
I mean every holiday has it's own form of decorating, and so does autumn, and I am so on board with autumnal decorating!!

Let's be honest, an excuse for candles and pumpkins was always going to be a winner with me, and if you through in a little Halloween quirkiness it's literally like this season was for me.

So with a little help from Homesense*, I've been adding to our home with a little Autumn and Halloween decorating!

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Monday, 16 October 2017

Growing Up


Honestly, where is this year going? I swear only the other day we were celebrating the first blossoms on the trees in Spring, and now the leaves are turning golden and falling to the ground. We're already planning Christmas, and then before we know it we'll be in 2018! 

I know the years have gone by faster as I've gotten older, but this year has seriously flown by. 
I think it's a mix of seeing one of my closest friends announce her pregnancy at the beginning of the year, and then seeing him (not literally, I wasn't there) arrive, and also watching Henry grow up,which has made the year feel like it has been the fastest yet. 

As much as this year is quite daunting to feel the year go by so quickly, it's also been the best. 
Seeing this little boy grow up is so rewarding, more so than I ever expected. 
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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Pumpkin Picking


It's my favourite of all the autumn pastimes.... Pumpkin picking!!
And luckily for me, we live literally about three roads over from a Pick Your Own farm which also has many pumpkin patches where you can pick your own pumpkins!
I think this year they have three pumpkins patches to explore, each at least the size of a football pitch.

We decided to pop along one Monday afternoon and it was peacefully quiet so we had the patch all to ourselves.

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Quarter 3 Reading List


With the colder nights coming in, it's the perfect season for books.
Unfortunately I find summer nights really tricky to read in because I feel like I need to be outside or being more productive. I think it's all the natural light.

This past quarter has been a slower one on the book front, but I have read a bit of a mix of fiction and non-fiction which is quite unusual for me. I'm not usually a big fan of non-fiction books, but I'm trying to push myself outside my comfort zone with my reading, though I think this may have contributed to me reading less.

So what have I read this quarter?

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Sheep Fields - and the love & worries of motherhood



Is there anything better than family time? Recently we popped up to visit Dann's parents for the weekend and it was just the nicest chill weekend. There's something about those cosy weekends with family with lots of food, walks and play time.

We always make sure we get outdoors lots as the village is set in the middle of beautiful countryside and I really think the country is so important for young minds.

This always includes a dog walk through the sheep fields, which is a popular trip. Spending time with the dog and his grandparents is one of Henry's favourite things, and seeing them all together definitely makes up for the restless nights and the distance we travel.
Although we don't live thousands of lies away from the grandparents it's a good hour and a half to two hours journey time in the car. And with a busy lifestyle, finding time to visit can be tricky.

There are so very many perks to being a parent. All the smiles, cuddles, laughter and adventures. It seriously is the best thing in the world. I so often watch Henry exploring or discovering something new and it makes my heart swell with pride and love.

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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Life with boys


I was never really certain I would have a boy.
I'm one of three girls, and although I know this really makes no difference to what gender you have, I just sort of assumed that I would follow in my mother's footsteps (to be fair she also thought Henry was going to be a girl).

Don't get me wrong, having a son has been the most wonderful experience, and I have no daughter regrets (yet). Henry is everything you could want from a little boy, but there have definitely been some tricky bits. 

I'm totally out-numbered 3 to 1 - yes I include the cat in this! But I'm really quite happy with the arrangement.

So what is life like with boys?

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Thursday, 5 October 2017

Families that brunch together - & 5 places to brunch in Southampton


I've always had this thing about brunch.
You see I'm not really a huge breakfast fan as I'm really more into getting as much sleep as possible, over making a lengthy breakfast. Lunch can be a bit hit or miss for me too. Work and home lunches tend to be a bit samey, so unless I've gone out for lunch, it's not that treat a meal to me.
But then came brunch. I used to dream (ok maybe not actual dream, but definitely daydream) about brunch with my gal pals ala Sex in the City, and thought you know you've kinda made it when you can brunch on the regular.

Luckily for me, I do brunch, though it is almost exclusively at the weekends.
I mean who doesn't love the idea of poached eggs, toast, pancakes and coffee being at the table on a Saturday at 11am, with your loved ones. In fact, brunch with my boys is definitely one of my favourite weekend pastimes.

So a few weekends ago when we went for an impromptu brunch, I grabbed the camera too.

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The start of Autumn


Autumn is the best. Autumn walks are better. Family Autumn walks might just be the best thing ever.

We decided to celebrate the arrival of autumn with a little autumnal walk (and fashion shoot, and well actually there was a lot of photo taking really) and make the most of the best season before winter arrives. 

Now I would apologise for the sheer number of photos in this post but I just love so many of them. 
I know we're incredibly lucky to live so close to so many country parks, and I think they are at their best in September and October when the colours are starting to change and become those tonal warm oranges and reds that I adore. 
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Friday, 29 September 2017

Thank You Notes #6 - That floral top edition


I actually feel extra motivated with this month's Thank You notes as I've been reading Meik Wiking's new book The Little Book of Lykke* and one of the recommendations is to write down things that have made you happy or grateful to help you remember the little everyday things that make your life good.

So this month has been a pretty strange one. We haven't been overly productive, nor done a great deal, but we also haven't had much in the way of bad days. Just days muddling along. And I'm really okay with days like that.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Autumn has Sprung: A fashion shoot in the woods


It's hardly a surprise to any of my regular readers that I'm a big fan of autumn, and aside from the whole Hygge factor, and the extra cosiness, tea and warm tones, the other thing I adore about autumn is the fashion!!

I'm all about knits, scarves, hats, boots and oversized everything! Plus I'm really a dark tone kind of person, with a little white thrown in (pastels just don't work on me) so autumn colours really make me happy. Give me black, brown, blue, red, tan, and yellow clothes any day of the week and I'm a happy bunny!

I've recently found a great new love in the form of WearAll* who are bringing the best of the autumn fashion trends to life, and I couldn't say to a little fashion shoot with all of the autumnal vibes!

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

22 things to love about autumn


I love a little light-hearted band wagon, and I don't really know if you can call yourself a blogger if you don't do one of these entirely pointless, but nonetheless really fun lists!

Bloggers love autumn, even though the evenings get darker faster which means photography gets infinitely harder, and lazy, unproductive days in bed seem far more appropriate than spending a day working on blog content, but we still love autumn.

Personally I've always been a big fan of autumn, even before my blogging days, but that might have more to do with presents than anything else.
So what's to love about autumn?
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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Henry you're 15 months old!!


I didn't think I was going to do any of these types of posts really, but I actually sort of miss my little monthly updates on how Henry is progressing and developing.
I love that I can look back and see how and when Henry did different things (albeit not the exact date because I am super forgetful), and I kind of find these posts useful from other parents. It's good to get an idea of what to expect next. I know every child is different and will hit their milestones at their own rate, but I find it really useful to know what things can be achieved as it gives you something to aim for, or helps you create ideas for new games or activities that can help develop them further.

So I'm sharing a little 15 month, or a quarterly up date on Henry in his first year. A little for others, and a lot for me!

Plus, I couldn't not share these adorable photos from a few weekend's ago. We were chilling after breakfast and put Henry's wellies on (from Next) and let him run around the house. We've also just finished sorting our conservatory into our little adult den area and needed to sort out all Dann's TKD belts (they all now live in a vase stacked in rank order) and decided to test one out on him. Even I have to admit he looks so so cute here!

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Why I blog and share our life on social media


Often when I'm having a bit of writer's block, or a lack of inspiration for new content, or just generally feeling uninspired, I like to sit back and think about why I blog.

What's the reason for wanting to write about my life, share our stories, for the whole (well maybe not the whole) internet to see. Why do I spend a good percentage of my free time working on new content, taking photos, scheduling social media?

I do it all because I want to keep a little diary of our lives. 
My favourite posts to write and put together are always our family adventure posts. Posts, where the photographs come easily, and tell a story all on their own, and the words just flow into a tale of our latest discovery. A new place that we love, or a revisit with a new pair of eyes.
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Sunday, 17 September 2017

How to get the best self-timer family photos


One of the biggest first world problems we face, especially as a blogging family, is getting family photos.
Admittedly this is not helped by the fact I'm actually really particular about photos, especially of myself.
But my favourite photos are definitely the ones of the three of us together, and I'm a little gutted that I've only just learnt the great success of utilising that self-timer on my Canon 200D, as we don't have too many photos of the three of us together from when Henry was little, bar the odd selfie, and two photo shoots we had done.

However, now that I've learnt a few little tips and tricks, and had a few rather lovely comments on my Instagram on some of my successful photos, I thought I would do a little blog post.

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

6 things I've learnt from Baby Led Weaning


I'm not really 100% sure when a child officially comes to the end of their weaning journey. I feel like it's around the age of one, but we're still learning new things when it comes to the dinner table, even today at 14 months.

If you've followed Henry's journey on this blog, you'll know we went for the Baby Led Weaning route for introducing food, and it has worked well for us.

Of course every single child is different, and as parents, we can only do what we feel is best for each individual child. I also have no qualms with flavour led/traditional weaning methods and truly do believe that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to wean your child. I'm just sharing what we've learnt thorough our journey.

So what have we learnt from Baby Led Weaning?

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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Pizza, Pasta and Wine at Supermarine, Woolston


Italian food always brings up so many happy memories. 
From our time back-packing around Italy, taking in all the top cities, from Florence and Venice, down to Rome, Pompei and Sorrento. 
And one of the best things about Italy is it's food. Yes the architecture and history is what draws you in, but I truly fell in love over the food. 

So finding authentic Italian cuisine is always a huge hit with me. 
We're lucky in Southampton that we have a few pretty great Italian restaurants, but I think I've found a new favourite, that really feels like Italy, right on my doorstop... Supermarine* in Woolston, Southampton. 
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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Talking all about my tattoos + VIDEO!


I'm often asked all about my tattoos. How many do I have? Most painful one? What ones do I actually have? Where are they all? 

I've covered a little bit about them on my "about me" page, but I figured as I've started a Youtube channel, it was the perfect time to go the Tattoo Tag and really talk about all my tattoos and some of my favourite tattooists.

At the end of this post you'll find my video, but I thought I'd also include some photos and links here too so you can have a good look!

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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

The final summer farm adventure


We can already feel the seasons changing, and the cooler, crisp autumn days are really on their way, and I'm not going to lie, I'm a-okay with that. I really love autumn, and although this summer has been pretty great, I'm looking forward to the next few months too! 

Over the Bank Holiday weekend (our last one til Christmas which is kind of insane to think about!!) we decided to pay a final summer visit to Manor Farm - don't we'll be back in October I'm sure as they have their own pumpkin patch which I'm very happy about. 

This time, we decided to focus on video over images, though of course I got lots of photos too! But I wanted to capture a little bit of the life within the farm, and also keep a record of those early fun steps with Henry. 
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Monday, 4 September 2017

Kingdom of You


I swear we have the biggest collection of soft toys ever in our house, and Henry loves them all. I feel like part of his love for animals stems from his stuffed animal collection. And his growing love of books (yay!!) from his rapidly growing library!

I think reading stories with your teddies is an absolute must for little ones, so we're starting early with little help from Wonderbly and the Kingdom of You book*. And I caught him red-handed at story time with his fluffy friends.

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Thursday, 31 August 2017

The boys made smoothies


Sunday's should always be for lazing around and having long breakfasts.
Last Sunday, my boys were up early, and because we had a large stock of fruit in the fridge from strawberry picking in the week, decided they were going to make smoothies! Yep I felt a little spoilt, I must admit. 
We decided to make this recipe for a Raspberry and Strawberry Smoothie which we slightly amended, which I will detail below. 

I pretty much think this was the perfect morning making these smoothies, and it was literally exactly how I pictured having kids before I had Henry. Him sat on the worktop, putting the fruit in the blender (supervised obviously) and actually helping with making our food. I think baking may be next on the cards!! 
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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Countryside Adventures


One of the perks of living away from family is that you get to go and visit them. And luckily for us, our family (most specifically Dann's parents) live in very places. 

We keep our weekends free for travel and family adventures, and the a couple of weekends ago we decided to drive back up to visit Ninny and Grumpy for a Saturday chill in the sunshine. 

Of course I took along the camera as the village Dann grew up in so perfectly photographic and is pretty much an Instagram dream. 

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Friday, 25 August 2017

Thank You Notes #5 - The Woodlands Edition


I can't be the only one who is a little dismayed that the summer is basically over - although I am pretty excited for Autumn, because we know I LOVE autumn! 

This summer has been one of the absolute best though as Henry is walking about and just generally been a pleasure to have around. I feel like we're making the most of our summer weekends which is always a good feeling too. 

So here's to another month of thank you notes....

Thank you Holly Hill Woodland for giving us a new favourite place to visit when we kind of accidentally found you whilst in search of a play-park! You were WAY more than we were expecting and I'm very much looking forward to lots of summers of exploring!
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Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Cake and The Birthday Thief


Is there anything better in life than a really good book and a hot cup of tea? Well as an adult, not much beats that chilled out feeling of zoning out with a great story. 
But for a kid, I think the ultimate equivalent is a picture storybook and cake!

If you've read this blog for a while you'll know that we adore books, and as a writer of sorts, and a huge reader, having an extensive library has always been a priority. 
I also really believe that books can make some of the best gifts ever. 
And even more so if they're personalised. 

Enter Wonderbly and their story The Birthday Thief*. 
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Monday, 21 August 2017

City strolling with Cosatto


Ok so you may have noticed that as a family we like to get out and about?!
Fortunately for us we live in an area with the biggest mix of places to go, including Southampton City Centre. 

Now that Henry is a bit older, it felt right to change over our pushchair to something a little lighter and easier to navigate around with. 
Enter Cosatto... 

I fell in love with Cosatto late last year after seeing a number of bloggers with BEAUTIFUL travel systems and car seats. We ended up buying the Hubbub ISOFIX seat for Henry and we absolutely love it, so it only made sense to have a stroller from them too!

Say hello to our city strolling pal.... the Supa Dragon Kingdom*! 


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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Strawberry Picking


I think it's a blogger's summer rite of passage to get themselves to a 'pick your own' so obviously we had to go and have a visit to our local farm. 
Luckily for us Pickwell Farm is walking distance from our house so last Saturday when we had a free afternoon we toddled off to get some fresh fruit and veg and a run around in the fields. 

Of course we got a load of photos - which I LOVE - but I also decided to test out the video function on our Canon 200D and start our journey into Youtube!!! I've embedded the little video at the at the end of the post so make sure you have a little watch, and subscribe to my channel
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Friday, 18 August 2017

Happy Hour at Taco Bell


Dann and I have a bit of a thing for Mexican food. 
Some of our earliest date nights would be in Chiquitos in Ocean Village, and fajita friday was definitely a regular occurrence. 

Back in November last year I was invited to the Taco Bell opening in Southampton, and since then I've been promising Dann a visit! Luckily, Taco Bell invited us along to try their Happy Hour menu* so Dann finally got his way. Parenting and going on date night aren't a friendly combination in the baby days!  
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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Displaying keepsakes - a pin board DIY


One of my absolute favourite things about owning my own home is that we can decorate however we like, and this includes showing off bits about our life and memories. 
I'm actually a bit of a keepsake lover too, especially tickets and invites, and bits of bobs from travels. 
However I get a little down in the dumps about having it all hidden away. 

Up until recently we had all our little keepsakes in our glass-topped IKEA table which was living in our conservatory. However our tickets were starting to get sun bleached and the table is going soon as we are moving the sofa into its place.

So I decided to display everything on a pin board at the top of our stairs, and here's now/why I did it.
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Lights, camera, action - capturing kids on the move!


One of the perils of being a parent to a toddler is that they're constantly on the move, which can make photographing them somewhat tricky. 
We all want photos of our little ones to look back on, but this wonderful fun stage does seem to lend itself to many a blurred and occasionally out-of-focus photograph of your smiley rosey-cheeked angel. 

With this in mind, and having had A LOT of practice taking photos of Henry - it feels like he is never ever still,but that might just be me - I took up the challenge with Lifecake* and Canon, to share some of my top tips for photographing kids on the move! 

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Friday, 11 August 2017

The tale of a teething toddler - and how you can help yours


If you're a parent or have been close to a parent of a child, you will undoubtedly have heard some complaints about teething.

Teething is a pain... in the mouth, and the head for parents.

The tale of teething includes red cheeks, puddles of dribbles alongside mountains of damp bibs, tears from both toddler and parent, sleepless and stressful nights, sore bums, and the ultimate break through of a tooth which elicits more excitement than fridge chocolate!

For us it feels like Henry has been teething forever, but we actually got our first tooth through just after his first birthday....not going to lie, it feels like the prior months of dribble was a total waste, but I guess that's the fun of parenthood!

Since that first tooth, we've had a further three emerge, with another two starting to show their pearly goodness, all in the space of a month! Yikes!
We've been on a mission of learning with teething and with a little help from Nuby have found our way through the teething nightmare, with limited stress and no loss of life (phew).

(also check out our self timer photos using our new camera!! So much fun!!)

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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

How we renovated our garden for under 1k


We've been in our house now for just over two years, and to be honest have done quite a bit of work transforming it into a place we love that suits us as a family. We've completely overhauled the kitchen (including basically everything in the kitchen minus new flooring) and the upstairs bathroom, as well as redecorating every single room, re-flooring all of the upstairs and creating a nursery and playroom.

Whilst the main focus of our home was to make it ready indoors for a family, we realised that we had kind of let the garden fall behind. But we're now finally there with it.

Because of our somewhat limited English summers, we didn't really want to spend a fortune on the garden but wanted to try and make it as child friendly and safe as possible.
We had a £1,000 budget, and I think we stuck to it pretty well, with a little help from family. (you can see some before shots, in this garden post!)

So what did we do?

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Monday, 7 August 2017

Why Hampshire is Home


I moved to Southampton in September 2008 to start studying for my Journalism degree.
A little known fact, Dann actually moved down to Southampton in June 2009 so we could move in together. Since then, Hampshire has been our home away from home. We're both originally from Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire (there's some question as to what county Dann's home village is actually in). We met in Bucks, and 90% of our family is still in the county, so you'll often hear us say we are going back home for a weekend.

But it's a sentence I am planning to drop.

Don't get me wrong, I love my old home. I think I might even love Dann's old home more than my own. Our visits there always stick with me, and we have some of our fondest memories there - including our wedding which was in the church in Dann's village, and the reception in my favourite local town.

But it is no longer really home.
It was a home. But our home is now in Hampshire.

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Friday, 4 August 2017

Why I love leg tattoos


You may have noticed recently that I've had a number of new tattoo additions added to my legs.
I'm kind of on a collecting mission especially since meeting the absolute doll that is Madeleine June and falling head over heels for her artwork and tattoo style. Plus she's a fellow hufflepuff so we're essentially kindred spirits.

I've always been a big fan of leg tattoos but have been slower in the collection front in this area until now.
For me, my legs are for collecting a mish-mash of cute smaller tattoos. Definitely all in colour.

You see. I kind of have a love/hate relationship with my legs. From the knee down I'm OK with them. My calfs aren't half bad. But my thighs, well they're a different story entirely.

And that's half the reason I'm on a leg tattoo collecting mission. Because the more ink i have on my legs, the happier and more confident I feel about them!!

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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The best burgers in Southampton and shaking our own cocktails


One of the things I love about being a blogger, especially in Southampton, is that I get to see a lot of the new restaurant launches pretty early on, and learn about all the great new businesses in the area.
I'm also a really big fan of supporting local businesses and independent companies, particularly if they are local!

One of our absolute favourite Southampton businesses is Mettricks. I've talked previously about their coffee houses (now numbering five!!) and their great coffee masterclasses, and now is the turn of a little something new from the Mettricks gang!

Welcome to Vospers*, a rather gentlemanly and cosy burger restaurant, steeped in Sotonian history. Unlike your normal burger place, it's no diner, but rather one of a kind wooden tables and deep leather chairs with a mish mash of old wooden chairs and antique furniture. Think an upscale Mettricks with burgers, and more alcohol!

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Friday, 28 July 2017

Thank You Notes #4 - the co-ordination edition


Another month down, another month to be thankful!
July has been such a strange month. 

We've had very busy days, and very quite days. 
We've had beautiful sunshine, and pouring rain and thunderstorms! 
I've had some of the best blogger collaborations land in my emails, but had illness and sleepless nights to contend with. 

It's very much been a month of swings and roundabouts!
But I suppose that's life, and we should be thankful for what we have, even dreadful wet weather, because although we can't really go outside to play, it's doing wonders for the plants and grass in the garden.
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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Puppy love


Man's best friend is his dog, or so they say.
A to some extent I really do have to agree because you'll never see a boy happier, than seeing Henry with his favourite pup.

Since he was small(er) Henry has always had a love for dogs, which we can only assume came from meeting Dann's parent's dogs when he was quite young. They were the most tolerant of dogs, and although we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Bob a couple of months back, Alfie remains, and has fast become Henry's furry best friend.

As an animal lover (er hello I'm Hufflepuff,like you expected anything else) it makes me endlessly happy to see Henry fascinated by animals and showing zero fear. He is quite happy to play fetch with Alfie, or push him away when Alfie decides it's face wash time. They trot alongside each other quite cheerfully and sit for a cuddle. It truly is the most endearing sight to see.

A couple of weekends back I got a load of photos of the pair of them (partly for this post) and I couldn't not share them as they're just so damn cute!


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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Bigger, better and more Lush | Lush Launch at Westquay


Any self respecting blogger and bathtime lover has heard of Lush right? And if you haven't, then where on earth have you been for the last few years?

Anyway, as a blogger I've grown to learn and love more and more about Lush over the years, and definitely have a minor addiction to the smell of the Comforter (and a sentimental love for Prince Charming which was my post-birth shower gel of choice so has lots of special memories).

Here in Southampton we've had our little but very much loved Lush on the High Street, tucked away behind the Bargate. However it's popularity was making it's little home quite crowded!
Luckily, and with enormous pleasure, Lush has relocated, and has a new home inside Westquay, with three times the space, and three times the amount of products too!! Can we get a hell yeah over here?!?!

I was very kindly invited along to their launch evening* last Thursday, ahead of their official opening last Friday, and thought I'd share with you a little insider look of the new store, and what we got up to.
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Monday, 24 July 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words - Canon EOS 200D Photo Challenge


A picture is worth a thousand words.
Never has a truer statement been made.
And it's a philosophy that I live by.
Yes I'm a words girl. I live for writing. But I also live for photos. Photos have the ability to bring back so many memories, create new opinions, endure feelings. Photos... they're my jam.

And I'm a Canon girl, through and through. Ever since my university days when I would hire out a DSLR from our media rooms to do my photojournalism course.

Although a fujifilm was actually my first ever DSLR camera of my own, it was a cheap buy from a friend, and my heart wanted a Canon. So I saved up and bought my 1100D.
It's lived a very good life, even surviving a four foot drop from a bookcase (thank you cat!) and has toughened up with a toddler too!

But now I'm upgrading, and I've been put to the challenge by Lifecake and Canon, to truly road test the brand new Canon EOS 200D* and show you how each photo is worth a thousand words.
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