Illustrated Teacup

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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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