Friday, 15 January 2016

Friday I'm in love... with individuals

Very sad news to hear about David Bowie's death this week. I've found myself quite surprised by how much it's affected me actually - of course he's a huge talent, has written some fantastic tracks, many of which were the soundtrack to my childhood, but I would never have classed myself as a huge Bowie fan. Until now. Because I suppose his death, so dignified in the way he handled it, made me think about him more than I have done before. About how he was so much more than a musical talent. About how brave he was to be the person he was - someone so different for his time in terms of the songs he sang, the clothes he wore, the things he said. Someone who was so sure of himself that he felt no need to conform and be like everyone else. Who steadfastly took his own path and never compromised who he was. Who celebrated being individual. Someone whose individuality inspired others to be brave and be themselves too. If I've learnt anything from Bowie it's that we should all feel free to do/ say/ sing/ wear/ be whatever we bloody want to.

Because I was thinking - what if Bowie had listened to the people who mocked him for having long hair, or wearing make up? What if he'd lost confidence and not been who he really wanted, cleaned his face, bought a polyester suit and got a boring office job? We'd all have missed out on so much! And what if others with such talent and ideas have conformed along the way and not felt bold enough to stand up and say "this is me". There could be so much more music and magic in the world if we all took a leaf out of Bowie's book and stayed true to ourselves. And as a parent this means more to me now than it ever has - I so want to instill this into Arlo so he feels comfortable in his own self, whoever he wants to be. So let's be brave, try all those new things we keep thinking about, stick up for ourselves and be exactly the person we want to be. And if that includes drawing a lightening flash on your face, then all the better.

This week I've seen and read so many wonderful tributes to Bowie - these are all worth having a little look at:
  • Caitlin Moran's wise wise life advice 
  • This wonderful little ode to Bowie by super fan Adam Buxton. Incidentally, if you're a Buxton fan (or indeed if you're not) (yet) then I really recommend his new series of podcasts which have been making me lol on public transport all week 
  • This episode of The Flight Of The Conchords, with its perfect Bowie tribute, is worth a watch any day of the year

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Five ways to spruce up the outside of your house in a weekend

It's easy to forget about the front of your house. After all, it's inside your house that you spend most of the time. But here's the thing (and this is going to sound dead obvious I know, but it kind of dawned on me a while back) - the front of the house if the bit that EVERYONE sees. Sure your fam and friends and the occasional meter reader get to see what your house is like from the inside, but loads of people see it from the outside, so it's worth making it feel as nice as the inside, with a few little touches along the way that reflect you.

Since I had this realisation, we've done a few things to spruce up the outside of our house. There are a still a few on the list that we want to do, some of them those annoying, expensive-and-important, but not-actually-that-visually-different kid of jobs (the worst kind). The ones we've done so far tend to be more of the fun, minimum-effort, maximum-output kind of jobs (the best kind). So if you're thinking your front could do with perking up, here are five easy ways you can make a difference in a jiffy this weekend:

1. Paint the outside. Or just a bit of the outside, like we did recently when we got the front of our bay window painted in a nice neutral colour. As you can see from the before and after picture above, (the before of which was taken before we'd even moved in!) we had a few fussy light blue bits, and we wanted to 'clean' it all up a bit and it's made a huge difference.

2. Make up some window boxes. Like we did just the other day. You won't regret it. 

3. Change the numbers. So this is the thing I want to do next. I don't hate our house number at the moment, but I think it could do with a bit of an update now that the rest of the house has been spruced up a bit. These are my current faves, and there are more ideas on my pinterest board here, so watch this space.

4. Change your curtains. Net curtains don't have to be frumpy. I found our spotty ones in Ikea (where else?) and they look as nice from the outside as they do the inside. They don't make these ones anymore, but I found the two pairs above which I believe to be pretty lovely too. They get bonus points for helping visitors figure out which house on the street is yours - I'm always telling people we're the house with the spotty curtains.

5. Get a new front door. I want this more than I want any of the following: a new series of Spaced, 10 Whistles dresses, waking up every morning with really amazing eyebrows ready to go*.  That's big. You can see more front door porn romance in this post I wrote here

*Nah, actually I think I'd go for the eyebrows. But the front door is close.

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Saturday, 9 January 2016

My 2016 resolutions

This pic is one I took of the Chris (Simpsons Artist) book that I got for Christmas. It's AMAZING and so is he.

I'm not really one for new year's resolutions - they're usually a bit too abstract and big and difficult to actually stick to for my liking, but this year there are a couple of things want to do that are really tangible - they're more goals for 2016 I suppose, but in the spirit of new years, I'll call them resolutions, and I'm sharing them here to make me even more likely to stick to them:
  1. Pass my driving test. This year will be 15 years since I took my first one, so I sense it's probably time I got this sorted.
  2. Be vegan for a month in January. Alex has been meat and dairy free for a few months now so I feel I should give it a go and a month feels like the right amount of time to get into it and see how it feels. My initial concerns have gone now that I've discovered the most amazing diary-free rocky road in the Coop round the corner which is chocolatey heaven, so I'm GOLDEN.
Then as well as these two things, which if I succeed in doing it will feel like a major triumph, I do also want to try and do one other thing this year - or to be more accurate, I want to do less of something. I want to worry less. I always try to be mindful, live in the moment and appreciate the small things, but I think I could do more of it. I want to give less of an F about the things that aren't important. The things I can't change. The things I'm worried I should be doing. I'm feeling quite 'shit or get off the pan' about life right now, and I want to embrace it (sorry for all the swears). As a wise man once said 'if you feel sick just be sick. If you love someone just tell them.' That's my motto for 2016 - if I want to do something, I'm just going to do it. Hopefully this resolution will manifest itself in more ways than just vomit - let's see!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Eeking out Romjul

My favourite Christmas decorations from all I've spotted out and about - the Momins in the window of Brill, EC1R.

Oh hello there - sorry things have been a bit very quiet over here lately, we've just been enjoying a good old Christmas break. Christmas with a toddler that understands what it's all about for the first time is just so magical. Sat on the sofa on Christmas Eve, out of nowhere, this little exchange happened:

Arlo: thank you mummy
Me: for what?
Arlo: Christmas

Not ashamed to say I shed a small tear - it's been a really lovely break, and just what we all needed.

And in particular we've been having a wonderful Romjul (I've just found out what that means, and I love the concept - you can see more info here). We got back home from London the day after Boxing Day and since then we've been lost in a lazy, what-day-is-it / is-there-any-chocolate-orange-left / shall-we-have-an-afternoon-nap kind of time, and it's been wonderful. So more exciting blog-type stuff to come, I promise - for now, I'm off to eek out the last few days of Romjul.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, 14 December 2015

The elephant on the tree

Decorating our little Christmas tree last week was probably one of the best things that's happened to me all year. I say little, it's actually just about as big as it possibly could be, touching the ceiling so that our Christmas robin is perched on the side of the top branch rather than very top. Breakable decorations have been placed high up (out of little arms reach) with safer things at the bottom. A long standing tradition in our house is to buy a new tree decoration each year. This usually is something I find very hard to do, as I can never decide on just one! This year I wanted to get something Arlo would love, and when I saw this in a local shop I knew it was the one - a little pink elephant. Hand-stitched and made from bright pink silk, he's pretty fragile (there's already a bit of stuffing sticking out the trunk due to some rigorous cuddling endured when Arlo first spotted him) but I hope he'll become a tree stalwart that we hang up every year, reminding us of this Christmas. The year Arlo loved elephants, understood who Father Christmas was, and gasped at the tree every morning like he was seeing it for the first time. The year I got butterflies in my tummy just thinking about his face when he opens his presents (which may or may not also be elephant related. Clue: they are). I hope elephants really don't ever forget, because I want to remember this Christmas forever please.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Friday I'm in love... with a Christmas gift guide for a little animal-lover

I'm finding it a little tricky to find the perfect Christmas present for Arlo this year. I don't want to go mad and get him loads of stuff, I just want to find one great thing that will really make him smile on Christmas morning. One thing's for sure - it will have to involve animals in some way or another, because this boy is animal-mad. A few of the things I've been eyeing up over the last week or so include: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

Sunday, 29 November 2015

An alternative Christmas tree - how to make a Christmas 'twig'

When it comes to Christmas decorations, I definitely fall into the 'More is More' camp, but I can totally see why people would go down the 'tasteful and discreet' route too. For the last couple of years my mum hasn't had a traditional Christmas tree - in theory this is down to what she says is doing a more 'low key' Christmas, but in practice she bought a new sofa a couple of years back which means there isn't actually any space for a tree even if she wanted one. Last year she had what we fondly referred to as "the twig" and I happened to be over for a cuppa a this morning when she decided to try "the twig" out for a second year. I couldn't resist snapping a few pics because it's just SO gorgeous. This is such a pretty, simple alternative to a traditional Christmas tree, especially if you're short on space, because you can sit it on a table or shelf instead of using floor space for it. 

Tempted to try a twig of your own this Christmas? It couldn't be easier:

  • Go for a lovely winter stroll. Keep an eye out for discarded twigs.
  • Bring a twig home and spray paint it white in the garden (not strictly necessary but this is what my mum did and it totally works)
  • Pop white twig into the right kind of pot or bottle (essentially something with a narrow neck so it stays pretty upright).
  • Pause to put on some Christmas music at this stage to really get into the festive spirit - current faves are Christmas Wrapping, Driving Home for Christmas and Stop the Cavalry.
  • First you need some lights. White bulbs keep it classic, and small and delicate are good. We used ones that are on a very thin wire, which is great because they can be 'moulded' into whatever shape you need and the little LED bulbs looks like they're just floating in mid air. So far, so pretty. 
  • Then you can add some ornaments - rules of thumb we stuck to: small and dainty are best (plus really heavy ones can bend the twig), stick to pastels and non-traditional Xmas colours like pink and turquoise, anything that's bird-shaped particularly works, seeing as it's a twig and all, and use the ones that mean the most (which for us include; the only two remaining ornaments my mum has from when she was little and a couple of dubious-looking felt creations my sister or I made at school). This is really were 'Less is More' comes in, and I had to stop myself from hanging something from every branch available - just a smattering of the most delicate and pretty ornaments is all you need. 
  • Stand back and admire. Join in with whichever Christmas tune happens to be playing, if the moment takes you. 

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