Sunday, 31 May 2015

Scrapbooking in May: the very beginning

Ever since I started scrapbooking about a month or so ago, I haven't been able to stop. When I got my first set of scrapbooking supplies, I printed a load of current photos and set about getting them all in order, but since then I've realised that I want to go back and start at the beginning.

So that's what I've done - I've taken all the images from the moment Arlo was born, removed them from the boring albums they were in, and started getting them logged in my new scrapbook folder. I enjoy this format so much more than plain albums because you can fit a lot more photos on one page, which really helps capture an event or moment in time, you can play with photo sizes and crop them down so you have a mixture of big and small shots alongside each other, and of course you can add to the photos with notes, words, pictures, doodles, quotes... anything you like. The finished article really helps capture memories better than a plain album, and the process of doing it is so much fun too.

Each month I'm going to do a round-up of scrapbooking to capture what's been logged that month. It's essentially another chance for me to look back over old pics of Arlo and say things like "How was he ever that small?" for the umpteenth time. So May saw a lot of scrapbooking action, and I took it right back to the start to document those first few months with tiny Arlo - it was a long hot summer and he was the littlest ever. Feels like a very long time ago now - I'm so glad I have this to remember those days (and long nights!) by.

But seriously, how was he ever that small?

Friday, 29 May 2015

Friday I'm in love... with pay day

Things that I do every single pay day:

  1. Weep a salty tear of relief
  2. Buy some fresh flowers and order a shitload of Nespresso capsules in an excited flurry of feeling loaded
  3. Sort out all the boring stuff like mortgage, council tax, bills etc etc etc 
  4. Begin precise countdown until the next pay day

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Now we are one

Archie and Arlo share lunch
The birthday boy
"Happy birthday Archie!"
Tired on the train ride home 
This weekend we assembled at my sister's house on the mainland to celebrate my nephew Archie's birthday. We sang, drank, laughed, played and ate cake in the sun. Arlo was a little bit mischievous, taking over quite a lot of the present-opening duties, and a lot sweet, giving his cousin kisses and cuddles. TOP MARKS to my sis, who like me does not possess a natural affinity with baking, but made the most delicious Victoria Sponge this side of Osbourne House (that's a bit of an Isle of Wight reference for you). Happy birthday lovely Archie!

Monday, 25 May 2015

A mini milestone

This week something pretty monumental happened in our world. Arlo and I went for a walk without the pushchair for the very first time. Now, I totally get that that is probably VERY boring for everyone else, but for us it's pretty big news actually. I've never felt happy taking him out for a walk without the pushchair as back up before - every time we've tried, he's not wanted to hold my hand, and tried to run off, and we've had to just turn right around and go home again because it's not felt right. These days he seems more grown up, able to understand more, and he happily held hands and chatted away while we walked up the road.

When we got to the little footpaths that take us to the park, I let go of his hand and he trotted along with his bear and his choo choo (the two favourite toys of the moment). He picked leaves and proudly showed them to all the dogs he met en route (they were fairly non-plussed). Once we got to the park, we played at rolling his choo choo down the wooden ramp that I think is meant for much more boring things like press ups and sit ups.

He kept his beloved bear under his arm the whole time - this boy has a lot of bears, all lined up in his bedroom, all lovely gifts given to us when he arrived. And the one he has chosen as his favourite? The same bear his dad (or 'Diddy', as Arlo calls him, which never fails to raise a smile from me, as I remember when Puff Daddy changed his name the first time round) had when he was a little boy. It's just the sweetest thing.

Friday, 22 May 2015

If tables could talk

Sometimes, you see something in a shop and you know instantly that it's meant for you. This used to happen to me with dresses, but these days it happens mostly with furniture. Which is a shame because our house is already full of furniture. So these days when it happens, and I spot something that I love and know would look ace in our house, as well as being useful, I have a little internal monologue that goes something like:

Me: "Oh this is so gorgeous, I'm just going to get it"
Sensible me: "And put it where though?"
Me: "I dunno, I'm sure there's a perfect spot for it, but in the meantime I just couldn't possibly leave this gem here in the shop, so like I said previously, I'm just going to get it"
Sensible me: "Stop being a dick. Gaaaad."

Quite often you can replace Sensible Me with Alex in this conversation, as he's usually the voice of reason in these types of scenarios.

SO ANYWAY, back to this weekend - I spotted this little gem in a tiny shop that I'd never noticed before. It was right by the door and caught my eye straight away because it was right up my street. I went in to have a look and the shop keeper told me that it was hers, but she was reluctantly selling lots of her furniture because she's emigrating to Australia next month. She also told me that this little side table had the most amazing back-story - it was designed and made by a prisoner on the Island (we have several prisons here because being surrounded by water on all sides makes it more difficult to escape. Except that means that when a prisoner does escape, which ACTUALLY HAPPENED when I was about nine years old, it makes it very likely that he stays on the island, prowling around and hiding in people's sheds, etc. Which means everyone is too scared to go in their shed, or even garden, until they're found. TERRIFYING.)

SO ANYWAY, back to the prisoner - he made the table by hand as a wedding present for his warden, to say thank-you for turning his life around. The lady in the shop had bought it from the warden's daughter in a garden sale when he went into a home. It's really beautifully made, so much time and craft has gone into it.

So it's a beautiful thing, with an amazing story, and a price tag that frankly would have been quadrupled if we were in London.

So basically, I fell in love with it, but thought Alex would out his sensible hat on and remind me (not incorrectly) that we don't need any more furniture. So imagine my joy when I showed him and he loved it too! We bought it then and there and took it home on the back seat of the car. I'm just so chuffed with it. So far, we've tried it in the front room, just by the front door when you get in, and by the dining room table for storing the table mats etc. Neither feels quite right, but it does look good wherever we put it. So even though it currently has nothing in it, and no long-term home, it's definitely a keeper and I know we have the perfect spot for it somewhere, we just need to find it.

ps. Sorry for all the caps lock, this kind of thing makes me over-excited

Home Etc

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Summer brights

A snapshot of a little haul I picked up for Arlo in Mothercare recently. It's getting warmer every day so t-shirts and shorts are what we need to stock up on. I picked lots of brights because Summer is almost here! Stand by for pics of his squidgy little knees peeking out from underneath these yellow shorts some time very soon...

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Our brilliantly middle-aged weekend

I really enjoyed writing last week's little weekend post because it made me stop and think about all the things that happened, rather than it all whizzing by as we prepared for another week to begin. So I thought I'd do another today as we seem to be cramming loads of good stuff into our weekends at the moment. Although as I think back over the last two days, I see a pattern forming. It was decidedly middle aged. Here's a selection of the things that happened:

  • We went bird watching. Kind of anyway - the first picture above is Alex and Arlo emerging from a twitching hut (is that what they're called?!) after we had a little look in as part of our bike ride this afternoon.
  • I mowed the lawn. And afterwards I said something along the lines of "well that was very satisfying"
  • We dawdled our way round a garden centre.
  • We listened to the Archers omnibus. I've surprised even myself.

But it was totally brilliant and I loved every minute of it. Not pictured above: lunch at the best burger place on the Island, picnicking in the sun, taking lie-ins in turns, playing in the garden, back to back Mad Men, exciting vintage furniture finds. 

Weekend highlight: learning how being out and about on a bike is like being part of a cool club, because everyone on a bike says hello to everyone else on a bike, it's so nice. And these are actual proper cyclists, the kind that wear lots of lycra and neon and have little bicycle nap-sacks and stuff. As opposed to the three of us, winding down the road with Arlo in his little kids seat and smallest-child-helmet-you-can-buy, singing the wheels on the bus, me screaming out things like "WHICH SIDE OF THE ROAD SHOULD I GO ON NOW?!" and "I DON'T KNOW HOW TO INDICATE!"

We did some good weekending. Hope you all did too! 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Friday I'm in love... with birthday presents

So, a certain small someone will be turning two very soon, which means presents need to happen. We don't tend to go all out with presents to be honest, as we know he's going to be very spoilt by friends and family as it is (and he's not exactly short of toys as it is), but I do want to make sure he has a couple of special things to open on the morning of the big day. I've collected together a few things I know he'll just love:

one. the boy loves duplo, and he loves animals. This would be job done.

two. I was shocked the other day to realise that we don't actually own a bucket and spade! I plan on getting a lot of beach action this summer so it's going to be an essential. And this crabby set is the cutest I've seen.

three. we've been spending lots of time in the garden lately, and next on our outdoor to do list is to start planting some flowers. Arlo has a little yellow duck-shaped watering can that he loves waddling around with, and I reckon a little trowel and fork for little hands would go down a treat

four. well OBVS we need to get a massive number 2 candle to top Arlo's cake (that I will not be making myself, seeing as I want it to be delicious)

five. books are always a winner and I've just discovered this, which is part of a series about a little elephant called Arlo. I'm coveting it just for the cover alone!

six. now, he probably doesn't need another train set, seeing as he has one already, but this is so mega cute and it comes with a giraffe and everything! I know he'd just love pootling around with this.

seven. this one might just have already been ordered and is winging its way to us now (luckily Arlo can't read) and I'm very excited to set this up and have it ready and waiting for him to discover on his bday. Arlo loves drawing and scribbling everywhere, usually on the walls, so I'm hoping to channel all that creativity and messiness into one area for maximum fun with minimum cleaning required.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Busy days and early nights

Something a bit different happened on Saturday evening. Arlo fell asleep in about 5 minutes flat. This is the boy who's been routinely taking anywhere between 1 - 2 hours each evening to fall asleep after we've taken him up to bed. It was totally, totally, brilliant because I felt like I'd been given the amazing gift of an entire evening to myself - Alex was out for the night so the house was all mine. I choose to spend my evening in the best way I know how - with cups of hot tea in my hand, Charlie Brooker and Gogglebox on the TV, and family photos all over the sofa. I'm still scrapbooking all our photos and I'm just loving getting them all out and going through them all again. Arlo's almost two years old and it seems all at once like it's gone by in a flash and like it's been infinite, it's weird. I'm so desperate not to forget any of it that I'm trying really hard to get photos printed and sorted so that's what's taking up a lot of my time at the moment.

Anyhoo, our boy hasn't always been the best sleeper and this welcome snooze was the result of a really active day for him - after a morning shopping we took him to soft play which isn't something we do that often (especially not on a weekend, as it was pretty mental there as you can imagine!) but he spotted one of his pals from his childminder's straight away and spent the rest of the time following him around and trying everything out. I was especially proud to see him go down the massive slide over and over with the biggest smile on his face (very blurry action shot above that captures the joy - it's hard to focus when someone's sliding THAT fast), after our time at the start of the year when he became a bit too nervous to go down the slide at our local park. Any slide concerns he may have had are officially over, and every time he came hurtling down he picked himself up and yelled "NUVVA WUN!" before doing an impression of an elephant and running back up the stairs. (not sure what the elephant bit was about, tbh).

Then this afternoon Alex and I took it in turns to play with Arlo in the garden while the other did some work on the spare room (more of that in another post because I haven't taken any pics yet, but it's looking GOOD!) and we had such a brilliant time. The garden is becoming one of my favourite places to hang out and Arlo just loved it - we both got soaked playing with his water table on the patio, watered the weeds with his little yellow duck watering can, and I turned a couple of old slates (found propped up against the shed when we moved in) into a makeshift blackboard for us to doodle on. Arlo loved drawing away with the chalk so much, he was a natural. Something tells me that boy is going to wake up to an easel on his birthday next month...

So all in all, it was a day very well spent. The kind of day that I remember having when I was a kid and loving - going ever-so-slightly feral out in the open air, scant regard for usual clothing conventions, getting soaked and having a right laugh.  It was only out in the back garden, but it did feel quite back to basics in a "oh the wifi doesn't stretch to here,  it must be the wilderness" kind of way (I'm joking. Kind of.)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Things I'm thankful for - the election day edition

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, but I've woken up with such a buzz today because I bloody love election day. We all should. We're lucky enough to live in a democracy and we should all exercise our right (and responsibility) to have our say and input into what happens. I'm torn between voting with my heart, and putting a cross next to the party I believe in most, or using my head an making a tactical vote that might not be my first choice, but is a vote against the guys I really don't want to make it in. A lot of that happens here. I think I'll just take a deep breath in the little cubicle at the polling station, and decide on the spot, unless a flash of inspiration hits me in the meantime.

So with a bubbling sense of excitement in my tummy I've been thinking today about the things I'm thankful for - some big, some small, all lovely and important:

  • Choices. I have lots. I'm lucky enough to have been born here, in this country, and now, in this era, which means I can choose things which essentially are basic human rights but have been seen previously as privileges and still are denied to lots of people all over the world. Things like; what I do for a job, whether I even have a job, what I wear, whether to go to school (that choice was kind of made on my behalf but I'm glad it was - good thinking mum and dad), who I live with, when to have a child, you know, just little things like that. I can't imagine not being able to choose these things, it seems totally absurd not to be able to, but I'm lucky and wanted to stop and take a moment to remember that and be thankful.
  • Time off. Last night I booked what will be our first ever proper family holiday. We have a week off work int he first week of June, coinciding with Arlo's birthday, and we'll be going away. The last time we went on hols the Spice Girls were together (for the Olympic closing ceremony, it wasn't the 90s, that would be ridiculous) so this has been a long time coming. I'd forgotten how ace it is to have something to look forward to like getting away. Can't wait.
  • Hobbies. This might sound like a weird one, but for ages I kind of forgot to have any hobbies because I had lots on and trying to fit in a 'hobby' seemed a bit self-indulgent because the other things on my plate were very genuinely important. Things like making sure our baby didn't die / making sure I stayed awake in client meetings so I could make a valid case for getting paid and therefore paying the mortgage. But actually, hobbies are so important! (I'm going to stop using the word 'hobby' now as it's sounding quite gittish, but you know what I mean - something you do that you find fun but isn't essential to your time on earth). Over the last few months they've helped me relax, provided head space, and reminded me how much fun it is to be creative.
  • Creativity. Bit abstract I realise, but truly such a mega-important part of life. I saw someone say the other day that "you can't use up creativity - the more you use, the more you have" and his has been so true for me lately. Yes I'm creative at work and that's brilliant but there's a different kind of freedom to being creative for yourself, just because you fancy it. To create something just for the sake of creating, where the process is just as important as the output. I feel like lately I'm bursting with ideas of things I want to draw, paint, write and make... it's just like when I was nine years old and obsessed with Bitsa. In short, it's ace! 
So dear pals, go forth and vote, make choices and be creative. Such ideal ways to spend your time.

Monday, 4 May 2015

My favourite corners #4 - gallery wall before and after

This post started out as a bit of a 'before and after' but then I realised that our gallery wall is definitely one of my favourite parts of the house, so I've continued my series of My Favourite Corners with this lovely lovely wall.

This weekend I had a revelation. I always thought that when it came to walls, bright white is best. It's light, it's airy, it's clean and it goes with everything, hence most walls in our home are white. This wall in our front room is one of the biggest, most 'free' walls in the house, because it doesn't have any furniture on it, and I decided pretty early on that this would make a brilliant gallery wall, seeing as it would be bloody boring round here if we left it all blank for too long. As you can see, it's not particularly neat or precise, but it's a growing collection of different frames, each housing a little memory of ours, and I like the 'higgledy piggledy' feel. Precise this home is not.

I've been looking at our gallery wall almost every evening for the last year and a half (it's right opposite the sofa after all) and something about it hasn't been feeling quite right. The wall's getting a bit smudgy and dirty, the pictures were looking a bit flat and 'meh' - I was getting bored. So I decided a change was in order. I took all the frames down, one by one, and painted the wall underneath grey. And what a bloody difference some grey makes! The frames all look SO much better against a darker shade, the colours really pop and the pictures stand out more. Even our toy trolley looks better against the grey wall (pictorial evidence above). I'm so mad about it, I've been spending quite some time this weekend just gazing out at it and swooning. Lesson learned: sometimes a darker background shade just makes everything else in the room look brighter by association. 

If you're a fan of corners (and who isn't?) you can see some other Favourite Corners from the series here and here, although I can't guarantee they won't all have been painted grey by the time you read this. 

Home Etc

Friday, 1 May 2015

Friday I'm in love... with birthdays

Well, if I ever needed an excuse for cake, here it is - A Sunny Island is 1 today. One whole year since I started writing stuff down on here. I thought about making a cake for the occasion, but I am basically the crappiest baker ever and it always ends in disaster so I picked up some celebratory fondant fancies instead (the king of cakes, after all). It's been a pretty extraordinary year by all accounts, and I'm so glad I've been keeping track of it on here. Thanks to anyone who's read a single word.