Friday, 20 December 2013

The Nautical Baby Shower Party

Yay! So the lovely Kate Brown is having a baby boy and is due just a couple of days before Christmas. As soon as I found out, I asked if I could help organise the baby shower!

We discussed what type of theme we should go for, both her and hubby John were undecided on the decoration for the nursery. A toss up between nautical and transport (so cute!) My brain started racing away on the nautical side of things and 'Ahoy Its A Boy' was born! Bunting madness was out and about in lovely blue, red and white colours.

Obviously the bunting was staged for this photo!

This one too!
Originally I was going to organise the food as well, however Kate's lovely mum offered to host the event and provide the food. One less thing for me to do! On with the favours, I didn't really want to spend too much money and at the same time a 'favour' is just a small token of gesture so I came up with 'Ready to Pop' bunting and cut up an old cardboard box and made paper cups to hold popcorn. I was really lucky to find these cute photo frames for only £2 each from Wilkinsons which matched the blue colour perfectly.

For Katie's keepsake message, I thought 'Message in a Bottle' was very fitting and bought some netting from a local party shop to create a 'ship wrecked' look, and created a note for all guests to write on and put in a bottle when finished for Katie to read later.

I decided not to do a traditional nappy cake with gifts inside but to keep it simple with nappies only. I made the 'anchor' decorations and used a flower I had from home to decorate. It was really effective and I think I would definitely do this way again.

Just slip in a few origami boats as well!
Chris is such a wizz on the computer, we often laugh at how terrible we are at working together. We are too bossy so at times there are plenty of tears! However he did such justice, the invite was really good and lots of the girls commented on it. He also created a 'letter head' for the baby shower and this was used across all over the games, food labels and just about anything that involved paper! You can probably tell I am very particular about party planning!

The popular invitation
I made Katie a super duper cute ribbon to wear (laminated and all!). I wanted her to feel special but without being uncomfortable so this was perfect!

Kate Brown - In disguise! 
 My darling friend Kate Blonde, decorated the cupcakes and did a smashing job making life rings and boats. Very tasty too! I also attempted a bit of origami for the sale boats. Must have taken me at least 20 attempts to make, but they made really lovely accessories around the room!

Blondes lovely cupcakes

Deciding on what game prizes to buy or make, did make the clogs go round quite a bit. Again I didn't want to spend too much money so I collected a few jam jars and purchased some sweets. I made the labels and used baking sheets for the lids.

So all in all, a very sweet gathering for our yummy mummy to be. Even if she was really knackered by the end of it!

Our Yummy Mummy to be

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Halloween Party

October means one thing... making cute decorations for Halloween! Last year, Poppy had only just started crawling and cruising so it was all about taking a photo of her in a cute outfit. This year she is now a toddler and albeit the attention span is still too short to have organised games and activities (her time will come!) we still had to have a party!

Halloween was obviously the theme and the paper decorations were out and about in their full glory details, I love it and yet again, Halloween in our house started in August!  At this age you want them to look fun rather than scary. So keeping it light, I made a variation of different buntings.

Happy Halloween Pumpkins 
Paper Ghost Garland
Pumpkins, Cats and Frankensteins Bunting

I also made a selection of toilet roll pumpkins and Frankensteins.

Wrapped Toilet Roll Pumpkin
Toilet Roll Frankenstein

These were a very cheap and easy option of ghosts cups. I have lots of LED tea lights left over from my wedding a couple of years ago.  They didn't work that great in the day time.. but by night they were really effective.
Plastic Cup Ghosts
Most of the food I made is quite self-explanatory.  But I was very keen to keep all the food healthy for the kids and to treat the mums that came along we let ourselves have a bit of indulgence in lovely cupcakes (you can see that my piping is coming along a bit now!)  I printed out some free printables to make the cupcake toppers which I thought went well with the theme!

Mini Baby Bell Eyeballs
Spider Cucumber and Sultana Sandwiches
Pumpkin Satsumas and Grapes
Homemade Shortbread Ghosts and Ghouls
Free Printable Cupcake Toppers

The one activities I did organise went down really well (with the mums!) and it also gave them something to take home along with their goodie bags.  As much as I love to go overboard with decorations and creating a party scene, I'm also aware that the kids are much more interested in playing with the toys, so their goodie bags (a pumpkin face stuck to an envelope) included some bubbles and a footprint card.  Also I don't want to set the bar to high.. as much as I love what I do for Poppy (and myself!)  I don't want to spend a fortune where in my opinion its not necessary!

Pumpkin Party Bags
Quick and Easy Toddler Friendly Activity
Chris and our little Gruffalo!
Happy Halloween!

My First Public Meltdown

I should actually re-phase the title to include my darling daughter's name, because yet it was not me that went limp each time she was picked up, only to lay flat on the floor in the middle of my sacred John Lewis acting like the world was coming to an end.

So my time had come.

Finding shoes so far is not straight forward for Poppy.  We skip pass the pretty shoes on display and head straight for the practical ones.  Poppy has wide, high instep and turned in feet.  (Which I hope the latter will eventually straighten out naturally).  So choosing shoes is vital to give her support to ensure she can walk and run well.

Finding shoes takes time and like most one year olds, her short attention span can be hardwork.  So Poppy decided enough was enough and no more shoes were going to be tested.  Que the huge meltdown, running off, legs and arms flapping all over the place.  Then finally the full on tantrum.  Terrible twos!? What a load of banana sticks - starts at one!

To be honest I was pleased with how I dealt with it, surprisingly I didn't get as stressed as I thought I would.  I was more concerned that the shop assistant was telling me that Poppy had no hope in hell in getting any shoes.  Trying to strain my ears to hear the assistant telling me this over Poppy and her woes, I could see the sweat starting to drip on her forehead as she struggled to cope with a child giving it some in the shop and trying to tell the mother that her child would be forever shoeless.

Trying to strap a tantruming child back into the pram is another issue all together, so swiftly moving on we were out of there.  Within seconds of  leaving I could hear the soft tones of 'choo choo' and I could tell already that the mood had lifted and I had my girl back.  Even if she was shoeless.

Two days later I'm back in a new shoe shop round the corner with hubby in tow for support and we walk out within half an hour with two new pairs of shoes and a pair of wellingtons!  Not too sure when and how the next one will arupt.... But like every mummy.. I will fight through it!
Hair Raising Poppy!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Renovation Part One - The Dining Room

Next room to discuss! We have an open plan sitting room and dining room, so both rooms were completed at the same time.  I wanted to keep the theme in both rooms the same so it felt that they were one, yet clearly show each room had its own purpose.

Like the sitting room, we have another chimney breast in the dining room.  My mother could have cried when we told her that we were blocking up both chimneys (they were already blocked up with a 1960's back boiler in the dining room and heater in the sitting room).  Although they would have been great features for a Victorian house, I wanted them blocked as I had in mind how I wanted the room to look.  

The main building and construction tasks for this room were as follows:

-Remove double window and replace with large floor to ceiling French doors
-Build a floor to ceiling chimney breast
-Damp course completed
-Plaster boarded walls and ceiling
-New skirting boards, coving and flooring
-Plastered walls and ceiling
-New radiators and pipe work
-Floor to ceiling alcove book shelves

The French doors made a huge difference to the light in the room and yet made the garden feel welcoming.  I am so pleased we made this choice.

The Right Hand Side of the Dining Room

The Left Hand Side of the Dining Room
New French Doors
Chris Blocking and Building a New Chimney Breast

The Left Hand Side of the Dining Room

The Right Hand Side of the Dining Room

Renovation Part One - The Sitting Room

As chris and I are about to embark on the second phase of our renovation project, it got me thinking about how far we have come and the fact that we are about to rip up the beautiful work we have achieved to replace with something even more amazing.

We bought our current house on the understanding that it needed a complete renovation from top to bottom and inside out.  Chris even dedicated a whole blog to the renovation (which even he got bored of!)  so I won't waffle on too much.  (Is that actually possible though?)

With the help of Google and the knowledge and help from both of our Dads, Chris completely transformed our house from an old lady's nest crying out for some TLC to a contemporary modern home.  Our house is Victorian and has a mock-Tudor style with a few Victorian features.

I dread to think of how much money we have spent on renovating and furnishing our house - as long as we are debt free I don't care!  We moved from a one bedroom flat to a three bedroom house so furnishing costs was something we hadn't taken much thought of.  Luckily Chris and I share the same tastes with interior design so although every choice and purchase was painfully slow it was to ensure it was right and now I can see it was worth it.

We will start with the sitting room which was taken back to its bare bones.  I did say to Chris he can build his home cinema no problems, but under no circumstances were there to be any wires on show.  So god knows where they are!

So putting the interior design and soft furnishes aside (my job) the Building and construction included: (I'm sure if this was Chris' blog, this list would be huge.. but lets keep it basic!)

-Blocking one door up
-Building a floor to ceiling chimney breast including a home cinema projector and surround sound system
-Damp course completed
-Plaster boarded walls and ceiling
-New skirting boards, coving and flooring
-Plastered walls and ceiling
-New radiators and pipe work

So the bit which you are most interested in is below.  To keep this brief, I've included 'before', 'in-between' and 'after' shots.  Can you tell which are which?

The View Looking into the Sitting Room (Ignore scary man in photo!)
The Right Hand Side of the Sitting Room

Digging Deep
Chimney Breast and Home Cinema
The Right Hand Side of the Sitting Room
The Left Hand Side of the Sitting Room

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Fear Of The Dummy

During one of my NCT classes, Chris and I were clearly the couple standing on the side of the room of 'no dummies' leading the dummy snobs all the way.  So at three months old watching Poppy happily sucking away at one was quite a shock.

I had a real thing about it, mostly embarrassment.  Poppy was only allowed a clear dummy none of those bright colourful patterned ones and was only able to use it at certain times.  It came about because all she wanted to do was suck.  Literally! Time and time again, I found myself breast feeding for hours at a time, only for Poppy to start crying each time I pulled her away because she was clearly being comforted.  I can't remember whose idea it was,  but we tried giving her one and it was like magic.  Breast feeding times were cut down so much and Poppy seemed so much happier.

Poppy was the first of just two of her pals that regularly had a dummy.  I always found I needed to justify it (mostly to myself) why she had one.  No one ever said anything but I definitely felt judged.  One of the many things that the world of motherhood does to you.

Poppy is currently 16 months old and still uses her dummy. (I can hear the gasp from your voice!)  We are lucky that it has only ever been a day time thing and have never had to use it at night.  She uses it for her day time naps so I've never pushed to drop it as I know that these naps will eventually drop and so will the dummy.  So what happens next, will she be one of those four year olds that has it hanging out of their mouth whilst talking like a baby? Or maybe the clear discreet style will change to Peppa Pig and oink.  Most likely a big fat no to both of those examples but thankfully I no longer care.  We still use our discretion tightly with the dummy and always will.  But it definitely has taught me a lesson of not to judge those parents that use them.

Nap Time With Her Pals

Breast Feeding Love it or Hate it

Where do you start! My blog alone could be just about this topic.  Firstly I have to say that I am really not bothered how other mums feed their babies.  Breast feeding, express or formula... nothing to do with me.  This post is my journey.

Having big boobs myself the thought of breast feeding was terrifying and I was definitely not a fan of the thought of wapping my baps out in public.  But the further into my pregnancy I got, the more I hoped I could feed her.  I was so lucky that she and I took to it like duck to water.  Almost immediately after giving birth she latched on and fed away, I didn't even have to do anything.

I tried giving her a expressed bottle around two months but she had no interest at all.  As the months wore on I found breast feeding getting harder and harder.  I felt Poppy was scrambling all the time as if she couldn't get enough.  But as the NHS guidelines suggest six months, that's what I wanted to do.  I know now that sounds ridiculous, but I think there is a lot of pressure for first time mums and that's how I felt.  So at five months, I tried the bottle again but this time we tried formula milk.  Just like the weaning process she didn't bat an eyelid what she was drinking.  She downed seven ounces in a few moments.  I knew straight away she was ready to come off the boob.  In less than two weeks she was off.  I couldn't believe it and she was drinking way more than ever before.  I continued to express over the next couple of weeks and thankfully finished breast feeding without any issues.

I did feel a huge sense of guilt about giving Poppy formula milk before she was six months old.  I wonder if this was connected with my hormones as I was in the process of stopping breast feeding which I did feel a sense of sadness about.  But when I did, I was so glad that I made that choice.  Now if I think about this, I feel really cross with myself because its easy to forget the fact that she had five months exclusive and that itself is a wonderful thing.  If I'm ever lucky to breast feed again I certainly won't be thinking about the six month guideline and if I want to stop for me or the baby, I certainly won't let society influence me.

Two day old Poppy and a rarely seen me in glasses!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Cupcake Course

As a new baker and armed with my fresh new Mary Berry cook books (thanks Chris!)  I really wanted to learn how to ice cupcakes.  Not the ones with the runny icing dripping down the cases you make when you are five with your mum, but the swirly full on butter icing cupcakes that make you drool at the mouth.

My course was two hours long and took place with 59 other people in the hottest room in the world.  Despite what this sounds like, I found it really fun and useful.  I had already purchased some Wilton nozzles before hand and had some practice making them for parties I've hosted recently, but I needed someone to show me.  The course was great and I learnt different techniques including a 'rose' and general 'swirly' icing.  I also had practice in making different cupcake toppers.  It's definitely given me the confidence to carry on making them.  Just need to make sure I have someone else to eat them! Bloody diet!


Cookie monster



Bumble Bee


Sunday, 16 June 2013

Weaning Little Bubba

I was very lucky when I weaned Poppy onto solids.  It was an easy process and fun for both of us.  Like a true sucker for routines I followed Annabel Karmel to the T and it worked. (Except baby rice - seriously there was no way I was giving that!)

Of course I'm no saint and there were times when Poppy kicked off and decided there was no way she was going eat the slop on her spoon, but I truly believe it worked so well because I waited until she was ready and not because I wanted her to wean.  I've watched other mums pretty much forcing the spoon in their babies mouth when the baby is clearly not interested or struggling - leaving the poor mum in despair.  

So trying where possible to avoid this, at four months I decided to try three pieces of fruit with her over three days, she ate it all but I could tell she didn't understand what she was doing.  So I waited another month and started again.  Completely different and she gobbled it down, kicking her legs waiting for more.

Having weight problems of my own I was and am very keen for Poppy to have a head start to healthy eating.  Even now at 15 months she has only ever had home made healthy food with milk or water.  (Unless my husband is slipping some weekend treats in whilst I am away!)  To most parents this is very normal, but I've been very surprised how many mums I've met don't follow this (healthy cooking not the sneaky treats!).  I'm aware this probably makes me sound like one of those annoying mums I can't stand who think they are superior and high almighty about their parenting skills, which honestly I'd like to think I'm not.  I'm just very fussy about my child eats.

I thank my lucky stars that Poppy is a very good eater and generally quite clean. She wasn't the type of babe that liked waste so I didn't experience the food throwing on the floor, flying onto walls or even down herself.  I'm also not stupid and aware that things change.  But so far so good!

Me: Learning to cope with mess = Poppy: Loving it!

Fathers Day

So the big day is here.. and we are off to Church!  *Haha* I give a very small chuckle at the thought of this.  But it is the Christening of our lovely mini friend George, so - its a pleasure!

Upon our return and a three hour nap for Poppy having burned herself out at God's pleasure, then back at Laura's house running wild.  Time to put up the bunting and get the presents out.  (Serious bunting addiction going on here!)

The main gift was a Scrabble frame.  I bought a large selection of spare scrabble pieces from Ebay and stuck them down on a frame that I purchased from Ikea (my house is full of them all different shapes and sizes.  Love them!)  Very cheap idea, yet different.

Scrabble Frame

I bought the glass candle holder from Wilkinson for the grand price of £1, removed the wax and cleaned it up.  I had some left over tags from Christmas and filled up the glass with his favorite nuts.  Again quick and easy. 

All Daddys love the nuts

It was unlikely I could give a box of gifts without including a few beers.  So I printed out some free printables I found online to cover up the beer labels and cut out some wine bottle tags.  All keeping with the Fathers Day theme.  It looked that good, Chris thought that was how I purchased them so I was quite pleased!

Wine Bottle Tags
Free Printables

A few extra bits and pieces including a T-shirt for Poppy to wear (which unfortunately having been out all day in a posh outfit followed by the longest snooze in the world, it wasn't to be worn).  Also a novelty chocolate coin and of course a Fathers Day Bee footprint card.  (Seriously what else would he want!)  Happy Fathers Day to Chris! xx

Poppy's New T-Shirt

Fathers Day Footprint Card
Every Father Needs Chocolate in his Life!
The Finished Product