Five quick spring cleaning jobs to boost your happiness

Are you the kind of person who enjoys spring cleaning their house from top to bottom? I’m not. But a tidy house does make me happy. Rather than spend hours and hours cleaning I like to break things down into manageable little jobs. Things that take minimal time and effort, but reward me with maximum happiness. 

Here are 5 quick and easy spring cleaning jobs to try this week! 

Spring cleaning

Sort out your clothes, one drawer at time

Wrenching open a crammed clothes drawer first thing in the morning is such a negative start to the day. By the time one season ends my chest of drawers is bursting at the seams. It’s full of new clothes, old clothes and random things that small people have poked in.  Take one drawer, empty it out on your bed and be brutal. Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in six months. I take out my favourite winter things and store them in plastic boxes under my bed. Fold everything up neatly, put in a lavender sachet and start afresh. Why not start with your knicker drawer? Mine’s a shocker. For maximum happiness, do this is small doses – try one drawer a week.

Go through your make up and cosmetics

Get rid of all the old, dried up things. And the things that never suited you anyway. Reduce your collection to a few key pieces you actually like. Time is so tight each morning, don’t lose valuable time having to rummage through everything to find what you’re looking for. Give the things you know you’ll never use to someone who will – it’ll make them happier too!

Spring cleaning

Have a mug cull 

How many of us have more mugs than we could ever possibly use? I’ve definitely been guilty of this. Teetering piles of mugs balanced in each other – the ones at the back of cupboard never even seeing the light of day. I’m a firm believer that we should use the nice cups every day. Get rid of all those horrible mugs you tolerate and slim down your collection. You probably only need a dozen at most. Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you stumble downstairs in the morning and choose a mug for your morning drink. Tidy cupboard, tidy mind? It’s worth a try.

Spring clean your mugs

Vacuum your sofa

Take off all the cushions and face up to all the crumbs and junk that’s fallen down the back of the sofa. Vacuum it all out (if you have a hand-held vacuum, this is super easy). Then do some major cushion plumping. Not the half-hearted daily plumbing, put some real welly into it. I did this last week and I can’t believe how squished down our sofa had been. It’s now looks about twice as big! It also feels better and smells fresher.

Clean your front door

We walk through our front door day in, day out. It’s easy to stop noticing it. But you’ll be amazed by how filthy it can get. I try to give my front door a quick wash every few months. It makes an amazing difference, really quickly. Sometimes you don’t realise how dingy and depressing something looks until it’s actually clean. It takes five minutes and will put a little spring in your step. If you’ve got an extra few minutes, put a planter of spring flowers out there too.

What are your favourite quick and easy spring cleaning tips? I’d love to share some more with you soon! 

Home Notes for March

Tea and cake

Can you believe we’re half way through March? Neither can I. We’re officially in springtime now and the days are getting longer, lighter and warmer. I’ve got lots going on in my home this month. Not much of it is very photogenic, but it’s all very exciting! 

Project hallway is well under way. The decorator is here right now painting the hall and landing a light blue-grey. You may remember that our hall is dark and narrow. The old paint was a very dingy cream – far too yellow for such a gloomy space. I can’t wait to share the finished results with you.

I’m particularly excited about hanging the pictures back up. We’ve had the same boring arrangement ever since we’ve moved in, and I’m looking forward to shaking things up with lots of colour. I want people to immediately see our family’s personality as soon as they come in the front door. I’ll be rearranging pictures from elsewhere in the house and framing some new things.

One new purchase is this lovely little print by Jeff Josephine. I love the pop of yellow, which will go so well with the new paint.

Jeff Josephine print

I’ve also invested in these amazing bits of wrapping paper from Willow and Stone. They’re poster size and they’re going to look great in big frames.

Cavallini wrapping paper

I’m also on the hunt for a good mirror. I’m quite tempted to create a Trompe L’oiel effect with a window-frame style mirror like this one by OKA. What do you think?

And while we’re on the subject of windows, has anyone else noticed how filthy theirs are? Those lighter, brighter days are making me realise just how dirty everything is. Cleaning the front windows is on my list of things to do this week. I’m not much good at doing all my spring cleaning in one go. I’ll do things pretty slowly, and might get it done by Christmas (if I’m lucky!). It’s the thought that counts, right?

Tulips

And finally, my favourite flowers this month are tulips. They’re such a fun flower and are pretty affordable at the moment. They may not last for as long as other flowers but they evolve in a really interesting way – from prim little buds to big blowsy, droopy blooms. They even manage to look pretty good  when most of the petals have fallen over the table.

What’s happening in your house this month? Are you bust spring cleaning, or decorating?

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Home Etc

Three things I’m loving this week

Spring blooms

I think we can now say that spring has sprung, can’t we? I’m sitting here typing with the window open, birds singing outside. When the sun comes out it actually feels warm – it’s a tantalising glimpse of things to come. 

The prettiness of early spring has inspired me to shrug off my winter clothes and buy a few new things. Perky little purchases, that don’t cost much but make me feel really happy.

These rose gold trainers are a case in point. They’re shiny, bright and cheerful. Feeling unsure about the current gold trend? At £12, these trainers are a great way to dip your toe into the water.

Rose gold trainers by Peacocks

Spring is also a great time to try a new fragrance. As the days get lighter, I like my perfume to feel brighter and fresher. I’ve recently discovered Liz Earle’s botanical fragrances. I was given a set to try for Christmas and they’re great for layering over each other. I struggle to find perfumes which are light, but last all day. These do. My absolute favourite is Botanical Essence No9. It’s hard to explain a fragrance, but I’d recommend you go and try a sample in John Lewis.

Liz Earle fragrances

This week I’ve also been brightening up my brain with a bit of matcha from teapigs. Try swapping your normal latte with a matcha one and see the effects. Matcha powder is made from ground up green tea – so you’re getting all the intensity in one cup. Imagine the kick you get from coffee, times 10. It’s an acquired taste (better when sweetened with honey) and I find it’s best to make a small cup with milk and down it in one. You can find out more here.

Teapigs matcha

I’ve also enjoyed… 

Watching The Replacement on BBC1

Reading W Channel’s wonderful interviews for International Women’s. Including my own!

Drinking Adnam’s Mosaic pale ale – a great beer for spring.

Teapigs were kind enough to send me some matcha to try, but all photos and thoughts are my own. 

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Hello blossom!

Blossom and a lacy blouse

What is it about blossom? Every year I forget how great it is. I’m busy gushing over daffodils and snowdrops, and then I open my front door and get the biggest surprise – nature has thrown a bag of confetti over everything. 

It starts with a small smattering of blossom, and before you know it tree after tree is dressed up like a pom-pom.

It’s the best kind of surprise. The kind of surprise that fills you with joy, quickens your step and lightens your heart.

Pink blossom

Blossom is generous. You don’t have to go searching for it. It’s there on every street corner or busy road. It turns the dreariest, prickliest roadside tree or hedge into a sugary confection.

It feels a little warmer, and the sweet scent of blossom fills the air. The sky takes on that bright, intense blue. You might even shrug off your coat in the afternoon.

Blossom

Trees in blossom

It’s all the more special because you know it’s fleeting.

But don’t worry. We haven’t even reached peak-blossom yet! There’s weeks and weeks of it left to come. What we’ve got now is just the warm up. Soon enough it’ll be even bigger, better and fluffier!

Blossom and a lacy blouse

Shirt, £29.99, New Look.

I think you need to dress up to compete with the blossom, don’t you? 

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Why I miss the baby bubble

I miss the baby bubble

What do I mean by the baby bubble? Think of it as the first few years of a child’s life. The pre-school days. That period in your life where you live in a cocoon of damp curls, sticky little hands and wooden toys. The relentless, but joyful, time when your children look to you for their every need.

It’s incredibly hard work. Everything feels very intense and it’s possible to love it and hate it the same breath. It’s tempting to wish it away.

My children are now 8 and 6. I have well and truly left the baby bubble. I feel nostalgic and get a bit emotional when I see little babies. It’s not because I want another one. I don’t. It’s a feeling of wistfulness. A longing to go back in time and implore my younger self to make the most of it.

Picture the scene: you’re pushing your newborn around in a pram round the supermarket, a cross toddler attached like a limpet to your leg. You’ve already had a full day of it and it’s only 9am. An old lady will stop you: she’ll probably coo over your baby and tell you how quickly time will fly by. You’ll probably give a rigid grin and nod in agreement, whilst thinking time can fly just as quickly as it likes, thank you very much. 

But you know what? She’s right. Time does fly and before you know it your children will be growing like weeds, criticising your parking skills and making endless jokes about farting.

The bubble doesn’t pop suddenly overnight. It slowly deflates.

The change really comes when all your children are at school. When your children are at nursery or pre-school you’ve still got one foot in the baby camp. Once they’re at school all day you jump headfirst into a whole new stage of childhood.

Life gets much easier in some ways. You don’t have to cart round nappies or worry about the bedtime routine. Tantrums mostly get fewer and further in between. But in other ways it gets harder. Your children enter a whole new world. Your family is still at the centre of it, but it’s part of a larger, more confusing map. There are a whole new set of baffling hurdles to jump over, which can leave you longing for rhyme time and babyccinos.

Other people’s children. They always mixed with them at baby groups and nursery, but now your children spend six hours a day with them. You don’t get to cherry pick their friends for them anymore. At playgroup, you’ll probably try to keep them away from certain children. The one who always hits others over the head with a saucepan in the play kitchen. Once they get to school, they make their own decisions. And you might not like them. They might decide to be best friends with the saucepan child. It’s their choice.

They pick things up. When your children are little the knowledge and mannerisms they pick up come mainly from you and your family. As they get older, it changes – your little bubble has burst. This is an important part of growing up and it can be funny and wonderful. It can also be annoying and worrying. Inevitably they’ll see things you desperately wish they didn’t have to see. The baby years can make you a bit of unwitting control freak. Letting go can be tough.

It’s all part of growing up. But it’s hard. You feel desperately proud of them, but also like you want to gather them back into that cocoon and never let them out. It’s innocence versus experience. And my goodness I miss the innocence sometimes.

When my children are teenagers I’m sure I’ll look back and think about how easy the middle years were. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Parenting is a journey that never stops. Bringing up a child is like helping them build a boat for life. Every day you add a little more. Eventually you’ll help them launch off and you hope you’ve done enough to make their little vessel seaworthy.

I’m not trying to say the baby years aren’t hard. I know they are. Just remember that while the baby bubble might feel suffocating at times, it’s also glorious. Don’t wish it away.

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Say hello to spring with a new blouse

Blouses are having a bit of thing at the moment.  And we’re definitely talking blouses, not shirts. They’re high-necked, feminine and lacy – maybe  with a few ruffles or some broderie anglaise. I normally steer clear of pretty, frothy, clothes, but I can resist no longer.

Maybe it’s the feeling of spring in the air? After a long cold winter in bobbly woolly jumpers, there’s something deeply tempting about a few light ruffles.

They’re a bit of a contradiction – slightly austere, but also really feminine and frilly. Of course, there’s a danger of wandering into Edwardian lady territory – you know, tea on the lawn and parasols. To avoid this, wear your high-necked blouse with a pair of relaxed jeans.

The high necked blouse

My blouse was a great find in a charity shop last week (actually brand-new M&S with tags). It’s at the plain end of the market, but now I’ve dipped my toe in the water, I’m planning on purchasing something even more ridiculous.

I’ve picked out some of my current favourites from the high street to tempt you even further:

Left: New Look, £29.99 / Right: Marks & Spencer, £29.50

Left: New Look, £24.99 / Zara, £25.99

So, will you be trying one soon? Or maybe lacy blouses are your idea of hell?

#OnePerfectThing in February

#OnePerfectThing in February

Perfection often feels out of reach. But however imperfect you’re finding life, you can make an effort to find #OnePerfectThing. Something which makes you pause, smile and feel thankful.

#OnePerfectThing is a community I started on Instagram last year. I’ve loved looking at your photos during February.  We’re all glad to see the back of a long winter. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Your photos taught me that even on the most horrible, cold, grey days there’s still beauty and perfection to be found.

We’ve been seeking comfort and solace indoors: tea drunk while gazing out of a steamy window, a favourite old chair to sink into – or making jam tarts with sticky little helpers.

Photo by @bonewhitechina

By the end of the month we all felt a hint of spring in the air and began to venture outside: spotting the little jewel-like blooms bursting out of the ground, or buying the beautiful spring flowers filling the shops and markets.

Photo by @sallytangle

Here are all my favourites…

#OnePerfectThing in February

Top row: @natbeesfashion / @jess_soothill / @darwinboerne

Middle row: @miss_dig_for_victory / @bonewhitechina / @sallytangle

Bottom row: @rosalilium / @bubbablueandme / @ohidoapologise

I love watching the seasons change through your photos  – thanks for joining me! You can view the entire #OnePerfectThing gallery here. 

 

Dreaming of worktops

Image source: Devol Kitchens

The other night I had a dream about a kitchen. It was pale, light-filled and elegant. The cupboards were painted soft grey and there was a beautiful sweeping marble worktop. I think it might just be my dream kitchen. 

Of course, when I came down to make breakfast in the morning the reality was quite different. Our kitchen was the same as ever: tired, messy and boasting a very old IKEA wooden worktop.

Marble isn’t something I’d ever contemplated in a kitchen, but this feels like a bit of divine inspiration. I was, and am, a big fan of wooden worktops. When we had our (former) dream kitchen installed in our old house, one of its main features was the solid oak worktop. It was really beautiful.

But that was about seven years ago, and I’m not sure wood would be my first choice again. Increasingly, I’m drawn to harder, shiner surfaces like granite or marble. It’s not for practical reasons – wood deteriorates, but marble is also very sensitive. It marks and stains just as badly as any bit of oiled oak. It’s a natural substance so it’s going to change as it ages – getting scratched and discoloured. In fact, it would probably be a very expensive and high-maintenance choice.

But I just love how it looks. Pale, polished marble is a wonderful, timeless look that is never going to date.

Image source: Pinterest

If the price (and the idea of caring for it) terrify you, then you could consider a laminate worktop in a marble finish. It might not be so sumptuous, but it’s a whole lot more practical! A great option if you’re looking for a cheap kitchen work surface.

Marble laminate worktop

Marble laminate worktop

I’m nowhere near getting a new kitchen. But I’m going to keep that bright, shiny marble-topped image firmly in my dreams.

This post was written in collaboration with Worktop Express. All thoughts and ideas are my own. 

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Blogging for beginners: how to get your ideas

Where do I get my blogging ideas?

I was going to start this post with the phrase I’m not an expert… but then I remembered one of the best things about blogs: everyone who writes one gets to be an expert in their own field.

Sometimes, though, every expert gets a bit insecure. Which is why I thought it would be great to start some knowledge sharing – to inspire those of you who are already blogging, and help people who want to get started.

So, how can you get blog ideas?

Lots of my ideas pop up out of nowhere – usually when I’m doing something mundane like sorting the washing or ironing. I always try to write it down, or send myself a quick e-mail on my phone to remind myself to think about it later. When I’m doing simple, rhythmic tasks, my brain is clearly more relaxed and fertile. If you’re lacking inspiration, stop staring at your blank screen or notebook and get busy with something unrelated. Hopefully, while you’re occupied doing something else, inspiration will strike.

Let the seasons be your guide. Look at the calendar and see what events are coming up. Take Easter, for example. If you plan ahead you could share recipes, crafts, ideas for Easter egg hunts and even spring fashion. Don’t leave it till the last minute. Start brainstorming weeks in advance. It doesn’t actually matter if you only ever get round to blogging about one of your ideas – just try and make sure it goes out about a week before the relevant event.

Be responsive. React to what’s going on around you. Maybe it’s something you saw on the news, or perhaps it’s the latest bit of parenting angst everyone’s talking about at the school gates. Think about it, write about it and give it your unique slant.

Engage with the latest trends. You don’t have to follow them slavishly, but why not let them inspire you? One example of this is the whole hygge thing. It’s been done to death, and I’ve chosen not to write about the concept directly on my blog. However, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been inspired by it. Of course I have. Indirectly, it’s definitely inspired a fair few of my winter posts. Similarly, don’t be ashamed of finding inspiration on other people’s blogs. Obviously, you don’t want to copy someone else, but reading something brilliant might just kick off a whole new idea.

What should you do if you’re stuck in rut and your ideas have dried up? Get back to basics. When I’m really struggling for ideas I go right back to where this blog started – an online diary. Write about where you’ve been, what you’ve read and what you’ve bought. I used to always write a weekly post on a Friday about what I’d done that week – it’s a great way to get writing again.

Is it possible to run out of ideas? I don’t think that’s likely to happen, but if your subject matter is very narrow then it’s inevitable that they’ll be a certain amount of repetition. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can revisit old ideas from a different angle, or talk about progress you’ve made. Now I’ve been blogging for a while, I’ve certainly noticed that lots of my ideas are cyclical. The same subjects do tend to pop up again and again – I like to see this as a strength rather than a weakness: a sign that my blog has its own identity and themes running through it.

Create a safety net. A really nice way to avoid feeling worried about running out of ideas is to have several long-running series that you can return to again and again. These will usually have the same basic formula. I’m very fond of my three things I’m loving this week series. I always enjoy writing it and it’s a much-needed safety net for those weeks when inspiration fails to strike, or when I want to mention something that doesn’t warrant a lengthy post.

Every week I create a brainstorm of all these different ideas, which I’ll keep referring back to. Stick it up on your wall, or write each idea on a sticky note. Sometimes ideas will appear again and again, and it’ll be weeks before they reach fruition. The important thing is to keep thinking! 

How do you find blogging inspiration? If you’ve enjoyed this post do let me know what other blogging advice you’d like to hear!

Blogging for beginners: how to get blog ideas

 

Mummascribbles

Saying goodbye to my shop and making new plans

String bag

I’ve decided to close my online shop. It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the end I felt that moving on was the most positive option.

Over the last year I’ve learnt a lot. The best thing was choosing the stock. I sourced things from small, independent producers, plus a few larger wholesalers. It was such a pleasure getting to know theses wonderful crafts people – there are some really talented makers out there. That was the easy bit.

I have to be honest with you: the hard bit was trying to sell the beautiful things I’d chosen. I could have kept the shop going, but it was only ever going to plod along unless I made some big changes and invested a lot more money into it. Which doesn’t feel like the right path for me at the moment.

I had no illusions about running a shop – I knew it was going to be tough. But I hadn’t realised just how tough. In the end I decided that perhaps the idea of a portfolio career – where you have a finger in lots of pies – wasn’t such a good idea after all. A bit like being a jack of all trades, but master of none.

A big part of my heart lies with writing. I can still have a shop, but it’ll be one full of words.

I really want to get back to basics with this blog, to fill it with beautiful and useful content. And I want to become a published writer. I hope the two will dovetail together nicely. I need and want to earn a living at it.

Thank you for all your messages of support this week – they mean a lot! Maybe you could help me out by letting me know in the comments below the kind of posts you’d like to see more of? I’m thinking about blogging advice, would that be of interest?              

Plus, don’t forget there’s an amazing 50% off everything in my shop until it closes at the end of the month. Use the code FINAL50 at the checkout to receive your discount!