My 10 tips for a great night’s sleep

Am I getting enough sleep? Is it the right kind of sleep? How can I get more? 

It’s easy to get a little bit obsessed with your sleep. Some people manage on not much at all, but most of us only function properly if we’ve had about seven or eight hours sleep. I never get more than that, sometimes less. But I think that’s ok as long as the quality of sleep is good.

Here are my 10 tips for a great night’s sleep

Walking. On active days I always notice the difference in my quality of sleep. Hours before you’re even thinking about bed you should be thinking about getting some simple exercise. And the best way to achieve that is to take a walk. A brisk 20 minute walk is perfect. Walk to school, work or the shops. Get off the bus or the tube a stop earlier. Walking is great for you physically, but also mentally – fresh air clears the mind and offers a fresh perspective on life. Tired legs and a clear mind make for a much better night’s sleep than a day spent sitting indoors.

Digital detox. You probably know this already, but it’s a great idea to cut down your social media before going to bed. In an ideal world, you’d probably not look at your phone beyond 9pm. I do like to have a last look before I settle into bed though. Ideally, turn your notifications to silent so they don’t ping away all night.

Tea in an Emma Bridgewater Dresser mug

A cup of tea. It has to be the right kind though. There’s no caffeine after 7pm in my house. Instead, I prefer to drink decaffeinated tea with milk. It’s a soothing end to the day. If you’re having trouble sleeping try valerian tea – it really does work.

L'Occitane lavender bath

A bath. Having an evening bath is great way to relax. I always find that it draws a really nice line between the busy, working day and a relaxing evening ahead. To maximise the benefits, use a relaxing lavender bath essence.

A good mattress and a lovely pillow. These are things you shouldn’t stint on. Always try and get the best you can afford – you won’t regret it. I personally prefer a pocket-sprung mattress such as these. It gives great support – perfect if you have a sensitive back like me. The pillow I sleep on has to be goose feather, which is soft and gentle.

A good book. I never, ever, go to sleep without reading a few chapters of my book in bed first. Like the bath, it helps me unwind. Going straight to lights out leaves my thoughts reeling. A book takes me off into a different world and gradually eases me into sleep. Unless it’s really exiting, in which case the opposite is true!

Book at bedtime

Bed linen that makes you feel happy. While I think you need to invest in the best mattress you can afford, I don’t feel the same about bed linen. My selections tend to be inexpensive cotton sets in pretty feminine prints that make me happy. I change the designs according to the season and getting into a pretty, flowery bed at night always makes me feel happy – especially when the rest of my house is colonised by small boys.

Fresh air. We always sleep with our window open. In winter, it’s just a little crack – in summer it’s thrown open. If it’s shut the room gets too hot and stuffy – it just feels a bit unhealthy, somehow.

Keep a notebook by your bed

Keep a notebook by your bed. If you’re struggling to get to sleep try switching the light back on and writing your thoughts down in a notebook. Don’t worry about sentences or lists, just write down whatever spills out of your mind. If it’s important, keep it (many great ideas are born late at night). If it’s not, then screw it up and throw it away. Then try to go to sleep again, your mind should feel clearer.

Should cats sleep on beds?

No pets. Everyone has a different opinion on this, but in my experience pets do not aid a good night’s sleep (no matter how cute they are). Too much fidgeting, not enough space – it’s not a great idea. When our cats first arrived they were keen to sleep on our bed. As a consequence, my sleep was awful – it felt like I had a newborn baby. I’m happy to say they’ve now learnt to sleep elsewhere!

What are you top tips for a great night’s sleep?

This blog post was written in partnership with Fishpools, but all photos and ideas are my own. 

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Home Notes for January

Home notes for January

January’s always a time for looking at your house afresh.

For me, this mainly seems to involve a lot of tidying. Clutter is the enemy. I rarely defeat it – at best we have an uneasy standoff. But, anyway, I’m slowly working my way the round the house. And while I do it, I’m dreaming of all the things I’d like to change and buy. 

Woollen blankets and sheepskin rugs. Cosy, but intricate – and tiny bit Scandinavian (via Wales or IKEA). I’d like them tossed over my sofas, to see me through the rest of winter in comfort. I’m particularly drawn to blankets with a bit of red in them. I never normally choose red, but I think it’d work really well with the soft greys and blues we have in our living room.

Welsh blankets and sheepskin

Top left: Traditional welsh blanket by Melin Tregwynt, £145

Top right: something more affordable from IKEA, £25.

Bottom left: cobweave blanket, £45.

Bottom right: an affordable faux sheepskin from IKEA, £10

We’ve also decided that it’s time for our living room to move from the twentieth century into the twenty-first. Which basically means new speakers of some kind, preferably not involving too many wires. And probably a well-designed TV stand. Actually, I think that’s probably pretty twentieth century, isn’t it? We’re a bit behind. Currently the TV is on a nineteenth century desk, which I’m very attached to, but isn’t very practical for my Game of Thrones DVD collection. I’m quite keen on this one from IKEA (£160):

Cabin beds. Our boys have far too many toys. Cabin beds seem like a great solution now we’ve moved them into separate bedrooms. The choice, and prices, vary enormously. I think I’ve narrowed it down to this one (£199.99):

 

 

I can’t wait to make some changes, and I’ll share things on here with you soon. In meantime, you’ll probably find me in IKEA.

What are you planning for your home this month?

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Let’s start every week like it’s a new notebook

Start every week like it's a new notebook

My dislike for Mondays is nothing new. As soon as the credits start rolling on whatever Sunday night drama I’m watching, the gloom descends – it’s as regular as clockwork.

But I’m trying to be different. This morning when I woke up a little phrase popped into my head:

Let’s start every week like it’s a new notebook. 

A fresh new notebook is a beautiful metaphor for life. Open the front cover, write your name on the flyleaf and start afresh.

Last week’s notebook is looking a little dog-eared. Don’t throw it away just yet – you might need to refer back to it  – but don’t let it be your focus.  Leave it at home, you don’t need to keep carrying it around with you. Whatever happened last week can stay in last week.

Monday doesn’t have to be scary, it can be optimistic. Turn over those crisp new pages of your notebook and get going. 

Start every week like it's a new notebook

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Sales picks from my shop

Inevitably, our purses are feeling a little empty at the moment. Now’s the time to take advantage of January sales. You can stock up on inexpensive gifts for the year to come, or maybe just cheer yourself up with a bit of (relatively) guilt free shopping.

Over in my online shop, I’ve got some great products in the winter sale. I like to have a mix of things that are pretty and useful – or both! 

These galvanised buckets certainly fulfil that brief. They’re really handy for storage, plants (and anything in between) and look so much nicer than a plastic box. Now £10 for a set of two buckets.

Galvanised storage buckets

There are some beautiful things for the home…

Gifts for the home

Jug, £8 / Urn candle, £6 / Bird bunting, £3.99 / Bottle stoppers, £4

Pretty prints…

Fun prints for your home

Gin print, £6 / Unicorn print, £6 / Tea print, £6

And lots of gorgeous gift ideas… 

Pretty gifts for a friend

Block print scarf, £4.99 / Lemon necklace, £5 / Jam jar sewing kit, £4.99 / Wildflower coasters, £6

Happy browsing! I hope you find something you love. 

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Indoor bulbs – a simple way to brighten up your home this week

At the moment it’s muddy everywhere. And grey. So imagine my delight when I spotted a little patch of bulbs growing in someone’s front garden. Snow drop, perhaps? I’m not sure. But what a welcome sight. A bright beacon in the barren January landscape.

I want a bit of that in the house too – which is looking sad now it’s been stripped of its festive finery. Bulbs are cheerful, fresh and bright. Plus, you get the pleasure of watching them grow and flower.

Now, growing your own indoor bulbs is one thing, but buying them is even easier. And pretty cheap too.I found some pots of grape hyacinths for sale outside Wilko’s – six little shoots crammed in a little pot – for £1 each.

You can put the plastic pot as it is straight into a larger planter like this one

Indoor bulbs

Or you can repot them yourself in pretty cups, bowls or pots.

Repotting indoor bulbs

A couple of hours before you start, moisten the soil. Then remove the plastic pot and ease apart the bulbs. Carefully place them into your pots (green shoots above soil level) and surround them with a little of the remaining soil and press down gently. You probably won’t need any extra soil unless you’re planting them in something much bigger than the original plastic pot.

Repotting indoor bulbs

Keep moist and finish off with a little moss (I scraped mine off the garden path!)

Repotting indoor bulbs

Sweet and simple!

You can find all sorts of bulbs in the shops and supermarkets at the moment. My favourites are little narcissi, hyacinths and these grape hyacinths. I used a vintage bowl and a small urn from my shop (which originally held a candle).

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Home Etc

A gentle start to the year

A gentle start to the year

You may have noticed that I haven’t published a list of resolutions yet this year. That’s because I’m not making any. l have plenty of dreams and aspirations, but I’m keeping them fluid this year. I’m not ready to make a list.

January isn’t the best month of the year to be rigid with yourself. I want to concentrate on nurturing and nourishing myself instead. I’m going to take these simple steps to make the beginning of the year feel a happier, more positive time and I hope good things will start happening as a result. 

Shell and pebbles

I’m thinking about the little steps, rather than the big ones… The new year feels like one enormous blank canvas, with so many plans and thoughts swirling around. I want to avoid feeling like a rabbit caught in the headlights. So, I’m avoiding looking at the enormity of it and just focusing on the little details. That niggling e-mail is just one pebble on the beach. Pick it up, deal with it and then move on. Trying to think about everything at once is like filling your bag with a hundred pebbles and dragging it round behind you. And while you’re sifting through those pebbles you’ll eventually be rewarded with a bit of treasure.

Brainstorming

Before you write your to-do list, make a brainstorm… it’s a bit more fun and positive and, well, less rigid. Let your ideas flow around the page, rather than squashing them into a list.  Grab a sheet of empty paper and fill it with ideas and tasks – it both empties the mind and fires it up again. Then write your list of what really matters.

Mackerel on toast

Eating better, but not necessarily less… my trousers are admittedly feeling a little snug after Christmas, but a punishing diet will get me no where. Instead, I’m just going to be sensible.  I’m going to finish off the Christmas cake one small slice at a time, and have a drink in the evenings – but I won’t be eating any meals based entirely on cheese. I’m easing myself gradually back into good habits one day at a time. My favourite thing at the moment is a slice of toast topped with nice things like mackerel, cherry tomatoes and a poached egg.

Walking

Stretch out your legs and take a walk… After a Christmas spent mainly indoors, I’m already feeling better for walking again. As usual I’ve started the year with fitness at the back of my mind, but for now I’m just focusing on walking as much as possible. Eventually I want these steps to turn into a run, but I’m not quite ready yet. I’m not going to feel bad about it. For now I’m walking to get places, and walking for pleasure.

A gentle start to the year

If all else fails, think like a cat… I like their take it or leave it attitude to life. They don’t care what anyone thinks of them. A little bit selfish, but wonderfully uncomplicated. I think we could all learn a little from that couldn’t we?

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Mummascribbles

Things to discover, make and do in early January

Yellow carnations

Hello 2017! I hope it’s been good for you so far.

I’m emerging from my Christmas hibernation and beginning to make my way into the new year. I love the festive season and I’m always sad to see it end. A fresh year is inspiring, but also a little scary. I’m never one to exactly leap into it. I’m gradually feeling my way, unfurling and stretching out – both mentally and physically.

Early January is a funny time – some people are raring to go, others are weeping quietly as they pack away the baubles. I’m a bit of both – but my ideas and inspiration are beginning to reawaken.

Here’s what I’m enjoying thinking about, doing and making right now. Things that are a bit frugal and minimal, but also nourishing and gentle. 

Make a nature diary… My six-year-old son loves birds and nature. Creating a simple diary is a great way to spend time together outdoors, but also helps him along with his reading and writing. The other day we took a gentle walk through town to a big park nearby. We went at his pace and stopped to spot interesting things along the way. We jotted things down in his notebook and drew a map as we walked. We wrote down what the weather was like (freezing) and which birds we saw (a robin and a blackbird). Some of the things we gathered along the way (skeletal chinese lanterns, snowberries, a leaf…) can be pressed and stuck into his book. Other things I’ve photographed and printed out so he can stick them in. Such a nice activity to share and you don’t even need to go further afield than your garden.

Start a nature diary

Simple, minimal flowers… After all the pomp of Christmas it’s great to get back to basics with my flowers. I’m enjoying a sense a space and light and I don’t want to fill my house with too many. Small, simple arrangements dotted about are what I’m after. I’ve been going to the market and seeing what I can buy for not much more than a pound or two. A small bunch of yellow carnations for a pound looks delightful in a few jam jars or vintage bottles. It satisfies my desire for frugality and minimalism after the excess of Christmas.

Simple flower arrangement for carnations

Do a bit of clothes sales shopping… I can’t resist a look. My budget is limited and sales give me a chance to stock up on things from brands I love (but can’t always afford). Avoid sequins and party dresses and look for simple, versatile pieces that’ll cheer you up now and be useful all year. I’m leaning towards a simple, utilitarian look – and I’ve picked up these trainers and a great denim shirt which feel perfect for now. My sales shopping tips are White Stuff for beautiful bargains, Joules for great coats and New Look for quality basics.

January fashion

White Stuff trainers

Don’t forget about Twelfth Night on the 6 January… in the not-so-distant past (ie. about a 150 years ago) this used to be a really big deal. These days the traditions are very sketchy and most people (me included) just think about it as the date to get their decorations down by. I still don’t know much about it, other than that it was traditionally a day for merrymaking, fires, games and fancy cakes. This year I feel like giving a nod to the past. One tradition I read about was for Twelfth Night fires – which were lit in some areas of the country to bring luck to the crops in the coming year. So this year I want to light a fire, have a drink and think about new plans.

What’s on your early-January list? I’d love to know.

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#OnePerfectThing in December

#OnePerfectThing in December: Teasel

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 back in May. I love how it’s grown over the last six months and looking through all the beautiful photos from like-minded people is always a pleasure.

And now here we are with the last gathered collection of the year. December has been a month of many parts, hasn’t it? The beginning of the month was characterised by a frenzy of activity: shopping, planning and making.

Jess’ photo of a perfect coffee reminds me of those days in early December when I made many a list over many a cup of coffee.

#OnePerfectThing in December, Mummy of Boy Girl Twins

Then comes the festivities. A beautiful kaleidoscope of baubles, wreaths and gingerbread cookies. Caro’s picture of her son really summed up the nurturing, cherishing, magical feeling of Christmas days (as did her whole stream of photos, to be honest!).

#OnePerfectThing in December, The Twinkles Mama

And after the indulgence of Christmas came the frosty, bright days – full of good intentions and plans for the new year just waiting in the wings. This beautiful view from Andrew really captures that feeling perfectly, don’t you think?

#OnePerfectThing in December

Here are the rest of my favourites:

#OnePerfectThing in December

Top row, from left: @darwinboerne  / @craftsonsea / @emiliemaguin

Middle row, from left: @midlifemummy / @isabelleclapperton / @mummyofboygirltwins

Bottom row, from left: @jennyseaves / @mrsroomtobreathe / @thetwinklesmama

Thanks so much to everyone who has joined in this year! I can’t wait to see what the new year brings for us all.

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Merry Christmas!

I’ve wrapped my presents, bought my turkey and iced the Christmas cake. I have sparkling wine, chocolate oranges and a fridge full of cheese. There’s bound to be something I’ve forgotten, but  I’m ready as I’ll ever be…

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you in 2017! 

Last minute ideas to make, buy and create

The big day’s almost here and suddenly there doesn’t seem much time left for all the ideas I’ve been dreaming up. However, I’ve just had a final burst of shopping and creating and I wanted to share these last minute ideas with you.

Make… Bailey’s fudge. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bottle of Baileys. This recipe from Lily Vanilli is quick, easy and possibly the most delicious fudge I’ve ever tasted! The boys’ teachers all have a big bag each and are very lucky indeed. Make it now for a friend, or just for you. I would recommend using a jam thermometer if you have one, it makes the whole process much more straight forward.

Baileys fudge

Buy…a festive soap. A winter themed soap makes a great last minute present to have on stand-by. It’s a little more virtuous than fudge, but just as nice. And how about treating yourself to a nice one too? It’s important to remember to find a moment of me time in amongst all the festive madness – my favourite thing is a hot bath, nice soap and a magazine. This one is by the Somerset Toiletry Company.

Create…a Christmas tree in a jug. We had lots of trimmings from our big Christmas tree which I’ve casually arranged in galvanised jugs. They look great unadorned, but I love twisting a few wired decorations onto the fronds. This would look beautiful on your Christmas table.

Christmas tree in a jug

Good luck with all your final preparations!