Be a bookish beauty this autumn

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I love autumn. It’s not just the cooler weather and the swirling leaves, it’s the clothes. There are so many and they’re all lovely. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of my favourite autumnal looks. First up is the bookish beauty…or librarian chic.

My student days are long behind me, but there’s something about autumn that always makes me crave sweet, bookish clothes in the warm colours of the season. Russets, plums, mossy greens…corduroy, print shirts, brogues and t-bars… The sort of thing to wear to the library with a satchel slung over your shoulder. Quiet girl style with a quirk.

Autumn is only time of year I really think about corduroy. A pinafore dress with a printed shirt, or striped tee, is a great way to wear it.

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Pinafore: £30, New Look / Shirt: £24, Next / Brogues: £65, Seasalt

It’s still a bit warm for thick polo necks, but the shops are full of thin, ribbed, cotton ones. They’re perfect with a printed skirt – with or without tights depending on the weather!

Be a bookish beauty this autumn

Polo: £7.99, New Look / Skirt: £40, Cath Kidston / Shoes: £45, Clarks

All you need now are a few autumn leaves to crunch through! The satchel, bicycle and library books are optional.

 

Life lately: back to school, new cats and autumn treasure

Autumn

We’re a few weeks into the new autumn term now and we’re all happily getting back into the swing of things again.

I’ve been getting my head down after a summer off, and the boys are settling back into school. That’s year 1 for my youngest, and year 3 at a new junior school for my eldest. The first few weeks have been tiring – early starts after six weeks of lie-ins, stiff new leather shoes after a summer of bare feet…. it’s always going to be hard. But they’ve settled back in well. Year 1 is never my favourite year – too much pressure, too young, in my opinion. Year 3, on the other hand, seems pretty good so far.

Now, if you follow me on my social media you’ll probably have noticed that we have two new additions to the family. A couple of weeks ago we adopted two little tabby cat sisters. They’re about eighteen months old, and are such sweet girls. So far they’re settling in well, and we’re all getting used to each other.

Tabby cat

I’ve never been a cat person, but I’m really delighted with how things are going so far. I’m used to the easy (or perhaps needy) affection of dogs. The girls are very different – more aloof, but when you’re rewarded with their attention it’s wonderful. They’ve slotted into our lives really well and are no trouble at all. Having animals around again is really lovely.

Tabby cat

Since the boys have been back at school I’ve been working hard on my blog and shop and I’ve also attended some really interesting events. Last week I was invited to an evening of drinks at Bourne and Hollingsworth by the lovely people at W channel. It was such a gorgeous event and I was sorry to have to leave to catch my train back to the sticks at the end of the night! The cocktails were delicious.

Cocktails at Bourne and Hollingsworth #weare@

The next day I spoke about blogging at an event held in Ely by Mummas and More. I’m not much of a public speaker, but I really enjoyed talking here to such a friendly audience. I was there alongside Emma of 100 Days No TV and Helen of JustSayingMum. It was such an inspiring morning. Ely is really changing and the whole creative scene is really growing!

Mummas and More tea and talks blogging event

We’ve passed the autumn equinox now and I’m so happy to see new delights everyday. You see the same things every year but they never fail to feel magical. Shiny conkers, glittering cobwebs, scarlet berries – September is putting on a beautiful show at the moment.

Conkers

The shops and markets are full of gorgeous seasonal produce and these days it’s more important than ever to remember to take a shopping bag out with you. I always like to make sure mine bring a smile to my face. This week we have 20% off all the gorgeous bags in the shop.

Hydrangea shopping bag

What have you all been up to lately?

 

 

 

Kitchen inspiration and a lesson learned

Autumn vegetables and flowers

Earlier in the year we repainted our kitchen in soft dove grey. I was thrilled with it. Sadly, I bought the wrong kind of paint. Ordinary emulsion does not work in a kitchen. I repeat, it doesn’t work! The pristine finish lasted about a week before it was covered in grease marks and dirt which couldn’t be scrubbed off. I’ve spent all summer grinding my teeth and watching new stains appear.

A couple of weeks ago we packed off the boys, bought some new paint and rolled up our sleeves. This time we used Dulux endurance paint in Brilliant White. I was so fed up with stains, I couldn’t be bothered to think about colour. I just wanted clean, white walls. It took three coats to cover the stains. It was an impulse decision, but I love it. I think I might paint the entire house white next!

White tile paint

I also decided to tackle the horrible black tiles with some white tile paint. I’m delighted with the results. It’s not as perfect as new tiles, but it’s a great budget option. So far, it’s proving pretty hard wearing too.

Now I’ve finished throwing white paint around everywhere, I feel really inspired again. I would love a new oval table and chairs. I like the fluidity of a curved table, plus it’d give me a little extra floor space that I’d love to fill with a dresser one day. With simple white walls, I’m craving galvanised steel, earthy tones and pops of yellow this autumn. Here are my favourites:

Autumn kitchen inspiration

Top: Table and Chairs (£999)

Bottom row, from left: jug (£9), coffee cup (£9.99), cooking pot (£40).

Have you ever had any painting disasters? And what do you think of round tables? I’d love to hear what you think! 

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Fishpools who have a wonderful selection of dining furniture.

Home Etc

The perfect dungarees

Whitestuff Madison dungaree

A few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing dungarees. They were dangerous territory – would I look pregnant? Or just plain silly? Ironically I never even actually wore a pair when I was pregnant.

But all that’s changed now. They’re everywhere. In that funny way that fashion has, dungarees have crept back from beyond the pale to completely OK. I’m a total convert.

Last year I dipped my toe into the water with a relaxed, summery pair. But they just don’t work in autumn and winter. Come September I don’t want that washed-out, baggy look. I want dark denim in a neat, flattering fit.

Whitestuff Madison dungaree

These dungarees from White Stuff are the perfect pair for autumn. Here’s why I love them:

They’re super flattering. Because they’re quite slim fitting they do a great job of holding everything in and actually make me look slimmer. My baggy summer dungarees definitely don’t do that.

Whitestuff Madison dungaree

They’re smart, yet completely practical and relaxed. So far I’ve worn mine to a steam rally, a soft play party and lots of coffee dates. They hold their shape and make me feel neat and pulled together – even when I’m having to run around after my boys! I’m still the only one wearing them on the school run, but they’re quite subtle and not at all outlandish.

Whitestuff Madison dungaree

They’re fun. I don’t take my clothes too seriously and always like to add a quirk to my outfit. You can never look boring in dungarees. This pair creates a neat shape with a sense of humour. In fact, they were the perfect outfit for my annual ride on these wonderful steam-powered Gallopers!

Steam powered galloping horses

So, are you tempted by dungarees this autumn? I’d love to know! 

Dungarees c/o White Stuff

Thoughtful and useful gifts for a new baby

Thoughtful and useful gifts for a new baby

I love buying presents for new babies. It’s a chance to buy something really special.

People always say that you don’t need to buy much for a new baby, and I have to say that I agree. Everyone’s different, of course, but tiny babies really don’t need very much other than warmth, love and clothes at first.

However, that doesn’t mean that the baby’s parents won’t appreciate a lovely gift. The baby won’t notice, but the parents will. Ideally, it needs to be something pretty and useful. Nothing too precious, but something a bit less mundane than the piles of newborn babygros they’ll already have. Pretty clothes are always tempting, but not always the most useful present.

Here are some of my favourite ideas…

Muslins…. You don’t see the point of these until you have a baby, when suddenly they become the most useful thing ever. Use them when feeding over your shoulder, to mop things up, as a sun shade or a blanket. They’re invaluable. I still have a few of mine knocking about and they’re surprisingly useful. If you can find some colourful or patterned ones, then they’re even better. I have recently started stock these beautiful woodland themed muslins. They’re the prettiest I’ve ever seen!

Woodland print muslins by Zoe Olivia Elsdon

A lovely book… The earlier you start reading to a baby, the better. Buying a book is a thoughtful present that will be cherished. I like to choose something that I remember from my childhood in a board book edition. Books by Janet and Alan Ahlberg, like Each Peach Pear Plum, always go down well.

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A homemade gift… either made by you or someone else. A crochet blanket or a knitted hat make wonderful presents and mean a lot. If you lack the time or inclination, buy something interesting and unique made by someone else! These soft, squishy rattles are hand-made in the UK and make a fun and unusual present.

Ice cream baby rattles

An eye-catching soft toy… Soft, pastel coloured bunnies look wonderful, but aren’t actually that interesting to a little baby. If you’re going to buy a cuddly toy, make it something eye-catching and bold that will capture the attention of those newly focusing eyes. Both of my children loved Lamaze toys and responded to them from an early age. You can hang them on a buggy and they’re just so useful.

Lamaze Freddie the Firefly

Vouchers… OK, maybe not as meaningful, but often the best solution. The parents get to choose exactly what to spend it on. Something for the baby, or maybe something for themselves. You can’t go wrong with John Lewis.

What are your favourite gifts for new babies?

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Simple things I love about September

Crab apples

Hello, September.

It’s not really Autumn yet, but it doesn’t exactly feel like summer anymore either. It’s still hot, but it’s subtly different. The days are shorter, and sweeter – everything is suffused with a gentle, golden mellowness. It’s an inspiring time of the year: ideas ripen as quickly as the berries in the hedgerows, and everything feels a little bit special.

Here are a few simple things I love about September…

Rudbekia

Jewel-like flowers. September isn’t about drastic change – Autumn leaves aren’t quite here yet, but everything in my garden is changing. The pretty pastels of summer are being replaced with vivid yellows, oranges and deep reds.

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Blackberries. They’re here – catch them before they vanish again! I can never resist gathering some, returning home with sticky purple fingers and my sweet bounty. September was made for pies and crumbles.

Blackberries

British apples. Nothing tastes nicer. Early apples are starting to appear in the shops, and lots of people round here are beginning to sell bags of them outside their houses. So much better than anything flown over in an aeroplane.

Apples

Those are the things that sum up September for me. Blackberries, apples and jewel-coloured blooms. What do you love about September?

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Mr and Mrs T Plus Three

My Autumn Resolutions: looking back and looking forward

My Autumn resolutions

September always feels like a great time for fresh starts and new ideas. Unlike January, which can feel a bit bleak, it’s a time for optimism. There’s a fresh feeling in the air – new shoes, sharpened pencils and the sense of things slowly getting back on track after the languid days of summer.

This time last year I wrote a post all about my Autumn resolutions. How much of those resolutions had been fulfilled, and how many had been forgotten?

Last year I was determined to be more organised and to have a tidier house. Funnily enough, I still feel the same. I did do quite well for most of the year, but my organisation did begin to slip a little over the summer. Our decluttering journey in the house has also followed a pattern of fits and starts. However, we’re definitely in a better place than we were a year ago. The boys now have their own bedrooms, we’ve repainted the kitchen and our playroom is now well on its way to becoming a cosy study. I’m not sure anyone can ever be as tidy or as organised as they’d like – for me it’ll always be a bit of a battle and I’m always going to aspire to be better at it.

I wanted to be more crafty. I haven’t knitted those Clangers I mentioned last year, but I have bought (and used) a sewing machine. I’ve also been carrying on with my jumble-coloured crochet. This autumn I’d like to experiment with felt flowers and knitted baby clothes.

To get a puppy. I’ve been close a few times, but this one hasn’t happened yet. Probably because, if I’m totally honest, the time still doesn’t feel right. We are, however, hopefully going to be adopting some cats. This is big news, which I’m sure I’ll be talking about more later. For now, I’m preparing myself for their arrival with a quiet sense of excitement and a bit of trepidation.

Growing and developing my blog. I have certainly fulfilled this ambition. My blog now feels more like a reflection of me, and I’m comfortable with my style. I worked hard for the first half of the year, worrying about rankings and readers. Since the launch of my shop, I’ve had less time to fret about this, and actually that’s ok. My goal is for my shop and blog to be a happy, inspiring online space – the two complimenting each other as much as possible.

Lose weight. I did lose a bit, but now I’m back to where I was before – a little heavier than I’d like and feeling quite unfit. I’m not brilliant at dieting, so exercise is key for me. I’ve done very little over the summer, so this autumn I’d like to get back on track. I’ll write more about this later, but I’d like to combine running, cycling and walking throughout the week. Not just to get slimmer, but also to make me feel more sane. On a vain note, as well as getting slimmer, I’d like to grow my hair. I’ve done the bob now, and it’s time for long hair again. So much easier when your hair naturally wants to resemble a haystack.

And where do I want to go from here? I want to continue my journey with my blog and my online shop. Things can’t miraculously grow overnight, but I’ll just keep chipping away. Most of my list remains uncannily the same. After all, a leopard doesn’t change it spots overnight, does it?

It basically boils down to: be inspired, be organised, be active. 

What are your Autumn resolutions?

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#OnePerfectThing in August

#OnePerfectThing in August

#OnePerfectThing is a community I’m growing over on Instagram. It’s all about sharing photos which capture a little bit of perfection in amongst the everyday. Life can’t always be perfect: our houses are messy, our children whinge and sometimes the glass can feel permanently half-empty. But why not try stopping for a moment to recognise one small thing that makes you happy? A nice cup of coffee and a slice of cake, cuddling a pet or maybe just watching Poldark.

You don’t have to take a photo, but if you do, I’d love to see it  – just use the tag #OnePerfectThing over on Instragram to join in.

I’ve loved seeing all of your photos during August. Here are my favourites:

#OnePerfectThing in August

Top left: @pushing_the_moon / top right: @jennyseaves / bottom left: @thetwinklesmama / bottom right: @_missisabellec

My absolute favourite has to be Catherine’s sunflowers in all their glory. Definitely sums up August for me! Catherine blogs over at Pushing the Moon, go have a peek if you haven’t already discovered it!

Sunflowers

To visit my Instagram page click here. 

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Free postage in the shop this weekend, plus some new arrivals!

Marmalade Pie the shop

To celebrate the arrival of the August bank holiday weekend there’s free postage off everything in the shop this weekend, including sale items. Just use the code AUGHOLIDAY at the checkout.

Woodland printed baby muslin squares

I’m currently enjoying expanding our children’s and baby range and I’m particularly excited to now be stocking these beautiful muslin cloths (£18.50) by British designer Zoe Olivia Elsdon. Each lovely gift box contains three soft, pre-washed muslin cloths in woodland designs. They’re the perfect gift for new arrivals.

Ice cream baby rattles

Continuing the baby theme, these handmade baby rattles (£12) are sweetness itself. The old-fashioned bell inside them makes a delicate little tinkle when you shake it. They’re just scrummy, and shouldn’t really be confined to babies only!

Wooden folk bird ornament

A flock of these folksy wooden birds (£4.95) have also landed in the shop. Catch one now before they fly away again.

I hope you all have a great bank holiday weekend, whatever you’re doing. We have one week of the school summer holidays left, and after that I hope to have lots of new posts for you all to read!

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Short but sweet: a couple of days on the Isle of Man

Scarlett Point, Isle of Man

A few weeks ago we spent a couple of days on the Isle of Man. It was a short stop-over before our main holiday in Derbyshire, allowing us to catch up with ourselves and enjoy some reviving sea air.

We arrived late in the evening and fell into bed, walking the next day to the sound of the sea. As usual, we did a bit of beach combing in Castletown and were rewarded with some treasure.

Shell on Castletown beach

Then we hopped aboard an old train headed for Douglas – heaven to the small steam fans in the family.

Isle of Man railway

Soon after arriving in Douglas we stumbled across the most delightful cafe, just five minutes from the station. We ate fresh Manx Queenies and Langoustines in the warm sunshine. Delicious.

Little Fish Cafe, Douglas

Afterwards we caught a horse drawn tram along the Douglas sea front – a relic from Victorian times, and every bit as charming as it sounds.

Isle of Man horse drawn tram

We finished our time on the island with an evening walk in the golden sunshine along Scarlett Point. Then it was the onto the early boat home to continue our adventures in Derbyshire…

Scarlett Point, Isle of Man IMG_8801

We ate at the Little Fish Cafe. 

More information about trains, trams and buses on the Isle of Man can be found here

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