Friday, 19 September 2014

Hogarths revisited

If you saw my posts yesterday, you'll know it was our fourth wedding anniversary. As we'd been away visiting friends for a few days (more on this soon), we hadn't planned anything for the day itself. With no babysitters available and five days away from home, we decided to have a quiet day, then hubs surprised me with a lunch booking at our wedding venue.

Neither of us had been back to Hogarths since our wedding but we had heard it had been extended and as we drove up we could see the new wing and reception area. Inside, it still had the same feel but overall, the restaurant was twice the size and quite a lot had been done to grow the hotel and its offering. It still felt like the place we got married, although bigger, and it was really nice to go back and enjoy lunch in the Bar 8 Brasserie, overlooking the patio steps and gardens that featured in so many of our wedding photographs.

Ethan had slept in the car and was in a great mood throughout our meal, which was a relief as it was a rather nice place and we wanted to enjoy our meal! I had goats cheese salad to start whilst hubs went for gin soaked salmon, then I had salmon with cheesy mash, spinach and spring onions and Ste opted to try the Hogarths burger. The verdict? Delicious! And great value too. Hogarths has a special feel to it, naturally, and the quality of the surroundings, food and presentation is fantastic and well worth the money.

We had no room for dessert and took a stroll around the grounds before leaving. Although it was a later lunch, neither one of is fancied dinner that evening. Instead, we settled in for a night of movies and a glass or two of wine at home.

It was quite lovely.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Four years ago @ 5pm

Here's what we were doing this time four years ago and a final look at our wedding day, via the Memory Box app.

Four years ago @ 3pm

I love our wedding photos -  take a look here to see a snapshot of what we tried to capture on the day.

Four years ago @ 2pm

Saying our 'I do's' - see our story here.

Four years ago today...

Stephen and I have been married for four years today. Four years. In that time, many things have happened, not least have we become parents and had our lives changed immeasurably forever.

Our wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life and I wanted to take a trip down memory lane. And thanks to a new app, Memory Box, I can in a whole new way.

So, what were we doing this time four years ago?

See my 'before we said I do story' here.

More posts to follow later today...

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A space of his own - part 2: the nook

Ethan is an avid reader. He may not be able to actually read, just look at the pictures and turn the pages, but he still has quite a collection of board books, picture books, book apps, special treasury and compilation books... he even has books in the bath.

In my first space related post, I talked about finding space to fit all the things the three of us each have in the house and trying to make the most of space we have so we don't get taken over by toys. Today, I wanted to share a new space we have created just for Ethan.

When it comes to books, Ethan has a selection in the lounge, on a shelf he can reach, including his Mr Men board book collection and some books that also play noises. He also has some books, mostly the special kind that he won't be allowed to get his mitts on for a while, on display on wall shelves in his nursery.

I've always loved books myself and have wanted to create special nook for Ethan to read in, and let his imagination fly, as he gets older for a long time. And now I've created just that.

It's only a small space and it was really easy to put together but I like it all the same and think it's a fun way to use the awkward space available in his nursery. 

It's the smallest bedroom, positioned over the stairs, so there's limited floor space. The overhang from the stairs extends into the room and on top, we have a build-in cupboard, which we use for all of Ethan's clothes and nappy bits and bobs. 

His cot is across one wall and we used to have a chair in the other corner of the room but found that we didn't use it any more now Ethan is older so decided to free up some space as up until now, he's never played in his nursery, only slept. Until Ethan needs a toddler bed, we're using this corner as a comfy space where he can sit and read with us.

To create his reading nook, we folded his playmat, which he no longer needs as he's mobile now, and put cushions around the edge, along the walls. We have a Peter Rabbit storage book with some small toys and bedtime books in, plus a laundry hamper that we use to keep most of his soft toys.

It's a very small transformation am done day I'd like to do some,thing similar but with a canopy hanging above. to make it feel like a den, but for now, I'm really pleased with how cute and inviting this corner of the nursery looks. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

#MeetAMum Monday - Katie from Pouting in Heels

It's Monday so it must be time to feature another yummy mummy! My latest #meetamum guest blogger is a lovely lady I had spoken to a few times on Twitter before finally meeting at BritMums Live and I'm pleased to be introducing her to all of you today.

She's a very yummy mummy and I just couldn't pick which picture to include... so I've featured all three she sent me! I just wish I could look as glam as Katie!

Get yourself comfy as you get to know Katie from Pouting in Heels a little better...

1.   Hello, what's your name and where do you come from?

Hello! I’m Katie (known by my nearest and dearest as Kate) and I’m a Lancashire lass who has somehow found herself living in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and rather enjoying it.

2.   Tell us about your children.

I have one daughter, Elsie Florence, who turned two just a couple of months ago. She’s the funniest person I know, gives the best hugs and can talk for England. Clever, independent and determined, I’m immensely proud of her and love her more than I thought it would be humanly possible.

3.   When did you know you wanted to be a mum?

I’d always hoped that I’d be a mum one day, but if I’m honest, I was never one of these people who longed to be a mum for years on end. I just kind of expected it to happen when I was ready!

Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas though. It took us a long time to conceive Elsie (two years) and it was during this time that I realised how desperately I wanted to be a mum. I was beginning to lose hope and think it would never happen, when I finally got pregnant. Now she’s here and I’m acutely aware of how blessed I am. It really is the greatest gift.

4.   What's you favourite moment as a mum so far?

Gosh, there have been so many! Only last week when I was having a mummy / daughter afternoon did I think how incredibly fortunate I am to have Elsie in my life.

However - I know probably everyone says this - but it has to be the moment I held her for the very first time. It was such a surreal, magical moment that I will never, ever forget.

5.   What do you wish people had told you before you became a mum?

I wish people had warned me what it’s like for you post pregnancy, in terms of physical and emotional changes.

For instance, no one told me how much it would hurt ‘down there’ after having a baby (I know I should probably have guessed, but it still came as quite a shock!). Or how your hair can fall out months after having your baby. Again this was something I was not expecting or even knew about.

I now find it quite odd that in pregnancy we receive such amazing care but yet once the baby has arrived, it seems that most of us are given very little support or information to help with the enormity of it all.

I also wish people had told me how exhausting it is! However in fairness, I just don’t think you can imagine what it’s like to be a mum, until you are one. It’s only when you experience it, that you understand the things people have told you. When you go “oh, now I see what they meant!”.

6.   If we were to look in your changing bag, what would we find?

Ok, confession time, I don’t do a changing bag anymore. I ditched it pretty quickly in my new motherhood days and opted for a larger handbag instead. Much prettier and easier I find!

Anyway, currently in my handbag I have such things like baby wipes, pull up nappies (I’m just about to start potty training!), nappy rash cream, Elsie’s sunglasses, a plastic dinosaur (Elsie’s favourite ‘friend’) packets of raisins, a lipstick (it’s the quickest way for me to look ‘made up’ in a flash), my Chanel compact mirror, phone, purse and a notebook and pen as I’m always jotting things down when I get the chance.

7.   What were the top three things you had for your baby that you would recommend to other mums?

Muslin cloths - they just came in handy for EVERYTHING

 Dr Brown bottles - great for helping with colic although they are slightly more fiddly to wash

 Zip up swaddle pod - Elsie slept through from 6 weeks to 8 months, every night in one of these! Previously she was so restless and fidgety she would constantly wake herself up.

8.   What three things could you have done without?

* Baby books - slightly controversial but personally I found they did nothing but stress me out and make me feel like a ‘bad mum’.

* Changing table for on top of cot - I used it a handful of times if that and was always scared Elsie would roll or fall off!

* Dummy steriliser - nice in theory but just not practical or needed. Popping it in some boiled water or running it under a hot tap is much easier!

9.   What baby brands do you like and why?

* Mamas and Papas - because all their designs are beautiful and everything - from nursery furniture to clothing - is of excellent quality.

* Mothercare’s Little Bird range - just the loveliest, classic, timeless pieces for both boys and girls. Reasonably priced too.

* From Babies With Love - my go to baby brand when I need to buy a present for a new arrival. The clothes are gorgeous but it’s the ethos of the brand which makes it special for me. Every single penny of profit they make goes to helping abandoned and orphaned babies.

10.   Are you a working mum? If so, how do you find it?

I am indeed! I’m lucky in that I’m a freelance writer so I work for myself which makes it much easier when it comes to juggling motherhood with work.

It’s not easy. (Don’t we all wish it was?!) However I wouldn’t change it for the world. Working enables me to feel independent and like ‘Katie’ again. Loving what I do means it never really feels like work either.

Like everyone, I still struggle with the juggle. It’s hard to find that perfect balance but recognising that we are human and there are only so many hours in the day helps! We cannot do everything.

I also do my best to keep work and motherhood separate. So no replying to emails when I’m with Elsie or no tidying up of Elsie’s toys when I’m supposed to be at my desk.

11.   What do you enjoy most about being mum?

Everything! (Bar the sleepless nights). Watching Elsie grow and develop, day by day, is just the most incredible thing. And obviously the many cuddles and ‘i love you’s are rather wonderful too.

12.   How do you make time for being 'you'?

I work. I make time to see friends. I ask for help when I need it (and no longer feel guilty about it!). I try to give myself at least 30 mins a day for myself to do a workout, have a bath or read a magazine and I schedule in essential pampering appointments such as a hair cut into my diary!

13.   Tell us about your blog / what you do / where we can find you online?

My blog is Pouting In Heels and it’s a lifestyle blog which aims to inspire women and make them feel better about themselves.

On the blog I talk about everything from motherhood (obviously) to fashion, love to work but the goal is to ultimately be a friendly, warm, supportive voice for women. I think it’s about time us ladies started to be kinder to ourselves and each other.

You can find my blog here: and can come and say hi at all the usual places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ too!

14.   What's the best thing about being a blogger / what you do?

There’s so many things! I’ve met some incredible people through blogging, many of whom have become great friends.

Also, the opportunities that come from it. I’ve done everything from covering events to attending fashion shows, taking part in photo shoots to writing an emotional guest post about domestic violence for Mumsnet. You just never know where your blog will take you next and I find that so incredibly exciting.

Finally, the most obvious one. You get to share your voice and your stories with the world which can be very cathartic and powerful.

15.   Share a crazy fact about yourself.

Earlier this year I was a cover girl for Essentials magazine, after a journalist came across my blog. It was the craziest thing I have ever done. I even had a wind machine. It was totally bonkers but totally brilliant.

Thank you Katie - I'm totally in awe of you! I completely agree about the post-pregnancy shock - no-one prepares you for it and it very much feels like it's a case of 'Congratulations, here's your baby, now off you go... good luck!'. It was the hardest part for me to come to terms with and I think more should be said to help mums prepare for this, although as you say, nothing can ever truly prepare you. I am a big fan of your blog and your attitude to life, you have a great way of looking at things and you're quite the mumspiration!

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