Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Seasonal lip shades

What better reason for refreshing your look and your make up bag than the changing of the seasons?

With autumn coats unpacked and shades of mustard, burgundy, plum and teal awash on the high street, it's a great time to add a few new seasonal shades to your lips too.

I went shopping a couple of weeks ago on the hunt for some autumn inspired lip shades. I was looking for matt finishes - I love the flawless look and at this time of year, you can dare to go a bit bolder. I wanted a rich raspberry red, a deep plum, a warmer nude and something that would pack a little punch too.

Here's what I found...


Monday, 28 September 2015

The week that was #35

I've been writing these weekly updates for, well, 35 weeks now. I like summarising general life stuff into one post. You know, some weeks are quieter than others but it doesn't always have to be something 'big' to be worth documenting.

There's lots of different ways to pull together a weekly round up; I was joining in with #TWTWC by Make Do and Push, but she's taking a little break from this linky now. The lovely Kerri-Ann has her #LittleLoves posts which is a great summary of all the things she's loving right now, I've seen a few people do their week in pictures / my weekend in a nutshell type posts and Instagram snaps and Hayley from Home has her 'A Little Bit Lately' posts, which are along the same lines of how my 'The Week That Was' posts started.

So I guess these posts of mine could be tagged as any or all of the above - I'll just go with the flow and see where they sit each week.

The past week for me can be summarised, for the most part, with the following photos...

Top (L-R):
New hair - I wanted to go more vibrant so now my hair looks like it's on fire!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes for the win.
I've been stocking up on sticky notes and stationery nic naks galore.

Middle (L-R):
Early train journey to London - my survival kit.
Ethan's at a lovely stage and just growning so fast.

Bottom (L-R):
Cuddles with the hubs.
Even our animals know the seasons have changed and are spending more time at home.
This boy loves his stories and this new seasonal book has been very well read already.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

#StationerySunday - Paperchase haul

My love of stationery is well established on here (as my post on Kikki K earlier this week firmly established) and fellow stationery enthusiast Jocelyn at The Reading Residence has started a new link up, via any kind of post, called #StationerySunday.

And having hit Paperchase pretty hard this week (there's a new store in Birmingham at Grand Central - swoon), I had to join in the paper-based fun.

I've been getting my personal planner in order, working out what works best for me, much in the same way Jocelyn has, and I think I'm getting there. I'm quite particular when it comes to planning and with a few new Paperchase treats, I can bring some order to the madness.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Homeware for little Gruffalo hunters

Whilst Ethan has a sizeable collection of books, his favourite for sure is The Gruffalo. And I know that he isn't alone - it's a best-loved picture book for so many little ones.

If you too have a Gruffalo hunter in your midst, then you might want to take a look at these beautiful finds for home.

I was looking for a way to display some of Ethan's most loved bedtime books, within his reach, now he has a bed he can get in and out of and a room which he can explore when he's playing alone (we have this book caddy downstairs).

And I found this - it couldn't be any more perfect for my little book worm and Gruffalo in the making...


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Swoon-worthy Stationery

So, I love stationery. Obsessively so. I think this is because of:

* My desire to plan things in advance (so I always have things to look forward to and know when and where we need to be)

* My need to take control of things (so I can keep calm and try and just enjoy the journey)


* My quest to make everything just a little bit prettier (and a bit more 'me' too)

I have had many a diary, planner, notebook, calendar, to do list but thanks to fellow paper addict Jocelyn at The Reading Residence, I have discovered what could be the ultimate find for a life planning, paper fiend such as myself.

Enter Kikki.K.

(Apologies in advance if the following makes you rush out and spend a small fortune on pretty, papery things).

I have never heard of this brand before and I'm wondering whether I have been living under a rock. Having stumbled across their website after reading this post, I then spent eight minutes transfixed to this video:


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The big boy bed is a hit!

We took down Ethan's cot on Monday last week and built his new boy bed. Since then, he's slept soundly every night and we couldn't be happier with how he's handled the transition.

Since a few months old, Ethan's been quite a good sleeper and we've been used to him sleeping through the night from 8.30/9pm all the way until we wake him, usually around 7.10am during the working week. Only once every couple of weeks he might wake up unsettled or from having a bad dream, but even then it doesn't take long for him to nod off again.

And, touch wood, since trading up to a toddler bed, the same routine has continued.


Monday, 21 September 2015

The Week That Was #34

The two themes of our week last week were 'quality family time', as we were off work and spent lots of time together at home, and 'organise' as we had a big autumn clean and my house, my make up and my blog had a declutter and makeover.

So, my week that was in pictures...

Sunday, 20 September 2015

New look - again!

Ok, so I've meddled A LOT with my blog design recently. I just wanted to create a space that feels like 'me' and nothing has sat quite right.

However, I've got a little creative today, collected a few things together that inspire me and relate to what this blog is all about and made a vision board as a new header.

There's even a sneaky appearance from my little Mr, which just brings the whole thing to life...

I'm really pleased with how this has turned out and think I may have just made my blog space really feel like my own... I hope you like it too!

#MySundayPhoto / #SilentSunday

It's the end of our week off work and this photo just sums the past few days up. Lots of time together and lots of smiles.

These two make me very happy indeed.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Word of the Week #1 (#WOTW)

So, whilst I've been a regular reader of Jocelyn's blog, The Reading Residence, for a long time now, I've never taken part in one of her link ups but have always checked them out.

I'm trying to get involved in a few more linkys, as often I have something I want to share or chat about but don't know how it fits in or if I have too much or too little to say on the subject.

The 'word of the week' link up seems to be a great way to summarise things as concisely or as detailed as you want on a weekly basis, and here's my word of the week:


Friday, 18 September 2015

Preparing for autumn

Just a few days at home this week (and the services of a pro cleaner, as you can read about here) has really helped us to get things a bit more ship shape for the new season.

Every three or four months, I feel the need to have a big sort out so that anything old is packed or given away to create room for the new things we need. Why just have a spring clean, when a busy house means you accumulate 'stuff' all year round?

It seems I'm not the only one, as I've just seen a post by Hannah at Mum's Days about a Japanese book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up which seems to be sweeping the world by storm (sorry for the pun!). The general ethos seems to be clearing clutter for good and reaping the awards - it sounds ruthless and fascinating so check out this post by Hannah and her upcoming posts on how she's implementing the rules from this book to find out more.

So, what does an 'autumn clean' look like? Here's what we've been doing in our house:


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Boys' clothes supermarket haul

Following my recent post about my clothes pick for boys this autumn, I've put together a quick supermarket clothes shop haul video (my first video in ages!) so you can see what bargains I have picked up in the aisles for Ethan.



House proud

We've had the week off this week and it's been much needed on so many levels. We've been spending some quality time with little man, we've made his new bed and a couple of other new things for his room too and we've caught up on general life stuff.

Being a full time working household can make it hard to keep on top of every day tasks and chores. Be it sorting bills, sorting through things or cleaning, there's always something else to do, and usually more fun, isn't there?

I've been so looking forward to having a break and the chance to do what we want, when we want, at our own pace. I've also been keen to have a few days to tackle some bits and pieces around the house. I'm generally quite good at keeping things tidy, picking things up as I go, but during the week, a few things seem to pile up (namely a laundry pile that never goes down and washing up that seems to multiply overnight) and by the weekend, there's easily a few hours of tidying up needed so cleaning is often left behind.

But not any more!

We've thought about hiring a cleaner in the past but never have, usually feeling that it would mean we were officially declaring ourselves as lazy layabouts. Which we are, sometimes, but we lead a busy life. Don't we all?! I like tidying and cleaning too, in small doses, but with just two days at home, we've been finding that more and more time is being taken trying to keep on top of things... and usually failing.

Sometimes it feels like you'll never get on top. So we decided that a little helping hand would be very helpful indeed.


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

My list of Birmingham's #HiddenGems - places to eat, fun for kids and The Frankfurt Christmas Market

Birmingham city centre - To Become Mum

I've lived in Birmingham for 13 years now so I think I can safely say I am an honourary Brummie. I married a Brummie too and have chosen to call this fair city - England's second city, no less - my home.

It's a great place for shopping, there's lots of interesting and historical buildings to see and there's lots of suburbs worth exploring too, from the vibrancy of the Jewellery Quarter to quieter, almost villegesque locations like Harborne.

There's lots of places to enjoy a good meal or a fun night out and it really comes alive from mid-November when the Frankfurt Christmas Market takes over the city centre with its twinkling lights, German style hotdogs and steaming hot Gl├╝hwein in decorative glasses.

I think all too often Birmingham gets a bad rap, with people who have never visited before believing it to be a concrete jungle. This is not the case, certainly not any more, with the reinvention of the Bullring over a decade ago breathing new life into the city and the latest redevelopment of New Street Station, into Grand Central, due to open later this month, making Birmingham a must visit destination.

My Mum loves coming to visit - she loves cities and likes the hustle and bustle - and so too my university friends still make regular trips back to catch up with us and the city we called our home for three years as students.

Our house isn't always big enough to accommodate guests but there's so many hotels nearby and in the city centre, that's never an issue. There's 12 Travelodge hotels in Birmingham alone, so you're bound to find somewhere close to where you want to be. There's one just around the corner from us, just a couple of miles from junction 7 of the M6, which proves useful for my parents, as well as one near the Bullring, for shopaholics, and another on Broad Street, nice and close to the night-life.

So, if you are coming to Birmingham, what do I recommend you see? Having been here for a fair while now, what are my #HiddenGem recommendations?

Well, I have shared the best places to see Santa in the Midlands before (I'll be doing a 2016 addition soon) and I've also written about great days out in the Midlands, but what about Birmingham itself?

Hmm... here's a few of my #HiddenGems to get you started:


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Week That Was #33

I kinda missed a week but not a lot happened the week before last, so I'll just pick up with the week that's been instead...

Last week, I had an impromptu lieu day on Wednesday, which was handy as I was away on a work trip in Germany on Thursday and Friday then we went to visit friends, so I needed a little time to get some things together and be prepared. And I got to spend a little extra time with this fella.


Friday, 11 September 2015

My letter to Ethan - at 2 years 4 months

Hi squishy.

There's so much going on with you at this age, these letters are a great way to summarise all the latest developments, words and memories from the past month or so.

They say that time goes fast and it's so true; it's almost impossible to remember everything that has happened as you're always doing or saying something new, but it's worth trying to because Daddy and I love looking back and remembering some of the things you have done before and it's so easy to forget.

So, what's new since I last wrote to you?


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Brilliant new season buys for boys

I love dressing my little bud up. In fact, I think I enjoy shopping for Ethan more than for myself!

Boys clothes can be really fun and it's great to see that there's more choice on the high street, if you shop around, than just a sea of blue or everything having to have cars on it.

I have nothing against blue or cars, but some choice never goes a miss!

For these reasons, as well as the high quality of their clothes, Next is my favourite place to go for Ethan's new season clothes. Great for quirky tops, snuggly jumpers and great coats and accessories too, every time the seasons have changed, I've made Next my first stop for Ethan's stand-out pieces.

I've had a browse at the new lines for autumn/winter and picked out a few pieces that have caught my eye for that special little man in my life:


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Hair raising

These past few weeks, I've kept on seeing the same adverts on TV, for John Frieda's 7 Day Volume and Air-Dry Waves hair products.

I'm always looking for new ways to try and do something decent with my hair; it's quite fine and can look flat, even when I've styled it as sometimes, a curl will just not stay put.

My current style, with a graduated bob and blunt layers, lends itself to minimum maintenance and doesn't need too much attention generally - a full blow-dry or a few flicks with my GHD's is usually enough to get me by - but I was keen to pick up these two new products and try them out for myself.


Monday, 7 September 2015

The big boy bed

For a while now, we've been talking about Ethan moving up to a big boy bed. I still remember when we made the transition from a carry cot in our bedroom to the cot in the nursery and to this day, Ethan still sleeps in that same cot.

We didn't get a cot bed due to the space in the nursery and the way in which we wanted to position the cot. Ethan still sleeps with bars on all four sides and whilst he doesn't mind or knows any different, he's getting a little long...

So, we read about making the step to a toddler bed and have looked at many, many different beds, including this popular, stylish design with integrated cloud shaped night light, before settling on this one.


Saturday, 5 September 2015


I wasn't going to write this post. I've seen others share their feelings about that photo which has got everyone thinking and talking about the migrant crisis this week.

As a parent, it's been a news story that's been very hard to watch. And whilst I know the sharing of this photo, and the public reactions since it came to light, can only make people see the reality of the situation and want to act, but I've avoided looking at the photos. It's just too much to take.

I won't pretend to know a lot about the situation. Or the possible solutions.

I just know that a three year old child, not much older than my little Ethan, lost his life as the result of the struggles his family and those like them have faced.

He isn't alone and his plight isn't unique.

It's a very difficult situation. And it's very difficult to watch.

But difficulty is good, sometimes. If it can encourage people to take notice. To act.

There aren't any words I can say or write that will say anything different than those who have talked about the way in which the pictures have affected them. So, all I wanted to do was share this link and this one too which both have details on how you can help. If you want to, if you can.

You can also text 70008 and the word SYRIA to donate £5 now or give online with Save The Children here. You can follow others getting involved with the campaign using the hashtag #savesyriaschildren. People are sharing photos with their own children holding a sign saying 'it could have been me' but I just can't go that one step further. For me, I just can't make that close connection with what I've seen in the news and my own son but I understand why others are getting involved in this way.


Friday, 4 September 2015

Reading and writing

Ethan's little library is growing fast and we've added a number of new reads to his collection of late.

Being a big fan of The Gruffalo, and knowing most the words by heart already, we've bought Ethan a few more of Julia Donaldson's picture books. New early favourites include A Squash and A Squeeze and The Smartest Giant In Town.

We've also got this lovely nursery rhyme collection from Parragon Books. Our latest #BookBuddies find is a beautiful compendium of classic nursery rhymes and it's come at a great time for us as Ethan can recite so many of them now, we need some new ones to learn!


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Mummy and Me August 2015

This month, I've taken quite a few snaps of the little Mr and myself. All on my phone, all selfies and all with cheesy grins or silly faces.

They might not be the kind of photos to blow up on a canvas. But they do make me smile.

Ethan and I have had a really good relationship of late. Which might sound strange, but he is a toddler and he can be known to have moods that change with the wind. Without warning and often without reason too. But on the whole, we have been really close this past month.

So these photos are candid but capture our relationship at this time.

And they really show where Ethan gets his grin from...


I heart autumn

September has begun and I'm embracing autumn without hesitation. Summer didn't ever really get going, did it? My maxi dresses were never worn and my tan never had the chance to begin (not that I ever go an impressive shade, to be fair).

So, I'm saying so long to the end of summer and taking a big giant leap into autumn. My favourite time of year (in the lead up to Christmas).

Here's what I'm looking forward to:

* The changing colour of the leaves on the trees - the ones around the corner of our house always seem to change shade day by day, from bright green to fiery red

* Buying a new coat - because you just have to every year, don't you? This is the one I'm lusting over

* Big jumpers, chunky cardigans and layering up 


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Week That Was Captured #32

Hello! I haven't forgotten my corner of the web. I've just had a lot to do in the 'real' world and haven't had the time to share it as much as I would like.

I've missed posting, and have ideas and new things I want to write about and share with you every day, but unless I can get my hands on one of those time turner things from Harry Potter, I just don't know how to fit it all in.

Go to work. Take care of Ethan. Spend a moment or two with my husband. Pay bills. Run errands. Do the food shopping. Tidy the house (rarely get to the cleaning part). Talk to friends. Make plans.

Write my blog.

The important thing for me at the moment is balance and not putting too much pressure on myself to do it all, all of the time. Sometimes something takes more of a back seat. Has to. And that's ok. Everything will get done in the end. If you want it to.

You can always find a bit of time for the things you want.

So, here I am. Writing. Because I want to.

Late but never mind, my week that was captured #32, last week, the last week of August, involved the following bits and bobs...

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