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  • InBrand Collaborations, Home, Interiors

    Back Garden Renovation Progress

    The sun has finally got the memo that it’s Summer and apart from a few showers here and there, the weather is definitely looking much more brighter! This means that as well as throwing all my windows open at every opportunity and dusting off my summer wardrobe, my attention has been brought to looking at the gardens and wondering what the hell happened.

    When we first bought our house the front garden was beautiful, it was so well kept and full of amazing plants and flowers. But it was super high maintenance and we definitely let things slip! And then next thing we knew, it looked like an overgrown mess. Oops. So we have started doing some work out there which I will share soon.

    But today’s post is about the back garden which wasn’t so pretty. It’s very small sadly and was covered in super uneven patio slabs. Which were not child friendly at all. Like most families, our gardens are mainly used during the summer months only. And, though we are pretty good with the whole refreshing your home on a budget thing, I wasn’t really sure where to start when it came to the gardens. But after many hours on Pinterest looking at various ideas for small garden spaces, we decided in order to make best use of the space we would create some different zones. We made a start with the renovations out the back last summer and started by ripping out all the patio slabs and levelling the garden as much as possible. And then we created the following zones!

    Adult Space
    We decided to use CorTen steel edging to make a slightly raised seating area with cotswold stones. We put our garden corner sofa up here which I added some colour to with some outdoor cushions. In the afternoon it becomes a real sun trap and a lovely spot to sit and watch the kids play. It’s always good to get a bit of extra sunshine as its a great source of vitamin D which most of us are lacking! I’d also love to add a fire pit to this space so Josh and I can sit out there in the evenings when the kids have gone to bed and enjoy a nice cold gin!

    Play Space
    For the main garden area we opted for a LazyLawn. Artificial grass was definitely not Josh’s first choice but I managed to sway him by pushing my point that it would be ideal for the kids to be able to play without getting muddy. And it would mean we could enjoy the space all year round rather than just in the summer. I love that when I look out into the back garden during the cold and wet winter months that the grass still looks pristine. I also really enjoy being able to hoover it!

    Dining Space
    Eating al fresco is one of the simple pleasures in life. Both kids always eat so much better if we sit outside! We have a table and chairs set up on the artificial grass and we recently invested in a better BBQ. So I am planning to try and use it more during the week as well as at the weekends. I have been scouting out recipes to try and came across this great list of 33 types of chicken on the bbq which I am hoping to try out a few of!

    As well as these three zones we have also managed to squeeze in a small shed too! We’ve then created a little flower bed that runs along the house too. We made a great start last year but need to finish things off this year by painting the fences and shed, planting some more flowers, adding some festoon lights, replacing the gate and finishing the path off! So it’s still a bit of a work in progress but here is a few snaps so far!

    *Collaborative Post but all opinions and images are of course my own*

  • InLifestyle

    Three Ways To Give Your Home A Refresh On A Budget

    Most people think that the only way to make their home look expensive is to completely rip everything out and start again. However, I strongly disagree! There are SO MANY cheaper ways to give your home a little refresh and give a tired room a whole new look.

    When we first bought our home we did a lot of renovations downstairs mainly to change the lay out. We are now making plans to give our upstairs a little freshen up. So I thought I would share a few tricks that I am planning to do to help make my home look chic but still on a budget!

    Clean and declutter
    It would seem that all those Instagram perfect homes we see online are always clean and tidy. Now I personally like to keep a clean tidy house but with working, two children, a husband and a dog, it’s not always easy! My method is ‘little and often’ so I try to do a couple of bits most days and I find that helps me to keep on top of it better. It also seems less overwhelming that doing one huge clean once a week.

    Although I always find as the seasons change, it gives me the urge to do a bigger more thorough clean and declutter. Especially in the Spring. I love whacking all the windows open, putting a good upbeat playlist on and getting to work! This usually involves dusting all surfaces, hoovering behind furniture and generally getting into all those places that don’t get cleaned throughout the rest of the year. This list shares some fab spring cleaning tips and some more advice on how to carry out an effective spring clean. Whilst Spring is the most popular season for this clean, you can do it at any time during the year. I like to do a big one before Christmas too so everything is all fresh ready for putting up the decorations!

    Decluttering is also number one on my list at the moment! Our house has three bedrooms but I feel like we’re kind of bursting at the seams at the moment. I am planning to go through every room, cupboard and drawer and get rid of excess things that we don’t want/need/use anymore that are just cluttering the place up. I will probably start with old toys, unread books, baby bits we no longer need and then lastly clothes the kids have outgrown or we don’t wear anymore. Any bigger bits I try to sell and I always try to donate the other items where I can. We are also planning to up our storage upstairs to keep things a bit more organised too!

    Add a fresh lick of paint
    My favourite way to freshen things up is of course by adding a new coat of paint! This can immediately make your home look more lavish I think.

    I am a big fan of Neutral colours as they are always a safe bet and go with any furniture scheme. White in particular matches any type of room and any type of property and I find it helps reflect light. Although as I get older I do find myself getting a bit braver with colours too. We have a navy wall in our living room that I love. For our bedroom we’re planning to paint the whole room a dark green which I am very excited about!

    Spruce up with flowers
    Anyone that knows me, will have probably noticed that I ALWAYS have fresh flowers in my home. Usually on the dining table! I’m no expert in flower arranging, but I loving giving it a go! I think fresh blooms add a little touch of luxury too without having to cost the earth too. Flowers are also great for cheering up your home and will physically bring a sense of life to each room.

    I like to use colourful flowers that contrast the colour schemes of each room. I often will go for yellow roses, daffodils or sunflowers for the dining room table to co ordinate with the yellow chairs we have in there. I also love using pink or white flowers in the living room as they look so lovely against the dark navy wall in there.

    *Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*

  • InBella, Brand Collaborations

    Preparing Your Child For School

    It feels like only last week Bella was preparing to start school, and I can’t believe that she is now coming to the end of her first year. This time last year we were starting to thing of ways we could help her with the transition. The school sent out some really helpful leaflets of things we could do to encourage independence. Of course we all want our children to be well-rounded human beings and the school systems plays such a huge part in this. But there are also many things that are the parent’s responsibility to teach them too.

    Bella is one of the older children in her year and after three years at a very good Nursery, I felt like she was more than ready to start school. But there were quite a few things on the leaflet we received that I hadn’t even considered. Things like buying zip up dresses rather than button down to make it easier for her when getting changed for PE. And that she would need to be able to use the toilet independently and to carry her plate or tray at lunchtime! Other bigger things I felt were important were things like…

    Health Consciousness
    This is something I am super passionate about. Teaching my children the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle. We started doing this from a very young age. When Bella was a baby we used to go for plenty of walks together with her either in the buggy or I’d wear her in a baby carrier. We also did baby swimming lessons. And then at 18 months Bella started Ballet lessons which she still does now and we have recently started horse riding together too. We also got a dog at the beginning of the year which has really helped to encourage us all to get outside walking more!

    As well as being active I really want my children to have a good relationship with food by teaching them the importance of a balanced diet. We don’t deny the children treats as I personally don’t think that’s the best way to go about it. By telling I child they cannot have something, it makes them want it even more. Instead we try to eat healthily most of the time so that they can enjoy the odd treats. We cook most of our meals from scratch using plenty of lean meat and fresh vegetables to ensure the children get all the vitamins they need. The fruit bowl is always well stocked too for snacks.

    Time Management
    My sister bought Bella a watch for Christmas and this has been great for teaching her to tell the time. Its been really helpful for gently teaching her about time management. For example in the mornings she knows that we all need to be up, dressed and downstairs by 8am for breakfast and out the door by 8.45am. Then in the evenings she knows what time she goes to bed so this helps give her an idea of how much time she has to play or read before it’s time for lights off. Schools obviously operate on a timetable so just by making Bella aware of these things at home, it will hopefully help her understand how her school day works. Time management is one of those skills that benefit us for life after all! As she gets older she’ll be set homework with deadlines so hopefully this will help her to manage her time with that too. I suppose that time management is one of those things that is a very subtle blend of pressure and rewards.

    And, of course, there are so many other skills needed, like money management, decision-making skills, and even the importance of saying “no” to someone. Something that I have re iterated to Bella many times. Just because she is in full-time education now, I can’t just rely on the school and her teachers to provide all the information for her to live a well-balanced life. It’s just as much up to us as parents too!

    I hope these tips have been helpful, is there anything you would add?

    *Collaborative Post but all opinions are of course my own*

  • InBrand Collaborations, Family

    For The Easter Basket

    I’ve been playing Easter Bunny and putting together a little basket of goodies every year since Bella was born. I think Josh thought I was nuts going through the effort when she was just 5 months old but it’s just as much for me as it is for the children. Things like Easter, Birthdays and Christmas were never really a big deal in our family when I was growing up and I am determined for that not to be the case for my children. I love any excuse to celebrate and do something special for them.

    So I thought I would share some ideas for filling an Easter Basket. I did share a similar post a few years back here. As I have done this a few times before now, I actually already has most of the bits around the house. It certainly does not need to cost the earth or be super extravagant. This year I have kept it simple and just put a couple of Easter books in, a stuffed toy each, some bunny ears, a bag of Easter themed marshmallows and lastly some Kinder chocolate goodies from their Easter range which is available in all major supermarkets (apart from the Giant Eggs which are exclusive to Tesco and Ocado).

    Other good non chocolate items to include are things like hair clips/bows, play doh, craft supplies, bubbles, stickers and even clothes. In the first one I ever did for Bella I put a little Easter romper in there.

    We have some lovely plans with both family and friends this year and I can’t wait to celebrate Easter with our loved ones. There will be roast lamb, Easter egg hunts, my annual Easter cheesecake and lots of country dog walks I’m sure!





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    ***The lovely people at Kinder very kindly gifted us a hamper of Easter goodies in exchange for a mention in this post. All photos and words are of course my own***

  • InLifestyle

    A Long Weekend In Stockholm, Sweden

    Back in the Autumn an offer on Facebook caught my eye for a super cheap short winter break to Stockholm. I’d been considering booking a surprise trip for over Josh’s birthday anyway and this seemed perfect. The flights were at reasonable times, the hotel looked nice and had good reviews and January is apparently a great time to visit Sweden.

    I managed to book it, arrange childcare and book Josh the time off work without letting slip to him. I finally told him on Christmas Day and he was very impressed and super excited. We flew out just over two weeks later!

    We stayed at a cheap hotel near the airport the night before as we had an early flight on the Friday. This worked well as it meant we were in the city centre by lunchtime. My lovely friend Dani (follow her here) who used to live in Sweden gave me lots of tips. She suggested things to do and see and just gave me some really helpful advice on visiting Sweden. We got the Flygbussarna from Skavsta aiport into Stockholm city centre. We downloaded the app and bought our tickets beforehand. It was all super easy and stress free. Once we arrived in Stockholm we just started walking and soon found ourselves on one of the main shopping streets. Sadly we only had hand luggage so couldn’t take advantage of the shopping but it had loads of great shops including the most amazing H&M’s!

    After a mooch in the shops we put our hotel into google maps and started walking in the right direction and decided we’d just stop somewhere on route for some lunch. Stockholm is made up of fourteen islands and they are all joined by various bridges. It is a much bigger city that I originally thought, we did A LOT of walking. We walked across to Gamla Stan which is the old town area and very pretty with lots of cobbled streets and traditional Swedish architecture. Next it was across to Sodermalm which is a really trendy area where we found some of our favourite spots! We stopped here in an Espresso House for some lunch and I am so glad we did as we ended up coming here most days. Its a really cool coffee shop chain with awesome interiors. They were everywhere in Stockholm. They serve delicious food and coffee but the hot chocolates are also insanely good. It basically comes with a chunk of chocolate on a stick that you stir in until it melts. Officially the best hot chocolates ever.

    We stayed at Motel L which was just across the water from Sodermalm. The hotel was super modern and again, had great interiors. The room wasn’t huge but it was perfect for what we needed. I booked the whole break through Expedia and it was such good value for money.

    On Saturday we enjoyed an amazing lay in before wrapping up and heading out into the cold. First up we did a really lovely free walking tour around Gamla Stan. Our tour guide was great and we learnt loads about both the Swedish culture and history. We then visited Fotografiska which is a huge photograhy musuem. It was really interesting although it didn’t take us very long to get round it. When we came out it was dark so we made our way to Meatballs for the people for an early dinner. I’d read online that this was THE place to go for traditional Swedish meatballs. And my goodness, it did not disappoint. We chose a sharing platter which had a few different varieties of meatballs. Every single mouthful was bloody amazing and we both really enjoyed it. I can totally see why it’s so highly rated. After dinner we headed back to our hotel, stopping for pick a mix on route as it is a Swedish tradition they enjoy every Saturday called ‘Lördagsgodis’. So of course we had to get involved!!

    The main agenda for Sunday was brunch at The Greasy Spoon. Another cool spot I had found online beforehand. You can’t book sadly so there was over an hour wait for a table but it was so worth it! We put our names down on the waiting list then went for a coffee at an Espresso House around the corner. When we got back to The Greasy Spoon we were served quickly and it had such a great atmosphere in there. Josh went for one of the specials which was a mexican style breakfasy quesadilla while I chose the banana french toast and we shared a side of bacon. All of which, was absolutely delicious. After brunch we hopped on a boat across to Djurgården to visit the Vasa museum. We both found this super interesting. The museum displays the only almost fully intact 17th century ship that has ever been salvaged, the 64-gun warship Vasa that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. When we came out it had been snowing and I very promptly nearly fell on my arse, TWICE. That evening we ate in an Italian restaurant in Gamla Stan which was nice, but part of me wished we had gone back for a second round of meatballs! 😉

    On our last morning we got an Uber back into the city centre so we could mooch about for our last few hours. We checked out Östermalms saluhall which is a huge market hall. We then enjoyed one last Espresso House hot chocolate. And we also managed to grab a last minute cinnamon bun (a must when in Sweden!) before we had to make our way back to the airport.

    Overall we both really enjoyed Stockholm. The Swedes are all super friendly and I love the slower pace of life they seem to have. All the incredible interiors left me feeling very  inspired as I have always been a big fan of the Scandi homeware styles. I would definitely love to return to Sweden again one day with the children. Perhaps in the Summer to explore more of the countryside as I have heard it is super beautiful!

    I loved our little child free Swedish break and it was so nice to just be us for a few days.  We didn’t have to worry about our babies as we knew were in safe hands with their Grandparents back home. I’m a big believer that all parents need time out sometimes. It’s something we try to do a few times a year. Even just one night away, it always leaves me feeling totally recharged. I truly believe that time away from the children makes me a better parent!

    The quality of these photos is pretty rubbish as they are just iPhone snaps, I took my camera with me but I just didn’t get around to using it. But I love these photos all the same!

  • InBrand Collaborations, Mama

    Casual Weekend Style {ft the new SkipHop Greenwich Convertible}

    Oh Hi! Hello! It’s been months since I have shared a post over here. Last year was very quiet for this little online space of mine. Mainly because life was just so busy. The renovations took over most of the first half of the year. And then with Bella starting school in September and me working more it’s just been very full on over here. Life is still just as busy. But I’d really love to start sharing more again. More style posts, more interiors, more recipes I love and just more general personal ramblings. So I’m kicking off the new year with a style post! It’s an outfit I wore at the weekend which I loved and I wanted to share with you all about my new favourite bag.

    It’s been super chilly in East Sussex over the last week or so, we’ve had a few days of snow and a hell of a lot of ice. I have been cooped up at home with two sicky babes which hasn’t been much fun. The horrible germs that come with winter is definitely my least favourite thing about this season. I’m already dreaming of warmer spring days with less layers and being able to leave the house without a coat on. Thanks to the sick bug that graced our house last week, I spent most of the time in my comfies with my hair chucked up in a mum bun on top of my head to try and avoid it coming into any contact with puke. No one wants sick in their hair now, do they? So by the time the weekend rolled around I was desperate to get dressed into something nicer, to do my hair and make up properly and just get out of the house!

    I opted for my favourite ‘mom’ jeans paired with a black lace cami tucked in and my huge chunky pink cardigan thrown over the top to keep me nice and cosy. I definitely should have thought more about my shoe choice before leaving the house though as those ballet pumps left me with frozen cold feet! Eeek. As I was going out with the children in tow I took my new Skiphop Greenwich Convertible Backpack which is in the shade Portobello.

    I’ve had a few different change bags since becoming a Mama but this in hands down he best one I have ever owned. I think the thing I love the most is how stylish it is and how it really doesn’t look like a change bag. The bag is made from vegan leather which means its easy to wipe clean which I think is a huge bonus. It’s incredibly roomy and has plenty of space for nappies, wipes, spare clothes and even drinks and snacks. Which makes it so much easier than having to take a a separate lunch bag out for those things too.

    It has a long shoulder strap which is super comfy. I also don’t find it slips down like others I have had before. But what makes this bag unique is you can covert the straps into two shoulder straps so that the bag can be worn as a backpack too. Which is perfect if like me, you have an older baby that’s walking as it means you can wear it on your back and still have your hands free to chase your crazy toddler around!

    I totally wish I had this bag when Hugo was a newborn as it would have been perfect. There’s two pockets for bottles, nine different compartments and there is a padded change mat included. It also has super handy clips so you can attach it to the pushchair too. Overall it’s a super versatile change bag which I think grows with your baby. I have really enjoyed using it over the last few weeks and received so many compliments on it! The Skiphop Greenwich Convertible is available to purchase from Amazon here.

    *The Skiphop Greenwich Convertible Backpack was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. As always all thoughts, opinions and photos are my own*