7 December 2018

Christmas Gift Ideas (Books)

I love books and they make fantastic presents for all ages. Whether you are going to stay with someone and need to take something or are posting something to a niece or nephew, hopefully I've got it covered.

Mystery of the Blue Train, Nancy Mitford, Timeless

Agatha Christie - you know I'm a huge Agatha Christie fan and there are three gorgeous new editions out this Christmas. The ABC Murders, 4.50 from Paddington (my favourite of the three) and The Mystery of the Blue Train - all great reads and I really love the new colours. How I wish I could have them.

Blind Date with a Book Club - this is such a fantastic idea - choose the genre's and every month for 6 months you get a book sent to you or you can choose one book based on it's five line sentence. I personally love the sound of the Last Christmas selection.

Blue Bowl - not only my favourite place for presents in general but a great selection of unusual books for grown-ups and children. My eldest (6) loves Smart about Sharks and I'm going to get the middle one Bonkers about Beetles (his nickname is Beetle) and I love the Dahlov Ipcar books too. For grown-up's this is Florence's latest pick.

The Home Bar - a great book (dare I say it?) for men. My husband really loves this book and it looks beautiful.

The Nancy Mitford Collection - from Heywood Hill (where she once worked) this is a beautiful collection of five Nancy Mitford paperbacks in a beautiful box.

Penguin Classics - Waterstones are doing beautiful hardback editions. You can get someone their favourite book or if you have a baby why not get the A Christmas Carol - we got one (in not such a beaut edition) for Ned for his first Christmas and we read it to him at this time every year and it's so lovely.

Small Print Books - a really fantastic independent book shop that has an incredible selection of unusual books for children.

Timeless; A Century of Iconic Looks - Louise Young is the make-up artist when it comes to historical accuracy and I'm so happy to have this book with me when I go on shoots. Not only is it great for make-up artists but a wonderful read for those interested in cosmetics and hair through the ages.


29 November 2018

Christmas Gift Ideas

Of course there is a beauty guide on it's way but for all those non-beauty bits there's this. Everything is in alphabetical order except for the first one because it's the most important.

Choose Love - buy things for people who have been forced to flee their homes with nothing. From children's coats, blankets and nappies, to hot meals, hot showers and tents. The Mother & Baby bundle is a food, clothes and hygiene pack for a mother raising her baby in a refugee camp. You can even get someone medical care. I often get cross with people who make me feel that what I do is a frivolous thing for women with no brains (it isn't) but compared to what these people are going through it is even having a bath is a total luxury. I'm thinking about every little thing I buy this year and where I can, I'm cutting back to get from here instead.

Blue Bowl Squiggle Notebooks
Beeswax Wraps - the ultimate stocking filler or present for someone you just don't know that well. Everyone I know got these last year. A clingfilm replacement that is easy to wrap, easy to post and is a small UK based company. There's nothing about this I don't love.

Black Dragon Press - I love my Agatha Christie prints from here - they look fantastic.

Blue Bowl - always my first port of call for any present and at Christmas I find I can usually do the majority of my presents here. From stocking fillers (these tassel earrings are beautiful and there's beard balm for your hairier other half) to kids stuff via really unusual things in between. The stationary is out of this world (we all know I can't resist a notebook) and this drum charm is stunning. Everything is carefully curated and thought about - the zip bags are handmade with vintage fabrics - I adore this jungle print.


28 November 2018

Christmas Gift Ideas for Children

This one was really popular last year - kids are hard to buy for especially if you are trying to avoid the plastic tat route! If you have godchildren, nieces and nephews or any littlies to buy for that aren't yours it can be hard to know where to start. Well you can start here...

Gift Ideas in a collage of 4


17 September 2018

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes. I kept hearing about them and thinking, 'surely they are just extra faff'. I mean, can't you just fold more neatly? But packing for 2 adults and 3 children is the stuff of nightmares, no bags ever close, everything spills out, clothes, nappies and necessities are guaranteed to end up on a different floor to where they are needed. I was a woman at the end of my tether so I ordered some from Amazon.
Packing Cubes

I was prepared to be underwhelmed and wish for my £19.98 back but I was also desperate. They arrived. I put them to work immediately. The three children and I were going to go to my mother's house for the night - sounds simple but really isn't with one in nappies, one potty training and one who has been known to just wet his trousers rather than stop what he's doing. Also it was hot so I needed to pack swim nappies, sun cream, sun hats and other such fripperies.

I allocated each child a medium packing cube and I gave myself the large one. Not only did all my bags close but I had room to spare. I rolled all the clothes into the packing cubes and could have fitted in more. When we arrived I put each child's cube in his bedroom and that was it. It meant that said child or whichever poor adult was designated dresser could identify which clothes belonged to which child and the sight of my 5 year old wearing a 1 year olds onsie was less likely to be the first thing I saw in the morning.

When packing to go home I separated clothes into 2 cubes for clean clothes and 2 for dirty. The two dirty clothes got emptied into the utility room when I got home and that was that. The packing cubes had passed the first test with aplomb. But what about France for 2 weeks with all five of us? Believe me when I say packing was almost pleasurable. Almost. I mean. It's still a massive pain in the arse but being able to put aside clothes for that person and see what you've packed already made the whole thing more bearable. There was room in our case (which I helpfully filled from the markets in France) and packing at the end of the holiday took less than half the time it usually did. Again I sorted clothes into clean and dirty and then by children and grown-ups and unpacking was really easy.

I really cannot recommend these highly enough. They have made surely one of the most boring parts of adulting into slightly less of a trauma and the ones I chose came in green so that's a bonus.

Some links are affiliate links which means I will get a small commission if you click through and buy from them. There is no extra cost to you and if you are not comfortable with that then do feel free to open a separate window and google the product for yourself.

25 June 2018


Some of you may know I have a stationary problem. Notebooks in particular. My family know I'm serious about something if I announce 'I'm going to start a new notebook'. I love ?? for my bullet journal because the squares really work for me but for other things I'm constantly gazing at notebooks I would buy and here are my latest favourites. For those super-organised amongst you these would make lovely Christmas gifts for friends so get in early.

Notebook collage

1. Blue Bowl Squiggle Notebook
These are so beautiful it's hard to know which to choose. As pink and green is my favourite colour combo it's a no brainer for me. Available in my favourite A5 or handbag friendly A6. This are handmade in England using wood and recycled board. From £10

Blue Bowl Pink and Green squiggle notebook

2. Kate Spade Dipped Initial Notebook
It's a sign that the C is in my favourite colour (green). I am not a fan of notebooks with things written on the front but true to form these Kate Spade ones are really chic and the choice of colours are lovely. Hardback and with a silk marker so you can keep your place this has 200 lined pages. Would make great hen party favours or presents for your girl gang. £16

Kate Spade C Initial Notebook

3. Portico Sky & Miller Notebook
These make a great present because you can choose the colour or symbol to suit your friend. My friend Becca would love the orange one with the bee on the front and Florence would want the blue elephant one, I'd like the green leaf. These are made from cruelty free Italian faux leather but feel like the real deal. Usually £25 but some are reduced to £17.50 at time of writing.
Portico Sky & Miller Leaf Notebook

4. Fenella Smith Notebook
These are really fun with great prints and foil finishes. I love the palm and toucan or the ostrich. These have an elastic fastening so great for sticking in your bag. £11.

Fenella Smith Ostrich Notebook

5. Poach My Lobster Notebook
Simple eye-catching notebooks designed for foodies. I absolutely adore the blue lobster notebook - surely this is the perfect blue. These have plain, fountain pen friendly paper perfect for those who hate the confines of a line. I think I'm going to have to get one as my next blog notes book - plain paper is a must. £15

Poach My Lobster Notebook

Which are your favourites and are there some that I've missed?

14 May 2018

Non-disposable razors

When I first became obsessed with plastic, and obsessed isn't an overstatement, it was toothbrushes and disposable razors that flipped the switch. It was the middle of the night, my third baby was about 5 days old, I was in the bathroom (they don't tell you this but when you have just given birth you spend a lot of time in the bathroom for various reasons I won't go into here) and I suddenly thought, 'those razors I shaved my legs with before I went to Abi's party [I was 15] is still out there somewhere, exactly the same, somewhere in the sea or in a landfill' and 'the toothbrush I cleaned my teeth with on our first holiday to Cornwall when I was 2... that's still out there somewhere'. Suddenly every nostalgic thought had a detrimental ecological effect attached to it. Watching my husband change our tiny babies nappy I thought of the nappies my dad might have (but didn't) change are out there somewhere.

I felt overwhelmed. But then I thought I'd just do one thing at a time and see how I got on. The first thing I did was order up some non-disposable razors for my husband and I. I searched on Amazon (not very good I know) and decided to get Jagen David Double Edge Razor, they come with a travel case which helps, and some Derby Extra Double Edge Razor Blades.

This has been one of the most successful plastic swaps I have to say. I was slightly imagining my husband would hate the razor and sneakily go back to using disposables but not at all. It's possible he slices his face a bit more than he did before but he's getting better. I know I shouldn't shave my legs (and armpits if you must know) but I don't have the time or money to get waxed and ideally I'd like to get it all lazered. So once I'm back at work I'll be saving for that. Until the though this has been great. I haven't cut myself, a razor blade lasts loads longer than a disposable and when they are too blunt to use I debobble my clothes with them.

So far the only problem I've come across is the disposal of the blades. I've been using an old plastic tub (from my Japonesque Brush cleaner). Not only is it much better for the environment it is so much cheaper. I mean £7 for 100 blades, £12 for the razor. For monetary reasons alone it's worth making the switch.

This is the razor and blades that I use but obviously there are loads out there so you can have a google around and see what takes your fancy.

23 April 2018

Mama Designs Quilted Playmat

It's hard to know what to get a 5 month old for Christmas, especially if that 5 month old is the third child. We were just going to count his monkey music classes as his Christmas present. He'd never know, we don't need any more plastic and he loves monkey music. But then Mama Designs came out with this luxury quilted play mat a couple of weeks before Christmas and it looked so good I pre-ordered it.

Mama Designs is a company I've been aware of for sometime but only since having Jim (in the middle) so I've had to just resist its lovely temptations. But the playmat spoke to me. And for so many reasons.

It's a great size. It doesn't take up vast amounts of room, it's not so much fabric that someone of 5'2" struggles to lift it, you can pack it in a bag or the back of the car and it barely takes up any space. It comes with a storage bag with a drawstring so you can pack this away and store it somewhere - it will stay clean and ready for use and fits easily into the bottom of a suitcase.

We have 2 dogs, a metric ton of lego and quite a lot of jewellry making beads. Before Jack was mobile it was so nice to be able to put this down on the floor and know that he was sitting or lying somewhere clean and that was just his. Even the big brothers learned that this was a lego-free zone. When it arrived, before he could sit up it was so great to be able to put this down on the floor and lie him on it without having to worry about how clean the floor was.

19 March 2018


I think this is originally taken from the Annabel Karmel weaning book. It's one of the few things I can make with the children that isn't cake or biscuit based that they simply adore so I do it from memory now. This is a great one to make with children, measuring flour, sieving, mixing in eggs and milk and then they are really quick to cook. Fluffy American-style pancakes may be all the rage but mine prefer these and you can make bakes with them too! My oldest two have them with maple syrup, the baby has bits with butter and my husband has golden syrup. I'd love to say we have them with bananas and blueberries but that would be lying.
Ned making pancakes


12 March 2018

Play Hooray

Claire at Play Hooray is a friend in need to tens of thousands of mums on Instagram - providing much needed inspiration and encouragement to keep the TV off and find a creative way to play with children aged 0 to 8 years old. What she does, and especially her Play Prompts, have been massively helpful to me so I wanted to share my experience. With a pack of her play ideas in my nappy bag or a print offs stuck on the fridge, I'm never at a loss for something to do on a rainy day.

Like a lot of other people I first discovered the lovely Claire via Giovanna Fletcher's Instagram feed. Some may think that being a mother of three means I know what I'm doing with children and in some ways I do but my god entertaining even one of them is so difficult sometimes, two even harder, two whilst pregnant and trying to have some semblance of a normal life was just incredibly frustrating and almost impossible. Now I have three at quite different ages 5, 2.5 and 8 months and so quite often I feel like I'm aiming at three different levels.

Which is where Play Hooray comes in and frankly, saves the day (whilst making you a little bit angry that you didn't come up with it first). Claire is an Early Years Teacher which in terms of nursery and pre-schools in the UK is the be-all and end-all. As a mother of one she decided to create some prompt cards for those days when you are stuck in the house with no idea how to entertain your child without switching on TV. She decided to get some cards printed to see if they sold, they did and she now has a full range of different prompts and products available some of which I've bought and have been using.

19 February 2018

Matchstick Monkey

I've had a pretty easy run of it on the teething front. There have been red cheeks, horrid nappies and a few grisley days but on the whole it's not been as horrendous as it could have been. There have been times when I've tried to get the boys to chew on something as it must offer such relief but I have never found anything they were really into - even world famous Sophie the Giraffe held the interest for a mere 5 minutes and has spent the rest of the time being retrieved from the dogs bed.

Jack and his Matchstick Monkey Teether

16 February 2018

Saying Yes

I've been a bit absent on here and the blog and that's because I've been off saying yes to things. This is not about me, it's about you. I hope this helps if you've been doing some of the things I have.

It's really hard to get everything I want to say into a video and this was in fact the second time round of filming. This is and isn't about mental health - it's about changing the way you think. I realised that I was getting furious with my husband trying to get him to make changes to make my life better and though he's lovely, I can't live like that.

Some things I forgot to mention. I'm unfollowing people who don't make me feel good on social media. 'Big' people. I'm doing as much non-money good stuff as possible; art, volunteering, reading.


5 February 2018

Kit & KIn

Jack in kit and kin nappyThe launch of the Kit & Kin nappies pretty much coincided with the launch of my third baby and this time round my postpartum anxiety had me obsessing over plastic. And not just plastic. Waste in general. The thought of nappies, worn by me as a baby, still existing somewhere made me feel sick and I realised my usual plan of ignoring it til someone else fixes it was exactly the problem. That and supermarkets not giving up plastic bags altogether and sorting out paper ones but that's a whole different issue.

I've researched reusable nappies but with two children still wearing them it seemed pretty much like a full time job and a huge monetary outlay for something that may well not work for us. I'd tried Naty and though I love their, occasionally flimsy, biodegradable bags, the nappies always sprung a leak. So I ordered a pack of newborn nappies from Kit & Kin for Jack to test drive. At the time of writing this review Jack has been wearing them for 7 months.

I have to say I love the design and the packaging. Looks great, arrives in a cardboard box (unfortunately delivered by Hermes who aren't that reliable but I know that posting stuff is hard nowadays). We get the Tiger ones but you can choose from fox, bear and panda. They are really sweet and so easy to tell which way round they should be when you are frazzled.


18 January 2018

Music Memory - Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin Greatest Hits recordI never tried at school, or at anything because from an early age I assumed I was going to be the next Janis Joplin. Hopefully minus the heroin and sadness, but ugh that voice. Hearing Janis Joplin for the first time is one of those incredible vivid memories from youth that stay with you forever. So much of life goes by and though it may feel intense at the time you don't remember it 10, 20, 30 years later. And yet some things, for whatever reason, are there, stuck in your heart like a note on a pinboard.

One of those halcyon spring/summers that you don't notice the significance of until years later. Warm, English weather. My mother was helping set up an opera festival in an old estate in Hampshire and I was either on holidays or bunking off. The opera was set in the grounds of this huge, mostly derelict house, with a few usable rooms that would be used as a dining room. A lovely (I think Swedish) artist had been asked to paint a massive clock on the floor of the dining room and for whatever reason she agreed to have a grumpy 13? 14? 15? year old hang out with her for the afternoon while my mum helped in the grounds. She even let me paint.
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