My Home, My Valentine

valentines home 04

When things are wobbly in life I always retreat home, in the past couple of years I have stopped referring to my parents house as ‘home’ and I almost always mean this house – the one where our little family of four live. I think it’s because we’ve finally made some headway and it’s mostly done.

We’re talking about moving to be closer to the girls school at the moment so typically I’ve fallen more in love with the house than ever, why does that always happen!?! There’s so many things that we’ve wanted to do to it – a brand new kitchen, update the bathroom, install an attic conversion – and we’ve looked in to getting the money from Ocean Loans, which is something we still might do to make the house that bit more valuable when we do sell it.

Since getting the horrible news that my Dad had a heart attack last week I’ve been on autopilot, and my feet have barely touched the ground. It hit me on Monday that apart from an hour on Thursday morning I haven’t really been alone since it happened, suddenly I realised that I’d have a few hours to myself once both the girls were at school on Tuesday. So I made a little plan to just sink in to the house for the morning, do some bits in the kitchen and have a faff!

We’ve recently given our kitchen a cheap makeover (which I’m writing about at the moment, longest post EVER coming up!) and I went on a little shopping spree to finish it off the other week, so I thought I’d enjoy the space we’ve worked so hard to get right by doing a little baking.

My absolutely favourite thing to make is Mostly Yummy Mummy’s Lemon Drizzle Cake – it’s my go to recipe for when I want something quick and tasty without much hassle. And it NEVER fails to satisfy my baking/eating craving! So with my new kitchen bits I got to work.

valentines home 02Little Bowls / Worktop Saver

valentines home 01Hand Mixer (this mixer is AMAZING by the way, and so cheap!)

While the cake was baking I had a good faff with some bits in the living room, we’ve recently had a rejig of some furniture so I’m loving moving stuff around to make things look fresh. My parents gave us this chest of drawers a few weeks ago, before we had a huge white unit here so it’s so nice to have some light coming in from the window now.

valentines home 03

Candle / Square Framed Instagram Photo / Tray / Floor Lamp / Shade

Once the cake was ready I made a cup of tea with my new kettle – you know you’re getting old when a stove top kettle is at the top of your wishlist, but I absolutely love it! And then settled down to catch up on a week of the internet, I don’t think I missed a great deal but it was nice to have an hour to read blogs and do a bit of online window shopping.

valentines home 05 Kettle

valentines home 04Mugs / Similar Teapot / Placemat

Just those 3 hours on my own in the house really did make me feel more human again after a weird and rough week. It’s funny how your house can have such a profound effect on you, I don’t doubt for a second that I feel the most calm when I’m at home surrounded by my things. For now we won’t be doing anything big to the house as we’re content, and actually that’s all that I want from life at the moment. Contentment.

Thanks to Ocean Loans for collaborating with The Breton Mama on this post.

My Girls : 6/52

12717214_10153433658912852_8039637443429912102_n

This time last week when I was jotting down a couple of sentences about Georgiana falling in to cow poo I never thought I’d be sat here having had the week we’ve had. To cut a very long and emotional story short my lovely, brilliant Dad had a very unexpected heart attack on Tuesday. He was at a conference in London so was taken to the Heart Attack Centre at Hammersmith Hospital, after a few hours we managed to find out that he’d had emergency heart surgery and, all things considered, was recovering well.

A few journeys on the M1, including one which involved me and my Mum driving my Dad home, later we have spent the weekend reflecting on a really strange and scary week. At times like this I am even more thankful for Francesca and Georgiana – if it wasn’t for them I probably would of curled up in a ball this weekend and shut the world out. Instead we popped to Ikea and bought some bits for the house with a promise of hot dogs and chips at the end of it!

12715603_10153433658887852_3630710360970765198_n 12717214_10153433658912852_8039637443429912102_n 12654115_10153433658997852_3781417181731671711_n

On Friday and this afternoon we took the girls round to see my Dad, Georgiana is definitely a bit wary of him as he usually picks her up and spins her round but Francesca is giving him lots of ‘gentle cuddles’ (this involves her sitting right on the edge of the sofa and stroking his arm whilst saying “I’m being really gentle!”) and has asked me lots of questions about how the doctors fixed Morfar’s heart.

I have a feeling the next few months are going to be a bit different, but I know how strong and positive my Dad is so can only imagine good things going forward.

My Girls : 5/52

IMG_0604

I feel like we’re in to the swing of things now… it took a whole month but our family seems to of settled back in to routines. The girls are still so tired though, and after a dose of sinusitis (me) and the hellish last week of tax returns (him) the adults of the family weren’t feeling much better either.

IMG_0555

Thankfully we had no plans this weekend so we decided to just it easy. No rushing around, no birthday parties, no dragging the kiddos round the shops, no adventures far from home, no visitors – just the four of us and a bit of breathing space.

Once the rain had cleared on Saturday morning we donned wellies and hats for a stomp outdoors. We went 5 minutes down the road and only spent about an hour wandering but it was hugely needed! The sun was setting while we were out so the temperature really dropped, and in our hurry to get back to the warm car we had a little accident. Georgiana ended up falling over smack bang on the middle of a cow pat! It was absolutely hysterical at the time, not so funny 5 minutes later when she decided she didn’t want to walk anymore so me and Dean had to take it in turns holding her at arms length whilst running to the car!IMG_0563

On Sunday we were even more lazy! A big breakfast, followed by a few of the girls board games, a super light lunch, then a huge roast dinner and some of G’s puzzles whilst watching the football. It sounds a bit eye-rollingly idyllic now I’ve written it down, and actually it was. We all needed it so much. IMG_0604

On Monday we’re back to Gymnastics, Rainbows, the school run and a big food shop – I’m just hoping we can hold on to the calming feeling from the weekend for a few days.

7 not-too-soppy Valentines Day Gifts

original_five-heart-shape-alcoholic-gin-elderflower-lollipops

I’ve never 100% understood the idea of Valentine’s day, I’m not sure how comfortable I am about parting with £££ for a meal in a restaurant that has been reconfigured for the evening so that it can fit in as many couples as possible. On our first Valentine’s day as parents we did exactly that – booked a meal at a nice pub (the set menu was about twice as much as usual) and found ourselves squeezed on to a table that was so close to the couple next to us that we may as well of ordered a sharing platter for 4.

At the same time I kinda like the fact that for one evening in an otherwise miserable month we’re reminded to display a bit of love. Since becoming parents it’s so easy to get wound up in lunchbox prep, school runs, weekends dominated by children’s parties and the hundreds of things that come as part of our wonderful kiddos. We often forget to say ‘I Love You’ in the morning, kiss goodbye or compliment each other, once upon a time I’d keep half an eye out for little bits that’d make Dean smile – I literally can’t remember the last time I bought his something ‘just because’.

So with that in mind, here’s a few ideas for Valentines Day Gifts, no bears holding hearts or tacky lingerie to be seen…

valentines gifts

For your Gin lover… If your significant other is a fan of a G&T then these Alcoholic Lollipops are the PERFECT gift! They also do Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada plus loads of others, personally I’d go for Cherry & Amaretto – delicious!

For your Interiors fan… This gorgeous Vintage Playing Cards Wall Art comes in a few different designs. The All You Need is Love one gets my vote but if you’re looking for something simple and to the point then opt for ‘LOVE’ 😉

For your Happy Snapper… This is one for the Instagram addicts out there! Polargram has long been my favourite company for printing my Instagrams, their magnets are one of my favourite products and I can’t think of a sweeter present than a set of your partners best snaps!

For your Traditionalist… I know that jewellery is sometimes thought of as a fall back gift but I think if you put some thought in to it then it can be perfect! This set of stacking rings are beautifully simple.

For your Tea Drinker… There are few things as decadent as drinking a good cup of tea from a beautiful cup and saucer. Emma Bridgewater’s gorgeous Pink Hearts design set is a winner for sure, plus you can personalise it!

For your new Husband or Wife… 4 months since getting married and I’m still spending atleast a few minutes every day looking through our wedding photos. If you’ve been paying close attention to your other half then you should know what their favourite wedding snap is and pop it in this frame.

For the Person who has Everything… There’s no denying that some people are just impossible to buy for and although it’s a cliche, a gorgeous bunch of flowers are a fabulous gift. I’ve been wanting to receive some from Bloom & Wild for ages!

No companies have paid for these items to appear in this gift guide. To be honest I’ve bought Dean an excellent present for the first time ever and I just wanted to give him a fighting chance of getting me something decent too… I kid, kinda 😉

My Girls : 3/52

Snow Day

If I had to describe this week in one word it’d be ‘cold’, sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning our boiler decided to give up. Consequently me and Georgiana spent Friday snuggled up in the tent in their bedroom reading books under a cover, I ran up and downstairs every half an hour to make sure our wood burner was still fully stocked, and then my wonderful Dad saved the day by dropping off some plug in radiators!Children's Tent

Thankfully on Saturday morning we managed to get hold of a heating engineer and by lunchtime we had hot running water and warm radiators again… heaven! And just in time too because this morning we woke up to a couple of inches snow. Francesca actually woke up at about 11pm last night and couldn’t believe it when she saw the snow!

Both of the girls came running in to our bedroom this morning shouting “THERE’S SNOW OH MY GOSH THERE’S SNOW!!!”. Within half an hour we were outside in wellies and hats so that Georgie could feel snow for the first time! It hasn’t snowed properly since she was a tiny little newborn, so it was amazing to see her face when her boots stomped through it for the first time – “Mama, it’s so crunchy!”.Snow Day Snow Day

The white stuff has pretty much all melted now, but it was seriously beautiful while it lasted and a lovely little way to spend a Sunday morning in an other wise gloomy month.

My Girls : Week One, Week Two

Our Wedding : The Reception

12185188_10153247606987852_4964198455913927201_o

At the end of my last wedding post I left off at us exiting the church on a double decker bus. I’ll come back to the bus and all the little details from the reception later on but for now I’ll just focus on how the completely amazing and awesome our wedding reception was… if I do say so myself!12182485_10153247596342852_3220136353584213606_oOur reception was held at Huntsmill Farm, a seriously gorgeous farm with a huge field (perfect for their own wooden structure marquee), cottages and B&B. It’s about 25 minutes from where we live, and just the most picturesque location. By some miracle, despite it being late September the weather was insanely good, so the our marquee reception really did go without one hiccup!

We started the reception with a Pimms and canapés reception, once again I’ll come back to the little details in another post but for now I’ll just touch on the fact we didn’t hire a bar or staff. Some of my Mum’s amazing friends set up a table outside the marquee and served ice cold Pimms, whilst our caterers did an amazing job with beautiful canapés – my mouth is watering just thinking about them!

As the weather was so beautiful we then had loads of time to mill about, it was the perfect opportunity to chat to all our lovely friends and family. I was so worried before hand that we wouldn’t get the chance to chat to anyone, but I think (hope!) that we managed to atleast exchange a few words with everyone. It was also a prime moment for me to suck down 4 Pimms (thanks to a couple of my excellent friends who nicked a jug and hid it behind the marquee for me ;)).12184963_10153247593347852_2992100204595015563_oWalking in to the marquee for the first time was breath taking. We’d spent all of the Friday working our butts off to get it looking perfect but after I left to get ready there was still flowers to put on tables and little finishing touches to add, so it was the first time I’d seen it completely ready. Seeing all the things we’d collected and sourced over the previous 18 months was just amazing, it felt like every single second we’d spent making it perfect was so worth it. 12184126_10153247595937852_7377491458384483354_oEmily then whisked us off for some photos, like at the church we knew we didn’t want to spend hours trying to get perfect photos and missing out on all the fun so she kept it short and sweet. It was actually too sunny at this point so after about half an hour of posing we headed back to get the meal started!12186695_10153247594877852_3434886158447093591_o887524_10153247592522852_4138536869293158432_oOne of Dean’s excellent friends did us the huge honour of MCing the meal and speeches. He kept everything flowing, right from announcing our entrance as the new Mr and Mrs Barry, through to the cake cutting and everything between. He was amazing! 12188219_10153247614702852_5094248347799382831_oFor a few reasons (including £££ and not expecting the girls to sit still for very long) we opted for pizzas at our meal instead of the traditional 3 course dinner. We choose 4 different pizzas for everyone to pick from, and then we went up one table at a time to order them and watch them being cooked in front of us. Oh my word it was SO good! I know I’m biased but it was the best wedding food I’ve ever had! Who doesn’t like pizza!?! 12186242_10153247595907852_708383213621827092_oNext up we had the speeches. I was partly dreading them to be honest. I knew my Dad would have some awful stories of me as a kid up his sleeve, I was worried Dean would make me cry and the less said about my nightmares involving the best man’s speech the better! But they were brilliant!

My Dad embarrassed me just the right amount – once he’d mentioned that my first crush was on a Thunderbirds puppet I knew it couldn’t get any worse so just went along with it! He then made my heart actually ache when he got a bit soppy, he even made Alice cry! Dean did me insanely proud, I nearly burst with pride. And lastly Dean’s best man gave a corker of a speech involving embarrassing anecdotes, one horrendous photo and a voting system.

12185271_10153247612447852_3095106032811793836_o12140895_10153247613097852_2869542495263554542_o11056591_10153247612847852_329173849965441896_o12186402_10153247609477852_7454264978731094948_o905559_10153247609072852_6276061105750790805_o12183799_10153247607197852_3726238394078582485_o12189434_10153247607447852_3485053962296291291_o12183894_10153247607682852_5578418835897650819_o We followed the speeches with a little gift giving and an amazing dessert table made by one of my Mum’s friends. By this point I was riding the biggest emotional high. Every time I turned around I bumped in to one of my favourite people, and the atmosphere was just as I’d hoped – relaxed and fun.12186351_10153247609802852_3318274370886056268_o12191371_10153247610172852_4351838690103315391_o12184251_10153247614837852_8799752471321373151_o 12186763_10153247613982852_4860135502668788403_o I thought I’d got away with one little tradition but just when I thought it was safe my Dad’s Danish family cracked out a Danish wedding song. It actually ended up being one of the most memorable bits of the day for me and I loved seeing the surprised faces of all the English people who’d never heard it before.12052444_10153247634682852_239958065870205345_o11249305_10153247634752852_8512658826992684380_oNext up was the cake cutting, my Mum made our beautiful 8 (or 10… I can’t remember!) tier naked cake. It was so beautiful that we ended up just looking at it rather than eating it but the next morning it was an excellent breakfast!12185188_10153247606987852_4964198455913927201_o    12045710_10153247594507852_1325706441272812191_o  And then the last tradition of the day, our first dance. We choose something short and sweet, and as Dean is a massive Adam Sandler fan (something I unfortunately didn’t find out about until I was pregnant with Francesca ;)) we knew that Grow Old With You was perfect.12184064_10153247627527852_2521596036722557949_o

And then came the evening do, I think the photos do the talking here…12183968_10153247672452852_1398049915125035631_o 12186717_10153247666052852_989775941830570486_o (1) 12191144_10153247665507852_4986992148105323942_o 12182812_10153247660887852_9180069118306654954_o 12182536_10153247665947852_5878140477198380501_o

So that was our wedding… it was everything we wanted it to be and more! I still have lots of posts to come on all the little details, how I choose my wedding dress, some DIYs and lots of other little bits too.