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FINDING HOME INSPIRATION (AND NOT GETTING OVERWHELMED BY IT)

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Finding inspiration for your home can be one of the trickiest parts of a renovation. On one hand you have 100 saved images on your Instagrams, four Pinterest boards, a pile of home interior magazines and friends’ houses you covet over. But on the other, you feel totally pressured to find your own style and make your home your own. Finding your own style when it comes to fashion is hard enough but for a home it needs to be right for you and anyone else living there, now and in the future. It’s not something you can easily change, so every decision feels important and sometimes it’s just impossible to come to a decision. Don’t worry, I get it. First world problems and all, but still something that is an important part of the renovation process.  

So where did we start? Well, we had around six months from moving into our house to moving out to start the renovation and in this time I knew I had to make a lot of decisions. As someone who gets easily stressed, forward planning is my best friend, so I wanted to have most of the larger decisions made before we started the work. My worst nightmare would be having to decide on a bathroom within a couple of days without being able to do proper research. Time is a luxury for sure, but if you have it, use it well!

I started by collecting images I liked, not worrying too much at that point about what is possible for us and what is not, this was more of a visual task. I saved images on Instagram, collecting them by room eg, ‘bedroom’, ‘kitchen’ etc. But I didn’t go overboard, I only saved a max of around 10 photos per collection. I personally find Pinterest to be too perfect and very US based, which I couldn’t relate to my own home, so I didn’t use it. I only really used Pinterest if I was looking for something specific, for example wardrobes built around a chimney breast. The two magazines I enjoyed most for inspiration were Living Etc and Elle Decor, so I occasionally flicked through and tore out any pages that interested me, this is included adverts for brands as well as interior ideas.

Phase two was to go through all of these and edit them down to something digestible. I went through the Instagram images to see if there was a pattern, for example most of my images for the lounge and kitchen had dark walls which inspired my paint choice. Spotting patterns and writing them down can really help get you to a decision, so I did that for most of the rooms. I then went through all the cuttings from the magazines, only keeping ones that seemed realistic for us and writing down on them with a sharpie what I specifically liked about the image. For example in one of the photos there was a built-in bench in the dining room, it wasn’t something we were able to do right away but having the photos as a reference will be really helpful to show the builder when we are able to do it.

My biggest piece of advice would be to not worry too much about making everything “Instagrammable” or perfect. It is easy to make things looks nice by styling pieces around it, but when investing in a home you need to also think practically about longevity and how you’ll actually live in the space. It’s easy to get sucked into the gorgeous images online and in magazines but I’d encourage you just to use them as inspiration and remember it’s not reality most of the time.

So good luck with your own renovation projects whether it’s just redecorating one room or

 

 

Photos by Emma Croman

FOUR HOURS IN BRIGHTON

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How was your weekend? Mine turned out to be pretty great actually. Saturday was the usual; a browse around Primrose Hill food market and a walk in the park, but on Sunday we had no plans. We spent Saturday night going through all the options of what to do in London but just didn’t fancy any of them, so we thought why not drive down to Brighton. It’s an easy enough drive and we know the place well enough to walk around some shops and have some lunch before driving back in time for a chilled Sunday evening. so that’s what we did… Sunday morning, we woke up at 8.30am, got ready and jumped in the car.

First stop was lunch and luckily Anna and Mark were around to join us, so we tried out something new. Baby Bao, a Taiwanese London based restaurant currently has a residence at The Pond in Brighton – and I love Bao. You can only book for parties over 8 during the week but it wasn’t actually that busy and because The Pond was originally a pub, it’s a really relaxed vibe where you order your food and drink up at the bar. We thought we had completely over ordered but actually we almost ate it all, so it’s very much a sharing vibe if you order a load of sides (and trust me you won’t be able to resist the sides!). Some of my favourite dishes included the aubergine, the pork bao, ramen noodle veggie spring rolls and the chicken wings.

It was so nice to catch up with Anna and Mark, as Rich said on the way back, our friendship is so easy. When you’ve known someone for a long time you can just totally be yourself and not worry about small talk. They had to head off so Rich and I went to the lanes. When we visit in the summer we always make sure to have a beach walk but it was freezing so we spent a couple of hours browsing the shops instead and Rich tried all the coffee.

 

Living in London I’m used to having all the options. Multiple different store locations to check stock and multiple branches of the same restaurant to pick from and Anna always laughs at me when I say I can’t imagine just having one to visit. But saying that, something I really love about Brighton is how small and close everything is to each other. I have a long list of cute, independent shops I love in London but I’d have to do some serious tube hopping to visit them all in one go. Whereas in Brighton, you can walk down one street and come across a handful of gorgeous, independent shops that are filled with unique and special items. I always find myself spending a small fortune, so let me tell you about my favourite finds.

We first stopped at Photomatic, which is a photo booth store. They obviously saw how popular the booth in Snooper’s Paradise was and decided to open a dedicated store. It’s really cool though and run by photo enthusiasts so the prints come out really well. They made the booths themselves and the idea is that they replicate the look of old film photography. There are two booths, a black and white and a colour and you simply buy tokens to use them beforehand. Once you’ve taken your snaps you can then choose if you want your photo blown up, or put onto a keyring/badge etc… It’s really fun and so nice to have the memories to look back on. We’ll be using our photos in the baby’s room as well as sticking them in her baby book to look back on when she’s older.

We carried on walking and went into some very sweet kids shops. Anna suggested we went into Junior Edition and Happyology which were both filled with the cutest kids clothes and accessories. We visited out friends at Workshop Living which will forever be my favourite shop in Brighton. The shop is gorgeous and perfect for finding a gift, although I always go in and treat myself. I love their kitchenware, candles and beauty picks. Rich actually picked up some really nice trousers from the brand Wax, I bought a print, a hand cream and the candle they were burning in the shop because it smelt so good!

Other shops we enjoyed popping into were Dowse, where I bought this print and ceramic pot and Papersmiths is always worth a visit if you’re as in love with stationery as I am!

We were back in the car and heading home by 4pm, but it was really such a lovely day. I hope you liked seeing some photos from the day.  If you’re interested, these are the maternity dungarees I was wearing – they’re amazing!

FINDING YOUR MATERNITY STYLE

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When it comes to getting pregnant, maternity style was the last thing on my mind. I spent years freaking out about the idea of giving birth, I then started trying and spent months freaking out about not being able to conceive and then when it happened I was over the moon/very sick in my first trimester. At no point had I really considered how my changing body shape would affect me, because honestly I wasn’t that into my body beforehand anyway. But actually, at 31 years old I had finally worked out my personal style and how to dress comfortably whilst still feeling stylish. Well getting pregnant changed everything, from 10 weeks I couldn’t fit into my straight leg high waisted jeans and wearing maternity jeans (when trying to hide the fact you’re pregnant) meant my top tucked in look was also out the window.

I spent week 10 to 17 wearing loose tops/jumpers with skinny maternity jeans, a look I wore a lot a few years back but I missed the enjoyment of picking an outfit out, putting it on and feeling confident going out in it. Getting dressed felt like just a way of avoiding being naked and I felt absolutely no joy in my wardrobe. I realised that opening my wardrobe doors to find all my old clothes that I could no longer wear was really not helping the situation, so Anna came over to help me put all the clothes that no longer fit me in storage to make room for a new maternity appropriate wardrobe. From then on I decided that just floating my way through pregnancy wearing old oversized clothes was a) not going to make me feel great and b) be quite tricky with my job.

Maternity clothing has quite a bad rep for a few different reasons. People often feel like investing in clothes that are only appropriate for a small space of time is unnecessary and often maternity clothing can be pretty dull; striped tops, dungarees and not much else really. I guess with your first baby you’re more likely to invest as you can hopefully store the clothes for the next time but still, it is a bit frustrating to have to re-do your wardrobe when you were very happy with how it was before. I do think though that the investment isn’t just in the clothes, it’s an investment in your happiness and in feeling good throughout your pregnancy which is so important. It’s a testing time with all those new hormones saying around so a nice new top or pair of jeans can’t hurt really.

Finding the right maternity jeans made all the difference to me. My old straight leg style no longer worked so I went back to skinny and despite feeling quite 2016 it just works better. Everyone seems to have their own preference on under the bump or over the bump, but I find over the bump cuts in less and helps hold in the bump in quite a comforting way. I get to the end of the day and just HAVE to take them off before I suffocate, but I think that’s just being pregnant. At the beginning I wore jeans with just a stretchy side panel, I then moved to under the bump and now I’m a fully converted over the bump-er.

Depending on how confident you are with your bump, a tight top can be really flattering. It’s so strange, you spend so much of your life trying to hide your tummy area and enhance other more flattering parts of your body, but then you get pregnant and actually it can look better to just embrace the bump. When I wear tight tops I get a lot of “oh you’ve grown”, or “ooh you’re nearly there” comments, whereas sometimes if I just wear a normal loose top people say “ooh you’re so tiny” or “where’s your bump”, so just be prepared for the conflicting opinions based on your clothing choice of the day. But being pregnant is amazing and sometimes you just wanna wear your bump loud and proud and a stretchy, tight top is perfect for that.

I’ve found maternity shopping quite frustrating as I’m someone who loves to shop in stores and try things on, I’ve always been in between sizes. Turns out most the brands who are known to have good maternity only stock it online! So I’ve done plenty or ordering, trying on and then having to return over the past few months. Places I’ve enjoyed shopping are ASOS, Zara, Topshop (who actually do have a store in town), Seraphine and H&M. I have also been very lucky to be pregnant in the winter, I have no idea how I would have managed with the heat and what to wear in the height of summer.

So to wrap this up I’m going to leave you with some of my top picks over a few different categories. What’s worked well for me has been long tops, skinny jeans, dungarees (cliche but there’s a reason) and cardigans with vest tops. I still don’t really feel like ‘me’ and I know it’ll only get harder as my bump gets bigger but it’s all for an amazing reason and I know I can go back to enjoying a tucked in top and high waisted jeans one day!

JEANS

 

TOPS

 

OTHER

 

Photos by Emma Croman

Worn in post:
PR Gift | Seraphine Grey Button Jumper – link
Zara Blue & White Striped Top
PR Gift | Reiss Green Coat
Gucci Soho Disco Bag – link
PR Gift | & Other Stories Blue Jumper – link
Zara Black Linen Trousers
Gucci Sling-Back Loafers
Seraphine Parka Coat – link

SHOPPING FOR A NEWBORN

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Despite being told left, right and centre that newborn babies really don’t need much stuff, it’s impossible not to get sucked into the world of baby shopping and it can be really quite overwhelming! On one hand I know that a newborn doesn’t need all the stuff, but on the other I feel like you only have your first baby once and there’s no harm enjoying that. So I feel like I’ve been somewhere in the middle when it comes to shopping. I’m letting myself enjoy the process and buy a few unnecessary bits just because they’re cute, but I’m also trying to be practical and not go too over the top. In fact one of my tactics has been, instead of asking friends and family what I should be buying, I’ve been asking what was the one thing they bought that they ended up not needing or using. Of course you have to factor in that every baby is totally different and what works for one might not work for another, and that’s something no-one knows until the time comes. So I’m well aware that a few things I buy might end up being a waste (and will be sold or given away) no matter how much research I do. I thought it would be helpful to the other first time mums out there to chat about how I’m approaching the newborn shopping and share a checklist I’ve created, which is basically my sisters’ and friends’ edited into my own. I’ve decided not to share my list for feeding or my hospital bag/post-partum because it is so personal and dependant on the person. I will be sharing what was in my hospital bag at a later date, after the baby is here. 

I think it’s quite common for people in the UK to start thinking about shopping after their 20 week scan, so that’s what we did and we didn’t jump in head first, we eased our way in. I started by researching online and chatting to friends and family. Compiling a Google list that Rich and I could both log into and edit helped me get my head around it and stopped me impulse buying every time I saw something cute. In fact we didn’t even go into a shop until I was maybe 23 weeks. I’m aware that a baby doesn’t go into it’s own bedroom right at the beginning, but we don’t want to be decorating and sorting out a room with a newborn so that’s something we want to sort beforehand. I gave Rich some specific jobs so that he could be involved and know exactly how he could help, so he was in charge of researching things like baby monitors, cot mattress and baby carriers/slings. We made sure to communicate on everything, so it was a shared job and something we could. both enjoy. My YouTube recommended videos are now filled with “newborn essentials” videos and buggy reviews but it really helped to form an opinion for ourselves before going into the shop to test the products out. We knew quite early on which “big buys” we wanted to get like buggy, car seat, cot etc but the first things we started to buy were the less-scary, more affordable items like a bath seat, muslins and baby grows. I then realised that I would quite like to start sorting the room out so that the things we buy have somewhere to live and the shopping bags don’t fill up our hallway. I’ll be sharing a full room tour nearer the time on my YouTube channel!

I think what’s important is to try and form your own opinion of what type of parent you want to be. It might be completely unrealistic and I’m sure it’ll change and you’ll learn once the baby is here, but there’s only so much advice you can take – I think it’s important to take it all with a pinch of salt. I’m open to advice from the people close to me, we’ve taken it all onboard but some things we’ve just decided whether it’s for us or not. And to be honest, there’s always Amazon Prime if you change your mind!

I’ve kept this blog post a little short and brief because I chat about this in depth in today’s video. So head over to my YouTube channel if you want to hear me talk more about newborn shopping.

Click the link below to download my newborn shopping list. 

NEWBORN SHOPPING LIST

 

Photos by Emma Croman
My H&M striped top – link
My H&M Jeans – link

Design Letters Baby Book – link
Dungarees – Zara (sale)
PR Gift | Mokee Cot – link 
PR Gift | Kit + Kin Muslin – link 
PR Gift | My First Years personalised baby vest – link
Tommee Tippee First Aid Kit – link

MY FIRST YEAR OF BEING A MUM

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Is anyone here? Sorry… it’s been a while. Hopefully those of you who used to read my blog back when I regularly posted will now be following me on Instagram and YouTube, the two platforms I find myself on most of the time these days. If you do you’ll know that I now have a one year old daughter! Wtf. I know.

The past year has been such a crazy experience and despite being an auntie five times over and thinking I knew what to expect, I was so wrong… I had no idea. I thought sleep deprivation would be the hardest part, but in reality I just adjusted and got used to having less sleep. I thought all the mum stuff would be tricky; like knowing how to soothe her or dealing with the constant crying, you know, like what you see in the films. She’s actually been a dream and has been a very calm baby since day one; she knew what she wanted and she totally taught us what to do, so it kind of came more naturally to us than I had expected.

But the parts I found the hardest were more to do with me and less about her. Beforehand I didn’t even worry about how I’d feel about my post-partum body because I really didn’t think it would bother me, but wow… it affected me more than I thought it would. I felt proud of what my body had achieved and I wanted to to let it heal and take it’s time, but equally I felt like I was living in someone else’s body and I genuinely felt uncomfortable. Not being able to wear clothes that felt like ‘me’ and not really being able to shop for new ones either, and at the beginning when breastfeeding that feeling that your body doesn’t even belong to you but to someone else is bizarre. Looking back at photos of the few first months, I don’t even look like me. Post-partum hair meant it was thicker, longer and so dark, everything about me just looks different. I also found the work/mum life balance very hard to deal with and I felt scared and worried about the career I’d worked so hard to create… would I be able to come back and work in the same way I did before? Will people wait for me? Will I even want to go back to work?! Without any maternity leave or example to lead by I felt alone in my worries despite the support and encouragement to take the time off. Before having a baby I just thought you could work from home with your baby in a rocker beside you, oh how wrong I was. I hadn’t considered the fact that your mum brain and your work brain are two very different things and they don’t work well alongside each other. I had one bad day when I first went back to work, I learnt from it and then never tried to work whilst looking after her at the same time ever again. Mum guilt is a real thing I’ll tell you that.

What shocked me the most from the past year was how much I enjoyed it. I always wanted to be a mum, it was never something I doubted but I was never obsessed with the idea of being a mum and I didn’t spend time dreaming about how it would be. I think I just spent years worrying about giving birth and the logistics of having a baby incorporated into our life… so it shocked and overwhelmed me when I realised how amazing it felt. And as quite a sarcastic and cynical person I was surprised at how gushy I had become and how positive I felt about the whole experience. For the first time I didn’t feel like pointing out the negative or warning people off the idea, I wanted everyone to know how happy I was. It was a brand new feeling to me, that’s for sure. I feel like people rarely talk about the ‘best bits’ when it comes to motherhood, maybe it’s an English thing? All you really hear about is how hard it is. Yes maybe there are days you’re exhausted or just want to cry, but I’m pretty sure there’s been a moment everyday where I’ve laughed too… and I didn’t laugh daily before having her. The feeling of love and pride is unlike anything you would have ever felt and it makes everything else seem irrelevant. Someone commented on my Instagram post today saying having a child felt like their heart was constantly outside their body – perfectly put.

I wish I hadn’t spent so many years scared of giving birth, or putting off the idea until I had certain things in place or had been to various places first. But also who knows if I would have had the same experience or felt the same way if the timings were different. I feel so grateful and I know that I’m so lucky, I don’t forget that for a minute. My life is different now, but so much better. I haven’t yet got the work balance thing right, but having her has put so many things in perspective and I no longer feel FOMO or jealousy of others. I’ve learnt to be more present and enjoy the moment and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Thanks for following along for the past year and for all your supportive comments. I’ll try not to wait another year to post on here again, no promises.

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MY WARDROBE ESSENTIALS RIGHT NOW

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FINALLY… my absolute favourite time of year is here in terms of styling outfits. Summer is great and all, I’ll miss being able to spend time in the garden but I definitely will not miss having to have so much skin on show all the time. Is that just me being weird? I hate it. I’m all about the jeans and knitted jumpers! By November we’ll all be complaining about having to wear a huge coat every day because it’s freezing and Spring will seem so far away, but for the next couple of months it’s that perfect in-between weather where we can wear a jumper and no coat, ankle socks with our trainers and we don’t have to layer a thermal vest top under every single outfit. I’m giddy with excitement.

So here are some of the items that I’m excited to wear this Autumn whether that’s just at home, for a walk in the park or for a social distanced meet up with friends. How 2020.

 

Five out of seven days a week you’ll find me wearing joggers, they’re just so comfortable and practical. But I still want to feel put together and not like I want to crawl back into bed for a midday nap. There’s a whole category of joggers that I’ve discovered this year that are more fitted, made from nicer material and are the perfect in-between of a trouser and a jogger. Paired with a tucked in t-shirt and trainers, it’s my favourite look.

 

JOGGERS

 

I’m VERY excited for chunky black boot season but we have months of being able to wear them, so for now I’m going to enjoy wearing trainers whilst I still can, my favourite shoe choice. I have an unhealthy trainer addiction but I DO wear them everyday. If you’re a mum, go for a pair with velcro… you can thank me later.

TRAINERS

 

KNITWEAR

Knitwear for Autumn… ground breaking. But I’m here for it. Sweater weather is the best, whether it’s a cashmere knit, a chunkier knit or a waffle knit (I’m obsessed with waffle knit at the mo). Here’s my edit of the best knits around right now. Side note, I also can’t stop buying waffle knits for Grey (check Zara kids!).

 

Autumn… bring.it.on.