Lifestyle and Parenting blog based in Surrey.

Monday 27 November 2017

Decorating the Christmas Tree

As Andy Williams (yes I had to google that!) tells us, its the most wonderful time of the year - and I for one love starting Christmas as early as possible. It is only ever my husband that tried to put the brakes on and gets me to hold out until at least December 1st.

This year however, I’ve gone early and got my tree up in November. My reasoning is that a) it is December this week b) we are going Skiing the week before Christmas so I need them up early to   get my hours-worthof enjoyment and c) we’ve teamed up with The White Company to share with you our Sunday decorating the tree.
I’ve actually been slipping in a few decorations around the home the last week or so, under the pretence that these were ‘winter home accessories’ rather than Christmas decorations, with sheepskin rugs and my mini trees either side of the fireplace. However, now we got serious! 
We had a really lazy Sunday, getting into Christmas mode - with a Christmas film and unpacking all the decorations saw Sophie staying in her pyjamas most of the morning. Gareth behind the lens was also dressed for the occasion in his Christmas jumper, whereas I went for a more subtle option of this beautiful Sparkle Wrap Jumper and Feather Pom Pom Slippers, that I can already see my self living over Christmas.

I’ve had a white, silver and gold tree ever since we had our first flat together and every year I add a few more decorations. This year I chose Faceted Antiqued Stars which beautifully sparkly, white bells which really ring and to go lower down the tree, a set of mini beaded hearts - that are more Sophie proof! 

As well as these more grown-up decorations I also chose the cutest Mimi Ballerina Mouse to go on the tree although, Sophie is so in love with her, Mimi has spent more time being played with than amongst the foliage!

We bought our artificial tree last year as our previous house had underfloor heating and killed off the ‘real’ trees we had bought in previous trees far too quickly. As hassle free as our faux tree is, I do really miss the beautiful pine aromas… however, The White Company has a great way to get round this. Little ceramic star decorations that you hang on the tree with a little spritzer of my favourite Winter fragrance that keeps the tree smelling amazing, NEARLY as goos as the real thing.

At two and a half, this is the first year that Sophie is getting excited about Christmas, telling me what she’d like Father Christmas to bring her and she loved helping put the decorations on the tree, she was so careful hanging the little loops over the branches and choosing where she wanted to put them.

She is also so excited about her stocking and that Father Christmas is going to come down the chimney to fill it with presents! I would have loved a matching reindeer pompom nose stocking too, but settled with the more grown up Fairisle knit for Gareth and my stockings - I hope we make the ‘good’ list too. To make sure FC knows who’s os who’s I’ve popped little gift tag initials on - which also gives a personal touch.

The big fireplace has to be one of my favourite features of our new home (teamed with the flu height bay windows where we've homed our tree) and I have really enjoyed giving it the festive treatment. I love this beautiful Rosemary and Pinecone garland, and its 180cm length means that it even fits even the biggest fireplaces. We then added our stocking hooks that my mother in law has bought us over the years as advent-treats and candles in my mercury candle pillars at either end. To make the garland even more magical I've added beautiful star lights.

All that decorating is hard work, so when we were finished it was time for a cup of tea and lots of cuddles whilst we admired our morning’s efforts. 

When are you going to be putting your tree and decorations up? Are you over-enthusiastic like me or are you more of a decorate on Christmas Eve type of person? 
Happy nearly-advent everyone!


Sunday 19 November 2017

Project Home: The Architect Plans

When you look round a ‘project home’ with the estate agent, if your anything like me you are knocking every wall down and mentally orientating your dream layout. I certainly did this when we bought our first home and our lovely architect pretty much followed our steer, with some helpful tweeks.

But THIS house has been a different ball game (here is a link to a digital tour!). We certainly both had plenty of ideas when we looked round, more since we’ve moved in and we keep changing our mind and getting different ideas. Our architect (the lovely Clara from Toute le Monde Design) has been able to be much more creative as this house certainly has many more options. We’ve doubled the sq footage on this move, which has certainly given us more room to play with.

Here are the existing layouts (obviously the scale has gone out the window with editing!)

The main focus has been the ground floor, with the general idea is to rebuild the extension that was put on about twenty years ago, but make it integral to the main house to make a large kitchen looking out onto the garden. The grand idea is to have Critall-style windows with french doors out onto a patio. In our last home we have large bi-folding doors, but for this house, they seem too modern and not quite in keeping.

We are currently talking to Neptune Weybridge to look at Kitchen options, as I love their beautiful and timeless shaker kitchens. I am dreaming of navy units and white quartz surfaces, but more of that  to come.

We also want to make a ‘family entrance’ from the drive through a boot room, where all the coats and wellies can be stored, before moving into the main body of the house. This will be situated in the current garage which will also house the W/C.

If finance allow, we are also looking at building an extension that will be a garage/storage building for bikes, garden furniture etc. and thinking this could be clad in wood to give a 'stable' effect. 
Upstairs we are keen to move the ‘servants staircase’ up to the loft room to over the main staircase with roof lights to give a grand double height stairway and then use the space where the old stairs were to become an ensuite to the bedroom which we currently refers to as the 'horror room' due to its decor!

The loft room is most certainly going to be a subsequent stage (unless we winch lottery!) but we’ve come up with some ideas of a beautiful master suite. Until I pick the magic numbers, we are going to just do some reconfiguration to allow for the movement of the staircase and put in a new W/C rather than put in a  shower room.

These plans are a work in progress, but after umm-ing and err-ring over a range of different options and usage of the space, this seems to be what we are most happy with and (other than opening up the kitchen, to the horror my Dad - who is also doing all our structural engineering work - as we are taking most of a load bearing wall away!) looking at the most affordable options for the building work.

This has certainly been a really exciting part of the process, picturing what we are going to create in our 'project home' and I can't wait to get started! Although before that an happen we have so many decisions to make and quotes to organise, but thats all part of the fun...

Friday 10 November 2017

Starting Potty Training

This post was written in collaboration with Huggies® Pull-Ups®
I’ve always been nervous, as most mothers are I suppose, when a new stage arises. Moving Sophie into her cot from her moses basket, stopping breastfeeding and weaning all filled me with inner worry.
As Sophie is now two and a half, there are two big steps that I’ve been putting off. Moving her into her big bed from her cot and potty training.
We’ve recently moved house, and have wanted to keep everything as normal for Sophie during the transition, so we’ve decided to keep her in her cot for a little longer and address moving on from nappies to pants first.
We did have a go at potty training back in August, but two days in Sophie picked up a tummy bug and got really upset when I took off her nappy, so following advice we didn’t feel this was that best time to start potty training, we stepped back and gave her some time before trying again.
When Huggies asked me and Sophie to be potty training ambassadors, it seemed like perfect timing as Sophie had shown some of the signs in their 8 Signs of Potty Training Readiness. These include:  

Staying dry for 2 hours
Asking to be changed
Asking to use the potty
Having regular poos
Asking to wear underwear
Following simple instructions
Letting you know when they need to go
Being able to pull their pants up and down

This is the first of HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® 6 Steps to Potty Success which we are going to be following in the next few weeks and months.
The second step is to say goodbye to nappies… eeeek!  Transitioning from nappies to Huggies® Pull-Ups® is the perfect stepping stone, giving little ones a sense of independence whilst still providing them with the support they need. 
By following the 6 Step Process, we really made a fuss about putting her nappies into a special bag for the ‘nappy fairy’ to collect whilst she was sleeping, in exchange for a little present along with some Huggies® Pull-Ups®, Sophie has a little fairy door in her room which she loves, so I told her it was her fairy that was coming and the 'Nappy Fairy’ bought her a toy potty and milk bottle for her dolly. And and the Disney Princess Huggies® Pull-Ups went down a treat!
Step three is where we are up to now, which is start practising. It’s important to be consistent and set times throughout the day for your child to visit the potty as well as sitting on the potty, pulling Huggies® Pull-Ups® up and down and washing our hands. The pants have really stretchy sides which makes this nice and easy for Sophie to do herself – this is known as ‘I do’. A step also makes it a lot easier for Sophie to reach the sink and wash her hands herself.
So far so good, but the next stage is where I’m feeling nervous. Will Sophie be able to know when she needs to use the potty? Thanks to the unique learning layer in Huggies® Pull-Ups®, which briefly mimics wetness without creating a mess – better known as ‘I feel -  using Huggies® Pull-Ups does make me feel a little more confident.  There is also a wetness indicator, which visually signals when Huggies® Pull-Ups® are wet so both Sophie and I can check to see if she has stayed dry ‘I see’, further giving her that sense of independence.

Wish us luck and I’ll let you know how we get in in the next few months...

If you want to find out more, visit HUGGIES® Pull-Ups® website: 
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