"A portrait of our children, once a week every week in 2013".

Lost in the magic of meeting Father Christmas.

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


HOHOHO: meeting father christmas

On Wednesday I took Josephine to see Father Christmas with my Nan, my auntie and her daughter and my cousin and her daughter. This little grotto is so sweet, with a lovely array of decorations and lights to look at before you enter, and then a winter wonderland complete with polar bears, fake snow and elves. 

While she seemed quite amazed by Father Christmas, there was no way she was getting closer than 2 feet, hence the hilarious shot of them squeezed into the edges of the frame. 

She came away with a little real Christmas tree, a badge and a toy of her choice from the Elve's workshop...a fairy Barbie to be precise. Whom she already adores. 

Tonight, Ben finishes work for nearly two weeks. Josephine and I cannot wait to have him home with us for all that time. The Christmas holidays begin today! 

Meeting Father Christmas last year...so teeny! 


HOMEMADE CHRISTMAS: one week to go

This time next week, Christmas Day will be coming to an end. We'll be sat on the sofa, looking through all our lovely presents, tummies full of the most delicious food. But with one week to go, there's still plenty of festive fun to be had. Over the last month or so, Josephine, Ben and I have been putting our hands to some Christmas crafting and I thought I'd share some of the best in case you're looking for some quick, easy and cheap ideas to do with the children. Or, just by yourself! 

What did we do before Pinterest? Both the hand print Christmas tree posters and finger print Christmas tree cards were inspired by the site and have both been greatly received; by both Josephine and our friends and family. The silver bells (cut up egg boxes, wrapped in foil and threaded with ribbon) is a must-do for all infant schoolers in the UK and I remember making them when I was small. It's wonderful to have our first Phiney-made decoration on the tree and I can't wait to see what the coming years will add to the stash. 

The Father Christmas face cards were Ben's idea, and were completed while Mama was spoiled to a lovely long lie-in recently. Ben used pieces of scrap felt and cotton wool and Phiney did all the gluing and sticking. Those Santa faces are the cutest I've seen this year.

Ben and Josephine also created the sweet little tree for her doll's house. They collected some fern from the green in front of our house and, after Ben fashioned a base from this and that, they adorned it with tiny sprigs of flowers from the garden, brightly coloured strands of wool and a little star sticker for the top. 

Finally, the best Christmas craft, and one every age can have fun with (if you don't have a nearly-two year old in the mix think rows of triangle potato stamps or polka dots in neon) is stamping your own wrapping paper. Josephine and I collected huge leaves in the park one day and, after we dried them out, we smothered them in poster paints and stamped them on lengths of craft paper I found from Ikea. Ben also cut holly leaves and star stamps from potatoes for a particularly festive design. We've wrapped up as many presents as we can using our own paper, all tied with pretty ribbons from Mama's ribbon jars, and we think they look pretty darn good. 

What have been your favourite Christmas crafts this year? 



WHAT PHINEY WORE: Coat la coqueta // Tights john lewis // Boots clarks // Hat handmade using Dover & Madden pattern

Finding the perfect winter coat for Josephine this year took me forever, but boy was it worth the hunt. I wanted something traditional, in camel, that could be passed down to all our children; with the possibility of it becoming something of a family heirloom. I know, I don't ask for much. 

Thank goodness for Instagram. I somehow found Celia's feed, which featured her beautiful children wearing the gorgeous wares of her store La Coqueta. I found the shop online and there was the perfect coat, in an array of colours, but most importantly, in camel. I bought it in age 3, to ensure it lasts this year and next at least, and while the sleeves need to be turned up a bit right now, it fits so well. Sure, it's not cheap - in fact it's the most money I've spent on one item of clothing (for me or Phiney) in about 8 years, but it is the ultimate investment piece, and is just beautiful; from the soft wool coat to the velvet covered buttons. 

Once you've found the perfect winter coat, the perfect hat is a must. And for me, the bonnet is the sweetest thing for children of all ages. I have loved Vicki's designs for years now, and when I was pregnant with Josephine, one of her little knitted hats in red was a must. Last winter, Vicki so kindly sent Josephine a few new designs to try out and the mustard Clover hat and sunshine yellow bonnet became staples in her wardrobe. When Vicki told me she was going to produce a pattern to buy for the Clover hat, I was so excited and bought it as soon as she released it. With freelancing taking all my time, I passed the pattern to my expert knitter Mum, as well as some lovely lavender wool, and she produced this gorgeous piece. I love the purple and camel together, especially with her little leather boots. The perfect winter attire :)

ps. next to awesome Mama's like Celia and their independent shops, vintage and second hand pieces are a must. One of my favourite Insta buddies, Jude, found her little noodle the best vintage coat I've ever seen. Isn't it awesome? I'd happily steal it for Phiney. And about a month ago I found a lighter camel, almost identical version of Josephine's coat at the charity shop. In age 9-12 months it'll be ideal for Baby this time next year. By a French brand I've never heard of, and for the grand sum of £2.50, it was a pretty great find. 



"A portrait of our children, once a week every week in 2013".

Josephine: A moment of calm in an afternoon of racing after her cousins at a birthday party yesterday. She claimed that pram as soon as she walked through the door, and barely let go of it all day. Such a dedicated little Mama. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



"A portrait of our children, once a week every week in 2013".

Josephine: Forever gazing at the Christmas tree and its decorations, often blowing kisses to her favourites. 
Baby: 20 weeks and developing perfectly. After our scan on Wednesday morning, I had a bleed in the evening. It was truly terrifying. I spent Thursday morning in A&E, but everything with me and Baby is fine. Thank goodness. Don't you be scaring us like that again, little one. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



WHAT PHINEY WORE: Dress vintage // Cardigan h&m // Hair Bow happy circus // Tights john lewis // Boots clarks // Bag italian market circa early 1990s

While I was searching for a belt to fit round my ever expanding tummy the other day, Josephine found this little leather coin purse my Mum bought me back from a trip to Italy when I was less than 10. She hasn't taken it off since, and it's become as important to her when we go out as her coat and wellies. It's the sweetest thing and she's taking such good care of it. It's in good hands, for sure. 

I adore this little vintage dress too, such a lovely shape and collar and it goes so well with the pop of yellow of her cardigan. The perfect mix of vintage finds and the high street basics for which H&M is hard to beat, in my opinion.  

Running up and down the hallway of our building...it never gets old for Josephine. And I can't help but love that nonchalant model pose of hers :)


LESSONS IN MOTHERHOOD: stealing magical moments

Working full time over the last few months really made me focus on the most important aspects of motherhood to me, and truly helped me learn more about the type of Mama I strive to be for our children. With time with Josephine seemingly taken from me, I made mental notes of how we'd spend our days filled with nothing but crafting and reading and playing as soon as the work finished. 

And in many ways we have. Christmas crafts have become common place round here (i'll share some of our favourites soon) and we've made dens a-plenty, but I've come to realise that, as Mamas, time to get on and do housework, cook the dinner and sort the bills remains a constant; let alone finding those equally important moments to ourselves, when we can sit and breathe and relax for just a moment. Even without the work, spending 24/7 engaging Josephine in fun-filled, educational and self-affirming activities is just unrealistic. More importantly, I've come to realise that that's ok. That it's just as important for Josephine to play on her own, occupy herself and discover the world through her own eyes as it is for me to get her food sorted, whip the hoover round once in a while and have a glance at some of my favourite blogs. 

And yesterday, Josephine taught me the most important factor of this particular lesson. 

I'm not ashamed to admit that since mid-August, the task that rapidly fell to the bottom of my to-do list, that rarely got completed, was the housework. Sure the washing up was done and the clothes washed, but the dusting and polishing? Absolutely not. So yesterday I decided it was time to tackle the mess; to get sorted and get tidy before Christmas. While Josephine pottered about doing this and that, and watching a bit of Mr Tumble on iPlayer, I spent the day putting things away, hoovering and packing bags to take to the charity shop, before giving Josephine her dinner and heading out to meet Ben at the supermarket to do our weekly shop. 

As we wheeled the trolley up and down the aisles, Ben asked Josephine about her day:
"What have you and Mama done today, Phiney?"
"Ummmm. We did dancing!!"

As she said it, a huge smile broke out across my face and a lesson was well and truly learnt. If Ben had asked me what fun things I'd done with Josephine that day, I'd have been filled with Mama-guilt as I wouldn't have seen past the cleaning and sorting, the fact we didn't leave the house until 5.30pm and that Josephine was wearing her pajamas until 20 minutes before that. 

But Josephine? Her day had been filled with that little Christmas music dance-off she had with Mama before lunch; our trips to sit and watch the lights twinkle on the Christmas tree and see how many birds she could find nestled in its branches; winding up the musical snow globe and listening to Mama sing along while we watched the snow fall on Father Christmas. Those fleeting but magical moments had been what made her day, what she remembered; what she'd fall asleep thinking of while I lay in bed wishing I'd made more effort to do this or that with her. 

Our little ones are so often the best teachers. And we need to listen to them more, to watch how happy they are; to realise that they drift off to sleep with smiles on their faces because of the little things we did with them, and that they don't feel they've missed out because we haven't been on some amazing adventure that day. 

So now, as I fall asleep I'll be thinking of the little things too, learning from my amazing guide through this journey of Mama-hood; our tiny dancer. 

Perhaps it's time to take a step away from Pinterest and the extravagant activities it suggests, and take pleasure instead in those 5 minute strolls round the garden (like ours this morning, pictured), the kitchen discos or tickle-time on the sofa? What are the little things that fill those magical spare minutes on busy days in your home?



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Pondering her next move, in the last of the afternoon light.

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


RE-GIFTING: modern heirlooms

A couple of weeks ago, after my sister found a stash of my old toys at her house, I presented Josephine with four of my old My Little Pony's. I loved these when I was little, even having a My Little Pony part for my second birthday (and then again for my 21st family party, complete with decorations my Mum sourced in the US). The look on Josephine's face when she found them was priceless, and made me so happy that I kept them.

After seeing Phiney's excitement, I was reminded of two brand new boxed ponies that my Grandparents gave me at said 21st birthday that sat on my shelf at uni for a while. I never opened them (despite being so tempted to brush their hair!) and realised that they would make wonderful additions to Josephine's Christmas stocking. I read an article in American Vogue a few years ago all about the idea of re-gifting items at Christmas, whether they be unwanted (but wonderful) presents you've allocated to the bottom drawer, or much-loved pieces you want to pass on to the next generation. Apparently it's becoming more and more popular in even the most upper-circles of American society and I can see why. Not only is it a great budget-busting and green alternative to the mass-consumerism of Christmas, but it ensures a treasured item. My Grandma is awesome at re-gifting and for my birthday she gave me one of her beautiful antique platters. Of course, it helps that her house is like the best antique shop in the world; my Mum, sister and I spend hours when we're there pointing out what we'd happily take home, much to my Grandma's delight.

This year, it may just be some My Little Pony's, but as the years pass I would love to pass on vintage handbags, antique crockery, precious jewellery and favourite books to our children.

And the rest of Josephine's stocking? We've kept to last year's promise of buying just a few select, but wonderful things. Originally working to the Want, Need, Wear, Read idea, then adding a few choice additions and subtracting something to wear, because she just doesn't need anything. They will sit alongside something for her to read (a Moomin number book), something she needs (a little Moomin lunchbox...yes, I got carried away in the Moomin shop, but this girl loves Little My right now) something she wants (a tiny wooden sword from the RSC shop in Stratford for our little Shakespearean) something Mama-made (a plum coloured net tutu for the dressing up box and new hair bow) and something second-hand (a fantastic French board game found at the charity shop).

I love the idea of something Mama/Papa made always appearing under the tree at Christmas and Josephine appreciating the treasure in finding the perfect secondhand/vintage item too. The final gift will be the sweetest writing set, decorated with beautiful illustrations of wild animals and plants. Each year my sister and I would always get a new writing set, and with Josephine writing letters to Great-Grandparents and penpals across the world, this is the perfect tradition to pass on to our children too.

Will you be re-gifting this year, or plan to pass on treasured heirlooms?



This girl and her hats. Always, always wearing a hat. 



So here we are.

Last Friday I finished the 13 week full time freelance job I had landed, and let me tell you it's been a crazy 13 weeks. 13 weeks that have seen the fun of Cornish summer holidays fall away and turn into an autumnal chill and the magic of Christmas. 13 weeks of fitting being a full time Mama around working a full time job at home. 13 weeks of pregnancy, complete with morning sickness far worse than I experienced with Josephine and the worry and anticipation those first weeks bring.

But here we are. I made it through. We all made it through. And I'm proud of us all. I'm more proud than ever to call my boy My Husband. To be blessed enough to have him believe in me, encourage and support me and to hold my hand when I stumble. For ignoring the mess our home has slowly become and for still sitting next to me evening after evening as I boringly worked away in silence. We're so proud of our beautiful girl, who has proved herself to be a total star over the last three months; making the transition from having Mama to play with and read with and sit with all day everyday if she wanted, to having to occupy herself even when she didn't really want to without too much trouble. Without her being as awesome has she has been, I don't think I would have ever got through it. And of course, our little bean, for growing stronger every day. These three. My heart beats for them.

But you know what, mostly I'm proud of myself. To say the last three months have been hard is a bit of an understatement. The first trimester of pregnancy is tough on nearly every woman, especially those of use who get to revel in the delights of morning sickness, but I made it through and here we are. 18 weeks down, a little rounded tummy, a growing baby. The haze is lifting and I feel like I'm back with it. To all those Mama's who work full time jobs and have little ones waiting at home or nursery for them, I commend you. I found it so hard to divide my time between work and caring for Josephine. Always feeling like I had one eye on the time, my to-do list or my emails when I was with her. Never being able to give her my undivided attention. The days she happily played and made up some amazing game or another were that little easier. But on deadline days, as she'd pull on my hand desperate for me to dance or have a picnic with her, my heart broke a little as I told her I couldn't. But I made it through.

Despite the long days and sleepless nights, I've come out of these weeks with a new belief in myself; as a mother and as a woman. And four real positives...

For one, we now have a savings account. With actual money in. For the first time in years. We can plan for future adventures and rest assured that if we need it, emergency funds are at the click of a button. Plus the car's MOT and tax have been paid for, Christmas presents are all sorted and we're all cherishing the little rare treats we've allowed ourselves.

I've also proved to myself that, despite not working for almost two years, I still have a brain that works pretty darn well (I've wondered if that was the case at regular intervals since Josephine was born!) I'm ready to throw myself into a new, very exciting venture with a revitalised work ethic and understanding of what I need to do to make it a success; the time I need to put in and the fact that I really can make it happen. 

In the world of motherhood we can have our tricky days, I'm sure the other Mama's out there can relate. Before I started working I feel those days had started to get to me; that my patience was wearing thinner than I'd care to admit and that daily tasks had become more tiring (and sometimes tiresome) than before. Just a few weeks into working however, I was reminded in the glory of that slower pace, a simple life and the wonders of time; time to play, to craft, to read and to just simply be. Time I no longer really had. Jodi's series on practising simplicity started at a similar time to my job and I couldn't have asked for a column that spoke to me more. I took her words and tried to apply them where I could, amongst the crazy schedules and deadlines I was working to. Now I plan to re-read them all, to move into this new stage of motherhood refreshed and more knowing of how I want to spend my days, and I want to feel about them when I lie in bed at night; no regrets at reacting to situations in the way I did, no annoyance at not achieving this or that task. 

Finally, I missed you guys. I missed not writing here, and sharing the everyday magic that has been happening over the last few months. Thank goodness for The 52 Project; I wonder if I'd had been here at all if it weren't for those photographs. If you're still here and still reading, thank you. I feel happier than ever to continue this space, to watch it grow, and I have a few new features to come that I hope you'll love. 

How has your autumn/spring been? I hope it's been revitalising x

I love the pops of purple amongst the autumnal brown and yellow leaves in our garden. My favourite time of year for the truly wondrous colours. 



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Forever making dens under tables, no matter how small they may be. Surrounded by her favourite toys and books, she can be there for all morning. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Josephine in Autumn. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Tucked away in her 'house' with her head in a book. Our little bookworm is already exploring the classics...

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.

A few weeks ago, my Mum, sister and I went to Stratford Upon Avon to see David Tennant in Richard II. It was completely brilliant. As was the gift shop, where I bought a few Christmas presents as well as this beautiful Little Master Shakespeare copy of Romeo and Juliet. Josephine adores this book. The illustrations and colours are lovely and her favourite page is 10 Kisses. 

My Mum started taking my sister and I to Stratford when we were pretty small (to see a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream) and we've been going ever since. We can't wait for Josephine to be old enough to join us on these trips. I know she'll love the theatre, and it's hard to beat the magic of Shakespeare. 

ps. that box has become an integral part of Phiney's playtime. It's used daily as a house, bed, boat, car and a pram for her dolls and cuddlies. I wonder if we'll ever be able to throw it out!



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

The only photo I managed to snap of Josephine in the Halloween costume I made her; a parrot to mine and Ben's pirates. She wasn't overly bothered about having her picture taken at this exact moment in time. Such a spirited little bird right now...

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



A morning at the park with lovely friends, on a crisp and sunny autumnal day, is hard to beat. Especially when you throw in some raisins and a park bench, plus a few cheesy smiles and posing for the camera.



WHAT PHINEY WORE: Kitipongo Dress tk maxx // Handmade Cardigan // Tights h&m // Hair Bow happy circus // Desert Boots clarks (find similar here)

This week, Josephine is wearing the sweetest dress I found while rummaging the rails at TK Maxx. I have a love/hate relationship with that store. It's awesome if they have what you want in the right size, but so often you find the perfect piece and they only have one of them, three size too small. Ben shops there a lot for work clothes so I take a look in the kids section for Phiney when we go in. The reduced, past-season prices are always so reasonable, and sometimes you can snag a real bargain. When I bought this dress (for the grand sum of £12) I also found a soft grey Petit Bateau cardigan for next winter for just £10 (reduced from £65!). If you're happy to scour the rails, it's a great shopping destination, but if bargain hunting isn't your thing, i'd stay clear! 

My Mum made Phiney this beautiful cardigan from a vintage design she found in her pattern stash. It coincidentally matches this dress so perfectly and I love it's longer length; perfect for autumn. Having my Mum on hand to whip up a cardigan in a matter of days is wonderful. Thank goodness for your pro-knitter Nanny, Phiney. 

Finally, Josephine is the best model for my Happy Circus hair bow clips and I have to make her some more in other colours soon. They just look so sweet buried amongst her curls.