Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Wrap Party

At some point in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago I had a brainwave. It was the marriage of two ideas that I'd been pondering. I decided to have a Christmas wrap party. I would invite people to my house for a charity coffee morning with the added bonus of providing lots of paper and tape so that they could bring their Christmas gifts to wrap up too - all for a donation to charity of course.

Most of my middle-of-the-night ideas never come to anything, but the next morning I was still thinking over my idea (although of course there was much wrangling over the fact that I was about to host a coffee morning shoot me now!). So I picked up the phone and called my friend Lynne; the owner of Papermash - a superior online purveyor of very tasteful stationery. Lynne not only didn't think my idea was mad but also offered to bring over all her samples for people to use.
So that was that we were on!

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at

It was a pretty relaxed affair, we kept things simple (mainly as we pulled it together in a week) - I had my normal party paranoia that no-one would come - especially as on the morning of the event my phone was pretty much constantly pinging with messages from people who couldn't come (you know just as I was trying to lay out enough food to feed an army) but in the end we had just about the right number of people.

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at

A friend donated 100 mince pies (the result of a communication error by her company to a baker in Yorkshire was our gain), I made some ginger biscuits and my mum made a pound cake which went down very well.

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at

Lynne's suitcase of delights brought forth - beautiful string, gift tags, glitter tape and the best collection of washi tape ever (there's still time to get some for Christmas people...)!
Her rubber stamps collection is amazing. And they look great on brown paper - I think pretty much everyone was convinced of that....
The only thing we were a bit short on was wrapping room...

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at

My Christmas wrap party - with supplies from Papermash by Alexis at

As always with these things I wish I'd taken a load more photos, but the two hours past in a blur of door answering, tea making, mince pie warming, chatting and wrapping. It was both chaotic and really fun - plus we raised £160 for my friend Emily's charity The George Oliver Foundation - a grant making charity set up in the name of her first born George, one of Coco's first little friends who sadly died suddenly when he was just 14 months old (I've written about her charity here before).

Some instagrams of the day by @lynneatpapermash @westlondonmum & @nisia75

As Lynne and I agreed at the end there was a huge satisfaction in just having done it, so many ideas come and go so to execute something at pretty short notice and have it be successful was great.  I'm definitely going to do it again next year - but this one was a very good practice run.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Simple Christmas Cards

Henry and I had a little crafting morning making cards for him to give to his friends at nursery.

We kept things simple and, even if I say it myself, I think the results are pretty nice.

We used:
1. A Dormy DIY rubber stamp - I love this rubber stamp, I got it years ago and have used it loads, it comes with lots of letters so you can create different messages - just totting up the years... it's definitely at least 14 years old and the ink still works perfectly.

2. Glue.
3. A Christmas tree craft punch
4. Last years Christmas cards (I'm a hoarder -  I keep our cards from year to year stashed away in the decorations box.
5. Plain card.

Henry enjoyed telling me which bits of the cards to punch out - it was a bit too stiff for him to be able to do them himself although he gave it a good go. He was very keen on all the sparkly, glittery bits...
Then he stamped the Christmas message and glued the trees on to the front of his cards.

Most of the cards got three trees... only one got an upside-down tree which Henry insisted he wanted...

....and then he very patiently wrote his cards. Well patiently wrote them for about seven minutes. This one was an easy one as it was to another Henry. He's got his name writing down now and as you can just spot at the top of this photos is starting to go for a bit of embellishment too. Never too young to have a signature I suppose.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Last Week: 7 things from 7 days

Seven things from seven days is an occasional series, where I can log the things we've been up to.

Illness struck this week! Henry has been home from nursery all week and so we've been holed up keeping things low-key and all my computer time has been spent beavering away on this years Christmas card... to be revealed, um, when it's finished!

But before that these things happened...

1. Me and Coco testing out the set up for our silhouette shots for this years Christmas card...
2. Since our weekend breakfast campaign (basically trying to wean the children off cereal everyday) pancakes have become a weekend staple. Coco was particularly pleased with this one she made and topped with nutella and strawberries. (I feel the need here to explain that we NEVER buy strawberries out of season, much as my kids would love me to, but we got these in a full bag of groceries mistakenly delivered to us... we also got to try some fancy butter, loads of grapes and some haddock and I still have a load of funny little yogurt pots in the fridge. I feel bad for the person who missed all these items in their order... but the shop wouldn't take it back and we felt it was our duty not to waste it all!)
3. Coco and Henry helping make the first mince pies of the season.
4. We went ice skating at Sommerset House... unfortunately it was just as Henry was getting ill so he didn't really enjoy it... I had a ball on the other hand and Coco was cautiously persistent and did pretty well. I think I would be correct in saying she has mixed feelings on the subject of whether she wants to go again or not.
5. We got an AMAZING new light for the sitting room - I'm in love; and Hugh is happy as it has LED bulbs. It took ages to find and a long time to save for. Full post possibly to come one day if I get around to it...
6. Before ice skating we had lunch in the pop up Fortnum's Lodge cafe at Sommerset House and Coco told me to take a photo of her food. She has noticed that I like to take photos of most things. What I failed to do was take a photo of the cheese fondue that I (partly) shared with Hugh. It was a bit of a indulgent-splash-out lunch, but, you know, it's Christmas. Almost. I'd recommend it if you are in the area...
7. And before the lunch that we had before the ice skating me and Coco popped into the Natural History Museum to say hello to the dinosaurs, because she asked to and we can.

Looking at the week like that it seems like we are getting in the festive mood...

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Garden Pots - Winter to Spring

Last year, with a bit of help, we made some really lovely pots for outside our kitchen window and we've tried to re-create them this year as it was decidedly cheering to be able to look out on some colour through winter and also to be able to see spring arriving when the time came.

Now I'm no gardener - our current garden is the first I've ever had and Hugh are I are really learning as we go along... but I thought it was worth sharing something that has worked for us because, if we can do it then, seriously, anyone can.

We bought these two tin baths ages ago at Columbia Rd flower market and they've served us very well.
First up you half fill your pot with compost and plant your bulbs (Narcissi 'Tete-a-Tete' in this case - which is the mini daffodil). If you plant daffs now you'll probably just get away with it I think - especially in London where it hasn't got too cold yet!

We didn't get a photo of the next bit - but we then added a couple more inches of compost and put in some anemone corms (again we put in ones saved from last year - they had actually started putting up leaves again already, a bit confused by the warm autumn we've had I guess) and muscari.

Finally we filled the pot up and planted in the violas.

We managed to find quite a lot of self seeded viola's from around the garden - the result of last years pot.

We have quite a few squirrels passing through our garden - so we put a layer of gravel on the top to stop them from nicking the bulbs as they have a tendency to do apparently.

So now we have a bit of winter colour and can look forward to something a bit like this appearing next spring...

Monday, 24 November 2014

My Girl - Seven Years

I'm just going to come out and say it.

.... and yet of course I can believe it. We've hit each milestone, multiple firsts and lasts. We've had so many birthday parties that I now struggle to actually remember them all clearly. She is a fully formed little human, her personality so clear - many of her traits I can trace back to her first few months and yet she can still mystify me too. Her teacher said of her last week that she was a pleasure to teach, that she floats in like a fairy at the start of the day does her work and then floats away again at the end of the day. She's a dreamer and yet she is determined, a daredevil on her bike (and new skateboard) and yet perfectly content to sit at the kitchen table crafting away often making cards for her teddy.
But best of all she is a really HAPPY little person.

Today Clemmie from the blog Gas & Air has published my story of Coco's arrival. For a relatively calm little baby she made quite a dramatic entrance into this world. You can read about it here.

... and last year I wrote a little bit about the after-math of having an early baby.

Anyway - I've just spent the best part of the morning looking for photos of me and Coco - I have a ridiculous number of photos of my children; photos of us together are a little harder to find... but here we are, seven years of me & my girl.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Being the Tooth Fairy

We are getting familiar with the tooth fairy here.
Coco has lost three teeth so far - although the tooth fairy has only visited twice; the second tooth was lost in a suspected swallowing incident at another child's birthday party.  I suggested to Coco that she wrote a note to the tooth fairy explaining the situation, but she never got around to it. I wasn't going to push it.

I find the deceptiveness of this fairy-lady (like her colleague Father Christmas) quite annoying. On the one hand I don't want to be a boring, practical and say-it-how-it-is parent, but on the other I don't want to be actively deceiving my children, making them believe in something that doesn't exist and basically lying to them. Especially in the face of direct questioning.
I think Coco, at nearly seven, understands this - she actually doesn't often ask direct questions and smiles at me (in what I choose to interperet as a bit of a knowing way) when I throw the question back at her with a "Well, how do you think the tooth fairy knows to come and look under your pillow today?"

The whole process gets more disturbing when I have to find cash and creep into her room late at night. Is it a bit wrong that I feel a slight thrill that I might be caught out being the tooth fairy? There's not a chance, our girl really does slumber very well, yet still I have this frisson - a feeling that makes me vaguely giddy and takes me back to some unmentionable moments from my past. I don't breath as I sneak the tooth out from under her pillow, only allowing myself to inhale again once I'm back on the other side of her bedroom door. Then I find myself standing holding a tooth. Coco was kind enough to put the last one in a bag - not for her squeamish mother of course, but I still appreciated it... But I stand there... "what should I do with it?" I can't have it discovered. Even though I don't think she believes and I don't want to lie.
I stuffed the bagged one in a pot high up on some shelves, but it's not a good hiding place. I need a better one (and it's dangerously close to her letter to Father Christmas from last year come to think of it). Maybe I should booby-trap the whole zone. I remember discovering a slightly gruesome little mother-of-pearl pot of baby teeth on my mothers dressing table once, like little relics to childhood. Little did I know at the time how much angst baby-teeth cause parents, both on their arrival and their departure.

And as for the going rate for a tooth? I think I went in way too high with a nice round shiny pound coin. I got a bit over-excited, but I've made my bed... or maybe when she gets 10p next time I could just shrug my shoulders, it's not my fault; it's up to the Tooth Fairy (she's capitalised now). Although, there have already been a few statements thrown around about the tooth fairies favoritism - she obviously rather likes one of Coco's school friends who got a whole list of gifts.

I need to be more sensible about it all. More considered and definitely a bit more grown up.
A good start would be to actually BOOK THAT DENTIST APPOINTMENT  for her which I've been meaning to do for ages.
Why is it that I put off the simplest of tasks? Especially in this modern internet age where you can simply to a website like Toothpick and just click on a button and it's done.
Then the only thing I have left to do bribe Coco into brushing her teeth a little more thoroughly and eat a few less sticky things.
Maybe I'll tell her the Tooth Fairy won't visit again if she doesn't. That will work.

Toothpick kindly sponsored me to write this post - all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Two Photos Seperated by 378 Days

You know how time plays these tricks? Going by so slowly and yet so fast?

I took this photo the other day - it's dark and quite dull (except in that it features these three people I love). Then by accident I discovered that I'd taken almost the exact same photo a year ago.

Years are slipping by and and in some ways they seem indistinguishable... Life is a funny old thing.
That's all.