Tuesday 29 October 2013

Walking with the Dog

We don't have a dog.
We just pretended for a few days...

Coco with Gina the dog in the river, Edinburgh 2013

While we were staying with Hugh's Mum we had some great autumnal woodland walks with Gina the dog.

Henry was very keen to be in charge of the lead...

As was Coco...

Then Henry wanted to take photos instead... not a bad effort above?

I can't see us getting a pet any time soon* but it is very nice to go out with Gina, the woods were Hugh's childhood playground and were so quiet with their growing carpet of leaves.

It was also the first time that we had had proper family walks, no buggy and no backpack carrier... which made it slow at times but then it's fun to kick leaves, collect acorns and find sticks to throw occasionally.

*We also had a chance to pretend we had cats for a while earlier this year... which I HAVE to post about before I completely forget what it was like. Henry was obsessed with Wilma the cat... his original BFF (that stands for Best Friend Forever by the way Mum).

**I got an email from my Mum yesterday; I quote:
"Loved latest pictures on the blog but a few grammatical howlers, ask Hugh to look at it."
Sad when even your mother thinks you are incapable.
I'm DISLEXIC Mum! And no, I don't know how you bloomin' spell that either - got a Y in it somewhere I think... oh well... (oh yeah and I know that I probably miss use ... and I don't really speak with so many !!! but they always seem to creep in).

Hope you like the pictures everyone! Just like my Mum...!

Sunday 27 October 2013

A Portrait a Week - 43/52

Coco - So that's it... the clocks have changed and we are well and truly shifting into coat and boot weather. I can't imagine having another window of warm sunshine where we feel like paddling like we did this time last week, although the picture of Coco only tells a half truth as there were four adults in much more sensible warm attire beside me when I took this photo, but I love it that all the children were determined to strip off and have a paddle in the freezing water.

Henry - His colouring is intense, often causing the ink loaded paper to disintergate, but he's almost as keen as his sister to sit and entertain himself with some pens and paper.

One portrait of each of my children every week in 2013. 
A 52 project started by Jodi of Che & Fidel

Thursday 24 October 2013

Portobello Mooching

Yesterday me and Henry had a job to do and found ourselves at the top of Ladbroke Grove with some time on our hands. So we had a little mooch around Portobello Road.

Pumpkins for sale on portobello road
Colourful houses on Portobello Road in London

It was a gorgeous sunny day so we wandered and I went into as many shops as Henry would tolerate (3).

Henry outside Couverture and the Garbstore in Notting Hill
Couverture and the Garbstore in Notting Hill - wonderful independant boutique

Couverture & the Garbstore is a full of beautiful things...

Beautiful display of lovely things at Couverture and the Garbstore
... all displayed with impeccable style...

Beautiful display of lovely things at Couverture and the Garbstore

Do you think that maybe this is what real grown up people do with cushions at night? You know those people who have beautiful well made beds with piles of cushions and pillows on them?
Looks all ready to move in... sit read a book and have a cuppa.

Henry colouring at Couverture and the Garbstore

Henry made himself at home...

Childrens rag dolls at Couverture and the Garbstore in Notting Hill

Childrens toys at retro wallpaper at Couverture and the Garbstore

The most tasteful selection of children's toys ever... and very cute/retro wallpaper in their fitting rooms.

Biscuiteers Shop in Portobello, Notting Hill, a Something I made Blog mooching visit

A couple of doors away is the Biscuiteers shop - after seeing their amazing biscuits at the White Company do a few weeks ago I was quite intrigued to see the shop. They had some very impressive Halloween goodies... I came away with a small bag of icing accessories ready for my gingerbread house challenge. I'm thinking if I say that I'm GOING to make a gingerbread house enough I'll have to actually be true to my word?

Halloween biscuits on display at Biscuiteers shop in Notting Hill London

Quite a dangerous game taking a toddler into a shop like this... 

Biscuiteers shop in Notting Hill London as visited by Alexis from Something I made

We also popped into Pedlars and I showed Henry how phones used to work...

Henry playing with a old fashioned phone in the Pedlars shop in Notting Hill

And I finally forked out the cash to buy a Kinfolk magazine. I had to see what all the fuss is about; I was fully prepared to be underwhelmed but of course I've fallen under the spell. It's beautiful and I really really like it.
Then we got ourselves some lunch at Falafel King.

Falafel King on Portobello road by Alexis At Something I made blog

Falafel King on Portobello road

When Coco was a baby I often used to walk around this little neck of the woods with her in her pram and before that there were lunch hours spent here when I had my very first job at the now demolished BBC Worldwide building… and before that, back in the 90's, my sister had a stall on the Portobello Road selling her home-made clothes in the era when the hippy and raver worlds collided (she once sold some designs to Screaming Lord Sutch). 
It was nice to have a mooch with Henry.
It's all changed, but it all stays the same.
Such is life.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Home Scenes: Floral Patterns

I'm rather addicted to pattern and colour and floral patterns in particular seem to call to me.
I spent an hour in the home furnishings section of Liberty the other day. It's how I like to spend my very rare childfree time. You know, just looking.

I'm quite smitten with their new collection and now I'm trying to work out where I can fit in a few more florals;
So far this is what we've got going on around the place...

Kenzo, kenzo maison, jungle, fabric, floral patterns, bold, colourful, blind, my home, my interiors,

Above is the fabric that I've FINALLY made into blinds for our bedroom (full post coming soon I promise). It's by Kenzo Maison and is called Jungle (very confusing when you google it as Kenzo have a perfume called Jungle). I just love it, I love the colours and the beautiful botanical draftsmanship and the boldness. Which is lucky really as it's going to be the last thing I see when I go to sleep and the first thing I see in the morning.

Something I made Home Scenes William Morris pinks and roses floral fabric with farrow and ball green smoke walls

In our very green sitting room (Farrow & Ball Green Smoke) - I might have to do another post -  we have a very classic Morris pattern. We bought this William Morris Pinks & Roses fabric to make curtains for our old flat and by a stroke of luck the curtains were the perfect size for the windows here when we moved. My sister made us some cushion covers with the left over fabric, so we are all matchy-matchy.

manuel canovas misia floral fabric blind in my bathroom with verte de terre farrow and ball woodwork and white walls and original btc lights

This blind is made with a fabric called Misia by Manual Canovas and is also something we had in our old flat. It's not actually quite long enough for this window in our bathroom, but you know, there is no way I could get rid of this, and it's the right width which is good enough for me.
I'm waiting for somewhere where I can use Nankin by Manual Canovas... it's quite similar, quite grown up I think?

ikea cushions with a red and pink floral motif

Of course Ikea are pretty good at a floral pattern too. I got these cushions for our outside chairs a couple of years ago, I like the little watering can motif going on there... when they are not being used outside they just hang out here by the back door.

svensk tenn floral wallpaper in my downstairs cloakroom

It's very hard to photograph as it's totally internal, but our downstairs cloakroom is seriously flower power. We have this beautiful Varklockor wallpaper by Svensk Tenn which I had lusted after for ages. The reason it's in the downstairs loo is because the room is tiny and the wallpaper is expensive, so expensive that I've conveniently wiped its cost from my memory... otherwise I might give myself a heart attack every time I look at it. It's full on, but I never tire of it.

Coco's bedroom with her Spiri Haga floral tree design fabric blinds and third birthday bunting.

Finally there are the blinds in Coco's bedroom, the fabric is by a Swedish company called Spira and the design is called Haga. I first saw it in Skandium but then by the time I came to buy it they no longer stocked it so I bought it online from a company based in Oxford called Northlight Interiors.

So there you can see my slightly schizophrenic floral pattern love, from Morris to Scandi with some modern Ikea and a little French lux thrown in. I do envy people who can stick to white minimilist interiors...

Monday 21 October 2013

Recently - The Birthday Edition

This last week has flown by... it was my birthday week.
Another year older and inside I'm screaming "I don't want to be 38'. But I am.
It's funny age, in some contexts 38 feels old and yet in others 38 does still seem young. Too young to lose your mother as a close friend of mine did last week.
The amount of times that I think to myself that someone is 'old' only to find out that I'm older than them, it's all about attitude - but you cannot stop time ticking away. It's futile to feel frustrated and ultimately I really appreciate where I am in my life... but if I'm ever going to write a 40 before 40 list then I suppose now is the time; and I do love a list (although not quite sure I can bear putting 'finish house' on another list; which is pretty inevitable).

The Kitchen mantlepiece with my birthday cards and a new advent calender

The kitchen mantlepiece - entering the birthday months around here, my birthday cards here will be cleared to make space for Coco's and then it's Christmas closely followed by Henry's birthday. Phew.
And yes that is an advent calendar you can see there in the background... a sort of b'day present from Hugh, I have a slight addiction, evidence of which can be seen here and here. Maybe he bought this one to stop me from buying more myself, but it's a good one - St Mark's Basilica in Venice.

Sunday 20 October 2013

A Portrait A Week - 42/52

Coco - I couldn't choose between these photos of her. She found the drawer of winter stuff and proceeded to try on all the scarves, hats and wooly gloves while parading around in front of the mirror in a some high(ish) heels that our neighbour gave her which are only one size too big. Hours of free fun.

Henry - He has been under the weather most of the week but still determined to play, even though he really should be tucked up in bed.

We are back to the challenging winter light photography. I need to embrace the challenge of indoor light... but it's hard!

One portrait of each of my children every week in 2013. 
A 52 project started by Jodi of Che & Fidel

Monday 14 October 2013

A Portrait A Week 41/52

Henry - He's into making circles, peg circles, brio railway circles, his current thing.
Coco - She spent a good chunk of Saturday morning trying on all my high heels, Henry joined in too but I didn't really get any good photos of the whole event as we finally put the blinds up in our bedroom and they are fantastic black out blinds... but obviously they are not actually working quite yet...

One portrait of each of my children every week in 2013. 
A 52 project started by Jodi of Che & Fidel

Friday 11 October 2013

My Present Cupboard

Spoiler Alert: I'm not entirely sure how many people I know in real life read my blog... but if you do know me and especially if you know me and have children you may want to turn away now. Or you may not be that bothered if you know what your child may or may not unwrap from us on their birthday. Hmmm most likely the latter... so read on.

Following on from a couple of present idea posts from two of my favourite blog reads, Hattie's Free our Kids and Charlotte's Only Saying What You're Thinking I thought I'd do a little audit of our current present stash.

Last year was a bumper year for parties. It seems that the done thing with reception age children is to have a party and invite the class. So that's 30 parties, plus a few more non school friends.
Party party party.
In reality it probably wasn't quite that many (we ducked the big party for Coco's birthday last year) but it certainly felt like I was constantly buying and wrapping gifts.

At some point over the course of the year I bought a job lot of good presents and I top it up every now and then in a slightly ad-hoc way.
Here's what it has in it at the moment:

presents in my present cupboard stash include finger printing kits, rubber stamp kits, okido books, cappi pens and colouring books

The colour coding of the numbers is roughly -
Yellow: ideal for younger children
Orange: any age
Red: 5 yrs and up

1. Nice tin from Tiger - might fill it with craft items for some lucky child. My two certainly love tins and cases.
2. Usborne sticker book - can't go wrong with stickers in my opinion
3. Finger printing kits - parents probably won't thank me for those ones
4. The next new baby to come along will be getting this bashful bunny which I got from the White Company do a couple of weeks ago.
5. Colouring books, another Tiger purchase, am slightly appalled at my own excitement that there is going to be a Tiger opening in Chiswick.
6. Okido books - I got quite a lot of these as I simply think they are brilliant.
7. Usborne sticker book - see 2.
8. Wish I'd bought more of these books, it's a guide to drawing cute animals from the Tate Bookshop. (Just seen they've got a 2 for 3 offer on, children's books!) The actual book isn't there though, but it is here.
9. Rubber Stamp kits - need I say more?
10. The best felt tips ever - Cappi pens by Stabilo, they all link together on a wire by their lids meaning that they generally loose lids less and are easy to shove in a bag altogether etc.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Making Gingerbread (the Real Life version)

I love gingerbread and Coco is getting rather a taste for it too.
There is a bakery right at the school gates and every now and again we buy gingerbread men for an after school snack. It's getting to the point where Henry will also request a gingerbread man every time we pass the bakery now so I thought it was about time I had a go at making some. Also, after our gingerbread from The Biscuiteers which was vastly superior to - but not quite as convenient as our normal supply I wondered if the homemade stuff would also be better.

I also needed an excuse to fill these beautiful cake tins which were kindly sent to me by Joules. I didn't even know they did a home range. They are going to be put to good use over the next few months I think with the onset of autumn and the baking season. The flowery one is truly massive, the perfect transportation for a victoria sponge...  the smallest fox one (my favourite) looks like it's destined to become our permanent biscuit tin.

So anyway - the seemingly simple task of making some gingerbread somehow turned into an epic two stage process. That's what happens when you add Coco and Henry into the mix.
We followed this recipe from the BBC website. 
Above is pretty much the moment that I wondered what I'd started... Henry was determined to press the buttons on the food mixer and Coco wanted to lick the syrup spoon... meanwhile I was just taking pictures. Hairy.
Of course Coco had to wear a princess dress throughout the whole process. 

We did get some good 'team work'...

I'm not sure if it was because the dough got a little overworked... but our gingerbread spread a lot (and obviously I failed to didn't put the biscuits far enough apart) meaning we ended up with some interesting shapes.

The next day I tried to get prepared so that Coco could decorate a gingerbread man as her after school snack in the 20 minutes we have between getting back from picking her up from school and heading out to get Henry from nursery.

Mid - decorating. This went on for pushing on two hours if you include the 20 minute Henry collection interval.

Henry joined in when he got home too.
(Have you spotted that pile of kids aprons hanging up in the background... useful that I remembered to use those eh!)

Henry's first gingerbread man seemed to suffer an in-icing injury...

I feel like I want to put this batch down as my 'experimental' batch - it can only get better; I'm definitely up for some further practice batches, without the hindrance of children around possibly. The gingerbread tastes good and we have snacks for the foreseable future... but at some point in the process I decided that maybe I should make Coco a gingerbread house for her birthday in a months time. Can a gingerbread novice reach such dizzying heights? We'll see. 

Thank you very much to Joules for the cake tins - now I just need an exercise plan to counteract all my baking plans.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Apples in Abundance

If you check over there << (and down a bit) on the side bar you'll see a link to Urban Explorer. This is a great mailing list for people with children in London - each Thursday you get an email with ten things happening in the capital that weekend. For lovers of last minute plans like us it's great and often inspires an adventure or two for our family.
This week no.3 on the list was Abundance in Chiswick. I dutifully checked out what it was all about online as it was listed as a free event right on our doorstep.

This is the idea:
Abundance have mapped out various fruit trees across Chiswick, mainly apples, but some pear trees, grape vines and and we spotted quinces too. Each year they organise volunteers and local school children to harvest the fruit. Then people cook with it, make chutneys and jams and all sorts of delectable delights (toffee apple anyone?) which they sell at Abundance day along with pressing all the rest of the apples into one of the most delicious glasses of apple juice I've ever tasted.
Pretty great right?

Just a small sample of the apple harvest.

Pulping the apples, which then get transferred to the massive apple press

Add a bit of manpower and the juice flows...

Pie and juice.

They also had various other faye like activities and crafty things going on - like this apple peel competition.

Coco made a fruit bouquet.

We had to eat the fruit bouquet before getting on the bikes... half an hour in the making, two minutes to demolish between them.

From now on the annual Abundance day is going to be firmly locked down in my diary every year. Local, seasonal, edible - a bit of country-in-the-city and just generally a great idea to use the produce right under our noses.
I'm even thinking of forcing Hugh to become an Abundance volunteer, hell, I might even give up some time for it.

Annoyingly one of the things we didn't do on our, frankly way over optimistic, to-do list this weekend was to cook some of our apple harvest from the garden (or go the the V&A Clara Button day or the Crafty Fox Market).
I might be baking this apple recipe sometime in the near future...