Autumn Days

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Now all three children are at school getting together to play outside has become harder. During the week the twins are worn out with school and the big boy has homework and after school clubs. The weekends have become more precious than ever as a time to let loose and explore the great outdoors.

Today we headed off to Alice Holt woodland in Farnham. After a busy morning rushing around it felt like the perfect place to go and spend a few hours.

We followed the easy access trail which is an 1.5 mile figure of 8 that dips in and out of the woods.

The children had all been a bit tired and grumpy before we set off but they were soon racing through the woods, balancing on logs, picking the last of the season’s blackberries and generally having a lovely time.

I would say I am a seaside person but today the woods felt perfect and it was just a shame that we didn’t have time to linger for longer, instead having to rush back into life with kids parties to go to, dinner to cook and other tasks.

It reminded me though that even on the busiest of days making time to be outdoors, playing and exploring as a family always makes me feel better. Tomorrow I hope we can spend a whole day playing and exploring. I can’t wait!
 
I’ve joined up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill for this post. Check out other families having outdoor fun by clicking the badge below!

Country Kids

Country Kids

 

 

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Blackberry picking

 

This week on one of the days the twins weren’t at school we went to the very beautiful Newlands Corner for a morning of blackberry picking. It was grey and drizzly when we set out from home but we found the wellies that have been languishing at the back of the shoe cupboard all summer, grabbed our rain coats and headed out.

The twins were very excited about our ‘adventure’ not least because they wanted to use the apples to make blackberry and apple crumble, their favourite pudding (though one always has with custard and one with ice cream, twins but not the same :) ) and so equipped with our sandcastle buckets lined with carrier bags we headed into the woods to find the perfect spot.

We didn’t have to walk far before reaching a large bank of blackberry bushes. As I picked the higher fruits the twins sampled the delights of the lower branches, they marvelled at the spiders webs covered in rain and shrieked when they saw the large daddy long legs that lived on the webs!

Walking further into the woods we saw slugs, beetles, birds and lots of evidence (yes, poo) of rabbits. The twins climbed on logs and talked about the different fruits that grow in England and chattered about what they’d been up to at school so far. I was reminded how nice it is to escape from home and spend the morning doing something just for fun with the children. Lots of people out walking stopped to say hello and to admire the buckets full of fruit and after a morning of having to rush around to get the big boy into school in time I felt myself relax.

It was so nice in fact that rather than heading home we went to the little café there and sat out on picnic tables to eat sandwiches admiring the view. It really is a beautiful spot and the twins loved looking across the hills to see what they could spot.

Our blackberry haul was so good that we’ve put some in the freezer, ready to pop into crumbles for the whole of the winter. If you haven’t taken your children out to pick blackberries yet this year now is the time to go. The bushes are laden and the fruit is ripe and ready. No special kit is needed although I did wish I’d taken some wipes as I had very purple hands!

I’ve joined up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill for this post. Check out other families having outdoor fun by clicking the badge below!

Country Kids

Country Kids

 

 

 

In search of a party dress

On Friday night it’s our school’s late summer ball. I’ve never been to it before and I’m really looking forward to glamming up and heading out for the evening. I’ve got a really nice dress to wear – a Vivienne Westwood Anglomania dress that I got in a House of Fraser sale for £100, which personally I think is a great price for a dress that I hope to be able to wear for many years to come. It’s a bit like the dress here but cotton not taffeta. I am worried that it might be a bit summery now that the weather has definitely turned towards autumn but I think it will be my last chance to wear it this year before it really does get too cold!

I was doing a bit of fantasy shopping online looking  at other dresses. One of the sites I was looking at has new designers’ collections, including Temperley London, which is Alice Temperley’s collection. I love Temperley dresses they are so beautiful, unfortunately the price tag means I won’t be getting one any time soon but think how special you would feel wearing a dress as beautiful as this:

image source: www.lwcloset.com

I also found this beautiful dress from the Irish designer Danielle Romeril . It’s completely different from what I usually go for but I love the shape and fabric. Black and blue shades together are everywhere at the moment:

Danielle Romeril

 

 

 

 

 

image source: www.avenue32.com/designers/danielle-romeril

However, if I really did have all the money in the world I think I would go for an Alexander McQueen dress. I defy anyone to wear the dress below and not feel fabulous, well in my case once I’d put all the relevant shape wear on of course…

Alexander McQueen

 

 
image source: www.net-a-porter.com

Of course once the dress is sorted there are all the other important accessories to add like shoes, jewellery and bags but that is a post for another day. As it is I will be dusting off the party shoes and handbag that I already own (gold and sparkly!) and heading off to have some fun on the dance floor.

Whatever you are up to this weekend I hope that you have a wonderful time and do it in style!

Disclaimer: this post contains sponsored content. As always the views and fashion sense are all my own.

An autumn clean

Yes I know spring is usually the season for having a big clear out but now the twins have started school I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a clear out of clothes, books, DVDs and toys that we just don’t need anymore.

Last year we did a big building project on our house, which meant that most of our clothes, toys and books were packed up and put away for six months. It always amazes me what you don’t miss! When it came to unpacking the clothes I was quite strict with myself about only keeping things that I could really see myself wearing again soon.

Six months on again, there are still plenty of things that I haven’t worn and not just because we’ve had an unseasonably warm summer! I am ashamed to say I am also one of those people who has brand new clothes hanging in the wardrobe just waiting for  a completely different lifestyle the right opportunity to have the labels snipped off and to be worn. Some of these I have realised will have to go as I am probably never going to morph into an uber glam mum in the playground *sigh*.

In the spirit of de – cluttering I have amassed a pile of children’s clothes, some of the OHs and some of mine.  The next stage has been sorting out what goes into clothes recycling, what can go to the charity shop and what could be sold on to recoup some of the money I’ve spent on buying things that I haven’t worn…

I find selling clothes online a bit of a tricky thing. I know a lot of people use Ebay  but I haven’t had that much luck with it, I think there must be a knack to get people bidding on your items and all the toing and froing with questions, photos and trips to the Post Office gets a bit wearing.

While I was rummaging around online to find a good place to offload my DVDS I went to Music Magpie a site my husband introduced me too  – a few years ago my OH decided we no longer needed CDs and used the site to trade them ALL in. When I found out I wasn’t best pleased as it meant that I had to buy again some of my favourites for the car… but anyway I digress -  so I have used the site before but didn’t realise that now you can sell second hand clothes on there.

I had a little play to see what some of my items might be worth and whilst it’s probably not going to make me a fortune it was good to see exactly how much I could get for different things. Even better you can sell kids clothes on there too so I again played around with what I would get for some of the kids items and quickly moved some of the items ear marked for my nieces and nephews to destroy into the ‘I need new shoes fund’ pile :)

The other thing that struck me about the site is that you can send your items for free! None of the pesky postage which comes with other ways to sell online and if you want to you can donate the value of your items to charity. I really like this idea as I still know that charities are benefitting from my second hand clothes without having to take them into the local shops. Schools are also encouraged to get involved and get parents to bring in things they don’t want and then the school can use Music Magpie and make money.

I have now almost finished the de-clutter and everything is looking much better. I do feel better for having had a good sort out and more ready to start my plan to return to the world of work.

PS. In my online travels I haven’t yet found a shop that wants to take my lovely collection of elephants from around the world, much to the OH’s disappointment. I guess they will just have to remain pride of place in the office until such a time that someone starts a site dedicated to ornament relocation – should you ever hear of such a site please do not under any circumstances tell me or the OH about it :-) .

Disclaimer: this post contains some sponsored content but the experiences, views and act of de-cluttering are all mine. If anyone wants to help with the de-clutter next time please let me know!

In anticipation of spring

We are officially in Fashion Week season, with New York last week and London starting on Friday there have been lots of photos and stories about what we’ll all be wearing/ aspiring to wear come spring 2014.

I love fashion although I am not exactly what you’d call fashionable! My mum is the epitome of glamour and used to keep a fabulous collection of clothes under her bed some of which my granny made for her copying high fashion designs and some that she acquired when she was a model in the sixties. As a child I used to love it when she brought them out to show me and when she’d tell me the stories of how she’d got some of the different pieces.

Mum also loves fashion magazines, when I was growing up we used to get Marie Claire and Vogue when money would allow, it was a special treat and we both used to enjoy reading the articles and looking at the fashion collections. This year I was given a Vogue subscription for my birthday and I do love it when it comes through the letterbox and allows for some pure escapism. I still enjoy sharing it with my mum too and debating what trends are going to endure and which will vanish without a trace.

Fashion for me has to be fun and clothes have to really grab me if I’m going to buy them, whatever the price tag (‘cheap’ clothes aren’t cheap if you never wear them). I view shopping for new clothes a bit like going on a date if it doesn’t make you smile or your heart race a little then it’s probably not for you.

I am really looking forward to London Fashion Week starting, seeing the new trends and chatting with my mum about it all when she comes to stay next week.

What do you think about fashion? Do you race to buy the latest trends? Or are you an armchair follower like me?!

 

 

 

 

Beastly bugs

We are currently fighting (and hopefully winning) a battle against the most resilient of bugs – the head louse. Following another morning spent treating the entire family I thought I would share my tale of woe…

It all started on holiday in sunny Portugal, there we were laughing and chilling out by the pool when the 6yo says he wants to go swimming. My OH went to put on his swimming hat and said to me in hushed tones “I think he’s got head lice eggs” much indiscreet rummaging through my son’s hair later I was dispatched to the Portugese pharmacist to get some treatment.

Luckily lice are universal and the pharmacist knew exactly what I meant and produce a nit comb and liquid treatment. I returned to the hotel room triumphant and began the long tedious process of treating three kids, one husband and myself (did I mention this was meant to be my last afternoon lounging by the pool?).  We got to the combing stage and to my horror I was removing HUGE lice from my 6yo’s hair. How had we not noticed? All I can say in my defence is that he’d been swimming every day and now washes his own hair in the shower and we were on holiday so I didn’t brush it regularly – aaargh how slummy does that make me?

This wasn’t our first encounter with lice and is unlikely to be the last, in reception my son got them and it took an inordinate amount of time to rid him of them then too. The thing is they love my son’s hair. Something about the texture of it is perfect for them, the eggs can really grip and the lice, literally, go wild, breed and survive.

Luckily lice don’t seem to like the twins’ hair or mine but of course if you know anything about lice you should still treat all members of the family so that is what I have been doing, for nearly THREE weeks. Once a week we do a stay on treatment and twice a week I use a Nitty Gritty comb when they have conditioner in. Theoretically I don’t need to do both but the Nitty Gritty comb is definitely the most effective way of getting rid of lice and eggs but because my son has lots of hair but less patience I do the chemical treatments too to make sure nothing is escaping the ‘termination’ process.

Despite all my treating my son still had eggs in his hair today when I nit combed. No live lice though so I am hoping unless I’ve missed something we are getting to the end of the cycle. Hopefully next week’s treatment will be the last but me and the Nitty Gritty will be in action for the whole of the term to make sure we stay bug free.

If any of you haven’t yet come across the delightful head lice NHS Choices has a good info sheet on them and their life cycle.

Itchy anyone?

Disclaimer: I have not been paid in any way to mention the Nitty Gritty comb, it is simply a product that I found in battle and has made the process of eliminating nits and keeping my children’s hair bug free.

 

Starting School

Last week marked an end of an era, the twins started school! I’ve been having mixed emotions about it, starting school seems such a big thing and from ‘belonging’ to me they are suddenly going to be swept up in this new world that is somehow all consuming and will change their relationships both with me and with each other.

Then I remembered how much I loved school, how exciting it was to be out ‘on my own’ in the real world for the first time. Negotiating my own friendships, developing my own interests and learning more about the world from perspectives my mother might not of thought of.  I remember parts of primary school, of Christmas shows, assemblies, playing in the playground and overall my memories are full of fun and laughter.

As a mother of course I will miss my children, and miss the days when they only needed me but also as a mother I realise that now its their time to try out this amazing world on their own terms.

When it came to it the first day went well, I was very proud watching them head off into the classroom with their teachers. My son wobbled but when I snuck back to check on him through the window he was playing happily with a castle. They both skipped out happily at the end of the day and I really hope that they will have as much fun at school as I did.

 

 

 

Autumn is coming…

I love the summer, truly, madly, deeply. It’s a love affair I have sustained for many years. I love sun, sea, sand and ice cream. My favourite memories are always of summer time so you can imagine how I feel now I know that autumn is coming.

Today it was apparent from the colours in the trees on my run, reds and oranges not the greens of July. The nip in the air when I crept out the door at 7.30 am. The blackberries ripening on the bushes there is no escaping it the times they are a changing.

The only solace for me is that a new season means the opportunity to gaze and lust after the new season fashions. There is something about wandering into shops in cropped jeans and sandals and seeing all the lovely new shades, cuts and fabrics screaming to be worn when the air is crisp. Proper collars to be turned up against the cold, warm jumpers and ultra chic cut trousers and boots, boots, lovely boots to slim an ankle or warm a calf they are the staple to my winter ‘look’.

I saw so many lovely things on my recent trip to London but at present my priorities are trying to sort out my newly refurbished house so today I popped into New Look in town to see what I could find in the way of affordable winter footwear.

These boots are very similar to a pair I have already that have sadly seen better days. I do a lot of walking and these look like they could stand up to the school run and at £59.99 I thought pretty reasonably priced.
Black (Black) Black Buckle Biker Boots  | 284535901 | New Look

 

 

 

I’m toying with going for something a bit different this season though. I’ve steered a way from knee high boots over the last couple of years but I have really enjoyed wearing dresses again this year and I do think they look better (or at least I feel warmer :) ) when worn with long boots. I think these are pretty cool and at £34.99 I can afford to buy them and experiment without feeling rubbish if I don’t wear them all the time:Truffle (Brown) Truffle Brown Side Zip Buckle High Leg Boots | 284076224 | New Look

I also want to *try* to wear a pair of low ankle boots with my cropped trousers. I have been inspired by someone I know who completely nails the look effortlessly but I don’t know  either I haven’t yet found the right boots or the right trousers to rock it in quite the same way. I am wondering if these would be the right style to give it a go? At £24.99 I am thinking it might be worth a try?

Black (Black) Wide Fit Black Metal Tip Heel Ankle Boots | 285304101 | New Look

With my footwear sorted now I can go back to lusting after winter capes, cashmere jumpers and softly draped dresses and skirts (check out the Zara A/W collection to see what I’m after). Maybe the autumn isn’t so bad after all?

Disclaimer: this post contains sponsored content but the views, fashion sense, or lack thereof, are entirely my own!

 

Redesigning the twins room!

Yesterday I had a lovely treat day with the Other Half as my Mother-in-law kindly babysat and we headed off to the bright lights of London for shopping and lunch. This is a rare treat and also gave us the opportunity to finish our plans for the twins’ bedroom and our lounge redesign.

On holiday we managed to get two lovely Aspace beds on Ebay for the twins room, now they are starting school it really is time to leave the Hello Kitty and Thomas toddler beds behind! The beds are mid-sleepers giving them space underneath their beds to play.

We need to get mattresses,  night lights and other finishing touches for the twins room and curtains, cushions and throws for the lounge so we headed up to Oxford Street to John Lewis to have a look around. Since we moved out of London I mostly shop at John Lewis online so it was lots of fun to actually go to the shop. I’ve been struggling to find curtains that I like and there on the fabric floor I found some really lovely green triple  pleat curtains that I want for my new lounge. We also had fun browsing through the different fabric books, if you are ever in need of inspiration I recommend flicking through these books for ideas. Although it did make me want to re-do other rooms, which was not the plan!

Lounge colour scheme sorted (greens, soft tartans and browns) we then went to the bed department. The bed frames we got on Ebay but we still needed mattresses and protectors and I wanted to see what bed linen was available (and to see if any in the sale). Having to buy two of everything I didn’t want to spend a fortune on mattresses but John Lewis do a great value mattress for £65, which has good reviews and I think is very reasonable.

Having boy/ girl twins I wanted to make their beds and the areas underneath them individual to them. The rest of the room is in neutral colours  – they have white wardrobes and chest of drawers, the beds are natural wood and their curtains are cream with coloured stars –  so I thought having fun duvet covers would be an expression of what they really like. My son loves sea life and is obsessed with reference books about sharks and whales so I think this duvet set will be perfect for him. My daughter loves pink and I found this pink spot duvet set, which is a bargain at £15 so I am hoping she likes it!

I didn’t see any night lights that I really liked so if you know of any (or two) that would fit into a boy/girl room I’d love to hear about it. Otherwise I will be back to scouring Pinterest for ideas.

We had a really lovely morning planning our rooms and then headed off for a very hefty lunch! Next week I will be returning to exercising and eating sensibly but I have really enjoyed our holidays :)

Disclaimer: this post contains sponsored content but all views, experiences and activities are my own!

Saturday is caption day!

I took this photo on holiday, sometimes its very handy to have a twin as a cushion! I look forward to seeing your captions and if you want to join in with the SatCap linky please scoot on over to Mammasaurus, who is sharing a rather beautiful Big Daddy floral number today…

Twins cushion