Caravanning – a brave new world

IMG_1217-0.JPG

We’ve bought a caravan. It’s a four-berth tourer, for those in the know, complete with orange and green upholstery, folding bunk beds, and a shower. Never has such a statement caused such a stir amongst our friends. Once a pursuit that conjured up images of retired couples in folding chairs, drinking tea from their flasks and knitting tank tops, caravanning seems to have become cool. Nearly everyone we’ve told about it has reacted with wide-eyed fascination, excitement, and envy even as it seems the world of caravanning has had something of a vintage chic, chi-chi makeover.

And this is what we intend to do to this little beauty. Ever since we stayed in a friend’s static caravan in the summer, my husband has been quietly mulling over the possibility of us getting one ourselves. The appealing thing about it is you can have all the fun of camping, but with the relative comfort of your own bed, kitchen and loo. As I wrote about at the time, many of my childhood holidays were spent camping in Wales, and my sister and I absolutely loved it. The only downside that I can remember is the occasional time I wanted to get out in the morning and a daddy long legs had parked itself on the zipper door. I still shudder at the thought. Still, camping (or caravanning) is something kids love, and we want that to be part of our own offspring experience whilst they’re still young enough to enjoy sleeping in a bed the size of a small li-lo.

So…after a few months of looking around for the right one, we’ve finally settled on a caravan and we’ve got the whole winter to set about doing it up before it makes its campsite debut in the spring.

I’ve been collecting ideas on Pinterest, and you can see my board below. First job is to get it reupholstered, as the 80s style interior has got to go. We’ve spent a few days pouring over sample books, spent a lunch break looking round John Lewis and looked at several places online, and finally settled on a pale grey for the seats. To get the holiday vibe going, we’re going to style it up with lots of bright cushions, like some I’ve already spied at Etsy, habitat and Ikea. My husband is set in the idea that it has to look brighter than our own home, so we’ve got free reign to go mad on the curtain prints. What better way to while away the cold and dark nights than to dream of summer hols?

Have you got a caravan? Have you ever stayed in one? Or have you seen any cool ideas to inspire me? I’d love to hear about them.

X Julia

Follow my caravan board on
Pinterest

DSC04749.JPG

DSC04765.JPG

DSC04747.JPG

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

My Sunday Photo #2 – Crochet

DSC04740.JPG
I’ve spent a lot of my spare time this week looking at fabrics and interior ideas, and have studied many a crocheted blanket or cushion along the way. So here’s a peek at the blanket which belongs to my baby girl, and was given to her by a friend who runs a fabulous craft group in Plymouth. I am envious of people who can create such beautiful things. Do you love it too?

OneDad3Girls
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

Super snuggly winter tights

DSC04703.JPG

One of the best things about the weather getting colder is being able to wrap up my baby gal in some of the cutest, snuggliest tights. Little baby tights just have that feel good factor don’t they, so small, bright and cheery. I know when my little boy was a baby I always envied the fact that baby girls could be all comfy in their stockings, while boys had mostly hard, scratchy trousers to choose from, many with more pockets than they know what to do with! I think there is a far wider choice around for boys these days, with designers cottoning on to the fact that boys like soft leggings and even tights too.

Anyway here are a few pairs I’ve picked up for baby gal so far. The Gap ones even had a teddy on the back which I didn’t see until I opened the pack. Bonus bear!

Red stars and purple stripes, Boden.
Patterned pink, Name It from Cowboys and Angels.
Grey and silver stars, Gap.

DSC04705.JPG

DSC04657.JPG

Everything Mummy

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

Saturday night outfit post

IMG_1205.PNG

I don’t get to go on many nights out these days, as like any parent knows, when you’ve got children it becomes a major operation. You’ve got to get the kids in bed while getting yourself ready (usually done simultaneously), arranging someone to babysit, not to mention managing to get your friends to achieve the same feat at the same time on the same night. Add into the mix the tiredness after a working week and babies who still get up in the night, and the whole thing doesn’t leave much spare time for getting glammed up and heading out.

Tonight, however, the stars have aligned and I’m going out with my husband and a group of our friends to a very special birthday party. This outfit I’ve put together is part reality, part wishlist, but is based on the new leopard print shirt I just bought from Mango. I’ve never owned anything in classic leopard before, so I’m hoping I can carry it off without looking too Bet Lynch. I think it will work well dressed down with jeans and flats too. What do you think?

Shirt, Mango.
Shoes, Dune.
Skirt, Saks Fifth Avenue (I have a similar one from Topshop)
Coat, Mint Velvet
Bag, Oasis
Cuff, Pieces
Earrings, Nordstrom.

X Julia

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

Holding out for halloween

DSC04552.JPG

There’s a vampire costume hanging on my son’s wardrobe door. A can of white hairspray is lined up on his chest of drawers with a mirror set up beside it. There’s a plastic spider wrapped up in many layers of paper ready for the pass the parcel. But best of all, there’s a wicker basket in the kitchen with a handwritten note sellotaped to the side, which reads ‘bag ov doom’.

The note was written when he got home from school, on a tiny notepad found in my car. He’d spent the short journey home asking me what to write on it, then decided ‘doom’ would be good for a basket which he’d pre-filled with things for his Halloween party. These essentials include a bag of polyester cobwebs, some paper plates, cups and napkins and a selection of books with scary stuff in. I’m not convinced on the books as they’re either about dinosaurs, sharks or Star Wars Lego. I’m not sure what’s especially doom-mongering about that, but the cuteness more than makes up for it.

Ever since halloween last year, my first born has been asking me how long until the next one. When I say asking, I mean asking me at least once a week, every week, for nearly a year now. ‘How many days is it til Halloween?’ Or ‘how many weeks is it, Mum? But how many hours?’

For the past few years, we’ve ended up having a party at ours before going out trick or treating. Nothing major, just a few friends for tea, plenty of dressing up, food, a bit of wine for the grown ups before plundering the sweet supplies of our neighbours.

Last year, baby gal was so small she was overwhelmed and in bed for half six. My husband was in hospital – about six months into his eight-month stay – so I stayed in, tidied up and had another glass of wine while the other parents took the kids out trick or treating.

This year, we’ll all be here, ready to take on the big night!

Two years ago, I had a go at making a costume for my son, and even went to the bother of borrowing a friend’s sewing machine, buying some glitzy fabric from John Lewis, and making a spangly wizard cape. It was rejected in favour of a supermarket skeleton suit, but at least I get some wear out of it.

This year, it’s definitely vampire outfit for my son, but I’ve yet to find a costume for my daughter. Little girls’ outfits all seem to have tiny straps instead of sleeves, all a bit scratchy and cold for October, don’t you think? I’ll keep you posted on what we go for. In the meantime, I’m going to be looking up some ideas for halloween crafts, seeing as it’s half term in the week leading up to it and there’s always making going on round here, and usually I’m not allowed to join in with first born’s big ideas but I can offer some inspiration I’m sure.

You can see some of these ideas, along with some snapshots from our Halloween prep, below. There are so many ideas on the fab blog Crafty Morning and I’ve started a board on Pinterest for some more.

DSC04563.JPG

DSC04555.JPG

DSC04596.JPG

DSC04574.JPG

IMG_1194.PNG

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

Run, mama, run

IMG_1183.PNG
I’m just getting back into running after a bit of a break. Ok, so when I say a bit, I mean probably about six years if I’m being honest. We’re going right back to before my first pregnancy, when I was younger, less tired, probably a little bit rounder, but had much more time on my hands than I do now.

I’ve never been a natural runner. I mean, I managed to do the Manchester 10k twice, but the second time I really did not enjoy it! I remember stopping for a drink of water about half way round, and just never really being able to get myself going again. I think that kind of put me off running altogether, and a couple of months later I found I out I was expecting and that was that. Running was off the menu, but running about after one lively boy – and more recently, one lovely boy, one baby girl and one poorly hubby – was most certainly not.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get back out there and see how I got on. I was inspired by a couple of good friends who are running amazing distances and looking fantastic for it, and my sister, who despite having two jobs and three kids, still manages to get out for a good six miles before the school run (I’m told this was a rare occurrence, but still).

It seems like everyone who runs these days uses an app to measure their distance, speed and calories burned, so I thought I’d join in and added Map My Run to my phone. I always used to just say I’d run for half an hour then stop, but this way, my mind is more focused on the distance rather than the time, and I’ve found it’s really helped me run further and enjoy it more. Each time I hear that little voice say ‘you have run one kilometre’ I can do a little smile (why do so many runners look so damn serious? I don’t get it). So now I’m up to a couple of 5 or 6k runs a week, and I’m feeling better for it.

I thought I’d do a list of the things I I like about running, feel free to add your own, or let me know if you agree or disagree. Here goes!

1. It’s relatively quick – no getting to and from a gym to factor in.
2. It can be done anytime (or if you have kids, anytime there is another adult in the house to look after them, of course).
3. It’s free.
4. Running is a great stress buster. Maybe it’s no coincidence the one of my friends who runs the most is also the one with the most children!
5. Being fitter means you can run faster for the morning train, meaning a slightly longer time spent sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee.
6. It’s an excuse to buy new running gear (see below).

Have you got any more to add?

X Julia

IMG_1181.JPG

Clockwise from top left:

Helly Hansen long sleeve top, Wiggle

Nike Free 5.0+ women’s running shoe, John Lewis

Rebel runner crop, Lulu Lemon

Runners wristband, Sweaty Betty

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

Climbing the walls

DSC04526-1.JPG

Climbing is one of those things I’d always fancied having a go at, but had just never got round to it. When I told this to my husband, he nearly choked on his cup of tea. I mean, I’m not exactly Little Miss Sporty, though I do love a good run (when I have the time and the energy) and getting out there in the fresh air for bracing walks by the beach. But climbing? He hadn’t put me down for that. We’d heard of a few people taking their kids to indoor climbing centres and it looked like fun, and the fact that each child needs an adult to go with them meant I had the perfect excuse to give it a go.

We booked an induction at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool through a daily deals website, and got the sessions and shoe hire for a bargainous £7 for two people. When we got there, it was effectively a warehouse decked out with climbing walls in four separate rooms, each with thick crash mats to cushion the inevitable falls and walls to suit varying levels of ability. With trance music playing in the background, metal staircases between each floor, and fairly young people walking round in cool sportswear and looking ever so slightly sweaty, it reminded me of the chill-out rooms I’d hung out in at some 1990s raves. This was not a bad thing. Quite the opposite – if climbing has this kind of calming, chilled effect on you, then why aren’t more people doing it? I waited for my induction to start to find out.

Once my five-year-old son and I had changed into our climbing shoes, we followed a group of about 10 people round with an instructor for a few basic safety lessons. Basically, if someone falls off a wall on to you, you’ve had it, so look around you and get up quickly! My boy, who as he is five knows everything there is to know about everything, declared he didn’t need a lesson as he had done it before, at school, but joined in reluctantly anyway. After the talking part was over, we were free to get climbing, so we naturally headed to the kids’ area. This was a smallish room decorated like a castle, with climbing walls up to turreted walkways and a slide coming down one side. In the centre stood a wooden pirate ship, again with footholds to climb up and a smaller slide to get down. My son quickly realised that climbing was maybe a bit too risky for him, and figured out a way of getting up high without actually having to use the walls! Still, he was having a ball and I got to practise a bit of climbing too. It was so much fun, I can definitely see it’s something you’d get hooked on, and would like to go back and maybe give it a bit more of a serious go in the more grown up areas of the centre. For now though, the pirate ship it was, and that was still enough of a challenge for an absolute beginner like me.

As for my son, well, he managed some pretty good climbs in the end. The trick is, hide a lollipop at the top of the wall and he was scurrying up there like his life depended on it. A bit of a cheat, but it worked! We will be going back – we bought a special ticket which meant we could go back three more times for just a fiver. Just remind me to save some money for Chupa Chups.

The Climbing Hangar can be found in Birchall Street, Liverpool.

DSC04530-0.JPG

DSC04541-0.JPG

DSC04546.JPG

DSC04542.JPG

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

King Kong dress-up

IMG_1138-0.JPG

Dressing up is a huge thing for my son. Not many days go by where he hasn’t dressed up for at least part of the time in a fancy dress costume. He even has a special rail for his outfits, bringing out the favourites – Batman, Spiderman and the piece de resistance, the Halloween Vampire – at least a few times a week. If he’s ever playing dress-up at a girl friend’s house, more often than not he will slip on a princess dress and maybe even a bit of eyeshadow, much to everyone else’s surprise and amusement. Myself and his dad, of course, don’t bat an eyelid now. It’s almost what we expect to see when there’s a Frozen dress in the offing. So he loves a bit of sparkle – who doesn’t? But that’s an issue for another time. As today, it’s school fancy dress day and I’ve spent a bit of time this week making him into the Empire State Building, with a cuddly King Kong.

The theme was people from the 1930s – how hard is that?! It’s for a school calendar, where the children dress up on a theme according to the month their birthday falls in. The overall theme is people from history, and first born’s April group were given the 30s.

When my husband suggested King Kong (it was made in 1933) we showed our son some photos and he went for it straight away. I didn’t really want to shell out for a gorilla suit, so had a quick look on Pinterest for ideas. Before you all groan, hear me out! I’m a bit of a convert to the fun of making fancy dress costumes since first born started school. I never would have said I was “one of those mothers” who spends hours sewing, cutting and sticking imaginative outfits for their kids. It’s always just seemed more sensible to buy something cheap and cheerful instead. The thing with this is though, firstly you can’t always buy an outfit that you want cheaply, and secondly, well, making your own is a bit of a laugh, and as my son is so into arts and crafts, it gives us a project to work on together at the weekend. Remember, he is five and gets up very early, so there’s usually a lot of time to fill where all he wants to do is make stuff out of paper, card and Sellotape, so why not put that to good use?!

Armed with a cardboard box (thanks Corinne!) and some grey card (which my mum bought when we were out for tea last weekend and she spied the stationer’s next door), we set to work.

The Empire State Building part is basically a tabard made from two rectangles of cardboard and some florist’s ribbon. I cut the rectangles from the corrugated card, then cut slightly larger ones from the grey card and stuck them on top. If you have grey card which is fairly thick, you could probably miss this stage and just use the one piece. To make the windows, I cut out a load of small rectangles from black sugar paper and just glued them on in rows with a Pritt Stick.

I guess the beauty of having a child that’s so into making stuff means you always have these things on hand when you really need them! Give my son a pad of coloured paper and some scissors and he’s happy.

The hat was the same principle, with thick and thin card glued together and black paper cut out for the windows and stuck one top. I then stapled it to a grey card band to fit round his head. As you might see from the photos, I did have to cut down the width of there tower a little to allow it to stay upright on the band! These things always take a few attempts. That Cat in the Hat hat I made last year almost broke me, getting it to fit exactly right on his head!

Back to King Kong – teamed up with the toy gorilla, I think he looked pretty smart. Even better though would be if he had a small blonde doll in the hands of King Kong, and a mini plane stuck to the hat. I just didn’t get round to those details!

Have a look at these photos to see how it was made.

IMG_1125.JPG

IMG_1141.JPG

IMG_1142.JPG

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr

Donna Wilson for John Lewis is here!

IMG_1068.JPG

In what might just be one of the coolest collaborations to hit childrenswear in a while, the people at Donna Wilson, the designer behind those gorgeous handmade knitted creatures and sweetest of all homewares, have teamed up with John Lewis for a range of clothing for babies and children from one to eight years old.

Fans of this blog will already know I’m a big Donna Wilson fan, after I was given Cyril the Squirrel Fox as a gift several years ago. He recently had to make a trip back to their HQ for emergency surgery after a small child’s finger poked open his knitted exterior.

So, back to the kids’ clothes, I ordered a couple of things online as the range sadly isn’t available in my local John Lewis in Liverpool. For baby gal, I went for these black leggings with cat faces on the front of the ankles and tails round the back. For first born, I chose a green long-sleeve top with a fox print. When they arrived, I was really impressed with the quality, something you would expect from John Lewis, and the cotton felt really soft and thick.

Both my children are big for their age, but I wanted them to be able to wear the clothes now so I went for an age one for baby gal and age seven for my son. The leggings fit perfectly, and as soon as I tried them on her she giggled, pointed at her ankles and said ‘cat, cat!’ Which I took to mean she liked them!

Unfortunately, the squirrel top came up really small and was pretty snug fitting on my son, with the sleeves ending a few inches up his arm from his wrists. I don’t think even the bigger size would be big enough so sadly I had to return it. It’s still a gorgeous top though, and if you’ve got a younger or smaller child I would say go for it.

Let’s hope Donna Wilson and John Lewis team up again next season.

IMG_1058.JPG

IMG_1060.JPG

IMG_1056-0.JPG

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on Tumblr