Spooky mummy lanterns

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Happy Halloween! It’s a day my son has been waiting for for a long time, and he’s even declared today the best day of his life – and the party hasn’t even started yet! Oh, to be five!

I haven’t got much time as we’re getting ready to entertain a group of his school friends this evening, but thought I’d share with you a super easy, last minute craft idea for Halloween. Last minute is what I’m all about, so this one is perfect for me.

You need some jam jars, bandages, googly eyes, a bit of glue and tea lights. Hands up who went to Ikea in the 90s, bought a bag of tea lights for £1, and is still using up the same bag?

We found out it’s cheaper to buy jars of pickled onions than it is to buy the empty jars, so this morning had the task of emptying six jars of onions and rinsing out the containers. Nice job at 8am! When they’re dry, you just tape one end of the bandage to the jar, wrap a length around, and tuck it in.

Stick the eyes on with glue, pop in the lights and you’re ready to go. We’re going to put them up the path after dark. Right, better go finish this pumpkin. Have fun!

X Julia

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Blackpool’s bright lights

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There are fairy lights, there are Christmas lights, and then there are Blackpool illuminations. The lights that brighten up this Lancashire town each autumn are seen by thousands, and are a rite of passage for many, especially families with young children and those looking for a bit of seaside kitsch.

If, like me, you grew up in the north of England, chances are you have memories of driving up to Blackpool, squeezed into the back seat of the car with your siblings and probably your gran. ,

Once there, you may have stopped for fish and chips before your dad drove slowly along the the prom so you could ooo and aahhh at the lights through the steamed-up windows.

Our eldest child is now five and with it being half term, we thought what better time to treat him to the delights of this technicolor spectacular? He loved it of course, embracing the windy prom (we’re used to those living on the Wirral), penny arcades, trams and tableaux. Tableaux, for those who don’t know, are the huge lit-up scenes at the Bispham end of the illuminations, the ones the kids all love. This year we saw Daleks, Noddy, a haunted house and Alice in Wonderland. All for free! So if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Blackpool, here are some top tips from me to you.

1. Think about how you’re going to see the lights before you arrive. I have a friend who lives in Blackpool, and she advised me to park in Bispham and take a tram down the prom, as driving at peak time can be so busy.

As we arrived in the afternoon, we travelled down to Blackpool Tower and went into the immense Coral Island arcade to kill some time before the lights went on at 5pm. We walked a little way down the front before trying to catch a tram back to Bispham, but they were so busy we ended up walking a couple of stops before a tram stopped that had room to let us on.

So if you’re getting the tram, I’d say make sure you get on at either end of the prom and avoid the middle stops at peak times. If you’re going to drive, expect long queues down the sea front.

2. The best lights for little ones are on the Bispham end of the prom, so make sure you plan to spend a bit of time there looking at the big, lit-up scenes before you go home.

3. Wrap up warm as it gets pretty cold and windy as the sun goes down, and even before that it’s usually pretty chilly.

4. Make sure you take plenty of snacks and drinks, especially if you’re taking young children. We struggled to find anywhere to eat on the front, so were glad we’d taken supplies.

5. If you’re going for fish and chips, try Bispham Kitchens. There’s a takeaway and cafe, which my friend who lives round the corner says is a must, with the best cream cakes in town if you still have room.

6. Finally, have fun and relive your childhood a little bit! From our cheesy afternoon there, we certainly came away thinking Blackpool rocks.

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Backpacks

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I really love the current trend for backpacks. I love fashion but I’m pretty sensible at heart and like that I can combine style and practicality in one.

They’re the obvious choice for the multi-tasker. You can fit all sorts inside Mary Poppins style, leaving both hands free for other things – in my case carrying my morning coffee, holding my kids’ hands, pushing a buggy or just keeping my hands warm inside my coat pockets.

I used a backpack all summer, a light camel-coloured suede one, but now we’re deep into autumn I need something a bit tougher and more weather-proof.

Here are a few I’ve picked out. Current favourite is the Fiorelli, which also comes in black, or the Whistles silver for a bit of daytime glitz.

Clockwise from top left
Fiorelli Lexi tan leather, £55
Whistles Mini Verity backpack in silver, £175
Atterley Road Emma backpack in black, £55
Orla Kiely Stem Punched backpack, £379
Kin by John Lewis Meyrick, £119
Warehouse leather backpack, £65

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Scissors, paper and glue at 7.55

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It’s 7.55, I’m getting ready to leave for school and I call my son to come and put on his shoes. “But I’m busy, mum!” he says. I go into the kitchen, and my eyes nearly pop out of my head. In the ten minutes I was upstairs getting ready, he’s created a 3ft square masterpiece from tissue paper and feathers, right there on the kitchen table.

He was supposed to be taking a few boxes into school to show how they had Braille on them. But rather than just take them into school, he’s decided it’s much better to weave them into an ‘autumn display’ for the teacher. A display made from eight pieces of A4, sellotaped together and embellished with foam shapes, sequins and leaves. You’ve got to admire his vision. I would have taken a photograph, if I wasn’t in such a rush to get us all out the door.

The thing is, my five-year-old has a great talent for making things and I do my best to encourage him in something he loves and is good at. He knows he’s good at it, as I even saw in his school book at parents’ evening a chart where he’d detailed his talent for making along with (no sniggering at the back) playing, loving and the best yet, eating.

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My mum once suggested as long as I keep him in a steady supply of paper, pritt stick and glitter he’ll manage to stay out of trouble. I also try and remind myself a little piece of parenting advice that’s always stuck with me, and that’s to try and say yes to things more often. So when my son announces he wants to start painting at 4.30pm on a Wednesday, I try to hide the fact that I need the table laying for dinner in an hour, and just think “why not?” This advice obviously only goes on a day when I’m feeling cool, calm and collected mind you.

With all this making, though, comes a floor covered in a million hazards for his one-year-old sister. I’m forever scouting the floorboards for danger in case she is about to sever a finger or swallow a sequin.

All things considered, it seems having a sometimes stressy mother hasn’t stopped him coming up with new projects. If only he could limit them to convenient times of day…

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Mami 2 Five
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Caravanning – a brave new world

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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

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My Sunday Photo #2 – Crochet

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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
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Super snuggly winter tights

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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.

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Everything Mummy

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Saturday night outfit post

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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

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