Summer Vibes ♥

Holidaying in Sweden is always a precarious venture when it comes to the weather – will the sun grace us with its presence or will chilly winds and pouring rain be the order of the day? This year it seems to be a mixed bag weather-wise. While the temperatures remain determined to stay around 19-22 degrees, there have been enough glimpses of sun to ensure that trips to the beach err on the side of pleasant rather than torturous. Having said that, the water in the lake near the house we have rented is far too cold for me to contemplate anything other than the very briefest of toe dips. The boys, however, have no qualms about braving the freezing water and staying in until their lips start to turn blue! The rest of us stay on land building sandcastles, reading books and admiring the beautiful scenery.

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The property we have rented is a big 1920s house with a terrace that overlooks the lake – perfect for enjoying a chilled glass of wine in the evenings – and a trampoline to entertain the cheeky monkeys. Fittingly, there is also a sauna to warm up in after a day spent on the beach!

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Currently Coveting #28: Patterns for Spring

My blog posting has been very sporadic to say the least since the start of this year due to both a lack of time and a lack of inspiration. January and February are not my favourite months and I’ve had no urge to do anything other than curl up on the sofa in front of the TV once the kids are in bed. But spring is finally in the air and with the warmer weather and lighter evenings comes a renewed sense of energy and a desire to start blogging a bit more again.

Last weekend I also did a mini clear out of my wardrobe to make sure it is spruced up for spring. Recently I have been really inspired by bloggers who embrace the concept of a capsule wardrobe and a more minimal lifestyle and while I am not wholly there yet I have slowly been ridding my closet of things I no longer wear.I’m happy with most of what is in there now but a couple of new pieces for spring wouldn’t go amiss. Last spring was all about stripes but this season I’m drawn to bolder prints on blouses and shirts that can be paired with my trusty jeans (current favourites: Topshop Leigh jeans in black or distressed grey) or cropped trousers. Add a pair of ballerinas or Converse and I’m good to go.

Patterns for Spring

{Any of these pretty tops from Anthropologie would fit the bill but if I had to choose one I’d probably pick the short sleeved top in the middle of the top row.}

For a slightly subtler take on the patterned trend I also love these two tops from H&M:

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What’s your must have item of clothing this spring?

Five on Friday

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{A family outing to Leith Hill Tower. The breathtaking views from the top were definitely worth the steep climb to get there.}

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{I visited the Designer Showrooms at London Fashion Week for work earlier this week.}

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{Our new kitchen is slowly but surely coming together. And no the doors aren’t meant to be bright blue – they are just covered in a protective film!}

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{I went to see this year’s most talked about film with a group of girlfriends. I haven’t read the book but apart from some sniggering at the more, shall we say, risque scenes it was actually quite dull.}

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{Spring blooms snapped on the walk home from school yesterday. I’m definitely ready to wave goodbye to winter now.}

Hope you all have a great weekend! X

Amsterdam ♥

Another long absence from the blog! We are still in the midst of building chaos and living without a kitchen is starting to take its toll. I don’t think I can take many more microwaved meals and takeaway pizzas! Luckily, the husband and I had booked a very timely weekend break in Amsterdam earlier this month and it was the perfect opportunity to escape from all the noise and dust for a couple of days. It is one of our favourite European cities but the last time we went was at least 12 years ago so a return visit was long overdue.

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{In the driverless pod taking us from the car park to Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Very high tech indeed!}

Hotel Pool

{After a slight mishap where we caught the wrong train at the airport and ended up at Amsterdam South rather than at the Central Station,  we arrived at the hotel and headed straight for the hotel spa complete with pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.}

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{A pre-dinner drink in the hotel bar – we stayed at the Hotel Amrath which had fantastic service and was in a great location.}

Tales & Spirits

{On the first night we had dinner and yummy cocktails at Tales & Spirits.}

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{We spent many hours walking around Amsterdam taking in the sights. The weather was cold but (mostly) dry.}

Park

{The sun came out when we strolled through Vondelpark.}

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{A really cute side table at cool interiors shop Droog.}

Diamonds

{We visited the Gassan diamond factory..}

Foam Photographic

{..and the Foam photography museum.}

Pancakes

{We feasted on pancakes (a must when in Amsterdam) and…}

Restaurant RED

{…ate the most divine caviar, lobster and steak at the very excellent Restaurant RED.}

Breakfast

{A lie-in and breakfast in bed on the Sunday morning…}

Flight home

{…before flying back home to London.}

It was the first time that we had both been away from the children for more than one night. We did really miss them but they had a great time with their grandparents and I think they’re old enough now for us to make a weekend away a yearly occurrence. We’re thinking of Rome next!

 

Stockholm Fashion Week – Day 2

Day 2 of Stockholm Fashion Week and two of my favourite labels – Hunky Dory (their knitwear is to die for) and House of Dagmar – had their turn on the catwalk. There were also feminine yet edgy offerings from new kid on the block Valerie while Ann-Sofie Back opted for a more intimate invite-only presentation for her diffusion line BACK. H&M-owned Cheap Monday showed a punk-inspired shipwrecked look brimming with sailor stripes, big checks and threadbare knits. Not too sure about the ‘smudged mascara all over the face’ makeup though…

On a slightly unrelated note I have been bemoaning the out-of-touch seasonal cycle of fashion where, despite all the talk of fast fashion and in-season collections, it is still nigh on impossible to find a winter coat in the middle of January. The zip on my (three years old) Zara coat broke yesterday and, as it’s pretty darn freezing outside, I wanted to find a replacement ASAP. So off to town I went this morning only to find that all the decent coats were in the Sale, which would have been a good thing and saved me some money had there been ANY in my size. In the end I spent £80 on a parka style number from Zara’s ‘youth’ department. It’s OK and will see me through the next couple of months but I really resent spending money on a coat that I know I’ll want to replace come this autumn.

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Hunky Dory

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Valerie

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House of Dagmar

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Cheap Monday

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Stockholm Fashion Week – Day 1

Stockholm Fashion Week kicked off in my old hometown yesterday and in between working and looking after two sick children I have been watching the live stream from the shows. Clean lines and a monochrome colour scheme dominated the catwalks and while some may deem the lack of colour and flamboyance boring, I think the muted palette makes the clothes infinitely more wearable. As most of you probably know by now, I love the Scandinavian design aesthetic both when it comes to fashion and interior. A peek into my wardrobe would reveal that, if my budget allowed it, most of these creations could hang there quite comfortably. And it was not ALL black, white and grey – there were flashes of yellow at Carine Wester and a pretty combo of pastel pink and leopard print at Ida Sjöstedt .

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Whyred

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Filippa K

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Five on Friday

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{A takeaway latte and almond croissant to start off yet another grey January morning. No New Year health kick for me although I have been to the gym twice this week so I refuse to feel guilty about the little treats}

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{These lovely colourful bulbs outside our local florist were a timely reminder that spring IS on its way. If our house wasn’t a building site I would have bought some to brighten up the place}

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{I’m enjoying trying out all the beauty products from my Liberty London advent calendar. So far my favourites are the Kiehls body lotion, the Laura Mercier lipgloss and the Dr Sebagh repair serum}

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{I don’t mind the cold as much as the rain and this week we have had some lovely crisp sunny days. I snapped this picture on a late afternoon walk}

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{My husband and I are going away for the weekend to Amsterdam at the start of next month. It will be the first time that we are both away from the children for more than one night but I am confident that they will have a great time with their grandparents. Lots of shopping, sightseeing and dinners/cocktails à deux are on the agenda}

Hope you all have a great weekend! X

 

Interior Inspiration: Mood Boards

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Tray table from Hay/Blanket by Pia Wallen/Cushions by Chhatwal & Jonsson/Sofa from Ikea/ Lamp by Sebastian Wrong for Flos

Kitchen mood board 2

Lamp by Philippe Starck for Flos/Bar stool by Hay/Sideboard from Ikea/Tulip table from Vertigo Interiors/Arne Jacobsen Seven chair

Just before Christmas, work started on an extension to our house that will eventually result in a new kitchen and playroom/family room. After two years of talking about it and another six months of getting the plans drawn up and finalised, it’s incredibly exciting to see it all come together.

This week we have just embarked on the difficult stage of  the building work where we lose our kitchen and are all confined to one room downstairs with only a microwave for cooking. The children are super excited at the thought of eating ready meals and takeaways every night for three or four weeks – me, less so. At least it means that the end is in sight and in a matter of weeks we will have a brand new kitchen without baseboards that fall off every time you go near them. And an extractor fan that works and a kitchen sink that doesn’t leak! This ‘compact living’ is also a great reminder that we don’t actually need a lot of the stuff we have accumulated over the years. While emptying out the kitchen at the weekend we discovered two or more of several things (including six biscuits tins – none of them containing biscuits!) as well as kitchen equipment that we rarely or never use.

As part of the new extension we are making the playroom/family room slightly bigger and linking it with the kitchen. Now that the boys are bigger most of their toys reside in their bedrooms but Clemmie’s room is tiny and she still prefers to play near me downstairs. We won’t be buying loads of furniture but a new sofa is definitely on the list as well as some nice cushions and lamps – at the moment we have no lamps downstairs apart from the ceiling spotlights! We already have a cupboard similar to that in the picture and I plan to replace the glass doors with chicken wire to make it suitable for storing toys in.

The kitchen we have chosen is white with built-in handles and light grey worktops. It will be lovely to have lots of storage space and a kitchen island where the kids can eat breakfast and do their homework. I doubt it will stay as clutter free as the pictures for long though!

Hope you’ve all had a good start to the week. I’m determined to get back to regular blogging so look out for more posts this week. X

The Beauty Edit: Wave Goodbye to Chapped Hands

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{The Laura Mercier La Petite Patisserie Hand Crème Quartet comes in a long tube – just the right size to fit in a Christmas stocking!}

One of my favourite stocking fillers this Christmas (thank you Santa!) was Laura Mercier’s La Petite Patisserie Hand Crème Quartet. I have dry skin anyway and my hands always look terrible in the winter – chapped and scaly with a texture like sandpaper. The only thing that keeps the dryness at bay is religiously applying cream every time my hands have been in water, but it is so easy to forget. This pack of four 1 oz. tubes of luxurious handcream means that I can keep one in the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and my handbag. With four delicious fragrances – Almond Coconut Milk, Crème Brulée, Crème de Pistache and Fresh Fig – an added bonus is that your hands are not only velvety soft but also smell good enough to eat. In fact, when I was putting my son to bed last night after applying the Crème Brulée hand cream he said ‘Mummy your hands smell like sweeties!’ High praise indeed!

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{In this picture you can see another Christmas present: my new favorite nail polish, Essie’s Good as Gold}

My New Year’s Resolutions

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According to Wikipedia:  A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere  but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.

 

Love them or loathe them, New Year’s resolutions are part and parcel of the month of January. We’re only three days in and already I have read umpteen blog posts on the topic so I thought I would throw my two pennies worth in as well. Looking back on my resolutions from last year I’m pleased to see that they were suitably vague as to allow me to claim some modicum of success for most of them. I did manage to go to the gym with some sort of regularity, even if it was just once or twice a week. There can never be enough one-to-one time with the children but at least I made it one of my top priorities in the last 12 months and will continue to do so in 2015. The big clear out of clutter is on-going but some proper headway has been made since this time last year and all the baby paraphernalia is now gone. I haven’t added up and compared my spending in 2014 to the previous year, but I think that at the very least I became more mindful about what I spent my cash on, resulting in fewer mistake buys. The smoothie-making fell by the wayside before January 2014 drew to a close but, as my last resolution was to be kinder to myself, I will let that one go without too much admonishment.

So, what about this year? As the 12 months of 2015 stretch before us like unwritten pages, I am somewhat at a loss to come up with things that I want to achieve this year. Like most people I want to be happy and healthy and I wish the same for my family but that’s hardly going to set me off on some great path to self improvement. However, I do want to work on being able to let things go more easily and not obsess over what other people have said or done or worry so much about how they may have interpreted things that I have said or done.

A year ago I was less than one month into a new job that involved writing about an industry that was completely new to me, and one thing that I have realised over the past 12 months is that I love to learn and to challenge myself. As much as I love being a mum, now that the children are all at full time school, having a job that I enjoy has given me a renewed sense of purpose and helped me carve out an identity apart from that of ‘wife and mother’. So I guess one of my resolutions is to carry on learning and get better at my job while still striving to have a healthy work/family balance.

Lately I’ve been craving a more minimalist lifestyle and by that I don’t mean painting my walls white and wearing sharply cut Helmut Lang but rather a change in attitude towards valuing experiences over material possessions. Having too much stuff can weigh us down emotionally plus trying to keep on top of the clutter takes time away from doing other more enjoyable things. Over the past couple of months I have been purging my wardrobe of things I no longer wear and while I am still some way off having a capsule wardrobe, it has made an enormous difference.

On a more frivolous note I could do with stepping up my grooming regime a notch – there comes a time when the unkempt look is just unkempt, rather than channeling Kate Moss at Glastonbury. Let this be the year that I take my nail polish off as soon as it starts to chip rather than leaving it for another five days, pluck my brows every week, invest in an eyelash curler and wear jewellery (other than my wedding rings) and matching underwear every day.

New Year’s resolutions are obviously not my forte; it took me about an hour to come up with that rather meager list. So, do tell, what are your resolutions for 2015?

P.S. Just as I was about to press Publish I came across this New Year’s resolutions questionnaire here so I thought I would add my answers to this post:

A bad habit I’m going to break: Worrying too much

A destination I’d like to visit: California

I’m going to work harder at: Not stressing when we’re getting ready to leave for school in the mornings

A project I’d like to finish: Our new kitchen extension

A class I’d like to take: Photography

I’d like to spend more time doing: Traveling

A food I want to eat more of: Leafy greens

I want to wear more: Jewellery