This week’s favourites

This has been one of those rare weeks that’s both productive and relaxing. I’ve managed to tick quite a few things off my to-do list, from clearing out the children’s cupboards to weeding the garden, and still had time to see friends, exercise and go shopping.

The countdown to Clemmie’s birthday next Tuesday has started in earnest and I have ordered the party tableware and going home bags from the fab website Jelly and Blancmange. We’re only having a small party at home with her two cousins and three little friends which, if I’m honest. I’m quite relieved about.

Birthday Collage

She’s been desperate for a scooter for the past few months and keeps trying to steal the boys’ on the school run so I’ve bought her a Micro Scooter in yellow (her favourite colour) and also a new Maileg rabbit from Bells and Whistles. I’m tempted by the dolls house from Le Toy Van but will probably leave that for Christmas.

Dolls House

I have to confess that my shopping spree has not been confined to my daughter. During a trip into town earlier this week I found some lovely ballerinas in H&M and also a few T-shirts, including this one from Topshop.

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Topshop T-shirt

The expedition to Ikea that I mentioned in my last post went very smoothly indeed (probably because we had no kids with us!). After the obligatory lunch of meatballs and chips, we navigated the entire store at a steady pace and managed to find every single item on the list (a first for us I think, usually at least a couple of items are out of stock or the search has to be abandoned because of screaming kids or the husband losing the will to live).

Our considerable stash included a desk and chair for Cameron (which will hopefully solve some of our homework issues..), three of these white flower pots, and some new candles.

Ikea Collage

Finally, this weekend summer has properly arrived, even if it’s only for a few days. We decided to make the most of the balmy weather by heading over to my parents’ house this afternoon for some swimming and playtime in the pool.

Swimming Collage

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Ikea – love it or loathe it?

Guess what I'm doing tonight?

Guess what I’m doing tonight?

It’s only a four letter word but the mere mention of it has been known to cause great divisions and extreme emotions in our household. I am of course talking about Ikea, that blue and yellow temple of Swedish practicality and self-assembly. The thought of going there fills me with excitement and anticipation while my husband approaches the trip to Croydon’s finest industrial estate with nothing but dread.

I love going through the catalogue and marking out the things I want to buy while he breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of battling the crowds and then having to spend several hours assembling all the furniture I’ve bought. I do sometimes try to help out but as I’m not remotely practical the best strategy is usually to stay out of his way unless it’s to offer a G&T or two.

In any case, with both boys away at Scouts camp this weekend and the grandparents kindly offering to look after the girl, a trip to the aforementioned store is planned for this Saturday. I have been busy drawing up a long list of everything I can think of, from a desk for our eldest, a new rug for the sitting room and bedside lamps to wine glasses, baking trays and picture frames. And let’s not forget the napkins and tea lights – no self-respecting Swede would venture into Ikea without stocking up on these.

Going off-list is strictly forbidden as my husband likes to plan the route around the store, pile everything into the trolley and get out as quickly as possible. Much to his chagrin, the children seem to have inherited my love of Ikea even if they’re more enticed by the meatballs and the play area than the actual shopping.

But this weekend it is just the two of us and the other 300 people who have decided that there’s no better way to spend a Saturday than at Ikea. I, for one, can’t wait. Hopefully we will still be on speaking terms come Sunday!

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The calm after the chaos…

Breakfast

With three children to get ready and out of the door by 8.30, our mornings have always been rushed but lately they seem to have become even more chaotic. The lighter evenings mean that the kids are staying up later and struggle to get to sleep when they are finally in bed. As a result my own bedtime has been pushed back as I try to savour the few hours of quietness when I can relax, read or watch TV (I always plan to do various jobs in the evening but it hardly ever happens as by 8pm I’m too exhausted).

This morning the boys were still chewing on their toast as  my husband took them to school. With Clemmie parked up in front of CBeebies, I managed to have a leisurely breakfast and read a few pages of the magazine I bought last week. A few cups of coffee later and I feel almost human again! Hopefully we can all get an early night tonight…

The flowers which my mum gave me for midsummer are still going strong. Love the colour combination!

The flowers which my mum gave me for midsummer are still going strong. Love the colour combination!

Ready to face the day!

Ready to face the day!

The Fashion Clinic #3: Sale Shopping

I’m the first to admit that I’m rubbish at Sale shopping on the high street. If I walk in to a store covered in red and white signs promising 30, 40 or even 50 percent off, nine times out of ten I will bypass the messy Sale rails in favour of the pristine looking new stock (at full price of course). But online it’s another matter – no elbowing past other shoppers to get to the goods or fighting over the last skirt in my size. However, it’s easy to be seduced by a seemingly good bargain only to realise a few months later as said item still hangs unworn in the wardrobe that, factoring  in ‘the cost per wear’, you would have been better off buying the full price shoes/bag/dress you wanted in the first place. That’s not to say that there aren’t good deals to be had but it’s important to keep a cool head and remember that often pieces are on that Sale rail for a reason. So without further ado, here is my short but sweet guide to Sale shopping:

As a general rule Sales tend to fall at the end of a season (or at the very least mid-season) so try to steer clear of one-season wonders. There’s nothing worse than wearing something that is blatantly Spring 13 when everyone has moved on to Winter 13/14. Go for pieces that are not defined by a particular trend and won’t date so easily. Classic is an overused word and often confused with traditional or old-fashioned but to me it doesn’t mean twinset and pearls, but rather items that you will turn to again and again, like that jacket in the perfect biker-cut or the skinny jeans that fit just so.

Wrap skirt by Diane vin Furstenberg, was £300 now £180; Striped dress by Clu was £280 now £140; Striped sweatshirt by Marc by Marc Jacobs was £150 now £75

Wrap skirt by Diane vin Furstenberg, was £300 now £180; Striped dress by Clu was £280 now £140; Striped sweatshirt by Marc by Marc Jacobs was £150 now £75

Black and white stripes and other monochrome patterns are trans-seasonal and can easily be paired with whatever colour is the flavour of the moment.

J Brand 811 striped skinny jeans was £225 now £112; Citizens of Humanity Avedon jeans was £210 now £147; Cottonblend sweater by Dagmar was £200 now £100; Duffy turtleneck was 250 now £150

J Brand 811 striped skinny jeans was £225 now £112; Citizens of Humanity Avedon jeans was £210 now £147; Cottonblend sweater by Dagmar was £200 now £100; Duffy turtleneck was 250 now £150

Think beyond the here and now. Come October you ‘ll be pleased that you invested in some versatile jeans and sweaters for the colder weather.

J Crew tweed jacket (on left) was £410 now £205; Michael by Michael Kors leather biker jacket was 515 now £309; Leather trimmed tweed jacket by IRO was £662 now £463

J Crew tweed jacket (on left) was £410 now £205; Michael by Michael Kors leather biker jacket was 515 now £309; Leather trimmed tweed jacket by IRO was £662 now £463

When it comes to jackets, think more about the shape than the material or colour. A blazer (long or boxy) or biker jacket will always look right.

Pierre Hardy pumps was £465 now £279; Jimmy Choo Pence sandals was £250 now £125; Jimmy Choo Pavlova sandals was £495 now £346; Bloch ballet flats was £125 now £62

Pierre Hardy pumps was £465 now £279; Jimmy Choo Pence sandals was £250 now £125; Jimmy Choo Pavlova sandals was £495 now £346; Bloch ballet flats was £125 now £62

Let’s not forget the accessories. If you’ve always wanted a pair of Jimmy Choos, now is a good time to buy them.

Chloe Alice tote was £2,205 now £1,544; Michael Kors Gia shopper was £655 now £328; Alison shopper by Chloe was £665 now £399; Zebra print clutch by Jummy Choo was £495 now £248

Chloe Alice tote was £2,205 now £1,544; Michael Kors Gia shopper was £655 now £328; Alison shopper by Chloe was £665 now £399; Zebra print clutch by Jummy Choo was £495 now £248

A classic bag shape like a clutch or tote will see you through for many years.

All items available from Net a Porter

Currently Coveting # 3

AVF Vanity Tray Clear Front Pefume

I love these trays by California based designer Alexandra Von Furstenberg (daughter-in-law of wrap dress queen Diane von Furstenberg). Made from high quality acrylic, they come in two sizes and are perfect for displaying perfume bottles or as a kitsch bar tray filled with tumblers and beautiful decanters. My favourites are the mirrored tray in the picture above and the Zebra one below. I would like one on my dressing table for perfumes and make-up tools and another one on the coffee table in the sitting room for candles, small vases filled with flowers and perhaps a magazine or two.

AVF-Acrylic-Zebra2

AVF-Acrylic-Snakeskin2

AVF-Acrylic-Leopard2

AVF-Fearless-Neon-Acrylic-Tray-Stack-6x4

Things that made me smile this week

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Coming back home from Sweden and seeing my boys again.

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Preparing the invites for Clemmie’s third birthday party next month. I can’t believe how fast time flies!

Bjorn again

Going to see Bjorn Again at the Hampton Court Festival with a group of friends and dancing to ABBA songs all night!

Dress Collage

Wearing my new dress for a night out at a riverside pub.

The highlight of the week was our Swedish Midsummer celebration with friends and family on Saturday. In Sweden the day is second only to Christmas and even though I haven’t lived there for many years it is nice to uphold some traditions.

All the children dressed up in their finery. I had to bribe the boys to wear shirts!

All the children dressed up in their finery. I had to bribe the boys to wear shirts!

Playing nicely on the seesaw

Playing nicely on the seesaw

I made a traditional strawberry cake and we all danced around the midsummer pole. I'm sure the neighbours think we're mad!

I made a traditional strawberry cake and we all danced around the midsummer pole. I’m sure the neighbours must think we’re mad!

Standing tall

Before I had children I never wore flat shoes. Ever. (I also had never changed a nappy, cooked a meal from scratch or visited a branch of John Lewis but that’s another story) Since becoming a mum, I don’t seem to wear anything but flats, whether it’s ballerinas, flip-flops, Converse or biker boots, unless it’s for a night out. Being only 5’2″ I need all the extra height I can get and lately I’ve been thinking that adding an inch or two to my daytime footwear wouldn’t be such a bad idea. In my experience, wearing a bit of a heel improves posture by making one stand up straighter, slims the silhouette and boosts confidence. As luck would have it, there are some really stylish mid-height sandals around at the moment. Here’s my pick of the best:

SHPTSHIS_z

Swedish Hasbeens, £145

Kurt Geiger2

Kurt Geiger, £95

Whistles 2

Whistles, £155

Topshop 2

Topshop, £55

 

 

Things that made me smile this week

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Seeing my daughter playing with her cousins

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Revisiting my hometown of Stockholm and being treated to some lovely summer weather

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Visiting the Odd Molly shop in central Stockholm where there was temptation on every rail. Unfortunately most pieces from the current collection were out of stock in my size.

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Staying at the fantastic Scandic Anglais Hotel

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Finding a gorgeous summer dress for only £30. Bring on the sunshine!

Heading for Stockholm ♥

A few of my Mateus pieces: I love the grey and pale pink colour combination

A few of my Mateus pieces: I love the grey and pale pink colour combination

I hate flying even more than I loathe packing but I love going on holiday so sometimes both are necessary. Today I have been rushing around packing a suitcase for me and Clemmie as we are going to Sweden tomorrow together with my mum. We are staying with my sister and her children who are aged two and four. I’m looking forward to seeing Clemmie playing with her little cousins although I will miss my boys who have to stay home to go to school. But I’m sure they will have a brilliant time with Daddy and they have a some exciting plans for the weekend (including Father’s Day on Sunday which I had completely forgotten about when I booked the trip. Whoops!).

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Although the main objective of the trip is to see family and friends, we are also spending two nights at the Hotel Scandic Anglais in Stockholm where I’m hoping a spot of shopping will be on the agenda. Unfortunately the exchange rate is not stacked in our favour so I won’t go mad (and with a two-year-old in tow you have to be fairly speedy as her patience quickly wears off). I collect china by a brand called Mateus (designed in Sweden and made in Portugal) and will definitely add a few pieces to my collection. They used to sell it in the Stockholm Design House concession in Selfridges but stopped about a year ago – I have no idea why as it is all gorgeous. I also plan to buy couple of posters by Vee Speers from photography gallery Fotografiska. At around £15 each they are extremely good value and will look gorgeous framed in our newly decorated bedroom.

Vee Speers Collage

The Beauty Edit: Lighten up for summer

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Space NK is like a candy store for grown ups, full of expensive but oh-so-tempting treats. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into one of their shops and come out empty-handed, even if I wasn’t intending to buy anything. I don’t wear that much makeup and I would rather spend a bit more on a few choice products than clutter up my makeup bag with items I don’t need. That’s not to say that I don’t rate budget beauty brands – I love online beauty retailer E.l.f for instance, where you can pick up a new lipstick or eye shadow for a couple of pounds.

Lipgloss2

My number one desert island product that I don’t leave the house without is lipstick or gloss. In fact I would probably forgo mascara if it meant leaving my lips bare. In winter I like strong plums and reds but in summer it’s nice to keep things a bit lighter, especially when you’ve got a tan (fake or real). I’ve been searching for ages for the perfect lipgloss – not too pale and with a blue undertone rather than gold or brown. This week I found it, while out on a shopping trip with a couple of girlfriends. The Laque de Rose in Rose Romance from By Terry looks almost neon bright in the bottle but is the perfect skin-flattering shade of pink on the lips with just the right amount of shimmer.

Blush

I also bought a new cream blusher from Laura Mercier in Rosebud, a suit-all pink that again is perfect for summer, and a heat protecting styling spray by Percy & Reed. The latter is essential for a Ghd addict like myself and will hopefully stop my hair from becoming straw-like due to the constant straightening and curling I put it through.

Percy Reed

Finally, I popped into Boots to grab a bottle of Essie nailpolish in Ballet Slippers, my go-to polish for a glam yet understated manicure.

Essie