Getting into the Christmas Spirit

Poor Clemmie has got tonsillitis so it was a day at home for us today, curled up on the sofa in front of CBeebies while I did my best to boost the country’s economy by pressing the ‘click to buy’ button on my computer more times than I care to remember. We did venture out to pick up some antibiotics from the chemist and I couldn’t resist snapping some pictures of the lovely Christmas displays in the shop windows. Our village is pretty all year round but it really comes into its own at Christmas time.

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The Great Outdoors

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One of my best purchases over the last year was not a new bag or a pair of shoes, but a family membership to the National Trust. So far we have enjoyed a Boxing Day walk at nearby Claremont Landscape Gardens and an Easter egg hunt at Ham House as well as trips to Petworth House and Uppark, both in Sussex.

The staff are great at engaging the children with stories of what life was like in ‘the olden days’ and there are usually little activity stations and play areas dotted around the houses. What my three enjoy most, however, is exploring the often vast grounds and gardens – climbing trees and rolling down hills, things they don’t really get to do on a day to day basis. And best of all, once you’ve paid for your membership, if you bring a picnic it’s virtually a free day out and all that fresh air is sure to guarantee sleepy children by bedtime.

Yesterday we spent the morning at Bodiam Castle in Kent, about an hour away by car from where we live. We had promised Casper that we would go there before Christmas as he missed a school trip to the medieval castle when he had his operation a couple of months ago. It was a grey and drizzly morning but we had lots of fun exploring the castle which was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dallingridge, a rich soldier. As it wasn’t quite picnic weather, we warmed up afterwards in the National Trust cafe with home baked scones slathered in butter and jam and cups of tea and hot chocolate.

A lovely day out.

{Bodiam Castle viewed from the courtyard}

{Bodiam Castle viewed from the courtyard}

The children contemplating whether or not to roll down the muddy hill outside the castle. Luckily they decided not to!

{The children contemplating whether or not to roll down the muddy hill outside the castle. Luckily they decided not to!}

Listening to a talk about the history of the castle

{Listening to a talk about the history of the castle}

There were lots of nooks and crannies to explore

{There were lots of nooks and crannies to explore}

Cameron looks rather pleased to see his brother in the stocks!

{Cameron looks rather pleased to see his brother in the stocks!}

This Week’s Favourites

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Sunday night again. The kids are in bed and I’m waiting for Homeland to start but first a quick update on another week that flew by.

1. I took all the children to have their hair cut at the start of the week – the boys’ fringes were getting so long they could hardly see! Clemmie and Casper were happy to just let the hairdresser get on with it but Cameron had very specific ideas about what he wanted – short back and sides (using the clippers) and longer at the front. He spent most of the journey home admiring his own reflection in the car windows!

2. Thursday morning saw the much-anticipated launch of the H&M collaboration with French designer Isabel Marant. As sod’s law would have it, the online shop opened at 9am which is the same time that Clemmie’s preschool opens. As my husband refused to take the kids to school and be late for work so that I could get first dibs on the highly coveted collection (men, eh?) , I had to race home after dropping them off only to be greeted by this message on my computer screen…

3. Until finally, after pressing the ‘Try Again’ button a million times (it seemed like it at least), I was in! Sadly, most of the items on my wish list had already gone but I managed to get my hands on these stunning shoes and also a grey jumper (rather nondescript in the picture but, hey, it’s Isabel Marant at less than £40!).  I have since read that it was one of the fastest selling collaborations of all-times – not surprising I guess, given all the hype surrounding it – so I think I was very lucky to get anything at all.

4. To raise money for Children in Need, Cameron’s school invited all pupils to dress in their pyjamas on Friday while Casper’s school asked them to wear polka dots. The first one was easy enough but as Casper was not keen to wear his sister’s spotty pyjamas (I can’t imagine why!) we ended up cutting out sticky-back felt circles and putting them onto an old plain T-shirt.

5. Finally Friday and candles lit for a cosy night in..

6. ..and a glass (or two) of bubbly to celebrate the end of the week.

7. A very dear friend gave me these four Mateus cups as a belated birthday present. Definitely worth waiting for!

8. Despite the grey, drizzly weather, we went on an outing to Bodiam Castle in Kent this morning. It took just over an hour to get there but it was well worth it.

9. We wrapped up the weekend by having dinner at Pizza Express with the grandparents.

And that’s it. Another week done and dusted! Have a great Sunday night. X

 

This Week’s Favourites

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Wow, two parties in one day! First the Maison Bentley Style Blog Party hosted by the fabulous Kate – such a great idea and I met some lovely bloggers. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by A Spoonful of Style – I really enjoyed spending time with you all and look forward to following your blogs.

Then, it was time for Casper’s seventh birthday bash, a swimming party for 12 of his friends at our local gym. All the kids were exhausted and high on sugar (should be an impossible combination but believe me it is not!) by the end of it so I think we can safely say it was a huge success.

I’m pretty tired now myself but feeling cosy wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa with candles lit on the mantlepiece as a big storm brews outside. So here’s just a quick recap of the week that once again went by in a flash:

1. On Tuesdays and Fridays when Clemmie doesn’t go to preschool my husband takes the boys to school so we can just chill out at home.

2. I am quickly becoming addicted to the Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks and looking forward to the Gingerbread Lattes appearing on the menu in the run-up to Christmas.

3. We went shopping for Halloween costumes and Clemmie decided she would rather be a princess than a witch. Fine by me, the only problem is that the costume sheds glitter EVERYWHERE – the floor, the sofa and my clothes are covered in it.

4. This scary zombie (also known as Cameron) had a great time at his school Halloween disco.

5. A birthday party means lots more presents and an insane amount of Lego sets to build. It will keep Casper busy over half term!

6. Halloween is fast approaching and this morning we went to a nearby farm shop to get our pumpkins. We will be hosting a Halloween party for a few friends on Thursday before we go trick or treating around the neighbourhood.

Next week is half term so all the children will be at home but hopefully I should be able to find some time for blogging as well.

Have a great Sunday night. X

Weekend Photo Challenge: OOTD and Posing :)

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{OOTD: I’m wearing my new (ish) Odd Molly dress and keeping my Autumn resolution of not just reaching for my jeans every day.}

For once I’m actually early (OK then, on time at least) with my Weekend Photo Challenge post. We have had a quiet weekend so far (for a change) and this afternoon my husband has taken the boys off to the golf course, leaving Clemmie and I to relax at home. I have to prepare dinner in a little while but I’ve got time for a quick post. This evening I’m going to the movies with a friend to see the new Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine. I’m not a huge fan of his but it has got good reviews so fingers crossed it will be a good film. Have any of you seen it?

The second part of this weekend’s challenge was a picture of your child posing. Well, that was easy! When it comes to our family there is no contest: my eldest son has got the posing down to a fine art:

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This Week’s Favourites

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{The walk to school takes twice as long when it’s been raining and there are puddles to jump in}

‘Swoosh’ it said and yet another week went by! Seriously, I’m beginning to think that time really does speed up when your kids start school. The seven weeks between the start of this school year and half term (which is this Friday) have gone by so much quicker than the summer holidays did. It has been a quiet week, mainly spent catching up on things that were were put on hold while preparing for last weekend’s party, like completing my tax return and buying the last of the boys’ birthday presents.

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{Clemmie chose her winter hat when we went into Gap during a shopping trip earlier this week. Leopard print is a firm fave of mine as well – like mother like daughter!}

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{I am one step closer to creating my dream home office after buying this print}

The highlight of the week was undoubtely Casper’s seventh birthday today. My youngest son is very much an old soul – wise, thoughtful and kind but, boy, can he throw a tantrum when that way inclined. Today, however, he was all smiles when we woke him up at 7.30 with presents and cake. As both he and his sister had birthday parties to go to today we’ve delayed his party until next weekend. Then the following weekend is my eldest son’s birthday – a busy month but that’s the way I like it!

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{Big brother helps out with the present opening.}

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{A very happy boy. Judging by the smile, I think we got the present right!}

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{It was a bit of a squeeze to fit seven candles onto a very small cake. There will be a bigger one at the party next weekend.}

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{Someone is enjoying having cake for breakfast}

Weekend Photo Challenge: OOTD and Unsuspecting Subject

Tartan skirt

I dug deep into the back of my wardrobe for today’s outfit. Or, to be more specific, my husband was dispatched into the loft to locate a tartan skirt that I bought 17 years ago from a high street chain called Morgan (It was French I think. Does anyone remember it or know what happened to it? I used to buy a lot of things from there in my teens and early 20s). I’m not a big hoarder but there are some things I’ve held on to, including this skirt which I bought when I was doing an internship at a fashion magazine. There are also a handful of pieces which I got rid of that I now regret such as a pair of black knee high lace-up boots that I wore all the time at university. The black top with ruched sleeves is from Zara’s kids section and the necklace was a birthday present from a friend.

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Today’s unsuspecting subject is none other than Casper who turned seven today! Here he is (a few days ago) in his school uniform checking out his new Ben Ten watch. It was an early morning for us today as we got up at 7.15am to sing happy birthday to Casper, eat cake and watch him open his presents which included a new scooter, Lego and a Wii game.

Despite rain being forecast, the sun is shining and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful Autumn day. Happy Sunday to you all! X

Linked In

I wanted to share with you some of my favourite links that I’ve come across on the Internet in the last week:

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1. What makes a home happy? Hint: It’s not designer furniture or immaculate carpets… (Thehappiesthome.com)

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2. I’ve discovered a great website for furniture and home inspiration: Nest.co.uk I want this chair for the desk in my bedroom.

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3. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Read this article to find out. I think I’m a sociable introvert (if there is such a thing?) who prefers one-to-ones and smaller groups. I get quite shy at larger gatherings and absolutely loathe networking.

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4. Emails and texts are great but sometimes only proper stationery will do and you can’t go wrong with classic Smythson of Bond Street.

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5. Check out the best new nail polishes for Fall. Which one is your favourite?

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6.Halloween is fast approaching and I can’t wait to get our box of decorations and costumes down from the loft. Here are some great tips for decorating your house.

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7. Turn your Instagram photos into fridge magnets at Stickygram. They cost $14.99 per sheet of 9 and shipping is free worldwide. I just ordered two sheets today so will let you know what I think when they arrive.

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8. If, like me, you struggle to keep on top of all the clutter that mysteriously accumulates in the house, Oprah’s ‘organizational guru’ Peter Walsh has some very useful strategies to get you on the right track.

Fall To-Do List

Fall To-Do List

As most you have probably gathered, Fall is my favourite season. I’ve already written a post on my Autumn Resolutions and another on Ten Reasons to Fall in Love with Fall, but I couldn’t resist one more focusing on the things I want to do in the next couple of months. Now is the perfect time to start new projects, or perhaps pick up on existing ones which fell by the wayside over the summer, and also to carve out a bit of me-time before the Christmas rush begins.

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1. Start taking more pictures with the Nikon DSLR camera I got for my birthday last year (especially as one of my birthday presents this year was a new lens). I’m still getting to grips with it, and often I forget to take it with me or decide it’s too bulky to lug around, so I end up using my phone but the picture quality is so much better with the Nikon.

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2. Make these cookies. Spiced apple cider instant drink mix is not readily available here in the UK but I found some on eBay.

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3. Go to the ballet. As a child I used to love going to see the Nutcracker around Christmas time and my husband has promised to take me this year.

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4. Host a Halloween party for family and friends. After Christmas and their birthdays, it’s the event that the kids most look forward to. Obviously they love all the candy but also the costumes, decorating the house and, of course, the pumpkin carving.

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5. Go away for a weekend with a friend, ideally to Babington House which is the perfect getaway for pampering treatments, delicious food and cocktails (their pear bellini is to-die-for)

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6. Learn how to cook a roast dinner.

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7. Finish off my photo wall. I have bought all the frames and chosen the pictures so all that remains is printing the photos and putting them up on the wall.

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8. Start at least one morning on the weekend with a long walk and take a moment to appreciate the stunning scenery right on my doorstep.

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9. Wear something other than jeans on at least one day a week. I wear lots of dresses and skirts in the summer but as soon as the temperature drops I practically live in my skinnies. The imitation leather skirt I ordered from H&M has finally arrived so I’m hoping that will inspire me to get out of the denim rut.

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10. Make scrapbooks for the boys of their best pieces of artwork, school and sports certificates. I have keepsake boxes and baby books for each of my children but I think that putting papers into a scrapbook is a better way of preserving them.

Happy Birthday to Me!

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{In our house birthdays mean breakfast in bed, even for mummy!}

It’s my birthday today (yay! happy birthday to me!). I still get ridiculously excited about birthdays and even if I don’t exactly whoop with joy at the thought of new wrinkles appearing, I don’t actually mind getting older (hey, it beats the alternative, right?) and hopefully wiser. My friend Angela over at Read,Sugar wrote a great post on why we should all embrace our birthdays, no matter what age we are (read it here).

These days, birthdays are less about the presents (although there were plenty of those as well, including a new lens for my Nikon camera, this perfume, some more Mateus china for my collection and new yoga clothes) and more about the children piling into bed singing happy birthday and covering me with kisses. (Before devouring my cupcakes and getting crumbs all over the bed, but I can overlook small stuff like that on my birthday 🙂 )

It’s been a busy day so far, starting with a gym class followed by coffee with friends and then a quick trip to the tile shop as the building work to repair the damage caused by a leaking pipe is finally underway. This evening we’re going out for dinner as a family to celebrate a little bit more. Now the sun’s out and it’s shaping up to be a beautiful Autumn day and a great birthday! X