Small things towards a minimalist life

January 20th 2017
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Starting a new journey into minimalism

So, minimalism? What’s all the fuss and nonsense about? Well it’s about freeing yourself of the fuss and the nonsense. With today’s social media and being able to look into other people lives via instagram and blogs etc we seem to all want to have a consumer led lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong I like pretty and lovely things as much as the next person but I’m starting to question more whether it brings me any happiness to have these things. I can desperately want something for months and then as soon as I have it I move on to the next thing pretty quickly.

TTT blog - minimalism cupboards

The joy in empty spaces
TTT blog - minimalism vetibule Keeping only what gives you absolute pleasure

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Letting go and being free

Now only just really getting to grips with the idea of minimalism, instead of decluttering, I started by doing the simple things first. I have a lot of online shops emailing me and sending me newsletters, half of which I don’t actually recall subscribing to. As each one comes through I’m slowly unsubscribing and deleting them without clicking through to see what goodies they have to offer. This has done two things. First up I get less junk to scroll through in my inbox and can see clearly all the important emails and work stuff I need to do. Secondly I don’t waste valuable time clicking through to images of stuff I don’t really ‘need’ to buy. Once upon a time we had to make the effort to go shopping when we needed something now it’s right in front of us all day every day and we can buy something just because we’ve seen it. I used to feel like I needed to sign up to certain newsletters so that I didn’t miss out on anything.

Already I’m quickly gaining some important quality me time… the time I would take to look at the pretty products on offer I’m able to write this blog post. I literally wasted far too much of my life already and I will now only subscribe to those things that give me happiness and not bother with the rest. I have a couple of email addresses that I use and I now keep my work email address for a ll work related and other important emails. My secondary email, which is for this blog are now used to subscribe only to things that are of interest to me but that I don’t desperately need to see in my main email. I have both accessible on my computers at work and at home and via my phone. However I have to physically select my second email inbox to see what is there. I choose to only do this once a day usually in the morning, sometimes I’m forgetting to do it until lunch time!

The other thing I’ve done as of the beginning of this week is to turn off my social media notifications. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how attached to our mobile devices we are and I’m trying to find ways to reduce this. How many of us post to instagram and then spend the next 10, 20, 60 minutes constantly seeing all the notifications pop up on our phones? It’s stopped me from being in the here and now and I’m too distracted when my beautiful boy tries to talk to me or asks me a question. What I’ve noticed, even in the few days since I’ve turned them off is that I post and I put my phone away. It may take me 30 minutes or a couple of hours to remember to have a look and see if anyone has left me a comment. I’m trying to check my emails less on my phone and pinpoint pockets of time that I can concentrate on responding to messages so that I can then spend quality time being in the present moment with my son. I’ve even started to say to him, if he’s constantly chattering to me whilst I have a moment, to give me 1, 5, 10 minutes to complete my task and then I’m all his. I’ve noticed a change in how we interact and it feels better for us that we have those pockets of checking mail, social media etc and then those pockets of just chatting and me putting my phone out of sight and usually reach. Lucas will be 10 this year and he’s very savvy to our using our phones and he makes comments. Those comments really make me realise that our phones have become glued to our palms. Social media is great for meeting like minded people across the globe but it needs it’s own time and place. We need to spend more time focusing on the people right in front of us who can talk and laugh with and tickle and touch and kiss. Isn’t that what’s important?

TTT blog - minimalism Lucas

my little milk guzzler and the most important person in my life

I will continue to share my journey as when I feel it’s important or if someone asks me a question that I feel is relevant and worthy of a reply through a blog post. I don’t have all the answers but I’m going to enjoy learning and sharing my journey along the way.

If you have any fab tips to share or questions to ask please leave a comment below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.

Big Love, Cat x

New Year, New me New mindset

January 13th 2017
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this is me surrounded by new love of plants
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.40.45these two are my most favourite people on the planet

My god how are we already in 2017! Can someone please tell me where 2016 went as I seemed to have missed it.

Well I guess there’s no better time than now to say ‘Happy New Year’ and what a year I’m hoping it will be. So I’m going to try not to ramble on and on… hello, have you met me before? It’s safe to say that it’s pretty unlikely I won’t be bending your ear and boring you silly by the end of stupendously long, sorry short, post..

Where to start? At the beginning I guess, never could do the whole long story short thing. I noticed changes in me when I was about 15 years old. Silly things like a constant grumbling tum, dust floating in my eyes and super itchy inner ears and a serious bout of thrush (down below, which I didn’t get looked at till I was 30! I presumed everyone just itched). I ate badly, although I didn’t really see it back then, I got asthma and I smoked. Age 14/15 I started my period and it was pretty painful. Some days I couldn’t move or walk through the pain and when it went away it was common for them not to show for three maybe four months. I don’t know about you that’s not very normal when I look back on it now and obviously I listened when my doctor suggested going on the pill. Then when I was about 22 I was diagnosed with IBS and started getting migraines. Fast forward to 11 years ago, aged about 33, after seeing someone about my back and shoulder pains, from a car accident 9 years previous, she suggested I look at candida. Actually that was a relatively shortened version of the very long story! I’ve impressed myself

So that’s kind of when this journey and realisation that I had ill health for many years since, if not way before, my teens. Being young my body was able to cope much better with my appalling lifestyle and lack of fresh food. All the things I loved where the things my body and the candida craved to keep it thriving inside me. I was a sucker for neat, yes undiluted, vimto… that now makes me cringe so much you wouldn’t believe. Vinegar on everything, I kid you not, fishfingers, mash, beans, sausages, chips. OMG pickled silverskin onions… I hid jars in my wardrobe for gods sake! Sweets… I ate so many and I couldn’t stop, whole boxes of jaffa cakes, handfuls of sweets, fizzy drinks, vimto, tea with 2 sugars… and that was just in a day! I kid you not I ate all that and more and I was stick thin. My dentist always praised me on my teeth. So clearly I was ok! Wasn’t I? I look back on the telling little things I did as a child of 6 or 7 like sneaking things out of the fridge such as mini bounty bars (I liked and still like hard, cold chocolate) and trying to make it look like everything was still there so I was being sneaky about it. Now if my son started to do that alarm bells would be ringing in my head that he’s a sugar addict! I would do practically anything to get a fix when I was a child and into my twenties.

So at 30 I met my husband. He was a fab cook and introduced me to much more interesting food. Although it was better it was still the wrong foods but it steered me on a path of getting a different enjoyment of food. I enjoyed watching him and helping him prep the food and then obviously the eating it bit was the best. It wasn’t long after we married that I was told about the candida and as soon as I got home from the back appointment I researched it on the internet. Now there was no instagram or social media and I had no idea about blogging or anything so I bought a book. It was basic to say the least and the food was initially bland but after about 4 weeks I could really taste the natural flavour in ALL the fresh ingredients I used. It was also at this point that I totally stopped using vinegar and any malt products, I managed to reduce my sugar in tea from 2 teaspoons to 1/2 by using stevia as an initial substitute. This was way back before you could buy stevia in the UK so I had to import it from the USA in a fine granulated form. It was expensive and I hated the aftertaste but it helped me still enjoy some of the things I was used to. I’m trying to remember the food I was eating as it was rather different to what I eat now. It was still milk and cereal but it was shredded wheat and soya milk, quiche with soya milk and veg and cottage cheese, omlettes, salads, meat and veg, no fruit for the first three months. It was a total struggle but it was so worth it. My brain function was clear, my tummy stopped grumbling at me, I had energy like never before and I didn’t get depressed. Sadly it all went to shit when we went to Australia a few months after I started the change. In three weeks I undid all the good work… actually it probably only took 3 days but we were away for three weeks so I didn’t have the opportunity to get back on the wagon quickly enough. A year later we had our son and who has time to look at their own health when you have a small baby. When he was about 3 and at nursery I tried again and did brillaintly… AGAIN! Then I started a college course… the cafeteria sold hot chocomilk…damn that stuff is addictive! Oh and I had a flu jab and felt so crap that I couldn’t do anything for a week so I gave up on my diet! It might sound silly but I gave up easily back then.

28 months ago I decided to seek the help of a professional nutritionist and health coach. Since then my life and food habits have changed again. This time I discovered a totally new set of foods and then happened across Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar book and website. With her help I realised there were other foods I was completely ignoring such a coconut and quinoa, chia seeds and cacao powder. My breakfast has never quite been the same since. Now don’t assume that I don’t eat chocolate or have sweeties occasionally because I would be lying. Remember that I’m a sugar addict and sugar is everywhere and it’s difficult to avoid and takes a great deal of willpower, which I don’t always have. Christmas is the worst for me and this year was the first time I kinda let go and embraced all the goodies that I really shouldn’t be eating… help!!! after eight mints and matchmakers and fruit pies and custard! Yes I could make all of these at home with better ingredients and a lot less sugar but I truly had a crappy end of year and I seriously couldn’t be bothered. Now to be fair I ate far worse on a normal day many years ago so this little bout of not eating what was good for me wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could’ve been. I still made relatively healthy choices through most of the days and just over indulged a little. I can tell you though that I’m now struggling to get back to what made me feel good. The sugar cravings are back as are some of the aches and pains I had in my arm, neck & shoulder and leg but they are nothing compared to what they were.

After the photos is a little more to explain what our 2017 plans are beyond getting back on the good healthy food wagon.

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.44.39 breakfast – quinoa, chia and almond milk pudding, natural yoghurt, berries and granola
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.41.22 breakfast ingredients
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.41.59 natural deodrant, toothpaste/polish and face cream
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.42.25 matcha tea
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.42.36 buckwheat pancakes, natural yoghurt and berries
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.43.01 homemade chocolate with raspberries
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.43.29 avocado, banana, cacao mousse
Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 13.43.59coconut balls
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yoga and new mat

Zero Waste

The whole point of this was to share where I am now and the journey I want to take to get to where I want to be. The food and health part co exists with these other ‘radical, ‘crazy’ ideas. Having come across a few articles on zero or minimal waste I’ve looked into this concept and really wanted to start doing my bit. It will be a very slow process and will take time and lots of tricks to help me achieve reducing our household waste from a full size bin bag a week into at least a carrier bag size by the end of 2017. Well that’s my aim anyway. Shopping for fruit and vegetables in a supermarket without any packaging on them is actually more difficult than I first anticipated. Buying produce out of packaging is a sure fire way to make sure you are also eating the right foods for your health and wellbeing too. No more frozen chips or ready meals! I posted this idea to my Instagram account and got a huge and positive reaction to it. It’s really encouraging to hear other people attempting this and sharing their ideas as well as offering their support. I will write mini updates over there as well as sharing the bigger picture of how we are doing here on the blog.

 

Minimalism

The  next thing I want to look at is minimalism. I started decluttering years ago but it’s a difficult process, well it was until I came across the documentary ‘Minimalism’. I’m inspired by these boys, The Minimalists, to just start ridding myself f all the visual clutter and noise that means absolutely nothing to me and gives me no real pleasure. It’s spurred me on to sell, donate and organise far more than I could have ever thought possible. That’s a definite watch this space as I will share with you how I’ve pared back my belonging and wardrobe and how I’ve managed to make money and make more time for myself.

 

Mindfulness

Together with health this is the last item on my list and I think anyone can see how this links up to better diet and lifestyle as well as minimalism and zero waste. I don’t feel like I could do any one of these now without the others because they all impact on one another. Having had low moods and light depression for much of my adult life and anger issues for most of my life I think food has had the biggest impact on changing that for me. I have down days occasionally but nothing like the spirals and mood swings I used to experience. Oh and my period? Yeah, you could set your monthly clock by it now and the pain is just a regular ache like most women would experience. My asthma is controlled less by drugs and I don’t get any migraines and funnily enough I take less painkillers or cold and flu tablets than I’ve taken before. In fact I think I’ve taken maybe 6 nurofen in the last 12 months and that’s it. I’m spending more time reading, relaxing, doing yoga, being mindful and being calm.

All together this is looking like a pretty radical new me but I don’t think the old me really was me. I just struggled to fight against ‘the system’ and ‘the norm’ and maybe that’s because I never felt supported nor strong enough to do it on my own. The realisation that the only person who will and can do the right thing by me and my family is me. It’s not the government, nor the food giants, nor scientists. I have to question more and I have to take my own stance on things if I believe it’s a better choice for my family and not trust that someone else will do this for me. I really want to fight back and I’m choosing to do this my own way so if you feel like following along then welcome aboard. If you’ve managed to read this ramble all the way to the end then I applaud you and thank you immensely for taking some extra time today to listen to my values and ideas to make mine and my families a better future.

Have you made any plans for change this year?

 

Cat x

 

Successful Failure

October 28th 2016
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Hello to anyone who may still be out there who might just happen across this little ole blog of mine.

I’ll be honest and say that I’ve possibly had a mini crisis of belief in myself and what I want from life. Blogging, social media and my favourite of all online platforms, instagram, have taken their toll on me the last few months… who am I kidding… probably the best part of 2 years!! I started to doubt myself a little and put waaaay too much pressure on little me to run this blog a bit like a business. I want to post regularly and I have certain plans for series in my head but I’ve just been struggling to find the time to get things done on the same day/date each week/month. I let it all get to me and I was wondering how I would come back from it.

I went to blogtacular in June 2015, which I absolutely loved. I came home with a head full of ideas and motivation and was keen to push myself. In hindsight, what I didn’t factor in was the fact that I am a mum and I run a business (together with my Mr). I was already doing full time hours just doing those two aspects of my life… seriously how the hell did I think I could run a blog as a business too?! After all I’m not getting any younger, my health is a bit shot and I want a life. It’s taken some time for me to have that lightbulb moment and take a HUGE step back and to try and remember what my motivation was to start a blog way back in 2009 as well as why I loved Instagram.

I discovered the wonderful world of blogs over 8 years ago when I was embarking on our kitchen reno and starting an interior spatial design course. I think we tend to derail slightly once we’ve had kids and start things that set us on a new and exciting path, like having kids isn’t enough of a detour! I wanted to just share photographs (helllloooo instagram anyone?) and my crazy chair obsession as well as my skills at picking up those car boot bargains. Over the years my ideas and blog have taken me in new directions and I love everything I achieved, yes it’s small fry when you consider what’s out there but I guess my downfall was not totally staying focused and trying to do too much at once without the breathing space to sit and think about where I wanted to end up.

Fast forward to now and I’m building myself back up slowly. I have things I want to share and write about but I want to be careful that I don’t push myself too hard and undo all the good work I’ve moved towards with regards to my family, business and health these past 2 years. I want this blog to reflect me and my life so I shall be posting pictures of those homes and designs that I love. It will become a place to photodump all my photography which will mainly be events and weekend outings with my family. It will also become a place to share my journey with health and wellbeing. Basically I just want this blog to be a place where I share ME! I’m not looking for this blog to make me money. I’ve realised I don’t need that and I was getting caught up in the idea that to be successful that is what I had to do. I make a good living and this was meant to be my creative outlet and a bit of fun. I’d be very pleased if you would join me on that journey bit please don’t feel obliged… we all lead busy lives and I respect that.

So I guess this is me saying HELLO I’M BACK! Grab a cuppa of your choosing, take the weight off your feet once in a while and let’s take this journey called life a little slower x

Ham & Jam Coffee

May 28th 2016
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Cafe culture is big. Whether you drink tea or coffee, eat cake or not, we all love a good gathering and meet up and these social meetings usually start in a local coffee shop.

As a family we love going to Manchester and trying new ones that seem to pop up all the time. It’s not always practical however, hot footing it over there, just for a good cup of coffee in a well thought out environment. Luckily for us a great coffee shop has opened in our home town of Preston. It’s a little off the main street but that actually makes it for me as it’s not too overcrowded and you can sit and chill with a brew and your laptop or a daily newspaper.

Ham & Jam is a family owned and run business in a slowly up and coming area of the city and I fondly remember the location as one of my teen haunts on a weekend. Me and my girl friends could while away the hours in Val Murray’s, ‘Alladins cave of makeup’. (blog preston) It sold everything a young girl could dream of when she was just getting that self conscious, talking about boys stage.

 

PHSBH0434-Lancaster-Road-Lord-Street-Preston-1984-630x419Val Murray’s | photo courtesy of blog preston

Anyway I could reminisce for hours but I won’t bore you with all that.

We were attending the local BOB event around the corner, in the old Post Office, a couple of months ago when someone mentioned this new coffee shop. Well we had to check it for ourselves so decided to head there the following day. What a lovely surprise! The coffee they sell is by Atkinsons of Lancaster, which is always good, even though I only ever really drink decaf.

Since we discovered it we make any excuse to head there and it’s especially lovely on a glorious, sunny day.

This is, for me, by far the best cafe in our City and I want to support it as much as possible. I love that it’s a family run independent and they are doing lots of things right. The decor is quite unlike anything else in this City, that I call a pretend City due to how we achieved that status. They have used local furniture designers to make the fixtures and fittings and they haven’t done anything too fussy. No dark brown leather sofas or dodgy looking prints of coffee plantations, just well thought out, simple, stylish pieces. The coffee is perfect and there are usually plenty of very lovely sweet and sticky cakes to choose from. The music could do with a little tweaking but they did suggest that we put a spotify play list together and they would happily play it when we came in.

This place would be even more of a little haven for me if the food was a little more on the ‘healthy’ side. I know that’s a very personal preference but as I’m not supposed to eat pastry or cake (I do let it slide on occasions) and I realise a lot of others have intolerances it would just make it easier for me to frequent this lovely establishment a little more. The tarts were delicious but a more interesting lovely green side salad would have been even better. I’m finding folk who own/run cafes and restaurants are slowly starting to take on board that not all people want bread and pastry and are starting to think a little outside the box. I’m hoping as this little hideaway become more popular, that we’ll see a change of this sort here. I’d love someone to bake a cake or serve a desert where the main ingredients weren’t sugar and flour. I’m secretly hoping and praying they make an avocado cheescake sometime soon and then I shall be telling our friends to get there too.

So really there is very little to complain about and a LOT to love about this place. I can see will will become pretty regular fixtures here.

If you want to learn about the ethos behind Ham & Jam then check out their website and you can follow them on IG, FB and twitter.

Having started a little coffee and chat group with North Folk Gather I’m wondering how many people would like to have a meet up in this great little place?

Is there a favourite family run or independent cafe or restaurant near you that you want to share? Who knows… maybe the North Folk could Gather for a coffee and chat!

Have a glorious weekend and see you soon. x

 

 

Black wood decking

May 11th 2016
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Absence… makes the heart grow fonder? Well in my case it just makes me realise I’ve been away from here for far too long. I’ve started a couple of posts, but just not had the right words to fully explain my absence. Sadly I still don’t but I have been working on it… promise.

For now, I hope this little start will suffice, as a nod to say I’m slowly coming back. I’m aware any followers I did have will have more than probably scarpered. Honestly I don’t blame you although I’d love to win you over and have you back. An explanation is on it’s way and I’m getting excited to share a few plans and posts with you that I just didn’t get to last year and a few new exciting projects that I’ve been involved with this year.

For now though I just want to share a little garden progress with you.

We have a ridiculously long and awkward garden which over the last 8 years has become unrecognisable to the previous owners vision. I will post an image or two another time to show you what I mean. It was just grass and flower borders all the way down with a greenhouse, used as a place to keep ourselves warm rather than grow anything. We dug up almost every plant/flower, laid grass to the edge of the hedges, laid flags and decking and covered the huge veg patch and created 4 raised beds instead. The decking accounts for about a third of the garden and wasn’t laid quite as close together as I’d’ve liked but it does a job. The idea was to make a relatively hassle free garden but it’s surprising just how much work it takes to maintain! With all the rain and snow this past year it’s just gone green and slimy.

 

TTT blog_deck 04 before
TTT blog_deck 01 during
TTT blog_deck 05 The little man playing whilst we worked on the decking
TTT blog_deck 06 He thought it was fun letting a bucket of water fall down the slide
TTT blog_deck 03Loving his new jimjams from the awesome The Bright Company
TTT blog_deck 07after

After quite a lot of work last year, in weeding and adding wood chip to the borders and my little piece of cheating heaven, hiring a gardener, we’ve actually been able to tackle some of the more cosmetic stuff this spring. We bought a Cuprinol charcoal deck stain last year and after purchasing a new amazing powerwash (more on that in another post) we whizzed through cleaning all the green off the deck and used a special liquid to properly clean the section of decking we were trying it on. The Mr started the job using the brush provided and then I joined in by using a hand brush to stain the areas inside the gaps. The tub said to use two coats… we have only done the one because we didn’t want it solid in colour. I like that we can still see the grain of the wood.

I absolutely love the way it’s turned out and I’m itching to do it on some of the upper parts of the decking.

What do you think? Do you prefer it wood or charcoal? Do you have any black decking in your garden?

 

x

Anniversary | 11 years

August 17th 2015
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Last year we celebrated 10 years together from our wedding day. To celebrate we threw a big party. Our wedding was a very small, private affair and the photos we have don’t do it any justice. For our 10 years together we knew we wanted it documented. I sadly never actually got around to sharing those photographs on here. Today we have been married for 11 years. They say time flies when you’re having fun and in all seriousness it feels like only yesterday that we got married. I was lucky to marry my best friend, soul mate and lover, and each year just brings us closer. Growing old and grey has never been on my priority list but if it’s with this man I’ll take it as it comes. We’ve come a long way together and have had a roller coaster journey but we are on a good road at the moment. Life couldn’t really get much better and I love everything that this life throws at us as it just makes us grow stronger together.

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It was so heart warming flicking back through the photos that the absolutely lovely, very heavily pregnant at the time and super talented Anna Hardy took on the day of our 10 year anniversary party last year. She took gazillions and stayed way over the time she’d allocate and she delivered more than I could I have hoped for. It was so easy having her around. Thank you again Anna for just being so darn lovely and capturing our day so well for us to remember forever. I shall post more of the day later in the week.

To my darling, kind, caring, considerate Stephen, I love you more each day. Happy Anniversary! x

Sleeping Lions | Credits

July 24th 2015
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screen grabs from the BBC iPlayer site.

A few months ago our super talented friends, David & Louise, asked my amazingly talented Mr to create some graphics that they could translate in to credits for a short educational film they were making for the BBC. Having never done anything like that before it was a challenge and I’m really proud to say they went down really well. He came up with something really simple and well thought out in the end but they capture the essence of the story being told if you watch carefully. I’m so totally proud of him and to see our company name credited on a film, especially one made by two wonderful friends.

I found out this morning that the film was broadcast very early this morning. It’s quite a dark storyline so be warned before you head over to watch it. I truly think it’s a fabulous film and is very sensitively done but is very clear in its intentions.

You can find it on BBC iPlayer here.

Weekend Frolics

July 3rd 2015
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We had the busiest weekend last weekend and I’ve a lot of photos to show for it! Making, learning, experimenting, participating, meeting and eating… Phew I’m ready for a lie down just thinking about it all!

SATURDAY: This past weekend was such a fun packed one. Our local University hosts a family fun Science Festival each year. We’ve seem BMX bikers do tricks to teach us about gravity and movement and this year we saw how Star Wars was actually real. No, seriously lightsabers will be in shops form next week! Ok slight exaggeration but the technology is in our not too distant future.

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The boy loves anything sciencey and geeky and especially anything Star Wars. So many cool things to do, like robotic dinosaurs (which we kept missing!) and lots of building activities and experiments to partake in. Because it is soooo good it gets busier every year and after lunch it just got a little too busy for our liking. The wee man is going on a cub camping trip in a week so we needed to purchase a few items to make sure he was covered for all weather & activity situations. We ended up driving out to the town we work in and did a little bit of shopping. Whilst we were there we had a couple of birthday items to exchange that he (*read I!) wasn’t keen on. We got a bit of a result and exchanged the tee and sunnies for some funky striped socks and 2 pairs of really cool boots that both he and I liked. They stated £18 on the ticket, so we were going to exchange the gifts and add a bit of money to buy them. At the till they came up as £1.99? Yes you saw it right less than two whole pounds, hence I sent hubs back to get another pair in a bigger size. Had I have been on the ball I would have scooped them all up so he had nice shoes till he was 20!! They are super soft and comfy and have a thinsulate label on them. I do love a bargain but I especially love them when I was prepared to pay full price in the first place!

What’s the best bargain/surprise you’ve ever had?

Anyway whilst we were there we bumped into friends, who also happen to be clients of ours (my hubs has made many a friend from a client, it’s just the kind of nice guy he is). They reminded us of a show we said we wanted to go and see so we headed home for food and caught the bus at 7pm.

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The show is actually called Back of the Bus by Java Dance Company. What a fantastic show to see. I had no idea what it was about, I’d only seen the Mr’s design of the flyer a day or two before and didn’t take much chance to read it. If you hear of it happening near you then I highly recommend going to see it. It was only an hour but the time flew and it was just so funny. It’s always done on the top deck of a bus and three super talented dancers in the show are also brilliant actors. I can’t believehow entertained we were for the whole hour. We made two stops and there was a lot of laughter, cheek, fun, craziness oh and in all the commotion I manage to drop my phone and crack the corner! Thank god it wasn’t the whole screen!

I don’t really want to give too much away but lets just say for the first 10 minutes Lucas was a little afraid, I was very confused and my husband had a large bag of crisps and popcorn dumped all over him! Yes it was really that crazy but it started to make sense as the chaos calmed down. The hour for us turned into 2 as we stayed behind to chat with the dancers who were all the way from New Zealand. I took a lot photos but it was so difficult to capture the essence of the ‘story’ as there was so much movement from the 3 characters. We were told to stay in our seats and not move in the aisle and now I know why!

I know they did the Edinburgh Fringe last year. Apparently it’s slightly different in every venue as they have to figure out a route with two very specific stops where everyone gets off the bus. I’d love to hear if anyone else has seen them.

 

SUNDAY: I’ve been looking forward to Sunday for two weeks! I went to Blogtacular, held in London on the 13th June, and I met some of my fave blogger ‘friends’. I chat to few via blogging but mostly through social media such as Instagram. I’d been quite nervous about them all in real life but they were ALL just so bloody lovely. I was lucky enough to snag a spare bed in a hostel with 3 very lovely ladies. Two of which I’d already been chatting with for some time and another who I was just so glad to meet on the day. Anyway you can read more on that here. I was saying how lovely it is that have a ‘circle’ of blogger friends down South and that I wish I lived nearer to be able to be a part of that. Sarah-Louise introduced me to the lovely silver haired lady Nina. We chatted and she invited me along to a little IG gathering in Manchester she’d organised. Well this is just what I’ve been after. A chance to meet some bloggers from the North. Not as many as we’d hoped could make it in the end but you gotta start somewhere!

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What an absolutely inspiring and lovely day it was. So nice to catch up with Nina again but also to meet 2 other ladies that we had so much in common with. Sarah is from more over my way and Rachelle lives between Manchester and Leeds. Both Nina and Rachelle had a lot to chat about as they are both relocated from the South to the North.

We met at Picadilly Railway Station at just after 11am and headed to one of my all time fave cafes in the Northern Quarter, Fig & Sparrow. It’s a lovely little shop of scandi and other amazing, ‘I need to purchase something every time I go’, homewares and they does awesome food. After we ate and did some good old getting to know you chatting amongst the 4 of us, we had a little wander around Manchester. We went to the Craft & Design Centre. It was a super hot day for traipsing around with camera, bag, coat etc but shortly after we arrived at the centre the heavens opened and gave us a good old downpour. It cooled us down temporarily but it was very short lived. Now be warned about the centre on a Sunday, not all the little shops are open which was a little dissapointing but to be honest we were too busy scheming and plotting the future… oh yes we were.

There were so many places we would’ve liked to have gone but time was just flying by so we headed to the best place in Manchester that wasn’t too far away… Fred Aldous. It’s got to be the best place to just wander and drool over all the stationary and craft goodness.We spend quite some time in there… again mostly scheming and plotting.

It was so fun to meet three awesome ladies what blog and stuff and we have discovered that we all want to continue this little community and meeting up as often as we can manage. We have been in touch nearly every day since and have been coming up with some plans and ideas that I hope we can share more with you soon. It’s really great to have this little community of local (ish) boggers that really want to share, teach and empower each other and I for one am super excited about the future.

I’d be really interested to hear from any of you who blog from the North of England or can at least get to Manchester with relative ease. Either leave me a comment here or drop me an email and when things start to happen I can get in touch.

I want to thank Nina for making this happen and want to thank Sarah & Rachelle for for just being so friendly and chatty and letting me crash their get together at such late notice. You ladies have totally made my week.  ♡

 

Oh and I met up with my boys afterwards, who’d had a fun day at MOSI and we headed to HOME for a bite to eat as the traffic didn’t seem to be easing up at 5pm! More about HOME and some of the other wonderful venues we visited in a later post.

 

 

real {home} life | Fiona

June 25th 2015
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TTT blog Nor Folk home-RHL

REAL {home} LIFE : 4

I found Fiona through her husbands IG account and I immediately fell in love with her style, work ethic and ability to just do so much! She’s an absolute force to be reckoned with and I would love to have a fifth of the get up and go she has. She has a beautiful home and family and since I started to followed her a few short months ago she has has set up another business, in addition to the design studio she runs with her husband Bobby.

(Sorry I’m a day late with this post as life has just gone mad… back on track for next month though)

If you’re not following Fiona… then why the hell not? Get on over there and click follow and say hi! She’s very lovely.

If you want a little of Fiona’s style then check out the resources at the end of the post.

Fiona lives with her lovely family in a stunning converted Factory.

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All photography by Fiona
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What part of the World do you live? 

  • I live in Norwich, Norfolk, which is a beautiful cathedral city in the East of England. It’s about 2 hours from London and about half an hour from the sea.                     

Who do you share your home with? 

  • I live with my husband and best friend Bobby, our two year old son and two black cats, Tim and Gareth (who are brothers and named after characters from Ricky Gervais’ The Office).

Tell me a little about you and your family?

  • Quite central to all our lives is new experiences. None of us, and that includes Stanley, are couch potatoes. We loved to travel before Stanley was born and are so looking forward to our first holiday abroad together next month. We are firm believers that travel broadens the mind. 

What sort of space do you have? 

  • Our home is 154sqm with a 28sqm roof terrace. We have a master bedroom that is a mezzaine, the landing to that and our bedroom overlook the open plan living room. Below the mezzaine is a family bathroom and two storage cupboards, as well as three smaller bedrooms. Stanley has one for a playroom and the other is his bedroom. We aren’t opposed to knocking through the walls as he gets older and then having one bigger room. For us it’s not about maximizing the apartment for estate agents valuation, it’s about building a home that meets all our needs as, to us, it’s a forever home.

Can you tell me a little about how you came to buy your home? 

  • We lived on the floor below for a year and had always(!) had our eye on the penthouse apartment. We were lucky enough to have a tip off when our home went on the market and went direct to the owners the same day.

What was it that you first fell in love with?

  • Space and light. The south facing sun trap of a roof terrace was the ultimate cherry on the top!

Can you tell me a little about what makes your home different?

  • The fact it was formally a factory definitely sets it apart from a conventional home. I love that Stanley will tell his friends he lives in a factory when he goes to school. Different is definitely cool.

What’s the best thing about your home?

  • The tranquility. I’m not sure whether that’s due to it being open plan or the height of the roof. For how central it is in the city, it really is peaceful.

What’s the worst in your opinion?

  • The apartment is perfect just the way it is but if I could change one element it would be the 70 odd stairs I have to climb with a sometimes stubborn toddler.

Which room/space is you favourite?

  • If you’d asked me before Christmas, it absolutely would have been the living room but now we’ve had the bedrooms fitted with plywood cupboards, that’s my favourite. Our vision was a ski lodge – we just need the reindeer hide to complete the look.

Tell me a little about your taste/style?

  • I would imagine that’s pretty evident on my Instagram feed but I love Scandinavian design and minimalism. I enjoy wearing black and grey but absolutely love splashes of colour. 

Where do you get your inspiration to decorate and furnish your home in the way you do?

  • I think I just know what I like when I see it. As I get older, I am becoming a lot more decisive. I enjoy reading the obvious magazines like Wallaper and Elle Decoration as well as watching some beautiful feeds on Instagram and finding pins on Pinterest. I love achieving a look for less and then adding a few key pieces.

I know you do a lot of work from home. This has to be a bonus spending time with Stanley and getting the work you need to done. Was it always your intention to have enough room to have an office space as well as comfortable living space? 

  • Until a month ago I was at home and it’s impossible to work with Stanley in the day time, the best I could hope for was to be able to fire a quick email off. I work from our home studio mostly when he’s in bed in the evenings. The studio is our third bedroom. I finally feel that now is a good time for me to work and him to spend time with his grandparents, neither of us were really ready before. 

What is your most prized possession?

  • Oh wow, I really don’t think I have one. I love my family and all of the sentimental things we have chosen to furnish our home with.

How do you fit in family and work and keeping house being a busy mum?

  • I’m not entirely sure, somehow things tick over. Lists are my saviour for reminding me when we run out of things.

What is your favourite shop – Online and bricks and mortar?

  • Gosh, this is a difficult one. When it comes to basics and absolute consistency it would be H&M. Whether you’re in Norwich or Oslo you know what you’re getting and at an incredibly affordable price. Online, I buy from so many wonderful independents but one of my favourites would be the lollipop shoppe I’ve been in both the London and Brighton shop.

Do you buy many magazines and if so which ones would you recommend?

  • Yes I do, although I rarely get the time to read them! Three titles spring to mind: Cereal, Wallpaper and Porter magazine. And my lovely next door neighbour always shares Elle Decoration with me.

What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone starting out on their journey of furnishing and decorating their new home.

  • Don’t rush into it. Live in the space a while – a lot of costly mistakes can be made by trying to decide your needs before you’ve used and lived in the space. 
  • When you have decided what you want to achieve, think how can you can do the look for less. I don’t mean finding counterfit copies but if, for example, you’ve decided on a string system, have a lateral think and see if you can achieve your own take on it.
  • If you’re in any decision, always start by painting it white, I’m not a lover of magnolia, but I’m a firm believer that if you white wash the walls, it helps free up your mind on colours.

If money was no object, what is the one thing you would change about your home if anything?

  • There’s two elements I still have my heart set on. One taking out the stairs and reversing where you start and finish them – it would free up the landing to have a rain shower under the sky light. And on that thought, I’d also like to have an outdoor shower on our balcony. How lush would that be in the summer?! I still need to look into it though…

What do your friends say about your home?

  • Erm depends on the friend. Some love it and some say they’d struggle to keep it tidy. Just for the record, and Bobby will definitely attest to this, I am by no means tidy, although I am fairly organised. As soon as Stanley is in bed, he sweeps up all the toys and, to be honest, we regularly declutter things in our home.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

  • Our Hay chairs, although we did get a very good deal.

What has been your best DIY achievement?

  • Bobby designed our storage/shelving solution in the living room and a lot of people comment on it. I would say my favourite additions are the suspended Plumens and Boskke sky planters as they add height and depth to the room.

What’s the best thing about living where you do? 

  • We are just on the cusp of the city centre, we’ve got a park on our road, a football ground at the end of it, a train station a couple of streets over and it’s the perfect location for our family to access us from the ring road. From a locality perspective it really couldn’t be any better positioned!

I want to say a huge thank you Fiona for sharing your lovely home and taking the time, which I know is so precious, to answer my many questions. x

If you don’t already follow Fiona you can find her here: instagramblog, pinterest, twitter, facebook

Don’t forget to tune in next month for another Real {home} Life post and if you miss any you can see them all by hitting the REAL {home} LIFE button on the right side bar.

Resources List:

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Hay Boskke | Eames | Ikea | Lucky Boy Sunday | OMM | Plumen

Blogtacular! | thoughts

June 18th 2015
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Grace Bonney of Design Sponge 

Wow I survived my first ever blogging event! I had absolutely no idea what to expect but it was both awesome and exhausting. That may seem like a pretty pathetic start to a post but for someone who isn’t good at or can’t really be arsed with small talk then it really IS a big deal. My brain takes time to process… you know like really slow. I’m the one who hears a joke and then laughs 20 minutes later when it’s finally engaged with my brain!

My poor body was up at the crack of dawn to get a train from Up North to London. I was fairly prepared for the travel… food, notepads etc. I wasn’t however prepared for the awesomeness that ensued and the mind blowing information that I had to retain in my small, can’t remember anything, brain of mine. Thank god the seminars are video’d so we are able to re-watch them at our leisure later. FYI even those who didn’t attend can watch them. How awesome is that!

I wanted to chat and mingle with so many people but it was just so overwhelming that I didn’t talk to nearly half as many people as I wanted to. Also there should be a rule that you look EXACTLY like your IG, FB or blog avatar. I recognised so many faces but couldn’t place which blog or social media name they went under! I was terrified that I’d completely ignore someone I had a pretty good friendship with on social media, thankfully I don’t think I so much ignored as just didn’t get the opportunity to find them.  So if you are reading this and thinking ‘hey you! Ignoramus’. Please don’t be mad with me. I have a condition called stupid-itus and I have very few brain cells left to remember much more than my own name and address. So if you wear a flower crown on your avatar, or have your hair in a top bun, or have it blowing in the wind whilst you look away from the camera then please respectfully do the same wherever you go just in case you happen to bump into me.

For anyone I didn’t talk to… I’m sorry. For those I did, thank you for being so lovely. Everyone I talked to was just fabulous.

Whilst I was sat patiently on the train there were some blogtacular attendees meeting for the West Elm colour walk, lucky duckies they were, I really wanted to do the photo walk. Looking at the photos I’m thinking I could have just stalked them on the way and they’d never have known.

I dashed into the Royal Institution of Great Britain possibly a little panic stricken as it was 9.55am and I had to get rid of my overnight bag and coat in the cloakroom and everyone was already heading into the main Faraday Theatre for Grace Bonney’s opening keynote speech. I was a little hot and flustered I can tell you. Thankfully the first person I met was my long time IG friend Tip. I think I spent the first 10 minutes just prattling on and talking AT her. She was however very calm and understanding and hopefully she didn’t think I was a total nutbag? I was pretty much straight of the train, on the tube, into the conference and off we went! It was a packed out day and not sure I necessarily attended the right seminars for me but I went with what I thought would give me some answers. I don’t really want to talk too much about the seminars as I still have a lot to process and work out but I do want to share a few thoughts.

 

Goodie Bag

Firstly though I want to show the goody bag… it was filled with some great items from some amazingly creative sponsors. We were also rather spoilt in the evening too with a West Elm Pintacular event with canapés and drinks and lots of crafting activities as well as the chance to be able to relax and chat with people you’d met throughout the day or even a chance to grab and chat with the people you didn’t get a chance to chat with earlier. It was a very full but fun day.

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Speakers and seminars

I’m happy with the seminars I went to but I would possibly change tact next time. I’d like to try the styling sessions so I get to interact in the sessions a bit more but it was good to know that I already do some of the things that were suggested. However I think I’m far more focused on the things I need to up my game in and I’ve already started to make a few changes. The closing speaker, Anthony Peters, was in fact not a blogger, for which he apologised by showing us some very cute and funny photos of him as a child. We all forgave him rather quickly as he had some very wise words. He came across as very witty and charming and considering he was in a room predominately full of women he did an amazing job and had us all laughing and totally inspired by the end of it. He really topped off the day just right.

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Business Cards

The one thing I kept hearing and reading about was to have a business card with your details on it. I’m so glad I got my Mr to put something together. We were printing and spray mounting and cutting up on the Friday afternoon but I’m so glad we did it as I exchanged cards with quite a few people. Some I literally spoke to for a minute as we were dashing off to the next seminar, so the one thing I would absolutely recommend is to get a business card and put a photo on it. The photo was great advice as it’s easier to place a face than a name. The process of making my business card actually highlighted a few inconsistencies with my names! I started out blogging under flutterbymama so my twitter, IG etc is under that name. I also have an FB page, twitter and IG for TTT. These are some of the things I’m currently looking at changing.

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My business cards for TTT

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Bloggers business cards I exchanged with

 

Making, fun, discussion & shopping

Blogtacular put on a lovely spread of sandwiches, salad and fruit and a special chicken salad for those with certain requirements, me included! Nothing quite like sharing health stories over a yummy chicken salad. There was a room dedicated to crafting with Hannah & Davina from Seeds & Stitches. You could also get your photo taken courtesy of The Photo Booth Guys as well as get some advice about your blog from a panel of 3 lovely ladies. Along with all this you could, if you wished, do a little shopping from a small number of stalls including some of the sponsors. What more could you possibly want.

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Tea (Dinner) out at Leon

I was so thankful that Tiffany of Curate and Display took us for good clean healthy food at Leon’s. I don’t mind admitting that I was flagging by 6pm and needed a good meal filled with protein and good carbs.

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Ok, back to my thoughts… I started blogging in 2009 but, for me, it was a very different experience to now. There are bloggers I admire, some for their design, some for their content. I’ve always felt that blogging was a great way to find like-minded people and brilliant ideas. That is still true today but now we have so many other mediums like instagram, twitter and pinterest and these are ALL great ways to connect and share. I’m not sure exactly when things changed for me, I’ve started to take it a little more seriously but I don’t want to lose that element of fun. I’ve never been involved with sponsored posts or advertising but that’s not to say it isn’t something I won’t consider in the future, I’m just not at that place yet. I have a business to run and blogging is secondary to that. I know for a lot of bloggers that this is their full time job and also their only source of income. I applaud them for how well they run their blog ‘business’ and they should be taken just as seriously as anyone else running their own business.

I was lucky enough to share a room at the hostel with 3 very talented and serious bloggers. Sarah-Lou from Lapinblu, Lori of Wild and Grizzly and Mel from Geoffrey and Grace. There is a definite blogger ‘circle’ that these ladies are a part of and that’s through meeting at events and workshops held by third parties. They’ve become good friends and it shows just how serious they take their jobs in the blogging world. I’m a little envious they all have such a great circle to be a part of in their neck of the woods as there doesn’t appear to be any of that up North?! Hopefully that is about to change after meeting a lovely lady, through these three, who lives a little nearer to me. Nina from Nina Nixon blog is a fellow photographer and blogger and we plan to meet and chat about ideas for us bloggers in the North of England. That will be news for a much later post so do come back if you are interested in possibly being a part of something interesting up here.

What I was hoping to get out of Blogtacular was to know if blogging was worth pursuing. I don’t get a lot of comments or followers but when I do post it on IG I know people hop on over and read it and come back to leave a comment on IG. This is wonderful as it’s always nice to get feedback on a post whatever shape it takes. The important thing, and I already knew this, even though I may not have adhered to it, is to post regularly. Time is a factor in my blogging life as I know it is for everyone. I could stay up till after midnight but I choose not to as my health is suffering and until I can get my health in order then I can only manage what I can manage. I don’t plan to become one of the next big bloggers and I’m happy enough with that… for now ;) I’m happy to continue as I am but I’m going to plan more time to post a bit more often. I still want quality over quantity but I’m looking to plan a few more regular posts as well as sharing our weekend adventures when they happen or the odd recipe or health and wellbeing post.

Will I go to blogtacular again next year? Absolutely! Will I do anything differently? Hell yes! I’ll be taking my time and choosing the seminars very carefully. I will take time out to stop and talk to more people and to really connect rather than just swapping business cards. I’ll also be coming down on the Friday and try to connect with a few other people I know and generally just enable myself to slow down.

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Did you get to Blogtacular this year and if so what did you think? Would you head back again next year?

 

 

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Hi there!

Photographer :: designer :: blogger :: vintage hunter :: wife to @stecaton :: mama to a funny boy ::

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