#capturingcolour • arrangements

I guess it might be something to do with living in a project house, but ever since we moved I have taken to creating little arrangements around the house. I realised I did it in our last house but here it feels all the more important. That in amongst the chaos and crumbling paintwork there are  patches of niceness. 

I wish I knew how to properly arrange flowers. The posy making workshop I went on was a real eye opener and I have all these receptacles and vessels just waiting to be filled with a nice block of oasis. I love that arrangements mean so many things to different people. I join in a few hashtags religiously and love the inspiration I see from all the creative accounts. #gatheredstyle on a Tuesday hosted by @aquietstyle, #fridayfaffingcompetition on... you've guessed it Fridays with @katherinedorrington, @juliabesidethesea and @am_i_dreaming_now and on a Thursday #byarrangements with @sarahnotes, to name just a few.

This was my week of arrangements.

The #capturingcolour gallery grows each week and the way in which we all see colour differently just blows me away! Here were some favourites. Pop over to my Instagram feed for the account details. 

But my absolute favourite had to be this pin board. Captured by Amanda in her teenagers room. Doesn't this take you right back to your teens?!!! When you didn't realise what a skill it is to create a mood board like this?! Companies pay creative consultants thousands and yet the next generation of talent could take on the world! Amanda has a beautiful gallery, so fresh and soulful. Go check it out here

smallacornsamanda instagram

My sister kindly came to stay over the weekend and blitzed my new office. 5 bin bags later of half broken, half ripped paper and odd bits left over from parties, I have a proper space to work in. I'll be sharing some photos on the blog next week, after some finishing touches. All the old walls have been given a fresh coat of white and the pine woodwork is now sparkling and clean. No more yellow it's a white fest! But the old beams have been untouched and the fold down wooden table the previous owner used for all her paints is still there. And it's fast becoming my new favourite prop. 

So this week come and share your creative interpretations of "ON WOOD". Think wooden surfaces, garden tables, fences, wooden spoons anything that you can capture on a wooden surface. 

Just take a look at the gallery and all the beautiful images joining in already. 

I am busy this week gearing up for Sammy's camping party, managed to persuade the Scouts to loan us a tent for the garden and have 20 red spotty hanky party bags on sticks to make up tomorrow night, after a day shooting for a local smoothie company Flower Field Smoothies. How exciting!

#capturingcolour is a weekly theme on Instagram. Tag your ON WOOD photos this week. Favourites will be featured next Monday :)

Surprise Project Swap • The #summertimesurpriseproject

I felt like I had a bit of a wake up call after Christmas, that I followed and am followed by all these lovely people and yet I'm not sure I've nailed it in bringing them all together. I try and share different content and photos across my social media channels and hope that people find my blog post links and meet here in the middle of it all. But I wanted something that would tie us all together. 

I find in the world of blogging, that when you find someone you love reading, it leads to another and then another. I scroll through the accounts I love and see who they follow (Not in a stalker way like that sounds of course!) and find likeminded souls like me who inspire my photography, writing and the way I want to blog. Positively. 

I know it's all too rosy around here, quite often literally, with floral photos shoe horned into almost every post. But I hope these posts make people smile, a 5 minute read on a break from loading the washing machine, scraping leftovers off plates and other glamorous things that go on in our house like sorting the recycling on a Friday night. 

So you can imagine my sheer delight when I, rather nervously, launched the idea of my own swap project, and the sign ups started to ping into my inbox. It's a scary thing, starting something that relies on other people to join in, for a moment you dread no one will take part, no one will get the sentiment and that it will be a three way swap between my mum and my sister, oh and my sister in law in the US for a international flavour! But no, I was completely overjoyed at the hundreds that took part, sending pretty parcels all over the world! From the UK to the US, from Holland to Australia and to the UAE. Just incredible. 

I totally stand by my little tag line. About making the ordinary extraordinary. I read the same quote when it pops up in my Facebook or Pinterest feed about concentrating on the ordinary and letting the extraordinary take care of itself. But in my mind, I like to seek out those extra special moments in the blur that is ordinary life. Like taking an extra second at bedtime, when Ollie does his night time ritual. Tight squeeze, we have to say "Aah too tight!" and then he has to kiss you on the lips quickly. A blink and you've missed it, sometimes with puppy, the manky old soft dog he's has since he was born, who last night took the liberty of licking my glasses, Ollie proudly reported. Taking an extra minute as I close their door to appreciate that intimate ritual, he only shares with those he adore the most. 

And something so ordinary as sending a letter in the post does extraordinary things. I watched as the #springtimesurpriseproject gallery on Instagram grew and grew. The kindness of strangers. New friendships, new connections, a celebration of something so very ordinary. Posting something nice to someone just because. No birthday, no Christmas, just a celebration of springtime!

Just look. And this isn't all of them, I will add more later!

And my Twitter favourite button went into overdrive, saving post after post shared on the internet from bloggers who had taken part. I had specifically not asked anyone to blog the surprise project. I didn't want anyone feeling obliged to talk about it, to feel they had. I hoped people would want to, share their partner details, spread a little love for this concept of joining in a new community. Take a peek.

Check out these fab blogs The Mama Story, The Twinkle Diaries, Nomad Seeks Home, Life, Ninja Killer Cat, Baking Betsy, Me You and Magoo, This is Wiss, Real Housewife of Suffolk, Sit Still Monkeys, Floral and Feather, Celebrate Creation, This Little Space of Mine, Dark TeaCardNest, Clarina's Contemplations, Ling Yeung B, My Mummies Pennies, My Life My Love, We Made This Home, Scraps of Us.

If I have missed anyone I will update the post and add some more photos too. 

I loved that Facebook friends from the real world (That sounds completely insane because over the last year the lines between my virtual life and real life have completely intertwined.) took part, that when I opened the next swap project up, my brother and sister were amongst the first to tap in their details. That even the handful of people who are still waiting for their parcels (I am a big believer in giving people the benefit of the doubt, and hope they will still honour their part of the project, if not, there will be a parcel from me next week.) have signed up again, because just like me they love the idea of something nice for no other reason than it feels good to be part of something nice.

Friendly, kind, creative people. My kind of people.

I would love you to join in the #summertimesurpriseproject. The idea is that you swap a £5 parcel with a stranger. You can choose whether your partner lives in the UK or abroad and you get the chance to tell your partner a little about yourself, so they give you some clues. Come and join in here!

Thank you so much for embracing this idea, for being the most supportive readers. I am feeling totally in love with blogging for all the right reasons. Because it makes me happy! Ooh and this happened too... I am over the blooming moon to be in the finals!

So you have just 24 hours or so to sign up for the next surprise project. The sign up form will close at midnight on Sunday 24th May 2015, GMT. You can find it here

Something else is closing this week too. Nominations for the MAD Blog Awards ends on the 27th May. If you think my blog has a place in the MADs this year you can vote here. Thanks so much! Happy Bank Holiday from the UK! 

Secret Linen Store • Forcing ourselves to live life in the slow lane

Our life is a million miles an hour. For years I have made the same new year's resolution. 2 out of 4 weekends must be kept free. But every year, we book up our calendar with lovely things and life continues at break neck speed. The trouble is I love it. I thrive on it, it was the same when I worked in an office. I was at my best when I was running around like a headless chicken! Here we are on the 21st May and we don't have a single weekend free until mid September!

But whether it's having children, moving house 3 times in a year or juggling three part time jobs, (You do the maths...!) I need some calm in my life. It's fair to say that taking on the responsibility of a 300 year old house has been an eye opener. We love it, we love it as it is and we love it for what it can be. It's the transition period that's more tricky. You have all these grand plans, things to do now, things for a year's time, things for your retirement! 

And slowly we are working through a giant, house shaped to do list. 

Every wall needs repainting, every bit of skirting needs sanding or replacing, there's a few holes that leak, a few bowls that get put out in the conservatory and on one of the window seats. We have barely touched upstairs, unless you count my over eager fingers ripping up the carpets in our bedroom and peeling off a little tempting corner of ceiling paper in the bathroom. Richard was not impressed. 

Downstairs feels more like us, we've renovated the grown up lounge and family dining room and given the conservatory-now-playroom a quick budget update. But our bedroom is a mess. Floorboards half sanded, the remnants of the sticky underlay around the skirting boards. All our old dark wooden furniture, that we bought especially for the extension at our old house, now completely swamps our more delicate country room. There are always piles of clothes to put away, a leftover weekend bag on the floor. We seem to pack up as much as we unpack at the moment! It feels temporary and unloved but it's a sanctuary.

We collapse into bed each night with relief. We hear elephant footsteps almost every night, sometimes one set, sometimes two, from the boys' attic room, heading down to the comfort of our bed. All Winter we've had an electric blanket cranked up to the max and now the warmer weather has come we've started to appreciate what a lovely room we have. The dual aspect windows show us the reason we moved here. Birds, trees, breeze. A garden strewn with toys, that changes with the seasons. And we realised we need to make more of this room. Even if a bathroom makeover and renovation are a while away.

So I was so happy when I found a new friend on Instagram and jumped at the chance to share their beautiful bedding range with you. The Secret Linen Store shouldn't be a secret. I want to shout it from the rooftops! Remember that feeling as a child of slipping into a sleeping bag, that shiny cocoon feeling of being wrapped up in slinky cotton wool? Well imagine a grown up version! 

Molly and Harriet are two sisters (with 87 fish between them - yes I love a good about us page) who have founded something to be proud of. Exquisite, exclusive and understated designs you won't find anywhere else with a passion for thread counts. Rich and I rely more and more on the internet since living in a rural village and even more so on couriers collecting our returns! I like to be able to see and feel things before I buy them and almost every bedding company never offers samples before you buy.

Well not with the Secret Linen Store you can order free samples to rub between your fingers, compare with your interior decor and as many as you like! 

All the range has that elusive calming element that we have been so desperate for. A palette of sumptuous, luxurious prints and patterns for your elegant space. I am completely drawn to blues, and knew straight away the Meadow Indigo Blue Cotton set was the one for us. I love that you can turn the duvet over and have the alternative colour way, and that the pillow cases are extra roomy! Line dry it and you don't have to iron it too! 

From the moment the potato sack packaging arrived I knew I would love it. Harriet and Molly have thought of every detail. The sample packaging, little extras, tea bags in a stripy paper bag and their unique branding is effortlessly stamped over every little detail. 

They have sourced the best suppliers in Portugal to share something you can't find on the high street. At incredible prices! They even know that most of us shop in the wonderful world that is IKEA and have a range especially for their speciality sizes. They are very honest that there's no fancy shop, no big warehouse and no middle men. 

The first day we put the bedding set on we ended up going back to bed for a nap!!! I don't think we have ever done that before! For the first time in a long time I'm heading to bed with a cup of tea and a favourite magazine to read cover to cover. The one o' clock bedtimes are slowly fading into the past at last! It's funny how when you change your surroundings you can change your routine. Sometimes you need to be something to force you to go slow. 

The house doesn't let us change it quickly. There's planning restrictions and immense preparations every time. But it's a good thing! 

We need an excuse to slow down. To let the dogs upstairs for a treat on a Sunday when we wake up at home. Mabel isn't keen at all of course... no wait, she'd sleep with us every night if we let her!

I've always lived by the philosophy of making the most of what you've got and something simple like updating our bedding has transformed our room! I stacked up my favourite old issues of magazines I want to read again on the bedside table and this weekend I am going to relish a lazy Saturday with no reason to get up, other than to make my boys breakfast in bed and bring it back upstairs. 

And maybe let the westies up too!

The Secret Linen Store have also just launched a range of children's bedding. I love that they have developed designs that will grow with your children. No characters that are loved one birthday and out of favour the next. Timeless, classic yet contemporary prints and colours that will bring an interior flair to your kiddies rooms. 

And I have a special give-away for you too! The Secret Linen Store have 2 cushion covers of your choice to WIN! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, this Instagram photo or Facebook post. Now what will you choose?!

The competition is open until the end of May, which colour way do you love the most?

Ooh and head over to the Secret Linen Store website - there's 10% off for the bank holiday weekend! 

Thank you to the Secret Linen Store for our beautiful bedding.

#capturingcolour • Family

I was overwhelmed with all the lovely comments from this post and it was such a pleasure to see all the fingers and toes and smiley faces in the #capturingcolour gallery last week. I love sharing photos of the boys (they love it less) and this week I tried to capture the moment more, no tripod, no remote, no "urgh Mama, not me and Mine time again!" How rude! I do remind them that these are precious photos, photos they will look back on and be glad I took!

A friend of mine was talking about the digital footprint we are all leaving for our children. And I hadn't really thought about it properly until this week. As a parent who blogs I reply on the boys. I rely on them being part of this blog, really without asking them at all. At 5 and 3 they have no understanding about the wonder and the danger of the internet bar Youtube videos of roller coasters!

As "mummy bloggers" or "daddy bloggers" for that matter, we post week after week about our children. And as mine have got older I've realised they've featured a little less. I want them to want to be part of this blogging journey. But I didn't ask whether they wanted to be part of it. Whether they wanted their quiet down time moments after school snapped for my social media feed, whether they wanted our holidays documented, a digital scrap book of memories for the world to see. When I started this blog just over 3 years ago, I had no idea where it would lead, if anyone other than my Mum would read it. And the boys have been swept up in the ride! So I wanted to dedicate a week especially for them. To appreciate how much they, quite frankly, put up with, having a blogger as a mama. Blogging has changed my life for the better. It has changed their lives for the better. 

I talk about making the ordinary extraordinary but I used to say my site was about capturing the milestone moments and the moments in between and I still stand by that sentiment. It's about capturing those holding hands moments, those cheeky telepathic smiles, that only the boys know what they are saying, the silent moments. 

I loved that the #capturingcolour was full of bumps, babies and beyond! Families made up of two, three, four and more. Family doesn't mean babies. It's what family means to you. I don't think I understood just how much I count our bestest friends as family until now. Rich and I went to school together, went through University together and have a handful of closest friends who we think of our extended family. Friends we spend birthdays with, who text you when they know you are struggling and who we couldn't be without. I love that we can pick up exactly where we left off, even if there's a year between proper cuddles. FaceTime is good, but real hugs are better. 

I loved this image from the gallery and this one too. Check them out. 

And this grid just made me feel full of love. Love for new beginnings, of family we haven't even met yet, for motherhood and for moments. 

I guess there was a moment when I felt like whoah, we are about to be a family of our own. And this photo took me right back, like I'd been dragged 50ft backwards in an instant. I wish wish wish I'd had a maternity shoot. Rich took some lovely photos of me and my stretch marks (one day I must share them on the blog) but I kind of wish I'd been with a stranger. Does that make any sense?! I would have quite like to have been wrapped in petals!

I saw this image by Lisa and it stopped me in my tracks. What a precious photograph ahead of the thousands of the baby that will come!

lisaniederer

This week is all about ARRANGEMENTS. I thought about this theme and the fact that anyone can join in! Share a photo of a little corner of your home, a collection of things on a piece of paper, a styled photo especially for Instagram. 

I look in disbelief that there are now over 13,000 posts linked up to #capturingcolour! Thank you so much for supporting this wonderful gallery! 

I am catching up this week after a weekend away. On Friday morning we headed to a lovely friend's wedding in Brixham in Devon, then went straight to Poole where the boy's were kindly looked after by my in laws. We drove to Southampton on Sunday for our niece's Christening and landed at home with two tired boys, a little past their bedtime on Sunday night. But do you know, it's all worth it. 

To have a whole afternoon in a room, or rather a garden with our family. There were family members we hardly ever see, Auntie's and Uncles who we get to spend just 2 or 3 times year with, cousins who span 2 generations. But when we are all together it's just perfect. They wait for me on the beach to take a photo for my Instagram feed, they don't mind when they have to step in and be models for my product photography work. They listen to my endless, intricate ideas for a camping party. They are awesome.  They nominate me for a MAD blog Award. I love them!

psst you can nominate too here... my blog is http://www.capturebylucy.com (Only if you want to!)

#capturingcolour is a weekly theme on Instagram. Tag your ARRANGEMENT photos this week. Favourites will be featured next Monday :)

I need more sleep - Slumberdown Ambassador Announcement

We always say when we walk around a supermarket that you can spot a newborn parent. There's a mum gently swaying with her trolley (with no baby in it) because it's become quite normal to rock back and forwards as if you are at sea. Then there's a dad at the checkout who appears to be sleeping with his eyes open, getting 20 seconds of rest whilst the kind checkout person offers to help pack the bags. You head into parenthood knowing it's going to be tiring. Everyone joked when I was waddling like a penguin at 8 months pregnant, "Get those lie-ins in while you can, kiss goodbye to those full nights of sleep!"

What we didn't expect was that, 6 years down the line, we would feel just as exhausted as those early days! Ok, so we are not up pacing the hallway, singing lullabies and squirting milk onto our forearms, leaving little splodges all over the carpet, but almost every night we hear a little cry, sometimes a whimper, sometimes a scream, followed by a thud as one or both of the boys clamber out of bed and head to us.

Our boys have never been – what I have enviously read about others' children – "good sleepers". Since we moved last September, I can probably count on one hand how many nights they have slept for a solid 8 or so hours. I worry when they stay over with grandparents that they will wake with a nightmare and Sammy is missing out on sleepovers with his friends because we just don't trust that he wouldn't need us to drive over in the middle of the night to settle him. And sleep deprivation does horrible things to you, doesn't it?! Suddenly you want to cry at the foot of the stairs when you realise you've dropped a sock from the pile of washing in your arms back up on the top step. Little things just tip you over the edge. We become a house of crocodiles all snapping at each other, Rich and I competing for the coveted title of 'Most Tired 2015'. Of course there's no prize for the winner, but still we spar back and forwards over how many times each of us got up to tuck them back in, who had one of them snuggled into us, running their cold feet up and down your calves at 3am, and who got relegated to their bed in the attic room. 

And then when I'm lying in the darkness at 4am, stroking those floppy locks and feeling my pyjamas soaked against my skin with their tears, I realise they aren't waking up on purpose. That when you have a bad dream (last night it was about caterpillars), you just need a cuddle, a human security blanket, like puppies who curl up in a pile, sharing the comfort of hearing each other's heartbeats.

Slumberdown

Motherhood is tough, parenthood is tough. I remember sharing those grainy selfies in the middle of the night, as a cry for help, and being so thankful for the positive comments from all the other mums and dads out there going through the same. For us those times aren't just contained to when they are poorly or a handful of odd occasions, it's almost every single night. And sleep is the one thing you can't do without! We've even tried pushing their beds together to make a big double for them but they still prefer piling in with us. Ollie loves to wriggle into the curve of your body, with his head in the crook of my arm, and Sammy would quite happily sleep on my chest every night, like a newborn. And if he creeps in without me noticing, which his stealth like feet does manage on occasions, he loves to climb on my back, like a baby turtle, to be the closest he possibly can.

So I was thrilled to be asked to represent Slumberdown this year as one of their Ambassadors, alongside 2 of my favourite bloggers Katie from Mummy Daddy Me and Tara from the Sticky Fingers Blog. I need help, we need help, but we are not sure quite what to do. We keep saying, oh Sammy is still so little at 6, he won't be wanting to sleep with his mummy when he's 13, but I'm not sure that's a sustainable answer for our broken nights! When we moved we knew it was going to be another change to deal with, another unsettled time, so we raced to redecorate their attic bedroom first, a joint big boys' room, with new bits and their favourite familiar old bits. They'd had their own rooms in our last house but wanted to share a room when we finally moved in. If you fancy a nose you can see their aeroplane bedroom tour here!

Slumberdown appreciate that there are all sorts of reasons why we have trouble sleeping. As part of their commitment to helping every family to get a better night's sleep, they teamed up with Professor Jason Ellis PHD who is the Professor of Sleep Science at Northumbria University, to bring you The Sleep Clinic. Now it may seem obvious, what we need to do to get more sleep, but do we actually do them in practise. Rich and I sit up on our phones, I regularly take one more peek at my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds with the light of the screen hidden under the duvet at gone midnight. 

I'd never thought about buying us all different pillows based on the way we sleep. It hadn't crossed my mind that there are pillows specially designed for people like me who sleep on their front, or for Rich who always sleeps on his side. We use the same duvet all year round, out of habit, and it hadn't really occurred to me that changing the tog of our duvet for the changing seasons could help our tired bodies!

slumberdown.jpg
Slumberdown

Over the next year we are going to be road testing the fantastic range of Slumderdown products, carrying out some family sleep challenges, I will try and keep the no make up-hair like a bird's nest first thing in the morning photos to a minimum, in the hope that we can really make a difference to our sleeping patterns. 

We use the phrase, we just can't go on like this for much longer. There's only so long we can cope with our hectic work lives, busy family weekends and the house renovations on broken sleep. We are going to test out all the advice from The Sleep Clinic, trial a week of no screens in the bedroom, (I have warned my husband this is a sleep trial, not an excuse for any funny business trial!) getting to bed earlier, ditching the mid week drinks habit we've slipped into and lots of other ideas to help settle the boys at night.

I always remember my Granny and Grandpa had feather duvets. They were so well loved, I'd notice a couple of feathers float out onto the floor every time we visited, but they just felt so sumptuous, like a luxurious cuddle from a cloud when you were tucked into bed. I love that Slumberdown have their own range of goose and duck feather quilts and pillows which, even the boys, noticed were different from their regular covers. We snapped some photos before we made up the beds and even the woofers wanted to get in the action! No no no! As much as we love you, we are not spoiling you westies with feathers in your stinky bed! Even if you are super cute. 

Make sure you follow Slumberdown on Twitter and Facebook. They have great competitions to win products for your family running all the time! 

In fact you can enter here to win new pillows and duvets for your entire family! Check the site for full terms and conditions. Good luck! I'll be hosting some fab giveaways too, so make sure you check back in soon. 

So what are your sleep problems? Do your kids sleep through? Are you one of the lucky ones?! I'd love to hear what keeps you up at night. Sometimes my head is so spinning with ideas I have to keep a pen and notepad next to me, so I don't end up with them whirring through my brain all night!

I am so happy to be part of the Slumberdown family this year, here's to hopefully finally getting our sleep issues under control! If only there were this quiet and angelic every night! 

Slumberdown