#capturingcolour • Crockery

Last week the #capturingcolour gallery was filled with pretty china, patterned plates, ceramics bursting with florals and everything in between. I love having a new theme each week and I also love that people join in from all over the world sharing their colourful images.

I have still got boxes and boxes of my lovely crockery wrapped up in tissue and newspaper from when we moved house. Some boxes go back to Christmas 2013 which were frantically stored away when we sold out house and moved to a temporary home 10 minutes down the road. I look back on that week and still feel exhausted just thinking about it!

No Christmas tree, no furniture, just endless half packed boxes, being carted down the country lane, Rich and I sweating cleaning the house, filling holes and sanding for the new owners to move in just after new year. I think if you can get through a house move you can get through anything, and we did 3 in 18 months! Never ever again!!!

I have started fishing around with a torch for my beloved things, plates I have collected from car boot sales and charity shops, our wedding dinner service that I am determined not to just save for the most important of occasions and actually use and enjoy it. Crockery makes the perfect props and styling those little vignettes last week, helped calm me down, plus I got to share some old favourite images.

And the gallery was just divine. Heavenly styled stories, people sharing their treasured things. A visual treat.

Visit my Instagram post to find the accounts.

But oh my, when I saw this image it just made me want to jump right in! The atmosphere, the celebration, the impeccable styling. I wish I could go on their course!

Go find and follow Party Prep Workshop - there is colourful inspiration by the confetti filled bucket load!

Every week I find new accounts to follow and love that so many join in week on week. I love being part of different Instagram communities so make sure you join in with @its_my_week and their weekly challenge and the other hashtags I adore:

  • #natureinthehome 
  • #stylingtheseasons 
  • #mybelovedhomestyle
  • #styleatmine
  • #our_nest
  • #12monthsofhappystills
  • #mymondaymoodboard
  • #gatheredstyle
  • #itsamoodywednesday
  • #byarrangement #mythursdaybreaktime
  • #floralfridaycompetition #fridayfaffingcompetition
  • #collectedsaturday #frommykitchencompetition
  • #mymonthofsundays

This is by no means a full list but they are a few positive and supportive communities which will inspire you (And make you lose even more time on Instagram!).

What are your favourite hashtags? Do you join in with any weekly challenges or monthly prompts? I'd love to hear about them.

Tonight we have been busy packing for the big birthday trip to Paris! Granny is turning 60 and Ollie is turning 4 on Thursday and we shall be heading to London tomorrow evening to meet up with my mum, sister and her family, ready to board the Eurostar Wednesday morning. My brother and sister in law flew in from America to Paris today and are having a few days child free to enjoy wandering around. I cannot wait to join them! 

Have a great week, wherever you are in the world and come and share the colours of your week with the #capturingcolour gallery. Mine started with pastels and I can see red, white and blue for the rest of the week!

#capturingcolour is a weekly theme on Instagram. Tag your photos and post your COLOURS OF MY WEEK images this week. Show us what colours are inspiring you this week. I will share a round up next Monday :)

What causes nightmares? Top scary films that keep you awake at night featuring Slumberdown

It's no secret that we've struggled with bad dreams with our boys. We went through, what can only be described as, a hellish 18 months of night terrors with Sammy. Every night with almost no exception, we would have to console a sobbing, wet, sweaty mess every 2 hours. Nothing helped and we became completely exhausted with the situation. Exhausted and frustrated. I cringe when I think of how cross I got on a number of occasions at 4am when we'd only just got back to sleep.  It wasn't his fault, he couldn't help it and we felt powerless to stop it.

We tried it all, dream catchers, changing the temperature of his room, letting him sleep with us (which led to 18 months of Richard sleeping in the spare room - I promise that is not a good recipe for a happy marriage) and anything else Dr Google came up with.

It is horrible to watch your child have a nightmare, it's horrible having one yourself, but at least we can calm ourselves down. We know it's not real within a few seconds. They can't and it's heartbreaking. 

I'd like to think ours have never watched a film they shouldn't. Even the Lego movie felt a step too far. They are so impressionable, so vulnerable. I on the other hand, am a hopeless romantic. My ideal film finishes with two people getting married and having babies with a fast forward to the future to show that they did indeed have a happy ending! 

You feel like you are in a hopeless cycle, unable to soothe your most precious person who is literally screaming for your help. As one of the Slumberdown Ambassadors I am pleased that I have a way to share our experiences, to try and help other parents who are awake in the middle of the night with a distraught child, to know you are not alone. 

I ended up consulting our health visitor who as helpful as she tried to be, talked about this awful period as a phase, but it felt like a never ending phase! Two years on the bad dreams are back to a manageable amount. Once a week we will hear a scream, an inconsolable cry for one or both of us. The heat doesn't help. This muggy, sticky heatwave that is sweeping across Britain just leads to a soaking mess at 2am for us. Hot and bothered and full of vivid dreams that leave them confused and tearful.

But nightmares aren't just for children. I suffer occasionally, so does Richard and I've even woken up to a text message from a friend saying "I had a terrible dream about you last night, I just wanted to check all was ok." 

So I wanted to do something different on the blog, to get the boys opinion. 

Here they are...

Slumberdown recently carried out a study to try and find out what films make us adults petrified in the night. My sister is totally in the 25% category who need some sort of light on at night. For years she slept with the tv on on mute! 

We all kiss our children goodnight and often whisper sweet dreams as we leave their rooms. That's what we all want, the sweetest of dreams.

Have you seen any of these films?! I don't think I could get through any of them!

I'd love to know if your children suffer from nightmares too and what you have down to help them. Literally as I finished typing this at 11.54pm we heard a familiar sound... help!

How to be safe in the sun with Boots

With a heatwave hitting the UK this week, I have joined hundreds of thousands of other parents and set up water play in the garden, slapped Factor 30 on the boys before school and even managed 10 minutes in the garden yesterday for a long overdue hit of vitamin D.

I can't help it, I love the sun. I love the feeling of the sun on your face when you close your eyes, that powerful sensation of the sun's rays blasting your skin with warmth that transports you back to holiday memories, that stepping off the plane moment and being engulfed by heat.

But after a lovely brunch with the sun safety team from Boots, I was amazed by how little I knew about really being safe in the sun. I listened to the horror stories from the pharmacist, the tales of the little babies being brought in with sun burn after every spike in the weather. And the everyday stories that I just hadn't given my full attention to. Holiday tips, device for the children, easy things to forget.

The brunch took place at the beautiful Folly Restaurant in London. Every where you looked was a photo opportunity! We headed downstairs to a private room, with a table laden with goodies and suncream!

We all shared our sun safety stories, I told them all how I cringe when I look back at our holiday photos, because there's a common theme. Not only did we seem to only take holiday photos at dinner with a drink in our hands but all I now see are burnt faces, orange skin, all natural, but all damaging! At the time I remember feeling more confident, happier about my body and without a care, smothered my precious skin in Factor 15 and Factor 8 oil. OIL! What was I thinking?!

Quite frankly I can see now I look ridiculous. I can see in a lovely photo with our best friends that they look healthy and sun kissed and I look like a female David Dickinson (Oh and spot the helpful red eye correction tool baaahhhh!). And this year when we head to warmer climes I am going to put to the test everything I learnt from Boots. You can still tan and protect yourself! You can fake it rather than bake it!

I sat in a school assembly last Friday and was chatting with one of the other mums whilst we waited for the class to arrive. And we got onto the subject of sun cream before school and she pulled up a photo on her phone. A friend of hers specialises in skin analysis and she had been for her own comprehensive skin test. The sun damage photo was frightening. You can't really see it when you look at her, it's what you will see as she gets older.

As much as I would love to have my own face analysed I'm not sure I'd like the results. I know I've been silly, worn cheap sunglasses, not protected my body on a sunny Saturday in England. I've burnt the skin on my chest numerous times and that will show when I hit 40. Already I can see my chest is a little bit crinkly instead of smooth. Aaah! I've peeled like a snake, burnt my lips, all for an orangey glow that fades before you've got up to date with post holiday washing. 

As parents we do everything we can to protect our children. We know they need to wear sun protection suits, stay out of the midday sun, wear hats and high factor protection. But we don't seem to apply the same care to ourselves. So here are a few tips I heard from the Boots team that I won't forget in a hurry.

  • A wet t-shirt offers you ZERO protection from UV rays. UV sun suits are more expensive than regular swimwear and so it should be! 
  • Look at your surroundings. Grass, the pool even buildings are all reflective surfaces and bounce sun rays back onto your bodies. So if you are heading to Greece where a lot of the architecture is white - remember even in the shade those stone and painted buildings will reflect the UV rays right back at you!
  • Sunglasses are not a fashion statement! I think there's a common misconception that sunglasses are cool for a photo and not a necessity. I know I've got the boys to pose for a photo and then the sunglasses get discarded onto the grass. Protecting your eyes is an absolute essential. Look out for the CE mark on labels to be sure even a cheap pair of sunglasses offer UV protection. As parents we persevere with hats for babies and kids but we let them not wear sunglasses. We need to think if them as equally important!
  • 80% of your eyes lifetime exposure to UV light and damage will have happened by the time you are 18. That is a scary fact! I know I've let the boys play with iPads or our phones for some quiet time around the pool but NO don't do it! Screens act as a terrible reflector bouncing the UV rays straight into your kids faces! So I will be leaving the screens in the hotel room this year. 
  • Suncream has a shelf life of just one year. Boots unlike many others, don't rotate their stock so you know when you buy your new supply each year it's in date and good to go! Don't keep it in the fridge either. When you apply it don't rub too hard or it will separate and stay on top of your skin in cloggy lumps, which we then work even harder to rub in! Lotions are much more moisturising for your skin than aerosol sprays and a golf ball sized amount is enough to cover a toddler head to toe
  • If you suffer from insect bites in the heat wear light coloured clothes and avoid perfume, they love it! Be extra careful with your ankles and wrists too, it's where we often miss rubbing lotion or spraying a repellant and they get us!
  • Your skin remembers where it was burnt, which is why you will burn again and again in the same place. Sun burn is not big and it's not clever. It just hurts.

Thank you to Boots for opening my eyes to all these top tips. I shared with the group how I almost felt embarrassed to be the "over protective" British mother with her lily white children on the beach in Spain last year. Covering them from head to toes in UV suits and taking them off just for 20 minutes or so to get a vitamin D burst (which they all need everyday!) towards the end of the day.

All children under 5 should take a vitamin D supplement and have around 15-20 minutes of sunshine every day without being smothered in sun block. 

Neither of mine have ever taken vitamin supplements and it's made me realise, in a busy life, how easy it is to rush home from school, eat tea, watch some television and miss out on that precious time outside. Tell me I'm not the only one?!

We are heading for a hot country this month - any other tips you'd recommend for keeping them cool?!


For more expert advice visit their Web MD page

Bedtime Routines for Boys • Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project June

We had a lovely weekend planned, a trip to a lovely hotel, a real treat for the four of us, plus the westies who had hotel dog baskets waiting. And then a sick bug struck and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. 

No trip to see their little cousin at the splash park near Granny's house and no visit to the beautiful hotel and it's array of photo opportunities around every corner! I'd left our family photo for this Me and Mine post a little on the late side. I'd shared one of my new favourites of us at the Colour Run a couple of weeks ago earlier in the month and then last night it dawned on me what we should photograph.

The new bedtime routine.

I thought having boys would mean you miss out on playing hair dressers, teaching someone how to tie plaits and put on make up. Turns out boys are just as curious! It's just you who ends up the guinea pig! The boys have started this new routine, which I suspect is to eek out bedtime, which is totally working, where they want to play with my hair.

I have always been a sucker for my hair being brushed or plaited, it's like a complete wave of relaxation comes over me and I fall into a trance! So I am quite happy to oblige this calming routine before lights out.

I have to sit in a certain way, they each have their places in the bed. We HAVE to have a mirror on hand to check the progress and pretend it's the screen in the Photo Booth like we are snapping a new passport photo. "Is your face in the circle Mama" Sammy demands over and over again before making a "click" sound!

They always want to apply liquid eyeliner. Like they are supernaturally drawn to the make up that could cause most damage to your duvet covers. And as much blusher ends up on the cheek as does little tiny specks of powder over the pillow cases.

But what does it matter, because I realised it's a really intimate moment between us.

Their concentration, their close proximity, personal space gets put aside to draw on my eyelids and line my lips like a clown in cerise lip stain. I show them I trust them. 

We come to the big reveal and I have to hide my horror that I look a little like a badly made up entertainer in Bangkok because they think I look beautiful. They are so proud that they have helped me be beautiful. I remember my Mum retelling a story once about the day my brother realised she wasn't the most beautiful woman in the world. I think he was about 8 and the illusion was shattered!

The boys have no awareness of what's attractive or what's pretty. They feel love and to them that's what make something beautiful. 

If only we could all stay this way!

And how good is Rich for letting them make him up too. Not quite sure pink is his colour!

The next few weeks are a whirlwind. But a good tornado rather than a destructive one! July is a big work month for me, I am shooting a book. A real actual, I'll be able to hold it in my hands, book. It's the most terrifying thing I have ever done but I am determined not to let my nerves get the better of me. 5 days of non stop food photography with people I admire, people I have worked with for a few years, who know me, know my background, know my blog. 

So I am heading to London on Saturday to help me brush up on my skills, learn from some experts at a Food Photography and Styling course with Emily and Catherine, whilst the boys have fun at the village annual Summer fair. 

Next week is the big birthday week. Mum's 60th and Ollie's 4th Birthday bash in Paris! We have one day at Disneyland and 2 days in paris itself with my brother and sister in law who are flying in from America to join us. If you have any tips hit me with them please!

We have holidays, a big order for the tea company to deliver and extra birthday surprises for my Mum this month. Bring it on. 

Last month I felt completely overwhelmed with the pace of life but this month I am embracing it. It's amazing how a mind set can help you with that illusive balance. I am trying to think more proactively, giving myself space in a day to just plan and next on my list to to try and eat better and get fitter. I look back at photos of us last year and see a different person, whose Summer clothes feel a wee bit tight this July. Small changes lead to big changes and that's what I am going to try. Not set radical goals but stepping stones to a bigger goal at the end. 

It really feels like the beginning of our Summer adventure. I am counting down the days until we step onto the Eurostar, til I get to squeeze my brother (February feels like forever ago) and really spoil my Mum. She does EVERYTHING she can for us all. Now it's our turn to make her feel looked after. I do hope being looked after constitutes fancy dress on the train!

July is full of leap of a cliff moments for us, but we are in it together.

So let's jump!

capture by lucy.jpg

This month I want to send you to Lucy's blog. Lucy is the blogger I was talking about in this post so I owe her a lot! Without her, I wonder whether this Me and Mine Project might have drifted, but she keeps us all together. Thank you. 

#capturingcolour • Favourites

I can't believe it's been a whole year since #capturingcolour started on Instagram. It started as a collaborative project by a pair of lovely bloggers My Two Mums and has evolved into what it is today. I was lucky to be part of the colour loving team a year ago who encouraged their followers to embrace colour, seek out a rainbow on a dark and gloomy day and fill their squares full of every hue you can imagine.

Everyone loves colour, we just love it in different ways and over the last 6 months I've had the pleasure of hosting this wonderful hashtag as part of my blog. Colour is at the heart of everything I do. It changes my mood, it changes the atmosphere of my photos and it's something that unites so many people.

I was so thrilled to be featured in the #nothingisordinary gallery over the weekend, with others sharing their rainbow photos to celebrate the momentous ruling in America. Love always wins.

I share a new theme idea each week and am in awe of the creative talent of the Instagrammers joining in. I feel like I came late to Instagram. I sat in a conference in the Summer of 2013 with a blogger called Lucy and she gave me a 5 minute blasting on how amazing Instagram was and how much I would love it. I thought, rather foolishly, that it was another platform that I would have the pressure to feel like I had to conquer, to understand, to have a very public following on. And it all felt too much. The filters didn't feel right to me, it felt like a playground just for the cool kids. 

How wrong can a girl be?! I chat more on Instagram with some of my closest confidantes than anywhere else! 

I love all my social media platforms, they all have a place but Instagram has my heart. Everyday I feel encouraged, supported, embraced and really quite loved. I feel connected to my followers and am astonished that so many people are interested in my daily photo journal. It blows me away! Thank you. 

That's what it has become, my record of our everyday adventures. Little things, snippets of a moment, not telling the full story but a whisper. A corner of our home, a hand, the edge of a plate. It's a way I can share our story without feeling the need to be in it. Does that make any sense?! I've realised I don't share many photos of me and I guess that's ok, I feel so much more comfortable behind the lens. I just can't do the wistful looks, I don't have the bikini body or the perfect pout. I am a cheesy grin kind of girl. I've tried, but I always end up with two sets of teeth like a lama. I need a selfie stick to hide the chins ;)

Last week's #capturingcolour was all about celebrating favourites. Favourite people, places, old photos and a reason to reshare them! I think the essence of Instagram has changed since it first started. It's not just about sharing the literal moment you are in it's about capturing a feeling, sharing the way you feel at that moment, even with a photo that was taken days or weeks ago. 

So this was my week. 

Sharing snippets from my year all in one week. Favourite new friends and their beautiful homes, favourite drinks that just take me back to a balmy Summer's evening like being hit by a train, and Ollie's pink party. How can my boy be 4 next week?! It feels like he's been 4 for a while, a big boy ready for school, but then his pronunciation will falter and we hear this 3 year old babble, and we love it. 

I asked him at bedtime tonight what he'd really love for his birthday and he said "A thing that comes with sweets, with a Minion, Mama, you know a Minion, with sweets, they come out of his mouth."

Forget the trip to Disneyland Paris next week, in his wildest birthday dreams my boy would just love a Minion theme Pez. That we can do. 

And these were a few favourites of the favourites week! Head over to Instagram to find the accounts...

And don't forget to have a browse through the gallery, every week there are inspiring new accounts to follow. Take a peek

But in keeping with the celebration of rainbow pride I saw this colourful photo and loved the caption so much it had to be my ultimate favourite from the week.

Check out Berran's absolutely beautiful feed! It is a treat. 

housedesignberry instagram.jpg

Now come and join in with this week's theme of CROCKERY. I love seeing people's mugs of tea first thing in the morning, their plates of food at lunchtime and beautifully placed jugs with flowers. Come and be part of the fun!

#capturingcolour is a weekly theme on Instagram. Tag your photos and post your CROCKERY images this week. I will share a round up next Monday :)