Thursday, 3 September 2015

What I Wore - Dressing Up & Down

It occurred to me that whilst I have taken many What I Wore shoots in Paris, including the majority of my Maternity Series they are not always obviously in Paris. The difficulty about taking photos in an 'obvious' Paris location is that it is filled with tourists who walk around messing up my shots, clearly evidenced in the picture below.
I am determined to try and keep my sense of self and style whilst being a mum. This can be hard as a full time working mother and on some days I find it impossible. I have tried to find new ways to feel good and be practical and in all honesty I have enjoyed the challenge of finding outfits out of my comfort zone. I have become very aware of fabrics that crush easily as I may be crawling through a tunnel at some point and will almost certainly have a small person wriggling and hugging on my lap for a vast portion of the day. Another thing I find hard now is feeling sexy, not for anyone else for myself, my own self worth. This black top was ideal as it has a crushed fabric effect already, one issue covered, and it has a low plunging back. I am a fan of my back, I rarely see it, but I know it's there and I am more than happy with how it looks. I teamed this top with a flowing jersey skirt, not the usual fitted variety I would have normally chosen. I have enjoyed finding new ways to express my style and be practical and I love that I have a tiny person in my life who makes me crawl through tunnels, climbs all over me and leaves me with a strange and somewhat permanent odour.
Outfit Details

Top - Zara 
Sandals - Birkenstock
Skirt - H&M
Necklace - Ebay
Sunglasses - Zara

Monday, 31 August 2015

How To Decorate With Neutrals - With Pride & Joy Paints

Over the years people have become more adventurous in the way that they decorate their homes. I am not talking about rag rolling walls or inviting the Changing Rooms team over, those things are best left forgotten. No I am talking about colour. I love bold colours and fully believe that they can, and do work in smaller homes and dark homes just as well as they do in large airy mansions. During this colour revolution something has happened neutrals have become a dirty word that you only use if you are old and out of date, if your homes are boring and dare I say it awash with magnolia and beige. The fact of the matter is neutrals don't have to be dull. We are all on board that crisp bright white walls are a dramatic backdrop to colour and interest but that does not mean that off white tones have make your home into nothing more than a page in the Argos catalogue, no you can still have a tip top well designed space, and I will show you how.

Firstly, what do we mean by neutral colours? In actual fact neutral colours include black and white but when we are talking in decorating terms we tend to mean earthy tones and greys. It is possible to create interest with these shades as they all carry undertones of stronger colours, they are just more subtle. Why use a neutral colour palette? Using a neutral backdrop can allow your accessories and statement pieces to pop as they are not competing with anything. Texture can become lost in a bold room but earthy tones give centre stage to knotted woods, woolen throws and velvet cushions.
a beautiful mess at home with
I teamed up with Pride & Joy paints to show you just how much you can achieve with a neutral colour pallet. Pride & Joy is a Scandinavian brand that is available in Europe and the UK. This family run Finish company with a strong environmental policy which is very important to me when I look at companies I want to talk about on my blog and that choosing products I will use in my home. They offer an astounding 769 shades so narrowing my choice down was a hard task indeed.
Each sample pot arrives in the most wonderful of boxes a testament to the quality of the product held inside. The sample cards are arranged into colour families; Greens, Blues, Golds, Vibrant, Corals, Greys & Neutrals. Doing this allows you to quickly see what is available in any colour way. On the back of each colour chart is information about the paint finishes available. 
ALWAYS buy sample pots before jumping in. I wrote always in capitals to show just how important I think it is. I have had people say to me that sample pots are a waste of money but I would argue that investing in paint for a whole room only to find that now it is dry it is not right is a bigger waste of money. Looking at colour charts, in person or online is just a guide to help you narrow down your choice the paint is always different and will look different depending on the light in your room. I begin by painting my sample pots onto sturdy white card. I then pain 3-4 sizable squares of lining paper with the colour. On the back I write the colour name or code, (this is an important step). I pin or tape the squares of painted lining paper to the 3-4 of the walls in the room to see how the colour looks in different light throughout the day. Then I get to play with the small paint chips I have created.

All colours play off the colours around them but this is especially true when it comes to neutrals. Move your paint chips around and place them next to key piece such as dark sideboards or the sofa. See how they change when you place them on a piece of painted furniture. How do they look on pale wood? Place them next to one another to see how they change.
Placing them next to one another in different combinations helps you to see the subtle differences in the tone. Is it warm? Cool? Does the colour have a yellow base?
So now you have used my advice to see how the colours look against your furniture and play with the light in your room it is time to make your neutral room anything but dull.
justina blakeney
The room above uses a tone similar to Pride & Joy on the walls this off white shade works as a backdrop to various shades of wood and other natural materials such as sheepskin throws, leather chairs and a rattan side table and hammock. Large house plants add to this earthy look. The muted jeweled shades in the kilim rug warms up the room.
graham and green interiors
Above is a further example of off white being paired with rich earthy tones and textures to leave you with a statement room and a far cry from a boring magnolia room.
Graham & Green
The New Bohemians Book
Both of the images above are stunning examples of how the spoils from your travels can work against a neutral colour scheme. You can gather items from around the world and they will work in perfect harmony in a neutral room.
Whilst I often use brightly coloured accessories in a vibrant room when placed in a neutral room they really pop.
bright cushions
If you are worried about a neutral colour scheme will lack a warm feel or be reminiscent of those soulless rented houses you want to leave far behind then fear not. Fill your home with memories, family photos, mementos and trinkets.
A Beautiful Mess
Thank you for looking at neutral in a new light with and thank you to Pride & Joy Paints for teaming with Archie and The Rug for this post. I cannot wait to show you how I finish my neutral room.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Spring Clean Your Life

I am not one of those people who loves cleaning but I do Like to be in a clean house. I do, however, love spring cleaning as it does not feel monotonous like regular cleaning because you are doing jobs that you don't normally do, plus you get the smug satisfaction of all your hard work whilst you look around the room with a self congratulatory glass of wine on the go. This year I am embracing the joy of spring cleaning your life. The truth is that by the time spring comes round we have lost that New Year vigor we had in January. By the time spring comes around we are in a panic that the half way mark of the year is almost upon us and down in the dumps about failing on some of the resolutions that we set ourselves. I like many other have been reading the wonder book, The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying - Marie Kondo. It is claimed that if you employ the Konmarie method you will never need to tidy again.

I cannot wait to employ her methods in my house when I move back to Yorkshire, there are boxes that I have not unpacked since I left my first husband over 10 years ago, they have sat in garages, moved from place to place and remained taped shut, I need to fix this. Yes I know it is not Spring but I started to think of spring cleaning as a concept and thought how can I use the idea of spring cleaning to give myself a good old mental tidy. So that is exactly what I did and here is what I did.
1. Trick your mind. It is easy to feel as though you are stuck in a rut and let's be honest daily life cannot be new and exciting all the time that is just not practical. As much as you can move your rooms around. Change the pictures on the wall, re configured your furniture as much as is feasible. Your home is the place where you need to feel safe and secure it should not be a prison. Making the place feel fresh should not put you under financial pressure to revamp. Simply swapping the room pictures are in and changing lamps around can make a huge difference.
2. Half Your Lists. We are all guilty of putting ourselves under too much pressure, be that career goals, relationship goals or the fact that we made a New Years resolution list that is longer than War & Peace. Get out a black marker and cross at least half of the stuff off your list. It is great to have goals and make plans it is what drives us but they should not be a weight around your neck.
3. Sort Out Your Wardrobe. Although you could look at this as regular tidying it is not because having clothes that make us feel bad about ourselves makes us feel bad, simple really. Words cannot express my loathing for the endless magazine articles that are around at this time of year asking us if we are beach body ready. Oh please why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the media and worse still pay over the odds for these publications that are filled with adverts. Go into your wardrobe and empty it of anything that you don't feel great in, that you bought because a magazine made you feel you should or that you have been holding onto in case you decided to stop liking food and want to starve yourself. I have large breasts and kept buying things that did not suit my shape, no more! Sell what you get rid of or donate it to charity.
4. Remove The Negative. Marie Kondo states that we should only have items in our home that bring us joy, that is the method she uses to sort through our clutter. If an item does not bring you joy she tells you to discard it. I thought I would employ the same philosophy to people.This may sound harsh but it is probably the most important thing we can do to make ourselves healthy. If you are on Facebook look at your friend list and start deleting. Scary I know, remove those who you have no idea who they are, those you met once, those who are just really negative people but you accepted their friend request because you have a mutual friend and you were not sure of the etiquette. Once you start you will probably be able to remove more than a third. Why? You need space in your life for great people and people that matter. Stop engaging in toxic relationships, that covers friends, lovers and yes even family. People in your life who make you feel bad about yourself every time they speak to you. For years I would continue to allow friends who were that in name only treat me badly. Make horrid comments about the way I look, my mental health, my family background, my race as I wanted to see the good in them and did not think that I deserved better. But I did, and so do you, you all do. You will be better off without them, trust me.

5. Accentuate The Positive. Now let's have a look at all the great things in your life and fabulous people you do have around you. It be all too easy to fall into the 'woe is me trap'. We all have bad and good in our life. I have started a journal of 5, everyday before bed I think about the day and write down 5 happy things. For example yesterday I wrote; The sun came in the window and looked pretty, Sebastian and I made cookies, Sebastian giggled, The dog slept on my feet, I drank spicy hot chocolate. Sometimes we need to focus on the little things and realise we have goodness in our lives. Give a shout out the the great people in your life. send a card or letter to a friend telling them what you admire about them.

I hope you enjoy your mental tidy as much as I have. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Make Your Own Coasters

wooden coaster diy
I have all sorts of scraps in my home; scraps of fabric, scraps of thread, scraps of wool and scraps of wood. I had some scraps that I had been using as sanding blocks, you know the wood that you wrap sandpaper around when you are sanding. The wood scraps were so nice that I decided they were due for an upgrade.
how to make wooden coasters
you will need;

scraps of wood
acrylic paint
polyurethane varnish
set square & saw
wooden coaster diy
  1. Square of your scraps of wood using the set square and saw.
  2. Sand the wood until they are super smooth.
  3. Paint the edges of your wooden squares in different colours.
  4. Allow to dry.
  5. Cover all of the wooden blocks in a layer of varnish.
  6. When the varnish is dry sand with a fine grade sandpaper, wipe and then apply a second coat of varnish.
  7. Once it is dry the coasters are ready to use.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Garlic Butter Beans - Recipe

Butter bean salad
I hate when people think that salad means a bit of lettuce and a few tomatoes, whilst I love those things salads are so much more interesting - or at least they can be. This recipe is inspired by a Maltese dish called Fażola bit-Tewm but I changed it, because that is what I do.

you will need;

425g can butter beans
1 cup flat leaf parsley
4 spring onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
3 cloves garlic
6tbsp olive oil
garlic butter beans
  1. Chop your fresh herbs.
  2. Finely slice the spring onions.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves and lightly fry the garlic cloves in 1tbsp olive oil. Add the spring onions and remove from the heat.
  4. Mix the fried ingredients in with the butter beans, the rest of the oil and herbs.
  5. Season as required.
See you are done, so simple to make and a very interesting, tasty salad indeed.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Micro Holiday - A Mini Dordogne Guide

Dordogne Travel
So we went and did it and left Paris to explore the South of France, The Dordogne to be exact. It is a travel guide but a small one as we only spent a long weekend in the region so barely tipped the iceberg of what this wonderful area has to offer. Believe me when I say what we saw has made us want to go back for a second visit.
Dordogne travel guide
what to see in the dordogne
Despite being a whistle stop tour we managed to explore 3 small towns. Lanouaille, Perigueux and Boulazac. The region is located between the Loire valley and the Pyrenees. 
So here are a few things that the Dordogne is famous for; food, beautiful historic villages and ex pats. It is not hard to see why the region is a place where people want to retire to it is simply stunning. Fields filled with sunflowers as far as the eye could see. Restaurants litter every tiny cobbled street.
Small medieval villages sit within walls tucked into the landscape as you drive on long stretches of country roads.
Périgueux is quite a large town but the old centre is small but packed full of restaurants and food shops. The tight cobbled streets are a pleasure to explore with a large beautiful church.
I am such an advocate of using airbnb and here is why; we stayed for a very small price in a beautiful location. The family had turned half of their barn into a self contained flat. We could use the entire garden, there was a small pool and chickens, Sebastian loved the chickens and the garden, we even ate fresh hazelnuts from the tree.
Lanouaille is a village with barely 1000 residents, we were attending a wedding there, more on that later. It is so small that we may have missed it if we were not required to be there but we are so happy we were required to be there as the town is chocolate box pretty and the epitome of what you envisage when you think of a rural French village.
Boulazac is a beautiful small town on the river, idyllic and well worth a visit. It was such a beautiful holiday and Sebastian had an amazing time and even took his first photograph. The blury one you can see below.