Making the Most From Your Soft Furnishings

When you decorate a room, soft furnishings act as the perfect finishing touches. They can tie a colour scheme together, and also act as an opportunity for you to experiment with different textures. You need to focus on the soft element of your furnishings – they should be cosy and inviting; pulling a room together and welcoming you, and your loved ones, into your home.

So how can you make the most from them?

Making the Most From Your Soft Furnishings

Cushions

Let’s start in the living room, which is the room most people will see. Cushions are a simple way to colour co-ordinate a room. Whatever paint palettes you’ve chosen for the room, you definitely don’t want everything to be the same colour., even if it’s your favourite, it will be far too much. There are plenty of colours and designs for you to explore. If you fancy a bold print, don’t be afraid to embrace that. This year has seen the rise of cosy and homely as opposed to minimalist. You could have a variety of soft textures, too, to make the living room look more inviting.

Blinds

Don’t let your blinds just serve as a practical purpose for blocking out the light from a room. By choosing a bold print or colour, they can act as a stylish feature and really tie a space together. Direct Blinds have a wide range of colours and styles for you to choose from, so you can find the fit that’s right for you and your design. 

Towels

Similar to the blinds, towels could be considered as just another practical element to a home and not much thought given to them. However they play an important role in bringing some colour to a bathroom. You could either match them in a different shade to the walls, or go for contrasting colours to give the bathroom a stylish edge.

Duvets

The duvet is easily one of the most eye-catching elements in the bedroom. It can bring a room together and emphasise the look you’re going for. For a child’s room, you can go for fun, block, colours or cartoon prints. For your own room, you want something that reflects your ideals. This is your private haven away from the world. If you want a calming neutral bedspread, go for that. If you want to have fun with colour and patterns, choose that option. You do whatever you want as your bedroom is just for you.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Live

Last weekend we made a little trip to London to see We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Live at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue.

We're going on a bear hunt live theatre london

Considering we are big theatre fans, we haven’t been for a while and I was missing it, so this was a welcome break in the theatre drought!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a childrens’ story book by Michael Rosen and is favourite of ours. Actually it’s probably in most young childrens’ bookcases all over the Country as it’s become a bit of a classic now!

I first came across it when a friend bought it for my first son when he was little. He’s now nineteen! It was also bought for my daughter in a different cardboard book format, with a little teddy bear included! In fact, we have a few copies in our collection now!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read this story to my children. My eight year old twins still like to listen to it at bedtime occasionally so I’m still going strong with it! It’s one they will pick up and read themselves too.

We read it time and time again and it never tires… it’s one of those books that really captures the imagination.

The text has an almost lyrical feel as the Dad in the story and his young children go off on a little, fun adventure across the countryside, through all kinds of weather and terrains, looking for a bear! So children like to join in with the story as the words are repetitive, shouting out their favourite parts with you as you read along!

When I asked my children if I should get tickets for We’re Going on Bear Hunt they literally bit my head off! “Yes” they said without any hesitation at all… even my daughter who has just turned 13! Such is the special relationship with this story.

We were all very excited arriving at the theatre and couldn’t wait for the show to start!

We're going on a bear hunt live theatre

I had a feeling that it would be adults playing the parts of the children, as we’ve seen numerous books brought to life this way and it honestly works really well.

There were only four actors in the production… the Dad, played by Thos Wainwright, his two children played by Joey Hickman and Rebecca Newman, a puppet baby and the family dog, played by Benjamin Hills!

we're going on a bear hunt live theatre

Straight from the off, we were drawn in by the characters we love and know so well. The lights in the auditorium were still on as the show began…. which took us by surprise. We hadn’t realised it had started for a couple of seconds! I thought this was very clever as the audience is made up of some very young children and this gentle introduction without the need for everyone to be quiet first was genius!

The actors came to the stage through the audience too which immediately connected us to them. The ‘Dog’ was  comical.. he was interacting with some of the kids, playing up to his doggy character! He also doubles up as a musician for the show!

The story was brought to life with fun songs and music.. really capturing those repetitive rhythms of the text in the book so perfectly. The places the family walk through in the story were each given their own special song and production!

There was the swishy swashy grass which was accompanied by the Lazy Nice Day song… loved this! The children in the audience were invited to make butterflies with their hands.

We're going on a bear hunt live

The splish splashing through the river came next… a groovy sounding song brought that to life… as did buckets of real water which the actors splashed in! This scene also saw them pulling out huge water pistols! I’ll let you imagine what happens there……

To create the mud scene they had paper and easels on the stage with paint used for the mud! This was very funny as they all got super messy… my children laughed their heads off at this part!

We're going on a bear hunt live

The forest scene was very funny too according to my children…. because this contained the word Poo! My twin boys’ favourite word! Some one stood in it and Dog rolled in it!

The snowstorm was quite mesmerising with the lights down and the simple but effective stage props. There was even some fake snow that fell into the audience from up high which was quite magical.

We're going on a bear hunt live

Anticipation and excitement rose as the journey took the family to the ‘dark, gloomy cave’! We wondered what the bear would look like once he came out! This was the only part where I wondered if children might be a little scared, but it was done perfectly. The bear, I’m happy to report, was more cute than scary!

we're going on a gear hunt live

The last part of the show whipped us up into a frenzy as the bear chases them back through all the scenes and heads back to their house! The main song ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ was sung and we, the audience were encouraged to join in and singalong!

We can absolutely, without hesitation, say we loved this show! My children didn’t want it to be over. For very young children it was the perfect length in terms of running time and left everyone wanting more!

Like the much loved Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenburys picture book, the show managed to capture the imagination and propel audiences into the world of this fun-filled adventure, making it the ideal theatrical experience for first time theatregoers.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is showing now at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue until the beginning of September, you can book online with tickets starting at £15.00.

Dreaming of the Perfect Engagement Ring

Many young girls dream about getting married one day, especially when they see the oh so romantic fairy tale style weddings that are portrayed in their favourite Disney films!

Getting married is something girls like to discuss on a regular basis… and it’s not even a husband they’re interested in half the time… it’s just having the wedding day!

wedding engagement

Yes, that’s right! We love nothing more than to discuss the whole shebang as there’s literally so much to fantasise about…. where we would like it to take place… will it be abroad somewhere hot and idyllic on a stunning beach, or will it be more traditional in a church? Will it be a Summer or Winter wedding? What would be the colour scheme? Who would we invite? And most importantly…. what kind of dress would we wear?

Dreaming about that fairy tale wedding dress is just heavenly….. being a princess for the day!

We love it!

As we get older though, our attention turns to maybe the more materialistic object of our desires…. the engagement ring!

As soon as we have our first serious boyfriend, this is definitely on our minds! We look in shop windows, even with our boyfriends, and point out rings we like the look of! This is childish behaviour obviously because we’ll probably have broken up the following week and also, things look a lot different when we’re older! We would be expecting our future husband to know exactly what kind of ring to buy us. And to produce this perfect piece in a proposal to end all proposals!

But this is unrealistic and actually, I think most women now would prefer to choose their own. For the man to propose initially, then they could go off and choose the ring together…. with the choice ultimately being all hers. That way there can be no awkward thoughts like ‘Oh I don’t like it!’ or ‘Oh no it doesn’t fit properly!’

Imagining the most beautiful, exquisite diamond engagement ring is another fantasy us girls have on a regular basis, and this just gets more intense as a relationships develops! Every girl has a different idea of what her perfect ring would look like so unless you’ve done the window shopping together already…. it’s probably best to go and pick your own I think!

For me, I love a diamond solitaire.

engagement ring

There’s just something special and romantic about a single diamond. The bigger, the better obviously!

I have to admit. I chose my own engagement ring and it’s similar to the one in the photo. Mine is platinum but white gold is a very popular choice too and comes in cheaper…. which means saving on the precious metal could add you more diamond, right ladies?!

Gold is coming back in fashion too. Rose gold is very popular in other jewellery choices but not it seems, as an engagement ring. White gold and platinum still reign supreme!

What’s most important though is you have to love the ring completely. After all, you’ll be wearing it for a very long time, hopefully forever more!

Family Friendly Spots for your London To-Do List

If you’re heading to the Big Smoke, a.k.a. our wonderful capital city London, with the kids, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options for things to do there!

From a day sampling ice creams and meeting penguins, to an evening at the theatre, I’ve rounded up some of favourite family-friendly activities to add to your to-do list.

theatre days out trips london discount tickets

Enjoy a Night at the Theatre

Going to the theatre is definitely one of our favourite London things to do. It’s full of great theatres so you’re spoilt for choice for fun shows that your kids will remember for years to come. With shows like Matilda, School of Rock and The Lion King getting rave reviews from audiences of all ages. Plus, you can find some great theatre ticket deals if you book in advance!

Rub Shoulders with Celebs at Madame Tussauds

Get your camera phones ready for a day out with the Queen, One Direction and the Beckhams at Madame Tussauds. It might not be the real thing, but you’ll have amazing photos that you’ll cherish forever! They have loads of interactive zones, like their new Star Wars Legends experience’ so kids of all ages will find a celeb to be starstruck by!

Relax in Granary Square

This public spot always has plenty going on, whatever time of the year you visit. In the summer you can take a picnic and let the kids dash through the gorgeous fountains. They even have a Granary Squirt app that lets you control the jets!

By the canal, there’s always something fun going on. In the late summer there’s a floating cinema, at Halloween it was filled with thousands of carved pumpkins and it was draped in gorgeous blooms during the Chelsea Flower Show.

theatre days out trips london discount tickets

Get Close to Nature at London Zoo

Get up close and personal with over 750 species of animals at London Zoo, including lions, monkeys, gorillas and penguins. If you or your kids are nature-lovers, this spot needs to be added to your London bucket list! They even have after hours events and keeper for a day experiences that kids are sure to adore.

Mix Your Desserts with Science at Chin Chin Labs

For a truly unique treat, head to Chin Chin Labs and feast on delicious ice creams frozen with liquid nitrogen. The menu changes weekly so you never know what exciting concoction you’ll get next. With incredible flavours like burnt butter caramel, pandan and purple violet, you’ll be just as happy as your kids in this joyous and fun-filled lab!

Make planning for the family trip to London a breeze by taking your kids to any or all of these five favourite spots in the city to make lasting memories. Let’s face it, they’re not just for the kids – the adults are sure to have a whale of a time too!

We’re having a Heatwave

So Great Britain is in the middle of a heatwave!

Glorious isn’t it?

I can’t remember the last time we had such fabulous, prolonged good weather.

Normally we get the odd few hot days then it’s back to rain or grey skies! Our Summer seems to have been around May time the past few years, then the summer holidays are dire. You can’t plan anything or go to the seaside because you’ll freeze to death!

Hence, I’m enjoying our summer while it lasts and I’m praying it stays till the end of July and into August as we’re off to a couple of festivals! It doesn’t even have to stay THIS hot… as long as it’s reasonably warm and NO rain! We don’t do rain thank you very much!

Thing is though, I haven’t got that many Summer clothes to wear when the weather is like this! We didn’t go away last year so I didn’t buy anything new! This year we’re hoping to get a last minute bargain in late August so I’d better start shopping before all the Autumn stuff arrives! Have you noticed that all the shops seem to stop renewing their Summer stock whilst it’s still Summer?! Annoying! So if you leave holiday shopping to the last minute you’ll find it near impossible to get anything!

I’m going to a wedding too in late September so I’ve been looking at dresses from Esprit, a company who I think do a great mix of casual, every day wear and classier type clothes.

How gorgeous is this halter neck dress……

esprit dress summer fashion dresses

This dress could easily be dressed up or down and looks as though you’d stay lovely and cool in it… nice a flowy and not too tight! Absolutely perfect for this heat!

Talking of heat, one thing I would absolutely love to have in the garden when a heatwave is upon us is  hot tub! Even in the Winter, in the right enclosure it could definitely still be used, especially if you have kids!

We’ve actually been pricing some up and some are rather reasonable! This one here is from the hot tub barn and is the perfect size. They’re also great for relaxation and winding down after a busy or stressful day! Definitely need one of these in my life right now!

hot tub spa

I am absolutely loving this heatwave.. everyone has a tan and looks healthy! It’s not doing me many favours in the work department though! Working from home means I just want to be outside in the garden instead of sitting at my desk. But taking the laptop outside isn’t as easy as it sounds… the screen isn’t easy to see, even in the shade and for me to be accessible to the WIFI I have to sit in a certain corner of the garden, which isn’t the most comfortable!

Oh well, there are worse problems to have I suppose!

Hope you are enjoying the weather too…. long may it continue!

 

13 Years Ago

Ah the month of June! One of my most favourite times of the year… because that’s when my little baby girl first came into this world.

13 years ago and I couldn’t believe my luck!

I was absolutely convinced I was having another boy. I didn’t allow myself for one second to imagine that I’d be lucky enough to get a girl this time round! I even went so far as avoiding anything pink in the shops. In Mothercare I would steer clear of the baby girl section…. because then I would imagine having a girl, want a girl, and perhaps it would’ve made me disappointed when it wasn’t a girl!

Not that I didn’t want a boy. My son was the love of my life and I enjoyed every single moment with him. I wanted a boy when I had him… and was over the moon that I got what I wanted. I wouldn’t be that lucky and get what I wanted again would I? Having another little boy would’ve been wonderful too of course, but it’s only natural to want to experience the other gender.

We didn’t find out what we were having, we wanted it to be a surprise.

So that June, 13 years ago…. we were absolutely over the moon… and shocked, that we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl!

Wow! I really lucked out!

Having her come into this world and into our lives was the most perfect moment.

And she has been the most perfect daughter.

If someone would’ve asked me at any point before children to describe my perfect little girl in terms of looks and personality… I would’ve described her down to a tee!

She’s everything I ever dreamed of. Such a girly girl, which, after having a boy for six years before she came along, was just wonderful. I bought pink everything! Actually, I was so into the pink she had no choice BUT be girly!

On my side of the family she is the only girl out of TEN grand children!

She is surrounded by boys, as I was as a child. Lots of boy cousins and of course her three brothers! It has certainly taught her to hold her own and she’s not afraid of getting down and dirty playing boy games!  She also has the wickedest sense of humour!

Yet she remains delightfully feminine (most of the time!) and loves pretty things!

I absolutely love being with her.

I can’t believe she is now a teenager! The years have flown by.

Thirteen years have gone in the blink of an eye and now our girl is big… almost as tall as me!

I miss her littleness… the tiny girl she used to be.

I wonder what these teenage years will be like for her? So many changes ahead and life lessons to learn…. but I’m looking forward to experiencing all of that with her. We’re so close now. I hope we never lose the special bond we share.

She’s such a good girl with a big heart. She has so much love for everyone and is equally adored by everyone who knows her.

My precious girl xx

Pack Light for a Weekend Away with the Kids

If you’re planning on heading off on a weekend getaway with the kids, one thing you’ll want to do is ensure you’re packing light.

Now, this is definitely easier said than done! Any parent knows just how much extra stuff a trip with the kids usually requires. It’s surprising how much stuff kids actually need when they go anywhere; especially if they’re young children. However, there are ways to pack a little lighter and below you’ll discover just a few of them.

pack light kids travel

Make a list of what you need

One of the best ways to avoid overpacking, is to make a list of the things you actually need. While you may want to follow an ultimate family packing list, often you’ll find these can be pretty extensive!

So, instead focus on the basics. Consider the age of your children and what they’ll actually need. If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, packing light is going to be a challenge. However, slightly older children aren’t going to need the same level of necessities, so you can afford to be a little ruthless when putting their list together. For example, do they really need an entire wardrobe of clothes? Cut out anything you feel you can get away with and you’ll be surprised just how much space this tip alone can save you.

Clever clothes packing

Following on from the last point, your children aren’t going to need as many clothes as you might think. You can also get clever with the clothes you do pack.

For example, why not combine clothing and entertainment and invest in trainers which convert to roller skates? You can pick up some pretty trendy Heely’s trainers from companies like Proline Skates.

Take the right luggage

Instead of carrying one or two large combined suitcases, it could work out easier if you were to take a few smaller suitcases. Having a small to medium suitcase for each of your children, doesn’t just free up space in the boot of the car, but it also helps them to feel a little more independent.

Overall, packing light isn’t always easy when you’ve got kids. However, the above are just a few ways you can save a little space on your next weekend away. The key is to be ruthless with what you’re packing and to ensure you only take the bare essentials.

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