Hello! neat little things is my little blog featuring all things that I'm liking and loving in the world of fashion, design and interiors, and a bit about family life too. I am a full time mum, and live in St Albans with my husband, and our two children.
I also run an online shop called a neat little shop, which sells cards, prints and more. (www.aneatlittleshop.com, if you want to check it out!)
Well another week has rolled by (and then some!) and it's been a bit quiet on here, but without sounding like a broken record the kids have been full on and life has just taken over as per usual! Mec has been working overtime with some major project at work (something techy, I don't ask, just try to be supportive as a I can!) so we've barely seen each other this week and it's meant I've been in charge of the kids all week and over the last weekend. I actually took them for a short break down to Bexhill to see Grandma Seaside which was really lovely, and they had a great time jumping waves and running along the promenade.
The view from my deck chair! Nice :)
The De La Warr Pavillion - and yes, I did look round the design shop, again!
There's love between these two sometimes!
My mum and I also took the kids up to London during the week, for fun and frolics along the Southbank. It's so easy on the train it was a no brainer, and there's just the right amount of stuff to do along there, and more really, to fill a long afternoon in the sun. We couldn't help but hop on the bright pink bus for frozen yogurt, it was really delicious and the view out across the Thames from the top was fab! Tabby and Sam got romantic on the top, so cute when they want to be!
I have a photo just like this from last year when I took the kids along the Southbank so couldn't resist a double take to see how much they've grown up!
We checked out the view from the Tate restaurant - I felt weak at the knees as the kids crouched up against the floor to ceiling windows, eek!
I hope you've been enjoying the summer, whatever you're up to - kids or no kids, summer hols or not!
Here's hoping for a restful weekend ahead and hopefully feeling a bit more pulled together next week!
Well I don't really know where this past week disappeared to! Looking back I think we've just been enjoying the gorgeous weather, hitting the parks and playing in the paddling pool. It's a tough life but someone's gotta do it! ;)
And after all that running around it's been nice to slow down this weekend and I have to say it's been a really great one. I kicked off the weekend on Friday night with an evening in by myself. Mec was out at his work summer party (I think he rolled in at about 1.30am, I'm not really sure, I sleep through anything!) and so once the kids were in bed I made myself a homemade pizza and watched a really interesting documentary film called 112 Weddings. I don't know if you've heard of it, it was recently posted about on the A Cup Of Jo blog, and seeing as I was home alone (Mec would not be into this kind of film, too much talking, not enough explosions!) I thought what better an opportunity to watch it.
Directed and produced by Doug Block, a documentary filmmaker who has spent the past 20 years filming weddings as a side project to his day job, the film takes a frank (albeit slightly american) look at the institution of marriage, and follows up with a handful of Doug's favourite couples from the past to see where life and marriage has taken them. Being married myself, for a grand total of 8 years now, which is obviously only a dot in the many years I assume and hope I'll be married, I find the topic of marriage really interesting. I love hearing from different couples, older couples, etc about what marriage has taught them, or what the experience has been like for them. It was definitely an interesting film which I enjoyed, and one thing that stuck in my mind was how much having children affects a couple's relationship. No newsflash there though right!!
Saturday was spent seeing friends - I'm really annoyed with myself for not taking any photos now (what kind of a lazy blogger am I!?) but it was a really lovely day catching up with some old NCT mums and their girls. Spookily, all 6 of us in our NCT group had baby girls and although we've not been great at catching up regularly, to see the girls together once in a while is really special and it's crazy to see how much they have grown up!
The background sound to this weekend of ours has been the awesome My Head Is An Animal album by Of Monsters And Men. Whilst not a new album, Mec only bought it recently, we've been loving Dirty Paws. If you haven't got it, look it up on the iTunes store, you'll love it!
Today, Sunday, has been a slow kind of day. I had a much need lie in (thanks lovely husband!) and then after lunch decided to bake a fruit pie, as you do! The kids and I went fruit picking this week and we came home with overflowing tubs of raspberries and blackberries. The kids had wanted to pick strawberries but they had been rather over picked this past week I think and were cordoned off. But we were happy with our little harvest and after much consideration I decided a pie would do nicely for the fruits of our labour.
It was a bit of a lengthy process but as it was my first pie (don't judge me) I wanted to take my time to get it right. I've made a savoury puff pastry lid type pie before, but this was my first shortcrust pie which involved blind baking the base first, etc. It was definitely worth the effort though as my pie turned out better than I expected and we've had two servings with a side of double cream already today - oops! A few pics below, I know it's not rocket science, but with two little ones running around I don't often make time for baking at home, apart from an easy banana bread I make all the time and fairy cakes that I make with the kids. But now I say hooray for home baking! :)
Apples with cinnamon
In go the berries - I don't know why the fruit looks day-glow here!
A couple of leaves to top things off!
If only Mary Berry could see this now!
So, this evening I think we pretty much continued the easy going theme of the day and, following the usual riot of getting the kids to bed, we ate dinner (more pie?!) and watched an episode of Breaking Bad. Also, I may or may not have hopped onto my laptop at some point as I've got my eye on this tee from Chinti and Parker (I seriously love everything on their site, I would wear it all. And with 70% off right now, what can I say, it's a bit like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey!), we'll just have to wait and see.
You know me, I love a bit of internet browsing, especially when I come across a new website or shop that I haven't seen before. I just discovered Nook this week and really love their carefully curated range of homewares and accessories. This "Kompotti" ceramic plate range from Marimekko really caught my eye - simple, scandi style with vintage appeal, I'd definitely have these plates in my kitchen!
And this "Kukkuluuruu" bowl by Sanna Annukka for Marimekko is fab too - it would make a lovely, original children's gift! Or for an adult ;)
Nook has a bricks and mortar shop in Stoke Newington, as well as their online store, so worth a visit next time I'm in London I think!
So it's been a bit of a crazy, hard week (well, I know it's only wed, I'm kind of referring to last week too) as my little man, Sam, had an operation last monday to have his tonsils and adenoids out, and grommets put in (ouch!). He has been so brave and it all went really well, so now we're just dealing with the recovery phase which it turns out involves a lot of sleepless nights, the film Cars pretty much on repeat, and many hard negotiating tactics to get him to take his calpol every 4 hours! We're getting there slowly though. The photo of Sam above bears no relation to what I'm saying, but it's a cute one of Sam from our street party a few weeks back and well, he's bouncing (or hopping, get it!) so I thought it would vaguely tie in with my blog hop post.
So that's kind of why I'm late with this post and why it'll probably make no sense on reading, as it's been written on not much sleep. I was offered the chance to join in with this blog hop by Jen from Little Birdie, whose blog I love and is a constant source of inspiration. She has a great eye for interiors and design, finds the best things on Etsy and takes simply beautiful shots of her home, family and the stunning countryside around where she lives. If you don't follow her blog already, then what are you waiting for!?
So here's my Q&A:
1. Why do I write?
I started neatlittlethings back in Feb 2012 really as something fun to do for myself. I was a full-time, stay at home mum, having given up my job as an Assistant Buyer of baby girls fashion for Mothercare after having my daughter Tabitha in 2009, and was by then pregnant with baby number two. Although I was enjoying being at home full-time and doing mummy things, I was really beginning to crave some sort of outlet where I could be a bit more creative. I'd started regularly following a couple of blogs (mostly american blogs for some reason - A Cup Of Jo, Oh Happy Day, Oh Joy, etc) which I enjoyed reading as a bit of an escape at the end of a busy day, and after a while it seemed like starting my own blog might give me the side project I was looking for. A place to get back in touch with the old me, outside of all things baby (although I do of course like to write about my family too) where I can write about anything and everything I want!
2. How does it differ from others of its genre?
I don’t think that my blog does particularly differ from lot of the other blogs out there, and I certainly haven’t found my USP! I wouldn’t really know what genre to put my blog into - I’m a mum but don’t really aim to be a mummy-blog or focus on my family too much (part of the reason I write my blog is to capture a bit of ‘me-time’ and keep in touch with who I am outside of being a mum) but I do write a lot about fashion and shopping, and also about design and interiors so maybe that’s it genre somewhere/somehow?… At the moment I just write about things I like and enjoy and perhaps my blog’s theme or style will just develop naturally over time as I become more comfortable in my writing. When I first started I got very nervous about putting my thoughts or views ‘out there’ in case people were unkind but I’ve learnt (or should I say I’m learning!) that worrying about what other people think is pointless and will only make blogging stressful not enjoyable, so now I push myself to just write about whatever I want and not worry.
I am often amazed and in awe of all the different blogs out there, of all these fantastic creative spaces. But I try not to compare myself to many other blogs as otherwise I’d start to worry about not being good enough, and really I’m just happy to be joining in with this wonderful blogging world!
3. What am I working on?
As I mentioned before, most of my of my posts at the moment revolve around either interiors, fashion or my family. I’ve been spending a lot of time window shopping for our new house (we’re in the process of moving house but it’s officially becoming one of the world’s slowest house moves I think having been going on since January!) so I’m enjoying finding inspiring interiors, researching cool children’s beds and furniture, or looking for G Plan dressers on Ebay. Otherwise I’m generally working on posts about fashion - recent things I've bought, things I want to buy for the upcoming season, or just people with inspirational style! I throw in the odd post about my kids or family trips we’ve taken every now and then too, just because that’s what my life revolves around and I try to keep my blog real to me and my life.
Something I’d really like to work on is my images - I got into photography a bit after I left uni and took a few courses but really just decided I wasn’t that good at it and so now I don’t really try, despite my husband owning a decent digital SLR that I could be using. Instead I take either really bad shots on my iPhone, or I’ll use images from the web of clothes, etc that I’m linking to. It’s lazy and I think that working on this is something that could improve my blog a lot. Also I keeping thinking I should get to grips with photoshop or something which would also help improve the look of my blog too, but I’m a bit of a technophobe and again probably too lazy after a busy day to sit down and learn the basics. Ah well, maybe one day!
4. How does my writing process work?
I try to blog about 3 times a week - I started out trying to blog every weekday, but soon found out after my initial rush of ideas that I just couldn’t keep up, what with children and a house and life in general going on all around me too. So now I aim for 3 times a week, and as and when I have time I’ll go on my blog and start drafting posts about anything that’s on my mind at that time. To be honest I’ve not been blogging as much I’d like to this year as I’ve found being at home with a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old a bit full on and so have stopped giving myself a hard time trying to fit it all in. But I’m hoping as Tabitha starts school soon and Sam is at preschool a few mornings a week I might have more time to do the things I enjoy. That is, before I have to go back to some kind of full time job!
Sometimes if I’m out and about and I think of something I’d like to blog about then I’ll note in down in my notebook to come back to later
as it’s more than likely that I’ll have forgotten my train of thought by the time I get a chance to sit down with my laptop that evening. If I can’t think of things to blog about I know it’s because generally I’m over thinking things and trying to maybe be something I’m not, and if I just focus in on what’s going on in my world right now then I actually have lots I want to blog about. I guess that’s my main goal - trying to just be myself on my blog, and not be something I’m not, or not copy what others are doing (so well!) out there. I obviously take inspiration from other people’s blogs as I think we all do, but I really want neatlittlethings to be a space that, whilst it may not be unique, it is true to me.
I hope this has been somewhat interesting, I've enjoyed doing it and I'm looking forward to discovering more blogs out there as the blog hop continues! I was supposed to be passing on the baton to another couple of bloggers for next week but I've really just run out of time this week and so instead of getting in a spin about it, I thought I'd just throw it out there to anyone who wants to give this a go on their blog - just drop me a comment below if you're going to do it, as I'd love to stop by your blog and read your blog hop post.
I can't believe it's taken me til the grand old age of 33 to get the real hang of sale shopping, but at last the penny's dropped and no longer do I trawl busy high streets buying end of season wear that I probably never wanted or needed anyway - instead, I now research, plan and prioritise.
If I see something during the season that I just love, but for whatever reason is just beyond my reach that month, I make sure I keep a note of it. Then usually, without wanting to sound too obsessive, I keep checking back most days to the site where I saw it (of course if it was in your favourite store then stopping by the shop everyday isn't realistic but most things are online these days), to see if there are any special offers or flash sales happening. And, most importantly, I sign up for the e-newsletter which will alert me to any seasonal sales that are about to start. Being one of the first to know about the start of a sale can be the difference between bagging that much desired item and not!
Which, I'm pleased to say, is just how I got my hands on these fabulous pieces from one of my new favourite stores, Chinti and Parker. I'll be honest, generally speaking this label is out of my price range and I couldn't justify buying these items at full price. However, on sale I feel it's worth the stretch as I just know I'll wear this top and this skirt over and over again.
And truth be told I still have my eye on this dress (in grey) - fingers crossed it is reduced further in the next couple of weeks!
And going for the sporty look, I also bought a couple of vintage style, athletics-inspired tees from J. Crew which I just love. They're linen so they're really lightweight and drape really nicely. Perfect for taking it easy on the weekend!
So, have you been sale shopping recently? Bagged anything special? Don't you just love sale season! :)
I don't know if you have noticed, but bears seem to be all around at the moment and I'm really loving looking out for them and discovering lots of lovely bear things!
It started a little over a year ago when, on our anniversary, my hubby gave me this Butty Bear card above, from Lisa Jones Studio. I stock some of her lovely cards over at a neat little shopand had loved this card for ages so it really put a smile on my face when I opened it (even though the bear looks a little sad!).
Then, knowing how much I love my little card (seeing as I've had it up on the mantlepiece for a year!) M also surprised me the other day with the new Butty Bear mug from Lisa Jones' new ceramics range. I love it so much (I'm a bit of a weird cup-obsessive when it comes to tea drinking and the size and weight/style of this cup is perfect!) and so now always drink my tea from it :)
So I thought I'd round up some of my other favourite bear friendly things at the moment...
This set of bear tableware from the fantastic Donna Wilson is definitely something for the wish list - I have a couple of her plates already on my wall (the Fox and Meg plates) which I love very much - and these are just as wonderful. Especially that set of Daddy, Mummy and Baby Bear bowls, would make a lovely new baby gift for a family.
I also love Seventy Tree, since discovering Kerry Layton's blog of the same name, a couple of years back, and particularly like these bear prints, perfect for a cool kids room.
B is for Bear, Seventy Tree
Circus Bruno, Seventy Tree
And sticking with prints, as we all love a nice print don't we, this small print from Old English Company is cute - perfect in a simple, little frame. I like this edition from Southwood Stores, but there is a grey edition available on the Old English Company website.
And I really love this print from Banquet Atelier - the red is so striking and would make an eye-catching statement on the wall. I kinda wondered about this for Sam's bedroom wall in the new house (it's becoming like a running joke now, 'the new house', that's if we ever move!) but M thinks it's a bit scary for a kids room - I saw it here and it looked cool, but the jury's still out I guess.