Transport

Ah now then cars, having religiously watched Top Gear with The Boy this was part of the wedding planning process he had an interest in. I’ve never really understood the wedding pictures where the couple are stood in front of the wedding car, I mean it’s just a car, I like cars but what the hell has it to do with the wedding apart from getting you from a to b? Now I’ve had my wedding day I can say that the time in the car to the church with my dad, albeit a short journey, was priceless and the journey from church to reception with my new husband was pretty awesome too and because we chose pretty cool transport I’m glad to have pictures with them.

The Husband wanted a Rolls Royce long-based Phantom, originally but they were too rare and expensive so he demoted his request to a general Rolls and we hired our Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III from Lavelle Classics in Rothwell, squishy back seats, smart and helpful driver and excellent service. It was a classic without being weirdly old-fashioned for a normal 21st century wedding. Bridal top tip, Always pay attention to how wide the doors open, how low the seats are or how high the step into the car will be and consider all those things with your dress, it might not be as easy as you think.

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We organised a vintage bus to take our guests from the church to reception, because of the size of the wedding a single-decker would do, and a big red London bus wouldn’t make much sense in deepest darkest Yorkshire. The Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company were amazing, a conductor and a driver were supplied with our Guy Arab 1951 open side door bus and they worked with me to organise pick ups from the two hotels to the church and then back again, and they stuck around while we had our photos taken and obliged where we needed. Flowers and ribbon were included to match our colour theme too. One of my favourite memories and photos is of our friends and family from all parts of our lives heading off together on the bus to the reception and it worked to get everyone in the party spirit and start to get to know each other.

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I can’t recommend both companies enough, links in the pictures. I loved how the curved wheel arches and large grills on both cars, coming from similar eras, complemented each other, I always find it odd when a few cars are used at wedding but they have no discernible link to each other. Are you planing on transporting your guests, has it been easy or with a large party a bit of nightmare? Anyone going for a less traditional mode of transport or going very old school with horse and carriage?

Luck, Guilt and Breast Feeding

I’m a very lucky girl. Not only are my family and friends happy and in good health, not only have I had the opportunity to visit places all over the world but I met my husband just as I returned to the UK, we bought the house we wanted and we could be married where we wanted and I’m now enjoying well paid maternity leave. We also fell pregnant immediately, there were no complications and apart from mild heartburn, occasional hives and sleeping discomfort in the latter stages the pregnancy was textbook and rather enjoyable. The birth was relatively quick for a first baby, I managed to get through the contractions at home until I was 4cm dilated when I got to the hospital, and only 4 hours later Spencer had arrived, too quickly to allow me to have an epidural but not too quickly that I couldn’t have an episiotomy rather than tear. He was in good health and we could eventually go home later that same day. I’m incredibly lucky that he latched on straightaway and we’ve had no issues with breastfeeding, something I wanted to do. Spencer is now careering towards 4 months old and now I come to the guilt part of this post, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to breastfeed anymore and I feel guilty. The press is full of brelfies, bottle-feeding mothers being publicly shamed and all the miraculous benefits of breast milk. There’s no doubt that breast milk is prefect for babies, it’s what mother nature intended after all, but that by giving your baby breast milk until their three year old will make them a genius with the immune system of a Greek God I just don’t buy. I was bottle-fed and I can fight a cold much more effectively than my breastfed husband, and I know plenty of bottle-fed people who are not riddled with eczema and asthma. It seems like everyone has an opinion, only yesterday Sharon Hodgson, shadow minister for children and families, said there was a ”growing cultural obstacle” preventing working class mothers from breastfeeding their children and mothers on the likes of TOWIE and depicted in soaps should be shown breastfeeding to encourage working class mothers to follow suit; great, more pressure for those who can’t breastfeed. I had planned to breastfeed until Spencer was 6 months old and enjoy the bond between us for as long as possible, and it is lovely to have that closeness but that can also come from bottle-feeding. It comes down to some practicalities, my boobs are enormous and I have very little to wear and I want my body back, breast-feeding him can take twice as long as with a bottle, I worry he isn’t getting enough from me as he seems fuller with formula than with breast milk. I have days when I’ve simply had enough and will start the next day at giving him formula at every feed not just the one before bed, but then other days it’s so easy when he suddenly gets cranky to drop down my nursing bra and make my baby happy and I don’t want to lose this convenience anytime soon. Most mothers I’ve spoken to have some story of feeling guilty about feeding their baby, it can be pressure from family members about either using bottle or boob and neither being approved of, or of trying to persevere with breast-feeding at the insistence of midwives and health visitors to then be told by medical professionals that the child needs formula to gain a healthy weight. I know I won’t be breast-feeding Spencer when he’s 6 months old but I still don’t know when I’ll finally finish because the guilt of stopping too soon is sometimes overwhelming. I know I should just do what’s best for us and that’s what every mother should do and I will listen to my son and my own needs in the end but there’s so much pressure out there it’s hard not to be affected and feel the guilt.

30th celebrations

This year my friends and me turn 30. A momentous birthday that deserves, or rather seems to require, some larger than normal celebration. The first of my friends to commemorate was Rachelle in early December, we had planned a weekend break to Centre Parcs, but this had to be cancelled when two of the group, one being me, fell pregnant, one with a very close due date to said weekend. I had been planning a Friday night arrival of champagne and cake and a dress code of little black dresses to keep the event very grown up, the Saturday would be free to enjoy the activities of the centre and then a meal out with perhaps bowling and drinking. The Sunday would be finished with a roast dinner, movie and ice cream pyjama party before driving home Monday morning. I gave each of the attendees a questionnaire to ask their breakfast likes, major food dislikes, film options and other light-hearted questions so nobody would be inconvenienced and the birthday girl would get her preferences. With the questionnaires I gave personalised pencils, so easy to find on eBay or etsy, which add a cute personal touch to events or planning. I had planned to buy individual bottles of champagne and decorate with black and gold paper tassels and a black table runner which I could chalk details of the cake heavy buffet.

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I’m still a little disappointed this weekend never happened. To make it up to her we ended having a day out in Leeds, a day spa session, champagne at Harvey Nichols and then a meal and personalised glittery badges ordered from eBay so there was some memento from the day.

Does anyone feel the pressure of having to celebrate big birthdays or have you organised something similar for your friends? I’ll post later with the details of the other 30th plans we’ve made and are yet to make.

Venue Decisions

For my big day I knew I wanted a church wedding and the village we live in has a perfectly quaint church, so it left us with decision-making revolving around reception venue. We made a list of the obvious selection within a sensible radius (I don’t think there’s anything worse than a massive journey from church to reception at a wedding) and these included silly fancy ones and small intimate ones. Some well thought of venues disappointed, others were a surprising revelation but to fit what we wanted we were left with two.

A lovely pub just up the lane from the church with a separate building which you can add a marquee onto. I had a vision of a country fayre, bunting decorated, relaxed, small wedding reception. The other was the complete opposite. A large hotel in an 18th century house with golf course and spa, 2 ornate rooms for the day and the whole upstairs of the golf club for the evening do. I loved both but they both provided two very different styles, styling options and vibes, it came down to the question of what kind of wedding we wanted. I think this is an important question to ask yourself when planning your wedding or any other party for that matter, what kind of image and atmosphere do you want to create?

For us the hotel had a special connection from our childhoods. Not only had The Husband stayed there as a child while the new development they were moving into was finished he even had his picture at the entrance about to go off on his first day of school. But I had gone as a child with my parents and aunty and uncle for a fancy meal, I associate the place with my aunty who is no longer with us, and apparently I declared as we left the meal about 20 years ago that; “I would be married there one day.”

I felt torn, small and cosy was the Pinterest in my head but you got a red carpet at the hotel and although it is grand the actual rooms were not conference sized; they were cosy in their own high ceiling kind of way. The large venue won out in the end, the freedom not to have to think too much about restricting the guest list, the experienced support team on site and the value for money. I did worry along the way that we had picked somewhere too big and we’d be lost inside but these doubts were never realised on the day and it was perfect for the size of our party, it felt cosy and homely while looking fabulous with very little effort from us. I guess the lesson is to go with your gut. I love weddings held in tents and tipis in gardens of family and friends and in churches where family members have been christened or wed, I think a personal connection where possible will always win out.

My life now

I’m sat writing this with an 8-week-old baby on my lap, he will probably wake up if I move him and he looks so peaceful it’s too difficult to effect his slumber just for the sake of the feeling in my legs. This baby, this little blonde haired blue-eyed boy is the reason this blog has been quiet of late. He is the reason I felt compelled to paint the house on my maternity leave and fill the 3 weeks with shopping, cleaning, ironing, organising and not as much sleep as I wish I had had. He is the reason I haven’t had a full nights sleep for 8 weeks and 5 days, and that might not be because he’s necessarily woken up but that I was in an anticipatory or anxious light sleep. He is the reason my online life revolves around nursery decorations, romper suits and baby showers. He is the reason going for a bowel movement still isn’t a fun carefree activity it used to be. His face is the reason my Facebook posts gets 4 times as many likes as before. He is a red-faced straining farting and pooing machine. He is an ever hungry, frowning, long finger spreading, snoring beauty and now I’ve got to know him* he is my everything. I still want to talk parties and weddings and homes, budgets, planning and life but that life is now babies, nurseries and baby showers. I now I feel in a position to continue with this blog as my son starts to find his feet (although not physically) and I have the extra hour a day to update my Pinterest and write to whoever is reading out there.

*more on unconditional love in another post.

new year and exciting happenings

Well happy new year to you all, we had a rather protracted start to 2015, our household was stricken with flu in the first week of the year and then we’ve been so busy trying to get to grips with the new working year and organise our house ready for our baby’s arrival in a few weeks. This has impacted on our shop and blog activity but at the start of the second month of 2015 (seriously one month down already how quickly is the year going)? it’s time to get back on the party planning, wedding and general loveliness bandwagon and hopefully any of you who struggled through Dry January will be in the mood to join me. Congratulations to anyone who can proclaim “I’m getting married this year” or who was newly engaged over the festive period. This year I will be welcoming my first child, turning 30 with many of my friends and my parents will celebrate 50 years of marriage. There will be baby showers, French holidays, interior design and wedding inspiration coming your way, so while I can’t join you just yet, enjoy a glass of something crisp and white, put your feet up and enjoy your twice weekly instalments and here’s to 2015.

christmas time…

…it’s certainly upon us now, this year has gone so quickly yet it’s hard to believe this time next week we’ll all be sat around stuffing our faces, unwrapping presents and sharing time with our loved ones, usually involving a board game in our house. I thought I should update you with my festive endeavours, if you are a friend of mine don’t continue reading as it will spoil your Christmas surprise. When it comes to prezzies I keep a list in my phone through the year if I think of things for people so The Husband and family have been fairly easy to buy for and I must admit the majority of this has happened through online shopping. It’s warm, hassle free, often cheaper and I get to become best friends with the postman and post office workers as I’m popping in after work to collect the packages which were attempted to be delivered while I was at work. The Husband absolutely hates wrapping and has been thrilled by the gift wrap option from Amazon, all he had to do was write the gift tag, already attached to the beautiful grey and red ribbon wrapping under the tree ready for the 25th. We do need to go and physically buy a few things this weekend I’m just hoping we make it out alive.

I stripped back the Halloween Wreath I created a few months ago and used off cuts from our Christmas tree (it needs a slight trim so it didn’t completely block the television) and wove them round the base and added a few spare baubles I didn’t want on the tree this year and a ribbon to finish it off and I think it looks rather lovely against our new blue front door, which is not only less draughty, noisy and unreliable than the previous it looks so much better than the boring white door we had before.

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I visited Castle Howard with my mum a few weekends back and we got a little carried away with new bauble buying, a selection are below and I’ve also purchased a new table runner for the dining table, apart from the real Christmas tree everything else has come back out of the boxes stored in the loft. I do love chevrons and I saw a link to a gold glitter chevron table runner on the Rock My Style blog a month back, I decided to find one independently and bought mine for half the price directly from China, it arrived quicker than some things posted within the UK do too.

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We’re not hosting Christmas this year but I still like to make and bake some things to take with me or in case people come round, which leads me to the kitchen. This year I have made candles and hot chocolate mix for my friends presents, using old jam jars and soya wax and pine and coconut spice fragrance bought from eBay I’ve decorated them up with ribbon, tissue paper and tags made from air dry clay. Stamped with letter stamps and cut using cookie cutters, they could do with some glitter or paint so might be more extravagant next year but they do the job for this year, including a special one for my friend who recently had her first baby. I’ll be making caramel shortbread and rice krispie cakes for my father in law as part of his present, taking a Bailey’s induced cheesecake round to my friend on Monday, making some little chocolate treats I found the recipe for on Rock My Style blog and hopefully taking on Paul Hollywood’s marzipan and mincemeat couronne recipe from the other night this weekend. Oh and possibly getting the cookie cutters back out for some gingerbread action if I find the time, I think Christmas has hit me this week so it’s all guns blazing.

Any of you making or baking presents and treats over the weekend or are you giving your Christmas cake its last ‘feed’ before the big day? I hope the pictures and ideas get you into the Christmas spirit if you’re not already there.

stationary

Stationary without a doubt sets the tone of your wedding, paper goods are the first things a guest receives, be it a save the date or invitation and it should give them an idea of what to expect from your day. I don’t like to see people not pay any attention to this part of their wedding.

When we set about finding our stationary I spent weeks trawling the internet, and much like photographers, there is a lot of choice out there.  There are some lovely designs at Not on the High Street which is where I found A Bird and A Bee which I adored, especially the summer fayre bunting design. I love the idea of all the information being bound with twine on Kraft brown paper, The Boy had other ideas and stationary was one of the wedding planning realms he had an opinion on. He made a fair point, we were getting married in a church and then onto a rather large and grand Hall, not a tent in a field or full DIY barn venue so the stationary had to be appropriate and his preference was for the traditional, nothing kooky. So this did narrow down my search, I had a crisis when at the National Wedding Show I found,  Pretty Made. Their designs are sleek and fun and I really wanted to use them but again, more suited to a chic city wedding not our country Yorkshire affair. I eventually found my stationary on a Google search and sent off for a sample, I liked it, the quality was fantastic, and The Boy approved too. A month or so passed and it was time to start properly organising the paper goods so I returned to the website and their designs had changed and in the meantime I had begun to wonder if our first sample was a little plain, so I sent off for ‘Woodland’ and it came and while I liked it, The Boy wasn’t sure, it wasn’t square but rectangle, and it opened a different way and was darker than he’d prefer. So I contacted the company and they were fantastic, one of the best customer services I have received and I couldn’t have been more happy with the results. They allowed us the design of woodland with the shape of the original sample and in a completely different combination of colours to suit us, we got a bespoke service. Everything was prompt, clear, painless and not that expensive and the evening invites, menus and order of service were all from the same company. If we hadn’t chosen particular table plans and name tags we’d have probably got the lot through them, they were Here Comes the Bride and I urge you to take a look at their fantastic work. That was our story and in the new year I’ll go through how we put together the rest of our paper related goods for the big day, the timings and factors to consider when organising your own stationary.

wedding gifts, outdated and mercenary?

As we head to present giving time I thought it was a good time to ask in this day and age how many of us are not living with our future partners already? Show of hands please, not that many at all. How many have already moved out of parental homes whether that be university, flat shares or heading to new cities alone? Most of you. So you’ll have a collection of plates and saucers, spoons and towels? Yes thought so or spaghetti hoop lunches could get messy…so why do we still create wedding lists in department stores for wedding gifts?

Most weddings I go to there is a polite sentence about having your presence as a gift but some cash or vouchers or honeymoon spending money will be fine if you insist, that’s what we did, we said B&Q vouchers to finish our house would be welcome but it’s fine if you don’t and we genuinely didn’t expect the generosity of our guests and I’ll thank them again here, “we have beautiful fitted wardrobes, our house is finished and I can’t thank you all enough”. So I’ll ask the question again, if I don’t know many couples who even ask for wedding lists, and I don’t know any couples who aren’t already shaked up together how do department stores still manage to fleece this service on couples and isn’t it a little mercenary of the couple to compile one? You might argue that vouchers and cash are mercenary but I see it as throwing out an option if people really want to bring something, but asking for a new set of hand towels or some salad servers just seems weird and rude nowadays. If I want to buy you a gift for your house it will be a house-warming and it’ll be just as good a set of salad servers from Wilkinson’s rather than John  Lewis thank you very much (other salad server stockists are available).  The whole tradition comes from a bottom draw, when women still lived with their parents building gifts to create a home for her husband, so how does that concept of items for the house sit in a society with same sex marriages, sex and living together before marriage and where a women isn’t just seen as a house maker? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

pregnancy style

Last week I went to a charity ball, and at 6 months pregnant my outfit choice took more consideration than normal. I’m current experiencing an ambivalence to clothes due to my burgeoning bump, a resentment in buying anything new that’s too pricey in the thought that it won’t get worn very much, if ever again. Then there’s how to dress a bump, a smock, A-line style dress which could border on swapping me like a tent (I’m not the tallest of girls) or go for a more Kim Kardashian approach of showing the bump off more proudly with something a little more body-con. My friend bought a beautiful lace dress from Isabel Oliver for a wedding and some occasions she had planned and there were some lovely options on the site, I can understand why she is popular but it was a little bit more than I’d like to pay and I spent hours trawling the asos maternity collections but a lot were uninspiring copies of what Miss Oliver was producing, the same went for New Look and other high street maternity ranges. It’s nice that the options are there, even if they’re not in abundance in actual stores, but the ranges are all a little similar rather than a maternity version of the dresses they’re flogging for the party season to the non-pregnant shopper. In the end I went for a size up in a body con dress from boohoo.com which should fit me through the next few week to Christmas and then I’m giving up in leggings and big jumpers until the big arrival. Below are some of favourite ladies rocking their bumps in various ways and me in the mix looking as glam as I can get these days. Any of you pregnant out there and having similar issues or have you found the best retailer of maternity wear glam or otherwise? Share with us your finds.

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