Friday, 30 August 2013

Happy Fridays

I hope you all have a great weekend! We have a busy one planned between a family photoshoot, catching up with lots of different friends, and the start of X-factor (woo!)!
24 Parenting techniques.

21 Important Life Lessons We Can Learn From Babies.

Beautiful ring.

Pretty wall sticker.

Craving cookies right now, these look yummy!

Clever organisation ideas for kitchen cupboards.

Enjoying watching new TV series from Stephen King's novel.

And finally, my best friends tied the know a year ago, and the bride's brother made this beautiful film of their magical day.

{motherhood} My bambino is six weeks today

Where has the time flown? Hugo is six weeks old today!
This photo was taken six weeks ago, when in hospital, shortly before the birth...

Several hours later, Hugo was born...

And met his beautiful sister Siena...
I thought Siena had been a big baby weighing 4kg05, but Hugo weighed 4kg810!

My beautiful boy and I last weekend...
I love being a family of four, and to reflect this I have arranged a family photoshoot for tomorrow morning with Naidene from Cyan & Magenta Photography. I can't wait to have some lovely family shots to add to our growing collection of photographs around the house.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

{Home} work in progress ~ bathroom & bedroom

I love seeing our home coming together. Even though we've been in the house for over two years, there's always something more to be done. We try hard to make the house reflect who we are as a couple, individuals, as well as a family. And I think that we are slowly but surely achieving this. For example in our bedroom, B and I have a feature wallpaper of a forest. Now when B first mentioned this idea to me, I have to say I was a little sceptic... All I could picture was the weird beach wallpaper my parents had in their flat in the 1980s.
However we looked into it and several months later an offer came up on Groupon for the print I had seen online, which I really liked. We therefore got the whole wallpaper for £60, which is a lot less than the cost of any large, good quality canvas we had seen.
B has since painted some of the walls a soothing, relaxing olive green colour, and bought beautiful lamps and a lampshade from Next to tie the whole theme together. I absolutely love the result so far, although I've been told not to expect any more green in the house as I now have two rooms in the house that are mainly green...
The next steps in the house are putting up the mammoth, beautifully carved solid wood mirror in the bathroom (B seems to know what he's doing on this one), and tidy the bedroom once the new furniture has been received. I can't wait for it to arrive so we can finally finalise the bedroom. Photos of the final results will follow once completed, watch this space! I can't wait!

{Lifestyle} Tuesday's Thoughts

What I've been looking at online today...
Swaddlers... Hugo loves being swaddled. It sets him off to sleep almost immediately, no matter how loud he may have been crying just seconds before. B has found a way to swaddle him with some of the blankets we have, similar to rolling up a Swiss/sausage roll, but I have been thinking of getting a proper "swaddler" as I just don't seem to have B's "technique" for it. It so happens that one of the blogs I follow has written a post on this. Sadly the UK website is currently out of stock, however I have found a free pattern online for one, and I love the fabric used for it by this blogger as seen below. Might be time to dust off my sewing machine!
Colourful scarves... As any true Frenchwoman, I love scarves and happily wear them all year around. At the moment, I am looking for a bright and colourful scarf for the autumn/winter.
Sunny yellow scarf
Another link to Jo's blog, I've fallen in love with the bag shown on one of her recent posts.

Colourful rugs... I would love to get several rugs to dot around the house, especially for the hallway, living room and Siena's bedroom. Just need to find colours that will match each room and rugs that won't cost the earth!

{Lifestle} How to write one's life journey...

Some time ago now, I read a book I really enjoyed: "The Shoemaker's Wife", by Adriana Trigiani. I loved it so much that if I have another daughter I'm seriously considering calling her Enza. It really got me thinking about the adventure life truly is, and how life can become an extraordinary journey depending on which paths we choose to take.
It especially got me thinking about my mother's family, more specifically, my grand-mother. As with most people, I did not know much about my grand-mother until my teenager years, when I started paying more attention to my family's background. My grand-mother was born in Malta. She worked in Valletta during WWII. She married young. At some point, she found out that her husband was cheating on her and so she asked for a divorce. Her family did not support her in this request, and her husband did not give her one for a long time. She therefore decided she would leave him and go back to the UK, where her family were originally from. She travelled to the UK by herself with just one of her three sons. In the UK she became ill and spent a considerable amount of time in a sanatorium. She then met my grand-father while waiting for another date in a pub. She worked in the passport office in London. She saw the Queen's coronation in London. She was always dressed very elegantly, I especially remember a photo of her in heels, gloves and a hat on a family day out to the beach! She is also a proud and strong minded woman, and appears to always have been: when she attended an interview when she decided to go back to work after having my mother and aunt, she noticed how young all the girls seemed in the office, and so she lied about her age and managed to get away with this for quite some time! She also used to go down the slides with us at the swimming pool well into her 70s, and kept going to keep-fit classes and danced rock and roll well up until her 80s! The stories go on... She has led a busy life!
When I finished reading "The Shoemaker's Wife", I told my mum about it and said a book could be written about her mother's life along the same lines. However my mum did not have time to write down all the stories about my grand mother, as by then my grand dad had already been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and unfortunately the day-to-day life of my family had become even more busy than it was to start with, with trying to organise and maintain the care of my grand parents amongst everything else.
It did make me wish I'd paid more attention to all the details of the stories my grand mother and family members had told me over the years. My grand parents are still alive, but this is a big task retrospectively, and living far away from them makes things even more difficult.
However the idea of writing down my family's history is never far away... My mother, who is fascinated with genealogy, has gathered a very detailed family tree over the years. However I feel like I am missing the stories to bring the names and dates to life.
Earlier today, when discussing what we did over the weekend, my lovely neighbour told me about the present she had bought for her mother-in-law. She had found a book, a journal of sorts, which asked lots of questions for the person to complete. The website describes it as follows:
I had previously found a website that follows a similar concept, entitled "this is me challenge". I've not yet had a chance to complete the challenge itself but I've always kept a note of the link for when the day comes I decide to do so. However I have to say that, being perhaps a little old fashioned in my love of books, I like the idea of having a ready made book containing the questions and answers all together.
It so happens that my mum's birthday is coming up next month, and so I have just ordered one of these books for her. I am not sure whether my mum will see this as an exciting task to complete, or as a chore considering how busy her life is right now... I seriously hope it won't be the latter, as I am very excited at the prospect of reading her answers, which can then be passed down to her grandchildren as a treasured story book.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

{Home} Slightly less sad hallway...

The hallway is in progress... update to follow shorty!

{Food} Favourite cakes...

I am so (SO!) excited that the Great British Bake Off has started again! I love all things baked, whether it be cake, bread... anything really.
So today's post is mostly a list of my favourites cakes, tried and tested!
As for my favourite breads, well the list is simply never ending... as a true French woman, I adore bread!
You can't usually go wrong with the BBC Food website so most recipes are from there.
I love bananas, and so does my daughter. So we usually always have some in the house. This recipe is great when the bananas go a little dark and you're unsure as to whether you ought to eat them or not. Added to that some chocolate chips and nuts... Mmmmm! This is one you have to follow the recipe otherwise it can end up being a gooey mess (although apparently with baking you should always follow the recipe... or so I hear!)
My friend Libby introduced me to this cake and I loved it so much I made it for my daughter's first birthday... although went a little crazy and doubled the ingredients, making it into a monster, amazingly tasty, birthday cake!
I love carrot cake! Especially when it has nuts in it, and with lots of yummy icing! This recipe is from the Hairy Bikers, I really like their recipes and watching them on TV, as their accents and humour remind me of my late uncle.
You might start noticing a bit of a theme here... I love nuts in cakes!
And the ones I have not yet tried baking myself, but still yummy:
  • Tarte aux fraises


and last but not least:
Greeeeeen cake.... Amazing!
I can't quite remember what flavour this was, possibly green tea and pistachio? All I remember is that it was at Teacup in Manchester in September 2012, it was green, and tasted really good too!

Friday, 23 August 2013

{Home} Sad hallway...

We've been in our house for over two years now, but there is always more we'd like to do DIY-wise. Next on my list: putting up the five million frames (or eighteen to be exact...) in our hallway, which have been gathering dust for months now. And when I say we, yes, I do mean B. I just supervise.
We already have some frames in our living room {right above the wonky lampshade}, as seen below. They're all of Siena at the moment so no doubt we'll add some of Hugo on the opposite side of the pink wall once we've had some taken.
Our next task is the hallway. I've started a little by adding the ones below...
But the rest of the hallway looks like this:
 ... and this...
 and finally...
It's all very bare and magnolia at the moment. Very sad indeed! We're not yet decided on a colour... I love bright, colourful colours (hence the pink wall in the living room which was originally meant to be a dark red). So if it was up to me, I would go for something along the lines of this living room as seen on Better Homes and Garden...
However B does not share the same enthusiasm for bright colours as I do for the home. Instead we're likely to go for a more neutral look,
as seen on the Dulux website. It is then easier to add in some colour with colourful accessories such as a big mirror, some colourful frames amongst the neutral wooden ones, and a colourful rug. That way the scheme can easily be changed if you fancy a change in the colour you choose initially. Although where to find a great colourful rug that doesn't cost the earth, I am yet to find out... Any suggestions?

{Happiness} Happiness is...

It's Friday, and who doesn't like Fridays!? The end of a working week, the start of a weekend... Whether you're planning drinks down the pub, going on a big night out, attending a friend's wedding, a day out with the kids, or simply relaxing at home, it is always exciting! Happy times.

When I was in high school, we would often find things to do in class to keep us busy [yes, this is the despite the fact that we were in class, and therefore meant to be focussing on what the teacher was telling us... but let's just skip that part!]. One of the things that kept us busy for a long time, was making a list of all the things we liked and that made us happy. It could be anything from the smell of freshly mown grass, to dancing with friends, travelling to a specific place, ... you get the idea. And making such a list would genuinely make us feel happier. A few years later, my friends and I at university started making a similar list. I will have a look to see if I can find these, as they always make interesting reading.

In the meantime, I have listed below some of the things that make me happy. I hope to make this a regular feature, and please feel free to add your own "happy thoughts" in the comments below.

I love living in Bristol, always so much to do and see! It's a beautiful city and I can't help but take photos of it when it looks its best. This photo was taken yesterday as there was a beautiful sunset over the lush view of the city.

My brother, sister and I are very close. I don't know where I'd be without them. We have so many great memories together, and always have a great time when we get together. Looking at photos of us makes me really happy!
As the true daughter of a Frenchman, I love food. Love it. I believe in eating everything in moderation and love cooking and baking at home.
As you may have come to realise by now, I love green... therefore love forests! In fact, the wallpaper in our bedroom is of a forest, so I wake up every morning opposite a green forest, and that makes me very happy.
There's nothing like being on top of a mountain, with a clear blue sky and the warm sun, on fresh crisp snow. I was lucky to grow up in the French Alps, so could go skiing and snowboarding on a weekly basis. I really miss it but luckily B has grown to love it too so we're looking forward to skiing trips once the bambini are a little older.
What makes you happy?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

{Lifestyle} What I am proud about today...

Too often in life I tend to focus on the negative. Rather than take a step back and consider the good things I have achieved, I will find the one thing that did not go to plan and make myself feel bad about it. We often discuss this with my sister, as we're both guilty of this behaviour. Despite this, we're both good at reminding the other one of all we have achieved, and to forget about the negative experiences.
A lot of the time, I guess it is mostly down to confidence. Additionally, especially in my family, we tend to place ourselves under a lot of pressure to be the best at everything we do, and to aim for the best in life. So when we don't achieve this, either because it did not happen on that particular occasion or perhaps simply because deep down we did not really want to, we make ourselves feel bad and punish ourselves with negativity.
If I stop and think about it, today I am most proud of:
  • I am about to qualify in my job after many years of education and training. The hard work will finally pay off!
  • I have two beautiful children who look like mini versions of their dad and I... Can't help but think "we made them!"
  • My brother has followed his passion as his career (he plays football professionally, that is something to be proud of!
  • My sister is fiercely ambitious and passionate about her career too. She works really hard and although she does not always see it, she has achieved so much already for her age. We are all very proud of her.
  • In fact, my parents, godmother and grand parents are the best example to demonstrate that you get what you work for in life. I am very proud of them, and wouldn’t be the person I am today without their support and advice.
  • I pretty much have everything I could ask for in life, some obtained through hard work but also thanks to the support of my family and friends.
  • last one for the day... I have no debts, except for the mortgage. Very proud of that one!
What about you, what are you most of proud of?

{motherhood} Be kind to yourself....

This is a rather personal post to start off with, and as with all matters concerning pregnancy and motherhood,i know many people will not share my views. But it is a subject which I find important, and having browsed the web for advice and support over the last few weeks before making my decision, I haven't come across a post sharing my point of view on the matter. So here goes: today I have decided to stop breastfeeding my baby.

Hugo will be five weeks old on Friday. When he was born, I was optimistic that breastfeeding will go well, and I would aim to solely breastfeed him for as long as I felt I could. This is despite the fact that I never truly enjoyed the experience when breastfeeding my daughter, and combi-fed her on breast milk and formula. True, it did get better after 6-8 weeks, as advised by most people. It is also true that it was a lot more convenient, as well as free. And of course, we all know that "breast is best" for your baby.

But the truth is, I always felt that breastfeeding drained all the energy from me, and as mentioned above, I never truly enjoyed it. I did it for three months last time, as I decided to stop before I returned to work full-time. And you know what? Siena has nevertheless grown into a beautiful, strong, healthy little girl.

This time round, my son, who weighed 10 lbs 9 when born, feeds a lot. I also had to give him formula as well as breastfeed him when he lost 13% of his weight after the birth (this also happened with his sister). He's continuing to grow well but I simply feel as though I cannot keep up with him on breastfeeding alone. Additionally, shortly after the birth I went to spend some time with family, several members which are battling terminal cancer, and I felt so emotionally drained that I struggled to keep up with the physically demanding task of breastfeeding.

As with last time with my daughter, when I first thought of stopping breastfeeding, I immediately felt guilty, and dare I say it, a bit of a failure. Every article you read tells you that your should breastfeed until your baby is at least 6 months old. However I can't deny that when I decided to stop, both with my daughter and this time round, there is a huge feeling of relief and as though a weight has been taken off my shoulder.

I also genuinely believe that it is important as a mother to look after yourself, as if you don't, it will be a lot more difficult to look after a demanding newborn and his sibling(s)! In my case, breastfeeding really left me feeling drained of all energy and a little faint, in turn making me grumpy and struggling to keep up with my new job as a mother of two.

Of course, my decision was not taken lightly and I have battled through various emotions when making it: guilt, relief, disappointment, self doubt... But deep down,I knew it was the best decision for me and Hugo, even though other people may not agree.

I know this is not the case for everyone. Most of the women I have spoken to appear to truly enjoy breastfeeding, and are reluctant to give it up too soon. Then again, I also know that many women do not breastfeed at all. I genuinely believe that we must follow our hearts and do what we think is best for us. After all, looking after a newborn baby is difficult enough as it is, with so many fears and the constant guilt and questioning ourselves of whether we are being the best mother we can... In any event, either way, the baby will not go hungry.

The best advice I received this time around was from Julia, the health visitor. She told me that it is normal to find it more difficult second time around, especially when already running around after a toddler. But most of all, she told me to be kind to myself... and so rather than give myself too much of a hard time over my decision, I have decided to give myself a break and to do just that.

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