May 1st, 2015

A green gift | Urban Jungle Bloggers

600 Thyme table favourI made these table favours for a Greek-themed dinner party a couple of weeks ago and thought they’d be perfect to share for this month’s Urban Jungle Bloggers challenge by Igor and Judith: ‘offer a plant to a friend’.

Some friends and I have been taking it in turns to host dinner and we we decided to go with a Greek theme when it was our turn to have everyone over. My husband and I met on Crete and Greece is one of our favourite places in the world so Greek food always brings back happy memories. I wanted to take my time decorating the table for our Greek feast, and fancied making little table favours that would also act as place names for our guests. The wonderful scents of oregano and thyme always remind me of meandering along a sunny pathway in Greece listening to the chorus of cicadas, so I those are the plants I chose to use for my mini green gifts.

600 Greek place favours

600 Planting table favours

600 Oregano and thyme favoursI bought a couple of large pots of oregano and thyme and then carefully divided them to make smaller plants for my mini pots. There were eight place settings for dinner, so I planted four oregano pots and four thyme pots.

600 Greek dinner table settingI popped one on each place setting at the table, with a simple name card and skeleton leaf nestled  into the leaves. I  enjoyed taking my time to decorate the table for our party, and I even made my husband carry in our (very heavy) potted olive tree from the garden to green up the space a bit more!

600 Greek dinner party The evening was fun and relaxed, which is exactly how we wanted it to be – we even played traditional Greek music all night so that it felt like we were in a cosy taverna! On the menu was cheese pie (we left out the sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe), gigantes plaki and tzatziki for a starter, lamb kleftiko and Greek salad for the main, and warm honey cup puddings with homemade pistachio ice cream for dessert. My mouth’s watering just thinking about all the delicious food, and it felt really nice to be able to send our guests home with a gift to remember the night by.

600 Greek dinner party table

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April 27th, 2015

Getting crafty with Wayfair

DIY cross stitch mesh storage | Growing SpacesSorry for the long break – once the Easter holidays finished I was straight into an epic week’s shooting (check my IG feed for Christmas teasers). Today I’m in recovery mode – sofa, duvet, laptop are the key ingredients of my day.

I thought I’d share a link to a little craft tutorial I did for Wayfair a couple of weeks back. It’s a really simple and easy way to add colour and personality to bog-standard mesh office storage products.

 

April 13th, 2015

Let the Big Wild Rumpus begin!

Wild ThingThe Big Wild Rumpus is a national campaign to celebrate the nations love of Where the Wild Things Are – a true children’s book classic that I vividly remember reading as a child, and have rediscovered since having my own children and reading it to them.

As part of the celebrations, you’re encourage to host or join in on the 13th June with a Wild Rumpus party at 11am. The idea is that everyone reads the book out loud together and when Max says ‘let the wild rumpus start’, everyone shouts and stamps and generally goes wild!
My twins love parties (parties = cake) and dressing up, so we’ll definitely be hosting a Wild Rumpus shindig, where I’ll turn us all into wild things! To get your own wild thing face paint, follow the tutorial below..
Wild Thing Collage1. Create a white/off-white background to work on – I used a sponge to apply a thin layer of white facepaint over Ez’s whole face.
2. Paint large yellow circles around each eye and fill them in yellow, then outline in black and add an eyebrow and black eyeballs (perfect for rolling).
3. Colour the nose orange (we mixed orange and pink for ours as Ez was insistent that it needed to be a pinky orange to match one of the wild things in the book), and use a black outline to enlarge the nostrils.
4. Draw on a smile with a single black line that stretches across the mouth and up onto each cheek, and then add some sharp wild thing teeth (perfect for gnashing). We also painted on some extra hair around the hairline (again to match the wild thing Ez liked in the book).

Double trouble wild thingsWe also made some hanging vines to create a wild thing jungle for our party. This is a very easy craft that the twins really enjoyed getting stuck into (especially the messy painting bit).

painted leaf garland Leaf garland Collage1. Completely cover some large pieces of paper with green paint. We used the back of an old roll of wallpaper, and the twins applied the paint using brushes, sponges and their hands. I gave them green, red and yellow paint which they used to create a spectrum of different greens. Leave to dry.
2. Cut out a leaf template from cardboard and then let the kids draw around it on the painted paper. We used two different shapes – a heart-shaped leaf and a longer, thinner leaf.
3. Cut out the leaves with scissors.
4. Staple the leaves onto a long length of ribbon or paper (we used a crepe paper streamer), overlapping them slightly to make the vines look nice and lush!
IMG_7526 600(I’m sorry that the twins look so stern in the picture above. I think they were a little miffed that we were just taking photographs rather than having our actual Wild Rumpus party.)

If you’re interested in hosting a wild rumpus celebration, there’s a whole host of resources on The Big Wild Rumpus website including tutorials on decorating your event, recipes for food to be served during the rumpus, craft activities to make before and during the party and costume ideas.

Will you go wild for The Big Wild Rumpus?

thebigwildrumpus

Website | The Big Wild Rumpus
Twitter | @_wildrumpus
IG | @_wildrumpus
Hashtag | #thebigwildrumpus

April 9th, 2015

Family-friendly cycling: The Kennet & Avon canal cycle route

Family cycling | Growing SpacesToday was one of those incredible days when you’re just engulfed by this feelgood wave of joy and contentment. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to head out on our first proper family bike ride. Ez’s confidence on her bike has rocketed in the last month and so we felt we could tackle a longer outing. I checked out the National Cycle Network, and discovered that there’s a highly-rated family-friendly route that follows the Kennet and Avon canal, less than 30 minutes drive from our house.

We parked at a picnic site next to the canal in Theale and cycled the 7.8km to Froudes Bridge, just past Aldermaston Wharf. To say the route is stunning really doesn’t do it justice. We rode along the tow path next to the gorgeous canal (spotting swans and ducks along the way), through open fields and past woodland. We had the path largely to ourselves – I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was in the middle of the school holidays. We stopped to watch the canal boats go through the locks and one boating couple even encouraged the twins to help push open the sluice gates, which they loved.

The beauty of cycling along a canal is that the route is flat (which was a total joy). The paths were all more than wide enough, and although we had to cross a few (extremely quiet) roads, we didn’t have to ride along the road at any point.

We stopped for a picnic by the water just before Aldermaston Wharf and then continued on a little bit further, before turning round and heading back to the Wharf to treat ourselves to ice-creams at the Aldermaston tea room (it also doubles as an information centre for the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, plus it offers a great loo stop). Next time I fancy stopping there for lunch because the sandwiches looked blooming awesome.

We rode back the way we came, and even though you’re riding along the same path, going the opposite direction means you notice new things and it still feels interesting. The kids were (quite rightly), super-proud of themselves for riding such a distance, and we headed home feeling tired and happy. I have a feeling we’ll get to know this stretch of canal pretty well over the next few years and I’m really excited to see how it changes throughout the seasons.

Cycling the Kennet Avon canal | Growing Spaces

UK family-friendly cycling routes | Growing Spaces

Family bike ride | Growing Spaces

Spring magnolia | Growing Spaces

Cycling with young kids | Growing Spaces

IMG_7715

Spring woodland | Growing Spaces

Canal boat | Growing Spaces

 

April 8th, 2015

All lit up with BHS

Terrace table lamp from BHS | Growing SpacesWhen friends ask me to recommend shops for good-value lighting, I always think of BHS’s lighting collection first, so I was more than happy to review something from their lighting range here.

There have been some big changes happening in our living space – a large open-plan L-shape area that includes our kitchen, dining and living zones. We’ve always used a large freestanding shelving unit to help divide up the space and to try to make the living area feel a little more separate, but it’s never quite worked. You know when a space just doesn’t feel right? It’s been something that’s bothered us for ages, so we decided that the best solution is to embrace the fact that the space is open-plan. We’ve taken down the shelving unit to remove that visual divider and open the space up again. My handy husband has built a wall of shelving to provide a place for all the things that used to live on the shelving unit, and I can’t wait to share finished pictures with you.

BHS Terrace table lamp | Growing SpacesThe upshot of all this rearranging is that we had space on the new shelves to fill, and it seemed like a great idea to choose some lighting that looks good during the day, and then adds a glow to the shelves in the evening. BHS’s Terrace table lamp – a set of three white ceramic houses (a single house light is also available) – was just what I was after. The little ceramic houses look so cute on the shelves and I love the idea of displaying them nestled amongst a forest of houseplants (something I plan to try this week).

BHS Terrace table lamp | Growing SpacesThe Terrace lamp definitely ticks all the boxes during the day, but at the moment it’s a bit too bright in the evening. It came with 10W halogen bulbs, but I’m going to swap these for lower voltage ones to see if that feels a bit better.

 

Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with BHS

April 1st, 2015

Styling the Seasons & at{mine}: April

: Styling the Seasons, by Apartment Apothecary and Lotts and Lots :
“Reflect the change of seasons and show those changes in your own home, by styling any surface (shelf, dining table, mantelpiece) with something you like to reflect the new month and what it means to you”
#StylingSpringAtMine | Growing Spaces

What better way to celebrate Spring than with a floral workshop taught by the fantastic Caroline from Wild Rubus? The awesome duo behind Styling the Seasons, Katy and Charlotte, have been busy working on this super-exciting event – the result of a partnerships with at{mine}, an online community of home and interior lovers, where members share shots of their own homes. I can’t wait to attend the workshop on 29 April at Homemade London, and you could be there too!

This month you can enter a special competition to be in with a chance to attend the event. All you have to do is publish your own Styling the Seasons post on your blog or Instagram. There are ten of us who are already at{mine} members, who will act as judges, along with at{mine}, Caroline and Bloom and Wild (who will be supplying the flowers for the workshop, and who sent me the gorgeous blooms I’ve used in this post). Each judge will pick their top three favourite April Styling the Seasons entries and Katy and Charlotte will then compile a list of 13 guests for the workshop. Please share your entries using the hashtag #StylingSpringAtMine.

Styling the Seasons: April | Growing SpacesApril is all about Easter in our house, with family get-togethers and the kids on a break from school, so I’ve celebrated this by styling up my beautiful Bloom & Wild flowers in one of the twins’ Easter eggs. Our bedroom is sorely neglected when it comes to pretty details, so I created this little April display on top of my chest-of-drawers. The drawers belonged to my grandmother (and her parents before that) whose birthday was in April, so it feels like a spot that deserved some attention this month. The wooden jewellery box and vintage books were also passed down to me from Nanna. Heidi was my mum’s as a little girl, and it’s one of my childhood favourites – it has some gorgeous illustrations in it and whenever I think of Heidi I think of the alpine flowers, so it marries well with the floral theme this month.

Flower-filled Easter egg | Growing Spaces

Bloom & Wild lisianthus| Growing SpacesIf you’d like to join the wonderful community at at{mine}, you can sign up here using the invite code ‘StylingSpringAtMine’. There’s a special  ‘Styling the Seasons’ category set up so you can share your posts over there too. I look forward to welcoming you!

atmineBadgeThe competition closes of April 15th – see Apartment Apothecary and Lotts and Lots for full details.

 

March 30th, 2015

#TheEverydaySpruce LOAFing Spring giveaway winner

It was so fantastic seeing all the gorgeous entries for our first every The Everyday Spruce giveaway with Loaf last week. Sarah-Lou and I have so enjoyed the project so far, and seeing everyone else’s own sprucing tips is one of the best things about it for me – sharing inspiration and ideas is always a winner in my book.

Speaking of winners, I’ve picked out my favourite post from Instagram and it’s this one from @sammidodgers, who wins a set of Wobbler ceramics from Loaf. I love a good DIY, and this shower curtain update is so simple yet so effective – a perfect Spring spruce for the bathroom.

@Sammidodgers shower curtain DIY“There’s an insanely easy and quick DIY shower curtain makeover, if you’re looking for something on a budget” @sammidodgers

Thanks so much to Loaf for collaborating with us for this giveaway – head over there now to drool over their SS15 collection. Oh and there’s also tonnes of inspiration to be had over on our shared Pinterest board. And you can see my four runners up over on IG – it was so hard to pick just one favourite.

The Everyday Spruce will be taking a break in April, but we’ll be back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in May with plenty more sprucing tips. Thanks for all your support since we launched the project and I hope you all have a lovely Easter break.

Find us here…
IG Lapinblu | HeatherYoungUk
Twitter Lapinblu | HeatherYoungUk
Pinterest board The Everyday Spruce

March 23rd, 2015

#TheEverydaySpruce Little cost, big value and a Loaf GIVEAWAY!

#TheEverydaySpruce
– a collaborative project between lapinblu & growing spaces
| SIMPLIFY | CLARIFY | BEAUTIFY |

The Everyday Spruce Loaf Giveaway | Growing SpacesWhile the ethos behind #TheEverydaySpruce is firmly rooted in ideas rather than purchases, we’re not adverse to spending a few pennies in the pursuit of those small changes that can make a positive impact on your daily life.

I’ve really embraced the decluttering I wrote about back in February, and part of this process has been to properly evaluate my belongings – choosing to keep only those things that ‘spark joy’. One thing that I’ve really noticed is that by really looking at my possessions with fresh eyes, I’ve realised I live with some things that are crying out to be replaced. These aren’t high-cost items but they are things that I use every single day – they work hard and I’m guilty of not valuing them enough.

Loaf Wobbler cereal bowl | Growing SpacesOne example is our cereal bowls (or in fact a large amount of our crockery). You’d be hard-pushed to find a bowl that isn’t chipped, but this is what we’re using right at the beginning of our day. I think (especially after Sarah-Lou’s thoughts on improving her mornings) that we should make a better start with decent crockery. So I’ve binned the chipped bowls (or kept them for houseplants) and replaced them with these Wobbler ceramic cereal bowls from Loaf (*exciting giveaway klaxon* – keep reading!). A small outlay to give our breakfasts together the value they deserve.

Cereal bowl from Loaf for #TheEverydaySpruce | Growing SpacesAnd there are plenty of other, small things that I use everyday but which I don’t give enough credit to. Things that really belong in the bin and I should buy new – for me, I’m thinking of… knickers (nothing fancy, but frayed elastic really isn’t acceptable), my pot of under eye concealer, the cushion on my office chair, my hairbrush and our cutlery drainer.
These everyday, practical things are used so often and become so ingrained in our routine that they become almost invisible, but I really believe that updating them details can have an uplifting effect. Sometimes money can buy a little bit of happiness.

Wobbler ceramics from Loaf #TheEverydaySpruce giveaway | Growing Spaces

LOAF GIVEAWAY!

And now for the exciting part! We’ve teamed up with Loaf to offer you the chance to win either a Wobbler ceramics set or a Scrunch linen cushion (as chosen by Sarah-Lou). All you need to do is to share your best Spring sprucing tip – anything from prepping the garden, to clearing out the garage, to arranging Spring blooms. We want to know the secret to your successes and the tidbits that make your everyday easier.

1. Take a photograph that shows or represents your story.
2. Upload it to Instagram adding the hashtags #TheEverydaySpruce and #LOAFingSpring (sorry, this is an IG-only giveaway this time*) between now and Friday 27 March.
3. Follow @Lapinblu, @HeatherYoungUk and @LoafHome on IG and tag us into your post so that we can find you.
4. Sarah-Lou from lapinblu and I will each choose our favourite sprucing idea and the winners will be announced on our blogs on Monday (my winner will win the Wobbler ceramics, and Sarah-Lou’s the Scrunch cushion).

For sprucing inspiration with a touch of Spring, take a peek at our collaborative Pinterest board, LOAFing Spring with #TheEverydaySpruce

 
“Giveaway ends 27/03/2015 at Midnight (GMT) Open to residents of the UK only. No monetary alternative is available.  Winners will be selected by Sarah-Louise Kimmer & Heather Young and will be notified via www.growingspaces.net and www.lapinblu.com. The winner will have 72 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Please note that Sarah-Louise Kimmer (LapinBlu) & Heather Young (Growing Spaces) are not responsible for sponsors/companies that do not fulfil their prizes.  We have represented each sponsor/company with the expectation they will fulfil their prize and in a timely manner. We  will contact the sponsor/company to pass on your details following your response to the winners announcement and also provide you with their contact email. We will make every effort to assist you in obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with the sponsor/company, please notify us within 30 days for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you. The product/service/prize/voucher offered for the giveaway is free of charge and inclusive of delivery, no purchase necessary. Our opinions are our own and are not influenced by any form of compensation.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & Google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to us and us alone.  We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner & putting them in touch directly with the sponsor/company.” 

 

 

March 23rd, 2015

Hop this way.. new HAM rabbit prints

Yeshen Venema PhotographyAs far as I’m concerned, rabbits are for life, not just for Easter, especially when we’re talking about HAM’s playful rabbit prints (Fonz has a gallery of them on his bedroom wall). Today they’ve added five new designs, and I’m heading straight over to buy the Sliding Rabbit screen print. Having spent endless hours stood around a slide while the twins went up and down, and up and down, and up and down, this print perfectly captures a particular moment in time for me.

Yeshen Venema PhotographyEach of the five designs comes as a hand pulled screen print made in East London £32 (30 x 40cm) and a luxury greeting card £2.85 (4 for £10). Visit hammade.com to see the full range.

New HAM prints collage 620The four other designs – clockwise from top left: Yoga Rabbit, Trapeze Rabbit, Redecorating Rabbit, Seaside Rabbit

March 22nd, 2015

#TheEverydaySpruce Ideas for better mornings

#TheEverydaySpruce
– a collaborative project between lapinblu & growing spaces
| SIMPLIFY | CLARIFY | BEAUTIFY |

Hot water and lemon by lapinblu | Growing SpacesImage: Sarah-Louise Kimmer

I am a morning person so when I read Sarah-Lou’s latest post for The Everyday Spruce about six ways she could make her mornings better, I was trying to think about what it is that makes mornings ok for me. I already knew that Sarah-Lou is a night owl – she sends me emails at stupid o’clock, and I see her late-night pins on Pinterest when I open it up first thing in the morning. For me, 11pm is a late night, and if I need to meet a deadline I’d far rather set my alarm a couple of hours earlier the next morning than stay up late to work. My head’s clearer in the mornings and I feel brighter and more positive. This tends to wear off as the day progresses!

Obviously there are things you can do if you don’t share my feelings about mornings, and Sarah-Lou’s tips are very sensible, but I do think that it’s part of the way we’re programmed and I’m not sure we can really change our internal clock. My day always starts with a cup of peppermint tea (I like to rehydrate before I move onto my black coffee) and I don’t feel ready to face the world unless I’ve had a shower (I’d prefer to get up earlier to make sure I get one than have an extra five minutes in bed). Hitting the snooze button is one of my biggest bugbears – when the alarm goes off I’m awake and I want to get up and start the day. Being married to someone with a strong affinity for the snooze button has been known to cause conflict.

Head over to lapinblu to read Sarah-Lou’s suggestions and please do share your own tips and ideas using the hashtag #theeverydaydayspruce.

Find us here…
IG Lapinblu | HeatherYoungUk
Twitter Lapinblu | HeatherYoungUk
Pinterest board The Everyday Spruce

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