July 3rd, 2015

Europe road trip: Ticino, Switzerland

IMG_8564My aim to blog about in ‘real time’ about our road trip as it unfolded last year has well and truly fallen by the wayside, but I’m going to keep coming with the posts. The next stage of our trip was spent in Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland (close to the border with Italy). We had an amazing drive over the Gotthard Pass through the mountains  and were really struck by how the scenery and general vibe changed so quickly from quintessentially Swiss to much more Italian.

FRUTIGEN, SWITZERLAND – LOCARNO, SWITZERLAND:
132 miles by road and motorway – take the Gotthard pass for spectacular views – it was one of the highlights of our whole trip.

We stayed: At Camping Riarena, Locarno, Switzerland. A decent campsite with a fantastic swimming pool, plenty of green space and a small playground. There was also an onsite restaurant which looked lovely, although we didn’t eat there. We found a pitch next to the playing field and in the evenings we could watch fireflies dancing in the bushes opposite, which was totally magical.

We visited: We were lucky enough to meet up with friends who were based in the area for the summer and they gave us some great tips of where to visit. We drove up the Verzasca valley, to wander along the Verzasca Dam, where we watched some crazy people bungee-jumping (the jump immortalised in James Bond Goldeneye). Further up the valley we parked up just after the bridge between Lavertezzo and Brione and climbed down to the river below for a cold but refreshing dip in the crystal-clear water. The steep drive up to the village of Corippo on the other side of the valley was well-worth it.

On the drive from Switzerland to Italy, we stopped off at a village called Gandria on the edge of Lake Lugano to eat our lunch. I’d seen this place on Pinterest and it totally lived up to expectations – it was stunning and very quiet – we hardly saw another soul.

We ate: We were on a tight budget, so we didn’t eat out while we were in Ticino, apart from an ice-cream stop in Corippo (the only cafe in the village had an amazing vintage till, and the most incredible view down the valley).

IMG_8608Playing by the Verzasca river

IMG_8624The view from our lunch spot in Gandria

IMG_8667Lake Lugano from Gandria

Europe road trip: Ticino, Switzerland from Heather Young on Vimeo.
 Click here for more posts about our Europe road trip #30daysofcamping.

 

 

July 1st, 2015

#TheEveryDaySpruce: July theme announcement

In my last #TheEverydaySpruce post I mentioned opening the project up to get more of you involved. And now the time has come and Sarah-Lou and I are so excited to welcome you onboard! At the start of each month we’ll announce a general theme for the coming month (on our blogs and over on IG) and invite you to join in by writing a blog post or posting an image on Instagram to share your great sprucing ideas around the theme using the hashtag #TheEverydaySpruce. If you want to be added to our mailing list so that you don’t miss the theme announcement each month, then please leave a comment below or drop me an email.

citronella-candles by Sugar and CharmThese DIY citronella candles by Sugar and Charm would be the perfect
spruce for summer evenings outdoors

July is off to a brilliant start with this gorgeous heatwave, and it’s perfect for our theme this month, which is… ‘Get Set For Summer’. From ideas on how to survive the school holidays, to how to pack the perfect picnic, to how to bring summer indoors, to a great tutorial for a must-have beach-bag – we want to know your best summer tips. We’ll be publishing our blog posts the week of the 13 July, so feel free to join us then (or anytime before the end of July).

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Here’s a little reminder of what #TheEverydaySpruce project is all about..

‘To spruce’ in its most basic definition means to make neat… by association, it can also be used to describe the acts of fixing up, organising and beautifying. Simplify, clarify, beautify.

We’re using the term to describe a more general idea of shaking things out and hitting refresh. We’ll be sharing easy and useful tips, projects and ideas that we hope will inspire and encourage you to revitalise things a little, both around your home and in your daily routines. This isn’t about making things perfect, but about focusing on simple things that can help to make the everyday just a little bit easier, and, perhaps, more beautiful for you, too.

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

June 30th, 2015

Styling the Seasons: June

June styling the seasons - we all scream for ice cream | Growing SpacesI’m sneaking in at the very last minute with this month’s Styling The Seasons post for Charlotte and Charlotte. I’ve had a bit of a styling block this month – I feel like I’m running out of surfaces to style and I was coming up blank when I tried to think about what June means to me (I think this year, June means going 100 miles an hour and the month disappearing in the blink of an eye).

I needed some inspiration so I turned to the twins for some ideas. When we asked them what’s special about June, they immediately came up with summer, and their favourite thing about summer? Ice-cream! After initially laughing off their suggestion, I thought well why not? Now that our lives are governed by the school routine, Friday dinners have become more of a celebration of the end of the week, and that often means a special pudding. So I’ve created an ice-cream parlour section in our open shelving near the kitchen, with waffle cones, chocolate flakes and plenty of sprinkles. Friday dinners now mean a visit to the ice-cream shelf.

June Styling the Seasons | Growing Spaces

Sprinkles for June Styling The Seasons | Growing SpacesThe summer generally feels more colourful, so I’ve added some bright splashes to the shelves with my Marimekko By Iittala bowls and this gorgeous ice-cream print by the clever Teri at The Lovely Drawer (it was one of my favourite treats in my Blogtacular goodie bag). My festoon lights from Lights4Fun that I won at Sisterhood camp add a bit of a carnival feel.

It’s been a hectic June but it’s been full of inspiration, fun and friendship so it’s had plenty of plus points too. July traditionally means Christmas to me (that’s crazy magazine world for you), so goodness knows what my Styling the Seasons will look like next month…

: 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”

June 29th, 2015

Our mud kitchen: why mud and kids is a winning combo

Happy International Mud Day! I couldn’t let this day (marking the celebration of outdoors, nature and mess by getting really muddy) pass us by, as mud is probably the twins’ favourite plaything.

When Cathy from Nurturestore shared the link to this article about why you should stop giving your child a bath every night a while ago on her Facebook page, it struck a chord because that very day, the twins had spent hours happily playing in the mud. I’m a big believer in dirt being good for kids, so an article that same week about how the exposure to the bacteria in mud and dirt is good for our children’s immune systems just reaffirmed my thoughts.

Mud kitchen plans | Growing SpacesMy two small people love getting dirty. In fact, they’re such huge fans of the mud kitchen they have at school (I’m told it’s hard to persuade Ez to ever leave it), that Ben decided to build them one at home after he managed to nab an old sink from a friend whose kitchen was recently ripped out.

In the morning, the twins drew plans of how they wanted their mud kitchen to look, while Ben cleared all the weeds that had taken over a raised bed in our garden (ironically I think I was indoors cleaning – I really need to remember that happy people have messy homes). As soon as the weeds were vanquished, the kids moved in, various pots and pans were gathered, a big bucket of water was delivered and they got down to the serious business of mud making – and construction of the kitchen itself began in earnest.

Muddy play | Growing SpacesTheir imaginations took over and the mud play kept them occupied for hours. Pies, pancakes, cakes and sauces were all cooked up, before their attentions turned to covering themselves in as much mud as possible – I’m sure they’d be totally tickled to know that this is what people pay money to have done in spas, too!

Mud pie anyone? | Growing Spaces

The mud kitchen - a celebration of all things muddy | Growing SpacesThe finished mud kitchen is a feat of engineering that slots alongside the raised bed in our garden. The wearing of nice dresses isn’t usually encouraged in the mud, but for the purposes of posing for blog photographs, it was allowed on this occasion! Just yesterday they covered themselves from head to toe in oozy mud and we had to hose them down outside before heading up to have a bath.

Dirt is great | Growing SpacesAs far as I’m concerned, feet like this are a sign of a very good day.

June 28th, 2015

Introducing my ‘Heather At Home’ video blog series

Heather At Home on YouTubeYou may have noticed a new social media button appear to the right of my homepage. YouTube. I’ve dabbled in the past, but without any real focus so I’m really excited to have teamed up with the team at housetohome to launch a new weekly video blog series, Heather At Home. As well as plenty of interiors content (decorating projects, styling ideas, storage tips), I’ll be chatting about anything that’s caught my interest that week – from wellbeing to parenting to budgeting.

The key message from Grace Bonney’s keynote speech at Blogtacular was to do something that scares you, and for me, this is it. Not only am I much happier behind the camera (although luckily it appears I don’t mind being filmed half as much as I mind having my photograph taken), but having to put myself out that and shout ‘Oi! Look at me!’ throws me into an anxious panic. However, the way I see it is that if I’m not going to shout about it, no-one else is, and what’s the point of making videos if nobody is going to watch them, right? So I’m facing my fears head on. I’m enjoying the challenge of working in a different media, and it’s great to be able to see myself learning and improving as I go along.

Heather At Home on YouTubeSo whether you’re already a YouTube addict, or if like me, you’re still a bit of a novice, please do subscribe to my channel to share my vlogging journey with me, and see a bit more of who I am behind the blog.

xx

June 28th, 2015

Plant colour pop | Urban Jungle Bloggers

#urbanjunglebloggers colour pop | Growing SpacesIt’s the last Urban Jungle Bloggers challenge before Igor and Judith take a well-deserved summer break, and it’s a fun one this month – pick one plant and place it in front of a coloured backdrop. I walked past our bedroom the other evening and spotted the gorgeous evening light on this Peperomia, and immediately grabbed my camera. I was snapping away when 5yo Ez wandered in, and wanted to know what I was up to. After explaining the challenge, she was quick to point out that if we wanted a colourful background, her bedroom wall is the brightest in the house, so really we should be taking my pictures in there. Who was I to argue?

I recently bought a calathea for her room, so we grabbed that and she struck a pose (or actually, a whole host of different poses) with the plant, demanding to inspect the shots every so often so that she could adjust accordingly!#urbanjunglebloggers plant colour pop | Growing SpacesI reckon the shots Ez directed deliver on the ‘vibrant dash of colour’ brief way better than mine and she more than qualifies for her colour-lovers badge. To see more colour-pop plant inspiration you can use the hashtags #plantcolorpop and #plantcolourpop to search Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.

Plant colour pop for #urbanjunglebloggersUJB-logo

June 23rd, 2015

5 tips on finding that car boot loot

Gold old British car boot sale | Growing SpacesA few weekends back we headed out to a local car boot sale and it reminded me how much I love them. It got us out of the house and into the fresh air, we had lots of fun mooching around, the twins got to practice a bit of maths, and I came home with some treasures so it was definitely a winning activity for our Sunday morning.

Car boot treasure hunting | Growing SpacesRemarkably, after seeing me share my buys on Facebook, a lovely friend admitted that she had never been to a car boot sale! I have lost track of how many I’ve visited (it’s many), and I have memories of going with my family (both to buy and to sell) from a very early age. I haven’t sold at a car boot for a long time (I can never get over that terror of arriving when it’s still dark, and people looting through your boot before you’ve even managed to set up your table), but I thought I’d share my five basic tips for buying at car boot sales..

  1. Find details of your nearest car boot sale in your local paper, or look out for posters or banners advertising upcoming events in your area. I’ve also used this website to scope out sales before, but it’s wise to phone or email before heading out just to double check they’re still running.
  2. Get there early to nab the best bargains. They normally start around 7am (ouch!) – I normally aim to rock up at 8am at the latest if we can. There’s usually a van selling coffee to give you a caffeine hit when you arrive. This way you should also have time to do two circuits in case buyers have pulled out some new stock since your first visit.
  3. I’ve yet to see a cash machine at a car boot sale, so bringing cash with you is essential – and small change is best. It may sound obvious but it’s best to only bring as much money as you want to spend, as it’s easy to get carried away and go way over-budget.
  4. Take bags with you. Some sellers may offer you a plastic bag, but you’re far better off with something more sturdy so you can carry heavier items. You could even take a trolley if you have one. As usual, it’s always while to carry a stash of drinks and snacks to appease children when they start to lose interest.
  5. Give kids a set amount of spending money and stick to it to avoid constant nagging. I try to guide the twins when they’re deciding what to buy but ultimately it’s up to them. They have different approaches – Fonz likes the impulse purchase (a boy after my own heart), but Ez thinks about it much more carefully and will often leave something and go back to check if it’s still there later. Some stalls do lucky dips and this always goes down well with my two, although what you get is obviously a bit more hit and miss!

Car boot loot | Growing Spaces

Car boot ceramics | Growing SpacesThe above shots show my purchases from our most recent car boot jaunt. I always have an idea of the sort of thing I’m looking for (this time I knew I wanted vintage plates to use under my indoor plant pots, and stoneware jars), but I still keep my eyes peeled for anything unusual. The little vintage suitcase was a bargain at £1, and was perfect to carry our other purchases in, as I’d forgotten to bring my own bag (I obviously didn’t read my own tips). My best ever car boot buy was a vintage printers tray for a fiver – considerably less than the asking price in most junk shops. I’d been after one for ages but never expected to find one at a car boot sale and it now has pride-of-place in our hallway.

June 16th, 2015

Europe Road Trip: Camping with views in the Swiss Alps

Engstligenalp in summer | Growing SpacesEngstligenalp in summer

Camping Grassi, Frutigen, Switzerland | Growing SpacesCamping Grassi

Open-air swimming pool view at Adelboden, Switzerland | Growing SpacesViews from the open-air swimming pool at Adelboden

Open-air pool in the Swiss Alps | Growing SpacesPink buildings at the open-air pool at Adelboden

Picnicking at Engstlipenalp, Switzerland | Growing SpacesPicnicking at Engstlipenalp

From our overnight stop in Arrigny, we had a full day’s driving to the Swiss alps, heading through Basel and down to Frutigen, about 30km from Interlaken.

FRANCE – SWITZERLAND:
Arrigny – Frutigen, 295 miles by motorway

We stayed: At Camping Grassi, Frutigen, Switzerland. A gorgeously green campsite with incredible mountain views. The pitches weren’t the most spacious we encountered (we were there on a Swiss bank holiday weekend so it was busy), but there was plenty for the kids to explore including the adjacent rushing river, a games room with table tennis, and a small playground.
We visited: Frutigen was a lovely town to wander around and was easy walking distance from the campsite. Engstligenalp – a ski resort in the winter – becomes a beautiful alpine plateau with flower-filled meadows in the summer. The kids loved the trip up in the cable car, and there were still patches of snow left when we visited in June – it made for a stunning picnic spot. The public open-air swimming pool at Adelboden (I’m sorry I can’t find a website for this) was another brilliant find. Entrance was free (or negligible), and there were three pool areas, a sandpit and loads of sunbeds in the most spectacular of locations, with panoramic views over the surrounding mountains. Be warned – the snack bar is expensive!
We ate: We didn’t eat out, apart from to have lunch at the open-air swimming pool (very expensive). When food shopping, we did get caught out by Swiss bank holidays (there have a lot) and Sunday closing, when all the local supermarkets are closed.

Europe Road Trip 2014: Swiss Alps from Heather Young on Vimeo.

 

Family camping in Switzerland | Growing Spaces

June 14th, 2015

The Blogtacular buzz

The Blogtacular buzz | Growing SpacesSaturday showed me how a day surrounded by the most incredible people and the buzz they create when together in one space can carry you through. I was so excited about this year’s Blogtacular (who wouldn’t be given the chance to chat to so many inspiring people all in one day?) but after one of the most awful night’s sleep in a very long time on Friday I was left fearing I wouldn’t last or enjoy the day.

How very wrong I was. Who needs sleep when you can take a ride on the energy created by 300 brilliantly-creative bloggers all gathered together? And I honestly believe that there is no better place to give your self-confidence and belief a much-needed boost. I am queen of selling myself short. Too often (all the time) I compare myself unfavourably to others, feeling left behind, or somehow lacking – but when you put all those ‘others’ in a room, suddenly the competition falls away and the sense of community, support and inspiration takes over. Those people whose perfectly-curated Instagram feeds, stunning blog photography or endless creativity felt intimidating before, become real people full of warmth, quirks and smiles. It’s like bracing yourself to dive into a freezing cold pool, only to feel your muscles relax when you discover it’s actually wonderfully warm. Maybe it was the fog of tiredness but all my fear dropped away, and I found myself talking to anyone and everyone – from brand-spanking-new bloggers to those blogging superstars that you’ve followed and admired for years.

Most of all, I want to say thank you to the people who took time to seek me out and give me words of encouragement and praise. I cannot tell you how precious those words were to me. I went home with them glowing in my heart – a smile on my face and happy tears pricking at my eyes (that bit was almost definitely the sleep deprivation). I’ve wrapped those words up carefully, tied a beautiful bow around them and locked them away safe in my mind.

Above all the inspirational speakers, the flood of post-conference ideas, the laughs had and friendships made, those words were what really made Blogtacular for me this year. Their magic will help to carry me through to next year, when I hope I can share my own words of encouragement to  lift someone else in the way that these have lifted me.

 

Motivational banner by planes workshop

June 9th, 2015

#TheEverydaySpruce | DIY tea towel wall art

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

Apologies that The Everyday Spruce has taken a longer break than Sarah-Lou and I originally intended. Real life has taken over (as it has a habit of doing!), and while that happens, our blogs understandably take a back seat. But suddenly we’re well into June and we’re both keen to get it up and running again – it has already given me some fantastic ideas and focus this year, and I love the prompt to think in a different way and to look for small changes I can make at home or in my life that will make me feel happier and calmer.

We always wanted to develop the community aspect of The Everyday Spruce – sharing our ideas and getting inspiration from others is something that I think is at the heart of why Sarah-Lou and I blog. Some of you have written brilliant blog posts, or have shared your tips on Instagram and we’ve loved seeing how different you all interpret The Everyday Spruce. We’d really like to open the collaboration up further, and gather a team of like-minded people who would like to get involved and publish an Everyday Spruce post each month, so if you’d like to join us please leave me a comment below or drop one of us an email, and we’ll go from there.

Turn your tea towels into wall art #theeverydayspruce | Growing SpacesI’ve done a simple DIY to get me back into The Everyday Spruce groove. Six years ago, when I was preparing the twins’ nursery, I used tea towels to create artwork for the walls. It was an inexpensive alternative to large canvases etc, and allowed me to create wall art with plenty of impact. Now the twins have moved into their own bedrooms, it was time to update the artwork on their walls, and so I’ve revisited this easy DIY. The scope of choice when it comes to tea towel design is brilliant – there are so many fantastic designs available to choose from. I found this one by Boodle Boutique on Etsy. It combines Ez’s love of woodland animals with her current obsession with cycling so it was a perfect choice for her.

Turning the tea towel into a piece of wall art is really easy, as you can see from the directions below.

DIY tea towel artwork #theeverydayspruce | Growing Spaces

DIY tea towel wall art #theeverydayspruce | Growing Spaces

Tea towel artwork DIY | Growing Spaces

Directions:
1. Gather your kit – you’ll need a staple gun (and staples), a wooden frame (you can make your own to the dimensions of your tea towel, or you could use a cheap blank canvas from a craft store) and your chosen tea towel. Give your tea towel a really good iron to get rid of all creases.
2. Lie the tea towel face down on a flat surface, and position your frame on top of it so that the image on the front is central. Wrap the tea towel around and over the side and staple onto the back of the frame. Continue all the way along one long edge (staple every 5-10cm). Once one long edge is done, pull the fabric taut across the frame and secure the other long edge. You want to make sure the fabric is pulled as tightly as possible so that it won’t sag on the frame.
3. To do the bottom and top edges, fold the corners as if you were wrapping a present, pull up over the frame and staple in place then carry along the edge, stapling as you did for the long edges.
4. Turn the frame over and check the fabric is taut, and that you can’t see any loose fabric flapping at the sides (if you can’t just secure in place with another staple at the back).

#TheEverydaySpruce, find us here…
IG Lapinblu | HeatherYoungUk
Twitter Lapinblu | HeatherYoungUk
Pinterest board The Everyday Spruce

 

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