October 24th, 2014

Weekend getaway: Frinton-on-Sea

Frinton-on-Sea | Growing Spaces

Last weekend the kids and I took a break from limping towards half term to join a big group of old friends at a holiday house in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex. The house was incredible – huge rooms, loads of space for the kids to run riot (which they did), and best of all it you could see the beach from the front garden. The weather was kind, the company was excellent and the fresh air was just what we all needed.

I looked.. at blue skies, amazing cloud formations, Fonz up to his waist in the sea, the gorgeous colours of the beach huts lined up along the seafront, a friend’s kite soaring in the sky.
I listened.. to the kids sleeping (and waking too early) in our shared room, to friends’ news, to lots of laughter, and to the brilliant conversations between my two and the other children.
I pondered.. how hard solo parenting is, even when you’re surrounded by supportive mates. And I obsessed about whether there was anything I could have done differently when Fonz had one of his most impressive tantrums ever on the quiet and refined Frinton-0n-Sea high street (answer: there wasn’t). And I love that my only solo visits to the high street were for a bottle of gin on Saturday evening and a black coffee on Sunday morning.

Frinton-on-Sea – you may not want us back again (!), but I promise you we won’t be able to stay away.

October 17th, 2014

Quick kitchen update with colourful string lights

Cable & Cotton string lights | Growing SpacesRecently I’ve been working on a little mini makeover in the kitchen. I still love the main elements in the space – the turquoise brick tiles, the simple white gloss units, and the light worksurfaces – but I didn’t feel like the other components in the room gelled together well. It’s easy to do when you’re busy – you just add things for their individual design or practicality without taking a step back to look at how they impact the space as a whole.

And so I’ve been on a mission to unite the separate elements with a tighter theme. Our house is full of upbeat colour, so I decided that hits of candy-coloured brights would work well, especially as the days get greyer and duller with the arrival of winter.

I’m still pulling the final bits of the makeover together, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a sneaky peak of one the first things I chose for the space. I’m a huge fan of Cable & Cotton’s string lights, especially the option to  choose the colours you want to feature. I picked out gooseberry, bubblegum pink, pure white, bright orange and bright yellow for my light string, which we have now hung above the kitchen window (much as I love this draped arrangement, it’s not wholly practical in a working kitchen!).

I’m a fairy light superfan, and this style of string ball lights features in a lot of the ideas on my ‘for the love of fairy lights’ Pinterest board (one of my favourite boards). Please head on over and follow my board if you share my fairy light obsession.

Follow Heather Young’s board for the love of fairy lights on Pinterest.

Disclosure: Cable & Cotton sent me the lights for use in this post, but my opinions are all my own

October 16th, 2014

Probably the cutest cactus in the world

Cutest cactus ever | Growing Spaces

Teeny tiny cactus | Growing Spaces

Cute cactus | Growing SpacesDuring the process of planting my succulents in my painted glass jars, I managed to lose a little baby stem off the larger cactus. It was too perfect to go to waste, so I planted it up into a tiny silver jug I picked up at a charity shop ages back and now it’s one of my favourite things in our home. Cacti just don’t come cuter than this.

October 13th, 2014

While I was walking..

Charting the weeks through our walks on the school run
While I was walking | Growing Spaces

So ideally I’d like to publish these weekly posts on a Saturday, possibly a Sunday, probably a Monday and definitely not on a Tuesday. Oh.

This week we’ve had dry walks, wet walks and very wet walks. I had to admit defeat and throw the twins in the car on the wettest morning, and I’m definitely going to have to assess my walking wardrobe and invest in a longer waterproof coat and some comfier wellies.

I listened to the TED Radio Hour podcast, ‘The Source of Creativity’. It was so interesting to hear how one artist (Sting, as it  happens) managed to overcome a writer’s block that lasted years (the secret? It’s not all about you), and more from Sir Ken Robinson about nurturing creativity in the education system. A scientific study into creativity had me intrigued, especially the (apparently) very real possibility of a tablet to boost creativity and creative thinking. Would I take it? Would you?
I looked at how the colours on our walk change in the rain – all the leaves a deeper, richer shade with a glamorously glossy finish.
I pondered how best to nurture the twins’ growing sense of independence from each other more at home, and how to manage things like playdates (I hate the word playdate btw) with schoolmates so that they don’t have to share their friendships all the time.

October 11th, 2014

Styling the seasons: October

: 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

October office corner | Growing SpacesOctober. Unmistakably autumnal, October for our family usually means more time spent hibernating at home. More baking and crafts, the start of candlelit dinners as the evenings get darker, and finally accepting that the heating needs to go on.

For me, October this year also means knuckling down to try to up my work productivity. Making the most of the benefits of freelancing, I decided to scale back massively over the summer holidays to enjoy time with the small people before they started school. September was spent getting our heads around the school routine, and me feeling pretty shell-shocked wandering around a suddenly empty and quiet house. It’s taken a long while for my work brain to kick back into gear (and it’s still feeling very stiff and creaky), but I have a number of projects that need my focus and attention, and I need to pull myself together and settle into a groove again.

So, for this month’s #stylingtheseasons I’ve styled up a corner of my desk, because I need to encourage myself to spend more time sat here working, and to do that it has to feel inviting.

Just Do It to do list Growing SpacesI’ve reminded myself of the importance of lists. And that lists hidden away and forgotten in random notebooks don’t cut it – lists need to be in one place and visible or they’re all too easily ignored. I think a weekly schedule may need to be brought into play soon too, at least until I’m able to motivate myself better and become more immune to faffing (these Instagram challenges aren’t helping in my battle with the faffdom).

Magnetic leaves Growing SpacesBut a little bit of creative faffing is good for the soul (it’s all about a balance I have yet to master, obviously), so I had fun making these little leaf magnets last night. I covered light card with a selection of origami papers (using spray mount), used my Cricut Mini to cut out the leaf shapes and then added a strip of magnetic tape to the back of each leaf. I’ve popped them on the magnetic memo board above my desk for a little nod to Autumn.

And now I must get back to work…


For an extra hit of office inspiration, check out my ‘for workspaces’ board on Pinterest x



October 9th, 2014

{Make it} DIY painted glass jar planters

Painted glass jar planters | Growing SpacesMaterials:
Glass jars
Enamel paint (I used Plasti-kote’s Fast Dry Enamel Brush On in Jade, Sky Blue and Lavender)
Sponge (I used a kitchen sponge)
Small pebbles
Potting soil
Mini succulents

Sponge-painted glass jar planter | Growing Spaces

1. Clean and dry the jars. Pour a little enamel paint out into a dish, and dab with the sponge (you don’t want to overload the sponge).
2. Pat the sponge gently onto the bottom of the jar, going over the area at the bottom until the jar is totally covered, but leaving a lighter covering at the top for a graduated look. Leave the dry and repeat if necessary.
3. Put a layer of small pebbles into the base of the jar (for drainage) and then fill with potting soil to the rim.
4. Use your fingers to make a hole in the soil and then pop in your mini succulent, pressing the soil down around it to make sure it’s firmly planted (I used the back of a teaspoon for the cactus to avoid getting pricked!).

DIY glass jar planters | Growing Spaces

DIY painted glass jar planters tutorial | Growing Spaces


Disclosure: Plasti-kote provided me with the paint for this project free of charge

October 6th, 2014

{Make it} Easy DIY feather headdress

DIY feather headdress | Growing SpacesEz (5) has been obsessed with collecting feathers since our first school run. Her school book bag was absolutely full of them, and when I suggested we make a headdress from them, she couldn’t have been keener. I’ve been promising for over a week, but we finally had some time this weekend to get to work. Having caught sight of some pompoms that I’d been making Ez was insistent I teach her how to do them herself and so we sat on the sofa together making a little collection of them (we used the fork method – see how here).

I made a headband out of black card, and used a hot glue gun to attach the feathers. We stuck Ez’s pompoms on top and the headdress was done. Took all of five minutes and, as you can see, she was pretty chuffed with the results.

DIY feather crown for kids | Growing SpacesEasy DIY feather headdress - Growing Spaces

October 5th, 2014

While I was walking..

Charting the weeks through our walks on the school run

Autumn school run | Growing SpacesOn my walks this week..

I listened to the sound of the world around me because I couldn’t find my earphones until Friday. I hereby vow to make more effort next week and have already downloaded some podcasts in readiness.

I looked out for the giant cobwebs that are stretched at face-height across the footpath. They may be beautiful covered in dew first thing in the morning, but I still don’t fancy wearing them. I am now also on hyper-alert for dog poo on the pathways after a couple of grim incidents this week (do not rant, do not rant, do not rant).

I pondered what would happen if a squirrel landed on my head as yet another kamikaze one leapt from a fence to a tree just in front of me. I’ve been really missing the kids this week (the novelty of school is obviously wearing off) but I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about it too much and have instead focused on important and deep issues, such as leaping squirrels.

October 4th, 2014

Rainy day home cinema

Rainy day home cinema | Growing Spaces

Problem: A miserable, rainy day with no plans to fill it and kids to entertain for 12 hours
Solution: Set up a home cinema

What you need:
A favourite/new film
Homemade cinema tickets (a great pre-film craft activity)
Drinks with straws
Small bowl of sweet treats

We ended up having an unintentionally screen-free summer. No TV while we were away on our Europe road trip meant the kids didn’t even think to nag about watching anything, and we decided to carry on the no-telly habit when we got home. But there was one rainy weekend day when it was just the kids and I and all our energy levels were low. We (ok, I) just wanted to laze on the sofa. It’s not a particularly original idea – I probably picked it up on Instagram or Pinterest – but I decided to turn watching a DVD into a bit more of a treat. We don’t often go to the cinema (I can’t get over how expensive it is for the whole family to go), but the twins have been before so they know about all the traditional cinema elements and we just recreated them at home. We closed the blinds, turned off the lights and settled into our seats with our cinema goodies. The twins LOVED it, and I was a pretty happy camper too.

Definitely a good way to while away a couple of hours on a wet and windy day.

September 28th, 2014

While I was walking..

Charting the weeks through our walks on the school run

Red berries, blue sky | Growing SpacesActually, I’ve often been trotting rather than walking this week as I race to keep up with Ez on her scooter and Fonz riding his bike to school for the first time (amazing me with his confidence).

On my walks this week..

I listened to birdsong and wondered how hard it would be to learn to recognise the different birds’ calls. I downloaded the latest TED talk podcast on ‘Transformation’ and was inspired by how amazing some people’s ability to adapt is.

I looked at my breath in the chilly early mornings, at branches laden down with berries in a myriad of colours and marvelled at a breathtaking combination of morning mist, light, gentle rain and determined sunshine.

I pondered whether I should get a pedometer to count my steps, how quickly we’ve found a rhythm to the school week, and how I’m back to finding that Friday feeling after five years of freelancing and working my own hours made me forget Friday’s welcome sense of relief.

Bushes laden with berries | Growing Spaces

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