Monday, 13 August 2018

Blog Takeover: The 5 Year Interior Itch - Top Tips For Freshening Up Your Home!

We are celebrating 5 years in our house this November (here's the story of us buying it) so when Natalie offered to takeover our blog again with tips to freshen up homes we thought it would be interesting to see what she suggested.....

Over to you Nat:
You move in, you decorate, you live and then boom – five years later you get the itch! Whilst the lovely Sarah and Laura have been making a beautiful nursery space for their new arrival (so exciting!) I have been giving my once shiny new furniture and freshly painted walls the side eye and can’t help feeling that I now have tired, outdated interiors. Whether you’re redecorating to sell or because you want something a little bit new, here are some tips on refreshing your interiors to resemble hot trends!

Decluttered design
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Scandi design has been the rage for a while now and is perfect for those who love simple, clean and minimal interiors. The key to this trend is to have fewer of ‘things’. That’s right, the dreaded clutter! Reassessing your belongings not only lightens the load on your home, decluttering is actually good for your health making this interior trend a very beneficial one. Decluttering also lets you show off your home’s best side when it comes to hosting guests or potential buyers.


Also, this design lends itself beautifully to those who constantly change their minds about interior trends as it is a super transitional style that incorporates natural colours and simplicity!


Industrial interiors
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Think exposed brick, plumbing and hanging bulbs for an industrial chic look! To achieve this style, my top tip would be to stick with the black and grey palette; I love grey walls with black accents so as to not make the space look too dark. Adding new features like lighting with exposed wiring is a hot trend I am seeing all over Pinterest, the bulbs themselves are large and often look finished without a lightshade.


Green havens

Photo Credit: UnSplash
Plant lover? Time to update your interiors with some more green! Here, to freshen your interiors, add some living ornaments and décor! If you haven’t already, consider painting the walls white and incorporating light coloured pieces of furniture with plenty of shelving for plants! Having a light and bright canvas means the vibrant colours of the plants will pop against the background creating beautiful breathing space!


Rustic pieces

Photo Credit: UnSplash
Redoing your interiors also gives you a chance to update your old furniture, but it doesn’t have to cost the world! Choose reclaimed and second-hand items or you can upcycle existing pieces yourself. If you are looking to sell your home and want it to look beautiful without having to buy brand new things, home staging is also a great way to furnish a space without wasting funds in new pieces or extra storage!


Holiday at home
Photo Credit: UnSplash
Sometimes we simply do not have enough time or money within the year to jet off to somewhere hot and tropical, so why not create a holiday in your home? Whether it is a pineapple cushion for your sofa or adding a Swiss cheese plant for a palm tree effect, these are simple ways to try and brighten your home with a few tropical and colourful additions.


Armed with these tips you should hopefully get that new home feeling without having to redo the whole thing. Nothing beats an interior refresh to make your house feel brand new. Plus, it is a fab way to breathe new life and energy into your own life too!

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Thank you Nat, we will get to work on these now!!

Check out Nat's blog at www.helpimgettingmarried.com and follow her on Twitter

Previous posts include:

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Baby Blogging - Top 10 Must Haves!

We thought we would add our post to the 100's of other blog posts recommending 'must have' baby products. What we would recommend is doing what's right for you and your budget.

Our budget was fairly limited and we will be forever grateful to the family and friends who were incredibly generous at our baby shower and how have continued to turn up with gifts since Annabelle arrived.

Before starting the list the main bit advice we would give is to focus on stocking up essentials - all babies will need nappies, wipes, clothing in various sizes and muslins. All of these items can be purchased for fairly low costs and are well worth getting in advance.

Our top 10 are in no particular order:

1) A body wrap. You may have heard the term 'baby wearing' and however you do it we recommend it. For a start it is super convenient and once you figure out how to do it it's quicker than setting up a buggy. It's also easier to get around compared to using a buggy. 

We have an Amawrap that we have been able to use with Annabelle since birth and she seems content to put in it, even in the heat of summer. What's even better is she falls straight to sleep so I don't have to worry about her wriggling in it. I have also been able to breast feed on a walk without it being obvious. 







2) Muslins. We have two types, small, easy to use to mop up milk and purchased cheaply from supermarkets and then the larger type. These are useful for public breastfeeding, swaddling Annabelle and (in summer) used to cover the car window.

3) Talking of swaddling. One of the really useful gifts we received was a newborn swaddle. We use it every night and it means that Annabelle sleeps up to 12 hours with Sarah waking her up to feed.



4) Also helping with sleep is the Cosydream. A body support that can be used in any cot/crib. The memory foam mattress adapts to the baby's shape and the head support keeps the baby's head round and stops them rolling around. The other benefit is the adjustable leg support that raises Annabelle's legs to give back support and the sensation of being in the womb (or so it's said). We move the Cosydream to wherever Annabelle is sleeping.


5) The final recommendation (for sleep) is the beside you cot/crib. We didn't realise that babies have to sleep in your room until 6 months (call us naive) but since finding that out we looked into cots that had a roll down side so we could have Annabelle right next to Sarah making it easy to feed Annabelle and put her back without waking her up. We got one on deal from GroupOn that is working well. It has the added benefit that you can rock it so if Annabelle does wake up there is a way to soothe her.

6) Breast pads. At first Sarah was like 'do I really need them?' The answer for the first few days was 'not really' but in the days to follow that changed very quickly to 'definitely'. It is amazing when milk comes in it really comes in and it's almost impossible to stop. And unless you want to ruin bras or soak tops then they are essential.

A part B to this is also Lanolin, it was a life (or boob) saver. I have used it from the start and thankfully we have only had a few days where it has been painful (see breastfeeding post here)


7) On the note of milk, the bottles and bottle kits available are amazing. All the ones we have come across come with everything you need to sterilize the bottles, by adding a small bit of water before popping in the microwave. It makes them easy to travel with.

Tommee Tippee are the range we have come across with the best selection. We have been lent a bottle warmer that is small enough to travel with but does require a plug. The other items we have include a sterilizer tray that works for a number of bottles at the same time. The best is a the breast pump though, which comes in a box that can also be used to sterilize all parts at the same time.

The pump is lightweight and easy to use but it does require a slight forwards tilt to maximise the amount of milk collected. It's also not the quickest process, it takes about 40 minutes to get about 3 oz. It is meaning we can give Annabelle a bottle a day though to get her used to it.

8) When feeding Annabelle, or she's napping our other essential is a baby pillow. It is SO useful and allows Annabelle to nap anywhere, including by the window to get exposure to the sun (as she had a small bit of jaundice). It also takes the pressure of your back when feeding.



9) Fold away changing mat. We purchased this mat when it was advertised online and it has been worth every penny. We have it to hand downstairs at home and it is so easy to pack away making changing anywhere possible. We have used it in the buggy, on the couch and on the mats at our baby class.

10) With everything Annabelle needs we knew we would need a lightweight bag and we both prefer backpacks. We found one similar to this and highly recommend it. It is large enough to carry a pack of nappies, wipes, two changes of clothes, a muslin (or two) and bottles in an insulated front pocket, that can keep bottles warm.

And a final point - nappies are essential, disposable or cloth. As a starter we have found Aldi nappies - 85p for 24 they are a perfect. They have the colour strip that changes from yellow to blue when the nappy is soiled and a design on the front making it easy to tell the front from the back. With a newborn we are going through 10-15 nappies a day so cheap and effective are essential.

The nappies won the Mother&Baby awards, are recommended by netmums and were approved by Good Housekeeping.


Monday, 30 July 2018

Baby Blogging - The Vlog!

The night before we met Annabelle we took time out to do the pregnancy tag for our YouTube channel. It' so strange watching it back to think how much life has changed in 4 short weeks and yet how we still end every night as a family on our couch.

It's fair to say that is exactly how we feel having Annabelle, she has changed things but fundamentally she has made our regular life better.

So if you fancy checking out our answers to the pregnancy tag click here to access our YouTube video.

To complete the video we also introduced Annabelle, we thought it was only fair.....even if she slept through the whole thing :)






Thursday, 26 July 2018

Baby Blogging - Newborn Photo Shoot!

When Annabelle was 11 days old we had a newborn photo shoot with Sally Josko Photography a local photographer who had been recommended by another photographer we met at a blogging event. 

It was a last minute change of plan as Laura had won a competition for a free photo shoot and £50 off a photo package from a company in Leamington Spa. However having looked at the packages available, even with a £50 discount, the cheapest package would have been over £300. We love our girl but that was out of our budget.

We were looking at the packages on Monday and on the price discovery I immediately called Sally. It ended up being the best decision. On Thursday we went for Annabelle's photo shoot.

Sally's studio was less than 10 minutes from our house and as our first proper trip out it meant we didn't have to be prepared too far in advance. On arrival Sally was warm and welcoming and as we entered the studio we felt immediately at ease.

The session started with us looking through existing photos to see what styles we liked and picking out accessories to use. Impressively Sally makes a range of headbands so we had plenty of choice.

Once decisions were made it was on to the session. Thankfully Annabelle was well behaved and as Sally started putting her in poses she happily dozed. With a shoosher (a machine that literally makes the 'shoosh' sound) and a white noise machine playing Sally placed Annabelle on the cushion to get her positioned. It was fascinating watching.

In total the session ran for 4 hours, Laura and I were kept well fed and watered and we took plenty of breaks to feed Annabelle without it being an issue. We even learnt a few tricks to soothe Annabelle. We didn't get out without a few accidents, turns out hanging out without a nappy inspired Annabelle on a number of occasions but Sally had a whole trolley of equipment on hand.

And so to the results. We opted for the digital package for £250 and got a large range of photos with the digital rights. Here are our favourites:

Relaxing before the shoot

We got involved briefly
Love our little lady




My personal fav

That smile will always make us melt




One of the highlights of the shoot was that Sally was happy to let us take our own photos too. In most cases we stood back and let the professional do her thing but there were a few moments we captured just for us. And a few that we took between shots.....

Lets hope Annabelle is always so chilled!

To find Sally check out:
Email: info@sallyjosko.co.uk
Facebook: Sally Josko