Thursday, 30 October 2014

A National Trust Day Out

When thinking of a family day out a National Trust site is probably the last thing on your mind but lately I've been dying to visit some of my local sites. I'm lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the country and I have 3 National Trust sites close to where I live. One of which is pretty much on my dad's doorstep and I'm ashamed to say I've never been to one of them.

During the Summer I was desperate to go but with the wedding madness it never happened, so with a few days off work I vowed that Ava and I would visit the trust site closest to us and I'm so glad we did! The castle over looks the stunning countryside and is steeped in history, I'm not ashamed to say I'm a history geek and I love a cream tea so this was pretty much heaven for me. Although I would like to go back perhaps without Ava to really take it all in and read up on the history of the building and the families who used to live there (I told you, geek!). I don't think we could have picked a better day to go. Although it was cloudy and it drizzled slightly it was so mild. And I can never get over the beautiful Autumnal colours.






Ava was so well behaved and really enjoyed herself, she kept saying that we were going on an adventure and loved the huge gardens, where I definitely burnt off the cream tea by running after her! The place is a real little gem and I've planned to visit the other two sites that are not too far from me soon, I used to think that National Trust sites were for the elderly but I couldn't have been more wrong. We had a lovely afternoon in a beautiful castle and now I really would love a National Trust membership card for Christmas (that's a hint to my mum as I know she reads my blog!)







If you have National Trust sites near to you they are definitely worth a visit & FYI the cream teas are unbelievable!



*I wasn't asked to write this post but we had such a lovely afternoon I wanted to share.

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ava wears- Oversized coats and cute shoes featuring Clarks*

I still remember buying Ava's first pair of shoes. We naturally went to Clarks where they turned the event into a really memorable experience. I've still got those precious first shoes, kept safely in a box, ready to bring out in a few years time to reminisce about how tiny her feet used to be.

Since then Ava has had numerous pairs of shoes from Clarks, it's a brand that I trust and that I find really reliable, plus the shoes are super cute!

I was recently asked to choose a couple of pairs from their Autumn/ Winter range and was spoilt for choice!



The first pair I went for were the Ella Glow First Shoes.



They are made from sturdy, grey, patent leather and come complete with glittery stars and, Ava's favourite feature, the flashing lights in the sole. With the velcro straps these are perfect for Ava to put on herself.



Her coat looks hilarious on her at the moment as it's far too big in the arms but I've been dying to get her to try it on and this picture is just far too cute not to share!

Coat- Zara/ Scarf- Oliver Bonas/ Leggings- Next/ Shoes- C/o Clarks


The second pair are the Dance Harper First Shoes in Tan.



I love the style of these Mary Janes and the colour is perfect for Autumn. Again they have the velcro straps which Ava will be able to do up herself.



Jumper- Primark/ Leggings- Mothercare/ Shoes-C/o Clarks

I personally love Clarks and think that they are great value for money. It also gives me peace of mind knowing that Ava is wearing the correct shoe that give her the support that she needs. I love seeing the new range every season and the Autumn/ Winter collection is really one that you should check out. You can find all of their range on the website.

*Disclamer- I was sent vouchers in order to purchase the shoes for this review.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spooky Spider Halloween Cupcakes


If you are a long time reader of my blog you may remember that last year Ava and I made some Halloween biscuits together. I wanted to carry on the seasonal bake theme on the blog so decided to put together these tasty, chocolate spider cupcakes.



They are very easy and quick to bake, perfect to make with little people. This recipe makes 6 cakes.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes-
50g plain flour
10g cocoa powder
60g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
20g butter
60ml milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cupcake tin
Cupcake cases

For the icing-
40g butter
30g Icing sugar
20g cocoa powder                                                                                                          
(You can add more depending on the amount you need)



For decoration-
1 pack of smarties
Chocolate sprinkles
1 pack of strawberry laces

Method:

Preheat your oven to 170c

Add the flour,cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter to a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld electric whisk until combined.


Mix the milk, egg and vanilla extract into a jug and add to your cake mixture little by little whilst whisking.

Put your cupcake cases into the tin and transfer your mixture into the cases. Then pop into the oven and bake for 20mins or until you inset a skewer into one of the cakes and it comes out clean,

Meanwhile make your icing by creaming your butter and cocoa powder together.

Once the cakes are ready leave to cool then add your icing and sprinkle on the chocolate spinkles. Add on the eyes (smarties) and cut up the laces to the right length to make the legs.



Enjoy!


Let me know if you end up making these creepy little critters.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ava's Christmas list



With only 66 days until Christmas I've been thinking about what to get for Ava this year. What do you get for the girl who has it all?! I've found a few things that I think will go down a treat and thought I would share them with you.

1- Play Doh Cake Mountain Play Set.
Play Doh is a huge hit in our house. Ava can sit and play with it for hours so I thought the Cake Mountain would be a fun addition. It contains lots of tools and gadgets to make fun cakes and shapes.

2- Post Box Game.
This will be a great rainy day activity. The Orchard Toy games are fun and educational. In this game you have to match the coloured letters to the postbox.

3- Vtech Innotab.
Nath's mum mentioned buying an Innotab for Ava as her "big" present. She's taken a shine to the Ipad lately so this would be perfect for her, combining fun and learning.

4- Postman Pat The Movie DVD.
Ava and I went to watch this at the cinema but never saw the end as she became a little restless! Postman Pat is an old favourite of mine and Ava loves him too so I know this will be a hit!

5- Snow Glow Elsa Doll.
Ava is obsessed with Frozen so this had to be included. This doll has a dress that lights up and plays Let It Go.

6- ELC Rosebud Village Farm Set
This wooden farm house from Early Learning Centre is gorgeous and with Ava using her imagination whilst playing at the moment she will absolutely love this.

Have you started to think about Christmas yet?

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Our Wedding- The food, Music, Stationary & photography

For the last post in my wedding series I wanted to round all of the other little bits and bobs together.

I found the idea for our stationary on Pinterest, no surprise there! Stupidly I didn't take a picture of them but they were printed onto brown Kraft paper and held together with a hessian and lace band (the theme running through the wedding). All of our stationary was created by Nathan's cousin who is a graphic designer, they turned out exactly how I wanted them to. We used the same style of stationary throughout the wedding.

We were initially going to have a buffet but realised with 17 tables of guests that may be not the best idea we've ever had. We decided to give our guests the choice of two starters, three mains and two desserts. Then instead of place names at the tables we used the menu and I coloured in the hearts next to what they had chosen.



Our amazing wedding cake was made by Beth Bakes, a lady that I found on Facebook. I was beyond impressed with the designs that I had seen on her Facebook page and when I saw our cake on the day I was thrilled. I hadn't met Beth in person, I'd only sent over a picture of what we wanted but it looked and tasted amazing and was SO much more affordable than I had anticipated. I would definitely recommend checking out Facebook for any keen bakers near you. They may surprise you.


In the evening we decided to put out a huge cheese board with crackers and chutney for our guests along with some of the wedding cake. My lovely mum had also baked some fruit cakes which tasted so good!

I knew from the start that I wanted a band and a DJ. The tricky part was finding a band that we actually liked. I was particular with what I wanted. I didn't want a band who played just indie music, I wanted a range from Motown & disco to rock music. After browsing the Alive Network we finally found the band that ticked all of the boxes. They had a male and female singer and played a wide variety from Earth, Wind & Fire to Kings of Leon. They were brilliant and really got the party started. I would definitely recommend using the Alive Network, it's so easy to use and you can listen to snippets of the bands songs.


Choosing our first dance song was SO much harder than we thought! Songs were either too fast or too slow. In the end we chose The Temptations- My Girl, a song that I've always loved and it puts a huge smile on my face every time I hear it.


And last but not least our photographs, as I'm sure you'll be aware by now, were taken by Phil from Pbartworks. We worked with Phil when Ava was a newborn and I knew straight away that I wanted him to capture our day. He has a fantastic, artistic eye and I just love all of the photos from our day.




The day after our wedding Nathan said "When I saw Ava for the first time it was the best moment of my life but yesterday was the best day of my life." and I feel the same way. We honestly had the most wonderful day!

I just wish we could do it all over again! Thank you so much to everyone who took part in our special day. It was better than we could ever have imagined.

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Our wedding: My hair , make-up & flowers

I was in two minds about whether to get a makeup artist for the morning of our wedding. In the end I decided to do it myself. I have a makeup bag full of products that I use everyday and that I know suit my skin, so it seemed silly not to use them.

I decided to do my makeup as I would on a day to day basis although I did have eyelashes applied professionally. If you read my Barcelona posts you'll see that the contents of my makeup bag is still relatively the same. Although I have recently purchased MAC's Prep & Prime. I would definitely recommend using a primer as a base if you are planning to do your wedding make up . It made my makeup stay put throughout the day even through tears and a few too many shots at the end of the night!

My second new purchase was the Laura Mercier lipstick. I really didn't know what to do lips wise. For a while I wanted to go with my staple red lip but in hindsight I'm glad I kept it fairly neutral. The Laura Mercier lipstick had a lovely creamy sheen finish and the pretty pale pink colour is adeptly named "Girly".

For my wedding perfume I chose my favourite Jo Malone cologne , Nectarine Blossom & Honey. It has a lovely fresh, floral scent.

1. NARS Bronzer "Laguna"/ 2. L'Oreal Super Liner in Black Crystals/ 3. MAC Eyeshadow in Nylon Frost/ 4. YSL Touche Éclat/ 5. NARS Blusher "Deep Throat"/ 6. Eyebrow Powder "Blondie"/ 7. Laura Mercier Lipstick "Girly"/ 8. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation "Santa Fe"/ 9. NARS Illuminator "Hot Sands"/ 10. MAC Skinfinish "Soft & Gentle"/ 11. MAC Prep & Prime/ 12. Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne





My mum's super talented hairdresser friend, Emma did my wedding hair. I'd seen the image on Pinterest a while ago and fell in love with it. Emma is extremely good at her job and recreated it perfectly. Even now when I look back on the photos I swoon over it. I just completely love it.

My bridesmaids all had a similar half up half down style. I wanted them all to have something that they were comfortable with.

 

Finally my beautiful bouquet was from Lavender Blue. I was thrilled with it, I'd asked for no foliage just teacup roses tied with Hessian and they definitely gave me exactly what I wanted.

My bridesmaids had smaller versions of my bouquet and they also provided the gents button holes.

My advice to any brides to be is to get onto Pinterest. I found SO much wedding inspiration on there!

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Our wedding- The venue and little touches

When it came to deciding on a venue for our wedding ceremony there was no doubt in our minds  where we wanted it to be held. We have a stunning church in the middle of our town. It holds mixed emotions for us, it's where we had Ava christened but also where we held my brother's funeral. There is no taking away the fact that it is completely beautiful. It has wooden pews, huge stone pillars and the most amazing stained glass window.


It even has a broadwalk at the back, perfect for photo opportunities.





Crucially it was also big enough for our 150 strong party, which brings me to my next point. The reception venue. Initially I'd set my heart on  a marquee in one of my Uncle's fields but after discussing the pros & cons and the volatility of the Great British weather we decided against it. We racked our brains for a suitable venue. Everywhere was either too expensive, too small or too unoriginal. Then my Stepdad had a brainwave, what about my workplace. I know what you're thinking, crammed inbetween desks and a photocopier sounds far from a romantic wedding venue but I'm lucky enough to work in an old 18th century, independent boarding School. It gets compared to Harry Potter's Hogwarts all the time, it certainly was big enough and beautiful enough. It was perfect.










Most of my inspiration came from Pinterest. My theme was rustic French (having lived in France for 9 years) We had so much help from family and friends. Our table plan was an old barn door, sanded down & filled with photoframes containing our table plan. Our card box was an old vintage case picked up by Nath's mum for £5


Fairy lights were strung on pillars & in trees outside, tables were decorated with hessian and jugs of wild flowers picked from my aunties garden.


The hardest part for me was trying to transform the school assembly hall into our wedding venue which I'm proud to say we managed to achieve. I  did have to pinch myself a couple of times to remind myself that I was at work!

We couldn't have done it without everyone's help and I was so touched by the amount of people who got stuck in! I also scoured shops such as Home Bargains (where I bought the spotty jugs above for £2,99!) and the Pound Shop where I bought vintage style photoframes for our table plan. I would definitely advise any brides-to-be to do the same. I was so surprised with what I found!

Once again all of the wonderful photos are by Pbartworks

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