Monday, 29 February 2016

Styling The Seasons - February

A little burst of colour for you on this BONUS February day.

I thought it was better late than never to share my Styling The Seasons post for the month a and bit of what February means to me.
For me, this month marks a lovely shift from the depths of winter to the wonderful (and probably my favourite) season of Spring. Nothing marks this shift like the arrival of Spring blooms. Not necessarily in the garden, although daffodils and crocuses are sprouting everywhere by now, but in florist windows and by supermarket doors.
This picture of these beautiful Anemones is completely untouched. Just look at the piercing bold pink! I love it's contrast against the wood 'basket', still an essential on our hearth during this chilly month.
Of course this month celebrates love. We agreed to just give cards this year (Sam's idea not mine). It makes me smile everytime I open a card from him as it's always familiar (taken straight from the card draw that I put together!) I couldn't help but appreciate that they match and that mine got the last word!

As usual, we both ended up giving a little token to each other (have I mentioned my love language is gifts?!) I had chocolate which didn't stick around long and Sam's gift was the matches you can see top right. Perfect for a fire obsessed husband.
Suffice to say this little scene has been altered since styling it for this post. Flowers don't appreciate two things 1. being held by exquisite (but heavy handed) small hands and 2. being roasted by the fire! Can't say I mind either of those things mind.

Thanks for reading today, here's to happy Spring days as March awaits.

Lowri x

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Small Things

One of my words for this year is 'care'. I picked it out in January, resolving that in the months ahead I would make more time to take care of ME.

Our life is busy. There's always something happening - work commitments, two young children and fun filled weekends around every corner, it's all good stuff. But when I looked back on 2015, I realised I hadn't left much time, day to day, for myself.
Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed plenty of 'getaways' with friends or just Sam, giving ample space to refresh and relax. This weekend in fact, I'm away with my Mum and sister on a MAD (Mothers And Daughters) hen weekend (you can read about our last one here.)
What I'm talking about though is the general day to day stuff  like, not having a proper lunch but instead making do with whatever's left on the chopping board after the kids'; not getting enough sleep because I've stayed up waaaaay too late staring at my phone (Insta-surfing) or never getting around to painting my toes and feeling sad about it everytime I look down in the shower. Small things that don't take much time or are easy to change, but that make a big difference to my everyday.
I'm so glad to see that the topic of mental health, particularly maternal mental health, is becoming more and more talked about across the media. I've become so much more aware of personal stories of this important yet often taboo subject. I know that I've struggled myself in recent months, but finally came to a place in January when I knew there were simple lifestyle changes I could make. Changes that would help me be a happier and well rested ME and, in turn, more equipped in my role as a Mum.

Obviously, I know that it's not always as easy as just making small changes, I'm most certainly not belittling the challenges and difficult journeys that many women face. However, I wanted to share just a few things that I've personally found have given me back a bit more 'me' time, and a little added joy to my day.
I'd have to say that my biggest chance for time to myself is when I'm in bed. In fact, when I'm in bed AND ASLEEP. The trouble is I'm not very good at it. I've always been a night owl, I'm more productive in the evenings and late at night. Some evenings I end up working until the small hours (making and packing orders with two small people just doesn't work) but other days, I potter and waste time on my phone, regretting it as soon as I realise how few hours it is until Wilf heads up our stairs.

So, when I recently started using this Sleep Plus Pillow Spray from This Works, bedtimes became a dream, quite literally! The smell on the linen is so relaxing and I can't help but take deep breaths to take it all in. What I loved reading was that 'natural night time movement' gently releases the amazing smells, so as I toss and turn I can rest assured that the fragrance is helping me stay sound asleep. Now I just have to work on leaving my phone somewhere that's NOT in arms reach and I might even get an early night. Anyone else with me on this?
Back in January, after a little spot of sales shopping I treated myself to some new skin care. Having heard great things about Liz Earle from friends and family I decided to go for it. And I'm so glad I did! Without sounding melodramatic about a face wash, I actually feel like I've found THE one!
I have to admit, that in previous months I'd resorted to either a quick wipe of my tired face with a flannel or, if I was lucky an ACTUAL face wipe. Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser adds just one small step into that process, which is that you get to rub a delicious smelling cream in first and then, as I was doing anyway, wipe it off with a wet cloth. I've also been using her Skin Tonic and Skin Repair Moisturiser and the difference it's made to my skin has amazed me. It all smells so good that I've actually started looking forward to taking my make up off at the end of the day. Small things, small things.
Talking of fragrances I've also been LOVING this No.20 Botanical Essence perfume you can see on the shelf. As the name suggest it's a floral number but has a lovely pink pepper scent too. It's still new to me and I'm enjoying the feeling you get when you notice a new perfume on your clothes, scarf or coat. If you're looking for a Mother's Day gift for your own Mum (or perhaps fancy dropping a few hints yourself) then you can't go wrong with this pretty pink bottle.
Another lovely fragrance I'm enjoying is this Eucalyptus and Rosemary Botanical Candle. It's sat next to our bathroom sink and the fresh, natural scent wafts up when I walk past. I don't know about you but I love keeping candles for a little while before lighting them, there's something about that unspoiled wax (almost as good as freshly fallen snow!) Like I said, small things. This would also make a great Mother's day gift if you're stuck for ideas, just give her a nudge to actually use it if you find it still unlit weeks later.
The bathroom is somewhere else where I can find a bit of time to myself. Obviously not during the hectic, floor flooding chaos that occurs during the kid's bathtime, but during quiet, candlelit, peaceful baths. I'm more likely to really switch off and relax when I'm in the bath, as the high chance of dropping my phone in means I leave it well and truly behind! This Deep Sleep Bath Soak from This Works is next on my 'finding me time' hit list. It smells amazing and I know that a good soak would relax me so much I'd probably risk falling asleep before I even make it to my pillow. The trouble is, I just haven't had the time to use it. Proving my point entirely, life is busy and finding time for ourselves is much easier said than done.
I'd love to know what things you do to take a little extra care of yourself, I'm always on the look out for tips. 

Whatever you have planned for the week ahead, I hope you manage to find a time for you, I promise you'll enjoy it AND it'll do you good too. Win win!

Thank you so much for stopping by.
Lowri x 

This post is written in collaboration with Liz Earle and This Works, 
however all views and opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Being A Mum

When was I contacted by Bloom & Wild recently to see if I'd like to be involved in their Mother's Day campaign, I was both delighted and extremely touched. Obviously I jumped at the chance. However, when they asked me what 'my favourite thing about being a Mum' was, I got stuck.
After taking these photos with their beautiful Mother's day blooms, I knew my response would have to be "having fun and making each other laugh." Every stage of these two growing up has been brilliant, but they're now both at a point when they have a giggle together, make mischief and make us both laugh on a daily basis. Nothing beats getting to laugh along with them. 

But the truth is I got stuck because there are countless things that are my favourite. Just too many moments, emotions and feelings that I love, that picking just one felt a bit odd.

Now before I go on, don't get me wrong, Motherhood is hard. It's the hardest thing that I've done, and ever will do. I'm challenged by it on a daily basis, exhausted by it most days and some days feel COMPLETELY unsure about what I'm doing. 

But in amongst the very real challenges, it is also the most fun filled, rewarding, humbling and life giving job that I will ever do. I feel so lucky that I get to be a Mum and I know a blog post like this can't really do it justice. With Mother's Day just two week's away though, I thought I'd share just a few of the day to day moments that I love (and a few that I don't) about being a Mum.  
-  Dance routines in the kitchen. I'll say no more other than that, to them, no-one else can sing and dance to Lionel like I can.

- Getting to hold their hands. On walks outdoors, walking up the stairs or as we cwtch up, their small hands in mine is the loveliest.

Hearing them refer to me as Mummy. Obviously there are times when hearing "mummeeeeeee"/ "mummaaaaaay"/ "mum mum mum mum mum mum mum" drives me up the wall. But knowing that only I can answer to that name when they say it is priceless.
-  Making up bedtime stories. Somehow Wilf has recently managed to wangle a second bedtime story after his book, but only if it's a made up one. My current subjects usually involve animals who meet, make friends, have fun and then go home to bed (always end with characters going to bed!) If he turns around at the end and says "that was a GREAT story Mummy" then my day is made.
- Making family traditions. It's so important to Sam and I that our children have a strong sense of belonging. A sense that they're part of 'team Harris' and a safe, loving environment. We both believe that this will give them security to grow, find their feet in life and one day become independent people in this world. I hope that by creating our own traditions, not just the ones we dust off each year at Christmas, but special things we do, say and celebrate day in day out, will build that feeling of belonging and hopefully stay with them a lifetime.
- AdventuresAny adventure is fun when you're 3 and nearly 2. I love getting to join in on the real life one's, where they learn things for the first time. I equally love the made up ones, where their imaginations get stretched and, for us at least, pirates usually make an appearance.

- Cooking together. Whilst I often have to muster EVERY ounce of patience I have when the two of them are up at the worktop at 5pm 'helping', I really do love cooking together. I have to admit that I do sometimes imagine them as future famous chefs, talking about how it 'all started with Mum.'
- Hearing them say I love you. Quite simply the most wonderful words this Mama can hear.

I could go on with this list of mine. The truth is though, I'm writing this late on a Saturday night at my parent's house, Sam is away and Wilf and I are sharing a room. The Gro-clock is set for 7am tomorrow and a certain person has taken to requesting 5 minute updates on "how long til the sun comes up?" This is the time he can get out of bed and jump into mine so we can chat, tell jokes and plan our next cookery adventure together (watch Minion clips on You Tube while I go back to sleep). If this morning is anything to go by, then 'sun progress reports' will start at 6am. Early starts (and Minions.) Not so in love with those.
Thank you so much to Bloom & Wild for this stunning bunch of flowers and for inviting me to be a part of this lovely campaign, it really has been an honour.

Thanks for stopping by too. If you haven't already discovered Bloom & Wild and their very clever 'letterbox flowers' then do pop over here to find out more.

With love,
Lowri x

Friday, 19 February 2016

New York New York

So, just before I jump two feet first into an exciting launch with Not On The High Street, I thought I would take a little look back over the most carefree, wonderful days that January had to offer.

I've been meaning to write up this post for weeks but it seemed, that as soon as we touched back down at Heathrow, life had a strong dose of 'busy' (sickness/ school runs/ more bugs) you know the score. So excuse me while I have a little reminisce.
Before we left for New York we (mainly Sam) did lots of research, asking friends via social media for their 'top tips'. Over a bottle or two on New Year's Eve we sat down and sifted through all the 'must-do's we'd been given and put together our own list. So, if you're reading this ahead of your own trip then save yourself some research and just take your pick from the below. No, I'm KIDDING, there's SO much to do there that this is just a tiny slice.
We arrived late on a Saturday night and I remember looking up at Sam as we stepped off the subway, fresh from the airport, into the chaos that is Time Square. His jaw literally dropped as we pulled our suitcases along the busy pavement (sidewalk) to find our hotel. They don't call it the city that never sleeps for nothing and we got to experience the buzz within the first few minutes of arriving.
The pace of things the next day couldn't have been more different though. We had a leisurely start, our hotel did a great breakfast (unusually provided apparently), then layered up to take a walk and soak it all in. We walked and walked.... just around the corner to Central Station where we promptly headed to the food court for a milkshake. Start as you mean to go on.
The main concourse at the station was even more beautiful than I'd imagined and we sat for ages just taking it all in. Then, just as we were leaving we stumbled across a big glass box tucked away in the corner. It was only the world's champion squash players having a knock! As a big fan of the sport Sam was so chuffed to find the tournament and we had a good enough view from the sideline to enjoy a few games. Such a treat for him!
We then headed outside to walk off our milkshakes, strolling around and taking in the sites from foot. It was amazing to see landmarks that we'd seen in books, slap bang in front of us. We even walked past some, doing a couple of blocks before we found them again. It seems funny to think that it was so easy to pass these giant buildings that towered above.
Our next stop was Chelsea Market, an absolute favourite and somewhere we returned a few days later and hopefully will again. The market is housed in a stunning old building in the Meat Packing District, an area of downtown Manhattan that we loved. Packed with a whole host of food vendors, there was so much to choose from, obviously the lobsters won though!
We picked out a freshly steamed lobster and stood, each with a pint and a pot of butter, enjoying every minute of what would become my 'champagne moment' of the holiday. The fact that it was washed down with a pot of clam chowder, well, I'll say no more!
The city had such a laid back feel to it that day, we passed people who lived there going about their regular slow Sundays - on their way back from the gym, out with their families and walking their dogs (there are SO many dogs there!) After the long journey the day before it was lovely to take it all in at a slower pace and without the crowds.
In the evening we headed to 'The Dead Rabbit', a cocktail bar that we'd heard great things about. It's a tiny pub (taproom) located in downtown Manhattan just off Wall Street which, when we walked down it that evening, was DESERTED! The streets in that part of town move away from the straight long avenues to more windy, cobbled roads, more like the lanes of Brighton than New York City.

The pub is SO small inside, only as wide for about 3 people to stand next to each other. We arrived to the sound of a live Irish band playing in the corner and pulled up two bar stools. The atmosphere, sliders (which 'researcher' Sam reliably informed me were mini burgers) and the grog couldn't have been better for our first proper night.
We woke Monday to bright blue but FREEZING cold skies! Before we left for our trip we'd planned ahead to make sure we could enjoy a helicopter ride of the Hudson to take in the sights. We were SO glad we did! We managed to get a great deal that morning on Travel Zoo and after breakfast (the biggest waffle ever) we made our way downtown to the pier. The flight itself was only 15 minutes but plenty of time to see all of the sights.
I was lucky enough to get to ride up front, obviously I played 'co-pilot' in my head for the duration of the flight!
We'd heard great things about Brooklyn so once we'd touched down, and in a bid to walk off the waffle, we decided to make our way over the Brooklyn bridge on foot.
We'd only walked a few hundred yards when Sam suggested trying to find a pizza place he'd read about, I didn't take much persuading. The views back over the city were amazing and, with the walkway raised above, you'd never know you were on top of  queues of traffic below.
Brooklyn is beautiful, we loved walking around the residential streets and admiring the old town houses. It's another place that's firmly on our 'explore more of ' list next time we go.
We ate at a pizza place called 'Julianas', the original Grimaldi's, now a more well known Pizza franchise across America. The history behind the restaurant and it's founder Patsy Grimaldi, is a brilliant story of how an independent, family run business has triumphed over the 'big boys.' It's well worth a read and you can find it here.
Next stop was the One World Tower, a magnificent new building built on the site of the World Trade Centres. The lift up to the observatory on the 102nd floor took just 60 seconds and we didn't feel a thing! We were then given the most incredible presentation about how it was built, followed by a jaw dropping surprise! I won't ruin it for you in case you go, but let's just say the view from the top was breathtaking. Cocktails and calamri followed and we just sat, taking in views up the Hudson, pinching ourselves just a little bit.
The 9/11 memorial outside the tower, was incredibly moving and such a beautiful place for people to take a moment to remember. The fountains were powerful but peaceful to watch at the same time and were surrounded by the names of those that lost their lives. I was glad we had the opportunity to go as it was a very poignant reminder of what the city has been through.

Our evening was written off by jetlag and exhaustion, so we cancelled our dinner reservation in favor of sleep. Call us light weights but I'll have you know sleeping is a perfectly legitimiate activity on a child free holiday, gotta grab it while you can!

Tuesday was filled to the brim. Starting off with a walk through Central Park, it was lovely to get away from concrete for a bit and enjoy the peace and quiet. It must have been the time of year that we visited but again, there were parts of the park that just seemed deserted! At one point we didn't see a a single soul for a good 5-10 minutes. Sat opposite a lake, with take away coffees, having a long D&M about life (definitely not something we normally get time for at home) is another snapshot of our trip that will remain with me for a long time.
We left the park in search of food....are you surprised? Not just any food, but the best burger I have ever eaten, and probably will ever eat, in my whole life. The 'burger joint' at Le Parker Meridien Hotel is an absolute must in my opinion. Tucked away behind a floor to ceiling red curtain, in the lobby of a swanky 5 star hotel is a small, grungy room with posters and graffiti all over the wall, benches and a small serving hatch.
We strolled up, asked for 'the works' and 4 pint pitcher of Samuel Adams and my word, were we NOT dissapointed. We both left about an hour later, me in a slightly 'I've just had 2 pints at lunchtime' bubble and both in a food induced delightful haze.
We then walked and walked, exploring the avenues and popping into shops along the way. I told Sam "we're not 'shopping' just going in them if we see them." I think he bought it.
That evening we went to see the New York Knicks at Maddison Square Gardens, an amazing experience and one that I'd highly recommend. It really didn't matter that I didn't have a clue about basketball, except the need to score hoops, the atmosphere and 'time-out' entertainment was enough by itself.
We booked through a website selling unwanted season tickets so were sat with lots of people who were die hard fans and regularly went to games. The banter and chants against the opposition (Boston Celtics) was brilliant and I'm sure if Sam was a local would have been well involved with.

After the game we were lucky enough to be able to go to a private members club called Norwood. We were invited as guests of a friend of mine who I met through my shop (thanks Instagram!) Works of artwork adorned the walls of the beautifully restore old town house, we enjoyed a few drinks and bar meal before jetlag (and tiredness from our walking marathon) set in and we headed back to the hotel.

On Wednesday, after checking out, we had the chance to meet my kind Insta-friend in person. We'd arranged to meet over coffee so that we could thank her for her tips and the Norwood passes. We also had the pleasure of meeting her partner and beautiful daughter Amelia and left feeling very lucky to have made such lovely new friends.
The food we ate throughout our trip was brilliant (mainly as our research had revolved around it) and our final stop did not dissapoint. I'd been tipped off about 'Jack's Wife Freda' by a friend on Instagram and it was every bit as beautiful as their online gallery. We both had Eggs Benedict and coffee but somehow missed the fact that everyone else was drinking free cocktails at 11am to celebrate the restaurants 4th birthday. We'll just have to go back to join in when they're 5!

More walking (we did over 40 miles in total), hand in hand by the water, down avenues and streets, through Broadway and Time Square, we enjoyed the last few hours of this captivating city before heading back to JFK.

It really was the most wonderful 4 days together, of course we missed the kids and beamed when we had What's App photos from Sam's parents, but it did us so much good to have time just the two of us. Time alone is such a tonic for any relationship, we have such a laugh and have made a pact to find time for 'us' more often.
New York absolutely stole our hearts and since we've been back there's been numerous 'I've found some cheap flight' conversations. It'll be some time before we make it back, but with the invitation of somewhere to stay from our new friends, a return trip hopefully won't be too far away.

If you're still with me after this essay of a tale, then thanks for reading! You might not believe it but there's plenty of little things I haven't mentioned above (thought I'd save you the time!) If you're planning your own trip then I'd be more than happy to share any other tips we picked up along the way.

Have a wonderful weekend.
Lowri x

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

February Edit

Well welcome February, a delicious short little month full of love.
It's a busy month for us with friends and family coming to stay, half term adventures and a hen do at the end which is guaranteed to be full of antics. As the last of the Winter months it also brings lighter evenings (it was still light at 5pm tonight!!!) and even more signs of Spring, good all round I say.

Of course it goes without saying that it's the month to celebrate all things LOVE and we're doing just that at little maldod with our new Valentines section. If you fancy showing a bit of extra love to your little one (or favourite grown up person) this month then pop over for a browse by clicking here.
Which brings me to this lovely bright selection of products which I've selected for February's Edit. Most of them are brand new to the shop and I'm delighted to be stocking them. As usual, you can read all about them and click straight through to the shop below.

1. Mama Zip Bags.
These bags have proved so popular since their launch a few weeks ago. They are the perfect size for carrying anything from makeup, toiletries or changing bag essentials to stationery. This bright yellow lettering on cotton canvas also makes it a perfect Spring accessory.

2. Pastel Letter Banner
You can have so much fun making little sayings with these DIY letter banners. The pack contains enough letters to make up little rhymes or sayings which you can change to suit any occasion. They make the perfect decoration, we can't wait to hang some Egg-cellent sayings around the house this Easter....sorry.

3. Wooden Heart Rattle
This wooden rattle has been a best seller in the shop since it's launch last Spring. A classic heart shape rattle that would make the perfect gift for a new arrival or Valentines treat for your little one.

4. Liberty Cupcake Cases
We are absolutely delighted to be stocking a beautiful range of new Liberty products by Meri Meri, which are part of our new PARTY range (here). The Cases are just one of the stunning new products which showcase classic Liberty patterns, I have me eye on a few for a certain little girl's 2nd birthday next month!

5. Hobo Soy Candle
This deliciously scented Lemongrass and Coconut Hobo Soy candle is also new to little maldod.  It is one of two candle tins recently launched which make the perfect 'non baby' gift for a new mum or mum-to-be, or just as a lovely new addition for any home. They honestly smell good enough to eat!

So there we are, my selection of goodies for this month. I have lots more new things in the pipeline for the coming weeks and months so watch this space.

Thanks for stopping by and, as always, for supporting my small business.
Lowri x