What The Heck Do You Wear In Your 30s?

Dressing well in your 30s is tough. Read my advice and tips to make 30 your most fashionable decade yet.

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Full closet, full heart, nothing to wear

Sometimes I feel like your 30s is the forgotten decade of life. Forget the awkward teenage years, nothing compares to that strange, uncomfortable feeling you get when you are called “ma’am” when you definitely feel like a “miss”. I feel out of place in Forever 21 (not to mention the fact that I don’t really fit in any of their clothes) and I’m definitely not ready for the Sears collection (well that’s gone now in Canada but you know what I mean). I feel stuck in between. In my head I’m 18 and carefree wearing whatever I want and looking fantastic but in reality I’m 32 and struggling to find my style again. I used to be obsessed with fashion so much so that I wanted to be a fashion buyer. I actually went to interviews for TK Maxx and Next to be a part of their graduate buyer program but apparently being a buyer a LOT more statistics and complicated maths and a lot less Rachel from Friends minimal work an fantastic wardrobe. However, as time has marched on I found that my love for fashion has kind of faded. Now I chose my stores based on budget and whether the clothes have the ability to cover my slightly squishy tummy. Most days I reach for jeans or leggings and a jumper. My 20 year old self would sneer at the state of me now. I PROMISED I would never wear sweatpants out in public, well, that rule has been out the window for several years now. I wore pants with an unidentified stain on them all day last week and didn’t notice. I need an intervention.

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Why has this happened? Where is that girl who loved the latest trends? I know you’re in there somewhere Jo, you can come out now!

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase a product I get a little something from the retailers at no extra cost to you.

When did I become retro?

I love American Eagle clothes and I shop there often but lately even my trusty AE is moving in a worryingly young direction (or maybe I’m moving in a worryingly old direction). When I saw a distressed band t shirt with a band from my teenage years on display on it I almost lost my damn mind. When did 2000s music warrant a retro t shirt? More to the point when did I become retro? What is happening? Stop the world I want to get off. I’ve bought a lot in Forever 21 but needing to size up 4 sizes is somewhat depressing when you’re already not feeling great about your postpartum shape. What we need is a Forever 30. Somewhere that has beautiful, affordable, fashion forward clothes with a little more Lycra and a slightly longer hemline.  Tell me why someone has not invented this mecca yet?

You can still be fashionable and fabulous in your 30s

I know for many of you this goes without saying. I see so many people who are always immaculate that are my age and maybe I just got lazy somewhere between kid one and kid 2, but for a lot of women, the 30s is a weird transitional decade. You’re coming out of your 20s and the skin tight polyblends in the younger stores but you’re far too young for that wolf print turtle neck. It’s hard to know just where you fit and what fits you. A quick Google search for “what to wear in your 30s” brings up few results. It seems that most fashion blogs and websites focus on fashion hungry 20 somethings who crave fast fashion or more mature 40+ year olds who have the money to invest in high end fashion. “What about us lot in our 30s?” I want to shout at the computer. Does no one care about us because it is assumed that many of us are working hard at climbing the career ladder and/or having kids? We’re relevant too fashion world! Notice us! The few pages I have found offer somewhat outdated advice and seem to put us in sweater sets and pearls long before our time. I think it’s high time women in their 30s take back fashion.

Tips for finding your style in your 30s

Tip 1 – It’s time to invest girl

As I tried to dive back into fashion I made the mistake of going super low end because I just wasn’t sure what I should be wearing and well, I’m just too old for cheap clothes. I don’t want to wear fabric that sparks every time I pull it over my head. I gasp at seams that don’t sit just right on my new body shape. Now I love a bargain don’t get me wrong. I often head straight to the sale rail at most stores to snap up a deal. When I get back to the UK I love to hit Primark to snap up a cute party dress. However, I just don’t have the patience anymore for tat and I think my everyday wardrobe and the key pieces in it need to reflect the fact that I have, despite my protestations, grown up.

We all have to budget, I get that and I’m not saying to hit Chanel and spend your mortgage but now is the time to invest in some key pieces that will last. You’ve done the hard time of crappy fake leather bags and shoes that rub your feet. You’re a grown up now and you can invest in a little bit of luxe. Besides, fast disposable fashion is a false economy. Can you honestly see you wearing those furry slip on shoes next season? No I thought not and more to the point if you didn’t shell out enough for them, they probably wont last. Things that you should really invest in are

  1. A great leather handbag
  2. A killer pair of leather ankle boots
  3. An amazing pair of heels that give you legs for days
  4. A leather jacket
  5. A dressy wool coat to take you from work to a night out
  6. THE jeans
  7. THE white T-shirt (I’m still searching for this one but my cheap ones haven’t cut the mustard)
  8. Tailored trousers that give you all the bum peachy-ness
  9. A well cut suit if you work in an office environment
  10. A classic cocktail dress that you can accessorize with lots of different things
  11. A well tailored shirt

Tip 2 – Play with fashion trends but don’t be a slave to them

It’s often said that your 20s are for experimenting with fashion but it is in your 30s that you really find your personal style. The fashion oracle that is Coco Chanel once said “Fashion fades, only style remains the same” and I believe that this should be your mantra for dressing in your 30s. I’m not saying that you have to be boring, but perhaps you need to think twice before shimmying into that pvc dress because it is THE RAGE. Like I said above, invest in some amazing day to day pieces that will see you through a few seasons but the fast fashion pieces are where you can go budget as you probably wont be wearing them more than a season. Have fun with them and use them to accentuate your own personal style. Look at textures, colours and accessories that are on trend and bring your own personal style to them.

Lets take a few of next years projected trends and see how to make them fit your style.

  1. Hats are slated to be THE fashion trend. This is an easy way to accentuate your own style without overhauling your entire wardrobe because you read somewhere that neon orange is the last word in style (yes my friends, neon is coming back). Adding a hat is a pretty risk free way to spice up your outfit and is very 30s appropriate. I mean, how many of you have watched period TV shows with immaculate women and wished that you could rock a hat like that?
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    Some of my faves



  2. Pleats – When I first saw this one I kind of thought of my old school skirt. However, pleats this season are set to have a fresh makeover. Think tight pleats, not wide netball skirt ones. A great way to wear this trend is a midi skirt with a tshirt for a casual office look. You can also wear pleats on sleeves to add some extra chic flair to your outfit.
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    Some Of My Faves

    Nordstrom pleated midi skirt 
    Nordstrom sequin pleated midi skirt  (two trends in one!)

    Abercrombie & Fitch pleated shirt (VERY LIMITED SIZES AVAILABLE -SALE ALERT)

  3. Sequins and sparkle – Let me put it out there, I LOVE SPARKLY CLOTHES. I have amazing Old Navy slippers that are covered in glitter and I feel like Beyonce strutting around the house in them. However, sequins can look dated and like you’re trying to hard. 30s style tip – stick to classic designs with a modern cut or only wear one sequined piece and pair it with a very plain piece. For example, a sequin shirt with black tailored pants. Not feeling so brave? Try an accessory like a sequined purse or shoes. The feel of sequins can also be recreated with intricate, sparkly beading.
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Some of my faves

Abercrombie & Fitch Sequin Cami (SALE ALERT- UNDER $30!!!)
Abercrombie & Fitch sequin booties (I’m dying over these, all sizes available)
Nordstrom embellished Sheath Dress 

4. (Not so short) shorts – A few years ago city shorts were EVERYWHERE. I loved them as they made a fresh change to my work skirt but were still totally appropriate. Last season was all about lycra cycling shorts (thanks but no thanks Kim Kardashian-West. My two kid bum looks like a sad pancake when jammed into those high-waisted, skin tight monstrosities). This season’s short is a little looser, more tailored and has an overall more classy vibe. Plus, shorts

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Some of my Faves

Abercrombie & Fitch Blue belted pleat shorts
Abercrombie & Fitch Tie Front Shorts – stripes
American Eagle High Waisted Short
All the above are in limited supply so make sure you snap them up if you LOVE them. I’m getting the belted pleat shorts for sure!!!

5. Fringe – Be still my boho beating heart, fringe is back in fashion. I absolutely adore boho style. Sienna Miller in her Jude Law years is my ultimate fashion icon. There’s something so carefree about fringe. Before you go out and purchase a pair of cowboy chaps let us think how fringe can be stylish in our 30s. A fringe bag is the ultimate easy way to add this style to your wardrobe. Think cute cross body satchels and FABULOUS clutches. Sometimes fringe can be worn in unexpected ways like Abercrombie & Fitches fringe sweater and American Eagle’s fringe poncho duster. Fringe doesn’t need to be costume-y, it can be bang on trend if worn right.
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Some of my faves

Abercrombie & Fitch grey fringe sweater – AS SEEN ABOVE on sale and in high demand buy it quickly before it sells out

American Eagle fringe cardigan On sale – RUN to pick this up while it’s in stock.

Tip 3 – Break some fashion rules

I am a grown up, I have a mortgage and I mostly remember to pay my bills on time.

When researching this post I came across so many articles with “rules to follow in your 30s”. Well excuse me,  I’m not sure who invented these rules but I don’t agree with the sweeping statements about what is not OK to wear in your 30s. We’ve followed rules our whole lives and now here we are as grown ups with a fresh set of restrictions placed on us. Not today Satan. I am a grown up, I have a mortgage and I mostly remember to pay my bills on time. Here are a few pearls of wisdom I came across.

No miniskirts – Come on, how outdated is this? If you want to show off your legs then you go for it. I personally like my legs best (more so when the old varicose isn’t acting up but age doesn’t come alone) and love showing them off. I’m not talking about a bum grazing mini but a 30s appropriate one. Slightly longer, maybe a little A line and definitely paired with something more modest on top. I am not ready to hang up the short skirts yet!

No leather skirts – whatever. I just bought one this past season and paired with a turtleneck, tights and ankle booties it is the cutest outfit. It isn’t pretty woman style but a softer, more expensive looking leather that hits just above the knee.

Stick to blouses not shirts – This one is going right out of the window. Look at Meghan Markle in her gorgeous crisp white oxford. Just take a look around Ralph Lauren and its abundance of shirts. I don’t think a beautiful shirt ever goes out of style and whilst I like the soft vibe of a blouse, I feel like sometimes they age you. A shirt and jeans is a fresh, downs to earth style that anyone can wear.

Tip 4 – Have fun and remember who you used to be

That 20 something girl is still in there. She might be hiding under sleep deprivation induced eye bags and layers of dry shampoo but she is in there. Fashion is meant to be fun and a way to express ourselves and just because we’re 30 doesn’t mean that we have to step into some little box and stay there. Sure we’re not 20 anymore but that’s OK. Life is meant to go forwards and not backwards. We’re older, so much wiser and are honing a sense of self that will see us through the next chapter in our life. It’s high time we used this confidence to capture a sense of style that tells the world who we are and that we’re not afraid to own it.

Stores for your 30s

Aritzia

H&M

Topshop

J Crew

ZaraZara

ASOS

Old Navy

Banana Republic 

So ladies, there you have it. You 30s don’t have to be a decade of embarrassing fashion mistakes and you certainly don’t have to resign yourself to frumpy, ageing clothes. The stores and fashion industry might have forgotten about us but we sure as hell haven’t forgotten who we are.

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Stay fashionable, stay beautiful and for goodness sake take off the mumu.

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The Easiest Barn board Wall DIY Tutorial.

Everyone thought I was crazy when I told them confidently that the vinyl floor boards would work perfectly on the wall. My builder, my husband, maybe even myself if I’m totally honest. But, I was a woman on a mission. I mean, if they stick to the floor why wouldn’t they stick to the wall? (I should have paid more attention in physics because, well, gravity).

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I Am A Pinterest Queen

As you may know, I am in love with all things farmhouse. I love rustic pallet walls that are all over Intagram and Pinterest. I love how they give new houses some old world charm and character. I JUST LOVE WOOD FEATURE WALLS. However, what I do not love is splinters and dust and I was worried t is what I would get if I put real barn boards up in the playroom. I have a very curious 3.5 year old who would for sure poke her fingers into the notches and run her little hands over the boards and that is a recipe for splinters and tears. My budget just can’t take buying endless boxes of hello kitty band aids! However I knew I needed to do something to make the room a little less box like and to infuse some farmhouse charm. As part of our main floor renovation we closed up the wall between the playroom and the dining room. Now my house had a bit fat wall with staring at me (a novelty for a home that is almost completely open concept) and I was itching for a project. I am an avid pinner. If you follow me on Pinterest you can see that I am obsessed with home decor boards. I am always looking for easy and budget friendly DIY ideas so I set to work finding an alternative to wallpaper and scratchy real wood for my soon to be feature wall. I saw a tutorial about how to use vinyl wood plank to create a rustic style feature wall. I was instantly hooked and rushed out to the local hardware store to buy some barn board style vinyl planks. My husband was the first to air his concerns as we were loading them into the truck. “Do you really think that vinyl planks will look like wood?”, “how is this adhesive supposed to hold?” But I wasn’t having any of it. I saw it on Pinterest and therefore it must work. As we got home and started unloading into our garage our builder curiously spied the boxes. When I told him my plans he laughed and shook his head. He said he wouldn’t want to put it up as it would not work and I was on my own in my crazy little project. I remained undeterred. Pinterest wouldn’t lie to me, I saw the results and it looked fantastic. My long suffering husband agreed that after the builders were done with the reno he would put the planks up for me. I smiled like a Cheshire cat as I knew it would look amazing and he would be eating his words like he had so many times in the past with my harebrained design ideas.

Prepare to eat your own words Joanna…

I finally managed to coerce my husband to put the feature wall up one Saturday in the early autumn. As he carefully measured and planned I was excited for what I knew would be a successful DIY project. However, as the planks began to go up my Cheshire cat grin began to fall. This was not what I ordered. My husband, no matter how carefully he measured, couldn’t get the planks to remain flush together and little gaps of Benjamin Moore Silver Satin peeked through. OK, no big deal, wood walls are meant to be rustic and a bit uneven. I didn’t want to say anything negative so on we pressed. He finished the wall quite late that evening and as we stood back to admire it we both didn’t know quite what to say. I would love to tell you that we were stunned into silence by its beauty but it was more a case of being stunned into silence by horror. It looked fake. The light bounced off it and it shone like a conker. Not the beautiful, rustic wood look I was going for. Tired and disappointed we went to bed, neither of us saying anything about the wall.

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Things That Go Bump In The Night

Throughout the night we could hear “bang”, “bang”, “sliiiiiiiiip” “swooosh”, “BANG”. It was really weird but I just thought it was the dog banging around in his room or the wind rattling the windows. When we got up in the morning, I was met with the culprit of the noise. My wood feature wall lay all over the ground and peeling sadly off the wall. My daughter ran over to the sticky adhesive strips and promptly glued her socks to them. This was my first real Pinterest disaster (well, after the unicorn cake debacle of 2017 but the less we talk about that the better).  My husband took one look at what remained of his Saturday project and I could feel him biting back the words “I told you so” but he’s far too nice for that. Being the stubborn proud woman that I am, I was sure we could salvage the wall and then in a very professional manner started gluing the planks to the wall with no more nails. And that’s how the wall stayed for over a year. Periodically we could have to glue bits back on and it sort of became a part of life.

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Fixing our Pinterest Fail

For some reason, after we returned from our trip to the UK I was inspired to tackle all of the little home projects that had fallen by the wayside. It might have had something to do with my mother’s flawlessly decorated house and the fact that I finally felt human again as the baby was sleeping through the night. So the first weekend back home, my husband and I took the truck to the hardware store and with a case of design deja vu picked up supplies to make our feature wall. This time we had thought carefully about the product we wanted to use. We still wanted to have an easy to clean, spliter free finish but also wanted the warm rustic farmhouse feel of wood. We a MURdesign panel in Jasper at the Home Depot that was perfect for the job. Easy to install and clean and no vinyl in sight. I can’t find the link to it on the Home Depot website but it is on Rona and MURdesigns have their own website with more designs and a link to find a retailer close to you . Now that it’s up we are over the moon with the result. It looks awesome and it was so easy. Here is how you can achieve the same effect.

Creating A Barn Wood Wall In An Afternoon for under $200

Step 1: Remove all old paneling and ensure that you are starting with a relatively smooth wall. Honestly we left some adhesive and it’s fine. If you will be gluing the panels up you need to scruff up the walls with a sander but we decided to use finishing nails to hang the wall.

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Step 2: Use a stud finder to locate the studs in your wall and mark them out. If you are using nails then it is important to get them into the studs to ensure your wall is secure. The panels aren’t that heavy but you’re going to want a lot of nails. We ended up doing 6 nails across and 6 rows down for each board.

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step 3: You will need a helper to hold the board for you while you nail the board to the wall. It is important that the first piece is flush and true or your wall will be all wonky. Remember that ceilings are not always a good measure of a straight line so be sure to use a level.

Step 4: You will need to measure the wall to determine the size of your next piece that you will need to cut. We used 2 full boards and 2 half boards.

Step 5: Once you are ready to put your next piece up you will want to check that the pattern aligns. There isn’t too much thinking work that needs to go into it but we found that some pieces match up better than others. Then all you do is butt the boards together until they are flush and nail to the wall. There is a small seam but you can’t really notice when it’s all together and it isn’t apparent enough to bother us.

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Step 6: Repeat until wall is covered with boards.

Step 7: Admire your amazing new barn board wall.

Here is the finished product.

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I love that I can wipe it clean when the kids inevitable draw on it or get some unidentified sticky mess onto it. We’re hoping to get a sofa in this room once we agree on one which is why the picture is so high. Oh did I mention that you can hang things on this baby as well?

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So there you have it. We learned that not everything you see on Pinterest is a good idea and vinyl floor boards are probably best left on the floor. A beautiful farmhouse style barn board wall in an afternoon for under $200. We are so happy with the results and our playroom looks amazing! Can’t wait to get the rest of the furniture in and finish up the room. I’m looking into the white washed version for our bedroom but shhh don’t tell my husband.

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Have you got a wood feature wall in your home? Any Pinterest fails that are particularly note worthy?

Happy decorating friends,

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A Day Trip To London With A Baby and Dino-Mad Toddler

On December 14th 2018 we braved the transatlantic red eye with the girls to go and visit my family and friends back in the UK. It was Aria’s first flight and to say we were a little nervous was an understatement. Back in October in the deep trenches of her colic when we booked the flight I wasn’t feeling overly confident in our chances of her NOT screaming bloody murder for the entirety on the 6+ hour flight. But it was Christmas, I needed my Britain fix and we were going. So off we went to Toronto Pearson airport in the midst of the Christmas travel rush with our arsenal of luggage and we began our journey to Wales.

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Disclosure – this post contains affiliate links which means that if you purchase anything through the post you wont get charged a penny more but I get a little something to keep the lights on.

Get that bassinet seat whatever it takes

Surprisingly, the flight itself went really well. When we first got on board and the temperature in the cabin soared to what can only be described as Sahara level, Aria started to cry and would only stop when someone stood up with her (not idea when you have to be sat down to take off). But then, something magic happened, she fell asleep. I couldn’t believe my luck as I gingerly sat down (why is it that children know when you switch from standing to sitting?) and attempted to buckle my seat belt without waking her. Emmy was set up with her Ipad and neck pillow and happy as a clam. This wasn’t her first rodeo so I knew she would be a pro. Before I knew it we were up in the sky hurtling in a tiny tin can across the Atlantic to the motherland. The flight passed quickly (thank you flight attendant for the extra bottle of red wine) and I really believe that upgrading to the bassinet seats was a lifesaver. If you didn’t already know, parents with infants (under 25 lbs) can opt to sit in the bulkhead and get a little bassinet that clips onto the wall. One parent gets to sit in the extra legroom seat free of charge with Air Canada and we paid to upgrade Emmy and my husband. Not only could Aria sleep in the bassinet, but Emmy could play on the floor. Travel hack – put your paraphernalia on the floor so people don’t use your legroom as a walk way. It also seemed that the bassinet metered people from walking in front of us which was great as we were right behind the toilets and people seem to think that pacing between them makes the occupant move faster (side note, what the heck are people doing in there??).

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Reading For The Night

We arrived in Heathrow with red eyes and some what muzzy heads to crisp air and glorious sunshine. My parents came to pick us up and took us to Reading where we would spend the weekend before heading onto Wales. I love Reading, it’s a beautiful city with lots of history, great restaurants and bars. We took a much needed restorative nap and then headed out for some drinks to get the Christmas period started. We found The Fisherman’s Cottage pub on the river a short walk from my family’s flat.

The next morning we got up bright and early and headed into London. I know, it was a bold move the day after a transatlantic flight with two jet lagged children but with a packed Christmas schedule we had to get it done. My daughter is OBSESSED with dinosaurs and I knew that she would just love the exhibit at the Natural history museum so off we went on the train to London (somewhat) bright eyed and bushy tailed.

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Navigating the Tube with an infant and toddler

Before we left for London I umm’d and ahhh’d about taking the pushchair for Aria.

Pros – I could put my crap in the basket at the bottom and not have to strap 15lbs of baby onto my body for the day.

Cons – I’d have to push a pretty bulky travel system around central London and the Tube for the day.

Something else to consider is that we’d have to carry Emmy a lot as she doesn’t “do” walking and has been spoiled with a double pushchair. Times are a changing toots.

You’re going to want a great carrier

My pushchair is not made for the city, it is made for the snow and massive North American cars so I decided to whip out the Lillebaby and wear Aria. I got the Lillebaby complete all seasons as the big ticket item for our second baby. Emmy categorically refused to be worn so I never really splurged on a carrier for her. I had a couple of cheap soft carriers that I got on sale at Winners but neither were comfortable and honestly trying to put her in there was akin to putting a cat into a bathtub. Also I got hot, real hot wearing my little furnace. I knew that with baby number 2 having my hands free to wrestle baby number 1 would be clutch so after much research I landed on the Lillebaby Complete All Seasons. I could not be happier with my purchase! It is so comfortable and you can adjust it pretty much everywhere. You don’t need an infant insert and it’s good from birth so you just plop babe in and go. There’s a zipper panel on the front that exposes mesh so you can get some air into that sucker and keep somewhat cool. It is also ADORABLE and I don’t feel all crunchy and granola eating wearing it. I got mine in black and white stripe which is just about masculine enough for my husband to wear but the gold details are pretty enough for me. If you need a baby carrier I honestly cannot recommend it enough. The Lillebaby is hands down the best thing I’ve bought for my kids.

I get that it is a bit spendy but I cannot rave about this carrier enough. If you want to baby wear you’re going to want comfort and you’re going to want your baby to be comfortable too. Aria was in the carrier pretty much all day (apart from lunch and coffee breaks for a stretch) and she was so happy and comfortable. She falls asleep almost instantly in it. It is MAGIC.

The Natural History Museum – Nirvana For The Little Paleontologist

We arrived at the Natural History Museum by tube at around 11 am. It was super busy outside because of Winter Wonderland. We picked up some mulled wine from the little van selling drinks and cakes and walked up the museum (they even let us bring it in which was brill seeing as it was scalding and I didn’t feel much like chugging a big cup mulled wine, not very responsible). As always, admission was free which was great as we only intended on staying an hour or so to see the dinosaurs. Britain is awesome for free things. We headed to the dino exhibit straight away and it took about 45 minutes to walk around it with a very slow and very easily distracted toddler. She LOVED the massive robotic T-Rex. It was really well done and for a little paleontologist it was just the best thing ever. All good adventures end in a gift shop as we all know and I was dreading it but we escaped the gift shop with one dinosaur egg toy which was nothing short of a miracle. After we sat in the cafe for a drink and a potty break (well coercing Emmy to go but that child’s bladder is a vault in public places. That’s a whole other blog post). It was really busy and I’d say avoid it if you can on a weekend but it was good to sit down and get a snack into the dino lover.

Zizzis for lunch

We got the tube to Covent Garden which is my least favourite stop. It is so busy and there are loads of steps to climb if you can’t get into the lift. I was a little salty that we had to stop there but I was pretty surprised that we got straight into the lift and up to street level. It was packed so I was glad I wore Aria in the Lillebaby. She was still asleep at this point and had been for the whole day. Her first trip to London and she slept the whole time! I know people can be a bit reluctant to go to a chain when London has so many fabulous eateries to offer but we had 2 kids with us and I don’t know how well we would have fared at a white table place. Emmy would have definitely been crawling between chairs and you can guarantee that is the time Aria would decide to scream her bonce off. So we booked a table ahead of time in Zizzis to save walking around trying to get a seat somewhere the week before Christmas. We sat in the window which was perfect for distracting the toddler and Aria could lie down on the bench seat. The meal was delicious and the service was awesome. Definitely the fuel we needed after a morning full of exploring.

Covent Garden and 7 dials for a stroll

We decided to take a walk after lunch to Covent Garden to see the tree and the lights. It was absolute magic. I don’t think there is anything more gorgeous than London at Christmas and it did not disappoint. I managed to get lots of Instagramable shots which my husband absolutely hates loves me doing . We walked up to 7 dials and it was chocolate box beautiful with the twinkling lights and people bundled up with their Christmas shopping. I actually felt like I was in a Hollywood christmas movie that I always scoff at as “unrealistic”. I mean honestly where does Kate Winslet live in The Holiday to have a cottage like that outside of London? and how did Cameron Diaz’s character fit all those coats into that tiny case? I call B.S. Anyway I seem to have gone off on a “The Holiday” tangent again.  We got some nice pics and then dropped back down to Covent Garden to get the tube to Paddington. I let my brother wear Aria at this point and he looked like quite the modern dad about town.

Pro Parent tip – make sure the baby and the nappy bag aren’t in different carriages on the train.

When we arrived at Paddington I was bursting for a pee. However the train was on the platform and if we had any hope of getting a seat we had to hustle and get on board. Not being a hardened commuter I jumped on the first carriage I came across with the nappy bag attached to my back and told my brother that I would run down the train once I’d gone to the toilet to give him the baby supplies. So I jumped on with my Mum and husband and off went everyone else towards the end of the train. We got a table seat which was a bit of a unicorn moment and I went off to the toilet. I got back to my seat and told my mum I would run a bottle down to my brother for Aria in case she was hungry. I pushed my way down the rapidly filling train through endless carriages. As I entered first and jogged to the end I realized the door would not open to the next carriage. Perplexed, I looked out of the window and saw the nose of another train facing me. Oh. No. We were on one of those massive trains that are two smaller trains stuck together. I was standing there with a bottle in hand staring helplessly at the other train that held my brother and my probably screaming 3 month old. I didn’t have my purse or wallet on me so I figured if I jumped off and ran up the platform I would risk being left behind with no way back to Reading so I went back to my seat and frantically messaged the rest of our party. When I heard nothing back I assumed Aria was all good and would be fine until we got to Reading in half hour or so.

I was wrong…

Upon disembarking the train at Reading station we were greeted by a very red faced, sweaty and frazzled bunch. The resembled the scene in Twister when they strap themselves onto those posts and survive the F5 “hand of God”. As my brother thrust the sweaty carrier, straps loosened haphazardly into my hands it became clear a struggle had ensued. Apparently Aria decided she wanted out of the carrier shortly after leaving London and broke out her best screams until her wish was granted. My brother had no idea how to release her from her canvas prison carrier and the buckles and adjustable straps that make the Lillebaby so great also make it a bit tricky for novices or people who have never strapped a baby to themselves. A struggle ensued to get Aria off his increasingly overheating body (if only he knew about the handy dandy front mesh panel) quickly. Thankfully, between the three of them they finally liberated her before my brother passed out. Once free the challenge of removing her coat began. My brother, his girlfriend and my stepfather wrestled her tiny, yet surprisingly rigid, arms out of the coat to the increasingly curious passengers on carriage B. Aria was in a right mood now and refused to settle unless being walked around the train. A problem on the evening Sunday service from Paddington to Swansea as anyone who has been on it will tell you. You are like sardines. If you enjoy getting up close and personal with random people who usually have eaten a tuna sandwich or garlic then this is the train for you. My Stepfather had to kind of waddle within a 1 foot radius to maintain some movement to appease my darling daughter. What people must have thought on that carriage? A young couple and middle aged man with a baby with absolutely NO supplies. Reckless! Stolen baby! Thoughtless! I feel bad that I was sat scrolling Instagram in carriage N without a care in the world.

So that was our day in London. My little dino lover had the time of her life, we got to experience the magic of Covent Garden at Christmas and we learned the hard way that the baby should never be separated from the nappy bag no matter how perilously full your bladder is. Parenting is an adventure.

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Have you got any tips for navigating London with two kids in tow or any recommendations for cool dinosaur attractions?

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My farmhouse style guestroom makeover on a budget.

I thought I was so grown up when my husband and I went into the brick and purchased our very first bedroom set. It was a glorious cherry wood sleigh bed, chest and bedside table combo and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It would be the PERFECT addition to our home and I would love it forever and ever.

I guess farmhouses weren’t built for giant queen beds…

I remember the day it arrived at our red brick farmhouse. The delivery truck rumbled up the long driveway and came to a halt outside of our ancient front door (the only one wide enough for any furniture to fit through). The delivery men struggled up the porch with the huge boxes and queen mattress set and started the very steep climb to our “master” bedroom. I use the term “master” loosely as this bedroom was about the size of a large shoe box with no en suite and a minuscule closet. However, it had beautiful stained glass windows and a working vent (very important during a Canadian winter).  As the boxes mounted in the room, I began to sweat. We previously had a double Ikea bed and Hemnes chest in the room and it was pretty tight. Even in pieces, this bedroom set seemed ginormous. However, I kept the faith and thought back to the beautiful lacquered cherry set and how awesome it would look. The time came to bring the mattress up the stairs and everything came to a halt. Apparently they didn’t have queen sized beds when the house was built and the mattress became wedged in the staircase. “No problem, we’ll try the straighter back staircase”, I said cheerily to the delivery men. After one attempt which resulted in the mattress becoming tightly stuck into the stairwell, they wiped their brows and told me I was on my own. Off they went in their delivery truck leaving me with a mattress wedged in my stairwell and no clue how to get it to my lovely sleigh bed frame. Already my love affair with this bedroom set began to cool. However, I soldiered on and after cutting some door frames, the box spring and a lot of shoehorning and swearing we got the mattress up the stairs and onto the waiting bed frame. It looked awesome and again I told myself I would love it forever and ever. It came with us when we moved to a newer house in town and was a much better fit in our new “real” master bedroom (with an en suite and walk in closet, what a time to be alive). Then Joanna Gaines entered my life and so did my love affair with chalk paint and white wood furniture. My beautiful cherry set began to look tired and a little outdated. Moreover, the set was beginning to look a little rough around the edges after being manhandled up and down a farmhouse staircase, put into a delivery van and put back together again. I reasoned that we needed something fresh for our master bedroom and that the sleigh bed would be much better suited to our guestroom. There it stayed for a couple of years, and slowly but surely handles began to fall off, the veneer began to chip and the screws loosened. My beautiful grown up bedroom set was a sad shadow of its former self.

The Farmhouse Style Makeover begins

One evening when I was pregnant with my second child I had the nesting urge come on strong. I decided that I hated everything in the house and every paint colour on the wall and it had to be changed IMMEDIATELY. My parents would be staying after the baby was born and they needed a fresh bedroom. I got my husband to help me paint the walls in Benjamin Moore Balboa Mist one Friday night and determined that the beautiful new colour would benefit from beautiful painted furniture. I was a woman possessed. I looked online at beautiful white painted solid wood bedroom sets but couldn’t help balk at the price tag. I was going to be on maternity leave and I couldn’t justify spending thousands of dollars. However, in my crazy pregnant nesting state I NEEDED to do something about the room or I couldn’t rest. So I thought, why spend thousands when I could achieve the painted look myself for the price of a can of paint? If I ended up ruining the bedroom set then it wouldn’t really matter as I didn’t like it anyway and if it worked, then just call me Joanna Gaines. So I went out to Home Depot and picked up two cans of Rust-oleum chalk paint in linen white, brushes and drop sheets and returned home and set straight to work.

Here’s how I turned this…

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into this…

First things first, can you really use chalk paint on wood veneer?

YES! Now I wont say that the finish is as hard as nails but the very nature of chalk paint allows for imperfections so the overall look is actually complimented by a bit of wear and tear.

How to paint veneer with chalk paint

  1. Prep your furniture. You will need to wipe down your furniture with a damp cloth to remove all dust. Here is where all of you hardened chalk painters and professionals will probably collectively gasp but I didn’t prime. I know, I know, priming is key but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered and didn’t want to spend more cash on primer.
  2. Shake up your chalk paint and try a test area to see what kind of finish you will achieve. You will want to use a firm, short bristle brush for control and cover. You can buy special chalk paint brushes but I didn’t do this and the result was as good as when I’ve used the expensive brushes in the past.
  3. Paint the first coat on your furniture and wait a couple of hours until it is dry.
  4. Repeat with a second coat.
  5. Depending on whether or not you want to see brush strokes you might want to add a third coat. I only went over some areas for opacity.
  6. Once the final coat is dry you get to have fun distressing. I used a very fine grit on my electric mouse sander as a I am lazy and don’t have the arm muscles necessary for hand sanding. I also wanted a pretty intense distressed look so I knew that an electric sander wouldn’t be too much. If you want a more delicate distressed finish then you’re going to want to use a sanding block. There isn’t any rhyme or reason to my distressing, I just focused on areas that would have had a lot of wear (around handles and corners) and sanded until I could see the wood underneath. It is easier to distress more if you need to so go easy.
  7. When I was happy with my distressing I wiped everything down with a cloth and applied beeswax to protect.
  8. I found cup handles in a brushed nickle to update the look of the piece and add a little farmhouse style.bedside table

Finishing touches

My beloved sleigh bed was dated and held together by years of braces and I thought that splashing out on a new bed would be something I could stretch to. I actually found the bed frame for under $300 at Walmart and LOVE how the rivets add a little edge to the feminine feel of the room.

farmhouse_guestroom

I finished off the room with a painted sign from Homesense (you could easily create your own). I painted a wooden box I had lying around with some left over chalk paint, filled it with 3 dollar store mason jars and some fake lambs ear foliage to add that Fixer Upper-esque pop of green.

And there you have it. It took me a weekend to complete and I am beyond happy with the result. The whole room came in at around $500 if you include all the paint, the bed and finishing touches.

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Now onto my next chalk painting project…

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A Day In The Life Of A Mum On Maternity Leave As Told By GIFs

Maternity leave is amazing. I get to spend lots of quality time with the kids, wear leggings or PJs all day long and watch tons of daytime TV (I’ve watched so much HGTV I’m positive I can now redecorate a run down farm house on a $50 budget). Living in Canada means that I am able to take a whole year off to stay at home with the kids on maternity leave which is fantastic! I cannot imagine being in work right now especially as it would mean washing my hair and putting on real pants. No buenos. However some days I feel like I am going to go nuts from being stuck indoors with a baby and a toddler and only Joanna Gaines for company (let me clarify that I understand that she is on the TV and not actually in my living room talking to me). My husband often comes home and asks “how was your day?” and honestly some days I can’t even put it into words.

Here is a little collection of GIFs to explain what my day looks like.

  1. Wakey wakey Mummy. Forget those peaceful alarm clocks that wake you gradually from your slumber with the peaceful sounds of birds or whales. If you have an infant you’re getting full on screaming to jolt you awake every morning.

Audrey Hepburn Cat GIF

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2. COFFEEEEEE

Coffee Drinking GIF

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3. Make breakfast for everyone. This task will usually involve at least 34 different types of cereal, 52 changes of cups for juice and being told “I don’t want orange juice, I want ORANGE juice”. What does that even mean?

Snow White Cooking GIF

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4. Husband leaves for work. I’m on my own now.

Disney Hello GIF by O&O, Inc

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5. Try to get the kids to do something educational like read.

Read Beauty And The Beast GIF by Disney

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6. Nope, that was fun for 10 minutes and now she wants to get out the Playdoh.

Lady Gaga Nod GIF

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7. Get kids ready to go out

Mr T Alligator GIF

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8. Get self ready. Hair is a little crazy but it works

Sigourney Weaver Derek Stevens Comeback GIF by Saturday Night Live

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9. Have a snack as I probably didn’t eat breakfast. Toddler hears wrapper and promptly seeks me out and steals my snack.

Friends Joey GIF

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10. Story Time at the library. Mamma gotta show off her moves.

“Open shut them, open shut them, give a little clap”

Siouxsie Sioux Dancing GIF

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11. Baby has fallen asleep in the car on the way home. Gotta get this puppy into her crib without waking her.

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12. Baby wakes up

Angry Tyra Banks GIF

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13. Make lunch and throw away pretty much everything because your child got distracted by shadows and now refuses to sit at the table and eat while she investigates.

Mostly 4 Millennials Smile GIF by Adult Swim

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14. Afternoon activities. I wanted to try some pinterest crafts but I’m EXHAUSTED so I pretty much let my kids do whatever. Insanity has set in as this point. You want to try that Indian ink calligraphy set on the white carpet …

Do It Whatever GIF by Abbey Luck

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15. why is it still only 2:30?

Dawsons Creek Crying Dawson GIF by HULU

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16. Try any means possible to get baby to sleep but they wont.Gluten Free Crying GIF

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17. Make your child’s favourite dinner. Oh you thought pasta was your child’s favourite food? Think again. You are wrong.

Angry Beauty And The Beast GIF

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18. Husband walks through the door. TAG.

Seattle Seahawks Im Here GIF by NFL

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19. Observes the chaos

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20. He plays calm games with the children.Wwe Spinning GIF

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21. Bath time. Hope you got the bathroom floor waterproofed!

Killer Whale Texas GIF

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22. You get the kids to bed. You’re freeee!Baby One More Time Dancing GIF by Britney Spears

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23. Your toddler has an existential crisis and wants to get out of bed but you’re too experienced for that nonsense. Not after I’ve clocked out junior.

Rihanna No GIF

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24. Pour a small glass of wine
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25. Do fun and exciting things with the hour you have before you fall asleep.
Tired Killing Eve GIF by BBC America

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26. Try to go to sleep but your head is spinning your to do list and you think you just heard the baby.

Black And White Sleeping GIF by FilmStruck

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So how does your day look? Do you put on proper pants?

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Little frequent flyers. Activities and advice for surviving long haul flights with toddlers.

There is nothing more humbling than a screaming child at 37,000 feet. As you “shh” them desperately through gritted teeth and offer them everything from stickers to your kidney if they just cooperate all you can think of is “why the fresh heck did I put myself through this?” Pretty much anyone who has ever flown with a child has been through this and if they say that they haven’t then they are either lying or actually have an angel for a child.

Flying Alone With A Baby

I remember going on my first flight with a baby ALONE. That’s right, in the throws of postpartum fog (not to mention the postpartum anxiety I was feeling) I thought it would be a great idea to head back home to the UK. Honestly, I was so homesick after having a baby I didn’t care. I needed to get out of Canada and to my parents’ house to lounge around in my tracksuit bottoms and be fed wine. So armed with a 4 month old baby and an arsenal of things I was told by numerous online resources that I MUST have, I started the 7 + hour journey to Cardiff. Oh did I mention I threw a stop over in there? Lay overs are not ideal with kids. However we made it and so began a lifetime of flying with kids.

what-not-to-pack-for-a-baby-on-a-flight

This is HONEST TO GOD what I thought I needed for a flight with a baby. This is what Pinterest tips tell you to pack when you are flying with a baby. Life hack – you definitely do NOT need all these things. Why did I think I’d need 5000 breast milk storage bags?

Navigating the airport with a million different things and a baby

Getting through security was my first challenge of flying with a baby alone. I had so much stuff, a baby and just two hands. It is unreal how unhelpful people actually are when you’re flying alone. I definitely made a mental note to offer my assistance to others more readily at the airport in the future as a business man pushed past me and dumped his crap into the tray I had put out for myself (I made some other mental notes but I wont go into that). As I struggled to collapse my stroller and get it onto the x-ray machine all while holding my baby I was slowly regretting what I had gotten myself into. We made it to departures, Mummy had a nice BIG glass of wine and snapped the obligatory “we’re going on holidays” passport Instagram photo. Next thing I know we’re walking down the walkway to the plane and I take up my residence in the tiny seat that would be my prison home for the next several hours. Emerson was asleep pretty much as soon as I sat down and I optimistically got out my headphones and book and settled down to smugly spend the flight with a sleeping baby. That lasted until the cabin pressurized and her eyes popped open and she screamed until we were up in the sky and there was no escape. I frantically apologized to all those around me “she’s usually so good”, “she wont scream long” as beads of sweat appeared on my brow. Finally she did stop screaming after what seemed like hours but was in actuality about 15 minutes and she did indeed sleep all the way home.

What I wish I knew before heading on a long haul flight with kids solo

  1. Peeing with a baby in a plane toilet involves Gwyneth Paltrow yogi level flexibility. You have to hold your demon you don’t want to wake sweet sleeping child while pulling down your pants, doing your business, flushing that crazy loud flush that makes you feel like you’ll get sucked out, wash up and leave the bathroom. Trust me, this is no easy feat.
  2. You can’t wear your baby for the whole flight. For take off and landing they must be out of the carrier and on your lap. Fun times if you just got your child to sleep.
  3. If you lucked out and got a bassinet seat, you can’t use this during turbulence. I guarantee this will happen several times when crossing the Atlantic. Cue screaming baby who has been woken up.
  4. If you are in these bassinet seats that you upgraded to people will use your extra leg room to walk through, stand in, do stretches in, .
  5. Collapsing your stroller and car seat combo will be the hardest thing you have ever done when you have a line on antsy people behind you and a baby in your arms. Start practicing now if your flight is in a year.
  6. Your stroller and car seat will likely get lost/broken/look like it survived a tornado.

There’s a lot to learn and I’m sure I haven’t mastered it all but I do have some tips to help you get through what will feel like the longest flight of your life

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Emmy is a little frequent flyer. This Christmas will be her 8th flight at 3.5 years old. Better get her an Airmiles card.

Advice for getting through a long haul flight with kids

  1. Don’t pay attention to all those packing lists, they are totally crazy. For a baby you literally need milk, bottles (pack 2/3 so you don’t have to wash on the plane), a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, antibac wipes, a blanket, a dummy, one toy.
  2. Make a busy bag for your toddler (blog post to follow) with colouring books, stickers (PACK LOTS OF THESE), a small toy, water painting books.
  3. Get to the airport EARLY. I used to stroll through security without a care in the world 90 minutes before my flight but that’s not going to fly with kids (get it?!) You’ll need a lot of time for diaper changes, bathroom breaks etc. Rushing will not help your stress levels which are probably a little higher than usual. Sit and have a beer before the flight and relax!
  4. Take the stroller and check it at the gate. It is a great way to lug all of your duty free items baby crap around the airport.
  5. You will want to get a stroller bag and car seat bag if you value these items at all NO offence to ground staff at the airport but sometimes it looks like they’re practicing for log throwing when they load your items on to the plane. I saw my car seat sitting in the pouring rain on the tarmac at Cardiff and I was really happy I had it in a bag to keep the water off it. I got mine off Amazon and they survived loads of flights. I actually just got new ones for this flight and this time they’re a pretty grey colour! They actually seem a little sturdier than the last bright red ones I had. If you click on the picture it will take you straight to Amazon.
  6. Take advantage of priority boarding. I know it seems crazy to sit on the plane longer but this way you guarantee that you can put your diaper bag or purse above where you are sitting rather than having to fight with the people in row 43 who have thoughtfully filled your overhead bin space with their full sized case.
  7. Your technology rules are going to have to go out of the window here. Take an iPad if you have one for the love of God, it will save you. My husband actually forgot to pack ours last time we flew and I think we set a new world record for how long you can be salty.
  8. Do not pack toys that are loud, roll, bounce, rattle, squeak, are valuable. It’s not fair to those around you if your child is playing with something that is bleating in the middle of the overnight red eye flight. Also planes are black holes and I guarantee you that you will lose something. Honestly my kids played with plastic cups and the headphone wires last time we flew.
  9. Those pacifier clips make great toy clips and stop your child lobbing Sophie at unsuspecting passengers’ heads.
  10. Get some nice big headphones for your kid so they can easily listen to the TV. Earbuds are not nice for littles.
  11. If you’re alone then take your carrier so you can wear your baby as you board the plane and you can strap them to you when they fall asleep. I have also gone to the bathroom with a baby strapped on me but that wasn’t easy or sanitary.
  12. Wear leggings or sweatpants. Yeah like I need to tell you twice. If you are alone with a baby you will probably only have one hand and buttons aren’t your friend in this scenario.
  13. Pack ALL THE SNACKS. Whatever your kid likes, pack it. Favourites are Goldfish, gummies, chips, crackers and granola bars.
  14. Lollipops are your friend. They’re great to pop ears and I am yet to meet a kid that wont step into line at the promise of a lollipop.
  15. Take water or juice for your kids so they don’t have to wait for the drinks cart to come around.
  16. If you have room, pack an extra blanket. Planes are cold overnight and those static polyblend monstrosities the airline provides have the tog factor of toilet paper.
  17. Accept the help of strangers. You will be so surprised with how many people are happy to lend a hand if you just ask. You will also be surprised at how clueless other people can be but focus on the positives!
  18. Know that you might not get a lot of sleep so try to have someone pick you up at the airport if possible or arrange to stay over night at an airport hotel.

Flying with kids can be done!

I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy but for lots of us travelling with kids is a fact of life. Don’t ever apologize for taking your child on a plane. I’ve yet to experience a flight with a kid (mine or someone else’s) screaming the entire time and honestly people aren’t as bothered by a kid on board as you might think. Even if they are, you bought a ticket just like them and you’re entitled to travel.

Do you have any amazing tips or tricks for surviving a long haul flight with kids?

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Tips and Advice For Surviving The Colic Storm From A Mum Who’s Been There

“It’s just colic sorry”, my doctor said to me with a casual shrug as I sat in his office with red rimmed eyes, wearing leggings that I had worn for more days than I care to mention and unkempt hair bouncing my crying baby around. “But she won’t stop screaming, please diagnose her with something so we can make it better” I pleaded with him. I listed off what Google told me might be the reasons my baby was crying nonstop (top tip, this is probably not the best idea when talking to a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. Newsflash, Google does not make you a Doctor)

Why is my baby crying all the time? (according to Dr.Google)

  1. Dairy allergy
  2. Reflux
  3. Silent reflux
  4. Soy allergy
  5. Allergy to some other unspecified things
  6. The baby is broken
  7. Your baby hates you and you are an awful parent

He turned to look at me like he probably looks at so many frazzled mums and told me first of all to stay off Google and that she was just colic and she would get better by three months. THREE EFFING MONTHS I almost screamed at him. Aria was 6 weeks old at this point and I was slowly but surely losing what remained of my marbles from my first child. This was NOT what I wanted to hear after hardly sleeping and listening to the not so mellow sound of my baby screeching for 3 hours a day.  Let me tell you, that noise is hardly whale music and would probably be suited to CIA torture techniques. That’s right 3 HOURS A DAY.

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So what is colic?

For a colic diagnosis you have to follow the rule of 3. Uncontrollable crying for 3 hours a day, appearing at or after 3 weeks, occurring at least 3 days of the week for 3 weeks. 3 is not such a magic number after all.

I wasn’t having it. I was a second time parent. I was a smug baby rearing expert seeing as I had managed to keep my first born alive for over 3 years. Everyone knows the second time around is meant to be easier. IT WASN’T FAIR. THIS ISN’T WHAT I ORDERED. As I went to reel off my Google list again he finally suggested I cut out everything and anything that might be allergenic from my diet and to test over the next few weeks to see what made her colic worse.

Could an allergy be causing the colic crying? Allergens included but were not limited to:

  1. dairy
  2. soy
  3. ANYTHING that contains milk protein (crackers even have this sneaky bugger in it)
  4. broccoli
  5. beans
  6. tomatoes
  7. peppers
  8. spicy food
  9. red meat
  10. nuts
  11. any food that you might currently enjoy

Yet again he told me that it was “just colic” (at this point I searched the office for something to hurl at him but my arms were full with a screaming baby and I didn’t think throwing the tongue depressors that were at arms reach would make much of an impact) and it would probably just go away on its own. Sensing that I wasn’t going to get much further and conceding (begrudgingly) that perhaps I wasn’t as smart or experienced as the Doctor (despite what Google told me) I set off home with my list that would suck every ounce of fun out of life of what I couldn’t eat and headed home. After a very fun week or so of partaking in the “what will make my baby scream like a banshee for hours on end?” experiment I gave in and gave her hypoallergenic formula (side note, can we talk about how I felt like I “gave in” by giving her formula? I truly believe that fed is best but my Mum guilt prevailed yet again). It was like a different baby had taken Aria’s place within two days. I was cautiously optimistic as I had two nights in a row without the piercing colic cries reverberating around the house from 5-8pm. After a week of no colic crying I decided to try her on my milk again, just for kicks. Well that was a gas as the screaming returned. My dear Watson, I think we found the culprit. So back to the formula it was and I’ve never looked back. Aria is happy and thriving, she is sleeping through the night and she is happy to be awake whereas before it seemed like she was in pain constantly. Moreover, my husband and I are happier. We are getting more sleep, I can take Aria out of the house without worrying about a colic episode and we can play together happily for hours on end. It feels so indulgent to be able to bathe her, give her a baby massage and settle down with a bottle without her screaming. I also am getting to the point where I can take a shower without suffering colic PTSD (when I think I hear the baby crying even when she is not).

What can I do if I think my baby has colic?

Research into colic hasn’t produced any definitive answers and what has been produced is conflicting. What seems to be overlooked is the impact colic can have on mum’s mental health and this is perhaps the most important consideration of all. Merely telling a mum who is clearly distressed that it is “just” colic isn’t helpful. Maybe the child does have this weird affliction that no one knows much about but we need to be more mindful of using the term “just”. When this mum has agonized for hours about what on earth she is doing wrong, sometimes she needs someone to truly hear her and understand (or at least empathize) with her struggle. Because let me tell you, the struggle is REAL.

So mums of colic babies, I promise you it gets better. We made it through the colic trenches and whilst I am positive I have aged at least 15 years and have taken to bouncing bags of potatoes and other produce in the supermarket like a strange tick the crying has stopped.

Surviving the colic storm

    1. Take all the help you can.
    1. Know it’s OK to put the baby in their cot for a few moments so you can take a breather. Come back when you’re calm and try again.
    1. Also know that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Colic is strange and unpredictable and until it vanishes as quickly as your dignity in the birthing room you just have to roll with it.
    1. Try talking to your doctor about a possible milk protein allergy.
    1. Try the anti-colic bottles from Avent. I only just stopped using them for Aria and you could see the air bubbles dissipating. They’re on sale on amazon!

  1. Have your partner do the night shift so you can sleep. You are much better equipped to deal with screaming when you’re rested.
  2. Take time for you when you can. Do your nails, get out of the house, have a bath.
  3. Know that it will end and colic will go away.
  4. Drink all the wine you want.

You’ve got this

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How to add a little farmhouse flair this Christmas. Using black & white plaid, natural wood and whimsical elements to create a laid back festive style.

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings […]

“And you need more ribbon why?” my husband groans as he struggles with the giant Rubbermaid containers that hold my relics of Christmases past. I will admit it, I am fickle when it comes to my Christmas decor. I love the thrill of heading to Michaels and looking at the abundance of ribbons and trimmings and needlessly spending my hard earned cash on things I don’t need   picturing my family smiling around the tree. I can’t help myself. Surely there must be a support group for people who hoard decorations?

Trees of Christmas past

Growing up we had a very classical Christmas tree. My mum always decked it out in beautiful shades of gold. I remember BEGGING her to buy tacky trinkets and red decorations but she was steadfast in her Christmas decorating ideals. At the time I didn’t understand her and I promised myself that I would allow my children to go nuts with the tree and decorate it however they wish. I wasn’t going to be that Christmas mum. I was going to let me kids adorn the tree in all the tack they wanted.

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Trees of Christmas present

Flash forward 20 years or so and what do you know, I am that mum. I like my tree how I like it but I’ve come up with some compromises along the way that fit in with my control freak tendencies my aesthetic whilst speaking to the 10 year old child inside me who wants ALL THE THINGS on the tree. Living on the farm, I was inspired by the rustic Christmas decor I found at the local country stores. Think metal stars, checked ribbon and mismatched whimsical ornaments.  Over the years I’ve refined my style into one that I would call put together rustic. This year, I experimented with buffalo plaid and wood to create a chic farmhouse feel.

My Farmhouse style Christmas tips

It doesn’t just have to be red, green and gold

Think outside of the box when  it comes to your colour scheme. Black and white plaid adds a classic touch to your decor theme and mixes well with a white farmhouse pallette.

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Get a little touchy feely

Mix textures. Fuzzy, soft ribbon mixed with weathered wood gives laid back feel to your tree

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Showcase international finds

Add little nods to family with cute ornaments that you have collected from your travels. Don’t be afraid to add things you might consider tacky. You’re dressing your tree for your family and it should reflect who you are. Not everyone needs an instagram perfect tree!

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Bring the outside in with touches of green 

I am obsessed with my white kitchen but it can look a little clinical sometimes. Christmas is all about warmth to me. I create this in my kitchen with twinkling fairy lights and greenery. Honestly, I wish I could leave the wreath up all year but I think it looks a little too festive for the 30 plus degree days of summer.

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Add a little kitsch fun to your apothecary jars

If you follow any farmhouse decor blog you know that these bad boys are everywhere. Usually filled with grains that no one eats or faux fruit, they look polished but for Christmas it’s nice to try something a little different.

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So there you have it friends. My farmhouse decor tips for Christmas. So how do you decorate for the holidays? Are you a full on festive control freak, Clark Griswold (BIGGER IS BETTER) or a go with the flow kind of person?

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How to get your toddler out of the house in 38 easy steps

Congratulations, now that you’re a mum you will perpetually be running a little late. Tardiness is a fact of parenting like how you will lovingly prepare your child’s favourite food for dinner only to be met by gagging, tears and the revelation that it is no longer their favourite food and you are a disgrace to motherhood for even thinking that they would eat it. I don’t know about you but no matter how good my intentions are to leave 10  minutes early or how organized I am, I am always running around yelling “GET YOUR SHOES ON, NO NOT THE FLIP FLOPS IT’S MINUS 20, SWEET LORD LOOK AT THE TIME, MOOOOVE” pretty much every time I need to leave the house. There really is no easy way to get your toddler out of the house quickly.

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“Sure honey wear what you want just for the love of all that is holy get out of the house.”

If you somehow reached this post through a search engine I’m going to applaud you for being realistic enough to bypass the posts that promise that you will be able to get your toddler ready and out of the house in 10 easy steps with minimal tears. I’m calling BS on those posts, there is no way on God’s green earth that Emmy is going to get into that car and let me get onto the road in anything close to 10 steps. Whenever we leave the house she packs like a middle aged mother going for a two week holiday to Greece. None of what she takes is of any use but for some reason she feels like if it doesn’t come with us to the supermarket then something dreadful might happen. I guess there might be a time when she might need a plastic onion and an old receipt? So let me share with you my ultimate guide to getting your child out of the house in a realistic number of steps.

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An example of the “essentials” Emmy packs.

38 easy and simple steps to get your child out of the house

  1. Chase the olympic 100 metre sprinter  your toddler around the house while pleading with them to just go into their room so you can begin the process of getting them dressed.
  2. After much coercion and a negotiation battle comparable to what I imagine goes on during a multi-country trade deal get your child up the stairs and into their room. You now owe your child a puppy, a Kinder egg and a trip to one of those intolerable indoor play places.
  3. Chase child around the upstairs for 15 minutes. I guess you welcome the exercise and now your fitbit can stop telling you that you’re a sloth.
  4. Catch child, put them under your arm and march to their room in a most authoritative manner.
  5. Wrestle child to the ground, be sure to pin each limb down or you will get sucker punched in the throat, head, stomach, genitals or boob.
  6. Pick out clothes for your child to wear.
  7. Wrong choice.
  8. Ask them what they want to wear. The answer will be totally inappropriate for whatever season you might be in and will almost certainly include an item of clothing that is sat in the washing machine.
  9. After more negotiating, dress child in something that is somewhat appropriate (or you can at least live with). This is the tricky part as dressing a toddler is akin to trying to dress an angry octopus (watch out again for those limbs).
  10. Now move into the bathroom to brush teeth and wash their face.
  11. Put toothpaste on toothbrush, have child eat toothpaste off brush and demand more.
  12. Tell them tough luck and turn attention to something else for a millisecond during which time child has turned into a ninja and is eating toothpaste directly out of the tube.
  13. Shove toothbrush in child’s mouth to keep them occupied so you can turn attention to their hair.
  14. Arrange hair into some type of pony tail and gather the strange short bit of your kid’s hair with a clip haphazardly.
  15. Rub washcloth over your toddler’s face as they streak out of the room towards the stairs (you notice that you didn’t close the baby gate during the battle to get them upstairs so you probably have a small heart attack, die for a moment and then realize that you’re a mum and don’t have time to be dead).
  16. Ask your child nicely to use the potty so they wont pee in the car seat (that’s a gas) or scream that they need to use the potty while you are out and then refuse to use a public toilet.
  17. Ask your child to use the potty again with a little more force.
  18. Morph into The Beast and shout at your child to use the potty because you’re now late which will make them cry (ego depletion strikes again). You feel bad and promise them you’ll buy some sort of toy when you’re out.
  19. Give up on the potty. Maybe they don’t really need to go? Right what’s next? shoes.
  20. Go to put on your child’s shoes.
  21. Wrong choice. How could you not know they wanted to wear one rubber boot and one ballet shoe? GOD MUM.
  22. Finally squash their incredibly rigid foot into their shoe. When did their bones turn to cement?
  23. Coat time. Put it on backwards first. Then put the wrong arm in the hole. Finally get it on.
  24. Toddler takes off coat. Your head explodes.
  25. Get coat back on. No time for mittens and hat. You are now officially late.
  26. Throw snacks into a bag and get your child to the door.
  27. Your toddler says they just want to take one thing with them. You concede and let them choose ONE toy. They come back looking like a Sherpa. Whatever.
  28. Your toddler says they just need one more thing. You refuse and they start to scream again.
  29. Your patience is totally thinned out now so you tell your toddler that you’re going to put the Roomba on and it will suck them up if they don’t leave the house IMMEDIATELY (just me?).
  30. Get out of the door FINALLY.
  31. Just kidding, you need to back inside because your kid has decided they actually do want to use the potty. Is it too late to leave them on the church steps?
  32. False alarm.
  33. Get child into car seat. Go to do up buckles and child suddenly decides that they are auditioning for Cirque Du Soleil.
  34. After folding them in half, quickly do up buckles tight enough to constitute as a straight jacket. They will complain it’s too tight, don’t fall for it, they want some slack to escape when you’re driving at 100kms/hr on the motorway. “Look mummy, I’ve climbed into the trunk!”.
  35. You did it, everyone is in the car and you’re on your way!
  36. Realise that you’re wearing your slippers, run back inside.
  37. Toddler screams that they need to use the potty.
  38. Give up, you’re a week late anyway.

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Take the Timbits, my soul, whatever, just get into the car seat PLEASE.

So as you can see with my easy 38 step plan getting your child out is a cinch! Once you’ve mastered this you might want to consider adding another child into the mix for kicks.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

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Create a personalized Santa Gift Sack (like the ones you see on Etsy) On A Budget.

Easy craft tutorials are my jam

Full disclosure I SUCK at sewing and anything to do with textiles. I honestly CANNOT cut a straight line (it bodes well for rustic look crafts but not for things that I would actually want to see the light of day). I’m sure there are hacks and tips on Pinterest that promise to help even the most remedial of cutters but I fear I am past saving and more to the point, I just don’t have the time. I did start out an ill-fated at home business during my last mat leave making headbands after complaints of cutting off the circulation to children’s brains (OK that might be a slight exaggeration from me) I put my Singer into the basement where it has not seen the light of day since.

Despite my ineptitude, I do love a good craft. I’m actually a semi-decent artist and I really enjoy tapping into that creative side that yearns to wear a beret and walk around in dungarees with paint artfully smudged on my cheek. I usually stick to wood and painting activities but for whatever reason, I sometimes like to take on a challenge. Maybe there is a part of me that desires to be on a Pinterest fail website.

You don’t have to spend a lot to create a personalized gift sack

A few years ago I got a personalized Santa gift sack for my eldest daughter and I paid a small fortune for it (much to my husband’s lament). I thought it was the cutest sack I’d ever seen and I was waxing lyrical to anyone who would listen about this mom’s skills with the silk screen printer. I loved my little Santa sack and it looked just PERFECT under our tree. Fast forward 3 years later and it is my second daughter’s first Christmas. Always weary to avoid second child syndrome, I want to make sure sweet Aria has everything her sister has. I couldn’t remember the name of the place where I got my first beloved sack so I did a quick Google search and lo and behold a PLETHORA of the same sacks came up. “Wow, she’s done well with her little print press” I thought to myself and then I looked closer and noticed multiple sellers offering the same sacks. Well knock me down with a feather, I paid for handmade when I could easily have made it myself. I am an Etsy mug (non-Brits I don’t mean the type you drink out of, I mean someone who has been fooled). Now I’m not knocking Etsy sellers AT ALL. I just wanted to share with you a cheaper way if you’re on a budget like most of us are. With a cheap sack ofF Amazon, my hardly used iron (another relic of my business past) and some heat transfer letters I set about making my very own Santa sack.  Just because I like you so much, here are the instructions so you can too!

You can create a personalized Santa gift sack that looks like this…

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In the amount of time that your baby will nap (about 20 minutes max if your kid is anything like mine). If you click on the pictures it will link you to where I bought my materials.

What you need

    1. Santa sack – here is the one I got off amazon
    1. Iron transfer letters – You can be as creative as you want but here are some suggestions of ones that I found on Amazon (click to shop). Please think carefully about what size you want to use. Emerson’s sack uses 3 inch letters and Aria’s uses 1.5 inch.


    1. An Iron
    1. Ironing board
    1. Pressing cloth (I used an old napkin
    1. Thick carboard
    1. Glass of wine (optional but it really does add to the experience)

Instructions to make a personalized Santa Gift Sack

  1. This goes without saying but order the sack you want off Amazon. If you have Prime it will be with you in a couple of days!
  2. Once the sack arrives you’ll want to press it. I didn’t wash it like the instructions said on the heat transfer paper (whoops, but it worked perfectly) but if more laundry is your thing, go ahead!
  3. Put the thick cardboard in the sack to separate the front and back.
  4. Cut out the letters you want and place them on your fabric. Follow the pressing times for the brand that you use (it’s usually a few minutes front and back of each letter – MAKE SURE YOU USE A PRESSING CLOTH UNLESS YOU WANT A HOT MESS ON YOUR IRON).
  5. Bask in the glory that you have crafted. Sip your wine and admire your work.
  6. Tell your husband all about how much money you saved.

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Happy crafting!

Joanna-international-farm-wife (1)

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. While you wont pay a penny more, it helps me keep the lights on (and keeps me in wine).