This little one just wanted to pop by and say hello...



A few days after I handed in my notice at work, at the end of my maternity leave, I was contacted by my car insurance company to take part in some survey or other. When they asked what my occupation was, I'll admit I was stumped. What was I now? Stay at home Mum? Unemployed? Writer-on-hold? Housewife? The lady at the other end of the phone answered my gibbering questioning with a swift "ah, you mean Homemaker." 

Homemaker. I thought a lot about that term after I hung up the phone. And I liked it. While I'd question whether or not I'd been a Homemaker since the day Ben and I moved in together 6 years ago, and whether or not Ben was also a Homemaker and if having a child had anything to do with creating a home, it's an occupation I'm more than happy to claim right now. 

I know how lucky I am to have the choice to stay at home with my daughter full time, and how happy it makes me to know that as our family grows and we have more babies, I will be able to stay at home to care for them 24/7. It may not be the scenario every mother wishes for, but for us, it really is a dream come true. 

My first year as a Mama was tougher in many ways than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing and beautiful and a thousand million times better than I could have ever imagined, but it was also tough. Having a baby who only wanted to sleep for half an hour, twice a day (maximum) left this Mama wondering how she'd ever find the time to do anything but play games, feed and cuddle. I'm not entirely sure the house was properly cleaned for the first six months of Phiney's life. No exaggeration. Just ask Ben. 

But at around six or seven months old, Josephine started to play on her own. She began to distract herself with toys and games and exploring her house with her new found mode of transport, crawling. And suddenly I found time to get things done. To tidy and sort, to do all the washing up in one go, to even to craft a little. And as the months went on, Phiney learnt to play for longer and longer. To occupy herself in her own amazing world of her imagination. Today, if I'm stealthy enough, I love to secretly watch her in this little land of make believe. To hear her chatter to her teddies and dolls, see her feed them and offer them drinks, to walk around her room with authority and intent, melts my heart. I truly think that a child who can so beautifully play by themselves, whilst being so sociable at the same time, is the most wonderful thing. 

And so now, as I enter the second year of being a Mama, I feel like I've got some kind of rhythm sorted. I know what time of day Phiney is at her best when it comes to finding games to play by herself, and so when to tackle the tasks on my To-Do list. I know what Phiney's happy to watch me do (take a shower or do the ironing) and what is best to leave until those precious minutes when she's napping (send emails and clean the bathroom). Mondays have become my day to clean the house and nearly every day, after her nap at 3pm, we meet our lovely friends and head to the park. 

With these little accomplishments under my belt, I feel ready to make this Homemaker title my own. It's a role I take pretty seriously. And so, I'd like to introduce my new project - The Homemaker Series. From cooking and crafting to fashion and finance, I'll be covering it all - sharing our adventures in making the most of what we have as well as tips we pick up along the way and links to other ideas you'll be wanting to check out if you're aiming to save some money, make your money go further or just make getting by a little easier in 2013. And it's not just about money - although now we're living on one income it's a pretty hot topic on conversation round here - it's about making a house a home with what we have. 

I'm excited about this series; to learn more about the way we live right now and how we can learn from the past to live greener, thriftier lives with a little planning and imagination. And of course i'd love to hear your thoughts too. 

Photograph by Tori, who has just launched a beautiful new website by the way. Most definitely worth a visit :) 

FOOTNOTE: My beautiful boy is the coolest and the sweetest. Each morning at work he reads my latest blog post and then sends me emails saying the loveliest things. About how good that picture is or how nicely I've threaded those words together. Like I said, he's the sweetest and the coolest and I love him so. After reading this post, Ben emailed me a little worried. He thought that some of you might think it wasn't my choice to stay at home with Josephine, to be a full-time Mama and a homemaker. That he was making me do the cleaning and the parenting, circa 1954. So I'd just like to clarify. It absolutely is my choice. I can't think of anything more wonderful than being at home with our baby (and future babies). And with regards to the homemaking - Ben and I made an agreement a long (long) time ago that he did the cooking and I did the cleaning. Like about 9 years ago. Way before marriage and children. Put simply, The Boy is a stupendous cook while I could barely make toast, and I am pretty handy with a duster, washing machine and iron. It works for us, always has. We both know where we stand and what our jobs are. As far as we're concerned, it's a recipe that makes for a happy house. Sometimes Ben will wash up, and right now I'm taking steps to learn to be a better cook (more of which will feature in The Homemaking Series). But on the whole, our little set up is pretty harmonious. 

So there we go. I think, whilst I was originally writing this post, I was very aware of not offending anyone by implying that I thought my staying at home was the best choice for every Mama and every family. That what I was doing was right and, if you were doing something else, you were wrong. Because I don't think that at all. I think we're so lucky to live in a world where women have the choice to return to work, part-time or full-time, after we've had children or not, and I realise that I'm blessed to be able to stay at home - that many women out there would love that opportunity but for financial or career reasons, just can't. And with all this worrying of offence (how very English of me) I kind of missed the point. That I ADORE being able to stay at home. That I always HOPED we'd be able to afford for me to, and that, for me and us, it's absolutely the PERFECT choice. The right choice. 

I look forward to your thoughts B ;) xx



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

This girl loves her food and devours every morsel we put in front of her. A fact that makes her Papa very proud indeed. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


BITS + PIECES: snowed in

The on-pour of snow last week meant travelling too far from home during the last few days has been tricky, so we've been tucked up indoors with only the occasional (and rather slippery) trip to the park and shops. 

1. Pyjama days were a must, as were super soft and snugly knits. 
2. Yummy lunches of cheese, Marmite on toast and left over frittata with banana and blueberries for pudding. Eaten from the very cool plates and dishes Josephine received for her birthday.
3. Farewell dear Converse. You have served me well over the years but I can no longer ignore your huge holes, that ensure my feet get drenched every time it rains, and the fact that the torn up rubber inside has made holes in every pair of socks I own. 
4. Snowy days indoors call for sorting and nearly-spring cleaning; the re-discovery of lost jewels and finding the perfect use for the little bowl my Mum gave me at Christmas.
5. If I have a quiet five minutes, you can find me devouring this book. Sent to me by my sweet friend Carine, it is an inspiration. I feel sure I will be writing more about it here in the near future. 



She discovered the nook under the window about a week ago. Floor cushions for relaxing on, close proximity to the window for spying out. Surrounded by her favourite toys, it's the perfect spot for a one year old.



Josephine's birthday celebrations lasted three days and were covered in a thick layer of snow. 

We spent the big day just us three frolicking outside, enjoying Ben's day off work and spoiling the birthday girl. Phiney was a little trepidatious after face-planting the snow (understandably!) but when her hand was being held she gazed at her new landscape in wonder. 

On Saturday, despite the snow, so many of our beautiful friends and family trekked to Josephine's party to enjoy a game of pass the parcel (a huge success with a bunch of one year olds!) and a slice of Ben's simply fantastic castle cake. I mean seriously, how cool is that?! Phiney had the best time, running around in her vintage party dress and a gorgeous cardigan of my Mum's creation, with her little buddies.


Sunday we hit the park for one last jaunt in the white stuff before it turned to slush where Josephine found her snow legs, stomping away in her wellies and new waterproof dungarees.

Those three days were awesome, and days we'll always remember. Our baby girl is one, and what an amazing creature she is. 



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Snowflakes on her eyelashes, taken on her first birthday. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


MONTHLY PORTRAIT: twelve months

Josephine's Monthly Portrait. Taken in her nursery on the 18th of every month.

One year old today. I can hardly believe it. This time last year, we were snuggling up in bed together on the first day of this amazing journey. It was a cold night and your tiny cries were too hard to resist, so we bought you into our bed and fell asleep as happy as can be. Thinking about that time, it seems almost dreamlike. When I put you to bed this evening I whispered in your ear, telling you about that night and how much joy you have bought to our lives since you arrived; how you've made the last year the best ever and how much we completely adore you.

Over the last month Josephine has changed beyond belief. Everyday she can say something new and surprises us with her developmental changes and intelligence. She now happily proclaims "hello" whenever she walks into a room, and over the last couple of days has started saying "bye" too when leaving. She can do even more impressive animal noises (including snorting like a pig and cock-a-doodle-do-ing!) She mimics almost everything you do and say, sometimes perfectly and sometimes in her own special way. This is most definitely my favourite age so far. I think I must pick her up, squeeze her and proclaim "you're so cute!" at least 50 times a day.

Josephine. You make us laugh ALL the time. You are the sweetest creature and you have made the world a better place just by being here. We love you more than you could know and we can't wait to see all the amazing things you have planned for the next 12 months.

Happy birthday Teeny, love Mama and Papa xxx

We've had the loveliest day in the snow today, just us three, and tomorrow we have a little party planned. I'll be sure to post some pictures of all the festivities over the coming days :)



Later this week, on January 18th, we will be celebrating Josephine's first birthday. Celebrating the complete joy she has bought to our lives, celebrating the incredible little person she is now and is becoming, and celebrating our first year as three; our first year as parents.

No matter what people tell you, the advice you're given, nothing can prepare you for being a parent. The overwhelming love and happiness that fill your heart every second of every day; the changes such a tiny being can bring; the awesome highs and the exhausting lows.

This time last year we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby. We didn't know if it was a boy or girl growing in my belly (we thought boy!!) and we were going to bed each day wondering if tonight would be the night our baby would start its journey to be with us (baby was already 5 days late by this point). We had chosen the names, washed all the clothes, set up the baby's corner in our bedroom. Our plans had been made.

But not everything goes exactly to plan when you have a baby.

When I was pregnant I remember seeing Claire's post on the ten commandments she'd set herself when she was pregnant. Reading through them I realised that Ben and I had almost exactly the same ideas. I wondered how, on reflection in the months after our baby was born, we'd have done in obeying our own commandments. So here goes...

1. We will birth our baby naturally and calmly, together as three at home. PASSish. Josephine's birth was beautiful. The most wonderful experience. It was calm and natural, but sadly not at home. These babies of ours have their own plans when it comes to making their way into the world and so Phiney was born in hospital. You can read our full birth story here.
2. I will breastfeed our baby, absolutely without doubt. FAIL. Wow, that seems so harsh on myself given everything we went through. But it's the truth. In all honestly I'm not sure I'll get complete closure on the issue until we have another baby and (keeping all fingers and toes crossed) I breastfeed with success. I could write a whole post regarding my feelings about breastfeeding, one year on. Maybe I will. In the meantime, read the whole story here. I just re-read it and my heart broke a little. And then I read all your amazing, supportive comments and it mended a bit. You guys are just awesome.
3. We will use cloth nappies as much as possible. PASSish. At home we use them a lot, but the truth is, for us, disposables are just so much easier when you're out and about. And in the depths of winter, when it takes 3 days for nappies to dry, it's hard. But our plan was to use reuseables as much as possible and I believe we do that. Most of the time.
4. Vintage stores and the charity shop will be the main source of clothing and toys for our little one. PASS. With flying colours, I might add. Apart from gifts and the odd bargain sale piece, the only things that aren't vintage, secondhand or handmade in Josephine's wardrobe are basics. Tights, vests, t-shirts and leggings. Go me.
5. All food will be made with our own fair hands. PASSish. I would say 98% of the food Phiney eats is handmade. It is with great pride I write this, especially given that until around 5 months ago, I could barely boil an egg (Ben's the cook - and a bloody good one - in this house). Now I am the maker of most of her meals.
6. Baby will fit in with our routine, not the other way round. FAIL. Ha! This may have worked until Phiney was around 5 months old, but when we implemented a more structured nap and bedtime routine, it went completely out the window.
7. There will be no TV watching, especially children's channels. Instead we will read and play games. PASS/FAIL. In those first few months, when Josephine would feed then sleep, feed then sleep, I watched a lot of TV. Seriously, a lot. Thank goodness for Netflix. But as she started to play games and be more aware, I was pretty good at keeping the TV off. Today, I'd say the TV is mostly off but sometimes, when we've had a bad night, early morning or a grumpy baby I need a bit of adult company in the day. And Jamie's 15/30 Minute Meals is pure research ;)
8. We will go for a walk at least once a day. PASS. We love our walks. To the park, along the canal, to the shops. Everyday, at least once. It is always a joy to walk and talk to our little bird.
9. We will not clear shelves or move fragile pieces from easily accessible places. PASS. Sure there are days, when I've said 'no' a thousand times, that it is tempting to move picture frames and ceramic pots and cds and game consoles onto higher ground, but ultimately Phiney is doing really well at understanding there are some things she's just not allowed to play with. I'm particularly pleased with passing this one.  
10. We will not use a dummy. PASS/FAIL. Although I feel saying 'pass' is a total cheat. We bought a whole host of dummies when Phiney was born and we discovered that she very loudly made her dislike of being put down known to us. Unfortunately she refused every. Single. One. Now I see it as a blessing (no difficult weaning needed) but at the time we would have loved it if she'd happily kept one in her mouth! 

On the whole I think we've done rather well. Sure, there are a lot pass/fails but heck, I'll take that. High fives to us.

ps. There will be a whole lot more on the subject of my learning to cook and our love of secondhand fashion in a new series I'm going to start next week.

Picture by Tori



"A portrait of Josephine, once a week every week in 2013".

Helping to build a very special present. I love that it looks like she really is measuring up. It's a serious job being a Papa's assistant, don't you know.

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



With Christmas and birthdays come gorgeous gifts, pretty wrappings and awesome things in the post...

#1 The very sweet Lottie sent us some of her gorgeous DearIvy note cards just before Christmas - perfect for all the thank you notes set to be sent this month. Such a lovely design. 

#2, 3 & 4 Father Christmas lucked out and and found this beautiful hand-woven eco-wicker pram for Josephine and her doll Jenny, who my grandparents actually  gave to me when I was 19 months old and who I've adored ever since. After Josephine took a shine to my cousin's daughter's dolly a few months ago, I dug her out and it makes me very happy to see the joy she now brings to Phiney. I made the quilt and pillow from antique embroidery and lace and my Mum knitted Jenny some of the sweetest dolls' clothes and packed them into a little hamper. My sister found such a lovely wooden plate and cutlery set and there have been tea parties a-plenty round here in the last week. Building blocks, wooden puzzles, cuddly toys, books and clothes completed her rather impressive haul.

#5 For me, the favourites were this amazing Raven from Story North (thank you beautiful husband) and a Donna Wilson stamp set from my Mum. And I can't wait to start adding bits and pieces to the Cath Kidston scrapbook Josephine gave me too. Hunter wellies, a gorgeous handmade apron, another Paumes book for the collection, clothes and DIY store vouchers (we're redecorating our kitchen soon, wahoo!) made me a very happy bunny this Christmas. While he had lots of lovely goodies, I think Ben was most impressed with Josephine's choice of gift. The Beatles' Blue and Red Albums on vinyl; to continue her musical education of course.

#6 A truly fantastic collection of vintage knitting patterns from my sweet friend Amy. So many things I want for Josephine in their pages...which to choose first?

#7 January is a busy old month for birthdays in my family. Yesterday it was my beautiful sister's 27th, today was my Nan's 70th (man, I hope I look that good and am just as sprightly when I'm 70!)  and next Friday is Phiney's 1st (WHAT?!). Happy happy birthdays to Dora and Nan, we love you both lots xx

What were your favourite gifts this year?



Often so deep in thought, taking in every aspect of the world around her. 

Yes, we're also taking part in the fast becoming phenomenon that is Jodi's 52 Project. With Phiney's last Monthly Portrait in two weeks, I was looking for another way to document her over the coming year and this seemed perfect. I can't wait to see the portraits we snap over the coming weeks and months. 


PARK LIFE: wellies

Just as I was about to fork out a small fortune for wellies that were teeny enough for our little bird and her teeny feet, our local charity shop called to me and I found these second hand treasures buried deep in a basket full of woolly hats and mittens. All for the grand sum of £1.20.

With Ben back at work on Monday after a blissful 16 day holiday, we made sure we packed the day with family fun including a welly road test and catch up with some lovely friends at the park and a trip to the DIY store for compost and inspiration for Josephine's first birthday present. More of which to come in the next few weeks...

It was the sweetest day with my loves.

I love her snarly face. Mama's fault for preventing Daddy putting her in the swing in order to take some pictures. And her gripping onto Ben's finger. Melt!