Peonie & Me...x

Notes & Thoughts on a brand new Mummy & her Little Monkey Henry x

Thursday, 9 June 2016

#MummyStyle... Let's talk body confidence x

On her favourite body part:
 “My stomach. Even though it will never be flat again, it's still my favourite because it reminds me of my greatest achievement: my babies.” 
Isla Fisher

Today I wanted to talk about Body Confidence and what it means to me.  Since having Henry my body has changed tremendously and I can honestly say I don't fall into the Kate Middleton camp, my body for sure hasn't bounced back.

I now have a very jiggly tummy and an equally jiggly bum and also back with a vengeance are the big upper arms that I'd worked hard to banish pre-wedding.  Yes we can all say that having a baby/children is the best thing in the world and that our new stomach overhang is a badge of honour, however we can still feel crappy now and again squeezing that tummy into Spanx.  
Love me a flower x 
However what we should never do is let it take over our lives (easier said than done).  Looking through pictures of Henry since he was born, I'm only on a handful of these images.  I either felt, too fat, too tired looking, too bloated, too dishevelled, or just horrid, when in actual fact I just looked like a new Mum.  Cue nods of agreement Mummy friends.  

During mat leave last year I comfortably hid in my leggings and maternity jeans and just enjoyed being Mummy.  I wore my naturally curly hair down and my skincare routine consisted of copious amounts of coffee, a quick face dash under the shower and the odd overdose of bronzer.  But it worked for me.

Until I went back to work.  Working in the fashion industry in an office dominated by Instagram ready colleagues highlighted the fact that my body had changed and my pre-baby wardrobe was going to have to stay in the attic.  I needed a new wardrobe. 
Only took 1000 shots to get this one x 
However instead of taking a good long look at my body and embracing the changes, I tried to dress like the old me.  Low rise skinny jeans emphasised my stomach (which looked around 4 months pregnant), shorter length tops highlighted tummy overhang and anything fitted would have me in floods of tears.  

Somehow I made do with a handful of 'essentials' (thank you Zara for all those checked shirts) and I survived the winter. Love me some layers.  However now we are into the summer months and there is no getting away from showing a little skin.  Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......

A couple of weeks ago I was confronted by a full length mirror and rather than duck away, I took a good long look at the New Me.  Yes my body was jiggly, but I still had my great legs, I still had a decent bust (in a bra) and thankfully still had my amazing sense of humour (OK scraping the barrel on that one) haha. But it wasn't all bad.  My hair was in desperate need of dying and a good cut and my skin was severely dehydrated, but these were cosmetic things I could fix.  I also secretly missed exercise, that incredible buzz you got (AFTER) you completed a class or run.  

Can't have a shoot without Little Moo x 
So this week I went back to the lovely Hayley at the Little Hair Room who thankfully banished my greys and unearthed a decent barnet of hair.  I've also started paying more attention to my skin and researching different options for my daily routine.  Tips and advice welcome. 

But best of all, I embraced my new body shape.  My new advice to me is: "Dress for the parts you love and work that little bit harder to dress the parts you don't".  So in my case my tummy at the moment is the hardest part to dress.  So I've replaced my low/mid rise jeans with high waisted skinny's.  The high waist acts as a tummy tuck and squeezes my jiggly belly in, whilst the skinny leg emphasises my long legs (yes even 5ft 1" people can have long legs).  & I can't preach enough about the importance of good underwear.  Yes a great bra does wonders, but also a great pair of briefs can transform your shape, giving you a voluptuous look versus a volumpy one. (OK that one has yet to make it into the English language). 

Next up I traded my shorter tops for longer line styles and thank the Trend Gods for coming up with bardot tops.  Oversized bardot tops preferably.  This below style from Warehouse hides a multitude of post-baby lumps and bumps, but the off the shoulder style shows off my collarbone which thankfully didn't gain weight.  I also purchased a dress from Whistles for a night out with my lovely friend Nicola and I felt great as it carefully hid my tummy, but I felt sexy showing off my shoulders.  I wore it again with a night with Becky... Its my new LDB. 

On your bike negativity x 
However my best advice is, fake it until you make it.  My gorgeous sister in law to be Gemma, kindly took these pictures of me so I could finally confidently put myself in my blog.  I felt incredibly self conscious however I was confident that I looked great.  Ok we took about a billion pictures, but I was surprised I liked some of the images.  

I feel like publishing this is my own little badge of honour and hopefully Henry will one day look back and think his Mummy was lovely.  After he forgives me for all the baby pictures he has published on the web (sorry Henry).  I would love for you too share your body confidence pictures and if you are not feeling to great today (I write this sitting in my black leggings) strip off and have a good old look at your body, I bet there are some parts that look rather fabulous x 
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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

#WellMyBaby... Is well protected x

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. 
The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” 
Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib

Summer has arrived.  Can I get a whoop whoop? ... Time to pull out my summer essentials from lotions and sunnies to magazines and an array of rainbow nail polishes, let the bathing commence.

Oh no, wait, I have a baby....Rewind...

My once indulgent (yes I'm using that word) essentials have been replaced with 'don't even think about forgetting" baby must haves.  Gone are the days of perfecting the perfect tan and wasting the days away (sad face), they are now spent keeping Henry from burning or cracking his head open in our very un-child friendly garden.  So without further ado, here are my Top 10 tips for protecting your Little Monkey's from the sun. 
1. Lotions & Potions
Once upon a time I thought anything over factor 0 was a crime against the sun gods.  I've thankfully traded up since then, however even my factor 20 isn't strong enough to protect Henry's skin.  This week alongside my my Mother & Baby magazine, I received a tester sized suncream and after sun lotion from Child's Farm.  Henry of late has been suffering with eczema and unfortunately like his Mummy has ultra sensitive skin.  However I was intrigued when I read that Child's Farm uses natural ‘free-from’ ingredients and essential oils to produce mild, kind and delicious smelling toiletries that will keep Little Monkey's skin hydrated.  The Suncream in particular has a 50+ SPF rating and went on like a dream onto his skin.  Its super thick too so you can see any parts you have missed.

2. Hats off to Mummy
Henry loves wearing his hat (everybody loves wearing a hat... sorry Peppa Pig rules my life).  Little Moo quickly learnt that if he wears his hat, he can play outside or better still splash in the pool, therefore he mostly keeps it on. On the downside, when its time to come in, he tantrums like mad and tries to force the hat back on in protest.  Ahh building memories.  This cute little fisherman's hat came as a two pack from Next.  

Later Aligator x 
3.  Shady Baby
One of the advantages of having zero gardening experience, is our overgrown Jamanji garden has created perfect little canopies of shade.  Using Henry's giant letters floor mat, I created a little play area away from the sun. I also ensured Henry kept his hat on as the sun can still peeked through the forrest.  No crawling around the pool (hehe). 

4.  Water water everywhere...
Henry thankfully loves drinking water, so whilst relaxing in his little pool (yes I was extremely jealous) I kept offering him sips of water to keep him hydrated.  Henry also took it upon himself to drink the pool water when he got thirsty.  I had to put a stop to this as I had no idea how many wee's he was adding to the pool.  Well if its good enough for Bear Grylls...


5. I'm all about the one-piece 
This week I picked up two gorgeous little all in one swimsuits for Henry's holiday and was over the moon I got to try them both out this weekend.  Firstly the Sainsbury's Later Alligator swimsuit with printed front and zip back kept the main part of his body out of the sun.  I loved the vibrant colours and it fitted him perfectly (size 12-18 months). Currently £4 (cue bargain loving emoji, there isn't one? well there should be).

Next up was the above nautical number from Mothercare.  If you frequently read my blog (hey Dad) you will know I'm obsessed with stripes, so this style was a no-brainer.  Slightly on the pricier side at £14 and coming up slightly smaller (1 1/2 - 2 years) it was still perfect for protecting him from the sun and it also held rather well when Henry decided to poo in the pool #NappyOffProblems. 

6.  Baby in the Pool 
For Henry's 1st birthday he received a great little sandpit set from his little friend William and soon as the sun came out, I filled it up with water.  Henry loved it instantly, it took him all of 10 minutes to climb straight in, creating his own little jacuzzi.  I instantly knew he would love a little paddling pool and drove straight to Smyths to pick up this rainbow number.  Henry was literally a little raisin the time he wanted to get out and I enjoyed sitting and watching him play (vs. running around the house saying, "Mummy said No". 

Room for Mummy? x 
7. Little & Often
I don't know whether it was teething, Henrys current medicine for his eczema or just purely the heat, but he had no appetite at meal times.  Rather than stressing with each failed mouthful, I found that offering little bites throughout the day, ensured Henry kept fuelled with food.  Everything from fruit, little breadsticks, pesto pasta shapes and tomatoes (the kids loves tomatoes) were all little savours.   I also found that feeding him in the pool offered a little distraction.  On the downside, Henry will now only eat his tea in the bath. 

8. Enough is enough
I loved watching Henry play in the water splashing about, however when it got particular hot, it was time to bring the little guy in.  Cue screaming tantrum and hat throwing.  However once he cooled down inside, he was happy playing with his toys.  Henry happily went out again later in the afternoon and the air was much cooler.  

You can leave your hat on x 
9. Al fresco 
This isn's so much a protection tip, it's more of a, you've so gotta do it tip.  Henry is still in his baby bath as we only have a shower in our house.  Therefore we just popped it outside and Henry enjoyed his 3rd pool experience of the day whilst soaking in Aveeno bath oil.  The Aveeno is perfect for his eczema, but also great for hydrating his skin after a day of sweating.  I also covered him in cream when he got out.

10.  Let the fresh air in
We had all the windows open all day and in particular in Henry's room.  So once bedtime came along, his little box room wasn't an oven.  He slept in just a vest and nappy and we kept the bathroom window open to let air flow to his room.  Ok he ended up waking too hot and ended up in our bed, but hey, I needed a number 10... lols x

What are your top tips for sun protection? x 
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Monday, 30 May 2016

#FamilyAlbum... Our Ladybird Picnic x

"You had me at Aloha". 
Ladybird SS16 x 

Once upon a time... (way before Henry was born) bank holiday's were spent amongst friends, leisurely socialising away our days, without a care in the world.  

Fast forward to May bank holiday and you can still shake a little carpe diem into your life, however it needs to be meticulously planned like a military operation.  But when it all comes together, its pure Mummy (& Daddy) superhero perfection...welcome to our Ladybird picnic...  
I can't remember when the idea came about to invite our friends to Calderstone's Park for a picnic, however I can remember when my planning got a little obsessive (around 6pm Sunday evening).  Not content with rustling up some sandwiches and a blanket, I wanted to create an extravaganza.  You know, pom pom's hanging from trees, giant teepees, buffet feasts for kings and park games galore.  I even did a Pinterest board.  

Thankfully time was against me (you can't do a Hobbycraft haul in 30min) however I did have one little trick up my sleeve, a little collection of picnic ready outfits for Little Monkey.  Curtesy of the lovelies at Very, they gifted Henry some super bright tropical inspired styles from their Ladybird range to try out.  

Palm print rompers, super bright tees, bold aztec shorts and enough mix and match options to keep you're Little Monkey summer ready.  Still in-keeping with the Ladybird heritage, each piece has lovely attention to detail and in this case, bright accents of colour.  I have to admit my favourite piece is the little white romper with navy collar, however lets just say it stayed clean for the whole of 10 minutes.  

Other highlights include logo tee's, classic polo's embossed with the iconic 38 and enough notes of stripes to keep me happy.  However its all about the prints.  From palm prints to palm leaves, sketched pineapples to sketched little whales - all on rompers, hoodies and tee's.  

But for this weekends picnic the palm print romper had to make it's debut and I have to say, it didn't disappoint.  Henry instantly looked super cute and best of all he was incredibly comfy.  I wanted him to stay cool during the hot weather and the jersey fabric did just that.  He is also still crawling around, and the legs were just long enough to protect his knees on the grass.  Nobody puts baby on the blanket... hehe 

Alongside Henry's little fashionable wardrobe, I pulled out his garden teepee, some bunting and raided my Mum's house for oversized embroidered pillows to create a little picnic area.  After a little fashion shoot (Mummy blogger problems) we then settled down to relax whilst our friends began to arrive.  I think there were 8 couples in total with babies (1 baby yet to be born) and it was a perfect mix of people.  The babies enjoyed ignoring each other and we enjoyed grabbing the odd bite to eat whilst chasing them around the park.  I think I even managed the odd conversation that didn't involve poo, baby no.2 or my favourite topic of conversation, "is he walking yet?" Nope, in case you wondered. 

My tips for holding a picnic for babies is to make sure you take hats and plenty of sun lotion.  Also try and keep them covered, without them getting too hot.  The teepee was great for changing Henry in, plus a great place for him to eat out of the sun (the pram was also good for this) and also for keeping our food cool.  Take as many toys as you can carry and keep the little ones hydrated.  We also set up camp 5 minutes from the shops and toilets, which was a godsend when we ran out of water.

Henry also had a lack of appetite, therefore rather than settling him down for a full lunch, I kept giving him little snacks and fruit (which was another great source of water).  Some friends had watermelon which the babies loved.  

Overall it was a perfect YouTube ready kind of day and Henry had a fabulous time crawling riot.  His romper looked beautiful in all his little pictures and kept the sun off his shoulders.  Win win in my book.  

For other looks from Ladybird... shop the pieces here x 


Ladybird Baby Boys Polo Rompers (2 Pack)


Ladybird Boys Print and Denim Shorts (2 Pack)
Ladybird Boys Bright T-Shirts (5 Pack)


Ladybird Baby Boys Polo Rompers (2 Pack)
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Thursday, 19 May 2016

#TodayLittleMonkeyIsWearing... Next Summer 2016 x

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” 
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale


I love Next.  Since having Henry it has continued to be one of my favourite baby/toddler brands and I rarely go away empty handed.  (except in January I struggled, but you are forgiven, haha).

Next is  incredible for casual basics, but with such incredible attention to detail, each piece feels lovingly made.  From contrast pocket details, little embroideries and touches of grosgrain in back necks, they all scream added value.  

& this summer they have fuelled my obsession with a good stripe, however I have to admit, now I'm all about the Flamingo motif... & for boys, who knew :o)...
Recently I popped into my local store to pick up some vests (honest Daddy) and came away armed with some key transitional pieces that could be mixed and matched.  Mummy speak for, Daddy will kill me if I need to pop back for, "just one more pair of trousers, to go with so and so".

A month on from my mini splurge, I have to admit, the little essentials have worked their little socks off.  From basic tees for nursery worn with joggers and chambray rompers with super cute motif knits for family days out.  & yes they've all washed perfectly.  I even got strawberry stains out of his t-shirts as I'm still unable to embrace the bib.  Arghhhhhhh - someone find me a cool bib.

Below are some of Little Monkeys best looks (Ok I've added every single one) and the links... us bloggers love a link (cue laughing emoji). 
I know, best dressed for sure x 
Family Day out at Badminton Horse Trials
It takes time to look this moody x 
Nursery Day
Flamingos...Not just for girls x 
Day at Nana's
Not looking up until I get a raisin x 
Family Day at Hawkesbury
Chambray Blue Romper Suit - Sold out online, however still in stores 
If I ignore Mummy, she might go away x 
Keeping it cool at Nursery 
You know x 
Just before an epic breakfast

Shop My Pinterest Board
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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

#FamilyAlbum... Badminton Horse Trials...x

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Daddy, Happy Birthday to you....
All together now...

If you read my blog or follow my Twitter feed, you will know that I'm rather obsessed with stripes. Blue & white preferably (in case you wondered) however this weekend I became rather obsessed with checks. Rather posh tweed checks actually...

As this weekend to celebrate my husbands birthday (welcome to you're mid 30s Ben), we were treated to a day at the Badminton Horse Trials. Thanks Vicky (rather fabulous Mum-in-law) x 
The Horse Trials take place each year at the rather grand Badminton House, home to the Duke of Beaufort and a stones throw from my lovely in-laws.  They're neighbours don't you know (yes I'm putting on a rather posh voice while I type this, I've no idea why).

We were attending the Cross Country event on the Saturday and thankfully the gorgeous summer weather came along for the birthday celebrations too.  If like me, you are not in with the horse in-crowd, the trials are a 3 day equestrian event.  This is an opportunity for horses and riders to complete the competition over 3 days, each day consisting of a different discipline or phase.

The previous day was dressage and the final day was show-jumping, however we were lucky to attend the 2nd day which was a 4 mile cross country run with jumping throughout.  The jumps were spread out across the manor, which allowed you to walk around the track and take it all in.  Oh and catch a few rays and an ice-cream or two.

Alongside the event there was an abundance of shops, not just for horse lovers, but also a lovely mix of arts, crafts and shabby chic boutiques.  I was tempted to pick up a little check tweed blazer, hugely appreciated amongst the horsey set, however up north it would look a little Daniella Westbrook.  Instead the husband and I picked up a bottle of Blackberry brandy and tasted one too many sloe gins. Well we were technically on our holiday and birthday boys shouldn't drink alone.

I had no idea what to expect (I'm not a fan of horses since I watched one pin a protestor to a wall, true story), however I absolutely loved it.  However shouting, "feel the rhythm, feel the vibe" and "you can do it" wasn't really the in thing when riders found themselves dismounted.  But I had fun anyway.

But the best part of the day was catching up with Ben's family.  Henry got to play with his little cousin Dylan and I got lots of cuddles from the little guy.  Over a picnic of pink champagne, jerk pheasant (see posh), home made pasties (not so posh) and chocolate frappes, we all got the chance to relax and take the day in.

My advice if you do go, get there early, camp at the lake and take a picnic.  Then use that as your base for the day.  Oh and don't forget your checks, however I must say (there goes the posh voice again), my stripes were just as fabulous. x 
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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

#TodayLittleMonkeyIsWearing.... Ladybird Heritage x

"When you see a Ladybird make your wish known to her, and when you see her fly away, 
you know she is off to grant your wish"
Ladybird Symbolism & Meaning 

I love traditional toys.  Rocking horses, story books, abacus frames, wooden blocks, wooden walkers, wooden trains, basically anything wooden.  There is something lovely and nostalgic about a toy that could be from any era, almost like a little heritage piece.  What's not to love about that?

So I was over the wooden moon (I know, awful joke) when Ladybird at Very launched a super cute heritage range for spring summer.  Originally launched in the 1930's and widely associated with Woolworths, its incredible to see the brand still going strong today.

Henry today is wearing their Baby Boys Ticking Stripe Dungaree and T-Shirt Set, which at £14 for a 2 piece is a amazing value (in other words I can tell Daddy the real price).  Cue wide eyed emoji...
This took 2 tantrums and a cup of coffee to capture x 
The little red jersey tee is a gorgeous bold red and the dungarees feel super soft against his skin.  The little pockets are perfect for storing his raisins and the little car motif on the front is just too cute.  The button front is adjustable as he grows and I just rolled up the hem on the shorts (because they just look soooooooooooooooooooo.... yes you guessed it... CUTE). 

The heritage collection is full of washed out linen stripes, little vintage car motifs, bold primary reds (Go Liverpool, that's for you Dad) and my favourite, good old classic navy.  Key pieces include polo shirts, stripe jersey shorts and weather proof (hey it maybe summer inside, but its freezing out) little hooded tops.  

Henry bless his little chunky thighs hasn't really got the legs for jeans, so I'm always on the lookout for comfy alternatives.  The Boys Pique Rompers are perfect for letting my little man loose on terrorising the house and chucking those wooden toys at me... (Ouch) but they look great...

Other key pieces in the collection include:
Birdseye Heritage Polo Shirts
Heritage 2 Pack Jersey Shorts
Boys Pique Rompers - my favourite
Heritage Stripe Hoody

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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

#TodayLittleMonkeyIsWearing... SS16 Zara Baby Boy....x

i am stripes
Zara Boys 2016

Its official, we have banished (well Daddy has) the "boys" tights and Little Monkey is now embracing big boys pants.  Devastated to be packing away his little Shakespeare's,  I have to admit I relished the opportunity to shop.

So having a nose at Zara Boys spring summer collection online I did a little collective haul of key transitional pieces.   & as usual they didn't disappoint... 
Showing off my new white floorboards x 
You know I love a good old stripe and this season they came in the shape of cable knits, drop crotch joggers and super soft sweats.  Favourite pieces included a blue and white little knit with contrast elbow patches and knitted joggers with the same patches (perfect for my little crawler).  

The little stripe knit was finished off with little buttons to the neck and looked super snuggly with the enzyme washed indigo joggers.  I loved that Henry still looked like my little baby in the soft tones, but so grown up in his little outfits.  
Even Bjorn has style x 
I find Zara can be a little pricey when it comes to the knitwear and outerwear, however the printed tees are reasonably priced.  This season they came in an array of prints and designs, however I added the below painted create t-shirt and a little stripe number (obvs).  Other favourites included dip dye powder blue joggers that also look gorgeous with the little stripes.  

Let's Create x 
Some quick tips....
  • Zara boys trousers come up short in the leg (buy a size up)
  • Look after the knitwear and it will look after your little one.  They wash lovely, however avoid popping them in the dryer 
  • If you invest in one thing, buy the crossover white vests, I'm still obsessed with them and they wash beautifully 
  • Always have a nose at the girls section (or boys) as they sometimes have lovely pieces that are unisex.  In particular stripe knits, hareem trousers and little tees. 
Get Henry's Look 
Striped Pocket T-Shirt
Create T-Shirt

Ombre Trousers
Striped Leggings
Flecked Trousers - These come up very small
Enzyme washed joggers - similar here

Kimono Vests

Striped Knit Sweater
Stripe Knit Jumper - similar here
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