Sunday, 31 August 2014

Having a Baby?

The smallest Cub at two days old

I was pretty much the first of my friends to have a baby.  None of them were any where near even thinking about it really.  Chaz and I were living miles away in the South of France and the whole pregnancy felt a bit like a (very exciting) game.  We'd spend hours wandering around 'Bébé 9' marvelling at maxi-cosis and muslins, giggling at nipple protectors and breast pumps like two idiotic teenagers.  We had no idea what we needed so went along with the shop assistants when they told us we had to have 7000 baby bottles, twenty five car seats, twelve sterilisers and thousand euro prams.    Nine months later when the biggest Cub actually arrived,  I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was meant to do.  And there was no one to help us.  My parents and friends would come and go for weekends here and there but essentially it was just Chaz and I muddling through; drowning in bottles.  I'm now doing it all over again for the third time and as great as it all was, wish that there had been someone to tell me what I did and didn't need.  

The biggest Cub and I having a stripe off

As I write, about fifteen of my friends are pregnant. It's an epidemic.  And despite being surrounded by all their family and friends they too are completely bamboozled by the whole thing.  I got an email from one last week asking if they needed an 'organic coconut-lined, ergonomically shaped  moses basket mattress' for £300. The shop keeper had insisted their baby would sleep for 12 hours straight if they got it. 
A pregnant woman is a marketing man's dream.   Clueless, excited, full of hormones and desperate to give their un-born baby the best they possibly can - you can sell us practically anything.
In an attempt to help anyone having their first baby, I've taken lists from lots of the big baby companies and  edited/made comments on them to tell you what (I think) you do and don't need.  This one is just for pregnancy and the birth - I'll do another one for general life with a baby next.  
I hope it helps! 

For maternity clothes or things that just work well with a bump, have a look at Topshop for every day bits and pieces. Isabella Oliver for one off, well-cut special pieces as well as smarter work wear pieces. Asos. Gap for basics. 9 London for slightly higher end brands. DKNY and Madeleine Thompson for voluminous knitwear that you will never take off. 

Maddie Thomspon dress available from Austique

Maternity trousers/jeans.  If you want to splash out, J Brand do the best.  If not, Topshop's Leigh design is fab. They come in different lengths and the ankle grazer is quite miraculous.

Nightwear.  I've never brought special maternity pjs.  Borrow your husband's.

Bras  - I bought 4 bras in total. Baby lists will tell you that you need about nine. One underwired and 3 non has always been enough for me.  All from Elle McPhearson Intimates.  V pretty and comfortable and very long lasting.  I'm still in the same ones I had first time round.  Online, Asos and fig leaves both stock her.

Maternity underwear.  Again, I just go one size up rather than get special maternity pants.  Mothercare and M&S do the perfect, big granny pant for post baby days.  Elle McPhearson for bras.

Pregnancy pillow.  Try and borrow one;  I just fought with mine and it just ended up taking up precious space but some people love them.
Maternity tops.  GAP do a new line of brilliant basics.  As long as you have good basics you can improvise with the rest.

Maternity dresses.  Asos smocks and swing dresses and Madeleine Thopmson cashmere if feeling extravagant. Jersey tube dresses from Topshop over a legging with a kimono is one of my favourite, comfortable, staple outfits.

my absolute best Asos oversized smock dress

Maternity swimwear.  Topshop all the way. 

Pregnancy band  I didn't have one the first two times but have just been given one and it's a Godsend.  Perfect to hide your tummy button and add much needed extra length to your tops.  Quite good support feeling too. 

Stretch mark cream.  Essential but don't be conned into thinking you have to have an actual special stretch mark one.  Any body moisturiser is good.  Palmers do a good cocoa butter one.  As do the body shop.  Bamford's rose lotion is heaven-sent.

Pregnancy book.  'What to expect when you're expecting' was and still is my bible.  

Hospital Bag

The bag.  First time round I truly believed I needed to go out and buy a special bunny covered baby bag from Nursery Window.  You don't - your normal suitcase will suffice.

Nightwear x 2.  It's nice to have a new nightie for being in the hospital.  A special, vintage one is a great present for a friend about to have a baby.  Ebay have a great selection of Edwardian visions.  If that's not your thing, just make sure you have something that buttons down the middle.  You won't want anything stiff or starchy.  Cath Kidston, Zara Home and Massimo Dutti have real goodies.

PJs from Zara Home

Dressing gown 

Snacks.  However great your hospital is I'd suggest bringing your own food.  Labour can be long and you'll want them for sustenance as much as just to pass the time.

Your own pillow.

Comfortable cotton pants.  Go large.  And black, steer clear of anything white/pale. Mothercare's multipacks were my best. Ignore anyone who tells you that you need paper, disposable ones - Do not go near them with a barge pole.

Maternity towels x 48.  Ultra-slim 'Always' will not be enough.  Yes they look like nappies but you'll need them.

Nursing bras 
Muslins.  Long gone are the days of the boring, small white muslin.  Aden and Anais have given us beautiful, enormous patterned ones that are so visionary you'll want to drape yourself in them.  They also make the best new baby presents. 

Breast pads x 40. 

Nipple cream.  Kamilosan is the best brand.

Wash bag and hairbrush.   A face spray is one of my essentials.  Evian is great or if feeling swanky, Ren, ILA and Chantecaille have delicious Rose ones.


Newborn gentle wipes.  Great for you as well as the baby.  Pampers are great, I'm not a fan of Huggies despite them being permanently on offer. 

Nappies - approx 10.  Newborn size.  Pampers are my best.

2 x long sleeve vests.  White Company, John Lewis and Mothercare all do great white basics.  Petit Bateau slightly more expensive but have real visions.  For the creme de la creme you can't beat Bonpoint.  Esp if you're having a girl.

2 x baby sleepsuits
1 x baby blanket
Baby hat

Baby car seat.  The hospital won't let you leave with out one.  We have a Maxi Cosi and love it.

Comfortable clothes for you for going home in.  Tracksuit bottoms/leggings/nothing tight.  

Phone charger
Change for car park
Blue maternity notes and birth plan.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Feeling Festie

As I mentioned in my last post, the last few months have been pretty non stop.  My biggest and definitely most exciting news, is that we're having another baby.  A third, teeny, tiny little Cub to add to the pack.  I am beyond excited but did spend the first few months feeling very sorry for myself, lying on the kitchen floor, trying not to be sick.  Hence why the posting has been on the rather minimal side.

Port Eliot house and festival

I'm now feeling right as rain and have been gallivanting round the country doing wedding flowers and workshops at various festivals.  
The highlight was undoubtedly working with Anthropologie again at Port Eliot. - A small, artsy-crafty, literary festival held in the gardens of a beautiful private house in St Germans, Cornwall.  I was one of Anthro's five artists and led a series of pebble painting classes each evening - complete with my very own Sipsmith Gin bar. The festival itself was wonderful, nothing like I've ever been to before.   Very, very small, for all ages and days were filled with swimming in the river, workshops and talks rather than being glued to a music stage.  My highlights were listening to the Helmsley sisters and Suzy Menkes, being adorned with fresh flower crowns by the Flower Appreciation Society and learning how to make a silver starfish from a cuttle fish with jeweller Catherine Zoraida (fellow Anthropologie artist).

Rose 'Debbie Magee' in the walled garden

the walled garden

mid action in my pebble painting workshop in the Anthro tent

Fortnum & Mason pop up coffee shop

casting in cuttle fish

workshop schedule at Port Eliot

my wall in the Anthropologie tent at Port Eliot

Wilderness was last weekend and rather more handily located down the road.  Being pregnant it was slightly calmer than last summer and we spent a lot of time wandering around the food stalls with the Cubs.  The mac and cheese van being my clear winner; I had it for lunch three days running. On the sunday afternoon I held a flower crown making workshop in the Sanctuary area which was run by Wild Well Being. It was initially going to be held outside under a flower festooned, pagoda type structure but half an hour before we started, the biggest storm of all time decided to grace us with it's presence.  So inside we went to a nearby yurt. There were about 35 of us in total and using the vintage silk and velvet flowers that I'd sourced in LA, I taught them how to make the crowns.  I found it fascinating just how different each person's creation was despite using exactly the same the ingredients.

entrance to the Sanctuary

my workshop ingredients

my workshop

Early bird tickets for Wilderness 2015 are now on sale

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A bugs Life

I have a real thing about bugs.  Bugs and insects, all things creepy crawly.  Not in real life I admit but on china, walls, glass wear and fabrics - I can't get enough of them.  I found this post by Erica at Honestly WTF and had to share her genius new DIY.  My past few months have been off the scale busy and after today - I'm hosting a flower crown making workshop at Wilderness Festival - things are getting calmer again.  So this week I'm going to dedicate a whole day to insectifying my house.

"My collection of vintage china is growing at a concerning rate. I’m addicted to scouring flea markets for the finest porcelain and snatching up affordably priced mismatched sets online. But honestly, what is one to do with all those saucers, tea cups and dinner plates?! When I saw Melanie Roses' upcycled vintage plates in London last summer, I was instantly inspired to DIY my own. No ifs, ands or bugs. And now finally, after some trail and error, I’ve finally narrowed down the proper materials and mastered the right technique. Thank goodness for all those spare plates!"

You’ll need:

  • vintage plates
  • clear waterside decals
  • clear urethane coat or clear acrylic coat
  • scissors
  • small bowl
  • warm water
  • paper towels

Start by printing images onto the glossy side of the waterslide decal papers. Let to dry completely before spraying the sheets with a coat of urethane clear coat. Allow to dry completely and then cut the images out carefully, leaving as little white space as possible. Place onto the plates to determine positioning.

Place the decal in a bowl of warm water for about 15 seconds. When the decal separates from the liner, just by moving it between your thumb and finger, then it is ready to apply.

 Place the decal onto the plate, with the liner still attached. Gently slide the liner from beneath the decal using your thumb and index finger. Smooth out any folds or bubbles with your finger. Gently blot with a paper towel and allow to dry for at least an hour.

Note that I’ve added the decals to saucers and not dinner plates or tea cups. These decals are not food safe and should not be put into a dishwasher or hand washed. If you need to clean it, simply wet a paper towel or rag and spot clean.

Use as saucers for tea cups, jewellery trays, or even wall art!