Monday, January 30, 2017

Ideas For Decorating Your Home Cheaply But Beautifully ♥


The older I get the more I've become interested in home decor. As a child I remember my mother being obsessed with soft furnishings, painting and generally anything that had to do with improving or updating the interiors of our home. She even had a 'dream drawer', full of home design and interiors magazines, full of things she wanted to try out and implement in the decor of our house.

At the time I never could see just why she was so passionate about wanting the place 'just so', or why she always wanted to change things around. I remember coming home from school and she'd frequently be painting the kitchen cupboards, hanging up new curtains or blinds and changing the bedding in all the rooms. I actually thought she was a bit bonkers, but now I get it.

Making your home look just how you want it can give you such a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Home decor trends come and go and it's nice to change things up once and a while - although I'm definitely a lover of clean, white spaces and shabby chic decor, it has to be said.

Today I thought I'd share some decorating tips that can be used in any room of the house and which are quite cost effective too. If you're like myself and want to update your home but have a limited budget, there's no need to put your plans on hold, there are lots of decorating tips that can easily be implemented no matter how little cash you have to spare.

Here are six ideas to inspire you and that will hopefully make a big difference to the space you'd like to improve, without breaking the bank.

Hang artwork
Adding a piece of artwork to a room can have a dramatic effect, without requiring much effort to implement. Well-used rooms such as a living room or kitchen can benefit from the addition of a focal piece of artwork, creating a talking point among visitors. 

However, having art in your home doesn't have to be a great expense, old postcards or polaroid pictures of your family's favourite memories hanging on the wall can be an equally beautiful talking point in a room and quite a personal one too.

Consider the lighting
Lighting can affect the ambience of a room, so choose lighting options carefully to ensure you create the desired effect. Opt for soft spot lights in the bedroom or bathroom to evoke an inviting and cosy atmosphere, while the kitchen necessitates brighter lights for specific task areas. 

I'm a big fan of LED fairy lights, which are perfect for draping over bed headboards or placing in glass jars for an atmospheric touch. These can be bought for quite cheaply too from shops such as Penneys/Primark - I picked up some beautiful rose designed lights for just €3!

Invest in new blinds or curtains
Windows are such an important feature in the home and not only do they provide some much needed (and much craved from my photography loving perspective) light, but they're also a vital part of making sure your home is energy efficient. 
Blinds and curtains can be a really talking point in a room, after all, they're framing the window and providing warmth, privacy and an added design piece within the home. Popular blind makes VELUX offer some lovely blind design options, all of which are energy efficient too. There are quite good savings to have on these blinds too, so they needn't be a great expense at all.

Add some plants or flowers
Bringing nature indoors is a budget-friendly way to add colour to any room and something I always strive to do in my own home. I buy fresh flowers on a bi-weekly basis and honestly, having a colourful bouquet of flowers or plants sitting on the windowsill can really brighten up the place and give a sense of freshness to a room.

I've previously shared some ideas on how to decorate with flowers and honestly, it's amazing what something so simple cheap bouquet and some vintage china bought from a charity shop can do to make a room all the more appealing.

Organise your rooms
One of the most effective ways to freshen up a room, without damaging the purse strings, is to give it a good tidy up. Sort through any unwanted clutter and store items away neatly in storage boxes - these can be picked up quite cheaply in discount and home ware stores. 

Utilise your storage space by placing items and boxes under the bed, in wardrobes, cupboards or on shelves. Not only will you gain extra space, but your room will be a much more pleasant environment to spend time in too. It's amazing what decluttering can do for your home and your soul!

Give old furniture a new lease of life
You don't need to buy new furniture to restyle a room. It's amazing what a lick of fresh paint can do to totally transform a piece you weren't very fond of into something you absolutely love.

I've transformed ugly old chairs from dark wood and horrible seating upholstery, into something bright and pretty just by using some old paint I had in the shed and a duvet cover. You can see the transformation here. Once you put your mind to it, giving old furniture a new lease of life is something that is quite simple and cheap to do, whilst totally transforming the decor of your room. 

*This is a collaborative post.


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

How I Use Flowers For Child Photography ♥

It's no secret that I'm a keen photographer and a flower lover, and whenever I get a chance to combine both of these things, it makes me very happy indeed.

Whether I'm indoors or outdoors, I always try to include a floral element in my photography of my children - I think, or rather I hope, that floral elements have become a bit of an associated element in my photography by now, and I thought I'd share some ways to use flowers for child photography, for any other botanical lovers out there who want to add this element to their children's photographs.

Baby milestone photos
Floral arrangements for baby milestone photos are a gorgeous idea and this is something which I began doing with Beau from his third month update onwards. These floral arrangements can be as elaborate or simple as you like and you can even match the colour of the flowers to baby's outfit if you want to go all out.

Sink baths/bathtubs with flowers on the draining board/counter top/floating on the water
I love giving my baby a sink bath, I'm only sad I never did them with my first, and adding flowers to the water or placing a bunch on the draining board/counter top or even scattering them by the taps, can make for a lovely photo opportunity of baby's bath time.

Another idea I love is getting a bath milk to turn the bath water white and placing flowers around baby in the bath. The bath milk will ensure that baby's body is hidden from the camera and the colour of the flowers will really pop against the white.

Petals scattered on the background they're laying on
Honestly you don't need to spend a lot of money on professional photo shoot of your children - a white sheet, some rose petals and your baby's smile can make for the loveliest of shots.

Flowers as a prop
Sometimes I find that when photographing my boys there's an element missing from the shot, then I give them flowers to hold or lay next to them and it just makes the capture extra special.

Place them amongst the flowers
I love outdoor flowers shots, fields of flowers making for the most beautiful backdrops. Simply place your children amongst the flowers - sitting down if they can't walk, or let them run around and interact with their surroundings if they're older. These honestly make for the most beautiful of shots and I can never resist looking over hedgerows for meadows of wildflowers or finding flower farms of lavender and sunflowers for stunning summer captures.

I've already shared our memories in the wildflower meadow, our trip to Jersey Lavender Farm and Tyler amongst the yellow rape seed and I already have so many shoot ideas for the upcoming spring and summer, with both of my boys being surrounded by flowers.

I hope I've given you some floral inspiration for your child photography. Happy snapping!

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Eanáir | January ♥


We are already halfway through January and how this has happened so quickly I have no idea, but in my heart of hearts I honestly can't wait until January has passed. It's not a great month is it, January.

I've called in Eanáir in the title of this post, the Irish for January (pronounced anner) as learning and speaking more Irish is something I want to achieve this year, not just for me to embrace my heritage but for Tyler too, who's currently in Naíonra and learning lots of words as Gaeilge.

I don't think happiness is in abundance in January. For me it's the non-eventful, grey lull period after the festivities of Christmas and the gap before the beauty of spring - I see February 1st as being the start of spring as I was always taught that it was as a young child in school. But, even though I'm not a fan of January, I have tried to find the beauty in this month and capture it on camera.

This January in particular has been a hard one for me. Our house always seems to succumb to sickness during the month of January, but thankfully this year, bar some runny noses, the children are healthy. My health however, has deteriorated and most days I'm left in pain, pain which is so intense it makes me throw up and leaves me exhausted.

I wanted to start this new year out on a positive footing, but when you're feeling so unwell and so tired all the time it's hard to get things moving and I'm frustrated with my lack of progress with all the plans I have going on in my head.

Yesterday I went to bed at half four, no word of a lie. I slept through until seven in the morning and even now I'm still feeling exhausted and dealing with that horrible niggle in my ribs and stomach which makes me realise that later on, at some unknown time, I'm going to be in horrible pain again.

One thing I'm thankful for this month though is fresh air. I've gone on walks with my sons and have captured some beautiful photographs of them both, some of which I shared in my January Blues post and nothing makes me happier than being outside with my family and capturing pictures of them and our surroundings.

Some of these pictures were taken on our first family walk of the year, such a small thing to some people but a big thing for me as Jacek works a lot and just getting out and about as a foursome is such a special thing to me.

He snapped a lot of the pictures in this post too, I think I'm rather blessed to have my other half be interested in photography too. It's not often that I get in front of the camera as I'm so precise with the images I want to capture, but it is lovely to have pictures taken of me with the children.

On a quick walk I took with Tyler and Beau, we did have clear blue skies. The day was made even nicer by the bright yellow flowers gracing the gorse bushes again, a sure sign that spring and all it's loveliness isn't too far away.

Another lovely thing that happened this month is that Beau saw snow for the first time. It was only sleet and it didn't last very long at all but he saw it and was a little bit bewildered by it all.

Seeing your baby discover and witness all these things that the world has to offer is such a beautiful thing and I'll never stop wanting both of my boys to experience new things, go on new adventures and appreciate the world around them... even on the dullest, most dismal January days.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

10 Ways To Keep Children Entertained in Winter ♥

Winter can be a great time for relaxing with loved ones and keeping cosy indoors, but if you're children are anything like mine, then it can also be a time of boredom for little ones who need to be kept entertained or who prefer to be outside.

My eldest boy loves being outdoors. He's a nature lover and likes to explore the world around him - much to my delight! But, sometimes the winter days just aren't accommodating enough for outdoor adventures, meaning we all have to stay cooped up inside. This is enough to drive both him and I stir crazy!

I shared yesterday how I want my sons and I to live a more wholesome life and even though these winter days mean that we may to stay indoors a whole lot more than we'd like to, I don't want myself of the children to be sitting in front of the TV or electronic devices all day.

So, I've come up with some ways to keep children entertained during the winter months and I thought I'd share them here on the blog for any other parents who are looking to have a fun-filled winter with their little ones.

Make an indoor den - you can do this with cushions, pillows, throws and blankets, or if you have a teepee like ours, then you can pop that up too. Kids love the novelty of having their own little special space indoors and a den is a lovely way to keep the magic alive for them. My little boy is a big fan of playing in his 'den' and it's amazing how such a simple thing can keep children happy and entertained for hours on end. You can even add some fairy lights to add to the wintry theme.

Have epic story times - I don't just mean bed time stories (which we have each night here), I mean an epic story time, where you or the children read stories out loud and everyone listens. This time of year is a great time for picking up some cheap books, if you're in need of some new stories to read and share. The Works January sale has some great titles.

Make bath time, play time - who doesn't love getting into a warm, bubbly bath on a cold day? Fill the tub to the brim with bubbles and let the little ones play in the water. The more bath toys the better! You can also make things artsy by throwing some bath crayons into the mix.

Cook up some wintry treats - get out the mixing bowls, cookie cutters and whisks and whip up some wintry treats with the kids. Some of my favourite ideas are white chocolate popcorn, melting snowman cookies (I've been wanting to make these for years!) and unicorn hot chocolate.

Have an indoor snowball fight - don't panic, I don't mean actual snow! I mean chucking large cotton wool balls at each other and seeing the kids faces light up with joy anytime they manage to hit you with their 'snowballs'. You could even set up targets from old bottles and empty jars. A simple, yet very fun indoor activity for kids.

Make bird feeders for the garden - this is a great activity for keeping kids entertained and teaching them about nature at the same time. Red Ted Art has shared lots of gorgeous DIY bird feeder ideas. One of the things that really sticks with me from my childhood, is learning about all the different kinds of birds and why it's so important to help them out with food in the winter months.

Turn your sitting room into a race track - some dinkies and masking tape and the kids will be entertained for ages! Just use to masking tape to create a road layout that can go on the floor, walls, rugs, tables - you name it!

Get crafty - this is such an easy way to keep kids entertained but something that some parents (like me!) may usually shy away from. There are some lovely winter themed craft ideas for kids over on Pinterest and these paper cup luminaries are super simple but so sweet and even an easy craft such as painting pine cones can keep kids entertained for hours - plus their creations can make pretty decorations for the house, especially when it starts to feel bare once the Christmas decorations come down.

No mess sensory play - I have to admit, I haven't done any sensory play with my sons yet, mainly because I don't think I'd be able to cope with the mess. But, when I stumbled across this winter in a bag, no mess sensory play idea I decided that it's something I definitely have to try with them.

Winter walks and bike rides - if the sun does manage to peep out from the grey clouds and you need a break from the house, then going outdoors with the little ones for winter walks and bike rides is a great way of blowing off the cobwebs and getting some much needed fresh air - just make sure to cosy up in hats, scarves, gloves and mittens.

My eldest son has a bike and a trike which he doesn't know how to ride yet, so teaching him to ride these is something I really want to do on these winter days, so when the warm and long summer evenings come about, he'll have mastered the skill and be able to zoom about and enjoy the sunshine.

Going to the beach in winter for a walk is something I always love to do with my boys too. It's amazing what sea air can do for kids. I took some pictures on our latest beach visit and I love the wintry background.

Hopefully these ideas will provide some inspiration for you to keep your little ones happy and entertained in the winter months.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wholesome Living ♥

"Your health is your wealth", so people say, but as of late, my health has been nothing but a giant hindrance to my life, stopping me from what I want to do and leaving me in so much pain that I've cried, a lot.

I never really understood illness before I began having this trouble - suspected gallbladder issues, although an ultrasound is still yet to be had. I've always been a healthy person, only visiting the hospital to have my babies (and to get stitches in my head after I was pushed off a chair and into a brick wall as a child). I've never even broken a bone - my mother struck lucky with my brother and I in this regard. But since my second pregnancy, I've been left with bouts of aggressive pain that comes and goes with no want nor reason.

After having my second baby back in May, I decided that I needed to change my unhealthy ways and live a more wholesome lifestyle. I must admit, I've been a bit slack... I have made some healthier changes but I'm not as active as I want to be. There's no point in me having protein shakes for breakfast if I'm not getting out for walks and fresh air.

With the new year I was a typical sheep - "New year, new me" and all that jazz... but it's not as simple as that is it? You must actually want to change. That's me now, wanting to change and live a more wholesome life.

The other day I popped some leftover sausage rolls in our microwave to heat up and left it to it's own devices so I could give the sitting room a quick tidy up. Returning to the kitchen I was greeted by billowing green coloured smoke that choked me. I open the microwave door to see a melted plate and four bits of charcoal - which I'm guessing were the sausage rolls. The bloody thing only went and overheated, having only been on for three minutes. It was at that moment that I decided I was never using a microwave again.

Meals are now made in the oven and on the hob. We're no longer going to be lazy with cooking fresh food and better meals, because there's no cheat anymore and you know what, it actually feels great to be shunning the microwave.

This morning my eldest boy asked for "Porridge like Daddy". He is the pickiest eater there ever was, so I was bit reluctant to carry out his request, plus he was already after having his breakfast. Nonetheless, I poured out the oats and heated up a sup of milk in a saucepan. As an extra treat and offering to make him eat it, I stirred in two spoons of chocolate spread to the oats and warm milk. Well, his face was a picture - "Choccie porridge!" he said with delight, and guess what, he ate every single morsel of it. Serves me right for being a doubting Thomas, think he'll have to have a bowl of warm porridge every morning before preschool now to set him up for the day.

In the doctors yesterday evening I was rifling through magazines and came across a recipe for Nutella stuffed French toast. Such a simple thing but I know my boy would love it. I'm intent on making it for him this weekend.

I want to start making new meals for us all. Simple things as I'm not a very good cook, but I'm willing to give it a go so that I can be more conscious about what myself and my children are eating.

I've been looking on different blogs for some food inspiration and have stumbled across some great ideas on The Nest and Simply Homemade. Emily and Nicola's tables are always adorned with the most delicious looking treats and I'm a big fan of their blogs, they give off such a welcoming and cosy impression - do you get what I mean?

I want my sons to enjoy their food and I no longer want to see mealtimes and food preparation as a chore.

As a family we already get outdoors quite a lot, which is amazing for us all. But I really want to go for a daily walk, no matter what the weather. If it's a quick twenty minutes.

I want to raise boys who enjoy the great outdoors and thankfully I'm succeeding with this.

I also want to teach the boys that it's moments and memories that matter, not things. I think this is an essential part of living a more wholesome life. Our house is filled with things, but essentially these mean nothing. I want my boys, and myself, to appreciate the things that really matter.

My eldest boy turns four next month and he's not getting any toys. Instead he'll be getting more meaningful gifts, things he can use outside and which can teach him a skill in life.

I feel really positive about these changes I want to make in our lives. They're not big changes by any means, but I think their impact on us all will be amazing.
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Friday, January 6, 2017

January Blues ♥

Yesterday the boys and I had our first proper outing of 2017, and in typical fashion, it was a visit to the countryside.

I drove to one of the most secluded parts of our island, not wanting to be around people. I don't know why, but I always feel uncomfortable photographing around other people, fearing that they may look at me weirdly and wonder just what the hell I'm doing.

Being a former agoraphobia suffer, I don't think that fear of being around other people will ever disappear, but thankfully, it suits my creative side well, as my favourite photographic backdrops are places where there are no other people.

I have a serious case of the January blues and I can't seem to find a way out of this depression. I feel as though I'm swirling in negative energy and everything is getting me down.

I had high hopes for this year, but it's only day eight and already so much has gone wrong and I'm left reeling and feeling so hurt at arguments that have taken place and things that have happened. Serious health issues aren't helping either. The pain is unbearable and it makes it impossible to leave the house, be productive and put my plans into motion.

I'm also left feeling like the worlds worst mother as I can't even pick up the baby and just want to be left alone when these painful attacks happen. I'm like a bear with a sore head - just one irritant and I could lose it altogether.

I feel very disappointed at the moment and finding a way out to look towards the positive seems impossible right now.

Nothing is going my way, no matter how hard I try or how much effort I put in and I feel like giving up.

The outing I had with the boys yesterday was much needed and I did feel at peace for a brief moment on the strand. The sun was shining on the still water and the mist was rising above the sea. It was beautiful, serene and tranquil, a welcome distraction and opposite to the turmoil I'm feeling at the moment.

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