Fashion For Kids

Baby Elfie in spots and stripes

I’d just about gotten comfortable with dressing myself when I got pregnant with Elfie. Not in a practical sense, like “Yeah, I can finally get my hand through my sleeve”, but on a “Does this top go with theses trousers?” sense. I was working for a magazine in London, going to fashion week, constantly thinking about what I was wearing.  And once I’d got it down to a fine art Elfie arrived so then not only did I have to think about outfits for myself but there was another, cuter person to dress. And now I have two. So I’m thinking about my own fashion sense, my toddler fashion sense and my baby fashion sense. It’s a sartorial minefield.

 

Learning to crawl in GAP dungarees

I knew from the start that I wasn’t into traditional baby clothes. I hated the pink, frilly, flowery business that you see so often. I like more unisex colours on Elfie: blue, green, white. I like polka dots and stripes, not butterflies and fairies. I’m not a fan of baby blue on Hux – I prefer green again, stripes and because Hux’s grandfather was a sailor, boats.

 

A denim dress, stripes and UGGS

When we went to Nottingham for Elfie’s last hospital appointment we got so saturated with rain that I had to buy new outfits for everyone; the best of the bad bunch for Hux had slogans all over them, ‘Mummy’s New Man’ and ‘Handsome Like My Daddy’. I know some people go nuts for these sorts of things on kids but I cringed all the way through buying them. It’s just not me, and because the kids can’t speak yet it’s not them either.

Spots and a Zara shirt

We were lucky with both children that we were generously handed down lots of lovely clothes but when it comes to buying new ones I struggle somewhat. John Lewis has a great kid’s range but is a bit more than I like to pay, ditto GAP (though the sale is great and I buy a lot of stuff at this time) so I generally look to H&M and the internet for inspiration.

This time around I bought my favourite sleepsuits from Next (stars, animals and rainbow stripes = winner) along with some awesome baby chinos. I magically found some striped tshirts at Tesco (similar) and along with Elfie’s old unisex bits we’ve had enough clothes to last the summer. Though unfortunately, because our summer has been non-existant he’s pretty much existed in the same 6 babygros that have been rotated. No cute tshirts here.

A special note here for the amazing baby tux that Huxley sported at my Sister-in-Law’s wedding from H&M. Also, the speed that babies grow out of their clothes is just crazy. It’s insane. Babies = weeds. 

One of my favourite online sources for kids clothing is Oh Baby London. They’re based on Brick Lane and have some amazing Olympic-themed outfits at the moment. Who wouldn’t want their kid wearing a faux-Olympic medal?! I’m also well into their lightening-bolt pieces, and check out their Hawaiian prints. Here are my picks from their current collection:

 

 

KyNa Boutique is an online clothing store dealing only in the best-quality organic kid’s clothes. The boutique was started by my friend Jenny when she discovered one of her sons had eczema and she found the need for fun and fashionable clothing that wouldn’t irritate his skin. Jenny was kind enough to send me a gorgeous onesie (not a hint of a cringey logo!) as a gift for Hux when he was born – here’s what I’m loving from their current collection:

 

I have an Organic Zoo Bee bodysuit (see above) to give away to one lucky MTT reader (thanks Jenny!), age 6-12 months. Check out those awesome elbow patches! If you’d like to win please enter via the Rafflecopter thingy by telling me what your favourite item of clothing is from the picks above (apart from the bodysuit, obviously). You get one extra entry for tweeting about this competition. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Huxley at 10 Weeks

 

Huxtable, Hux, Huxey, Monkeyface… my little man is 10 weeks old. And I could not love him any more than I do. I don’t know what it is about this baby but he is so thoroughly adorable it hurts, and I’m sure I’m not being biased here just because he’s my son. He’s so handsome, so pretty. So wonderful!

 

 

Hux now smiles and I’m sure he saves his best ones for me. It’s the first thing he does when I talk to him, and his smiles are the best thing ever – including his funny little tongue which he doesn’t seem to have any control over at the moment. He has also giggled, TWICE!, both times when my nipple has been in his mouth which makes me think that perhaps nipple time = happy time? He loves his mummy milk, that’s for sure.

 

 

We’re still breastfeeding which is something I’m really really proud of. I can’t believe that I’m sustaining a person and helping him grow to such an extent by just using my milk. With Elfie I’d Gina Forded things up by this point but Hux is such a lovely easygoing happy baby, I haven’t felt the need to implement any sort of routine. Some days he feeds every hour, some days every three. Whatever he likes, I’m easy.

 

 

Hux dealt wonderfully with our trip to Spain; slept all the way on the plane, chilled out in the heat at our apartment, gave lots of cuddles to his Aunties and looked amazing at the wedding (Hux in a tux!). It still blows my mind that kids his age need passports – I remember being a name on a page in my parent’s passport until I was 15  - it’s crazy his passport will now last him til 2017. Because of course, he’ll look exactly like this at the age of five.

 

 

He is so patient with his big sister who is always asking  me where ‘Bubba’ is. She loves to hug him multiple times a day but she still doesn’t know how to be a bit more gentle with him. Nutting a baby is not the best way to start a day, right Elfie? She loves to walk alongside the pram holding onto it and she’s always trying to pick him up. She fails, obviously, as he weighs half her weight, but it’s nice that she likes to try I suppose.

 

 

Huxley’s independence has come on leaps and bounds in the last few weeks. He now sleeps in his BedNest rather than in my arms and is happy to spend half an hour or so kicking in his bouncy chair whilst I make dinner. It has made such a difference as I’ve been able to get so much more stuff done recently (erm, cleaning, cooking and blogging mostly. Thrilling stuff). I miss the closeness sometimes and when we nap we might sleep next to each other, but that’s more for me than him. I need my sleepy cuddles.

 

 

As much as Elfie is a Daddy’s girl at the moment, Hux is a total Mummy’s boy. I suppose that’s to be expected as I am the source of his food but I’m trying to make the most of it while it lasts. I’m sure he’ll become a boistrous toddler before we know it, but for now, he’s my boy.

 

 

If there’s one thing we are noticing about Hux over Elfie it is how quickly he is growing. I have bags and bags of clothes that he’s already outgrown: things that he only wore once or twice. I’m keeping them all just in case but it’s still a huge shock to the system how brief these baby stages are. Elfie was so poorly that she remained a small baby much longer than she should have but there’s certainly nothing wrong with our little man in the growth department.

Hux has slotted so comfortably into Harold family life, I forget how we managed with only one child. He is going to grow up to be a wonderful human being and I can’t wait to see it.

Hux at 4 weeks

Corners Of My Home #1

Crystal vase of pink roses

Being a bit of a nosy person I love to see in people’s homes. If Estate Agents didn’t have such shoddy reputations I’m sure if would have been a great career for me. There’s nothing I think is more revealing of a person than the inside of their home, am I right?

When it comes to me I think I’m pretty house proud but happy to be in a home that’s ‘lived-in’, yes I like things to be as clean and tidy and smelling of bleach (die, germs, die) but you’ll still find muddy boots in the hallway, a toy car in the bathroom and the perpetual pile of washing on the bed.

I’m a big fan of interiors blogs but often they’re a little too perfect, a little too dream-life. Where are the French doors covered in toddler toothpaste? Not on Apartment Therapy, that’s for sure. So the recent ‘Corners of my Home’ feature that some of my favourite bloggers have been posting recently is awesome; it’s like snooping through someone’s front window without getting caught (though I ask: why live at street level if you don’t want people looking through your window? Just saying…).

Here are some current favourite nooks and corners of my home, in the dining room, kitchen and hallway.

One of the shelves in the kitchen

Kitchen shelf with cards and flowers

This is a lifesaver for the long hours I spend cooking: my DAB radio

John Lewis Radio

Glasses in the dining room

‘A Visual Compendium of Haircuts in Popular Music’ from PopChart Labs – needs hanging – and a collection of animal ornaments from our travels (plus the Eiffel Tower) 

Haircut poster

Part of my Royal mug collection

Royal mugs

Hallway Herbs

With two babies in nappies a downstairs changing station is necessary.

Psst: see more of my house here

A Long Weekend In Madrid

 

 

This weekend we did the unthinkable. We got on a plane with a toddler and a newborn baby for a long weekend in Madrid. I was pretty terrified of he we’d survive the flight, the heat, the upset in sleeping patterns, the unfamiliar surroundings, but I really needn’t have worried as we all had a wonderful time. There were a few missed naps which led to tears and tantrums but nothing worse than we’ve experienced at home.

 

 

We were there to celebrate the wedding of my sister in law, Becky, who’s lived in Spain as long as I’ve known her. I find it really funny that’s she’s never known as Rebecca anymore as Rebecca translated in to Spanish is cardigan. Snort. She is basically Spanish now though, when we went for a cocktail the day before the wedding the barman commented how good her English was for a Spaniard and was amazed when I told him she was English.

 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, between 37 and 40 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Becky had bought a paddling pool for Elfie which we set up on the balcony of our (gorgeous) rented apartment and she had a ball cooling down in there. And for the times it was too hot we always had Peppa Pig on the iPad.

 

 

The first night we ate in a proper Spanish restaurant – on arrival at 9pm it was filled to the brim with noisy, gesticulating families tucking into huge platters of fresh shellfish. Will and I stayed there with the kids for about an hour before Elfie got too fractious after a day of no naps and needed to go to bed. The food we did manage to eat was absolutely delicious – meaty prawns and langoustines, amazing clams and really tender, delicious octopus. And I don’t even like Octopus!

 

 

The wedding itself was in a flower shop in the centre of Madrid, a glass building with a lovely old courtyard garden where the 7pm ceremony took place. Fairy lights and flowers were everywhere and fans were handed out to quell the heat that still hovered at 38 degrees, even at that time of night. Hux slept through most of the evening and Elfie went slightly crazy before falling asleep in a tiny moses basket at 11pm with her feet hanging out the top. Whilst everyone partied on at a rooftop hotel bar, Will and I did the grownup thing and wheeled the sleeping babes home through the balmy streets at midnight.

 

 

Madrid is such a gorgeous city – amazing architecture and parks – and I was amazed at the cleanliness of it (aside from a huge amount of dog crap). We stayed in the area of Anton Martin, and trekked around the locality on foot rather than use the Metro which involved a lot of stairs (difficult with the pram in such heat). In every other respect the Metro was wonderful – such great value for money at 1.50 euros for a single trip, air conditioned and OMG 3G signal! Unless you pre-booked a cab you couldn’t get car seats but we managed to transport Elfie and Huxley safely to and from the airport thanks to a great car company who supplied us with the proper safety equipment.

 

 

The kids were so well behaved the whole time we were there and handled the heat like champs. Hux hung out in a borrowed moses basket most of the time, snoozing on and off, and Elfie flittered between Aunties, stickers, Peppa Pig and the paddling pool.

On the last evening we spent some time with Becky’s new Spanish family, an interesting evening given the language divide, but we got through it with lots of hand gestures and the newlyweds acting as translators. Elfie loved playing with her new Spanish friends, turns out when you can’t speak Spanish OR English that well you can communicate through playing. And weird hats.

 

 

I found out that evening that Becky’s new Spanish Cousin-in-Law, a nurse, spent the whole wedding carrying around some emergency medicine for Elfie. She’d already translated all of Elfie’s medical notes for us in case anything happened and I was so touched to find out that she was watching out for us. You don’t see that sort of kindness in many places these days, we were incredibly grateful.

 

 

It was such a wonderful weekend; congratulations Becky and Ivan! We love you both and can’t wait to come back to Madrid for more fun, summer wine and octopus. Salud!!! 

 

An Olympics Ticket Appeal For Kirsty

Do you remember my best friend Kirsty? She of ‘Happy Birthday, David!’ fame and my turning 26 celebrations last year? Kirsty was the first friend I made when I moved to London 6 years ago and is a non-stop source of laughs, love and fun. She helped me get my last job and has had a huge impact on my life. In a nutshell she’s a wonderful, thoughtful, kind, hilarious human being. Everyone needs a friend like Kirsty in their lives.

Kirsty is currently living it up in New York for a year which is great because I get to experience adventures vicariously through her but not so great because I can only see her on Skype. She’s still a total Londoner though and rushed to sign up for Olympics tickets when registration first opened. She’s been excited about the games for YEARS – she’s flying home specially – but has just found out that she needs to have a small operation on 8th August and it clashes with all her tickets. Big bummer.

Kirsty is heartbroken that she might not be able to use her tickets that were so longed for, she got up at 5am and spent over £400 on them, and I’m heartbroken for her potentially missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

She sent an email to me last week asking if I might know someone who might like to swap tickets for her events. I thought I’d go one better and see if I could use my blog to spread the word.

Kirsty’s op is on the 8th August and the tickets she has are for Athletics (8th August, 10am) and Women’s Basketball (9th August, 9pm). She has a pair of tickets to each.

If anyone has tickets they might fancy swapping on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th August then please EMAIL ME.  It would mean the world to me and my BFF if she got to go to The Games, and would help me make her happy after she’s been such a wonderful friend to me over the years.

Please spread the word – and thank-you!

PS: Hola! We’ve been on a family trip to Madrid. Normal service will resume shortly.
PPS: IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

MTT: Garlic Oil

Do you remember about 4 or 5 years ago, when Pizza Express had those vouchers for 241 pizzas all over the internet? We used to meet our friends there after work most Fridays and have a night of Pizza and wine. And this is when my serious garlic obsession began.

I always ordered the same pizza, the La Reine, and the discovery of garlic oil as an addition to it was a revelation. I’d drip it alllll over the pizza, save extra for the crusts, and would basically honk of garlic for the next couple of days. It tasted SO GOOD though it was almost worth the looks of disgust and friends wafting their hands in front of their noses whenever they spoke to me. Plus I was engaged to Will then, so didn’t really need to worry about not smelling.

Ever since then I’ve used Garlic in as many dishes as I can: slow-roasted lamb, pasta, roast chicken, homemade chicken kievs, guacamole… it’s my hero ingredient, goes into everything. On the odd speedy-cooking occasion I will use Waitrose’s lazy garlic, but more often than not I’ll add a bit of garlic to my meals with some homemade garlic oil.

This is one of the easiest recipes I will ever post but it really transforms some foods; it adds a great edge to spaghetti carbonara, grilled meats or even to plain pasta. It’s a kitchen staple of mine and I can’t recommend it enough.

Homemade Garlic Oil
 
I use a lovely glass bottle that once held cordial from M&S, but any glass bottle will do.
Ingredients
  • 1 glass bottle
  • 1 pouring spout (mine was from The Scullery kitchen shop in Muswell Hill many moons ago)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 750ml olive oil
Instructions
  1. Thoroughly clean and dry your glass bottle.
  2. Crack open your garlic and peel the individual cloves. I do this by slicing off the rough flat side then crushing the clove with the flat blade of a knife. It makes it a lot easier to remove the skin this way.
  3. Put all the cloves in the bottle and pour in the oil.
  4. Infuse somewhere out of the way for a week or so with the lid on.

PS: Please take a quick look at this information about the link between botulism and garlic oil.