Tag Archives: mum

It’s a girl, but the nursery ain’t pink

It’s been a while since I posted – apologies, but I’m busy being preggers dont’cha know!

There’s still stuff I want to show you from our home and I promise to do it in the coming weeks – including the reveal of our amazing over-the-top utility room. But for now, how’s this for a different type of reveal. A gender reveal.

Apparently gender reveal parties are all the rage Stateside and, never one to pass by an opportunity for a party that features cake, we held our own. A small select gathering assembled to scoff the cakes – made by my own fair hand. Boy predictors took the  blue cakes and girl predictors took the pink….thankfully, we had an even split of opinion.

Baby gender cakes

We then ceremoniously bit into the cakes to reveal the  pink cream and the secret was out! It was a lot of fun and there was much squealing. Well, as much as possible with mouthfuls of cake.

baby gender reveal cupcake

We’re over the moon to be having a daughter and very shocked, given Oly’s family history is all male for several generations (and apparently its the male genes that decide). So, she’s the one who broke the mould – I suspect that may become a recurring theme in her life!

It also feels kind of fitting for me to have a daughter, linking the bond I had with my beloved mum – and, in recognition of this, her middle name will be Mary, which was my mum’s name. We do have a first name in mind but, for now, she is Tiny T (T being the first letter of our surname).

And I’m pleased(?!) to report she’s a stubborn little so-and-so. Two recent scans have both required long breaks, jumping around, cola drinking and much prodding to get the little bugger to turn around. The sonographer also got particularly excited by this shot:

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She’s apparently picking her nose. That’s my girl!!

So, anyway, now we know the flavour of our baby it’s easier to plan other things as well as bond with her instead of referring to ‘it’.

But no, the nursery will not now be pink. Nope. No chance. We’re really not into that. Pink is a tricky colour – there’s so many lovely shades of it and yet so many awful candy, sugary, bleurrghh shades. We’ve painted it one of our favourite neutrals instead – Cornforth White – the same as our kitchen diner walls.

I’m proud to say I did much of the painting of the nursery though my back suffered a bit the next day. But as F&B paint is water based I didn’t need to worry about toxic fumes so had no excuse really! I keep telling Oly ‘I’m pregnant, not ill’. He, inevitably, uses this phrase against me!

White nursery furniture (if we can ever find any at a decent price) will look great against this shade along with bright colourful accessories so we’re very happy with it. There’s currently no curtains and a scrutty old carpet – so I’ll share pics when there’s more to see.

Of course, we’re well aware that a future decision to paint it candy pink may not be our choice….!

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Master bedroom reveal

For our master bedroom we have turned to the dark side. We dithered about it for a long time but finally bit the bullet and can’t imagine it any other way now.

Here’s how we looked before:

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Bland colours and hideous artex

And now:

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue bedroom

Dramatic boudoir loveliness!

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue bedroom with cabbage White ceiling colour

Light pours in from the massive windows

We know this won’t be to everybody’s taste but – like most things – we don’t care. We absolutely adore it and knew this room could carry it off. The colour is Farrow and Ball’s Hague Blue – in strong daylight quite a true dark blue and at night a dark dark petrol blue verging on black in dark corners.

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue bedroom

Sunburst mirror was an Ebay bargain

Woodwork is in All White for a crisp contrast – same as the cornicing and ceiling rooms.

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue

Door to ensuite

As with everywhere else in the house we wanted to maintain a focus on the original cornicing and feared we would ‘lose’ it if it was also white – so we went with Cabbage White on the ceiling. It’s enough of a contrast with the cornicing without being ‘wow, your ceiling is blue’.

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue Cabbage White ceiling

Light fitting is from Laura Ashley

We agonised over wardrobes and drawers and for a long time thought we’d go with white/ivory furniture. But we realised there would be too much of it and therefore too stark a contrast with the paint.

Barker and Stonehouse furniture

Barker and Stonehouse furniture

Dark wood  – like mahogany – wouldn’t work and we were struggling to find antiques we liked and that would, importantly, fit in the alcoves. And then we found this wonderful warm mango wood, beautifully built and a perfect fit.  (As we ended our long furniture search Oly informed the rather embarrassed saleswoman at Barker and Stonehouse that he had “stroked a lot of wood”.)

Curtains and pole are from the wonderful folks at David James Interiors in Leeds and are such amazing quality they give the room a boutique hotel feel!

Curtains open

Curtains open

Floor length curtains would have been even more dramatic but practicality won out given the positioning of the radiators, which we weren’t really up for moving!

Curtains closed

Curtains closed

And as for the headboard, what can I say? I fell in love with this fabric (Sanderson swallows) when we first started looking for curtains/blinds – albeit in a different colourway. I couldn’t find the right place for it in the house and then suddenly realised it could take a starring role as our headboard – in lime.

Sanderson swallows headboard

Sanderson swallows headboard

Oly was (gently) persuaded this may have been my best idea yet. And it meant we didn’t need to agonise over artwork choice for above the bed.  Ain’t she a stunner?

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No, I don’t iron my bedding. Don’t judge me, it’s super king – gimme a break! And, yes, we need new bedding.

We’ve tried not to clutter the room (quite a feat for me) and also tried not to over style it; it’s a practical, liveable space after all. You’ll notice the total lack of dressing on the bed…..Oly point blank refuses to have cushions/throws etc. I gave up the fight – as I was quite happy once I got my headboard!

Bedside touch lamps are from John Lewis

Bedside touch lamps are from John Lewis

Now, to some of the objects. The dressing table tray was my mum’s, she always kept her hairbrushes on it:

Mitsouko was one of mum's favourites, I'm eeking it out...

Mitsouko was one of mum’s favourites, I’m eeking it out…

And the brass candle stick holder was hers as a child, back when you actually went to bed with a candle.

I love the build up of wax from over the years

I love the build up of wax from over the years

I gave Winne the Pooh to my mum years ago, so he came back to us and went into an antique frame.

Sad, why should I be sad?

Sad, why should I be sad?

Below it the wire art is from Etsy. Since the early days of Oly and I whenever he said ‘I love you’ my retort was always ‘Forever?’. Turns out it is.

The brass knocker was….yep, you guessed it, my mum’s! Most of our interesting objects came from her! She always had this on her bedroom door and it now lives on the door to our ensuite.

Knock knock

Knock knock

It contains the Isle of Man’s motto which translates  as “whichever way you throw me, I will stand.”

Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

We have absolutely no connection to the Isle of Man but mum had to learn to be incredibly resilient, so she bought this for herself and took the motto also.

Here’s some more details from around the room:

We adore this room, we love it in the day and then feel totally cocooned in it at night.

Farrow and Ball Hague Blue bedroom

The dark walls help make a large, tall room feel cosy at night

Night night

Night night

So, be honest, what do you think? Is this for you or would you hate living with the darkness?

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Love is stronger than death

In my last post I showed you our gallery wall, but there was one wall I hadn’t shown you. This one:

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This is on the opposite side of the disco loo and has just three frames, which kind of didn’t go with the rest. All of them are on the sentimental side. Indulge me…….

The first is a card I gave mum for Mothers’ Day in 2009. I found it in her bedside drawer when I had the hideous task of cleaning out the house after she had finally given up the fight against her poor broken body. It was a card in which I had written about how we were both coming to terms with the fact she wouldn’t be with me on my wedding day. I described how, in her absence, I was going to walk myself down the aisle, knowing she was with me every single step. I described how no-one else could take her place.

A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no-one else can take

The second card – that I found in her desk drawer – was one Oly and I spotted in a bookshop in the Lower East Side, NYC, 2010. Whilst we were away she got pneumonia. The card just jumped out at me as what I wanted to know that she knew. She effectively kicked me out when I was 19 – I had delayed going to uni for  a year and then got an unconditional offer for Leeds. She told me if I didn’t go and live my own life then she would kick me out anyway, she would be ok and so would I. So, the hardest thing I have ever done – or will ever do – was to leave my caring role behind and go and find me. No matter what I was doing or where I was, I don’t think I stopped worrying since 1996.

You are in my mind, inbetween red lights and meetings, inbetween sips of coffee, inbetween ringing phones

The final card was the last birthday card she gave me. If you hadn’t yet worked it out – keep up! – I bloody adored my mum; she was incredible. She had the most amazing tenacity, abundant kindness, ridiculous sense of humour and greatest resilience for the constant shit life had thrown at her. She adored Oly – loved him like a son – and he loved her back. She valiantly fought illness for 26 years and we were as close as a mother and daughter could ever be.

This is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart, I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart

When Oly and I were framing these cards we discussed whether they made us sad and we both agreed it was the total opposite.

They remind us of the importance of love and the strength of words, they make us smile.

Mum is buried in a peaceful memorial woodland and, under her growing oak tree is a stone that includes the words: “Dearly loved, and confident that love is stronger than death.”

And, ok, ok, you’re wondering if this indulgent sentimentality really has a place in our disco loo. It has. She’d have died laughing.

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Gallery wall

(Apologies for the terrible photo quality in this post, this is what happens when you take pictures through glass!)

Just when we thought we couldn’t love our Disco Loo more than we already do we’ve gone and added a wall full of happiness.

Disco loo gallery wall with Dulux Proud Peacock

Gallery wall (background colour is Dulux Proud Peacock)

We’ve long had this plan for the main wall in the downstairs loo but have been kind of busy doing the bigger, more important, things in the house – like actually getting it habitable in time for Christmas.

So, as soon as we had the chance we were wading through old cards and photos and trekking off to Ikea for frames. Good old Ikea, what would we do without the humble Ribba frame? Affordable, simple design which – en masse – looks pretty good.

What did we decide to include on the wall? Well, first we went through photos and pulled out ones that make us smile – either for a memory or – more often – for the sheer stupidity. There are photos of my best mate and her gorgeous family, a pair of tiny sandy feet belong to our ‘charge’ (we’re his legal guardians) and there are some that maybe need a little more explanation, for example:

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We helped a friend who was compiling a recipe book by testing out recipes and taking pics. Someone decided to sneak into shot – it’s always made us laugh.

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We got married at Hazlewood and our surname is Tipper. You can imagine the hilarity – in fact, this image was our ‘thank you’ cards. It’s now a family favourite.

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Oly and his bro at our wedding playing ‘horse lips’. Never tried it? Blow a raspberry and take a pic…..

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See? Horse Lips is always fun!

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A few years ago I found this photo at my mum’s. My darling, skint, ill, only just about getting by mum. Turned out she had saved up and bought a water pump for a village in India. She just kind of didn’t tell anyone. Sums her up perfectly.

After we’d decided on photos we looked back at a stash of cards; many of which Oly and I originally gave to my mum over the years. She kept nearly everything we gave her so, when clearing out her house, I came across them stashed in books and drawers. They still make us smile and we like the fact they have kind of gone full circle.

And then there’s this:

Far Side cartoon

Far Side cartoon

This was from a Far Side wall calendar from, probably, about 25years ago. It was cut out and put in a clipframe and hung in my mum’s loo  – Oly has always loved it and the sheer inanity of putting cartoons in unexpected places. So, now it is hung in our unexpected place!

Also, in need of a little explanation is the needlepoint hunting picture.

We couldn’t find a place for this in the main house and – honestly – we’re not too keen on the subject matter yet can appreciate the craftmanship. However, it was given to my grandfather by his mother (made by her) so we wanted it to have a place somewhere. Is it wrong to hang a family heirloom in the loo?!

So, forgive my dodgy photography skills and take a look at what else is included:

To figure out the gallery wall layout we measured the wall space and mapped it out on the floor with tinsel (errrrr, obviously, doesn’t everyone?).   We then created an arrangement we were happy with (with Humph’s help, of course) and took a photo to work to.

We then just transferred the whole lot onto the wall – which took HOURS!! We started with each corner, then along the line until we had the outline, before filling in the middle. We weren’t patient or anal enough to measure and calculate distances between frames, so it definitely has a homespun feel to it and is all the better for it. Well, that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.

It’s almost impossible to get a good shot of the full wall, given the tiny room and space to manoeuvre, but here’s my best shot(s) at it.

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So now this creation makes us smile and hopefully it will amuse our guests too – it’s very “us”.

The Disco Loo is now complete. Well, until I manage to convince Oly that we really do need that revolving glitter ball from Ikea.

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Looks like we made it!

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Over a month ago I promised I would blog the following week. Yeah, about that…… I’ve even had complaints from friends!

But then a very wise blogger commented on one of my recent posts with:

The house will be yours forever – and there’s no hurry to chase forever. xx

Very true, and since then I kind of calmed down on the perfection and certainly stopped feeling guilty for not having updated this site (Oly says my Catholic upbringing means I always default to guilt.)

However, if you’re still interested, I promise to update and fill your screens with pics in 2014.

Today I’ve been cooking and preparing since 7am for the arrival of the outlaws and am just squeezing in this post before their arrival.

So there’s just time to say: WE ONLY BLOODY DID IT! We said 1 year ago that we’d be ready for Christmas 2013 and, well, we are.

And, dear reader, it’s looking pretty fabulous.

We’re exhilarated, exhausted and a tiny bit emotional. I wanted to know my mum would have been proud and – as I hit the worst time of year for missing her like hell – I know she would be.

I’ll leave you with a set of the most hurried festive pics ever – I envy other blogs with their beautifully styled photography – however, it gives the general idea.

May God bless us, every one.

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Scandinavian kitchen soul

Edwardian shooting party

My great grandfather is head of the far end of table, this was taken in 1907.

The family name of my grandfather, Schweder, loosely translates as Swedish, in German.

(Here’s a lovely link I found about my great-grandfather  and the “Smelly Nuisance Case” at Courtlands – which was the childhood home of my grandfather, but that’s another story……)

Anyway, the reason for mentioning the Scandinavian connection is that our kitchen diner is now home to a few mid century bits and bobs that echo this ancestry.

Despite the Swedish genealogy it was Norway that stole my grandfather’s heart on several visits – and so it was that my mum had a few Norwegian items that have now passed into our possession.

Nowegian ceramic plaque back

The back of one of the ceramic plaques

They are objects I have grown up with so they feel very familiar and immediately make a new space feel like home for me. They include:

Glass tankards – I never knew these to get used, instead they lived in a Welsh Dresser my grandfather made. I saw them whenever I went to get out the banana split dishes (which were used a lot!). As a child I never appreciated the design, I am making up for it now.

A handpainted Figgjo Saga jug –  it lived on mum’s bookshelves, so now it lives on ours.

Norwegian ceramic plaques – there were some more that I grew up with but my brother had these as we decided to split the collection since he also knew them so well. The plaque of the cook that always hung in our kitchen was a present to mum from her father – he said it always reminded him of her.  I’m afraid I fought my brother quite fiercely for this one, since I was the household cook from the age of 10!!

Cathrineholm pans – I cannot describe how many times these have been used. Growing up they were a firm focus of the kitchen as my mum taught me to cook – “just bung it in the Norwegian casserole”. The Christmas pudd was always flamed in one, the gammon always simmered in the same. It was only recently I spotted one on Etsy and learnt its name and the fact they’re collectable! You can tell from the pics they have had good use and will for many more years to come.  (FYI – Cathrineholm isn’t a  person;  it’s the name of a factory outside Halden, Norway. )

I love these pieces; cherish them alongside my sparkly new stuff. They have the history of my grandfather bringing them back from Norway and then my mum loving and using them.

I love the link to my Scandinavian ancestry (as if the pasty skin wasn’t enough to remind me daily) and it’s all these things that give them soul.

Kitchen island pendant lightI freely admit to a ridiculous, almost over-bearing at times, sentimental attachment to objects and love to find tenuous links.

It’s no wonder then that the lights that hang over our kitchen island are from Sweden. I knew they were right when I spotted them but the thought of a little link to my Scandinavian past, quite literally, hanging around, clinched the deal.

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Peace

A recent trip to Ikea saw us pick up this beauty:

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

It looks stunning against the Cornforth White and immediately brings a sense of calm to a corner of the room.

It has an emotional connection also as years ago I gave my mum a very small peace lily (lilies were always ‘our’ flower) and she nurtured it and looked after it until it was the same size as this one.

Two years ago when clearing her house my brother took the lily and I always wished I’d insisted that I should take it.

So now I’ve got one of my own and it can be ‘our’ flower once more; a little unexpected inner peace.

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