onthebeachinbrazil

My beachin’ beach – Brazil (Tibau du sol)

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There are just so many things I love about the beach, it is my happy place come rain or shine. The salty air, the cool sea breeze in your face, everything just seems to stop while I take it all in.

When the team over at On The Beach contacted me about a photography competition they were running to find the most beachin’ beach, I knew just the place. I’ve been to some awesome beaches, wide, bracing ones in Holland, white, heavenly ones in The Caribbean (too many years ago!) but the one beach that sticks in my mind is the wild, sensational beach I visited back in 2006 in Brazil.

For me this beach is the one, the one I will never, ever forget. It wasn’t just a lush beach where you could soak up a few rays, it was a raw, wild, natural beach – the very best kind. I walked the vast coastline every day soaking up not only the warm sun but the immense feeling. It was one of greatness, not of my own but of nature and just how big, beautiful and powerful it is.

The beach was wide and long… so long you couldn’t see to the end of it. I felt small and humble as I watched eagles swoop in and out of the trees on the rugged clifftop and the wild waves curl up to the shoreline. The sand stretched out before me following the path of the cliffs, quiet and untouched. Dolphins and porpoises playfully jumped the waves as did the infamous surfers of Brazil. It was absolutely a divine place in all sense of the word. It was a place you felt, touched and breathed in the great beauty of the world.

I often wonder what it is about the beach that draws me in so much, maybe it is the soothing sounds of the ocean, the peace you can find there or simply the realisation as you look out to sea, that adventure is yours for the taking.

Right now I am totally inspired to win, let’s hope I’m beach bound very soon… wish me luck!

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rutland-water

It is that time of year when everyone goes mad for those beautiful little blue flowers – bluebells! We are lucky to live close to Rutland Water, a wonderful reservoir surrounded by woodland and countryside. It is fab for biking, for walking, for playing, for picnicing and for bluebells! Over the half term we took a trip down to Rutland water with some friends in search of the magical little flowers and found them in abundance.

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Littlelish loves everything and anything a little bit fairytale (as do I) and is currently reading The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton which she adores. So you can imagine how excited we were to have the whole bluebell wood to ourselves. With our imagination fired up we admired these beautiful flowers, the children totally in their element, dreaming of fairies, pixies and enchanted trees. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by a carpet of blue flowers to make you smile.

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This week I am joining in with Living Arrows, a wonderful project created by the mums at I heart Snapping. Living Arrows is about capturing the beauty and magic of childhood.

My camera is never far from arms length and I love to be able to capture the small but unique details of our lives. This particular picture was taken, one sunny day last week when we all spent the afternoon in the garden. Mummy was weeding and Littlelish was making mudpies. It is unbelievable how much joy one child can get from mud. She doesn’t care if she gets covered from head to toe, playing with mud is a wonderful sensory experience for her and makes her very, very happy as you can see by the smile on her face.

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ll-and-pup

Littlelish loves animals. I often sit back and watch with amazement how gentle, unafraid and calm she is around them. It is beautiful to watch and something that comes so naturally to her. Even as a tiny toddler at the farm she was the one feeding all the sheep and goats, no fear of their large mouths and jerky movements. When we got chickens in the back garden it was her aged 3, who showed mummy how to pick them up and not be afraid. For her fourth birthday, the present she wanted most of all was to ride a horse which she took to with incredible confidence and determination. She will already tell you she wants to be a vet when she is older.

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Her one and only wish since she was old enough to talk was to have a dog of her own. Everytime she blew out her birthday candles, I knew what she was thinking…  When she was old enough to write she wrote a wish for the fairies and put it on her window sill. The pink flowery paper said one word… D O G.

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Luckily the rest of the family really wanted a dog too so when we were ready we started to look into the possibilities. I will never forget taking the trip to choose our new pup. Littlelish climbed back into the car having chosen the one with the red collar and turned to me with two wet eyes (welled up with tears of happiness) and said excitedly “I can’t believe we are getting a puppy”. It was one of the sweetest, most heartwarming things I have ever seen.

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Our new arrival is a fox red labrador puppy. He is absolutely beautiful, with a lovely nature. He is a calm (apart from when he smells roast chicken), soft and strong with a very intelligent mind. He has settled in well and is already very much a part of the family. Littlelish just adores having him around and they spend hours playing together already. She snuggles up in his bed with him, plays fetch and is trying to teach him not to eat her toes. We are all excited about our new doggie adventures!

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Slowly but surely decorating is taking over my life, it’s lucky I love interior design as much as I do. Transforming the house from top to bottom is quite a big job but I am determined to inject a bit of colour and personality to our blank canvas and create a warm, fun family home. With Littlelish’s bedroom and the kitchen complete so far, we are getting there!

One room we haven’t looked at yet is the master bedroom. The team over at Look Again have come up with ‘refresh rather than relocate’, a competition aimed at bloggers. The idea is to create a moodboard and source key pieces up to the value of £750 from the Look again website to help you to refresh a room in your house. I thought it would be fun to play along, I love a creative challenge and could do with finalising my ideas for the bedroom. Who knows I might even win and be able to create my fab look!

I have created a moodboard called Time Traveller which would be how I would like to transform my bedroom. The moodboard is totally and utterly me, perhaps a little peak into my soul, I’m a bit bohemian, a lot of a dreamer, I love travelling, old things with character and a story, shells, the beach and lovely old gnarled wood. So that was my inspiration for Time Traveller, a heady mix of global far off places and times past.

I wanted to create a room that I would feel very at home, calm and relaxed in. I want to surrounded myself by all the things I love. Soft greys, blues and whites with a zing of lemon yellow. Lovely wooden furniture with character and finishing touches and accessories from far off places to capture the imagination and take me on a journey.

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I found some wonderful things on the Look Again website which made choosing a little difficult. Luckily I had my moodboard to guide me in the right direction and select the pieces I not only loved but that I felt would work together. So with the time traveller theme in mind I chose pieces that were either inspired by travel like the chinese looking bedside tables, the wonderful embroidered cushion and the intricate elephant figures or by times gone by like the vintage looking clock and the stunning gilt mirror.

The white waffle bedding was chosen because quite frankly I don’t think there is a much better feeling than jumping into lovely, fresh, white bed linen. I love the contrast of the throw and the beautiful colour and texture which I thought would compliment any wooden furniture I added later. I added extra textures with the cushions, I especially love the pop of yellow which is my favourite colour and how it picks up the lighter colours in the embroidered cushion.

The artwork is just a lovely collection of pieces that make me smile, I love shells so the shell canvases are very appealing to me as is the gorgeous canvas of the pooch which just makes me go aaaaaw. I think the overall effect is an eclectic bedroom with influences from different times and places but with a very modern look and feel. I’d keep it light and fresh with elements of wood, I’d like to add some lovely driftwood somewhere too. I’m undecided as of yet what colour I would do the walls but possibly a nice warm, very light shade of grey or even the lovely wallpaper I’ve featured in my moodboard (that I had to exclude in the total makeover as it made me go over on budget!).

My bedroom makeover comprises of 2 grey bedside tables £110, vintage world map clock £22, white waffle bedding £50, drift bed throw £80, mirror £250, lyrics artwork £13, puppy love canvas £30, grey cushion £14, yellow cushion £17, patterned cushion £50, shell canvases £18 and elephant figures £20. The total of which comes to £784.

So are you inspired to refresh rather than relocate too? I think it is great to find ways we can reinvent a space as well as reusing or upcycling things. So often we just fall out of love with something and move on to the next thing without thinking of creative ways we could give it a new lease of life.

And refreshing, reusing or upcycling needn’t cost the earth. A tin of paint can have a huge impact in a room, if you can’t afford to paint all the walls just add a burst of colour on one! In the bedroom a new duvet, throw and cushions can change the entire look and feel of a room. Throw a patterned tablecloth over your dining room table and add a new canvas to the wall and you can acheive a transformation in minutes. Be creative and inspired and if you need some help, look on Pinterest or make yourself a moodboard to channel your idea  :)

anchor-and-compass

I love silver charm jewellery. It is so versatile and can easily add the finishing touch to either jeans and a top (pretty much my standard mum uniform) or pretty spring dress.

Lily Charmed is a British jewellery company who create beautiful detailed, charm necklaces, bracelets and earrings. This week sees the launch of their new polished silver range which is now available in all charm designs as well as the traditional gold or matt silver finish.

So I could see just how lovely the new finish was they sent me a gorgeous anchor charm and compass charm on a silver chain and some star earrings.

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I was delighted to receive the little white boxes tied up with turquoise ribbon and felt very special opening them! They were every bit as beautiful and delicate as they looked on the pictures and the silver polish finish was really lovely and shiny (great for spring and summer with a tan). I’ve happily worn my anchor and compass charms all week with a variety of different outfits, I love them and can tell that they are going to be become a firm favourite!

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I particularly like the originality and variety of charm designs from Lily Charmed and could see myself starting a little collection as there are so many I like. I’ve also spotted some beauties to give as gifts, which they are perfect for as each charm piece comes with a beautiful card frame explaining the meaning behind the charm. This can also be personalised to make it even more appropriate and special, the perfect present for bridesmaids, mums, sisters or best friends.

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I am thrilled to be able to giveaway one polished silver wishbone necklace which I think is just adorable (if no-one enters, I may just be able to keep it! Fingers crossed).

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All you need to do is enter via the rafflecopter and leave me your comment with your wish, “I wish for…” You can add further entries by following both Lily Charmed and Lish Concepts on social media and subscribing to my blog. Good luck and may all your wishes come true :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

 

 

lovely mosaic

With British homes now only half the size they were in the 1920s, we’re all battling with less space. Which can make home improvements tricky to say the least. But with clever design, good planning and the right fittings, it is still possible to create something special in a small space. Small bathrooms can be particularly difficult to redesign, but from mixer showers to well-placed mirrors, there’s lots of things you can do to create the feeling of more space.

Here are 10 design tips to get you started:

bathrooms design sponge

Image source: Design Sponge

Use some signature wallpaper

Make a small bathroom more interesting with a bit of statement wallpaper on at least a couple of the walls. Just make sure you use one that’s made specifically for bathrooms, which will cope with the damp, warm conditions.

decor pad pink bathroom

Image source: Decor Pad

White with hints of pink

White walls will open up a bathroom, making it feel spacious. Make sure you add really colourful towels and accessories – pink is always a good contrast – to create a bit of interest.

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Image source: House to Home

The monochrome look

Even though light colours work well in bathrooms, you can still use darker shades in a small bathroom. You just need to make sure you balance them with a paler suite. Large-format tiles will mean less grout lines and a less cluttered, sleeker feel.

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Image source: Flickr

The hotel-style bathroom

Create a beautiful hotel-style feel by using a counter top basin and a statement vanity unit, both of which will help you with extra storage.

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Image source: ideasgn

Make the shower the bathroom

Consider mixer showers and showers that don’t have a threshold or door, creating the largest possible showering space within the standard bathroom footprint of older homes. This type of shower is separated from the rest of the room visually rather than structurally. The continuous floor surface also offers easy accessibility for all ages. For lots of shower options, take a look at Mira mixer showers.

mirrors my scaninavian home

Image source: My scandinavian home

Well-placed mirrors

Enhance the feeling of space within a small neutral bathroom with the use of mirrors. Use a large wall-mounted mirrored cabinet to reflect light around the bathroom.

feature wall sweet peach

Image source: Sweet Peach blog

Make a feature wall

One painted feature wall can really open up a small bathroom. Keep the rest of the walls plain white to make sure you don’t overwhelm the space with too many patterns and clashing colours.

house to home mosaic

Image source: House to Home

Mosaic tiles

Iridescent mosaic tiles will catch light and reflect it back into small bathrooms, helping create a greater sense of space. They also help to add a little touch of luxury!

freestanding bath country living

Image source: Country Living

Get a freestanding bath

Freestanding baths allow more of the bathroom floor to be seen, which will instantly make your bathroom feel bigger. Use a vanity unit with good-sized cabinets for a good storage solution.

glass shower door

Image source: Unknown – Pinterest

Ditch the shower curtains!

As soon as you open shower curtains, your bathroom suddenly feels lighter and more spacious. Install a transparent shower door instead of curtains, to create an airy sensation even in the smallest space.

So there are our 10 design tips for smaller bathrooms. Even if your bathroom is as bijou as they come, everything from mixer showers to large tiles can help make it seem that little bit bigger.

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home-exhibition

Last week saw the return of The Ideal Home Show to Earl’s Court. I find this one of the more inspiring home trade shows and enjoy wandering round taking note of what the big brands in home and design are working on as well as discovering lesser known retailers and listening to some of the fantastic speakers. One of the other reasons I like to visit is because I love imagining I have a million pounds burning a hole in my pocket and can furnish my dream home (who else plays this game?)… I’ll have one sauna and one very large hot tub, please!

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I was invited to the show by Ekornes (makers of the fabulous stressless furniture) who recruited a team of lifestyle bloggers to visit the show and pick out their top finds. It wasn’t really a difficult job, my trained style spotting eye can pick out a beauty with no trouble at all. What was more difficult was spending the £100 we were given to blow on our top picks. I know, I know I’ve got a tough job but someone has to do it. We also had an really informative talk by Ekornes all about their furniture and just what makes it so ridiculously comfortable. As you can see I was totally taken by officially the world’s comfiest office chair.

I’ve featured my absolute favourite finds here as well including the ones that ended up coming home with me which were the beautiful bowl handcrafted in Turkey, the Sass and Belle photo frames, 2 lovely jewellery trees from Sass and Belle and lots of lovely allium bulbs to plant in my garden!

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Another definite highlight for me was checking out the inspirational room sets. Always interesting to look at, it was especially fab to see these were created with a style very close to my own, yes these were very, very much up my street and could happily make their way over to my home, please. As I have a ton of photos to share with you I will also include some more inspiration over on my I’m home honey interiors blog. Overall, I noticed a lot of shades of grey and blue, yellow accents, metallic especially copper and industrial chic this time round which I particularly liked.

The Ideal Home Show is still running up until the 30th of March so there is still time to pay them a visit this week and see it all for yourself! A big thank you Ekornes for inviting me to the show and giving me some spending money.

…holidays are expensive, pets are expensive, houses are expensive, bills are expensive. I don’t think there is a family out there that wouldn’t be keen to save some money on their bills, I know we would. I’ve been reading about the new initiative from British Gas called HIVE which has been designed for families just like us that want to keep their heating bills low.

So the concept is that you get to control your heating anytime, anywhere. British Gas install a wireless receiver, thermostat and hub and you have an online account and an app on your phone or tablet or laptop to control it with. So why would you want to control your heating using an app? Isn’t that a little lazy? Ok sure if you are at home you could get off your bum and turn the heating on and off, but think about all those times that you are not at home and your heating or hot water is heating an empty house. Not exactly energy efficient is it?

Even though we try to be careful in our house, we still manage to waste energy. Like when we are on holiday or away for the weekend and the heating comes on all the same or when we are out for an evening and the house is nice and toasty but for who? Just by stopping this wastage, turning off your heating remotely when you don’t need it, you could save up to £150 on your energy bill a year. Hive Active Heating™ works with your existing heating system so you don’t need to change your setup, you don’t even need to change your supplier, you just get an engineer from British Gas to come and fit the technology and that is it!

As well as saving money there are other perks to being able to control your heating and hot water from afar… you can turn on your hot water by the press of a button so your bath is ready to run when you get home from a long day… you can set a temperature alert so that when the temperature drops below a certain level the heating kicks in… and you can even set a special frost alert to stop your pipes from freezing if you are away from home. Genius!

With that in mind I thought I’d share Littlelish’s and my current wishlist with you, things that we would love to have but just don’t have the extra cash for right now, unless we saved £150 by installing HIVE…Oh wait, we may have just bought one of these things, which will arrive next month… and might help to keep us warm, can anyone guess what it might be??

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This post is written in collaboration with Tesco Compare home insurance who aim to find you a competitive quote from a range of providers, ensuring you get the best deal for your family home and its contents.

As you know we’ve been working really hard on our house recently. We’ve laid a new floor and all the rooms are getting an introduction of colour and a few new pieces of furniture. It feels wonderful to see it coming together and slowly turning into the family home we are dreaming of. Making my house and my surroundings beautiful are so important to me, not only because I am a very visual person who is sensitive to their surroundings but also because it is the place I spend the most time with my family and friends and I want it to be warm, cosy, fun and friendly.

The kitchen truly is the heart of the family home in my world. It is where you will find us eating together, cooking together, drawing together and welcoming friends and family with a nice cup of tea. We are lucky to have quite a spacious kitchen in the new house but up until recently is was nothing but a big empty space and a very white wall. The room definitely needed a focal point and somewhere for us to sit!

As part of our mission to make the house more of a family home we decided to move our dining room table into the kitchen. It was so important to Littlelish and I to have somewhere to sit together to do things like homework and for us all to have somewhere to eat informally as a family.

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Once we had the table in place it was time to look for some suitable kitchen chairs. I knew what I had in mind, something contemporary, practical and fun, that wouldn’t break the bank. Eventually we found a gorgeous fresh, contemporary chair with a white plastic seat which works perfectly in a kitchen space frequented by little sticky hands. It has some great wooden legs which match with the table and at £49 from Tesco Direct they were a steal!

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We painted the wall Fossil grey by Dulux which we decided was a nice base shade that we could use as a backdrop for any accent colours we might want to introduce. I finished the wall off with a display of photographs, artwork and drawings from Littlelish. Just a little collection of things that make us smile every morning as we eat our breakfast :)

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Our kitchen has been transformed into a useable family room and we are making much better use of the space that we had available. The overall makeover may not be completely finished, I’m still thinking of adding some more colour into the room, perhaps some more blue to match with our dinner service and some shelves to house our cookery books which are currently piled up on the floor but we are very nearly there!

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Disclosure: Tesco Compare provided us with the lovely chairs for review and helped to make our house that bit more a home :) We will absolutely be looking into insuring the contents of our home against accidental damage, you never know what can happen in a house with a 4 year old and a new puppy!

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