Tuesday, 29 October 2013


When you work from home, things can get a little bit chilly. Can't justify putting on the heating so I've been layering up as the temperature drops, my favourite layer being my Orla Kiely HEATTECH top from UNIQLO. I bought it a while back and it always gets a compliment - it's perfect to wear under a chunky short-sleeve cardigan or jumper.

Well, Orla's back with a range of lovely prints for HEATTECH, a lightweight thermal range. I love the squirrel design and the mustard flower print. Might just have to invest in a couple more tops, seeing as it's nearly winter and all that. Which would you choose?

Shop the New Orla Kiely Collection.

Orla not your bag? Try the Celia Birtwell collection.

Monday, 28 October 2013


Easy halloween craft, healthy snack, trick or treat, pumpkin face oranges | Oyster & Pearl blog

White paper skull garland, halloween, dia de los muertos | Oyster & Pearl blog

Mummy hot dogs, Halloween, spooky snack, trick or treat | Oyster & Pearl blog

Easy halloween cat garland idea | Oyster & Pearl blog

White halloween, Sweet Paul | Oyster & Pearl blog
Celestial pumpkins, drilled pumpkin designs, Martha Stewart | Oyster & Pearl blog

Last year's Halloween was brilliant. Aged 2, T was just about old enough to take part, so I can only imagine what he'll make of it this year.

Three days to go! Costumes are sorted, and we'll probably recreate some of last year's food and games (spooky face satsumas and mummy dogs are a must). Plus, I love this black cat light garland - looks so spooky but easy, too.

Part of me hankers for a beautiful white Halloween, a la Sweet Paul, but I know that's not really what it's all about for the kiddos. One day... But I might just get away with one of Martha's celestial pumpkins. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL?


Sunday, 27 October 2013

A month of kindnesses... / weeks three and four

I didn't write a post last week. Turns out, a month is quite a long time and I lost my focus. What this month has made me realise is that my way of showing love is very often through things rather than actions. Weeks one and two were all about the physical manifestations of kindness - notes, food, trinkets. That stuff can't carry on indefinitely.

In weeks three and four, I shifted my focus to words and actions. A compliment here, a thoughtful word there. An unexpected kiss. Isn't this the stuff that really matters? I also realised that I am kind to my children, most of the time. They get the best of me. Which means my husband is probably a bit hard done by. But we're off on a mystery date next week, and I'm hoping he's noticed that things have been a little different this month.

Funny to think this stuff requires as much effort as any other aspect of our lives. I'm going to attempt to keep going with the kindnesses; they started off as little things but have grown into something more, something major.

Did you try anything different in October? How did you get on? What will November bring? I think I've decided what I might try next month but I haven't quite committed to it yet. We'll see...

'Be brave' and 'Be kind' mirror decals are by Shanna Murray.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


A: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! BEETLEJUICE!
T: Finding the light

This week's been a bit of a blur... I had so many posts written in my head but no time to write them here, plus all kinds of other bits and bobs going on. But yesterday we went wild, running in the fields and playing in the woods, which helped to clear out the ashes of my mind.

Keep safe in the storm tomorrow, UKers, batten those hatches; I never know how seriously to take these sorts of weather warnings, but when you get an email from your home insurance provider it feels pretty close to home.

Tanqueray No.Ten giveaway WINNER

And it's time to pick a winner from the hundreds of entries for the Alexander & James Tanqueray No.Ten giveaway....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jo W - please email me with your address and I'll send your prize out. Hooray!

Monday, 21 October 2013


A: With a little Halloween toy he chose as his treat this week
T: Big-eyed beauty

The kids slept over at their grandparents this weekend, allowing us a big chunk of time to relax. It was wonderful. We went out to eat with friends to my favourite bar (I love it so much I wrote about it for This is Your Kingdom) and had a blast. Yesterday morning: breakfast in bed, the papers, a lazy bath. And then Sunday lunch, reunited as a family. Heaven, all of it.

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project. Last week, my eyes were drawn to these beautifully lit portraits here and here.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

They have a dream / part two

Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog
Build a treehouse | Oyster & Pearl blog

Last week I posted the before pictures of the treehouse; here are the afters. As you can imagine, the kids have been wild with excitement over this project and every single day since the build, rain or shine, they have been up in that tree playing pirates, pretending to be knights, and eating picnic lunches.

Their favourite thing is the bucket - if they've been good, I have a stash of chocolate coins I throw into the bucket for them to hoist up - and they love the slide, which is super-fast.

We honestly feel like the luckiest family in the world.

There is no way we'd have been able to build this without the help of Actimel, and we're so grateful for their support. Thanks, too, to Tots100 for introducing us to the Actimel Family Wellbeing Index Blogger Network.

If you'd like to build a similar treehouse and are local to the south west, we'd recommend getting in touch with the clever people who built ours: contact Alastair Forsyth on 07837 907826.

PS This film has made us think a lot about the value of outdoor play - take a look.

PROJECT WILD THING - official trailer from Green Lions on Vimeo.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A little reminder...

We're half way through the Tanqueray No.Ten giveaway and I've added a few more ways to enter - have a look below, and enter again if you fancy. Like and share, people. Cheers!

The kind people at Alexander & James - purveyors of fine alcohol gifts - have given me a bottle of Tanqueray no.10 gin to give away to one lucky reader, plus a measure, worth a total of £39.50.

To be in with a chance of winning, enter below before 23 October 2013. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please read the terms and conditions before entering - this is a giveaway for over eighteens in the UK only!

Friday, 18 October 2013

They have a dream / part one

What you're seeing here is the 'before'. A grubby old mess, a beautiful big fig tree, a not-very-kid-friendly garden. 

Way back in March, I went to the Tots100 blog summit (which was brilliant) and came away with loads of little bottles of Actimel and a business card. Turns out, Actimel and their Family Wellbeing Index do amazing things with bloggers. Like, really amazing.

One of their Family Wellbeing Index projects was to work with bloggers to facilitate play. I sent them an email outlining our project and a very rough budget, and kept everything crossed. Not long after, I had a call. Actimel had agreed to fund our project - a treehouse for the boys. 

The whole family spent about a week walking around with our jaws dropped. We just couldn't believe it. But where to start? Part of the deal was for us to come up with a design and to find a treehouse builder, which took a lot longer than we'd anticipated. It gave us the time to make sure we got it all just right, though, and the boys drew picture after picture of their dream treehouse.

Want to see it? I'm going to make you wait. But I think it's worth it...

Sponsored: Actimel paid for our treehouse through their Family Wellbeing Index, a fact we still can't quite believe.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Lullaby of Broadway: A blackberry cocktail recipe

Blackberry cocktail | Oyster & Pearl blog

In my twenties, I was obsessed with the 1930s. There was a song I used to have on my iPod - Lullaby of Broadway - that used to make me wish I'd wake up one day in that glamorous era. The lyrics spoke of a girl out partying all night long: 'Baby goes home to her flat to sleep all day. Goodnight baby, goodnight, milkman's on his way.'

Oh, the music! And the dresses, the dancing, the architecture: I love it all. But especially the cocktails. I've named this one after that charming song, and it's an autumnal delight that I imagine myself - my other, thirties self - getting giddy on and dancing the night away.

This cocktail uses a simple blackberry syrup that you can easily make, for this or for other uses (just as a cordial with sparkling water, perhaps, or as a topping for ice cream). It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. The addition of lavender adds a bit of glamour to the proceedings but you can leave it out if it's not your bag.

Blackberries for a blackberry cocktail | Oyster & Pearl blog

Making blackberry syrup or cordial | Oyster & Pearl blog

Blackberry and lavender syrup (makes 100ml)
150g blackberries
25g sugar
60ml water
Juice of half a lemon
3 lavender heads or up to a tablespoon of dried flowers

Place all the ingredients into a small pan and heat over a medium hob for 15-20 minutes, until the berries begin to break up.
Strain, cool and bottle.

Pouring a cocktail animated gif | Oyster & Pearl

Lullaby of Broadway cocktail
1 tbsp blackberry and lavender syrup
1 tbsp Tanqueray no.10 gin
Sparkling wine, to top

Pour the syrup into a cocktail glass. Add the gin, then top with chilled sparkling wine.
Be warned: this is potent.


Monday, 14 October 2013

A month of kindnesses... / week two

Breakfast in bed, open fire, love note, candlelight | Oyster & Pearl blog

This week: breakfast in bed / an open fire / a little love letter / candlelight


All images found on Pinterest - follow me over there if you fancy.


Saturday, 12 October 2013


Submergence by Squidsoup in Bristol, Watershed, from Oyster & Pearl blog

A: I think it might be time for His Dark Materials (yes!)
T: 'You're back now guys!' Talking so much and saying the funniest things

These pics were taken today at Submergence, a really cool installation 'resembling an ocean of light' according to the blurb.

We headed out after supper, around 6pm, when the moon was up and dusk just beginning to fall. On our way, we stumbled across a party; the minute he heard the music, T started dancing whereas A stayed self-consciously still, only choosing to have a secret dance when we turned a corner out of sight of the other revellers.

'Is this what the city looks like at night? It's very beautiful', he said. That thrill; I felt it too.

Here are a few more pictures (although all those lights scrambled my camera a little).

Bristol Submergence Squidsoup, Watershed, from Oyster & Pearl blog
Bristol Squidsoup Submergence, Watershed, from Oyster & Pearl blog

Bristol Submergence Squidsoup, Watershed, from Oyster & Pearl blog

Bristol Creative Common harbourside night

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The autumn garden

We've been spending so much time in the garden these past few weeks, what with the warmth, the sunshine, and the new treehouse. This garden is at its very best in May and June, when the roses bloom madly and everything is bursting into life.

Now, we're at the tail end and there aren't many plants at their best (not in these beds, anyway). The sedum is bright and the virginia creeper at the end of the garden is all vibrant reds and golds. And these rosebuds - in October? A sweet surprise. I even managed a little rustic jug of flowers for the kitchen table: rosemary, lavender, sedum, and two types of rose.

Linking up with Mammasaurus and her 'How does your garden grow?' feature.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Five reads for October

The excitement of a new read - whether delivered by a postman or carefully chosen from a bookshop - is one of life's greatest pleasures. I'm a total bookworm, so it makes sense for me to share my top reads each month, with the hope that it might inspire more word nerds to invest in the written word.

This month, I'm reading:

1. The Green Kitchen: Delicious and Healthy Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day
The book of the blog, these two create the most beautiful vegetarian meals. Plus, they are fellow Lionheart contributors. I'm on a bit of a health kick, so this fits right in with me right now.

Isn't this a glorious video?

2. The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World
I wrote a piece for an upcoming issue of Mollie Makes about the art of giving, and this book was perfect source material. Worth a read before Christmas rolls around.

3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry
This month's book group choice. Can't wait to discuss it with my fave literary ladies.

4. Crochet at Play
I had the total pleasure of meeting Crochet at Play author, Kat Goldin, last month. She was a delight. Plus, I've just learned to crochet a granny square, and now I'm itching to make some of her clever, playful patterns.

5. Kinfolk Volume 9
Kinfolk. Ah, Kinfolk. Always.
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