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  • Holly at Hanbury Hall wearing a leather jacket

    Hockey, Photoshoots and Black Jeans: Pushing My Own Boundaries

    This is a collaborative post.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I proudly declared recently that after thirty years, I finally own my first pair of black jeans. To some of you, this may sound ludicrous, as I know how many people consider them to be a pretty basic wardrobe staple. But I’ve held this long-standing irrational belief that black just doesn’t suit me, and so owning black clothes in general was something I generally steered well clear of. read more

    Fashion, Lifestyle, Reviews
    / February 25, 2019
  • LPD and Pickle stood on a bridge by the lake at Baddesley Clinton

    Love Keeps You Warm

    This post contains gifted items from Jacamo.

    No matter the weather, the weekends are all about spending time outside for me. After four days of being sat in an office, in the middle of an open plan office away from any of the windows (why are my desks at work always the furthest away from the window?), I need to fit a whole week’s worth of fresh air and natural light into Saturday and Sunday. Not to mention, I’m usually itching to get my camera out and stretch my creative muscles. read more

    Countryside, Days Out, Fashion, Lifestyle, Marriage
    / February 11, 2019
  • Our Date in Birmingham

    This is a collaborative post with Hotels.Com

    High on my priority list for this year are date nights. Or date days. Since becoming parents, the quality time I’ve spent with Little Pickle’s Dad has sadly dropped, and now that leaving Pickle with a babysitter is a lot easier, it’s something we want to really dedicate more time to. With that in mind, when Hotels.Com challenged us to spending the best day in Birmingham we could think of, we jumped at the opportunity. It was the perfect excuse to spend our January date in the city we love – I just wish we’d have had even longer. Next time, we need to look up some hotels in Birmingham to really make the most of it, especially as I spotted some amazing looking places for breakfast or brunch. read more

    Days Out, Dining Out, Lifestyle, Marriage
    / January 24, 2019
  • Center Parcs Woburn Forest lodge at sunrise with sun flare

    Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs Woburn Forest in Pictures

    After trying to write up a blog post about our recent holiday to Center Parcs for what feels like forever, I’m scrapping everything I’d written so far and starting again. Why? Because I was going about it the wrong way. I was trying to fill in the back story – explaining why we went in the first place, how I wanted to make sure this year my birthday was better than last year. I spent over 1,000 waffling on about the lead up to the trip and hadn’t even begun documenting the memories I want to cherish from our time actually spent at Center Parcs. So I’m starting again. And focusing on what’s important.

    Our First Full Family Holiday in Years

    One of the most special things about this holiday was that my whole immediate family came too. My parents, all three of my brothers (including the one who lives in Australia – he made the trip over especially!) and my foster brothers too. It’s the first time the full Parker-clan (my maiden name) has been on holiday together in… I don’t even know how long. Possibly fifteen years. That’s half of my life. That really meant a lot to me, and I was hoping for lots of fun in the forest together to properly pre-celebrate my 30th birthday. read more

    Aged 2+, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / January 2, 2019
  • Paper Ink Academy papercuts at the Worcestershire Etsy Market

    Meet Your Local Worcestershire Etsy Sellers

    This is a collaborative post with the Worcestershire Etsy team.

    If you scroll all the way back through my blog posts, you may be surprised to learn that this was my very first post: LPM Made This: Envelope Back Cushion Cover. Every now and then, this blog of mine gets a little bit of crafting fun sprinkled over it – in fact, there used to be a whole crafts section until I made the sad realisation that I didn’t have the time for crafts like I used to. My love for all things homemade hasn’t diminished though, and so when I received the most wonderful parcel a few weeks a go from the Worcestershire Etsy Team, I was beside myself with excitement.

    You see, I love browsing through Etsy, and the huge wealth of talent and creativity on there, the convenience of shopping online and then the excitement of happy post… but I also like supporting my local community. Last weekend, the Worcestershire Etsy team put on an incredible Designer Maker Market in Worcester at the Royal Porcelain Works, complete with a Rock Choir, offering the chance to combine all the things I like best in one room.

    It also served the purpose of ticking a few presents off my Christmas shopping list (which I’ve been neglecting for too long), and I may have gotten a little too excited that so many of the stalls accepted card payments that I came home with a lot more than I anticipated.

    The gorgeous cards on the left were made by @gallerykonstartem and the mouse ceramic work is by @_claire_paveley_.

    If like me, you love all things handmade and appreciate the talent, skill and time that goes into these creations, let me introduce you to some of the wonderful businesses I encountered last weekend.

    Eliston Button

    The whole reason I was even at the market to begin with is thanks to this lovely lady: Rachel from Eliston Button. We got chatting a while ago now after finding each other on Instagram originally (I think…) as we both live in the same town. I’ve long been admiring her handiwork, especially these gorgeous mixed media pieces and it was such a treat to finally meet in person – ironically, in Worcester, despite the fact I could walk to her house if I wanted to!

    I’ve planted the seed that I think she should do a fabric collage of Arrow Valley Lake as I’d definitely buy it! Whilst at the market, I also bought one of her gorgeous prints as the sentiment was absolutely perfect for my best friend’s birthday later this month and I couldn’t resist buying LPD, Pickle and myself all matching Sprout badges.

    How darn cute are these little guys?! I just absolutely love them. Never have pom poms had so much character. If you’d like to see more of Rachel’s work, she has a fantastic blog over at Eliston Button, her own Etsy shop and a cracking Instagram account (@elistonbutton).

    Natty Designs

    I wish Smell-o-vision was a thing (anyone else remember the Children in Need 1995 Smell-O-Vision book?) as this candle is unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before. As soon as I sniffed it, I knew it needed to be bought for Little Pickle’s Dad. It smells like hearty old countryside pubs with log burning fires and wooden paneling. It’s so comforting and masculine and earthy – I absolutely love it, and I know LPD will too. I’d have never really thought about buying him a candle before, and it’s the last thing he’d expect I think, but I know he’s going to love it.

    I also bought a set of Lemongrass and Ginger tealights which I still haven’t decided whether to keep for myself, or to gift yet. I love them. And I’m not quite sure I can bear to part with them. We’ll see…! Nat from Natty Designs also makes these gorgeous origami box lids for her tealight sets (you can just about see them in the above photo, apologies for it being wildly out of focus!) which reminded me so much of when my brother and I were younger and how we used to make and decorate little paper boxes so we could make ourselves homemade McDonalds.

    You can find out more about Natty Designs on their website or visit the Natty Designs Etsy shop.

    Munchkin Madness Makes

    I absolutely fell in love with these wonderful hair accessories. As well as super cute and quirky options, there were also some wonderfully festive ones and I hear the unicorn sets were particularly popular! Most of the hair sets offered two hair ties, two hair clips and some even had an additional bow too. Whether you’re five years old or fifty-five, I think these are brilliant!

    I bought myself this dinosaur set as I thought that would make me such a cool Mom! Imagine my delight when I came home to learn that LPD and Pickle had spent the afternoon watching The Land Before Time together. Amazing. If ever I’ve come across a stall that instantly put a smile on my face – Munchkin Madness Makes wins that prize hands down.

    If your style is a little less quirky, then these cute pins are a really fun way to inject a little bit of colour and vibrancy to your outfit. I picked up two sets – one for me, and one for my sister-in-law who I think will really like them. Fingers crossed…

    Paper Ink Alchemy

    I like to think if I ever were to ever open a craft business, it would be like Paper Ink Alchemy. I absolutely fell in love with her papercuts – especially her work that features whales (it’s pretty much top of my bucket list to see whales in the wild). Lottie, the creative genius behind Paper Ink Alchemy, is also the Worcestershire Etsy Team Leader, so the whole market was largely thanks to her efforts. To pull off something so wonderful and successful on a first attempt is pretty special, I think, and I really hope the team do events like this at least twice a year.

    From lovely papercut baubles, to necklaces and framed art, this lovely shop has something to suit every price point. And I really look forward to keeping up to date with Lottie’s latest work over on Instagram (@paperinkalchemy) to see what other beautiful work she creates in the months ahead.

    By Charlotte

    If there’s one regret I have from the market, it’s that I didn’t buy one of By Charlotte’s absolutely adorable crocheted animals. Not only were the colours absolutely gorgeous, but I don’t think you could stop yourself from being charmed by these little critters. I know exactly where I’ll be heading next time I have a new baby’s arrival to celebrate.

    I did buy a lovely hand lettering print from Charlotte though – again, another gift for a friend, where the sentiment just seemed to hit the nail on the head. I’m really loving including hand designed prints for decor at the moment – I think it adds such a lovely touch to a room, and make such thoughtful gifts.

    My other favourites

    I could end up typing pages and pages going into the detail of all the fascinating stallholders I spoke to, but I’d be here forever. I’d much rather show more of the photos I took and point you in the direction of the other Etsy holders, their Instagram pages and the ways in which you can continue drooling over their creativity.

    Justine Morris Designs

    I kept quite a wide aperature on these photos so you can’t see all the detail on each piece, but these gorgeous stud earring sets by Justine Morris Designs were right up my street. I particularly like the little solid triangle studs that look like little shards. I love the apparent simplicity of the designs, even though Justine said sometimes the simplest looking ones are the hardest to make.

    OvariJewels

    The colours in OvariJewels pieces were really striking – I loved the calm, serene vibes that some of the pieces gave off, in contrast with some of the more energising ones. These little bracelets would make a lovely Christmas gift, whilst the necklaces are real showstoppers. I loved chatting to Mhari, and I’ll be wearing my own bracelet with a lot of pride.

    Starr Fused Glass

    Talking of Pride, these rainbow pieces from Starr Fused Glass really caught my eye. To celebrate Pride, Bryony made these wonderful hanging decorations, with 10% of every sale going to Mermaids UK charity. They’ve been really popular and I’m not surprised. I think they’re amazing.

    Keep it Local

    This is just a small selection of the wonderful local artists we have to be proud of in Worcestershire. I strongly encourage you to follow the Worcestershire Etsy team on Instagram (@worcestershireetsy) and remember that buying online doesn’t mean you can’t also buy local. I’m hoping I can meet up with Rachel and @mypotasaurus for a tea and crafting date soon as what a treat that would be – although, I hope they don’t laugh at my amateur crafting (lack of) skill.

    I couldn’t resist buying two of these little keychains from @dippydaisydesigns – she even makes a keychain that you can keep your lipbalm in. How cute is that?

    I had so much fun at this Designer Maker Market, and it was the perfect way to kick off my Christmas shopping this year, as well as get some ideas for things I’d like to add to my wishlist should Little Pickle’s Dad need some gift inspiration. I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about these wonderful artists as much as I have.

    Disclaimer: I was invited to the Worcestershire Etsy Designer Maker Market and offered a small fee for writing about it in addition to receiving a goody bag before the event. However, all items I bought were out of my own pocket and genuinely because I loved them. I was under no obligation to do so. 

    Crafts, Lifestyle
    / December 10, 2018
  • Gutterhead board game, with a glass of wine

    A Games Night Special: Gutterhead

    Before I go any further… let me preface this with a big NSFW (which means: Not Safe For Work). In other words, I like to think this blog of mine is fairly typically PG, but you might not want to read this one out to your Grandmother. I’ll leave a lot to your imagination, but this one’s definitely a post for those of you who enjoy a dirty joke and, as Little Pickle’s Dad would put it, a little bit of smut or toilet humour. I know, what did I tell you? It really is something a bit different from me today!

    We’re big fans of board games in this house, so when we were offered the chance to test out a new board game, strictly for adults, I knew it was the perfect excuse to invite friends over, have a few beers and give ourselves a much needed giggle. I’d heard that the game, Gutterhead, was like the illegitimate love-child of Cards Against Humanity and Pictionary, and quite frankly, I can’t think of a more perfect description. In fact, there’s probably not much more I’d need to tell you other than that for you to get a really good gist of what’s involved.

    What does the game include? A board game, with a snake like trail of spaces winding it’s way over it, four playing pieces (in the shape of different colour turd piles), five sets of cards (categorised by Person/Place, Object, Action, Feeling/Sensation and Naughty or Nice), two wipe-clean whiteboards and four wipeable pens. The colour scheme is dark, deep and cheeky. It definitely has a grown-up feel to it. This isn’t something a five year old would get excited over.

    The aim of the game is simple: get your poop pile across the board quickest, by earning yourself a dice roll for each time you manage to correctly guess the dirty word (whether that’s through drawing or miming) before your opposing team. The words themselves? Vary. Some are pretty tame (unless there’s a secondary meaning I’m not sassy enough to be aware of?) but others definitely gave a bit of colour to my cheeks.

    With a glass of wine in hand, I definitely became a bit more relaxed and open as the game went on. And I surprised myself with the extent of my… knowledge? I’m not one for ‘sexy slang’ (and by ‘sexy slang’ I mean… the kinds of words and meanings that belong in the Urban Dictionary!) so I wasn’t sure I’d know what half the words even meant. Thankfully, the cards do include a little one liner underneath to help shed any light on the terms that you may have not come across. I tell you, it’s an education.

    I took a few photos whilst we played, but… I’m not sure I can share most of them here. I’d had a couple of glasses of wine when I took the pictures and at the time, I thought I could get away with it… but in the sober writing of this post, I’m just not sure I want to subject you to some of the more intimate doodles and phallic scenes! As LPD succinctly put it ‘it’s not really on brand, is it?’, but there are a couple that I do feel give you a bit of a gentler idea!

    This was LPD’s depiction of ‘gangster’ and my drawing of ‘bat shit crazy.’ See, they’re not all rude enough to make you blush.

    The game is fun, quick and you’ll definitely end the game feeling like you know your team mates or opponents a little bit more intimately than you did before. Be warned: there are some cards that require you to mime (but you get a choice of three, so you can choose whichever one you’re most comfortable with!). When it was my turn, I chose spanking and snorting cocaine, although I had the options of diarrhea, giving birth or deep throating(!!!). And, if you’re reading this Dad, of course I don’t know what that means…

    You might want to make sure you have some wipes to hand (to give the white boards a clean) or have some scrap paper to hand if that’s your preference, as there’s nothing that comes with the game to fulfill that purpose.

    There’s lot of cliches about parenting that are 100% true: always being tired, children grow so fast, and life turns completely upside down. But there’s one cliche that hasn’t rang true for us, and so I’m here to tell you – parenthood does not mean you have to wave goodbye to your social life. It just… kind of… rotates on an axis a little bit.

    Can we go out for a drink at the drop of a hat? No. Will you find us downing shots in a club every Friday night? No. But do we still see our friends? Yes, absolutely. It might take more planning, it may have to booked in a diary weeks in advance, but my goodness, do I appreciate those evenings, or afternoons spent with friends more than ever. These days, we’ve swapped the beer mats for our customised coasters at home, swanky interiors for the comforts of our lounge, but we’ve not compromised on the fun or the laughter. Especially when board games are involved.

    With a game like Gutterhead, you’ll feel like you’ve reclaimed a little bit of your youth back. A complete flashback to those high school titters in the back of the classroom. And definitely a way to easily forget the troubles of the day.

    The Details

    You can buy the game from Amazon* or direct from the gamemakers website: GutterheadGame.com. It retails at £29.99 (correct at the time of publication) and is strictly for 18years+, with groups of four to sixteen players. There’s also an Expansion Pack* you can buy, so don’t worry about getting too familiar with the terms in this set – they have even more on offer to tickle your fancy.

    Disclaimer: we were kindly sent Gutterhead in exchange for writing a review giving our honest thoughts and feedback. All content, opinions and ideas remain my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to buy, the price you pay will not be altered but I will receive a small financial referral fee.

    Lifestyle, Reviews
    / October 23, 2018