Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Maternity Photography from Marie Donn

Morning, hope you're all well and having a fab week.  Mine is incredibly busy but I made some headway with the website building yesterday and am getting closer to being able to share with you all.  I am starting to get excited and nervous about this as I have put alot of time and a big part of me into it.  One thing  that is evident in the website I hope, is that memories need to be treasured.  In our crazy busy worlds it is important to stop and remember the precious moments, these are what will be with us forever.  Today I have invited a lovely Twitter friend, Marie of Marie Donn Photography, to share a guest post about a very special moment in a womans life.  Pregnancy should be celebrated and Marie Donn certainly does this with her beautiful photography.  I will let Marie share why she loves being a maternity photographer.

When I am approached to undertake a maternity photoshoot a bit of me jumps up and down with glee. I just love bumps, and I believe the pregnant body is one of the greatest celebrations of life, so when you put those together it’s understandable why I should offer maternity photography sessions, and why I should enjoy them so much.
But what about the client, the one with the bump, the stretch marks, the insomnia and sickness? Why on earth should she want to record this time? Well, all this may be true, and I speak as someone who has never had a straightforward pregnancy in her life, but there are so many reasons why I believe a maternity photoshoot should be as much a part of your antenatal preparations as your hospital bag:

1) You’re beautiful! Speaking to others who have been through pregnancy, we didn’t always feel beautiful, or glowing, or whatever the magazines seemed to say we might at our stage of pregnancy, but in truth there is something amazing about the pregnant body, and for many of my clients something liberating about all the bumps ‘being in the right place’ for a while. Even stretch marks, if you get them, are signs of the miracle going on inside.

Fancy showing off your bump? A good photographer will suggest classic, flattering lighting, and poses that don’t require gymnastic mobility! Prefer to hint rather than shout? Why not consider hiring the latest maternity wear, such as a beautiful evening dress to lay on the glamour for the shoot, pampering yourself for the day?


Simply seeing the images after a shoot can be an amazing confidence boost, and I’ve had many customers exclaim delightedly at their portraits, when at other times they would have described themselves as unphotogenic (I’ve never met a person yet who that applies to, by the way)!

2) Memories are made of this: Undertaking a maternity portrait session can be a one-off, perhaps around the 32-34w stage when Bump is fairly high and round, or a series of sessions charting each month, but whatever and whenever they are a capture of the exciting time you’re going through, both individually and as a family.

Some of my favourite sessions are family sessions in which your growing bump is almost incidental, but I find the excitement of parents and siblings is so contagious and radiates through the images. More than one person has said to me how years later they have viewed their pregnancy portraits with the now-rambunctious toddler who has been delighted and fascinated to know that they were in the photo too (I cannot be held responsible for when you have the birds and bees conversation!). Making the shoot a family experience creates even more special bonds with the time and your memories.

3) A 9-month journey to a lifetime’s achievement. No matter how you’ve got to where you are, this is one milestone that is worth marking. The increased availability of 4D scans in recent years has enabled many parents to connect even more deeply with what’s going on inside, but maternity photography is a great celebration of all the work you have put in, physically and emotionally, to create your family, and your pride in your bump.

The key to a successful session is confidence in your photographer. Seek out a photographer who has a history of work in a style you admire and would feel comfortable with, whether that be demure, glamorous, or Rocking Your Bump! Have a chat with them, scope out your ideas - any good photographer will gladly listen to what you want from the shoot, and put any concerns at ease. Prints and books especially are an amazing addition to baby’s memory box, as well as your family albums.

And once you’ve had your baby? Well, book in for another session to celebrate their arrival…!
Thank you so much Marie and these beautiful images show that women really do bloom when pregnant.
To book a maternity session with Marie please visit her website
Enjoy your day everyone

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Want It! Dress Up Girl by Love Mae

Paperdolls for grown ups!
Dress Up Doll fabric wall decal from Love Mae 


(Want It! posts are for me to share a product I love in a quick post)

Paper Dolls

Hello, I hope you are all well and have had a fab start to the week.  It's now the last week of the Branding Masterclass which I am quite sad about as it has been AMAZING! However I know what I have learnt this month will be with me for many years to come. 

Over the past few months my three daughters have been enjoying playing with peg dolls and paper dolls.  I remember playing with these types of dolls when I was younger and have enjoyed watching my girls make little dresses from fabric scraps and pretty papers.  There are some great books and printables available with lots of dressing up ideas for paper dolls.  Today I rounded up a few to get you started.

Printable Paper Doll Sets available to download for free on Tip Junkie

We have printed several of these sets and they are great fun.  Be sure to put paperdolls in the search on Tip Junkie to find more outfit sets for your paper dolls.

I love the selection of clothes for Clara from Cupcakes For Clara


Alice In Wonderland Paperdoll printables from Tinys & Tea

Niles & Nora Gnome Paperdoll printables from Happy Go Lucky Creations

Stylish Paperdolls from Chichiboulie

Dress up Belle Doll from Belle & Boo

I am sure there are some other fab printable paperdoll sets available, be sure to share you favourites with me on Twitter or on our Facebook page :)

Have fun,

Monday, 27 February 2012

Lucy Loves - Wooden Letters

Hello you lovely lot, I hope you all had a fab weekend.  On Saturday was Lucy's birthday party and I think it was a success, although a little noisy!  The girls put together pictures to be embroidered in hoops, that can then be hung on their bedroom walls.  Thankfully the selection of ideas I showed them in Mollie Makes were well received and they were quickly tracing and stitching designs.  After all that stitching a tea party was served on my vintage china, with a little warning of please be careful, these plates are older than me!  The girls swiftly enjoyed crustless finger sandwiches, cocktail sausages, cookies and fairy cakes, iced by the birthday girl with fondant icing roses.  A lovely civilised affair, with lots of chatting and giggling that ended with a noisy charge around the garden, skateboarding on their tummies down the hill! Well isn't that what civilised young ladies do!!

Lucy is back today with more lovely things she has found and seems to have got the hang of blogging with planning her posts and taking a theme.  She's even taken to advising me about sentence construction!  So here you go, the loveliest not so little girl in the blogosphere (I am biased of course).

Today’s blog post I’ve decided to write about wooden letters.  There are so many beautiful things out there but these are just one of those beautiful items out there they can go anywhere they could even be a thing at your party or wedding.

Floral Wooden Letters from Giddy Kipper

This beautiful letter is from one of my favourite painted wood shops.

Tea & Cake Handpainted Sign from Little Pom

This beautiful set of wooden letters would look lovely in the kitchen.

'Us' Wooden Birds from Cut By Fire

These pretty letters would be a good wedding present.

'Dad' Vintage Map Letters from Bombus

I know my dad would like this

Vintage Music Letters from Bombus

I would love this in my room.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this


PS Hope you all have a fab start to the week, make it a good one :) Zoe x

Friday, 24 February 2012

Family Holidays - Just So Festival

Hello my lovelies, it's Friday again and another week has flashed before my eyes. So much to do and never enough hours in the day! Nevermind, I actually love being busy but have to admit that yesterday I took some time out to reflect on everything I am trying to do at the moment.  This may seem like a crazy notion when the to-do list is a mile long but it is hugely beneficial to get away from my desk for a few hours and reflect.  I urge you all to down tools for an afternoon at least once a month and you must not feel guilty whilst you take some time out.

For todays family holiday post I wanted to explore the family festival idea again and this week have chosen to look at Just So Festival.  This is a boutique festival bursting with creativity for children, teenagers and parents too.  Having read the Just So Stories I am very intrigued by this festival and with five budding artists and writers I am sure there is alot for them to do at this festival.  So what can we expect from a weekend at Just So Festival?  Well the first thing that jumped out at me when visting their website is the notion of Trapreze Lessons.  How cool would it be to swing through the air on a trapeze?  I know Lucy would love this as she is reguarly found hanging upside down from the monkey bars and she was very excited after having a turn on a friends trapeze last month. 

Maybe trapeze lessons aren't your thing and you would prefer to spend the weekend with both feet firmly on the ground! Perhaps you and your children would enjoy storytelling, learning to juggle, practising for the Sports Day, making music, learning the art of paper folding or creating your own masterpiece worthy of a place in the Tate I am sure.  My favourite idea is the new 'All The World's a Stage' where your family are given an hour to dream up a play and perform it. Within this arena you can also dream up fabulous costumes and have fun changing show songs.  Oh yes this is where you would find me, I do love to sing!!

Another important aspect in my childrens world is food.  Thankfully they are not afraid to try new food and I am sure they would enjoy what is on offer in 'The Social' and the promise of a midnight feast too!  Then when you need a rest, a little sit down, you can indulge in performances from a selection of bands in Footlights. Then having rested your feet you can pop across to The Jitterbug to learn some groovy moves under the glitter ball or indulge your strictly fantasties as you waltz at the tea dance.

Have you been to the Just So Festival? It certainly looks like lots of fun! To book for this years festival, 17-19 August at Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire, visit the Just So website

Enjoy your weekends everyone

Images all taken from Just So Festival Facebook page.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Yummy Mummy Week for CLIC Sargent

Good morning, I hope you are all well and looking forward to some warmer weather today. Fingers crossed the Met Office got it right as some warm sunshine is just the tonic I am sure we all need as we head towards Spring.   I am sure it will be lovely to get outside and do some gardening or play with the children later, after getting some work done.  We'll be enjoying some birthday fun as Lucy is eleven today, where does the time go?!

Today I want to share with you news about Yummy Mummy Week in aid of CLIC Sargent.  For the past six years mums across the UK have organised events during one week in March to raise funds for CLIC Sargent.  This charity supports children living with cancer and as a charity relies on our generosity.  Yummy Mummy Week is a fantastic idea allowing mothers to get together to raise money for children with cancer.  The most popular events are afternoon tea parties, nearly new sales and cake sales but you can organise any event, maybe a crafty coffee morning or an exhibtion?  Perhaps you will choose to organise a more extravagant Yummy Mummy party complete with pamper treatments.  No event is too small, every penny raised will help. 

Everyday ten families are told that their child has cancer and I know I would be devastated to be told any of my children were incredibly poorly.  I count my blessings everyday that I have five healthy chidlren.  CLIC Sargent is the only charity offering all round support to families with a child with cancer.  They provide Play Specialists and specialist nurses to visit children at home, they support families whilst a child is in hospital, they help survivors and are there when the news is not so positive. 

I am, as yet, undecided what to do for Yummy Mummy Week. What are you going to do?  Sign up today for your fundraising pack

Be sure to let me know if you are organising an event for Yummy Mummy Week and I will help spread the word.
Have a lovely day in the sunshine

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Around the World in a Meal

Morning! Did you enjoy making pancakes last night? We had ours last week as Tuesdays are so manic in our house that we end up serving dinner at least twice! Thankfully that is the only really busy day so we usually get to eat as a family the rest of the week.  I do love having all my children together at the dinner table, it's such a lovely way to catch up on each others days. 

We are also known to play a game whilst eating that involves the alphabet and countries around the world.  Taking it in turns around the table we name countries beginning with each letter of the alphabet.  This is a fab way to help your children learn country names although we always get stuck on certain letters. Well if you can name seven countries beginning with Q I will eat my hat! This game is also great fun for naming cities, animals, food or I am sure there are many other ideas.  So next time you sit together as a family for dinner why not play a game of Alphabet Countries, it's great for us grown ups too!

Do you play games at the dinner table? I'd love to know ;)

Have a fab Wednesday,

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lucy Loves - Dollies & Cushions

Morning! Hope you all had a fab weekend.  Did you hear that it's set to get alot warmer later this week? Time to start thinking about some gardening.  We started planning our veggie patch this weekend after last years experiment that actually bore plentiful courgettes and runner beans. This year we have more adventurous plans for spinach, peppers and hoping to get carrots longer than 3cm! 

Today I am really excited to welcome back Lucy with her weekly Lucy Loves post. 

For my second blog post on Lucy Loves I couldn’t decide between writing about cushions or vintage dolly’s, so I decided to do both.
Firstly I’m going to show you some beautiful vintage dolly products that would be perfect for a present or to add a bit extra to a child’s room or to just play with.

Handmade Vintage Rag Doll by Jane Foster Designs
These dolls could also double up as a cushion.

Retro Doll Earrings by For The Unique At Heart

I haven't got my ear pierced yet but I really like these earrings, perfect for wearing to a vintage tea party, like I'm having on Saturday.

Now I am going to share with you some of my favourite cushions.

Pears Cushion from Cushions Covered
This beautiful cushion would look lovely any where around the house!

Nelly Cushion from Claire Nicolson
This cushion would look perfect in a child’s bedroom but also I love elephants
but if elephants aren’t your thing then this lady makes other animal cushions and grownup cushions.

Vintage Linen Cushion from Angel Linens
We love the beach so I think this would be great anywhere in our house.
Also if I had to pick people who I think should make cushions for childrens rooms I would pick Snapdragon and Poppy Treffry.

Lots of love
Lucy xx

PS A sneaky addition from me, but here is a cushion Lucy made last summer.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Family Holiday - Centre Parcs

Morning! I hope you all have a bottle of wine chilling ready for this evening as reward for getting through half term.  I know I shouldn't be encouraging people to drink, but boy will that first glass taste good when we reach wine o'clock!  As it's Friday it is time for another fab idea for a family holiday and today is one of our family favourites, Centre Parcs.

We always visit the Elveden Forest Centre Parcs as Drew says 'they're all the same so better to go the nearest one to save extra travelling in the car with the children'.  I have to agree with him, who wants extra hours travelling in the car with five chidlren when they don't have to.  Elveden Forest is about an hour away from our house so just about far enough away to feel you've gone on holiday but close enough to not have to fit in toilet stops. 

All squirrels are now known as Jerry after our last trip to Centre Parcs
after Kitty kept shouting out Jerry everytime she saw one!
There are several reasons we love going to Centre Parcs but most importantly they have accommadation that we fit in.  We can have a stylish house with four bedrooms and two bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, complete with a dishwasher.  After our first visit choosing to be close to the Village we opted for a house near the lake, we have since chosen a house further away. We found we could not use the patio area and barbeque without having several ducks, geese and swans visiting.  The children really didn't enjoy it and we have not made this mistake again. We now make sure we book a house on the outer circle, far away from the lake, with great spaces just through the patio doors for the children to play happily in.  There are some great trees for climbing and a big slope to have races up and down.  Oh yes we actually try and book this particular numbered house just to have this space outside!  Whilst many people prefer to be close to the Village we prefer to be on the outskirts and it is only a 5-10 minute cycle away from the swimming pool, lake, shop and restuarants.

With accommadation sorted out it's time for some exploring! We love cycling around the forest and Kitty loved sitting in the child seat on my bike spotting squirrels, however I feel next time we go to Centre Parcs she will be wanting her own bike.  Whilst the paths all have cycle lanes there are also some more off-road tracks to try out your brakes with some super skids aswell, Drew loved teaching the boys a few tricks last time we were there! 

I know many people think Centre Parcs is very expensive and having to pay for activities can seem a little pricey yet there are lots you do for a small fee or for free.  Swimming is free and although the pool can sometimes seem busy there is enough space to play in the water and there is also a fab paddling pool area for little ones.  Swimming jackets are provided so don't worry if you forget your childs armbands in the mad scramble of packing.  With flumes, slides, wave machine and lazy river there is enough to keep everyone amused for a while. 

Dotted around the village are some great playgrounds with equipment for little ones and older children too.  We actually didn't find all the playgrounds on our first visit!  Some of our favourite activities at Centre Parcs that don't cost a fortune are crazy golf, ten pin bowling, badminton, climbing wall, canoing and other watersports.  They have these fab canoes that seat up to 6 people which are great fun and didn't cost a fortune to hire for thirty minutes paddling around the lake.  There is also a little beach area at the lake which Amber & Kitty loved building sandcastles with me whilst Drew took the older chidlren out onto the lake.

Food and drink is well catered for within the village with a great choice of restaurants and cafes you'll recognise and we highly recommend a visit to the Dutch Pancake House.  It is also worth a cycle out towards the spa to enjoy a cold beer and yummy dinner at the Foresters Inn.  It is also really easy to eat in your house with a well stocked shop, fully equipped kitchen and a barbeque on your patio.  I always take essentials with us and buy fresh goods from the well stocked supermarket in the Village. 

Centre Parcs really does have something for everyone and it is a great place for a family like ours, with children of different ages.  I hope that we will have many more trips to Centre Parcs but I doubt we will try the other villages, well they are all the same! Although I would like to try oneof the Centre Parcs in France.  Oh and one last top tip, if you can book your holiday out of school holiday time and opt for midweek breaks as weekends seem more pricey.

Have you visited Centre Parcs? I would love to know what you thought about it or if you have any tips to share with our readers. 

Have a fab weekend,

PS  These photos are from two and half years ago, I can't believe how much younger Connor & Jack seem and Kitty was still so little :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Spring is in the Air

I can sense Spring in the air today, it's slightly warmer, the sun is shining and the crocuses and daffodils are poking their heads through.  Infact I think if this lovely weather stays we may even start clearing the veg patch this weekend.  This week has been a little busy with half term, the branding masterclass and my normal work.  The website building has been put on hold this week but I hope to get it finished by the end of the month as I really want to share it with you all.  I am trying to create something lovely that encompasses everything Zoe & Drew love, family and fabulous design.  Fingers crossed my limited website building knowledge can accomplish this!

I am also busily working through the fantastic Branding Masterclass with Flourish.  I wasn't sure what to expect but believe me it is a journey that I am glad I have started.  Just as this time of year we start to think of having a good Spring clean this course is making me stop and spring clean my ideas.  I am a person who is always full of ideas and often long for more hours in a day so I can do everything.  However it has become clear from the start of the Branding Masterclass is that I cannot do everything and it is better to be a specialist in what I do rather than a jack of all trades! So I am gaining alot of focus yet still am waiting for that epiphany as to what I am a specialist in, but I am sure I will get there in the end.  Fiona Humberstone who has created and written the Branding Masterclass is an amazing lady and I know lots of my classmates are already finding the course inspiring and in some respect life changing in the way that they think about their businesses. 

So as usual I have alot of balls in the air, which yesterday felt a bit overwhelming and I felt a little bit adrift to what I am trying to do, but after a walk to the park and watching all of my children playing together I soon had a smile on my face and felt a little less daunted by what lies ahead.  I highly recommend a walk in the fresh air if you can if you are finding it all a bit much, or even just a mooch around the garden with a mug of tea in hand can make the world of difference.  So yes, Spring is on it's way and it feels invigorating.

Do you find Spring inspiring? Are you ready to make some changes, take a new direction or just looking forward to getting the Spring wardrobe out of mothballs? I know I'm bored of my winter wardrobe, but after chatting to Boden on Twitter yesterday I am  going to empty my wardrobe and see what can be worn differently or with something else instead of just throwing on the mummy uniform of jeans! 

Hope you all have a lovely day

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Origami Finger Puppets

Hello, hope you're all surviving half term! We've been busy trying out the mouse patterns in issue 11 of Mollie Makes (out tomorrow for non-subscribers!).  I'll share our little mice very soon here on the blog.  Another craze at the moment with my children is origami.  My daughters have folded and creased all sorts of things these past couple of weeks.  In need of more ideas of things to make we had a quick look on one of my favourite websites, Martha Stewart.  We found these great origami animal finger puppets which we paln to try later this week. 

Be sure to share your own origami puppets with us on Twitter or Facebook. 

Happy folding

Monday, 13 February 2012

Lucy Loves - Gifts for an 11 Year Old Girl

Good morning, hope you all had a fab weekend.  I expect many of you are doing the half term juggle of working and childcare, which is even more fun if like me you work from home! I find by working in the mornings and the promise of crafty or fun afternoons keeps my children happy, but often means working late into the night for me.  How do you cope? Are you lucky to have a close friend to share childcare or grandparents on hand to help out?

Today I am thrilled to welcome Lucy, my soon to be 11 year old daughter, to guest post.  She has been asking me for a little while if she can have a regular column here on my blog and I think her posts will be lots of fun, filled with book reviews, crafty things, baking and much more as Lucy loves reading, making and baking.  So I shall hand over to Lucy.

For my first post I’ve decided to write about the perfect gift for an 11 year old. Since my birthdays coming up later this month I thought I might write about what I would recommend for children my age with a slight taste of adventure and craft. The items I’ve picked are from some of my favourite shops.

This is a mouse that can go anywhere  with you. You can collect a house for the mouse and lots of other stuff.

This is a pretty bag for school.

I  have thousands of notebooks and this would just be a beautiful addition to my collection.

Again I have thousands of badges but also I adore campervans.
I don’t have a phone yet but by the time some children are 11 they already have a phone or are lucky enough  to get one for their birthdays. I think this case is so cute.
This tin is not too expensive and beautiful and comes from mine and my friends favourite shop, Paperchase.
These are only a few beautifully crafted items out there and I could have chosen many more!

Thank you Lucy you have chosen some lovely things, best I get shopping for your birthday!  I look forward to your next post.

Have a great Monday everyone,

Friday, 10 February 2012

Family Holidays - Ski Famille

Morning! It's Friday and that also means it's very nearly half term holidays here, which is great as we are all ready for a rest. However it also means the big working from home / childcare juggle begins.  I know I am not alone with this and am hoping after some rest my children will play nicely and let me do some work!  Perhaps you are lucky enough to be heading off to the slopes next week for a bit of half term skiing.  Wrap up warm, some family friends headed down to The Alps last week and it's apparently very, very cold.   We have never braved the slopes with our children, although Connor and Jack are very keen, especially as one of their best friends is on the county skiing team.  Honestly, Suffolk has a skiing team!

Les Gets

Ski Famille offer some great packages for family skiing holidays and are there to ensure everyone has a great holiday in The Alps.  Their UK based head office team all have young children and are there to help you get the most from your family skiing holiday.  With catered chalets in French resorts Les Gets and Reberty Village you are well  located for the slopes and with inclusive childcare even the grownups get time for a few downhills before some much needed hot chocolate or Schnapps. 

Reberty Village

Having been shortlisted in 2011 for Junior Magazine's Design Awards in the 'Best Family Tour Operator' category you know you really are in safe hands when planning and booking your family skiing holiday with Ski Famille.  Aswell as making your holiday as relaxing as a skiing holiday can be Ski Famille will also help in selecting the right ski school for you and your family.  So whether it is your first time skiing or you are a very adept skier, you can be sure that Ski Famille will make your trip memorable. 

Ski School

To keep up to date with late and last minute offers I highly recommend following Ski Famille on Twitter or Facebook or check the latest deals on their website -  

So have you taken your children skiing, I'd love to know if you found it fun or hardwork.  In the meantime we'll be sledging down our road again if more snow arrives this weekend!

Wrap up warm and have a fab weekend

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