SEVEN … I HAVE A SEVEN YEAR OLD!

Archie’s face here portrays my exact feelings … seven years old? How?

Seven years ago today, this young, handsome chap made me a Mami. It feels like he’s been by my side forever, yet seven years have passed in the blink of an eye! He’s gentle, kind, thoughtful … the list goes on. He’s a little treasure, and I thank my lucky stars everyday for my wonderful boy.

Birthday eves are always a time where I lie in bed and reflect. I try not to reflect on how quickly these birthdays come round, but instead focus on all the memories we’ve made since the last birthday. I know his year of being six has been a fun one … so let’s see what his year of being seven will bring.

And just like last year … his balloon accidentally went up, up and away! Note for next year: double tie the ribbon, and double tie again!  

So instead we found a dandelion … I hope all his wishes come true. 

I love you my precious boy.

OUR RETURN TO THE FLOWER FIELDS

We returned to Shropshire Petals for the second year running … I just can’t resist the opportunity to photograph my precious ones in amongst the prettiness. At this stage, Archie is far more interested in being behind the camera than in front of it, and the pretty flowers really aren’t his scene, hence the lack of his presence below. Millie happily struts a pose on demand, while Ebonie needs to be tricked, for if she realises I’m wanting her to pose she’ll often refuse point blank (unless she’s decided she’s in the mood to offer a cheesy grin). Luckily, Millie found a ladybird which occupied her for a little while, and some sugary bribery gave me a 10 second distraction.

Keep scrolling for flower field heaven …

Thanks for looking, Rhi xx

JOJO MAMAN BEBE IN SANTORINI, GREECE

For our recent trip to Santorini we were kindly gifted some beautiful outfits by JoJo Maman Bebe, and the traditional style of the brand, along with the soft, pastel tones blended in with the idyllic, white scenes of the island. If you’ve followed along for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the brand. I love how age appropriate their clothing is, and the quality is always superb.

Ebonie wears the Garden Smocked Baby Dress, which comes with matching knickers; ideal to cover her nappy when it’s too hot for a vest. It features smocking across the chest, peter pan collar and the cutest garden theme embroidery around the bottom. Ebonie is 2, but wears size 12-18m as in my experience JoJo Maman Bebe sizing is generous. Millie wears the Yellow Gingham Smocked Dress which features smocking at the chest, flower embroidery on the skirt and cute puff sleeves. Millie is a petite 4 year old, and wears age 2-3 here. The dresses are both 100% cotton, and perfect to wear in the hot weather to keep cool but covered up. I opted for a classic white polo shirt for Archie; simple and smart (when it’s still clean that is!).

[Clothing featured is gifted by JoJo Maman Bebe, but all opinions are my own.]

ANNUAL BLUEBELL PHOTOSHOOT … WITH ADDED PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

I’ve been asked a lot recently how I edit my photos, but the truth is, apart from adjusting the brightness on Instagram, I don’t. I’m always struggling for time to upload my SOOC photos, so perfecting my editing skills is not feasible at the minute. The more I use my DSLR camera the better I am getting at shooting in manual, but I still get it wrong. Shooting in manual is complicated and I’m still learning and perfecting my technique. If you’re a professional photographer then just shimmy on past, the next paragraph really isn’t for your eyes; but, if you’re a photography beginner then I hope some of the information might help. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO terminology were all alien to me three years ago, but through constant use of my camera, my understanding has undoubtedly improved.

The photos below could, or even should have been edited to have a more uniform lighting; some of them are darker than I would like. Natural light is so unpredictable and I’m still working on getting the exposure right. Most of my photos are taken at F stop 2.8. This is my safe option to get the target in focus, but still capture a great depth of field. When shooting outdoors in daylight, my ISO is mainly set between 100-300. Once these settings are set, I then adjust the shutter speed depending on the light available. I generally try not to shoot below 1/100 with moving children, so I would then increase the ISO setting if the light isn’t bright enough.

The first two photos I took below were slightly dark, so I reduced the shutter speed from 320 to 200 to continue shooting:

 [ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/320]  [ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/200] Reducing the shutter speed again made the next two photos slight over exposed [ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/160] The next photos below were shot at [ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250], but when the natural light varied (thank you clouds) the exposure also varied and made some of the shots a bit dark. As I’m in most of the photos I wasn’t able to check the exposure and change the shutter speed for each take.   [ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/400]  [ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250]

I hope that’s given you some insight to the manual settings. If you’re new to this photography lark and found it useful do let me know 🙂

For purposes of memorabilia, I’ve included some photos below from previous years … to show that my photography is improving and also show how much my little people are growing up.

2017:

2016: Archie was 4 and Millie was 2 (the same age as Ebonie this year): 

2015: Archie was 3 and Millie was 1:

MERMAID PARTY

A few weeks before Ebonie’s 2nd birthday I stumbled across some mermaid party accessories in TKMaxx and her upcoming party theme was set. We’d planned to skip a party for Millie this year as we had a holiday booked over her 4th birthday, but she found the hidden party accessories and was so happy and thankful to me for buying them for ‘her’ party … how could I burst her very excited little bubble? So, as their birthdays are a month apart, we decided to have a small joint party for them both, the weekend in between their birthdays … which ended up being two days before we were going on our holiday! As a self confessed last minute organiser … I knew I’d have so much to do the week before our holiday, so throwing a mermaid party into the mix was destined to be a … success! I always work better under pressure anyway …

I knew making the cake would just be too much with everything else going on, so instead I browsed Pinterest for cake inspiration and delegated this very important job to Di’s Delicious Cakes, who made such a fantastic job of the cake and matching cupcakes.

I always try to decorate the shelves in our kitchen to match a party theme … but this was all arranged very last minute this time!

Moving onto the mermaid birthday girls. I had some mermaid themed outfits ready for meeting Ariel on holiday, so the girls were all set to wear these for their party, until I found a mermaid costume in TKMaxx the week before the party and it was Millie’s size! Millie’s mermaid crown is from one of our favourites Aurora Fawn, while Ebonie’s crown is from the queen of birthday crowns Sprinkle Of Bows. Ebonie’s leotard is from another favourite Instagram shop, Mini Megan Turner, and her tutu I found on eBay. Her messy hair and pouts are model’s own 😉

[Just casually straightening up her crown … and eating a cupcake before the guests had arrived!]

The table was set with the party accessories I picked up in TKMaxx (my favourite shop incase you didn’t already know).  Excited for the party to start, Millie had eagerly sat some of her teddies at the table.

Always a highlight of their parties … time to blow out the birthday candles. Even at two, this is so exciting, and Ebonie certainly took this role very seriously, making sure everyone was looking before she took her big, determined puff!

A party wouldn’t be party without some classic party games. We played pass the parcel, musical statues, pin the seahorse and walloped a mermaid pinata … all in the name of fun and sugar highs!

 [Have you ever seen a mermaid attempt the splits before? Nope, nor have I!]

Our girls thoroughly enjoyed their special day, as did Mummy. I’m so glad we changed our mind and made it a joint party, as at 4 years old, a birthday party is a very important occasion. Millie has talked endlessly about it and if you can’t make a fuss of them for their birthday, when can you?

EBONIE TURNS TWO

Only two months late, I’m finally getting round to sharing some photos I snapped of our little firecracker back on her second birthday. Born in March, I doubt there’ll be many a birthday spent in the snow. Although it was freezing, a photoshoot in the beautiful white stuff was definitely not to be missed.

There was a little girl, 
Who had a little curl, 
Right in the middle of her forehead. 
When she was good, 
She was very, very good, 
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

Ebonie, apart from the little curl is behind your ear, this nursery rhyme sums you up perfectly.  For the majority, you’re the happiest, most easy going little person; but the minority is not always pretty! You’re fiery, determined, stubborn and wild; characteristics that will hopefully serve you well later in life. You know what you want, and you don’t like to take no for an answer.

You love princesses and paw patrol equally. You’re not afraid to get dirty, and when you fall you get right back up again and keep marching. I love the way you run to the door when you hear your Daddy is home. You love your ‘B’ and ‘dodo’, and you adore your siblings. I still feel like the most important person in the world to you, and I remind myself to soak it all up, because I know you’re independence will come round all too soon.

Trying not to tame you’re strong-willed personality, I want to shape you into the best person you can possibly be.  You are going to take this world by storm; I already know you are going to fly high.

You love life, and you fill our days with so much fun and I wouldn’t change you for the world. I thought this quote described Millie as a toddler, until you came along and showed us the true meaning:

“And though she be but little she is fierce.”

RUNNING INTO SPRING WITH JOJO MAMAN BEBE

It’s no secret that I absolutely love dressing my children, so when the chance came up to collaborate with JoJo Maman Bebe I was over the moon. I’ve been a big fan of the brand for over 6 years; since Archie was a baby. Their clothes are always fun and pretty, and most important to me, age appropriate.

I love dressing the girls in matching outfits #twinningiswinning, but when they’re not matchy matchy I always try to dress the three of them in similar styles/colours. The new Spring/Summer range at JoJo Maman Bebe is full of beautiful, traditional pieces. After much deliberation I was able to pick out some favourite pieces for my three that were colour coordinated, pretty and smart … perfect for our recent trip to Orlando.

The girls received so many compliments wearing their smocked dresses. They’re soft, light and so comfy to wear. Ebonie’s dress can be found here. It’s a blue stripe fabric with smocking across the chest and embroidered bees and daisy details. Ebonie has just turned two, and wears size 12-18m at the moment in JoJo Maman Bebe – I always find their sizing to be generous.

Millie’s dress is my absolute favourite; it’s flowery, colourful and summery, and can be found here. It’s a style that can be dressed up or down, and the blossom print is so pretty and fresh.

Archie’s grown up shirt can be found here. The shirt has a mini gingham print, and can be worn casually with the roll up sleeves. I love him dressed in a light, fresh blue for spring/summer.

My two girls might never know how lucky they are to have a big brother like Archie, but I’ll do my best to capture their tender moments so that we can look back and remember just how precious their bond is.

These photos were taken at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel, Orlando. Thank you so much to JoJo Maman Bebe for this opportunity. My three little people looked so lovely dressed in these summery outfits on our holiday and I’m certain we’ll get so much wear out of them over the coming months now we’re home.

[This post is written in collaboration with JoJo Maman Bebe, a brand I have always bought for my children.]

EBONIE’S “BIG GIRL” BEDROOM

My not so little baby is growing before my eyes. Although I’m very much in denial about this, her nursery was in need of an uplift. She’s just turned two, so my main objective was to edge away from “nursery”, yet not make the room look too old either. In collaboration with Laura Ashley I have been able to create a fresh, girlie bedroom of dreams.

The Hastings Ivory Day Bed really is the feature of the room. It’s pretty, girlie, and most of all versatile. I can already envisage girlie sleepovers in the future that will make use of the trundle bed. I’ve always been a big fan of Laura Ashley bedding, and the Hearts Bed in a Bag bedding is super cosy and soft. The coordinating throw and heart cushion add the finishing touch, along with the Bexley Pink Stripe Wool Rug, adding contrast to the otherwise plain, cream carpet.

The soft, simple pink and white tones allow for lots of accessorising without looking too busy. The room has sloping ceilings, which leaves only the one wall suitable for hanging shelves, frames and decorative features. Adding shelves surrounding the round window, allows me to easily accessorise and make the room look “finished”.

[The frames here are from Ikea, crochet pears and teddy from Bee Kraft Tee, bows from my favoutite shop Sprinkle of Bows, Unicorn bow holder is from – now all I need to do is get Ebonie to leave her bows in!]

[Wool wall hanging is from Wool Wood Love, Butterfly frame from Laura Ashley, Winnie the Pooh print and Flamingo print from Freddie The Kid, Flamingo soft toy from Laura Ashley, Flamingo hanger from Ciao Bambino & finally, dress is from Stripes Spots and Polka Dots Boutique]

A room would not be complete without some framed prints. I always try to find prints that are relevant to the room, and when Millie was younger I ordered the ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce’ print from Vivi And The Bears for her nursery. Little did I know how placid and calm my little Millie Moo actually was. Ebonie has most definitely lived up to this quote; she is fiercely determined, fiercely strong willed, fiercely independent … you get the gist.

I styled the ‘Be a Flamingo in a flock of Pigeons’ print from the lovely Freddie The Kid, along side the Laura Ashley Flamingo soft toy.

The beautiful wool wall hanging is from Wool Wood Love and has been made to coordinate with the hearts range and it looks so pretty hung above the shelf and frames.

[Canopy is from eBay, Faux Fur rug is from Laura Ashley, Watermelon cushion is from Laura Ashley, Mini Moses Basket is from Tilly & Cub, Battery Rose string lights from the Range]

It’s all in the detail! Little girls’ rooms are so easy to accessorise, and I revel in the details. I added a canopy in the one corner, and the girls love to cosy up on the soft, delicate Mila Pink Faux Fur Rug, and get comfy amongst the cushions to tell stories to their teddies.

I’ve really loved refreshing Ebonie’s nursery into her now “grown up” toddler bedroom. It’s very much a girlie girl bedroom of dreams and a space that will grow with her over the next few years.

OUR SUMMER ROUND-UP

I knew this summer was set to be full of fun and adventures, and it didn’t disappoint. I take far too many photos on a daily basis, so I picked out most of my favourites and decided to document them here, because let’s be honest, they’ll only be drowned in my mammoth “photos to be sorted” file otherwise. So here’s our summer 2017 in pictures.

First stop, a night away in sunny Bristol for Father’s Day: 

We spent a weekend in Butlins celebrating my sister’s 30th birthday. 

Summer sunshine came to an abrupt holt as soon as Archie broke up from school for the holidays. We didn’t make it to the beach half as much as I’d have liked to go this year; the sandy bags, toes and bums really aren’t worth it unless the sun is shining. On one occasion we made it to the sea shore, we dipped our toes in the cold water and also went crabbing for the very first time. This was right up Archie’s street. Both him and Millie held a crab, even though they pinch! 

Where you would have found little Miss Ebonie this summer; in her highchair, or causing mischief!

We had a lovely night away at Carey’s Manor in the New Forest. The hotel is set in lovely grounds, and there’s no denying the beauty of the New Forest. The reason for the road trip was to go to Peppa Pig World, but on the day it poured and it poured and it poured… so after Millie & Ebonie got to see the real Peppa Pig, we ended up heading home much earlier than planned.  

Craving some sunshine and poolside fun, we headed for a last minute trip to Marbella. These four days away were by far my most favourite of the summer; relaxing by the pool and just enjoying the company of my sweet little family. 

[Onslow Steam Rally, August Bank Holiday]

Releasing Archie’s home grown butterflies … probably a highlight of his summer! 

Archie’s birthday always brings summer to a sweet end. 

ARCHIE’S PARTY OF DREAMS

Ever since we went to my nephew’s treasure hunt party back in June, Archie had his heart set on just that for his birthday. His Taid & Naini were more than happy to take on the task of ‘treasure hunt party organisers’, but I was in two minds as to whether five and six year olds would be old enough to take on the obstacles, follow the clues and find the hidden treasures set up by my parents. Archie was not going to be swayed, so a treasure hunt is what he got, and he literally had THE BEST DAY EVER!

Fifteen little treasure hunters accompanied us for a few hours of fun. After opting for an easy ‘Happy Meal’ lunch, we returned to my parents’ to let the hunting commence. We had five groups of three, and they were all set on task in fifteen minute intervals, and the quickest team home would be the winners. As well as finding little ‘treasures’ along the trail, each team had to return home with an assembled Mr Potato Head, and they had to follow ribbons and clues to find all of the hidden pieces.

Archie’s team set off at speed, determined to come back in record time. Of course, Mamerazzi was out in full force, and as I followed his team around the course, I could see how much he was really loving his day. His team did arrive home in the fastest time, but were equalled by another team, who went on to win the deciding penalty shoot out. He was later crowned ‘Treasure Hunt Expert’, and received a ‘REAL’ trophy, making his best day ever even better!

Seeing as we have a nature loving boy in Archie, the party theme was ‘bugs’. We had insect inspired cup cakes, worm jelly, snake sweets and the most amazing birthday cake made by Archie’s Aunt Bessy. The ‘treasure’ found along the trail was also all insect related.

Two adults accompanied each team, merely there to supervise and ensure all children arrived home safely. It seems that maybe they also needed their own supervisors, as not one, but two of them fell in the river. It made the day a bit more memorable for them, and us 😉

All fifteen little treasure hunters embraced the party, and went home possibly exhausted, but happy.