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A tour of The Mad House – Living with kids 69

Every wednesday morning after the boys have gone to school, I grab a pot of tea and log online and take a look at Design Mom’s living with kids post from the previous night.  It is a regular treat for me, like getting a new magazine.  I love looking at peoples homes round the world and how people uniquely live with kids.  I know that my photo’s will never be good enough to feature on Design Mom, but as we were recently featured on At home with Hillary’s I thought I would share a glimpse in to our home with two boys aged 10 and 8!


Encouraging learning at home for older children 28

Both of my boys are at an age where they have a real thirst for knowledge and there are times when they want to continue that learning at home.  We were recently sent some Letts “Wild About” learning books. This got me thinking about when it is appropriate to use workbooks at home and how best to integrate them in to our home.  I am big on learning through play and this is something that we have always concentrated on, however with my boys getting older (they are currently nine and eight) they are also reaching the point that they want to start working on some other ways. Encouraging learning at more »


Chaos cleaning for busy Mums 23

Housework, cleaning and organisation, hate it or love it, the one constant is that it has to be done and seen as I can not afford a cleaner it mostly falls down to me.  In the past we have gone from control freaky clean, to total mess depending on my mental state!  Now we are somewhere in between.  The house is not always clean and tidy, but it is lived in and can be tidied in a flash. Want to know my secret? Today I am going to let you in to my tips for what I call a chaos clean.  You know the manic clean that you have to do more »


Don’t Be Blind: Keeping Your Nursery Safe and Stylish

In the midst of the “nesting” phase of pregnancy, most prospective mothers (and fathers, for that matter) are excitedly preparing a nursery for their imminent arrival. It’s certainly one of the most thrilling parts of the nine month period – but few would disagree that it’s also incredibly daunting. While we don’t want to put too much of a downer on this period, there’s far more to decisions than what paint to throw on the wall. As you may have guessed through the title of this piece, we’re specifically going to concentrate on blinds here and highlight just what considerations need to be made. Unfortunately, these don’t all relate to style more »


How to display kids artwork 19

I am a huge fan of art, craft and drawing (as you possibly know if you read my blog regularly) and when John Lewis Insurance asked me to share my favourite drawing of what matters most to my children  it was a hard, hard job as I love pretty much everything they produce for different reasons. I love the act of making art and nurturing children’s drawings and one of the wisest things that I was told is to never ask what a drawing is, but to ask “Tell me more about your drawing” So I took this opportunity to go through my boys artwork and let me tell you there more »


From schools to shopping: Why reside in Reading?

Having lived and word just outside of Reading for 14 years.  I have to say I love it and the fact that Maxi was born there will mean it is always close to my heart. Reading is often dismissed as merely a town on the commuter belt to London. It doesn’t feature on many tourist brochures and is perhaps most famous historically for making biscuits.   My Reading Baby However, thanks to a booming IT and insurance industry, this large and personable town is enjoying something of a renaissance. Visit its lively and vibrant town centre with its array of bars, shops and restaurants and it quickly becomes apparent why the more »


How much home protection is too much?

It’s often said that an Englishman’s home is his castle, and with all the security technology that’s now available on the market, the old adage seems truer than ever. Just how much home protection can be considered prudent, however – and when does it cross the line into ‘too much’ territory? For most homeowners keen to protect their possessions and keep click here claims to a minimum, there are a number of simple measures that can be taken to deter opportunistic thieves, such as: Ensuring doors are fitted with secure dead locks Always closing and locking windows before leaving the house Investing in an alarm system and/or external security cameras Locking more »


My mid-century modern style 1

As I get older I have found that I appreciate the classic style of the mid-century more and more. I have always loved the curves, angles, and general look of that era, but now I simply want to fill my home with it! When I was younger I was often pressured into having a more contemporary style. I would love to own vintage pieces, but they tend to be out of my price range and I am not a fan of reproductions or direct copies, I would rather something with a modern twist on it. I have to say that I really like the armchairs & footstools from Habitat.  I love this chair more »


Top tips for organising your living room

If there’s one thing that people tend to complain about when it comes to their home, it’s storage. No matter how much stuff we throw out or donate to charity it just seems to continue accumulating.

The worst room is usually the main living room as this is where the whole family gather and leave their stuff behind but that can make it really difficult to kick back and relax.

Whether your home is littered with shoes, DVDs, books, magazines, newspapers, school work, remote controls, photo frames or even fireplace accessories here are some top tips to help you get organised.

Newspaper and magazine rack

If there are more magazines in your living room than in the local doctor’s surgery, it’s about time you had a clear out. You don’t have to bin all of your favourites but throw away anything more than a month old. Store the ones you’re keeping in a tidy magazine rack next to the sofa instead of letting them clutter the coffee table.

Invest in adjustable shelving

How annoying it is that shelves tend to be the same height? Our stuff is all different sizes with books tall and pocket-sized, folders can be A4 or A5, photo frames are landscape or portrait and so on. If you’ve got adjustable shelves, you’ll find that you can finally fit all your belongings without difficulty.

Tidy up that hearth

An old traditional fireplace can add a bit of character to your home but you’ll need all sorts of stuff to maintain it, such as the logs and coal but also the poker and other accessories. If you’ve got inset gas fires in the house, you might still have bits and bobs lying around the hearth. Use some wicker baskets or boxes to keep your belongings tidy and use your fireplace as a feature of your living room rather than seeing it as a nuisance.

Make the most of your walls

If you’ve got a smaller floorspace to work with, you’ll need to really utilise your walls. Rather than spreading your furniture around the living, work your way up towards the ceiling to create a feeling of openness.

Think carefully about your furniture

It’s easy for the living room to become full of furniture, so the fewer pieces you have, the more space that is available. Obviously, you will need most of it, such as sofas, bookcases and television units but some will be solely for displaying other items that are also cluttering the room. Think twice about your furniture choices, literally. If a TV stand or ottoman can also be used for storage then that’s all the better!


Stay wonky 2

It is there to remind me I need to switch off the electronics and join in. It also echo’s things that we find important as a family, such as speaking out and being honorable. But even better, it says it is OK to stay wonky and this is something I have and always will be!
It looks perfect next to my family carving from South Africa and the brilliant drawing of Maxi and Mini baking, which Suzie drew.


Updating the Kitchen – Moodboard 4

As I have said I have a love of mid century and Orla Kiely has a great interpretation of it. I love her tins and fell hard for her melamine range. The tray is a great size and the handles makes it perfect for the boys to carry. The containers are going to get a lot of use from storing baking to summer picnics.

I adore Camila Prada’s designs, they are clearly the love children of Tove Jansson and Orla Kiely. We use a Koko storage jar as a sugar dish and it makes me smile everytime I use it. I love functional peices that look good and work for us and rather than having the same things as everyone else I am happy to save up for the item I want or ask for it for Christmas!

Most of you will know by know that I am a tea monster too and when Not on the High Street offered me a gift I decided to get a Linda Bloomfield tea pot. I choose the handmade 2 cup size and it is reassuringly heavy and pours beautifully. It is a delight to use and makes drinking tea even more enjoyable. MadDad things is looks rather breast like and it is delightfully tactile

After losing yet another lamp shade and cup to a ball in the house, we decided we needed some family rules and Find me a gift were happy to help and sent me a personalised family rules print. My rules are: no balls in the house, try new things, use kind words, mind your manners, do your best, laugh out loud, be happy, share, enjoy the little things and keep your promises. What would yours be?

I am planning a video of my updated kitchen as soon as a few last things are finished and in place.


Our Dream Garden 3

We love our home. We moved here six years ago from Berkshire and this house was totally supposed to be a temporary stop gap until we built our own home on the farm. But……… we really love the house we bought and are very happy in it to have parked our other plans for sometime in the future. The only thing we would really love to change is our garden. As a family it really doesn’t suit our lifestyle.

So before I tell you what we would love to have from a garden let me show you our current garden. Please bear in mind it was a mud pit when we moved in!


Morphy Richards Products for Age UK – Never Loses Suction Lift Away Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner

When the chaps over at Morphy Richards Home Innovators asked me if I would like to review one of their products which they had launched in partnership with Age UK, I knew immediately who I would offer the review to. My Brother has fantastic in laws and his mother and farther in law are in their eighties, so would be the perfect people to give any product a test run. So I am going to hand you over to my Brother (who can be found tweeting @Boroyouths).


The Family Home 12

It isn’t uncommon these days for people to move in and out of houses and to buy, sell, relocate and leave home. So it is pretty unusual that we have a family home.

So let me tell you the wonderful story behind 132.

When my Dad was a young lad he was an apprentice at British Shipbuilders and was sent on secondment to Shell, at their Milford Haven site in Wales. Back then my Grandad and Grandma lived in a council house and my dad would travel on his motorbike to Wales every Monday Morning and come back one weekend a month, but he always sent his wages home to his Mum for her to put in his account.

One month he returned home, only to find out that he didn’t live there anymore! Yes it seems that my Grandad and Grandma had moved whilst he was away and he hadn’t received their letter in time. So the people who had moved in to the council house gave him the address of the new house that his parents were living in.


In my heart and in my house 11

One of the hardest things for me about clearing out mums house if that I have had the urge to keep everything.  Even the things that I used to think were tat and rubbish.  My heart associates all these things with my mum. Finally we are getting to the end of the long journey of clearing the house of over 35 years of detritus and my niece will be moving in to continue the tradition of the house being a family home. She will be keeping a lot of the furniture and other stuff, so we haven’t had to deal with clearing everything, but it has been an experience I am more »


A Dusty Bin Money Box 5

Home, the house I grew up in.  The house that belonged to my paternal grandparents before it was my mum and dads.  Home, still today it is home and it will long be in the future.  No longer my home, but my brothers families home.  There is something very comforting in knowing that our family will remain in the house that has brought us so much joy, but also so many tears these last months. Today I walked back in to our home, left as it was in January, when my sister in law and I took down the Christmas decorations.  I walked past mums coat in the lobby and her more »