Designing the nursery where your child will sleep, play and grow up, is an incredibly exciting part of growing your family. However, planning for your new arrival can also be a daunting thing too – especially for first time parents. Having had 4 pregnancies, and raising a small tribe of kiddies, you would hope that as an old timer I might have some level of knowledge and expertise about everything, from picking colour schemes and furniture, to making sure the room is safe and contains all the essentials you need!!

Whilst I wouldn’t class myself as an expert (or even old timer), I do however have some insights to help with this process and thought it would be good all the same to share some of the tips I have learned along the way. I a hope that the will alleviate any stresses and help new parents or soon to be parents as you design your nursery in anticipation for your new baby. 

Soft and Soothing Colours

When it comes to colour schemes, there are endless possibilities for your baby’s room. You only have to go on pinterest to be faced with countless amazing ideas, that showcase vintage, glam, monochrome, animals and nature, or fairies and rainbows! There are so many possibilities, however, as your baby grows and develops into a little person, I assure you that they will let you know what out of all of the above (if any) they want, and will be keen to decorate in their favourite colours and characters! It is such an enjoyable thing to help them create their own space, but for now though, and with a baby, I would suggest you try to keep colours relatively neutral and soft – after all, as parents, you’re the ones who will be looking at the colour scheme the most and when you’re tired and sleep deprived.

I personally would keep it fairly gender neutral and accessorize with pinks or blues (if that’s your vibe!) or fabrics that will match your personal taste and the theme you want for babies room. You don’t know that maybe down the line the room will  be used for something else or they will share with a sibling, and if it has a neutral base, it will not only create a calm space for baby and you, but it makes it far easier to switch up uses and styles! 

Create a Safe Layout

In addition to choosing a cot and mattress that meets safety regulations, you will also need to think about how the room is laid out. This is probably really obvious but just in case, some ways you can keep baby safe is by making sure their cot/crib is out of reach of radiators, lamps, power cables, wall sockets, curtains and windows.

All of these, as well as too much clutter (or things they can reach and pull into the cot/on top of them) can quickly become a hazard to your sweet baby – especially as they start to crawl and become mobile – trust me!! 

A Comfortable Chair

While there’s loads of stuff you’ll need specifically for your new little baby (create a wish list for your baby shower!), don’t forget a comfortable chair for you too. Whatever way you feed your baby, a chair is so important as you will spend a lot of time in here feeding or just holding and comforting your new addition! As they grow its nice to sit them on your lap and read and with all of that in mind, you will most likely need somewhere comfortable to sit day and night. 

To find the right one for you, just go and try a few out. While an armchair may be right for one new mum, another might prefer a rocking chair – It’s purely a case of personal preference. I would suggest checking Gumtree or Facebook marketplace for both nursery chairs and furniture as in my small experience you can get some really fab preloved deals to help cut the cost of having a baby! My favourite was the katy crib we got for Alice! 

Adaptable and Practical

Creating a practical room for your baby is essential but you also want it to be cute and stylish too. The good news is you can achieve this by thinking about how you can adapt the space. As I say, whilst a neutral colour scheme can be soothing for newborns, they’re also more flexible as your little one grows and their tastes changes. Also, while you could invest in a changing table, a large dresser and a table top changing mat can work just as well too (just make sure you always watch baby on them). 

Storage is also something to think about with practicalities! A nice chest of drawers is ample for a baby and great to keep socks, vests, baby grows and bibs neat. Laundry baskets double up as great toy/soft toy storage, and picture rails (like the ones in Ikea) are really useful to stand books and little trinkets on!

In addition to these tips and ideas, it is also necessary to have the basics covered too. This means plenty of muslins, blankets, waterproof mats, a room thermometer and different lighting (both practical ceiling lights to soothing night lights). One of my must haves for babies is large muslins – they are great for swaddling, cleaning, burping and shielding from lights and sun! 

Art work is another way to personalise a room without overdoing it – quotes, animals or alphabet prints in frames can bring a lovely style to a babies nursery with minimal effort.

Whatever you choose though, I am sure your precious new bundle will be surrounded by joy and love! Don’t stress it, but be assured that by number 4 you are happy to just find a small corner to call theirs!!!

*Collaborative post 

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October half term is not usually a time of year that we go away on holiday. We tend to just enjoy hanging around locally – embracing Autumn and prepping for Halloween. This year however was vastly different, because when “To Tuscany” invited us to visit Tuscany again and stay in one of their villas, seeing Italy in Autumn and catching some last minute sunshine seemed like an Idyllic half term break for us all. And so, a few weeks ago we enjoyed a lovely little family adventure (with Grandma) in the Chianti region of Tuscany in a quaint little villa tucked in the midst of vineyards. The views were incredible, the weather was wetter than anticiptaed, but it was a beautiful week together.

We have been to Italy twice before, but always in the Summer and with the intention to swim in lakes or hit the beach.This time however we were excited to see it clothed in Autumn and do things a little differently. Our Villa was in a teeny place called Montebuoni which is on the hill above Lecchi in Chianti and about 40 minutes north of Siena. This is a region we have never been to before and so there were lots of new places to explore and memories to make. I did some research beforehand and Grandma also had some great ideas too, but in the end the things we did and the places we explored were super interesting, very beautiful and a lot of fun for us all.

Here is our week in a nutshell, with the highlights and useful things to be aware of when visiting southern Tuscany with kids (whatever the season).

Siena 

Siena has never really been on my radar as a must see Italian City, however now we have been I would most definitely suggest it as a family day out whilst travelling/on holiday. It is easy to explore as it is smaller than other Italian cities we have been to, and it has lots of interesting things for the kids too.

To begin with we parked at the bottom of the hill (it was 12 euro for the day) and took about 6 (possibly more) sets of escalators up the hill to get into the city – the kids loved it! We explored a smaller cathedral before walking up into the city and down to the Piazza del Campo – the famous fan shaped main square. It was such a pretty place full of interesting facts and info. The kids loved running around it and seeing the fountain, but the highlight was climbing over 600 steps with daddy to the top of the Torre del Mangia (famous tower). It cost about 9 euro as children under 11 are FREE! Nath said it was a lot of fun and the views were brilliant!

Next we walked up to the Siena Cathedral – a beautiful black and white building that is famous to Siena and again the kids were free here too. Inside it was incredibly beautiful and its history very interesting. It took longer than planned to build as the onset of the plague took many of Siena’s residents, meaning the man power wasn’t there! Now it stands as an Iconic building, ornate and beautiful for tourists and those who worship!

Finally, after lunch we enjoyed a FREE visit to Siena’s Natural History Museum. Whilst small it is jam packed with animals (stuffed), geology and an underground exhibit. It is housed in the old monastery, which in itself is a beautiful place to wander. The kids really loved this part of our day and it was a lovely end to a lovely day.

Siena was a very family friendly place and we loved our day out there.

Pitigliano 

One of our favourite visits was to Pitigliano with it’s quaint old town known as “little Jerusalem”. It was a good hour and 45 mins away from where we were staying, but it was most definitely worth the drive. We decided to go here after Grandma had seen it on Jamie Oliver’s Italian tour. It is carved out of the hillside and has a long Jewish history which is both sad and fascinating. On the way we passed through another hillside town which was equally exciting to look at.

We parked near the new town (3 euro) and walked 5 minutes across the road and over a bridge into the old part. It was such an exciting and beautiful place to explore,with lovely views across the valley and a quiet chilled vibe.

We wandered the little streets – taking it all in and enjoying the mild sunshine. We headed down to the Jewish quarter where we toured the old Synagogue and learnt of Jewish tradition, as well as stories of the Jews in this area (specifically in world war 2). It was a great place to explore and we were touched by their stories.

After visiting the Jewish quarter, we did some more exploring before enjoying Bruschetta and “wild boar” lasagne for lunch in a cute little place down the main street.

We all loved Pitigliano and you need it on you wanderlust list for sure!

Hot Springs at Bagni San Fillipo

Thanks to several travel blogs, our research of the Chianti region led us to the natural hot springs of Bagni San Fillipo and I think it’s safe to say that they were the highlight of the trip (especially for the kids). We went late afternoon on our way back from Pitigliano and stayed til dusk – it was so surreal and Idyllic.

We paid a couple of euros to park on the road and then walked 5 minutes into the woods where  we saw several pools and people enjoying them. We all changed in the woods (which was pretty funny) and then walked down into the top pools just next to the bridge. They were shallow enough for the kids to play in safely and Megs enjoyed making the most of the “mud bath”! We couldn’t get over how exciting it all was and laid in those warm sulphurous waters in the middle of the woods till dusk – it was glorious!

I had no idea that Tuscany was so rich in Thermal springs (there are loads if you google them), but what a natural treasure they were (and FREE too!!). Whilst we all stunk a little afterwards, our skin was soft, our bodies relaxed and it really was the ultimate adventure for the kids and us all!

Boboli Gardens – Florence

On our last trip to Italy we had a day in Florence and whilst lovely, it wasn’t my favourite! This time however we had Nath’s mum with us and as an avid gardener we thought it would be nice to find a garden to visit with her. Our research led us to Boboli Gardens in Florence and all I can say is that they were mint!

One again kids were free here and as we went on Nov 1st it was “out of season” so tickets were only about 8 euro for each adult. The gardens were huge and are considered one of the most famous in Italy. Not only are Boboli Gardens beautifully landscaped and home to many lovely trees and plants, but it is also an open air museum full of fountains, statues, sculptures and exciting things to discover! The kids really loved it here – they enjoyed exploring and hiding and loved seeing Neptune, “a giant mento’s” and all of the fountains – I wished we had known about them on our last visit because they are an excellent family day out.

Boboli gardens aren’t flat and in some places incredibly steep. They do however offer hours of fun, great views of florence and beautiful art and landscaping! It was a lovely sunny day in Florence when we visited and I loved the views of it from this side of the city. The Piazza is included in the ticket price (which we didn’t do due to time restraints) but the gardens were certainly the highlight on this day out (as well as the Gelato). Our visit to Florence this time was certainly more enjoyable than the last and was only an hour and 10 from where were staying.

Volterra

I have been intrigued by Volterra ever since reading the Twilight books, and whilst it wasn’t the location for filming new moon (that was Montepulciano near Siena) it was the inspiration for it and it also has a magnificent history dating as far back as 7 B.C. Positioned high on a hill and surrounded by a wall it is a quirky place just waiting to be explored!

We only spent a couple of hours in Volterra as it is small and that is all you need (and because the weather meant it was a bit of a wash out too, but we won’t mention that!). We parked opposite the Roman ruins where it was significantly cheaper than the train station (it only cost us 4.50) and walked up into the town. We visited on the Friday of our holiday which conveniently turned out to be market day; hosting all kinds of local sellers with free samples happy to invite us to try! This made the visit extra exciting and from cheese to honey and chocolate to biscuits, we all embraced sampling and exploring the stalls. I bought some lemon pasta and the kids some mini jars of honey. It felt so lovely wandering the stalls and looking at all of the delicious treats and foods. I love markets, especially when on holiday, and I love looking at local foods and the things people have made.

From here we headed towards the Piazza – home to “The Volturi” in Stephanie Meyers “The Twilight Saga”! The downstairs of the Piazza was free to walk around and so we explored that together (and sheltered from the rain) before enjoying paninis for lunch. I hoped to tour the top of the Piazza too but due to language barriers they couldn’t agree a price for the kids (one said free one said 6 each?!)..Either way Volterra was a beautiful town in a beautiful location and we loved exploring it’s streets and visiting the market and Piazza. I am glad I finally went!

Pisa 

We flew in and out of Pisa, and so it was only natural that our trip to Tuscany would wind up here. It was a 2 hour drive from where we stayed, but armed with snacks for the kids and “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack on repeat, it was fine. The weather was 22 degrees C when we arrived late morning and it was a lush way to end our holiday.

We have obviously been to Pisa before as it wasn’t far from where we stayed last Summer, but Grandma hadn’t and so we enjoyed showing her our favourite spots. We wandered around the cathedral (which is free to look in – you just need a time slot ticket to manage crowds) and posed by the tower again. We then walked along to the river but didn’t have time to go to the park/gardens at the other side. Pisa is such a lovely little City and another kid friendly one too. It was great to spend a couple of hours here again in the sunshine before checking in and flying home to London!

I really love Italy – it is a place full of my favourite foods, and is also a place I never tire of exploring. The weather was pretty nuts whilst we were there (as were the kids) with a couple of big storms and a power cut, but we also had some lovely days of mild sunshine that saw us dipping our feet in the pool and wearing just T-Shirts.

We had a relaxing stay with “To Tuscany” in the Chianti Hills, eating local foods and playing games in front of the wood burner by night. The places we went to and the memories we made, made it a wonderful Autumnal adventure for our half term and we loved it (mostly). Our villa was quaint and ample and the views were breathtaking – I loved waking up every morning and taking them in! With a pool only 2 minutes away from our villa, I can imagine in the Summer it is quite the place to sample foods, wines and sun rays – far away from the ordinary and truly picturesque!

Thank you To Tuscany for a memorable and relaxing Tuscan adventure this Autumn – we had a fab time!

* We received this holiday complimentary from To Tuscany after winning their blogger competition. All images and thoughts are my own and we are incredibly grateful for this adventure. 

 

 

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you will have seen me last week sporting my latest wardrobe addition – a new red animal print dress from Zara. I got it as a surprise gift from Mr Smith for my recent birthday and it’s safe to say that I absolutely LOVE it (he did really well this year)! I was so surprised that he chose something so perfect for me, stylish and also something I am so happy with – it was both exciting and lovely.

Animal print of course is a big trend this Autumn and as someone who adores both colour and animal print, I couldn’t be happier to see it everywhere (I only wish I had more cash flow). I especially love the red animal print mash up and have for a while wanted something in that look. I love the primark polo neck top that has flooded Insta and hoped for that, or something similar to add to my wardrobe. SO, of course when I opened this dress on my birthday I was genuinely grateful and made up!

This dress ticks all the boxes for me; It is comfy and easy to wear, modest and on point. I love the high neck, the below knee.mid calf length and the full sleeves for cool days. The boldness of the colour with the print suits me well and I really like it too – in my opinion it just looks fab and was this aspect of this dress that made me instantly love it.

It is a really flexible dress to wear, which makes it a great investment and addition to my wardrobe. I like that it can be dressy with ankle boots or heels, or casual with leggings/over Jeans. Initially I wore it with black opaque tights and black mules for a chilled yet smart look on remembrance Sunday, but I already plan to wear it with my heeled ankle boots, or with leggings and trainers too. The fact that it’s red means it has the addes bonus of being festive too with the right accessories on a Christmas do!

It’s safe to say you need one too!

This dress is available now in Zara – its a bargain at £17.99 and also comes in other colours and prints too (if you want something more toned down but still on trend!). I am wearing a medium and it fits really well for someone who is a UK 12!

Thanks Mr Smith – I love my new bright red animal print Zara dress of dreams!

Not a sponsored or collaborative post – just sharing the love! 

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This last week I have felt like I have practically been doing everything by the skin of my teeth! Whilst we have had some lovely days out with friends and shared some lovely moments, I have felt like the house has been in a bit of chaos and that most mornings have just got the better of us. Towards the end of the week I have been feeling a weak and achy and just not quite right in my abdomen and back – we stayed in yesterday and had a chill day, and today Megan and I missed church to rest too as she woke up with a temperature.

The week however (despite these moments of chaos and feeling a little rough) has held some great moments of fun and joy too – namely Friday when I had my birthday “round 2” with my mates. It was a great evening where I made a mexican feast and then we had a dip in the hottub followed by desserts and cake. It was such a laugh and I am thankful for each of them.

Grateful For

This week I am grateful to finally have my curtains up in the lounge. Nathan hung them on Saturday and they make me very happy and look pretty cool too (in my opinion at least)! Our lounge is just about there and it feels good to have it feeling more homely and in a style we are happy with.

I am also grateful this week for my group of friends. Moving house isn’t an easy thing (however right and exciting it feels), but to have come to a place filled with such lovely people has been a huge blessing to me. I know so many great people here and I am thankful for my little crew I see most days and who have become great mates to me over these last few months. I have chatted and hung with various friends this week from the village and each one has enriched my day, but I am especially grateful for the kindness of my friends on Friday in surprising me with H&M love and a delish cake, as well as just wanting to spend time together! I am grateful for them being so lovely and funny, kind and always up for lots of laughs – they made my week!

Succeeded At

I want to say I survived the week and got the kids to school every day on time – so I will, because for some reason it really has been nuts and seemed nigh impossible some days!

I succeeded at fitting into my denim shirt more comfortably – thanks to So Shape and their products I reviewed this week. Granted, with all of the treats from Friday night that’s probably being reversed now, but I managed it so that’s a high 5!

We also succeeded at doing a few more things in the lounge and as I say getting the curtains up.

Found Beauty In

This week started off beautifully, with a mild Monday which saw us having a beach walk with friends. It was such a clear day and the beach was calm and peaceful that it really filled my soul with joy. Alice enjoyed splashing in the pools, throwing stones and collecting shells. It was such a beaut of day – you could see for miles and it was lovely.

On Wednesday morning I woke up to find the kids all snuggled together on Ethan’s bed with him reading them all a story. It was one of those “pulling at mama’s heartstrings” moments and was incredibly beautiful. I find most mornings pretty mad with them all but this was a beautiful start to our day and I am glad that I could capture it.

This week has been mad but good too – we have eaten a lot of pancakes for breakfast, we have had drizzle and fog and we also had children in need where they dressed up as teachers or in something spotty. I have loved spending time with my mates throughout the week, learning new techniques at college and getting more of our home in order. I had fun on Wednesday with Nath’s mum and sister and Alice and I found a new deli in Beverley which was lush for lunch!

Yes, it has been a mad week, but it has also been balanced out with beautiful moments too. There isn’t a lot planned this coming week other than I hope to make a start with the Christmas shopping (when did that creep up on us?). Here’s hoping it is filled with bargains and joy, and isn’t too cold!

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