Category Archives: Long Distance Love

All things LDR :)

Our Baby Boy Born During Lockdown

Our little man made his grand debut into the world in June and life has been an exhausting, precious, wonderful whirlwind ever since!

COVID AND AM I MATERNAL?

It was a different experience than it otherwise might have been due to the fact that he was born during the craziness of the Covid19 pandemic. This meant that we had to wear masks during the birth and my SO could only stay with us during the actual c-section and for about 30 minutes afterwards.

Little one cried the second they scooped him out and it was such an incredible mix of emotions when they laid that little bundle on my chest. It really is strange, terrifying and amazing to meet the tiny human which has lived inside of you for 9 months and to know that from now on there will always be three of us. From now on you are the lifeline to this new creation.

I think I worried a little off and on during the pregnancy that I might not be maternal; that maybe I was too selfish and liked my peace and quiet and coming and going too much. That nappies would be such a nuisance and the crying would be irritating. I think everyone else saw me as a baby person but I actually never understood the ‘fuss’ about babies preferring furrier creatures like kittens and puppies. I always thought human babies looked a bit alien-like and drooled too much.

I said how we would be firm but fair and how he wouldn’t be spoiled and how I would never be one of those parents that shows everybody constant photos of their child and how I would be a super chilled out mum. Oh, and how I would sit in the front seat of the car like a normal person and how I didn’t reallly want to breastfeed and how he would be going into his own room as soon as possible. Alllll of that was a BIG. FAT. LIE!

I’m amazed at how instantly and how much I love this little baby. I spend literally hours staring at him and his snuggles have become one of the best parts of my day. I show EVERYONE photos of him ALL THE TIME and I worry about him constantly. After 3 months I still wake up in a panic almost nightly thinking I’ve fallen asleep with him in our bed only to realise he is safe in his pram at our bedside (we gave up early on on trying to get him to sleep in the cot). He hated the ‘baby jail.’

I still sit in the back seat with him, he is permanently attached to my boob (though we bottle feed as well or I’d be dead!) and I’ve decided he can stay in our room til he’s 18. Okay, maybe not 18 but I’m shocked at how much the thought of sending him to his own room makes me want to cry. Even though it is a beautiful little nursery.

THE FIRST THREE WEEKS

http://www.forget-me-knotphotography.co.uk

The first day in hospital was spent snuggling little one and Skyping everyone, including loads of Skype with his dad down the road who wasn’t allowed to visit the hospital due to the pandemic. It felt like going back to long distance!

I was able to return home from hospital the next day (after a really scary near-fainting incident the evening before). I was so happy to be going home though to J.

The first two weeks were the hardest weeks of our lives. I have never known exhaustion like it. I actually fell asleep sitting bolt upright with a freezing cold bottle of water in my hand and woke up when I splashed the whole thing in my face as I dozed off.

On the 3rd day we ended up back in hospital as I thought little one had had a seizure. It was super scary and the two of us rode there in an ambulance unable to again bring my husband with us. As I couldn’t move due to the c-section they wheeled me in a wheelchair with little man in my arms and we were there for 3 hours while they monitored him. Thankfully they believe it was not a seizure but a choking incident which apparently can be quite common in the first few days.

One thing you may find yourself doing as a new parent is checking that they are still breathing every five seconds.

The first 1-3 weeks are a total blur. As much as I absolutely adored this tiny life the exhaustion and the unknown were overwhelming and we at times felt like we weren’t ‘enjoying’ it like we should be. For some reason I also spent a week feeling really nauseous and was terrified of being sick while my stitches were still so painful.

It was a constant cycle of wondering why he was crying and trying to get him to sleep! Instead of irritating I actually found his cry heartbreaking. The first night at home we just couldn’t get him to settle and after hours of trying everything my husband suggested we leave him for a few minutes to see if he might stop on his own. I broke into sobs blubbering “But he sounds so sad!”

I honestly think when they are in your tummy they do something with the wiring of your heart because when I hear that little cry or worse see his tiny tongue undulating my heart physically hurts.

I was surprised that nappy changing wasn’t the nuisance I had anticipated and became a daily bonding activity. In later months when he has had trouble going on a couple occasions I never imaged how excited one could be about changing a ‘stinky poo!’ What has become of me?

GETTING USED TO MOMMYHOOD

The first time I felt we properly enjoyed time together as a little family was in the third week when we took him to the seaside. It was a cold and windy day but we got behind one of the wave breaker walls and had a little picnic. Little man slept in the car the whole way, slept the whole time we were there and most of the way back home.

Cars are like a baby sleep draught. Cars will quickly become your most favourite thing ever!

I was finally starting to feel physically much better, able to actually leave the house and begin making proper memories as a little family. Since then we have had many trips to the seaside, visits to my husband’s family (my side from Canada haven’t been able to meet him yet again due to Covid19), country walks, warm snuggles, movie marathons (or sleepathons for little man) and even a stay cation to Cornwall.

At around 2 months he really began smiling back at us, becoming more playful and is such a sweet, happy little chappy (when he’s not hungry!). Those smiles make everything worth it and while his cry can make my heart break his smile makes my heart whole.

While I keep saying I want him to stay tiny and snuggly and I had a tear or two when I tucked his newborn clothes away as he’s moved into the next size, we are so looking forward to all the little milestones to come and all the memories still to be made as our little British / Canadian family of 3.

If you’ve had or are about to have a little one – what were/are your biggest fears?

Trivia Questions for Facetime Trivia Night!

Skype Trivia

If you are sitting at home bored in isolation I highly recommend throwing a virtual trivia night with friends and/or family. This has become the thing we look forward to each week as we wait for life to return to normality and has been so great for lifting the spirits!

If you’re long distance it can also be a great 2-player game to play with your significant otter 😉

Below is a list we came up with of general fact, geography, food, funny, film and tv, and 90’s pub quiz questions – perfect to use for a Facetime or Skype trivia night with friends during lockdown (or anytime!).

You may notice we especially love Big Bang Theory, Harry Potter, Inbetweeners and food! There are also many Canadian and UK-themed questions as we were playing with friends from both places. The great thing is you can find or create questions to suit those playing so feel free to use our quizzes or use some for inspiration in creating your own!

*FaceTime and Skype each allow you to have video with 6 people at a time. WhatsApp allows 4. FaceTime also allows up to 50 people on a call (without video enabled) and has worked really well for us. This is the most fun we’ve had in isolation – it’s been such a good laugh and I hope it will be for you too.

Try it!

TRIVIA QUIZ 1

1. What is used to flavour Earl Grey tea? A: Bergamot
2. Which 2007 Hollywood film (the 3rd in its series) was the most expensive ever made? A: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
3. Which UK food brand has not changed its packaging since 1881? A: Lyle’s (golden syrup)
4. Which country eats the most pizza (per person ratio)? A: Norway
5. The highest grossing painting ever sold was called ‘Salvador Mundi’ – who painted it? A: Picasso
6. Which small black and white mammal known to Africa, Asia and India doesn’t give a damn? A: Honey badger
7. Who is the richest person in the world and what company do they own? A: Jeff Bezos – Amazon
8. Which character was the first to go missing on ‘Stranger Things’? A: Will
9. What was the first team to ever win the FA cup? A: Wanderers
10. What spell does Harry cast on Draco in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince? A: Sectum Sempra
11. What is the highest rated film on IMdB? A: The Godfather
12. What is the most expensive herb to buy? A: Saffron
13. Which country celebrates the ‘Monkey Buffet Festival’ which includes giving fruit and vegetables to the local monkey population? A: Thailand
14. Which country has the highest number of female doctors? A: Finland
15. What is the hottest pepper in the world in Scoville Units? A: The Carolina Reaper
16. How many wives did King Henry the 8th have? A: 6
17. Which Bond actor suited up as a Stormtrooper for the Star Wars film ‘The Force Awakens’? A: Daniel Craig
18. What does the computer tech term ‘CPU’ stand for? A: Central Processing Unit
19. Nanaimo bars – a chocolate, custard and coconut tray bake – are named after Nanaimo in which Canadian province? A: British Colombia
20. What swims 1/8th of an inch per hour? A: Sperm
21. Who wrote Winnie the Pooh? A: A.A. Milne
22. Which famous person has been likened to the North American snack of ‘Cheetos’ and is sometimes referred to as a ‘man baby’? A: Donald Trump
23. What sport has been played on the moon? A: Golf
24. “You go Glen Coco!” is a quote from which teen movie? A: Mean Girls
25. What is the longest running tv series in the world? A: The Simpsons
26. ‘Heroes in a half shell’ is the tagline for what 80s/90s tv series? A: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
27. The French ‘Coq au Vin’ translates to what culinary dish? A: chicken in wine
28. What is the main ingredient in gin? A: Juniper berries
29. What food chain has the most locations globally with 42,998 locations? A: Subway
30. What is the most sexually active nation in the world? A: Greece
31. What is ‘Lord Hereford’s Knob’? A: A mountain (in Wales)
32. Which actress appeared in Love Actually, Pride & Prejudice and The Duchess? A: Kiera Knightley
33. What was the name of Ed Sheeran’s first single released in 2011? A: The A Team
34. Since the 70s what food is generally eaten in Japan on Christmas Day? A: KFC
35. What does the word ‘Brobdingnagian’ mean? A: large, big, enormous etc,.
36. What Inbetweeners character says: ‘I thought it was a fart sir!’ A: Will
37. In which country did the Michelin Star rating system originate? A: France
38. ‘Takeout woman’ could be considered the opposite name of which classic arcade game? A: Pac Man
39. What is the main ingredient in a frittata? A: Eggs
40: Doc Brown is a character from what iconic 80s film? A: Back to the Future

TRIVIA QUIZ 2

1. Who was the first person to swim the English Channel? A: Captain Matthew Webb
2. In what year was the first Harry Potter film released? A: 2001
3. In what country do they hold a tomato food fight in the streets every August? A: Spain
4. What hugely popular 90s toy involved cleaning up virtual poo? A: Tamagotchi
5. George Bailey is the main character of which classic Christmas film released in 1946? A: It’s A Wonderful Life
6. Which pancake-like relative of the shark could be described as a ‘majestic sea flaf flap?’ A: Stingray
7. What is the most common flavour of pie served at Canadian Thanksgiving? A: Pumpkin Pie
8. What is the next word in this line from the 2001 movie Shrek – ‘Please don’t stand on the grass, wipe your shoes, wipe your _______ ?’ A: Face
9. What is the name of the ancient network of trade routes established during the Han Dynasty between 130 BCE and 1453 CE? A: The Silk Road
10. The most expensive commercial ever made was a 2004 commercial featuring Nicole Kidman and cost 33 million. What product was it advertising? A: Perfume (Chanel No. 5)
11. An orchidometer is a medical instrument used to measure what part of the body? A: Testicles
12. What does the tech/photography term JPEG stand for? A: Joint photographic experts group
13. In 2018 which country launched the most vegan products, knocking Germany out of the top spot? A: United Kingdom
15. Which Inbetweeners character tells Will he won’t be known as ‘briefcase mong’ anymore but will be known as ‘The Lion, The Witch and Speccy Kid who Shit Himself.’? A: Jay
16. ‘Tagine’ refers to both a type of stew and a cooking vessel in which country? A: Morocco
17. Who was the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic ocean? A: Amelia Earhart
18. In what city did Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches originate? A: Philadelphia, USA
19. What are the names of 3 of the 5 D-Day beaches? A: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword
20. What is the smallest bird species in the world? A: Hummingbird
21. Which Star Wars character famously shouted ‘It’s A Trap!’? A: Admiral Ackbar
22. Which football player has scored the most goals in the English Premier League? A: Alan Shearer
23. Who was the first president of the United States? A: George Washington
24. Which chocolate confection has the provocative trademarked tagline: ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.’? A: M&M’s
25. In January 2018 one of the many slang words added into the Oxford English Dictionary includes a word which crosses something found in a baby’s diaper with a violent weather event – what is the slang word? A: Poonami
26. What is the only animal in the world where the male gives birth? A: Seahorse
27. The tradition of afternoon tea was introduced by the Duchess of which British place? A: Duchess of Bedford
28. What does Harry Potter say when travelling by floo powder for the first time after Mrs. Weasley instructs him to ‘speak very clearly?’ A: Diagonally
29. The first hot air balloon flight launched from which city? A: Paris, France
30. What was the first animated film ever released by Disney? A: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
31. Who wrote Moby Dick? A: Herman Melville
32. This species of penguin is known for its striking blue eyes and though it is one of the smallest breeds of penguins is known to be the most fearless – basically, who is the Chuck Norris of penguins? A: Adelie
33. Which country exports the most coffee? A: Brazil
34. What movie is the following quote from: ‘I’m sorry I ruined your lives and crammed 11 cookies into the VCR’? A: Elf
35. What are the last names of all 4 of the main male Big Bang Theory characters? A: Raj Koothrapali, Howard Wolowitz, Leonard Hofstadder, Sheldon Cooper
36. What is the name of the region of the North Atlantic where a number of ships and aircraft have disappeared? A: The Bermuda Triangle
37. Finish this Lord of the Rings quote: ‘One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and _______________? A: In the darkness bind them
38. Can you name 1 of the 2 countries in the world where you will NOT find Coca-Cola? A: Cuba, North Korea
39. Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote which famous series of books for kids which features an orphan girl? A: Anne of Green Gables
40. This animal features in a 1953 Christmas song and while its name is derived from the Greek word for ‘river horse’ a more apt description might be ‘angry river cow’ – what animal is it? A: Hippopotamus

TRIVIA QUIZ 3

1. What is the tallest mountain in the UK? A: Ben Nevis
2. Which British politician said “Champagne should be dry, cold and free?” A: Winston Churchill
3. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum in which Indian city? A: Agra
4. Ben & Jerry’s flavour ‘Bourbon Pecan Pie’ can only be purchased in which US state? A: Texas
5. Which ancient civilisation used the symbol of winged penises to ward off sickness? A: The Romans
6. What is the tallest species of penguin? A: Emperor Penguin
7. Which Inbetweeners character says “There is nothing funny about testicles.”? A: Mr. Gilbert
8. In what country was the Lord of the Rings trilogy filmed? A: New Zealand
9. The writer Darles Chickens was born in what UK port city? A: Portsmouth
10. ‘Dhaka’ is known as the ‘city of mosques’ and is the capital city of which country? A: Bangladesh
11. What is the most popular Dominoes pizza topping in both the UK and USA? A: Pepperoni
12. Star Wars character Mace Windu wields a lightsabre of which colour? A: purple
13. Which Big Bang Theory character says “the robot hand got stuck on your what?” A: Leonard
14. What is the name of the deepest place on Earth located in the South Pacific Ocean and measuring 11,000 meters deep? A: The Mariana Trench
15. In what country was the famed Titanic built? *Bonus point for the city* A: Belfast, Ireland
16. What is the deadliest creature to humans killing approximately 725,000 people per year? A: mosquitos
17. Which London Bridge is destroyed by death eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? A: Millennium Bridge
18. Which museum is the most visited in the world with over 8 million visitors per year? A: The Louvre
19. The natural reflex in babies to fan their toes out when the bottom of the foot is stroked is known as what? A: The Babinski Reflex (or Plantar Reflex)
20. What are a group of lions called? A: A pride
21. How many characters does Mike Myers play in the Austin Powers films? A: 4 (Austin, Dr. Evil, Fat B*stard & Goldmemeber)
22. What plant does Harry Potter eat to allow him to breathe under water in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? A: Gillyweed
23. What is the name of the round, colourful cardboard disks which were wildly popular with 90’s kids? A: Pogs
24. Which one-hit-wonder band released the song “Jump Around” in 1989? A: House of Pain
25. In Star Wars Episode 1 Anakin Skywalker is discovered working for Watto as a slave on what planet? A: Tatooine
26. What is the highest-selling chocolate bar in the United Kingdom? A: Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
27. In what country did the legend of the Easter bunny originate? A: Germany
28. Who wrote “To Kill A Mockingbird”? A: Harper Lee
29. ‘Bulgogi’ is a dish of thinly-sliced, marinated stir-fried beef or pork (usually served over rice) which originated in which country? A: Korea
30. This circular, stringed instrument is heard most often in country music; Taylor Swift plays one in the video for her song ‘Mean’ – which instrument is it? A: Banjo
31. What is the name of the South Carolina fort where the first shot of the civil war took place? A: Fort Sumpter
32. What was the first ever flavoured potato chip flavour? A: Barbeque
33. What are the 3 things that don’t impress Shania Twain much (in her 1998 hit ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’)? *1 point for each* A: rocket scientist, Brad Pitt, having a car
34. Which Canadian hockey player legend has scored the most goals ever with 894? A: Wayne Gretzky
35. Which popular beer brand promised and delivered a free beer to every British soldier of WW2 the Christmas of 1939, and was also one of the first brands to introduce employee benefits such as medical, dental, pensions and 2 free beers per week? A: Guinness
36. What does the computer term ‘RAM’ stand for? A: Random Access Memory
37. Ornithology is the study of what? A: Birds
38. What is the name of the popular tourist road in the USA which takes you through small, scenic towns from the state of New Mexico to Missouri? A: Route 66
39. ‘Dump,’ ‘floater’ and ‘wipe’ are techniques used in what team sport? A: Water Polo
40. Which Big Bang Theory character, after being asked what beverage they have served, says “There was a single cube of chicken bouillon in the cupboard when we moved in and it’s been bugging me for 8 years.” A: Sheldon

TRIVIA QUIZ 4

1. What is the busiest holiday for Dominoes pizza delivery? A: New Years Eve
2. ‘Peshwari’ naan is an Indian oven-baked flatbread of what flavour? A: Coconut
3. Which Forrest Gump character says this iconic quote: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” A: ‘Bubba’ (Benjamin Buford Blue)
4. What is the longest bone in the body? A: Femur
5. What is the most popular doughnut flavour in America? A: Glazed
6. Bali is known for its volcanic mountains, Yoga retreats and rice paddies and is actually made up of 3 islands belonging to which country? A: Indonesia
7. The Titanic had 2 sister ships with identical passenger facilities, one of which went on to be used as a troop ship during WW1. What are the names of the two sister ships? A: HMHS Britannic, RMS Olympic
8. Which bounty hunter captures Han Solo in Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back? A: Boba Fett
9. British Swallows migrate to what country for the winter? A: South Africa
10. ‘Spotted dick’ is a British pudding (dessert) made of suet and what? A: Dried fruit
11. ‘Wiarton Willy’ is a famous Canadian mammal – what type of animal is he and what is he famous for? A: Groundhog, his shadow
12. This spice is a type of seed (but can be ground) which originated in Iran and the Mediterranean and is the most-consumed spice in the world – which spice is it? A: Cumin
13. This fortified steel and concrete structure holds a large portion of the U.S.’s gold and sits within a Kentucky army base – what is it called? A: Fort Knox
14. In Harry Potter what is the name of Hagrid’s former pet spider who lives in the Forbidden Forest? A: Aragog
15. Which keyboard letter do you press alongside ‘Ctrl’ to undo an action? A: Letter ‘Z’
16. The U.K. football teams ‘Harts’ and ‘Hibbs’ both come from which Scottish city? A: Edinburgh
17. What is the most popular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavour? A: Cookie Dough
18. Which Disney re-make was the highest grossing movie of 2017? A: Beauty and the Beast
19. What are a group of Ravens called? A: An unkindness
20. What was the name of the woman who began the suffragette movement in Britain, founding the WSPU in 1903? A: Emmeline Pankhurst
21. Teabags were created by accident in 1908 in the United States and were originally made of what material? A: Silk
22. ‘Shrove Tuesday’ is another name for which holiday? A: Pancake Day
23. What spell is used in Harry Potter to disarm an opponent – usually of their wand? A: Expelliarmus
24. What is the full name of the Canadian NHL hockey team for Montreal? A: Montreal Canadiens
25. Black Beauty was written in 1877 by which English author? A: Anna Sewell
26. In 1991 ‘Right Said Fred’ released the hit song ‘I’m Too Sexy’ – name as many things as you can that the singer is ‘too sexy’ for. *1/2 point for each* A: His love, his shirt, Milan, New York, Japan, your party, his car, his hat, this song
27. What is an ampersand? A: The ‘&’ sign
28. Which mythological creature is said to inhabit the Scottish Highlands? A: Lochness Monster
29. What is the highest grossing Broadway musical with a net of over 1.6 billion? A: The Lion King
30. How many calories (under 10) are in 1 gram of alcohol? A: 7
31. This dog breed also refers to a cocktail made with vodka and grapefruit juice – what is it called? A: Greyhound
32. What are the names used to refer to the extra-terrestrial, robotic ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in the Transformers movies? A: Autobots and Decepticons
33. Who led the Scottish army to victory over the English at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314? A: Robert the Bruce
34. A young woman in the 1920’s who behaved and dressed boldly was called what? A: A flapper
35. What is the name of Dustin’s pet from the upside-down in ‘Stranger Things’? A: D’Artagnon (Dart for short)
36. Who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican? A: Michaelangelo
37. What is the fastest flying bird in the world able to dive at almost 200 miles per hour and can be found on every continent except Antarctica? A: Peregrine Falcon
38. Which Inbetweeners character describes ‘caravaning’ as ‘a sense of shitting in a bucket in a cupboard you don’t get with other holidays’? A: Will
39. This cooking toy which used a lightbulb to cook processed food bought in packets at Toys R Us was lusted after by many a 90s kid – what was it called? A: Easy Bake Oven
40. In her 2012 song Katy Perry ‘has heard it’s beautiful’ and wants to see your what? A: Peacock

How have you all been staying sane? 🙂

 

 

 

Expat Life Lately: Baby Bump!

scan from fb

6 months ago now – shortly after we said ‘I Do’ for the second time – I called J into the bathroom at his auntie’s with some exciting news. 3+ weeks it said on the little digital screen. It’s such a mix of feelings when that little message appears: excitement, uncertainty, panic, happiness.

Within another four weeks we’d have the pram, the car seat, some tiny clothes. My Pinterest boards of food, travel, weddings were suddenly replaced with nurseries and baby things. Facebook swiftly switched from showing me ads of wedding venues to ones of breast pumps and nursing bras.

Before we knew it we were moving around the corner to a bigger house, painting the nursery, DIYing shelves together for the bump which we could now both feel moving about each day, filling in the Peter Rabbit baby book his mum bought us and assembling the crib my mum sent us.

Baby Room Chandelier (1 of 1)

20191207_191947 christmasbump

I really thought we were going to have a girl. J changed his mind after a few weeks and decided it was a boy in there so we made a bet that the winner would be treated to a free breakfast. I didn’t get a free breakfast. J was awfully smug that day. But he did say, while he enjoyed the sweet spoils of being right, that we could name him Hudson. The name I most loved and which is also a bit of a nod to my Canadian roots.

The first thing I bought, before I even knew what we were having, was a penguin pram suit and a Peter Rabbit bedside lamp. J came home one night from the mall with a white blanket for the pram and a fluffy Peter Rabbit housecoat with bunny ears on the hood. It’s such a precious feeling the first time your SO buys something for the little one and seeing him spend hours playing with our five month old nephew melts my heart a lot. And when he sends me sweet texts out of the blue to say he loves us.

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We are so excited to meet this little guy in June but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every now and then I have 2 minutes of panic thinking ‘what are we doing!’ and ‘everything is about to change’ and ‘will I ever have a full night’s sleep again?’ But I know J will be the best dad in the world as he’s already the best husband I could ever have asked for and he’s been so supportive throughout our whole relationship and the pregnancy. There’s no one I’d rather have babies with!

He even brought me a card and some fresh squeezed orange juice Sunday morning for British Mother’s Day 🙂

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All of a sudden things you always knew about but never really thought about, I mean REALLY thought about become all you think about. It is such an amazing but strange experience knowing you are growing a tiny human. And perhaps even stranger, is the thought that this is the beginning of the next cycle – we are no longer the children in our family, we are the next parents. The new tear-wipers, cheerleaders, taxi cabs to friend’s houses, Christmas dinner makers, teachers, tooth fairies, Santa Clause’s, dinosaurs (in my day we had dial-up internet – I could make a sandwich by the time msn loaded – you don’t know what msn is??).

And one day our little one, who at this moment, knows nothing but his warm, squishy existence will grow up and maybe have children of his own and we will become the grandparents. I suppose until we became pregnant it never really sunk in that we will grow old. It seemed very distant and far away that growing old thing. But the white hair I found a few weeks back (“J is this attached to my head!?!” – it was) is a sign that we are in fact growing older and things are changing.

Thoughts of the upcoming baby shower I was planning, and summer trips to the seaside with our new bundle and to Canada all seem so far away at the moment with everything going on. Everyone and everything is in limbo. But in these moments I must remember that I have everything I will ever need – J is here with me and that’s what matters. And soon we will add another musketeer to a household filled with love.

What are you doing at the moment to keep busy and stay positive? And if you have or are expecting a little one – what was the first thing you or your SO bought for them?

At Home Date Ideas

I like a good at-home date any old time but as we are all now forced to stay home during this pandemic and if having nothing to look forward to is getting you down then there’s no better time to plan a date with your loved one at Casa Homestead :).

You could even combine a few of these and turn each room in your house into a different themed event – karaoke in the kitchen? Board games in the living room? Lovers Spa in the bedroom? We’ve got the ideas to turn your quarantine into a quaran-extreme! Your isolate into an iso-date! Your social distancing into… you get the picture.

1. Have a living room (or backyard picnic)

Lay down a blanket (just like when you were a kid) break out the snacks (depending on what you were able to find during your last shop this may be a mish-mash of boiled asparagus and herring but hey! At least it’ll be memorable) and you could even light a few candles or add a few fairy lights to make it feel extra special. Fondue anyone?

Image result for indoor picnic

2. Make a fort

For this blast from the past all you need is an old sheet or two and something to throw it over. Make it extra cosy with some pillows and even add some lights or bunting you may have lying around the house. Watch something on the telly, play board games, indulge in some snacks, snuggle, binge watch all 8 Harry Potter movies (I’m not judging) – it’s all that much more exciting when done from the comforts of your own fortress.

Image result for livingroom fort

3. Turn your bedroom into a couples spa experience

Run your SO a hot bubble bath then treat them to a relaxing massage in the bedroom. If you’ve got bath robes and slippers at home this would be a nice touch. If not, knock up a homemade sign, put some nature tunes on the smartphone, light some candles and get those hands to work! You could even type up a list of which treatments are on offer at this spa for them to choose – back massage, facial, manicure, foot massage, full body, full body – hubba hubba. It’s all up to you!

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Dating Divas – Spa Date

While He Was Napping – Spa Date

4. Have a Cook Off (Or Bake Off)

Make a little game out of who can come up with the best meal or dessert using whatever random ingredients you were able to find during your last shop. One time during a snow day we emptied the contents of our fridge and had a toastie-making contest. Award points for tastiness, creativity and presentation and come up with a prize for the winner. For example, winner gets a chocolate bar – who are we kidding? Does anyone have chocolate left at a time like this? They may have to suffice with a kiss and bragging rights this time!

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5. Yoga or Workout Date

If your SO is the active type, lay out some mats (if you have them) load up a Yoga or Workout video on Youtube and follow along together. To set the mood again you could put on some nature music, light some candles and let the zen help you find your inner goat. Or something. You could even treat them to a smoothie after if you’ve got a blender, bananas, some kind of fruit (fresh or frozen) and some milk.

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10 Yoga Workout Channels

10 Minute Couples Workout Routine

6. Challenge Your SO to a Drinking Game

While you can’t go to the pub with your mates or down to the hottest new club at the moment there are endless lists out there of 2 person drinking games which could be played in the comfort of your own living room. Even better, invite another couple to join you via Skype and have a group date! There are also a million games out there for different movies or TV series’ or better yet, create your own rules to your own favourite flick.

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Skype Drinking Games

27 Naughty and Nice Drinking Games for Couples

7. Set up a karaoke bar

If you happen to have a mic at home – great (maybe not so great for your neighbours but it does make it more authentic!). If not, grab a hairbrush or go acapella, load up some songs on Youtube (a search of any song followed by karaoke will likely get you a background track) and sing til your heart’s content. If you’ve got a disco ball, disco light, light box, some sort of light-up letters left over from your wedding 3 years ago etc,. these can help to create a ‘bar’ type feel. Add in some fancy dress (feather boa? top hat? last year’s Halloween costumes?) for a silly time.

Serve up some chips in newspaper and a couple beers afterwards to make it extra bar-like.

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8. Video game & pizza date

Dig out a favourite 2-player video game and throw a pizza in the oven – or better yet – make your own creation using tortilla wraps and whatever toppings you can find to hand. Pineapple and cous-cous? Broccolli and boiled egg? Apple and artichoke? You might just be onto the next big thing!

If you scored some popcorn or crisps on your last shop – even better!

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9. Family History Date (Idea from The Dating Divas)

I am hugely into genealogy so I’m surprised I didn’t think of this one myself! Take some time to talk about your family history, create a tree together, then become detectives and see what else you can discover. I did this 10 years ago and since then have become a family history fanatic building my own tree of over 400 relatives and my husband’s of over 300 – so proceed at own risk! It’s seriously addictive.

Ancestry still remains the best online portal for creating a tree but don’t worry if you can’t afford the subscription fee – you can build and upload files for free (you just can’t access their records). A great starting point for free records is familysearch.org and findagrave.com

Family History Date #familyhistory #geneology

Dating Divas – Family History Date

10. Youtube Video Challenge

When Youtube first came out I would get hours of enjoyment with friends sharing our repertoire of hilarious vids with one another (see Jon Lajoie, Steve Kardynal, The Lonely Island, News Anchor Bloopers etc,.) and many an evening has been spent reminiscing over old music videos – which still make a fantastic date or evening with friends.

But in a bid to make some new discoveries come up with a scavenger hunt list of videos you and/or your partner need to find, load these up and share. Your list could include: a prank video, a video about something you’re afraid of, your all-time favourite music video, the first video you ever watched on Youtube, a video about a topic you’re interested in, etc,. or you can use this handy dandy list from the dating divas!

Youtube Scavenger Hunt Date – Dating Divas

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11. Start a book club with your SO

Grab a mug of your favourite hot drink, some cozy socks and pastries and take a trip to cafe a la bed. This date could be done as a couple or you could even start this with a willing group of friends and have a weekly Skype discussion. Pick a book together and take turns reading a chapter to one another – jot down some questions or thoughts as your partner reads and have them do the same when you read. After a few chapters share your thoughts and questions with one another.

A List of 40 Book Club Questions for Any Book

12. Dance Date!

There are just so many great options with this one – whether it’s putting on some old classics and swaying in the living room before watching a black and white film (if you’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life watch it. Right now), whether it’s putting on your favourite dance hits and jumping around the living room like loons or whether you will take this opportunity to use a tutorial to learn some new moves – you can bet that all of the above will boost your spirits.

Always wanted to learn the moves to ‘Thriller’ or ‘The Git Up?’ Always wanted to learn the foxtrot? There’s no better time! P.S. if it’s ballroom you’re after and you’re a beginner I highly recommend the Jive – it’s so much fun and the steps aren’t too hard. I also highly recommend Kevin and Karen videos – I used to use these as an introduction to dance with my Year 3 class. If they can do it you can do it. Do it!

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Learn The Jive with Kevin and Karen

Shape of You Dance Workout

Worth It With Mandy Jiroux

Thriller with Mandy Jiroux

Please feel free to share your creative date ideas below and though we’re apart we’re all in this together! Also, just remember where there is tea there is hope!

 

 

 

“I Do… Again!”

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As some of you know, J and I met quite some years ago now on Plenty of Fish while I lived in Canada and he lived in the UK. Skype dates quickly turned into the sort of whirlwind romance Taylor Swift might sing about. Many Skype calls, flights and letters later I moved to England to be with him, and it was the best thing I ever did.

Two years after moving here, 3 days before Christmas, he took me to the place I had declared the most beautiful spot in the world – the top of Winnats Pass in the Peak District and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I said “of course I will!”

As we had to be married to live on the barracks of his next posting we had a small, tweed affair at the registry office in Cambridge with close family and friends that spring. Two years later, after saving loads of pennies, having our original venue fall through 6 months before and arranging for all my Canadian family and friends to fly over we got to re-live one of the happiest days of our lives – this time with the white dress and all the trimmings.

I wrote a very personal ceremony which his cousin delivered and we said our handwritten vows to one another surrounded by all those who we love and who love us while sheep grazed on the wet, Derbyshire hills behind us. It rained the whole day in British fashion, and yet it was wonderful. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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My dad lead me down the aisle and handed me off to ‘the only man he’s ever approved of’ to the song ‘Then’ by Brad Paisley. Seeing J standing there, and the emotion we both felt is something neither of us will forget as we continue onto new adventures together, forever by one another’s side as husband and wife.

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The ceremony encompassed hearty laughs, family jokes, heartfelt words, many a proud look from parents and was sealed with a triumphant kiss and a refrain of ‘Circles’ by Jana Kramer.

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After the ceremony surrounded by our best friends we trudged up a slippery slope in stiletto heels – armed with brollies and laughter- and didn’t let a few raindrops stop us making the most of a magical day. In the climb I must have put my heel through the lace of my dress causing a rip a few inches wide near the bottom but no matter. My dress now bears the stains and wear of a wedding day well spent.

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We spent the next part of the day enjoying the company of all those who had travelled so far to celebrate our love with us – some having driven hours from different parts of the UK and some having flown from Ontario and Nova Scotia – while we shared a toast, some ord’oeuvres and the children roguishly helped themselves to chocolates off the too-tempting-to-resist cake.

I had to ask our photographer to snap a quick pic before all the chocolates mysteriously disappeared! Someone asked me afterwards if it was meant to look like we were sitting on a snowflake in a bowl of Poutine – the fact that the chocolates kind of look like fries, gravy and cheese curds is completely incidental!

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This is also the point in the day when I began to rethink my choice of a mermaid style dress as after a 1/2 hour trip to the loo with determined bridesmaids in tow I decided I would not be tinkling for the rest of the evening. And though we didn’t go to bed until nearly 2am – I was resolved in my decision and stuck to it!

We managed to tell parts of our story and ourselves through all the little details – from leather suitcases and love letter table numbers tied with string (which included Hogwarts, Cambridge United FC, London and Maple Leaf themed envelopes) – to the personalised plane cuff links I surprised him with on the morning of our special day.

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Our sweets table featured Canadian treats like: Jolly Rachers, Oh Henry bars and butter tarts and British Rosy Apples, Tangfastics and a giant Bakewell Tart – as we were so near to the pastries’ namesake town the day wouldn’t have been complete without a Bakewell.

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The butter tarts lasted about ten seconds!

Sprinkled on the tables were plane confetti’s cut from maps and hearts made from Florida travel brochures. Florida being where we met for the first time and where we have spent many happy memories together.

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Milk bottles sat on aged books at every table and each held a handful of gypsophelia and sunflowers – my favourite flower – which our auntie Pauline thoughtfully arranged for us.

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We stole a few moments to ourselves before dinner to take in the postcard-perfect landscape and our superb photographer duo preserved these loving seconds for us to keep always.

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Our flower girl (whom we’d forgotten to send down the aisle earlier) ushered the bridal party into the Orangery with her basket of dried rose petals – where a very British afternoon tea and some equally touching and hilarious speeches awaited from our best man, our maid of honour and then J and myself to one another.

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When I watch back his vows, and the speech he spent hours upstairs writing one night I can’t describe the sense of sheer love and respect I have for him. When I see his cheeky smile, how he talks with his hands and the way he looks at me – everything about him just makes my heart happy.

Following dinner were times of merriment, conversation and cocktails until the clock struck seven and the father daughter dance begun.

My dad, who lives back home in Canada, who truly is my biggest fan and cries at every single airport goodbye – even after I’ve lived here for 4 years – swayed with me to Carrie Underwood’s ‘Girl You Think I Am.’ And the words You think I’m brave. You think I’m fearless… I wanna be the girl you think I am… really hit home.

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He then put my hand in J’s – knowing that near of far, I would always be in good hands. J held me close while Brad Paisley’s ‘Then’ said all the things I feel every time I look at him. Because somehow, when I think I couldn’t possibly love him more, I do.

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We enjoyed an evening of dancing, pizza, sparklers and kisses. Later in the night I even ended up doing an impromptu rendition of ‘Circles.’

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At 1:30am we finally said goodnight to our guests knowing that we had made memories that will last us a lifetime of drinking tea together, and travelling to new places, and dancing in the kitchen and couch snuggles. Memories that in 50 years, 80 years time we can look back on and say ‘And I thought I loved you then.’

 

Throwback Tuesday: London Photoshoot

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Tower Bridge

I honestly don’t know how the weeks, months and years escape me but they manage. So much has happened this past year; nearly all good things but one wonderful week seems to roll into the next and I find myself wondering where the time has gone.

I was thinking today about this lovely day in London – not last October but the one before it already. My favourite photographer in all the world Kaypea Photography happened to be travelling from the USA to London and snapped some beautiful photos for us to treasure always.

She really captured our love for each other and for this magical little island I’ve called home these past four years.

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Tower of London

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He makes me so happy ❤

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What you can’t tell from these photos is that it was a frigid October day with some rain (luckily I had my man to keep me warm!) so I had my yellow rain coat and flower patterned wellies on between locations; this matched very well with my pink skirt (not!).

One of the highlights was when we were near Westminster and a little girl pointed and said “Look mommy – a princess!” It was so sweet. All was worth it for the memories and the photos that now sit on our bedside table, in the home we share together.

What is your favourite London spot or spot you must see if you ever visit? x

Expat Life Lately: RHS Chelsea Flower Show

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May All Your Weeds Be Wildflowers
-Anonymous

Last week my husband came home from work and said that he’d been asked to help with the 75th Anniversary D-Day Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As is often the case in the army my man happened to mention he likes gardening (he did help me plant that tomato plant that one time right?) and before he knew it it had become common knowledge that he is some master landscaper and floral designer extraordinaire. After a week of calling him Mr. Titchmarsh and giggling it came to pass that a couple extra hands were needed to strip out the D-Day Garden and a free pass was up for grabs. He did not have to twist my arm.

A free pass and all I have to do to earn it is gardening? Which I love? Win-win!

I watched BBC coverage of the show in anticipation all week surprising myself with my knowledge of flower species as I’m mostly a veggie-growing girl.

When the day finally came we visited the pavillion which housed regal lupins, pastel foxgloves, towering delphiniums and velvety peonies. There were roses blushing in every shade and a real buzz – although that could have been a combination of the bees and the sneezing. So much sneezing.

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We visited the plethora of gardens I’d seen on the TV. The Moroccan garden, the Yorkshire garden, Duchess Kate’s Back to Nature Garden and many others. Inspiration for our yard and our wedding were propagating like bluebells in my mind.

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But the highlight for me wasn’t the flowers – gorgeous as they were. The highlight for me was that I had the opportunity to speak to so many interesting people about so many interesting things and that I got to play a small part in helping with the D-Day Garden which will be transported to France for a permanent home in Arromanches, overlooking Gold Beach.

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The D-Day veterans (the youngest of which was 93) told me about their younger years during the war; why they joined and how wonderful it was when people thanked them for their service. One of them echoed back a thought I have had so many times – that we never learn. They told me of the wives they came to meet after the war and of visits to Canada and gave me tried and true words of wisdom: “Life goes by too fast – don’t waste one second of it.”

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I also spoke with the designer -John- and his family about building the garden and they told me of how washers (which the soldiers are made of) had taken over their entire home – being found in pockets and in shoes and on windowsills. They explained that sea thrift was the last flower the soldiers would have seen as they left Portsmouth and the first they would have seen during the D-Day landings.

I also fangirled a little bit when I asked if he’d met any of the royals in the week and he told me he’d met the Duchess of Cambridgeshire herself who I adore, and also Princess Beatrice. He said Kate carried herself very well and he was struck by just how tall she was.

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As we separated plastic pots and plopped sea thrift back into their containers I came to find that another lady who helped with the garden was an archaeologist which is every child’s dream job and I wanted to know everything. It turns out she’d been on Time Team which is one of my favourite shows and her most valued find was a 9th century comb made of bone in perfect condition all but for one prong.

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All in all it was a day filled to the brim and what’s the Chelsea Flower Show without trying to squeeze tall plants in tiny cars?

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We carried home an armful of flowers and good advice and reminisced on a wonderful day that went by just as fast as the old veterans said. Now I’m off to the garden as I can hardly think of a better way to enjoy every second.

 

 

Expat Life Lately: Pumpkins & Autumn Recipes

Now it’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas I thought it would be a perfect time to say farewell to those spectacular fall days and to recap some of our best memories from a magical autumn which has been spent playing boardgames, snuggling, cooking, exploring and of course, drinking cups of tea.

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As we’re now living in Kent with good train links to London we’ve been making up for lost time with my favourite city and it has been glorious this autumn.

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We caught a country music concert at Borderline, meeting one of my idols Cassadee Pope and happened to also catch the changing of the guards.

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We’ve had a few new recipes keeping us cozy this autumn season. Among some of our favourites were Squash, Beetroot & Halloumi salad and Tortellini Soup. Delish!

Fall on a plate… Squash, Beetroot & Halloumi Salad Recipe

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Tortellini soup. Total heaven! If you love Italian flavours you will fall in love. I omit the meatballs and add a potato and 2-3 carrots and a good bunch of fresh parsley chopped. Best Tortellini Soup Recipe

Oh how I’ve missed going to the Pick-Your-Own pumpkin farms back in Canada but this year we found a gem just down the road. My better half said he’d never seen anything like it. The autumn spirit is strong down here in Kent!

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And when I was told that our road gets hundreds of trick or treaters I just had to go all-out with a DIY Harry Potter inspired haunted house. We must have had well over 200 children and ran out of sweets 3 times!

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I also finally got a Gryffindor robe. Can’t wait to wear it everywhere!

After such a colourful, snuggly and magical autumn I can’t wait to see what this festive Christmas season has in store! Time to replace my window of pumpkins for some Christmas garlands 🙂

What is your favourite recipe for cold nights?

x

 

Expat Life Lately: 3 year recap video

These are just a few clips I found over the past 3 years since I made the move to England to be with my British one and only. I didn’t even realize I’d had a video of us in the Peak District when I’d first moved over. I told him it was the most beautiful place in the world and 3 years later he took me to that same spot to ask me to be his wife.

What a wild and wonderful ride it’s been! Love him so much.

British Words of the Week:

redders: hot                       (Last summer was absolutely redders)
icers: cold                          (Guy Fawkes night is gonna be icers!)
hoofing: amazing             (That posh tea was hoofing!)
Ruby Murry: curry           (Fancy a ruby murry?)

Toodle pip!

Expat Life Lately: Autumn & Rustic Decorating

Even with the unseasonably warm days, the cooler nights and raining leaves have brought with them the promise of autumn. That cozy transition between summer sun and snowflakes -made for leather boots, scarves, hot drinks and cuddles- is my favourite time of year.

While the colours might not be quite as bright as a proper Canadian fall I’m definitely seeing some pops of autumn around me especially last week when we visited the Hampton Court gardens for a screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

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The cool evening was a perfect excuse to snuggle under the stars – as if I need an excuse to squeeze up next to this handsome fellow 😉

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We also took a jolly little jaunt to Canterbury; a city neither of us have ever visited before. Besides the beautiful (though scaffolded) cathedral, cobbled streets and tea shops I was excited to find so many candy stores with Halloween looming.

I was doubly excited to find a pumpkin spice cookie at a market in Canterbury which was the pie on top of our thanksgiving weekend.

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We’ve also been in a new rented house for just over 2 very busy months. While there is still a long to-do list we have accomplished a good amount in a relatively short time and the place is beginning to look somewhat like a home.

We’ve taken our bookcase out of storage which I’ve filled with our trinkets and board games. I love my two autumn pumpkins I brought over in my suitcase from Home Sense in Canada which make a seasonal appearance.

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As we had too many dvd’s to fit in our tv unit I ordered this quatrefoil box to disguise them and it matches beautifully with our pillow from Next.

Quatrefoil Storage Tote

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Since our coffee table was taking up the whole of our very tiny living room we picked up a much smaller second-hand coffee table and because it didn’t have drawers I found this adorable hessian bag to put all our odds & ends in.

Hessian Etc. Tote

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I also needed some apple crates for decoration for our wedding next year as well as for the Halloween Harry Potter display I’m planning. Rather than stuff them in our already-over-stuffed shed I used 2 of them to make a shoe rack and the other four I stacked for a shelf in our spare bedroom.

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While our downstairs is rustic our upstairs is decidedly nautical. I am a huge fan of the seaside so I could hardly pass up this lovely little sailboat for £5 at a gift shop. The fact it lights up just makes it that much more enchanting. They are also available for the same price at the Range.

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Have you spotted any signs of autumn? What is your favourite season and why?

Cheerio eh!