His Room: The Inspiration

It’s been a little while since you had a post from me, and I imagine there are one or two of you who are wondering if we did ever find out the gender of The Bump…

Well the clue is in the title, folks- we did and we’re having a boy. Yee-ha! Ker-splat! Boom! Poohead! (Just practicing the boy lingo. Have I got it down??)

Even on the way to our scan we were undecided, Paul very much voting against finding out but saying it was my choice. A little more digging and he revealed he wanted a boy so much he was just a bit nervous he may feel some disappointment or even resentment if we found out it was a girl at this stage. I decided that if the sonographer had a clear view and was 100% sure we would ask the big question, but if the little tinker was playing up or crossing it’s legs we’d put it down to fate and wait til the big day.

Turns out the little tinker was playing up which meant a walk/dance around the hospital corridors for 20 minutes so that the sonographer could check and measure all the bits she needed to. But then curiosity got the better of me anyway (it was inevitable really), and I asked if she knew what it was, and she said she did, and we held our breath, and she revealed it was a boy, and Paul “Yessss-ed” like a small child who had just been told he could have McDonalds for tea.

In the immediate 24 hours that followed I was unsure whether I’d made the right call to find out. It felt surreal and amazing and I was very pleased with the outcome, but I also felt a bit like I’d let myself down somehow, like it was a diet I’d given up on after 2 days, or a secret I’d blabbed to someone when I really shouldn’t have. But now, with only three months to go and shopping underway I’m very, very pleased we know. And totally, utterly thrilled that we’re having a small male person.

So now thoughts turn to his room! I’ve been looking forward to this part massively, I have to say. Any excuse to partake in two of my favourite hobbies- interiors and shopping.

So here’s the room in its current dumping ground/empty space state.

IMG_1228 IMG_1229 IMG_1232 IMG_1233 You’ll see I’ve made some pretty important/random purchases so far… Paul was completely freaked out when I came home with the pack of nappies this weekend, but I’ve heard good things about Asda’s own brand and as I happened to be in one and we don’t usually shop there, I thought I may as well. (And at £4.50 for a pack of 70, why wouldn’t I?!) I would also like to point out that the huge piles/bags of clothes are a hand-me-down from a friend. I’m in the  process of going through what I want to keep as there’s enough newborn stuff for twenty babies there, let alone one, but it’s lovely to have that first month of clothes ticked off the list.

Anyway, enough justifying of the contents of the room and let’s look at the space instead. It’s a great sized room right next to ours, with magnolia walls and an oak laminate floor, as per the whole house when we bought it last year. I don’t really need to do anything to it… but then that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?

When I found out I was pregnant I started dreaming of a colourful, stylish, eclectic and ever-so-slightly boho nursery that would somehow work for either sex. A bland white/grey/beige unisex room featuring bunnies and/or Winnie the Pooh was never going to float my boat and I was keen to stay as far away from the typical ‘baby’ look as much as I could. I kept coming back to these two images from Pinterest, both featuring a darker, more masculine feature wall and then lots of softer accents.

Pinterest sources here and here

Pinterest sources here and here

Whilst I still absolutely adore both rooms, it’s only now with a tiny penis growing inside me that I realise they are probably more female-orientated, so I’ve taken myself back to the drawing board. For our boy I still want something colourful, stylish and eclectic, but I’m thinking I need to swap the ever-so-slightly boho feel for something with a more robust edge. The words strong, bold, happy, fun, modern keep popping up, and it’s probably also worth pointing out that I’m thinking more ‘little boy’s room’ than ‘baby boy’s room’. He’ll only be a baby for a short while after all… Here’s a little of what I’m thinking:

Collage2 nursery4Collage1Collage3 Collage4

Whilst on the surface they all appear to be pretty different, there is a definite coherency running through all of these awesome rooms; namely white or light walls, lots of quirky, typographic artwork, garlands and/or spots, and a kaleidoscope of pattern and bold colour. I’m ridiculously excited at the prospect of getting started and utterly bamboozled with where to begin (painting the walls is probably the first step), but looking forward to sharing the progress with you.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing sneak peeks of purchases and progress via my Instagram, so make sure you’re following me there if you don’t already. Otherwise, look out for a first reveal in approximately three months time when Stage One will be complete in readiness for a certain little dude’s arrival. I’m thinking there will almost certainly have to be a Stage Two and even Stage Three reveal once the room is in use and starts naturally evolving, but let’s get it baby ready at least.

To be continued… as they say.

Sama xx

Jennie & Andy: Finding The Perfect Photographer

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Today I want to introduce you to our very lovely wedding photographer – Rebecca!

Finding a photographer has been one of the trickier aspects of wedding planning so far. You see, the trouble is, Andy is not a man who likes having his photo taken, and he is not a man who does well with being told what to do. Even after over 6 years of me regularly forcing him to pose, I still sometimes have to resort to some serious rib tickling to get a smile out of him when the camera comes out. Having someone point a camera at him and try to tell him how to look or how to act brings out the old grumpy bugger in him!

I, however, am determined to get some nice pictures of us together on our wedding day! Nearly all photos of us are taken selfie-style, camera held out at arms length. Often they’re on the back of a motorbike, or we’re looking rather sweaty/dirty/sleep deprived. Not that I don’t love these pictures and the memories they represent, but just for once it would be nice to have a few proper pictures of us looking half way decent! Finding someone who we, but most importantly, Andy, got on with was the hardest part of finding a photographer.

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Images by Rebecca Wedding Photography

We were looking for someone who would take natural, happy, beautiful, wedding pictures. Someone not too formal, who would capture the atmosphere of the day. We’re not too interested in lots of heavily orchestrated group shots, so we wanted someone who would work a little more naturally. We started meeting with photographers on Skype and in person. I happily flicked my way through album after album of beautiful pictures, while Andy grilled them on the details. How long would they take to process the pictures? How do they make guests feel comfortable having their photo taken? Do they have a back up plan if they fell ill at the last minute? I wouldn’t have liked to be on the other side of his questioning!

We clicked with Rebecca as soon as we met her. She’s so friendly and easy to talk to. She had a huge array of beautiful albums and prints to show us, and you could tell as she talked through her work with us just how much enthusiasm she has for weddings and wedding photography. On top of this, she was the most organised of all the photographers we met, having her terms and conditions to talk through with us, ticking off all of Andy’s boxes. She even offers a mini pre wedding shoot as a standard part of her packages to get used to being with her and her camera.

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Images by Rebecca Wedding Photography

As you can see from all her stunning pictures, all her brides look radiant, not an awkward smile amongst them. Even more importantly, her grooms look relaxed and comfortable too! She’s got such an eye for the little details, and the happy moments. I love her soft lighting, vintage colours and dreamy shots. Her pictures tell a story, they bring out the feel of each wedding, and her pictures ooze love and happiness. Her shots capture the exact feel I’m hoping to create on our wedding day. Does that make sense?

I think what I like most about Rebecca though, is just how excited she is about weddings. Every time I opened an email from her I get even more excited about our wedding, and I can’t wait to see the images she captures from the day.

Jennie x

Paris & Joe: Sweating For The Wedding

Morning campers! Paris is back, and with a little post about what she’s doing to get fit for the wedding.  It sounds like she’s doing ruddy marvellously, I have to say. Long-term readers may remember my brief foray with the 5:2 diet during my wedding planning. (I say ‘brief’, I think I managed a whopping week and a half, or rather, 7 days of completely normal eating, 2.5 days of ‘fasting’ before I said ‘sod that’ and opened a bag of Maltesers.) I also heroically joined the gym about a year before the wedding date in a bid to shift that stubborn half a stone. Went, on average, 0.8 times a week and lost approximately nothing aside from a couple of hundred Great British Pounds. What I do have to say about weddings and weight loss- and I say this to brides at the boutique quite a lot- is that you do miraculously lose your appetite in the week running up to the wedding day. I don’t remember feeling particularly anxious or stressed, but I was busy, and when I’m busy I just naturally eat less. As such my tummy pouch was distinctly smaller come wedding day and I felt great.  HOWEVER, we all know that exercise is amazing for us regardless of weight loss and with the pounds falling of Paris too, I am a little bit in awe of her determination. But I’ll let Paris explain from here…

Paris&Joe

When I first met Joe I was a teeny tiny size 6 at 7stone 10lb and 5ft 4. Admittedly, I was also 18. Eight years of loved up bliss entailed many a McDonalds drive-thru and movie marathons fuelled by pizza and I unwittingly gained 3 stone. Following some pretty unflattering holiday photos I knew it was time to get a bit trimmer and managed to lose 10lb and was quite comfortable with my figure.

But ever since the first dress shopping experience I have been wondering about whether I should lose some weight for the wedding. I never really wanted to be that bride who was “sweating for the wedding”, not for any other reason than I think that healthy eating and exercise should be a long term lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, cheese, chocolate and cream (the clotted variety mostly!) often get in the way of that for me and it has been on my mind that maybe I should drop a few pounds to look my best on the big day. That, and the fact that every blimming wedding magazine includes “start fitness regime” in the countdown checklist. Talk about a hint.

So in a bid to encourage myself to do better I handed in my membership card to my local leisure centre and upgraded myself to a fancy pants Bannatynes membership. I hate to say it but sweating never felt so glamorous. And because my local Bannatynes is also one of their spa centres I am sure that all the “spa” signs I see on the way to the dreaded treadmill subliminally make me feel like I am actually heading for a massage. Whatever works eh?

I have also taken part in a week long 6am bootcamp in a further bid to tone the wobble. Such torturous exercises included running on shingle, squatting tyres and copious amounts of burpees. Never have I heard “arse to grass” shouted so much. Spending an hour in the morning getting suitably muddy and burning some serious calories actually made me feel great for the rest of the day and the weightloss was an added bonus.

In terms of food, I am now a proud member of Slimming World. If I am honest, I don’t mind a bit of exercise and it has always been food that I struggle with so I knew that some kind of slimming group would be necessary to stop my post gym Subway binges. So far, 5 weeks in, I love Slimming World and have never eaten so much pasta (or protein pancakes) in my life! Surely this cannot be a diet? 10lb down I am very much looking forward to continuing the wedding dress hunt as a slightly smaller bride to be!

fitCollage

Ryan gets me through.

If any of you have any healthy eating tips or recipes please please post them – I need another 18 months worth of inspiration!

Paris x

Jennie & Andy: Food Glorious Food

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Wedding planning is cracking on at full pace at the moment, things are really starting to come together, and everything feels very exciting. The wedding spread sheet has more and more columns filled with deposits paid, and the big things are getting ticked off. We’ve sorted the marquee, furniture and toilets. We’ve settled on a colour scheme, and started chatting to florists. We’ve booked our photographer, and started trawling charity shops for crockery.

Currently standing right at the top of the wedding to do list is catering. How and what to feed people, who to get in to feed them, and just how much to pay for the whole shebang!  Whatever way we look at it, catering is going to take a massive chunk out of the budget, and the food and drink have always been high on our priority list, so we really want to get it right.

Things we want from our catering:

  • Really good food. We both love food and love to eat!
  • Lots of food. I hate people being hungry. If I’ve got friends around for dinner I’ll always massively over cook. We’re always working through the left overs for days, but I’d much rather we lived off left over pasta salad for weeks than anyone go hungry!
  • Something relaxed, a menu that will get people talking and sharing food. Think family style eating, sharing platters and nibbles.
  • Someone willing to cater their menus and packages.
  • Someone who will let us take control of some aspects of the menu, we’re still planning on getting friends and family to help with the puddings and cakes.

Things we don’t want:

  • Boring food. No yawns when guests see the menu.
  • Tiny portions (see above)
  • Formal dining, nothing that causes guests to break out in a cold sweat over which fork they should be using.
  • A really hefty bill…

Andy’s had his eyes on a hog roast from the very start. The thing is though, much as we want informal relaxed dining, I still want it to feel like a wedding. I still want to decorate tables, and standing around a gently turning pig and eating a pork sandwich- while normally right up there with my idea of heaven- doesn’t quite fit with the idea of ‘wedding’ in my head. We’re looking for a compromise. Something that will give us the feel and flavour of a hog roast, but that is a bit more suited to a sit down meal.

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So where are we at the moment? Well we think we’re about there…..! With Andy off in Hong Kong we went for a dual attack approach. I searched for what seemed like hours on Google bringing up every catering company in the South East. We’ve looked at everything from companies that will supply a pig and an oven, to companies that will do everything from canapés to after dinner truffles, and throw in a little silver service just to round off the day. From the very reasonable priced, to quotes coming in at a knee-trembling £100 a head (and that’s before you even think about evening food!!). From there over countless emails back and forth I narrowed it down to just a few options that could tailor their menu and their services. As ever, trying to find that delicate balance between what we want, and what we can afford! Last week I went out to Hong Kong to visit Andy (yay!), and talked through all the options over numerous bottles of wine, both coming to the same conclusion about the food and the catering company that felt right.

Wedding food ideas collage

We’re still finalising the menu, but we’ve found a company that seem very warm and friendly. They’re local, they’re flexible, and their sample menus sound like they might be exactly what we’re looking for. Watch this space!

Jennie x

Jennie & Andy: THE DRESS!

Guys, guess what! I’ve found MY DRESS!!! I’m so excited, and so happy, and so unbelievably relieved. Finding the dress, THE dress, somehow makes everything so much more real. This is the dress I’ll be wearing when I walk down the aisle next year – eek!

I started writing this post last week, and back then it was a very different post indeed. The dress question was playing on my mind. I know it’s early days, and I know there’s plenty of time, but once I’d started looking I’d started to worry about ever finding the right dress. I saw so many dresses that were beautiful, but just weren’t right. Most of the time I couldn’t even say what it was about them I wasn’t sure about, but I just knew they weren’t The Dress.

A week ago I had a little bit of a dress melt down, and started searching the internet like a mad woman, scrolling through bridal boutique selections, booking appointments anywhere it looked like it might possibly have something that could be my dream dress. Why did all the dresses I loved on Pinterest turn out to be only available in America, or why did they all seem to be about three seasons old? Turns out Pinterest isn’t always the wedding planning miracle it promises to be – darn!

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t shared anything about my dress hunt, so lets rewind just a little.

Some early contenders...

Some early contenders…

My first dress appointment was at Pan Pan Bridal in Edinburgh. I was in the city visiting my friend Lucy, and she booked me an appointment to go and play with the pretty dresses! This was probably the most fun appointment of the dress shopping experience. Maybe its because it was the first place I’d visited and I never really expected to find a dress there. Or perhaps it was the only place where I was offered a glass of champagne! It was a great chance to try on all sorts of different styles. Everything from huge princess dresses and tulle skirts, to beaded shifts and slinky satin slips. My early favourites were a Caroline Castigliano, with a little lace jacket, and a stunning beaded Jenny Packham.

Then the dress hunt came back down South. The first dress shop I went with my Mum to, was Teokath in Wimbledon. They had some beautiful dresses, but none of them really felt like me, a lot of the dresses felt very stiff and restrictive, and I just couldn’t imagine wearing them all day. I don’t think I could pull of the classic elegance that other brides seem to manage so effortlessly. Corsets made me feel hot, bothered and grumpy!

The same afternoon we dashed over to Winchester to visit Exquisite Bridal Couture. And this, it turned out, is where I would find my dress. Elaine had a completely different style to any assistant I’ve encountered. Rather than letting me pick from the rails, she sent me off into the changing room, and brought in a selection of dresses I probably would never have gone for myself. On her arm was a selection that included David Fielden, Catherine Deane, and Claire Pettibone. The dress I’ve chosen turned out to be one of these dresses!

Of course I didn’t decide on it the first visit. Being entirely unable to commit straight away to such a big decision, and slightly terrified of making the wrong choice, I visited another couple of boutiques first. One of them, The Farnham Boutique, very temptingly designed and made the dresses in the very town I grew up in. I love their dresses, but I just couldn’t get the other dress out of my mind.

So back we went to Winchester, this time with my brother’s girlfriend Nikki in tow for a second opinion, and I tried on the dress again. Then some other dresses, then the dress again. When I was in it I didn’t want to take it off. Nothing else made me feel the same. I wanted to walk around and dance in it.

I left the shop on a huge high. We treated ourselves to a celebratory dress-finding lunch at a gorgeous little bistro and ordered Prosecco. Bubbles were definitely called for! I couldn’t stop grinning all day, and even now, after a few days cooling off time, I still find myself smiling every time I think about it.

Bubbles!

Bubbles!

I don’t want to give too many dress details away, except to say I absolutely love it! Now I just have to resign myself to the 15 month long wait until I can wear it!

Jennie xx

The Gender Scan- Do I Find Out?

So I have my halfway scan tomorrow. Technically this is the anomaly scan; an incredibly important point of the pregnancy journey when they have a thorough explore and make sure the babe has all the right organs in the right place, the correct number of fingers and toes, or any other signs of anything out of the ordinary. But, of course, for many parents-to-be, the more exciting element of this scan (the last one most people have before they actually meet baby) is the chance to find out the gender.

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We weren’t going to but I’m wavering.

Reasons for NOT finding out:

  • Because it’s traditional not to
  • Because it’s fun to speculate and guess
  • Because I like the challenge of creating a fun, colourful baby’s room that could suit either sex
  • Because it may help me push harder come labour…? (Tenuous, much?)
  • Because I may not get as attached should something horrible happened…. (I used to think this before I was pregnant but now I’m here I’m not so sure).

Reasons FOR finding out:

  • Because tomorrow is my last opportunity
  • Because actually, I’ve had the briefest of looks at the baby section of TK Maxx, and unisex clothes (and other baby items) are boring and few and far between
  • Because I can be more specific with pre-baby shopping. Not that I’m going to be ‘pink’ or ‘blue’ but there is SO much more choice once you know
  • Because we can choose a name- or at least focus our energies on one gender
  • Because it would be nice to refer to the baby as ‘he’ or ‘she’ rather than ‘it’
  • Because… I just kinda want to.

So readers, a brief poll. Should I? Would you? Did you find out and then wish you hadn’t? Or did you stay strong and then spend the remaining 20 weeks wishing you had? What are the pros and cons?

I’ve got 24 hours. Talk to me…

Sama xx

Life Lately

Here’s a little of what’s going on in my head at the moment…

PREGNANCY

Naturally this aspect of my life is pretty consuming. I think about it approximately 524,000 times a day, which is quite a lot considering as I’m not showing yet and have virtually no symptoms. Ponderings include but are in no way limited to:

I think I may have just felt some movement- oh wait, that was just wind. 

Why am I getting period-style cramps and twinges? These better be growing pains and not something more sinister…

Speaking of growing pains, when am I going to grow?! Putting on half a stone in the last three months is encouraging but I’m ready for a bump now, as opposed to looking like I’ve just let myself go.

Is my next scan date letter here yet? Is my next scan date letter here yet?  WHY IS MY NEXT SCAN DATE LETTER NOT HERE YET?! 

Our child is going to be nameless because I DON’T LIKE NAMES.

I haven’t bought anything yet as it still feels too soon, but first thing on my list will be the buggy/pram/travel system (travel system?!) as it appears to be the largest expense. This is where I’m hoping you lovely lot will be able to help, actually. I am all ears as I haven’t done much research at all other than a wander round John Lewis once where all I could see was pound signs followed by a lot of numbers. I did quite like the look of the Baby Jogger City Mini GT, but that may have been because the shop sample was sporting a rather fetching sheepskin blanket in the seat.

Ideally I’d like something that I don’t have to buy 67 accessories or parts for (other than a sheepskin blanket), that is nice and neat and compact (I HATE large prams that take up half a pavement and have to have double doors opened for them), and that folds down really easily as I live out in a little village and have to drive everywhere. Any suggestions?

IMPENDING WEDDINGS

With two weeks until my first wedding of the season I’m really looking forward to getting started. Although preparations have been underway for months now it’s always exciting around this time- when my dining room becomes a crafting zone and my laptop threatens to self-combust from overuse. I’m working with some awesome suppliers and venues this summer; old favourites who I’ve worked with (or hired!) before such as Bloomin’gayles and Floor The Floor, and suppliers I’ve wanted to work with for a long time such as McKinley Rodgers, M&J Photography, Joanne Truby, Gilded Linens, Doris Loves, and the fabulous Asylum venue… to name but a few!

I don’t how we did it but the timing really couldn’t be more perfect. Once wedding #1 is done it’s literally all go until the end of August when I plan to go on maternity leave and watch This Morning on repeat until the baby comes. (That actually couldn’t be further from the truth- I have so much I want to do in that last month such as paint the baby’s room, paint furniture, paint parts of the house we just don’t have time to paint at the moment, refresh my website, sort out Utterly Wow HQ etc etc. How are we back on babies?! I tell you- all-consuming…)

CORNWALL TRIP

Thank you to those who chipped in and gave recommendations for our upcoming Cornwall trip. I think I’ve taken heed of everyone’s advice in some way, booking two nights at a pub/hotel in Padstow, and one night at The Scarlet, so we’re staying North. Paul keeps protesting at the latter and having to sit down when I tell him how much it costs for one night, but thankfully I’m doing what I usually do when it comes to spending money and ignoring him. I’m also very much hoping to go or dinner at Paul Ainsworth’s No. 6 in Padstow, but we won’t mention to Paul how much that costs yet…

TELLY

Paul and I are at our happiest when we have a good series to watch, so it’s a joy to a) have Game of Thrones back (not that I could tell you what the hell is going on) and b) to have discovered Peaky Blinders on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it, it’s really rather good… if you can get over the utterly abysmal Birmingham accents from nearly everyone in the cast apart from Cillian Murphy. I can’t help but shout at the telly every time Helen McRory opens her mouth. Seriously, it makes me grateful to have left the profession when someone gets a job because of who they are as opposed to their ability to do a regional accent that is essential to the plot. Rant over.

THE VOTE

Oh yes, it’s voting day. I can’t even begin to speak eloquently or indeed with much real knowledge or wisdom when it comes to politics. I’ve done the quizzes that try to deduce who you should vote for and have received a mixed bag of results that have taught me nothing new about myself; namely that I agree with different parties on different policies. But I am going to vote Labour when I get home from work this evening and this is for three reasons:

1. Ed’s grown on me throughout the campaigning process even though he feels the need to start every sentence with ‘Let me explain…’.

2. I’ve read countless intelligent, informed, engaging and often witty arguments as to why I should vote Labour (such as this one by Robert Webb) and nothing even remotely similar from the Conservative side.

3. I’m one of those ‘hippy, liberal types’, as my husband likes to call me.

And despite the fact that I’ve recently discovered my vote is pointless due to residing in one of the safest Conservative seats in the country (Sevenoaks), I shall vote none the less, as you should too :)

That is all, on with your day.

Sama xxx