Interiors: Bright ideas in the home

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingFrom renovated sofas to bright colours on your wall, Leigh-based House of Lovely Stuff’s Jo Bolter tells why it pays to be bold when it comes to interior design…

Q How did House of Lovely Stuff come about?

A I grew up in a house sewing, designing, drawing, cooking, making and creating. But like most families I had no idea that normal people did this as a job, so I left school and started working in a local bank. I met my husband who was a graphic designer and art director and we’ve always enjoyed a shared interest in photography, going to the cinema, gigs, galleries and decorating (the designing bit) our home.

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingBut the catalyst came one day when our youngest daughter came in from school moaning about her homework. It was Eighties week and she had to design an Eighties outfit. I happily explained to her that when I was her age (in the Eighties) I spent hours and hours designing clothes and occasionally making them for fun. My husband said, “Really? You designed and made your own clothes? Why did you stop?”

The answer was sad but simple. The school system/syllabus doesn’t value creativity so when it came to choosing my options I could only choose one creative subject. I loved cooking and I loved textiles. I chose home economics and then as I concentrated on passing my exams.

A couple of weeks later my mum decided to buy a new sewing machine. She asked if I wanted her old one, it was a bit tired but could do a job. I made a cushion. It went okay. I made another one. I started to match fabrics together, playing about with angles, prints and textures. I was happiest experimenting and making. Friends started to take notice. Then I was asked if my cushions were for sale. Sure, I said. And before I knew it a few more friends and friends of friends were interested. Continue reading

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Motherhood has given me a confidence I faked before

Katy Pearson, underwear, #whatkatydidUK

Pre-baby: Outwardly confident

Confidence is a funny thing.

Often the people that seem the most outwardly confident are actually the ones who, on the inside, feel a bit of an impostor.

Pre-Sonny Jim, I’m pretty sure I fell into this category.

I bagged a job on a national newspaper at 20 years old and seemingly held my own in a tabloid news room for the next seven years.

I was a cheerleader for a bit and had no problem dancing at football stadiums in hotpants.

I even had a couple of modelling jobs – where I was totally happy to pose in just some underwear.

And yet. Continue reading

Review: Cambridge Satchel Company 15 inch bag

Cambridge Satchel Company, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK

Little fan: Sonny Jim seems to approve of my new Cambridge Satchel Company number

Sonny Jim is only a few months away from turning two – and my changing bag is even closer to reaching that milestone.

I bought it when my due date was looming and I had no idea of what I would actually need in a changing bag, but I liked the fact it didn’t look too mumsy, was leather and it had decent straps.

And in fairness, my Mothercare number has more than delivered. It’s seen me through the newborn days, epic walks with a tiny tot who would only sleep in the buggy. Trips to the beach. Picnics. Our first family holiday. Leaking bottles. Forgotten bananas. Poonami nappies.

It’s only now that the inside sections have ripped that I’m kind of over it. And I didn’t really want to go buying another “changing” bag, when the amount of gear I need to cart around for Sonny Jim isn’t really in the newborn baby league anymore. Especially now he’s got his own (super cute bumblebee!) rucksack/reins for his snacks.

So, I needed a new bag. A less mummy, more me bag. But that would still be able to fit a few nappies, a beaker, an emergency toddler vest/trousers in. It needed to be practical. But stylish. And good quality. Something classic. But not boring. And a decent size.

And, this was when I discovered the Cambridge Satchel Company (www.cambridgesatchel.com)

Continue reading

Don’ts for Mothers from 1878

Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK

Ignoring the advice – kisses for my boy

As soon as you fall pregnant, it seems everyone has some advice for you on being a mother.

And Sonny Jim might be two in a few months… but the unsolicited suggestions and comments, often from complete strangers, has continued unabashed.

My favourite tips however, come courtesy of a little book from 1878, called Don’ts for Mothers.

If you had any doubts that parenting has changed rather a lot over the course of the past 140 years, this should put you straight… Continue reading

Recipe: Asparagus Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Bacon Crumble

Asparagus Mac'n'Cheese with Bacon Crumble, #whatkatydidUK

Winter warmer: Asparagus Mac’n’Cheese with Bacon Crumble

With the excesses of Christmas behind us, I’m on the lookout for wholesome winter dishes to have a go at making.

And this twist on a classic is ticking my boxes. It’s quick to rustle up, scrumptious and even my toddler shouldn’t turn his nose up at it.

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes

You’ll need

    • 8 rashers streaky bacon
    • 50g breadcrumbs
    • 150g Cheddar cheese
    • 300g macaroni
    • 2 bunches British asparagus (spears trimmed and cut in half)
    • 40g butter
    • 40g plain flour
    • 400ml milk
    • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

Continue reading

It’s just as important we raise our boys to be feminists as our girls

Sonny Jim, Katy Pearson, #whatkatydidUK

Best buddies – Emily and Sonny Jim

One of my pet parenting peeves is the way some people make a big deal about raising baby boys vs baby girls.

I only have Sonny Jim, but I can’t imagine I’d be doing anything much different if I’d had a daughter.

Admittedly there may have been a few more bows and frills knocking around our house (I am bit partial to them myself!) but surely the core values you teach any child – be they boy or girl – are the same?

Be kind. Don’t snatch. Be gentle. Share.

In as far as under two-year-olds can have best buddies, Sonny Jim’s is Emily.

They’ve been around each other since they were bumps – thanks to their parents meeting at an NCT class. Continue reading

Aldi’s Baby and Toddler event is back next week!

Aldi, sleeping bag, #whatkatydidUK

Bargain: Baby sleeping bag

Ahem. Feeling the pinch after Christmas?

Aldi’s popular Baby and Toddler event is back and available online (aldi.co.uk) from Thursday, January 11 and in stores on Thursday, January 18.

The average British family spends up to £800 celebrating Christmas, with £473.83 on presents alone… so some super cheap baby and toddler buys can only be a good thing.

Top of my must-have list for mamas and mummies-to-be are the and 2.5 tog baby sleeping bags (£9.99) and oh-so-handy cellular blankets for only £2.99.

Plus for anyone with a little one on the way, that hasn’t already got the nursery sorted… the Aldi Mamia furniture set is luuuuurvely.

It includes nursery wardrobe (£119.99), nursery cot bed with drawer (£129.99), and nursery changing unit (£99.99). With a combined cost of £349.97, its 75 per cent cheaper (!!) than the popular Silver Cross Nostalgia Complete Room set that retails at £1,402.50. Continue reading