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September 2015

Nursery Room Tour

Nursery Room Tour

by Clare Mansell

I’m 37 weeks on Friday so a nursery room tour is definitely due! It’s taken us a while to get everything together and go looking round the loft for all the things we needed, but we finally got round to doing the last things this weekend.

Obviously as we have chosen not to discover the sex of the baby this nursery had to be gender neutral. I did a gender neutral nursery for Theo too and only afterwards realised it definitely looked more boyish than girlish. I think if anything this looks the other way, so it will be interesting to see if that is any indicator of what we are having!


We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this room so most of the items in it are reused or bargain finds, you can find a full list of suppliers at the end of the post. We were kindly gifted our amazing wallpaper mural which is the focal point of the whole room. I think its stunning and will last long beyond babyhood.


The dove light was given to me as part of my ambassador role for Iconic Lights. There are a lot of similar ceramic animal lights around at the moment, but this one is a steal at £15! The pictures on the wall are all free downloads I found on Pinterest and printed on our home printer, you can find direct links to them from my nursery Pinterest board.


The knitted pouffe was something I’d been hankering after for a while, but all the ones I found online were seriously expensive.I found this one in the end at Asda for £39!



Dove light £15 from http://www.iconiclights.co.uk/decorative-ceramic-dove-table-lamp-in-white.html (review)
Drew bamboo side table from Habitat £35
Knitted pouffe from Asda £39
Map wallpaper mural from http://www.muralswallpaper.co.uk (review)
Poang chair and cover from Ikea (cream cover £20)
Faux sheepskin rug (2 of 70x140cm) by Rugs Supermarket from Amazon
Gro Egg from the Gro Company £20 (review)
Free nursery printables – See Pinterest board : https://www.pinterest.com/claremansell/nursery-buys/

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I’m a little later posting today as Theo had an inset day from school. It’s funny how quickly we’ve settled into the term-time routine and how strange it feels for the two of us to have the day to ourselves on a Monday, but after a busy weekend, a day off was actually just what we needed.


Everything seemed to have come at once over the last few days… On Saturday we had the village’s annual Apple Day event pressing apples from people’s gardens to make juice. Theo loves these kind of community gatherings as there are so many familiar faces and little jobs that he is actually allowed to get involved in, from hosing down the fruit to using the press under supervision. Jim and I were involved in putting the lunch together, so he roast pork joints for baps whilst I made cake and flapjack… The first lot of three batches of baking I had to do for events this weekend!

On Sunday a good friend of ours son was christened and we went along to the service and lunch afterwards. I have never actually been inside our local church before, but we were made to feel very welcome and it was lovely to see what a central part it still plays in village life, the vicar’s wife even handed out little kits to the children with pencils and colouring to keep them entertained during the service.

After lunch we nipped home in Maggie to pick up another cake I’d made and then dashed off to the annual village cricket match which Jim was playing in. The weather was amazing and we spent a couple of hours watching the match surrounded by beautiful countryside. The kids even got a chance to hit a few balls themselves…


It did feel like we were a bit of an English cliche though, pootling around in our Morris Minor running cakes between village events!

And then finally this morning we squeezed in a couple of hours at the Weald & Downland museum collecting the first conkers of autumn with my local blogger friend Alys and her son Milo. The weather forecast for the rest of the week looks great, so I’m hoping to do some outside painting before winter and the baby arrives!

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After Work Suppers with Rosemary Moon

After Work Suppers with Rosemary Moon

by Clare Mansell

It’s funny what you don’t know about an area until you have actually lived there. When we bought our house we had a vague idea that we were buying into a good community, but no idea that the community was (among other things) very focused on sustainability.

As well as the obvious benefits to the local environment, living in this kind of neighbourhood means we have lots of lovely events which revolve around healthier living and creating less waste. This week has been particularly busy with our annual Apple Day event this weekend and an evening at a community run smallholding last night where we had a group cookery lesson and supper.


The venue was the lovely Tuppenny Barn in Southbourne near Chichester and our cookery teacher was the food writer Rosemary Moon who is a bit of a local celebrity and most recently appeared on Mary Berry’s programme making pizzas on an allotment in Tangmere.

Last night there were 22 of us booked on the workshop and assigned to cook a range of dishes using seasonal vegetables. The idea was that all the recipes could me made on a weeknight to create fast healthy food for a family and a lot of the produce was fresh from Tuppenny Barn’s own allotments. There were six of us on our workstation making two recipes, so there was plenty of time to chat and drink wine (or non-alcoholic beer in my case!) between chopping and grating.

Amongst the dishes being prepared by everyone in the kitchen was a butternut squash pate, apple slaw salad with mashed banana (I know, but it was great!) chicken lemon and fennel filo pie, chard and pepper tart and for pudding an autumn Eton mess with… wait for it… butternut squash!

It was all delicious and it was lovely to sit down and have supper with my friends and neighbours in such a great setting. Rosemary and Maggie (who set up Tuppenny Barn) were wonderful hosts and there were a great team of volunteers helping to clear up behind the scenes as we had supper.

Last night was also the first time I had taken Maggie my Morris Minor out in the dark, but I packed three passengers in without problems and she seemed like a rather fitting vehicle to take to the venue!


Tomorrow we’ll be pressing apples and the forecast is looking really good, not only dry, but sunshine too. Theo who has already had a pretty packed week of school and playdates, can’t wait to get stuck in and help out. I look forward to sharing some of the pictures with you on Monday…

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Styling a baby shower with 3M party fixings

Styling a baby shower with 3M party fixings

by Clare Mansell

A few months ago I teamed up with 3M Command Strips for the launch of their range of party accessories which allow you to easily dress a room with decorations.


They asked me (and my sister, Jane) to style a gender neutral baby shower. Of course I didn’t realise when I was doing it that by the time the photos were published, the choice of party theme would be quite so appropriate!

We used green and yellow as our base colours, they look fresh at any time of the year, but particularly during the spring and summer. It’s important to note that although it looks like we styled the table with spring foliage, the flower arrangements actually came from the lovely Sam at Rosadior who uses artificial flowers in all her creations. It’s extremely hard to tell them from the real thing even up close!


The 3M products we used to help fix our decorations included balloon bunchers, ceiling hooks (used to hang the pompoms) banner anchors (for the ends of the homemade bunting) and mini spring clips (also used for the bunting, to lift it in the middle) A simple white cake was placed at the centre of the table and surrounded by food and flowers. We filled cheap baby bottles with sweets and tall glasses with marshmallows to provide interest at various heights on the table.


Suppliers list :

3M Command Strips party decorating range – Stockists
Flower arrangements and cake topper – Rosadior
Tissue balls (hanging from ceiling) : Made by my sister
Cake : Tesco
Glass jar for candle : Three Gates Gallery
Bunting : Made by me
Baby bottles : Superdrug
Cupcakes : Waitrose

Just for fun, I also filmed a short time lapse video of us putting the look together…

You can see this baby shower featured on the 3M website and read more about the products.

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The wonder of genetics

One of the most surprising things for me about becoming a mother was producing a blonde child. My side of the family are all very dark haired and at first glance there is no fair hair on Jim’s side either. When Theo was born he had brown hair exactly as I expected and then at some point in his first few months what little there was of it gradually fell out and it grew back blonde.


Unbeknown to me, Jim did actually have blonde hair too as a child and as Theo grows up the similarities between the two of them are quite striking, but there are times when I stand next to my son as his dark-haired mother and am just amazed at how my genes seem to have had so little impact in shaping his looks.

With this next baby we have rolled the dice again and choices of which genes he or she inherits from each parent have already been made but are currently unknown to us. Not only do we not know the gender of this child, but we really have no idea what they will look like either. Will we get one who looks like Jim and a second one who looks like me? Or perhaps Theo will get a sibling who looks just like him? I am fascinated to see and we don’t have too much longer to wait now…

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