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Just over two years ago I stepped into James Villas HQ as a social media executive and set to work on helping to develop the brand’s social channels. I was so excited to have been given the opportunity and I embraced it with open arms ready to get stuck into any task that was thrown my way.

It has been the most incredible journey where I have learnt so much!

Working as part of a team and having my copy proofed and checked has been a good wake up call, who knew I was so keen on long sentences? I have learnt to slow down, take my time and re-read my work. I hope you are starting to see these small changes coming through.

I have learnt to think more closely about images – do they reflect what I am saying?

I have learnt that social channels are fickle, we don’t own them ‘they’ do. Facebook might only show a tiny percentage of your followers your hard work, it’s incredibly frustrating and I can often be found ranting about Facebook…

I have also learnt that working full time alongside running a home, family and life outside of the office doors is a real struggle. My main challenge came with trying to cover the school holidays. The girls get 13 weeks off and I had 21 days. It was this, that led me to hand in my notice – something I never believed I would do. I had imagined working until my retirement at James.

When I was reflecting on my life and how to make it better I started to search for jobs that would compliment being a mum.

I needed a job that fits in with school holidays and school hours. That would allow me to take the girls to after school clubs without skidding out of one door and screeching into the next, red-faced and often having forgotten something or even worse – arriving at the wrong time.

I had always pushed teaching to one side as I didn’t think I’d be good at it but as I started to look more closely at the opportunities in local schools, I saw our local primary was looking for a TA. The more I thought about the job, read the role description, the more it became a very exciting prospect.

I applied for the job and was successful – I start work on Monday morning!

I am swapping the weekly business meetings for a classroom of 8 year olds.

I am exchanging my snatched half hour lunch to who knows? Playground duty, lunchtime clubs or getting to know the teachers in the staff room?

I shall be helping out with reading and maths, chatting about geography and science. I shall be doing all manner of tasks to assist the teacher and doing my bit to help these young fresh minds find their way.

I shall also be grabbing back a bit of time for me. I want to pick up my blogging, tidy my house, read a book, help Alice learn to sew, help Bessie learn to play the piano. I want to get back into cooking again, not just quickly pulling a meal together to feed the family.

I am also going to start the 0 – 5k challenge as I have managed to put a stone since working full time.

So many things to do but my heart is lighter and I think I’m on to something good here … what do you think?

desk

You know those posts you see on Facebook about untidy desks belonging to genii (or geniuses for you lesser mortals)? Well, I’d like to think my untidy desk is showing signs of my genius too. However, if I am honest with myself, it’s because I have too many ideas, too many hobbies and I’m trying to get too much done in not enough time. So it all piles up and has an incongruous look of efficiency about it …or not – depending who’s looking at it.

My husband is a very patient man and he lets me get away with it most of the time but occasionally he will make a dig, a snide comment about the amount of trash I have collected in my corner of the room.

I have a ton of excuses ready to throw back at him but if the truth be known, he’s right BUT YOU’RE NOT TO TELL HIM.

The twins are fast growing up and also delving into lots of projects of their own. My mess has inspired them to have a go at weaving, to try their hand at sketchbook club and the latest passion – to sew.

After giving Alice a sewing machine for her birthday, it quickly became apparent that she loved it and would be making great use of her gift. The family very helpfully started mentioning projects she could help them with … ripped jeans, dad’s pants that needed mending and various buttons that needed sewing back on to shirts, jackets and trousers. But Alice wants to get creating, she would like to be a fashion designer she says and I would like to encourage that idea. After all, which mother wouldn’t want to be dressed head to toe in designer gear?

desk

Now, sewing can create a lot of ‘mess‘. Apart from the machine, there is fabric, cotton, needles, scissors and all manner of tools that go into making this hobby as enjoyable as it is. So we need a space to keep everything.

As the 4th small bedroom has only ever been used as a dumping ground and occasionally as a guest room, I decided to convert it into a creative space. Husband should be pleased as all manner of crafts can now live there rather than dotted around the living area. I haven’t had time to strip wallpaper and paint the walls but I hope you can look past the outdated decor we inherited 7 years ago and see what it will be soon. I have even been collecting ideas on a Pinterest board to inspire me and maybe you will get more of a feel from there.

To start our creative space we have this sturdy white desk from Kit Out My Office for Alice to sit at and sew, she has been drawing some designs for her first projects and I can’t wait to start helping her make them come to life.

The desk comes flat packed in 3 separate boxes and is easily put together with the help of an electric screwdriver. It didn’t take us long at all. The drawer slots in easily and is a good space to keep all manner of tools. It is sturdy and we chose all white but the drawer face comes in a variety of bright colours to choose from.

fashion designs

We are also going to use this space for my weaving and for keeping our sketchbook club bits and pieces. In fact, as the room has fitted wardrobes, I can see all manner of crafts moving up to this room soon.

Disclosure: We were sent the desk for the purpose of this post. All opinions are my own

Learning to sew

 

It started back at Christmas, ‘Mum can I have a sewing machine please?’ but with one thing and another we just couldn’t add it to the already bursting gift list so, it rolled over to her birthday and for a very long time now Alice has been quietly reminding me, ‘I’d really love a sewing machine mum for my birthday.’ So I thought, why not?

When a child expresses such a deep desire, and we all know they can fizzle out from one moment to the next, maybe we should jump on that train and see where it takes them?

A recent trip to Hobbycraft sealed the request because as we walked into the store we were greeted by a wall of colourful sewing machines, from incy wincy ones right through to professional models. Alice spotted one and fell in love.

Pink. That was all it took.

For once, I was really excited about giving the girls their birthday gifts this year. They have never been huge on lists or knowing what they wanted (unless it is a mobile phone which is still a no) but this year Alice had requested and we had listened.

Watching her open her gift and seeing the joy on her face was a moment I shall remember forever. How could my little girl want a sewing machine?

Along with her sewing machine for kids, I had also wrapped up a Sewing for Beginners book and some fat quarters to get her started.

sewing machine for kids

 

She was itching to begin but life, being what it is, got in the way. It wasn’t until almost a week after her birthday that we finally got the box open and Alice started to sew.

I started her off with some pieces of felt and guided her to use the machine, running different sized stitches up and down, getting used to how the machine works, threading the needle, catching the bobbin underneath and sewing backwards and forwards.

I could see she wanted to move on to making something so we worked out how to make a bag and off she went again. We saw our mistakes and learnt from them and I have a feeling everyone in the family may be receiving handmade gifts this Christmas.

This is an ongoing project and one I know I will have to find the time to be hands on with to help her but I shall find the time, as I know how much this means to her and when your child finds a passion I think you should do everything to make sure it stays alive – move over Coco Chanel, there’s a new lady on the block…

Disclosure: I approached Hobbycraft asking them if they would like to work with me on Alice’s wish list. They sent the beautiful PINK sewing machine pictured in return for this review. All words and thoughts are my own and I want to thank them for making Alice’s dream come true. You can buy one too from around £50

beach house interiors

We just cannot get enough of our beach house at Birchington Vale and due to a busy social schedule (the twins – not ours!), we haven’t been down for a couple of weekends. So we are really looking forward to getting down there on Saturday – after the girl’s sleepover that is!

You know that feeling you get when you are in your favourite place? The world seems at peace so you sit back and relax? That is how our home at the beach makes me feel. We love it so much I could move down to Thanet in a click of my fingers but of course real life butts in and it’s just not possible. Paul would have a 2 hour commute each way, the girls would have to change school and with year 5 looming it’s just not a good idea to move them right now.

So, what’s the next best thing? Well, bring the beach house home!

twins on beach

 

very excited to be part of the Wayfair home experts team, I have collaborated on numerous occasions in the past, like my ‘Shelfie’ post, where I concentrated on wall art in the bedroom. I also created a recipe for them, a classic beef stew which, come the autumn, I shall be putting back on the weekly menu.

Now I am a Home Expert, I will have the opportunity to work on exciting projects with them and I embraced my first challenge, the Blogger’s Picks, with a lot of enthusiasm.

I was asked to go on the Wayfair website and choose six favourite pieces to create a theme. I chose Go Coastal and the above image is my final choice which I put forward.

Wayfair Home expert badge

Beach house interiors

Bar table and stools  

The thing I love most about the summer is the impromptu visits, the barbecues, the drinks, the easy chat in the summer warmth, this bar table and stools is perfect as it is casual but elegant at the same time and can be turned into a dinner table too. should the situation arise.

Kashmir table lamp

I like to create an ambience that shouts out, locally sourced, beach life and rustic. This Kashmir table lamp ticks those boxes in a quiet and understated way.

Ship’s Wheel Wall Decor 

Fun, fun, fun! Why not add a bit of retro to the room and keeping in with the beach theme too. This ship’s wheel decor is most definitely an eye catcher.

Vienne vase 

Pure, classic, simple and beautiful in its own way. I might be tempted to drop shells, driftwood and beach mementoes into my Vienne vase in it as time goes by …

Glass mosaic place mats 

My colours. I can’t stop looking at them and wouldn’t these mosiac place mats work perfectly as an impromptu dinner mat or even a centre table for dips and snacks? LOVE.

Reclaimed wall mirror 

I love reclaimed articles and this wall mirror is a perfect example. It shows great workmanship, it is functional and it has that ‘Im rich but not a show off’ attitude about it. Beautiful.

 

So there you have it, my first challenge completed and I am really pleased with my choices. what do you think? Are you inspired by your environment when decorating the home?

Creative writing online course

Business image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

It’s been a while now that I have wanted to do something to better myself. I like to have a project and I like to think that I am constantly working at improving my skills in one way or another, be it for work, home or just for fun. I just need more time in the day, that’s all. Small ask.

Anyhow, I have signed up for an NCC course in creative writing.

I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a book for years, I have started a few and slowly petered out, unsure of my words and unsure of the path to complete the story but every time I listen to people like JK Rowling, who celebrates 20 years today since Harry Potter first published, I am inspired and my desire to write kicks in again.

Who knows, maybe by the time I am 100 I’ll have something to show you.

In the meantime, I am working on improving my writing skills. I think I have come a long way since my first attempts at blogging. Grammar, spelling, attention to detail and constructing a simple sentence that is understandable have all played a role in this process and I am very aware that I have a long way to go before I will be satisfied with my work.

NCC is an online home learning website that has many different courses to complete; science, culture, health care and business are just some of the sectors where courses are offered. The forensic scientist course shouted out at me but that’s because I love Silent Witness and other similar dramas. I can’t really see myself taking up a career in this sector and I’m not sure I would sleep easy either.

So, I’ve gone for the creative writing course, I’ve completed the first module and started the second, so far so good. I don’t feel as if I have learnt anything new yet but I am looking forward to ploughing ahead and discovering lots of new styles of writing. I shall be looking at poetry, writing for radio, novel writing, life writing, writing for children, non-fiction, scriptwriting (looking forward to this module). I will even have to sit an exam at the end.

The good news is I shall have a certificate if I pass. But more than the certificate, I’ll have spent some quality time improving and expanding an area of my life that I love and am passionate about.

What about you? Would you like to take up a course and further your knowledge? If so, what would you like to study?

Disclosure: NCC has given me a Creative Writing course (without tutor feedback) in return for a review. I’ll be back soon (after 200 hours study) to let you know how I got on.

A few other friends have taken up the challenge and you can find out what they are studying and how they are getting on here.

Mummy Barrow is learning to be a Life Coach