Sunday, 11 September 2016

Back to Flower School With Bloom & Wild

For as long as I can remember, the arrival of September has brought with it feelings of excitement and anticipation. With a new term and sudden shift from slow summer living back to routine, lunchboxes and brand new pencil cases, I've always loved the changes this month brings.

The sudden nip to the air, which you can almost taste, that creeps in this month also heralds a change to the seasons and a nod towards cosier days. If you've been following this blog or my Instagram for a while you will have noticed that I love to mark these changes in our home and, for me, there's no lovelier way to do it than through flowers.

So when Bloom & Wild invited me to go 'Back to Flower School' with them, to share flower inspiration and tips for Autumn I was first the first to say yes (miss). My sparkling new pencil case was replaced with a letterbox sized box of blooms and my homework to create something beautiful from The Suki, a stunning limited edition bouquet.

With an evening with friends lined up at our house and an Autumnal menu with our weekend's allotment harvest planned, I decided to create two different wreaths to welcome our guests and adorn our candlelit hearth.

I kept both wreaths quite simple using all of the elements from The Suki, made up of an eye catching combination of Protea (with a pineapple looking outer leaf) and the sofest pink Bella roses. The tools I used can be easily brought from a local florist and in a few simple steps I was able to put together two beautiful Autumnal wreaths.

If you fancy having a go too, you'll need:

Florist Wire
Natural Twine
Scissors (any old pair will do!)
 Secateurs for the tougher stems (if you have them)
Circular Wreath

Front Door Wreath
For the first wreath I used an old wooden wreath that I've used in our home before. It had sadly been left to the outside elements and hung neglected on our patio wall. Waste not want not in my book though and I set about tidying it up and snipping off any straggly bits of wood and old string I'd tied to it. 
I selected each element of the bouquet, including a Protea head, Rose, Veronica and a small piece of the foliage (Dracena Sanderiana Gold) putting them together to form a small posy.
Using about 5 inches of wire I tied the bottom of the posy together, twisting the wire at the back to tighten it in place. I used this same method (using a longer piece of wire) to attach the posy to the wreath itself. Thankfully the wreath had plenty of space in it to work the wire through to be back.

The loose structure of the wreath also meant that I could add a few stems of Veronica, weaving them around easily to finish it off.

The pinks in The Suki complimented our front door beautifully and it was lovely to be able to reuse something I already had (albeit neglected and forgotten), giving it a new lease of life with a few simple touches. 

The Rose lasted well overnight but I knew it'd need a bit of water to keep it going. Thankfully it was easy enough to gently pull out of the posy and pop in a small bud vase along with some Veronica.

Natural Green Wreath
Also included in The Suki was some wild and exotic looking foliage with a strong, flexible stem which I knew would bend easily to create a more natural wreath. I've been inspired by lots of images of this style of wreath on Instagram so decided to have a go myself. 

I fastened the stems to each other using the same method I used with the posy. Wrapping a piece of wire around and twisting it at the back to keep it in place. Once the stems were attached I gently bent them round into a circle and attached the two ends together in the same way.
Unlike the wooden wreath, the dark wire was clearly visible against the green stems so I used a natural hemp string, wrapping it around the stems helping to bind them together.
I was really pleased with how this wreath turned out, the leaves gave it a much more untameable feel (it did have to be strongly encouraged to be a circle!) and the twine complimented the rustic style really well.
I had plenty of flowers left from the bouquet which I used to fill different size vessels to decorate our hearth, helping to tie everything together. Along with plenty of candles, it provided the perfect focal point as we enjoyed drinks and a catch up with good friends.
I loved trying something different with this bouquet, homework has never looked so good! I recently started a subscription with Bloom & Wild as I knew that as our Summer of garden flowers drew to a close I'd still want blooms around our home. The wooden wreath will be an easy thing to keep using, no longer forgotten and straggly but something I can now refresh with new blooms as they arrive each month, ready to welcome guests this Autumn.

Do you have something similar you could refresh and bring a new lease of life to? You can find the full range of Bloom & Wild bouquets here, why not pick a bunch and have a go too. If you have a go at making a wreath, do drop me a line and let me know how you get on.

 This post was written in collaboration with Bloom & Wild, whereby I was gifted The Suki bouquet and invited 
to create a project. All words and ideas are entirely my own. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Thoughts on Summer and September and Giveaway News

I'm not sure I can believe that we're standing on the eve of September. I knew it would fly, but the Summer has past even faster than I could have expected.

I've got mixed emotions about the month ahead if I'm honest. I've found that the not planning/ 'we'll see what happens with our days' approach to the school holidays has backfired sometimes over the last few weeks. Leaving me with bored and bickering children and wishing we'd booked a two week all inclusive in the sunshine. Then there were days that we've scooted out as a three in search of adventures and, whilst tantrums are totally unavoidable at the moment, they're the ones that will stay with me when I look back (I'll forget the tantrums right?!)
At the start of the Summer Wilf reeled off a list of things he wanted to do before he started big school. Turns out a four year old's bucket list is full of simple pleasures. Eat ice cream, go to the beach, eat marshmallows, have a campfire..... Thanks to some magical days we've spent in Pembrokeshire I think we pretty much managed to tick all of them off the list. I'm sure 'have a sleepover' was on there too but you'll have to wait for that one sonny.

So I can't quite decide how I'm feeling about September. I'm eager to settle into a new routine that will work well for us all but am sad to say goodbye to the warm (ish), carefree and gentle summer months.

I've loved taking a peek at the adventures and lovely moments that you've all been up to too. The My Thursday Breaktime gallery is bursting with post after post of beautiful images. This month we joined up with House by Betty, my favourite local shop in Narbeth, Pembrokeshire. It's impossible for me to resist popping in for a browse and chat with the owner (and now friend) Lauren. I was delighted when she agreed to join us in a giveaway this month and there was nothing more perfect than a set of the totally instagram worthy mugs (also available via the House by Betty online shop here.)
Photo credit: House by Betty
It's been so tricky to choose just one image from all the lovely posts shared. As usual there's been so much variety from family shots, flatlays, to breathtaking landscapes and always a mug or two. I loved everything about these soft (and delicious) images shared last week. The photography shared honestly blows me away.
@cherry.rebecca @peonyandpraxis
@gatheredthreads @wealdstore
It was this mouth watering beauty by Tess from @tesslovesflowers that stole my heart (and lean-eating-wishing-I-wasn't stomach) though.
I actually only discovered Tess's account this month through an entry she made into the #mythursdaybreaktime. Tess shares the most stunning images, it's the sort of account that'll have you swiping your screen and scrolling back and back enjoying them all.

Congratulations Tess, please drop me a line to arrange your prize. Thank you to everyone who's joined in, as always its such a treat to host this hashtag and share favourites with you all each week.

I'm delighted to tell you that we're joining with Organic Surge for September with a very generous giveaway for you all. One lucky winner will receive all four of these beautifully fragrant hand and body washes. The Tropical Bergamont and Orange is my favourite in the shower at the moment and I can't get enough of the Citrus Mint as a handwash. Organic Surge has such a great ethical ethos and I love how natural all their products are. A winning combination in a brand if you ask me.
As usual, to enter your posts simply tag in @littlemaldod and @organicsurge along with #mythursdaybreaktime. A winner will be chosen and announced back here at the end of the month.

However you're feeling about September and whatever the new month holds for you, I hope it's a happy one and that you find moments for yourself throughout.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Sunday Afternoon With A New Camera

Today was a fairly typical Sunday in the Harris household - a slow start, church and an even slower, lazy afternoon. We didn't go much further than across the road to feed our neighbour's chickens, rabbits and to see to their plants. The cafetiere was refilled, the golf was on continuous, new magazines were opened and devoured. The lawn was mowed, Wilf had a typical number of tshirt changes,washing was dried and as usual, by the end of the afternoon, the children completely stripped off and were running around naked pre-bathtime.

The only difference to today was that I had a new camera to document our lazy Sunday moments, to capture the children as they played and record the looks on their faces that, as parents, we often see and know so well.

I've been wanting to invest in a new camera for some time as all I've used up until now has been my trusty camera phone. I've been trialing a camera (*update* an Olympus e-620 for those interested) and this weekend made the decision to go ahead and buy it. I've got SO much to learn but can't wait to try and master it. These photos, taken today, are a glimpse into our afternoon. They're all *unedited* (something else I need to master) but they're my starting point and I hope you enjoy them. I've got plans to shake things up a bit with this blog and look forward to sharing more photos as things move on.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A Summertime Project

A few weeks ago I treated myself to a Modern Watercolour workshop with Emma Block, a Saturday filled with inspiration - from the stunning surroundings of The Forge in Bristol where it was held, to the sumptuous shared lunch and of course the teaching.
I'd had my eye on a workshop with Emma for some time but living in Cardiff, the usual location in London just seemed too far. So when a date came up in Bristol I had my fingers crossed that we'd be free (and that Sam would say yes to going solo for the day!)
I'm a huge fan of Emma's work and style of Watercolour and loved her natural, laid back teaching and encouragement as we all got to grips with it. As only a professional can, she made it look so effortlessly easy to do, needless to say even after a day I was only JUST getting to grips with colour mixing!

With the Summer holidays upon us and a busy/questioning/time demanding/fun seeking four year old on my hands everyday, I've decided to start 'a summertime project' to help me practice what I leant that day and find moments of calm that are just for me. The garden is BLOOMING at the moment and my project is simply to paint one flower every day (read, as many days as possible.) Whether that's painting it picked and sitting pretty in a stem vase or sat on the grass next to a towering bush of dahlias.
Last night after our first day of the school holidays, just after bedtime I snipped a pale pink and pistachio hued hydrangea from a pot on our patio. I sat at the desk in my room, warm from the day's sunshine, opened up a brand new sketch book and tried to remember the tips Emma had given us.

I've already forgotten so much of what I learnt that day but I'm hoping that with daily practice I can hone some Watercolour skills and enjoy a few mindful moments to myself.

I don't want to be too precious about the pages in my book (easier said than done for a perfectionist) and will give myself a chance to make mistakes, find my own style and find out what works for me. As you can see from my attempts below, some things have worked out better than others - the painting bottom left looks more like an abstract bunch of nipples than delicate hydrangea blooms (hence the Instagram cover up!)
The slower pace of summer months give us a great chance to turn attention to things we otherwise don't have time for. Whether that's painting the shed, starting a book that's been gathering dust on the shelf, making jam, planning a special celebration or perfecting the art of tomato growing.

Do you have a summertime project you're already working on or would like to start? I'd love it if you joined me in sharing what you're up to. I'll be sharing my watercolour progress on Instagram using the hashtag #asummertimeproject, please do feel free to tag your posts too. Let's find time in these halcyon days to celebrate creativity, learn a new skill or two and inspire one another in the glorious summertime ahead (rain or shine!)

As always, thanks for reading. X

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Summer as a Mum Boss

The Summer holidays are nearly upon us and, for some of you, they may already have started. As a Mum who juggles both work and parenting (the official Instagram title being 'Mum Boss') I've thought long and hard about how I'm going to tackle the six weeks ahead.

Juggling is a tricky act at the best of times and, this year, work has fallen into the gaps of nursery and nap time and evenings. I love what I do and feel very lucky that I can balance work and home life, I always get to be there for nursery picks up and end of term shows and don't have to think of the logistics of 'time off'. The 6 week summer holidays will throw this carefully balanced routine up in the air, and I've had to decide how I'm going rearrange things. I want to whole heartedly enjoy summer days as a Mum (my last holidays with Wilf before he starts school, waahhhhh!) without feeling the pressure of work and I certainly don't want to have to work EVERY evening in order to catch up on the days. So, somethings got to give.
From Tuesday this week I'll be extending my lead times on Not On The High Street to give me a bit more time to get those lovely personalised orders hand printed and out of the door. The same will be the case for any personalised orders made via the little maldod shop. At the moment I try to get these dispatched within a couple of working days but this will be extended to ten working days over the Summer.

All other orders (including non personalised items) will be wrapped dispatched on Tuesdays and Thursdays/Fridays. Of course if, like me, you leave things to the last minute and need something popped in the post at short notice, you can always drop me a line with a plea and I'll always do my best to accommodate.

I'm hoping that by pencilling in some structured work time I'll get the right balance for us all. We've already started making lists of things we want to do over the Summer, camp fires and ice creams are the top of Wilf's list. We might even revisit our lucky dip 'fun jar' which we put together last Summer, you can read the blog post I featured it in here.

Things will change again from September when Wilf goes to school full time and Anwen has some nursery days. Fingers crossed these changes might even get me some more evenings back as we head into the Autumn (or not, if last Christmas was anything to go by!)

If you're a Mum Boss I'd love to know how you juggle work and home life and, if you have children of school age, how you'll be handling the Summer holidays. There's no winning formula but I know that sharing strategies and tips is always helpful. Please do leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.

Thank you as always for your ongoing support for my small business, you'll never know quite how much it means. As a little extra thanks you can enjoy FREE delivery until Midnight tomorrow (Monday 18th July) when you spend over £10. Just enter 'schoolsout' at the checkout. You can visit the shop by clicking here.

With love and wishes, for a fun filled Summer.
Lowri x