All I want for Christmas

I saw this Christmas present formula on Pinterest somewhere and it immediately struck me as being so obviously brilliant (subject to the addition of a chocolate orange, of course). As we enter our first festive season with a wee one of our own, and attempt to resist the pressure to spend spend spend, this simple guide seems eminently sensible. Fin and I are going to have a go at sticking to it for each other and for Flora. As she gets bigger there will be a stocking from Santa, and I'm sure her doting aunties, uncles and grandparents will leave a toy or two under the tree, but it seems like a good place to start. We shall see.

Last year's gift guide was a big hit, mainly among the various relatives who are obliged to buy me presents, so in response to popular (okay, paternal) demand, here are some bits and bobs that I wouldn't mind finding under the tree this year.

It took me forever to come up with this list. After two months of living with a capsule wardrobe I've forgotten how to shop, and after four months of living with a demanding infant I don't want anything more than hours of uninterrupted sleep. However, I managed to force myself to think of some little treats that would make me happy, but that I can't justify buying for myself (this is my gift-giving sweet spot).

The final selection gives you an insight into my ideal activities for the next few weeks: sitting on the couch, wearing cosy slippers (1), luxuriating in the scent of a fancy Christmassy candle (4) and eating nibbles from a posh bowl (3) because everyone knows nibbles taste better from a posh bowl. If I'm not holding the baby for ten hours straight in an attempt to make her sleep (which is why I'll need some bronzer that makes me look less like a sleep-deprived corpse, 6), I'll be knitting myself yet another snood (5) or, more likely, writing the seven thousand thank you cards I have yet to write because I don't know where anyone lives, hence the need for an old school pen-and-paper address book (2).

The word "need" is subjective, obviously. These could quite easily fall under "wants," but I couldn't have a blank picture, so. We have a family trip to the mountains coming up in January (insert simultaneous "yay!" and "yikes!"), my ski goggles are falling to pieces and I'd love a decent pair (1). My winter pyjamas (which are also my autumn, spring and occasionally summer pyjamas) are similarly in quite an embarrassing state of disrepair, so some new cotton bottoms and feeding-friendly tops would be most welcome (2).

I adore Inaluxe prints, but our walls are already covered in pictures and they definitely don't count as a "need." A calendar (3), on the other hand, is fairly essential for making sure baby massage doesn't clash with baby swimming (what has happened to my liiiiife?). As for the toothbrush, well. Every year, my mum popped a toothbrush in our stockings, and it seems like a wise tradition to maintain, for reasons of nostalgia as well as dental hygiene. An electric one (4) would be nice, but if we're talking needs rather than wants, manpower is good enough for me.

It's at this point that I realise how many of the things in this year's post were also in last year's post. Mittens (1), a tartan scarf (2), Tocca Cleopatra (3). Oh well, try try again, eh? This jumper (4) may be the answer to my sequins conundrum: comfy, inexpensive, sparkly but not too "Christmas." Oh and Zoƫ Ball wore it on It Takes Two, which makes it a million times more desirable. Jewellery that is outside the reach of tiny grasping fingers is also high on my list; bonus points for matching my blog's colour scheme (5).

I love getting new books that I haven't heard of and I'm not fussy, so these are very much just an indication of where my brain is at, namely how not to ruin your child (1), broody Scottish murder mysteries (2), ambitious craft plans that I will probably never finish (3), NEW BOOK BY RAINBOW ROWELL! (4), NEW BOOK BY AMY POEHLER!!!!! (5), poems about dogs (6). Yup, that about sums it up.

Enough said.

SEE ALSO:


And in non-canine fashion news


This is the first time in many years that I have no need of a sparkly new festive outfit, and I'm struggling to come to terms with it.

I absolutely love the first part of winter, when everything is anticipation. The first snow, Christmas, my birthday, maybe a ski holiday: my excitement for each milestone trembles in the air like an early frost, and clothes are a big part of it. Dusting off my winter coat, pulling cosy jumpers out of boxes like slightly bedraggled rabbits, slipping my hands into snug leather gloves, willing it to get cold. And above all, sequins and glitter.

Maybe it harks back to a wise man offering gold to a tiny baby, or maybe Marks and Spencer have just done a spectacular marketing job on me, but something about this time of year makes me yearn for magic and sparkle. A new dress for Christmas parties, nails painted dark, a sleek pair of heels that are entirely inappropriate for the climate. Is it really too much to ask?

This year, unfortunately, it is. I have no parties to go to - maternity leave has bumped me off the guest list for my work do, and most of my formerly party-loving friends are now boring baby drones too - and even if I did, I couldn't justify the expense (maternity leave has also bumped me off the payroll, or may as well have).


In fact, I'm not buying any new clothes, sparkly or otherwise, for a while. Inspired by Rebecca, I've jumped on the capsule wardrobe bandwagon. It's quite a crowded bandwagon, but we're all travelling light and in impeccable style.

Back at the beginning of October, I carried out an honest assessment of my lifestyle right now and the clothes that will realistically be useful and relevant at this stage in the game. In: jazzy leggings, non-grabbable jewellery, machine-washable knitwear. Out: sequins, statement heels, brushing my hair.

Despite the lack of glitter, I have secretly been enjoying the whole capsule wardrobe experiment. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, the idea is to select a limited number of pieces of clothing, shoes and outerwear and wear only these for an entire season (a season is three months, not that anyone's told the Scottish weather that). Then when the next season starts, you can mix up your selection, add new things, take some out, so that you don't get completely bored and want to set your wardrobe on fire. That's the theory, anyway. Blogs like Un-Fancy and Into Mind go into the whole thing in much more depth, if you feel like reading up.

I went into the experiment with three goals. 1) Wear clothes that I actually like instead of just whatever I happen to find in the back of a drawer. 2) Get dressed quickly in the morning without having to think about it. 3) Cut down on washing by wearing the same small selection over and over instead of just working my way down to the absolute dregs and letting everything pile up until I want to cry at the sight of my washing basket.

So far, I'd say I've been moderately successful in all three. When the next season rolls around (hello, January) I'll probably aim for a bit more variety, so that my outfits don't get too repetitive, but in general I've enjoyed getting dressed in the morning ten times more. The very fact that I've been getting dressed in the morning at all, despite having a reasonable chance of being dribbled on by a tiny person within ten minutes of getting up, probably says more than anything else.

All I need are some sparkly pyjamas, and I'll be all set.



Images: 1. Natasha Poly by Mario Testino for Vogue Paris October 2014, via Visual Optimism 2. Miranda Kerr for Marie Claire Australia October 2012

GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON...


...why I shouldn't buy Smidgen this jumper for her birthday.

I mean, LOOK AT IT. And you know Smidgen would wear it better than some terrier.


Whatever, Buster. You're no sighthound, and you know it.

There are, actually, a few good reasons why I shouldn't buy Smidgen this jumper for her birthday. 1) It's £46. 2) It's £46. 3) She will almost definitely roll around in the rotting carcass of a seagull within minutes of putting it on. Even if we're inside. She ALWAYS FINDS A WAY. 4) It's £46.

But hey, a girl can dream. And anyway, it had been far too long since we had a dog wearing clothes around here.

Did anyone see any good doggy Halloween costumes this year? Remember these guys? Never not funny.


SEE ALSO:

Smidgen's third birthday (in which she wears a hat)
Smidgen's fourth birthday plus a lot of random facts.

Images via Houndworthy

Burning Questions


Here is a picture of my face, to prove I'm still alive. It was taken at my sister-in-law's wedding, just eight days after the baby was born. An hour later, I found myself sitting topless behind a filing cabinet in a sweltering catering office, breast pump in one hand, glass of champagne in the other, trying to avoid flashing my in-laws through the window. Motherhood is so glamorous, you guys.

Since then, in case you were wondering, I've chopped all my hair off again, thus definitively answering the 'pixie or bob?' question. At least for now.

I was reading through my blog the other day, as one does, and it seems I have a bad habit of leaving questions unanswered. Fascinating questions, such as which nappy bag did I eventually get? (This one.) Did I ever finish the wee grey hat? (Yes!) Did I ever learn the Marseillaise? (No.) Which coat did I buy? (This one, and I'm very excited about the cold weather returning so that I can throw it on over my leggings-and-baby-dribble uniform and feel vaguely stylish again.) What's the baby's name, for God's sake? (It's Flora, but she's better known in our house as Bumps McGumps. Don't ask.)

Now that I'm on a roll, here are some more fascinating questions about myself that I'm going to answer, lifted from this post by the wonderful Moz. I know you're all sitting there breathlessly anticipating some mundane facts about my life, so here we go.

Question 1: How tall are you?


5'8". Shorter when I'm sitting down.

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?


My family will mock me for this, since I'm a famously untidy person, but I'm actually a very efficient tidier-up. I can turn a messy room into a reasonably presentable one in the time between someone ringing our buzzer and arriving at our front door (and have done. Often. Just don't look under the couch).

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?


There is no excuse for bad grammar.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?


THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR BAD GRAMMAR.

Question 5: What’s your favourite song?


It varies. As I have previously confessed, I tend to become fixated on one or two songs and play them to death, then heartlessly move on. Currently getting the listen-to-death treatment: I Will by the Beatles for simplicity and sweetness; It's a Wonderful Life by Black for an 80s-style pep talk at 2am; and Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Off a Bus for keeping madam entertained.

Chevron Bib NecklaceTOTE - grey triangleespresso double - porcelain (glacier colour)cloud cushion
Hand Printed Organic Cotton Leggings - Navy Animals on CreamValentine's Day Bunny Plush with pink felt heartFabric Storage Basket Modern Black and WhiteDual Stone Ring - Diamond Wedding Ring - Horseshoe Ring - 18k Gold
You are Super Duper 8 x 10" giclee printCrossed Arrows Sticker Seals - Set of 10Silicone Teething Necklace, Nursing Necklace - Geometric NecklaceRoxy Marj Safety Black Eye Glass Case
(Hover over for direct links)


Question 6: What’s your favourite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?


Asking me to choose my favourite Etsy shop is like asking me to choose my favourite child: EASY. It's this Canadian handmade bag shop. Or, hmm, maybe it's this Israeli jeweller. Ooh, but I also love these smiling cloud cushions. And I've already told you about this vintage bookseller, and the f*ing great Emily McDowell.

Choosing my favourite child is actually much easier than this.

Question 7: What’s your favourite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?


HA. Free time, alone? Please. But in theory: sleeping, watching Scandal, showering, in order of preference.

Pre-baby, I've always been a fan of trying on outfits for imaginary events until every item of clothing I own is scattered across the bed and I'm thoroughly sick of the sight of my own face. Fun times.

Question 8: What’s your favourite junk food?


Burger King large cheeseburger meal, no pickles (so they have to make it fresh for me), Diet Coke, preferably drive through so I don't even have to get off my FAT ASS. Yesssssssss.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?


Who wrote these questions? Do you even know me at all?

Here are ten things you didn't know about Smidgen, for the uninitiated.


Question 10: What are your number one favourite non-fiction and fiction books?


Fiction: After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell. Non-fiction: probably Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I love a good mountaineering disaster book. I have no idea why.

Question 11: What’s your favourite beauty product?


Erm, water? For my face? This is so not my thing. I do like Essie Ballet Slipper nail varnish because it's hard to tell when it's chipped - does that count?

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?


I'm now a bit embarrassed to have told the internet about that topless, champagne-fuelled pumping session, but OH WELL.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?


A perfect white wine.


Question 14: What’s your favourite movie?


It's Beaches. I haven't tried watching it since my mum died, though. I'll probably be ready for that in, oh, twenty years? Or when they invent a bottomless box of tissues, whichever comes first.

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?


I was COOL AS BALLS. If by "cool" you mean the kind of person who goes to orchestra camp.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?


Here's the thing: I *could* live anywhere in the world. Nothing's stopping me. So I suppose the answer must be Edinburgh. It is quite lovely. Having said that, there was a listicle doing the rounds recently entitled 53 Reasons Living in Edinburgh Ruins You For Life, and I misread it as 53 Reasons Living in Edinburgh Ruins Your Life. Not sure what that says about Edinburgh, or about me for that matter.

Question 17: PC or Mac?


PC. See "cool as balls," above.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?


Fin took the dirty nappies out to the bin last night. Swoon.


Question 19: Favourite celebrity?


I was about to complain about the non-specific nature of this question - is it the hottest or the smartest? The one I want to be friends with or the one I want to be? The one whose work I most admire or the one with the best hair? - when I realised that the answer to all of these questions is Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler, Amy Poehler, Amy Poehler.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?


Amy Poehler?

Question 21: What do you have hung on your wall that you adore?


A framed picture of Amy Poehler.

Not really.

I made a cloud mobile for Flora with colourful felt ball raindrops which is pretty adorable, but it's hanging from the ceiling so it doesn't count. Failing that, I'm a big fan of this friendly lion who resides on the wall in "her" room (she doesn't sleep in there yet, so it's mainly used for hanging washing and hiding things when people come to visit, as per Question 2).


And since Moz added a question of her own to her list, I'm going to add one of mine, one that I've been asked more times than I can count in the last 13 weeks and never know how to answer.

Question 22: How are you getting on?


I'm fine. We're fine. Tired, happy, overwhelmed, bewildered, healthy, terrified, loving, fine. Thank you for asking. How about you?


Images: 1. Kitchener Photography, 2. My Etsy treasury powered by Toastie Studio - Etsy Tools. The rest are mine.

Blog Love: Boring Baby Drones


I hadn't expected early motherhood to involve so much spare time. Not free time; I am chained to that hungry little monkey almost constantly and don't expect to be liberated any time soon. Fortunately, I have a severe case of Stockholm syndrome when it comes to my tiny captor, so I don't mind. But I'm spending many, many hours cradling either a baby or a breast pump, neither of which provides me with much in the way of sparkling conversation. Inevitably, at some point I will find myself gazing blearily into the glow of a laptop or phone hoping to fill some of those quiet hours with companionship, consolation or distraction, depending on my mood.

Pretty much anything will do for distraction - working my way through fifteen seasons of ER, pinning pictures of trendy haircuts that I don't have time to get, rearranging the baby's adorable outfits for the tenth time - but companionship and consolation are more elusive, particularly when you only have one hand and can't move from the couch. So it's the internet to the rescue, once again.

If you have no interest in children, you will probably have no interest in what I'm about to share with you. If, like me, you just want to know that You're Not The Only One, you should bookmark these links immediately.

Please note: as if to prove my point, I am sitting on a couch cradling a baby and typing this with one hand. I don't have the time or the energy to write long, heartfelt pitches as in previous Blog Love posts. You'll just have to take my word for it. This is the good stuff.

TEA & ORANGES


Tea & Oranges is the blog of a woman from New Zealand who is currently on maternity leave. I know no more about her than that, but I know that if I ever ran into her (admittedly not likely) I would give her a hug then give her a high five. Her blog is a combination of thoughts on parenting and society, snippets of her own personal experience, and well-informed rants about New Zealand's parental benefits system, the last of which is surprisingly interesting despite being of no direct relevance to me whatsoever.

I particularly loved this post about being a child of a high-flying career mother. There's a lot of discussion on this topic from a working mother's perspective, but not much from that of the child, I guess because today's children haven't developed the self-awareness or fine motor skills to write about it yet. Slackers.

FLORENCE FINDS


I've mentioned Florence Finds before, back when we were both young and fresh and could sleep for 8 hours in a row. My, how times have changed, eh Rebecca?

Rebecca's beautiful baby Bea was born just a few days after our bairn made her appearance, so Florence Finds is really resonating with me at the moment. From practical posts about slings and nursing bras (in both cases, it's all about the support) to thoughts on body image and the emotional impact of becoming a mother, Rebecca's opinions are always well thought out. I really enjoy hearing her perspective, even if - especially if - my own experience has been different. Her recommendations are also excellent, be they tense BBC dramas or maternity dresses.

In short, she's like a cool mum friend with great taste that you wish lived round the corner. In fact, she's exactly that.

ONE BAD MOTHER


Technically this is cheating, because One Bad Mother isn't a blog; it's a podcast. Sometime I don't have a free hand or even a free pair of eyes ("La la la, looking at my phone, reading a blog, la la la, this is so easy oh whoops the baby threw up all over herself and I didn't notice") so something that just requires my ears is perfect. Bonus points for being sarcastic, honest, informative and highly amusing. 

One Bad Mother takes the form of a conversation between the two hosts, both mothers of small children, on topics including parenting triumphs and failures, the horrors of pregnancy, and why a glass of wine for mommy is not only justified but necessary. Fin can't listen to it on the grounds that they're "screechy," and he may have a point, but they've become my late-night sanity-maintaining feeding buddies so I'll forgive them anything.


So. There are three things that make me feel marginally less alone in this crazy endeavour called parenthood. Fellow caretakers of tiny humans, what else should I be reading/listening to/gobbling up at four in the morning?


SEE ALSO:


Images: 1. Mama Watters 2. Top with Cinnamon 3. Rebecca's Instagram 4. One Bad Mother
 

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