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A Flower Fairy birthday party for our daughter’s 5th Birthday, inspired by Cicely Mark Barker’s ‘Flower Fairies’ illustrations.

With our daughter’s 5th birthday looming our daughter asked for a ‘Fairy’ Party to celebrate with her friends. However, she didn’t want just any fairy party, she specifically wanted a Flower Fairy birthday party.

As huge fans of Cicely Mary Barker’s ‘Flower Fairies’ I wanted to strike just the right tone; we both have a shared love of beautiful illustrations and Cicely Mary Barker’s work is an example of illustrations you can get completely lost in. Equally, there is nothing brash or cartoon-like; each fairy is delicate and etherial and that was where we started with our planning.

Those who know us as a family know that not only do we love throwing a party, but we are also sticklers for the details. Our wedding was something that we wanted to truly represent ‘us’ as a couple, so once the main planning was done we spent time making sure everything tied in with us, our strong ethical beliefs, as well as making as much as we could.

So, when it comes to our daughter’s parties we feel the same. Our daughter’s birthdays we want to be a true celebration of her reaching a new milestone, as well as creating something special that will not only spark her imagination, but also that of her guests too.

It’s all about the details – Creating a ‘Flower Fairy’ theme

As a graphic designer by ‘trade’, I always like to design my own invitations and this year I simply couldn’t resist making something that looked like it had come from a woodland fairy itself.

Using poor quality images from scans, I set up something that I thought was rather pretty and would appeal to both genders. I had them printed locally and got them out with a few weeks to spare.

Setting the scene for a magical Flower Fairy Birthday Party

We had the theme, we have the ‘venue’, the invites had gone out and RSVPs received, all we had to hope for was good weather and this year didn’t disappoint. The UK’s heatwave came at such a wonderful time; her birthday fell on a Thursday and with an inset day on the Friday we set about planning where things would go in the garden for the party on the Saturday.

‘A’s’ ideas were inspired! She wanted a ‘Fairy Meeting Place’ where they could all eat, as well as a craft table for the craft activity we had come up with together.

I set about searching for some party decorations that would work well in the setting as well as with the theme and went to my favourite party supply shop Party Pieces. With SO many wonderful themes catered for on their website, I didn’t have to search long until I found just what I was looking for.

The morning of the party, tables we had made for the previous year’s ‘Woodland Explorer’ Party were laid out in the spot designated for ‘dining’ and simple oak off-cut posts were staked into the lawn to create posts to hang faux ivy garlands from.

With each Ginger Ray garland at 2m long, I tied two together to hang over the table diagonally and then dressed the oak posts with additional lengths. Once dressed with ivy, we then picked blooms from our ‘Fairy Rose’ (an inspired gift from a friend for our daughter’s Christening 4 years ago!) lavender and bracken and added to the posts to style as we imagined the Flower Fairies would!

The final touch surrounding the table was the ‘I believe in Fairies’ garland, again from Party Pieces and made by Meri Meri which hung from the ivy garland and added a touch of additional fairy magic.

With some trestles from my husband’s workshop and a big length of ply, we created a ‘craft table’ which would be cleared later in the day to have the cake and sweet treats on. Several round wooden cake stands which I have been hoarding for a while now, as well as the oak table name stands we made for our wedding were used as table decoration and sat on hessian table runners I made from offcuts I had, all of which tied in beautifully to the setting, as well as creating a natural look.

To add to party ‘take-aways’ each child had a pair of fairy wings and flower crown that I had sourced online and hung from a willow frame I made and added an additional element of dress-up to the party. Using the purple of the invitation as the colour for the day, the wings and crowns I found worked beautifully and were a huge hit.

An outfit fit for a ‘Flower Fairy’

Once the ‘scene’ was set; we headed inside and got ‘A’ dressed for her party. A few weeks previously I had bought a simply beautiful dress that I had found online via Instagram from Lilly and Bo that just screamed ‘Flower Fairies’. The Maria Party Dress has stunning embroidery, featuring all kinds of flora and a green sash.

I couldn’t hide it from our girl, however we did have a strict rule that it wasn’t to be worn until the day as the woods and brambles wouldn’t be kind on the delicate skirt fabric. Most days in the run up to the party, she would go and visit it handing in my wardrobe and stroke it lovingly, so you can imagine her delight at finally being able to change into it on the day.

We had also given her some silver ‘heeled’ shoes on her birthday; something she has been desperate for for months and months. We point blank refused to ever buy her the plastic ‘princess’ heels that a lot of her friends have, however we felt comfortable with these ones as they only have a slight heel and she just loves walking around on the kitchen tiles and/or decking listening to the ‘clop’ noise they make. Those along with a flower crown and her own unique butterfly style fairy wings were the finishing touch to her birthday outfit.

Face Painting for a magical party activity

Food was prepped and just about ready when the incredible face painter we had booked arrived; as someone who loves having her face painted, we had kept this a complete surprise until she arrived as an extra birthday present.

Once she was set up, she set about painting ‘A’s’ face and created something that complimented the overall look perfectly. Never one to turn down the opportunity to have my face painted, I too had something done… sadly, I have no pictures of me in them (happens every year!!) and as I don’t like to show our daughter’s face online it’s hard to show just what incredible face paint designs were created; but it really was utterly sensational and I’m looking forward to inviting her and her envy inducing kit back to the woods time and time again!

Keeping guest list to a (manageable) minimum

It wasn’t long until all the guests, ‘Fairies and Pixies’ arrived and soon they were having their faces painted, dressing up in wings and flower crowns and generally enjoying the play area in our garden.

Having only ever hosted a children’s birthday party for her friends for her 4th birthday, I had learnt from last year more than 10 children was overwhelming for the birdie and myself, so this year we stuck to a limited number.

The guest list was then chosen explicitly by the birthday girl, as I often find myself getting so wrapped up in party politics that ultimately I just ending up inviting everyone which as mentioned, simply isn’t workable.

This year we kept it simple, I still think we could whittle the numbers down further, but I do think that comes in time as friendship groups begin to settle.

Fairy Party – Natural Craft Activities for children – Party Games How to make a natural Pine Cone Fairy

We are a family who loves to make things and craft, so we created a really simple crafting project using bits and pieces we have collected along with a few bits we bought in. Our daughter wanted to send her friends home with fairies, so I bought some craft ball faces and we went collecting pine cones for bodies, sycamore seeds for fairy wings, flowers we had pressed for clothing and acorn cups for hats, all of which I had put together in compostable bags with tags.

These ‘Pine Cone Fairies’ would be glued together using a glue gun by my husband during the day as and when children wanted to make them and then they were glued onto pieces of moss we had carefully selected and cut into rounds to sit on top of soil in terracotta pots that I had in my stash of pots.

This little craft was so lovely, as it gave the children an insight into what you can make using bits you find out in nature and that are so often overlooked. Each finished fairy could then be personalised and decorated with glitter glue and taken home to water in the hope that the moss would stay healthy.

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The Woodland Wife by Thewoodlandwife - 1M ago

When we first received planning to convert the woodland office into a dwelling, our home – it was September 2013, Autumn was setting in so our plans to start creating a garden were put on hold until the Spring.

By Spring 2014 we had a 9 month old daughter and we were keen to create a space for her and us to enjoy. We set out to create a lawn, a space for her to run around without falling over thistles and weeds! This was a mammoth task, the ground here is hard, solid clay so we bought in four lorry loads of top soil and set about creating the lawn, once finished and we had a ‘safe space’ to enjoy, plans began for our vegetable garden.

Like with everything we have done here, drawings are done, discussions (heated debates!) as well as countless visits to the space to try and visualise how it would work. Two beds were made in the front corners for me to grow flowers, my small cutting garden, full of all sorts of blooms for us to enjoy both outside and cut in vases indoors.

Then came the raised beds; a decent height to save my back and made using offcuts from my husband’s oak framing work. A lot of work went into creating the ‘perfect’ growing soil, lots of nutrients are needed to grow vegetables so we knew it had to be right. We also knew that we didn’t want to grow more than we needed, or what we would never eat, so we carefully decided our first year we wouldn’t know what grew well here overnight, however we made a list of most of the fruit and vegetables we enjoy the most, those in our daily diets, and those seasonal treats that we look forward to every year.

We had blueberries and strawberries in pots from rental properties we had lived in however these were becoming pot bound so we planted the in a bed and planned to create a fruit bed at a later date.

Over the years we have whittled things right down; courgettes, mixed lettuce, spinach, rocket, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, and with the addition of the green house (we found in a local auction for £20!) finally a successful crops of peppers and tomatoes! We grew kale and brassicas in the early days, however the caterpillars devoured them, so this year we are planning on adding frames around each raised bed with butterfly netting to avoid the same issue.

One of the hardest parts of growing your own fruit and vegetables, is the ‘trial and error’ element, however since those early days, I refer to my gardening as ‘trial and development’ as I am a complete novice in growing food. It has been four years now and I have learnt that works well one year, might not do so well the next… worse still, there are years like this particular one where I felt so on top of things; our daughter helping us with sowing seeds in the greenhouse, getting things out in good time, only to have seemingly everything devoured by the slugs, thanks to the hot, wet weather we have been experiencing.

All but three of the birdie’s 15+ sunflowers, as well as my sweet-pea seedlings, carrots etc etc have been completely demolished by the slugs… a real kick in the teeth, however, the frames for the beds are coming, as well as some Strulch organic garden mulch in the hope of keeping the slugs off our vegetables.

The fruit bed has also now been set up; the strawberries in an amazing structure my husband made with the birdie to keep them off the ground, warm and wet; this sits next to the fruit bed, containing blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and redcurrant. This bed also has my husband’s pumpkins in… as he is eagerly growing them for a competition he has with one of his oldest friends! The net needs to go up on the chestnut frame we have built, with some walk-boards to that we don’t disturb the soil under foot too much.

When I sit as I often do, just outside the greenhouse, with a cup of tea and my gardening books, planning and adapting what happens next as the season unfolds, I often have to remind myself of how far we have come, as just four years ago the whole garden area was just clay, thistles and weeds.

I remind myself that it is something I will never get 100% right, by it’s very nature, gardening is an ever changing hobby. All I know is that it is one of the places I am happiest; just like watching our birdie enjoy the lawn and play area we created for her, the vegetable garden gives me so much pleasure and provides me with a sense of pride, calm and wellbeing.

Oh and those looking for tips… whilst I know modern-day titles are probably amazing to read; I always stick to the older publications, the books I was photographed referring to in the photos below are books my mother-in-law gave me one Christmas; one, a copy of a book she has that once belonged to her father who was a keen gardener and it is so straightforward, with wonderfully simply illustrations and guides… a book I could be without now!

// FEATURED //

Celtic & Co – Supersoft Slouch Jumper
One of Celtic & Co bestselling womenswear knits that I have been wearing a lot during these recent cool Spring mornings. Relaxed yet luxurious, it has a softly scooped neckline, oversized shape and a wide hem that hugs the hips (without clinging!).

It comes in a range of absolutely beautiful colours, I would happily have one of each as they are so soft and I can even imagine reaching for it on a cool Summer evening.

TROY London – Khaki green, wax parka
This has been a Spring essential of mine in recent weeks; with such changeable weather, it is perfect to throw on during a rain shower, or if there is a chill on a morning walk. It has so many pockets which is ideal if you are out walking the dogs, or with a young child who likes to fill your pockets with all sorts of woodland treasure!

Made in England, this parka has been seen on HRH The Duchess Cambridge, and I’d bet she loves it as much as I do as it lightweight coat (made from 100% cotton milled in England) with a dry wax finish. It has a black lining which provides fully waterproof protection and with a cinched waist and drawstring hood, it has a casual yet elegant look to it.

As someone who is always on the look out for stylish, functional country clothing, I have been thrilled to find TROY London as their product range ticks all the boxes.

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The post A Woodland Vegetable Garden appeared first on The Woodland Wife.

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Over the past few weeks we have been enjoying a daily assault on our senses here in the woods. Each morning as we opened our garden door, the scent of bluebells filled the air. A short wander into the woods and we were greeted by a magical sight: a carpet of blue, a haze of delicate flowers that stretched right out into the distance.

There is nothing more wonderful (in my opinion!) that an early morning walk or a walk around 5pm to head off into the blue haze. It is at these times of day that I always feel visiting the ‘bells is best; the scent that wafts through the air is almost thirst quenchingly delicious and the blue haze looks so incredible under the fresh, new leafy canopy above and in the soft dappled light.

We witnessed the bluebells turn from early green shoots to their darkest blue in what felt like a matter of days, the dark blue gradually getting paler as they began to fade away… it was at their most beautiful that we headed out for the walk seen below.

The afternoon light was so soft and flickered down onto the bluebells and created such a beautiful backdrop. These photos however, are now a thing of the past as the bluebells have now departed for another year, the blue haze has been replaced with little stems with pods ready to release the seeds of next years bluebells.

Soon we will see the return of the foxgloves, which are now shooting amongst the chestnut coppice, the the blue haze will be replaced by flecks of deep pink.

Whilst these seasonal blooms never seem to last long enough it is always such a welcome moment in Spring to see the bluebells and then towards early Summer, the return of the foxgloves; these wild, woodland blooms are the early pollinators and prove to be vital in maintaining optimum health for the surrounding flora, as well as that of the bees and insects that visit them.

// FEATURED //

Nellie Quats – Beautiful, ethical, durable handmade children’s wear

Conker Pinafore is our all time favourite, classic pinafore shaped dress from Nellie Quats with gathered skirt front and elasticated waist back for a comfortable fit. Made from soft, light-weight, white stripe linen. Designed to sit above the knee and is perfect for layering in cooler weather or stripping back in the summer.

Ditsy Dot & Nellie Quats Collaboration Carter Bow – We have lots of bows from Nellie Quats and have always loved the simplicity of them, as well as the prints uses, this bow however was made in collaboration with Ditsy Dot and was created to match the NQ Spring/Summer collection. Made from beautifully soft white stripe linen. You can choose from either a hair tie or clip, however we always choose the clips as we feel you can use them on the end of pigtails, the top of a pony tail, or simply to clip my daughter’s whispy hair out of her face.

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The post A weekend wander in a blue haze of bluebells appeared first on The Woodland Wife.

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Watching our daughter’s love and connection to the environment that immediately surrounds us is something that gives us immense joy, so this time of year and the age she is now (coming on five) there is so much to learn, see and really take in.

With such a natural desire to head out and really explore her surroundings, and the arrival of the sun towards the end of the Easter holidays we headed outside. First we set about tidying up the vegetable garden and finally getting around to sowing seeds for this year. Late to the party on this particular job this year, but with the return of the sunshine and warmer days, within days of these photos being taken, seedlings had started to appear.

After weeks of visiting the tractor ruts deep in our woods that every year is filled with healthy looking frog spawn, towards the end of the Easter holiday we finally caught sight of the flickering of new life under the surface of the water. The tadpoles had finally arrived and as we do every year, we collected a few and bought them back to the house to observe throughout the coming weeks. Careful to collect only a few to avoid overcrowding, as well as lots of their water and all important pond (rut!) life to aid them in their growth.

Much like the tadpoles and every creature during Spring, our very own birdie has been doing some growing, not just in her emotional and mental development, but also in her size, suddenly our girl is lengthening upwards, over half my height now (and I’m 5’4″!) she has appeared to take on the looks of a young girl now, rather than mere fledgling.

Of course with the inevitable growth spurts and seasonal changes, come the changes in our own wardrobes and we were thrilled to once again be asked to select a few pieces from the Fat Face SS18 collection. This year’s children’s clothing is bursting with so many lovely pieces, all ideal for the months ahead.

As most who read my posts here as well as follow me on Instagram, I am a huge believer in charity shop finds, eBay (their baby bundles were a god send when she was a tiny one… and often have some amazing bundles now too!) as well as supporting smaller independents of which we are huge fans. When it comes to the ‘high street’ however, we are often flummoxed at what is available for little ones… as well as my own clothes.

We believe less is more, that if you choose well and buy quality made items then you can get plenty of use out of what is in your wardrobe, but with a soon-to-be, tall five year old, we are often searching for clothes fairly regularly for her… but as I say, that doesn’t mean compromising in quality and ethics.

Fat Face are making some many important moves to creating sustainable clothing for smalls and adults alike, and this year, as with the seasons before them, this year’s Spring/Summer collection doesn’t not fail to impress.

For children there are fabulous bold prints, durable denims, as well as more muted toned tops to pair up on the cooler Spring/Summer days. From trusty denim dungarees to get filthy in or maxi dresses to hunt for tadpoles, they have covered everything for both boys and girls clothing.

I was also lucky enough to get my hands on a few pieces, a beautiful, rich blue top to pair with a new pair of jeans – incidentally Fat Face denim and selection of various cuts of jeans are hard to beat in my opinion! – as well as the most beautiful Indian motif print shirt which I really love.

Most important of all is that both the items I chose, as well as the ones my daughter picked are clothes that (growth spurts aside) will last; whether we box them up for the future, or hand them down to friends of ours or charity once they are outgrown by the youngest member of the family, you can be sure that they’ll get plenty of wear.

// FEATURED //

Fat Face clothing for children – SS18 Kidswear

Plain T-Shirt – Available in five beautiful Spring/Summer tones, we chose ‘Wisteria’. It is a very soft cotton with a broderie trim on the hem to add some texture. This has been ideal for the cooler days to layer up.

Denim Dungarees – A staple piece of clothing in this household, these hard-wearing denim dungarees are so easy to wear. With side pockets and adjustable shoulder straps these are thrown on with pretty much anything.

Edith Circle Ditsy Dress – This maxi dress is made for Summer fun! It’s pretty, lightweight and very comfortable making it easy to wear; the elasticated waistband is great too.

Fat Face clothing for women – SS18 Women

Piper Frill Indigo Geo Top – With a lovely textured geo print, as well as a rich blue colour and a relaxed fit, this top is perfect for Spring and Summer. This pretty top has been designed to be super flattering. It has a  square neckline and beautiful ruffle sleeve detailing.

Organic Cotton Poppy Woodblock Popover – Effortless and easy to wear, this is the perfect cross between a classic button through shirt and a feminine blouse. Made with 100% organic cotton it is a relaxed fit, dropped back hem and a button-up front.

For more information or to buy, visit Fat Face.

Please Note: This is a Sponsored Post in Association with Fat Face. Items of clothing featured in this post have been gifted as well as a fee paid by Fat Face in exchange for writing an honest and authentic review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The post Celebrating the start of Spring – Fat Face Children’s Clothing SS18 appeared first on The Woodland Wife.

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What do you think of immediately when you think of Mother’s Day? Your mum? A friend who is a new mother? Or perhaps the run up to, and the day itself is tinged with sadness because your own mother or partner is no longer Earth side. Maybe you are on your own and longing for a family of your own. You might even view ‘Mother’s Day’ as another mass consumerism…

For me, it is of course a day I choose to celebrate my own wonderful mother and of course being a ‘Mummy’ myself, but in the week we celebrated ‘International Women’s Day’, I choose to celebrate ALL women, as well as the Dad’s taking on the vital role of ‘mum and dad’. The aunts who help in wonderful supporting roles in families, as well as those women who are more than happy to simply be ‘mum’ to a much loved pet.

Earlier this week, I shared my female inspirations with Thought their ‘International Women’s day 2018: who inspires our community‘ blog post. Over the course of the weekend and next week however, another wonderful woman and talented maker Bianca and myself are giving our Instagram followers the chance to win a Personalised Initial Necklace, from what I view as her real signature collection of disc jewellery.

When I was introduced to Bianca and her jewellery Bianca Jones Jewellery by my sister, I instantly knew how perfect a Personalised Initial Necklace would be; since then, I have been fortunate to own an Initial Necklace with an ‘A’ for my daughter and it is worn every day. To me, this beautiful piece of jewellery represents me ‘becoming a mother’.

In the run up to International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day I took some time to chat to Bianca of Bianca Jones Jewellery about the processes involved in making her jewellery, as well as the inspiration behind not just the collections, but Bianca Jones Jewellery.

I have shared what I love about Bianca Jones Jewellery, but now let me introduce you to Bianca herself to explain more about the processes and the inspiration behind the collections…

Tell me a little bit about your ‘making’ background…

When I was little, my mum would drag me past all these jewellery shops to peer in the window; she had a fantastic, slightly eccentric sense of style and loved jewellery. She used to always say to me ‘I put a white light around you’ and for my sixteenth birthday, I got my first ‘proper’  Tiffany jewellery from my family. A necklace and a bracelet for each wrist, the tangible white light for me to carry with me.

That was probably the moment that it clicked for me, the thought that you could create something that would symbolise the love of someone special and carry it around with you.

I then went on to do a foundation course, followed by a Jewellery and Silversmithing degree at Glasgow School of Art, working in the industry before starting out on my own.

What is your main inspiration behind making your products?

The underlying themes of all my work are belonging and love. We have always been a very nomadic family – somehow tethering myself with symbols such as latitudes and longitudes. Coupled with the importance of carrying loved ones with you; I try and express both of these themes throughout everything I do. My degree show was a homage to this idea with every piece and materials symbolising these concepts – trying to create a version of that ‘white light’.

Talk me through the processes?

I use a multitude of processes; I sometimes draw and go straight to metal to play about with the shape to find the piece emerging. Often, I use computer-aided design for something a little more technical like my ‘Love You More’ piece, other times I will go straight into wax, carving away to find the shape I’m after. Everything however, starts with a sketch that I then play in different mediums until I find what suits.

From initial concept, to finished piece, how long does it take you to create a piece for your collection?

It can take years literally! I’m probably a terrible jeweller in that I start to love things so much that it makes it hard for me to let go and put it out into the world!

The ‘Comfort’ piece started about ten years ago and is based on the idea of holding hands with someone you love; that little dip in the palm of your hand. It became really emotional for me to finish and now that I have, I find it so comforting – I never take mine off.

How important is it to you that the materials you use are sustainable and you yourself make the pieces?

Important on both levels; I would love my pieces to be as sustainable as possible and will continue to look for ways to achieve that. Physically making my jewellery is the only way I can see how something is going to work as it’s all about the look, feel – even the weight of something. All those elements work together making a piece successful.

You have a fabulous collection, ranging from your ready to wear ‘Initial’ range to bespoke pieces; can you tell me a little bit about which is you favourite piece and why?

I go through phases of wearing pieces on rotation; currently it’s a solid gold comfort necklace with a diamond – it feels so at home on my neck and is super comforting. Layered with a gold latitude & longitude of my birthplace – that feels like I’m carrying home with me.
Another current big favourite is my Aquamarine circle ring – a simple, classic piece; the circle invokes infinity for me and is set with a stone my mum gave me. My compass hoops (coming out soon!) are a real favourite at the moment too, reminding me that I will find my way…

Three words that sum up Bianca Jones Jewellery:

Personal, heirloom, comfort

I adore your pieces of jewellry for their personal touch and the quality, but can you tell me what YOU think sets you apart from other jewellery makers out there?

I try and make the very best work that I can and to convey the themes that I’m trying to work out for myself – the kind of universal problems. Feeling lost, needing something of home, a reminder of a loved one. I really love that I can put form to my imagination and create things that mean so much to people.

Along with my engagement and wedding ring, the ‘Initial’ necklace I own is treasured; how important is it to you to create something that will not only last the test of time, but also will be handed down the generations of a family and creating lasting memories?

SO important as that’s what it’s all about for me; making things that mean so much to people. I designed a family crest for a family last year, each element on that crest means something to that family. Each one of them has this beautiful, weighty, solid gold signet ring which binds them all together and tells their unique story. It doesn’t get more special than that.

Where do you hope to see Bianca Jones Jewellery in the future?

I hope to be still making beautiful pieces that are handed down for generations to come.

Bianca’s workspace and just a few processes involved in making an Initial Necklace.

For more information or to buy, visit Bianca Jones Jewellery.

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The post Celebrating all who ‘mother’ on Mother’s Day with Bianca Jones Jewellery appeared first on The Woodland Wife.

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If we are to believe the weather forecast then the South East of England is in for another flurry, perhaps even a dumping of snow this week. My thoughts however, are turning to spring as I choose to look beyond what the forecasters say and take a look around the woods for signs that Spring IS on it’s way.

Although it is cold, it has been wonderfully sunny and at the end of last week I took a good look around the woods to see what is beginning to reveal itself…

One of my daughter’s favourite books (as is one of mine!) is ‘The Story of The Root Children’ and I am reminded of it every Spring when imagining everything under the surface ready to come up out out of the ground:

“Under the ground, deep in the earth among the roots of the trees, the little root children were fast asleep all winter long. They didn’t feel the biting wind, the cold snow, or the stinging hailstorms. They slept peacefully in their warm burrows. They were dreaming wonderful dreams, of the sunshine in which they had played all through the summer.

When at last winter came to an end, and the sun began to melt the snow, Mother Earth came along with her candle to wake them up. “Wake up! As soon as you’re ready, I’ll unlock and open the doors up to the ground…”

‘The Story of The Root Children’, Sibylle von Olfers

The streams that run through our woodland are beginning to trickle again, I still need to remove a lot of the fallen chestnut leaves that came down over the winter, however when the rain falls we have had wonderful torrents in the stream that all lead to next doors lake.

Wild primroses and daffodils are beginning to wake from their sleep and have been shooting up over recent weeks, some have even begun to open up, a shame really if we do get a lot of snow.

Buds are appearing on the trees, tiny buds ready to burst into love cover the chestnut and silver birch and we must not forget the bluebells whose shoots are coming up thick and fast under old leaves that fell in previous months.

The bracken which surrounds us and come summer time encroaches just about everywhere is still golden brown and glistens as if touched by magic with the heavy frosts… the moment I realise spring is just about to arrive is when I notice the first alien like ‘baby bracken’ appear. They forcefully break through the ground, all tightly wound up, soon to unfurl and spread out. I wonder how long it will be until they appear, but I still find it utterly incredible that it is all happening beneath my feet!

Next time you go out for a walk, really think about it all… those ‘Root Children’ slowly waking from their sleep just before ‘Mother Earth’ “unlocks and opens the doors up to the ground”, perhaps I am alone in thinking of this magic every time I walk around this time of year, but it truly is something SO incredible!

With signs of spring every where, it has also been a time for my wardrobe ‘changeover’ from lots of layers and big chunky knits, I have been favouring only a couple of layers and a lighter top layer, and so I introduce a few new pieces from my favourites Thought SS18 collection.

Thought – Ethical Clothing SS18

Thought create clothing that is made to last, clothing that is made from the most wonderful, sustainable fabrics, with really beautiful and inspired patterns and textures.

You can find out more about the inspiration behind Thought SS18 collection over on their blog with a look at ‘Spring Summer 2018: Behind the scenes‘. A fabulous insight into what the team at Thought have been working away on.

For the season ahead, the Thought loungewear collection interprets freshly sprung blooms as abstract artworks, as with previous collections, their loungewear is full of pieces just ideal for wearing at home, or out in your yoga or pilates class. With soft fabrics with inspired designs, you will feel like you are wearing the finest, kindest loungewear.

The spring collection from Thought comes in two parts, representing two contrasting cultures.

“The first, ‘Sashiko’ is inspired by Japan’s rural landscapes, traditions and arts. And the second, ‘Nature’s Poet’ takes from the beauty of the British countryside and the poetry it inspires – particularly that of William Wordsworth.”

The Summer collection from Thought, ‘Distant Shores’:

“…takes from the tropic climates of the coast, and a wealth of life, colour and inspiration that’s found there. Deep sea greens, sand dune pinks and sundown apricot become the shades to evoke idyllic surroundings this summer.”

So as you can probably tell Thought have everything covered for spring and summer. I chose two pieces from the SS18 collection, choosing just two was so hard due to the fabulous range of pieces, however I am a BIG fan of their blouses, I have a few blouses from previous Thought collections and they are actually some of the most worn pieces from my wardrobe.

I chose the Beatrice Organic Cotton Button Up Blouse and like the other blouses I have, is incredibly soft. This simple blouse is available in four contemporary new-season colours and made from organic cotton blouse . In a relaxed fit, this V-neck shirt is made from a light cotton crepe material, perfect for spring, with subtle gathering at the front. I wear it with my trusty jeans, but  paired with trousers it would create a smart daytime or evening look.

As mentioned above, I am a big fan of layering up, even in summer I’m often seen in a big wrap on a summer’s evening; when I saw the Haruka Knitted Cardigan in the SS18 Lookbook, I instantly wanted to see more of the detail of the cardigan, although I think I would describe it more as a ‘Coatigan’.

The spring cardigan has beautiful stitch detailing and is a wonderful relaxed fit making this contemporary organic cotton jacket the perfect cover-up for spring and summer. With functional pockets, a wrap front, and the white stitch detailing, this knitted cardigan jacket will bring a modern look to your outfit. Paired with my favourite jeans for a laid-back style, but I can also see myself throwing it on over a plain summer dress.

Thanks to Thought, once again I have some lovely items to wear this spring… now we just need the weather to warm up a bit, so that I can finally put my chunkier winter tops and knits away in the chest until next winter!

// FEATURED //

Thought SS18 – Easy-to-wear clothes made from natural fabrics; like bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Sustainable, organic clothing created to fit your lifestyle.

Blundstone – Unique boots from Tasmania. Ideal for all the family and can take you almost anywhere and do almost anything. Blundstone are an everyday companion, constructed for comfort and performance classically shaped in a versatile Chelsea Boot style.

For more information or to buy, visit Thought.

Please Note: This is a Sponsored Post in Association with Thought. Items of clothing featured in this post have been gifted as well as a fee paid by Thought in exchange for writing an honest and authentic review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The post When Thoughts turn to Spring – Thought Clothing – Ethical Clothing SS18 appeared first on The Woodland Wife.

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It has been a long time since I wrote about my condition here. As anyone who knows me in the ‘real world’ and online knows, I don’t like to let this strange sounding illness define me, however I have always felt strongly that in sharing my journey, it not only helps raise awareness, but also helps others living with AS or an invisible, chronic illness realise that they are not alone.

So where am I now…?

Life with a chronic illness is now very much the norm for me; the ‘acceptance’ and ‘anger’ stage is well and truly over; I continue to move forward with this often cruel ‘friend’ of mine beside me. I have a strange love/hate relationship with my Ankylosing Spondylitis as without the 2015 diagnosis I would still be very much in the dark, worrying about the collection of nasty symptoms.

There are of course many reasons why I hate this ‘companion’ of mine; the Winter months are always the toughest;  I’m not sure if it’s the weather, but Winter is always a time with my AS flares are at their peak. Thanks to my Humira injections, the symptoms have definitely lessoned since they began a year ago now, however this year I was hoping to be ‘symptom free’. It wasn’t to be though due to endless bugs and antibiotics over Christmas and New Year, I have now been a month off my medication resulting in the debilitating fatigue and pain.

Pain I can pretty much deal with, as with pain there is literally only so much you can do. If you’re in pain you simply stop, or go out for a walk, which soon elevates the symptoms… fatigue is an altogether different symptom. When you are in pain and fatigued, the pain stops you from sleeping, and the fatigue stops you from going out for the walk or taking the exercise you need to help ease the pain!

On the outside, I might look a little more tired than usual, but often those around me, even my immediate family, won’t see how tired and wiped out I feel as every morning I peel myself out of bed, put on my clothes and make up and do my best “all is well” face. You see, fatigue is a symptom I have learnt to hide well; after all, school runs still need to be done, beds made, laundry taken care of… the list of jobs is endless, so going back to bed isn’t an option, and admitting I need to rest, STILL 3 years on, feels like I am letting everyone down, so I push on…

The flip side, however is positive; I don’t rest up perhaps as much as I should, but there are positives 3 years after my diagnosis, below are just a few…

I know my limits

Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis for the 10 years prior to my diagnosis, I look back with total admiration at Jessica ‘pre diagnosis’ at everything I accomplished, achieved and tolerated. From working in an office with minimal breaks due to heavy workloads to helping lay miles of wood chip throughout the woods, hulking chestnut fencing through the woods, all whilst suffering from pain and fatigue in silence.

Since my diagnosis, I continue to work hard, however I give myself plenty of breaks, whether at my computer or as a mummy/wife/woodland owner. I still work in the woods doing manual tasks, but I know what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t. I might think I have the physical strength to lift a chestnut pole, but if I lug it around, I will most likely really hurt myself, so now, I leave the bigger jobs to my husband.

I have a better way of explaining Ankylosing Spondylitis to others

While the science behind it still escapes me, if someone asks me to explain my condition to them, I tell them it’s an autoimmune condition and something that can’t be seen on the outside. As a creative person, the facts and science often get me in a muddle so I tend to explain it to people in a way that they could visualise or get a sense of themselves, so pain, people understand… but the physical side of the fatigue I either explain that as the feeling when you have been struck with the worst flu you can think of, everything aches and you simply just want to lie flat and not move… or the feeling you get when you are on an exercise bike or running machine and you turn the resistance or incline setting up. That feeling when you want to push forward, but it’s like pushing against a physical barrier… that is what living with Ankylosing Spondylitis is like!

I know how to say & spell ‘Ankylosing Spondylitis’!

I remember sitting alone in the consultants office, going through my blood work and the MRI that I had had, she looked at me and said in an abrupt manner “I can say with 100% certainty, that what you have is ankyloksdhkahsingsponfjlkjiudylits” She blurted it out and rambled on, my stomach sank to my toes and I said, “sorry what? can you say that again”, she blurted it out and off she went again on a tangent… she then thrust lots of leaflets in my hand and off I went. In a blur I drove home and because I didn’t understand ANYTHING of what I had just been told, I googled a word, I had no knowledge of and attempted to spell it… Three years later, the name of this nasty condition just about rolls off the tongue. Small victories!

Those around me have a better understanding of what’s actually going on if I’m quiet…

Over the years, people have come and gone out of our lives. There are those you can tell will be fleeting friends, then there are those who you know stick with you while the times are good, then there are those gems, the ones I have in my life now, who know that if I go quiet… I’ve gone quiet for a reason. I don’t like to whinge, I don’t like to ask for help, so I’ll often ‘dig in’ and keep myself to myself…. part of this is due to my ‘introvert’ nature, but there is a big part of me that just caves when I feel like I can’t cope. Recently, anyone who knows me in the ‘real world’, and perhaps those online, might have also noticed that I have been quiet… well these last few weeks have been the worst in terms of an AS flare in a long time, so I really haven’t felt like getting out much, real world and online.

Just last week a friend messaged me to ask if my little girl would like to go back to hers for a playdate with her daughter (one of my birdy’s good friends) after school as she “had a feeling” that I was having a bad flare. I had said nothing to her of the flare, we see each other often and are good friends and she just KNEW.

The day of the playdate came and she very firmly ordered me to “stay at home, sit down, relax and watch some TV”, when I went to collect my daughter my wonderful friend had not only given my daughter the most wonderful afternoon, but she had cooked for me, she had cooked a meal for and our other friend in the village who has AS, a meal to take home and enjoy, rather than having to cook. How incredibly lucky I am to have a friend like her.

I know the key elements that can set off a flare
  1. SUGAR – too much and I feel it almost instantly. Pain; nasty, angry, physical pain, so I have cut right back.
  2. ALCOHOL – too much isn’t good for anyone, but when I have alcohol now, I genuinely feel like I have been poisoned, it makes me feel incredibly ill, so I have stopped. NO, I’m not pregnant (as most seem to assume when I turn down a drink!) I simply haven’t had a drink since October and that’s the way it is going to stay.
  3. DAIRY – too much and the fatigue is horrendous
  4. POOR SLEEP – My daughter has never been much of a sleeper, so since becoming a mother right up to the age of four, I function on limited hours of sleep, however I am now working on my sleep, going to bed earlier, leaving the phone off rather than checking emails late at night. I remember people telling me with my daughter that “sleep breeds sleep”, well I’m trying that with me too. I used to love a lie in, but those days are long behind me now, so it’s about making use of the time I do get to rest as much as possible. I will be sharing more on this in the not so distant future.
Medication DOES help

I realise that everyone is different and everyone is absolutely entitled to their opinions on this particular subject; but I have tried different diets, supplements, exercise regimes etc etc etc over the long period of time I have been living with this… the one thing that has made the biggest difference for ME, is medication. Yes, I still get flare ups, but they are nowhere near as frightening or alarming as they used to be. I have movement, some days less movement than others, but as far as I am aware currently (still waiting on MRI results) there is no fusing, and at my last consultant appointment the proof was there in my blood work, my inflammatory markers are right down from where they were.

Would I like to come off medication in the future? Yes, absolutely.

Do I think there is another solution? Hmmm… for me right now, Humira is 100% MY solution.

No one case of Ankylosing Spondylitis is the same

There are people I have spoken to, some on a regular basis, some who were diagnosed really fast, some who didn’t know an answer for years, there are those with pain and fatigue, some with only pain. So even though the condition and diagnosis is the same… each and every case is different.

I know that I’m not alone in this

If we step back to the day I was diagnosed, with the previous consultant who wasn’t the ‘right fit’ for me, I remember feeling so alone. Not because it was just me in that room with her… well of course there was an element of that… but it was the feeling of “shit. I have never heard of this thing before. this can only be me”… fast forward to now and there are at least 4 people I know in my local area with Ankylosing Spondylitis! Not to mention the wonderful people who have reached out to me online, not just with AS, but with other auto immune conditions. Then there are those who don’t have the condition like the friend I mentioned above who doesn’t even have it, but is totally there for me. No, it absolutely doesn’t remove any of the sadness, frustration and disappointment I have with my body and myself for having this, but it does absolutely make me feel less alone in this.

There is support out there

From family and friends, to social media, bloggers and support groups, there is so much out there. I may be a few years down the road from diagnosis, but there are still the odd days… the days like recently when I cave and go quiet when I think this disease is conspiring against me, but it doesn’t take long before I reach out to someone, whether it’s my mum for a howl of “I just want it gone!”, to sending out a DM to someone on Instagram who I know is in the same boat with an invisible illness.

The aim of this update, is to reassure once again, that:
  • we aren’t in this alone
  • we can and should ask/accept help
  • we do have people who listen, in the ‘real world and virtually
  • there are medical professionals like my amazing GP, who will help with the fight to be seen whether in diagnosis or ongoing care.

If you or someone you know thinks they may have Ankylosing Spondylitis, do talk to your GP, there are a lot of resources out there, and this condition isn’t as rare as you think.

You don’t need to suffer in silence and despite, what I have said above, help is out there and you can get a plan in place to really help your condition.

Please do either read my other blog posts under the Wellness, Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) tab, and reach out for more information at National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS)

The post Ankylosing Spondylitis and Me – My Story after diagnosis appeared first on The Woodland Wife.

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Anyone who knows me and my journey into Motherhood will know that my daughter’s sleep has been and continues to be a real struggle. As a baby, she wouldn’t go to sleep anywhere but on me, so we co-slept (we occasionally still do!) as it was and very occasionally still is the only way my birdy will sleep!

On my quest to help make my daughter’s room a place that she wanted to sleep in and stay in ALL night,  I discovered Forivor. I was instantly drawn to Forivor‘s stunning bedding and sleepwear collections due to the enchanting illustrations. I just knew that they would capture and spark my daughters imagination, as well as inspiring her to drift off to that magical place of sleep!

Each Forivor bedding set is reversible making their duvets a really innovative concept; turning the duvet over “unlocks” a magical nighttime print to transport children from day to night, on a journey of storytelling and wonder at the natural world.

Don’t be fooled by the Forivor description of their duvets; they aren’t just “beautifully” soft, they are UNBELIEVABLY soft. I have quite honestly never felt bedding quiet as soft… you think I exaggerate? I don’t! I really do think it is just divine! The beautifully detailed organic duvet set we have is the Hidden Foxes & Tumbling Pegasus Reversible Duvet which features a delicate print of rabbits and foxes hidden behind wildflowers on one side.

The Hidden Foxes & Tumbling Pegasus Reversible Duvet Set came presented in one of the hardwearing Forivor suitcases which can be used for play or for storing away our treasured duvet for future generations. This Forivor bedding is available in the following sizes: Single Duvet Set, 140 x 200cm (Pillow case 50 x 75cm) and a Cot Duvet Set, 120 x 150cm (Pillow case 50 x 75cm)

There is also a reversible quilted blanket available too, which is certainly on my wishlist now, as well as the other stunning sets available from the Enchanted Forest Collection.

If you feel more of an affinity to the sea than woodland, Forivor also have the luxurious ‘Legends of the Sea’ duvets and quilted blankets, which are also made from the softest rain-fed organic cotton and inspired by British marine wildlife in a bid to encourage children to help protect our oceans.

What makes me love this bedding and Forivor so much is that their bedding and sleepwear is not only so aesthetically pleasing, but all their products are ethically and sustainably produced in India, as well as having a shared commitment to support and inspire the protection of our natural world and the wildlife that belongs to it.

Established in 2014 by Rebecca and Alice, Forivor has a strong belief in protecting the biodiversity of our planet for the adults that our children will become, and in doing so, encourage them to become responsible guardians of the natural world. Forivor only use rain-fed organic cotton sourced from small landholders, which is grown without the use of toxic pesticides that are harmful to human health and wildlife.

I still remember two particular duvet sets my mother would make my bed up with; previously belonging to my father, and now used by my daughter during overnight stays, each one with a design that is etched in my memory. I am sure I am not alone in remembering special duvets of childhood days with fondness and just as I remember two of my childhood duvets, I am quite sure my daughter will always love and remember her Forivor bedding and it will no doubt become a long-lasting family heirloom, whose magic is passed from one generation to the next.

For more information or to buy, visit Forivor.

Please Note: I have not been paid for this post, however I did receive a Single Duvet Set. This was in exchange for writing an honest and authentic review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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As a child growing up in London, I remember regularly climbing trees in Richmond Park as well as in our own garden. I’d climb the beautiful Eucalyptus tree at the edge of the garden with my sisters, as well as my favourite baby doll Rupert.

Oddly once we moved to the countryside at the age of 10, I rarely climbed trees; now, living in the middle of the woods I often watch my husband climbing trees with all his tree climbing kit, assessing their health and often trimming limbs out. My daughter, loves to get up into the trees and sit on a perch with her dolls.

Watching them both climb trees, the benefits of climbing trees are clear to see:

Brings you closer to nature

Climbing a tree brings you into direct contact with nature; you can learn so much about nature in a tree. When we are out in nature and actively involved in the natural environment around you, all the senses are put into action, sight, sound, smell and touch.

Developing strength and coordination

My husband is amazing at climbing trees, he has absolutely no fear of heights and as I said above, often climbs trees here to maintain their health, as he works his way up the tree, you can see how strong and coordinated he is and it is the same when my daughter climbs a tree. Climbing a tree is a brilliant way for little ones to experiment how they fit into spaces within the natural environment, as well as working out how to move around a tree and along branches. Climbing a tree can be hard work depending on the tree of choice, simply coordinating your arms and legs while reaching out for the next branch to hold onto can be a lot of work, not just for little ones, but also adults who climb too, so tree climbing is a fabulous way to develop strength and coordination, whether you are young, or old!

Human Interaction

As I mentioned in my own experience as a child climbing trees, I would only ever climb when my sisters were about. We would climb and sit on branches chatting away, not to mention, with someone on the ground below helping to point out where the next foot hole or branch to reach for is meant that there was always a fun human interaction element to climbing trees due to the teamwork and play involved in getting to a branch to sit on.

Sparking the Imagination

In Richmond Park and in our garden as a child I would often pretend I was riding a horse while I was up a tree! When my daughter is up a tree, her imagination just runs completely wild, whether she is a ‘bird building a nest for her chicks’, or standing on the mast of a tall ship, climbing trees sparks the imagination and can take you absolutely anywhere!

A Tactile Experience

Just touching the different textures of a tree is a fabulous tactile experience; every tree is different, the bark on a silver birch is completely different to the bark on a Wellingtonia, the same can be said for the leaves and fruit they produce. Leaves and fruit come in all different shapes, sizes and textures, we often collect leaves and fruit from trees to examine all the different textures for some home learning.

Trees provide a rich tactile experience for children as well as adults. I mentioned the senses earlier and this comes into the tactile experience too as each tree not only feels and looks different, but they smell different too, a eucalyptus, a pine, an oak… they all smell different, so climbing trees is brimming with tactile experiences.

Creative Thinking & Problem Solving

While navigating from branch to branch, climbing trees inspires us to think ahead, working out the best route through the tree and then working out the safest way to climb back down. All these elements develop creative thinking and problem solving.

Confidence Building

Climbing and conquering a big tree builds confidence and self-esteem as there is a huge sense of accomplishment and pride that goes along with climbing a tree. The wonderful confidence boost that a child, as well as an adult gets from conquering a difficult tree is a great feeling.

Different Perspective

In this modern world that we live in, we somehow seem to lost our ability to simply stop and take in the environment and spaces around us. Simply looking up or being up high in a tree and looking down at the world from a completely different angle can be so empowering and completely change our perspective.

Extending Attention Spans

Climbing a tree takes time and has a calming effect which allows us to focus and extend periods of concentration, this enables us to really develop attention spans compared to the rapid changes on electronic entertainment on iPads, screen time and time spent in front of the TV.

All the points mentioned above, don’t just apply to children; although my fear of heights doesn’t allow me to climb the dizzy heights of the eucalyptus of my childhood, I will often scale a tree or clamber over a (safe!) fallen tree for fun and to adjust my focus and change my perspective.

// FEATURED //

WoolOvers AW17 – Womens Cashmere and Merino Chunky V Neck Jumper in Dark Teal. This fantastic, wool jumper is super-soft, fantastically fine-feeling and wonderfully superb. The V-neck detailing is flattering and it’s chunky-knit texture so soft to touch; made from 20% Cashmere, 80% Merino yarn balance, this is a jumper you wear time and time again, so don’t waste time thinking about what to wear, reach for this Womens Cashmere and Merino Chunky V Neck Jumper.

Blundstone – Unique boots from Tasmania. Ideal for all the family and can take you almost anywhere and do almost anything. Blundstone are an everyday companion, constructed for comfort and performance classically shaped in a versatile Chelsea Boot style.

Please Note: I have not been paid for this post or the products mentioned. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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To say the last few months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement, for me as a mother I have watched my sweet girl adjust to a new pace of life with the start of school.

Many warned me about how exhausted she would be as we approached the end of the year, but I still don’t think I was fully prepared for quite how wiped out she would be. No doubt once the latest whirlwind of this final term of the year is over, she will be ready just to stop and take a big long breath… before the excitement of Christmas festivities hit!

Often when she is exhausted she often wants to dig-in in front of a DVD and zone out and I absolutely welcome that, however I know myself that getting outdoors is just as important to connect with each other and the environment we are fortunate to live in.

Spending the days in restrictive school uniforms, when we get home from afternoon pick up, the first thing we do is throw off the uniform and find something in her wardrobe that is simple and most important of all, comfortable. I have written about my daughter’s ‘go t0’ pieces before, they range from the sparkly dress from last Christmas, to some really lovely pieces from brands we have grown to love over the last few years.

One such favourite is of course Nellie Quats; I still remember coming across the Nellie Quats Instagram and seeing the beautiful childrenswear available, each piece fitted so well with type of clothing I wanted for my daughter, simple, stylish and comfortable, as so a relationship was formed and over the years, Nellie Quats pieces are regularly worn.

Not only is comfort and simplicity important to me when it comes to the clothes I put my daughter in, but as most know, I hold very strong ethical values when it comes to my daughter’s wardrobe as well as my own. Nellie Quats also has these values, using the finest quality fabrics from sustainable sources, as well as making sure that seamstress who make the clothing are treated fairly… so Nellie Quats has always ticked all the boxes for me in the quest for childrenswear.

The two favourite styles the ‘Conkers Pinafore‘ and the ‘Hopscotch Dress‘ are back for AW17 with new fabrics as well as the old faithful.

Quarter length sleeves of Spring/Summer have been replaced on the Hopscotch Dress with full length sleeves, making it perfect for cooler days. The Hopscotch Dress is available in three fabric options, Dusty Pink, Grey Check and Special Edition Sparkle, in fact the dusty pink Hopscotch Dress has been so popular, it was sold out at the time I was selecting pieces, demonstrating just how popular Nellie Quats has become.

The Conkers Pinafore, which again comes in two fabric options, Red and Grey; this is without a doubt our favourite Nellie Quats piece, having had exactly this pinafore and red fabric previously, the Conkers Pinafore was the outfit of choice for many, many months as it was perfect layered on colder days, but great to wear alone on hot Spring/Summer days, so when the Conkers Pinafore came back for Autumn/Winter and WITH pockets we were thrilled!

Having supported Nellie Quats from the very early days, I have felt so happy to see Nellie Quats become such a well-established and well-loved childrenswear brand online as well as various markets and pop-up events. So, I took some time to ask Nellie Quats founder Elinor Bussell to ask her some questions about Nellie Quats, her plans for the future, successes of the brand, as well as how she comes up with all the fabulous names for her pieces!

Nellie Quats is becoming a firm wardrobe favorite of so many, with its’ timeless and simple style, where do you take your NQ signature style inspiration from?

I think my inspiration comes from lots of different sources. I absolutely love simplicity in clothing and I’m quite influenced by Scandinavian style and design. My designing is colour driven and a fabric often inspires me before I decide on the style of a garment. I have collected and scrapbooked Vogues from a young age so I often find inspiration from those.

What was your inspiration behind the gorgeous AW17 collection?

Autumn is my favourite season, I just love all the beautiful colours that it brings, and my AW collection was really inspired by this. In order to introduce some of winter season into the collection too, I chose lots of variations of cool greys to contrast the warmer autumnal colours.

What are your favourite pieces from AW17 collection?

I absolutely love the dusty pink Hopscotch dress, the fabric is so soft and it’s a really beautiful colour. I think the Conkers Pinafore too is always a favourite of mine. I love the simplicity of it and the detail of the bow at the back.

The ‘Nellie Quats Classics’ Hopscotch Dress and Conkers Pinafore have made a welcome return for AW17, can you tell me a little bit about how you come up with the fabulous names for your pieces?

My brother was the mastermind behind the names of the dresses. He came up with my branding for NQ, designing the packaging to double up as word searches and colouring boxes. The concept of NQ is to be playful and fun for the child, not just for the adult buying the clothes. Following that idea, the dresses are all named after children’s games, most of which we played as children.

You have a strong brand identity, is this something you felt was important when launching Nellie Quats?

I definitely think brand identity is really important. I’m from a family of designers; my brother and my boyfriend are both graphic designers so it’s certainly something that I get a lot of help with. In order to make your brand memorable to customers, it’s important to have a strong, distinct identity that runs throughout everything you do, even the smallest details.

How important are ethics and sustainability to Nellie Quats as a brand?

Very important. I really feel everyone has a responsibility to question where and how things are produced. I try to make conscious choices about packaging, fabric, production of the garments and every aspect of the business, though there are always improvements to be made.

The underlying ethos behind NQ is to create well-made and long lasting clothing that can be passed down to siblings or friends; the antithesis of the fast paced, throw-away fashion industry.

How does your ethical stance affect the choices you make in selecting your fabrics and who makes your clothing?

It definitely influences my choosing of fabric and production. My fabrics are all sourced from UK companies and produced in Europe. One of my main fabrics is linen, which I love for its low environmental impact, using a low amount of energy, no pesticides and only rainwater to produce.

In terms of production of the clothing, I think it’s really important to know where your clothes come from and who made them. I am really proud to say our clothes are designed and made in the UK by individual seamstresses. This way I can guarantee that the women are fairly paid, working their own flexible hours and in comfortable conditions.

Your clothing for girls is just stunning and incredibly popular; do you have any plans to create a collection or pieces for boys in the future?

There is a strong possibility I will expand to boys clothing in the future but I have a few other ideas first. I would love to have a very simple knitwear range and possibly some mumma clothing too. I just have to make sure to remember to grow slowly and not get ahead of myself!

From the perspective of someone who discovered your beautiful clothes right at the start of Nellie Quats, I have been thrilled to see your success, how has social media helped with the success of Nellie Quats?

Social Media has been an amazing tool for spreading the word of NQ, particularly Instagram which is one of my main drivers of traffic to my website. It’s a really wonderful community, with so much support available from other businesses and great for building personal relationships with customers. I love the fact that you can be tagged in a photo; it’s a really wonderful thing to see the clothes that you designed being worn by a customer, and no matter how many photos I’m tagged in, every single one is just as exciting as the first!

// FEATURED //

Nellie Quats – Beautiful, ethical, durable handmade children’s wear

Hopscotch Dress – Long sleeve dress with tie at the back of the neck. Made from light-weight grey check linen that hangs beautifully. Attached gathered skirt sits at a longer length below the knee. Designed to be oversized for a stylish, comfortable fit. Perfect layered over as well as under other pieces.

Conkers Pinafore – Classic pinafore dress made from the highest quality, soft, textured linen with gathered skirt front and elasticated waist back for a comfortable fit. Straps tie through loops at the back so fully adjustable. Two little pockets sit on the front skirt. Designed to sit above the knee. Perfect for layering in cooler weather or stripping back in the summer.

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