• Letters To Loved


     

    letter to loved

     

    I love to write, I love letters. I even try and set up pen pals through Instagram.

    I still have all my letters that I got from pen pals as a teen, letters discussing tears, pot noodles and dorm room frolics from my friends at university.

    Kept in a box with the scent of Snake Bite Black and first kisses. Those memories will remain for as long as I can keep them.

    Long live the pen and ink, May your words be forever posted through the slits of homes and opened by fingertips. I mean swiping beautiful words from friends/loved ones is just not the same is it.

    So when the fabulous mama and fellow letter lover Charlotte Peach created Letters To Loved my sentimental and quite retro heart jumped for joy.

    Total bonus that she is also a seriously badass illustrator too.

    I had a chat with Charlotte and she told me all about Letters To Loved and why she created it. She also kindly sent me some of her stationery and it is pretty exquisite in a totally going to use it and save it for my grandchildren kind of way.

    She also sent a picture she created of my first meeting with Phoebe (See a few images below). Did not shed a tear, nope. Not even a bit (totally blubbed)

    Part of Letters To Loved is contributions from other parents who write letters to their loved ones. I sent one too –  it felt quite emotional writing it and raw but somewhat therapeutic too.

    I mean, I share a gazillion words on social media about parenthood, writing a letter directly to the little lady in my life just felt so right.

    But first read about this wonderful lady and her brilliant idea.

    letters to loved

    Charlotte Peach – Letters To Loved

    Why I started Letters To Loved

    Letters To Loved started as a collection of letters to my daughter. When she was a baby I had all these things I wanted to say to her, things I kept making mental notes of to remember to tell her or teach her, things I wanted to make sure that she knew, and as remembering things was not one of my fortes as a sleep deprived first-time mum, I decided to write as much of it down as I could remember. I found it cathartic. It helped relieve a lot of horrible anxiety I had as a new mum, as well as being a good way to capture the intense feelings I had for her. Feelings I didnt want to forget and wanted her to know that I felt.

    It also lead me to read other people’s letters, throughout history through to modern day. I wanted to start a collection where they were all in one place and see if it inspired other people to enjoy writing letters to their children as much as it did me.

    letters to loved
    The Style

    I have a ‘thing’ for good stationery – I think it replaced my ‘thing’ with shoes! But I think some letter writing stationery, although incredibly beautiful, can make everything feel a bit formal and stuffy. So you end up with lots of stunning things to write with, great for when you want to rsvp to the queen, but until then are tucked away in a drawer somewhere. I wanted the Letters To Loved stationery to feel great in terms of quality and design, but also styled in a way that you want to pick it up and use it right away. And if you make mistakes so what? I’ve worked with Laxmi Hussain on a lot of the branding for the company and the collaborative process has been great.
    In terms of the artwork I produce, that’s another way of capturing memories and feelings in a similar way to a letter. Many of the styles are about stripping back the noise around images we have of loved ones so that all you see is the beauty in the simplicity of that moment. Simple lines with very little detail around them, helps you see the connections between for example a parent and child, the simple way someone is held and I think it helps you reconnect with how you felt in that moment.
    For example the picture of my daughter and I came from a photograph taken in the hospital shortly after she was born. The photo is quite clinical and grey, with a Sainsbury’s bag full of snacks in the background. With all that filtered out all you see is the line of my arm around my tiny little bundle that I can’t stop looking at – a moment of calm and pure love with my daughter.

    What’s coming next

    I’d love to keep Letters To Loved 2017 going throughout the year. Each month I’m collaborating with illustrators and designers to create themed, limited edition luxury letter writing sets. The designs of each theme will reflect a new motivation for sending the letter and all profits from these editions will go to a different charity http://letterstoloved.com/2017-a-year-of-letters/

    I’m also going to introduce lots of new products too, as well as more exciting collaborations with different artists and small brands

     

    My Letter To My Loved

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    To my Phoebe Cecily Violet

    A million words I could say to you.
    The beat to my heart.
    I hope you know this is all about you.
    I didn’t think we were meant to be.
    You proved me wrong.
    I didn’t think I needed you.
    You showed me I did.
    I thought I was okay before you.
    You made me realise I wasn’t.
    I was never very good at patience.
    Now I am bordering on being a saint.
    I didn’t know a child could make you feel like that.
    You make me feel everything.
    I didn’t know happiness felt like this.
    Now it is all I know.
    I thought I was always going to be alone.
    Now I will always have you.

    Thank you for picking me PC
    I am yours today, tomorrow and forever.
    Mama A x

     

    Head over to the Letters To Loved website for a peruse and also her instagram.

    So many pretty words and pictures. The stationery is pretty phenomenal too.

     

  • Soft play


    Soft play: Why do I do it to myself. What kind of fresh hell is this?

    I often make the mistake of suggesting soft play and within two minutes of walking in, I instantly regret it. A place I am thankful my child has had her jabs. A place I want to dip my child in Milton after visiting.

    If they are too big, I feel uncomfortable watching my child run in every direction and fear losing her or her being swallowed by a 30 year old inflatable clown, If they are too small I watch my child lose interest and start to head butt the slide out of boredom.

    People tell me it is a place where you can relax whilst your child runs around. I think this is only applicable to children who are not going through the stage of “let’s see how my new found wrestling skills are working out”. It is not relaxing, there will be no chatting between mothers unless you count screaming across the play area “Jenny grab Phoebe’s legs will you, she seems to be stuck in a net” chatting.

    A place where in the space of three minutes you witness a child of questionable soft play age, pole dancing up a padded beam. A toddler licking every ball to check for new flavours, hand foot and mouth being one of them and a hyperactive 3 year old playing “If I run really fast up it and then jump down, how many babies can I knock over”

    Miserable staff walking around pretending to disinfect the push along cars with a look that says “I hate children, when can I drink wine”. Children running around like they have been injected with sugar and told to attack. Parents glazing over them with a look that says “I hate children, when can I drink wine”.

    I am sure there are lovely soft plays, I am sure there are places where you do not fear jumping in the pool pit and exiting with a brown foot. I am sure some parents get to converse over a tea and cake whilst their children play beautifully. I just do not believe there are many.

    And if they do exist, I reckon I need to go to Narnia to find them.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Survival


    How to survive motherhood:

    Drink wine.
    Laugh at the stressful days.
    Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
    Drink wine.
    Don’t expect every day to be the same.
    Pat yourself on the back occasionally.
    Drink wine.
    If you need a cry when tired, do it.
    See your friends when you can.
    Drink wine.
    Know that you are not alone.
    Have some you time when possible.
    If there is no wine, drink that dodgy christmas liquor in the cupboard.

  • 9 Months


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    9 Months.
    This milestone hit me hard. The last haul before turning one. Buying 9-12 months sized clothes stung and I have found myself longing for the tiny Phoebe days. Just longing mind you, wouldn’t want to go back to the zombie hormone days.
    Phoebe has become quite the performer, she knows how to make you laugh and pulls questionable but cute faces.
    Words have started with weeeee, hi,mama,baa baa, hiya, ola (dog) and daddad (grandad)
    She is my child so her being a chatter box was a given.
    She has got the moves like Jagger, if Jagger was a drunken one legged horse. Bum shuffling everywhere, crawling when she has to and manoevering like Stig from Top Gear in her walker.
    Every day a new thing develops and it is amazing watching her change.
    Though on the 9 month of still not sleeping through, I could occasionally put her in the kennels for the night.
    That’s it now. The final countdown.

    Ali x

  • Back away from the forums


    Step away from search engines. Just don’t do it.
    One of the most valuable decisions I made was to not google every concern I had about Phoebe. I mean do you really need the mums of mumsnet who inform you that you are doing it all wrong and that the dribble rash your baby has is all your fault and you should go to your GP immediately as it may be Ebola.
    Whilst there are some really helpful and informative websites that don’t make you feel batshit crazy, there are some public forums that make you wonder if those parents have been snorting calpol.
    I think the theory share not scare got squished to death when keyboard warriors used some of these sites to create a ripple amongst parents.
    If you need advice, go to sites that are made to give just professional advice like the Nhs or babycentre.
    Back away from the forums or that spot on your babies earlobe may end up being a bite from a rare spider that could of come with your bananas via the congo.
    Your intuition is so powerful and whilst your baby knowledge may not be. Go with it and seek wisely.
    Or forever be a quivering paranoid mama who thinks she is doing it all wrong,

    Ali

  • 8 Months


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    Hello 8 Months,

    You crept up like my unwanted belly wobble.

    My little chubster is on the move. She has learnt to bum shuffle, backwards crawl and roll to all the places she is not meant to go.

    She tries to pull herself up and has discovered that my ‘handles’ make good well handles.

    Her vocal cords have developed and the noises she loves to scream are starting to make sense.

    Her exorcist imitating has slowed down thankfully. I may owe that to a church visit where she went full blown Regan. It may have left the building. (Fingers crossed)

    My baby seems not a little baby anymore. It’s making me broody….. pah ha ha *puts down the mum juice*

    But she has turned into a proper little person, my wingman.

    Not ready for the next four months, the final count down. I may have to invest in time travel.

    Ali x

     

     

     

     

     

  • Weaning club


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    The first rule of weaning club is we don’t talk about weaning club….. wait wait wrong life.

    I am a mum. All we talk about is weaning.

    But there are 6 rules to this messy, disgusting club.

    1) wear appropriate attire. I always like to dress like I am going to Alton Towers or making meth. I do not like to have pasta lobbed in my face and red handprints attacking my clean dress. (See above photo for recommended attire)

    2) Remove all your carpets. Babies sense nice carpets and food mark them like a cat marking its territory. Just take them away and burn them. Either that or you will be covering your carpets with little rugs to hide the red sauce stains. (Ahh remember the great lasagna lobbing of 2012).

    3) Don’t bother fighting your baby to have control of the spoon. You have more chance of getting your pre baby boobs back. Do use two spoons, that way you can trick them and feed them inbetween them gagging themselves with the wrong end of the spoon.

    4) The healthier the food the more it stains. Tomato based foods become your enemy. You will have an oompa loompa of a baby after a nutritious meal. Just feed them yoghurts. It blends with the paleness of their skin. *yeah but don’t*

    5) Don’t use baby wipes to clean them up, unless you are happy using a whole pack. Just stick them outside and powerhose them. That or a nice warm bath.

    6) Buy a dog. Best kind of hoover out there.

    If you stick to these rules, well it is still gross but at least you won’t end every meal wanting to crawl into the dog basket and weep,

    Ali x

  • 7 months


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    Starts singing “looks like we made it”

    Well hurrah, another month, another milestone reached. Still here to tell the tale and am none the wiser.

    The baby weight has gone. And by gone I mean still here, and by still here I mean it is never leaving me, we are destined to be together forever. *sobs into a teeny weeny slice of Victoria sponge cake*

    People who say sleep is for the weak, need to have a baby. I think they would maybe adjust that saying to ‘sleep is a bloody miracle and oh god I miss it so much’

    My little baby has grown in all directions and is currently sporting the “I eat food but cannot crawl, Stay Puft Ghostbusters look”

    But quite honestly she is just edible looking.

    That is until you meet the I eat real food poos. These poos often wake me up in the morning. Like that feeling of having a tea or a coffee but bleurgh disgusting, I am only feeding you rose petals from now on kind of feeling.

    Her teeth are appearing and her interest in every thing I am doing has reached the ‘I hide things I do not want her to eat whilst I am eating it stage’.

    She occasionally waves and high fives and has learnt to clap…… with her feet. What can I say. She is my child she was bound to be odd.

    The sleep deprivation associated with teething can get in the bin, alongside the nappies but all in all we still like each other and that is an achievement.

    High fives all around,

    Ali x

  • Oh sleep you protest too much


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    I miss the sandman, I miss dreaming, I miss dribbling on my pillow.

    When I became pregnant, my ability to easily sleep, jumped out of the window and ran away.

    Since having Phoebe who is somewhat of a sleep thief, I find myself more and more acting like a character out of a David Lynch script.

    My eye bags look like they have won supermarket sweep and my concealor has become as vital as oxygen.

    I struggle to reduce her night feeds, this girl is not easily tricked and prefers milk whilst sleepy. And as someone who works with children I often give out the advice. Oh the irony.

    I don’t want to be the walking dead, I need energy for this solo voyage I am on.

    I am thankful that she goes to bed at 7 and I get time to myself, otherwise I think we may need to start seeing other people,

    Ali x

     

  • Gizzi’s Cherry Pie


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    “This must be where pies go when they die.” -Dale Cooper

    You must be a lover of Twin Peaks to fully appreciate and respect this pie. This pie is famous to every David Lynch worshipper like me. Not only is it famous but man it tastes damn fine.

    So naturally I use my fellow Twin Peaks fanatic Gizzi Erskine’s recipe because this girl knows how to do it.

    I am going to include her full recipe, I however have a teething baby and a late night (non hang)over that has knocked the wind out of me, so will be cheating and using ready made pastry. I have made this pie twice with homemade pastry and twice with ready made. both delicious. If you have time. Go for it.

    Recipe:

    Makes 8 slices: 20 minutes, 1hr rest and cooking time up to 1hr.

    For the pastry

    300g plain flour
    2 tbsp icing sugar
    ½ tsp sea salt
    170g butter, unsalted and chilled
    170g cream cheese
    1 free range egg

    For the filling
    1 kg pitted frozen sour or sweet cherries,
    235 g caster sugar, if using sour cherries, 140g if using sweet
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 star anise
    1/2 orange, juice only
    3 rounded tbsp cornflour

    Ice cream or cream to serve

    To make the filling, mix the cherries with all the remaining ingredients. Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes, then stir once more. Pop into a large pan and then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid the cherries makes become as a light syrup. Remove the spices and leave to cool. And chill in the fridge.

    To make the pastry pop the flour icing sugar, salt and butter into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in the edge and cream cheese and blend the dough until it forms a ball. Remove from the processor and knead very briefly to smooth out, divide in two, then chill both portions in the fridge for an 1 hour.

    Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out half the dough to line a 23cm pie plate or shallow tart tin. Roll out the second half of the dough to form a circle to cover the tin. Put the circle on a sheet of baking paper and chill both the dough-lined tin and the circle in the fridge until needed.

    Pile the cherries into the lined pie plate until it becomes a gently swelling mound.
    Brush the edges of the pastry crust with egg, then lay the pastry lid on top. Trim the edges, then crimp together firmly. Cut a hole in the centre of the pie to allow steam to escape.

    Bake for 40 minutes until the thickened cherry juices bubble up through the central steam hole. If the pastry is darkening too rapidly, cover loosely with tin foil. Serve the pie warm or cold, with white chocolate ice cream or cream.

    This recipe is so easy and is a firm favourite in my house. Let me know if you make it,

    Ali x