As a Briston-Hill household, Halloween is one of our favourite times of year – mostly helped by the fact that Eli is in a permanent state of “goth”, so of course its his annual time to shine!
Outdoor Trick or Treating is off the agenda this year (damn you Covid), so I’ve been looking at alternative fun festivities for the family. SELFRIDGES in both Manchester (Exchange Square and Trafford Centre) always host great events and as usual, are your one-stop shop with a perfect selection of spooky themed gifts, confectionary from brands such as Ask Mummy & Daddy and Jelly Belly and all the decorations you can shake a witches-broom at. Oh and I must mention that SELFRIDGES also has everything for you to eat, drink and be scary this October to boot too.
Gather the family and head to the much-loved Laudurée Cafe in Selfridges Exchange Square to check out their limited edition Halloween Macarons, served in a glow in the dark box! What’s more, Laudurée will be giving a FREE macaron to any child in fancy dress on Saturday 31st October, simply head to the counter and enjoy!*
As Greater Manchester is (at time of posting) in Tier 3, the following in-store events are all compliant with current government guidelines and measures have been taken to help minimise the risk of coronavirus, in line with guidance from Public Health England and the relevant authorities. As such the wearing of a face covering is compulsory when visiting the stores and customers should only shop in a group from one household or support bubble.
About // Get hunting this Halloween with Selfridges’ Pumpkin Hunt, a perfect activity for all the family to enjoy. Receive a complimentary treat once you have found all the pumpkins and returned your competition card to our Host!
Can’t make it to an in-store event in Manchester? No problem – here is my Halloween Top Ten from Selfridges.com!
For more Halloween gifting and decor inspiration, head to Selfridges.com
Whatever you get up to this Halloween, enjoy yourselves, stay spooky and stay safe!
*Limited to one macaron per child. Redeemable at Selfridges Exchange Square only, for the first 100 children in store.
For clarity, I was kindly #giftedall products that are highlighted in this post above, on behalf of Selfridges Manchester.
This is not a sponsored or paid post and I was not obliged to write this blog post or link back the Selfridges website; though this post may contain affiliate links that earn me a tiny commission. I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m a big fan of Selfridges – both their in-store activities and online offering.
So last time I packed my hospital bag for labour, I packed WAY TOO MUCH. We ended up taking a medium sized suitcase, a bag for me, the changing bag, a bag for James AND a bag full of food and drinks and snacks. We didn’t even open the suitcase during labour and James could have done without a bag, I could have done without a bag and I’m SO GLAD we have a PROPER changing bag*this time around (its mega organised).
*Kindly #gifted by the wonder women at Tiba + Marl
Don’t get me wrong, you do NEED to take a lot of STUFF into hospital with you, if thats where you’re choosing to birth your baby, of course! If you’re opting for a home-birth, then:
I envy you (!!)
You will have everything you need at your immediate disposal…
…although, some of the below items may still be useful for home birth – and could be useful to have packed incase of a hospital transfer too.
So here we go, a list for the Mama, a list for the Baba and a list for your birth partner – plus a list of things that are good to have sorted and at hand for when the time comes. I’ll add in links for you to quick shop where possible too!
Car Seat – we’ve gone for another MAXI COSI car seat this time as we loved the security of the one we had for Eli, but the laws have all changed since he was a newborn. Just a reminder that many NHS trusts will not allow the baby to leave the department WITHOUT proof of a car seat for safety reasons.
To have ready to hand //
Cash for car park
Pen & Paper – just incase you need to leave a note in a hurry
Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!
List of important phone numbers on paper
In the lead-up to your ‘due window’, ensure you have enough fuel in the car
Headphones & Eye Mask for the journey to the hospital
Is there anything I’m missing from above, that might prove absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards? Comment below or send me a message and I’ll get it added in!
For ease – you can check my most favourite essentials out via the SHOP, here>>> HOSPITAL BAG
For clarity, this is not a sponsored or paid post – but does contain some Affiliate links. I was also kindly #gifted a few items, as highlighted above – this was not in exchange for payment or a post. They’re just damn lovely and generous women!
I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in however, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love with these essential baby items!
I’m super excited to share the ‘Chats To‘ feature from these gorgeous chops ! Meet Steph Douglas, mega-Mama of 2 (soon to be 3!), founder of brilliant business, Don’t Buy Her Flowersand one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met!
Here, Steph talks to us about the drive to start up Don’t Buy Her Flowers, The Man Package and being the daughter to a Vicar. Oh and FYI, Steph and the other INCREDIBLY TALENTED women that were featured in that horrendously inaccurate Daily Fail ‘article’ are worth SO MUCH more to their family, friends and I for one am inspired daily by these wonderful women who go above and beyond in life. I’ve never skim-read something so atrocious, EVER. The article, simply put, boiled down to shoddy so-called journalism from a very jealous battle-axe. These women juggle a million plates without dropping a single one – whilst also maintaining their own businesses and careers, their home and all the while also making their own families, or the families of complete strangers, feel loved.
ANYWAY! Not gonna give them any more airtime than they have already been so lucky to have.
Over to you Steph!
CB: Firstly, please introduce yourself and your brand. SD: I’m Steph and my business is Don’t Buy Her Flowers – we sell thoughtful gift packages.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your name? SD: Well…ours is a pretty clear idea of what we’re not! The name came really quickly, because of where the idea for the business came from. Lots of brands have really abstract names and unless you’ve lots of money so that people will know what your brand is – which I knew we didn’t – having a name that is very clear is definitely a help.
CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept? SD: It started after I had my first baby and I received eight bunches of flowers from lovely family and friends who wanted to say ‘congratulations’. I was sitting on the sofa feeling overwhelmed and sore and leaky and the bouquets made me feel worse. It was another thing to care for and I just didn’t have the energy – or the vases! I also found that the things people did that showed they knew how I was feeling and what I needed, whether that was food parcels or the friend that came and did my ironing and held the baby while I bathed the toddler, or just the message from a friend saying “BTW I found breastfeeding hard initially and it might take a while so don’t panic, you’re doing great”, meant so much. It’s very easy to get caught up in the joy of a new baby, and it is a joy, but it’s also many other things including exhausting and I think new mums need looking after. We launched as gifts for new mums and then very quickly our customers wanted to sendour packages for Get Well, Bereavement, Birthdays – any occasion when someone needs a little TLC.
CB: What is your brand ethos? SD: The idea and everything we do centres around thoughtfulness. We see lots of gorgeous products all the time, but unless they help someone in a practical sense or offer some TLC, they’re not right forour packages.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? SD: There is an awesome growing network of women doing their own thing and trying to figure out the juggle along with our position in society and how to still be a mother and a partner and a friend and I’m inspired by that community all the time. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or we all get it right, but we’re all trying to work it out in our own way.
CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up? SD: We introduced The Man Package a few months ago – our customers asked us for a version of our Care Package for men. They’ve been sent for Birthdays, New Dad’s and Get Well Mostly, and as Father’s Day is coming up (18th June folks!!) we’ve added golfing and gardening magazine options for the older chaps. We’ve also got a Gluten Free Care Package coming up, which is again in response to customers asking for it.
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice? SD: The biggest thing I wish I’d known is that people weren’t actually judging me and my choices, and all that time I spent worrying about whether I was getting it ‘right’ I was doing my best and that was all my children ever needed. Mostly I think new mums need to be kind to themselves as we generally are not.
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? SD: It used to be wipes but currently it’s colouring and activity books. Buster and Mabel are really in to them so we can go for food and not be in that intense ‘ORDER NOW!’ rush as we walk through the door, which we were in a couple of years ago. They’re both pretty obsessed with the iPad but we haven’t cracked it out in restaurants yet… will see how long we can keep that up!
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? SD: Let’s go with my Tiba + Marlbag. Even though they’re officially changing bags, I got it after mine were out of nappies so it’s never carried baby stuff, but it is always rammed with snacks and felt tips and has a protective bit for my laptop so I use it every day. As a back pain sufferer, the rucksack is a saviour. Thankfully they’ve made it a stylish accessory!
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? SD: The juggle. Trying to do too much and then dropping balls and realising I can’t do it all and that something has to give. My favourite thing is weekends with no plans except to hang out as a four. It gives us a chance to recalibrate and the kids are always happiest when we’re not distracted or rushing out the door to meet people and be in line with other people’s timetables. I like seeing other people too (!) but I think with busy jobs and school and nursery, time to be just us is always just what we need and means we start the week a little calmer.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? SD: I love reading but for some reason it had become something I only did on holidays. I don’t sleep that well and find if I relax with a book before bed I sleep better, so I’ve just bought a load and love the escapism.
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? SD: If I go in to &Other Stories I can guarantee I’ll find something (or a few things) I’ll love. Bimba Y Lola is great and not as widely known – some of their prints are really cool and you generally won’t find everyone in them. And John Lewis is always good for well pretty much everything.
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? SD: Ooh I just got a very cool jumpsuit from Lowie with a tropical print on it and I’m going to live in it over the summer. I love a jumpsuit – less knicker flashing than dresses, you can dress them up or down, plus one item and you’re done. Perfect.
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday. SD: Long, expensive and cakey (we were at the Richmond Fair and I was helping on the school cake stand. Doug took the kids off around the fair all afternoon and I’m pretty sure spunked £40 easily)
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. SD: I would normally say that I’m a Vicar’s daughter, but as there was a (terrible and inaccurate) article in the Daily Mail last week that included this fact, it’s probably not a surprise! I have a History degree?
CB: What’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? SD: I think it’s the thoughtful things that come when you really need them but don’t even know you need them? I was feeling pretty knackered a couple of weeks ago and a friend stopped in on her way home from work to drop off a cottage pie and a bunch of flowers. I burst in to tears and it was just lovely to know someone was thinking of me.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. SD: I’m currently reading ‘Big Little Lies’ after watching the TV show and loving it. The characters are just brilliant.
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? SD: I’m actually working on my laptop in the car on my way to West Sussex to my brother’s pub! We’re going through a very idyllic village with a cute primary school and lots of pubs and discussing how one day we will live in the country. Not ready yet though…
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? SD: Oooh, always family & friends obviously, but in a couple of weeks I’m going to Menorca with a couple of girl friends and I am so looking forward to lying in the sun, reading and doing very little else. It’s come at just the right time.
Don’t Buy Her Flowerswas founded with a simple aim: to provide thoughtful gift packages for new mums, because they deserve something lovely just for them.
From launch we received requests to send our gifts for other reasons as well as after a baby arrived – birthdays, get well, bereavement and to say ‘it’s going to be ok’. We’ve had many reports of recipients crying when they open their package, overwhelmed that someone has thought of them.
So what’s wrong with flowers?
Although they are always lovely to receive, we wanted to create something that was more thoughtful and useful for mums and women at those times when they need it most. Something that encourages her to take ten minutes to herself. For new mums, we know having babies is amazing but it’s also a rollercoaster and can be hard. Knowing someone is thinking of you can be a huge boost and it turns out that our customers wanted to express that same sentiment to friends and family for all kinds of reasons.
Flowers say “I’m thinking of you”. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, this package is all about you and I hope it makes you feel good’.
‘When I had my first baby, I received eight bunches of flowers. We didn’t have a lot of space and we certainly didn’t own multiple vases. I had to give them away or bin the least fresh to make way for the most recent. I also felt completely overwhelmed with everything – the baby, the visitors, the bodily functions – and trying to arrange flowers and then dispose of them was all a bit much, however pathetic that sounds. I found that other parents felt the same and Don’t Buy Her Flowers was born.’ Steph Douglas, creator of dontbuyherflowers.com
I have a natural affinity for Norfolk, with my long, long, long, long, long (etc) lost ancestor’s naming their own land in Norfolk with our very own family surname – Briston. But it was Nor-Folk, the brand, who I fell in love with on Instagram last year (@Nor_Folk). Not only is this a brand that is founded by a Husband-and-Wife design team, but its an effortlessly cool brand to boot. Fiona and Bobby, along with their super-stylish (and super-cute) son Stanley, live in the most incredible of homes;and together they are The Nor-Folk. They’re a design-led lifestyle brand, who design and print their own clothing range, collaborate on Homeware & Gifts and feature local Norfolk contributors on the Journal.
As someone who has a very definite WORK HARD attitude, in all things in life, I thought that the ‘Work Hard’ Adult Tee was a proper piece of me. Of course, I found the #Twinning combination of ‘Play Hard’ Kids’ Tee completely irresistible and ordered both as soon as we were finally moved in Berlin. (Play Hard, a perfect slogan for my little one who cannot wait for play time!).
Eli was given the ‘Hello’ Tee as a gift from our lovely friends at Christmas (lucky boy!). Sadly, it wasn’t quite the right size. So I got in touch with Fiona (who I didn’t expect to be working over the festive period) and she replied at lightening speed. As the tee was purchased in the UK, but we’re now in Berlin, it made sense to send the new size of this wicked tee directly to me. After just a few emails all was arranged and a few days later the replacement tee was on my desk in Prenzlauer Berg. A really small team, but a team that fundamentally strives for customer care.
Both of these Tee’s are available in Black or White options, for the ultimate in minimal monochrome styling. I love that all the designs are unisex too. With my Mama-head on, I might also add that these cotton tee’s wash exceptionally well and are just so wonderfully soft. The three styles we own are all made in the U.K. and are finished with the hand printing in Norfolk itself. Which is just ace of base.
There’s something a little bit special about buying products from a family-run business; whether that be a Husband-and-Wife team or a Mum/Dad-preneur. You’re not funding a corporate machine – you’re supporting real people. A real family. And that feels really good.
Wishing Fiona, Bobby and the Nor-Folk team lots of luck and adventures for the exciting year a head. We look forward to seeing the brand grow from strength to strength!
On Saturday of last week (9th June), I was whisked off to Kensington for lunch with my best friends at Babylon, Kensington Roof Gardens. The restaurant and garden’s were absolutely amazing… there were real-life flamingo’s in the gardens! On the ROOF, in Kensington! Crazy!
When I arrived at the restaurant I called my friends and they came and met me at the reception and lead me to our table. They’d decked the table out with ‘Baby Shower’ banners and presents! What a lovely surprise!
I thought I’d share the lovely gifts that they got us 😀
The perfect accessory to this season’s styles, this elegant pure silk scarf has a abstract print, adding a luxurious finishing touch to your look. Wear with casual or smart outfits to tie your style together.
Marks and Spencers Maternity: Our great value maternity range is designed for style, comfort and functionality, meeting all the needs of mums-to-be. This stylish spot print minishirt has been cut to flatter and the button fastening makes it ideal for nursing after the birth. Maternity Wrap Plain Jersey Dress £29.50, MarksandSpencer.com
Marks and Spencer Maternity: Relaxed and casual, this wrap style dress is designed to flatter you and your bump. A clever cut gives a neat, comfortable fit with room for growth. Enjoy your pregnancy in style!
Small print: All items which are included in this promotion show the discounted prices on the Boden website. No further discount will be applied in your shopping bag. This offer is valid until 23.59 on 8th March 2012, is available online only, is not for resale or publication and can be used once only.
Let me know what you purchase! I’m heading over to the Boden.co.uk right now!
Alex and Alexa have just launched a new Toys and Gifts range – just in time for Christmas!
The new collection brings together jewellery, top old fashioned gifts, and toys with a classic feel. Key items include a stunning range of modern jewellery and charms by Molly Brown for the style conscious, creative and modern pop up books, the irresistible vintage tinned styling and stamping kits by the quirky brand Wu & Wu, the old time favourite snakes and ladders board game, a great selection of premium heritage wooden toys, including the Classic wooden rocking horse and wooden plane. The luxurious Burberry and Chloe changing bags will no doubt be on every glamorous mums’ wish list.