Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Mis-courage & the running girl

Okay, this is it. I’ve written down a running schedule for the next nine weeks. It's the countdown to my first half marathon (October), followed by my first marathon (April)! God those words seem so foreign...I'm a beginner. A total novice. It feels damn good!

It’s all in the name of my mental health and for Tommy’s Baby Charity.

We suffered two miscarriages on our way to meet Baxter. The first happened at week 12. That’s three months in. Three months of excitement and positive dreams to the future. Three months of so much love for that little peach in my belly. Having seen its little heartbeat on two occasions, we’d begun to tell our loved ones. Then all of a sudden our dreams were lost. 

Maybe one day I’ll write in length about what happened. I’m just not ready for that to be online yet. (But you can ask, I'll remain open to those curious. It's important.)

The second miscarriage happened so very near to finding out we were pregnant. The day after, to be exact. My dreams dashed silently as I wandered the streets of London while playing tour guide for old college friends I hadn’t seen in years. I’d popped into the national portrait gallery loo, and well, you know the rest. My husband, so busy at work directing a play which debuted that week, was left in the dark. It was the first time I wasn’t open with him. I didn’t want him to be upset when he was working so hard.

I was slowly dying inside and no one knew.

With time we healed. With open ears, I was able to tell my story to those willing (and unwilling) to listen. I don’t expect most people to understand, but I do want to raise awareness. Miscarriage is loss. It’s a grievance. With the help of good friends, family and charities like Tommy’s it gets better.

I was nothing short of nervous through my entire pregnancy with Baxter. But we made it through to full-term (and then some! At 42 weeks, he was sitting comfy!). Baxter is truly a gift we never thought we’d have. 

So in the name of mis-courage I’m running for the babes we’ve lost and the awesome little dude we brought into this world. 

I hope that you’ll help support me in these races and support Tommy’s and the work they do.

You can help sponsor me here: 


we’ll always love you

my tiniest mascot

Friday, 7 July 2017

Art deco dreamland

Currently in an art deco dreamland getting ideas for a cake commision. Drawing inspiration from the newly renovated Everyman Cinema in Muswell Hill (it’s absolutely stunning!) and various other sources. I may need a trip to the cinema after this…

Russell Busch / Varvara Stepanova / Mexican Mint Deco / Kristina Krogh / Chinese Deco

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Mama's milk

A few weeks after Baxter was born, and feeling slightly adventurous in my new role, I began to arrange meet ups with mothers I’d met during pre-natal yoga (yes, I’d become one of them). The yoga was a free perk from the hospital I was using, and a much welcome calm to the head fuck that was pregnancy. The other mothers-to-be were a perk, especially when I knew I wasn’t alone in my constant battle for the loo, sleepless nights, achingly restless legs (I could go on and on and on)…

We’d meet. Babies still in their bellies, as I was one of the first to pop. All looking over my little man as he lay sleeping in his basket in the grass. “Oh, I hope my baby is as calm as yours.” “He’s perfect” A little wriggle, a tiny cry and out would come the bottle for a feed. Yes, the bottle. My perfectly content little boy would not take to the breast. Every few hours, I’d sit hooked up to a breast pump - I can still hear the mechanical whirs as the plastic cones syphoned what little milk I had to give into canisters, the sharp sting of milk shooting out of me, the dewy stickiness of yellow milk inescapably covering everything. 

I would sit for hours, slave to that machine, trying to give all that I could to that beautiful little boy of mine. In the earliest days, I was lucky enough to have my mother here, she’d bake oatmeal cookies, serve fennel tea, light a dyptique candle, dim the lights and leave me to it. Locked in my room. whomp whomp. whir whir. spray spray. whomp whomp. whir whir. spray spray. Hands holding the pumps. The bra that holds the pumps conveniently delayed in the post. No freedom to flip through a book, or even easily eat those biscuits and sip that tea. 

whomp whomp. whir whir. drip drip drip. 

Time went on. The other mamas had their babies. All taking to the breast.
What beautiful sights of clinging babes. Nursing their mama's milk. Free from bottles. Skin on skin.

I happily kept on with the bottles. Switching from my own milk to formula, in order to keep up with his growing demands. My hollow legged son.

The midnight messages from the other mamas grew less. Hearing that I wasn’t having the same “feeding issues” as them. But we just trecked on. My little night owl and me. Taking turns with my wonderful husband. Thank goodness for that incredible man. Thank goodness for not being the CONSTANT food source. Cause, man, it’s exhausting.

You know, motherhood can be a very isolating place, but only if you let it.
Whether you ditch the boob. Ditch the formula. Or use both.
Whether your partner pitches in, or not.
Do what works best for you and that little bundle of awesomeness you made. And don’t let anyone make you feel like you aren’t doing your best. Because chances are, you are.

And p.s. at six months they’ll be on solids and all that faff will seem a blur.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Big living in a small space: dining area upgrade part 2

So, it’s been a few weeks setting into our new little dining layout and what a difference it’s made! What used to be an invariable dumping ground of unwanted chairs and unread post, is now a safe space for the B-man to crawl and play while we cook. (Can’t you hear those wooden spoons banging away?) There's also more storage for his quilts in the cozy sitting area now...where I like to laze and go over the day with T while he cooks.

I now spend every morning having a sit-down breakfast with the boy, which we weren’t able to do in the old layout due to the book piles on the table & lack of space for his high chair. Teaching him table manners is really important to me, so it’s great to have a nice space to sit with him in.

We are planning for some even bigger changes to our home in the year to come. A new bathroom and kitchen/dining room. A more cohesive flow to the house. A safe place for our family to grow. A transition to our forever home.

But for now, here are some before and after pics of our new-to-us dining area.


Before (Eep):

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Nine months in. Nine months out.

Dear Buddy

For forty two weeks I felt you grow inside my belly.
Queasiness at any food not beige, slowly turned to tiny bubbles, to butterflies, to swirling tickling alien-like lumps, to left hooks in my ribs.

Here we are, nine months later. 

Now you say ‘mommmm’ and ‘dada dada dada’ as we enter your view. Dragging yourself, commando-style across the room to be held. Barely finding your knees. Pulling yourself up onto the couch and your cot at any given opportunity (mostly to grab at a remote).

Bringing constant smiles. Such a happy little person. You teach us what it is to be happy.

We are infinitely better with you.

I love you,


Saturday, 4 February 2017

The importance of me time

Ever since giving birth, all my love and energy has gone into that little man who once was a pipe dream and is now a tiny human made up of big smiles, little chub rolls and fierce eyebrows (where did they come from?!). From day one, I was a mama who relished in the fact that easy little B, was a little too easy. Who were all these mothers dying of exhaustion? Not me. Sighing as I slipped into a bubbly bath, dyptique lit (breathing in the dewy wooden scent). Slowly sipping on a daily coffee (a chocolately black fuel of dreams). This is what me time is? Isn't it? Months down the line, I found out: no.

Around seven months in, exhaustion hit me like a brick wall. Where did it come from? What was I doing wrong? Yes, sleep regression had creeped its head for a third time, but that was easily fixed by retreating with my not-unwilling husband to the sofa bed. A bed we'd gotten so used to back in our lodger days. So what was it? The days went on and all I wanted to do was sleep. I couldn't entertain the now crawling little squidge as he too'd and frowed from record player cable to guitar to telly box. Lunging after him in an endless cycle; my own mini, unwanted workout.

So I stopped to think. What the hell was wrong with me?

And then it hit.

Nutrition. A word I'd gotten so used to durring pregnancy. Swallowing vitamins in textbook proportions. Making sure to get them through eating a good breakfast or brunch...oh god, brunch! A thing of fairytales. In the haze of night feedings, turned to weaning - cooking mouth watering foods for Baxter that even I would indulge in (he loves a good cous cous and chili), I forgot to feed myself.

Quickly, I ran to the cupboard and pulled out the vitamins that my community health worker gave me less than a week into bringing the squidge home (was she from a fairytale too?). Gathering up enough saliva to swallow one in desperation. The hour passed and seemingly instantly I felt a lift. Was that it?? If only.

Although coffee and a nice bubbly soak is great for a quick fix. I've found my ultimate me time is through vitamins and a healthy breakfast every day. Simple, yet so simple to forget in the throws of new motherhood.

Mamas, papas and my beautiful readers: take five minutes to make yourself the best you. It's what I'm learning to do, and I feel much damn better for it.

**I was recently chosen to be a beta tester for bloglovin' - you can see this post, and hopefully more on their new site feature. You can also follow me on bloglovin, by clicking the icon in the right hand corner or clicking here.**

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Big living in a small space: dining area upgrade

We’ve made the HUGE decision to remain living in our one-bedroom flat as a family of three for the foreseeable future. So now I have the task of making this space liveable with a quickly growing tiny human.

No problems, eh? I’ve missed a good challenge.

This week I’m tackling upgrading our dining area into a second living space. Using a blend of our existing items and some new buys, we're hoping for a new-to-us space to work and eat in, and for Bax to comfortably play where we can keep an eye on him as we cook (that boy is on the gooo). I recently gave our antique bureau a new lease of life and it’s proving to be a great workspace. Now for the rest of the room to catch up...

Here are a few of the items we’re hoping will make the space more liveable (clockwise from top left):

Baxter’s retro style Bloom highchair was like a glowing beacon through a thrift store window. When Bax is big enough, it lowers down to be a cool chair. It’s pink and the boys don’t care…total win.

Rattan chairs in soft colours help make the space feel lighter and brighter (we grabbed ours on special promotion - similar khaki & peach). T found this solid white style during a run (don’t you just love it when people throw things out?)

Compact dining table to replace our well-loved, chunky table. The mint drawers are perfect for storing baby wipes and telly remotes (I know, I know. 6 Music at the dinner table, other channels for wind down time)

The Just Be print is several seasons old from Oliver Bonas, but their print collection is still strong. We also plan on getting several prints from local artist The Mossy Hill in homage to the town we call home.

This storage bench is surprisingly comfy and offers a place to hide shoes. We’re definitely going to be upping storage space in the months to come! 

Adding velvet cushions for cuddling or buffering B-man’s falls when he learns to walk.

A geometric short pile rug to make those cold tiles a bit more homely.

Before and after pics will come soon.

Are any of you trying to make it work in a small space? Please share your tips!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Why I left facebook

Aside from the obvious depressing political tirade that we cannot avoid nowadays (I choose to remain informed by credited sources, not a constant barrage of shared articles which may or may not have an inkling of truth behind them), I’m ever so sick of scrolling endless shares of ‘funny pet’ videos - whose pets are they, yours? no? Five minute recipes that people didn’t create themselves - is this pinterest? I could go on and on.

What I fail to see is some sort of semblance of the friendships I so lovingly formed through various stages of my life. Their faces replaced by extreme views, endlessly preaching - to whom? The choir of your bubble? Chances are, if we’re friends, we’ve got the same views. If we’re family, we’re probably on the fence, but I still love you unconditionally.

I don’t want to hate my friends. I don’t want to hate my family. There’s already too much hate out there.

What about updates on the positives of your life. And the negatives too. How the hell have you been? Tell me about your day. Lets plan a meet up while we’re at it. Or if you're on the other side of the pond, lets snail mail endless chocolate packages to one another. Hell, if you're on this side of the pond, lets snail mail endless chocolate packages to one another.

How about it, eh?

Not even a full day into dropping that ghastly forum, a miracle has happened. Today my ever silent phone rang through to voicemail. I picked it right back up and spent an hour on a long overdue catch up with a part of my life whom I've missed dearly. Later, my inbox pinged with two emails. Pen-friend in length, to which I quickly and lovingly responded. It feels good to have real friends. Real voices telling this girl that she's not alone.

She’s still got friends. She’s still got family. Unconditionally. Cause that's what it should be about, right?

So long Facebook.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Lazy Day Links

I hope ya'll have had a good week and enjoy the much needed wind down.
Over hear we're musing about green smoothies, eating healthier, renovating our living space, and sad about a little piece of my childhood that was lost today (sleep sweet John Hurt).

Here are some little links I stumbled on over the week. Happy weekend folks:

Could you go a year without spending

Obituaries for teenage girls who are “dying” 

Life changing habits

Small space living. As a family of three in a one bedroom apartment, I'm curating lots of ideas to help us stay cozy. 

My kind of King Cake!  

In need of not living with a top bun everyday. So simple

Kim Keever’s incredible art.

I would like to add this book to my shelf. 

Cooking little foods with the help of these recipes.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Love. Roast potatoes. Space. Hold Back the Stars

On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to share in Katie Khan’s big night, celebrating her debut novel Hold Back the Stars.

K.K. looking like a stunner

Max and Carys are falling through space with ninety minutes of air. Their love story dissected amidst their struggle to survive. A story of soulmated love set in a utopian future, pulled together by roast potatoes. Yes, roast potatoes. With beautifully written exerts touching issues that ring hauntingly true, I had to drop reading the book in front of Baxter for fear that he’d sense my tears (thank god for his easy distraction of That’s Not My Teddy).

stars stars stars

"we're going to die"

With write ups in Vogue and Stylist, touting it as the new One Day, this is a book that I recommend 100 percent.
Bax and I even dedicated our latest baking session to it:

Add it to your collection tomorrow by supporting your local bookstore or buying it here.
(Released in the US on 23 May 2017 - preorder here)

What I wore:


Monday, 23 January 2017

We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo

We were joined at the zoo with Bax’s aunty for some much needed family time today. The footfall was super quiet inside, which is slightly ironic for a place smack dab in the midst of an ever bustling city.

Each time we pace the zoo I make sure to take a different way around. Wandering left, where I last wandered right. Heading to the gorillas before we head to the penguins. A little variety in something that could possibly get same-y too quickly. The animals sensed the fact that Ann hadn’t been there since she was five. All coming out to show off. 

hello penguins

A silverback stood poised in front of the glass window, just feet away, staring directly into our eyes. I was chilled by his powerful beauty. Part of me feels bad that such a magnificent animal is in captivity, but the other part of me trusts in the fact that they’re well taken care of, giving us a chance to have memorable encounters like these. It did stop me from taking a photo though. A certain sense of completely invading his privacy. But what a beautiful, haunting memory.

The lack of crowd allowed us to notice the new life stirring inside - tiger cubs and baby gorillas among the most popular. Wishing Bax could befriend the tiny monkeys. He sure looked like he wanted to play with them.

front seat for the sleepy tiger cub

i dare not tell him what tigers eat

Today we spent a little bit more time wandering the new lion den - a burst of colour that would brighten even the greyest day. The lion roared powerfully in the background. Have you ever heard a lion roar in person? He was turned up to ELEVEN. (Think he'd like to make some cubs, if you know what I mean...)
The zoo has introduced little lodges that you can actually stay the night in, just outside the lions den; getting a torchlit night tour of the zoo as part of the experience. That actually sounds pretty damn cool.

me and my little monkey

when the B man is asleep, mama gets to play

We hope to happen upon more unseen territories of the zoo with our next visit. Where are the zoos you visit and what are your favourite exhibits like? 

My coat (similar) and backpack.

Wearing this natural shade of lipstick.

Baxter’s pram (next generation), foot muff, hat (similar) and snacks.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Why I don't do play groups

Playgroup. A word that sends chills through my body. 

I get it. Giving your baby stimulation via sitting in a room filled with fellow littles, while nursery rhymes are sung in the midst of a galaxy of bubbles may be a baby’s idea of heaven. A display of complementary teas, coffees and cakes providing fuel to mums whose babies have not yet learned the art of the crawl (off he goes!) can be rather enticing. The chance to meet other mums who are possibly going through the same things as you can help you take that load off your shoulders.

But for an introverted mum like me, it’s a bit too much stimulation. The uncontrolled amount of noise; even if it’s a sea of happily shrieking babies. The snacks; well I can’t fault a piece of cake. But, the small talk; oh, the small talk. My head goes into spins just thinking about it. Baxter does’t even like bubbles anyway!

Yes, sometimes I feel like a failure for not having delved into the land of the playgroup. While my local “mum friends” attend weekly groups, little B man and I have yet to attend one. At all. 
But before I try to slap myself with a ‘crap mum’ comment, I just remind myself of the activities Bax and I enjoy. By ourselves. And then think well, maybe I’m not so crap at all.

To all my fellow introverts, here are a few activities you and your bubs can do alone:

Trips to the museum - The Natural History Museum is our favourite. I often wander around on autopilot, coffee in hand as we learn about animals, beautifully coloured minerals, dinosaurs,  earthquakes (hello earthquake room!), the planets…that place has enough wonderment to fill weeks.

looking at layers upon layers of laser cut materials in the science museum

Trips to the zoo - Over christmas my husband T and I invested in year-long passes to the zoo. Endless trips to see a real-life Sophie the Giraffe rates pretty damn high on Baxter’s list of favourite things to do.

spotting sophie for the first time

Walks through the park - Spend time pointing out the leaves on trees, the ever changing colour of the sky, dogs chasing balls, other families enjoying the fresh air, birds (Bax’s only known piece of sign language - oh how his face lights up when I pinch my index finger and thumb together and say ‘tweet tweet!’). 

enjoying the most brisk of days walking with my loves

Visits from family and friends - From day one, we’ve made sure Bax was handed over to every family member or friend who stopped by. Even one’s who don’t ‘get’ babies - Bax soon put a smile on their faces. This has always been important for his growth. Who doesn’t love a cuddle?

Cook - Enjoy your own cooking show as you have a show and tell of all the ingredients with your bub. Hold stronger smells like garlic or cinnamon up to their little noses and laugh at their reactions.

tiny baker in the making. i guess this counts as putting his palm in clay...which i never did. mum fail.

Dance and sing - With or without a couple of wooden spoons and a pan.
I have this vivid memory of a two week old Baxter fighting sleep during a 3-6am shift. A desperate me trying everything in my power to calm him back down. Vintage music telly quietly on in the background, helping to shade my fear of the dimly lit kitchen (I’ve never been one for the dark).
On came Hotel California. In hushed whispers I sang ‘On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair’ into his ear as I held out his little arm gently to full extension, and softly shifted around the room. 
It worked. He finally slept.
We now reenact that scene (albeit a little more rough and tumble) to his favourites: Coldplay, Michael Kiwanuka, anything on BBC 6 music…who says you need nursery rhymes?
(Unless it’s the itsy bitsy spider. There’s always room for the itsy bitsy spider.)

Read - Anything and everything. Out loud. Picture books, children books, magazines, blogs, the latest best seller (cough - Hold Back the Stars, out this month!). Babies are book nerds in the making. And they love the sound of your voice so it's okay to read something that stimulates you more than That's Not My Teddy over and over again.

bed time story time

I’d love to hear from my fellow introverted mamas! And you extroverted mamas too!

What are your favourite activities outside the playgroup?

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Hello, hello again.

Hello friends. 

Seven years ago, in a bid to ditch the loneliness of moving from one country to another, I started up the bluebirdcage blog. It saw me through some tough times and was a great gateway for meeting people, sharing recipes (remember that Creme Egg Cupcake??) and was even featured in Park & Cube (madness at the honour of it all)!

The problem is I’ve changed a lot. I’ve grown a lot. Growing more open about my experiences in real life, yet feeling stifled by continuing with a blog that was solely baking focused. I tried to reinvent the space several times, but it began to feel almost wrong to seep in lifestyle posts as I navigated my way through being a lost twenty-something living a double life in a world of fashion and an unhappy marriage. 

Skip to more recent years, my happiness and new experiences don’t seem to tie in with the old bluebirdcage blog.

So…here’s my clean slate. A place to celebrate life, motherhood, love, food and adventure. To share my stories with ya’ll. The good. The bad. The ugly. The me. 

Thanks for stopping by.