home, family, blogging, future goals?
It seems a little self-indulgent to write this sort of a post, but behind the scenes I’m often asked questions about so many different aspects of life. I thought I’d put a few of them into a blog post so that I could answer them and use it as a point of referral too! Thank you so much if you sent me a question over on Instagram. There were so many brilliant ones!
where do you get your interior inspiration from?
For me, home inspiration comes from a variety of sources – magazines, Pinterest, travel. Ultimately though, most of the rooms I put together just evolve as we work on them. I might have an idea for a central piece, for example – flooring or an element of furniture. Then I just build everything around that. I like to always be a bit different, so I’m not so swayed by social media these days. I think a home should be really recognisable as yours, in all its eclectic glory. We developed a really defined style when we built our home and I always like to work with that. The light here is so pretty and so I think it would be a shame to paint in dark colours and muffle it. The countryside all around us is the main focal point I think. Equally, crazily contemporary looks just wouldn’t fit with our modern country vibe. I think it’s all about working with what you’ve got.
how did you end up in little wood?
Little Wood was a self-build and a long time in the planning. I have more on our build story here, here and here (lols for the photos in those posts. Before the IG generation!) but in a nutshell – we inherited some family land, had a long wait to develop it and then a really stressful year of a build process. Andrew is an architect so he designed and project managed throughout. I always say it was a blood, sweat and tears project and, in our case, that was honestly true!
did your planning to build take long? what age were your kids when you built? what was it like juggling children and a house build?
It only took us a few months to get planning permission, but we were trying to sell our current home at a time when there had been a huge crash in the property market here. Recession, it turns out, is not the best time to warrant a move! Our kids were six months, two and four when we started the whole process and three, five and seven when we finished, so that gives you an idea of the slog it was! 🙂 Juggling three littles and a house build was an interesting time. We moved into a tiny little rented house for the year we were actually building and, looking back, it’s all a bit surreal and a bit of a blur to me now. One house move with tiny children is usually stressful enough, but we did two in eleven months. Add in a tonne of illness, the heaviest March snowfall, financial pressures and a series of hurdles with the build itself, and it was understandably pretty stressful. I think we sought escape in focusing on the future though. It’s why I never for a second take for granted what we have made here.
when planning your house, what were your top three requirements?
I love this question! It’s so funny too as my top three now wouldn’t be so different! It just goes to show that we made good decisions for us, even in the midst of the fog of it all.
There were three things, in terms of features, that I really wanted in our home and three wider concepts I guess. In terms of the big things; outdoor space, lots of light and an open plan kitchen/ living area were top of our agenda. We had a tiny tiered garden in our last home and I craved more flat lawn space for the kids to play on. Of course we’re at the other extreme now and it’s entirely unmanageable! You live and learn, eh? The features I was set on were the cast iron radiators that we ended up with downstairs, as well as our reclaimed brick and parquet, and our main bathroom tiles. All expensive additions but 100% worth it. I’d choose them again in a heartbeat!
have you any tips for putting a living room together? dos and donts? what would be your top 5 tips for sprucing up a room on a budget?
I’ve kind of answered this in the first question I suppose but, for me, it’s all about making it personal. That might be in choosing an amazing teal velvet sofa or adding in a tonne of mismatched prints and trinkets, or it could be in keeping everything super minimal – whatever floats your boat! 😉 If there were five elements that I’d suggest thinking about they’d be:
- Colour palette – stick to two or three colours. You can mix up lots of texture and pattern if your colour palette is similar in each item you choose!
- Plants – never underestimate the power of a good plant baby 😉 We buy most of ours really affordably from IKEA and they are amazing for adding a focal point to a room. I’m obsessed with living elements in a home.
- Art Work – I’m a huge fan of typography – words and quotations are my jam! You can pick up prints so reasonably now, and even make your own too! Look up Google fonts and get creating. It’s easy, affordable and lots stacked together is super pretty too.
- Display the everyday – think about stacking books on side tables or window ledges, keeping firewood in a pretty basket, or displaying your most used crockery on open shelving in the kitchen. Homes are ultimately to be lived in, aren’t they, and surrounding yourself with the little elements that make you happy and comfortable makes for the best living space I think!
- Storage – the number one issue for 99% of us. I tend to pick wicker and wire baskets (if they come with a lid then I’m all over it!) and will always choose a cupboard option over open shelving for the kids rooms and playroom. Open the lid/door and fire it all in. That’s my approach!
how do you keep your house so orderly?
Honestly, it’s maybe not as orderly as it might always seem! I think with three children, one pup and all the myriad of things associated with that, you can’t be too precious can you? I always view our home as a place to be lived in, rather than a show home. It’s always full of people, open always to guests. The photos might not quite show up the scuffs on the floor or the cracks in paint work and shabby edges (ah, filters! 😉 ) but they are definitely there. There’s also a huge amount of work to be finished on it all. Outdoors is still really rough around the edges and needs lots of time and money invested in it. Ultimately though, I’m just a pretty tidy person. I can’t relax unless a space is ordered and so I spend the time doing that so that I can feel comfortable in my own space. It means there’s maybe less time for other things, of course it does, but that ten minutes of rest in a peaceful setting is more valuable to me than an hour looking at a Lego mountain.
how did you get into blogging?
I’ve been blogging for four years now and I kind of fell into it to be honest. Annie had started pre-school and I was looking for a creative outlet and something to fill the empty nest years. A friend had encouraged me to read a few blogs and the obsession began! I wasn’t on any form of social media back then and had no idea whatsoever what a blog even was, so it’s as much of a mystery to me that I’ve ended up here as to anyone. Ha! Even though Instagram has grown massively for me in that time, my blog is always my number one love and number one focus. Rebranding and updating the website this year has been the best thing I’ve done yet. I’m loving it so much at the moment and that’s massively reflected in my content I think!
what are the pros and cons to having a blog?
The pros definitely centre around the connections that you make because of it. I had absolutely no expectations coming into this whole industry, and was overwhelmed by the amount of new friends I made through it. The joy of it all is that you can be typing away in one time zone and touching on something that incites a real ‘me too!’ moment with someone in entirely another. The world is vast and so very tiny all at once.
I’ve also managed to make a living out of what I do, and the flexibility that it affords my children and I has been one of the most amazing factors of it. I was previously a secondary school teacher and, whilst the holidays were great, it wasn’t the best of jobs for term time demands. Now I organise my work around after school clubs, parent teacher meetings and nativity plays, and feel really fortunate to do so!
One of the cons of working for yourself in this way of course, is that there is very little financial stability. There are quiet months and busy ones, and I had a massive burn out last September after a particularly busy Summer juggling a hectic work schedule and my three at home for the holidays. Even when we took our Summer break I was working all through it. It can be difficult to switch off.
Aside from that, there can be negatives in terms of people’s perceptions of you, and attitudes towards you as well. There’s often a misconception (which is fuelled by some. I’m definitely not blind to it!) that blogging is all about blagging freebies and blatant self promotion. I’ve spent the past four years trying to find another way to go about it though. I’m a writer first and foremost – it’s what I trained hard to be, what I am passionate about and what I taught for many years. So I feel qualified to write for purpose, much in the same way that a journalist or advertiser might. If we are asked to do a travel campaign, for example, I view it as me travelling somewhere to write a piece as if it were for a magazine or newspaper. Would a journalist be criticised for doing so? It’s part of the job (a perk, yes!) but I spend that trip very much in a work mindset. There’s lots more to it all than meets the eye! I’m learning to approach criticisms now with a much more pragmatic approach. A lot of them are borne out of a simple misunderstanding of this really new industry. I always want to be that person who can explain it if there are genuine questions, and am the biggest encourager of those who want to join in too. After all it is open to all!
how do you get your handwriting so neat on your Stories?
This one made me giggle! I think I just have pretty neat handwriting maybe? I remember at my friend’s wedding, decorating their car with shaving foam and she knew instantly who had written the ‘just married’ on the front, ha! Busted! 🙂
The new handwriting features on Stories are great now too though, and I’m loving the typewriter font. I also have recently discovered A Design Kit (its part of the A Color Story app!) and it’s fab for putting those paint splashes and text boxes on to photos.
would you ever start vlogging? i love your stories, you’d be fab on youtube!
Thank you so much!
I’m not sure that Youtube is on the horizon for me just yet. It feels like a massive nut to crack and the writing and photography part of blogging is where my heart lies. I’m not saying never, but for now I’m pretty content with this little forum.
how do you plan and schedule posts and find ideas for your blog? how do you know which direction to take it in?
In terms of ideas and planning, I’d say I’m about a week ahead of myself with scheduling blog content. I never like to be too rigid with it because often an idea will just come to me, or a piece of work might come in and throw the schedule off a little. I have a rolling list of topics and ideas and I just add to it as the mood takes me.
Direction is a funny thing, isn’t it? I feel like my blog has really evolved from being very parenting and family orientated back at the beginning, into being much more lifestyle focused now. I’m passionate about women not pigeon-holing themselves into the brackets of ‘wife’ or ‘mother’ or even ‘career woman’. There are so many facets to us all and I hope that Amble and Ash reflects a little of that. The angle that your blog will take depends very much on where you are at that moment I guess. Because writing that is personal, of the moment (and sometimes raw!) is always the very best sort.
family and lifestyle
how are your kids so chilled? mine are always fighting!
Oh guys, so are mine!! I have precisely zero tips on parenting and am always so careful not to give the impression that I know any more about it than the next person. We’re all muddling through, hey? As they get a bit older ours are definitely more reasonable and we can usually pacify by trying to explain cause and effect. But there are still those tear-your-hair out moments frequently, I promise!
how did you get through the toddler years at home? i’m struggling to remember what I like doing for me!
There was a time when I could have given you a detailed run-down of the CBeebies schedule to the very minute. I often found myself watching it mindlessly even when I’d put the kids down for a nap or taken Eva to playgroup. When they got to the stage where they were a bit less time intensive, it was really hard to remember who I had been before.
I think the way back for me was always through something creative. When my three were tiny I made and sold wedding stationery, and spent evenings doing that and any spare moments in the day researching materials. I also got involved in a few classes in the evenings (Pilates was my favourite!) and found that getting out into the real world after a day at home was really important for me. It’s a funny old time, and really important to nurture yourself as much as those little people you are raising I think!
what makeup do you use? how do you do your hair?
I’m planning separate posts on these really soon!
do you have any aspirations for the future? what’s in the five year plan?
Work-wise, I think just developing Amble and Ash that little bit further. None of us knows when the bubble of this industry will burst and what direction it will move in but I hope to still be here typing away regardless!
In terms of travel, we’d love to do a long-haul trip for an extended period, maybe to Australia or the Far East. I’m still hankering after that round the world trip, but sadly I think our time has passed now that the kids are settled in school. I’m not sure home schooling on the move would be for me! A month or six weeks away seems much more achievable and I really think we will do it before the kiddos get too old to want to come with us.
Probably the biggest goal though is potentially another house build. We feel really strongly that we’ve one more in us yet, and it might be a possibility within this next five year block. It’s a couple of years off but we have ideas already on paper and it’s very different to what we have currently! With both Andrew and I being creative people, the planning stage is always the most exciting part. We’re going to work on it carefully in this next little period, fine tune it and then cross everything that we are granted planning permission when the time comes!
well, there was nothing little about that!
If you got to the end, thank you so much, and thank you for all the great questions too (I combined a few that were quite similar as well!) I hope that has answered a few queries, I really enjoyed it!
Hope you’re having a great week so far!