Thursday, 30 October 2014

Maternity photo shoot by Laura Aziz!

by Bex

So, we had our 3rd and final maternity photo shoot on Sunday, this time with Laura Aziz (baby, picture this).  I was first introduced to Laura by Kirsty via email as we were both pregnant and both moving to Sussex!  When I mentioned a few months back that I'd be looking for a photographer down south to capture the bump when it's properly big (if the babies stayed inside long enough!) and Laura was instantly recommended to me.  It was great to have an excuse to meet up and Laura was so helpful in fitting us in as she had her daughter just over 4 months ago!  It was so relaxed which was just what I needed at 35 weeks with twins as I am obviously pretty tired and immobile after a certain point these days.  It helps to have someone who understands that and is happy to be flexible.

We've actually booked Laura's Bump-Newborn package so we'll be seeing her again in a few weeks to take some photos of us with the babies on the outside too!  Again, I'm so pleased as we don't need to worry too much about when that will be until the babies are here and we have an idea how we're managing.  We're hoping to do it within the first 2 weeks after they're born if I'm feeling OK and will obviously communicate with Laura as soon as we know when will be the best time for us.  The best thing is that she comes to us, just what we'll need a couple of weeks after a caesarian and with two babies!

So, as I hoped, we got some great photos of us waiting for the babies in our new home and new local surroundings.  It's lovely having some photos taken in Glasgow previously where so much happened for us, particularly in our wedding park but I'm also glad we got some taken down here where life is changing way more than it ever has or probably ever will.  A proper grown up house, complete with garden and we're about to become parents to two babies at once.  Eeek!

Anyway, as for the photos, I am delighted with them - Laura has really captured the gorgeous autumn surroundings as well as our happiness and excitement.  This time I did my own make-up and put my hair up with plenty of hairspray in case of rain.  Luckily the rain held off although so did the sunshine but the photos are just stunning.

There are a few here taken in the nursery but I'm keeping most of them back until I blog about the whole room (after the babies are born).  Laura has captured some lovely details and I can't wait to share them all with you but only after we've announced the babies' arrival and their names ;)

Seriously, LOVE THEM ALL!

I wore a New Look maternity top (borrowed from Roz) with my MAMA from H&M overbump jeans before changing into my MAMA teal tunic dress from H&M over leggings with a good old Bex style statement beaded necklace (from a craft fair years ago).  I also wore my comfy new boots from Clarks (bought with a TAMBA 20% off code) which only just fit now as my extremities are starting to swell!

P.S. Nik's matching teal jumper wasn't actually planned but being me, I do kinda like that we match ;)

As with our shoot with Lauren, we paid for our package with Laura, I'm so glad we managed to have a shoot towards the end of this pregnancy with the BIG bump too.  I'm clearly just obsessed with maternity shoots!!  I wanted to share all the gorgeous photos here for obvious reasons and again would highly recommend Laura's services if you're down in the South East!  

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hemnes chest of drawers - transformation with painted knobs

by Bex

I am SO pleased with this little make-over!  It is so simple to do but so effective and if you already have paints or don't want as many colours as me, it could be pretty cheap too.

I always planned to brighten up our new 8 drawer Hemnes chest in the nursery with some new knobs.  I'd seen these ones on Etsy and had chosen a few to ask for a custom order (which it stated was an option).  Unfortunately by the time I got round to ordering them after we moved down to Sussex, they were no longer available (although the shop is still open and other options seem to be for sale) and my Etsy email asking about the knobs received no response.

Image Source
I wanted the stripy ones, the spotty one, the one with rainbows and the one with the single unicorn.

As an alternative, I found another seller with some rainbow knobs (individual colours rather than patterns) who also hand paints patterned knobs so sent her an email asking if she could do something similar to the ones I wanted.  She was very helpful and explained that the above knobs appeared to have printed designs rather than painted on but that she could help me with the more simple spots & stripes and suggested one rainbow instead of lots of mini ones.  This got me thinking that maybe I should have a go at doing it myself.  I love my little crafty projects and although I haven't really painted before (I'm not very good at arty things) I thought it would be nice to be able to say I did them myself.

I'm so glad I did!  It kept Nik happy as the plain wooden knobs were just £4.89 for a pack of 10 from Toolstation (I needed 2 packs as we need 15 knobs, 12 for the drawers and 3 for the Hemnes daybed drawers).  I bought paints from Hobbycraft whose signage was very helpful regarding which paint and brushes to buy as I'm a complete art novice.  I bought the larger pack of these basic acrylic paints as they were half price at £20 for 36 colours including metallics (for any future crafty/arty projects I might want to do).

I also bought a gloss UV varnish, £10 for a large can, to protect the paint and make them look more professional and a bit glossy.  The brushes were just £5 for a pack of 6 and I bought a fab little brush basin/palette for £4.  Obviously this all adds up to quite a lot (£44.78) but I will still own the paints, brushes, varnish, basin and some spare knobs as well as my 16 painted ones.  For a selection of plain colours (£1.59 each) and custom designs (£3.19 each) from Etsy, I would have spent approx £43 including shipping from the USA.

I'm sure he may not be so happy when he sees the final cost but I LOVE the result, I'm SO chuffed with them and I know he likes them too, he also did a very good job of varnishing them for me as the spray is obviously not good for the babies.  He thinks I should start selling them but given how long they actually took me (a couple of days, although I was getting faster by the end) I'd have to charge a fortune to make it worth my while!  As far as a wee Hemnes makeover goes, I reckon it was worth every penny!

Top tip: put the screws into each knob so you can hold them without touching the wet paint.

Some colours were more translucent than others and some looked better when mixed with the opaque white.  I also mixed up some colours myself to get exactly the ones I wanted.  The plain ones mostly required 2 coats but some needed 3, especially the orange as the grain of the wood was showing through.  You could obviously put an undercoat on but they mostly didn't need it.

The stripy ones were the trickiest.  I did the stripes by hand rather than masking every layer which would take a lot longer to ensure each colour had dried sufficiently before taping over it.

For the more detailed ones like the spots and the rainbow, I just drew the pattern on first with a pencil so I would be less likely to mess it up.

I just finished the stripy ones roughly round the edge so I could smooth the edges with white at the end for a better finish.  I did use masking tape here and got pretty decent results I think.

I tried to finish one of them with white on the underside but as the tape had to curve round, it wasn't a smooth edge and the white leaked under.  I just moved the tape up and re-did it at the outer point of the curve where the tape lay flat all around:

I had to make one a bit curvy as I hadn't brushed the colour (on my first stripy one) far enough over the edge:

Despite learning as I went and them being far from perfect, I am still really chuffed with them all!

I had so much fun painting them, playing with mixing up colours and creating different designs.

To protect the finish and make them a little glossy, Nik fashioned a holder by cutting a cross into a box and sprayed the first (orange) one inside a large box to catch any excess spray.  It was far too stinky though so he then cut more crosses to do a few at once and took them outside to spray instead.  We gave them 2 thin coats and they're not overly shiny.  We could have done more coats for a glossier finish but we liked them after 2 coats and I was desperate to get them on the drawers!

So here they are, swapped for the boring black metal ones and brightening up the room nicely.  You can tell they were hand painted (especially the rainbow and stripes) but I think that adds to the charm - if they looked too professional then people might not believe I did them myself ;)

Obviously I made enough for the daybed handles too!

Nik's favourite is the rainbow with the clouds.  I'm quite fond of the spotty ones.  :)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Pregnancy/home update - 35 weeks!

by Bex

Wow, 35 weeks already - these last few weeks have gone by SO fast!  I seem to have a never ending list of things to do and knowing the babies will be here in just a couple of weeks is pretty daunting now!  Most of the proper important things are done so it's just wee jobs and extra crafty bits I wanted to get done before they arrive.  If I can tick off the boring ones I should be able to spend the last few days chilling out hand-sewing felt hearts together to make a garland for the babies' room.

Obviously we are still at risk of early labour before our planned caesarean but the great news is that if they are born now they have an excellent chance of surviving and doing well.  YAY babies, well done for staying inside for so long!

As much as I feel we need these last couple of weeks to feel ready, I'm not sure the 'ready' feeling will ever come.  I am SO excited to actually meet the twins but that doesn't take away the anxiety of how we'll cope with TWO brand new babies at once!  I think the fact it was such a  journey to get here, (the IVF more than anything as I've generally had a pretty good pregnancy after I got past those horrendous few months of sickness at the start), has helped us feel less scared about actually having the babies.  We spent so long worried it may never happen that anything that's thrown at us (or projectile sprayed...) will be just fine.  We'll cope.

Anything is better than the alternative.  All of those things I was worried we might never get to do can happen and the parts that are hard will be worth it.  I cannot wait for what comes next!  I've thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant, despite my current aches & pains and a few moany days, I am so happy we were able to experience these few months.  I think you can tell I've tried to make the most of it :)  I only hope those I know still going through the tough times of IVF are as lucky as we ended up being.  I still remember those feelings of hope and despair, ups and downs but I hope they fade as we spend time as a family and embracing these twins we've been blessed with.  It's certainly not an easy thing to go through and neither will suddenly becoming parents to twins but we've survived this far together!

What I really hope will happen before the babies arrive is for the decorating to be finished - our fab painter has finished the living room, bedroom feature wall and the upstairs landing and will be finishing off the hall & stairs as well as the kitchen/dining room this week.  We do now want to change the rest of the walls in our bedroom though as they don't go as we thought they would with our new wall colour.  As much as I want the work finished asap, I also think it would be better to get it ALL done now than have a painter in again post-babies.  Luckily he does have a couple of days free next week so if we can choose our colour and get the paint then he can get that done for us too.  Plus, I don't mind having him around, he's from Glasgow (actually Pollokshaws really near where we lived in Pollokshields!) and it's nice to hear the accent again!  ;)

 I should really have made the bed but I'm far too tired for that nonsense at the moment!  ;)
(I'm sleeping with the giraffes so that they smell like me for the twins.)

The big hole through to the dining room is now looking like a proper opening, it's beautifully plastered and will be dry enough to paint now.  I can't wait to see it finished!  We have to find some tiles which match the kitchen floor to fill the space where the wall was before our builder can come back to finish it off by repositioning the skirting he saved from the old wall.

All in all, the work we've been getting done hasn't been too stressful as we've been lucky with tradespeople.  When I write up the before & after posts of the rooms, I'll be writing about both our builder (+ his team inlc. electrician, plasterer & building surveyor) and our painter as they've both been fab and the loveliest workmen I've ever come across.  I've been pleasantly surprised at how friendly, chatty and super tidy they all are as well as charging reasonable prices of course!

Anyway, as for the pregnancy at the moment, here's the latest news:

How far along: 35 weeks

Size comparison: Honeydew melons!

Weight gain: I'm now 202.6lbs having put on 5lbs in the last 3 weeks.  I still feel comfortable with my weight and body and was actually more worried that I hadn't put on enough weight for someone growing twins!  Total weight gain is now finally over 1 stone at 17.6lbs and I'm still enjoying eating lots of yummy things!  ;)

34 weeks

33 weeks

Cravings: I've become a little obsessed with coke.  The last thing I want to be drinking lots of due to not only the caffeine content (although it seems you're allowed quite a few cans in a day according to NHS choices) but the acid and sugar being horrendous for my teeth!  Luckily being very aware of this, I am managing to avoid too much damage and I never have more than one can in a day!  (Was relieved to get registered at a dentist down here a couple of weeks ago and had the all clear, still no fillings, phew!)

I've been eating fairly healthily because Mum & Nik are taking such good care of me and doing all the cooking (and other chores) so I have proper meals.

Mum brought me this awesome bacon & hard fried egg sandwich for breakfast in the bath the other day!

I did chop myself up A LOT of fruit recently though and thoroughly enjoyed munching through the massive bowl after my veggie sausage wholemeal sandwich.  We did have a nice greasy chinese that night mind ;)

Mango, strawberries, pear and passion fruit.

Signs & Symptoms: Lots of stretch marks now but they're still pretty localised.  Mostly on the right side which if you saw my instagram is easily explained by this:

They like to curl up on the right in the evenings!

Other than that, just the usual you would expect at this late stage - major waddling, lots of waking up to pee in the night, sore bump, sore hips, always hungry, always thirsty, always hot and too much excitement and anxiety about what's coming next.

Middle of the night snacks! 

Even snacking in the bath
(Admittedly I always do this anyway but usually with wine!)

Things for babies: I think we pretty much have everything we need now although I still only have one carrier and I've decided to buy a Moby wrap too as hopefully I'll manage to carry them both myself in that at first (I'll be practising with teddies!) so I'm still bidding away on ebay!  I just need to finally choose their coming home outfits (and mine - bearing in mind my section wound!).

We received some lovely gifts at my baby shower last week as well and Caroline sent us some more of these fab Funky Giraffe dribble bibs!  Great minds and all that ;)  I'm assured you can never have too many and she'd bought them before I blogged about them, she obviously knows my taste very well!  Nik went through them telling me I should have ordered those designs too (which I had to point out wouldn't be a good thing as we'd then have doubles!), lol.

And my Auntie Ali sent us these gorgeous outfits from France where she lives:

I've been working on some pretty fripperies to get the nursery finished but we have all the essentials now, I'm just concentrating on the last few crafty projects I wanted to do before I have no time to do them anymore!!  This hot air balloon mobile being one of them:

Various paints for another project you'll hopefully see tomorrow (if I get done editing the pictures)!

And just on Sunday we had our final photo shoot with Laura which was so much fun!  I'm so glad we arranged one for after we moved towards the end of the pregnancy and in our new home.  The lovely Laura has actually edited them already so I'll be sharing my favourites (almost ALL of the 44!) very soon but for now, here's one of my ultimate favourites:

Monday, 27 October 2014

Hot Air Balloon mobile DIY tutorial

by Bex

I spotted some little hot air balloon cocktail sticks in Tiger a few months ago for just £3 for a pack of 12.  Perfect for making two mobiles of six balloons each.

To make your own mobile using paper cocktail sticks you'll need:

Cocktail stick designs or other lightweight object to hang
Craft Knife
Double sided tape (you don't need the fancy dispenser - I used to use that when mounting prints for sale)
Nylon thread
Florist wire
Wire cutters
Hot glue (not necessary if you trust your knots)

So, how did I make it?  You can probably figure it out just by looking at the design as it's pretty simple but basically I took the cocktail sticks off first, then trimmed away the excess card (the bit for holding them together as I would be gluing them anyway) to make them perfectly rounded at the top & side.  I used a stanley knife for this as I've yet to buy a craft knife.

You can see it's a bit rough but this bit will be stuck together and hidden.

After trimming the edges, I cut pieces of nylon thread and tied knots in one end to stop it slipping out when I stuck the balloons with the thread inside.  I used double sided tape to stick the balloons open and made sure they hung straight (which meant the thread coming out off centre due to the weight over to one side with the card sections).

It was then a case of hanging them off some wires I had from the florist section of Country Baskets (I'd bought them after the Floristry class I attended).  I simply bent the top wire in half and bent the ends up to stop the thread falling off the ends.  For the lower wires, I cut one full size wire in half before doing the same bending in the middle and at the ends.

I decided on the various lengths I wanted each balloon to hang and tied them all on before securing the knots with hot glue.  Any that were pulling the balance off were pushed along the wire to the right place before gluing.

And voila:

Pretty simple really but very effective as the balloons are so brightly coloured.  I think they look fab flying around.

I planned to make 2 mobiles for above the twins' cots but after making the first one (being conscious of the length) and trying it above a cot hanging from the slanted wall it was just a bit too long and in the way when leaning over, as well as making my new gallery walls look cluttered hanging in front of them.  (The gallery walls will be revealed after the birth of the twins as they include their initials!)  Instead I decided to hang just 1 above the Hemnes drawers/changing station rather than over the cots as it could hang much higher in the centre of the ceiling, out of the way.  It's just in front of the window so it looks a lot better too and I'm hoping they spin nicely when there's a breeze.

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