Bikini bottom...

posted on: Sunday, 30 May 2010

Last week's glimpse of proper, hot summer sun had a profound effect and I promptly got online and ordered a bikini. As our annual summer holiday basically consists of living in a bikini, I do own a few. I have tried numerous types but always go back to a classic version. Comfort is key. The best I have had is from Jack Wills; unexpected I know, as this brand is mainly geared for 18 year old well-to-do British students in high brow University cities, with money to burn. Anyway, they do great swimwear that lasts and lasts. So, order I did. In a bright floral sprig, just ready for tanned skin and summer loveliness.

Said bikini arrived, I whisked it on and noted that the bottom seemed can I say? Skimpy. Has my bottom grown? I already have a bikini of this size and style and it fits like a dream; where have I gone wrong? My friend P is eminently sensible and very good at judging the 'mutton dressed as lamb' phenomenon that can afflict women of our age. We discuss the bikini bottom coverage, she maintains that support is needed in the bottom area, much like a bra. I am not so sure. Do I want to spend three weeks of my holiday with my bottom trussed up? I think not. Plan B is to run ALOT between now and then in an attempt to achieve the coveted bikini-bottom bottom. My ridiculously (and charmingly) motivated sister in law has been doing thrice-weekly spinning classes to reach this goal.

There is only one thing for it...where are my trainers? The countdown to summer sun is on. Mwah!

Him. And Me. And them. Us.

posted on: Saturday, 29 May 2010

My husband (Mr Lou as he has been named) and I have been together since I was 18 years old and he was 22. He and I grew up on the same street; he lived at number 4 and I lived at number 5. We have been married for over ten years now, together for eighteen. I have so few adult memories that he was not a part of. We got together the first term I spent at University. But he lived in our home town and I travelled back and forth and we did the long distance thing for a few years.

A best friend, L, who was my bridesmaid and who has known us both since our first unplanned date told me to read back on this post about our two children, a girl and a boy and their characteristics. It was to see how much it actually described my husband and I.

I wrote this without any thought - it's what struck me first when I thought him and me:

Sturdy build, dependable, strong.
Smells like freshly washed cotton.
At a party, always always the last to go home.
The first to invite everyone and anyone back to our house - Mr Hospitality.
Fit, muscular, did I mention strong?
Charming, funny, sharp-witted.
Outrageous - I worry who gets seated next to him at dinner parties, as he offends!
Full of integrity.
Responsible (most of the time!).
Messy, mucky.
Sport-watcher, sport-player, all things sport.

Gangly, long-limbed.
Smells like Diptique Fig perfume.
Early to bed. Bed lover.
Obsessive planner.
Dry wit.
Big on etiquette.
Erudite, intellectual, well-read.
Sentimental, nostalgic.
Glass is half empty.
Stalwart friend.
Deep and meaningful.
Trashy TV watcher.

I thought, surely not, I am sure it does not bear a close resemblance. Does the apple really fall that far from the tree? Have we created two new 'mini-me's'? And for us, do opposites always attract?!

1950's family frolicks...

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 28 May 2010

Long, long week, the one that has just passed. My husband has been away all week, climbing that corporate ladder again, so it's been the Boos and I, home alone. It has its upside; easy meals, quiet nights, no wet towels left on the floor ;-) But Monday to Friday seems like a long stretch and I want him home now. It is bank holiday weekend and we are spending one night away with friends; a group affectionately called 'Cottage Club'. We are staying overnight in a local place - less than 5 miles from home but crucially it's away. Good friends, good food. Freedom from the everyday.

I think I hit a friendly nerve with yesterday's post and we are all in vehement agreement that life is too short for all that malarkey. Thanks for all the lovely comments, as ever it's a marvel to me how many kind people there are out there ready to say hello. 

Boo swam in a swimming gala yesterday and I was awfully proud as her little lithe body slipped through the water like a fish. I know I am biased but she is just so cool and beautiful.

Here are some more things of beauty...I like to ponder on a Friday...

Natalia Vodianova...looking ethereal.

Milkshake and cookies...

A verdigris door handle...

'Apples and Biscuits' painted by Paul Cezanne

Kate Hudson just always looks like she is great fun. Like she'd be a interesting friend to have....

Georg Jensen diamond pave bracelet watch...

Pillowy pink roses...

These are scenes we will all come to know and love I'm sure; this is from SATC 2 but it caught my eye because SJP just does this hairdo so well! There really aren't many women whose features would take this pulled-back look. I also love the necklace. Funny that I choose this picture and so did a good friend of mine in blogland - making the same points about the hair and the necklace! Must work on my originality but it did make me smile after yesterday's post about parallel posts!

Wallpaper's wonderful how the rooms just open into each other and the wood floor just sets it all off...

via it's mary ruffle

Boo slept in plaits last night so she would have curls for a school show today...

How pretty is this table decoration? I love coloured wine glasses...if only I could get to plan a wedding all over again - same husband but just the chance to pick all these lovely details!

A view outside...more beautiful roses...

This photo print I bought from the lovely Natasha, who is a very talented photographer and blogger - this is her Etsy shop.  I am so delighted with this picture, I am going to find a great place for it in my house.

 It's half term, so I shall be trying to bake with the children (I know I always say that and in reality my Mum steps in and does it, but I am going to try!)...

via it's mary ruffle

I am completely addicted to Leah's thx, thx, thx I think she is a genius of little thoughts...I especially like this one:

Hell hath no an anonymous commenter

posted on: Thursday, 27 May 2010

What is the deal with anonymous blog commenters? Not the nice ones, they are ticketyboo...I mean the rare nasties. I have seen a few examples of anonymous venom being dripped and wonder what drives people to do that? Seems odd to me. I do understand that sometimes you have an urge to say something, but why not just say it and be open and known about it? Say what you feel. But put your name behind it!

In the last few months these blogs (that I have seen; I am sure there are many more) have been touched by anonymous commenters of vitriol. Diary of a Yummy Mummy, who was told she looked old in a post that featured a photo of herself. Kasey at Lola B's, who provoked a disproportionately strong reaction with her April Fools post that someone didn't quite 'get'. Mrs A in the Cove whose pain-staking and beautiful house renovation was poo-pooed by an anonymous commenter. And then Little Emma English Home who was told by an anonymous commenter that she had plagiarised another blogger's pictures. Bizarre. I love especially that Ziara from Little Emma English Home had to slip into her Italian mother tongue to publish a responsive rant to the comment! Sometimes only that will do. When delivering a riposte what better language than Italian to do it in? Although I don't know Ziara well at all, I imagine her typing away and pausing every now and then for a hand gesture and flailing of arms ;-)

So what is it? I do acknowledge that blog commenting is a strange sport and can feel a bit like making friends in the school playground. You know where little girls say 'I like that and this and I like your shoes and I like your hair and I like your Barbie and I like your rucksack and I like your smile' etc etc. We all like a lot of the same stuff; that's a given. Plus sometimes there are parallel posts where pictures are used and you get that distinct sensation that you've seen it somewhere before. That's just a spooky coincidence.

For what it's worth, I have a live and let live philosophy in life. People make their choices, they do their thing. I agree in some cases, in others I don't. If I don't agree I generally keep that opinion to myself as I would rather be respectful and polite than confrontational and mean-spirited. That's just me. As I always say it's whatever floats your boat...just be kind.

P.S. Hello to 100th follower :-)

Kitchen table posy...

posted on: Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I have a lovely friend at work; she is a colleague but equally we have known each other for years and she is a true friend, a kindred spirit. I have mentioned her before here. So, she reads my blog and often tells me how bizarre it is to witness the public Louise vs. the one she knows and sees each week. This seems to be a commonly held perception amongst the few friends to whom I have confessed my blog. They find it surreal that I have this public persona of 'Lou of Lou, Boos and Shoes'! Of course it's all me, but I guess the point is that the me that gets published on my blog is usually the best version of myself. That Louise is the one who lives the charmed life of blonde children, tousled curls, home cooking, a childhood sweetheart, a pretty farmhouse, jam jars of garden flowers sitting on the kitchen table.

That is me. It is a charmed life, for sure....but it also has it's unperfect sides. I note that when blogging that there is this concept of presenting your 'best self' to the anonymous world as who wants to read about people's day-to-day worries and strife? We all have enough worries of our own without the need to take on those of others.

However I also see that when I do share a worry, the world answers back to say 'it's OK...don't worry; [crucially] you are normal'. So whilst I do have a posy of flowers on my kitchen table, these are my worries of the day:

I am working on a project that is stretching me in every direction, challenging every bit of professional experience and integrity I have. In a way it's exhilarating, but at the same time just plain frightening.

I am not doing enough reading with my kids - blame the above project - blame the single parent Monday to Fridays, but whatever, homework is not coming high on the evening agenda.

My constantly messy house bothers me just a tad too much.

I am coveting a certain pair of patent shiny new shoes and I must not spend the money. As in Must Not.

I am delinquent in catching up with old friends. Some in particular - if you read this I promise I will do better... :-)

There might be a life-changing opportunity on the horizon for us as a family. Instead of being excited I am terrified. Change and me are not comfortable bed fellows...

In times of worry I find the best thing is to just look out the window, concentrate on something pretty, distract the mind, try to let it go... I hear from my new friend that optimism is the new black!

Images via it's mary ruffle

Well, in five years time...

posted on: Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I was tagged by Christina at Fashion's Most Wanted... for a 'five years time' meme. Now, Christina is the town mouse to my country mouse. She absolutely lives the London life and it's there for us to see and live through vicariously on her blog.

Where were you five years ago?

Five years ago I was caring for a newborn baby. Boo 2 was born in April, so I would have been a month or so in. I wasn't wild on the newborn stage; in fact sadly it represented one of the most challenging times in my life so far. There were some bleak days around that time, so when I think now how far I have come, it makes me very happy that those days are behind me. The downside is that my recollection is marred by that experience and I worry that I have missed a lot of the joy that should come with little babies. I tell myself the baby stage is just one drop in the big ocean of motherhood...

I was on maternity leave from the corporate world, we had just bought our (in much need of renovation) farmhouse and Boo 1 had started school. So, imagine being at home a lot of the time with 30 year old brown linoleum and brown carpets and brown walls. What was the deal with decorating with brown in the early 80s?

Where would you like to be five years from now?

Five years from now I will be the other side of 40! I find it quite hard to envisage what I will be doing then. I work on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis and rarely think that far ahead. I am grateful every day for the way my life has panned out; I married my childhood sweetheart, we live in the town where we grew up, our kids are healthy, happy and are turning out to be really quite good fun. I have a job I enjoy that gives me (at least some of the time) a work/life balance. We have awesome friends. I work hard at life, but it pays dividends. So if I could say in five years time I had that feeling of contentment with life, then that would do for me. If my husband has his way we will spend some time between now and the living in another country. I should try this outlook on life and see what happens in five years...

What is on your to do list today?

Clear the stack of papers that have accumulated on my dining room table.
Try to catch up on my work email which at the moment is like a mountain to climb.
Book a pedicure, eye test, haircuts for the kids, sort out half term childcare, book kid's summer tennis club, sort out social calendar, send thank you notes, arrange a birthday party.
Get to the bottom of the ironing pile that is threatening to engulf us all...

What five snacks do you enjoy?
  • Cheese - all kinds. I am a complete cheese freak
  • Liquorice - it's a Danish thing.
  • Fruit salad - I am the one who always falls for those ready-prepared melon and pineapple salads in Waitrose which probably have astronomic carbon footprints. I do love them though...
  • Chocolate. The good stuff. Enough said.
  • You will always find humous, taramasalata, tzatiki in my fridge...I'm into dips. Come to lunch at my house and you never know what combination you'll get...along with rye bread, olives and capers.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Money is a funny thing. Extreme wealth fascinates me in the same way that pure beauty does. When I see Gisele I wonder what it must be like to look in the mirror and see that face looking back. Similarly what must it be like to check your bank balance and see many, many zeroes in the black. Or to be able to buy anything you want...anywhere, anytime. Or to do everything in life first class, top drawer. But if I had pots of money, the key thing would be to bring friends and family with me, or else I figure it becomes an awfully lonely place.

The shallower side of me would love to do the most proper and outrageous shopping spree; to go crazy, throw complete caution to the wind, buy ANYTHING. But then I guess if I was a billionaire, even that activity might become old hat. Maybe the answer is to have more money, but not too much!

I pass this meme on the following intriguing blogs - where will you be in five years time?

Miss Sew and So
The Sardine Tin
She Wore it Well
The Ruby Blog

Cow parsley...

posted on: Saturday, 22 May 2010

Sunny day spent in the garden...largely in the hammock where I slept (yep really; I know, this relaxing thing is great: get me) with the faint noise of the children jumping into the paddling pool in the background. Our garden is a constant battle to tame nature. It is bordered by acres of arable farmland, today there were tractors galore, ploughing and sowing and watering. They make a nice hum in the background too.

My husband tries to stop the English hedgerow from infiltrating his garden (interesting that the garden is 'his', the house is 'mine'), but I spotted this cow parsley lurking in the border. I didn't mention it; he has enough to contend with with the mole that keeps making mole hills in his lawn...

Speaking of cow parsley, I have always loved this fabric by my fave Vanessa Arbuthnott. I stayed once in a barn conversion near Vanessa's house, it was for my sister in law's hen weekend. And whilst we frolicked about with champagne and hen night antics, I also spied this lovely decor and always remembered that English hedgerow feel about it...

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 21 May 2010

Friday again; like tick follows tock! Each week still brings some self discovery. This week I have learned that I need to work out why I am running a hundred miles an hour all of the time. We have a weekend planned of not very much, which is ideal. I will force myself to sit still. I will write a long list of stuff I need to get done and stop stressing about the fact that I haven't done it yet.

In the words of E.E Cummings...'here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life,' and for me it is this: stop and appreciate what's going on around me.

American Vogue...wonderful plait. Isn't it great how in magazines this dishevelled look is 'fashion' whereas if I sported this look in real life people would think 'electric shock?', 'lost her hairbrush?', 'in need of some conditioner?'...

A bunch of dahlias...and a great tablecloth.

via it's mary ruffle
'Sunbeams' by Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi painted in 1900

This is a poppy from my garden...really, honestly it does not look real; my son had to touch the petals to convince himself it was. They come year after year no matter what and I adore them. They only last a day or two...less if it rains.

This shot is from The Sartorialist and I think she is just too cool for school. The hair, the glasses, the lace detailing, the jacket, the lips, the starbucks! Great picture. She oozes cool.

May I say...Jake Gyllenhaal...completely floored me with his loveliness when I saw him interviewed recently on Jonathan Ross. Such a nice chap. And those

Utterly new friend at Dustjacket Attic featured this wonderful ball scene...

An Agrigento platinum cuff...

My latest chair crush...the Eames rocker. So many chairs, not enough room in my house...

An Elie Saab collection on the catwalk...I love how this picture literally looks like a colour chart of paints ranging from blue to pink to green to yellow. Beaded, frothy, lovely.

Natalie Portman...up close...

Whitewashed and clean...

via are so happy
When I see prettiness like this dress it makes me think of Simone at The Bottom of the Ironing Basket, who is this week running a fantabulous 1st blog birthday giveaway extravaganza. Seriously. It's an epic daily marathon of chances to win yummy stuff...ends today!

Love this little jacket...Happy Friday!

Age can not wither her...

posted on: Thursday, 20 May 2010

I can't really write extensively about ageing yet, as for me it's a process that has only just started to bed in. Clearly if I look at a photo of myself aged 25, I can really see the difference now, a little over ten years later. A lot happened in those ten years; no wonder! I am more conscious of being older rather than of aging. I have a girl who helps me with the children in school holidays; she's a lovely girl, exactly what any mother would want in a daughter. She is precisely half my age! When I see the endless possibilities of her life stretching out ahead (she is in her first year of University now) it almost takes my breath away. She has no idea how many roads there will be to go down, how many choices to be made and how much of it will either pass her by or get decided for her by some other cosmic force.

It is incredible how the age process creeps up, how the laughter lines appear, those tell-tale signs on the skin, grey hairs that need a six week colour cover-up. Certain clothes start to somehow look inappropriate, without really knowing exactly why. Skirts can seem just a touch too short. A preoccupation with comfort over style. WAIT! No, surely not...not that! Isn't the requirement that one always stays 'young at heart'? As is often the case, these things are all in the mind..

Fundamentally though I find there is something empowering about getting older, even with its cruel little reminders in my appearance. I know my mind now, I know what suits me, I have much more confidence than I did ten years that outweighs a wrinkle or two, surely?


posted on: Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I have been to see the homeopath today. I posted on this once's not something I have really been into until this past year, when I thought I would try it out. The concept of homeopathy is all about achieving balance. It's about describing your symptoms and how you feel about them and then from that, homeopathic remedies are prescribed. It has a lovely apothecary feel to it...

It's a little bit alternative.

I am open to new things, and find the actual process so interesting. I see this lady who is very quiet and mild-mannered and she listens intently to every word I say and then consults her giant leather-bound homeopathy books. I come away with these tiny white pills that I am instructed to take at intervals. Even when I think there is nothing really the matter with me, she can draw out what I am feeling in a quite startling way. Today we talked alot about how I felt about my daughter and how her worries became my worries. We talked alot about teeth - don't get me started. We talked about modern life and stress and balance.

I was explaining how busy I have been and the pressure I put on myself to manage every element of my life to the highest degree. Work, house, wife-ing, Mummy-ing; staying on top of it all, all the time. She said '...what would happen if you didn't do all of that?' I stuttered '...well that would be bad.' She said '...what would happen?' I hesitated, not sure what exactly would happen. What would happen? Ummm, I would not excel at work. OK. The house would be untidy. OK. My husband might not have his dinner cooked. OK. The kids might be 5 minutes late for school. OK.

Would any of the above prompt the end of the world? No.

So - it's thought-provoking, for sure. Why all the pressure? Why not just chill?

I know I have said this before, but exactly what is it that is driving me on? I suspect deep down that it is all me and not the dozen other external factors that I think it is. Maybe I should just sit still for a while and

images from are so happy

'Blog-shaped hole'...

posted on: Tuesday, 18 May 2010

So bear with me while I explain this analogy. There is a fairly well-known book by a British writer called Allison Pearson called 'I Don't Know How She Does It'. Aside from the fact that the book is a bit of an ode to my life - working mother, school-run guilt, two children; a girl and boy, there is a description in it that always stuck with me. In the book the heroine has a virtual 'fling' with a work colleague and she describes him as a hole in her life that she didn't know needed filling, until she filled it with him.

This, rather bizarrely is how I think of blogging.

Before now, I never knew there was a blog-shaped hole in my life. But blogging has been like putting a mirror up to has made me think. Alot. And in a good way...

I have told very few people about my new habit. I still consider myself a new blogger. I still think it's surreal that a bunch of people 'follow' me. I still delight in the new and very lovely friends I have made. I still feel quite pleased with myself when I publish a good (in my opinion) post. I still LOVE getting comments (a little too much I suspect!).

I still marvel at how much cleverness and beauty there is lurking in the blog world and consider how close I came to completely missing out on it. I still love that when I think of something to say, there is someone to say it to. I still think it's cool that friends drop by and say 'hi'. I still am struck by how nice it is to write again...haven't done that, for fun, since school.

I love that I can appreciate the seasons from the other side of the world as my blogging friends describe them (when it's Spring here, it's Autumn in Australia). I love that there are now some blogs I have discovered which I can liken to reading a really good book or getting my favourite magazine delivered in the post.

I  think most of all that it's just lovely that anyone is interested in me and my baggage! Long may it last...

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