Archive - 2013

23.12.13 Christmas Family House Tour: Laura Green works her Christmas Magic

meri meri cakes

I first met Interior designer and mum of two, Laura when we shot her gorgeous 1930’s renovation for a house tour with her family last year. When she invited me back to see her house with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, I couldn’t resist.  That and she make the most amazing cakes.

Laura green's christmas house

Laura green's christmas house

Laura has a keen eye for styling and a distinct style which shows throughout each room of her home. Walking through the door give you goosebumps. It’s a beautiful house which feels loved and experiencing it in full Christmas glory was a magical treat.

Laura green's christmas house

laura green's christmas house

Laura green's christmas house


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22.12.13 Seriously Last minute Christmas Gifts: Our guide!

So for all you last minute shoppers sometimes the last minute scramble is not quite so fun. If you are looking for a few extra gifts you haven’t quite found, or looking to do your whole entire shop in one go, check these ideas out.

last minute gifts

Time poor/ Cash Rich

If you don’t actually want to go out shopping or don’t have the time, for this you have a few options. Think vouchers or last minute delivery shops.

Vouchers. These are often downloadable and with a printer you can print out your voucher and put it in an envelope to hand deliver literally seconds before meeting your giftee!

Mr and Mrs Smith offer a ‘Get a Room e voucher for selected amounts and can be used on booking their luxury hotels, many of which are fabulous for children. Babington House anyone?

For the kids, there is an array of cool and kitch downloadable games and ideas to entertain them such as these paper dolls. Just print at home to keep them amused over Christmas. (The Paper Dolls above can be downloaded from Etsy at the Black Apple) or these printable paper fox dolls with outfits from The Marimakes are just gorgeous too.  At Etsy,  you can find lots of ideas for downloadable handmade gifts such as the dog silhouette print by Linen Workshop you can frame, to designs to print out and make yourself at home. (See below – make it!)

Charity Vouchers giving everything from chickens, mosquito nets or providing water for a whole community can be bought on behalf of someone you love from a selection of organisations such as Oxfam and Actionaid. You can also donate online on behalf of someone else, directly to charities such as a personal favourite of mine, The Small Things Orphanage in Tanzania. Your money here can sponsor a child to go to school for a specific amount, but they are always grateful for any amount. You receive a personal response and can view images and videos of the children through their site. (One year I sent actual gifts and saw pictures of the children with the gifts I had sent. It was wonderful, especially for the kids to see what we had sent being played with.)

If you want to support your local area, why not organise a voucher from your local hairdressers, spa or favourite restaurant for the adults on your list.  By calling them up, they will often email you a voucher or email you can print out at home. For the kiddies, how about some cinema vouchers or a season ticket to their favourite zoo or farm park? For tweens and teens try a subscription to a cool magazine they would be interested in? Most of these things you should be able to do online and print out the voucher or confirmation.

Physical presents to wrap up…

If you are happy to go out and buy your gifts, but don’t know where to start with all the queues and mayhem,  then head to a bookshop for some really inspirational and crowd pleasing presents for kids and parents alike. Great books don’t need batteries and don’t take up too much space. They are educational and inspiring for imaginative little minds. Some of my favourite for gifts are Maps, Mamoko and Nina’s Book of Little Things.

At Amazon, you have until 9am on 23rd December to choose your gifts you want personally delivered to you for Christmas. John Lewis offers a late ‘click and collect’ service if all you want to do is drive in and collect your items without stepping foot in the chaos of the shops. These are my favourite crowd pleaser’s still available.

Wooden pullalong dog  £16.99,   lego friends set £28.99 and the Bear and Hare back pack  £15.00 all available from John Lewis.

Alex and Alexa is perfect for your designer trendsetter and offer a same day courier service to people living in Greater London. So you lucky Londoners can still bag your favourite girl these Rio Candy Retro Roller Skates in time for an extra fee.

For the skint but creative last minute Larry’s…Make it!!

Adults love brownies. Especially these ones! Erm…and so do the kids!

How about Tibbles the Elephant from Jennifer Carson? Only £2.20 for the pattern.

Or choose to make some animal pom poms for a speedy fun gift for some littlies! The Very clever Mr Printables blog will tell you how for absolutely nada…= free! :0)

Failing that. There’s always cool hard cash. But ALWAYS wrap your envelope in beautiful paper or add a few secret chocs on the front for fun. Everyone wants a beautifully decorated package or one covered in chocolate snowmen. It’s the rules.

Good luck! x



12.12.13 It’s nearly Christmas…Guess it’s time for a Christmas House Tour?

laura green xmas 13

Next week on Chalkboard Living:

Laura Green’s Christmas House Tour.

It’s a Map thing. For lovers of maps and kids with an adventurous side.

My last minute Christmas Gift Guide. For all you last minute shoppers. You know who you are.

It’s going to be a great week. Enjoy the weekend!

T xx


20.11.13 Is it a bird? Is it a toy? No it’s a shoe: Skribbies


Recently we got sent a pair of Skribbies for the kids to check out. They are kind of like a fun toy that you can wear. A never ending colouring pad, well until the pens wear out and the stickers fall off.

Hence. The kids went wild fighting for a turn. Luckily there are two sneakers in a pair. Who said matching was cool anyway?


In a box you get high top sneakers, pens and stickers and the slogan is “draw, wipe, draw.” And so we did.


We drew, wiped, stuck on stickers and created masterpieces. Ahem. I say we as in ‘the Royal WE’…ie. The kids.

scribbies stickers



NOT matching.


But someone liked their design.


Hmm…boys?! Really. She’s 6.

Is it a toy or is it a shoe? Well they are fun and entertaining and probably more creative way to avoid boredom in the doctors office/waiting room/dinner table than playing on an iphone. And if you don’t mind some dodgy art on display they look kind of funky.

They are more for fun than fashion but I think you need to like them without any art too though as the pictures do wipe away easily. Mine would have loved a permanent marker to keep their favourite drawings on the shoes! They make quite a good second pair as Seb wanted to take them into school to show his friends for PE. They definitely beat the humble plimsoll on that score!

Check out the full Skribbies range here.

*I did not get paid to write this review but they didn’t want the shoes returned…I wonder why ever not?!







04.11.13 My Morning: Louise Freeland

My Morning: Louise Freeland

Louise Freeland is an uber talented British photographer, who lives in England with her husband and three children. She also has an allotment and a job in Veterinary management to keep her busy! Here’s one of her mornings.

My weekend mornings always start a little later. They are a catch up to the craziness of the working and schooling week. On a Saturday it all kicks off around 8am because the kids all generally have a lie in. Sometimes there is some bed switching around and we find them sleeping together or having swapped beds! It’s lovely and gives me a chance to catch up on a little reading in bed. My kindle is one of my favourite things. This morning I just finished ‘The Light Between The Oceans’ by M.L. Steadman.

My Morning: Louise Freeland

My Morning: Louise Freeland

Once everyone has woken up there is generally a little bit of lolling around from the kids before breakfast.

My Morning: Louise Freeland

After breakfast it’s a rush to get Hen ready for football and get him there on time. When we get home the girls and I have a little playtime. I love being outside. It’s where I take most of my pictures and we also have an allotment. If the weather is good enough, a little time outside every day is really important.

My Morning: Louise Freeland

Because it’s a day I’m not doing the 9-5, I always find time to work on my photos, either taking or editing, whilst the girls do some kind of crafting. This Saturday was painting…with glitter!

My Morning: Louise Freeland

Then it’s time to tidy up the mess and prepare lunch or get it ready for later, before we pick Hen up from football for noon.

My Morning: Louise Freeland

All images above were taken  by Louise using her iphone. You can view Lou’s portfolio of work at Louise Freeland Photography or take a look at one of her house tours she shot for us.

Thank you for sharing your morning Louise!


23.10.13 Fashion: Stellaween by Stella McCartney

With Halloween fast approaching and a plethora of costumes at every corner you turn, sometimes you just need something simple. This is Halloween dress up, for those who don’t really want to full out dress up. I like it.


Stella Mccartney Stellaween

1. Enid shoes £90   2. Petra bat tights £27   3. Arlo T shirt £35 (For each t-shirt sold a donation will be given to Padem a.k.a  Programmes d’Aide et e Development destines aux Enfants du Monde – for the expansion of school and development of economic activities in Kenya.)   4. Max T Shirt £35   5. Boo Umbrella £35   6. Arnie T-shirt £40   7. Misty Dress £85

All items available from Stella McCartney Kids


21.10.13 My Weekend: Kelly Sparkes

The lovely Kelly is the co founder of Phoenix and Fox, a new online interiors site full of  stylish, quirky and cool wonders. She lives in England with her husband and baby daughter Aria.

kelly sparkes phoenix fox

Weekends have changed so much since I had my little girl twelve weeks ago, long lazy mornings in bed have been replaced by her smiling gurgling face at 6am, but I’m not complaining. I love ‘chatting’ to her first thing in the morning.

I make the most of having my husband at home on a Saturday to look after Aria between feeds so I can get some work done.  This week I caught up with my business partner Sam to discuss the design of our new home page. I then spent the rest of the afternoon implementing  it, as I do all the web development for our online home accessories shop Phoenix & Fox.

Kelly Sparkes Phoenix and fox

A day working and looking after a little one goes so quickly.

Saturday evening, I got a chance to relax with a magazine whilst hubby made dinner. I’m very lucky as he’s an excellent cook.

Kelly Sparkes Phoenix and fox

Sunday morning we went for a family walk. The Autumnal colours of the trees were beautiful.


I’m always changing my home, although things take a lot longer than they used to these days! My current project is the hallway which has been painted a deep inky blue and I spent some time playing with different layouts for the salon-style gallery of art going up the stairs.

Kelly Sparkes Phoenix and fox

Kelly Sparkes Phoenix and fox

Before I knew it the weekend was over and it was time to bathe and massage Aria and get her to bed, before dinner and a date with Downton Abbey.

Kelly Sparkes Phoenix and Fox

Thank you for sharing your weekend with us Kelly.

You can find Phoenix and Fox‘s range of cool and quirky products here. Including that amazing mirror and the gorgeous fox and hare cushions.

Our first ever house tour was with Kelly’s business partner Sam. You can check out her amazing house tour here!



18.10.13 Fashion Friday Flashback: GKFW (Global Kids Fashion Week)

line up gkfw

Did you get one of the golden public tickets to GKFW back in the Spring? If not, here’s a few photos you might like to check out of the event for this weeks super special Flashback on Fashion Friday.

So the first ever Global Kids Fashion Week was launched at the Freemason’s Hall in London earlier this year. The hosts, Alex and Alexa showed their brand portfolio with kids fashion pieces from Kenzo to Chloe,  with all proceeds from ticket sales donated to Kids Company, the charity partner for GKFW. Kids Company was founded in 1996 to provide practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children.


portia gkfw

GKFW Ambassador Portia Freeman


Jodie & Jemma Kidd

runway 5 gkfw

kids3 gkfw

GKFW Ambassador Louise Nichol and daughter Leo

To continue reading and see all the photos of the after party… Click on the link below.

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14.10.13 My Weekend: Sarah Yewman

christmas family cooking

Sarah Yewman is mum-to-three, wife-to-one and the ‘oldest-intern-in-town’, at Templar Publishing.  She is the creative genius behind the Davina McCall Dudebox creation, author & illustrator of childrens picture books  and artist / peg person painter extrordinaire.  She writes her blog about her ongoing creative exploits – The Yewman Projects.

My weekend starts with our first fire of the season. (You’ve gotta class Friday night as the start of the weekend!) I’ve happily succumbed to the wood-burning stove.

light my fire

At this time of year a weekend wouldn’t be a weekend for us, without a Saturday morning on the sidelines of a muddy football pitch.

sat morning mudfest football

I love the winter, wrapping up warm, lots of layers, cosy fires and not forgetting plenty of comfort food. Talking of which, dare I mention the ‘C’ word?

Christmas might be a swear word in your household at the moment, but in ours, the tradition of making mincemeat, cake and puds can’t come too early, particularly as I’m doing it in my brand new kitchen.

lick the spoon

christmas cooking

We have been working on a big renovation of our house. The building work is almost done and I’m finally getting to the exciting bit of choosing colours and accessories. Weekends at the moment seem to include sorting out the rooms and choosing all the fun stuff.

cool toilet roll holder


Here are a few of my fave rooms and purchases.

sarah yewman's house

Find Sarah’s cool vessel pendant light here  & the cute moose light here.

We love a bit of creating in this house. Weekends always usually involve some kind of creating! This is my 6 year old Lucy having some colouring-in therapy.

luce colouring

I feel very privileged to be working on the Templar Publishing charity initiative, creating the website and auction for their 80 paper watches, designed by 80 of the UK’s top illustrators, all in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

paper watch project

For the last week or two, I’ve been working on the website to get it live and I’m pleased to report we pushed the button this weekend. If you would like to own your unique piece of art, watch out for the auction starting on Sun 3rd Nov.

To find out more about the paper watch project you can visit the website here.





30.09.13 My Morning

So I’m obsessed with knowing what other people do in the morning. Who makes their bed, who showers before the kids are up, who plans their outfits the night before and what time people get up when they also have kids to get ready, dressed and fed.  Mornings are special to me because they represent those moments as the world wakes up, as my family wakes up, often foggy eyed and sleepy, often the time when they look the most beautiful to me and say the most interesting things. After a good night’s sleep the world seems a better place and the morning offers a day of possibility…anything could happen.

It took until 11.58am to get organised enough to take that picture above. Enough said.


my morning

my morning

Mornings are crazy. Most of the time the kids come into bed for a ‘cuddle’/bundle/bed jumping session before we get up ourselves. I’d love to get up early and be ready before they wake but it never seems to happen. 7am is pretty standard time for getting up though if I can, I eek it out til 7.30am. The kids are just so much fun in the morning.

kids curtains

I made a rule that on a school day no one goes downstairs unless they are dressed and have their teeth cleaned. It works about 50% of the time. There is a lot of timewasting in this house. I figure at least if they are dressed what’s the worst that can happen if we’re running late? They eat breakfast in the car.

7.15 still undressed.

my morning

As soon as I get up I put in my contact lenses so I can see clearly again. They are like some kind of miracle. If I’m not going to the gym I’ll shower and get dressed. i love my shower especially super hot.


7.30am ish

my morning

On a school day its cereal, toast, crumpets, yoghurts…anything easy and quick.

Then time to get shoes on, catch up on any spellings, check their bags, make waters/packed lunches, and watch a bit of TV if they have time.

It doesn’t matter how organised I am , I always seem to end up rushing to get them to school.

It’s a relief to drop them off on time and then Lola and I come home and I try and sneak in a few emails or bit of editing/surfing while i drink a cup of tea and before anything else I have planned.

Tracey Chalk's office

Today we played, put washing on, cleaned up the kitchen and met some friends in town. We leave the house about 11.58am.

my morning

The morning goes quickly and today I forgot to make the bed…again.

So what’s your morning like?

If you liked this, check out what Karine from Bodie and Fou‘s weekend was like from my new series here.


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