stocking fillers

Boys stocking fillers

1.Toyella Power Up 2.0 Paper Plane, £14.99
2. Triceratops Figure, £8.00
3. Toyella Stacking Magnetic Toy Rocket, £16.99
4.Toyella Ringo, £6.99
5. Balloon Powered Car, £2.00
6. Original Slinky, £4.50

Girls stocking fillers.

1. Air Heads Animal Balloons, £8.00
2. Toyella Rain Cloud, £9.99
3. Meri Meri Alphabet Stickers, £4.00
4. Numero 74 Magic Wand, £5.00
5. Maileg Baby Girl Mouse In A Box, £11.00
6. Nailmatic Kids Nail Varnish, £6.48
7. Toyella Jump Rope, £9.99

The halls are decked, and most of the presents are bought, but there are still those little stocking fillers to buy (well, a few more anyway). Cute, fun, and most importantly, inexpensive. These are some of our favourites.

Sarah & Nicky x

daddy spree: the gifts they really want…

Papa Spree -T

1. The Silver Spoon For Children: Favourite Italian Recipes, £10.36
2. A.P.C Wool Shirt, £180.00
3. M&S Pure Wool Fedora, £29.50
4. John Varvatos Fine Knit Scarf, £87.00
5. Telegraph Avenue, £7.19
6. Illy Ground Expresso Coffee, £5.89

OK, more than a little on the self indulgent side: all gifts relate to, shall we say, strong interests of mine, such as: Sarah of course (I’m guessing she may be reading this); music (the books); and most things Italian. There comes a time, when Sarah’s on a work trip and the twins are asleep, when sardines and anchovies and sultanas and pine nuts and pasta combine to create a Sicilian conspiracy that no one else in the family will touch. This is the wine to go with it and the coffee’s for afterwards. The recipe’s simplified from the classic ‘The Silver Spoon’ cookbook and I hope someone tracks down this kids’ version for me. In my minds eye, I’d really enjoy looking like a mid-sixties Marcello Mastroianni as I lift pasta to mouth, but since that’s never gonna happen, the capotto (coat), sciarpa (scarf), cappello (hat) and camicia (shirt) might get me into a crowd scene at least.

Soulful Christmas and Happy New Year,

Tom

Papa Gifts - R

1. A Personalised  Book A Month Gift Service, from £29.99
2. Uniqlo Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater, £79.90
3. Uniqlo Cashmere Beanie, £29.90
4. Vera Wang For Men Eau De Toilette, £36.00-£46.80
5. Chambers & Beau Personalised Identity Bracelet, £40.00
6. Apple iPad Air 2, £399.00

Being a creature of habit (if it ain’t broke…), my Christmas list this year is mainly made up of things I’ve received before and really really liked. So, here goes. The Willoughby Book Club is fantastic – a gift that keeps on giving. If your husband/boyfriend likes reading, just tell them his preferences and they will carefully choose and deliver a book for him every month. There is something exciting about knowing you have a really good book coming your way each month, one that will probably broaden your reading horizons but still be your kind of page turner. The cashmere beanie hat and jumper are more about the snuggle effect they seem to encourage (no daddy ever tires of that right?) but the practical side of me appreciates the extra warmth and style too. The Vera Wang aftershave – well, Nicky thinks it smells really nice which is the only point of it, so that works for me. The only gift that isn’t a repeat is the bracelet, or ‘man band’ as I like to call it. Not one for wearing jewellery normally, the inscription of Bailey’s name on one side and ‘Papa’ on the other got me right in the … you know, that place where emotion comes from. Finally, no daddy Christmas list would be complete without a gadget and for me it’s the new iPad Air 2 – so much quicker and lighter than our current very old version. Even better, as you can partly fund the upgrade by selling your old iPad to one of many gadget recyclers (assuming your little one hasn’t laid claim to it already…).

Merry Christmas!

Russell

mama spree: our christmas wish lists

Sarah Gift List 2

1. Diptique Set Of Three Travel Size Candles, £60.00
2. Topshop Fedora, £25.00
3. Topshop Embellished Metal Cross Body Bag, £45.00
4. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser, £34.00
5. Aquazurro Suede Sandals, £530.00
6. Chloe ‘Abby’ Ring, £150.00

I’ve cobbled together a little collection of ‘yes please!’ gifts that I would be more than happy to receive on the 25th (or any other time for that matter). Love, love, love these shoes, but would only wear then with a (probably slightly scruffy looking) cropped jean – I like a sexy, statement shoe, but only when played down. Ditto this super-cool chainmail style mini bag from Toppers. – don’t kill the coolness by adding an LBD into the mix). It may be a cliché, but I am always thrilled to get a Diptique candle – anytime, from anyone. These travel sized ones are perfect, as I love to have a candle burning in my hotel room when I’m away for work – I love/need to feel cosy to beat the home sickness. The rest of the things speak for themselves really. I’m not much of a makeup girl, but I do love this tinted moisturiser when I need a bit more ‘polish’. Oh, and for the record, I love the Mother sweatshirt (see Nicky’s list below) too…

Sarah x

Nicky Gifts

1. Nars ‘The Multiple’ Stick, £27.00
2. Carolina Bucci Rose-Gold Plated Silver ‘Lucky’ Bracelet, £150.00
3. Luxe Multu-Usage Dry Oil Golden Shimmer, £34.00
4. Selfish Mother Sweatshirt, £45.00
5. Isabel Marant Leopard Print Pumps, £470.00
6. Scotch & Soda ‘Rocker’ Belt, £49.95

As soon as Bailey arrived people would say “Christmas is all about the children now isn’t it” and although I found myself nodding, my inner child was rebelling. For me Christmas is a time for showing people we care about our appreciation, which includes mummy and daddy. This year we all wrote a letter to Father Christmas. Somehow I find it more exciting to watch Russell opening his presents knowing he will love them (plus there’s the added bonus of no returns to do! Have you seen the return queue at M&S after Christmas!). Also, no fake smiles required  as you unwrap pink spotted knee-high duvet slippers (Christmas circa 2009). This year I would be happy to receive anything from my list which also includes this White Company cashmere robe (they have 20% off at the moment), but if I had to choose one thing it would be the Mother sweatshirt. All profits from the sale of these sweatshirts go to Women for Women International which is a charity that helps women in war-torn regions to rebuild their lives through training programmes. This is a topic that is close to my heart and, as it says on their site, “this sweatshirt feels good to wear in more ways than one”.

Nicky x

ps: seeing other people’s Christmas lists is dangerous – I’m having silver bag envy Sarah!

little gifts

Girls Christmas

1. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera, £69.99
2. Maileg Mini Angel Bunny, £19.00
3. Moulin Roty Wicker Dolls Pram, £68.00
4. Music Alley Junior Guitar, £24.43
5. ilovegorgeous Silk Freida Party Purse, £25.00

A few more ideas for the little girls: Apollo wooden balance bike; Maileg mini angel; Woodstock gold cat ears headband; Moulin Roty baking set; Mini Boden bunny slippers; Louisa Misha Taj braceletM&S wooden toaster; Lucky Voice microphone; Liberty print mini suitcase; Sophie La Girafe music box; and M&S wooden till.

Boys Christmas

1. John Lewis Mini Kitchen, £50.00
2. Le Toy Van Tipi Camp Set, £30.00
3. Nobodinoz Retro Bowling Set, £34.00
4. Maileg Mouse Prince, £16.00
5. The Little White Company Wigwam, £120.00

For the little boys we also like: this Le Toy Van Bucanner’s pirate fort; B Toys Symphony in B; Paddington book suitcase; Seedling My Little Dino World; Toyella Build Your Own Den, M&S small oven top; Little White Company ride on car; and this Vilac accordion.

things that make you go aaaaaahhh….

baby gifts

1. Numero 74 Changing Mat, £28.35
2. Little Cloud Adelajda Liberty Print Cloud Mobile, £26.00
3. M&S Pure Cashmere Cardigan, £35.00
4. Oeuf Grey Rabbit Hat, £40.00
5. Mozartkugel Music Box, £49.99
6. Ugg Sheepskin Booties, £45.00

Things don’t get much cuter than this at Christmas… We’ve rounded up our absolute favourite presents for babies. After all, babies + Christmas = an excuse to buy the most adorable presents ever (like we need an excuse??)! We also love: this Gap striped all-in-one; this Little White Company sheepskin cushion; this Stella McCartney Kids bunny ears hat; this Little White Company cloud mobile; this Time Capsules kit; this Little White Company penguin; this Sebra pull-along elephant; these Samantha Holmes alpaca fur booties; this Little White Company toadstool light; and this Mini Boden knitted jacket (in oatmeal or thistle).

Sarah & Nicky x

book corner

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I am Tabtiha and Marlow’s dad, and an Educational Psychologist. I also taught children aged five to seven for many years. I love reading to children and hearing them read. Sarah and Nicky have asked me to do the occasional ‘Daddy Spree’ post. So for my first one, here are my top ten books to share with children aged zero to seven years (in baby to child order, approximately).

Tom

My Animals by Xavier Deneux
The first book the twins showed the slightest bit of interest in (high contrast! tactile!).

Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton
Lots of black/white contrast again (it’s in space). Plus funny. Spend maximum time on the “inkey pinkey elekmah” page.

The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Raymond Briggs & Elfrida Vipont
Some people have difficulty with the ‘bad baby’ concept. Those people were never older siblings. Rumpetta Rumpetta Rumpetta.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
It has funny, it has suspense. Kids love funny, kids love suspense. Do lots of bubble noises (to add to the suspense). Even better than its predecessor (‘I Want My Hat Back’).

Not Now Bernard by David McKee
“… every bit” is the best line in the history of children’s literature. Also, a wonderful way of talking through bad moods (sometimes all of us are Mum, all are Dad and all are The Monster).

Rescue! by Roderick Hunt & Alex Brytcha
I love this series and personally I prefer ‘Kipper and the Giant’, or ‘The Rainbow Machine’, or ‘The Dragon Tree’, but, for some reason, this is the one the twins choose, again and again and again (repetition is good!). A sort of feminist ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ without Nazis.

I am a Bunny by Ole Risom & Richard Scarry
A short one for late bedtimes.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Dr Seuss books were written for children to read and I loved reading them as a child, but how wonderful they are to read to children: they just flow off the page (and the illustrations still feel as fresh today as they did when I was 6). Hard to pick a favourite, but this is a roller-coaster of a read. Needs silly voices (confession: I do Sam-I-Am Robert De Niro in Mean Streets and the cat, or whatever that is, Princess Anne).

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Again, hard to pick a best Roald Dahl book, but maybe this is it, from a reading-to-children point of view (some will think it’s heresy, but in my opinion skipping the overlong Centipede songs is allowable).

MAPS by Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski
Great pictures. So much to talk about.

Honorable Mentions:

Library Lion by Michelle Knudson & Kevin Hawkes
Top ranking in the warm-and-fuzzy stakes (Sarah and I also love the illustrations).

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson
If you’ve never come across this (I hope you have!), you should. More than 50 years old but still quietly clever in a way that impresses both children as listeners and reading adults. And what are your favourite kinds of pie?

ps: books always make fantastic (and generally inexpensive) gifts, so perfect for Christmas. Sarah and I always love to give and receive books for Tabitha and Marlow (and not to mention, ourselves – our house is full of them!).

christmas at bicester

Bicester

As you know we LOVE a bargain at Little Spree, so when we were invited to Bicester Village designer shopping outlet to the launch of their ‘step into the story’ Christmas shopping event, how could we resist? As you can see we, er, didn’t resist! In fact we gave in completely and have the credit card statements to prove it. How could we, with discounts in the stores of up to 60%? But cleverly the Bicester Village experience is anything but discounted, starting the moment you arrive with their optional valet parking (yes we did that too). Then there’s the brand selection which includes  Bonpoint, Smythson, Anya Hindmarch, Stella McCartney (plus Stella Kids) and White Company (plus The Little White Company). We shopped in all of them. And for the men – Gieves & Hawkes, Pink, Paul Smith and Church’s. And Cath Kidston is great for kids and perfect for cute stocking fillers. We shopped solo this time but there is a lovely children’s play area to keep the little ones busy whilst you ‘pop’ into Celine. So what else do you need to know? Just all the info on getting there and the opening hours. Oh and don’t forget your credit card….

Sarah & Nicky x

baby blankets

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The Little Taylor Large Knitted Blanket, £41.00

The Little Taylor was one of our favourite brands at the Bubble exhibition in the Summer – such adorable things. This is a gorgeous blanket (and big!), and it won’t break the bank either. It also comes in pink (a pretty soft pink, naturally), grey and cream. Quite a few of you have been asking for a post on baby blankets. So here you go! The only problem? Which one to choose??
Gap cable knit; Miller cashmere (pricey, but gorgeous); Natures Purest cable; The Little Taylor again (this time with a cosy fur lining); Stella Kids bunny; this Numero 74 one’s not officially a blanket, but would be great for baby to lie on, or for the pram/buggy – and we love it…; ditto this Numero 74 sleeping bag; The Little White Company knitted patchwork; Olivier Baby cashmere; Sheridan Parker cashmere cable knit (currently reduced from £229.00 to £140.00); Jo Jo Maman Bebe striped; Betty Bramble Liberty print buggy blanket; and Lilly & Sid cable knit.

Sarah x

kate spade loves gap

Kate Spade Gap bags

1. Kate Spade Gap Kids Colourblock Tote, £29.95
2. Kate Spade Gap Kids Coloublock Tote (Large), £59.95

Gap Kate Spade

1. Jack Spade Gap Kids Contrast Cardigan, £29.95
2. Jack Spade Gap Kids Wool Jacket, £69.95
3. Jack Spade Gap Kids Selvedge Straight Jeans, £27.95
4. Jack Spade Gap Kids Google Eyes Hi-Tops, £29.95

Nicky and I (with Tabarlow and Bailey in tow – it was during half term) went to the press breakfast for the launch of the new Kate and Jack Spade collaboration for Gap Kids. Whimsical, playful, kooky and colourful. We saw, we liked, we shopped. In fact, we actually preferred the boys collection (which is unusual because generally boys’ clothes are so much harder to find). Nicky bought these super-cool hi-tops for Bailey, and he/she absolutely loves them. They are so cool. And how sweet are these ‘mini me’ totes? Here are some other bits and pieces that we liked… these gift bow ballet flats (Tabs was obsessed with them!); this pom pom hat; this glitter satchel; and ok, so this is more of a Mama Spree purchase, but we love this iPhone cover too.

Available (for a limited period only) in stores and online now.
www.gap.co.uk

socks & sandals

E&G girls

1. Miller Xono Beanie (from Elias & Grace), £40.00
2. Bonton Escale Dress (from Elias & Grace), £67.00
3. Martin Pederson Gemini Tights (from Elias & Grace), £16.00
4. Mango Wooden Leather Sandals, £34.99

Who says socks and sandals are a nerdy no-go? Not us. Nothing cuter!

ps: I have been scouring the shops, searching for the (Barbie sized) Elsa doll for Tabitha for Christmas (from Santa), but no luck. I was certainly not expecting to find one on the Selfridges website. But I did, and now Elsa is winging her way to Richmond… Phew!

L is for…

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M&S Alphabet Cushion, £8.00 (reduced from £10.00)

I spotted these fab cushions when I was in the Westfield store today, looking at the gorgeous new M&S Baby collection (more of that next week…). They look really expensive!! And as you can see, they are anything but! You can order any letter (or how about having all the letters to make the whole name?), and they even come with the padding in (how irritating is it when you go to pay for a cushion/s and you then have to pay for the padding on top? Or is it just me?). They would make such a great gift for a newborn’s nursery. Who needs Jonathan Adler anyway?

love tee

Bob&Blossom_Pink-Silver_Love

Bob & Blossom ‘Love’ Silver Print Long Sleeve Tee (1-5 years)
£14.95  SHOP NOW
I have long been a fan of Bob & Blossom, and have bought countless number t-shirts for birthday presents (they are always well received by both parents, and little ones, and a great price at just £16.95). But at the recent Bubble exhibition in London, it was this adorable love tee that caught my eye. The ‘marshmallow’ pink is just right, and the silver text makes the perfect cool contrast. I also loved the ‘hello’ version in the perfect ‘cloud’ grey with neon text (in fact, it was tough to choose which one to use as the picture for this post). They are also both available in baby sizes too. I can’t get enough of them!

ps: the lucky winner of the gorgeous Nature Zoo musical octopus is Louise Knight. Congratulations Louise! Please email me with your address and I will post it straight to you. Thank you to everyone who entered, and worry not, there will be more competitions coming soon.

pps: next week is dedicated to the dreaded (for so many reasons!!) subject of ‘back to school’, or in Tabarlow’s case: starting school. I am traumatised, but mostly about the scary shoes. I will be sharing my woes with you all next week, so don’t buy anything until you’ve read my edit.

daddy spree: what are we going to buy for father’s day?

1. Uniqlo Sweatshirt, £19.90
2. Acqua Di Parma Colonia After Shave, £35.10
3. ‘Where Chefs Eat’, £11.96
4. Tillyanna ‘Daddy We Love You’ Cushion, £30.00
5. Jigsaw Two Tone Scarf, £39.00
6. I love My Dad, from £1.99
7. Anya Hindmarch Bespoke Wallet, £195.00

Here is a round-up of all my favourite gifts ideas for Father’s Day. You even still have time to order a thoughtful bespoke or personalised gift or card if you get your skates on. This edit (I hope) covers all types of dads, and all types of budgets… As always, the trawling through the internet has been done for you (you can literally write off an entire afternoon on notonthehighstreet.com!!). Father’s Day can be a bit of a last-minute panic, but if you are reading this, you are already on your way to getting organised! I have even included ideas for cards and wrapping paper…
Love this sweet fortune teller game; story time dice (I have ordered these for Tom from the twins as one of his pressies); personalised chopping board or slate trivet for dads who like to cook; ‘you are loved’ print; ‘you are amazing’ print; ‘do small things with love’ print; canvas weekend bag; navy chukka boots; type map print; personalised bookmark; ‘dad’ cushion; stylish (and practical) picnic blanket; you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Acqua di Parma as far as I’m concerned (Tabitha and Marlow’s Daddy wears/loves it, and I adore the smell)… this super-cool Roberts Revival Blutone black radio (really tempted to buy this for Tom, as I know he would love it..); perosnalised record label print (I love ‘daddy cool’); steel hip flask; vintage playing cards ‘Daddy’ picture; personalised money clip; if you’ve got a holiday booked, how about these chic seersucker swim shorts (bought for Tom from Marlow, to match his) or these (also bought for Tom, from Tabitha)? Jigsaw round collar shirt; ‘my daddy is…’ framed print; Gucci sunglasses; ‘my heart belongs to Daddy’ mug; Jigsaw checked scarf; personalised canvas bag; A.P.C-esque wash bag (I like the one with the cross); super-cool Lanvin trainers; for beardy daddys (including Tabitha and Marlow’s), this beard oil set; this tricolour sweatshirt; and last but not least we really love (and will probably be buying) this personalised bookmark (‘best storyteller’ is our favourite – so sweet). And don’t forget the card/s! Notonthehighstreet.com have some of the best I’ve seen. Love this (and have ordered three!) ‘days you have been my dad’ card; this ‘to the moon and back’ card; this ‘best grandad ever ever ever ever ever’ card (don’t forget the granddads if you’re little ones are lucky enough to have them); this hand print card; this chalkboard card; this ‘daddy cool’ card; and I adore this sweet ‘write your own’ father’s day wrapping paper. Amen.

ps: and while you’re online check out my Style Passport interview on the AlexandAlexa blog. Can’t wait for our holiday now…

pps: just re-read this and realised that Tom has done pretty well! I’ve also bought him ‘The Where Chefs Eat’ book, which I know he’ll love.

house rules

Lime Lace Personalised Ruler Height Chart
£125.00  SHOP NOW
I came across this when I was searching online for a cool ‘rewards chart’ for the twins (I didn’t find one, so any suggestions gratefully received!). It is such a great idea for a height chart, and can be personalised (which I always love for kids’ things). It is quite pricey (but it is GIANT – over six foot!), but would make a really cool statement in a baby’s nurser/child’s room. It would also make a really fab, original gift (newborn, christening, early birthday). I love it.

pull along

Hedgehog Pull Along Cart
£35.00  SHOP NOW
What kid doesn’t love loading up all their toys (crap) into something vaguely mobile, then moving (dragging) it from place to place? So why not get them something cool to do it with? This a great price for something that is guaranteed to get A LOT of use. Plus I won’t resent it (too much) hanging around because it looks good. Sold!

ps: I bought the best swimming costume for Tabitha this afternoon in Gap. I have scoured their website and it’s not there, but this is the bikini version (also very cute, but better for slightly older girls). The one piece is the same seersucker fabric and grey/blue stripe and it has a halter-neck. I bought Tabs age 4-5 and it fits (admittedly quite roomy, but she is tiny, and it was the smallest size). It’s gorgeous, and looks super-expensive. It will be having it’s first outing on Monday at their swimming lesson.

pps: I know it’s Saturday and not Friday, but I bought these flats from Zara, and I already love them, and they were just £20.00!! I wore them this afternoon with a cashmere sweater and my Current Elliot black jeans (with a little cuff). Super-chic.

ppps: Mango has a whopping 30% off today (enter the code: 5APRIL2014 at checkout), so get shopping! I’ve just had a breakfast (not so little) shopping spree (for me and the kids) and I’m still in my pyjamas! Thanks Lisa for the tip-off.

 

gifted

New Baby’s Cardigan And Teddy Gift Set (0-6 months)
£50.00  SHOP NOW
Looking for a chic, original gift for a newborn baby? I absolutely love this gorgeous gift set. Sometimes even I get bored of my usual High Street haunts when it comes to buying baby gifts, and this set really caught my eye because it’s a little bit different, and a whole lot more stylish than your standard baby sets. And you can order it without setting foot outside your house – you don’t even have to buy wrapping paper or a card – it comes wrapped in tissue paper in a chic box with a gift tag (which can be personalised). The cute hooded cardigan (made from super-soft, machine washable cotton) comes in a selection of gorgeous (Little Spree favourite) colours – dusky blue, vintage pink, soft grey and cream. And teddy (who is also machine washable) comes with a removable grey jumper. What more could a newborn wish for for a stylish start?

ps: if you want a little less of a splurge, how cute are these knitted t-bar baby booties?