I am and always have been, terribly nostalgic. It’s the Cancerian in me. Even the most innate objects are treasured souvenirs. The coat my husband hates so much? I saved my Megabowl wages up to buy it almost half my life ago. How can I ever part with it? Tickets, birthday cards, out of date passports, hospital bracelets, clothes that don’t even fit now…some would call it hoarding but we Cancerians just love collecting memories. Little bits of treasure. I think this is why I love photography so much – capturing a moment to keep forever. I have always loved looking at photographs and even as a child I could spend literally hours looking through old photo albums and reliving that time. This is also where I think my love of vintage things comes in. All the photos of my parents in their flares and cheesecloth.

We Cancerians (apparently) are prone to romantic reminiscing and fantasising and that’s a pretty spot on description of my yearly “THIS CHRISTMAS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST ONE EVER!” insanity. I grew up in a family that LOVE Christmas. My mother is OCD about her Christmas trees (yes, plural) and just puts her heart and soul into making it wonderful for everyone. I have the best memories of Christmas as a child and it’s something I really want to recreate for my own children. I want it to be magical, like a Christmas film! Only my kids didn’t get the memo. Instead of beautiful wooden toys, they want obnoxious plastic shit that flashes. They didn’t get gifts like that in the old black & whites. Remember the part in Miracle On 34th Street when the baby knocked the tree over? Me either. I proudly announced to my mum that I had a new Christmas tradition (!!!!) idea, to let the children choose ornaments for the tree every year and when they grew up, they could have them to put on their own tree. That’s lovely, right? We’ll be lucky if any of them survive. Three times she’s had that tree over. THREE TIMES. Next year I’m buying fabric decorations.

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This is the kind of thing I had in mind

We took the children to a Christmas Fayre at the weekend and Beloved did a stint in the grotto. He’s a very good Father Christmas, the thespian that he is. The Urchin (who announced that he is now a helpful elf) loved being in on the secret (kids are too clever so we figured there was no point trying to fool him) and was really excited to look around the stalls while I got drunk (just kidding!). We decided to explore the woods and build some dens while we waited for Daddy…5 minutes in and he’s crying, “I fell over and then I accidentally ate some dirt”. Of course you did.

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“He talks to the animals…” I couldn’t stop thinking of Rod Hull’s Emu so we didn’t stick around for long

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cake

I know, I know. This is the third post now about her birthday and I’m sure you’re shouting at the computer screen “Jesus, Hayley! Would you just STFU about your kid’s birthday!”. I promise I’m done now (until August, k?)
A little while ago, my sister Gemma* mentioned making a smash cake for Sunshine’s first birthday. As babies, photos and cake are my most favourite things in the world, obviously I said yes. And in my head what I actually heard Gemma say was “shall I make you a cake?” I have to say, the cake was amazing! The sponge especially….just….so…perfect… Hopefully, she’ll add it to the recipes on her site because it really was that good. It’s true, I would only know about this if I had eaten cake off a floor after my baby had smeared her drool all over it. Yep. I did. I ate dribbled on cake off the floor. Bet my mum is so proud right now.

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*We’re not actually sisters but we both gave our kids loads of names and we both have a fringe so good as. That’s basically the same thing, right?

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Headband and tutu custom made by Bunzies Bows & Goodies

Cake made by Gemma’s Toddler Kitchen

Baby made by me (Beloved helped. A bit)

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I’ve seen the Coca Cola advert, eaten almost a whole tin of Roses (obviously not the Brazilian Darkness….who even likes them anyway?), we’ve been ice skating and seen Father Christmas so it must be true. Holidays are coming and we are so excited!

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Waiting for Father Christmas. She was wearing a darling little bonnet too but Beloved (who doesn’t appreciate baby fashion) made me take it off. He said people were staring.

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I always love seeing Father Christmas with a real beard. Easily pleased.

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While our friends across the pond celebrated Thanksgiving, I was thankful to have survived the first year as a mother of two without turning into Sue Ellen (won’t get too cocky – still might happen). Our little Honor Eliza Sunshine (a lot of effort went into this name, have to use the whole thing whenever I can) celebrated her 1st birthday. I always had it into my head that I didn’t want a winter baby, but I love that her birthday will be the start of the holidays for us. And I’m totally embracing the use of the word holidays, I don’t even care that as a non- American, using it makes me a bit of a tool.

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The birthday itself was lovely and my bi-annual homemade birthday cake was very successful, thanks in part to the help of my little sous chef. I was slightly embarrassed when someone walked past my kitchen window and looked in to see me eating the cake mix (all good chefs taste their food – Jamie says!)

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 I like to think that Mary Berry would appreciate the addition of a 5 year old’s saliva to the sunshine frosting.

I was so proud of him. He was genuinely excited for her birthday, so thrilled to help and coming up with his own convenient ideas for gifts – Ninjago (it’s a boy Lego thing). She, of course, had no idea what was going on and was actually pretty angry that people had the audacity to turn up at her house and try and give her presents. What is wrong with people?! As if that wasn’t bad enough, then they start singing and trying to give you cake? Ridiculous. Can’t wait to see what she makes of all this Christmas lark.

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Nanny was responsible for this dress. Bonnet and frill hating misery guts Daddy was horrified, natch.

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