Afternoon Tea Week with Spode

When Spode got in touch recently to team up with them for Afternoon Tea Week, how could I refuse?

Renown for great products I was thrilled to say yes.

I love a good afternoon tea, endless Earl Grey with lots of finger food. There’s plenty of worse ways to spend a few hours.

The thing is I’d actually been looking to update the crockery at home. I’ve been doing a lot of purging recently, it feels good to streamline, but I wanted to replace it all with something that would stand the test of time.

You know me by now, I love a classic, something that won’t date. I think I found it with this mixture from Spode, William Morris’s Strawberry Thief and the leafy, green hues of Ruskin House. I’m always mixing and matching, it keeps things fresh and these two ranges complement each other without competing.

sunflowers william morris strawberry thief afternoon tea spode

Here’s a shot, pre-food frenzy, I’m looking forward to getting some use out of the cake tins. They are much deeper than the ones I had before, meaning I can make bigger cakes!

spode afternoon tea

We took our afternoon tea outside to make the most of the incredible summer we’ve had this year.

I must confess that I hung out in the chilled food aisle for longer than necessary to get some treats for our afternoon tea. I’ve barely been able to put the oven on, it’s just been too hot!

summer afternoon tea outside

afternoon tea with spode

What I noticed straight away whilst unpacking the new crockery was the quality of the products, checking several times that they are dishwasher safe and I can verify that they are. The glaze doesn’t scratch, I’ve often noticed grey scratches on the cheaper brands I’ve had in the past. The pattern print is flawless too, something as detailed as this and you could be forgiven for a smudge here and there, but it’s as sharp as a pin.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  William Morris

The useful and beautiful boxes are well and truly checked in this case.

afternoon tea outside with william morris

I love the elegance of the Strawberry Thief Cup & Saucer sets. These would make a great gift too as the boxes are covered in the famous print.

What are your thoughts on the mix and matching? Would you mix two sets?

This is obviously a really informal setting, but it could easily become a bit grander with a dark tablecloth, vintage glassware and a candelabra centrepiece. It will be perfect for Christmas, but I intend using it all year round. It’s too lovely to keep for special occasions.

I stuck with the William Morris pattern for the main items like the dinner plates and the girls loved the chocolates in the trinket dish. Definitely keeping that exclusively for treats.

afternoon tea picnic in the garden

I love the quiet elegance of the Ruskin House range too, the mugs are the perfect size for when you don’t want a full cup of tea, but just a pick-me-up. We used them for orange juice, but they’d also make great kid-sized hot chocolates. Ideal for that after school treat come Autumn time. I love a pattern clash like the Strawberry Thief tray above with the Ruskin cake plates

Do you enjoy Afternoon tea? We mixed savoury and sweet here which I prefer. Let me know in the comments if you’ll be treating yourself to Afternoon Tea this week.

Afternoon Tea Week runs from 13th-20th August 2018

The Nora Mattress and a Kids Bedroom update

  • this post is in collaboration with Wayfair, all opinions my own obviously 

Hello dear readers!

How are you? I’ve had a little writing break and I’m back feeling revived.

Today I’m sharing an interiors post. Something I feel like I haven’t done for ages. 

(I got a tad distracted by my novel, more on that soon.)

wayfair nora mattress kids room

I’m collaborating with Wayfair on this post, a brand I’ve worked with in the past, and bought from independently. They are somewhere I often visit online for their wide choice of homeware ranges, at affordable prices. Wayfair sent me The Nora Mattress and I wanted to share a bit about the bedroom itself too.

This is where we are up to with my youngest daughters room. The needs of children, and therefore their environments change so much in the early years. Going from a cot to toddler bed to a proper bed is one of the major changes.

Kids bedrooms are continual works in progress.

ideas for small kids bedrooms

kids rooms small ideas

nora mattress review in kids room

The Nora Mattress arriving is perfect timing for us.

Let me tell you a little about this space. It’s small for a start. One of the walls is a stud wall. The house is so old, it was probably one big room at the back of the house, which then was split at some point in the past. We’ve found it’s not ideal for screwing into (understatement of the year).

On moving into the property, in 2013 and this room housed a horrible carpet (a theme in this house) and walls that looked like they’d been used as a dartboard.

When Elizabeth was smaller, with just a cot and a small wardrobe, the layout of the room didn’t really cause any problems. It was only when we started measuring up for where a single bed would, or could, go that I really had to get my thinking cap on about how to use the space as best as we could.

This involved moving a radiator and a few trips to Ikea for their space saving ideas.

algot system used as desk

In fact, thinking about it, this room has probably seen the most changes of any of the spaces in our home.

But because they are smaller and haven’t ever taken over the whole house, it’s never felt like a huge effort (apart from when we sanded the floor).

So, it’s had a few different guises as she’s grown and this is how it is currently.

Thanks to Wayfair and the brand new Nora mattress, the most important part of the room is now finished. Only minus a proper headboard (currently using part of an äpplarö wall panel from Ikea, a spur of the moment hack and it sort of works for now). I think I’m going to make something for a headboard over the summer.

girls small bedroom

My daughter (aged four and a half) says the bed makes her feel like a Princess. She couldn’t wait to get into it on the first night. She will retreat into bed now if she’s tired or had a fall out with her elder sister. It is a real haven for her.

I must admit when I’ve lain on the mattress myself it’s incredibly soft, it almost hugs you, but not in a, I’m sinking way.

There are four layers of foam and a cooling cover to regulate body heat, ensuring that great night’s sleep kids really need.

It’s also reassuring to know that we have 100 days to change our minds. I cant see that happening though!

If you are interested in the Nora Mattress, Wayfair has 20% introductory promotional prices on these mattresses, so a standard single is currently £279.99, double £359.99 and king £439.99

A Photoshoot at Home

Recently I had the pleasure of being the subject of a photoshoot at my home. Today I wanted to share a taster of the shots.

I’d known of Alex‘s work through the Manchester blogging scene and could see he held himself to a high standard. I love the tones and the earthiness of his images. He seems to capture a faraway, dreamy vibe whilst still being very much in the moment, grounded in realism.

If you are a regular reader you’ll know I’m in the midst of writing a novel. My first one. My initial draft is almost complete and we wanted to capture the change in me, somehow. The evolution going on inside my head.

Alexander Ward photographer. Susan Earlam withlong hair with fringe bangs

I’ve written before about how coaching was the catalyst that pushed me down this (I’m going to write a book!) path. A path I’d always known was there but had simply ignored, or thought it wasn’t for me.

Stephen King’s book On Writing was also a key component of me actually thinking the stories in my head could, and should, go down on paper. I’m clutching it in the shot below.

book inspiration peacock chair in library lifestyle

Shooting with Alex at my home was brilliant. He is decisive, patient and snappy (pun intended). We’d met up beforehand to chat about the shoot and I’d sent over some images so he had an idea of what the inside and outside of my house looked like. We got through three sets/areas of my home in four hours, which I think is some kind of record.

I really am just showing you a snippet of the photographs here. There were loads to choose from and loads I liked. I’d managed not to look like too much of a goofball, which is always a bonus and I think it is totally down to Alex and his guidance.

purple front door

We showcased my home without it being an interiors shoot, which was very refreshing.

writers lifestyle by Alexandar Ward Photography

arbour in bohemian english country garden

susan earlam writer at home

I even got my own Beyonce moment!

peacock chair with plants

Okay, okay, enough already! I hear you! You’ll see more from this shoot over the coming months and further into the future. For now, I’d love to know which shot or set you prefer from the above?


Photography- Alexander Ward Photography

Assistant/stylist- Karen from Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

Location- my house

Plants- a mixture of my own and some from Plant Shop Manchester in Stockport. Which tbh is where 90% of my own plants have originated from anyway. Go and visit!


A Happy Bed for my Happy Girl

This is a collaborative post

When you have kids it can sometimes feel like they don’t stop growing. Well, not until they’re about eighteen anyway.

My eldest is now eight and she’s had a full sized single bed for around four years now. She has a Leesa mattress, which she and I love, but there was one problem; the bed constantly moved around her floor.

vintage bedsheets kids bedrooms

vintage bed sheets yellow spring like

She has bare floorboards with a rug (from Next last summer), and the wheeled casters on the bed ensured it moved as if it had a life of its own.

The single divan had poor storage too. A two drawer divan base is great in theory but because her bed is in an alcove I was always moving the bed in and out to get bedding (or teddies) out of that drawer. I also had concerns over safety, kids jump on the bed even when you’ve told them otherwise. Jumping and playing on a large moving object with her four-year-old sister, well… I was imagining all sorts.

It was time to get a new bed.

Enter, Happy Beds who have a huge range of beds on their website. We were spoilt for choice!

white and colourful little girls room

So after lots of measuring and checking which bed would fit, we finally decided on Vego (not the Ghostbusters 2 baddie). The alcove is such a small space, and she has wall-mounted bedside storage, we really had to be certain it would slot in.

I love the white and wood scheme of this bed. It’s clean looking, always a plus in a kids room! It has a minimalist vibe, also great for a kids room, especially mine, as they seem to accumulate so much stuff in ALL the colours.

When the bed arrived, I genuinely thought there were items of the delivery missing. The driver who brought it in assured me all the parts were there. It was so small!

The proof was in the pudding as my ever DIY loving 😉 husband put together the bed. His verdict; The instructions make much more sense than others he’s dealt with, mentioning no names of course.

kids beds how to choose

colourful rug white bed little girls room decor ideas

The other thing to know that this bed is solid wood, not MDF or similar. It has a real feel of quality to it. The sturdiness that you just don’t get with particle board.

Have you ever assembled furniture and when attaching parts together with the particle board just crumbles as you screw things in? Well not with solid wood.

storage solutions in kids rooms

This bed will last my daughter for a long time…until she moves out, I imagine!

She is thrilled with the bed and is pleased it’s not moving around anymore. There is a lot more accessible storage space too, and we have bought some under-bed storage boxes to slide underneath. Her room feels much lighter and airer now and I can hoover under the bed easily.

To see more of this room, including some understairs storage we had fitted click here.

I’ve also filmed a short video too. It’s been a while since I’ve done any filming so please be kind!


Staircase Makeover

Oh my, this has been a long time coming.

Previously, we had a thick carpet in a deep shade of salmon running up the staircase, and onto the landing.

I hated it so much. At that time it was way down on our list of things that needed sorting in the house. So we lived with it until I just snapped one day and pulled up all the carpet on the stairs. We then lived with that for a while too!

staircase makeover using black paint

Fast forward four years later we’ve made over our stairs and the whole hallway. It’s now nearly unrecognisable from when we arrived.

monochrome stairs

black and white entryway hallway

sanding an edwardian staircase

I’ve mentioned before that this staircase makeover was one of the worst jobs we’ve ever done ourselves in the house.

The paint stripper, the dust from sanding, oh yes, then more paint stripper and more sanding.

It’s true that my other half did the lions share (actually all) of this job and I wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d wanted to give in and get the professionals to finish it off. He didn’t let it defeat him, plus he’s also way cheaper than any tradesmen. We’d been quoted over £1000 to have this job done and when you are saving up for a trip to Disney at some point, well I don’t need to spell it out do I?

We He used;

  • Nitromors- an incredibly strong paint stripper. We’d tried other ones, and eco ones but sadly they just weren’t working for us. Use with extreme caution.
  • A lot of sanding, using a handheld electric sander
  • A chisel for chipping off of really thick (decades old paint, watch for lead paint, and wear a mask!)
  • Wood filler to smooth the surface and fill any holes, of which there were many.

I then pitched in with the easier tasks of varnishing the treads with a few coats of Ronseal Clear Satin and helping paint the risers in Evening Coat by Valspar.

This job took forever, I’m not even joking. It’s because it’s so fiddly!

In this shot (seen below) you can see how our staircase looked for the majority of last year. We’d just had our Harvey Maria flooring fitted which is what led me to choose a charcoal colour on the risers. What you cant see here is all the sticky adhesive that had been used to help hold that awful carpet in place on top of each tread.

victorian modern floor tiles

You are so lucky today, I’ve managed to dig out the photos of how this hallway looked when we first moved in.

Are you ready? This is pre staircase makeover, pre-kitchen, pre-hallway floor, pre-everything really!

staircase makeover the before photos with awful carpet

dated stairs with carpet pre makeoverLooking at these photos makes me realise how far we’ve come, and how much work we’ve done in our home.

I wrote a post about 2017 being the year of renovations for us. It was such a hectic time but it really makes it all worthwhile when every day my family and I get to wake up and live here. This house definitely has its quirks. It can be a real Pandora’s Box when it comes to DIY, but it is our home.

black risers and wooden treads staircase

Have you made over your staircase?