A new tradition for our family this Christmas

Have you heard of Jólabókaflóð? Please tell me you haven’t because otherwise I am going to be seriously embarrassed! I’ve worked in book publishing for around 15 years now and my husband…a lot longer!  Neither of us had heard about this brilliant tradition that runs in Iceland every Christmas Eve. 

Simply put, Jólabókaflóð means The Book Flood and every Christmas Eve you celebrate by gifting each other a book that you then read that evening. Think hygge but so much more – I’m planning chocolates, the woodburner on, fairy lights and lots of blankets and cushions. Amy is also gifted new pyjamas on Christmas Eve. We are going to be really cosy! 

Book reading with a fire. Cosy.

As you would expect, we are big readers in our house – we love books, love talking about them and sharing reads with our friends and family. This Icelandic tradition was made for us, especially as in the last fews years we have been to the local Christmas Eve church service which is sadly now a few days earlier. This meant that our evening was suddenly free and I didn’t want us to just watch television. So instead we will be doing this! 

I can’t decide if Jonathan and I should get new books (my to be read pile is huge and I’ve asked for a few more titles for Christmas) but I have ordered my daughter this book – Pages & Co by Anna James. It looks beautiful AND it has brilliant reviews. I know Amy will love it and I can’t wait to kickstart this new tradition in our family.  

I have bought Amy this book for our Jólabókaflóð

What festive traditions do you have in your family? 

To find out more about  Jólabókaflóð then please look here and here.

What treatments worked for our week of chicken pox

 

My daughter has been visited by Chicken Pox this week. Joy!
My daughter has been visited by Chicken Pox this week. Joy!

Slight curveball with this post but I’ve been somewhat distracted this week. Less work more about spots.  My daughter work up on Sunday morning covered in them. Yep, she had finally got Chicken Pox!

Working from home means that it ought to be easy for me to down tools and look after my daughter but just because I work from home doesn’t mean that I can stop working. You’d be amazed at how many people do not realise that. (They are normally people who work in offices.)

So this week has meant working mostly from my phone and in the evenings when she’s asleep. It worked – nothing got missed but it was an extra layer of stress for me.

This was not popular – she said it made her more itchy. Argh!!!

Anyway! The reason for this post! Treatments that worked for my daughter. Hmm… now you know that every child is individual and therefore will react differently to each treatment? Well Amy didn’t like any of the usual suspects – said it made her itch more. Bye bye to calamine lotion (I even put it in the fridge to make it extra cool like the lady in Boots told

This was very popular with other Mum’s but not with my daughter. Sigh.

me) and ViraSoothe (Chicken Pox Cooling Gel) but hello to antihistamine medicine and an oat bath.

The oat bath worked like a dream – put a handful of porridge oats in a flannel/or muslin. Tie it with a hair band. Bung it in the bath when the water is running. Then add a few drops of Tea Tree oil and Lavender oil. That’s it! She stayed in the bath for about 15 mins and I squeezed the oat flannel over her a bit but that was all. The antihistamines were more trouble as she hated the taste BUT it did help with the initial itching.

It wasn’t exactly like this but she was a LOT happier.

We are now on Day 6 of the ‘pox and I’m hopeful that she will go to school on Monday. Her spots are drying up and she’s back to eating again. I think that was the bit that bothered me the most, not the spots but the lack of eating. I always know she’s not right if I haven’t heard the words “I’m starving” every hour, on the hour.

Good luck if you are yet to encounter Chicken Pox! We had to wait until she was 7 3/4’s. But I do recommend the oat bath.

ps I’m not obviously a medic, this is just my thoughts. If you have any concerns, do please contact your Doctor or checkout the NHS guidelines.

How I Work: Jo O’Sullivan from Ta doodle dah

 

I love these blog posts! Finding out about the different ways we all cope with our 9 to 3 fascinates me. Like the lady I’m about to feature, I have a job that I love but needed a creative outlet to complete my happiness – hence this blog. Jo is an amazing, talented self-taught designer who runs her own company as well as being a teacher. I certainly feel exceedingly humble when looking at her achievements.

I came across Jo through my favourite social media platform, Instagram. Her designs are like a breath of fresh air that ping out from my phone.

Name of Business: Ta doodle dah (I create eye-catching eye-catching paper goods for children.)

Photo of Jo Sullivan of Tadoodledah
Jo O’Sullivan is a teacher and runs her own design paper product business.

What do you do?

I’m a part-time teacher in an Independent School and work on Ta doodle dah around my job and three children.

Where do you work?

I usually work with the laptop on my lap sitting on the sofa (great for my posture!) or at the kitchen table. I keep all my stock in boxes in a room in the dining room and pack orders on the table in there; not very glamorous at all!

How did you get to this point in your career?

I’ve been teaching for over 10 years and have only just launched Ta doodle dah this year. I’ve always been quite creative, but never really discovered my creative outlet until I started graphic designing at home for fun; I downloaded Adobe Creative as a trial and was instantly hooked! I’m completely self-taught, I love the freedom it gives me and I’m excited to see where this little business takes me.

The best part of my job is…

…Creating designs that people like and receiving lovely messages from them.

Just a hint of some of the designs from Ta doodle dah

The worst part is…

…Trying to find the time to do everything! I try not to be sitting with a laptop out when the kids are around, but it is really really hard.

Favourite time-saving trick?

I wish I had one! I think living near my parents helps me a lot as they do the odd school run for me and cook them dinner once a week; this is a lifesaver!

Best advice for anyone working the 9 to 3?

Working 9-3 feels like the shortest day sometimes but I always try and do the jobs that I really can’t do when the kids are around. For example, if the dishwasher needs emptying, I know I can do that when the kids are home, so I’ll leave it until later on. I try and prioritise the most urgent jobs that I really can’t do when the children are around. I can always think of a reason not to do the cleaning! Oh and I try not to fall down an Instagram rabbit hole and give myself a time limit on scrolling!

Favourite social media accounts/blogs?

Just a peek from the Instagram account of Ta doodle Dah!
Just a peek from the Instagram account of Ta doodle dah!

I love so many accounts and small businesses on Instagram but my favourites are probably @meandorla, @velveteenbabies, @wonderandrah, @little_jagger_, @emilybrooksuk and @susiejverrill.

Follow Jo on Instagram @tadoodledah

Please do visit her website: https://tadoodledah.com

My favourite meeting places within Kings Cross/St Pancras Station

 

Image of St Pancras and Kings Cross
St.Pancras and Kings Cross stations are brilliant places to base yourself for a day of client meetings.

This is quite a specific post! I was sent a few emails from my last post asking me where I like to meet clients in the Kings Cross/St Pancras area and can I make any recommendations. Sure thing! As I mentioned, some days I literally spend the entire day in this area as a lot of my clients either go through the stations on their commutes or have offices close by.

There is of course the usual coffee shops and chains that you see everywhere so I’ve tried not to highlight them (except Leon) and instead offered up a few other places that you might like to try. Personally I prefer a location that I feel might help the meeting along and I don’t always get that vibe from a Starbucks or Pret. (both are plentiful in the area)

Formal breakfast

Granger & Co – I absolutely love this restaurant! It is fairly expensive but they cater for all allergy issues with style and their food is delicious. My

Image of Granger & Co
One of my favourite restaurants in the area. I’d stay all day if I could.

favourite is the Avocado on sourdough with a side of chorizo. Their Almond milk Chia seed pudding is wonderful whether it is for breakfast or as a dessert. They sell out of that one quickly though so I always have it for breakfast. You can feel quite hemmed in there as the tables are packed together so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have highly confidential stuff to discuss. Booking in advance is essential.

I also sometimes stay here after my Breakfast meeting has left and have a Coffee meeting with another client. You can sit up at the bar if you wish. It is more informal and a great way to check in with your client. I’d do this for a client that I know really well.

WARNING – their loos are the darkest place on earth. Not the place for touching up your make up.

Relaxed breakfast

Sourced Market (St Pancras Station) – order and pay at the counter service. They have the biggest pain au chocolats that you have ever seen. Plus Monmouth Coffee (which is my favourite coffee) and really interesting fruit salads, porridges and pastries. Grab a stool on one of the benches and away you go. It is a nice place to meet for a quick catch up.

Eleveneses

Yumchaa  (1 Granary Square)- this is up the road from Kings Cross at Granary Square and is housed in the same building as Central St Martins. You definitely get a strong hint of cool from this place and the people watching is superb. I like to meet new quirky clients here – often authors and artists. The tea selection is impressive and I can wholly recommend the Almond milk chai tea.

Drink, Shop & Do (9 Caledonian Road) –

Drink, Shop & Do – A fantastic awe-inspiring place to visit!

this is a fun spot for a catch up. Lots to look at and can provide inspiration for a creative meeting.

Formal Lunch

Caravan (1 Granary Square). This offers a range of lunch options and is another great spot for associating yourself with a bit of cool! You see journalists from The Guardian here occasionally and lots of media types. That may make you want to avoid it! The food is good, and booking is necessary.

Dishoom (5 Stable Street) I’ve not been here yet but my friend has and fully recommends it. The food is delicious and set very stylishly. Booking is preferred. You can literally stay here all day – they cater for all meals. Apparently their Chai Tea is not to be missed.

Informal Lunch

Leon (St Pancras Square) – you can’t go wrong with Leon. Okay the service

Visit Leon in St Pancras Square
I like to go to this Leon – not the one in Kings Cross.

is a little rushed and there is always a massive queue but I like to go to the one on St Pancras Square. Less hectic then the one in Kings Cross station by the platform entrances.

Yo Sushi (St Pancras Station) – noisy but you can either sit at a booth or by the conveyor belt. Fun, simple and never disappoints. You can have a great catch up here without fuss or waiting in a queue.

Afternoon Tea

Le Pain Quotidien (St Pancras Station) – admittedly another chain but its a

Le Pain Equotedien is a great catch up place.

small one and I like their long tables! Within the central hub of the station, it is always busy and humming with life. I get travel envy as I see people grabbing food before they head to the Eurostar. I love their jam and the simplicity of the menu. Great cake too.

AMT Coffee (Upper Level St Pancras station) – great for grabbing a coffee and finding a place to sit on the station concourse. It tends to be quieter up there in the afternoon before the commuters start turning up.

Evening Drink 

George’s Bar at The Gilbert Scott

George’s Bar – The Gilbert Scott (St Pancras Station) – a beautiful bar with amazing, classy cocktails! I wouldn’t advise you to have more than the one though. They are dangerous. This is a lovely setting and perfect for a quick ‘thank you’ drink with a client.

Searcys Champagne Bar  (Upper Level, St Pancras Station)- well I had to mention it! This is another ‘treat’ place for me but it is great and far less noisy than George’s. You can soak up the atmosphere of the station and network.

The Parcel Yard (Upper Level, Kings Cross) – this can be a little rough around the edges at times

The Parcel Yard is always busy but great when you have a seat!

but that’s simply because it is so busy. They can serve a mean Gin & Tonic though and I’ve had a few after work drinks here before catching the train home.

In general there are loads of places within this area that you can use but these are just a few of my favourites or ones that I have been recommended. Let me know if I’ve missed somewhere superb!

ps This is a great link to Central St Martins website that recommends places too.

Manic Meeting Monday – how I survived a day of back to back meetings in London

How I survived a day of meetings in London
This Instagram post proved to be very popular

 

Hello!

I’ve had a lot of great feedback on the Instagram post I wrote about surviving my manic day on Monday and I thought I would just elaborate a little more on here. The ‘gram is great at getting snippets of information out but I can flesh it out more on the blog. (well that’s the plan anyway)

My day started early - I stay the night before at my mother-in-law's in my old neighbourhood - Herne Hill .
My day started early – I stay the night before at my mother-in-law’s in my old neighbourhood – Herne Hill .

So on Monday I had booked a pretty full on day – with meetings starting from 8.30am through to 6pm. This was to see potential new clients and also my current roster of clients that are London based.

Here are some of my rules for planning a day out of the office:

  1. Book in advance. I knew that I had an opportunity to attend an afternoon conference 4 weeks before the day. This not only meant that I knew when and where I needed to be for a chunk of the day but also that I could contact clients to see if they were available.
  2. Book meeting meals – meet for breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea and a drink after work. This makes sure that you are never hungry(!) but also that there is an extra incentive for your clients to meet with you.
  3. Go to them – if possible make it even easier for your client and meet either at their office or nearby. By meeting say at 8.30am, 10.30am, 1pm, 3pm and 5.30pm you have time to travel between locations. Or pick a place where you

    Trafalgar Square
    One of the nicest bits about the day is seeing the sights between meetings!

    can see everyone easily – like a train station. I have been known to flit between St Pancras and Kings Cross all day – meeting clients at different coffee shops and restaurants.

  4. Use the Citymapper app – do this in advance! You can plot your route between clients. I like to use the bus when I can as it allows me to catch up on any immediate emails that have come through.
  5. Pick your outfit very carefully – wear something that you feel comfortable in but can race across a city in too. I often go with a simple dress with flat ‘smart’ boots. I don’t carry trainers with me as I can’t face the faff of them and I find that leather boots are acceptable in all offices.
  6. As with your outfit, choose your bag! You don’t want to look like you are carrying your entire life with you. I choose a small shoulder handbag that fits my phone, wallet, lip balm and pen in. I then have a larger bag (usually in the same colour as my smaller one – yes I know, matchy matchy) where I pop in a notebook , umbrella, hairbrush and any work bits. My clients always give me new books to read, so it is useful to have something substantial to carry them in.
  7. Supermodel Smile – its quite sheer and really easy to put on without a mirror!

    Make up – I keep it really simple so that I don’t have to worry about it all day. As you know, I like to have my eyelashes and brows tinted so that I needn’t think about them. My favourites are Bobby Brown Serum Foundation, Trinny London blush and concealer (you can attach these together – so good), plus I have just started wearing a little bit of lip tint and have found Marks & Spencers Rosie lip in Supermodel Smile (yes, really) to give me a bit of sparkle when I need it! On the day, I carry the blush and lip tint around – that’s it. Everything else lasts all day.

  8. Take a travel phone charger! Essential, especially as my phone is currently on its last legs and the battery life is not great.
  9. Last meeting at St.Pancras! Love this station!

    After the last meeting, I like to treat myself to a cup of tea and Hello magazine for the journey home. Always helps! 

  10. Next day, send thank you emails with your action points. Mention when you might be next able to see them. 

And that’s it! I’m always really energised by my full on day, I love London and do miss the buzz of being there but then I find myself very happy to be leaving it all behind at the end of the day. Back to the comforts of home.

Last tip – have a slow day after a busy one. I did some yoga, emails and really bunkered down. The really s**t weather on Tuesday also made staying in a lot easier…