Welcome, Talitha!

As I mentioned in my previous post, things over her at Gathered Cheer HQ have been somewhat turned upside down after the arrival of our little girl, Tallie. Now that we're beginning to find our feet, I wanted to properly introduce you to our little bird (so nicknamed as she made the cutest pecking motions on my shoulder when she wanted food!) and also to share a little more of our journey as to how we got here. 

Our path to becoming parents certainly wasn't straightforward, and it definitely took a lot longer than I ever could have imagined. I've written a little about our journey on here - namely about having experienced three ectopic pregnancies in as many years (you can read those posts here and here). To be told that the chances of conceiving naturally are slim to non-existent, thanks to fallopian tubes which didn't seem to know what they were supposed to be doing, is possibly one of the hardest things I've ever had to hear. But in spite of that, B and I held onto the fact that one day we would be parents. We took a little break from the baby-making trials after our last ectopic a few years ago, but then mutually agreed to give IVF a shot. So last January we began treatment and in theory we were ideal candidates. It might seem odd but the days of our treatment were lovely. B managed to shuffle his work schedule so he could come to most appointments with me and the Drs and nurses were wonderful and always so kind and encouraging. All that said, when they retrieved my eggs and had only managed to get two I was super disappointed. A few days later one happy embryo was put back into me and I sat on tenterhooks for two weeks to see how it fared. Sadly it didn't stick. This unsuccessful treatment left me lower than I've ever been before. Having been told natural conception wasn't really on the cards, I'd put all my eggs in the IVF basket (unintended pun!) and really thought it was going to work for us - we'd finally have our baby. The weeks following that I felt so lost as I grappled with our situation, along with the fact that we really couldn't afford more treatment and weren't eligible on the NHS. 

Of course we didn't face all this alone. We were wrapped in love by our friends and family. It was through these amazing people that we began to hope again - expectant at what our future could look like. Our faith is central to our lives and we truly believe that God is good, is a healer and that miracles can and do happen. Even as I type that, I also remember thinking that, despite wholeheartedly believing those statements, it would never be me up the front of church sharing my miracle story . Growing up in the church I'd seen so many people sharing stories about what God had done for them - afflictions healed, relationships restored, chains broken... I just never thought it would ever be for me. Several friends and family members began telling us that they felt such faith that we'd conceive naturally and to hold onto hope. It's times like these that the faith of others is what holds you up; my own reserves had run dry, so I let them hope for me. 

Talitha - calligraphy by Quill London

You can probably see where this is going, but three short months after the negative blood test at the IVF clinic, I saw two lines on the pregnancy test! My goodness, what an amazing shock that was. Naturally I then bought out the whole stock of testing kits at Boots as I kept checking to see if it was really true. As excited as I was, with our history of ectopics I was still so nervous, praying that it was in the right place. Thankfully I only had a week to wait as my lovely Dr suggested I went for an early scan at five weeks at our walk in clinic. I remember so vividly being scanned and the Dr confirming our little poppy seed was in my womb! In that moment every empty scan that had gone before was redeemed - we had our baby! After that moment I was still so aware of the fragility of what was growing inside me, almost not wanting to get too attached in case something went wrong. But as worried as I got from time to time, I tried to keep holding onto hope, staying calm and trusting that this pregnancy was for keeps and that God had it all in his hands. Every week was a milestone, and was even better when it included a trip to see the midwife or the sonographer. Seeing our little Peanut grow and develop and hearing her heartbeat was the most beautiful thing. And sure enough, nine months (and a bit!) after that initial scan we welcomed baby Talitha in our lives. We named her Talitha Hope as the word Talitha is used by Jesus when he says to a dead child 'talitha cumi' meaning 'little girl, arise'. So for us she is our little girl who both brings hope with her and speaks of the hope of God. A precious reminder to keep holding on. 

T // Gathered Cheer blog

Since then it's weird to think that baby loss and childlessness is no longer our current reality. God has redeemed all that with the life of our precious girl. I still think of the little lives we lost, but I no longer feel overshadowed by the pain or lost as we navigate our days. Life has taken on a new complexion as we try to learn to parent well, finding daily joy as we see Tallie grow and change. All that said, it's not been without its challenges. There's always a part of me that daren't complain about the hard days, as I know what it's like to so desperately want a baby, and hearing such complaints in those moments is the pits. But equally I'm trying to parent honestly too, sharing both the highs and the lows, the exhilerating and the mindane. 

First family photo fail ;)

First family photo fail ;)

And now onwards we go, walking on this new path - one that is already unfolding faster than I'd like. We toyed with how much to share on here and social media for a long while and finally reached the conclusion that Tallie is a huge part of our lives so to not refer to and share parts of her life would feel odd. So, while this won't be a full on parenting blog, she'll definitely pop up on here from time to time! 

So, that's our story - one of unfolding hope. If you're going through anything similar please know I am standing with you, holding onto hope for you too.

-x-

Mum Wisdoms

Hello friends, it's been a while! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you'll have gathered that there's a new team member here at Gathered Cheer, in the shape of our brand new baby girl, Talitha Hope. She's amazing and has kept my hands full these past four weeks - hence the radio silence here. I'm planning on blogging a little more about our (long and winding) journey to parenthood, along with some fun interiors pieces for little ones just as soon as I get organised! 

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

But in the meantime, let's talk about the fact that here in the UK we're fast approaching Mothering Sunday (26th March). Having previously marked this day by celebrating my amazing mum and mum-in-law, it's also always been slightly tainted by the fact that I wasn't (and wanted desperately to be) a mum. So this year it feels extra special, with our little miracle here with us - despite her currently being too young to nip to the shops to buy me some flowers! 

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

If she could pop to the shops, I'd almost certainly send her along to The White Company. I so love the range of pieces they sell - from homewares to furniture to clothing, you honestly can't go far wrong with any of it. This year, they are celebrating mums and their many wise words with a competition on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. All they are asking you to do is share a photo of your mum, along with the best advice she's given you and the hashtag #MumWisdoms. The prize is pretty ace too, with the winner receiving the full edit of Chrissie's Mother's Day gifts.

There are so many lovely photos and wise words being shared and it gave me food for thought thinking about the advice my own mum (and more recently my mum-in-law) have given me. Here are some that came to mind.

---

On Life

'Don't go outside with wet hair. You might catch a cold'

'Make decisions out of love, not fear'

'Work hard and be nice'

 

On Love

'Bad boys are overrated - go for the nice ones'

'Guard your heart. It's precious'

'Have a weekly date night'

 

On Mothering

'Go with your instincts, don't worry about what everyone else is doing'

'Prioritise your marriage above your little one. It'll be good for them to see you caring for each other well'

'Keep going. You're doing great'

---

By way of saying thank you to my mum and mum-in-law for these wisdoms (of which there are so many more!) I scoured The White Company to find them gifts ideas that I thought would love. Here is what I picked...

For the mum who loves comfort and cosiness //

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog
Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

Tassel scarf |  Relax bath oil | Restore body scrub | Side plate

 

For the mum who loves a sweet smelling home //

Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog
Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog
Mum Wisdoms with The White Company | Gathered Cheer blog

Ceramic serving board | Spring botanical collection

What do you think of the pieces I picked? Do you have any Mum wisdoms to share? I've got my eye on the gorgeous cashmere socks and tassel scarf - perfect for cosy stay-at-home with the baby days. For more gift ideas have a peek here.

-x-

All photos styled and shot by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer.

This post was written in collaboration with The White Company, and for it I was given the lovely pieces featured. All opinions are of course my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Gathered Cheer going. 


Little by Little Jewellery

I'm delighted to share with you a gorgeous jewellery company I first heard about last year, but who since then I've noticed adorning more and more people I bump into. Founded by Annabel and Georgina, Little by Little is a small jewellery brand with a big heart for making a difference. Having been struck by the number of hungry and homeless people as they walked around Brighton, the pair decided to combine their talents in order to effect a positive change. Annabel had previously studied at the Sir John Cass jewellery school with a focus on ethical design processes, while Georgina had trained at Leiths and was working as a food stylist and editor. These two career paths blended beautifully as a love of design and a love of food led to the creation of Little by Little jewellery. 

Little by Little Jewellery | Gathered Cheer blog
Little by Little Jewellery | Gathered Cheer blog

Two years in the making, the pair worked tirelessly to design a collection which was small but perfectly formed. Inspired by the food they loved, it was vital to them that each piece was created using ethical materials. The current collections (Seville and Wedge) are made up of pieces which are as striking and modern as they are simple and effortless. It's a range which simultaneously draws the eye, yet which can be worn everyday, not just saved up for fancy occasions. My own fan necklace has become a firm daily favourite, as it matches everything I wear - from jeans and t shirts, to smarter dresses.

Little by Little Jewellery | Gathered Cheer blog

Not content with creating a beautiful collection, Georgina and Annabel also spent a long while researching the most appropriate charity partner for the brand - looking for somewhere they could make a difference, even in a small way. Action Against Hunger was chosen as the strapline for their 'Love Food, Give Good' campaign perfectly matched the heart of Little by Little. The charity has 35 years of expertise in situations of conflict, natural disaster and chronic food insecurity and in 2014 alone they helped over 13.6 million people in 47 countries. So now with every item sold, Little by Little donates the funding to pay for a day's supply of therapeutic food to nurse and acutely malnourished child back to health. 

Each piece in the collection would make a wonderful and thoughtful gift, or a treat for yourself - I've got my eye on the Seville gold hoops! Here are a few other pieces on my wishlist... 

Little by Little Jewellery | Gathered Cheer blog

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Which is your favourite? Do you support and shop from any other ethical or charity led jewellery or fashion brands? I'd love to hear if so - just leave me a comment below!

-x-


Meet, Wrap, Mingle

Ok, so Christmas has been and gone for another year - but with it being New Year's Eve today I thought I would share with you some festive inspiration from the Make Wrap Mingle event, hosted by Zeena Shah, Lynne from Papermash and Geraldine from Little Big Bell - just in case you're in the mood for a little last minute crafting! 

Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate
Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate

The afternoon, held at the beautiful (and most-instagrammable!) Papermill Studios was an absolute delight, from beginning to end. With the chance to wrap gifts, have our hair braided by the lovely girls at Prettly, write secret letters, make wooly pom poms and crackers and eat our fill of the amazing treats on offer, it was the perfect way to spend a few hours. 

Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate
Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate

CONFETTI CRACKER MAKING

One of my favourite activities was the cracker making craft, led by Zeena. And who says crackers need to be confined to the Christmas table? If you have a little time today (and just a few basic craft items) why not whip up a few to help ring in the new year? They're so easy to make, and you can easily decorate them to match your theme - whether you're going bold and bright and colourful, or gold and black and sparkly. To read the instructions about how to make your own cracker, nip over to Stylist where Zeena shared all her cracker making know-how. The one I made on the day used mint green card (I'm nothing if not predictable!), and I used gold dot stickers to decorate the outside, while I filled the cracker with brightly coloured confetti and a little treat. Ours didn't include a bang, but these could easily be added too! (You can buy the gold and white bakers twine at Papermash here)

How to make a confetti filled cracker for parties, by Zeena Shah | Gathered Cheer blog
Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate
Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate
Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate

SECRET LETTER SENDING

Another activity we did which needn't be kept just for the most wonderful time of the year, was envelope decorating and letter writing. Our instructions were simple - pick a name and address from the label list, and write them a cheerful letter, while also making and decorating the envelope to house your letter. We used all manner of tape, stamps, stickers and pens to decorate the envelopes (made using a template, currently sold out). This is such an easy and fulfilling craft at any time of year. Sometimes there are anonymous letter exchanges you can join in on, or you could just make more of an effort to send pretty snail mail to your nearest and dearest. So much nicer than a quick email or whatsapp message, right? 

Make Wrap Mingle event with Zeena Shah and Papermash | Gathered Cheer blog - image by Anna Southgate

I hope you liked those two super easy 'not just for Christmas' crafty ideas. I for one am definitely feeling ready to get my craft on in 2017 - starting with some more pretty letter writing to my friends and family. Do you have any crafty plans for 2017? I'd love to hear about them - let me know in the comments below! 

Do also have a little peek at the Papermash blog to hear more about the afternoon, and stay tuned over there for more information on 2017 workshops! 

Happy New Year! 

-x-

All photos by Anna Southgate, of August Story Company (and over here on Instagram), with the exception of the first confetti cracker image with is by Ruth for Gathered Cheer blog.


Getting Festive with MK Design and Occipinti

With Christmas just days away, I'm delighted to share a few tips and tricks I learnt at a recent Christmas workshop, hosted by Mathilde from MK Design and Ashley from Occipinti, with florist Tom from Agent.F. The afternoon was packed full of inspiration, all focused on setting a beautiful table - incorporating festive foliage and pretty name and place settings. 

Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog

Mathilde and Ashley have a wealth of styling experience and so seeing the tables that they had set was wonderful. We worked our way around the gorgeous Republic of Fritz Hansen store, looking at the different scenes they'd set using all the scandi pretty - including the Georg Jensen table, below.

Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog

Both Mathilde and Ashley shared their top tips for creating an eye-catching and festive tablescape. So if you're looking for last minute inspiration ahead of Sunday, look no further! 

  • Limit yourself to two colours - this will keep the table looking elegant and professional. 
  • Add in greenery - whether you use herbs (such as rosemary sprigs) or foliage (such as eucalyptus), greenery will bring your table to life. Plus it often smells amazing too!
  • Bring in colour with your textiles - to make it easy to switch up your colour scheme as and when you fancy, try sticking with neutral crockery and use the napkins and table cloth to inject colour. 
  • Get crafty with name settings - these look impressive but are so easy to do. Fold a little piece of card in half, hole punch on each side and add a sprig of rosemary to achieve the place setting seen below right. Or roll out a little air dry clay and use stamps to personalise a setting for each guest, seen below. 
Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog
Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog
Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog

Not content with showing us how to style up a beautiful setting with napkins and name tags, florist Tom from Agent Fwas then on hand to guide us in the making of an incredible festive centrepiece - in the shape of a foliage, herb and succulent arrangement. 

Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog

A mess was made as we all descended on the various foliage stems - from spruce and eucalyptus, to rosemary and lavender. To see a full step-by-step guide have a peek at Melanie Lissack's blog - it's definitely a centrepiece well worth having a go at creating yourself. I was amazed how quickly our arrangements came together, as we layered different types of greenery around and into our oasis block. The crowning glory came with the prettiest gold dipped sprigs of magnolia and eucalyptus and the lush addition of succulents. I don't have a finished photo of my own creation, but it's still alive and looking as happy as the day it was made. Now I just need to see if I can transport it safely to the south coast for our Christmas lunch! 

Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog
Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog
Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog

I must also mention the amazing food and drink that was on offer during the workshop too - my goodness, it was good. The raspberry and turmeric tea was warming and refreshing and the refined sugar-free brownies made by Cake + Cucumber were delicious. I think I went back for thirds... 

Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog
Top tips for a festive tablescape with MK Design and Occipinti | Gathered Cheer blog

What a perfect way to spend an afternoon - sipping Glögg, eating brownies, getting creative with foliage and learning the art of creating a beautiful tablescape - all the while nattering with a bunch of lovely likeminded folks. What's more, the goodie bag was an extra special treat, it was like Christmas came early! Big thanks to the goodie bag sponsors:

- JollySmith, Nuori, Iris Hantverk, À L'aise, Kay Bojesen, Tom Pigeon, Haws, Mind the Cork, Ola Jewellery, Muubs, The Nomad Society - 

Mathilde and Ashley will be back with more workshops in 2017, so be sure to follow them on Instagram to make sure you are first to hear when the dates are announced! (Mathilde + Ashley)

-x-

Photo credits //

All by Ruth for Gathered Cheer

I was invited along to the workshop with a complimentary ticket, but all opinions and excellent foliage styling are my own!