Carmen Stevens, an awe inspiring woman

 Carmen Stevens, the first black winemaker in South Africa 

Carmen Stevens, the first black winemaker in South Africa 

When I met Eamon from Naked Wines to discuss plans for the Norwich: Meet Mother Pukka event (he is a huge fan of Annas), I didn’t know I was going to hear all about the most incredible woman. 

Carmen Stevens, a South African single mother of two, has fought prejudice to become an extraordinarily successful wine maker. 

As a girl, she would read Mills & Boon novels, some of which were set in vineyards which made her dream of being a wine maker. No-one in her in her community as a girl on the Cape Flats knew that you could study winemaking, but an uncle of a friend worked in the lab at Stellenbosch Farmers Winery and he showed her around.

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She had to fight to get into college in the first place, and then when she got in, almost quit as the environment was so unsupportive (of 100 students, she was one of only five women, and only one other male student was black) but she didn’t. 

She became the the FIRST black winemaker in South Africa in fact. It is an utterly incredible achievement. She has gone on to achieve international recognition for her wine, one day taking a call from Naked Wines. The Naked Wines 'Angels' helped her set up in business and now she is one of their star winemakers. She was voted Winemaker of the Year in 2016 and now works with a local charity to provide healthy meals every day to 3,060 school children in the area near where she grew up. 

I'm so proud to have such a successful, entrepreneurial and ethical company in Norwich. Of course the wine is delicious, and it’s good to know the sips are doing good too. 

I'm number 4210 in the queue to be an Angel but it didn't stop me using a code to get a case of wine. All We Got This (Sometimes!) followers can receive a £60 voucher against a case of wine when they use this code: www.nakedwines.com/wgts

Read more about Carmen here and here, and this is her page on the Naked Wines website. 

This post is written in association with Naked Wines

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GUEST POST: A beginner’s guide to Instagram by Vicki Cockerill

  My name is Vicki and just over three years ago my eldest son was born with an undiagnosed heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He went on to have a successful surgery at 6 months old, and I turned to blogging and social media to process the traumatic experience we had been through.    I organically built up the successful blog  confessionsofanicumum@blogspot.com  in hope to share, raise awareness and help others going through the same thing. I have gone to blog for The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Mummy and Little Me, Rude Wines and Blasting News UK.    I became a specialist in social media outreach and have had guidance from some of the leading experts in the field. I have completed courses, studied trends, patterns and metrics and I know what works.

My name is Vicki and just over three years ago my eldest son was born with an undiagnosed heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. He went on to have a successful surgery at 6 months old, and I turned to blogging and social media to process the traumatic experience we had been through.

I organically built up the successful blog confessionsofanicumum@blogspot.com in hope to share, raise awareness and help others going through the same thing. I have gone to blog for The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Mummy and Little Me, Rude Wines and Blasting News UK.

I became a specialist in social media outreach and have had guidance from some of the leading experts in the field. I have completed courses, studied trends, patterns and metrics and I know what works.

Whether you use it for business or pleasure there is no denying the influence Instagram has in our everyday lives. Over 500 million of us are posting over 95 million times each day on the platform. We are snapping pics of us in bed, uploading our breakfasts and our parenting fails.

But, unsure where to start? How to use it for your blog or small business? Worried that you cannot keep up with the ‘power players’ of the gram’?

Instagram is one of the most influential elements of social media marketing today. In the blink of an eye you can easily set up a profile, promote and sell your products, generate new leads and open yourselves to a wider audience you would have not been able to before to become a more established personality or brand.

Don’t know your # from your boomerang? Wondering why you see so many people taking photos of their breakfasts, and who the hell is Mother Pukka?

Then this beginners guide to Instagram is just for you.

1.     Setting Up.

Setting up a profile on Instagram is straightforward but there is one thing to bear in mind while you are doing this.

What are your goals from setting this account up? Is it for business or pleasure? To connect with others, or to sell your products? Is this to grow your presence on social media or upload baby spam each day?

Once you have in mind WHY you are setting an account up (to stalk Andy from C Beebies) then you have a clear and focused goal in mind you can tailor how and what you are doing on it.

(Bear in mind if it is for business then it is likely to be open to a wide audience, so you might not want to post personal photos of the family on it. If it is personal, then you can lock down the privacy settings if you want to use the platform to upload some personal pics.)

2.     What’s your niche?

This follows on from above and is mainly aimed at those using their profiles for business rather than pleasure.

If you have your own bespoke handmade baby soap company then your niche is likely to be baby toiletries/ eco/ parent related.

If you have a travel blog then your likely going to be talking about travel, holidays, locations.

For an audience to view you as a credible authority on your subject/ sector then the content that you produce for your Instagram feed should be relevant.

To have a beauty blogger suddenly, begin to review garden furniture would make you question why is that there?

Keep it simple, keep it relevant.

When you post about your specialist subject you will find that the passion will come through via your content and people will begin to view you as the go to, for that specific subject.

3.     Post frequently.

It can be tricky, but it is important to keep your feed fresh and updated with new photos and content. When you came across a profile for a clothing company that hadn’t posted in over a month with no explanation you would begin to doubt their credibility and reliability.

Sit down for an hour or so each week and plan the content that you can post.

There are some great scheduling tools such as Buffer which means you do not need to find time each day to post which can become tiresome and you will still have new posts going up.

Don’t post just for the sake of it, if you truly have nothing relevant to post then don’t. It sounds contradictory to the above advice but there is nothing worse that uploading some random post just, so you have ticked off posting for that day it could become confusing for the audience.

Keep your relevant subjects in mind and you will find you won’t have too much trouble finding ideas.

Social media now gives us an insight into the lives and brands of the companies we buy from, use your business profile to show your audience and customers WHO you are and HOW/WHY/ WHAT you do what you do! (that’s a whole weeks’ worth of content ideas for free!) You can also use your stories as another way to get your content seen.

4.     Don’t get hung up on the numbers.

It can be hard when you are first starting out on Instagram to view the number of likes and comments you receive on each post as validation. That when you hit a certain number of followers ‘you’ve made it’. You compare yourselves to those with 100k+ and think you cannot compete that you are not good enough. There is a common misconception that the number of followers you have dictates your success.

It does not.

The number of likes, comments and followers is not an indication of your self-worth or how good/ bad your business it.

You need to instead focus on the quality of your audience.

If you are a business, you need to look after and nurture the relationships with your audience and they are likely going to be the ones who go on to purchase something from you.

Do not fall for the vanity metrics, paying for followers, or comments or using autobots (which is now a thing of the past!) do not follow for the sake of following and then suddenly unfollow someone.

Take your time, find your target audience and slowly build it up. Interact with then, like their posts, comment if they have taken the time to engage with you, engage back I think people do forget why it is called social media, after all.

5.     Enjoy it.

To begin with don’t think too much about it other than a promotional tool for your brand/ blog/business and a way to connect to others.

Over time you will begin to see what is working and what isn’t, and you can tailor and tweak your content as you go.

You can begin to experiment with the dreaded # (think of them as search tools and ways for people to find you! Come up with a couple that you use on every post and then experiment with the rest!).

Have fun posting and engaging with others and see it as a community networking platform.

There can be a lot of nastiness on Instagram especially aimed as those who do have a lot of followers, do paid ads etc (we will save that for another post!) but just begin to use it as a way or promoting who you are, what you do and why you are doing it!

Now, you have some of the basics mastered you will be uploading your brunch pics in no time!

#instacoffeeclub

“I am here to use my creative thinking, outreach connections, blog writing and passion for social media to teach you how you run your own accounts effectively.”  Vicki Cockerill, Social Media Outreach Specialist"

 

 

 

The Handmaid's Tale

I can't do an email (sign up) without mentioned the TV show that is so brutal, riveting, excited-about-each-Sunday-watchable and close to the knuckle. The flashbacks to what could easily be considered "now", and how easily this normal becomes a new normal is utterly terrifying. 

 Click to read spoilers of Series 2, Episode 2 

Click to read spoilers of Series 2, Episode 2 

"The story of Hannah’s daughters sick day and the line of questioning it sparked contained a raft of assumptions about motherhood: A good mother should cease to exist in her own right. A career and personal fulfilment must always be sacrificed for the saintly honour of raising a child. Working mothers will always be judged and will always be found wanting… The Handmaid’s Tale is skilled at showing how strands of thought prevalent in the real world prepared the ground for Gilead’s extremes." (from Den of Geek - my go-to along with The Guardian for giving me more, more, more about the good TV stuff.)

I see these strands of thought in my own life, and try and bat them away, and mentally struggle with being a 'good mum' which I know I am, and a creative, hard working professional (which I'm trying to be in a specific time frame, most evenings and early mornings). It's important to me to be a person, not only one thing or another thing. This time last year when Series One launched, I remember walking to the shop with my children on mat leave, thinking 'I'm participating in the traditional, Gilead way of life' and not really knowing what I could do about it, as mothering is mothering! Hurts my head. 

Please watch it! Series One is on Amazon - start from the start - and I'm very envious if you're new to it. 

 

NORWICH: WIN A MY ONE HEART T-SHIRT

 Laura is the founder of My One Heart

Laura is the founder of My One Heart

I'm proud to support @my.one.heart ❣️ - I love my leopard heart tee, so much I wore it to interview Simon Hooper! 

 Simon Hooper visited us in Norwich

Simon Hooper visited us in Norwich

Laura is the founder, she's a Norfolk mum raising money for an important charity...her story...”In December 2012, I was Christmas shopping with my parents in Norwich when my 56 year old dad suddenly collapsed. He was having a cardiac arrest and within an hour he was gone.
I learned afterwards that there had been no publicly accessible defibrillator nearby and the one which was used on my dad came from the local police station, which took precious time to reach him.  I also learned a shocking fact : if someone has a cardiac arrest and receives CPR their survival rate is 9%. If they receive treatment from a defibrillator and shockable rhythm their chance increases to 60%. Had there been an easily accessible 24-hour defibrillator in Norwich city centre my dad may still be here.
I’ve started My One Heart because, through the sadness of losing my dad, I want everyone to be aware of the importance of having easily accessible defibrillators in public places.  From every sale of my products, £5.00 will go towards putting 24-hour defibrillators in public places around the UK. Money raised will go to Heart 2 heart Norfolk.”

Please support her 👍🏼✨This is the My.One.Heart instagram, and the online shop is here

Enter on E-mail - simply email me with the word Heart to enter :-) Click here for terms and conditions - good luck!

 

 

GUEST POST: 5 essential steps to help your child sleep through the night by Kathryn Stimpson, Holistic Sleep Consultant

 Sleep tips for Mums

Sleep is the most talked about topic for parents. Kathryn Stimpson is a qualified Family Sleep Consultant, previous insomnia suffer and mum to Oliver the former sleep thief.

 “Drained, exhausted and unhappy; not the most ideal words to describe my very first experience of motherhood. Even when Oliver reached 9 months, he was still up at least 4 times a night and I was lucky if he napped for 29 minutes a day. Here are my 5 essential steps to helping your child sleep through the night”

You may have seen the BBC article, “13 Weird Ways parents get their children to sleep”. I wasn’t at all surprised that pre sleep consultancy days I had tried three of these. I remember when Oliver was trying his hardest to not take his only 20 minute nap, we left him (safely) in a pile of clean laundry, as the smell would send him to sleep for those precious 20 minutes. Reading the article really reminded me of how desperate I was to find a solution, yet pure exhaustion really did cloud my judgement.

It really is amazing how quality sleep gives you the chance to see the world from a totally different perspective. When Oliver was awake for most of the night consistently, I felt sad, desperate, exhausted, low and lonely. Now he sleeps through most nights (apart from when he is ill) I feel calm, reassured, energised, happy and have such crystal clear clarity, well most of the time.

This is probably why I can look back and smile at the memories of me rocking him for 3 hours and him still being awake, driving for 90 minutes in the hope he would sleep (he usually didn’t) or build an Oliver shaped clean laundry pile to put around him. Although I can safely say at the time it was not funny, I was broken!

Having been through this life transformation, I am sharing with you my 5 essential steps to support you to help your baby, toddler or child to sleep through the night.

Daylight

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You may have heard it a thousand times before but exposing your child to natural daylight is without a doubt one of the most important steps to ensure they have a good night’s sleep. The reason for this is our sleep and awake times are triggered by light and darkness.

The hormone that wakes us up is called cortisol and the one that tells us to go to sleep is melatonin. In a regular circadian (daily) rhythm, at night our melatonin is high and cortisol is low at and in the morning our cortisol is high and our melatonin is low. It is daylight that triggers a surge of cortisol and darkness that tells our bodies to release melatonin.

However if you and your child are not sleeping through the night, then it is likely that this daily rhythm is all out of sync, so by exposing both of you to 20 minutes of daylight (preferably in the morning) then this will help to regulate sleep and awake cycles.

Room Temperature

It pains me that my husband was actually right about the ideal temperature of Oliver’s room, when he was born I had this motherly instinct that was telling me to keep him as warm as possible.

However, now that I am a certified Sleep Consultant I can tell you that this is not the safest or the most ideal thing to do to ensure a good night sleep. The safest and ideal temperature for sleep is 16-18 degrees. If you are thinking that this sounds rather chilly. It is actually better to turn off heating in bedrooms, keep the room temperature low and dress your child (and yourself) appropriately.

There are many conversations between parents as to how many layers to put on your child, the best way to know this is to feel their chest. If it is cold, then they do not have enough layers on and if they are clammy, they have too many.

Adequate Naps

It really is true that day and night time sleep are very much interlinked. Have you ever not slept and then been rushing around busy all day and found it difficult to fall and stay asleep? This is the same for children, it is because your cortisol (awake hormone) is high in order to keep you awake, yet it needs to be low in order to stay and fall asleep.

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Children who are sensitive sleepers need to have adequate and well timed naps in order for them to sleep through the night. Most children who are three and under require a day time nap, allowing them to get the recommended sleep for their age. To find out why sleep is important for a child's development here.

As children increase in age, their sleep requirements decrease, so for example an 8 month old would need significantly more sleep during the day compared to a 18 month old. As a nap guide (although all children are different, but this gives you an idea if your child is anywhere near their recommended day time sleep):

  • Children aged 4-7 months: 3-4 hours
  • Children aged 7-10 months: 3-3.5 hours
  • Children aged 10-12 months: 2.5-3.5 hours
  • Children aged 12-16 months: 2-3 hours
  • Children aged 16/18 months+ : Starts off at 2-2.5 hours and gradually decreases until the child is 2.5/3 years old

Anxiety Management

Equally as children get older their cognitive, emotional and social awareness is developing at such fast rates. For this reason, they start to experience separation anxiety which can be seen as early as 6 months.

Separation anxiety is a normal part of childhood, yet it is extremely frightening for young children especially during the night, which is probably why it is the biggest cause of sleep challenges. It isn’t a phase that can be avoided or prevented as it is a sign of a healthy child, but there are steps you can take to help your child through the peaks of it, each step varies depending on the age of the child.

One common separation anxiety strategy for all children is to make sure they have quality 1 to 1 time with you daily. It doesn’t matter if it is 15 minutes, as long as they have some time to play and be close to you where you can put aside your own daily worries of running a house or work.

For example, for a baby or young toddler playing games like peekaboo and talking to your child to tell them you are leaving the room and then coming back are very helpful. For older children of 3 and above, be sure to have fun time playing hide and seek as well as treasure hunts, this gives your child the opportunity to learn they are safe and secure without you.

Sleep Success Environment

 Kathryn Stimpson 😴Holistic Sleep Consultant

Kathryn Stimpson 😴Holistic Sleep Consultant

Lastly, but not least! It is important that your child’s bedroom or nursery is the most successful environment for sleep. The room should be neutral and non stimulating, for example plain walls, with minimal images/photos and where possible leave play to the communal areas.

The bedroom should be used for sleep only, with no blue light devices (e.g. mobile phone, TVs or tablets) and I would remove any projectors which just seem fascinating to little eyes. Giving your child a comforter to sleep with is also a good idea, as they will learn to take comfort from it during periods of being unsettled.

There are my five essential steps to helping your child to sleep through the night.

Of course, if you feel you have tried absolutely everything to help your little one to enjoy better sleep and you are totally fed up and exhausted, book your discovery session with me now to start getting your family’s sleep right back on track. 

To find out more, this is Kathryn's website: https://www.kathrynstimpson.com and her instagram is @honestly_mum :-)

Please welcome Norfolk based brand MiniVino!

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Hats off 🎩 to Norfolk based brand Minivino* who are coming on board and giving EVERY guest a resealable single serve of their Italian vino at An Audience with Simon Hooper @father_of_daughters on 22nd May👏🏽


Come and see the king of honest parenting as he chats about anything you want...including his NEW book 🙌

🎟You'd LOVE to see Simon?! Tickets are £15 here , the event is at the beautiful @opennorwich
.....
PLUS your choice of
🍊A resealable single serve of Italian Chardonnay (it does indeed have fresh melon and citrus aromas with a crisp, zesty character)...or 🌹…an Italian rosé which has the aroma of apple, strawberry and redcurrant AND has a fresh lively character...or…🍷…an Italian Merlot with its aromas of ripe plum and raspberry. Delish.


📖Simons new book “Forever Outnumbered“ will be available from @norwichstones 

*available across the UK in Sainsburys, Ocado, Amazon 😉 Fully recyclable and shatter proof

THANK YOU MINIVINO!

Flexible Working and why it means so much to me, by Lydia Rogers in Twickenham

 Image credit:  youthedaddy.co.uk

Image credit: youthedaddy.co.uk

I am super excited about speaking with Mother Pukka and her #flexappeal campaign when she comes to Twickenham next week. I first saw Anna in one of her posts when she created a ‘flashmob’ ‘Lets Talk about Flex Baby’, in the centre of London.

Since becoming a Mum I’ve spoken to many local Mums about their experiences of work and parenting, and how the two things combine. There are very few parents who are able to continue with exactly the same jobs after having children; some change or flexibility is required to allow us to spend time with the children and make it back to the nursery/childminder/family member/nanny on time.  I have lost count of the times which I have literally sprinted through a busy street to make the train on time, so that I’m not late for pick up!

Personally I have tried out many different working arrangements. After taking a years maternity leave with each of my children, I’ve worked tried working four days, full-time and then ended up burning out and taking six months out to concentrate on being a Mum. I now have the perfect balance of a three day a week role. I have a job share partner (or job pairing as Mother Pukka likes to call it). I know that everybody has different demands and wants different things from work/life/parenting, but personally it took me nearly FIVE YEARS of parenting to find this opportunity and create some balance.

There are also many who have been inspired by the ‘ juggle struggle’ to seize on an idea and create their own businesses. We wouldn’t be here, without Emma @wegotthissometimes who started this after the birth of her second child, when she realised that she would not be able to return to her previous job. The ‘insta-famous’ bloggers who have attended our events @hurrahforgin @unmumsymum and @manvsbaby all started blogging after having children.

However nearly everybody I speak to has or knows somebody who has experienced pregnancy, maternity and paternity discrimination; some have been asked to leave their jobs when pregnant, been refused a return to their previous role, ‘offered’ a demotion on their return to work or refused any type of flexible working. This shouldn’t all be about the Mum’s either, Dads and partners also need flexible working so that they can play a full part in sharing the load, being able to help with homework or take the children to dancing/art club/scouts/karate. That is where ‘Papa Pukka’ comes into play.

Surely we have to demand that work places offer more flexible opportunities and move away from the 9-5 bums on seats mentality. Mother Pukka is keen to point out that this is not just about parents, it is about everybody in the work-force who wants the opportunity to work flexibly, there are those who are care for older/sick relatives or have other interests they want to pursue.

We haven’t even started on the ideas around affordable childcare. I think that has to be a post for a whole other day……. But in the meantime a big shout out to all the Grandparents and family childcarers who make it possible for others to work. Also thinking of those who have sadly lost their parents, are without family support or simply live too far away xxxx

GUEST POST: When Norwich met Mother Pukka by Sally White

Video by Dack Attack

Sally White, teacher, writer and blogger at Wife of a Wig Wearer writes up Norwich: Meet Mother Pukka with Anna Whitehouse

"This week, Anna - perhaps better known as Mother Pukka - came to Norwich to talk about parenthood and flexible working. She is an Instagram joy, a political force and someone we all want to be in our corner in our fight for work that suits family life. 

 Anna Whitehouse in the play area demo by  Play Date with my Crew

Anna Whitehouse in the play area demo by Play Date with my Crew

One of the few things I remember from A-level sociology is a that cult leaders are ‘usually attractive, charismatic, intelligent and engaging’. This occurred to me as I sat, entranced, during a talk by Anna Whitehouse. Her wise words and funny anecdotes and ability to be a balm to the neurosis and fear of parenthood had an audience of over a hundred of us nodding and smiling like devoted followers. 

 Anna's fans in Norwich

Anna's fans in Norwich

And if Anna is our leader then flexible working is her religion. Her mission is to get employers to do the unthinkable and dismantle the traditional 9-5 working day. She aims to preach the word of working from home, shunning the shame of creeping in to work at 9.05 and singing the praises of working hours that suit everyone. 

I hadn’t ever given much thought to the arbitrary nature of 9-5. From what I can gather, the roots of those working hours are in Industrial Britain. But so is child labour, inhumane working conditions and slums so perhaps Anna’s vision for a flexible working day isn’t actually progressive, just massively overdue. 

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Giddy with excitement at having our favourite Insta star in Norwich and tipsy on the delicious free wine provided by Naked Wines, we sat enraptured. And for the first half hour or so Anna regaled hilarious stories. Many relatable - top lip panic sweats, wet wipe crises, marital niggles - and a few not so relatable but utterly hilarious tales - an ‘incident’ on a bus with the Noravirus for instance. 

But soon enough, the chat turned to being a working parent and our laughter turned to anger. So many of us have stories of unforgiving attitudes to time-keeping and working for mangers who value hours worked more than efficient output. 

Anna’s advice is ‘don’t ask, don’t get’. Employers assume 9-5 and we assume that it’s necessary. But it isn’t. Not really. 

Signs You May Benefit from Flex

  • you start most days bellowing at your children and manically measuring time (WE NEED TO BE OUT THE DOOR IN TWO MINUTES PEOPLE!’)
  • you’ve offered up a life of devotion for a run of green lights and a foot in the nursery door in the nick of time
  • you’ve had to commando crawl out of a 4pm meeting uttering ‘sososorrygottogosendmetheminutessorrysorry’
  • you’ve received over a dozen passive aggressive time-keeping comments in the last week alone 

Signs You Might Be Able to Work Flexibly

  • you have a desk job
  • a lot of your work is done via email or telephone 
  • you could do your work from home just as easily as you could do it in an office

Rights to Request

  • you have a right to ask for flexible working if you have been working for your employer for six months or more 
  • your employer can refuse but you can ask again in a year’s time

Ways to Ask

  • Anna advises planning a water-tight case for working flexibly. Prepare answers for the questions you anticipate. Have it ready before you ask for a meeting to discuss it because you don’t want to be caught off guard if they suggest meeting immediately 
  • If they refuse or are wavering, suggest a trial period
  • I always think phrasing things as a statement rather than a question can help: ‘I would like to work from home for three mornings a week. (Brief description of how this would work). Please let me know if you anticipate this being a problem. Thank you’. 

Things to Remember

  • Flexible means bending both ways- you may need to give as well as take
  • Job sharing (or job pairing) is a great way of applying for full-time positions so stay in touch with colleagues and consider applying for jobs together

Anna’s practical advice made flexible working seem like such an obvious and credible solution to the most stressful parts of parenting: childcare, nursery drop off and pick up and time-keeping. 

We just need to ask for it. No. We need to demand it. We need to demand hours that suit us and not Victorian mill owners. And we need employers to see how a job pairing brings two great, fresh, talented minds to businesses. How letting us work from home means we can devote time to tasks rather than texting the childminder. How starting at 7.30 and leaving at 3.30 can mean they can keep a trained employee rather than have to recruit again. 

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And trust me when I say, Anna’s words have released some seriously empowered and informed people out in to Norwich’s workforce. Invite us in to your offices and listen to our requests because 9-5 is going to be consigned to the history books and Dolly’s Best of album. 

Reading List:

 Author of this article - Sally White - please follow her at  wifeofawigwearer.com  

Author of this article - Sally White - please follow her at wifeofawigwearer.com 

All photos are © Emily Gray Photography

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