Sunday, 24 July 2016

Great expectations

Embroidered tunic: £27 in the sale, Great Plains. 'Lou' jeans: £225, M.i.h. Jeans. Sandals: £12.99 in the sale, Mango Sunglasses: £28 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive. Basket bag: The White Company (sold out). Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell

I've actually lost count of the amount of peasant tops I own now. But it doesn't stop me from trying new ones. They're just so easy to wear, and paired with cropped flared jeans and a basket bag, it fulfils a Jane Birkin-esque 70s vibe I am always attempting to recreate come summer.

This Great Plains top is good quality and the grey embroidery works well with both holiday and weekend wardrobes. Plus it's in the sale...

Friendship bracelet: £15, Estella Bartlett. Shark tooth bracelet: £75, Lucy Williams x Missoma
We've come to that time of the year sadly when summer clothes are all in the sale or sold out (I've barely worn these Mango shoes, which have gone down to £12.99 already!), and we're starting to contemplate new A/W styles, despite the weather just starting to get hot! I'm embracing the cropped bell bottom jeans for next season and will wear these with boots when winter hits. Frays and looser fitting denim styles are definitely in (and in fact, I've just done an interview for ELLE discussing the death of skinny jeans).

We photographed these in Bayswater before the heavens opened up (yet again). We had breakfast at Farmacy, a plant-based restaurant (the buckwheat pancakes were to die for) before shooting in the lovely streets, imagining we lived there. It felt a long way from our current new house search, which is happening around E17 at the moment. 

I'm still carrying most of my wares in an oversized basket bag, it just fits everything inside and adds a hint of summer to my mainly wintery looks of late.

Embroidered tunic: £27 in the sale, Great Plains. 'Lou' jeans: £225, M.i.h. Jeans. Sandals: £12.99 in the sale, Mango Sunglasses: £28 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive. Basket bag: The White Company (sold out).

Friday, 22 July 2016

How I've coped without my phone past 8pm...

Trench: J Crew (sold out). Top: Zara (old). Jeans: £30, Asos. Trainers: £50, Vans. Bag: £49.50 (only available in blue), Radley
So it has been over 66 days since I began my Habits Challenge. No phone past 8pm I said (you can see my original post here)...and it has definitely been tricky.

As someone addicted to their phone (and whose current career is largely because of it), this was the biggest challenge I could set myself. The idea was to change a habit of mine, and through sticking with it over 66 days it would then be part of my new regime.

This was definitely easier said than done. The first few weeks went well, I even managed to cleanse my face properly, use a 15 minute mask and exfoliate a couple of nights a week. I even had a few baths...

Tray: H&M Home (old). 'Calm' bath salts: £18, Herbivore via Wood/Grey. Shampoo: £24, Suzanne Kaufmann. Scented candle: £18, Kikki K. Coconut milk bath salt: £18, Herbivore via Wood/Grey
And then a few work events started...and I realised I just don't really have the kind of job where I can switch off after 8pm, the nature of my job means attending events not necessarily within the 9-5 world. I was sitting at a Jimmy Choo dinner (yes, I know, amazing) tweeting about the gorgeous peonies and then thinking 'oh, I was supposed to turn this off an hour ago'.

But I remembered when we met Kristina Karlsson, the founder of Kikki K, and she told us it's all a learning curve and it's okay to fall off the wagon occasionally - the important thing is to climb back on. And I had to stop beating myself up about it.

So when I am at home, unless I have some work to finish off, my phone is out of sight. And I've been a bit more realistic and stretched the cut-off time to 9pm. I still wouldn't say that I've mastered the 66 day challenge, but even just taking part in it has made me think more about switching off, being more 'present' and stepping back from my phone. Maybe I'll think of mine more as a 90 day challenge...

'Calmer chameleon' tea: £2.39, Clipper. Rollerball pen: £12, Kikki K. Adhesive notes: £9, Kikki K. Habits journal: £21, Kikki K. Purifying mask: £22, Caudalie  
So, like most things, it's a life commitment, not just a 66 day challenge. Even the last few months thinking about my habits more and leaving my phone in my bag when out for dinner are all steps in the right direction. And I must admit, I'm starting to feel free-er.

How about you? Did any of you try the challenge? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Seeing red

Jacket: £79, Monsoon. Top: H&M (old). Bag: £290, Manu AtelierJeans: £36, Topshop. Sandals: Mango (sold out). Sunglasses: £28, Le Specs at Very ExclusivePhotographs: Christopher O'Donnell
Being a Taurean, you'd think I was used to a flash of red, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, apart from my Bella Freud 1970 jumper, this is the only other red item I own - but it feels good. Sometimes your wardrobe needs a change up, and this jacket is just what my wardrobe needed.

I've kind of made an unspoken vow to wear a bit more colour at the moment, and I'm loving the response - sometimes it's good to go against your comfort zone, especially if it makes you feel good. It may sound silly, but wearing colour has had quite a positive impact on my outlook at the moment, which is always a good thing.

Obviously this jacket is crying out to be worn with jeans, but I'm excited to wear with shorts on holiday or over a dress in the evenings. The quilted style means it keeps you warm but is still cool enough for a summer jacket - and Monsoon do summer jackets so well.

Jacket: £79, Monsoon. Top: H&M (old). Bag: £290, Manu AtelierJeans: £36, Topshop. Sandals: Mango (sold out). Sunglasses: £28, Le Specs at Very Exclusive.
And if you're still not sure about the red, I've heard news that they are looking into doing a navy version for this space!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Stationery addict

Notebooks, paperclips, buldog clips, pencil and washi tape: Primark (coming soon). Diary: Aspinal. Hand cream: £9.18, Lano 
You know I'm addicted to stationery, but when a new, affordable range comes out I'm even hotter on it. When I met with Primark earlier in the year and they showed me their new stationery range, launching late August, I knew I had to share it. Marble? Tick. Copper? Tick. Cool logo pencils? Tick. Monochrome washi tape, including leopard print? Tick tick tick.

Personalised notecards: Moo. Notebook, tape and clips: all Primark
It's as if Primark have realised all my current obsessions and turned them into one, amazing stationery range. Oh, in fact, that's exactly what they did. The neutral tones seem to fit seamlessly into my office space and injects a bit of modernity.

Top: Gudrun SjodenJeans: £30, Asos. 
The rather clever 'Primarket' section of Primark (all the bits and bobs I like to look at - stationery, phone chargers, useful things for holiday) is seemingly growing and stationery is a huge part of this, which excites me greatly. They make great gifts - for friends as well to oneself.

Like most creatives, I enjoy a messy, but ordered workspace. Not to much colour to distract me but enough going on to excite me, so this range fits with my work station chaos.

Marble folder holder, pen holder, notebooks and pen: Primark Dublin

The range lands in store late August. This blog was in collaboration with Primark, and I'll see you in the queue!

Friday, 15 July 2016

5 interiors hacks for those on a budget

As most of you may have noticed, we haven't exactly splurged at any point on our flat. Apart from our loft extension, everything else has been done in small stages and where we can we have upcycled, restyled and used a lot of paint (!). So I have dedicated this post to offering a few hacks that you can use around your home without it costing you the earth...


Stair runner: Discount Carpet Warehouse
We have now carpeted three rooms with remnants, and it has saved us so much money! We are getting our study and spare bedroom carpeted this week (today if all goes to plan!) with excellent quality wool carpet for £300 (we were quoted similar for just one room by Carpet Right). We also saved money by pulling the carpet up ourselves (most places charge to do this) and by keeping the underlay that was already there. Apparently our underlay is good quality, and can be re-used, so check before you throw it out...


For our loft, I knew I wanted white wood floors but real wood floors were so expensive, so our builders laid down cheaper pine and we painted it. I passed on this info to Hannah Rochell who did the same with her loft, and I love the grey. My husband stripped and sanded our stairs himself, and the good news is it doesn't have to be perfect if you're painting over the top. We're going to do the same with our living room floor, and then cover with an oversized Moroccan rug.

Hannah Rochell's loft conversion, see the post here
3. Farrow & Ball colours needn't be expensive...

You can go into your local Homebase and ask them to mix other paint to Farrow & Ball colours (as sometimes, they are the best!). Or, as we actually love F&B paint quality (you really only need 1 - 2 coats) we just paint small portions of rooms - for instance our living room is painted in Dulux Brilliant White but behind our bookshelves is Farrow & Ball 'Railings' for that expensive look, but only buying one small tin of paint.


I remember seeing this on friend Anneli Bush's site and going straight out to buy the spray! A great tip for updating handles on wardrobes and cupboards.

See Anneli's full post here

Erica Davies' repainted linen cabinet

It sounds so simple, but sometimes it takes a while for the thought process to get there. In our bathroom, we actually have an old Argos cabinet I used to have as a student, but painted white and with fancy knobs added (H&M have some fab marble ones), it looks like made to order furniture!
We recently painted our Ikea shoe cabinet, too, and although it took loads of undercoats, a few mini meltdowns and you can;t stand (too) close, I love it and wouldn't change it now.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Fancy flats

Dress: Cos (old but buy a great shirt dress here). Sandals: £19.99, New Look. Bag: J Crew (sold out). Glasses: 'Markova' in cherry blossom, £98, Bailey Nelson. Photographs: Christopher O'Donnell
It's that time of year where I become a summer cliche. The pom pom flats have been on my wishlist for a little while, but I didn't want to spend too much - let's face it, they're a holiday thrill. So when I saw these I knew it was worth giving them a go - and they surpassed my expectations. Not too many poms, a hint of neon but not too colourful, and comfortable (if a little jingly!).

I think they'll be a holiday hit. 

I pulled out my crisp Cos shirt dress from last summer to wear with them, it hasn't really been the weather to wear much of my summer clothes - and worried my 8 days holiday next week still doesn't allow me time to wear everything - I might have to do some outfit changes! We are going away to Nerja with some friends and their toddler this year, something we haven't really done before but we're really looking forward to getting away.

And I should probably mention the glasses update. I am in love with my Markova style from Bailey Nelson, but am trying the 'cherry blossom' colour - they've already sold out in store but there are still a few online. I can't recommend Bailey Nelson glasses enough, £98 handmade frames with prescription lenses (and they do eye tests!), I get so many compliments on my frames. They have a few stores too, so if you're unsure to try frames online then you might find a more local store.

Dress: Cos (old but buy a great shirt dress here). Sandals: £19.99, New Look. Bag: J Crew (sold out). Glasses: 'Markova' in cherry blossom, £98, Bailey Nelson.

Monday, 11 July 2016

My 'can't live without' hair products

Top: H&M (old). Skirt: Boden Icons (sold out). Heels: Jimmy Choo (old but buy similar here). Clutch: Jigsaw (buy similar here)
I have a fear of blowdrys. 

It may be on the stranger side of the phobia spectrum but it's just something that's not me. I always ask to leave the hair salon with my hair wet, a blowdry is either too straight, too bouncy, too springy and put simply: too 'done'. 

Don't get me wrong, I love them on other people (Erica Davies from The-Edited, for example, always looks amazing), I just don't feel myself. I do, however (miraculously), still get asked what products I use on my hair, so thought I'd share a few of my faves.

'Precious Blonde' shampoo: £12.50, Josh Wood at Marks & Spencer. 'Silver' shampoo: £6.99, Maria Nila. 'Silver' conditioner: £7.99, Maria Nila  
A few months ago, I wanted to dye my hair grey, but my hairdresser at Lockenego persuaded me to stay blonde and use toner to keep it staying on the 'icier' side. So far, I'm loving the ashier colour it is keeping my hair. And it doesn't last forever, so I can switch back at any point. But I make sure I use hair masques in-between (such as Aveda Dry Remedy) to keep those bleached dry ends intact. Davines is also great for enhancing your colour as well as leaving your hair shiny and nourishes.

Alchemic 'silver' shampoo: £15, Davines. Alchemic 'silver' conditioner: £19, Davines 
I always try and let my hair dry naturally, as feel that hairdryers dry out my hair too much. After I wash my hair, I use a leave-in conditioner and comb through - I love this Tigi one for curly hair but Aussie's leave-in conditioner is just as nice and smells great. My hair's natural curl has softened over the years but I like a bit of texture and wave.

Leave-in conditioner: £8.95, Tigi. Candle: £42, Diptyque. Ring: £52 for a set of three, Kenzo at Cadenzza. Necklace: £85, Daisy Jewellery
Botanical hair shine oil: £17.25, Liz Earle. Marble side table: £279 for two, West Elm. 'The Sleep Revolution': £16.64, Amazon  
I use hair oil on the ends of my hair as it's drying and then before I go to sleep to really nourish my hair as it's quite dry. Just as my hair is almost dry, I rub a pea size amount of Kiehl's 'Silk Groom' into the ends and twist my hair with my fingers.

Silk Groom: £18, Kiehl's at Liberty
But for me, I do also need a bit of dryness to give my hair 'life' - my hair is so fine it needs that texture and 'oomph'. I swear by dry shampoo (Batiste is great, or Ruth Crilly from A Model Recommends has launched COLAB which is also good), and I LOVE Bumble & Bumble dryspun finish, it adds body to my hair but not as sticky/matt as hairspray. The only downside is it only lasts about a month so at £22 a bottle it's an expensive habit, but I can really recommend Superdrug's own 'Killer Volume' dry shampoo for 97p!

'London' dry shampoo: £3.50, COLAB. Dry shampoo killer volume: £0.97, Superdrug. Dryspun finish: £22, Bumble & Bumble  

Dress: Boden Icons (sold out)

I also thought I should mention hair tongs. As, after 33 years, I have just bought some - only a £25 pair as wasn't sure I wanted to invest. I tried them for the weekend this wedding and was actually impressed! I did burn my neck whilst using them, so my technique obviously needs some work but I like how they don't have a clamp so you don't get any angles in the curls and they flowed more naturally than ringlets - much more beachy waves...

Dress: £42, Asos (sold out). Sandals: £250, LK BennettSunglasses: £28 in the sale, Le Specs at Very Exclusive. Clutch: Dorothy Perkins (old)
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