This week, having finally beaten the jetlag which has been making everything foggy and slow, and also having finished drafting all of the new recipes for the book update I’m writing for a work thing (woohoo!), I woke up to beautiful, spring sunshine streaming through the window. I sat and had a cup of tea with the dog on my favourite blue seat in the garden and watched as my beautiful baby cherry tree shed its blossom in the breeze, like pretty pink snowfall. Oh, isn’t it glorious? As you know, I’ve been lucky enough to have had a couple of trips away so far this year, but even then, I rarely feel like I nail the effortless sunny day dressing thing. As much as I’d love to wear bright colours and prints, I just don’t feel right in them. I’m a more relaxed, monochrome dresser at heart, but feel this mostly lends itself to winter dressing: black jeans, grey cashmere and white shirts are an easy uniform, somehow, when it’s cold. So is it possible to dress for summer without opting for brights and florals (yes, I know they look lovely on some people), well, I’ve had a scout around, and here are a few of my favourite things for chic dressing for sunny days.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed a short video that I did for the Ultrasun #myskinis campaign. It’s a fab campaign, not gimicky or hyper hard-sell, but basically created to spread the word on choosing the correct sun protection for our particular skin type, and also about applying it properly. I did a little piece to camera, talking about my skin and also about a few new things I’d discovered during the campaign. This was filmed just after my Dad died and I’ll be honest, I was having a rotten time. The guys at Ultrasun were the sweetest, kindest, most understanding people during this time and I think it’s just made me love everything about Ultrasun even more.
As an early adopter of the slogan tee (yes, I had an original ‘FRANKIE SAYS RELAX’ as well as an oversized ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ which I wore tucked into my rara skirt with my jelly shoes) I feel that I’m highly qualified to choose the best slogan t-shirts. The trend shows no sign of slowing down, and if you’re a late adopter (perhaps the horrors of ‘my <insert relative> went to <insert place> and all I got was this crummy t-shirt’ memories are still too raw for you), I promise it’s totally fine to wear one now, evidenced by the fact that they’ve popped up everywhere from Primark to Prada. And while I don’t really want to walk about with ‘u okay hun?’ or ‘BABE’ emblazoned upon my chest, there are some really nice slogan t-shirts about. I promise. Here’s a little roundup of the best slogan t-shirts about at the moment, from high end to bargainous.
It’s a happy coincidence that it’s Paddy’s Day today, but honestly, I was already planning a green roundup, I promise! As long as you ignore the rumours of a return to -3 degree temperatures this weekend, there are certainly signs that spring is well and truly on the way, and what better way to celebrate than introducing a few fresh, spring greens into your wardrobe.
‘Another social media platform?’, I hear you groan. I know, I know – we’re all supposed to be breaking up with our phones, not spending more time on them, but I’ve been using Vero for a while now (mostly lurking) and I really like it. There’s a transparency and a – gasp – honesty about it that’s quite refreshing. The makers of the app seem to be focusing on the sharing and collating aspects of Vero, and that’s what’s drawing me to it. If you haven’t heard of it – or indeed are a new adopter and a bit baffled – here’s a quick rundown, and here’s how I’ll be using Vero.
I do realise, as I’m perched here on the breakfast bar right next to the snowy scene of devastation that is currently our garden, that talking about holiday dressing might be a bit of a stretch, but honestly, I’m all about the escapism. Right now, if I can imagine myself on a sunkissed beach somewhere, I’m a very happy bunny. So even if your current surroundings might not scream (or even whisper) new bikini, I feel that we could all do with a bit of beach dreaming to warm us up. And with so many gorgeous holiday clothes new in at Boden, it would be rude not to have a quick look, no?
This year, Mother’s Day is on Sunday 11th March. Did you know that the reason the date changes every year is that it’s on the fourth Sunday of Lent, exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday, and the timing of Lent changes every year (it’s linked to the lunar calendar)? Mother’s Day, Easter and my birthday are always linked in my mind as they’re around the same time of year, and this lovely few weeks always makes me think of spring: delicious scents, fresh flowers and all the food (mostly hot cross buns, but also Easter eggs and roast lamb). I always feel like Mother’s Day gifts should be something indulgent that your Mama might not splash out and buy herself, so whether it’s a posy of pretty flowers, sweet treats or beautiful beauty pressies you’re after, I thought I’d have a look and give you some M&S Mother’s Day gift inspo.
You know Mr E, he loves a bit of upcycling. Now the wall has been taking down between the kitchen and the dining room, I’ve obviously lost all the kitchen cupboards that were on that wall. Hence, I’m always complaining about not having enough storage in the kitchen, so wasn’t at all surprised when he appeared one night with his latest Ebay find: a tall, pine unit with a cupboard and lots of shelves. It looked absolutely perfect, the only problem was that it was a pretty hideous shade of orange. As we discussed colours, I mentioned that I’d seen some really dark grey interior finishes recently, and that I really wanted shades of granite and khaki for the kitchen, with accents of copper that have been dominating my Pinterest for a while now.
Skincare is SO confusing, isn’t it? I love it, but what with acids and peels and peptides and vitamins and minerals, it can be a worry that you’re not doing enough – or even doing too much. I try and keep my skincare regime relatively simple (I love a good hyaluronic acid serum and a decent SPF moisturiser), but I’m often worried that I’m not doing enough. I’m not too bad day to day, but I’m terrible about remembering to exfoliate (I don’t like gritty scrubs) so when I read about REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic (£25) , I was desperate to give it a try. I’m a big fan of Caroline Hirons on YouTube: she talks a lot of sense and really cuts through the beauty jargon to give you great advice, whatever your skin type. Caroline talks about acids a lot (see her cheat sheet on acids here) and I know she’s a big fan of REN too, so with the promise of exfoliation without the grit, I thought I’d give it a try.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Skye Gyngell’s gorgeous (and aptly named) Spring restaurant at Somerset House in London for the prettiest of breakfasts to celebrate the launch of the new hush spring 2018 collection. With fresh petal colours, delicate prints and new twists on some of my favourite pieces, I could very easily have packed the whole lot up and taken it home with me. Read on for a look at that beautiful breakfast and a peek at some of the pieces that caught my eye.
When I’m cooking for the family, my intention is always to nourish (I know, I’m just so new age). I want to choose foods that will fill our bodies full of good things, so that kind of excludes all the delicious stuff like cakes and biscuits, right? Well, maybe, but sometimes you just really need a biscuit with your cup of tea, so I started to think about creating a little sweet treat that still has some good stuff in it. Oats are so good for you: a great source of fibre as well as lots of important vitamins and minerals, and oat bran is high in protein (although if the taste of bran is too ‘knit your own yoghurt’ for you, feel free to replace it with wholemeal or rye flour instead). I’ve tried to keep the butter to a minimum by adding banana (but hey, I’m a fan of full-fat dairy) and they’re not too heavy on the sugar either, so if you’re desperate for a sweet treat, why not reach for one of these cookies instead of that packet of biscuits? If you’re calorie counting they come in at about 120 kcal each which isn’t bad for a nice, fat cookie. I’m not going to go so far as to say they’re healthy, but let’s call them healthier oat and cranberry cookies instead.
Picture the scene: it’s Friday night, we’ve both had a hectic week and we’re slumped, finally, in front of the TV, bra off (me), joggers on (him), and both boys out with friends. It’s the perfect opportunity for us to head out to dinner together, just the two of us. We discuss options and various restaurants we quite fancy, but it would mean getting dressed and putting make up on and driving/taxis and whatever and there’s a good film we both fancy on the telly, and delicious wine in the rack. What to do? We don’t have the luxury of many takeaways that deliver here, plus that option can be expensive (and frankly not always great), and although I love to cook, sometimes the thought of getting creative in the kitchen when I just want to chat and sip wine with Jim while we catch up after a busy week means I’d love an easier, but still delicious alternative. This week we’ve been trying The Supper Club range, a collection of premium luxury ready meals new to Sainsbury’s, so we popped the Red Thai Chicken Curry in the oven instead.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, I know many people will be thinking about booking a restaurant table for a romantic dinner for two. I do know, though, that going out on Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Restaurants are extra busy and there’s too much pressure to be ‘romantic’ while everyone’s looking, too! Plus, Mr E and I have been together for about a gazillion years, so I think the need to impress me has long gone. Still, I want to cook a gorgeous dinner for him, and I’ve been looking at the new M&S food to order products, where you can find some interesting cuts of meat that you’d normally have to order from your butcher, plus some great ideas for reluctant cooks, plus of course, delicious desserts.
Yesterday I went into London to catch up with the lovely folk at Viking Cruises (you might remember me mentioning that I wrote the recipes for their cookery book and also for the gorgeous Nordic Style book they have on board). Viking Cruises are the sponsors of a brand new exhibition at the V&A: Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, which opens this Saturday, and I really do recommend that you give it a visit. Whether your interest is history, engineering or fashion, the whole exhibition is a fascinating insight into the glamour of the golden age of cruising. Known for their cool, Scandi-inspired ships and attention to detail, Viking Cruises really are the perfect match for this exhibition.
Just four short weeks ago, I told you about my plans for 2018, and more specifically my plans for January. Over this month, using the super useful Drinkaware app, I’ve set goals, logged every glass of wine (and every gin), noted every unit and every calorie, every drink-free day and lot of other associated stuff. And now, as we’re finally saying goodbye to January (or should I say good riddance?), there’s time to reflect upon how it’s gone, the lessons I’ve learned, the bits I’ll take with me into the rest of the year, and the bits I’ll leave behind. And so, in no particular order, here are my thoughts:
Are we allowed to talk about spring yet? I’m SO ready. I’m one of those people who loves to have something to look forward to, and at the moment, it’s new buds on the trees, longer days, beams of sunlight shining through the window, and maybe even a little bit of spring cleaning. To inspire us, I’ve chosen a few fresh new interior pieces from M&S in a pretty palette of blue and white, which should help to cheer up even the most miserable of January mornings!
- Deliciously simple empanadas April 26, 2018
- Fast & Furious – Supercharged at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida April 24, 2018
- Weekend wishlist: chic dressing for sunny days April 21, 2018
- News: Virgin Holidays and North America’s first dolphin sanctuary April 19, 2018
- Discovering the Caribbean on board Viking Sea April 17, 2018