So after focusing on the lovely ladies, next up is my Christmas gift guide for the boys. I always find Mr E really hard to buy for, as if he wants something, he tends to just go and get it. Plus, if you ask him, he always says ‘buy me a jumper’. Trouble is, he tells this to his Mum and everyone else that buys him a present too. I find the best way to combat this is to have a list on my iPhone notes of anything he mentions during the year. The boys, on the other hand, never fail to provide Santa with the biggest list possible to choose from, but I like to treat them with small, unexpected bits and pieces so there are still a few surprises. So whether you’re looking for your grown up kids, Dad, uncles or your significant other, I’ve had a look around the shops – I hope this provides some inspiration for Christmas gifts for the man in your life – for every budget!
So here’s the first of a little series of gift guides. This one is Christmas gifting for her and, ok, I’ll admit it. I do kind of use these gift guides as a little Christmas wishlist for Mr E and the boys. Let’s face it, if they can open the blog and see something beautiful here to buy me, plus I get to share my ideas with you as shopping inspiration, it’s a win/win. Talking of gifts, I was recently asked by the lovely Sam over at I’m Sam Squire to contribute an idea for his Hopeless Man’s Gift Guide (his words not mine), and, as always, I shared my favourite gifting advice: if you haven’t been asked for something specific, it’s best to choose something that’s beautiful and useable (or indeed edible). So if you’re not exactly certain about the taste of the lady in question, it’s a good tip to stick to something like deliciously scented candles (see my guide to festive candles here), or bath and body products (and definitely not lingerie if you even remotely have to guess the size).
Have you worked out your personal style? It’s a tough one. I think by now, in my mid-forties, I’ve kind of sorted out roughly what suits me and what doesn’t: I like a mostly minimalist style in a palette of grey, black and white, and I tend to stick to classic styles, with the odd bit of leopard thrown in for good measure. What if, though, you could have access to your own personal stylist? Would you be interested in maybe shaking up your look? I’d love to be braver, especially at Christmas! I was intrigued and delighted to be invited to try Tuesday from M&S, a new, free, personal styling service that aims to provide style inspiration (with no obligation to buy).
I adore winter dressing! No worries about whether you’re showing knobbly knees or less-than-perfect upper arms: it’s all about snuggly jumpers, soft textures, boots and tights. Hurrah! Some of my favourite outfits recently have been deliciously easy and wintery: a soft, bronze pleated skirt with a black roll neck jumper and boots, and leather leggings teamed with a crisp, white shirt and a slouchy grey jumper (and topped off with a gorgeous black teddy bear coat). For me, it seems so much less complicated to put together a great outfit at this time of year. I love hush for good quality, wearable style, and the new hush winter 17 collection has some delicious pieces. Here are some of my favourites:
I think we’ve already established that I rather like everything (wait, did I mention crunchy, flame-coloured leaves, blackberry picking, cosy evenings in front of the fire, red wine, blankets, flickering candles, pumpkin spice, bobble hats, Halloween, shiny conkers… yes? Okay, I’ll stop now) about autumn. I do feel, though, that we haven’t really touched on one of the best things: snuggly autumn knitwear. Along with not having to fake tan and leaving my legs to be unnaturally unkempt, I think a soft, chunky jumper is one of the loveliest things about the turn in the weather. There are some great sales on at the moment, so it’s a great time to shop. Grab your pumpkin spiced latte, snuggle up and browse through my top picks:
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and just to make it extra special, this year is the 25th anniversary of the pink ribbon. Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in their lifetimes, and at the moment, one person is being diagnosed every 10 minutes, so it’s really important that we all come together and raise as much money as we can. Loads of brilliant brands have teamed up with breast cancer charities to provide opportunities for you to donate while you shop, and with Christmas coming up (67 days, folks!), it’s a really good time to get a start on your Christmas shopping, and do something brilliant for a great cause. Here’s my Breast Cancer Awareness Month roundup. Read more
I’m obsessed with make up. I love watching beauty tutorials, and I’ll often be found happily attacking a pile of ironing while watching my favourite YouTubers, the lovely Pixiwoos, gorgeous Victoria, superstar Tanya Burr, skincare guru, Nadine Baggott and fabulously funny and honest Ruth Crilly. One problem this does present is that they’re always discovering fab new makeup and skincare and making me want to buy it. Obviously nobody has unlimited funds for that sort of thing, but I do keep a little list on my phone of items that the experts have recommended, so that next time I’m really, honestly in the market for that specific product, I can check it out. Here are a few of the new season beauty recommendations that have caught my eye:
I think I told you a while back that I’ve been working with Nat and her team from The Hair Secret in Berkhamsted to save my poor, frazzled hair. I love being blonde, but I find it quite damaging on my fine hair, so Nat’s been using Organic Colour Systems colour on me, which is a lot kinder (and also ethically sourced and cruelty free), and suggested that I try their new Organic Colour Systems Rep-Hair Follicle Strengthening System: a great range of products designed to strengthen hair and reduce the amount of hair that falls out. I was keen to give it a go.
I’ve never been particularly tiny or particularly big, so apart from the few occasions over the years when I’ve completely and unhealthily starved myself down to a ridiculous and completely unsustainable size 8, I’m generally around a healthy size 12. We eat quite well (we’re experimenting more with meat free, veggie-rich recipes at the moment and loving it) and try to be sensible with alcohol. Add that reasonably healthy lifestyle to the fact that, thanks to the NHS Couch to 5k programme I’m now running 5k three times a week and I’m kind of annoyed that I haven’t really toned up that much. Cue, then, the most exciting email I’ve had in ages from the fabulous S-Thetics Clinic in Beaconsfield, inviting me to come and try SculpSure body contouring: the first ever treatment to use gentle heat technology to eliminate stubborn body fat without going under the knife.
Okay, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely autumn now. Regular readers will know I’m an absolute autumn obsessive. I always think of it as a time of new beginnings. It’s a ‘new notebook month’, not just because of the new term connotations, but because it’s maybe a time when we retreat indoors a bit more, giving us time to reflect, take stock (see my positive life plan if you’re interested in exploring this a bit more) and to welcome a bit of softness and comfort, even – dare I say it, more joy – into our lives. Autumn is snuggly jumpers, soft throws, cushions and flickering candles (and let’s not even get started on comfort food, shall we?). The change to cooler weather also brings the opportunity for a bit of a wardrobe refresh – retiring our summer pieces and exploring new collections from lots of our favourite brands, and – wow – the M&S autumn winter 2017 collection has so many nice things – I’ve taken you through a few of my favourites.
First of all, I’d just like to point out the glaringly obvious, that I’m not a scientist, so my thoughts on these collagen supplements are literally just my own views – however, I must say that before I was offered the absolute collagen protein rich marine collagen oral liquid supplements for review, I’d actually read quite a lot about collagen supplements and was quite keen to give them a go. Here’s how I got on.
This week saw the announcement of the new hush autumn 17 collection and it really is a gorgeous one. I’ve seen them go from quite a niche online company to wandering the racks of their clothes in John Lewis like a proud mama, and I continue to love everything about their relaxed, grown up style. I absolutely love it when a new season collection lands and it’s no secret that autumn’s my favourite: all those snuggly jumpers, muted colours and soft fabrics make me so happy. Let’s face it, our summer’s been pretty nonexistent, hasn’t it? During our dog walks recently (yup, in wellies and rainwear), we’ve picked handfuls of blackberries for crumble, and the crabapples and sloes are dotting the hedgerows already… It’s like mother nature wants us all to forget it ever happened and move straight on to autumn. And honestly? At this stage, I’m pretty happy with that.
Fashion seasons are so fickle aren’t they? I always think it’s weird how in the middle of August, when we should all be enjoying the sun (okay, I appreciate this really hasn’t happened), all everyone is talking about is school uniform, and things that are ‘new in for Autumn’, ‘new season’, etc. Still, I get it. If you’ve got kids going back to school (I haven’t – for the first time ever – sniff), you need to get uniforms and school kit organised, and if not, if you’re anything like me, those little glimpses of deliciously soft knitwear, leather boots and coats still make my heart do a little skip – autumn is by far my favourite season! Recently I’ve been considering investment handbags. I tend to buy a handbag – generally leather but not hugely expensive – and use it until I get sick of it, or ruin it. I’ve currently got a cavernous, ‘chuck it all in’ soft leather bag that I bought in John Lewis. But September, with all its back to school newness, does seem the season to maybe invest in something new and beautiful – a kind of new school bag for grown ups, if you will.
Do you do much to your brows? I actually don’t mind the shape of mine, but I do think that every time I go and get them threaded, they seem to take a tiny bit more away and I’ve started to notice recently that this means they’re a bit thinner than I’d like them. I mentioned this to Nat Lupton, owner of The Hair Secret in Berkhamsted (my favourite hair salon – I’m going there tomorrow for a mega-makeover – watch this space!), and she recommended that I book in for HD Brows at Bloom Beauty Bar, located just inside the salon, with their mega-talented make-up artist and HD Brow specialist Zoe Kennedy.
So following on from my positive life plan post about fitness, I mentioned that one of the joys of keeping fit is buying all the workout gear. I love it: you really wouldn’t think it, but running leggings are actually quite flattering (why is that? I guess because they smooth everything out and suck everything in) and it’s all so comfy and colourful. I feel much more confident, somehow, if I’m in some nice sportwear. Here are a few of my top picks of the latest workout gear for all sizes and budgets.
I absolutely love this time of year: I love being able to waft about in floaty maxi dresses and flat sandals, or chuck on some denim shorts and a pretty top. I just feel it’s easier to dress when it’s summer, somehow. I’m also mega-excited whenever new collections are released, especially if they contain the above-mentioned floaty maxis and pretty tops. I’m loving everything about the new hush late-summer mini-collection. Regular readers will know that they’re one of my all-time favourite brands (my Instagram is basically just me wearing hush clothes). Everything is gorgeous (obvs), but here are my top picks:
- A night out at the Gourmet Picture Company, Marlow December 10, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: festive fun with Love Layla Designs December 9, 2017
- Christmas crumble muffins with the Kenwood Chef Elite December 7, 2017
- Christmas gifts for the man in your life December 6, 2017
- Shopping and pampering with Trainline’s new voice app December 5, 2017