Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the fab ‘Travel Beautifully with Estée Lauder’ event at their spectacular offices in Fitzrovia (they have an open fire in the lobby, for goodness’ sake). I don’t consider myself to be a beauty blogger, but I’m certainly interested in all things travel beauty so I was delighted to attend and find out more about the brands under the Estée Lauder umbrella and pick up some pre-flight pampering tips. I think what many of us don’t know, when we’re browsing the huge area of brands at World Duty Free when we’re travelling, is that many of them offer – and actively encourage you to try – loads of different pre-flight treatments, workshops, walk-in demos, make up lessons and much more!
Do you do gifts for Valentine’s Day? I always think that whether it be birthdays, Christmas or otherwise, one of the worst presents you can receive is something to keep. I’m firmly with William Morris, who said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’, and the same should definitely apply to gifting. I know that probably sounds a bit ungrateful, but ornaments and house bits are so personal, it’s so difficult if you get something that’s not really you, but then you’re kind of lumbered with it, and have to display/use it because, well, it was a gift! Here at number one, our standard gifting rule is that your gift must be something useful: something to eat (see my gorgeous strawberry and Cointreau layer cake, for example), something that they can use (like toiletries or scented candles), something that they can experience (like tickets or restaurant vouchers), or even just a voucher for somewhere you know the recipient loves to shop. So in that spirit, here are a few of my favourite bits of Valentine’s Day loveliness especially chosen for you and your beloved:
Here at number one, we say everything with cake. Passed an exam? Congratulations, here’s a cake. Miserable because it’s cold and rainy? Have some cake. Birthday? Christmas? Just because? It’s always cake. So when the lovely people at Denby asked me to create something special to celebrate their latest collection, Natural Canvas, and, as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, well, it had to be a cake, right? A romantic one. And you can’t honestly get more romantic than this strawberry and Cointreau layer cake with coconut cream: it’s light, fluffy, fruity and sweet, whilst managing to be just a teeny bit intoxicating, a bit squishy, and more than a tad eat-with-your-fingers messy . The perfect match.
Okay, if you’re not on Instagram you probably won’t know what on earth I’m talking about when I mention jungalow style, so I’ll explain. One of my favourite websites, The Jungalow, is home to the gorgeous Justina Blakeney, a designer who lives in LA at her heavenly, stylish home, The Jungalow. Justina’s designs are full of bright colours and beautiful patterns, and The Jungalow is a mine of fabulous inspiration: quirky hand made pieces, loads of plants, colour and lush prints. I adore everything about Justina’s ‘new Bohemian’ Jungalow style, and although Bedfordshire’s a pretty long way from LA, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all bring a little bit of jungaliciousness (that’s a word, right?) into our lives, is there? With The Jungalow as my inspiration, I set out on a mission to find a few bright accessories to give our kitchen a bit of a spring update.
I’m addicted to succulents. So much so that it’s getting a bit ridiculous. If, like me, you’re one of those people that always kills house plants, then succulents might be for you. They take barely any looking after, and they’re quite happy for me to go on trips and don’t require anyone to look after them while I’m away (which is just as well as my lot can barely manage to feed themselves, let alone look after anything else). Just a disclaimer here: I’m no expert (many look very similar – I can’t, for example, tell my Echeveria from my Pachyveria) but this is just my trial and error, learned over time method. Yes, there have been some casualties along the way – but hey, that’s another thing about succulents – the small ones are really cheap, so it’s not the end of the word. My succulents all seem pretty happy and none of them die any more, so I must be doing something right. Here’s my easy guide on how to look after indoor succulents, including how to repot, water, and care for them long term. Onwards!
I’ve never really been a chunky jewellery person, bar the odd feathery bit of boho jewellery on the beach. I love sweet, delicate pieces: a sliver of gold around the neck that catches the light, or a flash of glitter in the ear caught just as you push your hair back. This weekend’s wishlist features the absolutely stunning range from Rachel Jackson London available at John Lewis.
I’ve always thought that music and food go hand in hand, but that could just be because we’re all huge music lovers in this house and, with the boys both studying music production, you can imagine there’s always a pretty strong baseline booming out of one room or other here at number one. If I’m in the kitchen, the radio will always be on. For me, the kitchen is the warmth and heart of our home, and it’s important to me that it’s filled with fun, bright colours and delicious treats, and there’s often someone having a little boogie around, so you can imagine how much we’re loving the new Sainsbury’s #fooddancing ad – it was basically just made for us – food and music are both just simple pleasures, and the kitchen’s the perfect place for a bit of dancing! If you haven’t seen it yet, the advert features families dancing around their kitchens while cooking and comes with a pretty catchy tune too:
I think when the weather is cold and bleak (let’s face it, January’s not the greatest month is it?), it’s even more important that there’s fun, laughter, music and good food all around, so to warm us up, I cooked up a delicious, warming spiced berry, rhubarb and lime crumble from the Sainsbury’s website:
Berry, rhubarb and lime crumble
You will need:
50g porridge oats
50g golden caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, diced
125g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g rhubarb, roughly chopped
500g frozen black forest fruits, defrosted
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
½ tsp cinnamon
Firstly, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Weigh out the oats, caster sugar, butter, flour (I used a tiny bit more than the recipe suggests as I made one large crumble rather than four small ones), then rub them together, adding the vanilla in as well, until you get a breadcrumby texture.
Then just slice the rhubarb and add to the defrosted fruit along with the lime zest and juice and the cinnamon. Either pile into a large bowl, or divide into four smaller bowls, and sprinkle with the crumble topping.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve with custard or double cream.
Now isn’t that worth dancing for?!
I’m SO ready for some lovely spring fashion. It doesn’t matter that it’s still grey and chilly outside, it’s so exciting to see some new season gorgeousness start to appear to cheer up all these long January days. One of my favourite brands, hush, has released a few gorgeous pieces as a taster of the full spring collection, and I’m loving the modern shapes. I think more and more for me, my clothes choices aren’t about being ‘fashionable’, but more about them being modern classics that I can mix and match with items already in my wardrobe. As I get older, I have much more idea about what suits me, and buying new pieces is all about quality, great material and wearability. Here are my favourite from the hush spring pre-collection:
You know that hush is one of my favourite brands, so I’m always extra excited when there’s a hush sale on as it’s a chance to buy some really well made, quality additions for your wardrobe at a great price. In line with my new year of living thoughtfully, I’ll only be buying things that I really, really need, but if you’re in the market for a few key pieces, here are my top buys:
Do you have a proper night time ritual? As part of my new 2017 promise to myself to live a more thoughtful life, I’ve decided that stumbling into bed after too many glasses of wine is just not going to cut it. The lovely chaps at John Lewis have launched a brand new wellbeing campaign for 2017, to encourage us all to be a little kinder to ourselves: to exercise, recharge, and nourish our bodies, and it’s inspired me to take a look at my night time beauty routine. January is a great time to try new skin and hair care as there are often loads of lovely gift sets in the sale too – the perfect way to try out something new and discover some new favourites before buying the larger sizes.
2016 has been wonderful and awful all at once. For us as a family, the beginning of 2016 was really just spent thanking our lucky stars that Mr E finally got a job after quite a few months of being unemployed, and was also the year we finally started to get things finished around the house. We’ve had the usual teenage ups and downs: a (minor) car accident, drunken evenings, arguments and girl troubles… but nothing too terrible, thank goodness. In the big wide world, however, and outside of my lovely family, 2016 has been a year of tragedy, sadness and some shocking moments, culminating in the death of the voice of my teenage years, George Michael, and the fabulous Carrie Fisher, making us all pretty keen to wave it goodbye. It has, though, as this fabulous article in The Pool recently pointed out, had the strange side effect of making us all care a little more; it made us a bit more aware of the suffering of others and increased our capacity for empathy. And for that, I guess, we have to be grateful.
What. A. Year. I’ve got plenty more to say about the joy and sadness that was 2016 in my first piece of 2017 (for us, as well as everyone else, it seems, it was a year of huge highs and massive lows), and my plans for 2017. But for now, I want to stay with the joy and take a look back at the highlights of a year of travel and adventure. Here’s my 2016 roundup.
So here it is, my very last post before Christmas! I’ve been writing this blog for 10 years now (I know!) and every year, I say the same thing: if you’re cooking the Christmas lunch – and getting stressed about it – remember it’s your Christmas too. I’ve got loads of tips here to make the day as stress free and laid back as possible for you, so you can enjoy your Christmas day with your family and friends. So find a quiet corner, Treat yourself to my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate, grab a notebook, have a read through and take few minutes to make a plan. And remember, it’s basically just a big roast dinner, and this guide will help you do most of the work on Christmas Eve so you can spend as much time as possible with the family, and as little as possible in the kitchen on the big day!
I love a good surprise, so when John Lewis very kindly invited me to team up to choose a surprise gift for a fellow blogger, I was delighted. I was teamed up with the gorgeous Sam Squire, the uber stylish blogger behind mens fashion and lifestyle blog ImSamSquire. My boys are obsessed with Sam and particularly love his cool outfit shoots and I wanted to put together a really stylish mens grooming kit that would impress Sam, as well as give you a few last minute ideas for gifts for the stylish man in your life
I seem to have left all my Christmas shopping until the last minute this year. I think it’s because I’ve been having such good fun baking. Thank goodness for the interwebz where you can still find loads of last minute gifts for teenagers, with something to suit even the pickiest teen. And if, like me, you’re going to struggle to afford a brand new PlayStation 4 Pro (basically the only thing on Sam’s Christmas list this year, but at £350 not going to happen, unfortunately), I’ve hunted down some great gifts that will keep any type of teenager happy.
Some people are just REALLY DIFFICULT to find presents for, don’t you think? Let’s face it, we’re all lucky enough to have more or less everything we need, so we have a bit of an unwritten rule in our family that gifts have to be useful (and/or useable), and I think edible gifts fit really well into this category, so when Ryvita Thins set me the challenge of creating a Christmas gift hamper, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. If you have friends and family that are real foodies, this is such a lovely idea: a gift of inspiration, and the starting point to easy Christmas nibbles if they’re entertaining over the festive season (or just lovely snackage for in front of the TV if they’re not).
- Weekend Wishlist: all the Spring cuteness April 22, 2017
- Vary your dairy: giving goat a go April 20, 2017
- Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World – part two April 18, 2017
- The big Easter roundup: recipes, eggs and more April 14, 2017
- Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World – part one April 13, 2017