Now our boys are older and have their own money, when it comes to gifting they tend to just ask what I’d like. I’m always happy with flowers or chocolates, but when they or Mr E want to buy me something lovely that I might not splurge on for myself, I tend to head straight for beauty products. You already know that I’m a big fan of M & S beauty, so I thought I’d pick a few things that I love that would make amazing Mother’s Day gifts (or, frankly, a well-deserved bit of self-gifting too). Read on to find my top picks for Mother’s Day beauty with M & S:
I’m so lucky to have my Mum. She’s my biggest cheerleader, supporter and advisor – always on the sidelines cheering me on, always there with great advice, never interfering, never judging. Mr E and my Mum get on really well, and the boys quite rightly adore her (she spoils them silly, even now they’re big), so she’s always played a huge role in our family life. This Mother’s Day, I’ve teamed up with John Lewis to create a lovely hamper of gifts for my mum as inspiration for Mothers’ Day gifting. Here’s what I chose to say thank you to my lovely Mum.
I’m such a monochrome shopper it’s not even right. Absolutely everything I purchase (apart from denim) is black, white, or grey, so my current obsession with everything nude and blush has kind of caught me by surprise. Although, I guess nude is a neutral, so by rights my wardrobe should all still fit together, no?
I’m just not really a breakfast person. I’ve tried hard to change this, but the most I generally eat before about 11am are copious cups of tea and maybe a biscuit or a banana. So when Breville came along with their Blend Active Diary Challenge, bandying about phrases like ‘a smoothie a day’, and phrases like ‘lesser used vegetables’ and ‘superfoods’, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t enjoy my challenge week. Still, I’m always up for a bit of experimentation, and let’s face it, an entire healthy meal in a glass sounds like a lazy person’s dream come true. Here’s how I got on:
I spend so much money on products that aren’t right for me. My worst one was getting my foundation done at the Chanel counter at Gatwick, then purchasing the product and not realising until I went to the loo on the plane and looked in the mirror that my face was literally orange (top tip, try to approach someone on a make-up counter whose own make-up style you really like). I have to say, though, that when I took it back to the Chanel counter at John Lewis, they changed it for me. I also find I make a lot of mistakes buying online, with products not being the right colour or texture for me. Happily, though, I occasionally have some amazingly good accidental discoveries, and I’m on a roll recently, so I thought I’d share them with you.
If you’ve been here before (hello!), you’ll know that at the beginning of the year, I wrote a little about this year being my year of ‘thoughtful spending‘. This meant attacking the vast piles of clothes in the top of my wardrobe, working out what was wearable and what wasn’t (tick), sending what wasn’t to charity (tick!), and having a good hard look at how in future, my wardrobe could be a) smaller and b) more user friendly (work in progress). Of course once I started on my home wardrobe, this started to filter down to my holiday wardrobe. Here’s how I got on in my quest to pack like a minimalist.
Recently I was lucky enough to be invited up to London to attend a launch event for the new Samsung Galaxy A series. The new Galaxy A3 and its big brother, the Galaxy A5 are mid-market phones, sitting nicely between the very high end Galaxy S7 Edge and Samsung’s entry level offerings. Samsung know that even those with less budget, say: teenagers, for example, still demand features like great quality pictures, water resistance and good battery life. The new Samsung Galaxy A series sits happily in this mid-range spot, offering some really fabulous innovations:
I’ll be honest, I’ve never really done much to my eyebrows. They’re an alright shape, so I just brush them up a bit and leave them at that. Occasionally I’ll have them threaded, but mostly I leave them alone and pluck out the odd stray hair. I keep reading recently, though, that the eyebrows are the most important element to your make up: it’s true, your eyebrows frame your face, and done well, they can lift your whole eye area, but I never really considered how I could enhance my own. Step forward: Browhaus. They have outlets all around the world, where they provide everything from basic brow shaping to something called Brow Resurrection: a semi permanent treatment involving tiny strokes of vegetable dye to fill in and reshape your brows.
When you try to focus on keeping a relatively minimalist wardrobe full of good quality classics, the new season can always be a bit of a challenge. I have to really keep myself (and my wallet) in check, especially faced with all the pretty new spring colours and shapes. Still, there’s no harm in a bit of window shopping, and what better way of getting my fashion fix than sharing all my faves with you? Here are a few lovely spring bits that are definitely being added to my thoughtful spending list:
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?!
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