So last week I told you a little about my relationship with alcohol, and my Drinkaware challenge during Alcohol Awareness Week to stick to the recommended weekly guidelines: that’s 14 units a week, spread across the week, evenly over three or more days with a couple of alcohol free days. Last week, I also kept an alcohol diary, with the help of the Drinkaware app (and the notes on my phone to record the actual circumstances). Here’s how I got on:
It’s that time of year when we all seem to be more susceptible to colds and sniffles. Of course, there are obvious things we should do to avoid catching other people’s colds, like washing our hands, keeping surfaces clean (especially if you have kids who seem bring everything back from school (remember those door handles!) and avoiding touching our faces. If the worst comes to the worst, though, and you find yourself battling the common cold, what should you do? Here are my top tips, shared in partnership with family favourite decongestant oil brand, Olbas:
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:
How’s your relationship with alcohol? I’d say that mine’s… complicated. When we were younger, I was always the one who would volunteer to drive. I’m naturally quite chatty and happy, and it didn’t occur to me that I needed to drink alcohol to have a good time, therefore I was generally the designated driver, and happy enough with it. Now, we don’t tend to go out much, so our drinking is done at home, and this has increased steadily over time. Add to this the fact that we really love our wine, to the point that I write about it and we even invest in it, and you’ll see why our alcohol consumption has steadily grown. Next week, 13th to 19th November is Alcohol Awareness Week, and I’ve been thinking a little bit about how (and why) I drink. It’s been an interesting time…
One year, when the kids were small and we were still living in Ireland, our whole family came over to spend Christmas with us. I remember it as the most magical time: loads of fun and laughter, walks to the pub snuggled up in hats and scarves, the kids opening their presents together on Christmas morning… Years later, we still talk about our lovely family Christmas together, and one of the things we’ve considered is renting a cosy cottage somewhere and decamping as a family for the festive period. I’m thinking The Holiday but with considerably more people. So why am I hankering after getting away from it all? Well, here are five great reasons why we should all be having a cosy cottage Christmas:
How do you feel about cooking the Christmas dinner? I absolutely love having Christmas at home and I’m never happier than when I’m in the kitchen (made even nicer now we’ve knocked the wall down to the dining room so everyone can chat and mingle together). We’ve gone out on Christmas Day before, but we all prefer to be at home so we can relax and have a drink (and also, eating out is expensive – I’ve had a couple of emails from local pubs and restaurants advertising Christmas lunch menus, and they’re all around the £60 – £75 per person mark). I do know, though, that even if you love to cook, Christmas dinner is a big undertaking: there’s all the planning and shopping, and you might already have lots to do with buying gifts, maybe getting ready to have relatives to stay. I was pretty interested, then, when recipe box company HelloFresh got in touch and asked if I’d like to try the HelloFresh Christmas Box. Here’s how I got on.
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
You know that I’m a complete Halloween addict. I love all the little bits and bobs that come out around this time of year, and yesterday I was nosing around John Lewis, intending to buy a few baking bits to make my spiced chocolate skeleton gingerbread men (more of these in a second). They have some absolutely gorgeous gifts, decorations and treats for Halloween this year and I ended up buying rather a lot of that stuff too (I mean, mini pumpkin fairy lights, come on!).
We love where we live. We’re so lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world, surrounded by gorgeous countryside and yet just 30 minutes’ train ride away from London. I feel like we have the best of both worlds. Recently, the lovely chaps at booking.com asked about our favourite places to eat and stay in the Chilterns, and it’s honestly taken us lots of evenings of chat (and lots of bottles of wine) to narrow down our choices, such is the wealth of fabulous places throughout Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and beyond! Here, then, without further ado, is my perfect foodie weekend in the Chilterns. I do hope if you’re ever in the area, you’ll come and give some of these fab places a try!
Let’s be honest, one of the best bits of being on holiday is getting to try ALL the local cocktails, am I right? When the lovely bunch at Travel Republic asked me to contribute to their cocktail-themed travel guide – packed with information about destinations and their signature cocktails – I was happy to oblige and I knew exactly which city (and cocktail) to champion. Mr E and I absolutely love Paris, and to us, the French 75 (or soixante quinze) is synonymous with our favourite destination: chic, stylish, and just a little bit outré. It’s Paris to a T. Here’s how we make our perfect French 75 cocktail at home.
Now Charlie has gone off to university, I’ve been doing a bit of research on student discounts for 2017 and beyond. Loads of companies are really generous with their student discounts and, as some will be on a limited basis, this is the best time to think about using your discounts. First things first, though, you need to prove that you’re a student and most companies want to see your official NUS Student Card.
Since arriving back from Orlando on Thursday, we’ve really noticed how autumnal it seems to have become in just that short period. Our gorgeous parrotia tree, experiencing its first autumn in the garden, is now aflame with orange, coral and red, showing off its glorious, glowing colours every time I’m at the kitchen sink, and there’s a new nip in the air that I’m certain wasn’t there when we left. Still, I’m happy to be spending a few days snuggling at home before I jet off on my next adventure, and top of my weekend wishlist are some delicious, autumnal interiors: scented candles, soft throws, plump cushions and more (I need all the comfort after the trauma of waving Charlie off to university). Here are a few bits I’m loving right now:
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.
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