Monthly Favourites: February 2017

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MY FAVOURITE THINGS

SKINCARE

With my brother’s wedding only around ten weeks away now, I’m really starting to think about my skincare, and how to ensure I have a clear, blemish-free and glowing complexion in all of the photographs. To combat those pesky hormonal breakouts, I was recommended to try adding some acids into my skincare routine, and after some research, I decided to take baby steps and start with Nip+Fab’s Glycolic Fix Extreme Pads. Packed with AHAs and BHAs, these pads are designed to decongest skin and create a more even, brighter complexion. After two weeks of use, I have definitely noticed the difference in the texture and look of my skin – and while they haven’t necessarily prevented breakouts, they have dried out the blemishes and evaporated them in record time. If anyone has any recommendations to quash hormonal breakouts I would love to hear them!

I’ve also been loving a new facial oil to add some moisture back into my routine; Ermana’s Renew Face Oil* is seriously impressive and feels like a real treat to use. I’ve been adding this into my evening skincare routine post-acids, to boost moisture and generally give my skin a bit of a lift. It’s a really luxe, silky oil and is completely natural too – it gets a very big thumbs-up from me!

BEAUTY

I don’t want to keep harping on about this wedding, but it is shaping so many of my decisions at the moment! My bridesmaid’s dress is red, and when I initially tried it on, I was wearing red lipstick. My soon-to-be sister-in-law loved the two together so I’ve set about trying to find the perfect matching red to last me through the day – and I think I’ve found it. NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo; a bright, vibrant, blue-based red that has a seriously glamorous feel about it, in a velvety formula that sets matte and lasts for DAYS. I’m just trying to ration it so I don’t use it all before the big day…

NEW PURCHASE

Zara’s sale didn’t hold much wonder for me this season, but I did manage to snap up one of my favourite purchases of the season before they sold out… These white leather heels are just perfect. Chunky wooden heel, pointed toe and unbelievably comfy – I know I’m going to get so much wear out of these, once it warms up in Edinburgh! The best bit was that they were reduced to just £12.99 down from £50-ish. They’re sold out online but you might have luck in store! I also purchased the Instagram blouse of the season – this unbelievably fun and frivolous floral embroidered blouse. It is Spring personified and I am so excited to wear this!

ITEM OF CLOTHING

Honestly? My Gap merino sweatpants. It’s been a cold month, and an expensive month, so we’ve been staying in most nights and trying to stay in at least one day at the weekend, to save money. So while my fancier clothes aren’t getting much of an airing, I am basically living in these sweatpants in the evenings and/or on a Sunday, and they are the comfiest things I have ever owned. Gap usually reissue them every season so keep an eye out – I got mine for £15 in the sale last year and they are one of the best purchases I have ever made. Who needs pyjamas when you have these?!

SHOP

I had spied Life Story in Broughton on a few Instagram accounts of late, and I kept meaning to pop in, without properly knowing where it was – so when we stumbled across it while walking through town a few weeks ago, we just had to pop in. It is the most beautiful shop – especially if you’re into your interiors and that effortless Scandi style. The boutique is packed with stationery and homewares that are meticulously chosen and beautifully presented, so if you don’t leave with a wishlist spiralling into the hundreds, you’re doing something wrong.

TV SHOW

We have become a little bit obsessed with the brilliant BBC One drama Taboo. Created by and starring Tom Hardy (swoon), it’s a really dark, Gothic drama that holds you in suspense throughout. I won’t say much more than this for fear of ruining it, but Tom Hardy plays James Delaney, the presumed-dead son of a trading magnate who returns to London after his father’s death and proceeds to do whatever the hell he wants to do. It is dark and twisted and so, so good. The entire series will be on the BBC iPlayer for a while yet and I urge you to watch it. “I have a use for you…”

MUSIC

After saying last month that Lianne La Havas’ ‘Blood’ on vinyl was on my wishlist, Lewis went and bought it as my Valentine’s gift, and I have been playing it ever since. It sounds just as gorgeous as I hoped it would. Highly recommended!

FOOD & DRINK

I’m still on a bit of a journey to shift some extra pounds, and while I’ve lost over half a stone so far (go me!) there’s still a little way to go before I hit the target in my head. One thing I’ve found really useful is Slimming World’s recipes, as you know they’ll be low in fat and packed with vegetables and goodness. I absolutely love the recipe for their Easy Chicken Curry – it tastes delicious and so authentic, and adding in some natural yoghurt at the end gives it the perfect finishing touch. Great for satisfying those takeaway cravings without the guilt, check out the recipe here.

READ

While we’ve been staying in this month a bit more than usual, it’s been a really good time to catch up on my reading and find some great new writers online. I’ve got Emma Cline’s The Girls on my bedside table for my night-time reading, but I also found Ella Risbridger and her fantastic column for The Pool this month. It’s beautifully written, so touching, sometimes devastatingly sad and at times so heart-burstingly happy – you can read the back catalogue here.

TREAT

A trip to Paris! A treat in the purest sense of the word. We’ve booked a weekend away in my favourite city in May, and this time we’re going with another couple. It should be so much fun and I’m really looking forward to some time away, just the four of us.

Monthly Favourites: January 2017

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MY FAVOURITE THINGS

SKINCARE

This month, my skin’s really been suffering from the effects of the chill here in Edinburgh; it’s been so dry and flaky, meaning my makeup’s been looking pretty darn rough too. For that extra dose of moisture every morning and evening, I’ve been reaching for the Hyasoft moisturiser from The Hero Project. This oil-free moisturiser is packed with hyaluronic acid and works to just add an extra injection of hydration underneath your regular moisturiser. It’s been a lifesaver for my flaky nose and chapped cheeks!

BEAUTY

Beauty-wise, January for me has been about taking it back to that retro 60s aesthetic that I adore. Every now and again I find myself straying and becoming the sort of person who wears a bronze smokey eye – and then I remember that I’m definitely not that person, and hastily reach back for the black eyeliner. Big lashes are a key part of this look for me, and my new favourite mascara find comes courtesy of Revlon’s new mascara range – in particular the Dramatic Definition mascara. Two coats of this results in thick, black fluttery lashes to rival Twiggy, and while it’s not waterproof, it lasts really well, with no smudging and just a tiny bit of flaking after a few hours’ wear. For the price, it’s a great purchase.

NEW PURCHASE

Ok, so technically I didn’t purchase this, it was a Christmas gift, but it’s still one of my new favourite things. This beautiful Zodiac Journal from Anthropologie caught my eye the second I spotted it and now it has pride of place on my bedside table, perfect for jotting down my thoughts and ideas. It’s vegan leather, so perfect for everybody, and comes in this metallic grey, rose gold, blue and white variations depending on your starsign, with the constellation embossed in gold on the front. It also comes with a rose gold pen tucked into the side which is super stylish and makes quickly scribbling down ideas too easy to resist.

ITEM OF CLOTHING

As I mentioned above, this month has been all about getting back into that vintage vibe that I love. One of my new year’s resolutions was to have fun with my wardrobe again, and abandon the tidal wave of jeans and jumpers currently coursing through my closet, so I’ve been making sartorial choices that embrace the sixties look I prefer. This gorgeous pale blush blouse from La Redoute has a concertina-style frilly collar and cuffs, and makes me feel like I’m cycling through Paris circa 1964. Ticking all the boxes, then.

SHOP

La Redoute is firmly back on my radar this month, it has to be said. Their sale was amazing, and I managed to pick up a few pieces that otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to stretch to, like the blouse I mentioned above. After payday I’ll definitely be logging in again to snap up some homeware too, ready for a spring update in the flat.

TV SHOW

The Crown is my new obsession! I knew I would love it and yet it still surpassed my expectations. If you haven’t watched it yet then I am firmly urging you to do so! It’s just such a lavish production, beautifully made and a stellar cast – the perfect thing to watch on chilly January evenings.

MUSIC

This month there isn’t a particular favourite music-wise, as we’ve spent the month rediscovering old favourites! We came home from a family Hogmanay with a new (old) record player in tow, and finally we have a proper setup for music. We had a few records lying around but now we can start collecting proper; my first purchase was AM (because why not?) and then I ordered Souljacker as part of Lewis’s birthday present too. Next on my shopping list (aside from all the albums ever) is Lianne La Havas’s album, Blood. It’s the most lush sound, really full and just gorgeous, so I’m looking forward to hearing what it sounds like on vinyl!

FOOD & DRINK

Despite going on the wagon this January and joining in with the typical losing-weight-getting-fit saga that’s wending its way throughout the country, we’ve had some pretty fabulous meals this month. Mostly because it was Lew’s birthday, and we travelled back down to London for it. My favourite meal was his birthday dinner at The Ivy in Covent Garden, where we enjoyed crispy duck, chicken liver pate, roast chicken, swordfish and even a little platter of salted caramel truffles at the end. Plus, the most delicious rose and hibiscus champagne cocktail that was utter joy to drink!

TREAT

My treat this month was a foodie one too, I have to be honest. On the morning of Lewis’s birthday I booked a cosy corner at Dean Street Townhouse for breakfast; it’s one of my favourite spots for something special and I knew he would love it. We got a great table, tucked away from the hustle and bustle (and, as it turns out, it was the table next to a certain Andrew Garfield and a certain Emma Stone…) and enjoyed the most indulgent of birthday breakfasts. It was pricey, as you’d expect, but it was definitely a real treat that we both enjoyed. The poached eggs were perfection – I’m still Instagramming them weeks later!

The Dreamiest Candle Find

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In winter time, when the nights are dark and chilly, there’s nothing I like better than to snuggle up on the sofa and light a cosy candle that fills the room with warmth and a delicious fragrance. As soon as I light one, I feel cool and calm and just that little bit more grown-up.

My latest candle obsession comes in the form of Anthropologie’s Illume Boulangerie Jar Candles, in the fragrance Angel Food. It has such a luxurious, enveloping scent that I just can’t get enough of – even when it’s not burning, I find myself wandering over to the jar to give it a sniff and breathe in that delicious smell.

Angel Food is described as ‘sweet vanilla, butter and caramel’, which sounds sickly I know, but it’s a far warmer, richer scent than it is sweet. It has divine depth and a buttery warmth that I really love, it’s a truly decadent infusion of fragrances. I don’t especially like anything too sweet or synthetic in my candles, and this is neither.

The other main aspect that I love about this candle is the presentation; the porcelain jar features a pretty Parisian-inspired design stamp, and I know I’ll be using this for storage long after the candle has burned down.

If you’re looking for a little treat to pep up these last grey days of January, I’d highly recommend the Angel Food Illume Boulangerie Jar candle – I’ll see you at Anthropologie!

My 2017 Resolutions

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the start of something new

I love this time of year; when everything feels on the cusp of being fresh and new, and you can wipe the slate clean and start again, building the ideal of the next 12 months and shaping how you want things to turn out.

Last year’s resolutions were definitely more serious than this year’s; there were many things I wanted to change and improve last year, but now, 2017 is all about having fun! Everything I want to achieve this year all comes down to making sure I enjoy life to the full, and learn some amazing new things along the way. With two weddings coming up and all the paraphernalia that comes with them, things like travel aren’t going to be high on the list for the next 12 months, so instead I’m thinking about everything else I can do for myself to try and make sure 2017 is one of my best years yet…

Life

Buy our next home in Edinburgh
This is my main goal for 2017; in the next twelve months (hell, in the next six!) I’d love for us to become homeowners again. Edinburgh isn’t cheap by any means and while I’m self-employed it certainly won’t be easy, but we’re determined to make it happen and get back to having our very own home – and an abundance of interiors projects – in the not-too-distant future.

Enjoy fashion again
This is definitely one of the more ‘fun’ resolutions for the year! I’ve always loved that 60s Parisian look and my wardrobe was definitely honed over the years to reflect this. However, in the last year or so I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped having fun with fashion in the same way, and more and more I’ve noticed that I’m just dressing in the same uniform of jeans and jumpers. BORING. 2017 is the year I get back to falling in love with my look! I’m still going to be rocking the jeans and jumpers of course, but I want to be less practical and more frivolous; I’m thinking velvet and lace and frills more than trainers and knits! I don’t want to be saving things for special occasions; I just want to have fun with fashion.

Read more

Reading is far and away my favourite hobby, but I always seem to struggle with finding time to fit it in. Reading a book isn’t like watching TV or even reding a magazine; it takes total focus and dedication. I asked for a stack of books for Christmas and I’m going to make sure I give myself the time to properly enjoy them.

blog

Learn to vlog
So yes, I did say this last year, but I think 2017 is the year that I’m going to really give this a go. I’ve already been dipping my toe via Instagram Stories, and now it’s time to take the plunge – wish me luck (and subscribe when it gets going, won’t you?)

Invest more time in blogging
Same as every year really – it never ends!

Start a newsletter
I’ve been so inspired by some of the newsletters I’ve read this year (in particular Dolly Alderton’s The Dolly Mail, which is just utterly gorgeous) and in 2017, I’d like to have a go at starting my own. I feel like it would be a real labour of love but I’m excited to have a try.

Work

Take a class
This one is going to be interesting. I haven’t decided what I want to go for specifically, but I think it’s about time I broadened my horizons and picked up a new skill. It might be something to do with my vlogging aspirations, or perhaps it might be floristry – I can’t wait to learn something new.

Finish my novel
I think this is doable – throughout 2016 I’ve been working away on this, and now it’s fully planned out, with whole chapters written, I think the finished article could be achievable by late 2017. I’m so proud of it already!

Approach a literary agent
Well, the book needs to be completed if I’m going to get this one done!

Brush up on my French
I’ve always planned on having an extra language as an extra skill, and while my French is passable, I really want to get it up to scratch next year. The perfect excuse for a few jaunts to Paris – to practice!

A Look Back at 2016

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If I think about all of the things that have happened this year, it’s been a pretty monumental one. This time last year, life was totally different, and where I was at was totally different too. I don’t get too personal on my blog but it’s fair to say that I wasn’t in my best place at this time in 2015. The fact that things couldn’t be more opposite 365 days later shows that every thing that’s happened this year was a good thing in one way or another.

So let’s do a little rundown of what will surely go down as one of the biggest years of my life…

In January, I knew a change was on the horizon. 2015 had been pretty rubbish for me on a deeply personal level – things which involved nobody else but myself and were a battle for me. So I went into the new year thinking that change had to happen, and I was determined to make it so. It didn’t take me long; by the first week of February I had a job offer for a PR agency I’d been eyeing up for a few years, taking a senior position on the fashion team and working on some fun and fabulous brands. I couldn’t have handed my notice in quicker, I was so desperate to start my new job!

And so in March my new journey began. It’s funny – you can think that you want something so badly, and that something will be so amazing/exciting/rewarding etc., but really, you don’t know anything until you take the leap. My job at that agency was definitely a huge learning curve, but it didn’t take me very long at all to realise that it wasn’t the right place for me. Compatibility is a huge part of a job, and we just weren’t compatible.

We’d been casually discussing the idea of moving back to Scotland; of course we’d only been in our first real home a year, the flat that we’d so carefully saved for and so lovingly decorated, but you can’t force a flat to feel like a home, I have learned. Especially when home feels like it’s approximately 500 miles away. So with the combination of a strange homesickness for heading back north, an intense dislike of the expense, crush and general stress living in London, and of course my equally-intense disappointment and stress of my job, we made a decision. It was time to DO SOMETHING.

And do something I did. I emailed a virtual stranger; a woman who’d emailed me a year previously offering me an interview for a job in Edinburgh, which I’d been intrigued by but, having literally just got the keys to the aforementioned flat in London, had to politely decline. I didn’t expect anything to come of the email, which went something along the lines of “hi! remember me? you liked me enough to offer me a job last year, fancy doing that again?”. And then a few weeks after that, I was sat in a restaurant in Edinburgh drinking wine with her, hearing all about her plans for setting up a brand-new agency and having that job offer made all over again.

It was a lightbulb moment for me. It was a huge risk, selling our flat and leaving a secure (admittedly pretty damn well-paid) job to join a start-up that hadn’t even started up yet. But something in me dared me to do it, so I did.

Everything happened so fast after that. Our house went on the market and sold at the end of July, I handed in my notice that same week and there began the longest three weeks of my life while I worked through my notice period, before jetting off to Barcelona for a week to cleanse myself of it all. We had trains booked and removal men secured; we returned from Barcelona super-late on the first Friday of September, and had mere hours to pack up our entire lives before we had to jump on a train to Edinburgh on Sunday morning.

Leaving that flat was awful; it was so sad. I spent the whole weekend spontaneously crying, wandering from empty room to empty room. I was just so bloody disappointed that our dream had gone awry; we’d been so excited to move to London and so excited to have the flat. But some things just aren’t meant to be, and some things just are.

So that was all four months ago now, although it feels like a lifetime. Moving here has been a total change and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. We may have a little less money than before, and we may be paying rent instead of a mortgage again, but what we have gained far outweighs that kind of thing. We have time, we have all the time in the world when we’re both indoors by 6pm and the city centre is but a twenty-minute walk away. We are surrounded by our friends and half of our family (the other half are still in London, but you can’t have it all) and we are also surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. There’s no stress, no worry in the world that can’t be switched off by a walk through this gorgeous city and breathing in the cleanest air at the beach just down the road.

So there we have it; 2016 in a nutshell. It’s been a huge year for us but we are so happy with the decisions that we’ve taken, however stressful/expensive/crazy they were. Life has become what we hoped it would be in the last few months, and I can’t wait to see what adventures 2017 has in store for us.

My Christmas Wishlist

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JUMPER | NECKLACE | NOTEBOOKS

BOOK | SOCKS | BERET | PERFUME | TUMBLER | NAIL POLISH

So I’ve left this pretty late in the day, when there’s just six shopping days left until Christmas… but it’s taken me a while to decide on what beautiful bits and pieces I’d really love to unwrap this Christmas.

Nothing here is particularly practical – but exactly what I don’t want at Christmas is things that I need! There’s little more disappointing than a wholly practical present, wouldn’t you agree? My picks are erring on the side of indulgence, without anything being too expensive. Think soft wool and cashmere in dusky pastel tones, elegant items for my dressing table and some altogether beautiful bits for the home…

This oversized soft wool jumper is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of this winter; the shade is perfect and the slouchy fit looks just gorgeous. Imagine it paired with any shade of the classic cashmere socks from The White Company (although I do have a particular penchant for either the grey or the blue)… bliss! And that soft pink beret is too pretty, perfect for keeping cosy all winter long, but with a Parisian Sixties twist that I adore.

I love the idea of anything starry at the moment; I am obsessed with the idea of the moon and constellations as a pattern. This delicate crescent moon pendant is super pretty and just a little bit sparkly, and as it’s from Accessorize it’s not too pricey either. And these leather-bound constellation notebooks from Anthropologie are just about the most beautiful notebooks I have ever seen. My starsign is bound in the grey version, but every colour is utterly sumptuous. I want them all!

Beauty buys are always a lovely gift, but I’m very fussy about what I receive. I love the sound of Estee Lauder’s Modern Muse Nuit fragrance; think jasmine, sandalwood, amber and musk, housed in a sleek art-deco style bottle. So chic. And speaking of chic, is anything more stylish than Chanel? I’d love to unwrap the new Le Vernis in Pink Rubber on Christmas Day!

To toast the special occasion, I’d love to sip my cocktail of choice from this gilt gold monogrammed tumbler – it’d look perfect on my sideboard.

And finally, when the guests have gone home and the night has drawn in, I am imagining cosying up on the couch with ‘The Lesser Bohemians’ by Eimear McBride; the story sounds captivating, the reviews are fascinating and the cover is just plain gorgeous.

What’s on your wishlist this year?

Christmas Gift Guide 2016: Stocking Fillers

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Last up in my gift guide extravaganza are those pesky little last-minute gifts that we all seem to struggle to buy but love to give. I personally love getting a stocking full of fun little treats on Christmas morning – who wouldn’t? To me, a great stocking filler is either a luxurious little treat, something small but thoughtful, or something all-out silly that’s sure to get your recipient giggling!

Falling into that first category is Cowshed’s Cowslip Manicure Kit, which has that essential kit to get the hands looking glamorous and feeling fabulous. It’s priced under £15 which is great value considering you’re getting two lavish Cowshed products (a cuticle oil and a hand cream). Finish this manicure-themed set with a mini Mavala nail polish which doubles up as the cutest Christmas tree decoration I ever did see! I love the colour Angel Snow, which is a very festive silver glitter.

If the ladies love nail care, give the men the gift of great facial hair this festive season. My partner recommends the Mr Natty range, and this Beard Shampoo is a fun idea that’s practical too. Slightly less practical, the Glitter Beard Kit. Need I say more?!

Something I always like to see in my Christmas stocking is a fresh new notebook, ready to be filled with all the ideas and musings of the year to come – and this leaf-print Ohh Deer notebook fits the bill perfectly. If you’re more into your tech, then a new iPad case might have a similar effect – and this chic men’s one from ASOS is just a fiver!

Back to those little luxuries, and a candle is always a great gift for me. One I’d love to receive is this super fun gold pineapple candle – definitely not one to burn but perfect for giving the living room a bit of glam!

And finally, because they’re my favourites and no stocking is complete without them, a box of Charbonnel et Walker truffles are just perfect. My favourites are the Sea Salt Caramel truffles but there are literally dozens of options. Enjoy!