In the mood for summer – with Moshulu

Moshulu summer sandals

Are you ready for sandal weather? I am. Because sandal weather means happiness.

I’m talking about those wonderful spring days when we all skip around saying: it feels like summer, doesn’t it? We have to make the most of those days – because, let’s face it, the British summer isn’t particularly reliable. When one of those warm spring days comes along, drop everything! Put on your sandals and race outside to soak it up.

To really put a spring in your step you need a pair of sandals you can actually walk in. Because no one wants to hobble their way into summer, do they? Moshulu are on a mission to make their sandals as comfortable, colourful and bouncy as possible.

When I invest in a pair of new sandals, I need to know they’ll be practical and versatile – my days often combine client meetings, photo-shoots and racing to school and back. They have to work hard and match my outfits. Knowing this, Moshulu challenged me to test out a pair of their Comfort Sandals with three of my favourite outfits…

Moshulu summer sandals

The statement blouse… Wrap-around blouses are big for spring and summer. They’re a fabulous combination of pretty femininity and practicality. Styled with my Jalapeno sandals, it’s a perfect look for anything from lunch with friends to exploring a new city. And the bouncy, cushioned sole means my feet feel happy all day.

Moshulu summer sandals

Low-key weekend style… My weekends are spent running around after my two boys. We love visiting our local market and buying our favourite bread, coffee and street food. I need an outfit that’s laid-back and flexible. I love a soft, washed-out blue shirt and skinny jeans – accessorised with my favourite shopping basket and a bright scarf. My sandals are comfortable enough for miles of walking – and colourful enough to give my outfit a real lift.

Moshulu summer sandals

The pleated skirt… For warm summer days, my go-to outfit is a pleated skirt and a Breton tee. It’s floaty and fun, but the stripes stop everything feeling too girly. Slipping on my pretty sandals makes me feel ready for anything – from a cream tea in the garden to a glass of Rosé on a summer evening.

Moshulu summer sandals

Three different outfits: one pair of sandals. And a very clever pair of sandals at that. So comfortable and bouncy, and also a bit of a fashion chameleon – capable of looking fabulous with all kinds of colours and prints.

 They’ll see me through this summer in style and many more to come!

This was a sponsored post written in association with Moshulu

Spring beauty favourites

Spring beauty routine

Anyone else get really excited about new beauty products in spring? As we move into warmer weather, my outlook changes and so does my skin!

Most of these products aren’t actually new, but they’re new to me. Here’s what I’m loving right now.

Spring beauty routine

Pixi Nourishing Skin Balm. I’m a big fan of hot cloth cleansing. This balm turns to an oil on your skin and is great at getting rid of make-up. It’s gentle but thorough. I have classic combination skin so don’t want to dry my skin out too much and encourage it to make more oil. This stuff is great and I’ve been using it for about six months now. One tub lasts me a few months.

Pixi Glow Tonic. I first started using this toner last summer and I’m still a big fan. It’s not too harsh, but gives me a satisfying tingle after cleansing! I wouldn’t be without it now.

Midnight Recovery Concentrate by Kiehls. This stuff in amazing. I’ve been using it every evening since November and the change in my skin has been noticeable. It’s hard to put my finger on what’s different – other than it just looks better and I get far fewer breakouts. I love the nightly ritual of massaging a few drops of this scented oil into my face. It’s a real luxury and a bottle lasts long time (unless your cats knock it over in the middle of the night). I use this at night and stick to a simple Liz Earle moisturiser during the day.

Bondi Sands fake tan

I’ve never been confident with fake tan, but this year I’m determined to boost my glow. My skin never really goes very brown, so it’s great to have a helping hand. I’ve been using Bondi Sands self-tanning foam for a subtle golden effect. I’m an anxious fake tanner, but this stuff is reasonably easy to apply and I didn’t get any streaks. I exfoliated with Clarins body scrub beforehand which definitely helped.

Magic Organic Apothecary

Finally, I must tell you about Fortifying Green Bath Potion. A big bottle is quite an investment so I was thrilled to find this little sample bottle (£4) for sale in a local shop. It was just enough for one bath. It’s full of exhilarating things like fir and peppermint and it’s amazing. Zingy, reviving and perfect for aching muscles. I’m going to invest in a big bottle soon!

What are your beauty favourites right now?

Outdoor entertaining – with Sainsbury’s Home

Dining alfresco with Sainsbury's Home

Outdoor entertaining is so simple. All you need are a few simple accessories and some great company. Food just tastes better outdoors – as does a glass of wine! Everything feels more relaxed and it’s one of the things that I really look forward to every year.

Sainsbury’s Home recently asked me to choose my favourite pieces from their outdoor dining range – it was the perfect opportunity to spruce up my outdoor entertaining kit…

For fabulous al fresco meals you need a great set of outdoor plates, bowls and glasses. We often have children round, so I prefer to choose melamine plates that won’t break.

Dining alfresco with Sainsbury's Home

These dark navy plates (£3.50 each) and the matching stripy salad bowl (£8.50) look really gorgeous and are a great choice for colourful summer food. They’re also surprisingly heavy and grown-up.

Dining alfresco with Sainsbury's Home

A set of pretty pink plastic tumblers (£2.75 each) work beautifully with the navy coloured tableware. I think they look just like pressed glass, except they’re about a thousand times more practical.

Dining alfresco with Sainsbury's Home

It’s also a great idea to have a couple of key pieces that’ll really add some pizzaz to your outdoor table. I love this pair of rose gold salad servers (£6.50) and the enamel wine bucket (£10) – which also doubles up as a planter.

Dining alfresco with Sainsbury's Home

Finally, don’t forget to make your guests as comfortable as possible. I love these outdoor cushions  (£10 each) in a pretty blush pink. And if it’s a cool evening, why not put out some throws too?

Dining alfresco with Sainsbury's Home

What are your favourite tips for perfect outdoor entertaining?

Sainsbury’s Home sent me a voucher to use to create this post. You can find items in store or order them with your grocery shopping.

Give me all the stripes

Mango striped dress

There’s something about stripes. No wardrobe is complete without a Breton striped top – or 20. And why stop there? This spring I’m reaching for the stripes again and again – and I’m not planning on changing course anytime soon.

Mango striped dress

Luckily for Breton lovers everywhere, stripes are big news this spring. There’s so many ways to wear them. Here’s just a few I love…

The stripy shirt dress. My pink linen one is by Mango. It sold out FAST online, but there are lots more to choose from – including a very similar version in blue. Choose a collar-less shirt dress like these three – its a unfussy and pretty look for spring and summer.

Stripy shirt dresses

From left: Blue linen, £49.99, Mango / Navy stripe, £35.99, Stradivarius

 Button up dress, £39.99 , Zara

The classic Breton dress. You need one of these in your wardrobe.  They’re perfect for city breaks, picnics, the beach and just about anything else in between! Just add shades and a basket bag.

From left: Sailor dress, £45, Seasalt / Ruffled sleeve dress, £15.99, Mango

 Ribbed jersey dress, £19.99, New Look

The flippy skirt. Choose a stripy skirt in a flowing or pleated fabric. It’ll move with you and keep you cool in every sense of the word! These three versions can be dressed up or down all summer long.

Stripy skirts

From left: Colour block skirt, £89, Hush / Yellow wrap skirt, £25, Monki

Pink linen skirt, £35.99, Mango

The stripy shirt with a twist. Update the classic shirt and jeans look with one of these cute tie-front versions by New Look. So versatile and flattering! Great for cooler days with jeans, or with shorts on the beach.

Stripy tie front shirt

From left: Multi stripe, £19.99, New Look / Blue stripe, £15.99, New Look

 Pink stripe, £19.99, New Look

Mango striped dress

I wear: Stripy dress, £39.99, Mango (sold out online, but try in store) / Shoes, £25.99, Marks and Spencer / Basket, from a French holiday – similar here

Do you love stripes as much as me? What’s your favourite way to wear them?

Three reasons why you need a floral dress this spring

Long sleeved floral dress by H&M

The floaty, flouncy floral dress. That alliteration sounds good, right? 

Here’s three reasons why you should try one…

They’re fun and flirty. Say goodbye to heavy winter coats and start showing off the beautiful details on your clothes. Pretty sleeves, cute necklines and nipped-in waists all scream spring and feel so perky and happy. Toughen the look up with a utility jacket or a biker.

Long sleeved floral dress by H&M

They’re great for in-betweeny weather. Longer sleeves and longer hemlines are so forgiving when the weather can’t make up it’s mind. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your legs still looking pale!

Long sleeved floral dress by H&M

Dress up or down. A long floral dress is so versatile. Great for a trip to the market with flats and a denim jacket – but also perfect for a summer wedding. The sleeves on this H&M dress are fantastic and really make the dress feel really special – but can equally well be hidden away under a jumper or jacket.

Long sleeved floral dress by H&M

I wear: Dress in size 10, £39.99, H&M (in store only) / Jacket, £69, FatFace / Shoes, £25, Marks and Spencer / Bag, for similar try Not on the High Street

Have I convinced you? My dress isn’t available online, but is still available in store at H&M. Here are some more I love…

Floaty floral dresses

From left: Kathleen dress, Boden, £130 / Heavy Petal Dress, Topshop, £49

 Crinkled long dress, £49.99, H&M

Be your own best friend: why it’s time to start taking your own advice

Wild flowers in the garden

Good friends don’t knock you down, they build you up. They give us advice when we need it most – with kindness, firmness and tact. But sometimes that friend isn’t there, and we have to rely on ourselves for advice. Not so easy. So often we’re full of self-doubt and criticism. But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time to be your own best friend. 

Re-visit the classic pros and cons list.

Remember those lists you used to make with your friends about boys as a teenager? Use them now to remind yourself that there’s always two sides to every tricky situation. Don’t just think about this in your head. It’s really important to actually write this stuff down on a piece of paper. Divide a piece of paper in two and write down everything in favour and against a particular decision. Writing things down conquers messy thoughts and forces you to take a more balanced approach – just as you would if you were explaining something to a friend.

Pick yourself up after a fall

What would you do to help a friend when something went wrong for them? You’d commiserate with them and give them a hug. Then you’d start building their confidence up again. So why is it that we’re so mean to ourselves when something doesn’t go to plan? More often than not, we’ll blame ourselves. Every little failure you chalk up against yourself will weaken your confidence. Stop it now, and be nice to yourself. If you made a mistake don’t dwell on it. Learn from it and move forward. And if you have a run of bad luck, remember that you’re not responsible for everything. Things hurt, but remind yourself that you’re strong, adaptable and flexible.

Wild flowers in the garden

Be your own biggest cheerleader

What would you tell a friend suffering from self-doubt? You’d tell them they can do it. You wouldn’t say, yup you’ve never done this before and you’re bound to be crap. Well, at least I hope you wouldn’t. Yet, this is what so many of us think inside our own heads every single day. These unhelpful thought patterns have great sticking power and are hard to shift. Interrupt that internal monologue of doubt by talking out loud. Have a few little mantras ready for tricky situations. You can do this, Lizzie is my favourite, and I say it to myself when I feel overwhelmed. And if things don’t go to plan, then tell yourself that you gave it your best shot.

Stage an intervention on yourself

It’s easy to get stuck in little ruts of unhelpful behaviour like going to bed too late or looking at your phone too much. Sometimes it takes someone else to point out what we’re doing wrong for us to want to make a change. But you don’t have to wait for someone else to tell you what to do – make a change right now.  It’s easier not to act, but sometimes you have to be firm with yourself. Start taking the advice you know you need – whether it’s a digital detox, asking for help on a project or cutting down on your drinking.

Dear Diary

Don’t have someone else to confide in? Write things down. It’s funny how as soon you physically write something down, it feels more manageable. It’s like talking about a bad dream, and realising half way through how ridiculous it was. Keep a simple diary. It doesn’t need to be an essay. Jot down interesting things that you can enjoy looking back on. Or, if that’s not your thing try doing a daily brain dump in a notebook. Write down everything that’s niggling at you, then screw it up and chuck it away. It’s every bit as cathartic as a good chat with a friend.

Wild flowers in the garden

Are you good at being nice to yourself? I’d love to hear your favourite ways to be your own best friend.

 

The Weekend Edit: things to do, wear, see and eat

Yellow dress and blossom

Hello weekend, I’m definitely ready for you.

We’ve all been gritting our teeth through all the rain recently so a bit of spring warmth is most definitely in order. And bang on cue, the weather is supposed to be glorious this weekend. Need some inspiration? Here’s some simple ideas…

Make breakfast muffins. I love pancakes, but they’re time-consuming and a bit messy. Fruity breakfast muffins are the perfect alternative for lazy weekend breakfasts and brunch. They’re delicious and simple – and you can make them in advance. If you don’t already have a favourite recipe, then I recommend this book. It’s a classic and you’ll soon be making perfect muffins.

Breakfast muffins

Nice weather means new clothes. It’s been so hot this week that I’ve even been testing out some new summer dresses. Not quite ready for that yet? A great transitional piece right now is a pair of light-weight, loose trousers. I’m particularly loving these stripy ones by H&M.

Stripy trousers

Pick up a book. And then read it, preferably with a cup of coffee in the sunshine. I go through spurts of discovering new authors, and then pausing to re-discover things I’ve read before. Right now, I’m revisiting the novels of Mary Wesley. I read them all a decade ago, and I’m loving returning to them now – a little older and wiser. I’ve just finished An Imaginative Experience, which was excellent and perfectly off-beat – which was Mary Wesley’s speciality.

Be a blossom tourist. Soft, blousy flowers and blue sky are such a happy combination. Go seek it out. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy to find blossom. Just take a walk around your local streets. Magnolia is at it’s best right now – catch it now before it all disappears!

Magnolia in bloom

Pack away your winter wardrobe. I love delving in the boxes under my bed and re-discovering all the pretty spring clothes I’ve forgotten about. This weekend, I’m going to try and shift things round and bag up all my thick winter clothes. Make sure everything’s clean before you pack it away, and always remember to include some moth repellents to protect your nice knitwear.

Spring clothes flat-lay

Easy TV. Not sure if it’s spring, or a response to life being busy – but right now I’m all about the comfort tv. The boys and I have been re-watching old episodes of Escape to the Chateau. It’s dreamy and amusing – and it makes me wish we could up sticks and do something similar. If you fancy some drama, I’d also recommend the Welsh BBC drama, Keeping Faith. It’s one of best things I’ve seen this year.

Blossom and Avocados

What’s on your list this weekend? 

 

 

Wear yellow, be happy

Marks and Spencer yellow dress

Yellow. It’s a mood-boosting colour. Cheery yellow flowers, runny egg yolks and a sunshine-coloured new dress – they all make me happy.

As soon as I spotted this dress by Marks and Spencer I knew it was for me. It’s just the right shade of yellow – not too bright, not too mustardy. It’s perfect.

Marks and Spencer yellow dress

It also feels really rather nice on – light, floaty and gratifyingly figure-skimming. Which is just what you need for those spring days when you’re starting to emerge from your safe cocoon of winter layers. It’s also made of that seventies cheesecloth fabric which I love because it doesn’t crease.

Marks and Spencer yellow dress

My shoes are also by Marks and Spencer. Lilac is one of the colours of the year, and they make sure the dress feels very 2018.

Marks and Spencer yellow dress

Can a dress make you happy? Well, this one certainly has that effect on me. Maybe it’s the holidays vibes, or the fancy sleeves. Whatever it is, it works.

Marks and Spencer yellow dress

I wear: yellow dress in a roomy size 10, £39.50, Marks and Spencer

 Jacket in size 10, £69, Fat Face / Shoes in a generous size 6, £35, Marks and Spencer

A basket for every day of the week

Summer baskets

I’ve always loved baskets. So imagine how happy I am that they’re this summer’s must have accessory? They’re everywhere and available in every shape imaginable. It’s possible to have a different one for every day of the week – plus a few to spare!

To help you find the best of the best, I’ve created an edited collection of my favourite baskets and string bags.

First up, the classic market bag. Perfect for holidays, trips to your local market, swimming pool…the list is endless. You need at least one of these in your life.

Classic market bag

Clockwise from top left: natural straw tote, £32, Next / long-handled basket, £28, Not on the High Street / coast path basket, £27.50, Seasalt / round handle basket, £29.99, Zara

The round straw bag. Eminently chic and very photogenic. For instant glamour, wear anywhere from St Tropez to St. Ives. It also looks pretty good worn to your local supermarket.

Round basket bags

Clockwise from top left: circle tote bag, £30, Topshop / woven circle bag, £68, Rock n Rose / red circle bag, £39.99, Mango / circle bag with tassel, £29.99, Zara

The humble string bag is back! Another long-term favourite of mine. A bit seventies, a bit granny-chic – and actually very useful. The classic kind screw up in your bag and expand to fit all your shopping – and I love these grown-up handbag versions too.

String bags

Clockwise from top left: mauve bag, £14, Rock n Rose / Red string shopper, £22, Topshop / Natural bag, £29, Weald Store / blue string shopper, £29.99, Zara

The embellished basket. Because in 2018, embellishment is king. You need one of these for your holiday this summer – and for days when you need a little sunshine in your life!

Embellished baskets

Clockwise from top left: monkey bag, £28, Topshop / pom pom clutch, £28, Next / zig-zag bag, £29, Topshop / Floral bag, £49.99, Zara

Summer baskets

The only tough bit now is deciding which one to buy!

Living more thoughtfully: loose tea

Living more thoughtfully: loose tea

Teabags. They’re not as simple as we thought. 

I’ve been putting them in my compostable waste for years and always thought they were pretty harmless. Sadly, it turns out things are more complicated. That’s because tea bags are glued together with plastic. It stops them falling apart, but it also stops them biodegrading fully. Some teabags contain as much as 25% polypropylene.

For me, the humble teabag is yet another unsettling reminder that I’m using too much plastic. Not because I need it, but because it’s convenient. Because no one actually needs a strong tea bag glued together with plastic, do they? Its nice, yes. And it’s convenient. But is it essential to human life?

Living more thoughtfully: loose tea

People have been drinking tea for a long time. The tea bag is a relative newcomer in comparison, but over the last fifty years or so it’s almost completely replaced loose tea. Like buying meat in neat, hygienic packets or soap in plastic dispensers – it’s quick, easy and we’ve got used to it.

But our simple and convenient lifestyle has consequences. Most of us have known this for a while, and it’s getting harder to brush it under the carpet. I was genuinely shocked when I heard that there is plastic in teabags. And I bet quite a few of you were too. Shock is good, because it forces us to change our habits.

And that’s why I’ve swapped my teabags for loose tea.

Living more thoughtfully: loose tea

It’s no good me telling you that using loose tea is going to save the world. It isn’t. But if enough of us make small changes it does make a collective difference. It’ll cut down on the plastic that has been contaminating waste. And it’ll send a to tea companies that we’re not happy.

Drinking loose leaf tea takes a bit of getting used to. It helps to invest in a few useful things before you start. I have a teapot with a removable metal tea filter and I have several smaller metal filters with are the right size to sit in a mug. When I’m done, I bang the tea out into my compost bin.

It’s messier and it’s drippier. But it has one big compensation: it tastes better. It’s a bit of a revelation, to be honest. I used to only drink loose tea on high days and holidays. Now, it’s my everyday staple and I don’t know why I allowed myself to be conned into drinking such bad tea for so long.

Living more thoughtfully: loose tea

There are, however, a few problems with loose tea. Some are easier to solve than others.

Mess. I don’t mind it, but it’s not for everyone. I can’t see it taking off in the average office anytime soon, for example. Which is why it’s so important that  tea companies make a commitment to making their teabags plastic free.

Cost. As it became less common, it was inevitable that loose tea would morph into a luxury product. That’s how I’ve always seen it. It is possible to buy affordable loose tea in bulk, but you’ll probably have to do it online. I order mine from Tugboat teas, whose English breakfast blend is delicious and affordable. I buy it in 500g bags and I’ve worked out that it costs me about 7p a cup. In comparison, my usual Yorkshire gold cost me about 3p a cup. So, there’s a difference. But it’s not bad when you consider just how much better it tastes.

Packaging. Buying loose tea is great, but it comes with its own packaging. And it’s not the friendliest. The bags I buy online are paper pouches lined with foil. I can’t put them with my recyclable waste, but I can post them back to the Tugboat teas who will have their own recycling scheme. It’s not ideal. I’m working on finding a local source of affordable loose tea where I can take my own container along and have the tea weighed directly into it.

Teapigs tea

Don’t want to give up tea bags?

You’ll be pleased to hear that lots of tea companies, like PG Tips and the Co-op, have pledged to go plastic free. And some brands are already doing it. Teapigs are a great example of a company who are getting it right.

I’ve lived without tea bags for a couple of months now and I wouldn’t go back. My next challenge is milk bottles!