Author Archives: marmaladepie

A very clever dress

Clever occasion wear

It’s June, which means it’s time to get ready for the Great British summer of events and occasions. Like most things in Britain, it’s complicated.

Whether you’re going to a wedding, a garden party or the races you’ll face a few challenges. Not least of which is the notorious Great British summer weather. Yes, that. The days that go from scorching hot to soaking wet, all at the drop of a hat.

And it’s not just the weather that’s changeable. Summer events can vary hugely – genteel one minute, and raucous the next. You need to be flexible.

Outfit indecision is rife. As is the fear of getting it wrong. You need to get smart and choose a clever outfit. Something that’ll feel great, and take you anywhere. Step forward the shirt dress, the most versatile of outfits. It’s smart in every sense of the word. Dress it up, dress it down – it’s up to you. 

Clever occasion wear

And I think I’ve found the perfect one. When Simply Be invited me to try out their summer occasion wear, I knew immediately that this was the dress for me. I toyed with flowers and maxis, but kept coming back to this dress. It’s a classic.

Why’s it so good?

Firstly, it’s flattering. The fluttery sleeves hide my upper arms, and the belt accentuates my waist. The longer length helps me feel taller and slimmer. Add on some comfortable heels and I’m ready.

Simply Be shoes

But more importantly, it passed the weather test. On the afternoon of these photos it encountered a Great British rainstorm and survived to tell the tale. And it still looked chic for a glass of fizz.

Clever occasion dressing

And that’s the very definition of clever dressing, don’t you think?

This post was written in collaboration with Simply Be. 

 

#OnePerfectThing in May

#OnePerfectThing in May

Our #OnePerfectThing community is one year old this month! 

That’s one whole year of spotting the little moments of perfection in our days. Life can’t always be perfect, but we can always look for something small that makes us happy. It may only be a fleeting moment, but it’s precious.

This ethos feels just as fresh one year on. In fact, right now, it feels spot on. We live in unsettling, sometimes frightening times. I find comfort in the small things. Watching my flowers grow, a blissful cuddle with my boys, a perfect flat white, a well-earned glass of fizz in the evening sun…

Thinking like this has helped me on my own personal journey, and I love that so many of you have joined in with me on Instagram. I do spend a bit too long looking on my phone sometimes, but who can blame me when I can share all your amazing moments too?

Here are my favourites from the last month! 

#OnePerfectThing in May

Top row, left to right: @jess_soothill / @lindyann38 / @lauralupinhoward

Middle row, left to right: @mimironning  / @rachaellucas / @georgia_coote

Bottom row, left to right: @featherandwild / @the.blonde.blog / @whenlovelookslikelaughter

There’s beauty and perfection to be found everywhere. If we remember that, I don’t think we’ll go far wrong.

If you’d like to join in on Instagram, then please do tag your photos with #oneperfectthing. Or, if you don’t have Instagram, why not e-mail me something or share it with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Lizzie x

And one last thing…It would totally make my day (year?) if some of you lovely people would like to nominate me in the Inspire category of the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2017! 

Get your taste buds in a twist with NEW Super Sour Yoyos from BEAR!

Super Sour BEAR Yo You

This year we’re part of BEAR’s Happy by Nature team. So far, it’s been a blast. My boys have loved BEAR goodies ever since they were toddlers – especially the pure fruit Yoyos. So being part of the team is basically their most favourite job in the whole world, and mine too.

There was much excitement when we opened our latest delivery from The BEAR Cave – a box full of new Super Sour Yoyos. The little fruit rolls have gone psychedelic!

BEAR sent us a fun roulette wheel to play with, which we set up for some after school fun. We mixed up original pure fruit Yoyos with the new super sour versions for a bit of tongue-twisting fun.

Bear super sour fruit Yo You

We love the flavour of the normal Yoyos, but these are something else! Super zingy, in an excitingly fruity way.

After the first taste my eight-year-old announced that these are the best things BEAR have EVER made. That’s high praise indeed, BEAR. They both then proceeded to cheat so the arrow only landed on the super sour ones!

Usually when my children like something like this, it’s full of nasties. As you’d expect, this isn’t the case with BEAR’s Super Sour Yo-Yos. They are just the same as non sour Yoyos, just whole fruit and veg gently baked with no added sugar – but this time with the clever addition of a hefty squeeze of lemon. Each one contains the same natural sugars as an apple, are one of your five a day and are packed full of natural fibre. They get something yummy as a treat, and I don’t have to feel guilty.

They’re a super-cool snack to take on a day out. The flavour and packaging are really ace, particularly for slightly older children who relish trying new things.

BEAR Super sour fruit Yo You

They’re also perfect for introducing your little toddler cubs to exciting new tastes. I’ve always found young children really like sour fruits like lemons – give it go, you’ll be surprised.

And you know what else is great? They’ve still got collector’s cards in them, this year they’re all about BEAR’s Super Secret Spy Adventures!

BEAR super sour Yo You

Again, perfect for my busy little BEARS, who are already eagerly collecting their ‘bearcodes’ to send off to Agent BEAR for a free Spy Kit.

You can find out more about Agent BEAR and his Super Sour Yoyos here.

 This is a sponsored post written in collaboration with BEAR

 

My bank holiday manifesto

Bowl of roses

It’s been a week of two halves.

On the one hand, we’ve had the hottest weather of the year so far. We’ve unpacked our favourite summer clothes, lit our barbecues and enjoyed the happy-making feeling of warm sunshine.

But, in the background there’s been a lot of sadness too. On a personal level, I lost my much-loved grandma  – and on a collective level we’ve all been left reeling from the horrible events in Manchester. This week has had a slightly unreal quality and the Whitsun bank holiday (plus half-term) have crept up on me. Writing about fashion and days out feels trivial. It’s hard, and it’s easy to lose your desire to write.

But I woke this morning with a determination to grab the long weekend with both hands. My manifesto for the weekend is the antithesis of all the other manifestos around at the moment . It’s simple, happy and positive:

Sit on the grass with my children and chat about life, the universe and anything in between

Drink fizzy wine in my garden and watch the sun go down

Pack up at least one picnic, and aim to eat every meal outdoors

Light the barbecue at least once

Water my plants and pick my beautiful roses

Learn to use my new coffee machine

Hold hands, cuddle and make eye-contact with the people who matter most

That’s my manifesto. What’s yours?

Low-key denim for sunny days

Relaxed summer denim

Do you wear denim all year round? 

Denim on hot days always reminds me of being a teenager – sweltering in thick jeans because you couldn’t imagine being seen in anything else. Too hot, too tight, too stiff. These days my jeans get pushed to the back of the wardrobe in summer time. I like lighter, floatier fabrics.

But I miss my jeans and I’m always looking for an alternative. Step in the Tencel jogger by White Stuff. As soon as I saw them in my local store I knew I had to try them. They look like denim, but feel light, soft and drapey. They’re everything I want a summer jean to be. Loose and low-key, and reminiscent of camping trips and days in the park.

Relaxed summer denim

The denim jogger is a new shape for me. It’s tight on the waist, baggy on the thighs and tapered round the ankle. It’s not the easiest shape to wear, but it’s everywhere this season.

If I’m wearing these trousers my top half has to be close-fitting and minimal. A pretty, floaty top looks unbearably dowdy (on me at least). A basic stripy tee feels more at home, tucked in if you fancy.

Relaxed summer denim

Trousers, £49.95, White Stuff / Tee, £6.99, H&M / Basket, £21, Kosmopolitan

I  know these are going to be my easy-peasy, throw-it-on, trouser of choice this summer. A little bit crumpled, but a whole lot relaxed – just the ticket for school runs, park runs and ice cream runs! 

Beauty favourites for May

Now I’m in my thirties my beauty routine needs an extra helping hand. I used to wear hardly any makeup, but motherhood and age have taken their toll. Barely there now looks barely decent!

But that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave the fresh-faced look. I’ve never liked lots of foundation, and I’m not ready to start just yet. So I’ve been trying a tinted base coat instead (which basically means a tinted moisturiser). I’ve invested in this one by Liz Earle. It’s my first foray into her make-up, and I’m impressed. It’s very light and I put it on over my daily moisturiser. It creates a nice base for my blusher, concealer and BB powder to sit on and really evens out my skin tone. It makes me look subtly better – like I’ve had a great night’s sleep!

I’ve always been afraid of tinted moisturisers – wouldn’t they make my combination skin even greasier? I’ve been using this one for a couple of months now and I haven’t noticed any real difference. So I’ll be sticking with this clever base, which also has a SPF. When the weather’s hotter I might mix a little stronger sun block into it for extra protection.

I’d also really recommend Liz Earle’s concealer too. It works really well with the skin tint to cover blemishes and redness.

I’ve already mentioned my combination skin. It seems to be getting worse as I get older and my pores are getting bigger (and more blocked!). I’ve read about the benefits of Origins Clear Improvement clay mask on numerous occasions and I’ve finally invested in some. It’s not cheap – my purchase was made during a prosecco-fueled shopping spree at the airport.

Origins face mask

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and I’m beginning to see improvements. I’m also trying to be good about not poking and squeezing my pores too much as I’m sure this makes them worse. I’m using it weekly, followed by those sticky pore strips a few days later.

Now, let’s talk about hair. Mine is thick, wavy and coloured. Conventional shampoos do very little for it. I’ve been reading about the co-washing trend for a while and recently took the plunge. I’m using Lush’s Avocado Co-Wash, which looks disconcertingly like a piece of cheese, but smells like heaven.

Lush Avocado Co-Wash

It’s completely different to normal shampoo. I take a little piece and rub it into a lather in my hands, then work it through my hair. It’s a very different way to wash your hair. You don’t get that squeaky clean feeling – instead my hair feels soft and moisturised and much less frizzy and fluffy. My hair is very thick, so it can take this. I imagine if you had fine hair, it would feel unbearably greasy.

It’s hard to explain, but I prefer my hair this way. It retains more of its natural oils, but it still feels clean. My hair also smells amazing after I’ve used it! If you have very thick hair give it a go. It’s quite expensive but, the lovely girls in the Cambridge Lush gave me a small piece to try for free before I committed to buying a big piece. Their customer service is great, I’m always really impressed.

Have you tried anything new lately? I’d love to hear about your new finds! 

And one last thing…It would totally make my day (year?) if some of you lovely people would like to nominate me in the Inspire category of the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2017! 

Three things I’m loving this week

English peonies

The second week of May has been a bit hit and miss, hasn’t it? At the start of the week the weather was still disappointingly chilly, and the news is so hopelessly gloomy (the image of Teresa May driving the country over a cliff springs to mind).

Anyway, you have to find your happiness where you can, don’t you? The other Ms May, pulled her socks up by the middle of week and gave us a few days of warm sunshine. So, I’ve been smiling whenever I can and enjoying these simple pleasures:

Finally getting to wear a new pair of sandals

The first day of sandals always feels the start of good things to come. I always go to my local New Look every spring and choose something new – they do the best range of affordable sandals and never disappoint! Here’s this year’s choice! I’ve just seen online that they’re also available in shiny pink and blue. Very tempting.

Silver sandals

Going crazy for peonies

I love watching the seasons change through flowers. I always buy mine from the market every Thursday and it’s always a pleasure going along to see what’s new. This week I bought my first bunch of English peonies and have eagerly followed their progress – from tight, enigmatic buds to a puddle of petals on the table.

English peonies

Eating asparagus from Norfolk

Another simple pleasure provided by the market. I recommend it with a poached egg and smoked mackerel for a delicious lunch! Like the peonies, enjoy it while you can.

Norfolk asparagus

What else have I loved?

Listening to this album by Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White on repeat.

Reading The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild

Watching the second series of Versailles on BBC2. Guilty pleasure.

What have you been loving this week?

And one last thing…It would totally make my day (year?) if some of you lovely people would like to nominate me in the Inspire category of the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Awards 2017!

After school clubs – what’s your magic number?

After school clubs – what’s your magic number?

Our children spend at least six hours every day in school. We expect them to sit down in a classroom from an early age and learn. And once the school day finishes, the clubs begin.

Why do we do it?

To put it simply, it’s about getting their bums off seats. Sports activities allow our children to let off steam and learn new skills in a safe, structured environment. Social groups, like the Scout movement, encourage independence and ingenuity outside the home.

How much is too much?

Recently, I realised that after-school clubs were starting to dominate our lives. Like a lot families, we’d started off with just one activity per child each week. But this had started to creep up, until we only had Mondays and Fridays free each week. The balance felt wrong.

A quick straw poll amongst my friends told me that we all feel the same. Our older children are doing 2-3 activities per week, our youngest 1-2.

Is that too much? Maybe not if your children are doing their activities at the same time, in the same place. But what if they’re all in different places, at different times? That could mean 4 or 5 different seperate activities to get to each week. It’s a lot of rushing about, not to mention expensive.

Is that ok?

The answer is different for everyone.

For our family, three afternoons full of activities and clubs were too much. We were neglecting some of the other important things in life: meals eaten at the same table, time to read together and complete homework. Calm bedtimes. And most important of all: the chance to relax and just be.

After school clubs: what's your magic number?

How to do you find a balance?

First, prioritise your children’s activities.

Do they really love them all, or is there a sense of obligation? It’s good to teach your children commitment, but equally it’s also nice to allow them room to breathe. Is there one activity where everyone always drags their heels, but you feel you ought to do? Talk about it and reach a compromise.

For us, that was swimming. It’s an important life skill that they need, but they never want to go. We now go on a Sunday morning. I’ve always fought against clubs at weekends, but we’ve all agreed this won’t be forever. Once they’ve learned to swim confidently, they can choose to stop if they like. It eats into the weekend, but we all go together and combine it with a nice lunch in town. They’re learning, but we’re also getting to spend time together as a family – much better than rushed afternoons at the pool.

Remember that clubs get more serious as time goes on

Lots of activities require more commitment from your child as they get older. Football, martial arts and dance often start small, but become full-scale commitments over time. If your child has a passion for something, encourage them, but remember, that other things may have to fall by the wayside.

After school clubs – what’s your magic number?

Team up with other parents

If your children desperately wants to do something, but you can’t make it work with your schedule, team up with other parents. Share lifts, or take it turns to look after younger siblings. If you need to keep costs down, how about meeting up for more informal activities with friends? Football or a scavenger hunt in the park.

Don’t worry about keeping up with the neighbours

Try not to be influenced by what so-and-so’s child is doing. Some families relish being busy all the time, others don’t. Do what works for you as a family, and no one else. If this means teaching your children to swim yourself at weekends, or restricting sports to a casual kick about in the park, then so be it.

Remember that down-time is an important activity in its own right

Never forget that. We expect a lot from our children. It’s essential that they have some time to themselves too. Time to just drift and do exactly what they want (even if that’s nothing). We shouldn’t be micro-managing every aspect of our children’s lives. They have the rest of their lives to be weighed down by schedules and commitments. Give them opportunities, but also give them the precious gift of freedom!

 So, what’s your magic number? I’d love to hear how you make it work. 

 

How to be a hothouse flower: your guide to the tropical trend

Tropical trend by H&M

Image c/o H&M

The tropical trend is huge right now.  Look carefully and you’ll see it everywhere – on cushions, prints and even trousers!

Worried it’s all a bit naff? Think again. The time around the tropical trend is very grown up. It’s all leafy palms, rich greens, hot house flowers and luxurious gold accessories.

More of a wallflower than a hot house flower? Here’s my easy guide to all things tropical. 

The great thing about new trends is that you don’t have to completely immerse yourself in them (unless you want to). You might not want your living room to look like a rainforest, but how about giving it a subtle update with bright botanical prints? Choose a few inexpensive, key pieces and you can instantly update the feel of your home.

Let’s begin in the living room. Textiles, especially cushions, are a great place to start. H&M Home have a fabulous range of tropical cushion covers at the moment. I don’t think you need to look anywhere else! To keep things feeling relaxed, mix your bright cushions with neutral throws and simple jute rugs and baskets.

Tropical cushion covers

Clockwise, from top left: Tropical leaf, £8.99 / Banana print, £8.99 / Monkey, £8.99 / Green leaf, £3.99 – all by H&M

Once you’ve got a few cushions, add a touch of (affordable) luxury with gold accessories and even a cheeky parrot or two. One new piece on its own will look a bit lost. Choose a few objects to create a fresh story within your room.

Tropical accessories

Ceramic parrot jar, £29.99, Rockett St George / Wine rack, £45, Oliver Bonas / Pineapple candle in a jar, £4.99, H&M / Photo holders, £7.50, Oliver Bonas

The next step is houseplants – preferably several! Try creating a little jungle in one corner of the room using beautiful palms in pots and baskets. Or, if you want something faux, there’s a great selection of everlasting plants out there. But remember, something real will always make your room look and feel better. Real plants actually filter the air, and most don’t need too much care beyond the occasional water – promise! I never need much of an excuse to add another to my collection.

Faux plant, £7.99, New Look / Large gold planter, £17.99, H&M / Large silver planter, £17.99, H&M / Faux pineapple leaf plant, £5.99, New Look

The bedroom is also a wonderful place to embrace the tropical trend. Try bright bed linen, which is an inexpensive way to transport your room (temporarily) to the tropics. Again, keep things grounded with natural baskets and rugs.

Tropical Bedroom

Duvet cover, £19.99, H&M / Sea grass Basket, £19, Oliver Bonas / Candle holder, £12.99, H&M / Jute rug, £34.99, H&M

What do you think of the tropical trend? Love it loathe it? 

The pleated skirt of dreams revisited

Primark pleated skirt

A month ago I wrote a post about the pink pleated skirt of my dreams. It’s so good, I’ve since bought it in two more colours!

It’s probably breaking some kind of blogger etiquette to write about the same thing twice, but I can’t resist sharing this skirt with you again. Simply because it’s such so perfect and versatile. The kind of clever buy that I know will carry on being useful until autumn. And all for £8.

Pleated skirt + tee + denim jacket = my easy-peasy new uniform

Primark pleated skirt

Unusually for Primark, it’s a really good fit. Especially if you’re (like me) a pear shape. You’d think a pleated skirt would be unflattering, but I find it skims over my tummy and hips, and accentuates my waist. The fabric is also key to its appeal – soft jersey, which is practical and informal.

These skirts were back in stock in my local Primark last week and I snapped up a khaki green and a soft blue. I tried about a million other things on, but these skirts still came out tops. They’re a hidden gem that’s worth investing in – even if it means you have to go and rummage in your local store!

Primark pleated skirt

Have you got one of these skirts? How do you like to style it?