Author Archives: marmaladepie

Three things I’m loving this week

Primark Dress

Hello! I hope you’ve had a great week. The boys are back at school and we’re starting to settle into our autumnal groove. I’ve been reading a lot and savouring the changing seasons. Here’s what I’ve been loving…

Hidden Lives, a family memoir by Margaret Forster. This is a truly excellent read. I’m going to gush about it in the hope that it’ll make you read it too. It’s the autobiographical story of Margaret, her mother and her grandmother. Three generations of women – one born in the nineteenth century, one in the early twentieth and one in the thirties. It’s a beautifully written examination of how women’s lives and expectations have changed dramatically during that period. The book takes us from giving up work when you married and back-breaking housework to the scandal of children born out-of-wedlock – and then onto Margaret’s liberating coming of age at university in the 50s. Find it here.

Hidden Lives by Margaret Forster

English apples. September heralds the reappearance of English apples. I like the to buy them from Ely Markets, who have some delicious early cropping, local varieties. The taste just blows you away – nothing like boring imported apples.

English apples

A new dress. I called into Primark to buy pants and came out with a new dress too.  Primark isn’t online, but this is £15 and there seemed to be plenty in store. As always, the sizing isn’t great – I had to go up two whole sizes! I’ll forgive them though as I love the colour and vintage look. I can’t decide if it looks more 1930s, or 40s? Maybe even 50s? Anyway, I love it.

Primark Dress

What have you been loving this week?

My five minute make-up routine

My quick 5 minute make-up routine

I only really started wearing make-up in my thirties, and even now I’ll have stretches of time when I won’t bother. But then I do and I remember why I love it. A little bit of make-up makes me feel like a better version of myself. I do it entirely for me, not for others. 

These days my two key requirements are time and quality. I like a quick five-minute (or less) routine that’ll give me a glow with minimum effort. To achieve this I’ve learnt that it’s worth investing in good quality products which seem to go much further and look much better.

Here’s my dream team:

Mini Miracle Eye Wand by Charlotte Tilbury (shade 2), £29. One end contains a moisturiser, the other a concealer. Applying the moisturiser first stops things looking cakey. I do a quick sweep then rub it in with my fingers.

Light Wonder foundation by Charlotte Tilbury (shade 3), £32. Yes it’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. I use a 5p size piece and either use my fingers or a flat-bristled foundation brush to apply it. It evens out my skin tone without looking (or feeling) heavy. I had my colour matched in the Cambridge John Lewis store.

Instant Look in a Palette by Charlotte Tilbury, £49. These limited-edition palettes are the dream. They contain blush, bronzer and highlighter – plus eyeshadows. I sweep it all over quickly for a light, flattering look. It’s so easy and looks great!

Cloud Paint by Glossier (beam), £15. I use this cream blush when I want a bolder colour on my cheeks. A tiny dot of this on each cheek creates a gorgeous rosy glow. I just rub it on with my fingers.

Mac Blotting Powder, £22.50. My mascara kept smudging, so I invested in this stuff. Putting it on under your eyes is supposed to help, and it has! Something to do with moisture. Anyway, it works. A quick dab before my mascara means no panda eyes.

Sumptuous Bold Volume mascara by Estee Lauder, £23. A nice to apply mascara that makes my lashes look gorgeously thick. I only use a quick sweep of the brush for daytime.

Secret Selma lipstick by Charlotte Tilbury (£24). My perfect neutral shade. Not too dressy or red, it’s just the perfect natural pink. You’ll find me wearing it in almost all of my photos.

My quick 5 minute make-up routine

These are the products I reach for each day. There’s a lot of Charlotte Tilbury as this is a brand I now really love and trust – and that’s important when you’re buying make-up, isn’t it? I’d love to hear about your favourite products – drop me a line in the comments below!

A September state of mind…

New Look Shirt Dress

Come September, I want my life to feel as neat and ordered as a pencil case full of freshly sharpened pencils. The start of every school year is a new start. Even when the playground is a distant memory that feeling is hard to shake off.

Life doesn’t stop for the summer, but it does change pace. As the trees start to change colour, my attitude shifts and I become more productive. Work, hobbies and ambitions all come back into focus.

A September state of mind

I don’t want to stumble into autumn, I want to meet it head on in my best pair of new shiny shoes. I’d be kidding myself if I said I’m going to feel my best self every single day. But I do want to look like I mean business. Remember your new school uniform? It made you stand up a bit straighter, even when felt a bit nervous on your first day.

The good thing about being a grown-up is that you get to choose your own uniform. Wear things that make you feel the way the way you want to feel. My September outfits always have a back-to-school look about them. Neat, smart and productive – with not a flip-flop in sight.

New Look Shirt Dress

A shirt dress is a great piece to invest in. It’s still cool enough for warmer days – but if you choose a dark colour it’ll also feel pleasingly autumnal. You don’t have to spend much – my black spotty one is from New Look and it’s £24.99.

September fashion: shirtdress and jumper

Add a loose knit on cooler days. Preferably one with a v-neck for just a hint of school days. I bet you have one lurking in your wardrobe, but if you don’t then this one is from H&M and it’s £17.99 (the oatmeal colour I wear is currently only available in store).

New Look Satchel and shirt dress

A satchel is always very appealing in September and it’s big enough for all your to-do lists. I bought mine from New Look last year and they still sell the same bag in a gorgeous brown colour. It’s £19.99.

This outfit, or some variation on the theme, is what you’ll mostly find me wearing this September. What will you reaching for?



Summer’s golden hour

Making the most of summer's golden hour

Warming my hands on a cup of tea… wearing bed socks…noticing it’s getting darker…

All signs that autumn’s on the way, and all things I’ve done this week. Which is exciting, because who doesn’t love autumn just a little bit? It’s bittersweet though, as I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer.

Living the dream

Luckily, we don’t have to just yet. While the days of skipping out the door with no coat, an umbrella, or any form of knitwear are probably over, we can still make the most of summer’s last golden days. Here’s three simple things I’ve been doing to make the most of it…

Seek out the glorious colours of late summer. Autumn doesn’t start properly until the equinox on the 23 September. Don’t pine for pumpkins and crunchy leaves too soon. Until then, there’s still plenty of beautiful late summer sights to see: hedgerows bursting with blackberries, bright rose hips and jewel-like dahlias.

Making the most of summer's golden hour

There’s still time to sleep outdoors. If traditional camping doesn’t appeal, then try glamping. We stayed in a yurt the other week and it was so much cosier than a normal tent. There was even a woodburner. Wrap up warm by a campfire and look up at the stars!

Glamping at Riddlesworth Park

Enjoy the mellow end-of-the-holidays vibes. At the start of summer, everything felt more rushed. The air was thick with expectation and we all had so many plans. August has felt mellow in comparison and that’s fine by me. Once the kids are back at school, my work will ramp up again – but right now, routine doesn’t matter and I don’t care if we wear pyjamas all day.

Making the most of summer's golden hour

How are you making the most of the last days of summer?



Flares, ABBA and other new season stories

ASOS cropped flares

ABBA made me buy these flares. Or, more accurately, watching the new Mamma Mia film did. Have you seen it yet? The 70s bits of the film are awash with dungarees, flares, peasant tops and string bags. I left the cinema with ABBA as the new soundtrack to my life and desperately needing a pair of flares. 

Luckily for me, flares are going to be a thing this autumn. The easiest way to wear them is a cropped denim pair with a high waist. The hems won’t drag in the dirt and you won’t have that weird disappearing feet thing happen. It’s actually a pretty flattering silhouette for pear-shapes (like me).

ASOS cropped flares

Top, H&M (old) / Cropped flares, £32, ASOS / Shoes, £26, Warehouse

I can’t blame ABBA for making me buy these cheetah print trousers. Animal prints are everywhere though, so can you blame me?

Cheetah print Warehouse trousers

Top, H&M (old) / Cheetah trousers, £39, Warehouse / Shoes, Marks and Spencer (old) / Basket, from France

I chose this pair from Warehouse for a camping trip and they were perfect! Loose, cool and simple – like pyjamas, basically. I’m looking forward to dressing them up and down all autumn.

Cheetah print Warehouse trousers

One more thing before I go. If you had to sum your life up right now in an ABBA song, what would it be? I’m hovering somewhere between Slipping Through My Fingers and Take a Chance on Me.


Feeling impatient? Take things one scarf at a time…

Scarf in hair

I’m not going to mention the A word, because it’s still summer, but I can’t deny that I’m getting excited about new season trends. Just a tiny bit though, as it’s obviously way too hot to wear any of them yet.

If, like me, you’re feeling impatient, try taking things one scarf at a time. Not wooly ones, the jaunty little silky ones. They’re a cute little nod to the season ahead that we can all afford.

Scarf in hair

We’ve all got at least one lurking at the back of the wardrobe, right? And if you haven’t, then go rummage in the charity shop where you’ll always find loads.

I’ve spotted the cool girls on Instagram wearing their scarves in their hair, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. After weeks and weeks of limp heatwave-hair, it feels pretty jaunty.

Scarf in hair

Scarves are also good when you want to…

… perk up your ancient raincoat

…look like Jane Birkin

…make your straw bag look even cuter like the guys at Rock n Rose

Go forth and wear your scarves! 

Be more leopard

New Look leopard jumpsuit

Never underestimate the mood enhancing qualities of leopard print. It’s one of my favourite things, along with posh ice cream and Aperol Spritz.

New Look leopard jumpsuit

I absolutely didn’t need this jumpsuit from New Look, but it was a little treat after a weird couple of weeks. It’s super soft and comfy thanks to the silky, stretchy ribbed fabric (not sure what the technical term is, but it’s quite retro). And more importantly, it’s not too impossible to get on and off when you need the loo. It’s also only £24.99 which is the kind of treat I like a lot. 

New Look leopard jumpsuit

I wear:

Jumpsuit in a size 12, £24.99, New Look / Saltwater sandals, £59.50, FatFace


My summer bucket list went AWOL

Isle of Sheppey

This post was supposed to be published ten days ago. It was also supposed to be sparky, cheerful and ten points long. Life got in the way.

My husband got sick and was in hospital for eight days. Our existence lost its balance. Things are mostly OK again now, although it’s going to take a while to get back to normal. He’s tired, we’re tired and our plans for the next six months aren’t what we’d planned.

I can only remember one thing on that summer bucket list:

Go to the sea side.

It can’t be a coincidence that this is the only thing I remember off my list. I don’t get to the coast anywhere near as often as I’d like. The last time (in fact only time so far this year) was our trip to the Isle of Sheppey in June. It’s obviously important, and I’m making it happen on Monday.

Isle of Sheppey

It’s probably a blessing that I can’t remember my list. When life throws a curveball at you, everyone tells you just to focus on taking each day as it comes. Set small goals and celebrate small victories.

My summer bucket list went AWOL. I’m not going to force it back again, unless it wants to come. I’m going to take a train to the seaside with my children and sit on the beach. Then we’ll forget about that old list and write a new one.

Isle of Sheppey

What I’ll be packing for my UK holiday – featuring Lighthouse Clothing

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

We’re going up to the Lake District for our summer holiday. I can’t wait to explore the amazing fells, lakes and buy some of that famous gingerbread. 

Packing for a UK holiday isn’t always easy. This year the weather has been freakishly sunny for weeks and weeks – but we all know that it’s best to pack for all eventualities. I’ve heard you can get all four seasons in one day in the Lakes, so I want to be prepared!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

Want to peek in my suitcase? I’ve chosen some brilliantly down-to-earth pieces by Lighthouse Clothing – a British brand who specialise in simple clothes that are as practical as they are pretty…

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

The classic Breton tee. You’d be crazy to set off for your UK holiday without one of these wardrobe heroes. Perfect for breezy walks by the sea, strolls through the countryside and just about anything else you can throw at it! This pink-striped tee ticks all those boxes and previous holidays have taught me that I’ll be wearing it a lot.

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A classic white shirt with a twist. A soft shirt is such a useful piece for your holiday. Wear it with shorts and accessories with a bag of chips – or sling it on over a dress when it’s breezy on the beach. I love the little spots on this simple shirt – it’s classic, cute and informal.

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A cute little dress you can dress up or down. You know when you go on a hot holiday and you pack all those gorgeous floaty dresses? I sometimes optimistically pack them for a UK holiday too, but rarely wear them. Much better is a simple t-shirt dress that’s perfect for shopping at the market and a pub lunch. Dress it up later with wedges and a denim jacket!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

The yellow raincoat. You can’t do a British holiday without a raincoat. And if (like me) you like to buy a new one, make it yellow. Who can fail to be cheered by a bright yellow pop of sunshine on a grey day? Not me!

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

What will you be packing for your UK holiday?

What to pack for your UK holiday with Lighthouse Clothing

A big thank you to Lighthouse Clothing for sending me these pieces to try. They are true to size – I wear a size 10 in everything except the coat which is a 12 so I can wear it with jumpers.

Opposites attract: why I watch Love Island

On paper Love Island is 100% not my type. I’m over thirty and married with two kids. Why would I want to spend eight weeks watching a bunch of fake-tanned, single 20-somethings in a Mallorcan villa? Why indeed. And yet, that old platitude is true: opposites attract.

Why I watch Love Island

The perennial lure of the TV dating show. I’ve always been a sucker for them – from Blind Date to Street Mate, and more recently First Dates and Married at First Sight. It’s gossipy romance at its best. There’s no reality here. Love Island is deeply appealing because the stakes are so stupidly low – even the dramas aren’t really that dramatic. It’s like the chick-lit book you devour on holiday, but can’t be bothered to squeeze back into your suitcase.

It’s shallow and vacuous. And that’s just the way I like it. I enjoy a break from pondering the big questions in life and giving myself the green light to be completed mindless. Forget mortgages and work, Love Island gives me an hour every night to focus on the really important things in life – like ewww, how can the girls bear to wear their bikinis up their bums like that everyday?

Why I watch Love Island

I’m an observer. Watching Love Island is a bit like watching a nature programme, or a documentary about aliens. The contestants’ outlook on life is so far removed from my own. It’s like observing a different species. I’m seriously fascinated by the gradual realisation that most of the girls have had a little surgical cosmetic help,  the hideous array of clothes and the surprising vanity of the boys. I feel no envy or desire to compare myself to them – and, wow, how refreshing is that?

It’s beautifully imperfect. After a while, you stop noticing all the perfectly tanned and toned limbs, the blinding white teeth and the hair extensions. The mask – or should I say hair weave – slips sometimes and you see that most of them are just as imperfect and complicated as the rest of us. Apart from a few exceptions, they’re mostly a likeable bunch – and it’s their personalities that you remember. Well, for five minutes at least.

Why I watch Love Island

Love Island, I’ve given up an hour of my evenings for you for nearly six weeks so far. I’ll keep rolling my eyes at you, but I’m not planning on stopping watching any time soon. And you don’t make me despair and cry like the Handmaid’s Tale, so that’s good.