Category Archives: Lifestyle

All you need for Christmas is a midi skirt

Leopard pleated midi skirt

I like a midi skirt. And who can blame me? There’s so much to love about them. Why? Well, they’re cute and pretty. Especially with a sparkly Christmas jumper tucked in. And, crucially, they usually have an elasticated waistband. That’s all my festive boxes ticked.

Leopard pleated midi skirt

In this post I’m going to show you two ways to style your midi skirt this Christmas.

First, up is a laid-back party look. A lightweight knit tucked in to your skirt looks so simple and elegant. Make it a sparkly one, or just stick to classic black. This would be perfect for Christmas Day…

Skirt, £22.99, New Look / Jumper, £3.99, charity shop / Boots, £35, Marks and Spencer

The second look is for those casual days before and after Christmas. When you’re shopping at the market, or taking a stroll with friends. Your pleated skirt will look just beautiful with a chunky knit, wax jacket and a pair of stompy boots.

Leopard pleated midi skirt

Skirt, as before / Wax Jacket, £185, John Partridge / Boots, £29.50, Marks and Spencer 

Feeling inspired? Here are some of the best midi skirts available right now and how I’d style them…

Skirt, £55, White Stuff / Jumper, £15.99, New Look / Shoes, £75.95, Seasalt

Skirt, £24.99, H&M / Jacket, £89, FatFace / Boots, £39.50, Marks and Spencer

Have a very indie Christmas!

Have a very indie Christmas

Next time you do some Christmas shopping, go independent. Head to your local town, or simply open up your laptop, and discover a whole world of innovative and inspirational small businesses.

I’ve gathered together some wonderful online independent stores. Make yourself a coffee, grab a mince pie and prepare to be inspired…

Ohh Deer. I recently visited their bricks and mortar shop in Loughborough and came away with a big bag of goodies. They do wonderful stationery, like this fabulous diary, featuring the work of wonderful designers. Also check our their fun greetings cards, cushions and homewares.

The Botanical Candle Co. Amalia and her small team produce the most beautifully scented soy wax candles. Everything is made by hand in their studio and shop in Shaftesbury, Dorset. The candles look and smell amazing, especially the festive range.

Cissy Wears. A lifestyle store that sells beautiful and well priced gifts for all ages. The simple wooden toys are lovely for little people. I particularly loved the stacking tree. For grown-ups, the selection of simple mugs, bold prints and quirky jewellery are fabulous.

The Alex Edit. Alex is a lifestyle blogger and this is her online store. I love the mix of pretty (and affordable) gold-plated jewellery, scarves, bags and cashmere. Quick delivery and I can vouch for the quality of the earrings!

Lovely Lydia. Lydia prints her own beautiful fabrics and turns them into lovely wash bags, cushions and accessories. One of her little bags would be a perfect secret Santa gift and I’ve got one of her mini bee cushions on my wish list!

Soapfolk. For thoughtful stocking fillers choose some soap or lip balm from Soapfolk. Everything is handmade in the Gloucestershire countryside. I can never resist a prettily packaged soap and love giving them as gifts.

Persephone Books. My favourite publisher. They produce beautiful editions of forgotten classics.  The pale grey bindings look lovely on your bookshelves too… Treat someone to one of their book subscriptions!

Persephone Books

Ely Gin. James and Nancy make their flavoured gin right here in the Fens. They have some wonderful flavours that are just perfect for talking along to a festive party – or pop one of their mini-bottles in a stocking. On a recent visit to Ely, Prince Charles described their Sloe Gin with Cherries as as, “absolutely irresistible!”

Happy Christmas shopping! 

Easy winter fashion

Easy winter fashion

‘Tis the season for short gloomy days. Daylight is precious and in short supply. The weather keeps switching between damp and mild to cold and bright. It’s hard to know what to wear each morning! Right now, I’m using a simple formula: warm, practical and a dash of the unexpected to keep things interesting. 

Here’s the details:

A jumper dress to keep things cosy. A soft, warm jumper dress is just the thing to keep you cosy all over. The length of this one by H&M is perfect for my day of cycling and running around. The funnel neck is less hot than a polo, but means you don’t necessary need a scarf, which is perfect on in-betweeny days.

Easy winter fashion

A twist of the unexpected with leather look leggings. My first time wearing a pair. A great way to gently introduce the tiniest hint of edginess into your outfit. Also surprisingly warm and practical on drizzly days! These are by H&M and do have more than a hint of bin bag about them, but I still like them. If they’re really not your thing, try bright tights instead.

Easy winter fashion

A bottle green coat. One of my favourite colours at this time of year. It’s cheerful without being too shouty. It lifts the grey and black tones of this outfit – pulling the whole thing together. A dark red or blue coat would work just as well.

Easy winter fashion

Classic tan accessories that are useful and beautiful. My felt hat keeps the drizzle off my hair and feels more grown-up than a wooly hat. My H&M hat is a few years old, but try the charity shops for similar ones. My favourite little bucket bag by Modulu is big enough for all my essentials.

Easy winter fashion

Biker Boots. Now winter’s here everything is so slimy and muddy! Pretty shoes just aren’t practical right now. I love these simple fur-lined boots by Marks and Spencer. They’re now my go-to shop for comfortable, stylish footwear that doesn’t cost the earth.

Easy winter fashion

Jumper Dress, £34.99, H&M / Leather look leggings, £17.99, H&M / Coat, TK Maxx, no longer in stock but similar here / Biker Boots, £29.50, M&S / Hat, H&M, old but similar here / Handbag, Modalu, no longer available but similar here.

Easy winter fashion

We’ve moved house!

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

We did it! Last week we moved to our dream home. It’s been almost a year in the making, with plenty of indecision and disappointments along the way. I’m so happy and relieved to say that we’re finally in.

After weeks and weeks of packing and sorting, moving day arrived. It was hard work, but the whole process was made much easier by using a removals company. We still did most of the packing, but knowing someone else was doing all the heavy lifting was such a relief.

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

We waved goodbye to the cats for a couple of days, took the boys to school and then closed the front door of our terraced house for the last time. It had been our home for the last seven years,  and what busy years they were! The boys grew from babies to toddlers, and so much life has happened within those four walls. But despite all that, none of us felt particularly sad. All four of us have been wanting a change for a while. As one door shut, another one opened. We’re ready for the next chapter of our lives.

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

Our new house itself couldn’t be more different to our old home. It’s a brand new, detached house. While it’s built in a traditional style, the inside is very light, bright and modern. All the things we’ve been craving. It’s in a different bit of town, but there’s no need to change schools or anything drastic. It’s nice to explore new streets, but everything we love about Ely is still within easy reach.

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

Currently, we’ve mainly living in the huge kitchen/dining/living space. There is a separate sitting room too, which I’m planning on setting up as a cosy den for watching TV or reading. Upstairs there are two more floors – including our attic bedroom and bathroom.

We’ve been here a week and it is wonderful living in a modern house. The space flows and we don’t all get on top of each other. There’s more than one toilet! Four, to be precise. And the kitchen is a dream.

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

I love old houses, but it’s so refreshing to have a completely blank canvas. In our previous two homes (both period terraces) the space was defined by original features like fireplaces and alcoves. I loved these, but it’s very liberating to not have whole layout of a room dictated by these focal points. You might think it’d be characterless, but we’re actually finding it’s the opposite. All the furniture, pictures and books we’ve collected over the years have already lent it lots of warmth and personality. It has started to feel us very quickly. More so than I ever remember happening before with any other house move.

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

These photos are just a hint of how things look. There are still lots of cardboard boxes everywhere, but I wanted to invite you in for that virtual cup of coffee and a mini-tour. I hope you enjoyed it and I can’t wait to show you more.

Our new house: scandi midcentury style

 

Three things I’m loving this week

Cosy cup of coffee

We’ve reached the end of the working week. Let’s all give ourselves a pat on the back! Because we’re moving soon, my life is ever so slightly chaotic right now. This week I have been drawing comfort from the simple things in life: beer, IKEA cinnamon buns and these three things…

Plastic-free shopping. Since we’ve started packing up our house, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of packaging, broken things and just stuff we’ve thrown out. The waste is sickening. Obviously we give away the useful things, but there’s still a lot which just has to go in the bin. After all this, I found a shopping trip to my local market really refreshing. I bought my fruit and veg loose, with no useless plastics, and my bread in a paper bag. I always find it satisfying, but it felt doubly so this week.

Plastic free shopping at Ely Markets

Olive oil soap. While we’re thinking about cutting down on plastic, I wanted to tell you about this Olive oil soap from Holland and Barrett. We now only use bars of soap in our house, but it’s surprisingly hard to find affordable ones that aren’t wrapped in plastic. I love posh soap, but it’s a bit excessive for washing your hands. It infuriates me that Pears soap (my favourite budget buy) is wrapped in plastic inside its cardboard box. Madness. Anyway, this olive oil soap comes in a simple cardboard box and only costs £1.69. Quite a boring smell, but I can live with that.

Reduce your plastic with a bar of soap

Getting out with my camera. I recently signed up for a photography course. I’m only a few weeks in, but already I’ve enjoyed thinking differently about my photography. I’ve been on a couple of walks around town snapping photos of things that catch my eye. It’s a great way to get chatting to people and I particularly enjoy photographing dogs.

Parson Jack Russell

What have you been loving this week?

Christmas at Gresham House

Gresham House Wellness is one of Cambridge’s hidden gems. This beautiful spa is tucked away in a pretty old house in the gardens of the Gonville Hotel. It’s an incredibly peaceful and relaxing place to spend a few hours.

ESPA Christmas gifts at Gresham House Wellness

I first met Sarah, the manager of Gresham House back in the summer. It was their opening night and I was bowled over by how beautifully the old house had been converted into spa with its own guest rooms. A few weeks ago, I went back to find out more about their new winter treatments and for a bit of pampering.

Gresham House Wellness

Sarah and her team have come up with some brilliant treatments to see you through the festive season. Feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to do at this time of year? Gresham House’s Comfort and Joy Treatment is the perfect antidote. It’s an energising 60 minute winter skin treatment with a hot stone massage and a facial using ESPA products. Or, if you’re heading to a party, pop in and get your nails done in some festive Jessica Nails shades!

Gresham House Wellness

As well as treatments, Gresham House also has a beautiful selection of Christmas gifts available – from spa vouchers to the ESPA Christmas range. I was particularly impressed with the Pocket of Joy gift set which contained some gorgeous pampering products for £26!

ESPA Christmas gifts at Gresham House Wellness

Gresham House Wellness are hosting a special Christmas event on Tuesday 20th November from 6 – 9pm.  Sarah and her team will be showcasing the ESPA Christmas range and providing complimentary treatments. Tickets cost £5.00 and are redeemable on any purchase made on the night. To book tickets, please contact the Gonville Hotel on 01223 366611.

Christmas event at Gresham House Wellness

I was gifted an evening at Gresham House Wellness

How honest should you be online?

Meet me on the street and ask me “how are you?” and I’ll always say: “I’m good, thank you. How are you?” 

Meet me online and ask me “how are you?” and I’ll still say: “I’m fine”

I’m mostly telling the truth. It’s an automatic answer and one that quickly deflects the attention away from me. I’m not trying to hide anything, it’s just common politeness and part of the British psyche. Like everyone, I have my issues and problems, but they’re rarely things I want to discuss in a blog post or on social media.

How honest should you be online?

People are more open about their feelings online than ever before

It started with the idea that “it’s OK to not be OK”. I’m all for that. It’s incredibly important to be open and honest about our feelings and to ask for help when you need it.  I wouldn’t want that to change.

Telling the truth is very empowering and it’s quickly become popular online

The world of blogs and Instagram is now awash with gorgeously styled photos complete with “real” and “authentic” captions. Increasingly, a photo of a pretty dress can’t just be a photo of pretty dress anymore. It’s often a exposé of the subject’s most intimate feelings. To paraphrase: “This dress is so pretty, but when I took this photo I felt like shit.” Sometimes  it feels like everyone is trying so hard to be real, they forget to be themselves.

How honest should you be online?

What if it’s no longer “OK to be OK”?

Everyone should be able to write what they truly feel online. Personally, I prefer to filter out the things I want to keep private, and to be honest and open about the rest on this blog. I’d hate to think that anyone felt pressurised into behaving a certain way. It would be terrible if someone felt they had to edit their own feelings online because they didn’t seem authentic enough.

Do what makes you feel comfortable and don’t try too hard

If pouring your heart out in a social media post makes you happy, then do it. And if you prefer to keep your private life offline, than that’s alright too. I’m never going to be the kind of person who wants to tell the whole world about what’s worrying me. Life doesn’t always have to be complicated. Sometimes we just want to post a picture of cup of coffee on Instagram because it’s pretty, not because it contains the meaning of life.

The only answer is to be who you want to be, not what you think someone else wants you to be.

How honest should you be online?

My month in books

My month in books

No matter what’s happening in your life, or the world, you can always turn to a good book for comfort or inspiration. I always find time in my day to read. It’s the last thing I do before bed, and it’s no exaggeration to say I’d be lost without it.

Here’s everything I’ve read over the last month

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. I shall be forever grateful to have stumbled across this book in the charity shop. It’s no understatement to say it’s a masterpiece. Absolutely the best thing I’ve read this month. First published in 1961, this is the story of Frank and April Wheeler. Tired of their life of suburban America, they embark on a new path with tragic consequences. Yates brings the emotions and dreams of the Wheelers into sharp focus, and it’s something we can all relate to. Can youthful dreams survive amidst the humdrum of family life? And, deep-down, would you really want them to? If you’re a fan of Mad Men, then you’ll love this – Revolutionary Road must have inspired the writers.

The Blue Bedroom and other stories by Rosamund Pilcher. I’m a big fan of Rosamund Pilcher’s big door-stop sizes novels like September and The Shell Seekers. This is one of her volumes of short stories. I picked my copy up for 20p in the charity shop, but I’m delighted to see it’s still in print. These stories won’t challenge you, they’ll soothe you. Perfect for times in your life when you’ve got a lot on your plate. It’d be easy to dismiss Rosamund Pilcher as dated and irrelevant. Think again. Yes, these stories are a little old-fashioned (mostly written in the sixties and seventies, I think) but their quality makes them timeless. Deft storytelling makes you care about characters you’ve only know for half an hour. Just what I needed, and I’ll be passing this back to the charity shop for someone else to enjoy.

My month in books

Summer in Tremarnock by Emma Burstall. This is the third book in a series about the lives and loves of Cornish fishing village. I read the second book, The Tremarnock Guest House, over the summer and absolutely loved it. Summer in Tremarnock was disappointing in comparison and lacked the well-paced plot of the last book in the series. The characters and their various plot-lines were never fully developed. Good ideas were weren’t brought to fruition and it was all rather half-hearted and lifeless. Only worth reading if you want to carry on with the series.

Green Grass by Raffaella Barker. One of my favourite writers. Raffaella’s novels are always so fresh, vibrant and funny. Green Grass tells the story of Laura, who finds herself in a late-30s crisis of sorts. Her family is completely self-absorbed and Laura has forgotten what makes her happy. The story is divided between London and rural Norfolk and although it’s fairly tongue in cheek, it’s also effortlessly sharp and wise . Expect lots of chaotic mayhem and an amusing set of characters – especially the children and animals, which she writes particularly well. I loved this book and really didn’t want it to end!

This month, all my books came from the charity shop – but they are all in print and available from good bookshops. 

What have you been reading this month? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

 

 

 

Three things I’m loving this week

Hello! Long time no see. We’re busy packing up our house, so posts will be a bit thin on the ground for the next few weeks. However, I wanted to pop over today to tell you about three things that are putting a smile on my face this week.

Marks and Spencer velvet shoes

Velvet party shoes. I’m not going to mention the C word like everyone else (seriously what’s going on? Did I sleep through November?), but I do want to introduce you to my beautiful new party shoes. They’re from Marks and Spencer and are supremely comfortable. Wear them with jeans and a simple polo  for a laid-back look that’ll see you through the party season.

Sequin star jumper

Sparkly starry jumpers. A few sequins are perfect for those Autumn days when the light is dull and sludge-like. I wore my favourite sparkly star jumper on Bonfire Night and you haven’t seem the last of it. My jumper is an old one from Peacocks. However, I think this one from Marks and Spencer is just as good!

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix. I was a BIG fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch back in the 90s, so naturally I was curious about Netflix’s reboot. It’s very different, but equally as good. I wasn’t sure after the first episode, but have rapidly become hooked. It’s a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Riverdale and True Blood, if that makes sense. And, yes, it still has Salem the cat in it. Perfect viewing for dark autumn evenings.

 

What have you been loving this week?

 

Simple fashion: the cable knit jumper

Simple fashion: the cable knit jumper

Simple fashion makes you look better and feel better. It’s about finding timeless clothes that’ll keep working their magic year after year. It’s the opposite of fast fashion trends which come and go in the blink of an eye. 

This week, I’d like to talk about the cable knit jumper. There’s something magical about those intricate stitches. They conjure up everything I always dream of doing in autumn: rugged walks in the great outdoors, cliff-top walks and cosy afternoons in a country pub. Even if I don’t get any further than the supermarket or the school gates, wearing a cable knit still feels special. It’s the cosiness. Wearing one is like a big bear hug. They also go with everything.

Simple fashion: the cable knit jumper

One of my favourite ways to wear a cable-knit jumper is to layer it up with jeans, a denim shirt and ankle boots. I’m also loving mine with a teddy-bear jacket for extra warmth.

Simple fashion: the cable knit jumper

Cable knit jumpers are also the perfect partner for dresses and skirts. There’s something romantic and a bit whimsical about chunky wool and floaty fabric, isn’t there? Opposites attract and that combination of tough and pretty is captivating. Why shouldn’t you look like a windswept heroine while you do your weekly shop?

Simple fashion: the cable knit jumper

The buy it now jumper

Throughout this post, I’m wearing a H&M jumper which is no longer available. However, this one, also by H&M is almost identical. At £24.99 it’s affordable. Does that automatically mean it’s fast (and therefore bad) fashion? I don’t think so. In my experience, H&M make good quality clothes that last beyond one season. According to the Good Shipping Guide (an ethical clothing indexing site) they have good ethical credentials. I’ve already worn mine a lot since buying it, so it’s currently proving to be a good investment.

Investment jumpers

If you’d prefer to invest in a more expensive piece, then I’ve found this beautiful merino aran jumper (see below). It’s made in Ireland from organic and natural fibres, and it’s a beauty! I’ve also found this lovely, soft version by Boden. Again, at £80 it’s a bigger investment, but Boden knitwear is always very good quality. I often buy it second hand off eBay, which is a testament to its longevity!

Second-hand jumpers

If you prefer not to buy new, then it’s not going to be too difficult to find a cable-knit jumper in the charity shop. Try the men’s section for oversized, chunky knitwear. If you do buy anything made of pure wool or natural fibres, then just be careful about moths. Place your new jumper in a plastic bag in the freezer for a couple of days to kill off any unwanted pests!

Do you own a cable knit sweater already? I’d love to know how you’re wearing yours this autumn…