Beauty and Style

A casual summer capsule wardrobe

June 24, 2016

I’m really excited about this capsule wardrobe. This is my third one (read about the first and second here) and it feels like I’m getting better at it each time. I’m still loving the capsule wardrobe concept – a small collection of carefully chosen clothes that you love. For me, it boils down to the fact that I always have something to wear – so I never have those mornings where I hate all my clothes. It’s great :)

My process this time around was to start with the capsule wardrobe planner from Unfancy and think about what I actually spend my time doing and the kind of clothes that I need for my lifestyle. I also browsed through my spring/summer Pinterest board for some inspiration. I’ll be spending most of the summer either at the park with the kiddos, working from home, or on the occasional evening out with friends, so I need casual clothes that will work for heatwaves as well as cooler weather.

So here it is, my summer capsule! It’s a bit bigger than my other capsules (so even though 28 items aren’t actually a lot, this now feels like so much choice). We’ll see how that goes – I can already see that some items might get forgotten about, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to try and wear everything to prevent boredom setting in. In fact, I’m even considering just printing the image below and taping it to my wardrobe so I that don’t forget about anything… Continue Reading…

Life

Why I’m voting Remain (and you should too)

June 16, 2016

I had dinner the other day with a friend who is still undecided about how she’ll vote in the EU referendum, and she asked me why I was so dead-set on voting Remain. At the time, probably on account of the pre-dinner cocktails, I couldn’t convey my conviction in convincing words, but her question has really made me think about why this vote is so important to me.

More than anything, for me, the EU vote is an ideological one. Much like some people will vote Labour or Tory regardless of those parties’ policies or previous actions, I have never even contemplated a vote for Brexit because of a gut feeling that Britain has a moral duty to consider itself a European country in more than just a geographical sense, and to opt for inclusion and cohesion over isolation and jingoism. The fact that former enemies now have the other country’s interests at heart is something we shouldn’t take for granted, especially in an era of increased support for far-right politics across Europe, anti-semitic outbursts here and abroad, and the prospect of rulers like Trump and his Mexican wall being taken seriously by the general public. History can repeat itself.

Secondly, I hate the idea of pulling up the drawbridge on migration. I’ve lived and worked abroad and loved it, and have made some great friends in Europe. My husband is Spanish and building a career here in the UK required such hard work and tenacity on his part – and that’s without the added bureaucracy that leaving the EU would create for others wanting to do the same. Everyone I know who lives and works here as a European foreigner is an exemplary guest. I think we should celebrate the fact that a mixture of cultures can enrich our society, and celebrate people who have the courage to move countries to change their lives. Continue Reading…

Life

Bullet Journalling – the best to-do list ever

June 9, 2016

I constantly have several to-do lists swimming around in my head – for work, the blog, life admin, capsule wardrobe ideas, etc. I’ve tried various ways to organise them – a brief flirtation with Evernote, various Google docs or just random bits of paper. Most recently I bought a planner from Kikki K, which is beautiful, but wasn’t quite enough either.

About a month ago I discovered bullet journalling and decided to give it a go as all I needed to get started was any old notebook I could find lying around at home. If you’re wondering what it is, the Bullet Journal website describes it as ‘a customisable and forgiving organisation system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.’ For me it’s been a place to keep track of all those to-do lists in my head, freeing up headspace and meaning I actually get stuff done!

If you’re interested, watch this quick video by the Bullet Journal creator, which explains how it works.

At first, bullet journalling can seem a bit overwhelming, especially if you start by searching for inspiration on Pinterest. My advice is to find a notebook at home that you’re not using and just start! Allow for some trial and error before you find a system that works for you – that’s the beauty of the Bullet Journal, you can just start again on the next page. Once you know you’re definitely in love with bullet journalling, then you can invest in the notebook – the LEUCHTTURM 1917. The pleasing feel of quality to it and the index and numbered pages all make bullet journalling in it a dream.

I keep mine really simple. It’s mostly a way to organise my life at the moment, but the sky really is the limit – bullet journalling is a great way to keep track of goals, plan bucket lists or remember films you want to watch and books you want to read, etc. I’ve created a Pinterest board with some of my favourite ideas below.

What do you think? Are you intrigued? Or have you already started a bullet journal? I’d love to know how you’re getting on.
P.S. How to read more books, make time for friends and learn to meditate.

Food

Brilliant, healthy recipes for feeding your toddler

May 25, 2016

This isn’t a cookbook review as such, because I just came across Superfood for Superchildren in the take-home pile at work (one of the perks of my job) rather than being sent it. But because I have completely fallen for the family-friendly recipes in this book, I just had to write about it. Mums: if you want a cookbook that has easy recipes that toddlers (and the rest of the family) will actually eat, and in record time – like this chicken dish, below – then read on.

Brilliant dishes to cook for toddlers | Everyday30.com

I have tended to feed Oscar with a combination of easy-to-freeze recipes, favourites from Annabel Karmel’s Complete Family Meal Planner, and a few of my own inventions – all things that can quickly satisfy a tired, hungry toddler straight out of nursery. This method totally works – if you gloss over the fact that about 90% of the dishes are either completely, babyishly smooth or use pasta as a vehicle of consumption… (hums airily). Both of these things are fine I guess, but I was starting to get paranoid that Oscar would become fussy about food with separate components or bits in it, and I was becoming bored with the same old menu (I’m sure Oscar was, too). Then along came this book, and with it a gust of fresh air.

Continue Reading…

Parenting

First finger food ideas

May 19, 2016

Can you believe that Thomas is now nine months old?? Seriously, it’s going by so fast second time around. He’s been eating food for more than three months now and, just like his brother, he’s taken to it with gusto, shoving food into his mouth with giddy abandon.

First finger food ideas

We’re going for a broadly baby-led weaning approach.* For us, that means we generally put a bit of whatever we’re eating on his high chair tray and let him feed himself (obviously, with no added salt or sugar).

When we first introduced food to Thomas, he struggled to get a grip of anything, so it was a case of trial and error discovering which foods he could actually manoeuvre into his mouth. As with most skills that children learn, at first you feel like they’re NEVER going to get the hang of it, but if you can bear to leave them to it, it’s amazing how quickly they do learn and now, at eight months, Thomas can pretty much eat whatever we’re eating. It’s worth mentioning that for the first few months of weaning (at least) they’re getting nearly all of their needs met by milk, so it’s ok if not much goes in their mouth!

I thought I’d share the finger foods that worked well for us at first, as they’re all things I still prepare for him now for lunchboxes or to appease him while I make dinner. Continue Reading…

Beauty and Style

How the right bra can make your day

May 10, 2016

This is a post about my boobs – and how I managed to find some bras that make even my post-breastfeeding pair look decent, while at the same time being comfortable – and (just as important in my book) pretty. Bear in mind that Oscar is two and a half now, so this has been a long, long time coming…

A few weeks ago, perhaps as a continuation of my decision to grow up a bit and upgrade my crappiest possessions, I finally, finally got round to making time to buy some bras that actually fit me (a small miracle).

The bras I bought after I stopped breast-feeding Oscar were hopelessly mis-sized – my poor, deflated boobs just slouched at the bottom of the cups which, unaided by actual flesh, gave me a rigid, unnatural silhouette in the manner of a Barbie doll. Plus, the underwire dug into the front of my ribs so much that I would whip off the offending bra as soon as I got home in favour of good old PJs – I’m sure you’re all familiar with the bliss of that bra-release moment.

When my boobs were in their prime, I wore full-cupped 32F bras with low-cut tops and figure-hugging dresses. Since weaning Oscar, I’ve stuck to the same bra size, worn with round necked jumpers, T-shirts and shirts. However, I was finding life with an underwired bra so uncomfortable that I hatched a plan: admit defeat in the world of lingerie, buy some non-wired bras, and try to own the 1970s effect it would have on my figure. Off I went to Oxford Street with the intention of raiding M&S and the like to find a non-wired bra in my size that wasn’t utterly repulsive.

As it happened, fate intervened. Continue Reading…

Work

How do you manage work and childcare?

April 28, 2016

Pete and I always used to discuss getting an au pair at some point – he was a an au pair in Germany for a few months after he finished university and he really enjoyed it. Now, with two children, and the associated childcare costs, it’s starting to feel like a real possibility.

I’ve always been fascinated to hear how other families organise their work and childcare, as there are so many ways to do it! I’ve already written about how I returned to work full-time after my first maternity leave while Pete went part-time and what a positive experience it was for all of us. Recently, I quizzed a few of our friends with children to see what they love (and hate!) about their current set-up.

home office Continue Reading…

Life

The forgotten luxury of home comforts

April 20, 2016

Juan had, until recently, been sniffing continually for about two years. No matter how deeply we cleaned the flat (not very, tbh…), or how many times we washed his clothes, or how often he swallowed anti-histamines, he appeared to constantly have a cold on its way in or out. I was convinced, however, that it wasn’t a cold, and finally managed to persuade him to see a doctor, who diagnosed him with chronic rhinitis and suggested he try an anti-allergy pillow. A few weeks ago, I got around to ordering some – and while I was at it, I treated us to our first new duvet in our 10-year relationship (and my first new duvet – I think – ever).

All I can say is that the nights I spent huddling down under a stodgy, lumpen, cheapo duvet now seem like a lifetime ago – my impulse duvet purchase created a watershed moment in our lives. It is a joy to go to bed these days – if I close my eyes I can imagine I am in a boutique hotel. Sure, it was a £160 outlay that we could have done without – but if we keep it for as long as we soldiered on with the last sorry specimen, that breaks down to just £16 a year. In other words, a complete bargain – and that’s disregarding the positive impact the anti-allergy stuffing is already having on Juan’s well-being.

Forgotten luxuries | Everyday30.com

It got me thinking about all the other home comforts that I make do with or without. Continue Reading…

Beauty and Style

My 2016 spring capsule wardrobe

April 14, 2016

As the end of my first capsule approached, I started thinking about my Spring capsule. The weather isn’t likely to change too drastically over the next few months (although we can always hope!), so it’s not like I’ll need lots of different clothes, but I wanted to change things up enough to make sure I don’t get bored.

Even though I only had a teeny capsule wardrobe to begin with, there were still a few items that I didn’t wear – it turns out that the pleather skirt doesn’t really suit my lifestyle at the moment – so I’ve taken them out and dug my denim jacket out of storage for when it gets warmer. I always used to laugh at Nicky for storing her ‘Winter’ clothes under the bed during Summer – I never really saw the point – but I’m coming round to the idea now: bringing things out of storage almost feels like you’ve bought something new and it also means that the only clothes hanging in my wardrobe are ones I can legitimately wear.

Of course, my three month shopping ban also meant that I was itching to do a little shopping! Here’s what I bought:

colourblock jumper Continue Reading…

Life

Tips for running 10k

April 6, 2016

I have this vague ambition to run a marathon at some point in my life. I’m not sure why, I just think that I would feel like a total bad-ass if I actually managed to run one. I had never really run properly until a couple of years ago. I started off small with Couch to 5k and then never really got much further, what with pregnancy and babies getting in the way. So, in November I decided to sign up for the Kingston Breakfast Run – an eight mile (13km) race. Back then, April seemed so far away that I booked my spot and pretty much forgot about it until sometime in February, when I realised it was only six weeks away and I had to get my ass into gear.

Tips for running 10k

Here’s how I managed to actually run eight miles (high-five!) and what worked for me: Continue Reading…