Beauty and Style

A spring capsule wardrobe for mums

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:

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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…


When did I stop being punctual?

April 2, 2016

I have always thought of myself, with pride, as being a punctual person. Anyone reading this who knows me, however, might just have swallowed their tea the wrong way, because in fact (as I am starting to realise), I am incurably and chronically tardy. In fact, lately, whenever I am on time, it is a fluke.

Part of this is the pace of London living – who here doesn’t look up the route they need to take from A to B on the TfL website and then work to precisely the journey time shown, even though everyone knows that this estimate is at best optimistic? I usually leave the house five minutes after I should, then get in a flap as I encounter delayed trains, and compound my lateness with a mistake such as heading southbound instead of northbound on the Tube (as I did the other day en route to meet friends for dinner).

My hurried lifestyle also means that I don’t read and digest emails and texts as thoroughly as I should. At the start of the year, Oscar was invited to a birthday party, and I had read that it would run from 9.30am until the afternoon. In my head, this information mutated until I had convinced myself that we could arrive just before midday. Although the venue was just around the corner from our flat, we were so late that when we arrived they were getting ready to pack up. Oops.

Part of the reason for my chronic tardiness is also the need to accommodate Oscar into my schedule (but I have to admit that I use him as a scapegoat more often than is fair – he is a gold-plated get-out-of-jail-free card). The other day I arranged to go to the house of a friend from NCT for a play date, but that afternoon, Oscar decided to treat himself to a freakishly long nap, and by the time he woke up I was running almost an hour behind ‘schedule’. If I had woken him up, he would have been in too foul a mood for polite company, so I just had to accept that I would be late and make my apologies.

I’m not excusing my behaviour – lateness is really annoying. Rather, I’m coming to terms with it. I’m realising that although I’ve been seeing myself as a generally punctual person who is sometimes late, in the eyes of others, I am actually a hopelessly late person who sometimes manages to arrive on time.

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Why I wish traffic cones didn’t exist

March 24, 2016

I know traffic cones perform important functions – namely ushering traffic around workmen and decorating lamp posts in university towns ­– but at the moment, every time I see one, my heart sinks. That is because Oscar has been completely obsessed with them for the last couple of months, and there is currently no end in sight to this phase.

Traffic cones and other toddler obsessions |

If we lived somewhere rural, this wouldn’t be such an issue. But in south London, you can walk into one every 500 yards – and often they exist in packs. Every day we admire a cornucopia of cones: standard orange cones with their reflective white strip, cones with white bases, deformed cones with their tops lopped off, miniature cones, absolutely-filthy-dirty cones, and rarer yellow (and even green) versions. It eats up an increasing portion of our day, and is becoming exhausting.

Oscar’s brain has mapped the cone coverage of south London, and he is constantly updating it. Wherever we go, he will notice if a cone has appeared, moved or (thank God) disappeared – in the case of the latter he will turn to me excitedly and say, ‘Mr Bull tidied up ALL the cones!’ If only. (Don’t know Mr Bull? Let me introduce you…) When we visited the excellent Magic Lantern Festival in Chiswick, he liked the displays and all, but do you know what got the biggest smile? The chance to pose with two traffic cones on the train platform on the way home – the proof is in the picture above. I thought we would have a break from cones when we went skiing for a week recently, but do you know what? They stand out quite well against the white snow. (They’re red, in France, if you’re interested…)

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Beauty and Style

Thoughts on my first capsule wardrobe

March 17, 2016

Seeing as it is now officially Spring, today marks the end of my first capsule wardrobe, and I thought I’d share how it went (you can find a recap of exactly what a capsule wardrobe is here). Despite what you might think, the capsule idea is not about restricting yourself to a small wardrobe – it’s more about starting from scratch and building a wardrobe that (a) suits your lifestyle, (b) can be mixed and matched easily, and (c) contains only items that you love. It’s certainly not about punishing yourself in any way, it’s about making life easier – and I’ve definitely found that to be true!

What has struck me the most about my capsule wardrobe is that, since starting it, I always have an outfit to wear – that’s despite the fact that I now own fewer clothes than ever, and regardless of which items are in the wash at any one time. Whenever I open my wardrobe, I’m happy to wear whatever’s there, which has made choosing an outfit stress free.

Winter capsule outfits

It’s not that I think I look super-stylish all the time, but I can honestly say that pretty much every day I’ve liked what I was wearing and I felt good in it. I used to have days when I would feel a bit weird in what I’d thrown on that morning (you know those days…), but that never happened with the capsule wardrobe.

Also, because I could combine anything in my wardrobe, I never felt like I was wearing the same thing all the time (my friends might beg to differ!). Over the past three months, I’ve tried so many combinations of tops with shoes, trousers and coats that I’ve never felt bored – even towards the end of the season, I was still experimenting with new outfits. My top tip for combining capsule wardrobes is to use Pinterest – if I’m looking for ideas on how to wear my denim shirt, then I just search ‘denim shirt outfit’ for instant inspiration. 

Not shopping for three months has also been surprisingly easy. I’ve definitely been thinking all along about what I wanted to add come Spring, but I managed to stay out of the shops. The thing is, now that everything has to go together and be worn a lot, I’ve become very  picky, which has made buying new things quite tricky – to start with, I sent so many online orders back.

The idea of the capsule is to replenish your wardrobe with new-season items once every three months, but I feel like shopping for several items all in one go doesn’t really work for me – it’s too overwhelming. However, I want to carry on with the capsule at least until the summer and see how I feel then. I read this article on a 50-piece closet recently – it’s about a more relaxed approach to the capsule idea – and I think that’s where I’ll end up eventually. For now, though, this has been a really useful experiment for helping me to break my impulse-shopping habit and learn more about my personal style. I’ll share the new additions to my Spring(!) wardrobe soon.

Are you tempted to start a capsule wardrobe? And how about a 50-piece wardrobe?

P.S. 5 mum outfits, 5 great ankle boots and the perfect nail polish.

Something for the weekend

SFTW: doughnuts and beauty buys

February 28, 2016

I have this thing for doughnuts. I’m not sure why, possibly because it seems so hard to get a really good one in the UK. Anyway on one of my daily (hourly?) Pinterest trawls, I came across this recipe (see drool-worthy picture below) and decided I had to give it a go. Now, I’m no stranger to long, involved recipes, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided it would be a better use of my time to schlep across the capital for St. John’s version (arguably the best in London).


So yesterday morning, George, Thomas and I headed off to Maltby Street for our fix. Strange how the promise of doughnuts can elicit perfect behaviour from a toddler… Last time I went to Maltby St, it was lunchtime and rammed, so I wanted to get there as early as possible. It turns out that hipsters like a lie-in, so it was very quiet when we arrived and we got a table for two and devoured our doughnuts. We shared the chocolate and vanilla versions, and oh my… totes worth all the effort. Of course, it’s only served to feed my obsession, and I think I may now have to order a doughnut pan to make the baked version at home.

George eating St. John doughnuts

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Things no one tells you about your 30s

February 18, 2016

There are loads of good things about hitting 30: in fact, I’d say that, so far, it’s the decade I’ve felt happiest, both with myself and with life in general. It’s undoubtedly a decade when lots of things fall into place – I for one have realised what’s important to me, I’ve banked a few useful lessons, and I’m trying to create a good life for myself. However, it’s also a bit of a limbo land – I’ve found making the transition between my young self and my more established self has been physically and psychologically challenging in many ways. Here’s a collection of the less great things that come with being in your thirties…

Things no one tells you about your thirties |

You will still have spots

Unfortunately, if (like me) you had problem skin as a teenager and twenty-something, it’s unlikely to magically clear up when you hit 30. I had always assumed that when my hormones settled down, my skin would, too. Despite me spending more time and money on my skin than ever before, and having less time at my disposal to pick at it (my worst habit), it still flares up the same as it did when I was 16. To add insult to injury, 30 is the age when you start to sport wrinkles as well as spots…

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Now that’s what I call a proposal

February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I have spent the last couple of weeks writing pieces about ‘the most romantic restaurants in London’, and ‘the best restaurants in which to propose’ for work when in fact, personally speaking, I would hate Juan to have proposed to me in such a public place. Come to think of it, I can’t think of any friends whose partners proposed in a restaurant, either.

I’ve actually only spent one Valentine’s evening in a restaurant – which perhaps says more about the state of my pre-Juan love life than it does about anything else, but hey. Back in the day, Juan and I used to religiously read Jay Rayner’s Observer restaurant column, and the way he described Corrigan’s, in Mayfair, got us very excited because, aside from sounding like an amazing experience, it also looked (on paper) like a one-off we could just about afford. However, because it was just that bit too expensive for a random Saturday, we decided to book for Valentine’s Day.

That was our first mistake: from then on, things just went downhill. The short version of this story (without having to go into the details of why I had to remove my bra on the Tube home…) is that as soon as we sat down, we were presented with a set menu that was £85 per head (without wine) and didn’t list any of the dishes that we’d read about. We conducted a hushed and panicked circular conversation – should we walk out right now or try to enjoy it despite the price? – and decided on the latter. Suffice to say, it was a tense, unromantic meal. Never again will I venture out on Valentine’s Day, I vowed. (I must point out here that on any other day, Corrigan’s is a wonderful restaurant.)

Anyway, thank God Juan didn’t propose in a restaurant. Despite the fact that I am no wallflower, I don’t enjoy being the centre of attention among strangers.

Juan proposed to me on Holkham beach, in Norfolk. We had decided to go to Norfolk for a weekend in late summer. Unbeknown to me, Juan had already chosen a ring with the help of my friend Becky, talked me out of camping in favour of a nice B&B, and told himself he would only propose if we were getting on well (ha! We had a screaming argument on the journey there!)

At that point, having spent five years living with Juan, I had assumed we would just be one of those couples who don’t get married, so I had no idea what was coming. Continue Reading…


How many children do you want?

February 11, 2016

When Thomas was only a few days old, I remember already thinking, ‘I want to do this again – I want another baby’. Yes, I was probably off my face on the hormones coursing through my body, but even now that they have settled down, I still can’t really believe that Thomas might be my last baby. Pete thinks I’m crazy – he says that there always has to be a last baby, and he makes all the sensible arguments about money, etc. But how do you know when enough is enough?

How many children do you want?

A friend of mine has a son about the same age as George, and I remember her telling me when they were both about one that she wanted another baby asap and was planning to have loads. Two years later – and having survived ‘two under two’ – she says she is done! But even though Pete and I are in the thick of the sleeplessness and general craziness that come with life with two little kids, I still can’t bring myself to accept that this is it. Continue Reading…