Winter Wedding Guest Outfit Inspiration

 There's something traditional about having that pre-wedding panic that is not reserved just for the bride. Knowing that there will be photographers and videographers armed to capture every moment of the couple's big day, you want to be looking and feeling your best for any that you appear in. Perhaps it is in the hope that when you get snapped popping a tad-too-large canape into your mouth whilst also cradling a glass of Champagne, napkin and clutch bag, that people will see past to your fabulous dress instead! I spent an afternoon shopping (from my sofa, of course) some outfit options to take you from ceremony to dance floor as I, too, will be attending a December wedding this year. Watch out credit card, the online orders are about to sky-rocket...


This brand is top of mind at the moment since Mint Velvet kitted me out for a hen do recently. I'm a big fan of the slit on the leg and the higher neckline feels more appropriate vs. plunging for a wedding.

The fabric and the colour are bang on for Autumn/Winter vibes. Pop on a pashmina to keep those shoulders warm as you transition from venue to venue. I've been keeping my eye out for a trouser-suit in this colour with no luck so far but partner this jumpsuit with a tailored blazer and you're half-way there!

If winter was defined by a fabric, it would be velvet and this forest green jumpsuit looks the epitome of cosy-chic. As we know, weddings can be long days, sometimes in excess of 12 hours from I Do to Carriages, so a jumpsuit can be a savvy option to keep you looking sharp but feeling comfortable.

This forest green maxi dress is a more formal option and with a shimmery finish to sparkle amongst the congregation. The bow on this waistline is just adorable.

There's something 'dolls dress' about this one but I just love a statement shoulder and the ruching on the sleeves. Black and gold isn't perhaps your usual wedding colour palette but with Christmas nearing, it feels suitable celebratory. 

You know that post-wedding breakfast bloat that descends when all you want to do is nap and instead you have to listen to 2 hours of speeches and then get up on the dance floor. This dress and its flattering ruche around the mid-section should make for the perfect disguise to hide just how much wedding cake you've eaten. Again, longer-sleeves feel more appropriate, especially if you find yourself outside or in a church on a frosty afternoon.




I love the long-sleeve and high neck which seems suitable appropriate for the winter months plus the autumnal oxblood colour feels seasonal (although, as ever, check what the bridesmaids are wearing so you don't turn up in the same! Been there, done that!) Also available in a brighter red.

Now to go and start trying everything on.... wish me luck!!

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Weekend Reading Vol.5

There's a bit of a theme to this bundle of articles. Self-improvement is the hot topic, but ironically, one which can carry a heavy burden. Whether it's the guilt of our screen time going up and up each week or the pressure to perform at maximum efficiency during those 9-5 office hours when we're just not programmed to, it's all rather over-whelming and idealistic. These journalists help de-bunk and call time on the pressure to be your ever-improving best self.

Lucy Mangan // A Message for Smug People Who Always Wake Up Early
I resonate with every word of this article. As a night owl, inherited from my mother who could be found hoovering the stairs at 3am when I would stumble in from a night out, I am barely functional in the morning but come 11pm I am surging with energy! I wrote the majority of my dissertation between 11pm and 4am before sleeping in until noon the next day. Unfortunately rigid office hours just aren't compatible for a night owl structure and I end up feeling like I'm burning the candle at both ends. I honestly long to be one of these smug early-risers, even though reading this made me feel totally understood. Read online at Stylist

FAVOURITE QUOTE

"Eight hours is eight hours is eight hours. Employers need to accept that the 11 to 7 (or 12 to 8, or 1 to – you get the picture) is as good as the 9 to 5."

LUCY MANGAN

Which leads nicely onto...

Ravan Smith // The Millennial Obsession with Self-Improvement
Read online at The Times.

Which all ties into the rather hilarious predictions from December 2018...

Anya Strzeimien / 11 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2019
Read online at NY Times

And whilst you're enjoying a cosy read, I'll be prepping for a Sunday marathon of the new series of The Crown. As if it couldn't get better, Series Three now comes with a dose of Olivia Colman stepping into the court shoes of Queen Elizabeth II. Check out HRH Olivia's Vogue 73 questions on YouTube for a hoot.

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What’s in my Makeup Bag - High Street Edition

There’s something about a person’s makeup bag that can tell you a lot about a person. I’d love nothing more than a VIP pass to snoop into my friends and know their do or die items. A lot of my cosmetic purchases over the years have come from word of mouth as I find there’s nothing more trustworthy than someone you know raving about their latest discovery. So here I’m pouring out the contents of my makeup bag for you to have a good old rummage through. And don’t worry, your credit card needn’t panic as the majority of these items will boost your Boots advantage points more than they’ll bankrupt you.

Lasting Perfection Foundation by Collection 2000, £5.99
I’ve long been a long-time fan of their Lasting Perfection Concealer, £4.19; both the price, the colour and the concealing it does. I was in the market for a new foundation, one that helped me bridge the gap between the Marrakech afterglow before the deathly pale shades for the wintry months come out. My instinct was to look at the higher end of the market having just finished a pot of Chantecaille Future Skin Oil Free Gel Foundation, and I’ve had my eye on Giorgio Armani's Luminous Glow or Chanel’s Teint Idole Ultra Wear for some time. So, for £5.99 I had low expectations but a curiosity of how this would fair against the much-loved concealer. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. The coverage is great, particularly for covering that post-summer uneven complexion and my regularly hormonal skin. I apply with a damp beauty blender and am really pleased with the glowy dewiness the name promises. The one downside I’ve noticed is that I need to powder in the afternoon when the glow evolves into what could be perceived as a light sweat, ha! Considering I’m as unfaithful to foundations as I am to a healthy diet, I probably won’t be repurchasing but I’ll definitely see this bottle out.

For years I couldn’t be bothered with eyeshadow at all, somehow convincing myself my natural eyelid plus a slick of black mascara would suffice. Oh the confidence of youth. Nowadays, Monday to Friday I opt for a one-shade suits all application to my lower eyelids to help warm up and draw some middle ground between brunette hair and colourful lips. For weddings or evenings, I step it up a notch with this incredible purse-friendly palette with the full spectrum of nudes and browns from matte to shimmers. It is so blendable and not the worst in terms of transferring during application. 

Fleur De Force Brow Define in Medium by Eylure, £13.20
Brows is an area I’ve stepped up my attention to detail. My teenage indifference to brows meant I avoided the over plucking pitfall, yet today's bigger and bushier brow trend leaves me looking rather lacking. To help add some definition and fill in patchiness, I’ve been using this double-ended brow pencil by Fleur De Force for the past couple of years. I apply it similar to lip liner just to help enhance (not overstate) my natural shape. The lighter tone of the brunette pencil is shade perfect more me!

Suede Lips in Into You by Rodial, £22
I fell in love with this Rodial lip pencil at Stylist Live last year and it’s my go-to autumn, matte shade when I’m wearing burgundy, orange, forest greens etc. I lighten up with a slick of L’Oreal Paris Color Riche Satin lipstick, £7.99, when I’m wearing brighter tones such as blue denim or to lighten up an all black outfit. 

Better than Sex Mascara by Too Faced, £22
This is a multiple-time repurchased item and probably one of the most expensive items in my makeup bag at the moment. And whilst I can applaud at the name choice (it's certainly a statement), it's not better than sex but it is a bloody good mascara. Just the right about of clumpiness to give my stumpy lashes some impact.

The staples:

What high street makeup have you got in your makeup bag? Drop me a comment below!

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My Weekday Morning Routine


I’m a night owl through and through but after years of rude awakenings, I’m finally changing the habit of a lifetime swapping my late nights for early mornings. The effect has been far more transformative than I could have imagined and so I thought I'd share my new morning routine that has become something I treasure at the start of every day.


Riding the early bird wave
For ever, my mornings have consisted of five or six shrill alarms failing to rouse me from the comfort of my bed, until a shove from the husband or a wrench back of the duvet startled me awake. The 10 or 20 minute dash to wash, dress and leave on time became a super toxic and stressful start to the day - not a pretty state to find yourself in when you haven’t even been awake for an hour of the day.

So, it was time to make some adjustments. Firstly, blue night is now banned from the bedroom. Mr A took a while to recover from his Family Guy addiction but that theme tune is not one I miss for a millisecond! The problem arose from having an oversized TV for the size of our bedroom so light and sound just blares around the four walls contributing to a restless (him) and wound-up (me) state-of-mind. Phones now live outside the bedroom to charge overnight, the TV has been unplugged, Alexa is programmed for my husband's alarm (lucky for him, he gets an extra 90 minutes in bed) and mine is a soothing lullaby using the iPhone bedtime feature. Given the divide in our morning routines, my 6.30am alarm going off in the living room forces me to get up and out of my bed to silence it. With that extra hour of the day, here's what I do next...

Go Gently
Inspired by Ayurvedic practise and a podcast I listened to on Madeleine Shaw's Get the Glow (episode 22), I’m being gentle to myself first thing in the morning. I find I’m tuned into hearing my delicate alarm from the other room (no foghorns here) and promptly wrap myself up in my super-soft fleece dressing gown. A flick of the kettle on the way to the bathroom so it can boil whilst I cleanse my eyes with warm water soaked into cotton pads. It is unbelievably soothing and such a kind first touch.

Hot Things
Especially on autumnal or wintry mornings, getting out of bed into a cold home is less than inviting, hence the duvet-style dressing gown and slippers. After I've cleansed my eyes, I run a muslin cloth under the warm water and double cleanse my face and neck. Before I used to splash my face with cold water and frantically rub face wash into my cheeks when I was in a rush for work so this change of pace feels super indulgent. After the usual, tone, serum, moisturiser, I pop back to the kitchen to fill a mug with hot water. I've recently given up caffeine altogether which is contributing to me dropping off to sleep as soon as my head touches the pillow around 10.30pm. I do still enjoy a decaf coffee when I get to the office, I think there's something symbolic about it signifying work-mode!

Oil Pulling
I remember first hearing a friend had started 'oil pulling' years ago as a means of teeth whitening. The other benefit of swilling coconut or sesame oil, according to Ayurvedic principles, is its antioxidant action, extracting toxins from your body. I'm not going to lie, this has been the least natural part of my new morning routine and psychologically it's really weird putting a tablespoon of solid coconut oil into your mouth at 6.35am! So far I've managed a teaspoon worth and for maybe five minutes max. The most success I've found is doing it whilst I shower, to busy myself from the fact I'm tasting a Pina Colada this early in the day! The goal is 20 minutes but that seems a way off *gags at the thought* 

Time for some Headspace
I have daydreamed for months about having these super healthy, restorative early mornings in which I would free-journal and meditate. So, the free-writing is still yet to manifest but I have become super diligent with my ten minutes of meditating to Andy Puddicombe's hypnotic voice every morning. Taking time to breathe is such a luxury and after my ten-day trial, I'm now a convert and have signed up for a year!

Eggs in the morning
I admit I'm slightly odd in my capability to eat eggs on their own, especially as I always eat them standing up. I frylite two eggs in a frying pan and eat with nothing but a knife and fork. It takes little than four minutes to make and less than that to eat so plenty of time to fit into my mornings. From working in the haircare industry, I hear almost daily how beneficial a protein-rich breakfast is for your hair, and eggs really are the best source from which to start the day. Another by-product of these early mornings is less sugary foods first thing. I was always guilting of grabbing a croissant on the go or accepting whatever sweet-laden treat is circulating the office that day.

Spare time
Normally I wouldn't have a spare moment to think as I'm rushing around, grabbing my make-up bag to do on the train and forgetting my breakfast sat in the fridge. Instead, I'm now finding I have at least a ten minute window to get something ticked off my to-do list that is for me - this certainly isn't a work related task. The other day, I fake-tanned from head to toe. Another day, I plucked my eyebrows. Another day, I lasered my legs giving me time back in the evening. This is so important to your mentality for the day if you've already done something for you before you step out the door.

This new morning routine has literally been a game-changer for me and I'm so proud of myself for finally making some small but significant changes. I now start every day feeling positive and make an effort to be kind to myself before I leave the comfort of my front door and embrace the London Underground. I'm not perfect and yes, I have been tempted back into bed as soon as I silence my alarm. Having fallen down at this hurdle twice in the last month, I could feel how much I slipped back into a more stressed version of myself. Whilst I thought I needed those extra minutes of sleep, it had a knock-on effect during the day; namely my fuse being shorter, my afternoon slumps being greater and generally feeling frustrated with myself. After I experienced that, I honestly knew my days as a night owl were up.

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How I'm Embracing Hygge

'Hoo-guh' is the Danish meaning for cosy. It's more a feeling than a direct translation  Think Sunday afternoons under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate (which is exactly what I'm doing now as I type this). Or sitting by a crackling fire reading a book with thick cashmere socks to keep you snug. Whilst you could accuse me of being Hygge all year round (I have a reputation for rejecting most invites for Saturday night in favour of my dressing gown and some scented candles), this time of year is synonymous with the movement. And what's the benefit of Hygge? It's a means of finding happiness in simplicity and comfort in being kind to yourself. Now that's my kind wellbeing! In this post, I explore how I've made a few subtle additions to my day to embrace more higgelig moments.

From bed to dressing gown.
Living in a new-build means we live in a comfortable, warm bubble with no drafts or large, cold rooms to heat (though this may be all about to change!) When we lived in our previous flat, Mr A was very reluctant to put on the heating and before that we were bracing New York’s snow storms so I acquired some serious thermal wear into my wardrobe (good ol’ M&S). First though, to ease the transition of bed to…not in bed, enter the cosiest, fluffiest, warmest dressing gown. It must be my most-worm item! Whether I’m hood-up whilst meditating on the sofa in the AM or cooking dinner and Netflix binging in the PM, this item is my guaranteed safety blanket. You can find a similar one to mine here.

Getting lit. 
I have a cluster of candles on my coffee table and lighting them each evening forms part of my unwinding ritual. I have a selection of cotton fragranced tea lights and a three-wick candle I received for Christmas last year. I've picked out below some of my tried-and-tested and much-loved candles I’ll be lighting this Autumn:


The White Company Winter Botanical Candle, £36, has kept my Christmas decorations box smelling gloriously festive for the past couple of years. I promise to give it a road-test this year and I know I'll be looking out for a repurchase come January when I'm packaging away the decks again!
My go-to Diptique fragrance is Baies but I’m intrigued by the new lucky charm fragrances they’ve launched, in particular the Lucky Flowers and Blissful Amber, £53.

A brand that I follow on the 'gram and fell in love with is Moments of Sense and Style. There’s an incredible story behind the husband and wife co-founders of this brand, as they live through the challenges of brain injury. Nothing is more coffee-table worthy than these ‘choose light’ matches, £9. With my husband’s family from Lincoln, I especially love the sound of this fig, berries, wood and amber notes of No.3 Doddington on an Autumn morning, £30.

Be a book worm. 
Whilst my bedtime is getting earlier and earlier to make way for my super relaxed mornings route (link), I find myself looking forward to the moment when I get into bed and open my latest book. I stayed in bed until 1pm on Sunday finishing Miss You by Kate Eberlen and I’ve moved onto A Gift in December by Jenny Gladwell. Whilst I’ve earned a reputation as the office bookworm and happily share out recommendations, my to-read list is never-ending thanks to newsletters, podcasts, and instagram accounts. My favourites at the moment are @reesesbookclub @thehelsproject @bookishelise @booksnest. Also my favourite blogger newsletters drop in my inbox from @TheAnnaEdit and @CocosTeaParty.

Head to the Bar(re)
As the evenings are drawing in and it’s now dark in the morning and evening when I would normally go for a run, I’m upping my ClassPass activity. This time of year it takes real willpower to even pack my gym back and especially drag myself there in the dark after a day in the office but my class choices of yoga, reformer pilates and barre feel lovely and restorative. It gets the cold out of my muscles and helps make up a little for all the comfort food I’m craving.

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What I'm Reading This Christmas

These books have been gathering dust for some time but I finally got organised with my reading list and made sure I had plenty of festive-themed books to get me even more into the holiday spirit! Without a doubt, Christmas is my favourite time of year and as I type this in mid-October, I confess I've already had my first viewing of Home Alone: Lost in New York City! Sitting on the sofa with the Elemis Joyful Glow scented candle glowing, a cup of hot tea and a cosy blanket is so cliche but I can't help it... I just love this time of year. Sharing with you today my reading list that will be on the bedside table ready for devouring from 1st November.

One Day in December by Josie Silver

What's it about?
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. After all, life isn't a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one freezing day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away. 

Laurie things she'll never see the boy from the bus again. But at a party later that year, her best friend Sarah introduced her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus. Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

The Christmas Stocking and other stories by Katie Fforde

What's it about?
In this exciting stocking of Christmas short stories, you will:
- Help your best friend cook Christmas dinner and end up falling in love with one of the guests.
- Arrive on Christmas Eve dressed as a fairy, all set to wave your wand and give a young family their best Christmas ever.
- Spend an unexpectedly romantic Christmas honeymoon in a small cottage surrounded by the thickest, whitest snow.
- Fall in love with a handsome stranger on Christmas morning - and his badly behaved dog.
- Host the perfect and most romantic Christmas celebration ever, entirely by Candlelight.

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

What's it about?
For the past two years, Evie Taylor has lived an invisible existence in London, a city she hoped would bring sparkle to her life. But all that is about to change. For winter has brought a flurry of snow and unexpected possibilities.

When Evie overhears that Hardy's - once London's most elegant department store - is at risk of being sold, she secretly hatches a plan. If she can reverse the store's fortunes by December 26th, and transform it into a magical destination once gains he might just be able to save it. But she's going to need every ounce of talent and determination she has. In fact, she might just need a miracle...


And it wouldn't be a reading list if it didn't feature my favourite author...

One Perfect Christmas and other stories by Paige Toon

What's it about?
One year after movie star Joseph Strike swept schoolteacher Alice off her feet, they are spending Christmas together in snowy Cambridge. But despite the romantic setting Alice can't help but question whether life in the spotlight is really what she wants. Will a Christmas provide some perspective? Or will the life she'd be leaving behind be too much to lose?

Paige Toon reunited a much-loved cast from across her fifteen novels, including Johnny Be Good, The One We Fell In Love With and Thirteen Weddings. Fall in love with nine witty and heartfelt romantic stories, published in print for the very first time.


Let me know what's on your reading list this Christmas?


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New In The Autumn Wardrobe

After a summer full of online shopping fails and tired from the journeys back and forth to the post office with Returns, I’ve gone ‘old-school’ for some new Autumn wardrobe pieces. In fact, I’ve thrown myself into the lion’s den of Oxford Street…on a SATURDAY! I know, I am a brave woman. But it paid off, you’ll see…

When a hen do in Brighton is in your diary, a new dress is in order. Sending live updates to my bestie from the changing room, this dress got an immediate ‘YES!!’ It's a perfect transitional piece for a warm Autumn's day with sleeves up or paired with a leather jacket for chillier weather. Dress it up with heels or down with trainers. The tie waist is super flattering and the leg-slits make it feel really feminine. I had to size up to get my boobs in and stop the buttons from snagging but didn't seem to affect the rest of the fit. Love. It.

Mint Velvet Polkadot Blouse
Jeans and a blouse is my go-to work uniform so adding another one to my wardrobe is always going to get a lot of wear! I just love the polka dots, the fabric, the shape, the ribbon tie at the back… I could go on!

Now the temperature is dropping, we’re in that limbo period where T-shirts no longer suffice and big, thick, chunky knits are too much. That’s why I’ve been making a lot of use of this little Whistles number. There’s not many slogan items that I don’t love from Whistles and this one caught my eye long ago and has been on repeat weekly ever since!
Fed up of wearing trainers day-in day-out (curse of the commute, I swear), I desperately wanted some flat - that bit was crucial - but smart workwear shoes. Wandering around the basement floor of House of Fraser, I found these cashmere-like soft leather loafers that answered the brief. Slightly concerned they may have been “an older woman’s shoe” I sought back-up and whilst the response wasn’t completely emphatic, I’m glad I made this purchase! Throw on some black jeans, the Bonour Paris jumper and these and it's an easy-to-wear smart-cas get-up for the office or weekend.

In complete contradiction to the above point, the Converse that I have been wearing pretty much solidly for the past couple of months are looking more than battered so I was looking for some replacements. I spotted these on the shelf at Kurt Geiger’s concession store but they were out of stock of my size. Fast forward 24 hours, I’m in the Kurt Geiger store in Wembley’s Fashion Retail Outlet where I found the exact same shoe but £20 cheaper - result! Far more comfortable than Converse due to their cushioned sole, they look a bit smarter too, but beware, they require the same amount of wearing in and blister plasters to get you through the first few outings!


I think that’s enough spending for now… next stop: January sales!

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Weekend Reading Vol.4

The list of articles I've loved recently has started to grow beyond control so here is Volume 4 of the Weekend Reading list.

Will Longman // Review - Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag at Wyndham's Theatre
An indulgent read if, like me, you are in denial that Fleabag Season 2 is over and you were gutted to have missed Phoebe Waller-Bridge herself revisit the one-woman play where the unnamed character was first created for stage.
Read online at LondonTheatre.co.uk

Abigail Malmon // What exactly is burnout? The signs, symptoms and how to deal with it
When was the last time you didn't feel stressed? It feels like burnout is on the rise and if you can't identify with some of the symptoms, it's pretty likely you know someone who can. In my first job out of University, I remember being surprised how common it was for people to be signed off on stress leave for a significant period. Fast forward eight years and this narrative has only worsened. This article is packed through of statistics so you can know you're not alone, what to look out for and how to help combat burnout.
Read online at Cosmopolitan.com

Nicola Davis // Soft drinks, including sugar-free, linked to increased risk of early death
As a serial Diet Coke fan, I winced when I saw this headline. I wasn't for one moment under the illusion that a calorie-free fizzy drink was "healthy" but there's something about seeing that headline in black and white that will halt your finger on the ring-pull. It made me realise, like the article suggest, that the artificial sweeteners can drive you to crave more sugar and I would often be guilty of a can of Coke and a chocolate bar around 3pm. It certainly made me take notice, something to do with turning thirty and this link being sent by your parents. I still have the occasional DC but cutting out caffeine in the past month has definitely helped curb this habit.
Read online at The Times

And to end on a more light-hearted note...

Dolly Alderton // When Harry Met Sally: 30 years since the fake orgasm that changed romcoms for ever
Dear Ms. N. Ephron, 
Enclosed is a love letter to your iconic pastrami-eating, fake-orgasm-screaming movie.
Love Dolly.
This could easily be my favourite article of 2019. It reminded me of one of the first articles I ever wrote for the University magazine on the subject of whether boys and girls can be *just* friends (they can't, by the way, unless sex is absolutely off the table). Around the same time, I went to see When Harry Met Sally at the theatre and I just love the male/female friendship buttons it pushes. After reading this article, you're definitely going to want to head straight for the movie to rewatch for the gazillionth time.
Read online at The Times

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Under the Influence: What My Fave Influencers *Made* Me Buy


It’s no secret that their job is to sell to us and for the genuine content creators out there, it’s the lovely job of coveting and endorsing products and services they use and love. Why shouldn’t they earn a buck or two as commission for doing the ground work and sharing the word? Influencers sure do get some shtick for this (yes, yes, it is poor form when they don’t disclaim paid partnerships) but there's an element of trust between an Influencer and their audience; once that's gone, it's unlikely their audience will remain engaged. Remember that line from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 'You had your chance, you muffed it!'

Personally, I feel a sense of loyalty to my little gang of YouTubers and place more of an interest in their videos and blog posts than I do, say, a magazine publication. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought a magazine! This post is basically a 'thank you' for the hours of free entertainment these ladies have provided me with over the years. And the proof is in the pudding with this (surprisingly long) list of purchases I have made under the influence... 

CARLY ROWENA

Why follow? 
For body positivity and calling bullshit on negativity with a side of squats. 

Why love? 
Carly starts every day with a motivational quote which is a giant dose of positivity, feminism and gratitude rolled into one 'gram! Plus, check out her IG stories for the best Q&A sessions.

What did I buy under the Influence?
  • Carly is a qualified PT and created a 12-week exercise programme called the Get Gorgeous Guide. Along with a host of nutritional advice, this training regime includes 3 workouts per week focusing on arms, legs and abs. Available in physical book form, a digital PDF to download and videos to watch to check your form in on fleek!
  • This gorgeous girl can also make a pelvic floor trainer seem sexy. Hello, Elvie Trainer. Carly hosts an amazing (and sometimes blush-worthy) Sexy Series on YouTube so it’s no surprise that during her pregnancy she was sharing literally the ins and outs of exercise this very important muscle!


What do I still have my eye on?
Over the summer, Carly created pocket-sized workout cards. Ideal for use on the go or if you fancy some variation to your gym routine, pick a set at random and get sweaty! No equipment required for the Home Workout Guide I have my eye on. Those motivational quotes I mentioned are printed on the reverse for some power-talking whilst working out!

THE ANNA EDIT

Why follow? 
If I’m looking for some tips of what I need in my wardrobe, I’ll look to Anna Newton for her immaculate, timeless and efficient capsule wardrobe.

Why love? 

For the best pale & sensitive skin beauty recos and for being a total organisation fiend, she is goals!

What did I buy under the Influence?

  • A rather grown up purchase but one I’d been considering upon my fifth time as bridesmaid when facing those creases the night before the Big Day. Enter, Russell Hobs Steamer. I watched an IGTV I think it was (or a paid partnership of sorts) where Anna was coveting this and I literally bought it there and then. For a gal who detests ironing, this is a game-changer. I’m literally walking around thinking what else can I steam?
  • From one pale and hairy girl to the next, when Anna talks hair removal I’m all ears. I’m particularly attracted to a fuzz-free hair removal system that takes less than five minutes and has long-lasting results. Hello, Braun Silk-Expert Pro 5 IPL PL5124. Watch Anna’s 1-Hour Weekly Summer Prep Routine video for the full scoop!
  • I've talked about this before but, put simply, she introduced me to the best label maker ever. Say no more.
  • An Edited Life, aka. the bible. Praise be living your utmost organised self. 

What do I still have my eye on?
Ever since I laid eyes on the apothecary-style drawers in Anna’s Office Tour I’ve been in love. I found the link, signed up to Vincent & Barn's newsletter and the label maker waits in anticipation. Now, I just need the house and then I can spend hours sorting out what’s going to live in each drawer! It’s the stuff dreams are made of!

LILY PEBBLES

Why follow? 
For all-round down-to-earth lifestyle content of a just-turned-thirty-something-first-time mum.  

Why love? 

Lily has legit got her feet on the ground and with that, cuts the BS and shares lifestyle content that you can relate to!

What did I buy under the Influence?

  • I literally devoured Lily’s book, The F Word, in one sitting via Audible. It’s such a gorgeous love letter for female friendships. Warning: it makes you wish Lily was your friend!
  • For strong skincare and cosmetic advise, look no further. Lily has impeccably high standards and will call an over-hyped product exactly that when she sees it (even if they've paid for a week's trip abroad). Therefore, the amount she has raved about It Cosmetics CC Cream was the reason I marched into Sephora to buy one and began my own love affair with this base. She’s right, it is amazing. Next I want to try the matte version…
  • I discovered the Missoma brand, in particular the Lucy Williams collection, via Lily's YouTube channel where I would swoon over her stacked necklaces. The cult influencer necklace that everyone had found its way onto my Christmas list, but this one ended up in my jewellery box.

What do I still have my eye on?
That London map illustration (plus, the house) would be just dandy! It’s a limited edition print but a total love letter to London with a gorgeous splash of gold foil, which leads me to…
Those gold breakfast bar stools. I planned an entire kitchen island around these babies…but since the house sale hasn’t gone through, these are back on my wishlist!

**MRS A TO B: CATCH UP ON OUR HOUSE-HUNTING STORY SO FAR...**

ON THE LUST LIST...A round-up of my other fave content creators and what's making my credit card twitch!

Lydia Elise Millen not only makes me daydream over a house with her kitchen island and brick-walled garden, she has got me super intrigued by the Thermomix. A kitchen aid for my poor cookery skills designed to make cooking from scratch look effortless. It's a hefty investment (we're talking over £1000) but I yearn to be as domesticated to have a freezer stocked with homemade ice-creams and sorbets and soups and smoothies and casseroles and (the list goes on...) If you're interested, watch Lydia's video.

I blame Fleur DeForce for hours spent lusting through vintage jewellery shops. Her Art Deco ring and general jewellery game is seriously strong! However, as a fellow shorty, I do also take note of her wardrobe purchases, particularly when it comes to maxi dresses. Two dresses that stick in my memory from her previous videos and 'grams; Lily & Lionel’s khaki leopard print maxi dress and Hansine bohemian tea dress.

And, of course, you can't have an influencer list without mentioning Mrs Hinch. I read her book on a journey back from a wedding and felt completely compelled to rethink my attitude to cleaning. What followed was almost daily trips to the cleaning aisles on my lunch break. Mr A often asks me why I'm cleaning the bathroom at 11pm on a Friday night and I hate to point the blame but...

Which purchases are you guilty of making under the influence? Add a comment below!


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The Future of Blogging & How I Feel About It

Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash
Since I started this blog back in 2016, I have fallen in love with writing again. But blogging is now so much more than just words on a page. It's about web templates, brand logos, followers, analytics, social media presence, colour schemes, professional-standard photography and much more. I go through phases with my blog; sometimes I love it and other times I forget it exists. Some days (most days) I dream of growing this into a full-time money-making machine, and other days I consider sacking it all off. I remember feeling in a super positive space last summer, planning lots of content when I reached out to my friend to ask, 'What kind of blog posts would you want to read?' and her response was, 'I think blogs are over, it's all about video these days'. It was a crushing response, but is she right? In this post I'm delving into my personal experience of blogging and the future of MrsAtoB.com, how the blogging-boom has hit our (double) screens and whether being a Content Creator, Influencer, Blogger, YouTuber, Vlogger or Instagrammer is as rosy as it seems.

In the beginning.
I remember being sat in a lecture theatre in late 2008 and told by my course leader to start a blog. Cue eye-roll. My initial thought: as if I need more work on top of all the other coursework! But heed his advise I did, and I set-up a Blogspot with a crappy free design template (block red, I believe, which haunts me!). My first blog was called 'Through Rose Tinted Spectacles' and sat in a fairly redundant little corner of the Internet without much love or affection. I churned out blog posts sporadically with no other agenda than to tick the box for my semester module. At that point, I was too embarrassed to share posts with Facebook friends and incredibly aloof to even signing up on Twitter and Instagram. Little did I know ten years later I'd be kicking myself for not riding the wave with the enthusiasm I now have for writing.

Biggest doubts.
Fast forward five years to 2015 and the blogging industry has boomed. Brand budgets have switched away from traditional print media to investing in this new-fangled "influencer marketing", and the online world has become a haven for Brand Blogger. The Class of 2010, an alumni including Zoella, Fleur De Force and Lily Pebbles, have graduated with (metaphorical) first class honours, creating a new industry, a prosperous career and full-time salary. Having watched and admired this transformation take place, it's hard to not feel overwhelmed (read: put off) by the crazy competition and saturation of the market. With murmurings that brands in the present day aren't seeing the same results from influencer marketing as in their hey-day (and pointed fingers at the Instagram algorithm for its demise), has the bubble popped? Is trying to crack this market now like flogging a dead horse? If my peers are anything to go by than it feels like it is. However, Victoria McGrath from InTheFrow wrote a great piece about why blogging isn't dying and her definition on what makes a successful blog today:

"
The sites that inspire me are the ones that encompass innovative designs, great quality content and the ability to connect with me through their passions and insights into topics that keep my attention. A perfect mix that is unique to each blogger and another reason why the blogosphere surely isn't at saturation point.
"



Time, precious time.
How do I fit writing blogs around the day job? I'm not one to preach as consistency is most definitely not my middle name... but definitely the name of the game. There's something about trains that gets my writing flowing, similarly a late night glass of wine can also do the trick. I've heard of people who have written books on the daily commute or in between their baby's naps, so anything is possible with a little discipline. And then there's the (shameless) self-promotion and community building that's required alongside to get a blog off the ground - that really is a full-time job in itself and can be a time-vacuum with little reward. There are many apps around today geared at helping you be more efficient in this department but, time is money. And by that I mean, invest more time and (hopefully) make more money.

Perfectionist's Problem.
I have massively battled with perfectionism which has road-blocked so many posts over the years that will never see the light of day. I look back and wish I'd been less judgmental and let the blog posts flow so I can look back on the different periods of my life and re-live it through those words. Similarly, I have ummed and ahhed about setting up a YouTube channel and even received all the lighting equipment from Mr A several Christmases ago but have been too scared to do anything about it. I wish I'd bitten the bullet and could now look back on the crazy few years we had with wedding planning, travelling and moving to New York but carpe diem I didn't!

Picture Perfect.
My perfectionist issue runs deeper still and has delayed publishing *so many* blog posts striving for the perfect photography to accompany the article. My problem? The words flow but the camera collects dust. Across the blogosphere, blog content evolved from the early days of iPhone snaps to hire-a-photographer or spend-£2k-on-a-DSLR-camera. I remember being wowed by the quality of the bloggers' photography but equally surprised the subject of the images would have nothing to do with the post itself, apart from, perhaps, featuring the author. Whereas I would try to artfully style a pile of books on a sofa or summer skincare products in a sunny garden, other (more successful) bloggers would literally just have photographs of themselves (of course, looking immaculate in a banging outfit) but still, I'd been over-complicating things thinking that everything must compliment the theme.

Whilst I've never hired a pro, I've been tempted by the idea (fake it until you make it, right?) but instead I took advantage of my husband who likes being behind the camera (ironically, he hates photographing people but he grins and bears it for me!). After many failed attempts, bruised egos (mine) and short fuses (his), trying to plan and execute photography as frequently as my blog ideas demanded, it became unachievable. Plus, it felt so self-indulgent. I gave myself permission to get over the expectation of having incredible photography (only so much you can do about the model...) and get back to enjoying blogging, and that meant focusing more on the writing than the pouting. For the moment I'm swapping out my mug for stock photography. It means I have less delay getting my words on the web and wince a lot less at the sight of my site.

Haters gon' hate.
One thing that is totally unappealing about the industry yet seems to be par for the course of being a content creator is the amount I hear about hate and trolling. Whether it's nasty comments on a YouTube video, evil direct messages on Instagram or (worse of all) purpose-built websites for people to congregate purely to bitch and moan about specific Influencers. It's totally unacceptable and really does show off the worse of human nature. When you see people getting free kitchens or a brand new car as part of partnership, or *even* a trolley-dash of Boots the Chemist, I would be lying if I said I had never felt pangs of jealousy. But that's why businesses do this #gifting malarkey; you want what they have and buy it for yourself. Subconsciously, it's the lifestyle of that Influencer that we're hoping to attain, it's the perception of the status they're selling that we are being seduced by, yet this isn't new by any means, it's just plain marketing. Hats off to those who have grafted to build an engaged audience and have brands come to them with discount, gifts or paid-partnerships. Rather than send hate, why don't those few spoil-sports just unfollow anyone they don't want to see. Remember the lesson Thumper taught us all in Bambi?

"
 If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.
"
I, for one, applaud the Influencers who 'out' these haters and lift the veil on the barrage of abuse that happens behind the scenes or in the comments section. The industry needs better regulation and anyone wanting a piece of the action needs to be prepared to have a thick skin.



Rant over. That's the inner workings of my head for the moment on the topic of blogging. I'm taking myself off the hook from my 2019 goals (to move to WordPress, grow my social media following (bloody impossible, I swear) and a site redesign) and I'm stripping it back to just the words on the page. And if you made it to this final word on this rather long blog post then, thank you, because you must be a fan!

**READ MORE > Under the Influence. My favourite Content Creators of 2019 (and what they've made me buy!)**

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