Weekend Reading Vol.6

Grab a blanket, hot water bottle, cup of tea, the blanket, your cosy pyjamas and slipper stocks. Stay warm and have a read of these...

Emma Thompson on 20 Ways to Make Yourself Feel Better
An extract from Scarlett Curtis' second book - It's Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies) - released in October this year. Just like her first book, Feminists Don't Wear Pink (and other lies), the book features mini essays from women from all walks of life. This extract is by none other than Emma Thompson, one of my all-time favourite actresses.
Read online at The Times

First look images released of Element Pictures' TV adaption of Sally Rooney's best-selling novel Normal People for BBC Three
**Breaking News** One of my favourite books is being adapted for television! Sally Rooney's highly acclaimed Normal People is being made into a 12-part drama for BBC One and BBC Three. Not going to lie, there's serious pressure on them to pull off this very intense and complex relationship between the two lead characters, Marianne and Connell. Coming to screens in 2020...
Read more at BBC.co.uk

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon Interview - We Don't Want To Be America's Sweethearts Anymore
Read more here at The Times

I walked out on my husband and kids for true love - and I'm not going to live with aching regret
Read here at The Times


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!!


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


"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."


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.


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!


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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