How to Spend… January

January, the month that sees gyms full and bank accounts empty. I always find January a bit of an odd time, a strange mix of misery that Christmas is over and excitement for the year ahead. If only the weather would perk up it could all be very merry. Here are my suggestions to see you through to spring (or at least February).

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*Set yourself a tough resolution for January: New year resolutions tend to spark mixed opinion. Are they (like rules) only something to break or are they a worthwhile challenge? Personally, I quite enjoy them. They’ve seen me stick to a proper skincare routine, drink more water and actually run in the past, so I’m not going to knock them. But this year, I’m trying something new – a tough resolution just for January. Dry January is the classic example of this, but mine is all healthy work lunches. Chocolate gets passed around like oxygen in my office and PRs send us all kinds of delicious treats, which is all good and fun, but it’s time to make some healthier choices. We’ll see how I go! Rather than setting yourself a huge challenge for the whole year, try it in a bite-sized chunk just for this month. You get the feel good moment of achievement sooner, and it just might push you on for the rest of the year.

*Get creative with your workouts: Skip the gym this January. The novelty wears off, it gets boring and you’ll be done with it by spring. Or, join the gym like the rest of the world but don’t stop there. Have a go at running outside. Try yoga. Do the 30 day abs challenge. Join an exercise class. It is so difficult to sustain repetitive exercise, so mix it up! There are so many apps, YouTube videos and classes out there to help you, and it is the best way to really enjoy exercising. I’m currently in love with the Nike Running app, which tracks your runs so you have something to analyse proudly at the end. I also love Cassey Ho’s Blogilates workout videos on YouTube. There are so many, they are really creative and entirely free!

*Get planning: The best way to be productive is by planning your day properly. So treat yourself to a new diary/planner and go to town. This doesn’t just have to be boring, worky things though. I’m busy planning as many fun things for January as possible at the moment. It can seem a bit miserable with the festivities over, so gather up your friends and go to all of those places you meant to visit in 2015. Shop the sales, eat out and have fun.

*Finally, go easy on yourself: New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but they shouldn’t make you miserable. You don’t have to be productive 24/7, go to the gym everyday and just eat leaves. Down days exist for a reason, use yours to recharge and your productivity, exercise regime and general health will really benefit. So spend an afternoon watching films, have a bath and eat a slice of chocolate cake. Everyone deserves a break – use yours well!

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A Few Favourites: December

Oh December, how I love thee. This month has been filled with mad shopping dashes, endless present wrapping, cosy film nights and countryside walks. And it has gone by all too quickly!

This year, we spent Christmas at home. For the last two years we have dashed off to Switzerland for a family Christmas, so to enjoy the festivities in Kent was a real, relaxing treat. It is strange to think that this time last year I was on the slopes (can it really be a whole year?!) and we’re having many a wistful conversation about going back. We will. At some point.

But until then, there’s plenty to do. Before December finishes we have Stars Wars to watch, plenty of leftovers to eat (it’s turkey sandwiches for the foreseeable) and 2016 to ring in.

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*Bluebird Tea Co.: December is the time for hot drinks, and this month I discovered the Bluebird Tea Co. They do the most amazing tea blends which are all so fun and inventive, but it was their Christmas collection that really pulled me in. I found Mulled Wine and Snowball in my stocking on Christmas morning (thanks Santa!), and my personal favourite is the Gingerbread Chai. They ship worldwide, so be sure to check them out!

*Christmas films: One conversation with my sister led to the discovery that she had seen pitifully few Christmas films, so I was soon on Amazon ordering the best ones. We’ve had many a cosy film night, but the highlights have to be The Holiday and Love Actually – it wouldn’t be Christmas without them! Aside from the festive offerings, we’ve also had a bit of a Richard Curtis/Hugh Grant extravaganza with Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and the Bridget Jones films. It’s been amazing.

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*Lush The Magic of Christmas: I’ve had many a Lush Christmas bath this month, but their reusable bubble bar, The Magic of Christmas, has been my favourite from the lot. Not only does it look adorable on a cinnamon stick, covered in glitter and complete with a bell, but it smells amazing. It also worked so well with some of their other bath bombs to create Lushie bath cocktails!

*Festive beauty bits: This month I seem to have fallen back in love with make up. I’ve been particuarly enjoying the Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara, which is as sensational as everyone says it is. I haven’t been parted from bareMinerals The Soundtrack eye palette, which is perfect for shimmery, festive looks and I finally got round to using OPI Red Fingers and Mistletoe, which is an amazing deep, shimmery red. I’m probably going to have to drag the festive make up into January, as I’ll just miss it too much otherwise!

*Big city life: I think there is no better time to see a city than at Christmas, and I’ve been lucky enough to be in London and Paris this month. In London we rode Boris Bikes around Hyde Park, ate festive food in many a restaurant, did yoga in the sky and went out for celebratory cocktails. In Paris we dashed around all the landmarks, perused the Christmas markets, drank coffee by the river and admired the Christmas lights. It’s been a great month!

How to spend… December

The first advent doors have been opened, Christmas shopping is fully underway and the streets are aglow with twinkling lights overhead – it’s finally December!

This is hands down my favourite time of the year. I love the feeling of anticipation as Christmas approaches, the mad rush in the shops fulfilling wish lists, the sing-song exchanges of ‘merry Christmas!’ and, of course, the food. Here are my suggestions for the festive season…

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*Have a go at handmade gifts: Rather than fighting the crowds and spending your every last penny, have a go at making some gifts this year. They will always be hugely appreciated and it’s a fun, festive activity! For the most loved person on your ‘to buy’ list, a scrapbook is an amazing keepsake. And, in a world where all of our pictures are digital, printing out and presenting photos has something special about it. Festive baking is a great way to give in bulk, and you can make your handmade goodies look beautiful with packaging, ribbon and gift tags (try Lakeland for supplies!). Or, spend a Sunday afternoon making paperchains and Christmas cards by the fire.

*Go ice skating: My all time favourite festive activity! Even if you’re a bit wobbly on the ice, you won’t be alone and its surprising how quickly you can gain your balance and start whizzing around. If it’s really not your thing, it’s also fun to watch the crowds gliding along (with the occasional fall…) and the stewards always put on an impressive display. Grab a hot chocolate or mulled wine, enjoy the festive music and watch them go round until you feel dizzy.

*Cosy down with your favourite book: … or read the next installment of your favourite series! With the holidays coming, everyone having a little more time on their hands and the temperatures forever dropping outside, now is the perfect time to revisit an old favourite or finally getting around the reading the next part of a series. Grab a blanket and cuppa and position yourself by the fire with the intention of not moving for a few hours…

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*Take time out in a coffee shop: Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle but without the stress. Christmas is the time of year for the coffee chains. With the fun, flavoured drinks, the festive cups and everyone rejoicing that their seasonal favourites are back, they are a great place to catch up with that friend you haven’t seen in ages, or simply people watch. Take a book or start making your to buy list, and just take an hour out from the craziness.

*Finally, eat all the mince pies!: Last of all my favourite suggestion, relax about what you’re eating. Of course, everything in moderation, but if you want the extra mince pie, or cake as well as pudding, I say go for it. This delicious, festive food will be gone before we know it. See you in the gym in January…

Merry Christmas, everyone – have a great month!

November Favourites

November has seen the sky filled with fireworks, the return of the red cups and the first snow flurry (!!!). I have stirred the Christmas pudding and made a wish, chosen my advent calendar (Thornton’s, this year) and I’m soo ready for December and all things festive!

A switch seems to have flicked this month and the temperatures have seriously dropped. I’ve found myself pulling out all of my favourite winter warmers and I’m thoroughly enjoying getting to use them again. I’m also crazily planning Christmas presents, festive activities (ice-skating, come at me) and getting ready for my lovely boyfriend’s birthday next week – watch this space, plenty of exciting things to come!

Anyway, here are the things that I’ve been loving this month…

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*Bonfire Night: As I’ve mentioned here before, I love Bonfire Night and experiencing it in London for the first time was quite something. On the 5th November I found myself curled up on my boyfriend’s window sill, at 12 floors high it was incredible to watch fireworks going off all across London. We also went to the Victoria Park firework display which was the biggest and best I’ve ever seen. The display was in time to music and it was like watching lights dance across the sky. I highly recommend it if you’re in London this time next year!

*Rude Health 5 Grain 5 Seed Porridge: There’s nothing quite like a big bowl of porridge on a cold morning is there? As a student I was always a Quakers Oats kinda gal (one sachet, bit of milk – Bob’s your uncle) but I’ve branched out this year. This Rude Health porridge is beyond delicious, really nutty and filling. As you’d expect with Rude Health, it has great ingredients with no nasty chemicals and the packet lasts forever. If this doesn’t seem your thing, they have an enormous range so there is something for everyone. With this one I highly recommend adding a drizzle of honey and sprinkling of blueberries!

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*Candles: Two new candles came my way this month and I adore them both. The first is the Anthropologie Volcano candle, which is in a beautiful, iridescent jar and comes with a copper lid. The candle itself is very fruity, so it is perfect for all year round. It comes in a variety of sizes and jar colours, this is the smallest size but bigger versions are on my Christmas wish list! The second is the Yankee Candle Christmas Memories, which was brought to my sick bed as a ‘cheer up, it’s nearly Christmas!’ present. For the past few years, the Yankee Christmas Eve candle has been my favourite from the range, but this may have just replaced it. It’s a sweet blend of gingerbread and cinnamon, to remind you of Christmases from your childhood (cute!).

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*Wanderlust: This month, Tiarnan and I booked a Christmassy weekend away in Paris, which is so exciting. And, after the horrible attacks in Paris this month, it seems all the more important to go and show the city of love some … well, love. I’ve been cruising the internet and guide books for city break inspiration, and it’s looking to be a weekend filled with decadent chocolat chauds, ice skating and perusing the Christmas markets. If you have any suggestions then I would love to hear them!

I hope you all had a great month, bring on December (… and Christmas!!)

Autumn in Kent

While the weather is still fine, my family love a good Sunday walk (with tea and cake waiting for us back home). It really is such a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially as the Kentish countryside around us is so beautiful. Every Sunday afternoon we pack up the car with walking boots, coats, scarfs and our border terrier and set off to a different village.

A couple of weeks ago we chose Chiddingstone, a village entirely owned by the National Trust, which hints at how beautiful it is. We started in the village and then wandered out into the countryside beyond until we could see the church’s spire on a distant hill.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting views from all around the world (which is completely amazing – thank you!) and I thought it might be fun to show you what autumn looks like where I’m from. Autumn in London and autumn in the countryside surrounding it are two very separate things (you can almost miss the whole season in London), so if you’re ever visiting at this time of year be sure to venture beyond the city!

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I wasn’t planning on doing anything with these photos but I had taken so many it seemed a shame not to share them! I hope you enjoyed this little slice of autumnal Kent…

How to spend … November

For the past three years, I seem to have missed autumn. Shivering as temperatures dropped in the center of Newcastle, trapped in my room reading books to complete my degree, I completely failed to notice the changing colours. Now I’m back home in Kent, I’m amazed (and sad) that I haven’t seen them for three years.

So here are my suggestions on how to spend November, based on what I’m planning to do. A month’s bucket list if you will…

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Get outside: As I have just stressed above, it’s looking beautiful out there at the moment. If you have a dog then you really have no excuse to not be out enjoying the season. If you don’t then grab a friend, your family, your partner, whoever and head out into the countryside. The best walks always go past a pub, so you can rest your feet for a while and refuel. This is also a good bribe for the less enthusiastic walking buddies.

November is a great month for this because it’s not freezing yet. Soon enough it’ll be so cold we’ll all be reluctant to leave the house, so now is the time to enjoy the fine-ish (if a bit crisp) weather while we’ve still got it.

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See fireworks: Remember, remember the 5th of November … Bonfire Night has always been a thing in my family. We love a good firework display. We would always have fireworks set off in our back garden and between rockets we would run around with sparklers spelling out our names. Don’t you just love the smell of smoke in the air around Bonfire Night, and the crackle and bangs from distant firework displays?

Whether you have them in your back garden, build a bonfire and throw a Guy onto it, attend a local display, get a pack of sparklers or simply watch someone else’s rockets go off from an upstairs window, see some fireworks!

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Whip up some baked treats: A great way to warm up the house as the evenings get colder is by having the oven pumping out some heat, while you warm yourself up by hand stirring mixture! Check out my chocolate orange cupcakes or I always think bread is a great thing to be making around this time of year. Plus, freshly baked bread makes the entire house smell delicious. Combine going out for a walk with some tea and cake for afters – guaranteed to go down a treat!

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Get reading: Whether you like to peruse a cookbook for recipe inspiration, flick through the fashion pages of the latest Vogue or get lost in a good story, now is a great time to bury your head in a book. As December creeps up on us, we will start getting busier and busier in the build up to Christmas. Now is the lovely calm before the storm, and taking some time to yourself is always a great idea. Choose a relaxed setting, settle down in a bubble filled bath or curl up with a blanket and cup of tea by the fire, light plenty of candles and turn your phone off (or at least to silent). The best way to enjoy a good book.

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Go to the cinema: In the summer, I always think that going to the cinema should be saved for rainy days only. Being cooped up inside while the sun is shining seems utterly pointless. However, we’ve left summer behind now and that changes everything. If books and reading aren’t your thing, then there are so many good films on at the moment! Of course, the main attraction is the shiny new James Bond film (which my local cinema is showing hourly) but don’t forget about Suffragette and Pan.

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How are you planning on spending November?

October Favourites

October has been a busy, busy month. I got a job and started it a week later, I set up this blog and I’ve been rushing backwards and forwards between London and Kent, trying to find a new routine. I’m not quite there yet, and I’m living a strange mish mash life of living at home, living as a student (with my boyfriend in his student digs) and being a proper grown up with a proper job. It’s all been very weird but fun!

October has been a month of copious Pretty Little Liars episodes (I’m only on Season 2 and I do not want to talk about it with anyone for fear of it being ruined for me, so we are not going to discuss it here either), warming Starbucks dates after work and shopping the sales. It’s also started to get a lot colder and I’m pulling out all of my favourite coats again. I love coats, and I love falling back in love with my collection at this time of year. The current one I’m favouring is a camel coat I bought at a market in Australia four years ago. My ultimate favourite is my Barbour, but I’m leaving that in the wardrobe for the moment because I feel that pulling it out is to admit that winter really is here.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Here are the things that I’ve been loving this month…

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Mulberry Continental Wallet

Now, I admit that this is a pricey favourite to kick off with, and I had decided originally to not include it at all. However, having used (and loved) it for a few months now, I have some things to say about it that I would loved to have known before I bought it.

I bought this purse at Bicester Village back in the summer with some of my birthday money. As you can see, I clearly did not purchase it while I was in a practical mood. It’s beautiful, but it’s hardly a classic colour, there’s a big plaque on the front that can scratch easily and (worse of all) I went for the smooth leather, rather than the classic grain. The soft leather purses with a printed grain effect were there as well, but somehow they just didn’t feel as luxurious. It seemed so beautiful and delicate that I was too scared to use the thing for a whole month.

However, it has now been knocking around in my bag for several months and I just had to report on how it was doing. Amazingly, it is holding up really well. I was convinced that after a week in my bag, it would be scratched, stained and ruined. While that is probably an exaggeration, it turns out that I didn’t have to worry. As long as you think through what else is in there with it (think especially carefully about keeping your keys far, far away!), the soft, scratchable leather is absolutely fine. As for the colour, your purse doesn’t necessarily have to match everything, like a handbag does, so if you want to get a daring colour – go for it!

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Lush Baths

I don’t want to chat on too much here because it’s a bit of a spoiler of another upcoming post (keep your eyes peeled for a Lush haul!) but I’m not normally a bath gal. I find them boring. But for some reason, this month I have been loving baths and Lush has a big part in that. I’m steadily working my way through the range and I promise to report back, but here’s the cute little Sparkly Pumpkin – perfect for Halloween! Word of warning: be wary of the glitter.

Olivia Burton Big Dial Watch

This was another 21st birthday present which I was so happy to receive having lusted after it for months. After much deliberation I chose the big dial style (despite having tiny wrists) and the navy and rose gold colour way (despite knowing that black would be far more sensible). I also chose it knowing that I hate wearing watches and bracelets on my left wrist, but I’m right handed so they just get in the way, I get annoyed with them and then I never wear them. However, this watch has overcome all of the above problems.

Yes, the watch face is large, but it doesn’t completely swamp my tiny wrists and (more importantly) it doesn’t ever get in the way and it’s not annoying to wear. I’ve also not had any problems with the colour and I wear it every single day. To be honest, navy can be taken for black from a distance anyway, so that’s actually made it a really good option.

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All the neutral shades!

Summer is a time for brights, which is fun, but not really for me when it comes to make-up. I much prefer and feel far more comfortable in neutral shades, and I feel that autumn is really the time that you can wear them without looking just … boring.

For nails I have been obsessed with Essie’s Limo-scene. I have spent a really long time looking for the perfect nude nail varnish, and while Essie’s Vanity Fairest is another nice option, it’s a little bit too pink and it has shimmer in it. Limo-scene is slightly whiter, without making it look like you’re wearing Tippex, with a nice shine to its finish but nothing too drastic. Great for when you want to look professional!

I’m not normally one for lipgloss, but the L’Oreal GlamShine Stain Splash in Lolita is the exception. It has a really nice, shiny finish (without making your lips look like they could double as mirrors), it isn’t sticky at all and the colour is a perfect ‘your lips but better’ shade for me. I’m also obsessed with the smell which is like artificial berries, perhaps not to everyone’s taste but I love it. I always find this a great option for when you can’t be bothered to wear lipstick but you still want to look nice.

Finally, a very unoriginal favourite but I love it so much I couldn’t not include it: Mac’s Velvet Teddy. If you’ve been wanting to try this amidst the hype for it a few months ago but haven’t bought it yet, I urge you to go and get it! It’s one of their Matte lipsticks, and I was worried that this would make it drying but it doesn’t at all. You don’t need to constantly reapply as it fades really nicely throughout the day. While it is a brown lipstick, it has more than enough pink in there to make it really flattering and not too scary to wear. I could go on and on!

I hope you all had a wonderful October, I’m looking forward to November, even though it’s definitely getting a lot darker and colder now!

Hello!!

Hello! Welcome to my new blog. It seems that the whole world is setting up a blog these days so having been a long time admirer of the blogging world, I thought it was about time I did my own.

My name is Sarah and I am a recent graduate of Newcastle University, launched into the real world to fend for myself. I have just got a job at The Field magazine as Editorial Assistant (a miracle that I thank my lucky stars for daily). Magazines, as you may or may not know, is a tough old industry to break into, so in the age old situation of “beggars can’t be choosers”, my job is part-time. While I’m having a great time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, after just one week I’ve discovered that Tuesdays and Fridays are a bit dull. OK, perhaps not the Fridays (when are Fridays ever dull?), but definitely Tuesdays.

It turned out that a boring Tuesday was exactly what I needed to finally kick start me into writing the blog that I’ve been umming and ahhing about for well over a year.

So – here it is! Expect ramblings about books (I love books), food (I also love food!) and a bit of beauty and fashion if I ever feel that my photography skills are up for that challenge. I also plan to talk all things magazines to pass on what I’m learning, my ongoing struggle with running (the thing that I really do love but remembering that can be freaking hard at times) and whatever else takes my fancy!

Hope you enjoy! Lots of love, Sarah x