A Few Favourites: April

April is a bit of a funny month. We’re so desperate for winter to be at an end that when spring comes along it’s very exciting and very pretty (all those pinks!) but, and let’s be honest here, it’s still so cold. We’ve had sunshine, we’ve had showers, we’ve even had snow.

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Despite the ever unpredictable temperatures, it’s been really fun in London this month. Tiarnan and I are on a mission to find our favourite rooftop bar, which has involved some great views and some great cocktails. We also spent last Sunday by the river cheering on the marathon runners, which was so much fun! I went home feeling so inspired I could have burst, and promptly signed up to a 10k in July. Training has started. Wish me luck…

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*Interiors magazines: I love a good flick through an interiors magazine. I live for the day I own my own house and can do whatever I wish to do with it. But until that day, I’ll just form detailed opinions on other people’s homes. LivingEtc is my favourite because it combines interiors with fashion, I love the style of their features and the whole design of the magazine is just beautiful.

*Origins Clear Improvement Mask: I’ve been loving face masks recently, and this is my favourite. There’s just something so indulgent about a face mask and no better way to pamper yourself. This one from Origins is a charcoal mask, which leaves my face feeling clean, glowing and just so soft.

*The White Company Pomegranate candle: This is a bit of a hangover from winter but I just can’t let go of it yet. It, admittedly, smells like Christmas but the scent isn’t overwhelming and even though I’ve burnt it a lot, it’s lasting amazingly. The White Company have an enormous range of scents and everything from tea lights to enormous pillar candles – there’s something for everyone.

*The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro: I’ve saved the best till last. I’m doing so much reading at the moment on my commute, but this is by far my favourite recent read. It is set in a declining Britain after the Romans have left, centering on an elderly married couple, Axl and Beatrice, as they set off across the country in search of a son they haven’t seen in years. It’s a thought-provoking, clever and ultimately heart-breaking story, which will stay in your thoughts long after you have turned the final page.

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Recent Purchases

I’ve accidentally been a bit spendy recently. Not necessarily an enormous shopping spree, but just a book here, a blanket there and a couple of clothing items… before you know it you’ve amassed a nice amount of new “stuff”.

I love shopping full stop, but seeing all of the spring/summer items arriving is just so exciting. Some colour! At last! I’ve made a new rule for myself (which one of these items does break but there you go) – I am only allowed to buy colour. I’m counting white as a colour because I love to wear white in the summertime (quickest way to look tanned), but grey and black are out. Summer is coming and we don’t need any bleak colours bringing us down.

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*Topshop blouse and skirt: So I fell into Topshop and accidentally bought some clothes – what’s new? I am so in love with this diamond pintuck lace blouse, I only ever really wear white in the summer, so to have a new white piece really makes it feel as though winter is at an end. It is perfect for spring because it’s not quite as warm as a jumper, but the long sleeves and high neck protect you from those unexpected breezy days. This Boucle A-line skirt is admittedly a bit more wintery, but at just £26 I thought it was a pretty good price for Topshop, and it’s perfect for when it’s still a little chilly outside.

*Books: I have been quite strict with my Kindle-only rule recently, but I had to get these two in hard copy. This Wind in the Willows is part of Penguin Threads, a collection of gorgeous paperbacks. There are all kinds of classics to choose from in these beautiful covers, from Black Beauty to Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore has been doing the rounds on social media recently and that was what drew me in, as I’m not a particular Drew Barrymore fan. I’ve just turned the last page and loved it – but you’ll have to wait for next month’s reading list to find out more…

*Oliver Bonas throw: Isn’t this throw just so beautiful and colourful? It feels safe with the grey and white base and I love the pop of neon. It’s such a fun thing to have on your bed in the summer, and it’s not too thick and heavy so you won’t expire beneath it. Oliver Bonas is one of my favourite shops to browse in anyway, but only recently have I noticed the homeware. The cushions and throws in their collection are really fun and colourful – they’re all on my wish list!

*NYC haul: Tiarnan went to New York last month, and I sent him with a (rather extensive) shopping list. He came back with the Bath & Body Works three wick candle in Watermelon Lemonade which I absolutely love. Oh why can we not have Bath & Body Works in the UK?! He also bought me the Victoria’s Secret Mayfair Pyjamas, which is still the classic shirt and trouser set – but in a lighter material. Perfect as we are going into summer, now it just needs to get a bit warmer…

Little Luxuries to Get Through Winter

Let’s start with a bit of honesty. Winter is a bloody miserable time.

We fantasise about hot chocolates, log fires, building snowmen and fresh days with clear blue skies. Sometimes this is the reality. But there’s also the flip side – forgetting your umbrella, freezing on station platforms and a severe vitamin D deficiency. And on top of that, we’re punishing ourselves with New Year’s resolutions rather than hibernating as we should be. We’ve just had ‘Blue Monday’, and I don’t blame us for feeling a bit down.

So to cheer everything up, I’ve come up with a list of little luxuries we need to get through winter. They’re nothing too crazy, just small things to make life that bit more comfortable. Because after all, it is winter and we deserve a treat.

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*An enormous scarf: And by enormous, I really do mean enormous. I mean so big it could double up as a picnic blanket. I bought one last year when the cold in Newcastle just got too much and I haven’t looked back. They’re great as a scarf (obviously), but are also the best thing to travel with as they double up as a pillow or a blanket. This Christmas, I even snuck some presents home underneath it! I’ve currently got my eye on this one from Zara.

*Gorgeous knitwear: Spend that little bit more on your knitwear and you won’t regret it. Jumpers are my all time favourite thing (and I have far too many of them), but if you’re savvy and buy good quality ones, they will last for years. Topshop is my favourite place to buy knitwear, they have so many cool designs and aren’t astronomically priced. Top tip: try to avoid buying knitwear online, always test the quality before buying.

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*Luxurious handcream: Everything drys up in winter. Chapped lips and dry hands are, in my opinion, the absolute worst. Treat yourself to a lovely handcream and keep it on your bedside table or in your handbag so you actually remember to use it. The Soap & Glory handcreams are my all-time favourites, they sink in super quickly, are the perfect portable size and aren’t too pricey (yippee!). Cowshed is another gorgeous brand if you’re looking for something a little special.

*Scented candles: Nothing makes a home cosier than a scented candle. I have a million favourites, but The White Company candles are some of the very best. There’s a huge range of scents, from fruity to spicey to herbal to floral and you can buy everything from cute little tealights to enormous pillar candles. These medium size pillar candles are my favourite, they look gorgeous and smell incredible.

*A new cookbook: Winter is the perfect time for taste testing new recipes – we need delicious food for miserable evenings. Deliciously Ella Every Day landed on my doorstep last week, and I haven’t been so excited by a cookbook in a long time. It focuses on super healthy food that is quick to make with ingredients that are easy to track down and basic equipment. Whether you are mastering a veggie paella or a chocolate fudge cake, nothing warms the soul like food does.

Pamper Night Essentials

The best piece of fitness advice I have ever received was never make food your reward. 

Don’t tell yourself you can have a chocolate bar if you run 5k. Of course, you can have a chocolate bar after running 5k but you should eat it because you want to, not because you are “allowed” to. Eating by rules creates an unhealthy attitude to food and is just something to be avoided.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t reward your exercise though. With the amount everyone does in January – treats are definitely needed! Rather than food, I reward myself in several ways. I’ll buy myself a magazine, light a new candle or, if I have enough time, have a pamper night. So today I’m going to tell you all of my pamper night essentials, to help you drag your achy body through the rest of the month!

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*Bathtime treats: Lush is the obvious go-to here, but I’ve got some different goodies for you today. Bomb Cosmetics make beautiful, handmade bath bombs which use essential oils and natural butters to create amazing scents and leave your skin super soft. I also love the Oliver Bonas bath marble crackers, which I was lucky enough to find in my stocking on Christmas morning. These smell incredible and are brilliant for creating bath bomb cocktails. I love mixing and matching products to find the best bath time concoctions!

*Face masks: The ultimate skin treat, I always think there is nothing more pampering than a face mask. I love using packet ones that you can buy cheaply, as you can try all kinds of different ones rather than using the same over and over again. This particular one is a mud mask, which is my favourite kind. They leave your skin super clean, nourished and amazingly soft.

*Body scrub and cream: Even though it’s winter, having soft and nourished skin will always make you feel better, especially when you are hitting the gym. My current favourites are the body scrub and cream from Soap & Glory’s Sugarcrush line, the scent is a delicious mix of brown sugar and lime. The scrub particles are harsh enough to do their job but still feel nice on the skin, and the cream sinks in super quickly and is really nourishing. They are also pretty cheap, so you can’t do much better than these!

*Candles: An absolute must to create a calming and relaxing environment. My two favourites are Penhaligon’s and Diptique, both of which make the most luxurious candles. They are so strong you don’t even need to light them to scent a room! For slightly cheaper alternatives, The White Company make beautiful candles which don’t cost the earth, and Oliver Bonas make even cheaper ones which still look and smell amazing. If you don’t want to use a candle, then a room spray, pillow spray or reed diffuser are great alternatives.

*Go screen free: Switching off for an evening is the best way to relax, even if you get separation anxiety when you put your phone away. Instead of checking Instagram for the millionth time, read a book or a magazine. Or (my current favourite pastime), colour! I love the adult colouring books, especially the ones by Johanna Basford. I have her Lost Ocean book, and it’s such a satisfying, soothing and absorbing activity, it will keep you occupied all evening.

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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!!)

Autumnal Candle Favourites

Isn’t autumn and winter just the time for candles? When it’s grey and miserable outside there’s no better way to cosy up the house than lighting some. Here are my picks of the best autumn candles out there (and I’ve tried plenty!)

They all follow a foodie theme, but without being too sweet which, for me, is absolutely key to finding the perfect candle. There’s nothing worse than having a candle so sickly it gives you a headache (has anyone else ever suffered from this?!) They are also all not too pricey which is a bonus. I do love expensive candles and I have owned a few (when the spendy mood strikes!) but I find myself feeling guilty about burning them for too long. These ones I’ll happily burn all day.

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With candles, I have found that when you discover a brand you love – stick to it. Candles can vary so much in quality, and most of the time price is irrelevant. I’ve bought expensive candles in the past that burnt unevenly, didn’t kick off much scent and were generally a hot, waxy mess and I’ve had super cheap ones that I loved.

Also, if you are unsure whether you’ll like a scent, see if they offer it as tealights. Most of the bigger brands do this (such at The White Company and Yankee Candle) and they have really strong scents – despite being tiny little candles! Don’t be discouraged by the size, sometimes small really is mighty, and they are a great way to experiment.

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Yankee Candle Cinnamon Stick: I couldn’t do a list of affordable candles without including Yankee Candle. They are easily available, pretty cheap and come in about a million different scents. Cinnamon Stick is one of my particular favourites though. It smells of straight up cinnamon, which does give it a hint of Christmas but it still feels acceptable to burn throughout the year.

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I have the small jar, but one of the great things with Yankee Candle is the huge variety in sizes they do. Don’t be put off by the small jars though, they still have an impressive burn time of 25-40 hours and they kick off as much scent as their big sisters.

WoodWick Cinnamon Chai: This was bought for me by my lovely flatmate as part of last year’s Secret Santa. I am completely obsessed with chai lattes, hence the choice of candle, and it really couldn’t be any more me. Of course, it is similar to the Yankee Candle Cinnamon Stick and has the lovely spicy, cinnamon scent, but underneath it is the hint of being in Starbucks, which makes it slightly sweeter.

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The special thing about WoodWick candles is that the wick crackles as the candle burns. I find this really relaxing, and it makes the candle a bit different. Some might find it annoying though! The scent isn’t quite as strong as the Yankee Candle but it still kicks off more than enough scent and makes your room smell amazing.

Anthropologie Boulangerie Pumpkin Soufflé: Last of all is probably my favourite. Anthropologie is a gorgeous shop in general (amazing for window shopping!) but they have a huge variety of candles in stunning jars. This is one of their cheaper offerings, and it comes in a fairly large range. The Sweet Vanilla Cinnamon version has been on my wish list for a while!

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This is the sweetest of all of them, as it smells like pudding but still has the spicy, pumpkin undertones. This is also probably the strongest, as you can still smell it even when it isn’t burning, but not in an overpowering way and it has a lid if you want a break from it! On top of being a great candle, the beautiful jar is a real bonus. I’m planning on washing it out and turning it into a brush holder when I’m done with the candle.

Hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading!