A Few Favourites: October

The clocks have turned back and we’ve shared our sweets with the trick or treaters. I have actually really enjoyed October this time round. Usually autumnal celebrations are reserved for Bonfire Night so Halloween passes me by, as do the beautiful autumnal colours as I spend my days wrapped up in city life.

But this time I have made a real effort to enjoy the changing season and celebrate Halloween. And I’m so glad I did, it’s been a great month. We started in Amsterdam for Tiarnan’s marathon, exploring the canals and the cafes, I’ve made the flat a cosy haven for the ever darkening evenings and we celebrated Halloween by picking pumpkins and baking sugary, spooky treats.

But before we welcome November and the skies fill with fireworks, here are some of the things I have been loving this month.

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*Pluk, Amsterdam: I have written an entire post on Pluk so I promise not to bore you, but spending the weekend in Amsterdam was a real treat this month. It’s a place that I’ve had half-heartedly on my ‘to visit’ list for far too long, but the lure of other European cities has always been stronger. After a quick Google search I stumbled across Pluk and set my heart on visiting, so it was the first thing we did on Saturday morning. It’s unlike anywhere else I have ever found – a gorgeous café attached to an interiors, gifts and stationary shop. If only they were here in London…

*Orange Grove candle, by The White Company: It has started to get so dark so early in the evenings now the clocks have gone back. Hugely depressing – but I’m trying to look past the darkness and instead use it as an excuse to enjoy cosy evenings at home. Home cooked dinners, good TV and plenty of candles has been the way of October and that’s set to continue for the foreseeable. I’ve bought more candles than I’d care to admit this month, but my favourite has to be Orange Grove by The White Company. I love the look of their pillar candles and even though I love all citrus scents, this one just feels so autumnal.

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*A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman: October has been a bit of a poor month on the reading front. Everything has just been distinctly average. Fortunately there was one exception though – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was brilliant. I picked this up when I had half an hour to kill and ended up in Waterstones. It is about a grumpy old man called Ove, as he struggles through daily life suffering ridiculous situations and idiotic people. It is funny and moving in equal measure and after I turned the final page my commute felt a little bleaker without Ove for company.

*Halloween: This is the first year that I have taken Halloween even slightly seriously and it has absolutely exploded over here in the UK. I went to my first ever fright night, which was hugely fun if slightly terrifying. And while I used to do pick your own strawberries when I was little, I had never even seen a pumpkin field before this month. But we got went down to one on the back of a tractor and returned with a pumpkin harvest fit for homemade soup. It’s been a great month, but now it’s time for fireworks, early Christmas preparations and much shorter days…

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.

A Few Favourites: January

So there it is, the first month of 2016 done and dusted. We began the year setting off fireworks at midnight, comparing New Year’s resolutions, taking down the Christmas decorations (sob) and heading back to work.

Despite threats of a serious case of January blues setting in, it’s actually been a fun and busy month. Temperatures have dropped, we’re thanking the high heavens for the car’s seat warmers and even awoke one Sunday morning to a dusting of snow. Tiarnan and I were lucky enough to escape on a spa break, and having massages, chilling in the Jacuzzi and generally being waited on was more than enough to banish any post-Christmas sadness.

So onwards and upwards to February – the month of all things lurve. I plan on spending it under a duvet waiting for winter to pass…

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*Turtlenecks: I have always had two clothing obsessions: white lace and stripes. After banning myself from buying anything stripey (because it really did get that out of control), I seem to have developed a new love… Turtlenecks. They are everywhere at the moment, and with good reason. There’s just nothing warmer! And somehow they manage to keep you feeling toasty while still looking good. I do enjoy a good blanket scarf, but they can leave my hair looking somewhat mad professor-ish. With the turtleneck, you don’t even need a scarf. All hail the turtleneck!

*Kindle: Ah, my Kindle. I’ve had it for over two years and we have a bit of an on-off relationship if I’m honest. It always comes out for summer holidays, but most of the time I just want to hold an actual book. But a combination of countless train journeys and getting back into Game of Thrones (hello enormous books) has made the two of us best friends. I can take it everywhere without even noticing I have it and any book I want to read is only a tap away.

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*Back to basics make-up: After all the glitter and excitement of festive make-up, I thought I’d be sad to see it go. As it happens, I’ve gone completely the other way. Heavy on skincare, light on make-up has been the way of January. For a polished but minimal look I’ve been absolutely loving my Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. The shades are mainly matte, but still beautifully creamy and so easy to blend. I’ve also been loving my Dermalogica skin smoothing cream, it feels like such a skin treat after a long day!

*The Mae Deli: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to explore London more, and this has to be my favourite January find. I wrote all about it here so I won’t bang on, but it’s such a friendly, welcoming place and everything is super healthy and so delicious. Deliciously Ella has generally been on it this month with her new book as well, and I’m excited to get recipe testing in February!

*The fit life: This month has been all about counteracting the festive indulgences. I’ve been hitting the gym and really enjoying it for the first time in a while. I also took on the 30 day squat challenge and I’ve absolutely loved it, I would highly recommend doing a 30 day challenge to feel great about yourself! Tiarnan and I have been creating healthy dinners together each evening and visiting juice bars to decide on our favourite (I’ll report back on that…) It’s very typical to be all about fitness in January, so let’s hope it continues.

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!

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!!)

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!