Brand Spotlight – Hourglass | March 21

Brand Spotlight – Hourglass | March 21

Hourglass is known for its luxury yet does everything it claims to, products, particularly its face products as it aims to mix beauty with science. The holy trinity which gives the ultimate glow, in every light, that still looks natural. The brand has become one of my favourites in recent years and has introduced me to some of my most loved products.

Ambient Lighting Powder

Probably the most famous Hourglass product, the ambient lighting powder which will set you back £45 and is the most loved item in my make-up bag. No word of a lie, from sitting at the counter in Liberty, this product changed my life. Coming in 6 shades, this buttery, illuminating powder is like walking around with a filter on. It just makes you look better. You can wear this on it’s own or over your make-up, it soften, conceals, and gives you a healthy, soft glow that works in every light. It comes in six different shades, I’m pretty fair and I wear Dim Light. I won’t let this product run out with re-purchasing, I love it. If you’re going to buy one, let it be this one.

Ambient Lighting Bronzer

This is the dreamiest bronzer which has many of the properties of the ambient lighting powder, but with a multi-tonal, sun kissed glow. In two minutes, you look like you’ve had a week in the sun. It’s so natural looking when the light hits your face. I’m pretty fair, and I purchased this in Diffused Bronze Light (light/medium) and it’s a great colour for me. At £49, it is pricey but it lasts really well and you don’t use a lot of product. The packing is pretty sturdy and touch wood, I’ve never dropped it but I think it would fare pretty well.

Ambient Lighting Blusher

The third, and final product in creating the ultimate glow. I use this in Incandescent Electra which is a cool peachy colour which still has a light pink glow. I haven’t loved a blush as much since Tanya Burr’s Peonies Please and I’m so happy I discovered this. Like the above products, it has a blurring effect which smooths your skin. This is buildable and has creates a natural looking, multi-dimensional look with the littlest effort. The full size would set you back £38 but my tip would be to buy the travel size, it’s £24 and you get so much product- it lasts for ages.

Arch Brow Shaping Gel

My holy grail brow gel is a Charlotte Tilbury one so I wasn’t sure how much I would like this because I’m used to a very fine wand, where as this is much thicker. The wand has multiple lengths so with a bit of practice, you can get all the fine hairs and use the longer bristles to add volume into the thicker parts of your eyebrows. I don’t use this as an everyday brow gel, but I do like it when I’m going out. It certainly gives volume and it stays in place all day.

Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara

This is the only product that I’m not crazy, in love with… and it might be me. Firstly, to disclaim, I have incredibly long, dark eyelashes (by far my best feature) so I don’t need, or ask for much in a mascara. I’m a fan of a No.7 brown mascara that separates my lashes, keeps them out of my eyes and is easy to come off. This nourishes your lashes and it subsequently has a somewhat waxy texture and it’s not the easiest to come off. I do like the look but I feel like you could create the same look with a high street product. It does have rave reviews, so it could possibly just be me.

My Hourglass Wish List

The products next on my list to try is the Veil Soft Focus Setting Spray, the Femme Nude Lip Stylo, the Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint and the Veil Powder Brush. As a brand, it’s pricey so trying new products is a bit of a treat but I normally hold off until there’s 20% off or Space.NK sometimes do £10 off a £40/50 pound spend, then I go in.

Please let me know if you’ve tried any of the products, or are going to try any based on my recommendations. Equally, if you’d recommend any products or brands as a spotlight feature, please let me know in the comments below.

How To Save Money | March 21

How To Save Money | March 21

With many people spending less in the last twelve months due to lack of a social life, commute or just skipping those mid-morning coffee runs, we should all have saved a fortune, right? Some people have been squirrling away their extra cash at the end of the month, other’s financial wellbeing, or priorities have changed significantly, and some have been waking up in the morning purely for their ASOS order (and that’s absolutely fine). If you’re scratching your head as to where all your money has gone at the end of the month and if you want to start saving for a rainy day, or something bigger then here are my tips.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists

Whether you signed up at the checkout, for a discount or can’t even remember doing it. I used to get 20 emails every morning, all cleverly tempting me with things I had no intention to buy until I saw them. Do a check of all the emails you get and assess if you genuinely want to see the content, or whether you’re just scared of missing out on something. Unsubscribe. You can always re-subscribe at a later date and it will reduce any temptation.

Make your savings, bills

If you’re like me, your bills come out on the 1st of the month so come the 2nd, you know how much you have to play with. The mistake a lot of people make is they keep the money in their account and transfer to their savings at the end of the month. This doesn’t work for me because money burns a hole in my pocket if I think it’s disposable. Set up some direct debits for short savings goals (e.g. holiday or new clothes fund) and schedule them to come out at the start of the month. It essentially becomes a bill, but it’s your savings.

Out of sight…

Similar to my last point, I sometimes transfer the majority of my wages into a savings account then transfer money in as I need it. It makes you think twice before spending because you’re going to see your savings go down and down.

Lay it bare

Budgeting is boring but it works. Lay it all out to get a clear picture of how you’re spending your money. Create a spreadsheet, categorise and add each individual spend (even if it’s 99p). I only did this for a few months but it allowed me to see where the forgotten transactions had gone, and I’m now more conscious of it.

Give yourself pocket money

I used to see my wages as a target to spend now, I allocate myself money each week that is essentially, disposable. It’s for buying clothes, books, coffee – things I want, but don’t necessarily need. It means I don’t feel guilty for treating myself things, but I’m not frittering away money for no reason.

Look at your outgoings

Do you need Netflix and Amazon Prime? Are you paying anything you didn’t realise you were still paying? Did you auto-renew on your car insurance? Are you paying interest on your credit card when you could get a 0% interest card and transfer the balance? I’m not saying the answer to any of the above will always be yes, but it’s important you’re asking yourself the question.

Educate yourself on savings

Did you know you can get up to £1K of free money from the UK Government every year if saving for retirement or your first home? Do you know your interest rates on your savings account, and where you can check who has the best rates? MoneySavingExpert is a great place to start and I’ve learned so much and spending and saving.

Celebrate saving

There’s still a stigma around people who watch their finances closely are ‘cheap’ or ‘tight’, and lack of knowledge around your finances is a sign of wealth when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t feel guilty about not wasting money. Have conversations about saving with your friends and family, they will understand your priorities and you might even pick up some tips.

I hope some of the above has helped, whether you’re new to savings or just need to re-focus. If you have any thoughts, tips on saving money, or just want to say hello, please leave a comment below.

Ultimate Spring Lockdown Bralettes | March 21

Ultimate Spring Lockdown Bralettes | March 21

In lockdown 3.0, we’ve gone for comfort. My days now consist of cosy loungewear and don’t think I could tell you the last time I wore a proper underwired bra. I’m all in favour of a bralette, which have come a long way since their introduction. What used to be reserved for smaller chested ladies, can now be enjoyed by all bra sizes. With the shops still shut *sigh*, supermarkets and online shops are upping their game so I thought I’d put together some of my favourites.

George at Asda

I love George at Asda for certain things, namely their homeware and I didn’t pay much attention to their underwear because I’m a 32DD, they never had my size. I was in store when a few of these bralette’s caught my eye they are such a bargain.

For £10, you can get this Pink Lace Bralette set which is the bralette and two matching thongs- what a great deal. I love the v-neck cut of the bralette and the strap on the shoulder is great for support. The pink is pretty bright so if that’s not your thing, they also have this available in black. The £10 deal is mix and match, so if you’d rather two bralette’s for your money then you can do that.

For ultimate comfort, this Navy Leopard Non-Wired Bra and Short Set will also set you back £10 for the set. I love the colour, print and the material which is comfortable but fitted.

M&S

There’s not many British people who will think of underwear and not think of Marks and Spencer. The high street brand was with us from our first vests for school, to our first Angel bra and hopefully will be with us for many more stages to come. As someone who was bigger chested from a young age, M&S saw me through when my friends were buying £3 Primark bras and they were one of the first retailers I saw doing DD+ bralettes which were high street prices.

This Lace Trim Non-Wired Bralette Set in Mulberry features the perfect mix of comfort and style. Trimmed with navy, this set is incredibly comfortable but feels indulgent at the same time. The perfect weekend set. It will set you back £15.50 but both the Brazilian knickers and bralette are available in respective deals, so there is money to be saved if you’re buying more than one.

This Non-Wired Full Cup Bralette Set is most beautiful royal blue colour and with a floral lace, it’s the perfect spring number. If you like a high waisted knicker then you will like this set, it’s so feminine, playful and bold. The tight V neck style makes this bralette supportive and perfect for those with a fuller bust. This would be so cute under a loose t-shirt, where you just get a cheeky peek. This is £26 for the set so pricier than the sets above, but there is a lot of detailing in this set.

My last M&S pick is this Satin & Lace Non-Padded Bralette Set which is from the Autograph range. It’s £28 for the set which comes with a bralette and high-leg knicker. The mixture of satin and lace gives this a luxurious look and is pretty but flirty, perfect if you’re looking to dress up a little with your underwear. This is a bright blue colour which looks like it has a hint of turquoise running through. While silk and lace might make you wince, it looks really comfortable and has a really flattering finish at the hips.

Gilly Hicks

Since the trauma of never being able to fit into a Hollister triangle bikini/ bra’s as a teenager, Gilly Hicks has come a long way in the last ten years. When it first came to the UK Hollister was viewed as a brand reserved for a certain type of person but I would consider the brand to be both diverse and inclusive. They offers a variety of bralette styles for different preferences and body shapes. I loved this Seamless Reversible Bralette. For £19, you’re getting two in one and while I think I’d wear mostly the first style, the second is very cute. I love the seamless material as it just moulds to your curves. If black isn’t your colour, they have this in green and white also.

Nothing says spring like a pastel colour, and this lemon Crochet Lace Longline Bralette will put a smile on your face when you see it in your drawer. I love the banding round the ribcage and love the fact that it’s longline. Setting you back £19, this is so floral, fresh and pretty but the straps are quite thin, so maybe not the best for larger busted ladies.

Everyday Facial SPF | February 21

Everyday Facial SPF | February 21

The sun came out this weekend, you could’ve taken your jacket off from the first time since September and it was a welcome reminder for all that brighter days are coming – hopefully figuratively and literally. If you’re in to skincare and frequently use acid products, you may be familiar with pink face that comes with reminder that you forgot your SPF. You should wear at least SPF 30 on your face, everyday from April to September and particularly if you’re using acid products (niacinamide, retinol to name a few) they make your skin much more sensitive to the sun so if you go out unprotected, even for a short time with a weak sun, you could do yourself damage.

I learned about facial SPF from Caroline Hirons and she has a really helpful guide which you can find here. I haven’t found one that I love yet, so I’ve tried a new brand every year but before we go into the SPF products, a few main points:

  • SPF degrades every year, so you can’t use last years. Keep this in mind when you’re purchasing as the big size is often better value, but still a waste if you won’t use it all.
  • Don’t buy fancy moisturisers with SPF as the SPF is so over powering, you’re most likely not going to get the benefit of the products other than the SPF, it’s better to use separate products.
  • SPF that goes on last will always be more effective than ones that sit under your make-up but you need to make the call about when you apply SPF based on your exposure and climate e.g. I would put it on under make-up if going to work all day, but if I’m out in the sun for a significant period then I’d put it on last.
  • You can’t add SPF up so if you have SPF15 in your moisturiser and SPF15 in your foundation, you’re not wearing SPF30, you’re only wearing the highest SPF of the products you’ve put on so SPF15 in this example.

The Body Shop Skin Defence SPF50 Face Cream – £18 for 40ml or £22 for 60ml

In terms of protection, this checks a lot of boxes – SPF 50, PA ++++, anti pollution and 24 hour moisture makes this the perfect city SPF. It’s lightweight and suitable for sensitive skin. My skin took to this pretty well and I would probably re-purchase. I don’t love it because I’m still aware it’s sun cream and it’s got an element of greasiness but it’s not terrible. I did see they brought out a mist in this range, but I wasn’t quick enough to buy it so I might give it another go this year. This is a crowd pleaser and normally sells out pretty quick from about Easter, so I’d snap this one up if you want it.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Day Lotion SPF30 – £16 for 50ml

As I couldn’t get said spray last year, I opted for this one instead and it was probably my least favourite I’ve ever tried. This has a milky texture rather than cream but it just smells of being on holiday and getting body suncream lathered on your face as a child (not in a good way). I found this irritated my eyes and was greasy on my skin. This might be better for someone with drier skin but I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t finish, nor would I repurchase.

Simple Protect ‘N’ Glow Radiance Booster SPF30 – £7.99 for 30ml

This was new to the market last year and as a Simple fan, I tried a few products in the range. This also offer pollution control and is an oil that you apply before, or after moisturiser. I always used it before and it made my skin really glowy and healthy looking all day. Definitely not one for oily prone skin, my skin is a bit hot and cold so I couldn’t rely on this to get me through the full summer, but I did really like it and would re-purchase. They do have a moisturiser which I couldn’t get last year so hoping I’ll be able to try that this year.

Products I want to try

The Inkey List SPF30 Daily Sunscreen – £14.99 for 50ml

I like the no-frills approach to the Inkey list and it’s exactly what you need when SPF shopping, as you’re essentially looking for the one thing.

Glossier Invisible Shield – £20 for 30ml

A brand I’ve never tried but always wanted to, so this year I’m absolutely buying this product. It’s supposed to have a serum texture which sounds perfect and I’ve heard great things about it.

My Tips

Assess what you’re paying for, are you paying £30 for a moisturiser with SPF because if so, you can ignore what the moisturiser is supposed to do… you’re paying £30 for SPF30. This took me the longest to get my head around.

Don’t leave it too late. Come April, everyone is looking for it and products sell out, do your research and buy now or know what you’re looking for.

Read the reviews. I don’t think the majority of brands have nailed SPF skincare as of yet so it can be hard to find one that gets on with your skin.

Are there any facial SPF products that you would recommend? Or have you tried any of the above, I’d love to know your experience.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | February 21

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | February 21

Since the country has been grounded for the third time, ‘what have you been watching?’ seems to come up in conversation with the limited human interaction we are allowed. Whether you’re bored, need to unwind or just escape for a while, it’s hard to imagine a world when Netflix wasn’t a thing. Last month I posted what I watched in January and in February, I watched some real gems.

I Am Woman

This film tells the story of Helen Reddy, an Australian born singer who moved to America to make it in the music industry but struggled in the misogynistic world until she wrote the unofficial anthem for the women’s movement and inspired females everywhere. While you might not know the name, you will know I Am Woman – even if it’s from Sex and the City 2. It’s a great Sunday afternoon film with some excellent music in it. Thoroughly enjoyed.

Superstore

Five seasons of pure gold. A light hearted sit-com starring America Fererra and Ben Feldman, is centred around superstore, Cloud 9. The characters are real and diverse, the comedy is genius and there’s some heart warming (and wrenching) storylines which makes the show one of my favourites in a while. At twenty five(ish) minutes an episode, it’s an easy watch but I have become obsessed with it. The storylines are fulfilling, it tackles real issues but with comedy littered throughout. Cannot recommend this enough.

Cheat

A four part British drama about a university lecturer, Leah, who accuses a student, Rose, of cheating in her dissertation. Rose’s less than pleased reaction when she fails triggers a chain of events when things get out of hand really quickly. A psychological thriller which has bits that have you on the edge of your seat but without being too intense to enjoy. Overall, I liked it. The story lines are a bit predictable, I generally find these things are. The characters were really well played and there was a good element of tension. I think it was a perfect length for this type of show and it had a really good ending.

Suits

I loved Suits whilst I was at university but I stopped watching after season 7 when I gave up my Netflix temporarily and never got round to finishing it. I had been recommended that I start watching again and I’m so glad I did. I fell back into this like riding a bike. The series changes after season 7 but it looses none of its charm. I would highly recommend this if you’ve not watched, it’s charming, exciting and intense with some of the best characters in television. It also has an incredibly satisfying ending, one of the most satisfying endings to a TV series ever. I loved it that much, I’m most likely going to re-watch from series one.

Ratched

When I told people I was watching this, I was met with a marmite reaction. I knew from ten minutes into the first episode, it was going to be too gory for me. It’s brutal and incredibly close to the bone- not for the faint hearted. I struggled through the majority of this and didn’t find myself focused on it until the last two episodes, which is when I became interested. If the gore isn’t too much for you, you’ll probably love it but if you’re not a fan of gore, you probably wouldn’t like it.

I would love to know if you’ve watched any of the above shows, what did you think? Equally, if you have any recommendations please let me know in the comments. Bridgerton and The Good Place are on my list for March.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is one of my favourite holidays, I absolutely adore spoiling my mum and this is the perfect opportunity. I am normally super prepared and have a gift organised early in the year, so thought I’d share a few suggestions to give you some inspiration. I appreciate not everyone is as lucky as myself and may have lost their mum or have a difficult relationship so find this day hard. Mother’s Day doesn’t need to just be about a mum, it’s about showing someone you appreciate all they do for you be that a gran, auntie, friend, step-mum, dad, anyone.

If your mum needs some R&R time, why not gift her a book? One I’ve recently read is Because of You by Dawn French which is a story about motherhood. In the early hours of the millennium, two women give birth but only one goes home with a baby. It’s a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story, the narrative is beautiful and it’s a really great read. You can pick this up in larger supermarkets or on Amazon.

My approach with gifts for my mum, is things she would never buy herself. Something that is really lovely and indulgent is the Neom Real Luxury Intensive Skin Treatment Candle. You light the candle while you’re in a relaxing bubble bath or just before you go for a shower, then blow it out and use the wax as a body oil. It will leave your skin feeling soft, hydrated and the scent to relax will linger for the rest of the evening to put you in a calm state, ready for sleep. I’ve had this candle before and it’s worth every penny. At £40, it is expensive but you’re getting two products in one. It’s a real treat.

If you want to show your mum she’s your best friend, this Monica Vinader Linear Solo Friendship Diamond Bracelet is a step up from the pasta friendship bracelet you would’ve made her as an infant. I bought this for my mum last year and it went down a treat. It’s delicate, stylish, suits all tastes and can be engraved complimentary if you want to make it that little bit more personal. MV is my favourite jewellery brand and a big reason for that is their ethical sourcing and 5 year warranty. If in a few years it’s looking a bit battered, they’ll repair or replace it for free. This is £80 but keep an eye out for flash sales as this is normally included in them.

While no-one is going anywhere right now, if your mum is anything like mine, she’ll travel with lots of jewellery. My mum loves to accessorise and over the years has build up a lovely collection which you don’t want rolling around at the bottom of a make-up bag in transit. Katie Loxton have designed a beautiful One in a Million Jewellery Roll with dedicated compartments for jewellery. Be quick with this one, it’s currently on sale for £17.49 at John Lewis & Partners.

Caring for your hands has never been more talked about than in the last twelve months. In the cold british winters, I rely on hand cream and I also think it’s make a really lovely, thoughtful gift. For indulgence, Molton Brown have some decliciously smelling, rich but not greasy handcreams including this Heavenly Gingerlilly which is £10. If you want to go extra indulgent, what about Jo Malone English Pear & Fresia hand cream which at £25 for 30ml? This is one of my favourite Jo Malone ranges and is a perfect spring fragrance.

If you’re thinking along the lines of a sweet treat, M&S Swiss Truffle Chocolate Assortment for £8, she’ll be eating a mixture of milk and dark chocolate truffles for days. In my eyes, these are better than Lindor truffles and are so very morish. M&S chocolate is Throrntons chocolate which is my favourite, a hidden gem.

If you’re still stuck for idea’s, you could make your mum a gift box with all of her favourite little things, the supermarkets normally have nice little Mother’s Day trinkets and you could include things like bath bombs, photographs, hot chocolate, face masks, slippers, soap, or other bits and bobs depending on what your mum likes. I assure you this will go down a treat because it’s so thoughtful and personal- which is really what Mother’s Day is all about!

To make the day a bit more special, and since it’s unlikely we’ll be going out for lunch this year, you could make your mum a special afternoon tea to share and spend some quality time together. If you’re not a baker, lots of cafe’s are doing afternoon tea boxes for Mother’s Day this year.

Let me know if you think any of the above are good idea’s, if you have any idea’s of your own or if you are a small business owner and have anything that would be a good Mother’s Day gift, please leave your links below.

Is Online Dating The Answer?

Is Online Dating The Answer?

I was about eighteen when I first heard of Tinder. At a work night out, one of the older girls showed us this new app where you could match with men/women in your area, that were Facebook friends’ of friends. I didn’t view it as online dating. At that time, I viewed online dating for middle aged divorce’s or those who really were desperate for love that they didn’t have the patience to let it happen organically. Too naive and fresh-faced, and in the words of Rachel Green, I just assumed everyone would get that chance where you’d meet someone, fall in love and that would be it. I thought online dating was unnecessary.

Fast forward to 2015 onwards, online dating, in particular Tinder has taken off, and now has more than 340 million downloads. It’s become a common conversation, a giggle with your girlfriends, an easy hook-up, a success story for some but for a high number of singles under 30, the app sits neatly beside Instagram on their Home Screen. Online dating has intensified in the last twelve months when we were all told to stay at home, and singles everywhere were left scratching their heads while couples on Instagram baked banana bread and did wall panelling together.

My experience with Tinder is very lemon and herb. I’ve got a few hundred matches but have properly spoken to only a handful of people and they have ended in me ghosting, or guys getting fed up because I don’t want to meet and ghosting me. Why do I not want to meet them? Firstly, have you seen You? I still have the mind-set that I’ll end up in a glass box and/or dead if I meet up with someone I’ve met online. Secondly, I’m still of the hope that I’ll meet someone organically, in person and probably subconsciously stigmatise against the idea of explaining ‘oh we met on Tinder.’ That being said. I’ve been single for a while and other than a boomerang ex, there’s not been anyone for a while, which gets me thinking – if not Tinder, where?

Work = too complicated.
Through a friend = I mean how viable is that, really? My friends barely have male friends never mind single ones.
Club = How can you hear anything over the music, plus I’m normally too busy having a good time.
Bars = Everyone is focused on their own friends (myself included).
Out and about = Taylor Swift had my heart from the second she said she still hoped she’d meet someone in Starbucks. Ironically, on the two occasions someone has spoken to me at Starbucks, my shoes became real interesting.

Now you’re probably thinking, you don’t seem to be prioritising love here, to which you would be correct. It’s not a priority for me right now, and maybe that’s why I’ve never given Tinder a fair trial but the romantic in me (she’s buried way deep, but she’s there) wants to be swept, not swiped. While I’m not necessarily looking for a partner, in the last year I’ve opened myself up to the idea of it and maybe going into the above situations with a different mindset would’ve been enough, thanks to Covid we’ll never know.

Now some people love online dating, they’ll get all dressed up to sit at their kitchen table on video to someone, or talk to someone for a few hours before arranging to meet up. I’ve heard of people getting married, having kids, moving in together all from an app and I don’t know why I’m so weird about it. Props to the people who persevere on these apps because you do need to weed through the masses to find someone worth talking to. Someone once told me they wanted to put my head on a wall (not sure if it was a sexual thing, or a serial killer thing?!) and the amount of times I’ve been asked if ‘I’m recruiting for a big spoon’ (HR dad joke, come on!).

Plus, dating apps allow us to be a lot more judgemental, and to take people on face value. The slightest things have made me unmatched, swipe left or ghost (I’m a terrible person, I’m aware) which then makes me think, is it enabling me to be too picky?

I just don’t think it’s for me but I’m starting to worry wonder if that’s the most viable option when I get to the point I am looking, or does it still happen organically outwit education or the workplace?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I expect boys to do the ‘wooing’ but actually, they’re just as shy as girls, and in my experience, the confident ones want someone to take home for the night, not to their parents. Which begs the question, are we Millennials/ Gen Z’ers too socially shy? That the phones attached to our hands allow us to have the social skills of a tea spoon when it comes to meeting new people, so much so that online dating is now our preferred method of meeting a partner?

The other conclusion I’ve come to is that looks aren’t enough. Now while, despite what f**k boy Twitter would lead to you to believe, looks aren’t quite as important as we think in the sense that seeing someone you like isn’t enough to approach a stranger. I don’t know anyone who has been approached by a stranger, just because they were good looking.

So, where I’m going with this, are there lots of singles wandering about their daily life, too shy to flirt irl so rely on dating apps, or are dating apps just magnified because of the weird world we’ve been living in for the last twelve months and actually, I’ve just been blind to what was going on around me?

I would love to know your thoughts on this, whether you’re in my position or not. If you’ve been swept off your feet in Starbucks or have found love from a dating app before. If so, please share your success story! Tinder fails are also welcome, please share the weird and wonderful if for nothing else other than a giggle.

My Work From Home Routine | February 21

My Work From Home Routine | February 21

Working from home is my new normal, for the foreseeable and I mentioned in my post Let’s Talk About… Working From Home that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to a five day working week in the office. I went from no working from home, to blended working from home, to fully working from home and I think the key to getting it right is a good routine. A good routine doesn’t have to mean a routine that’s the pinnacle of health, it’s about finding what works for you.

7- 8am – If I’m starting before 7.30, I am known for working the first hour from my soft office with a cup of tea to wake up. I do this when I have quiet jobs I need done, and I know no one will try and call me on Microsoft Teams. If I’m starting nearer 8, then I’ll be sat at my desk, normally washed and dressed.

8am – I normally go through my emails when I log on, or do any jobs I’d planned the night before, to do first thing. Around 8am, I write my list for the day. I write two lists, a work goals and a non-work goals. I find writing non-work goals makes me move, makes me feel like I’m achieving things other than work and therefore keeps me productive and feeling a benefit of working from home. It’s a different way of working, you don’t spend ten minutes having a chat about what everyone is having for lunch, so you have those ten minutes for yourself.
An example list would be:
-Empty bins
– 3 minute YouTube workout (I love Lucy Wyndham-Read for quick workouts)
– Chop vegetables for soup
– Plan monthly blog posts
– Tidy out 1 drawer

8.30 – This is when I put light make-up on, do my hair, spray my perfume and really get ready. I know some people who happily work in their pyjamas but for me, I feel better being ready for the day. Particularly when I’m on calls and thanks to screen-sharing, seeing yourself on camera is a common occurrence.

9.40 – If I’ve not moved from my desk yet, this is my first break of the day.

11.30 – This is normally when I have something to eat. Normally eggs, porridge or yoghurt. I know it’s a bit late for breakfast but I generally try to fast 14 hours a day.

12.45 – Normally I take my half-hour break around this time and I always go for a walk unless I’m in meetings. It’s so important to get some fresh air and clear your head. Sometimes I’ll take the dog, but he’s getting older and likes to doddle so mostly I go myself. I like to listen to a podcast and my current favourite is Shagged, Married, Annoyed.

2.30 – Depending on what I’ve had for breakfast, I’ll grab some soup or a quick bite. When I worked in an office, I used to make a pot of soup at the weekend for lunches through the week. I still try to do this so I’m eating healthy through the week and not spending too much time on it.

3.30 – Since I started working the 9-5, I always had a coffee/ tea at 3.30 pm. My rationale was that by the time you’d drank it, it was about 4pm which was into the final hour before finishing time. Now I’m very lucky that I have flexitime and generally finish at 4pm, but I still have my 3.30 pm coffee and usually a little treat to keep myself going.

4pm – Log off. I generally am more productive in the morning and especially during the winter when it’s dark so early, I struggle to stay productive after 4pm, so I try to finish up sharp. As I was so used to non-flexible working, 4pm – 5pm is like a new hour in my day. During this hour, I write be that my novel or a blog post or sometimes I read. It means that I’m always doing something for myself to be productive every day.

Tips:

  • Get outside every day, go for a walk or even just sit in the garden for ten minutes with a drink (weather permitting), you will feel so much better.
  • Have something handy, that isn’t your phone. There’s no one standing over you to make sure you’re not constantly on your phone, so you need to be that for yourself. I bought an adult colouring book which I have at my desk for when I feel like I’m scrolling too much.
  • You need to work harder to move, but you’ll thank yourself for it. Whether it’s quick workouts, jumping jacks while the kettle boils or ten squats every time you go to the toilet.
  • You generally get business done quicker at home, so take time out to check in with your colleagues. It’s fine to have a twenty minute chat about what you’re watching on Netflix every few weeks, it will make you feel better.
  • Do some online learning. Whether your organisation offers courses, or you seek them out yourself. There are lots of free courses out there and while you might feel like you can’t be bothered, you might surprise yourself with what you take out of it.
  • Speak up if you’re struggling, your boss, your colleagues, friends and family are there to support you so don’t struggle in silence.
  • Remember, right now you are not working from home. You are at home, during a pandemic, trying to work.

Please let me know your home working routine or even if you’re in an office, do you have a routine to keep you productive? I’d love to know about it in the comments below.

Brand Spotlight – Jo Malone | February 21

Brand Spotlight – Jo Malone | February 21

Jo Malone is famous for is distinctive scents and luxury products. Made up of 146 scents (and counting), the English brand owned by Estee Lauder since 1999, sells its signature scents through colognes, home, bath & body, evoking memories, emotion and a lasting impression like no other. I couldn’t tell you many high-street fragrances hot on the market right now, but I can pick out Honeysuckle and Davana from a mile away, and I’m no exception. The brand has commanded loyalty and spending power that few other brands could dream of, or touch.

If you’re new to Jo Malone, it can be slightly intimidating as to where to start. Each store has rows of iconic, identical bar the name bottles neatly lined up down the centre so it can be overwhelming. The fragrances can be split into the following categories: Citrus, Fruity, Floral, Light Floral, Spicy and Woody. I would recommend a floral or light floral for someone buying their first cologne, in particular Wild Bluebell or Peony & Blush Suede, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

I’ve tried a fair few products and have made a note of my favourites below, if you’re looking for some inspiration.

English Pear & Freesia (Fruity)
This is one of my favourite spring scents. It’s a popular scent for other products such as hand wash, body lotion so you can build a full collection.

Nectarine Blossom & Honey ( Fruity)
It’s fruity, sweet and comforting at the same time.

Peony & Blush Suede (Floral)
My first ever JM scent and as such, will have a special place in my heart. It’s very distinctive yet subtle at the same time.

Honeysuckle & Davanna (Floral)
My signature scent, I get the most compliments when I wear this scent.

Orange Blossom (Floral)
Said to be Kate Middleton’s wedding scent.

Wild Bluebell (Light Floral)
I have the cologne and hair mist in this fragrance and they smell amazing. Sometimes I layer this with Lavender and Silverbirch for something truly personal to me.

Red Roses (Light Floral)
This is strong for a light floral scent and it’s not for everyone, but rose is one of my favourite scents.

Wood Sage & Sea Salt (Woody)
Who knew salt could smell so good? It’s gentle, not to overpowering and reminds me of being by the sea.

Lavender and Silverbirch (Floral)
Fruity, woody and floral. The lavender collection was a limited edition release this time last year and get the image of lavender pillow sprays out of your head, this is to DIE for.

If you’re not sure where to start, or if you want to treat yourself to a new fragrance and would like a hand, Jo Malone offer a scent finder on their website which you can access by clicking here. I’ve used this a few times and always been impressed with the outcomes, even if it’s been a cologne I’ve never smelled before, I’ve always loved it.

If you’re not in the market for a new cologne, why not treat yourself to one of their iconic candles? From the bow on top, to the complimentary matches, the candles are as elegant and luxurious as they come. Indulgent, yes, but a thirty minute burn will keep your room scented all evening.

What I’ve Been Reading | February 21

What I’ve Been Reading | February 21

My reading goal for 2021 is to read fifty books because I feel so much better when I’m in a good reading routine and I find goals really helpful to keep me on track. This month I’ve read a variety from fiction, YA fiction and biographies and that is my reading style. Since bookshops have closed, I can no longer wander around and make a wish list of my next reads so recommendations are always welcome.

  1. Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall 

Three university friends have now grown up and are living very different lives, when one of them is murdered, Elenor and Mary try desperately to put the pieces together of what happened to Nancy that night whilst navigating their own tricky relationships. 

I liked this novel, it illustrates the complexities of friendship as the tie that keeps them together is loosened and the characters are very real. Split into three sections, POV from each of the girls, there’s a few good twists and turns. I think it’s a loose fit as a thriller, I don’t think that dimension was very strong, more mystery. 

  1. No Shame by Tom Allen 

A candid, funny yet heartbreaking memoir of comedian Tom Allen as he reflects on his childhood, coming of age and life as a young adult. He’s honest as he tells stories about being an outsider, navigating the gay scene and his journey into comedy. 

One of my favourite comedians, Allen writes as he speaks with a dry, sarcastic humour that allows him to get very honest with himself. It focuses on the Tom Allen we don’t know, rather than the one we do, which I think speaks volumes of who he is as a person. Thoroughly enjoyed it as a fan, and from a human interest point of view. 

3. The Magpie Society – One for Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch 

Audrey moves to Illumen Hall, an English boarding school, to escape the drama of her past, little does she know she’s about to walk into a whole new drama. When Lola Radcliffe tragically dies at a school party, the police put it down to mis-adventure but an anonymous podcast cries murder and Audrey, along with her roommate Ivy, try to figure out who killed Lola, and who is the voice on the podcast.

Anything rich, boarding school tale, I’m generally sold on. While it has hints of Wild Child at the beginning, it quickly finds it’s own and I was hooked from early on. The chapters are told from Audrey and Ivy’s point of view but, like some novels, it doesn’t ever get confusing. I did work it out, but only with 20 or so pages before the reveal and it didn’t spoil it. It does end on a cliffhanger but not in the way you’d expect. I really enjoyed this and already can’t wait for the sequel.

4. What Would the Spice Girls Do? by Lauren Bravo

From the first three pages I felt like I was talking to one of my best friends, or someone who I’d love to be friends with. I remember thinking, damn this girl gets it and I was hooked. This book is about the girl power generation and how the spice girls influenced the millennial generation. It’s a really interesting read, regardless of your personal thoughts on the Spice Girls. If society has ever made you feel like you’re doing something wrong by putting yourself first as a young woman, you must read this. It’s an empowering, reassuring and relatable read and Bravo’s narrative is fantastic.

That was my January reads, I had aimed for five but with launching this blog, it may have been slightly overambitious. Next month my list is Becoming by Michelle Obama and Because of You by Dawn French to start me off. Any other recommendations are so welcome, please leave them in a comment below.