I thought I would write a blog post on some of my favourite things at the moment; from skincare, food and Summer clothing finds, to interior tips and tricks I have picked up off the home-decor bible that is Instagram… I am calling it Spring favourites, but really it’s a mish-mash of things I just want to share!
I am loving the two Vichy products below at the moment, especially the tinted BB cream which is SPF50 and paraben free. I wear it most days. I get really bad melasma and have done for a few years now (sigh) – I get a really dark ring of brown/grey on my forehead during the Summer; it drives me mad and makes me look like a character from Star Trek or something! It’s easy to put this SPF50 BB cream on everyday, it gives a very light coverage which is perfect for weekdays and I know I am protected from the sun. Hoping it stops my melasma getting so bad this Summer, fingers and toes crossed.
I also love the Dermablend foundation which is a medium to thick coverage. I don’t often wear but it, but it’s amazing for special occasions, it gives you the airbrushed look and covers up any blemishes or redness, even the Star Trek forehead ring of doom!
The new Next Summer footwear is really on point this year. I have bought a few pairs of their flat sandals and can’t wait to wear them on holiday in a few days time. The ones below are an exact copy of the Varca sandals and at £25, they are half the price. They look really good with jeans…
I also bought these nautical numbers, £22.00…
…and these Topshop sandals are so comfy and go with everything – at £22.00 they’re a must have…I bought them for when I want something smarter than a flip flop, but lightweight enough to carry in my beach bag or handbag.
I stayed with a friend recently who had one of these And Other Stories hand soaps in her bathroom and it smelt divine. I went online and bought a few of their products for gifts; they’re so reasonably priced. The people I have given them to have loved them. My favourites are the ‘Sicilian Sunrise’ and ‘Sardonyx Fire’ scents.
I feel like this paraben-free blusher completely livens my face up at the end of doing my usual make-up routine, which had got a tad stale! The Swish and Pop Blushers are designed to suit most skin-colours and the creamy fine powder blends so well it’s easy to achieve that subtle rosy Spring glow. It’s a little steep at £30, but its a big compact, I can tell it’s going to last me a while. I find this Real Techniques Blush Brush is the perfect tool to add a pop of colour to my cheeks.
If like me, you have a few pieces of IKEA furniture that have been around for a while, this is the best way to give them an easy but very effective face-lift. I saw this tip on a few Instagram accounts and blogs, so it is by no means my own! Changing cupboard knobs and handles is an obvious one, but I hadn’t thought about the possibility of spray painting the existing handles with a metallic gold spray. I used the Rust-Oleum Metallic spray in Brilliant Gold which is available in B&Q and also here on Amazon.
The trick is to not over-spray (as tempting as it is, if it’s not taking to the metal straight away), do a few light coats, leaving each one to dry for about 15 minutes. Oh, and make sure you take them off the piece of furniture and do it outside on newspaper! Sounds obvious, but it crossed my mind to leave them on and hold a piece of paper behind them while I sprayed…it would have created a huge mess!
This is nothing new, I have long been shouting about how much I love rose-hip oil for my face (most of my friends use it now too), BUT I have found a new one, which just so happens to be the best I have used AND the cheapest. This oil is 100% pure, cold-pressed and organic and targets signs of photo-ageing (premature ageing caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation). Spend a bit of time on their website, it’s really informative, you can search under all manner of skin types/irritations and they’ll tell you which products are best for you.
I bought this Zara dress for our holiday in a few days time, perhaps to wear in the evening. I think I will wait until the end of the holiday to wear it though, when my legs don’t look like pale milk bottles anymore!
I’d noticed a lot of hype about this IT Cosmetics under eye concealer, and after a while I couldn’t resist and bought it (the “it never creases, it never cracks, it never looks like concealer” line got me good and proper!). It’s really, really good. The first day I wore it, someone said my skin was looking amazing; it literally covers any dark circles or redness, and you only need a teeny tiny bit…a little goes a very long way! If you aren’t sure of what shade you might be, they have a handy shade chart on the product page. I went with medium (they’re most popular shade) and it is bang on. Make sure to sign up to the newsletter, you’ll get 10% off.
I mean…EIGHT POUNDS! I hadn’t been to a Primark for a few years, there isn’t a store where I live and the stuff I have bought in the past hasn’t lasted that long, but with our holiday coming up, I decided to pay one a visit. I just needed some cheap and cheerful staples. I bought a couple of strappy tops, a straw sunhat and a couple of denim skirts. I really like the fit of them and they’ll be great for the beach. They have white and black denim too…
I also bought these slip-ons for around the pool, they’re super comfy and only £4.00 – they have other colours too. If they only last for the one holiday, I’ll still be happy…
I have started to do a couple of organic food orders from Cole and Abel a month. They deliver in my area on a Friday and I just need to make sure that I checkout online by Thursday at midnight, ready for delivery the following day (the delivery day may vary in your area…). I don’t buy much of their meat currently, but I do really enjoy the organic fruit and veg and the ‘Eat Well’ section. I am particularly loving the fermented jalapeno slaw it’s so easy to incorporate into our meals, we find a dollop of it on our plates goes with most things we eat and it is SO good for your gut. I got £10 off my first and second orders, so keep an eye out for their offers.
The Bourjois Colour Boost range isn’t a new product, I have just brought mine out from the depths of my make-up box because it’s the perfect colour for a fresh Spring peachy lip look. It’s quite a full on colour to start with, so I always blot it until it’s a calmed down to a peachy tint. It’s waterproof and SPF15, so perfect for a holiday.
I love these guys! If you’re in need of some feel-good, lighthearted entertainment and haven’t seen this yet, then give this series a try. Five fabulous guys make-over every aspect of a different person per episode who is in need of a bit of a boost; their home, clothes, hair, eating habits and mental outlook on life are all improved (and mine after watching it!) You will finish the series wanting to be friends with them all…bring on season two!
No, at that price of course they’re not leather, BUT these slingback court shoes are so comfy and feminine. I have worn them a lot since I bought them (well… twice, but that’s a lot considering I don’t go ‘out out’ that much these days!) Perfect heel height (6cm), if you’re like me, extremely high heel challenged…
I never really put pen to paper about the not so rosy parts of my life, but I decided a few weeks back that I would open up a bit, and I’ve been hovering on the publish button of this post for a while now. I want to turn people’s attention to carers and those that care for loved ones, as I am one of those people and have been since my early teens. Given my affinity to the subject, I always feel in awe of people that spend their working and personal life helping others and I especially find myself contemplating this around Christmas.
(Pips and I)
My wonderful and precious Mum has sadly been ill and disabled since my little Sister and I were young and along with my Dad, we essentially became carers when we were children. We would do anything for our Mum, but as things got tougher and Mum needed more help, so then began our relationship with carers. The familiar ‘knock knock’ and ‘Hallooo!’ as someone came through the front door when I was younger, always brought cheer into our home. It felt like a team, a team of people allowing us to live a more normal life given the circumstances. I now realise as a more worldly 30-something year old how lucky we were to have the help and that it’s not always the case for people caring for a family member.
Sometimes though, I found myself feeling annoyed and stroppy at all the people in the house. At the time, I felt so guilty for that, but now I realise that it was completely OK to have those thoughts and I shouldn’t have beaten myself up over it. I was a moody teen and it wasn’t the normal comings and goings of a home that I would see at all my friends houses. When I had friends over I would have to constantly introduce them to nurses and carers, “This is Cathy, that’s Sue… oh and that’s Karen the nurse!” The introductions would be met by my friend’s slightly confused faces, but it was normal to me.
It has been a rocky road over the years. My Mum went into hospital for 12 weeks just a few days after mine and my Husband’s wedding in 2015. After those really tough weeks, we decided that it was time for Mum to move to a care home where she would get the care she needed.
The carers and nurses at Mum’s care home are no less than wonderful. My Sister and I are always saying to each other how lucky and relieved we are that Mum is surrounded by such cheery and supportive people everyday. It takes the weight off us both. We can’t be with Mum every minute of the day, as much as we feel the pull to be with her and keep her company. Knowing she is surrounded by a tribe of caring and fun people who treat Mum as she is, a normal person with a cracking sense of humour, is a huge comfort. On the flip side, I am well aware of the struggles that families can have caring for loved ones with disabilities and I truly feel so lucky to have the support we do. It could be very different.
The care home also has a hospice at the other side of the building to where Mum is, and although ultimately it is a sad place giving end of life care, it is the carers and nurses who raise smiles on everyone’s faces and give support to those going through a really upsetting time. I go there twice a week, sometimes more if I can, and I see such heartbreaking things as I walk through to get to Mum’s side of the building. Sad people and broken families, the very elderly and ill, but there are always cheery and sympathetic faces walking around to bring a smile to your face, the carers.
Being around this hospice for two years now, reminds me frequently that you should count your blessings in life. I really have changed in the past few years, I don’t sweat the small stuff or surround myself with people that do.
My Instagram stories of me in my outfits, my travels, cat giving a weather forecast (eye-rolling stuff!), are often split up with my moments at the care home. I am very aware of what a private place it is however, so I often stick to documenting my bird feeding duties outside! Things aren’t always rosy, as much as my Instagram suggests sometimes, and I am very conscious that it’s important to break down the barrier and admit that life is hard, upsetting and unpredictable. It’s not all a bag of laughs, that’s just not life for some unfortunately. If anything, I would like to raise awareness of those who care for a family member and remind them that they are not alone!
I also just wanted to put into words how grateful I have been over the years for all the the lovely carers who have helped my family and I feel that little bit more ‘normal’ in our situation (whatever normal is).
This Christmas, my Sister and I, like the past two years, will spend our Christmas Day with our precious Mum at the care home, surrounded by people giving their Christmas Day to those in need. I will be making them all feel as special as they are, truly special and my heroes.
(Love you, Mum)
As my men’s gift edit went down well, I thought I best do a lady’s one too! I have stuck to a budget (no Mulberry handbags in this one, although if there are any men reading this… do it, you will get a whole year of brownie points). I have tried to list smaller businesses as well as the big dogs. Just click on the image to go shopping.
Let’s face it, I am VERY good at shopping, so this was easy…in fact, I couldn’t stop and had to force myself to close my laptop.
My Sister, her best friend and I are a little obsessed with this after trying it on together in Fenwicks. It gives you a natural glow and is the perfect thing to wear on those low maintenance days where you want a little touch up (i.e. non foundation days!). It morphs to your skin tone for the perfect looking glow. Go and test it out on the top of your hand in a department store, you will love it…
I have mentioned this a few times before. This stuff caught my attention when I read all the reviews on Amazon by women saying they have worn it for years and are convinced it is the elixir for anti-aging skin as they still look 25. As someone who is a sucker for a good review, I bought some immediately! It is what I would describe as a dry oil, you don’t need to wash your hands after you put it on. I keep it on my bedside table and it’s the last thing I put on at night. It makes my skin feel amazing every morning, add it to your wishlist, you won’t regret it!
I bought myself one of these years back and it’s still going strong in my handbag! A great little gift…
We have lots of these on our fridge. I wanted to include all friends and family so I went a bit bonkers with them. They arrive in a cute little box and make a lovely thoughtful gift. Just don’t forget anyone, as I’ve noticed people walk up to our fridge and scan for a photo of themselves!
Tips from the Danes on how to live a cosy and happy life. Even in the depths of the country’s coldest months when there is very little daylight, Denmark’s inhabitants remain the world’s happiest people, so they must be doing something right! This is a gorgeous little book and a perfect stocking filler.
Love this! Available in lots of different patterns and coloured ribbons. Take a look at the rest of the website while you’re at it!
If, like me, you have weird allergies and try and be gluten and dairy free most of the time, these chocs are delicious and gluten/dairy free. Hallelujah.
I mentioned this in my stories a while ago… my friend very kindly bought me a subscription to this as a treat and I love it. It’s a really heartwarming read, reminding you that the simple things in life really are the best! You can select from just 1 month subscription up to two years. I can’t think of many people that wouldn’t enjoy it…
I have two of these lovely pouches and could easily add to my collection, I love every single print! Take a look at the cushions, candles and bed linen too.
I saw this in the shop the other day, they call it the ‘supreme’ faux fur hot water bottle. So…unbelievably…soft.
I’ve had a near 20 year hiatus from eye shadow, I think due to my vivid memories of the hideous baby blue shades my friends and I used to wear in the 90s! I am feeling the love for it again these days; I always stick to the nudes, no baby blue in sight. This is the award-winning eye palette of dreams… creamy nudes, smokey dark shades, day-time mattes, whatever you need it’s in this palette.
The prettiest pens I did ever see. I think the key to a good gift is to get someone something they aren’t likely to buy for themselves. This one is a perfect example!
Choosing fragrance for someone else is a bit of a no no, so let them decide… it’s lovely to have the option to change up your fragrance every now and again.
These pocket sized cards include psychologically-grounded insights & challenges to help you bloom. I love picking a card up from my pack every now and again, to remind me of things which are so easily forgotten. I keep them on my mantle piece in full view…
I would be a rubbish business owner if I didn’t include my jewellery in this edit! Here’s a few of my best-sellers…
I am the worst for throwing jewellery in my bag or make up bag when I am off on my travels. This is a really cute little case that will come in seriously handy.
Help your special someone feel relaxed at bedtime. I am up for anything with lavender or chamomile in, I am definitely going to buy this for someone.
Dreamy little palette for handbag touch-ups on the go. It’s even numbered, for those of us who are a little bit make-up challenged…
Gift Pop is great. Lots of fabulously colourful and fun presents. I love this cuff! I once had my ear pierced up there (because my friend did) and after a year of not being able to sleep on that side of my face, I gave up… so this cuff is perfect if you fancy feeling a bit trendy one day.
This is a cute addition to a bedside table for someone. You can’t go wrong with marble, it’s been the trend of the year…
I have these and they go with everything I wear. Go on, join the pink trainer brigade!
This bath foam is so wonderfully relaxing, it’s my new favourite. Relieves aching muscles and clears my head, bliss.
This gorgeous little book charts the various bewildering stages of becoming a mother in a series of glorious drawings. A fabulous present for a Mum friend.
The kind of measuring spoons I imagine make you turn into an eye fluttering Nigella in the kitchen. Love them!
The fabulous Sally from Getting Stuff Done in Heels on Insta, designed these herself and I love them! They come in gold, silver and rose gold, you can even mismatch the chain colour.
A family friend of mine is one of the originals of the Sipsmith crew and she got us all hooked on the gin years ago! This sloe gin liqueur is delicious too. Great on it’s own or perfect instead of cassis in a cool glass of fizz…
We were bought one of these as part of a wedding present and I love it so much. We use it for cheese, displaying little bites on when we have people over, or simply to cut up limes for a G&T. I have since bought it for lots of my friends who love it too!
My Sister and I have been hooked on this for years now. Made from shea and cocoa butter, it’s the best lip conditioner I have ever found. Need I say more about the flavour…
The perfect dress up item for everyday wear. Comes in grey and blue too…
This product got me at the word ‘Blur’. As a thirty-something, I am on major pore and line watch… This is on my Christmas list after reading the glowing reviews.
This glass vase is so gorgeous. While you’re at it, why not buy them some cream blooms to go with it…
Clay, clay makes the pores go away. I have used this a few times and it’s reeeally good for the price.
To end on a high, this would be a fabulous treat…
I have been racking my brains for you and come up with a list of gift suggestions for the men in your lives. They’re either gifts I have given in the past that have gone down well, or ones I have seen lately that are on my list! I have stayed away from clothing as it very much depends on the individual and kept things between £5 and £85. Here you go, click on the image to go shopping, I hope it gives you some inspiration…
It’s not leather I know, but I saw it in M&S and it’s a fab bag and an affordable alternative. Comes in an olive colour too.
Something Sporty Framed Memorabilia, from £70
I saw these guys years ago at the Spirit of Christmas Show and bought Ali the history of the rugby ball frame and we still love it… they have frames of all different sports, so will cater for all! I also love the old framed cricket programme… their products are just really different and would look good in any man cave.
The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump, Amazon £6.99
“I’m very highly educated. I know words, I know the best words.” (Trump, Campaign Rally, 30 Dec 2015).
Molton Brown Shampoo, £18
Oh how they pretend they only need to use a £1 shower gel, then you catch them using your lux products! Molton Brown men’s stuff is lovely. Love the black pepper range but also this scent and shampoo.
Men’s manicure grooming set, Not on the Highstreet, £36.95
I don’t know about you, but my tweezers etc are always going missing. Get them a personalised manicure set, so there is no need for them to take yours!
Love this little set also from Aspinal, £85.00
If you feel like splashing out a bit… it can be embossed with initials.
100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, Firebox, £9.99
Golf Auto Putt Returner, John Lewis, £12.99
You might want to invest in a more expensive one of these, but this one is a fun stocking filler and should think will give hours of fun (days of fun?!)
3 months Curry Spices Subscription, £24.00
I bought this as part of my Dad’s present last year and he loved it. They send you monthly all the fresh spices and recipes you need to make a delicious and unusual curry spread on a Friday night.
Nespresso Black Porcelain and Silicon Touch Mugs, £17 for 2
I don’t know what it is about these mugs, but Ali loves his… I think they make him feel cool?!
These boot dryers are amazing and so effective at drying ski boots, walking boots, trainers etc that are damp or sweaty. Drysure came to life from a need to dry boots and shoes fast, without heat, electricity or batteries. They are easy to use time and time again, and would make a brilliant gift for someone who spends a lot of time in soggy footwear!
The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild, Amazon, £9.65
For your very own Ray Mears…
Mr Stanley’s Liquorice Pipes, John Lewis, £5.00
Pipes made of liquorice, what’s not to like (well, liquorice, but a good stocking filler for fans of the stuff!)
Jamie Oliver, 5 Ingredients, Amazon, £11.00
We all know the best type of present is one you can use too! This is a great recipe book, I especially love the layouts and easy to follow steps.
Marmite Popcorn, Firebox, £6.00
A great little stocking filler for the marmite lovers… another way of getting their Marmite fix!
RED5 Maboba Moon Ball, John Lewis, £5.00
These are apparently amazing! An extreme bounce, crazy spin ball. I kind of want one too. Go through to the JL website and check out the hype…
Hotel Chocolat 70% Dark Chocolate Batons, Jl, £7.50
Colin Montgomerie Golf Bag Pen Set, Amazon, £12.75
For any golf nuts you know…