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…

M&S flocked holdall, £79.00

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).

Lol.

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?!

Drysure Extreme Boot Dryer, £30

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…

Coffees of the World, Whittard, £25.00

For the coffee lover who might like to try some new beans!

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…

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A few years back I started to pay attention to the buzz going round about the bad things in cosmetics and toiletries; mainly parabens and sulphates, and the research on how it can affect you in a lifetime. Whilst a lot of studies insist that they are safe, others do not, and I personally would rather be safe than sorry; parabens have been shown to affect fertility and have also been found in breast cancer tissue. Denmark, for example, has banned two types of parabens from being used in products for young children because of their concerns. So…as a personal preference, I decided that I would take steps to reduce the amount of these things I expose my skin to and looking back, it has been so easy, I wanted to share my tips…

The smallest day-to-day changes can make the biggest of differences in the long-run. A lot of you will be doing this already, but if not, I urge you to give a go!

Now, I am not a scientist and I don’t pretend to know everything about these chemicals (so scientists, don’t hit me with your stats!), but here is a very brief summary of what I understand these chemicals to be:

Simply put, Parabens are chemicals used since the 50s to prevent bacteria and act as a preservative in deodorants, make-up, moisturisers, shampoos etc. Sulphates (SLS) are generally the lathering agents that give you the foam in your shower gels, hand washes etc.

Don’t get too obsessed (don’t not wash your hands in a public loo!)

I would say that I am about 70% free of them – but I considered making a big reduction in my exposure was better than nothing. There are a few products I still use that contain them; things like my intense facial exfoliator, some make-up, some of my Bobbi Brown favourites and ‘normal’ deodorants that I put on if I have a big day ahead; going to a wedding, work trip, things like that. I am not obsessed by it at all… everything in moderation as they say.

Showel Gel, Hand Wash and Bath Foam

I used to be a sucker for picking up the colourful and strong smelling shower gels in Boots or the supermarket that were on offer (only £1 …you know the ones), but I quickly realised I could get the Sanex hypo-allergic big bottle on offer for about £2 and it would last for ages. Also look out for the smaller, often £1, Sanex Zero shower gels and bath foams. Not the first place that springs to mind, but if you have a Homesense or TK Maxx close by, you will notice a vast amount of their bathing products are 100% free, and they are divine! Yes a little more expensive, but you get more for your buck. Check out their body scrubs and hand washes while you are at it…

Shampoo and Conditioner

I am sure a lot of you are hooked on and swear by your favourite shampoo brand, but I never had a trusty favourite…so… I started to buy big bottles of sulphate and paraben free shampoo and conditioner from Homesense, with essential oils and natural ingredients. It was a simple switch. I occasionally use a Palmer’s coconut oil deep conditioning protein pack if my hair seems dry (sometimes the essential oils in the natural products dry your hair out a tad so it’s good to give it a blast of moisture every now and again).

Make up remover

A good and new one on the market that’s easy to find is Garnier’s Natural Rose Milk Cleanser.

My Anti-Aging Elixir. Drum roll… 

About five years ago I started using something on my face which I have since become a bit of an off-the-record ambassador for. I have got countless friends hooked on the stuff and love to spread the word, because it really has changed my skin dramatically. It gives moisture, a beautiful natural glow and nourishes my face and neck brilliantly. It’s anti-aging properties are supposed to be great too, helping reduce fine lines and sun damage.

Rosehip Oil. I buy it from Amazon and put it on my face and neck last thing before bed (after I have taken my make up off, washed and toned) and sometimes in the day (if I am not planning to wear make up). The lightweight oil isn’t sticky, it feels lovely on my face, absorbs well – there’s no need to wash it off your hands afterwards and no sticking to your pillow afterwards! Honestly, you will love your plump, radiant and hydrated skin the next day.

Tip: You don’t need much, a 20p sized bit in your palm from the pipette. Rub the remaining oil left on the palm of your hands onto the top of your hands – you know, the bit that really starts showing your age as you get older…

My favourites are Be Youthful and Akin. For the record I have combination skin, so I am not crazy dry and still have a fair amount of oil, but the rosehip oil still doesn’t make my skin too oily. Just read the reviews and you won’t be able to resist!

Foundations and Concealer

I don’t wear foundation everyday, but if I need a little fix or am going ‘out out’ I will put on some bareMinerals powder, or my new favourite, bareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation (SPF 20…which is a bonus).

I DEFINITELY wear concealer under my eyes (otherwise I would be bag central) and Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer is my favourite – free from parabens and sulphates.

Deodorant – Paraben and Aluminium Free

The trickiest one! I tried a lot of the natural deoderants, but ended up uncomfortably damp shall we say (!) and reaching straight back to my trusty Dove. My friend and I were on this mission together, and we eventually settled on the Bionsen mineral protective deodorant spray (Boots sell it). I’ve noticed it makes me feel a ‘little’ damper if I work up a bit of a sweat, but I tend to wear it when I am not planning on doing too much.

Perfume

Finally, there’s no way I could give up my favourite perfumes, so here is a little tip which I try and do often. I don’t douse my skin with perfume anymore, I put a little on my neck and the rest on my clothes or scalf.

In conclusion, wow you’ve made it to the end of this post (sorry it was so long!), if you take anything from this  – go on…try some Rosehip Oil, you won’t regret it! We can high-5 each other when we’re 60 and looking 45…

 

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I am loving everyone’s

1. I have a phobia of balloons – the worst are the ones on sticks that kids wave around in town.
2. I have a cat called Ralph who in winter leaves dreadlocks around the house unless I brush him.
3. I love to sing, loudly. I’ve always secretly considered ‘the moment’ my husband fell in love with me to be when I danced and sang a rendition of The Little Mermaid’s ‘Part of your World’ to him in our hotel room in the Canary Islands. You want thing-a-me-bobs, I got twenty!
4. I put chilli on everything. Not cereal, I don’t like cereal.
5. I wear navy blue alllll the time.
6. My darling mum hasn’t been very well since I was a child and is now in a care home and only 59. She’s the strongest and most brilliant person I know and I love her to the ends of the earth. I want to be just like her. I work part-time so I can see her and I don’t talk about it enough, so thought I would put it on here.
7. I was Head Girl at my prep school but by the time I got to sixth form in secondary school I wasn’t even made a prefect #naughty
8. My dad is a cool dude and we have exactly the same sense of humour. It makes me happy when he’s happy.
9. I make jewellery (@navybayjewellery) and have to do yoga stretches in between pieces or my neck hurts looking down all the time.
10. My sister and I are best buds, no one is as funny as she is. We call each other Mitch.
11. My husband’s family are epic. I am very lucky.
12. I go to @myhomesense most weeks for therapy.
13. I lived in SW London for 8 years but moved out to Kent in 2014. I spent a lot of those 8 years drinking prosecco and enjoying kitchen discos.
14. My husband Alistair (Ali) is tall, dark and bonkers and is obsessed with ships.
15. I’ve picked up some funny nicknames over the years – Paddle, Stads, Beer, Beav, Gnome, Mitch, Ow and Skippo. Don’t ask…!
16. I grew up close to Poole in Dorset and hope to move back sometime. 

17. My favourite place on earth is the British Virgin Islands; I was lucky enough to sail around them in 2010. I’ve told a few people I went to Necker Island, but I didn’t actually walk on it, I was merely splashed by its spray.

18. My favourite saying is ‘Grow through what you go through’.

19. My motto comes from the song my Mum used to sing to me, ‘Even though the darkest clouds are in the sky, you mustn’t sigh and you mustn’t cry…spread a little happiness as you go by’.

20. I was very close to my great Aunt Liz – she had an MBE and recently past away at the age of 92 – I miss her being on this earth (she worked for MI5…just kidding…or did she?).

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The Scandi home decor vibe is as strong as ever. It’s all about simplicity, with a focus on nature and light. Plenty of neutral earthy tones, calming organic shapes, all the greys and pops of blue (the Scandi favourite accent colour) with a fundamental base of my second favourite colour, cleansing, calming white. Minimalism at its best. My husband would read this and scratch his chin at my enthusiasm for minimalism; I am not the best with clutter… but that’s what cupboards are for right? The Scandi way is to strip back on accessories. I for one feel wonderfully clear minded when my home is de-cluttered, so I do try!

HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOME MORE SCANDI

  • Paint like there’s no tomorrow. Give that cream wall a good lick of paint. Embrace a pure white or grey wall. ‘But won’t grey make the room feel cold?’ – it’s not always the case, you just need a ‘warm’ grey. Try Farrow and Ball’s stoney coloured Skimming Stone or the truer grey, Elephant’s Breathe. If it’s furniture you’re wanting to paint go for the celebrated ‘Paris Grey’ by Annie Sloan.
  • Lose the carpet? Now I am a fan of a good carpet to sink my toes into, but the Scandi way is to strip things right back when it comes to flooring, literally. Consider instead a white washed or grey painted wooden floor or an earthy tone light wood. You’re allowed a rug don’t worry – a cosy warm sheepskin perhaps. I personally LOVE the wooden floor look, another way of bringing the outdoors in (see below).
  • Cladding. I seem to comment on any cladding I see, I really love the look. Nothing pleases me more than a cladded wall in a bathroom or a tongue and groove backdrop to a bookshelf. My very favourite way of adding texture to a room (or indeed the exterior of a house).
  • Bring the outside, indoors. There is nothing better than a morning spent basking in the sunshine, with a coffee, outside in the garden. Scandinavians are big on feeling a connection with the great outdoors and love to create outdoor ‘rooms’, often using decking, to wile away the day outside. I’ve lived in small pokey homes in the past where swinging the doors open to the outside seating area adds no end of pleasure to my enjoyment of the house. It’s something I will always consider when moving; is there space to create an outdoor room?

SHOP INSPIRATION

There are many, many I could list here, so here are my top picks:

I have mentioned Nordic House before, a lovely online shop selling beautiful Scandinavian home accessories. Founded by Sandie and Alan in Cornwall, their style is pure Scandinavian inspired sophistication and I am always dipping in and out of their site browsing their products.

Pioneers of the ‘hygge way of life’ they believe that “the importance of your surroundings in terms of quality of life, cannot be underestimated.” They spend a lot of time travelling around Scandinavia sourcing niche companies (often family owned) to try and bring something different. Take a lot!

Image credit: Nordic House via nordichouse.co.uk

How could I not mention Neptune – my ultimate destination for home inspo. Whilst not purely Scandi style, they have many pieces that please my interior tastes. One day I will get my Neptune kitchen á la below… (my husband loves to be reminded).

And for some furniture inspiration – The White Lighthouse  – check out their lovely pieces below, lots of white and plenty of organic materials…reasonably priced too. Notice the wall cladding backdrop to every photo…swoon.

Fancy some more inspiration? Take a look at my Nordic Inspiration Pinterest board.

Photo credits: Home on the Blue, The White Lighthouse and Nordic House.

 

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You know Summer is on its way when Anthropologie has a whole host of beautiful new beachy homeware items in store and on the new arrivals section of their website. I am a huge fan of their nautical chic style and love nothing more than an amble around one of their colourful stores. I recently went to the King’s Road store and spent a good hour wandering around. Bliss!

As soon as I stepped into the main home ware section, my husband asked me if I had “deliberately dressed as all the home stuff?!” …no I answered, but he was right, I was wearing navy blue trousers, an electric blue top and scarf and my turquoise Mulberry over shoulder bag. I was an exact colour match to the new Spring/Summer 2017 range. I thought how clever of me and hoped that the camouflage would afford me a few extra minutes walking round the store because he wouldn’t be able to find me in it.

I really loved all the blue washed crockery, especially the irregular shaped shallow and elegant platters (for the ultimate nautical BBQ). There is enough turquoise to satisfy even the greatest of fans (me) and their new fabric prints are up to their usual quirky and brilliant standards; I literally could have taken it all.

While wandering, I noticed another amusing trend. The armchairs and sofas dotted around served a very good purpose…. to seat all the boyfriends/husbands who had been dragged into the store. On realising their visit was not going to be a short one, they had found refuge on said seating. I spotted at least 10 men resting their weary, over-shopped legs and it really amused me.  Thank you Anthrapologie for being so thoughtful, I wasn’t nagged once and enjoyed not having a shadow lurking at every turn (…perhaps that was down to my camouflage gear, but thank you all the same for the man-seating).

Here are my top picks from their Spring/Summer 2017 home range…

Photo credit above gallery: Anthropologie.

Shop online here or find your nearest store here.

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