House: Living room update

We’re in the middle of re-jigging our living room. Due to the unusual layout of our house we have two seating areas – this darker room at the front of the house is the cosy TV ‘pit’ and another room at the back of the house is the ‘summer’ entertaining space.

Moving our big sofa into this room gives us more space for entertaining – the catalyst for this move was my sports-mad boyfriend buying a huge new TV and we’ve already hosted a 6 nations (rugby!) night in here!

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This is the IKEA Manstead sofa-bed which is still going strong after 6 years – a classic for storage and entertaining!

I love industrial/heritage/’lived-in’ interiors. Unfortunately I don’t live in an apartment in a converted warehouse…

The coffee table is an old farmhouse table from my mum’s family (see how I up-cycled it here). I bought the metal window mirror through eBay last year. My other new ‘dream Manhatten loft’ purchase is this bookcase from Maison du Monde.

The rest of the room is a work-in-progress: the TV is still waiting to be hung on the wall. The sofa is currently hiding a hideous gas fire which we might take out later in the year. The mantelpiece was originally dark stained wood so I’ve used off-white chalk paint to make it less of a focal-point for the time-being.

We’ll see how things go – the new layout has transformed the atmosphere of this room and I’m happy with it for now. Rather than continue tweaking the house I’m tempted to spend some money on a holiday instead! 🙂

H x

London (in February!) and The Blue Jumpsuit

This is an extremely delayed post – these photos were taken a month ago during a long weekend in London…but they feature my new favourite jumpsuit and some shots of the London skyline that I love 🙂

I had a 2 day work event in Westminster which included an evening gala. I only had 45 minutes to go glam so I’m afraid it’s awkward bathroom shots only!!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love a jumpsuit. And this one from Warehouse is so chic! Deep blue  – wide, 3/4 length legs – cold shoulder and ruffle details on the top half. Smart but NOT boring! This is going to get a lot of wear this year…

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Jumpsuit (& clutch): Warehouse via Asos           Shoes: New Look

Rather than spend Friday afternoon travelling back to the South West on a coach full of hungover colleagues, I stayed in London to catch up with family and friends. These photos are from the Saturday – I swear this was the first properly sunny day we had this year! I met a friend for lunch in Soho and we were so excited about the warm weather that we embarked on a walking tour of London. We are both Welsh outdoorsy girls at heart – why spend time travelling underground when you can be outside experiencing the city?

Our route took us along the embankment and we climbed the Monument just in time to catch the golden light.

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Other highlights of this weekend included catching a gig at The Top Secret Comedy Club and trying handmade ramen in pork broth at Shoryu (SO good).

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Looking at these, I think I need to start planning my next weekend in London…

H x

 

 

Sharing the Blog Love

I’ve recently got a few mentions for  blogging awards so I wanted to give a shout out to Fed’s Life and Sophie Samantha – thanks guys, I’ve followed you both for a while and love catching up with your posts! Head over their way and have a read 🙂

Going a bit off-piste, here’s some blog love from me…

A Rosie Outlook is the blog which I credit with inspiring me to create my own little space on the web. I only stumbled across her popular purple shampoo post back in 2014 when trawling the net for platinum blonde hair care tips – and my eyes were opened to blogging! I always return to Rosie’s blog – there’s a variety of fashion and lifestyle content and she writes beautiful standalone pieces which I really enjoy.

A few other blogs I check in on regularly include The Cornish Life (clue in the title, with beautiful photography) and Vintage Reflection (fashion blog – Amy’s style is not actually very similar to mine but I always love her outfits and the enthusiasm with which she writes) These two sites popped into my head straight away but there are many other blogs that I enjoy but just haven’t had time to catch up on recently.

Continuing mainstream, I follow a few higher profile fashion bloggers/vloggers mainly via instagram/youtube, including Samantha Maria, The Anna Edit and Tiny Twisst.

I also have to cross over into the vlogging world to mention The Michalaks: a London-based family who make video diaries and spectacular (and often hilarious) travel vlogs . My boyfriend loves to wind me up by saying I only watch them because I’m broody (not true, although it’s a fascinating, albeit edited, insight into life with a young child). The vlogs have a cinematic quality – each one is beautifully shot and edited. Stef and Hannah are a refreshing pair of voices in the often very glossy world of blogging/vlogging. Why watch a soap or reality TV (I don’t..) when you could watch these guys every week?!

And as for me? I started blogging because I wanted to start writing again. I’ve considered several variations on writing careers in the past and I don’t want to lose the enjoyment that I had from writing when I was younger. Yes, I know this is not groundbreaking journalism or fiction, but writing and designing posts about things I enjoy keeps my creative side ticking over. At the end of the day, I’m glad I discovered the blogging world.

Soooo writing this post actually took ages because when I grabbed the links for each site, I had to have a read 🙂 There are so many other blogs that I could mention here but for now, I need to get some sleep ready for Monday morning!

H x

Exploring Clean Eating

The Clean Eating phenomenon has swept the UK over the last few years and I’ve watched with interest as it’s spread around social media. My introduction to these diets came when I was given Deliciously Ella’s first book back in 2015. Since then, clean eating has continued to increase in popularity  but there has also been some backlash against a few of the more high profile figures in this movement, questioning the facts behind these lifestyle ‘crazes’ and branding some as unaffordable and even dangerous…

I was intrigued by Deliciously Ella and I’ve since read quite a few other diet/lifestyle books with a similar primary goal – overall well-being rather than weight loss. They range from relatively ‘limited’ plant-based diets with no dairy or gluten, to those which allow meat but advocate reducing sugar and processed food.  Some of these books are very compelling (read Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet and you can understand why it has influenced so many people). But, thanks to my scientific background, I’m quite good at stepping back and thinking critically about the evidence that is presented to me.

I do believe that a good diet can have lots of healing effects. I struggle with chronic tendonitis so if I hear about a method that promises to reduce inflammation, I’ll look into it. I started to read, research…. and eat!

At first, I was keen. It was never supposed to be a complete diet overhaul BUT I made a few juices, tried ‘clean’ recipes, drank almond milk instead of cow’s milk, bought medjool dates to snack on instead of chocolate. But there were two major restrictions: My boyfriend (who loves meat and picks anything green off his plate) and exercise (I was doing a lot of cycling and running training last year and in my efforts to  maintain my calorie/protein intake, clean eating fell by the wayside).

So it was difficult – even for someone who (I like to think) already eats fairly well. I’m not sticking to any diet rules in particular at the moment, although I do make a conscious effort to eat less sugar and processed food (she says, having eaten bacon 3 times over the last 4 days!). I don’t cut out any food groups and unless I find out that I’m actually intolerant to something, I doubt I ever will.

That was the main issue I had with some of the restrictive diets. There have been tales of young women going to their GPs with issues linked to malnutrition because they have cut out ‘bad’ foods. Don’t just follow headlines like ‘Crisps cause cancer’. I prefer an ‘everything in moderation’ approach!

Clean eating isn’t cheap either. The expense of buying fresh fruit and veg shouldn’t put you off eating healthily, but to follow some of the more extreme diets to the letter you need decent food processors, blenders, juicers, and unusual ingredients.

I haven’t at any point changed my diet significantly enough to see any concrete changes but I’ve learnt a lot more about nutrition in general. It’s opened my eyes to new foods and recipes. I still keep DE’s book handy – I (occasionally!) make my own hummus and there’s even a recipe which makes kale edible!

If you’re looking to make changes to your diet, my advice is: don’t take advice from just one source! There is lots of information out there and sometimes it can be difficult to know which facts to trust. Don’t just pick the method with the most beautiful pictures and follow it blindly –  do your homework, try things out – it may take time.You must do what works for you, not whatever is a miracle cure for someone else. Make any changes gradually if possible. Don’t just cut something out without considering the full effect. And don’t feel you have to eat something you don’t like just because it’s ‘healthy’! (This was me with kale…..)

I’ll stop here because this post is at risk of morphing into a more general rant about diets. Nutrition is a topic that I find really interesting so I’m sure this is something I’ll come back to.

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I’ve really struggled to find time to read or write any posts recently – life has been super busy (in mainly a good way!) – lots of weekend meet-ups and nights out with family, friends and work colleagues which, although fun, leave me spending the week playing catch-up. I have definitely been burning the candle at both ends and I’ve felt the impact over the last week or so. I try to spend evenings off away from a screen but it doesn’t help that my boyfriend has just bought a massive new TV and we now have access to Amazon Prime and Netflix! #distractions…..

H x

Outfit: The Princess Skirt

Image adapted from Coast.com

Sometimes, a girl just wants to feel like a princess.

Jan 20th was the ‘Winter ball’ – the January equivalent of our work Christmas party. The venue was Bristol Museum and they’d gone all out with a Christmassy theme – even crackers – it weirdly felt like we’d all stepped back a month in time!

But… back to the outfit.

It’s rare that I get to properly dress up these days. It’s all weddings. When I go ‘out’ – it’s generally jeans and heeled boots. And even then I usually end up feeling overdressed. So for this event I was determined to up the glam….

The inspiration for this look came from this image – a gorgeous combination of black crop top and billowing maxi skirt. I’d attempted this look before but couldn’t fit a skirt that worked. Then, during a last-minute dash around Bristol’s shopping hub, Cabot Circus (where I bumped into two other girls from work also frantically dress-hunting), I stumbled across this beauty of a skirt in Coast.

I’ll admit, I haven’t looked in a Coast store since I was 18 and searching for Summer Prom dresses. I always thought of the brand as a bit to wedding-y and formal for my liking. I’m also generally not keen on spending so much on one piece –  last year’s wedding guest dress was a bargin-ous £28!

What I love about this skirt is the volume – it’s a 50s hollywood feel with a wonderful fit and flare. It’s the type of skirt that just makes you want to spin around on the spot! It has a sheer organza overlay and a high hem at the front to show off shiny shoes 🙂

I like to dress to suit my body. This combo obviously highlights my waist, but apart from that, there’s not too much of my pale wintry skin on show. I paired it with this pale blue crop top from New Look.

So this long ode to my skirt is over. This is the closest I will get to red carpet glamour… and the rest of the night was pretty fun too 🙂

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No party is complete without the opportunity to dress as a viking

H x

Home: New bathroom!

It’s the big reveal of our last major house project – the bathroom! I shared my ideas in this post  last year. The main chunk of the work was done in September but as usual, it’s taken months to finish off the details!

We wanted a clean, modern design. To avoid it looking too clinical I added my jazzy tile-effect flooring and touches of natural wood for a bit more colour and texture. My photos aren’t the best, but you get the idea 🙂

My highlights…

The bath! It’s been 5 years since I lived in a house with a bath. We had a huuuuge OAP shower taking up that space before. I’ve been taking full advantage of the new bath – it’s particularly enjoyable on a Sunday evening with some candles, music, bath bombs and maybe a cheeky G&T…

The floor – it looks like tiles but it’s actually lino, picked up online 🙂

The sink – I knew I wanted a wall-hung corner sink to keep the area feeling open while making efficient use of the space. I found this huge designer number in a sale at Bathstore. It’s a beast – our plumber had a few issues fixing it to our flimsy walls but it’s fine for now – just don’t lean on it! (Anyone who comes to stay has a safety briefing before they enter the room!)

Free-standing mirror cabinet – I knew storage was going to be an issue. Despite the boy telling me to ‘just get rid of all your shampoo’, I stuck to my guns – a girl needs space for her products!  In addition to the corner mirror cabinet over the sink (another internet find), I picked up a basic tall mirror cabinet from Ikea (Lillangen). For a custom look, I hacked it by adding some wooden furniture legs picked up on Ebay.

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Something for the minimalists and gadget fans out there – we found an extractor fan  with a humidity sensor – it turns on automatically when we’re in the shower. There’s no pull cord and it’s super quiet which makes it a stylish, discreet option.

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I really enjoyed planning this room and upgrading it from something purely functional to a space which is both practical and enjoyable. To avoid a repeat of the kitchen saga, we got professionals in to do the plumbing and tiling but the rest of the room was mostly sourced and fitted by us.

We’re telling everyone that the house is now finished but I’m always dreaming of the next project…watch this space 🙂

H x

Fitness Goals/ Back on the Pole!

Happy new year! After a crazy busy December, I managed to get a good rest over the Christmas break and I’m back.

After spending the summer and autumn of 2016 cycling and running outdoors, I started to eye up some indoor winter activities – in particular, dance/fitness classes. And a friend’s Instagram lead me to pole fitness…

I actually took classes for almost a year when I first moved to Bristol but took a break to recover from an injury. Lack of time and subsequently moving out of central Bristol meant that I never picked it back up. That was 4 years ago. I’ve now been back on the pole for 2 months and I LOVE IT.

Pole appeals to the monkey-child in me – growing up, I was a tomboy who climbed everything in sight (trees, buildings, cliffs…!). It’s brilliant for strength and flexibility and it’s way more fun (and social!) than the gym.

However, I haven’t exactly been shouting about it to my family – I suspect some of them would get the wrong impression if I mentioned working out using a pole! Whether you call it pole fitness or pole dance, it’s all about strength and control. My aim is to look elegant, strong, graceful – being ‘sexy’ is an optional extra!

My class has gals and guys in a range of ages and sizes. Several of the girls have mentioned how good it is for body confidence. Yes, a skimpy outfit is required for more advanced moves (to grip the pole) but pole makes you focus on what your body can achieve, not what it looks like.

My fitness from cycling, running and Pilates has stood me in good stead and I’m really excited about my progress so far. Lots of the moves involve pushing yourself mentally as well as physically – you have to place a lot of trust in your body and it’s ability to flex and support you.

This year I’m hoping to progress to new inverts and I’m challenging myself to do the splits. I’ve just downloaded the StretchIt app so we’ll see how I get on! I want to end 2017 stronger, fitter and more flexible than before 🙂

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H x

Out and About: Christmas shopping in Bath

Yes, we were crazy enough to go shopping in Bath on the Saturday after Black Friday, and yes, it was BUSY. But that’s what happens when your uni mate comes to visit and you happen to live just outside the town you went to uni in. Here’s a few snaps from my weekend, featuring Bath’s Christmas market (wintry sun, mulled wine, shopping…) and my friends’ little dog Ella (who looks like a cross between a fox and a baby deer).

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Dreamy houses on Lansdown Crescent

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I love this winter light…

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You can’t go to Bath and not photograph the abbey…

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Pug and Puffin – an adorable doggy-centric gift shop! I bought more presents for my mum’s puppy than for people that day…

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Everything a dog could want…how stylish is that mini sofa??

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A very patient Ella watched the rugby with the boys

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Anthropologie is a dangerous place when you have gift vouchers to spend AND there’s 20% off… feat. my lovely friend Jules and her new hat!

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Ella snuggled up after a long day

H x

 

 

Dealing with dark days

Literally, dark days. You know the story…it’s dark when you get up and dark when you get home. #northernhemisphereproblems…

The lack of natural light in winter can affect some people quite acutely. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression linked to the winter months. The symptoms include lethargy, persistent low mood, anxiousness, loss of interest in activities – which then tend to improve in spring/ summer.

I’ve always noticed a change in my mood and a general loss of enthusiasm around November/December but until a few years ago I had never heard of SAD. As you might guess from my blog title…I love sunshine and I soon find myself missing the bright mornings! Despite experiencing 26 winters, the darkness always comes as a surprise to me. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt unsettled, restless and more tired than usual. Mornings are difficult.

Here are some of my strategies to help alleviate the winter blues…

Firstly (and most importantly!): get outside!

Yep, it’s a struggle if you work 9-5 in an office (or like me, in a windowless lab).  Last winter, I tried to get out for a run at least one lunchtime a week – I’m going to do the same this year (haven’t started yet though…maybe next week, better late than never  🙂 ).  Walking would do – anything than gets you out in the fresh air! Exercise in general is a great boost for anyone struggling with low mood.

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Autumn at Westonbirt Arboretum

Daylight bulbs

As the name suggests, these light bulbs mimic daylight. It’s bright, white light – very different to the yellow light we typically have in our homes. My daylight bulb (an Amazon purchase for under £10) has moved through 3 different houses and is still going after 5 years of almost daily use. I love it! It’s so bright that my old housemates used to call my room the magic box. It’s currently in my closet so that I get my daylight fix when I’m getting ready in the mornings.

So, does it work? I’ve had mine for so long that it’s difficult to notice changes but I think it helps kick start my mornings and makes me feel more alert.

It’s s a cheap and cheerful option and as an added bonus, white light apparently causes your eyes less strain than yellow light…

 

Daylight bulbs continued….my Phillips Lumie Bodyclock

I first came across this daylight alarm clock a few years ago. I struggle to get up in the mornings and this product claims it can ‘keep your sleep cycle on track, boosting mood, energy and productivity levels all day’.

The premise: you set a rough time to be woken up and the Lumie gradually illuminates to mimic the sunrise, waking you gently. There is science behind this – waking slowly keeps your levels of stress hormones low and has also been linked to increased alertness during the day!

Does it work? Yes – in that it wakes me up. Opening your eyes to a bright room instead of pitch black is a nice feeling and definitely a more peaceful process than being jerked awake by a phone alarm! But I’m still quite good at ignoring the light and going back to sleep so I always set a back-up audible alarm…

I might be more effective if I used it regularly but my boyfriend does NOT appreciate daylight at 6am. No one likes being woken up earlier than they need to be and on a hair-washing morning I have to get up a full hour before him! (I have been trying to re-introduce this over the last few days so maybe I’ll be able to post an update!)

Of course this is just scratching the surface and I’m not an expert – just sharing in the hope that this is useful to someone. Do you have any tips for dealing with the dark winter months?

H x

If you think you have SAD and it’s affecting your life – or if you have any other type of depression – don’t suffer alone. There is always someone who can help  🙂

OOTD: A Cosy Jumper and Cold Ankles!

I usually don’t have time to take OOTD photos but my friend was delayed on the way to our coffee date this morning, so I had a few extra minutes before starting my walk down to the high street.

One of my new cold weather staples is this simple grey funnel neck jumper from Zara. It’s oversized – perfect for hiding warm layers underneath. I see so many ‘winter’ outfits which are just a loose-knit jumper with some jeans – I would freeze! Give me lots of layers any day.

Annoyingly, the neck is tiny (or maybe I have a large head) and the fabric doesn’t stretch much.  Every time I put it on I feel like I’m in danger of pulling hair out. But when it’s on, I love it. It will get lots of wear this winter!

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Note to self: Don’t wear cropped jeans in winter. You will have very cold ankles. Ripped jeans probably weren’t the best idea either….#breezy

Jumper: Zara. Bag: (new) Topshop. Coat: (old) River Island. Jeans and boots: (old) ASOS

H x