BLOGMAS – Five Christmas Gifts For Men

My husband is not into sports…or fishing or fashion. The only thing that genuinely tickles his fancy are cars and as much as I would love to present him with his beloved Audi RS3 its just not gonna happen! When it comes to buying Christmas gifts it is always, without fail the men in my life who are the biggest pain in the bum! If you’ve read my post The Anniversary Conundrum then you’ll know how much of an issue I find buying presents for the male of the species. They want nothing. They need nothing. You spend a small fortune desperately trying to raise a smile of genuine delight that never seems to materialise. So, I have trawled the interweb (sorry I just cannot do real-life shops – particularly at this time of year with a pushchair in tow) for five Christmas gifts for men which, although they may not do cartwheels of joy over, may just like enough to utilise….

The Experience – Gin & Botanical Dining Extravaganza (£200) Not On The High Street

Yes, this is a substantial gift but I have a sneaking suspicion that it could be a winner. One of the best presents I ever managed to pull off was tickets to see Michael McIntyre. If in doubt an experience could be the way forward. Whether he’s into his drinks, racing, food or flying, a day or weekend learning something new is a great idea for a really special gift!

Gin & Botanical Dining Extravaganza For Two

For The Coffee LoverMonthly Delivery Coffee Subscription (£29 For Three Months) Not On The High Street

There’s a plethora of beauty boxes and subscription packages available for the girls but (as ever) a very limited selection when it comes to the boys! When I stumbled across this package that delivers fresh coffee from independent farmers each and every month I thought, ‘Yes’, that is something that could actually be appreciated in my household (Mr.R and his caffeine affliction are something of a standing joke). I love the idea that it’s not just a one-off gift and you can choose how long you want your subscription to last – you could choose to have fresh coffee delivered right up until next Christmas!

Coffee Subscription - Christmas gifts for men

For The Drinks CoinneusserCocktail Chameleon Hardback Book £40 Mr Porter

A few years ago I bought a beautiful coffee table book called ‘Vintage Cocktails’ for Mr.R without any real expectation that he would be interested. But against all odds, it was a surprise hit. There’s an abundance of lovely cocktail recipe books out there and at this time of year, I don’t think you can go wrong (who doesn’t love a cocktail at Christmas)?

Cocktail Chameleon Book

For The Techy Bloke – Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker £149 John Lewis

I’ve yet to come across a bloke who doesn’t have at least a passing interest in anything a bit techy. I’m talking speakers, sound systems, tv’s…you get the gist! We have two of the Sonos Play 1 speakers at home and to be honest they’re a bit of a no-brainer. They link up to your phone which means you can play music from your library or even from your Spotify account and it’s great to be able to have different playlists in different rooms. We also have the soundbar and subwoofer (Mr.R’s pride and joy) which make great gifts if you’re looking to spend a little more (last year the whole family chipped in to get the subwoofer for my dad who is notoriously hard to buy for).

Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker

For The FoodyPembridge Indulgent Chilled Hamper – £120 Marks & Spencer

Men like to eat right? Of course, they do and who could resist a hamper full of cheese, crackers and a few bottles of wine? When I start to get stressed with Christmas shopping I always try to remember the incontrovertible fact that a beautiful hamper will be always be appreciated, used and enjoyed and at the end of the day, that’s about as much as any gift giver can hope for! M&S have a gorgeous selection of hampers in a wide variety of price points that make fabulous gifts for men (or indeed for anyone really)!

Sonos Play 1 Smart Speaker

I hope you were able to find a little inspiration here. Do you have any top tips on how to buy Christmas gifts for men?

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY5 

elf cooking candy canes
Watcha cooking Tuukka Tuukka??? 

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BLOGMAS – November Favourites, The Last Of The Year

How is it monthly favourites time again? It only seems like two minutes ago I was putting the finishing touches to Octobers favourites! I blinked, went on holiday and now it’s bloomin Christmas! In terms of November favourites, there’s a new skincare discovery, an (almost) toddling baby and news of a rather exciting Royal event for 2018!

Environ

Regular readers will know I’m something of a skincare junkie. I think this is born from the fact that I’ve spent the last 30 odd years battling with a host of skin-related issues. I’m always on the lookout for the next wonder product and am inexplicably drawn to anything rich and luxurious (and usually super spendy – go figure)! It was getting to the point that as lovely as the products I was using undoubtedly were, I was seeing very little in the way of results on my major problem areas (currently residual pregnancy pigmentation and my nemesis…milia)! My friend Kim is a skincare specialist so I decided it was time to book in for a consultation. She immediately pointed out that most of the products I was using were oil-based (damn my luxurious tastes) and therefore were working against my skin type. She suggested switching to water-based products and introduced me to Environ which I have to say has been something of a revelation! Within a week of using the products, I (for the first time) noticed a significant difference in the texture and appearance of my skin. I’ve since had my first facial with Kim which was unlike any facial I’ve ever had. No faff, no namby-pamby, strokey massage just firm, targeted pressure, lots of exfoliation and the use of electronic and sound waves to up my hydration levels. In other words, it gets shit done! I haven’t been using the products for long but the difference I have seen is huge and my understanding of the products is that with continued use you can move up to different strengths and start introducing tools such as dermal rollers and a rather fancy mobile devise to get the results of a facial at home! I’ve also recently started on the skin supplements (a mixture of Omegas, Vitamin A and antioxidants) to start treating my skin from the inside. I’m really excited to continue with this regime and build on the results I’ already starting to see! For me putting this regime into place is the star of my November favourites list.

Environ Skincare

KIM VAN LIEROP – SKIN SPECIALIST

Pre Christmas Getaway 

Seeing as we spent 10 days of the month holiday, this was a given for November favourites! Our pre-Christmas getaway to the South of Spain was just what the Doctor ordered. After a manic few months, it was great to spend some quality time together as a family before the Christmas madness descended. We ate, we drank, we shopped. It was friggin awesome! Check out my Pre-Christmas Holiday In The Sun post to find out my top tips on what to see, where to eat and where to shop!

Family Holiday In Spain

Black Camisoles

The upside to something you have always loved being ‘in fashion’ is you are suddenly overwhelmed with an abundance of variations in a whole range of price brackets. The downsides are a. every other bugger has exactly the same breadth of choice and b. you end up getting overly excited by the fact that you actually have a choice and end up with (in this case) EVERY BLACK LACE CAMISOLE you come across. Now, I’m really not complaining. These are the moments you need to take advantage of and stock up while you can. The fad will die down and soon I will be left alone with my cami’s…just the way I like it!

Samsøe ⏀ Samsøe Camisole Massimo Dutti Velvet Camisole

Anine Bing Madeline Blazer

Ok so (if you’ve been reading my blog) you will know all about the saga that is the Anine Bing blazer. Long story short I fell in love with seemingly the most popular jacket of the season! It was sold out everywhere and took an age to come back into stock. When it did I was waiting, ready to pounce and boy it really hasn’t disappointed! I’ve written a full post all about the Madeline Blazer if you want to check it out in all its glory…it’s definitely earned its place in the November Favourites!

Anine Bing Blazer

Glossier Cloud Paint

I always have good intentions of taking a streamlined makeup bag on holiday but this time I actually managed it! Only one foundation, no eyeliner (that one was a bit traumatic) and the Glossier Cloud Paint cream blush which, after continued use I am LOVING! It’s great for those no-makeup makeup days or I’ve used it as a bit of a base for my powder blush if I’m after something with a bit more oomph! I also love the fact that you can mix up the colours to create just the right tone for you. Check out my Glossier Review for my thoughts on Cloud Paint and more from the range.

Glossier Cloud Paint

Baby Steps

Luna is almost on her feet. Correction, she IS on her feet but doesn’t seem overly keen on staying there. Watching your child grow and develop is a strange old thing. You strive and strive for the next step, when will she walk? when will she talk? But as soon as the achievement is made you find yourself welling up and lamenting the fact that your baby is growing up! Such is the way of the world and if I’m honest, I’m very much looking forward to having random little conversations with my little munchkin. She’s truly hilarious without words so I can only imagine the laughs we will have when she does start to speak!

Luna Belle

The Royal Wedding Part II

A late addition to the November Favourites but oh my, its a goodie! So a week ago today, I was glued to the T.V as the news was announced that Prince Harry was to marry Meghan Markle! Oh. My. God…There’s going to be another Royal Wedding!! My excitement levels have gone stratospheric but I know myself well enough to try and instil a level of calm or I will end up sad, lamenting the fact that I am already married and can’t have another wedding (believe me I’ve tried – Mr.R is having none of it)! The news has special meaning as it’s a very real and positive reminder of how far we as a nation have come. Last month I talked about the Netflix series, The Crown and one of the major themes was a dereliction of duty through falling in love with the wrong person. Edward and Wallis, Margaret and Peter, Charles and Camilla, all tragic love stories in their own way. Given this history, the event taking place next year is all the more special and remarkable and I for one CANNOT WAIT! No really, I’m going to have a party (also I’m very excited to get me a new mug)!

royal wedding style

So thats my November favourites. How was November for you? Are we all organised for the big day?

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY4

elf on the shelf in the fridge
Are you a bit chilly in there Tuukka Tuukka?

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BLOGMAS – My Fantasy Christmas Wish List

One of my favourite past times is perusing the virtual shelves of luxury online stores and adding all the loveliness to a wish list or fantasy shopping basket! Now it’s a momentous day when I actually make a purchase so all of this is purely in the realms of fantasy but hey, a girl can dream right? Here are my top ten fantasy buys that are getting me hot under the collar this Christmas. Mr.R, if you’re reading…

dear santa...my fantasy wish list

Balmain Blazer

The Rolls Royce of blazers make no mistake! We all know I love a blazer and this one has been on the life lust list for quite some time! The Balmain signature blazer is significantly more structured than my usual picks and yes it will always be just a little bit ‘wag-ish’ but hey, I’m cool with a little bit of wag style now and then!

Black Balmain Blazer

BALMAIN BLAZER

Jimmy Choo Romy Pumps

My Jimmy Choo Black patent Abel pumps are probably one of the most worn pair of shoes I own so I’m desperate to add the Romy (in the lower 85mm heel) to my collection. This blush suede pair are the perfect paradox of practical and impractical…they’ll go with anything and everything but blush pink suede? Did someone say high maintenance?

Jimmy Choo Romy Pumps

JIMMY CHOO ROMY PUMPS

Prada Handbag

A year or so ago my mum bought me what is essentially a wallet on a chain…a small bag big enough for your phone with card slots and a zip compartment. Now as much as I love my other bags, this is the one I reach for on a day to day basis. It’s small and light, it basically acts as a purse and I can wear it cross body. This Prada bag would be the perfect upgrade for days where something a little more dressy is required.

Prada Cross Body Bag

PRADA BAG

Chloe Susanna Boots

I feel like I’m hugely late to the party with this one. The Susanna boots have been on the market for so long they have doubled in price and spawned a Topshop dupe! They are definitely having a moment right now but I can see me wearing these until my dying day! They remind me of (a much more glitzy version of) a pair of Ash cowboy boots I had and wore until they had been re-soled so many times they dropped to pieces.

Chloe Susanna Boots

CHLOE SUSANNA BOOTS

Diptyque Dragon Scented Candle

A Christmas candle is always such a special treat and really helps to get you into the festive spirit! I adore Diptyque and the Christmas collection this year is beyond gorgeous! Three warming, festive scents in the most beautiful glass votives (I use mine for storing makeup brushes once the candle has burned down) choose from Dragon, Unicorn or Pheonix…I’m not gonna lie, I think I need fall three the only issue being I feel like I need this in my life right now so festivities can well and truly commence!

Diptyque Christmas Candle

DIPTYQUE CANDLE

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Masterclass

I’ve always been more of an eye than a lip girl but I’m starting to feel that now I’m in my thirties I really should have mastered the art of applying a proper, full-on lip! This collection by Charlotte Tilbury has given me all the heart eyes and surely would give me the incentive to play at ‘being a real grown-up who wears lipstick and everything’!

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Masterclass

CHARLOTTE TILBURY LIP MASTERCLASS

Maria Tash Mini 18-Karat Gold Diamond Earring

I mentioned a while ago that I’m having a bit of a moment with earrings and have been lusting after anything from Maria Tash for quite some time. This super simple yet super chic mini hoop would be quite a delight to find tucked away in my stocking…Santa if your listening?

Maria Tash Gold Hoop Earring

MARIA TASH EARRING

Mejuri Beaded Ring

These gold skinny stacking rings are so bloomin awesome but present me with two problems. Firstly, despite my best efforts and intentions, my hands are looking a little rough, dry and just generally a bit worse for wear. Not the best for showing off these delicate little beauties. Secondly (and yes I’m aware that this is a bit of a first world problem) which one do you choose? They’re all so morish! Obviously, I can’t do much about the latter (except maybe buy all the rings which does seem rather excessive) but if somebody would like to gift me some products by Margaret Dabbs well that would be just fabulous!

Mejuri Beaded Ring

MEJURI RING

Acne Scarf

Isn’t this baby blue colour a dream? This scarf seems made for snuggling up on icy, wintry days and manages to look both cosy and ‘tres chic’ all at once! I have a feeling that this is the type of accessory that would live in your wardrobe for a long long time!

Acne Canada Scarf

ACNE SCARF

Joseph Leather Leggings

Many years ago I was the proud owner of the ultimate leather leggings from By Malene Birger. Supple, soft, stretchy leather that didn’t ‘knee’ or ‘sag’ they were perfection. Unfortunately, said leggings were involved in an incident which even now makes me wince. If I said the incident involved a bottle of ‘bleach heavy’ mould and mildew remover would you get the gist? Yes…it was a sad sad day indeed. Anyway, since that sad day, I have never had the heart (or the pennies) to replace them but I’m pretty sure this fantasy pair by Joseph would greatly help the grieving process along!

Joseph Leather Leggings

JOSEPH LEATHER LEGGINGS

What’s on your fantasy Christmas Wish List???

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY3

message written in toothpaste
That was a new tube of toothpaste Tuukka Tuukka!

elf on the shelf cleaning her teeth

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BLOGMAS – How I Store My Christmas Decorations

Last Christmas I had an epiphany. There I was happily unwrapping my (really quite extensive) bauble collection from the mass of shredded tissue paper they called home when it occurred to me that surely there must be a safer and more organised method than the one I was currently using! ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ they say so if you want to make life easier for yourself next Christmas (it’s too late for this year – you might as well embrace the chaos) then follow these top tips for storing your Christmas decorations.

how to store your christmas decorations

Arm Yourself With The Correct Tools.

Invest in the right tools now and avoid a post-Christmas meltdown when the awful day you have to de-Christmas your house comes around. (That day is depressing enough without breaking your favourite ornament trying to stuff it into a tatty cardboard box). There’s nothing quite like being prepared and having the correct tools. In this instance plastic storage tubs, bubble wrap and a Label Maker (I don’t know how I have managed to get through life but to my shame, I still DO NOT own a label maker…that’s definitely on for the Christmas wish list)! If you have any large gift boxes lying around, these make excellent alternatives to a plastic storage tub or if your an organisational nerd, Lakeland does a dedicated Christmas ornament storage box which comes with handy winders for your Christmas lights which brings me nicely on to…

Leave The Lights In The Same Condition You Wish To Find Them 

Yes, we’ve all done it but there is nothing, I repeat nothing more frustrating than getting in a tangle with your Christmas lights. You can literally lose hours of your life detangling a string of fairy lights so do yourself a favour and spend a few more minutes carefully winding them around a firm piece of cardboard before putting them into storage…your future self with thank you!

Colour Coordinate

If your anything like me you will have baubles and trinkets in every colour under the sun. Now I like to colour coordinate different areas of my house (for example my stair garland is decorated in shades of blush pink and gold where my tree is usually a more traditional red, gold and green) so it makes sense to me to store like with like making decorating the enjoyable and stress free task it rightly deserves to be!

If In Doubt Bubble Wrap Is Your Friend

If the budget doesn’t allow for an influx of new plastic tubs or if you’re short of space then bubble wrap is your best friend! You can buy huge rolls of bubble wrap form hardware or stationary stores for not a lot of money and it is truly worth its weight in gold when it comes to protecting the more delicate and valuable Christmas decorations.

Take Pictures For Next Year

A few years ago I tried something a little different and more elaborate with my mantlepiece garland and absolutely loved it! When it came to recreating it the year after I became increasingly frustrated trying to remember what I had done until it suddenly occurred to me that (of course) I had taken pictures! Now in this day and age taking photos of your Christmas decorations is pretty much a given but make it easy on yourself and create a ‘decorations’ folder on your phone – that way you have a handy template to work from!

Set Aside Space To Store Your Decorations

We are in the process of remodelling our garage and I fully intend to have some dedicated decoration storage built into the plans! At the moment they reside in the loft, a place Mr.R has decreed I am not allowed to venture and yet hates to venture himself! I’m currently gearing up for the yearly battle to get him up there to bring my decorations down (on a side note if you haven’t seen Michal McIntyre’s sketch on this very topic then do check it out…hilarious)!

Do you have any top tips for storing your Christmas decorations?

Elf On The Shelf – The Adventures Of Tuukka Tuukka DAY2

Andrex Puppy Elf
Tuukka Tuukka’s been taking tips from the Andrex puppy!
Elf On The Shelf Ideas
Someone’s been having fun!

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BLOGMAS – Christmas Cards With Papier

*disclaimer* If you are on my Christmas card list then please avert your eyes now!

I know there are people who don’t see the point in Christmas cards and see the whole process as a massive chore but I absolutely love it when December begins and suddenly the morning post gets interesting. I relish the process of selecting my cards and find it fascinating to see the cards everybody else picks. I’m not so fond of the writing part (I honestly don’t think my hand has recovered from the amount of thank you cards required when you get married and have a baby), so this year I’ve cheated ever so slightly by buying them pre-written from Papier. Papier does the most lovely personalised paper goods (we bought Luna’s first birthday invitations from here and the quality is just fantastic)! There’s a plethora of designs to choose from and you can buy them individually or in packs. I’ve chosen two designs – a rather jazzy Christmas pineapple and the lesser seen Christmas tiger! Are Christmas cards a big thing in your household? I’d love to hear all about your unique traditions.

Papier Christmas Cards

Pre Written Christmas Cards

PAPIER CHRISTMAS CARDS

Elf On The Shelf

I’ve always adored Christmas but like most people, I was sad to find that the older you get the less magical things begin to appear. So, when Luna was born I threw myself with gusto into each and every Christmas tradition I could think of! Luna was far too young to pay attention but I couldn’t help myself. I was like well, a kid at Christmas! Now, Elf On The Shelf wasn’t doing the rounds when I was young but what an amazing concept (although do come back to me on the 24th when I’ve done the whole of advent…my feelings towards the little scout elves may have changed somewhat)! Our elf is a ‘she’ who is currently nameless (when Luna’s old enough she can do the honours) although I think I’m going to start calling her ‘Tuukka Tuukka’ as that’s pretty much all Luna says (except for dadadada but lets not open that old wound)! Every day in the run-up to Christmas I’ll be showing you what Tuukka Tuukka’s getting up to…what this space!

elf on the shelf december 1st
December 1st…Tuukka Tuukka arrives bearing gifts – Luna’s very first advent calendar!

THE ELF ON THE SHELF – GIRL

THE ELF ON THE SHELF – BOY

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A Pre Christmas Holiday In The Sun

Winter sun has never really featured in my yearly plans. The typical summer holiday is always a must and pre-baby Mr.R and I were rather fond of the odd city break (Manchester and Edinburgh always topping the list). This year however after a manic couple of months which saw us celebrate our daughters first birthday and open a new business (and with Christmas looming), we decided now was the time to grab a bit of winter sunshine! I’m not going to lie, this holiday was exactly what we needed and we really lucked out with the weather (November in Spain can be a little hit or miss)! We ate, we drank, we shopped. We visited each and every one of my favourite spots and yes we did the ultimate holiday activity…we watched Highlander and Bird On A Wire (maybe that ones peculiar to us – don’t knock it till you try it guys)!

What to Do, See & Eat On Holiday In The South Of Spain

What We Got Up To – Where To Explore

Having travelled to the South of Spain since the age of 9 months (coincidentally exactly the same age as Luna was on her first visit), I feel particularly well placed to recommend the things to do and places to see! But (and it’s quite a big but) if you’re after a guide to archaeological sites or want to know just what one wears to a pool party at the Ocean Club then this might not be for you! On the other hand, if shopping, eating and just generally chilling out is your bag then read on…

  • Puerto Banus
    Puerto Banus is my happy place. Look I know it’s not for everyone but in my mind, there’s nothing like sitting with a glass of wine watching all that life has to offer stroll by! The shopping is fantastic and contrary to popular legend isn’t confined to high end or luxury. All of my favourites are there – Zara, Massimo Dutti, Uterqüe as well as the huge department store El Corte Inglés for niche and premium brands, beauty and the shoe hall of dreams! Grab a coffee at Goyo and lunch at Picasso’s (which FYI was closed for refurbishment when we were there – how very rude). I’m a huge fan of ‘The Port’ during the day. Evenings, on the other hand, aren’t really my bag which leads me nicely on to…

 

Family Holiday In Spain

Goyo's Cafe Puerto Banus

  • Benahavís
    When we first discovered Benahavís it was a tiny little village nestled in the hills, accessible only by a winding potholed road – authentic and gorgeous. Today the road has been widened and tarmaced. The roundabouts have water fountains to rival Las Vegas and the restaurants have multiplied by five! But to me, this is still the prettiest, most atmospheric place and the restaurants are almost universally good! Try Los Abanicos for steak and Rufino for the best prawn pill pill in the world!
  • San Pedro Market
    You can’t go to Spain and not enjoy a mooch around a traditional market. This market is so authentic and you can get your essentials for far less than the much more commercial and ‘touristy’ market at Puerto Banus. We paid 2 euros for a huge bag of olives and 6 for a whole kilo of sweeties (yes we did scoff the lot)!
  • Olivia’s La Cala
    The latter half of my pregnancy was marked by the Rio Olympics and Elliot Wright – Playa In Marbella! For the uninitiated let me explain. The programme centres around Elliot Wright (cousin to Mark of TOWIE fame) and the ups and downs of opening a new bar/restaurant in Spain. For obvious reasons Mr.R and I were glued to this particular ITV Be spectacular and we couldn’t resist paying Olivia’s a cheeky visit! The fact that Elliot – fresh from honeymoon made an appearance was the icing on the cake!

Olivias La Cala

  • The Bullring Market
    Expensive and commercialised it may be but the Saturday market at the Bullring Puerto Banus is a must visit! The bricks and mortar stores on the plaza at the very top of the market are always worth a visit and don’t forget to start the day right – with a slap-up breakfast from Yanx…the triple stacked pancakes are to die for!

Puerto Banus Bullring Market

What I Bought

I had such good intentions of getting a good start on my Christmas shopping on this holiday but, (much like Black Friday) things rapidly went downhill when I spied a blazer… and a camisole (or maybe two)! I hit Zara, Massimo (you know what a soft spot I have for Massimo) and one of the aforementioned shops at the Bullring. Gunnels is a gorgeous little boutique with brands such as Wildfox, Twist and Tango and Samsøe ⏀ Samsøe! I couldn’t resist adding to my gold bangle stack and when I spied the lace camisole of dreams it was a done deal (despite the fact that it has given me serious underwear issues  – the post-breastfeeding boobs are definitely not up to braless these days)! I did rather better on the Christmas shopping front for Luna! I may have gone a little crazy in Neck & Neck (a gorgeous Spanish baby boutique) but it’s just beyond me to resist all those teeny tiny sweaters and lace trimmed shirts!

Caroline Svedbom Gold Bangle

Massimo Dutti Velvet Camisole

Samsøe ⏀ Samsøe Camisole

Neck and Neck Childrenswear

Holiday Shopping

As you have probably gathered, Spain for me is a bit of a home from home and I have a very concise and particular list of what I like to do and the places I like to visit. For me, its simply a little slice of heaven, a retreat and the most special of special places! Winter sun is definitely the way forward and the only downside I can think of is that as soon as we stepped off the plane in Newcastle, we were hit with the realisation that Christmas is just around the corner and, despite the very best of intentions my Christmas shopping isn’t quite as advanced as I had hoped! Are you a fan of the winter getaway? Whats your favourite holiday hotspot for a little winter fun in the sun?

Luna Belle

Comfortable Flying – My Top Five Must Haves

I’m not a good traveller. It’s not a fear of flying per se, it’s more a fear of discomfort. Travel gives me a case of stomach churning, can’t go to the toilet until three days after you arrive at your destination, anxiety. I liken travel through an airport to a spell behind bars. You are bound by rules that seem to change every time and don’t get me started on security! Yes, I know that these days it’s a necessary evil but the whole process is nothing short of excruciating! That moment when you are finally released on the other side is, what I can only imagine being released from prison feels like. I learned long ago, that airports and I would never be friends so, in order to get through the inevitable horror and carve a path for comfortable flying, I have certain ‘essentials’ to keep me from losing my shit (and my travel companions from losing theirs…nobody likes to travel with a Moaning Myrtle guys)!

`how To Fly In Comfort

1. Outfit

I am full of admiration for the kind of girl who can slink onto the plane at 4 am in skinny jeans, heels and a full face of makeup. If you are that girl please leave me all the tips in the comments below – I am both jealous and intrigued! I can only surmise that they have a higher tolerance for discomfort than I do because really, getting all dressed up is nothing if not bloomin uncomfortable. So, my first rule of comfortable flying is ‘choose your outfit wisely’. Layers are always a good idea (you never know whether a flight is going to be freezing cold or red hot) and comfy knickers are a must! A scarf and a pair of socks are always handy and I try and keep my jewellery to the bare essentials. (If I’m honest this is to avoid any more trauma than is strictly necessary at the security stage-seriously, am I only the one who gets heart palpitations going through those beepy machines)?

The perfect travel outfit

Cashmere Jogging Bottoms

2. Speedy Boarding

This is an EasyJet specific tip so feel free to skip ahead if you frequent, shall we say, the more glamorous of airlines – you know, the ones where you’re given a meal and one of those little t.vs in the back of the headrest? A queue is a queue but when that queue snakes backwards and forwards like that game we were all addicted to on our good old Nokia 3310’s it’s enough to give even a dedicated plane spotter a case of serious airport anxiety! On our last trip this exact scenario presented itself and with a baby in tow the situation was far from ideal. I vowed there and then that I would never again travel without Speedy Boarding (basically paying extra for a queue jump)!

Comfortable Flying - My Top 5 Must Haves

3. VIP

A luxury I grant you but booking into the VIP lounge before we fly has significantly helped lower my anxiety levels. The fact that I am guaranteed a nice(er) toilet and a cup of coffee in relative peace has been a bit of a game changer and in my view is completely worth the extra pennies!

Jem and Bea Jemima Bag

4. Hydrate

Keeping my skin hydrated while travelling is always a challenge – there’s something about flying that seems to suck the life out of my epidermis so I always travel with a hydrating mist and a hand cream for that inevitable moment my visage starts to take on a Gordon Ramsey-esque quality. This is a. not comfortable, b. scary for my fellow passengers and c. (obviously) not great for my skin in general!

5. Take Me to My Happy Place

Last but not least always have an escape route. It might be an iPad stocked with movies or maybe you like to work from your laptop but, for me, a fully loaded kindle and if necessary a stiff G&T is perfect for taking my mind elsewhere where all else has failed! (n.b the G&T has to be really necessary as it does add to the aeroplane toilet induced anxiety which does not make for comfortable flying in the slightest)!

Are you a nervous nelly in the airport? What are your top tips for comfortable flying?

How to style a travel outfit

Next Cashmere Joggers

Comfortable Flying

TRAVEL OUTFIT

JOGGERS – NEXT

HOODIE – H&M

LEATHER JACKET – LAKELAND (SIMILAR)

TRAINERS – ADIDAS

TEE – ASOS

SCARF – BY MALENE BIRGER

BAG – JEM + BEA

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October Favourites – My Top Ten From The Tenth

October has been a busy month in the Rhoades household! On top of the fact that we’ve just launched our new Bar & Restaurant Spider & Fly, we’ve had a milestone birthday, a new hairdo and a bit of a Netflix addiction! Here are my October favourites – my top ten from the tenth!

Boy Brow

If I had my pick of the entire Glossier range, Boy Brow would far and away be top of the list! This waxy brow gel is the perfect lazy girls’ brow buddy managing to groom and thicken without needing the steady hand required of a pencil! If you’ve read my Glossier review you’ll already know that this brow gel totally tickled my fancy, even managing to knock my staple – “Benefit Gimme Brow” – off its pedestal!

Glossier UK Boy Brow

GLOSSIER BOY BROW

Short Hair Don’t Care

I so did not want to fall into the cliche of ‘woman has baby, woman cuts hair, woman becomes frump’ but yes I have gone for the chop! Nothing too drastic I hasten to add (I still have the memories of my late 90’s Posh Spice Pixi cut to contend with) but so far I’m absolutely loving it!

Burgundy Zara Jumper

M&S Autograph 

The Marks & Spencer Autograph range for kids is just to die for! Don’t get me wrong, the regular M&S range regularly comes up trumps but every time I spy something new from the Autograph range I just have to have it. It’s like an illness! The quality is amazing (if there’s one thing you can’t fault M&S on its quality), the items nearly always have these gorgeous little gold buttons and the fabrics and prints are so so pretty. Now obviously I’m talking as the mother of a little girl but after a cursory glance at the boys offering, I can confirm that the whole range is just as gorgeous and in fact would work equally as well for both sexes…I know, that’s a whole other conversation right there!

M&S AUTOGRAPH FOR KIDS

Christmas Good Housekeeping

Yes, this is an October favourites post – you haven’t gotten lost and ended up at the back end of November! The party season is officially almost upon us! Somewhere around the mid-1990’s, I purchased what can only be described as the best,  most Christmassy magazine you ever did see! It had it all, page upon glossy page of twinkling Christmas trees, articles detailing the history of many of our Christmas traditions, interviews with celebrities who would tell all about their magical Christmas rituals and the best and worst gifts they ever received! Ever since I’ve always looked forward to Christmas Good Housekeeping and for some reason it’s just never lived up to that perfect issue! This year is no exception but the Christmas issue always marks the start of my favourite time of year and I couldn’t be more excited!

October Favourites Christmas Good Housekeeping

The Crown

I am so late to the party with this one so I hope you will forgive me. I love the Royal Family…no really I LOVE the Royal Family. I have the Royal Wedding on DVD which pretty much says it all so I was absolutely itching to get involved with the Netflix series ‘The Crown’! I’ve been pestering Mr.R to get Netflix for ages and he would always say we didn’t need it as we already have Sky and Amazon (solely for bloody Jeremy Clarkson I might add). Anyway, obviously he has relented and we are now halfway through the Crown and loving it! Mr.R isn’t of the same persuasion as I am when it comes to Her Majesty but I have to say (whisper it), I think this is actually starting to turn him round to my way of thinking (which is never not a good thing)!

What She Said Podcast

I am so into Podcasts right now and am always looking for recommendations! This one is very topical for me at the moment as its all about blogging and the blogging community. Lucy from Wanderluce presents this podcast in a very informal ‘let’s sit down with a cuppa and have a chat’ kind of a way which instantly draws you in and makes you feel part of the conversation. I have learned so much from this podcast. I honestly don’t think you could buy the kind of information and advice that is given so readily and I really am quite grateful to Lucy and her guests for all the advice they have been so generous to impart. Although it’s quite a niche topic I do think non-bloggers would find it quite interesting as I am constantly asked by friends and family what its all about and how do people make there careers online. This podcast goes a long way to answering these questions while showing how much hard work and times goes into the making and running of a blog.

WANDERLUCE BLOG

Podcasts & Pinterest - My October Favourites

Pinterest 

I became seriously addicted to Pinterest when I was planning my wedding but since then I’ve been sporadic at best at keeping on top of my profile. Now you would be forgiven for thinking that Pinterest is a form of social media, another Instagram or Twitter if you will. However, what I have learned in the last couple of weeks has been mindblowing and, if like me you are looking to grow an online presence (be that a blog, a business or even an Instagram following) this information has been groundbreaking. Are you ready? O.k here it is…Pinterest is a Search Engine! Those five little words have changed how I view Pinterest and I can now see what a useful tool it can be in driving traffic to my blog. Now, I am no expert and I certainly haven’t seen the huge increase in visitors that so many bloggers report after a bit of Pinterest tweaking but my stats are certainly moving in the right direction and I’m hopeful that with a little bit more time, practice and effort Ill start to see more of an improvement!

Jessica Rhoades Pinterest Page

FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST

The Organised Mum 

I know I bang on about the difficulties of being a new mum but one thing I really have battled with since Luna was born is keeping on top of the housework. Obviously washing and ironing is going to be an issue when a: you have to put a load of washing on approx 25000 times per day and b: you are not prepared to sacrifice ironing the sheets and tea towels (I thought this was normal but considering the amount of abuse I get for it, I must be in the minority)? Cleaning the bathroom is up there with going for a smear test in terms of enjoyment levels and goddamit who are these people who hoover the house every single day??? Er, well, these days that would be me! I have recently discovered The Organised Mum and Oh. My. God,  it has changed my life! In a nutshell, you do certain jobs every day (think making the beds, putting a load of washing on, having a quick clean of the bathroom) and half an hour targeted cleaning in a particular room every day Mon-Fri. This method is so simple and yet so genius. Before I used to try and clean the whole house in one go which is absolutely soul destroying. Now, my house is pretty much clean, tidy and ready to go at all times which for an anal retentive Virgo with a fourteen-month-old bulldozer to contend with, is just bliss I tell you! BLISS!

THE ORGANISED MUM BLOG

Zoflora

O.k, so this is a bit of an extension of my new found love for The Organised Mum method but wow, how did I not know about Zoflora? For those of you who, like me had never heard of the stuff let me explain. Zoflora is a multi-purpose, fragranced antiseptic liquid that can be used neat or diluted to clean, freshen and disinfect without the whole house ending up smelling clinical or hospital like. Don’t get me wrong I love the smell of Dettol as much as the next neat freak but admittedly, the smell probably isn’t all that appealing to a potential visitor. I’m working my way through the fragrances at the moment and so far the new limited edition ‘winter mornings’ scent is my favourite and probably the least headache inducing! If you are in no way interested in cleaning products then do feel free to jump ahead- I am aware that only a complete geek would include a cleaning product in her October favourites!

Zoflora Winter Mornings

ZOFLORA

And Finally…A Milestone Birthday!

I couldn’t do an October favourites round up without mentioning the fact that this was the month that Mr. Wonderful aka my dad turned 60! We threw a fabulous birthday party at our new bar & restaurant, Spider & Fly where we served prosecco, mini burgers & golf-themed cupcakes and just generally had a ball! Happy Birthday to Luna’s favourite Granda!

60th Birthday Party

SPIDER & FLY

So those were my October favourites – How was it for you? Are you all looking forward to the party season?

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September Favourites – My Top Nine From The Ninth

In a throwback to school days, I think many people agree that September feels like time for a fresh start. It’s the beginning of Autumn, nights are drawing in, Halloween and bonfire night are within sight and Strictly’s on the telly (I’ve never been an X-factor girl – give me glitter and sequins any day of the week). I always enjoy the feel of this time of year and I’ve found it really quite hard to narrow down my list of favourites but, after much debate, here are my top nine picks from the month of September.

September Favourites, Monthly Favourites, Monthly Picks

The Shades

You all know I love a good pair of Ray Bans. Aviators, Wayfarers, Clubman – there’s something very hard to beat about these old-school classics. Recently I’ve noticed the Round Metal style (seriously Rayban could you not think of a better name?) cropping up every which way I turned and it was only a matter of time before I cracked under the pressure! With my birthday cash burning a hole in my ‘mom jeans’ I finally succumbed and bought the folding style (so bloomin convenient – why are all sunglasses not foldable?) in gold (standard). They are a thing of retro beauty and make me feel way cooler than I actually am (never a bad thing in my book). As I am rarely to be found without a pair of shades about my person whatever the season (does anyone else actually find the light stronger when the September sun hits?), these were a total no-brainer and I suspect will be worn to death this autumn.

Book Of The Month

Book of the month has to go Captain Jack’s Woman. If you’ve read all about my guilty pleasure then you will recognise that this is another from my number one author Stephanie Laurens. This is a prequel to the Bastion Club novels that feed into my favourite Cynster books and although I’m only halfway through I just can’t get enough. Smuggling, intrigue and a fair amount of bodice-ripping, this has all my essentials for a cosy, comfy read. Now, I do realise that these are not the most intellectually challenging of reads but I have to say, the web that Stephanie Laurens manages to weave with so many characters all connected by birth or marriage is nothing short of genius – the perfect companion to a glass of red on a cool September evening.

Cream Marks & Spencer Cardigan

Birthday Girl

It wouldn’t be a September round-up without mentioning the B word! My birthday is one of two days of the year (the other being Christmas) where I can be guaranteed a glossy black box to call my own and this year I was lucky enough to receive not one but two Net-A-Porter vouchers.Now I’m not gonna lie, I pretty much always have a wish-list on the go with Net-A-Porter – some things like this Burberry knit (Oh my days) are complete pie in the sky but others are ‘do-able’ with a bit of saving and a couple of birthday vouchers! After a great deal of umming and ahhing, I went for the classic black Gucci Loafers and the tan Gucci belt both of which I have worn daily since they arrived – in my book that’s a bloody good start on the old cost-per-wear system!

Pierce Bag (I.e The Purchase That Nearly Made Me Vomit)

Ok, this is where September got spendy. Driven by the sheer exhilaration of spending my birthday vouchers, I started to feel in need of a new bag. With the exception of my beloved Saint Laurant ( a surprise Christmas gift from Mr.R – find similar HERE),  I’ve had a little bit of a bag hiatus of late. During my Uni years, having a designer bag ranked highly on my list of desirables and I was forever lusting after (and spending my non existent money on) the latest ‘It’ bag. In recent times, the whole ‘bag culture’ had kind of dropped from my radar but what can I say, the bug has bitten once more and it has bitten hard! The object of my most recent affection? The JW Anderson Pierce bag. The sensible side of my brain tells me that it’s a trend piece…In a few years I’ll have moved on to something else and the Pierce will be left languishing at the back of my newly detoxed closet. My heart, however, well my heart seems to be in control of the purse strings which is in no way ideal. By way of justifying this purchase, I have to say that I did receive a hefty discount by  purchasing my bag from the newly discovered Forenzi site. (Seriously, check it out if you’re in the market for a treat – a gorgeous selection of premium and niche designers with spot discounts).

JW Anderson Pierce Bag

JW Anderson Pierce Bag, Monthly Favourites, Monthly Picks

Closet Switcheroo

If you read all about my wardrobe detox you’ll know that I’ve completed my autumn/winter switcheroo and pimped up the closet in the process. It is no word of a lie when I say that this closet detox has been a revelation! I love spending time in my wardrobe. Whereas before it would be a quick in and out trying not to fall over the pile of winter boots and shoe boxes gathering dust, I now find myself lingering just to admire my perfume shelf and perfectly edited belt selection – yes I am actually that sad! If your own wardrobe leaves you feeling stressy I highly recommend having a look at my wardrobe detox post and following my five-step process. The clarity that you gain from having a good old fashioned cull is seriously priceless – far and away my biggest achievement of the month.

How To Display Your Perfumes

Flat Lay All Day

So if you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed my grid starting to change in colour and style. I’ve been consciously working on building and developing my Instagram since around February and although it has been a very slow (and I mean glacially slow) and frustrating exercise, I finally feel as though I’m making a bit of headway. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you won’t have failed to notice the rise of the ‘flat lay’ as a photographic style. A ‘flat lay’ is essentially a birds eye photograph of a collection of objects artfully arranged and styled often with the use of props such as flowers, candles, glasses etc. After a lot of experimentation and trying to conform to the ‘marbled, rose gold, pink peony’ vibe (which I absolutely adore btw), I decided to start from scratch and work out a look of my own. I’ve made a start by choosing a smooth slab of black slate as my flat lay backdrop and have been enjoying playing around with the setup to find my own signature style. I’ve yet to ‘nail’ the aesthetic that just screams ‘Jessica Rhoades’ but, as with everything, its a work in progress and I’m pleased with how it’s developing so far.

Flat Lay Tutorial

Check Mate

So the big story this season is shaping up to be checks! Prince of Wales, heritage, houndstooth, if there’s a square print on it then it’s safe to say you’re onto a winner. The object of my desire is the picture perfect ‘Madeline’ blazer by Anine Bing (yes I’m on the waiting list and have been since the beginning of September). I’ve considered purchasing the Zara dupe but to be honest as much as this is a key trend this season, for me, it’s so true to my own style that I am more than happy to invest as I know it will be a wardrobe staple for years to come. Having said that I did feel like I needed a slice of the pie while I wait patiently for my fantasy blazer to become available. Enter this, I have to say, pretty epic, lightweight coat from Marks and Spencer. For the price of £69, it ticks all my boxes AND has gold hardware – what more could a girl ask for? I’ve been wearing this with jeans (shock) in the day and with tailored trousers in the evening – love it!

Checked Marks & Spencer Coat

Nailing It

When I was at school (and a nail-biter) I distinctly remember thinking to myself that when I had nice nails my life would be perfect! Now clearly that is utter bo**ocks but I suppose I can understand my thinking. It’s a bit like a cream coat (Coats, Crops & Falling Into Autumn), nice nails say to the world, I’m a grown-up, I’ve got my shit together. So, although I am no longer a nail-biter (and haven’t been for twenty odd years I might add) I was beginning to feel a little depressed by the state of my hands and nails since becoming a mum. There’s a nail salon on the corner of our street so there really is no excuse for me not to keep my hands in check, so while the baby was having her regular Friday playdate with Grandma I took myself off for a bit of me time and 30 minutes later emerged with a super shiny gel mani than managed to improve my mood tenfold! One week in and they are still perfect (despite the daily battering ) so I am most definitely going to make this a fortnightly treat!

Smith & Cult Nail Polish

Building A Wall

Luna can build a wall. Now she’s not going to be on Grand Designs anytime soon but I have to say that when I first saw her methodically start placing the multicoloured blocks one on top of the other I was so proud and had a little cry. I realise that this might not sound particularly groundbreaking but watching a baby grow and develop and learn is truly one of the greatest privileges I’ve ever known. She never fails to amaze me and every day there is something new to discover.

Ikea Building Bricks

Well, that’s how my September shaped up. What have been your favourites this month? Has Septemeber treated you kindly?