Last week, I had a night out at the Roof Garden at the John Lewis on Oxford Street in central London. I was invited to a Christmas party for bloggers, and I got to take one of my friends along too. If that wasn't enough of a treat, we were given the most amazing cocktails from Background Bars and delicious Scottish fare from Mac & Wild. We were then given ideas on how we could Make It Thoughtful this Christmas.
Christmas can be so stressful. Many children have lists of presents they want, which in a way makes life easier. But what do you get your other family and friends? People that you care about, but might not be too sure what they would like. John Lewis are encouraging shoppers to be more thoughtful when it comes to gift-giving. One way to do that is to add a bit of personalisation.
Have I ever mentioned that I love the Tu clothing from Sainsbury's. It was only a few years ago when people used to make fun of mums for buying clothes from the supermarket (me included). But these days, everyone knows that the cool kids buy their food and their fashion at the same time. Even the fashionistas are heading to the grocery store for their affordable but stylish clothes. Well, I'm no fashionista but I love pretty clothes and I love a bargain. So last week I went to Sainsbury's as they were running a 25% off sale on clothes.
I was immediately drawn to their midi pleated skirts. I have tried so many on in the past eight months and have not had any luck in finding one that is flattering and comfortable. Sainsbury's had a gorgeous khaki skirt but they didn't have it in my size so I got his grey one instead. I am debating whether I should order the khaki online. The skirts are sized from size 8-22 and only costs £13.50 in the sale, which is amazing. I've added my black brogue boots from Dune to keep the skirt from looking too girly (here are this year's version of the boot).
I know it's still autumn, but in the past week it has started feeling like winter. The temperatures have dropped and I'm living in knits and boots. I've had a few outings recently that I would like to look not-so-casual, and nice winter boots would be an asset. I can't always wear trainers/sneakers or Gore-Tex boots. So I was thrilled when my parcel from JD Williams arrived.
The first item were these gorgeous suede ankle boots (first three photos). They are so soft and pretty, not to mention the fact that khaki is quite big for this autumn/winter season. Although you could wear these all year long. I love the cowboy style of these boots. They would look equally nice with jeans or a dress and tights. I'm wearing them with new favourite jeans, which are from Sainsburys. I've been really impressed with the style and prices for the clothing at Sainsburys (the skirt is below from there as well).
Last week I headed to Chelsea to the Laura Ashley head office for their spring/summer17 preview. One of my favourite parts of blogging is getting to go look at lovely fashion and interiors. And I love Laura Ashley. I'm not overly girly, but I do enjoy florals and pinks. If I wasn't married and living with mucky children, I can imagine living somewhere full of flowery wallpaper, a pink armchair with candles all around. Hmmm.
For now, I am making do with lovely accents. I was especially taken with the blush. Even Husband can't argue with a little bit of light pink. And team it with grey for a cool, Scandi vibe. Speaking of grey, I saw some grey candles that looked fab. And only when I got close did I realise that they weren't real. Perfect when you have small children and you don't want to worry about them burning themselves.
I've been blogging for three years now, and until a couple of weeks ago I didn't have a proper place to write. We have a desk in the guest room, but as we've only renovated our ground floor, I don't like to be upstairs for too long (rest-of-house renovations should be happening in the next few months!!). So I have been writing on my laptop - on the sofa or at the dining table, which often isn't that comfortable. And obviously it isn't great, ergonomically-speaking. So I was beyond excited when my new desk arrived from Kit Out My Office.
First, I shuffled the living room around (I do this a few times a year anyway, to Husband's dismay) to make room for the desk. Then I kindly left the box that the desk arrived in for Husband to find. I am such a considerate wife, I know. Anyway, Husband put the desk together quite easily and I had an office space in less than an hour.
Do you know those women who always wear pretty heels and generally look quite elegant yet cool? Well, I'm not one of those women. I'm the practical one wearing trainers/sneakers. Recently I've started going for regular walks in Richmond Park with various mum friends. Sometimes this results in wet toes. Trainers aren't that great for muddy walks. So I've been wanting to get some Goretex boots for ages. And last week I finally got some.
Along with some other bloggers, I was invited to an event at Hotter Shoes in Guildford last week. Not only did we get to find out about the history of Hotter, we got to go crazy trying on lots of boots. Hotter was founded in 1959 making slippers. These proved so popular that they started making an array of comfortable shoes and boots, and now there are currently 70 stores in the UK. And all the shoes made for Hotter, are made in their factory in Lancashire. That's right, their factory is based in the UK. I became a fan of Hotter shoes last year and was already the owner of two sandals, one trainer and one heeled party shoe, but no boots. Not until last week.
Most of the bloggers were trying on cute heeled boots, and of course Mrs Practical here was looking for boots that would enable me to walk for miles in comfort (and stay dry). The problem was that there were so many comfortable boots - even the ones with heels. But then I found some Gore-tex beauties and I knew that I had to get them. They didn't have the Orla boots in black, in my size, so the store ordered them for me (with free delivery!) and they arrived at my house four days later.
I live in dresses and leggings. And even though I have many outdoor adventures, I am not dressed like I am about to go creeping through tall grass or stomping in the mud. In September, Regatta invited me (and three other mummy bloggers) to a style masterclass with Vogue Williams. Vogue is a model and TV personality, and is the new face of the Regatta AW16 Heritage collection. Vogue and Regatta helped me find a sportier look for my weekends.
Regatta considers me to be a 'Weekend Explorer' because my family and I spend our weekends walking and discovering new areas. I like my clothes to be practical and warm. This is all true, but I never seem to be dressed appropriately for our walks. I normally wear my trainers which always leave me with wet toes. And my winter coat is made of wool rather than a fabric that will keep me dry.
Most of us have a body part, or three, which we dress to disguise. But sometimes the feature you're trying to hide cannot be covered. What do you do when you hate your face? I remember being 10 years old and the boys at school would tease me. 'Your lips are so big, you must trip over them when you're walking'. And other similar quips. I remember holding back the tears and not letting them see my sadness. I would spend hours in the mirror, trying to find ways to make my lips look smaller. An obviously futile exercise.
As a teenager, I turned to fashion magazines for tricks to help me minimise my lips. I started wearing lipstick at 15, and would line my lips so they would appear smaller. Fast forward 26 years and I continued trying to make my lips look smaller. At this point though, it was so natural that I didn't realise that I was doing it. Then last weekend, I got my make-up done, which is quite a rare occurrence. Not only did I get a bright lipstick, but the make-up artist filled in every inch of my lips.
I was initially surprised at how full my lips looked. And I could hear those 10-year old boys taunting me. Then I remembered that there are women who inject toxins into their lips to make them fuller. Some people actually want big lips. Big lips! Like mine. And I have wasted years trying to make them smaller. Just because of some stupid little boys. Isn't it funny/ridiculous how we can carry so much baggage from childhood? And you don't even realise that you have let it effect you.
Moozles loves a dress. So she was thrilled when I presented her with two new dresses last month. To be honest, the girl is not too picky when it comes to clothing. I, on the other hand, am very pernickety. I like dresses to be made of cotton, durable and able to handle stains. I also don't like slogans or cartoon characters. But I don't want her clothing to look boring. And the girls and boys clothes from Milk & Biscuits fit that bill to a tee.
The tropical leaf print dress is definitely my favourite. The cotton is really soft and the print is really cool. Moozles has been wearing this dress loads. It is perfect for sunny, but not sweltering, summer days. But I can see her wearing it loads in the autumn and winter as well. And I love three-quarter sleeves as it makes the dress feel quite modern. Also, we have washed this dress many times - I have managed to get stains out every time, and the dress has not shrunk one bit and doesn't need any ironing (the last bit is my favourite).
For the past few months, I have been trying to update my wardrobe. After years of wearing the same thing (my safe and comfy dress-legging combo), I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone. I have decided that just because I am not at my ideal weight, it does not mean that I should stop trying out different styles. I've been experimenting with blazers, testing out midi skirts and showing off my shoulders. Next, I knew I needed a maxi-dress. Now, I know that maxi-dresses have been around for ages. But I have always felt like they only look nice on tall, slim women. I'm happy to report that I was wrong (a very rare occurrence indeed).
A couple of weeks ago I got this dress from House of Fraser. For a curvier gal, I do think you need to be a bit careful about what maxi dress to choose from. A flowy viscose or jersey fabric hangs nicely without clinging to all your lumps and bumps. I know lots of full-figure women who are happy to wear tight clothing. I am not one of those people. I really wish I could be more carefree about my body, but I just can't.
But I don't think you have to pick a boring black dress, just because you are curvy. I do love a bright print or stripes. This striped dress from Dickins & Jones would look lovely on just about anyone. Horizontal stripes be damned. The v-neck is flattering without being too low-cut (bonus: I was able to get away without wearing a bra with this dress). Although I wore the dress with wedges, they would look fab with trainers or flip-flops too. And if you're wearing a maxi-dress? No one knows if you haven't shaved your legs. Double bonus!