Sunday, 19 March 2017

Keeping it simple: my everyday wear | The Small Desk

I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while, but I have struggled to find the time. But now, I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning with nothing to do, it felt like the perfect time.

In the past few years I've been saving a lot of my money and trying not to buy any clothes, however this isn't always the best idea as clothing can have an enormous impact on how you feel day-to-day. I think it's important to revisit your style and your wardrobe once a year and see how you can make it easier for yourself to know what to shop for with your everyday wear, and to evaluate what's missing from your wardrobe.

For years my style has been about trying lots of different things and especially when I was a teenager I experimented a lot with what worked for me. Anyone remember Punkyfish!? Ahhh dear! But now I'm almost 30 I feel I know what I like wearing the most and what I feel most comfortable and confident in and that is the good old simple T-shirt, jumper and jeans combo. As long as all three are fairly up-to-date and new I think it can look professional for work and stylish for socialising. I'm also thanking my lucky stars that trainers have made a comeback in a big way!

Makeup-wise I've tried and tested a fair few foundations over the years and the Revlon colour match foundation wins by far for me. Although I did have a wedding make-up trial recently and she used Giorgio Armani and if it wasn't so expensive I would definitely buy that! Anyway, without further ado here is how I keep it simple...


Hair: dye it every 6 months – usually a balayage

Skin: Liz Earle superskin moisturiser, unfragranced – it smells weird the first time you use it (a bit like fish), but you get used to it and I can't smell it anymore. No-one else could ever smell it. I've used lots of different moisturisers in my time and this is by far the best and worth the money.

-Revlon colour match foundation
-Collection 2000 lasting perfection concealer
-Bobbi Brown shimmer brick
-Body Shop bronzer
-Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Top half
I usually keep it very simple and just wear a t-shirt and jumper, but if I'm going to an event I might wear a shirt. I've listed a few recent purchases...

This is where I'll go for a bit more detail.
Monki Floral Sweatshirt
Cos dot stitch high-neck jumper

Always stripped or plain.
ASOS stripe crew neck 
ASOS linen mix fabric

Topshop vine floral embroidered chambray shirt

Bottom half

Topshop Leigh jeans – two black pairs, one blue pair. Although I really need to invest in some new ones as these are very old now and started to look baggy...

Occasion dresses and skirts (accepted normally only wear once)
Places I would buy these from:
-Anthropologie (if in sale)


Black socks – because then you never have to pair socks ever again!


Black 60 denier tights for dresses and skirts.

New Balance trainers
These are the first trainers in a long time to not give me any blisters and I think they may have actually made me feet softer!

For occasions I often buy myself a new pair of heels from ASOS or wear my Whistles boots that I got in the sale and keep getting reheeled.

So that's it! What tips do you have for keeping it simple with everyday wear?


Sunday, 5 March 2017

February favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

February has been an month of progression, change and celebration. This has been the month I celebrated 9 years with my partner and the month my cousin had her first child. I also cooked dinner for my Dad for the first time in the house he helped us buy, which was well over due considering we moved in in June last year! I also made pancakes for the first time, which officially makes me a grown-up, obviously.

We also started booking and buying more wedding stuff, for example my shoes and my ring. It's also been the month I've come to the conclusion that it's near impossible to dress four women who are about to turn 30 in all the same dress and expect it to work. Bridesmaid dresses are weird. Weddings are weird in general, but I'm just thinking of it as a big party with delicious food!

Although it's only 5th March whilst I'm writing this, February feels like a distant memory and I'm struggling to remember what I did last month! Luckily I keep a diary of events, which means I can list them here...

1. Chinese for one
I rarely get a takeaway for one, in fact I think this is only the second time I've done it, but my oh my was it great. My partner was out and it was a Friday night so I treated myself to a takeaway from our local Chinese and got everything I wanted and slobbed out and watched trash TV. It was bliss.

2. Wedding shoes and wedding ring
This month I bought my wedding shoes (two pairs for two dresses, diva!) and my wedding ring. I got my shoes from Kurt Geiger in Covent Garden.

3. Dinner with Dad
I went for a curry at Masala Zone with my Dad after work one evening. It was lovely to spend quality time chatting about life whilst enjoying delicious food.

4. Curry with neighbours
We tried out the local curry place again with our amazing neighbours. It was great to spend time with them but there was so much food and I'd had Masala Zone the night before!

5. Bridesmaids dresses day
I bought a shit ton of dresses from ASOS for all my bridesmaids to try and to pick one. It didn't quite work out but we had a lovely afternoon as one of them cooked a scrumptious vegan macaroni cheese.

6. Friend's birthday in East London
We celebrated my partner's best man's birthday all the way out in East London. It was lovely to see all his friends and I even bumped into one of my old school friends on the way home!

7. Friends over for dinner
We had our friends, who are my partner's friends from home but have been going out for 9 years as well, over for dinner. I cooked salmon en-croute (from a pack) and chips. It was yummy and so nice to spend quality time with them as we used to live round the corner from each other.

8. 9 years Chinese
On 15th Feb we celebrated 9 years by getting a takeaway Chinese!

9. Dinner at friend's – avocado pasta
We had another bridesmaid trying on session that didn't work out at one of the other bridesmaid's houses and she cooked a delicious vegan avocado pasta dish. Whether or not the dresses work out it's always a great excuse to spend quality time with friends.

10. Thai restaurant with partner
On the Friday after our anniversary we celebrated properly by going out to an amazing Thai restaurant not far from where we live. See photo above for my beautifully presented Pad Thai.

11. Grandma visit
We visited my Grandma who is very ill at the moment and shared some tea and biscuits with her.

12. Uni talk
I had the surreal experience this month of being invited back to my old Uni to talk about careers, and specifically my own career. I had to provide a biography of myself and everything! I had to talk for half an hour, which is the longest I've ever spoken for, and then there was an HOUR Q&A!

13. Pub quiz
We tackled the pub quiz again with our neighbours. We didn't do well but I learnt that the old capital of England was Winchester!

14. Friend for lunch
I met one of my old school friends for lunch at the British Museum cafe. It was lovely to see her and to catch up.

15. Sister and Dad over
My sister and Dad came over to my house and I made them dinner and pancakes! As I said before it was a great feeling to finally cook dinner for my Dad in our now not-so-new house.

16. Cousin's new baby
Finally, my younger cousin, who is only 18 months older than me (scary!) had her first child, a little girl. We went to visit her and had a lovely photo taken of all the women in my family except for one of my aunties. She is super cute! I can't wait to see how she develops and grows.

How was your February? Spring is just around the corner! Bring on 26th March when the clocks go forward!


Sunday, 5 February 2017

January favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

So, we thought 2016 was a bad year for the world... 2017 doesn't seem to be getting much better! With the travel ban and MPs voting for Brexit everything looks as bad if not worse for 2017... in my opinion anyway! January is always a month everyone dreads, and the politicians of this world didn't make it much better.

One thing I'm really concerned about for 2017 is climate change, and so I've made a promise to myself to enjoy more of the outdoors. This month I went on two really long walks and took advantage of the vast amount of public footpaths the UK has to offer. I used Ordinance Survey maps and their app to put together a 12 mile walk that had a pub stop midway. As much as I love the little house we now live in I need to be outside to gain perspective.

In terms of doing my bit for climate change I am still yet to purchase a car and use public transport to get everywhere. I also don't eat meat and I'm trying to get better at recycling. If anyone has any tips on how I can do more for climate change please let me know in the comments below. Anyway, trying to be positive, here are the best bits about my January...

1. Wedding food tasting
This month we invited a caterer over to my parents house to do a food tasting for our wedding. The food was incredible, the caterer was such a nice guy and so we booked him! It's such a relief to have the food booked as I keep reading about how it's the bit most people talk about after the day has finished! We also always said we wanted to have amazing food at the wedding but on a budget and I think we've just about managed it. The only thing major to book is the band, which is proving tricky! If anyone has any good wedding band suggestions please let me know.

2. Practice walk with partner and Dad
Now that I live in the countryside I have to think of ways to entice my friends out here to visit me... I suggested a country walk but the answer was only if there is a pub halfway... Now, I don't normally visit a pub on a walk but I managed to find a route that did. Before I took a group of friends I thought I should practice it and bring my Dad along who is the King of map reading! It was about 10 miles in total and was knackering but so energising at the same time.

3. Pub quiz
This month we've started going to our local pub quiz with our next door neighbours. It's so nice to be able to go out after work in my local area and not worry about the last train home. We've now been twice, the first time we got an awfully low score of 7 out of 30 and the second time we went we significantly improved and got a much better 23 out of 30!

4. Partner's birthday
This month it was my partner's birthday and we celebrated by taking a half day off work and buying his suit for the wedding, and then at the weekend we went to a pub in Pimlico with 10 or so of his friends. I bought him tickets to a coffee festival, a scented candle and a beautiful coffee mug from Heal's.

5. Big walk with friends
Of course the big walk had to be in my favourites considering how much prep it took! We had to go a a slightly different route back because of some maintenance work being carried out on the route that wouldn't allow you to pass so the route ended up being 12 miles! It was so much fun though and everyone ended up staying for pizza at ours afterwards.

6. Coat hooks up
Really lame one I know but after 8 months of living here we now finally have somewhere to put our coats! We got the hooks from a Danish company called Normann Copenhagen. We actually managed to buy them with an Amazon voucher my partner got from work, which was handy as they are pretty expensive.

7. Dinner at Franco Manca
I went for dinner at Franco Manca with a really old friend and talked deep about various life topics and enjoyed good pizza.

8. Garden sorted
We had some work done on our garden and now we finally have a nice area to put a table and chairs for when the sun comes out. Bring on summer!

9. Day of art
I work in the arts so sometimes I avoid going to galleries and museums on the weekend as it can feel a bit like work. But I have to remember how much I love art and that it's ok to love what you do enough to sort of do it on the weekend as well!

My oldest friend who I've known since I was born came over from Ireland and we visited the Pace Gallery exhibition that is in collaboration with teamLab and had lunch in the Royal Academy cafe. We chatted loads about life and relationships and it was great to catch up with her.

Then on the same day I met one of my bridesmaids and went to the Tate and the cafe for cake. We played guess the artist, because we're cool.

10. Dinner with parents
My final favourite of the month is going to my parents' house for dinner where my Mum cooked us a delicious vegetable curry. Also, I got to cuddle my cat, which was obviously the main reason for visiting, he he.

How was your January? Did you get up to anything fun?


Sunday, 29 January 2017

January films 2017 | The Small Desk

January 1st
1. Minimalism: A documentary about important things
I wanted to watch this documentary after seeing the trailer: it talked about how we are always on the hunt for some'thing' to improve our lives and make us happier. I really related to this idea and wanted to hear what they had to say.

The documentary focuses around two guys who have a website called 'The Minimalists' but you also hear from neuroscientists and other strong believers in minimalism. It looks at minimalism as a way to escape capitalism and its endless circle of consumerism. For a while I watched it thinking, 'ok, yeah two bachelors living as minimalists, but what if you had kids?', and then they spoke to two fathers who had families and they do still try to make it work, but it doesn't look easy.

I think what I liked about the documentary is that they weren't being too strict about minimalism, they were saying that you could take the parts of it you liked and put that into your life in an attempt to make yourself happier.

One thing they did talk about that I might try one day is about having 33 items of clothing (including shoes, coats and bags) – I went and counted my clothing and I have over 110 items... they say it frees your mind to have less, and I completely understand where they are coming from. I like the idea of living with less but even if I lived with less I know I would still spend the same amount of money, I'd have fewer things but they'd be more expensive! It's a thought provoking film and I would recommend it, I'm just not sure how practical the movement really is.

Watched using: Google Play

January 2nd
2. The Lobster
This film is devoid of emotion yet it is about finding a lifelong partner. It is a bizarre film, it reminds me a bit of Wes Anderson films. It is beautifully shot and has a great cast with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz as the main characters. The actors speak in a very matter of fact way and have conversations about facts rather than emotions.

The premise of the story is that Colin Farrell's character goes to a hotel that allows you to stay 45 days to find a partner, but if you do not find a partner in this time you will be turned into an animal of your choice. Most people do not want to be turned into an animal and so if they have not found a partner in this time they escape to the forest, but there are still rules there. There is also the option to escape to the city, but again there are rules there. It is a weird portrayal of societal norms around relationships and the implicit rules that govern us.

I think you need to watch it more than once to really understand it, but it is a difficult watch and not one I particularly want to watch again anyhow. I'm glad I watched it but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. It's a difficult watch but clever and thought provoking. I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It's in English but feels like world cinema, not surprising though as it was co-written by Greek producer, Yorgos Lanthimos.

Watched using: Google Play

January 8th
3. The Hunt
A friend at work lent me the DVD of this film, as I said I really enjoy world cinema, and she said this was one of the best. It is an incredibly powerful film – you forget they are all actors and become completely immersed in the film. I hardly ever jump at films or react that strongly because I know they are actors but this one made me jump out of my seat, I've never had such a strong reaction to a film before.

The plot is harrowing, and I don't suggest it's one for evening viewing. I watched it at about 4.30pm after a really long walk. It is set in a small Danish village and is all in Danish, so you have to watch with subtitles. It is about a man called Lucas who is accused by a little girl named Klara of sexual abuse. He works at a nursery and Klara attends this nursery, but she is also his best friend's daughter. Klara shows strong feelings for Lucas and gives him a present of some beaded hearts, which he rejects and tells her to give it to one of the boys at nursery, as sort of revenge she tells the head of the nursery that Lucas has shown her his genitals. Clearly as she is so young, she has no idea what this sort of accusation means for Lucas.

The film shows how the accusation develops and how Lucas and the small community he lives in deal with this. Lucas is also trying to regain custody of his child from his ex-wife. Basically within one month his whole life has fallen apart. The director of this film has clearly put a lot of time and research into this subject matter and it is incredibly sensitively written. It's the sort of film that doesn't leave you and you'll be thinking about it for days afterwards.

Watched using: DVD

January 12th
4. My Scientology Movie
It was my partner's birthday and we decided to rent a film from Google Play: this one came up as a suggested film. To be honest, anything with Louis Theroux in I'm 100% going to watch and pretty much guaranteed to enjoy. He is such an entertaining journalist who is extraordinarily clever with his approach to interviewing.

The film is absolutely genius. At first I'd heard some criticisms of it because it didn't really get into the practicing Scientology church but the way he decided to direct the film instead was creative brilliance.

The fascinating thing about the Scientology movement is the film production and how they use actors, and how many actors have become scientologists. Theroux in parallel uses actors for his film to portray the scientologists he cannot get access to. The film edges on the focusing solely on the dark side of the church but it is careful to balance it with other schools of thought and reads aloud letters from the church to him that express their concern of their portrayal.

I would thoroughly recommend this film if you enjoy Theroux's interviewing style. I'm not sure how much 'new' information I learnt, but it is worth watching just for Theroux.

Watched using: Google Play

January 25th
5. The Brit Who Tried to Kill Trump
Michael Sandford tried to kill Trump at one of his rallies campaigning for presidency, but it's not as simple as that sounds. Michael has long suffered with mental health issues and has a history of being a very loving, caring person with no criminal past.

This documentary is one of the best and most sensitively told I have seen on BBC Three. It follows his family's journey to find out his sentencing with a republican judge in an American court with Trump now as president. It is an incredibly moving story and well worth watching. I won't tell you what happens as I don't want to spoil it but what I can say is that it's a completely unique story that will be remembered for a long time.

Watched using: BBC iPlayer

What films did you watch this month? Any recommendations?

© the small desk. All rights reserved.