Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Seven easy ways to relax after work

1. As soon as you get home, get straight into your pyjamas! My favourite pyjamas are from Gap. Depending on the weather I also put on my dressing gown and slippers.

2. Put the kettle on and have a hot drink, my personal favourite is hot Ribena! Make sure you sit on the sofa to drink it and really enjoy it. Remember to let it help you relax.

3. After a long day typing away give yourself a hand massage with your favourite hand cream. I like to use a scented one. My work colleagues bought me the wild rose hand cream from Neal's yard and it smells amazing.

4. Give yourself some time to reflect on the day, it helps to put things into perspective. Sometimes I find it helps to write a diary, or a blog post. It always makes me want to write more if I have a beautiful notepad! At the moment I have a Cath Kidston journal that I write in if I have a particularly bad day or a particularly good day.

5. Plan things outside of work, like meeting up with friends, things you enjoy, things you can look forward to. 

6. Put your headphones on and listen to music whilst lying on your bed with the lights out.

7. Finally, go to bed an hour before you want to fall asleep, read a book or watch some YouTube videos and chill.

What ways do you relax after work? Can you relax after work or do you study after work? 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hema: the bargain homeware edit

On Saturday I visited the market town of Kingston upon Thames. I thought I knew the area quite well, but I didn't expect it to have changed so much since I had last been. There are so many new shops and it is now seriously smart. 

One of the shops I stumbled upon was Hema. As soon as I stepped foot inside the shop I knew I had to share this shop with you guys! The store is two floors and reminds me of Tiger. It is really well priced. I would say it is a bit more expensive than Tiger, but not as expensive as West Elm. You can get all your basics, like wine glasses and tumblers, in there for a few pounds.

The store originates from Amsterdam and you can really see Dutch and Scandinavian influences throughout. There is a great range of children's gifts and also a huge variety of sweets and gift ideas for adults too. I will definitely be doing a large proportion of my Christmas shopping here. I took some photos inside the store with my phone, but I decided the quality wasn't really good enough to share, so I decided instead to do an edit using the products they have on their website.

Here are my top picks from their website:

1. Bath mat, coral, £9
The zig-zag pattern on this bath mat makes it bang on trend. 

2. Cushion cover, brushed graphic, £9
Partnered with a bold chair this cushion could add that subtle note needed.

3. Scented sticks, spring, £11
At £11 these scented sticks are a lot cheaper than any I have seen in the Body Shop, the White Company or L'Occitane.

4. Cardboard folder, orange, £2.50
I know this seems an odd choice, but I love to organise, and this is a really unique colour for a ring binder!

5. Wooden chopping board, £20
I really like the oblong shape of this board, it also doubles as a serving board. Already picturing a cheese board? I am!

6. Storage box from Nepal, £10
Loving the grey and yellow trend, along with the zig-zags, this box is perfect.

7. Stool, white, £20
This stool could easily be mistaken as a Habitat product, and for £20 it is a bargain!

8. Porto small dish, £4.50
I chose this dish purely for the mint green colour. The shop in Kingston is filled to the brim with products this colour.

There are lots of great products on the site and in store, let me know if any of these take your fancy!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Does the idea of a 5 year life plan work for women who want kids?

Forget the 5 year life plan if you want to have kids, start thinking about the years you have left until you want to be having children. 

As a 26 year old woman who wants to 'have it all'; a creative job that I enjoy, a house, a comfortable income and children, I am worried by the increasing amount of women having children who are beginning to accept that they're never going to 'have it all'. Basically a 'normal' job that gives you maternity leave does not leave a woman who wants to spend at least the first six months of their child's life with them, at home, in a financially stable position.

The worries of going on maternity leave are huge, especially for 'career women'. There is the fear of giving birth, then you have to re-adjust your whole life to putting someone else before yourself, and on top of that worry about whether or not you will be able to pay and contribute to the family income, plus get back on the career ladder, it is a LOT to think about. Obviously I would not be thinking about having children if I didn't think there were major positives too! This article is focussed on the financial and career worries.

What I did not realise is that you are never legally entitled to get 100% of your earnings on maternity leave, not even in the first six weeks. In the first six weeks you are entitled to 90% of your average weekly earnings, then you get £138.18 a week for 33 weeks, this is all taxed. After those 33 weeks are up, you get nothing! This is all based on average earnings, and obviously you might have a generous employer, but I did not realise it was not legally full pay and I think lots of people don't realise this either. The only reason I found out was because one of my good friends at work is pregnant and she told me. Then there are child care costs, which I won't go into but basically there isn't much help from the government until your child is three.

I should point out that I am not looking to have children for at least the next four years, but four years still worries me and I am beginning to think now might be a good time to focus on having a plan B, a career I am in control of.

Should all women have a plan B? A backup career? A top up career? I think so, and why wait until you have children to start this off? You could start freelancing on the side of your full-time job to build up a reputation and a client list now, so that you can get the initial first year stresses out of the way and be confident that you have a viable freelance career before you have children. Freelance UK can give you an idea of some of the freelance skills that people are already making a living out of. Think of what you are already good at, for example if you teach, think about private tutoring, or if you bake, think about selling your bakes. I'm not saying give up on a career if you want kids, but I am saying that it might be a good idea to start thinking about having a side career that you have more control of. As I see my work colleagues having children I see how important flexible working hours become to them, and freelancing could give you that option. What I also need to say though is of course everyone is different and everyone has difficult goals, experiences, worries and ambitions.

It would be great to hear what you think and if you have any advice. I know this type of article isn't everyone's cup of tea, I just like to mix up my content and share my thoughts with you. Plus I could have got this all wrong as I am not even close to having children yet but thank you for reading!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The secret behind my new Dior glasses

After leaving Specsavers, as none of the frames suited me, I gingerly went to Vision Express. I was looking at the standard frames and the 'designer' frames, staying away from the 'luxury' and 'premium' section. Then the boyfriend wanders over holding a pair of frames and tells me to try them on. I put them on and looked in the mirror and that was it, I loved them, I had to have them. I asked him where he got them from and he sheepishly said, 'the premium section'. Argh! With a price tag of £269 just for the frames let alone the lenses they were way over my original budget. 

When we got home we had the genius idea of looking online. I knew there were online opticians but had never really looked into it before. We searched around for a while and eventually found the cheapest price on Toni and Guy opticians. No word of a lie they were/are selling the frames for £162. That's a saving of £107!! Absolute madness. 

I already had my prescription, so I entered all the details in and it ended up coming to just over £200, STILL cheaper than the frames alone from Vision Express. I have now been wearing the glasses for 2 days and I love them. The opticians did a great job with the prescription, it only took 10 days for the glasses to arrive in the post AND they came with a gorgeous Dior case plus cleaning cloth. I cannot recommend enough shopping around for glasses online, even if you don't need prescription glasses, shop around for sunglasses too! But obviously do be careful of fake sellers. I rang the shop to check and searched for customer reviews, plus Toni and Guy are already a well known hairdressers. I hope you enjoyed this post, just really felt I had to share with you the saving of the century!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Open House London, Hampton Court

Open House London is a two day event where you can visit buildings that are not normally open to the public, such as 10 Downing Street and the Gherkin. With some of the buildings you have to pre-book or enter into a ballot, but it is all free. I decided to visit Hampton Court and view the Georgian House, otherwise known as the German kitchens. It is now owned by the Landmark Trust and let as a holiday apartment from £807 for four nights for 8 people.

We were taken on a guided tour by a very knowledgable volunteer and got to see half of the building. I am still unsure about what the other half is used for. The Georgian house was built by George I to house his kitchens. They are known as the German kitchens as George I was German (obvs). 

A couple of things I learnt on the tour are as follows:
  • Georgians laid their knife and spoon downward facing on the table, as they often used to wear clothing with lots of lace around the cuffs and it would catch on the cutlery if it were facing upwards. 
  • Georgians used to bring their own cutlery to dinners. People used to try to outdo each other with their cutlery, goldsmiths had a field day!

We also found out there used to be a primary school at Hampton Court palace until the 1950s! Open House London has finished for this year but it is on every year so keep your eyes peel for the 2015 list and ballots! Hampton Court is open all year round and at only 40 minutes on the train from central London it is well worth a visit.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Handmade Fair

Yesterday I went to the Handmade Fair. Sarah Hamilton Prints very kindly made it possible for myself and my friend, Holly, to go to the fair for free. I wanted to go to the fair as it is hosted by Kirstie Allsopp and I basically love every programme she presents! When you enter the fair the first thing you see are numerous food stands selling fashionable food such as Churros. 

As you make your way around there are two large tents with little stands in, and then other smaller tents with activities and talks. I was expecting lots of handmade items, of which there are, but it was mostly a place to buy all the materials you needed to make handmade things. For example, lots of 'fat quarters' to make patchwork quilts, along with wool and craft tools. Check out the woman with her giant knitting needles below!

Victoria and Abigail are worth checking out.

Christmas products were already on display!

Anyone recognise this mirror? For reference it is by Connell and Todd.

I was so pleased to see an Etsy stand, as I am obsessed with their website.

Essie Button's dream! You can find all this washi tape at Chamby and Cor.

 Finally, the person who made it possible for me to go, Sarah Hamilton Prints!

If you want to go to the Fair, you best hurry as it closes today!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Edited: homeware lust

I almost titled this post 'Visiting Zoella's favourite homeware store', but then I thought, no, remember your audience, and re-titled it. For those of you who don't know (hi mum!), Zoella is a YouTuber who loves this store. Anyway! I went to Brighton yesterday for a conference for work, but thought it was a perfect opportunity to check out this little homeware store that Zoella has been raving about. I left the conference at half five, got completely lost and ended up in the shop about ten minutes before closing! Luckily the man behind the till (possibly the owner) didn't seem to mind and I managed to have time to browse all THREE floors. The place is like a tardis

The place is crammed full of Oh Deer products, which as you know from my recent post on them, I love Oh Deer. I had never seen their cushions in real life before, and the quality is amazing. They are so soft! It has made me want them even more! Overall this shop is packed with beautiful homeware that is bang on trend, plus you can have a great chat with the guy who runs the store! I basically ended up telling him where to have his next store! It may have just been because I was in networking mode from the conference though! I took some photos inside the shop so that you can get an idea of what they sell, and I bought two greetings cards that I don't need. Hope you enjoy the photos and if you fancy anything in the photos it can all be found on their website! Goodbye bank balance!

Considering purchasing this clock  – what do you think?


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Awkwardness and cheering myself up!

Last night I went to the West Elm press event for their 'Local' project. This was the first press event I've been invited to through my blog. I got the event invite through email and was delighted, I thought to myself: 'I'll go, be confident, network and take great photos for a blog post'. None of those things happened! I walked in, no-one seemed to be checking names against a list, and everyone was in pairs or small groups. Whether they'd come as a group or not, I don't know, but I certainly felt out of place straight away. 

All the women were more dressed up than me, and most people were older than me. The queue for the food and drink was quite long and everyone was chatting to their friends or colleagues in the queue, so I decided to avoid it! Also, I decided that if I got a drink it would mean I had to stay longer to finish it! I then felt too awkward to take any photos. I did get my iPhone out eventually and took the terrible photo above of a honeycomb textured bowl I liked. Ugh, I got myself all worked up, and left after ten minutes! I don't know what it is, but when something feels too corporate or I feel I have to perform, all I want to do is run out of the door! The event was from 6pm to 10pm and I got there at about 6:15pm, so perhaps it would have been better if I had gone later and it was busier. Either way, next time I am taking someone along with me to press events. 

West Elm is on Tottenham Court Road and you know what else is on that road!? Tiger! After feeling pissed off with myself for being too shy to even take my camera out of my bag, I decided to treat myself to some things from Tiger. I only spent £6, so I didn't completely blow the budget! This really was retail therapy! Here are the things I purchased from Tiger... 4 cards, some gift tags and some amazing cactus tea lights! 
Oh and of course, I picked up Stylist magazine on the way home!

Sorry for letting my readers down not having a blog post with amazing photos from the press event, I will try harder next time!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Quick and simple lunch idea: roast vegetables with seeds

Makes lunch for one for 2 or 3 days

You will need:
3 large beetroot bulbs or a mix of small and large
2 jacket potatoes
2 carrots
1/4 of a cauliflower
3 sticks of celery
handful of pumpkin seeds
handful of sesame seeds
olive oil for drizzling over the veg

In order to save money I try to make my lunch for work as often as possible. This is the lunch I will be taking with me to work for the next two or three days. I will also be taking an orange and some crackers for snack time (usually 10am!).

This is such a simple recipe and requires very little effort. Here's how it goes:

Step 1
Wash your vegetables.

Step 2
Trim the outside part (skin??) of the beetroot and dice into cubes. See photo above for size guide.

Step 3
Cut your jacket potatoes into cubes and add to a baking tray, along with the beetroot.

Step 4
Drizzle over oil olive and cook at 200 degrees.

Step 5
Peel the carrots and dice. Cut the cauliflower up along with the celery. Add these to the baking tray after the beetroot and potatoes have been on for 15 minutes.

Step 6
Leave all the vegetables to cook for another 30 minutes. This means the potatoes and beetroot will have been in for a total of 45 minutes.

Step 7
Toast the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

Step 8
Take your roasted vegetables out of the oven and add to a container. Pour the toasted seeds over the top, and you're done! That simple! 

I hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know if you try it out or if you would add anything to it.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Orla Kiely homeware edit

Recently I was browsing the shops with my work colleague looking for birthday presents for my other work colleague. I had noticed that there was now an Orla Kiely store in Covent Garden, but hadn't dared to go in as I thought it was all far too expensive. Turns out, I was wrong. Granted there are some pieces in there that are still really expensive, but the homeware is actually really affordable. I was really impressed with some of their new designs and how they have moved away from a mass produced 'Cath Kidston' vibe and are producing some really classic pieces. Here are some of my favourite pieces.

1. Linear Stem Sugar Bowl, £22

2. Set of 3 Enamel Herb Pots, £45

3. Linear Stem Cushion, duck egg, £40

4. EVOKE Mio Radio, £150

5. Ellie Elephant Mug, £8.50

6. Raised Stem Teapot, £60

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Ohh Deer homeware: best bits

I have been meaning to do a blog post on Ohh Deer for absolutely ages now, and finally, here it is! I first heard of this illustrators' collective when I bought a T-shirt for my boyfriend from the Tate. I love their quirky designs and hilarious prints. Here are their best bits, and of course I have focussed on homeware. Let me know what your favourite pieces are!

This cushion has been on my 'ideal home' board on Pinterest for over a year now! The little wolf is just so cute!

Zhu II cushion, £34.95
One of my earliest teddy bears was a panda, so I have fond memories of pandas. Plus I always think they look so sad. 

At the moment the site has an offer on where you can buy two cushions for £60! Every cushion has a soft faux suede back and they even claim to be vegan.

I Fell mug, £9.95
This design gets me every time, very cheesy humour, but I like it!

I added this one in as for some reason I thought it would make my mum laugh...

Stockholm print, £19.95
Stockholm is one of my favourite cities in the world and this would remind me of how much fun I had when I visited a year or so ago in the depths of winter. I did have fun, trust me! I do now need to go and see it in the summer time.

Complimentary Colours print, £14.95
As an Art History graduate I NEED this print in my home. Genius.

Also they have loads of greetings cards on sale and an offer of buy 2 get one free! I found it hard to resist stocking up and may have bought a few... oops! 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

YouTuber influence

Pointless Blog, otherwise known as Alfie Deyes, recently posted a photo on Instagram with the comment 'Like this photo. It's for a social experiment'. Within 5 minutes it had 13,592 likes and 343 comments.
The point of this 'social experiment' was presumably for Alfie to show the corporate executives behind him how much power he had on social media. To put this in context, if I post a photo on Instagram I am pleased if I get 12 likes over the course of a week. Even if a brand such as Mulberry post a photo of one of the world's most famous models they still don't get this many likes in a day. Ask any 14 to 16 year old what their favourite TV programme is and you may not get the answer you are expecting. 'Team Internet', a phrase often used by YouTubers and fans, is what it is all about.

It started with the internet but now these young YouTubers are branching out and releasing merchandise, beauty products and books. Pointless Blog has just released his first book and when he appeared at his book signing at Waterstones Piccadilly over 7,000 of his subscribers turned up. Some Twitter users even presumed One Direction had turned up due to the amount of screaming girls.

So, why are newspapers such as The Telegraph printing articles such as 'Who on earth is Alfie Deyes?' only yesterday? To be fair to them they did post an article back in 2011 about one of YouTube's first British vlogger's (video blogger) success stories, Charlie McDonnell, who inspired Alfie. But why do The Telegraph readers not know who Alfie Deyes is? It is partly to do with the way different generations use the internet. Many of those who read newspapers online go directly to the site they are looking for and simply browse the sites they know. The younger generation however are on the internet looking for new content, new ideas, inspiration, creativity, they don't want to stick to the same major newspapers, even if they are online. They want relatable content, lifestyles they can realistically aspire to and to get advice from their peers. 

One of the main things the YouTubers promote is a positive outlook on life and to be kind to each other. At the same time young viewers can see people not much older than them gaining success by themselves and on their own terms. For the past five or so years we have seen the young generation struggle to find work, even after doing what society dictates, to go to University and to study. Yet these YouTubers are doing things differently, giving hope, and showing the baby boomers that they can still achieve the success they did, just in their own creative way.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Seven Sisters to Birling Gap: a day of walking and paddling

On Sunday I visited the Seven Sisters with my parents and boyfriend. I am always keen to do some exercise at the weekend, and if I can get exercise with a beautiful view and the promise of cake at the end, even better! The Seven Sisters are seven hills, all with different names. It's great walking across the tops of the hills and downhill, but they are pretty steep uphill and not so enjoyable. You have to remember it's good for the thighs! The weather was absolutely beautiful. The walk was lovely, despite being followed by a huge school group at the beginning. 

Luckily we had a picnic and decided to stop for a while so that the group could go on ahead. Once the group had passed it was really peaceful and the perfect place to forget the stresses of London life. For our picnic I had a banana sandwich, some strawberries (it's not a picnic without strawberries!), cucumber and water.

The beach at Birling Gap.

There is serious erosion along this piece of coastline. Only recently one of the cottages nearest to the edge had to be demolished as part of it was hanging off the side. There are some great photos showing how many cottages have been lost to erosion in this article.

I was planning on having cake but then I saw this.

The boyfriend still decided to go for cake.

I finished the walk with a paddle in the sea. It was such a lovely way to enjoy the last of the summer weather.
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