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Spring wishlist

After what has seemed like frankly an endless, dark, unforgiving winter, I am so ready to turn my back on thick jumpers and boots and embrace lighter fabrics and brighter tones.  Over the last few months I've found myself getting somewhat lazy with my outfits (not helped of course by having only a small proportion of my clothes at my parents' house), relying on skinny jeans, plaid shirts or black t-shirts and ankle boots for the majority of my evening and weekend outfits.  Whilst I'll never turn my back on my beloved ripped black skinny jeans (hey, I didn't get my knee tattooed for nothin'), just daydreaming about swishy midi skirts, floaty tops and pretty bows has given me a renewed excitement for the new season.

I've been in a bit of a funk lately with, well, pretty much everything - but Spring is so symbolic to me, all about bringing light, growth, newness and the opportunity to switch things up a bit.  I'm determined to clear out some old things and invest in a few Spring-like pieces that will bring me joy, and what could bring more joy than sequins or a blush pink tulle skirt? All of these are from the new SS17 Collection from Coast, it's more than a little bit pretty...

1. Bridesmaid's cami, £70 | 2. Bourbon knit top, £69 3. Delph top, £69  |  4. Waist tie top, £79
5.Chambray jumpsuit (coming in April) | 6. Rhian skirt, £139 
7. Bourbon knit top, as before | 8. Ivi sequin top, £95

Whilst I don't think I could risk an entirely white outfit (I still have nightmares of wearing a white vest and a white denim skirt to a school disco in about 1997 and being asked by a boy in my year if I was off to a cricket match) I love the white tailored trousers and nude heels, and that chambray jumpsuit was made for cocktails by a pool or swishing around a garden party.  (Yes I get invited to tons of garden parties, certainly enough to justify the purchasing of that jumpsuit...).

What's on your Spring wishlist this year?

*This is a  PR collaboration, all opinions are  my own

We are made of starstuff

During my English A Level, I remember a lesson about abstract nouns.  Our teacher explained to us that they are things you cannot touch or sense, they have no physical existence.  "Like democracy, bravery or sadness," she said.

She was wrong though, I think.  This sadness is not abstract, it is concrete.  You can put your hands around it or feel it sitting in the pit of your stomach, as if you swallowed a rock.  It is as physical as a punch in the stomach; it possesses a sting like biting through your tongue.  I would dispute with my English teacher that you cannot sense sadness, or that it is somehow intangible.  It is a clear and present thing that can wake you by pressing on your chest, or be lurking unexpectedly around a corner.  It is an ache that painkillers cannot soothe.  It is the feeling of being dug out with a spoon, hollowed somehow.  I press my fingers into my belly where it hurts.  Itisreal itisreal itisreal.

At my parents' house I sleep with the blind pulled up.  When I lie prone, with my head tilted to the side, I can see trees against the night sky.  I watch the trees flounder and grow wild in the wind (especially last night; thrashing and twisting in the storm that grew and grew throughout the night).  I am reminded that through wind and rain and as time passes, trees grow roots for stability.  The roots push through the dirt and rocks and hold the tree fast, through still or storm.  I imagine myself pushing my fingers into the mud and grasping, holding tight; clenching pebbles and dust and worms and hidden things.  If I stand steadfast and root myself to the ground, will I weather this storm? Will the rock in my stomach subside? (Everything in life is a metaphor for everything else).

When I lie prone, with my head tilted to the side, I can see lights on in the bedrooms of the people who live opposite.  I watch their silhouettes move around their room; dancing and laughing and sitting and living, just living on and on and on.  I am reminded that through darkness there is lightness and that life goes on.  There are periods in life when you dance in the kitchen, and periods in life when you do not leave your bed, but still time passes.  I imagine that in another lifetime I will be living in a different house and I will be the silhouette and someone else, ensconced in sadness will stare at me through their blinds and realise that life goes on regardless.

When I lie prone, with my head tilted to the side, I can see the stars, like tiny pinpricks in the sky that the light is leaking through.  A friend told me today that using the Hubble telescope we can see the light from the Eagle Nebula, which takes 7000 years to reach the earth.  What would I do with 7000 years, I think.  Would this still hurt as much? Would I still love as hard, ball my fists, clench my teeth and hold on to things not meant for me? Would I still feel as scared? Carl Sagan said,  “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” I cannot believe it right now, but one day I will.  The universe is so vast, and we are so small and we are all made of stars.

When I lie prone, with my head tilted to the side, I tell myself that I will grow roots, that one day I will dance in the kitchen again, and that I am made of stars.  Sleep finds me, and I do not wake until the morning.  The storm has subsided now.  There is a silence and stillness that feels, somehow, concrete.

Savouring Dinnertime

I’m one of those people truly plagued with an overactive mind – someone who constantly worries about anything and everything, and over-analyses the day’s events in slow motion and HD quality (particularly if I said a stupid comment, did something I regret, or there’s a chance to convince myself that someone doesn’t like me). For this reason, I’ve long been searching for a hobby or activity that takes up so much of my energy and brainpower that I switch off from replaying the faux-pas I made in the meeting and just absorb myself in what I’m doing.

Unfortunately I’m far too messy for sewing or knitting, get completely distracted when trying to read a book or watch a film, and the last time I went to a yoga class I spent the entire time worrying I’d ripped my leggings (I had). One thing I have rediscovered lately is the absolute joy I find in cooking. At the moment, I’m currently living at my parents’ house which has been a bit unexpected and just as odd an experience as you might think (I haven’t lived at home since I was 18!) With the weather being pretty horrendous lately and the winter darkness setting in around 4pm, sometimes the evenings stretch out ahead of me and I find myself getting far too introspective (and sometimes a little bored). 

A few weeks ago I decided to start cooking for my parents once or twice a week, and trying to cook a meal that I could take my time over preparing (not just fishfingers, chips and peas!) I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. There’s something so cathartic about chopping vegetables, preparing sauces and watching things bubbling away in a saucepan. After a long day at work (and a long drive home thanks to a much lengthier commute) I can feel all of the worries of the day ebbing away as I prepare a meal. Over the last few weeks I’ve been trialling the HelloFresh boxes, and it’s been a total joy making (and eating) the meals they’ve sent. For those of you that don’t know, Hello Fresh is a delivery service that delivers the ingredients for three or five meals a week. They deliver the entire ingredients for a meal, right down to seasonings, stocks and even small things like garlic cloves or butter. They also send out recipe cards with step-by-step instructions for each meal. You can swap the meals if you don’t fancy the menu that week, and there’s also veggie options for people who don’t eat meat. We actually often order Hello Fresh boxes, usually for the first week of the month when we’re feeling a bit lazy and want to treat ourselves to some easy dinners!

Red Thai Prawn Curry - Recipe here
I think it’s common these days to end up coming home from work in a state of total exhaustion, foraging for something quick and easy to cook in the kitchen (or grabbing a ready meal or a takeaway) and then eating it in silence in front of the TV. I know many of my evenings often end up looking like that. One of the real pleasures of Hello Fresh is not only that it takes time to prepare the food in a mindful and slow way, but also that making that effort forces you to savour the meal too. After the meal is cooked I always take time to sit at the table and really take time to enjoy the fruits of my labour; chatting about the day and usually enjoying it with a glass of wine and some candles burning. My Mum has a rule that we’re not allowed phones at the dinner table (I still can’t get over how pathetic I feel saying that I’m back living at my parents’ house!) and whilst I initially found it annoying, I must admit I do actually really enjoy just sharing news and catching up rather than scrolling through Twitter. Sadly enough I’ve realised that cooking and eating is probably the only time when I just do nothing but focus on the meal (or the eating!) without having my mind on what’s going on on social media, or what I’m going to do next.

I think one of the reasons I love Hello Fresh so much is not only because the food is frankly delicious (I can’t even explain just how many ‘mmm’ noises have occurred from all around the table since I started cooking them), or that all of the ingredients are fresh and good quality, but just for the sheer experience of preparing the food and enjoying it around the dinner table. This is definitely a habit I’ll be keeping up (as well as the Hello Fresh subscription – there’s no way I can live without dinners like Sweet Potato Cottage Pie, Mexican Spiced Tostadas or Cajun Pork (I’m getting hungry now…)

If you want to try Hello Fresh you can get £25 off your first box here.

*This is a PR collaboration but all opinions are my own