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Pizza Express Christmas menu

People who know me well would easily be able to guess the answer to my 'last meal' or 'desert island dinner' etc - pizza, pizza and more pizza.  Pizza is undoubtedly my greatest weakness and my biggest temptation, so it makes sense that it tops my favourite takeaway lists as well as one of my favourite places to go for dinner.  I'm personally a massive fan of Pizza Express, and was super excited when we got one in Christchurch (after missing it a lot when I moved out of Southampton).  For me, they are spot on - good food, great atmosphere, reasonably priced and a great menu.  So when they asked me if I wanted to road test their new Christmas menu, I was there before you could say Romana Padana (one of my favourites to order, kind of a mouthful).

Pizza Express Christmas menu

I hopped over to my local restaurant one Wednesday evening along with my friend Kate, and began rather dribbling at the menu as soon as we arrived.  They have a set Christmas menu which starts at £14.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three courses and a glass of prosecco, which I think is blimmin' good value.

Pizza Express prosecco

We both tried their Christmas starters - pork and pancetta croquettes and arancini provola (baked risotto balls with spinach and provola cheese).  Both were absolutely delicious - the arancini in particular were incredible (but I'm biased, anything hot and cheesy and I'm usually pretty sold - this really was good though).

Pizza Express Arancini

We also tried their 'Christmas' pizzas - Kate had the Anatra Romana, which also came highly recommended by the waitress - pulled duck, shredded courgette, red onion and mozzarella on a plum hoisin sauce base.  She made a lot of approving noises whilst eating it and I hear it was every bit as good as the waitress said.  I had the Festiva Romana - brie, leek, pine kernels and mozzarella with garlic oil, rosemary and sage on a bechamel base - it also came with a cranberry dipping sauce! It was like Christmas on a pizza - the rosemary and sage made it taste very festive, I'd definitely take one of these over a Roast Dinner any day.  It was so yummy and I'd order it again without hesitation.  I love the fact that the thinner bases of the Romana pizzas mean you're not absolutely stuffed full after eating (and there's room for dessert...)

Pizza Express

We couldn't decide between the three desserts on the Christmas menu - chocolate tartufo, mince pie cheesecake and snowball dough balls.  I mean, how could you? So we rather greedily went for all three....

The chocolate tartufo had a praline mousse centre which Kate said was a bit like a Ferrero Rocher in a dessert.  It was so good....

Pizza Express

The mince pie cheesecake was also incredible - rum soaked fruit in a clotted cream cheesecake; so creamy and decadent (and disappeared very quickly).

Pizza Express mince pie cheesecake

My favourite though was the Snowball Dough Balls - sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar and served with a vanilla buttercream dip, they were just like little balls of heaven.  I could eat them again right now, and will definitely be going back for some more!

Pizza Express snowball dough ball

Overall I could not fault the new menu and we had an absolutely perfect evening.  Everything we ate was spot on and the service was great - Pizza Express will always be right at the top of my list for a local dinner out.  What do you think of their new Christmas menu?

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Gym motivation and new kicks

Keeping up motivation to go to the gym now the nights are drawing in is definitely proving challenging.  You know that feeling when you get home from work after a long day, get cosy on the sofa and then gaze reluctantly at your trainers? Or when you set your alarm for a morning run and the temptation is just far too strong to reset it and go back to sleep?

I'm definitely battling with that right now, but I feel more determined than ever to keep to a routine and make my goals happen.  At the moment my current routine is that I see my Personal Trainer once a week, on a Monday or a Tuesday, and then do the same session on my own twice more that week. Our weekends have been busy for the last couple of months with either being away or friends visiting which has meant a bit more pressure to fit in my workouts as I've had to do three mid-week sessions, which is three occasions in a week where I get home from work pretty exhausted and have to quickly put my trainers on before I change my mind!  I really miss my running as it would have been great to supplement my gym sessions with morning runs, but I just can't accomodate them into my routine at the moment.  I have to leave my house for work about 7.20 so in order to go for a half hour run and be home and showered in time I'd have to set my alarm for about 5.45 and I just don't think I can face that, especially in the pitch black! There's also no streetlights around where I live and I haven't quite mastered running with a head torch yet.  This is leading me to a bit of a complication at the moment as I've signed up for the Brighton Half Marathon at the end of February and I just don't know how I'm going to fit in training for it.

Nike Max 90 Cheetah

When we're not busy at the weekend I do try and fit in weekend runs, and  I've been going to a boxing class on a Saturday morning, which I absolutely love.  It's really good to get a workout in but feel like you're learning something new at the same time - time flies really quickly in the class so it's not like slugging your guts out on a treadmill.

One of my favourite ways to motivate myself however has to be new gym gear.  At the moment I'm favouring baggy vests, leggings and brightly coloured Nikes - all I need to do now is set up an instagram fitness account and put chia seeds on everything, right? On a serious note, it actually does make me feel loads better about going to the gym when I know I have a new pair of jazzy leggings in my gym bag (superficial as that sounds).  One thing that deeply excited me last week was that my personal trainer advised me to get some gloves for when I'm lifting weights at the gym as I always find it a bit slippy and uncomfortable lifting the weights bars without them - of course I opted for some Nike ones (£13, bargain!), and now I feel like a right badass in the gym (plus no worrying I'm going to drop weights on my face due to sweaty palms...)

One weird thing about getting into fitness is that I definitely spend more time eyeing up more sporty clothes than I ever used to.  My Nike trainer collection is now starting to get a bit out of control - as well as the Free Runs I wear to the gym I have a rather burgeoning Nike Air Max collection which recently had this beautiful pair added to it... Aren't they just a thing of wonder and beauty to behold?

Nike Max 90 Cheetah
Nike Max 90 Cheetah
// Nike Air Max 90 Cheetah, JD Sports*

I'll be wearing them with skinny jeans and a wool coat for optimum winter comfort! In fact, I don't really want to  take them off at the moment - they definitely beat cramming cold feet into a pair of heels.  I quite often wear heels to work and having to navigate the broken paving stones and wet leaves on my journey from the train to my office is downright perilous at this time of year; I'm usually found repeating in my head "Wish I was wearing my Nikes...."

And now I'd better sign off and go and put my gym gear on and get that bum out of the door! Summer bodies are made in winter, as they say - and April weddings may require some work to fit into that dress!

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Honest to blog: On feeling inspired and wondering if it's too late

I've been doing a lot of reflecting recently.  I think the sudden introspection has, in part, been brought on by my new commute; spending 2-3 hours a day in your car leaves a lot of time for your brain to whirr around like a washing machine, churning thoughts around and generally mulling things over. I'd started to get frustrated with the 'wasted time' I spend getting to and from work - it makes me feel really powerless to be sitting in a tin box for so long every day, when every day my to-do list gets a bit longer.  They need to hurry up and invent robot cars with wifi so I can do my blogging and e-mailing and all my other life admin on the journey to work!

In an effort to maximise my commute, I decided to start listening to podcasts on the way to work to provide a bit of inspiration, and learn something new.  I love the TEDTalks podcasts in particular - they have so many speakers that really make you think and look at life differently.  This week I also downloaded some of the Gabrielle Bernstein podcasts - her keynote speeches and lectures really are so inspiring.  My only problem is that I get really excited and fired up listening to them - I think I need a little dictaphone to make audio notes of the bits I want to remember! (Plus I'd feel like Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks then, which would be a huge bonus.)

img credit: bourbonandgoose

I've also been reading Gabrielle Bernstein's book 'Spirit Junkie' and a lot of what she says really resonates with me.  She talks about living authentically, listening to your 'inner guide' and finding your true purpose.  In the keynote speeches I've listened to she has some amazing advice for young women regarding leadership and entrepreneurship - I wonder, when listening to it, what I would have gone on to do if I'd been in those lecture halls upon graduating college or university and hearing her speak.  It'd be difficult not to want to walk out and make things happen.

Through the TEDTalks podcasts I found Brené Brown.  Brené Brown is a researcher and lecturer on the topic of vulnerability and shame, and the podcast I listened to (I then went on to listen to her TED talk - which has had 17 million views!) Brené teaches that to be creative and live wholeheartedly you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable - to take risks, be imperfect and let go of what people think.  I love the way she talks - she talks about 'getting in the arena' and 'getting your ass kicked'.  The one thing she said that really resonated with me was that most people wait until they've had the right training, prepared themselves, got the right weaponry etc, to 'go into the arena' - and if you wait, then you never will.  She encourages people to stop worrying about what others will think, or worrying about getting hurt or looking stupid, and to go out there and take risks.  (I've just bought her book Daring Greatly and I'm so excited to read it, it's definitely a philosophy I can get on board with!).


On Thursday I then moved on to listen to some Podcasts from the Good Life Project (could you get a cooler sounding podcast series?) I downloaded an interview with a lady called Erin Moon on 'Walking the path back to life' which was just so powerful and moving that I couldn't possibly do it justice by describing it, but I would definitely encourage people to give it a listen.

After all of these inspiring and thought-provoking podcasts it really got me thinking about living authentically and not missing out on opportunities because of fear.  Ten years ago I had big dreams of moving to London and working in Press and PR.  I also wanted to travel - to experience living in another country and explore the world as much as possible.  My final dissertation at University was a short novel and I had dreams of either getting it published or working on a full length novel.  I wrote a lot of poetry, learned to play guitar (badly) and tried to invest as much time as possible in creative ventures.  

Life is a journey and my journey has led, several years later, to me to working in HR and living in Dorset with my fiancé Tom and Bodhi dog.  HR may not be the career I've always dreamed of, but I care about the organisation I work for, I have good friends at work and I'm able to work on things I'm interested in.  Have I taken risks to get where I am? Probably not.  Do I regularly 'go into the arena'? Not if I can help it.

Which leads me to wonder what 'living authentically' would mean for me.  What is my true path? One of the thoughts that comes back to me again and again when I think about where I'd like to take my life is, "What if it's too late?" I read so many stories of people who achieve great things in their 20s and then sit back in their 30s knowing that they've ticked off some major life goals and are on the right path,  As well as this, I've probably fallen foul of 'leaning out' as Sheryl Sandberg calls it - as a woman of 30 who gets married in a few months I'm definitely thinking about my domestic life path - we're spending a month in Bali for our honeymoon (and I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that allows that) - and who knows whether we'll be lucky enough to start a family in the years following getting married - so it doesn't exactly feel like the right time to be making any major changes to my career. (Which is a trap that Sheryl Sandberg says many young women fall into - consciously or unconsciously withdrawing from the workplace because of the idea that you might need maternity leave at some point in the future).   These are all big questions marks and not decisions made, but you do sometimes feel like your life starts to get a little 'planned out' when you reach your late-20s and 30s, don't you?

I'm not sure where I'm really going with this post - I just don't know right now what to do with all of the creativity and inspiration I feel; even if I were ready to 'go into the arena', what should I be fighting for? What if you don't know what the 'big dream' is that you're supposed to fight for? And, are you supposed to have things a bit more figured out by the time you're 30?


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Pandora Wishes

I've already made a sizeable dent in my Christmas shopping, with my 'to wrap' pile in my office growing by the second.  I've stocked up on brown paper and baker's twine, and already tried out a couple of DIYs on Pinterest to experiment with some homemade present ideas.  So whilst I polish my halo and write some big ticks on my Christmas shopping to do list, my thoughts inevitably turn to what might be on my own wishlist this Christmas.  Tom has declared an amnesty on clutter in our house, so I'm trying to avoid filling up my Christmas list with lots of little things we'll have to find homes for, and instead we'll be buying each other a few more signifcant gifts that are thoughtful and will be treasured for years to come.

Tom is usually really good at present buying, but I do tend to try and give him a bit of a helping hand by dropping a few hints or making a little online wishlist.  So when I heard about the Pandora Wishes campaign I just thought it was such a fab idea.  Pandora have been working with celebrity couples Jamie and Louise Redknapp and Marvin and Rochelle Humes, as well as Rick Edwards and Jameela Jamil to share their own wish lists and talk about their ultimate Christmas wishes.  The Pandora wishlist function on their website is great as you can set up your own list which you can share with friends and family - it then tells them their nearest store and even reminds them when your birthday is! (You basically couldn't make it any easier for them...)

If you're the nosy type, you can also go and see what the three couples picked as their wishlists on the Pandora Wishes page - there's some quite sweet videos on there too which had me drooling over all of their beautiful jewellery (and wishing I could pull off stacked rings like Jameela Jamil!)  I also spotted this image on the Pandora Twitter - I'm in love!



I thought I'd make my own little Pandora wishlist in the spirit of the campaign - how gorgeous is that laurel wreath ring?

Pandora wishlist

infinity symbol bracelet £45 // moments two-tone bangle £275 // bow ring £40 //
sparkling galaxy openwork charm £45 // 
shimmering leaves necklace £95 // laurel wreath ring £55 //
silver ball chain bracelet £49 //


As part of the campaign, Pandora are also holding a Pandora Wishes competition - all you have to do is share your wishlist and you could win a £500 voucher and one of the wishes chosen by the couples (a holiday, spa weekend or festival tickets!) What's not to like?

Are you a Pandora fan? Are you hoping that some of their jewellery might be hiding under your tree this Christmas?

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{ this is a PR collaboration } 
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The ultimate dinner party

To me, there is something very special about holding a dinner party.  It brings all of my loves in life together - good food, friends and family, the warmth of home, and an opportunity to relax and be in good company.  I love the whole 'Kinfolk' ethos - soul food, nourishment, community - people sharing food and sharing stories.  At the moment I feel a little overwhelmed with everything going on, and I just know that holding an evening like this would really help me relax and remember what's important.

So when I was challenged by Anthropologie to blog about my 'ultimate dinner party', I couldn't help but get a little excited just thinking about it.  To me, Autumn and Winter are the ultimate times to hold a cosy family get together.  So, dig out your best party frock, and pack your appetite and a pair of slippers for later...

T h e  d i n n e r  t a b l e

For me, an Autumn or Winter dinner party has to be cosy - candles burning, fairy lights strung around, comfy places to sit and thoughtful, welcoming details.  I love the idea of interspersing nature with homely touches - the place settings and centrepieces made from wreaths or tree branches are lovely.

anthropologie dinner party


anthropologie dinner party

credit unknown // issuu.com

T h e  t a b l e w a r e

Even if Anthropologie hadn't been the ones to inspire me to post about my ultimate dinner party, I'd still have hopped right over to their website for tableware and kitchenware inspiration.  They just have the most beautiful things, and I constantly have a long wishlist of items from their site that would look perfect in my home.  I always serve food in mismatched plates and bowls, I think it's much more fun to add new kitchenware as you go along rather than buying a boring set!  Their colourful crockery and textiles would definitely bring some cheer to a winter dinner party.

anthropologie dinner party


F o o d  a n d  d r i n k

As it's an Autumn/Winter dinner party it has to be full of comfort food - hearty, warming, good for the soul type food.  A little bit indulgent, but we'll burn it off with all the board games later, right? 

anthropologie dinner party

P a r t y  d r e s s e s

Of course one of the most fun things about hosting or attending a dinner party, can be choosing the perfect party outfit.  As usual, anthropologie also have some pretty lust-worthy dresses for the party season - currently majorly coveting that embroidered neoprene shift - so fab.

anthropologie dinner party


But as it's a dinner party with cosiness at the heart of it, you're welcome - no, you're encouraged - to bring your PJs and slippers for when you want to pop on something a little more comfortable.  We take board games very seriously at our house, and you don't want anything too restrictive for some serious Cluedo or Trivial Pursuit action.

What would be a part of your ultimate dinner party? (And would you like to come to mine...?)

One more little exciting element of the #anthrodinnerparty campaign is that you could win £100 in Anthropologie vouchers just by tweeting that you love my dinner party ideas! To be in with a chance of winning the vouchers just tweet:

I want to go to A Rosie Outlook's #anthrodinnerparty @rosieoutlook with @AnthropologieEU!

Or click the tweet button:

Tweet: I want to go to A Rosie Outlook's #anthrodinnerparty @rosieoutlook with @AnthropologieEU!

Anthropologie will pick a winner out of the tweets on 1 December.  You can also see the other four entries into the #anthrodinnerparty campaign on the Anthropologie blog. Good luck!


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Herbfarmacy Pure Hydration Serum review: soothing winter skin

I always end up feeling a little sorry for my skin at this time of year.  My little face goes from the central heating in my house when I get up in the morning, to the air conditioning of my car, to a blast of cold air during my walk from the car park to work, to air conditioning in the office, and repeat.  At the moment I'm also trying to get to the gym three times a week, so I've been succumbing to a quick face wipe in the gym changing rooms, followed by sweating on the treadmill.  So no wonder that come the end of November, my skin feels tight and sore and in need of some soothing care and attention.

So it was definitely timely when a little email from herbfarmacy popped into my inbox asking me if I'd like to try their new Pure Hydration Serum.  I'm a huge fan of herbfarmacy anyway (I even visited their little shop in Hay-on-Wye in the summer, I'm such a devotee!) so I couldn't wait to try their newest product.

herbfarmacy herbfarmacy

As you can see, they were kind enough to pop in the package one of my favourite herbfarmacy products, the Mallow Beauty Balm (which I featured here) and their Temple Balm, which I I've been dying to try for ages! I'll definitely be reviewing this separately too.

One of the things I love about herbfarmacy is that they are an independent company focussed on organic, British skincare that's also cruelty free.  They are also Soil Association Certified , and all of their organic skincare products are UK grown and produced and handmade in small batches on site at their herb farm in Herefordshire.  It's always an amazing feeling when you find a company that shares your values - I'm a member of the Soil Association myself so it means a lot to me that all of herbfarmacy's growing, and products, are certified by them.

herbfarmacy hydration serum
// herbfarmacy Pure Hydration Serum, £24.50*

But onto the hydration serum.  The serum claims to hydrate, plump and protect the skin, giving antioxidant protection and a silken effect.  Its two key ingredients, are marshmallow, which softens, moisturises and soothes; and buckwheat, which has anti-oxidant properties to help protect your skin.

I've been using the serum in the morning and before bedtime, and have definitely noticed an improvement in the quality of my skin.  The serum is so hydrating - it literally sinks into my skin and feels like my dry, thirsty skin is drinking it up! It has a really rich and silky texture, and a little goes a long way.  When applied, it feels instantly soothing and luxurious, and my skin feels brighter and tighter.  Its moisture-holding properties also mean that my skin retains that 'hydrated' feeling throughout the day, especially when followed with a face cream, as it keeps the moisture locked in. This is a huge win as it really feels like a defence against the dry-skin inducing air conditioning and central heating - it definitely makes a difference to use a product that you know has organic, high quality ingredients that are protecting your skin from the hazards of the winter months - it feels like a real nourishing treat for your skin.

I would definitely recommend the Pure Hydration Serum and I know it's going to be another herbfarmacy product that'll now be a permanent fixture in my skincare collection!

Have you tried any herbfarmacy products before?

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Under £25 Christmas gift ideas with Hotel Chocolat and Bluebird Tea

For me, the perfect present is always something that the receiver wouldn't buy for themselves - something that's a bit of a treat, a bit indulgent or beautifully packaged or wrapped; something that will put a smile on their face and make them take a little time for themselves.  I've come across two things that definitely fit this bill recently and wanted to share them here in case anyone was looking for some gift inspiration for the tea or chocolate lovers in your life this Christmas.

The first was definitely a real treat when it popped through my letterbox recently.  Hotel Chocolat are a great place to look when you want to buy a little something for the chocoholic in your life - they are always beautifully packaged and feel decadent.  This isn't your box of Celebrations or a hastily wrapped king size bar of Dairy Milk, it is the gift of chocolate, done properly.  Their Christmas Collection box features a bottle of Prosecco, Butterscotch Puddles, mini box of chocolates and a Pecan Bûche.  Trust me when I say that those chocolates taste just as good as they look.  I think this would be a great present for a Mum, sister, work colleague - anyone who deserves an evening in with a glass of fizz and some really, really good chocolate.

Hotel Chocolat Hotel Chocolat Hotel Chocolat
// The Christmas Collection, Hotel Chocolat, £25*

The second slice (or should I say cup?) of Christmas gift inspiration I wanted to share comes in the form of the amazing Bluebird Tea Co Christmas Tea Bauble Set.  These three baubles come packed with a selection of their Christmas teas - Christmas Cake and Gingerbread Chai.  I quite like to buy a few little presents for family ahead of Christmas (last year I bought my Mum a really fun Christmas cushion from H&M) and this would be a perfect little treat to give to someone to hang on their tree - I don't think they'd be able to resist cracking them open for very long though!

Bluebird Tea Bluebird Tea
// Christmas Tea Bauble Pack, Bluebird Tea Co - £10*

What do you think of these two gift ideas? Are they something you'd like to give to someone - or even something you'd like to see under your tree this Christmas?

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Mulled wine around the world - Vin Chaud recipe

Several years ago I went to Paris with my friend Becki for a long weekend during a particularly cold December. In all of the excitement for Christmas markets, cheese fondue and swanning around Montmartre, I must admit that I did not pack appropriately, and took a relatively thin coat, leggings (no actual trousers) and little in the way of clothes with thermal properties.  There were two French words that we used more than any other during that trip, and they were 'Vin Chaud'.  Vin Chaud translates literally to 'hot wine' and is typically made with red wine, sugar, cinnamon and lemon.  I am going to make a confession here and admit that on some nights we were so cold that we heated up cheap red wine from the supermarket in the hotel kettle just to keep warm (I wonder if they ever got that red stain out...) The third word we learnt pretty quickly was tire-bouchon - which is French for corkscrew...

When Waitrose Cellar recently got in touch to share their own mulled wine recipe and ask if I wanted to blog about my favourite mulled wine recipe from around the world, I knew the French 'Vin Chaud' had to be the one.  I eagerly got to hunting around for the perfect recipe and came across this one, which originates from Alsace in France.  The region of Alsace is located on France's eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland, so with all of those cultural influences, I thought they might know a thing or two about mulled wine.

mulled wine 08

I adapted the recipe slightly to make it a little simpler and leave out an ingredient I couldn't get hold of - so this is my version of 'Vin Chaud Alsacien'...

Ingredients

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 bottle red wine (I used Waitrose Torre Del Falco - on reflection, I probably should have used a French wine; this Alsatian Pinot Noir would have been perfect)
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 cup water
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
1 tablespoon cocoa nibs (or use good-quality grated chocolate)
1 cinnamon stick
2 tea bags

mulled wine 07

Instructions

Place all ingredients except the tea bags into a saucepan (when you add the lemon wedges, squeeze their juice into the mixture before dropping the wedges in.)
Bring to an active simmer; reduce heat to a low simmer and add the tea bags, allowing the tea to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and the bay leaf.
To serve, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into heatproof mugs. Makes 4 servings.

mulled wine 05 mulled wine 02mulled ine 03

This makes a mulled wine that is very rich, with a hint of spice - it so warming, like a hug in a mug! You can taste the hint of chocolate, it adds a really lovely edge to the drink.  I couldn't help but gulp it down - oops... It would be perfect to pop into a flask and take out a winter evening walk.

What's your favourite mulled wine recipe? Are you a fan of the German Glühwein or the Swedish Glögg? You can always go for the Waitrose Cellar Mulled Wine if you don't feel like concocting a recipe, but I highly recommend giving this one a try!

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Finding comfort

The wonderful Nicola over at Our Little Balham Life uses a phrase which I love - 'sacred self care'. She would describe it better than me, but my understanding of sacred self-care is showing love, kindness, gentleness and compassion to yourself; as well as making the right choices for your health and wellbeing.  I saw a graphic recently that really resonated with me, which said that we should treat ourselves more often as we would small children - ensure we have early nights, wrap up warm, eat nourishing food, and so on.  So often we lose that connection with self-care and even prioritise others' care above our own.  I have been trying to 'listen to my body' more recently, and understand and be mindful of my own needs.  I know that above everything I look forward to evenings where I plan 'self care' and make time for yoga, meditation, reading, an early night, a long bath - and so on.  Whether you believe in the benefits of meditation or not, I do know that there is a part of me that gets excited at the prospect of clearing my mind and spending time just 'being' at the end of a long day.

Finding comfort is even more of a priority for me during Autumn and Winter.  For me, the chillier and darker months are an opportunity to change down gears and take my foot off the gas a little (and other driving related metaphors).  It is the perfect excuse to seek out cosiness and practise 'self-care'. I try and have at least one evening a week dedicated to this.  Lately the first thing I do when winding down and seeking comfort at home is to light my Neom Comforting Candle (£30*).  There's something about candles that makes me feel really relaxed and peaceful.  Watching a candle flickering away on a dark, cold evening when it's lashing with rain outside is such a wonderful feeling.  The Comforting candle, with cedarwood, vetiver and star anise, has 21 pure essential oils that have been chosen and blended for their stress relieving properties.  It definitely makes me feel more calm just to light it and soak up those amazing scents.  I've now added several items from their Christmas collection to my Christmas list - I am such a huge advocate of their products, they really are pretty special and would make wonderful gifts (even if it was just a gift to yourself!)

neom comforting candle neom comforting candle neom comforting candle
// neom comforting candle, £30*

What do you do to practice self care and self love?  Some of my other favourites are:

001. Make a really nourishing and warming meal.  I'm a massive fan of Secret Greens Tabbouleh for clearing out the store cupboard and eating lots of healthy greens!
002. Run a bath and have a long soak in the tub - preferably with candles burning and a bubble bar or bath bomb.
003. Have a 'sleepy tea' - I love Clipper's 'Snore and Peace' - and take yourself to bed an hour early.
004. Try Yoga with Adriene's Bedtime Yoga sequence.
005. Snuggle up under a blanket with a good book for an hour.  Turn your phone off and allow yourself to be completely immersed in the book.
006. Give yourself a foot massage - it might sound a little odd but it really makes me feel better! (There's a little guide here if you're not sure where to start).
007. Listen to soothing music. I love the Spotify playlist 'Workday Zen' - it always makes me feel chilled.
008. Try a guided meditation.  I've been using the Omnava app lately to find new ones - there's lots of free meditations on there and you can mix in relaxing sounds.

Tell me yours too - I love hearing how other people find comfort at home, it makes me feel relaxed just thinking about lolling around under cosy blankets and having Christmas candles burning away whilst the wind rages on outside...

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Office Makeover

This was not supposed to be today's blog post.  Last night I sat down with my 'to do' pad and wrote down eight blog posts that I wanted to write over the next few days, the majority of which I planned to do today.  I got up early, had my morning green tea, and then... started moving my office around. I'd planned to move my desk from under the window over to the back wall for a few weeks, and Tom had recently put in a new cupboard for me, replacing a hideous brown one left by the previous owners.  We'd moved lots of the furniture out already to get the new cupboard in, so it seemed like an ideal time to start moving around everything else - that was, before all of a sudden it was 1pm and I was surrounded by books and boxes wondering why I'd embarked on this makeover mission! (And I didn't write a single other blog post today!)

Tom kindly put up the Ikea picture rail I'd had under my desk for ages (waiting for a rainy day), and then had the idea of putting up a set of hooks on the wall to accomodate my satchels that had been hanging on a wardrobe door for the last few months, to make a bit more space.  My desk is so much better situated against the back wall, and I've managed to clear away loads of clutter so it feels like a much more inviting and inspiring space.  It might seem a little cluttered that there's so many bookshelves and books, but I think there's something rather nice about being surrounded by books!  I must admit, I like having a room of my own to put all of my pictures and knick knacks in.  Tom has his own room upstairs with his surfing pictures on the wall and all of his VW magazines in - the key to a happy relationship is definitely having your own rooms - ha!

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// picture rail: ikea £7.90
// on picture rail: city and colour bring me your love tour poster, enid batgirl print, cutting from oh comely magazine, old postcard
// plant: ikea £3, diffuser: next £14*

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//satchel: leather satchel company {old}, vintage smena 35mm camera, candle: ikea

IMG_4949// picture frame: paperchase, retro clock: ikea {both old}

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// as above - paper map bunting: similar on etsy

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// cameras: split cam, holga 135bc tlr, holga 35mm, action tracker
//satchels: leather satchel company and zatchels
// print on wall: kurt halsey frederiksen - be safe at sea
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// artificial plant and diffuser as above

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// all as above, plastic crates, ikea

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// all as above, bearded man print - ella masters

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It's not quite as lovely as the offices on my Offices Pinterest board, but it's definitely getting there! It will be a lovely place to while away a chilly evening, blogging and blog reading with a mug of tea. Do you have an office or a favourite room to hide away in at home?

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