Summer tip: Coconut water ice cubes

coconut water ice cubes

One of the highlights of Latitude Festival for us was the Innocent Drinks Treehouse, where they had acoustic artists playing in a fab little treehouse up in the trees, with free cups of coconut water given out (and even a little slide when you wanted to leave!) Tom and I got a bit addicted to the Innocent Coconut Water, so it was one of the first things we grabbed from Waitrose when we returned.  It's so refreshing and hydrating, so it's perfect for hot summer days when you're feeling thirsty (not to mention the myriad health benefits it packs in).

Summer is definitely a time for barbecues, garden parties and picnics, and so I came up with the idea of stashing away some coconut water ice cubes to add to drinks, cocktails and mocktails when we're entertaining (or when we're not - I love just having them in my Diet Coke or soda water).

how to make coconut water ice cubes

Of course, just plain old coconut water ice cubes are tasty on their own, but I wanted to add a touch of prettiness to them, so I've tried them with pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, fennel and lavender to add a little extra flavour and flair to the ice cubes.

what to put in coconut water ice cubes

You could add whatever you like into the ice cubes - slithers of cucumber, lime, ginger, blueberries - my next try is going to be strawberry and basil, I think that will be perfect with the coconut water.  The pomegranate does look really pretty though, and is perfect for jazzing up an otherwise boring drink!

Another way you can use coconut water ice cubes is to freeze them just as is, and then add them into smoothies in the morning.  It gives you that kick of potassium and lots of other beneficial electrolytes, as well as chilling the smoothie and giving it a slightly sweeter edge than water.

I used a plain ice cube tray but I think next time I'll use an extra large one and add in even more fruit. Ikea also sell silicone ones in the shape of hearts and stars that might be pretty for my next experiment.

Adding a slice of coconut on a cocktail stick also makes your drinks look super professional.  The drink in the photo below is coconut water with coconut water ice cubes and a slice of coconut - one for the coconut lovers!

You can buy Innocent Coconut Water in all the major supermarkets (they even do little cartons which are perfect for lunch breaks).  My glasses are from Ikea (50p!), and the stripy straws are from eBay.

Have you tried coconut water ice cubes? What would you add into them?

* Post in collaboration with Innocent Drinks

What's in my gym bag?

Since I've switched up my routine and started going to the gym before work rather than afterwards, I have to be super organised with packing my gym bag the night before.  It was pretty easy to just throw my gym kit in when I knew I was going when I finished work, but now it has to contain everything I need whilst at the gym, and then to be ready for the office immediately afterwards. Luckily I've got into a real routine now with packing my bag the night before - but I love having a nose at what's inside other people's gym bags (in blog posts, I don't go through the lockers at the gym, that would be weird and illegal) so I thought I'd share mine!  I keep a list of things I need to take in the Notes section of my iPhone and then the night before I just throw everything in and I'm ready for that early alarm!

I have a membership at the Pure Gym that's just across the road from my work.  It's actually about 40 minutes from where I live but it suits me better to be able to go the gym just before or after work - then at the weekends when I'm not near the gym I try and fit in something like a long walk, a run or a kettle bell routine in the garden. (Plus the gym membership is about £16 a month so if I only go a couple of times a week it's still totally worth it).

Holdall, Hype at Get The Label, £14.99

This holdall is perfect for the gym as it's just the right size to cram in all my work clothes and other bits, as well as being soft so it can be crammed into a locker.  The one I had previously was way too rigid and I always used to burn about 100 calories just trying to fit it in the tiny lockers at PureGym!

Gym gloves - Decathlon, £7.99

I wear a pair of gloves when I'm using any of the weights, whether it's free weights like bars and dumbbells or the weights machines.  It just stops you from getting blisters and the weights from slipping (which you don't want when you're throwing kettlebells around!)

Small toiletries bag with shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
Lush The Comforter (£4.95), Rehab Shampoo (£5.75), American Cream (£4.95)

I buy the Lush 100g bottles for the gym as they're perfect for stashing in my gym bag, plus I can just keep them in the bag rather than having to dig around for a shower gel when I'm packing my bag.  I keep these in a little bag that I can take in the shower with me at the gym, along with a beach towel (not a big fluffy one as it takes up too much space in my bag!)

Wireless Headphones, Panasonic, £99.99*

When I'm at the gym doing a workout I either listen to music, or I've just started a trial of the Skyfit app, which has routines that it walks you through that you can do whilst at the gym.  These Panasonic headphones are wireless so you don't have to battle with dangling cords (anyone else constantly panic they'll somehow get caught on the treadmill?) They're also sweat proof and waterproof so you can even run in the rain if, you know, that's your thing (fair-weather runner right here).

The sound on these is amazing so when I'm not using the Skyfit app I'm usually listening to my favourite gym playlists on Spotify on my phone, or on my iPod.  They also charge in 15 minutes, so if I only remember to charge them just as I'm getting ready in the morning, there's still enough time to whack them on charge and not have to be music-less at the gym (the absolute worst).

GHD Air Dryer, £74

The gym hair dryers are those awful little ones with the button you have to permanently press down - they take about an hour to dry my hair so I always pack my GHD hairdryer, it dries my hair so quickly and makes it feel really nice (it always looks much nicer than when I just get ready at home!) I also take my GHD straighteners with me - unfortunately my hair is much too thick to be able to just blow dry it so I have to tidy it up with straighteners afterwards.  I feel a bit over-enthusiastic getting a whole hairdresser's worth of tools out at the gym but it's worth it to not have to worry about my hair looking awful all day.

Jewellery Pouch - Gypsy Warrior - {similar pouch$12.80}

The one thing I constantly forget when I’m packing a change of clothes for the next day is jewellery – but I feel naked if I’m not wearing a watch, so I pack my watch and other jewellery in this pouch so that I can wear all my usual bits to work. I like separating everything in little pouches and bags, would hate to just throw in my necklaces and watch in with my shower gels and stuff, is that weird? 

Smart Shaker, £5.95

I always have either something small to eat (like a Nakd bar or Quest bar) on the way to the gym, and then a protein shake afterwards (I've learned my lesson from when I went to a Personal Trainer appointment on an empty stomach and nearly fell over doing lunges).  The Smart Shaker has different compartments so I can put the milk in the main bit and the protein powder in the screw on bit in the bottom (which you can't see as I've screwed it off already!) and then make up the protein shake whenever you like.

iPod Nano, £129*

The iPod Nano is the perfect size for throwing in your gym shorts and not having to worry about carrying your phone around.  This was a gift from the lovely people at Panasonic - they kindly had it engraved with a motivational phrase for me to help keep me going when I'm flagging on the treadmill!

Are you a pre-work or post-work gym-goer? What are your gym bag essentials? Ooh, and if you're considering taking out a gym membership but are new to fitness you might enjoy a post I wrote for the Get The Label blog - Tips for first time gym-goers.  Enjoy!

*Headphones gifted by Panasonic, all opinions my own


Duster and Nikes

I was sorting through my photos from France a few days ago and realised I took some outfit photos whilst we were in Biarritz and forgot to share them.  I pretty much lived in my Nikes whilst we were out there - I wear heels most days at work so it's nice to be able to have a break from tottering around when I'm on holiday and be able to embrace flip flops and trainers!

duster coat : poppy lux : £48.30
bag : bought in france
trainers: nike air max hyperfuse {similar at asos}
skinny jeans : new look : £24.99
top : missguided {similar at new look}

This might not be the most inspiring outfit in the world (soz) but I love the bright orange with my new green bag - I picked up the bag in a market in France and I'm so pleased I bought it, it's such a good size and the colour is really summer-y.  The duster coat is also perfect for this weather (well, maybe not the 25 degree heat, but when you only need a light jacket).

Hope you're all having fab Mondays (that sometimes is a thing, right?) I had the day off to hang out with my friend who is over visiting from the US, so I'm currently sat sorting a few blog posts, drinking peppermint tea and listening to Iron and Wine - bliss! Why isn't every Monday like this?


Latitude Festival 2016

I’ve only really scratched the surface of UK festivals, having been to Reading Festival twice and End of the Road three times (as well as some smaller ones like Festibelly and Redfest) but I’ve always had my eye on Latitude Festival. With its range of artists and offerings (from poetry and literature, to cabaret, to comedy to a real range of music) it seemed to capture the essence of what I love about End of The Road whilst also being a large enough festival to draw in some great headline acts. Rocket Dog footwear kindly invited me along to Latitude Festival last weekend to experience what it has to offer as well as road test their footwear for stomping around festivals (luckily with no muddy puddles included as part of the experiment!)

The night before the festival we loaded up the van with cider, our comfiest quilt, sausages and bacon for the perfect festival breakfast and a Boots baby aisle’s worth of baby wipes. “How long will it take us to get there?” asked Tom casually. “A couple of hours I think,” I answered vaguely, discreetly typing the postcode into Google Maps. “Suffolk is just past London, right?” Google Maps apparently disagreed with my grasp of UK geography, and we hopped in the van the following morning at 09.30, not realising that this wasn’t quite early enough for me to get there in time for Lapsley’s 14.00 set, nor Madeleine Shaw’s 15.00 talk in the Literature tent (turns out, Southwold is a little bit further on than London).

festival outfit dungarees
shoes: rocket dog* | dungarees: primark {old} 
jumper: topshop {old} | hat: h&m {old}

We arrived about 15.30 (to be fair, we also stopped en route to raid Tesco for prosecco and kettle chips, as well as to drop Bodhi at his best pal Henry’s house for the weekend) to roll up to the Campervan Field to be greeted by a burly security guard who had one question for us - “Have you got any glass bottles with you?” I glanced around at the two bottles of prosecco, eight bottles of cider and ten bottles of beer and opened my mouth to explain that we had strictly ‘cans and plastic bottles only’ before Tom jumped in with a “Yes. Lots. Our whole fridge is full of them.” That boy is too honest. 

After a lot of decanting and what turned out to be a very understanding and helpful security guard, we finally put up the awning, opened a cider and strolled into the festival site around 17.30. We wandered past stalls selling all manner of different foods and festival accessories before we made it into the main area. We headed straight to the Blixen pop up restaurant for a glass of prosecco and to sit by the river and take in some of the sights. We had booked in to their pop-up restaurant for dinner after a suggestion via Twitter and it felt like a real novelty to sit at a table and eat with proper cutlery (at a festival I mean, I do have that luxury at home). After a really yummy meal and another glass of prosecco we went for an explore around the site. Most of the acts we wanted to see were on the Saturday and Sunday so we spent most of Friday evening just generally exploring, popping into the smaller tents to see what was on, and soaking up the festival atmosphere.

We woke up early on Saturday morning (the perils of sleeping in a camper van - or indeed a tent) and filled up on sausage sandwiches before heading into the festival. Despite the fact that we lazed around the campsite for several hours that morning I still managed to miss the first person I wanted to see on the Saturday in the Comedy Tent! (The camper van field was probably about a mile and a half from the main area and I totally underestimated the walk!) We watched a talk on mindfulness, watched a little bit of Robin Ince (but the tent he was in was tiny and we couldn’t really hear from outside), and then headed to the main stage to see Daughter. Daughter are one of my favourite bands and they didn’t disappoint. It’s such an amazing feeling to see a band live who you’ve listened to for a really long time; particularly one whose music and lyrics really resonate with you. We managed to get pretty much right up at to the barrier at the front so we were really able to take in the show. We then headed to the BBC Radio 6 Introducing stage to see another one of my favourite bands, Half Moon Run. They are amazing live and I hugely recommend checking out their Live Lounge set - the singer’s voice is incredible and they are sickeningly talented.

boots: Rocket Dog, £65* | shorts: primary {instore, current}
vest: primark {inshore, current} | hat, as above

One of the really lovely things about Latitude is that there's a river that runs through the centre of the festival site, so there's a waterfront stage where you can watch the bands play right on the riverside, and you can even swim in the river (Fat Face had set up a little cabin where you could buy towels and trunks, and there were organised river swims and even swim treks every day).

Sunday morning was an absolute scorcher so we spent another morning just at the campsite watching the world go by and planning who to go and see for the day.  My haphazard packing the night before we left meant that I packed several jumpers and jeans but only one vest and no t-shirts, so I basically had to buy a vest in one of the vintage stalls (needs must).  Again, the hot, sticky heat and three days of dry shampoo also called for hair up - sweaty festival hair is absolutely not the one.

mini welly boots: Rocket Dog at Schuh* | shorts: primark {instore, current stock}
sunglasses: the little deer £17 | vest: vintage

We spent most of the morning watching comedy - Stuart Goldsmith and Daniel Sloss were both really funny and Bill Bailey was (as expected) absolutely hilarious - I laughed particularly hard at his comments about Brexit and how we should all just ‘move to the woods at Latitude, listen to poetry and eat quinoa’.  We then went on to watch Roots Manuva at the BBC Radio 6 tent and they were incredible and had everyone dancing - seeing everyone go totally bonkers when they played Witness The Fitness was quite a sight! We watched a bit of Lumineers and listened to M83 whilst tucking into dinner but after a while the effects of being out in the sun all day and drinking cider took their toll and we toddled back to the van, with achy feet and happy bellies (full of the most delicious quesadillas I've ever tasted).

Overall Latitude was a lot of fun and I'm enormously grateful to Rocket Dog for inviting me.  Have you ever been to Latitude? What's your favourite UK festival?


Ten things I'm taking to Latitude Festival

I am incredibly excited that I'm off to Latitude Festival this weekend - a festival I've not been to yet but I'm very excited to tick off my list!

We're setting off early on Friday morning so that we can get there in time for Lapsley and Oh Wonder on the 6 Music stage (also mega excited to see Daughter, Chvrches, Half Moon Run, Roots Manuva and M83 during the rest of the festival).  There's all sorts of fun looking things to get involved in, from lake swimming to yoga classes - we've also booked a table at the Blixen pop-up restaurant, which looks and sounds amazing (and very civilised for a festival).

We’re going in the camper van so we won’t have to battle with putting tents up (which is probably for the best as just putting the awning up tends to be something of a stressful affair for Tom and I) but we still have to be tactical about what we pack to ensure we don’t end up filling the van with clutter and not having enough space to sleep. I tend to make a big spreadsheet of everything I want to take and then tick them off as we load up the van so I know we haven’t left anything behind. The key things with festivals really tend to be ensuring you stay dry, stay warm and have some way of cleaning yourself and cleaning your teeth (I’m not a festival shower-er, I can just about go three days without a shower if I have enough baby wipes and dry shampoo). As well as, of course, enough alcohol to last you the weekend (if you’re that way inclined) and some totally impractical clothes that you would never wear outside of a festival…

Of course I'll be up late scrambling around doing last minute packing tonight, but I thought I'd show you the few things I've been organised enough to get ready already - the items that are top of my festival packing list...

001. Vango Rocket 120 - Bluetooth lantern and speaker (£45*)

Space is always at a premium at festivals so multi-tasking festival accessories are always a big win for me. This lantern is rechargeable (so no digging around for batteries) and has a built in bluetooth wireless speaker, so you can find your way to the loos in the night as well as getting to pick the tunes around the barbecue!

We do love our camping gadgets and we’ll also be packing a cooking set, plates and cutlery and the gas stove – although I love eating all the yummy food at festivals it’s good to have a way to make a bacon sandwich in the morning so you can have a lazy couple of hours at ‘camp’ before heading into the festival ground. I definitely learnt my lesson at Reading Festival last year when we all woke up on the Sunday feeling rather tender and couldn’t find any food places that were open until lunchtime!

002. Rocket Dog Wellies, Schuh*

Wellies are obviously a must-pack for a festival, especially seeing the scenes at Glastonbury this year with people wading through mud with all their belongings (no thanks).  I've long been on the hunt for wellies that are practical but also actually look cool and I feel like I've hit the jackpot with these ones from Rocket Dog.  I'll be wearing them with a denim shirt dress and leather jacket (as well as other, more practical coats I'll be packing of course - it is England after all).

Lush have some awesome bits in at the moment that are perfect for taking to festivals and these toothy tabs are another genius product. All you do is nibble one between your teeth and start brushing – no water required. You get a ‘blast’ of freshness from the mint, as well as lovely sparkly teeth! These are perfect for festivals as you don’t have to do the awkward ‘bottle of water’ juggle but you also get tons of tabs in the tub so they’ll last for a good couple of months after the festival. Lush also have solid deodorants that are great for throwing in your handbag at a festival so you can freshen up throughout the day.

Dry shampoo is an absolute festival must-have and it always tops most 'what to pack' lists. Personally I don’t love the scent of dry shampoo so I was very excited when I saw that Lush have brought out their own version. It soaks up excess oil without dustiness so it’s perfect for using between washes, plus it smells yummy!

005.  Power Bank phone charger {similar on eBay, £15.99}

My Power Bank is an absolute godsend when I’m going anywhere where there might not be regular electricity – I took it around Bali with me and it always comes to festivals (or even just a day trip where I know I’ll be using my phone a lot). This gives about three full charges to my phone once charged, and it has two ports so you can charge two devices at once. I have this all charged and ready to go to make sure I can still put up lots of Instagram snaps whilst I’m away at the festival (and use the Latitude App, which looks super handy).

006. Baby wipes - Baby wipes need no explanation really do they? Good for keeping clean (yourself and your tent/car/cooking utensils, etc etc).

007. Antibacterial gel - Another festival must-pack, helps to keep you feeling clean even when encountering grotty festival toilets.

008. Waterproof jacket - Because Britain....

009. Cereal bars and snacks - As I mentioned earlier, as much as I like to eat and drink my way around a festival, I also recognise that this will probably leave me bankrupt, and I have a bikini to get into in a few weeks that might not fit if I spend every waking moment in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen queue. I always pack a couple of boxes of cereal bars or Nakd bars so I have something to eat first thing in the morning, or as a snack in the afternoon. Some festivals won’t allow you to take food into the venue area so make sure you scoff them though before the security people do!

010. Sensible footwear - I've got these awesome boots to wear for trudging around the festival during the day - to me there’s nothing worse than having uncomfortable feet at a festival considering how much walking and standing you end up doing. I always take a comfy pair of trainers or boots so I’m not left hiding back at my tent applying the blister plasters come the afternoon!

I've also downloaded the Latitude Spotify playlist and it's really good for finding artists that you might not have otherwise checked out at the festival - I've done that every year before End of The Road Festival and found some absolute gems.  

What are your must-pack items for festivals? Have you ever been to Latitude Festival?


How to stop getting 'bed head' hair

If you follow me on Snapchat (and if you don't you're about to hear a reference to the type of content that I post that will lead you to wonder why not), you may have seen my lengthy snaps or videos about what my hair looks like when I first wake up.  I’m stuck in a major hair rut at the moment and I rarely look in the mirror and feel happy with my hair – but first thing in the morning it resembles more like a wild bird’s nest than any kind of style. It’s a vicious circle because I end up having to use heat (mainly straighteners) to tame it, which just results in more hair breakage and less love for my wonky do. Over the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to minimise the impact that sleeping has on my hair, and I thought I’d share my tips here to help anyone else who might wonder if they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards in their sleep! 

S i l k   p i l l o w c a s e 

This is one thing that’s been recommended to me several times, and until I started to try and find ways to minimise the impact of sleeping on my hair, I never got around to taking the plunge and buying one.  Silk pillowcases are said to be one of the key weapons against anti-ageing; minimising wrinkles, regulating your temperature during the night, acting as a hypoallergenic barrier and eliminating bed hair.  Silk is better at keeping in moisture (cotton absorbs moisture, meaning it can dry out your face and hair) as well as minimising the effect of friction on your hair if you toss and turn in the night.  Silk pillowcases don’t cause the indents in your skin that cotton pillowcases do too, so no waking up with lines all over your face! I bought my pillow from Amazon for £8 - it's a pure Mulberry Silk Pillow and just what I was looking for.

I’ve been using my silk pillow case for a couple of weeks now and I can definitely, definitely notice the difference from when I use it to when I use a normal pillowcase. My hair is much less tangled when I wake up and it hugely reduces the amount of styling I have to do in the morning. I’d like to buy a couple more so that I can revolve them now when it needs washing as it’s hard to go back to my old pillowcases when I change the sheets! 

H a i r   E l i x i r 

This Works are a brand that I already really love so I was really excited to try their Sleep Plus Hair Elixir (£25*), which claims to be a ‘motion activated sleep aid and hair treatment for healthy looking, manageable hair upon waking’. The Hair Elixir contains sunflower extract, argan oil and jojoba oil to boost hair vitality and aid in restful sleep. You spritz a few sprays onto your hair before bedtime (either wet or dry hair) and it works its magic throughout the night – with no rinsing required in the morning. This is another thing that has really helped my hair and I will definitely be re-buying it when I’ve used it up. It comes in a fairly big bottle and I use about three or four sprays just as I’m getting into bed. The spray feels instantly nourishing on my hair, and the scent immediately makes me feel sleepy (it’s a similar scent to my much loved This Works Pillow Spray, which has a constant place beside my bed).  On the few occasions when I've forgotten to use it before bedtime I've really noticed a difference in the morning, so I'm making a real effort to ensure it's a key part of my pre-bed routine.

S i l k  s c a r f

For people who don't want to invest in a silk pillow, wearing a silk scarf to bed is another option to keep your hair soft and friction free overnight.  I had a few vintage silk scarves in a box under my bed, but you can pick them up cheaply from charity shops or on eBay.  I used Ree Ree Rockette's land girl bandana tutorial to learn how to tie it, and made sure I tied it up extra tight (though obviously not uncomfortably so) to make sure it didn't come off in the night.  Wearing a silk scarf not only protects your hair from the friction and dryness of a cotton pillow, it can also help keep a style in place such as if you've curled your hair.

Using all of these methods I've found that my hair is much more well behaved, less tangled and  in a much better condition when I wake up in the morning (and generally).  I've also noticed that the hotter I am at night, the more I toss and turn (which obviously hugely adds to 'bed head'), so I've invested in a good quality tower fan for the bedroom, as well as sleeping with the window open every night to ensure I keep cool.  I blogged about tips for sleeping better last year and I still follow those to ensure I get as rested a sleep as possible, minimising social media before bed, trying to follow a yoga routine, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening and having a sleepy tea before bed to wind down.  

Do you have any tips for avoiding 'bed hair'? 


How to stop feeling disappointed

I mentioned in a recent blog post about how disappointed I was that our holiday to France didn't work out the way I had planned.  I also referenced how often my expectations of how things are 'supposed' to go end up being completely off the mark, which leads to an almost constant sense of frustration and disappointment.  I've spent a lot of time reflecting on how to overcome this as I just don't want to spend my life feeling like I've got short shrift, and looking over other people's shoulders (or at their instagram accounts) and comparing other people's achievements and circumstances with my own.  Not besides anything else, I often reflect back on my past behaviour and worry I can be a little 'bratty' or ungrateful and wonder how I could have dealt with the situation differently to mean that my feelings of frustration are replaced with something else - ultimately a more positive emotion than that which occurs when I 'stamp my feet' and retreat into feeling glum.  With this in mind - I've come up with my own ways to tackle those feelings - for me it's definitely a work in progress, but here are the methods I've been using to pull myself out of those 'funks'.

001. Play the long game

Though I wince at the clichéd-ness of the quote "Everything will be okay in the end, if it's not okay, it's not the end", I do think there's a benefit in trying to see the 'bigger picture' of what it is that hasn't gone your way.  I try to stop myself from seeing a small scale 'setback' as a disappointment and instead attempt to dig deeper into whether it is in fact a step towards something else that I haven't spotted yet, that will end up being positive.  I find that sometimes you have to 'play the long game' and trust in the journey - there may be something great a little further down the track, and if you get stuck in disappointment mode, you might miss it.

002. Look for the silver lining

It was pretty devastating having rain every day when we were in France, and whilst I really wanted to stay positive, I found it difficult not to wallow in the absolute unfairness of it all.  However - I really don't like sounding like a whinger, so when people at work asked me about my holiday I tried to find something positive to say - "it was great to have a break from work", or "I got to catch up on my to-read pile and watch lots of Netflix".  I found that the more I talked about it as if it was a positive experience, and the more I focussed on the good things, it naturally made me feel better about it.  Every cloud really does have a silver lining, and though it may not have been the plan to be stuck in a  B&B with nothing to do, the unintended consequence was that we did lots of relaxing, watched two series' of Peaky Blinders and came back to work feeling very refreshed.

003. Be grateful for what is

For me, the antidote to my 'brattiness' is gratitude, gratitude, gratitude (oh my gosh - gratitude not bratitude? That's totally what I'm calling my self-help book).  Though I hate the phrase, I do sometimes utter a silent 'first world problems' when I hear myself complaining that my car needs a new tyre, that my Waitrose delivery didn't turn up on time or that the internet at our new house isn't working as quickly as Sky said it would.  Even with the holiday - I should be grateful that we own a camper van, that we can afford to have holidays, that we could while away the time with good food and watching movies on my laptop.  I need a new tyre because I own a car, my Waitrose delivery is late because we can feed ourselves (with bloody nice food) and my internet isn't set up yet because we've moved to a beautiful new home.  Somehow re-framing my disappointments as small parts of things to be grateful for helps give me perspective as well as stay positive.

Today I heard something else that made me think about disappointment - someone said you should be grateful when you don't get a job you wanted, or don't get an interview for a role you've applied for.  By not offering you the job, that person has made a judgement call that you're not the right person for it - perhaps you don't have the right skills or the role isn't a good fit for you, and how awful, to be stuck in a job that's not right for you! They were saying we should be grateful to the person who knocked you back as they've helped you dodge a bullet by keeping you out of a job you probably wouldn't have enjoyed.  It's interesting sometimes to use gratitude as an alternative emotion for disappointment (though it can be difficult!) Or as the Dalai Lama once said - 'remember that sometimes, not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck'.

004. Have grit

I'm listening to the audiobook of Grit by Angela Duckworth at the moment, and it's really making me think about the power of 'passion and perseverance' (here is Angela's TED talk if you want a précis of her work), which she says counts more than any other measure in predicting the success of students, athletes, military trainees or individuals in almost any field.  Angela says that 'as much as talent counts, effort counts twice', and that the key to success is determination, hard work and tenacity.  Part of having 'grit' is not giving up when you perceive that something has failed, and not overreacting to setbacks.  When I feel disappointed that something I've put effort into hasn't worked out, I try and think of the lessons from Grit, and focus on having a 'growth mindset' - that failure isn't permanent and it's all a valuable lesson towards getting really good at something and achieving my goals.

005. Practice mindfulness - and move on

I know I'm a bit of a 'wallower' and that I have a tendency to beat myself up about things that have gone wrong, and dwell on things that haven't worked out.  Because I get caught in a cycle of these negative thoughts, I have to use techniques to pull myself out of it (or I'd be like a hippo, wallowing in disappointment forever and letting it envelope me like lovely warm, comforting mud).  The best technique I've found for doing so, is to practice mindfulness and focus on the present (rarely does disappointment exist in the present, it really is about something that happened in the past - which is not a helpful place to live or let your mind wander to).  Your ego naturally wants you to stay in the past - the 'disappointment mud' is comforting because it stops you trying again, making yourself feel vulnerable and risking that your second attempt might fail too.  But by focussing on the present, practising mindfulness and accepting 'what is', you can pull yourself out of that cycle of frustration and start moving on.  If you are carrying around something and it is not helpful to you, let it go.

What are your tips for overcoming disappointment? Have you had something go wrong, that on reflection, led to even better things?


How to throw the perfect dinner party

Although I still enjoy the odd night out (though, why is the getting ready and blasting out the tunes bit always more fun than the bit when you're actually out?), one thing I really love is having friends over for dinner.  It just feels perfect to have all of the people I love in one place, with the wine flowing, lots of laughter, and a plan for the festivities to go on long into the night.  I especially love having dinner parties in the summer - when the weather is warmer and you can have barbecues or sit in the garden.  With this in mind (and as I'm currently planning my next little soiree), I thought I'd share my tips for throwing the perfect dinner party.

001. Make a signature cocktail - I love serving an aperitif or a cocktail when people arrive.  My favourite aperitif is a Kir Breton; cider, creme de cassis and a splash of Calvados.  Serve in a champagne flute on a pretty tray (of course!) I also have these raspberry sorbet bellinis bookmarked for my next get together!

002. Use fresh flowers as a centrepiece - I love having fresh flowers in the house, but I think they look especially pretty as a centrepiece at the dinner table, surrounded by candles gently burning away. You can also find lots of cool ideas for displaying flowers on Pinterest - try painting glass bottles or displaying in vintage cans.  Quick dinner party tip - don't make your flowers too tall (go for less than 12 inches) so your guests can still see each other across the table.

003. Serve nibbles on arrival - If you're not going to be sitting down to eat immediately then I always like to have a few nibbles out on the table in case people turn up hungry! Costa and Mollica do some amazing nibbles - try their Tarallina or Grissina Breads (these are amazing served with a charcuterie platter as part of a starter too).

004. Write out the menu - If your dinner party has enough guests, and enough courses to make this an option, then I love writing out the menu and having one on the table for each guest.  You can write out the menu on kraft paper, or even on leaves with gold pen! If you use a large piece of kraft paper it can also double up as a place mat.

005. Embrace mis-match - If you're anything like me, I just don't have enough matching plates, cutlery and glasses for when I have more than a few people round (not quite reached peak adult yet).  Instead of having one odd glass I tend just mix and match everything so it feels like a theme (plus I really like the look of lots of bowls, glasses and plates in different patterns!)

006. Minimise cooking with a 'no bake' dessert - Limit the time you spend in the kitchen by preparing 'no bake' desserts the night before.  Try these mini lemon cheesecakes - you can make them in little jars and serve them with twine or ribbon tied around them to make them even more instagram friendly!

007. Mood lighting - I'm all about the mood lighting when we have friends over for dinner.  Candles, fairy lights and lamps always create the perfect atmosphere for dinner.

008. Have a plan for after dinner - I like to make sure the party doesn't stop when the last dish is cleared away - so I always line up the perfect Spotify playlist, and make sure the cupboard is stacked with board games! 

What are your tips for holding the perfect dinner party?

Post in collaboration with Crosta & Mollica - their yummy foods make the perfect dinner party accompaniment - make sure you grab some from Waitrose or Ocado next time you're entertaining...