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Saturday, 8 December 2018

POCKET-FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS

Christmas; a time of joy, love and happiness. A time for spending time with family and appreciating those around you. Oh, and also a time of SHEER AND UTTER PANIC because HOW IS IT CHRISTMAS AGAIN ALREADY AND I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT TO BUY ANYONE AND I HAVE NO TIME TO GO OUT SHOPPING. Ah, Christmas. 

I have specific trouble with choosing presents for people who are quite closely connected to me, BUT we're not personally close and casual enough with each other that I could just bowl up to them and ask 'Hey, what can I buy you for Christmas?' like you can with your best pals or mother ...if that makes sense. For example, my best friend's mother; I know her quite well and I'm still confident that I could choose something she likes, but I'd still play it reasonably safe. I'd put 'best friend's mother' in the same category as mother-in-law, father-in-law and close family friends. 

Fear not - because many shops have clearly cottoned on to the fact that a large proportion of us are absolutely useless, disorganised and/or lacking in ideas when it comes to gift buying and so have created specially dedicated 'Gifts for Her' and 'Gifts for Him' sections on their websites. Which is also convenient for those of us who literally don't have the time (or the will to live) when it comes to venturing out to the actual shops. 

Today I'm showing you a few gift ideas from Boots which can all conveniently be ordered from the Boots website - and even better, a lot of these things are also part of the 3 for 2 deal! Also bear in mind that I'm not necessarily suggesting that these individual gifts be a 'main' present - but they definitely could be. It all depends on your budget and how many people you're buying for. If you have a larger budget, you might be buying a 'main' present and then a few bits and bobs, or you might create a little selection of bits and bobs and that is the main present in itself. I've noticed over the last few years that gift guides have become increasingly costly and a £45 candle is often classed as a 'stocking filler' - that's great, but just not possible for everyone, and also not necessary. Whatever your budget, there's absolutely no shame in buying someone a gift of 'lesser' value if you've put thought and love into it. So; here are some of my favourites. 

So, the first item is arguably my favourite. A TIN OF BISCUITS. The Delicious Art Biscuit Tin is adorned with a painting from The National Gallery. Not only is the tin very aesthetically pleasing AND reusable (arty alternative to the Quality Street sewing box?) but it's also filled with biscuits. BISCUITS. Who doesn't like biscuits?!

Next, these utterly adorable English Heritage Measuring Cups. The little ceramic cups decorated with birds, flowers and butterflies measure 1/2 a tsp, 1 tsp, 1 dsp and 1 tbsp. A charming and thoughtful gift for anyone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen!

Then, Champneys Pedicure Gift Set. A real pampering treat for the feet, without the awkwardness of going and getting a proper pedicure in a salon/having a stranger be that up close and personal with your unshaved winter calves. I mainly find pedicures uncomfortable because I have excruciatingly ticklish feet - I often spend the entire duration squirming and squeaking whilst being given looks that says 'why are you even here?!' In my opinion, this is quite a safe bet. The set includes a Barefoot Beauty Restoring Foot Scrub, a Barefoot Beauty Restoring Foot Butter, a Nail Polish in a festive dark red, moisturising socks and a double foot file - all for a reasonable price too! 

Finally, Champneys Hand Trio. Another safe bet. The hand equivalent of the pedicure set - who doesn't like and use hand cream? Especially in the dry winter months. It's also one of those slightly indulgent things that you don't often buy for yourself because it isn't exactly a necessity, but when someone buys it for you, you use up every last drop and then wait patiently for the next birthday/Christmas. The set contains the Citrus Blush Enlivening Hand Wash, the Citrus Blush Enlivening Hand Lotion and the Harmonious Hands Restoring Hand and Nail Cream (SPF15). 

I hope you found this post helpful, and also remember that even if you don't purchase these exact gifts, they're still ideas. Sometimes even just reading through a gift guide can spark some inspiration. 

Let me know if you've bought any presents already, or if you're having trouble!

This post is in conjunction with Boots but all thoughts are my own.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Winter Colour


I adore when the seasons change, and something I particularly look forward to is the change in colour palettes. Spring/summer I associate with lighter, pastel colours and autumn/winter with deep jewel tones like ruby, emerald and gold. The gold box was well and truly ticked when I clapped eyes on this beautiful funnel neck coat from Laura Ashley. It's such an amazingly deep, vibrant colour whilst still being suitable for the season. The golden mustard hue almost perfectly matches the colour changing leaves - I knew when I saw it that it was the perfect autumnal transition piece. It's warm but not overbearingly so, and thick but not so thick that it's restrictive. 

I paired it with this midi, pleated dogtooth skirt with a thin velvet waistband - a detail that I think makes such a lovely difference. The skirt is also made up of a lot of material, which means that when you walk there's a beautiful flowing movement to it which is a must for me when it comes to a midi. I love a really dramatic, flowy skirt OR a very structured one - nothing indecisively in the middle. I also love the fact that it's a pull on skirt and so easy to wear, no zips - and the elastic waistband is something I'll definitely be thankful for over the indulgent festive period...

To top it off, I added this sweet little dog print scarf with mustard accents. First of all, I'm a massive crazy dog woman so obviously this scarf is right up my street, and secondly I think the mustard accents in the scarf really pull the details and colours of the outfit together. The scarf, like the coat, is also a really nice weight for this time of year - it's not freezing but it's also chilly enough to appreciate a little something keeping your neck warm. Giant scarves and huge scarves aren't necessarily ideal when you're running around and riding already-boiling public transport whilst packed in like a sardine.

Which are your favourite colours to wear when it comes to the autumn/winter months? Do you stick to the traditional colour palette or do you like to switch it up a bit? Let me know below!

Funnel Neck Coat
Pleated Dogtooth Skirt  

Thank you to Laura Ashley for sponsoring this blog post.

Friday, 12 October 2018

ALL ABOARD THE BELMOND


Surrounded by plush 1920s interiors and gently tinkling crockery, green fields flashing by, we began our steam-pulled journey aboard the Belmond British Pullman - not just into the into the countryside but also into the world of Clive Christian perfumes

Aboard the train, we indulged in a 4 course lunch, with each course nodding towards one of the four new Noble Collection Pairs, Art Nouveau & Art Deco, through taste, scent or history, which we were introduced to with each accompanying course. 

Clive Christian is a British luxury perfume house that aspires to create the world's finest perfumes stocked in the world's most prestigious retailers including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Net-a-Porter and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few. The brands' signature crown topped bottles have a fascinating story; Clive Christian's predecessor, the Crown Perfumery Company (est. 1872) is the only perfume house that was granted permission to use Queen Victoria's crown atop its bottles and thus the definitive Clive Christian design was born. 

Clive Christian perfumes are always designed and released in pairs (sold separately) and the reason lies in one of history's greatest love stories. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert famously created scents for one another as gifts as a symbol of their love, and so Clive Christian perfumes mirror this by carefully intertwining the ingredients in their feminine and masculine fragrances in order to complement each other. Beautiful alone but even better together. The importance of scent to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert was demonstrated in the repetition of orange blossom throughout their marriage, which held such importance to them because Victoria wore a garland of orange blossom in her hair on their wedding day (which at the time was a symbol of betrothal and chastity).

At the end of our journey, we were invited to select our favourite of the four perfumes. Although it was a difficult decision, I eventually selected the beautiful and fascinating Water Lily. My preference when it comes to fragrance leans more towards sweet, green florals, and Water Lily is described by Clive Christian as 'an elegant floral chypre delights with iris and tuberose. Aldehydes and green leaf sparkle with effervescence at the top to compliment the unfurling elegance of the floral heart'. I've been wearing it daily since our journey aboard the Belmond and I'm delighted to report that Water Lily is not only a beautiful and unique scent, but a long lasting one too. Additionally, it would be criminal of me to not briefly touch on the Clive Christian packaging; the outer sleeve and the exquisitely decorated perfume box leave me tempted to keep the bottle tucked away inside so as to have the pleasure of unpacking it over and over again! For now, the perfume sits proudly on my dressing table but the box is certainly one to keep - not just for it's beauty but for travel convenience too! 

If like me, you're a lover of luxury fragrance and you're unfamiliar with Clive Christian, I would highly recommend delving into the brand further. Clive Christian are truly an authority on fine perfumes with the history and experience to back it up. 

If you’d like to see our journey with Clive Christian, you can take a peek in my ‘Events’ highlight on Instagram. 

Thank you to Clive Christian for sponsoring this blog post.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

LEESA MATRESS REVIEW (AND DISCOUNT CODE!)


Something I've realised about myself as I've gotten older (and simultaneously become more self-aware) is that I don't reeeally like change, unless I'm sure it'll be positive. I'm not a natural risk taker. I'll never be the 'I like, totally want to spend a year living in Bali just discovering myself and like, sleeping on the beach... yah' type of person. Just think of all of the things that could go wrong. Tsunamis? Wild, rabid packs of beach-dwelling dogs?! CRABS?? I'm not keen. I also tend to wear the same pair of shoes over and over again until they have actual, literal holes in the toes because WHAT IF I THROW THEM AWAY AND CAN NEVER REPLICATE THIS LEVEL OF COMFORT? IT'S TOO RISKY. I'm a sort of less unkempt, younger version of the old woman who lives in the landfill site from Labyrinth who walks around with all of the things she's ever owned on her back just in case she ever needs them again.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this (and also probably thinking YOU NEED TO SEE A THERAPIST). Well, that was just to set the scene. 

Something I didn't realise until a couple of years ago and had quite frankly never considered, is that you are SUPPOSED to change your mattress every 8 years. After I found this out I did think 'oh, my mattress is at least 8 years old, that's kind of obvious and gross now that I know' - but did I act on this? I SURE DIDN'T. I kept that mattress for another 2 years because it was MY mattress and it was NICE and I LIKED IT ...leave me alone.

So, getting to the actual point - Leesa contacted me about 6 weeks ago to ask if I would like one of their shiny, fresh, new mattresses. Upon receiving this email the logical portion of my brain was like 'Oh gosh, what a fortuitous and well timed opportunity! I do need a new mattress!' and the other half of my brain just hissed agressively and scurried back into its cave. 

After careful consideration (mainly considering the things that poor, poor mattress had seen over the last 10 years) I decided it was time for a fresh start. So, I accepted Leesa's offer with a tinge of reluctance. 'We can always keep my precious old mattress in the garage in case I don't like the new one?' Gollum thought to himself I thought. 

I lived in denial until the day the Leesa arrived. I removed myself from the house on the day that my old mattress was put into the garage, from fear I might catch it's eye as it was unceremoniously flopped down the stairs, and feel a pang of guilt. After all it had served me well these 10 years. That night I got into bed feeling almost cocky, nay - DEFIANT, that this mattress wouldn't, COULDN'T compare to my old one. 'It's just a mattress. How can it be that different? How can it be that good?' The fact that the Leesa arrived looking nothing like a mattress - but instead squished up inside a cardboard tube, made me even more distrustful of this intruder. But also kind of intrigued. After it (being curiously flat) was placed on my bed frame, it expanded. It TRIPLED in size without my permission. THE AUDACITY. Come into my room inflating without my say so like some cool space mattress. 

I climbed into bed, atop the Leesa that night with the face of grumpy cat. Fully expecting that this new mattress would be FINE and that I'd pine for my old one, now banished to the garage. I would say after about 15 minutes of what I call 'phone time' (aka scrolling reddit) I thought '...........shit.' CRUEL DEFEAT. I WAS SO COMFORTABLE. I usually take a long, long time to fall asleep but on this night I don't even recall - I fell asleep so quickly, drunk on comfort. OH THE SHAME OF IT. How would I tell my old mattress?! The next morning, I didn't want to get out of bed and that night, I looked forward to the moment that I would be back atop that horizontal palace of dreams. TAKE MY OLD MATTRESS TO THE SKIP, I declared. She served me well, but she has well and truly been usurped. 

Ok - in all seriousness, I am RELUCTANTLY informing you that this mattress is so bloody comfortable, in a way that I'm not even sure I can describe. After sleeping on my Leesa for the last month I can honestly say that I didn't realise how much of a difference a comfortable mattress makes to your night's sleep and subsequently, the productivity of the following day. 

Leesa only make one type of mattress in a variety of sizes, which makes the selection process very simple. The mattress itself is an innovative design of 3 foam layers that adjust to your body in order to provide optimum support - which it certainly does! It's so strange to me how the support a mattress provides had never really occurred to me or concerned me, until I slept on an ACTUAL supportive mattress. The 3 foam layers differ from memory foam in the sense that they don't overheat and they also don't create cavernous dips in the mattress after lying in the same position for a long period of time. Additionally, I've also noticed that I've been enjoying a more peaceful night with less disturbances. Previously I've always woken up numerous times in the night, but recently I've been sleeping through the night entirely and I'm sure it's down to the mattress. Don't ask me why or how... MAGIC?! 

Amazingly they also offer an 100 night risk-free trial period, so if you don't like your mattress they'll come and collect it, and then donate it to a charitable organisation. They are THAT confident that you'll love this mattress. A BALLSY MOVE, LEESA. Leesa are also heavily involved with charity in other ways, as they donate one mattress to a charitable cause for every ten sold. 

If you only take one recommendation I ever give you, take this one and let this opportunity prompt YOU into changing your mattress. Don't do a me. Don't leave it another few years.

You can buy your own horizontal palace of dreams (aka Leesa mattress) here, AND you can also get a massive £100 OFF by using the discount code ARABELLA.

Thank you so much to Leesa for sponsoring this blog post. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

THE SUMMER DRESS


There are several things I look for when seeking out the perfect, versatile summer dress. Not just a dress that's pretty - a dress that is also practical. The swiss army knife of summer dresses. My list of requirements reads something like this; 

Must be; airy, breathable and an appropriate length so I won't fear I'm flashing the world. Preferably printed to minimise the look of inevitable coffee and chocolate stains. Also preferably wedding or summer occasion appropriate in case I'm ever in a pinch and need to be garden party ready with minimal notice. 

I'm pretty sure this powder blue, polka dotted dress from Laura Ashley fits the bill. It's 97% cotton so my airy and breathable bullet point is well and truly ticked there. I also love the cascading polka dots - they aren't predictably placed which is something that really stood out to me about the print and makes it a lot more fun. It's also definitely fitting for several summer occasions; from barbecues to dog walks, garden parties to the races - just pop a fascinator on top and you're transformed! 

On this occasion, I threw on a wide brimmed straw hat and a little round back (which mirrored the polka dots quite nicely I thought) and I was ready to wander around the gardens of a local stately  home and indulge in a slice of cake - all without worrying that the tiny Victoria Sponge jam stain on my skirt was suuuper obvious. Printed dresses are really quite heroic - the saviour of all little, annoying stains that usually happen 5 minutes after leaving the house.

What do you look for when searching for a summer dress? Do you have a list of requirements or do you throw caution to the wind and grab whatever takes your fancy? 

Dress: Laura Ashley.

Thank you to Laura Ashley for sponsoring this blog post. 

Monday, 26 March 2018

SPRUCING UP FOR SPRING - HOMEWARE EDITION

Faux Flowers: here. 
Mini Hurricane Lamp: here.
Mirrored Tray: here.
Trinket Box: here.
- - - 

For a lot of us, spring is a time to make changes. Whether it be a traditional spring clean, some new wardrobe additions or the dreaded and unavoidable changing of the clocks (the rubbish one where we lose an hour - but hey, lighter evenings!). Something that I like to do around this time, which I suppose ties into the stereotypical spring clean, is make a few changes to my room. I'll do some rearranging, add a handful of new decorative pieces and I might even roll my rug up and hoover UNDER it, not just around it. 

This year my spring inspired home spruce-up is a little different. A few months ago I moved into a new place and decided to pretty much start from scratch when it came to decor. I don't know whether any of you can relate to this, but the idea of sort of dismantling my room at 'home home' made me feel a little bit sad. I didn't want to go home to visit and feel like I was in a half hearted version of my much loved bedroom; the dressing table belongs there, against that particular wall. That painting (which once belonged to the grandmother I never met) lives on that dusty hook and always has. So, because of this, I started gathering together some new bits and pieces.

In the month after we moved in, I remember my boyfriend sighing and rolling his eyes every time I'd come home with a new faux flower arrangement or a decorative tray for the bathroom. (BUT I NEED SOMEWHERE TO PUT MY FACE CREAMS?!) Gradually, as I put all of these things in place and my vision started to come together, he agreed that these little details really made a massive difference to how homely the place felt. 

I'd call my preference when it comes to decor, classic and traditional - although a lot of younger folks might consider it a little old fashioned. I grew up surrounded by grandfather clocks, heavy Persian rugs and antique furniture, so that's the style I naturally favour and associate with home.

I truly believe that the little details in a home really are so important when it comes to creating a beautiful space. Especially when you're renting and either can't or don't necessarily want to bother with a big decorating project or replacing larger items of furniture. 

An area I really wanted to focus on in my new place was the dressing table - my bedroom furniture at home home is over 50 years old from Harrods, and my dressing table is one of my absolute favourite things. I tried my best to replicate this style in my new place through these newer pieces from Laura Ashley; an antique-looking mirrored tray that looks like it's come straight off my Granny's dressing table. A beautiful glass trinket box in a cut glass style - perfect for keeping hair pins and ties! A mini hurricane lamp with silver hardware, housing a lovely little tea light in the shape of a rose. A glass, square vase of faux flowers - I love a house filled with flowers but being completely honest... I was never one to water them. Faux flowers are pretty but don't come with any responsibility.

Even though these pieces are only small, they make such a difference to the feel and look of the room. As soon as I walk into the bedroom, it makes me happy and feels familiar, like home. 

Do you have a spring inspired home shake up, or a decor style that feels most like home to you? I'd love to know! 

Thank you so much to Laura Ashley for sponsoring this post.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

SPRING PASTELS


Coat: here - c/o Laura Ashley.
Earrings: here - c/o Laura Ashley.
Bracelet: here - c/o Laura Ashley.
Skirt: H&M.
Shoes: Mango.
Bag: here - c/o Aspinal.
 - - -

Before you start - yes, the title is 'Spring Pastels'. Yes, I also know that it's not quite spring yet. Just let me bask in my delusions a little while longer and soon enough, spring will truly be upon us! When this beautiful candy coloured coat from Laura Ashley arrived at my door, my mind burst into a pastel themed kaleidoscope of the new wave of fashion, colours and styles that the change of season brings. Surely one can't quite get away with wearing pastels in January, but February... well in February, you're just enough on the cusp to get away with it. 

I wanted to keep the rest of the outfit monochrome in order to keep the focus on the parma violet hued coat. I think often when it comes to styling a statement coat or any coat of a particularly striking colour, the safest option is to keep everything else relatively simple. Alternatively, with this lilac coat, I might mix in a similarly toned lilac or purple via the shoes or another accessory. In this instance, I chose a delicate lace top to add interest but still not draw attention away from the main event, and to keep a foot in our seasonal reality winter, I chose this pleated faux leather skirt.

In terms of other accessories, I absolutely love the way silver looks against lilac, so I chose a pair of hammered silver drop earrings and a matching bracelet, also from Laura Ashley. The earrings and bracelet are such a bright, shiny silver that they really stand out - the earrings in particular, which means that even if I wear my hair down they'll still peek through!

I would also like to add that having worn this coat all day walking around Notting Hill in temperatures so cold that it snowed a little, it is exceptionally warm! Obviously my legs were cold but that's due to my poor decision to wear a micro-skirt on a day cold enough to snow...
I just know that this piece is going to hang on my coat rail all throughout spring and even during the chillier summer months!  

Thank you to Laura Ashley for sponsoring this post.