Sunday, 23 September 2018

Transitioning Into Autumn: What To Wear

It is no secret that I love autumn. The chilly weather is a great excuse to curl up on the sofa and binge-watch everything on Netflix (with a peppermint hot choc in hand, obvs) and the back-to-school vibes always make me feel nostalgic. It is a season of cosiness, candles, and a whole lot of chocolate. And, after a long, hot summer, it feels greatly needed.

However, my one qualm with autumn is the transition period and the whole what do I even put on my body today breakdowns that have taken over my mornings. The trouble I have is that I am a bit of magpie for anything knitted. Or mustard. Or just a coat in general tbh. So, I tend to dive straight in and layer up as soon as September rolls around. Which is great for the colder mornings but, by midday, I am cursing myself as I sweat like something from a cartoon. Literal puddles.

This year, I am trying to hold myself back a little bit. I am pushing myself to be slightly more sensible and utilise the items I have in my summer wardrobe but just give them a bit of an autumnal twist. So, I have put together a few hacks for turning your summer wardrobe into an autumn ready wardrobe.

Maxi dresses
In all honesty, I have always considered the maxi dress to be an exclusively summer piece but I have been playing around with the maxi dresses in my wardrobe lately and now I don't want to wear anything else all autumn. Maxi dresses are perfect because they cover you up but aren't too warm. I love pairing them with boots (I think knee high boots would look gorgeous with a maxi that has a slit in the side) and, my most recent revelation, putting a roll neck jumper underneath. This outfit was so warm and snug (albeit not very waterproof for the rainstorm that occurred half-way through snapping these pics) and I felt fierce in it.

Midi skirts
This is totally inspired by bloggers like Pint Sized Beauty and Hannah Gale who are the undisputed queens of the midi skirt trend. I love the look of a midi skirt paired with ankle boots and a slogan jumper. It just looks so cute and classic. And, I've found, having a little bit of leg out tends to balance out the unbearable heat of jumper-wearing.

In all honesty, I intended to buy a black baker boy hat to go with this look but I chickened out at the last minute because I thought I looked like a bus driver. But, yeah, accessories are the heroes of this season. A hat seems to instantly make a casual outfit 1000x more fashion, darling! in a matter of seconds. And let's not forget scarves. I love a good scarf (especially if it is big enough to double as a blanket/impromptu bib for baby) and recently picked up a bright pink one from Primarni which I intend to wear to death this season. Oh, and they keep you warm and stuff.

I'm gonna be open with you guys - I have ugly feet. I get them from my dad (sorry, dad!). So, summer isn't my friend. I despise sandals and how they make my little trotters look. So, autumn is always a bit of a relief after a long summer of having my feet on show. I absolutely love a heeled ankle boot and knee/thigh highs are the next thing I want to take on. Boots are an easy and effective way to change up your look for autumn without going all-out.

A vampy lip
On the days when I begrudgingly put on a dress or a tshirt and jeans because the weather is freakishly warm again, I cling on to a little bit of autumn with a dark lip. I love red and burgundy but I am venturing into browns (!) and slightly purple-ish colours. And, I have to say, it is majorly exciting to be able to put makeup on my face again without fearing it melting off.

Dress: Boohoo* (here)
Jumper: Primark (similar)
Boots: New Look (here)
Bag: F&F (similar)

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Our Weaning Journey

We first started Ava on 'real food' around 4 months. She had been exclusively formula fed since 3 months (after she out and out refused to latch on) and I wanted to test the waters. She would just have a spoonful or two of baby rice just to see if she liked it. She was kinda indifferent and most of it went down her chin anyway so I put the brakes on and said I will try again around 5 and a half months.

5 and a half months came and we gave her a little fruit puree from a jar. She was happily having one small meal a day (usually either fruit puree or baby rice) and I was feeling like Supermum. I thought I had cracked weaning (lol) and that is would all be plain sailing from there. Spoiler alert, it wasn't.

At that time, I started pureeing up some veg myself. Usually just things like sweet potato or carrots (one day I even used chickpeas like an absolute boss) and she still seemed quite keen on them. We started giving her a little more everyday and, by the time she hit 6 months, she was pretty much on 3 small meals a day.

But then something changed around 7 months. As we started to introduce lumps, she got more fussy. She started refusing the baby rice she usually had for breakfast. Almost everything I made her got thrown across the room in a tantrum. And all she would accept was either super smooth fruit puree from a jar or milk.

At 8 months, every meal felt like a battle. She would barely touch her breakfast and anything with lumps just gets spat straight back out. She fed herself things like strawberries and tomatoes but she just hated lumps. For some reason, she seemed desperate to continue being bottle fed and the tantrums subsided in seconds as soon as she saw a bottle moving her way.

This was really difficult because I didn't know where I was going wrong. I was trying to be inventive in the kitchen making things I thought she would like but she had just lost all interest in food. I continued giving her little bits and pieces to hold herself and chew on and this seemed to be the only way to get her to try anything.

Two months on and we're finally starting to get the change of feeding Ava. I have realised that she loves to feed herself and be independent. She does still eat smooth purees but she mainly likes to eat things like toast and chunks of fruit. I often give her a little taste of whatever I am eating just to see if she likes it which she really enjoys.

We also recently tried Babyled Spreads* and I really liked the concept of them. They send out jarred foods to put on toast or use as a dip. They provide great recipe and meal ideas which we have really gotten on well with. It is great to have some input of meals that suit Ava's needs and style of eating - it has really helped to liven up mealtime and explore different ideas.

I feel like a big part of weaning is just sussing it out as you go along. Some babies were just born to eat but others are a little pickier.

How have you found weaning?

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Learning To Switch Off As A Blogger

Back in 2013, I was just starting sixth form. I was set to study English Lit and Media Studies alongside German and Classics in the hope of progressing into fashion journalism. Around that time, I became interested in blogging because I had read in a magazine that it looks good on a CV if you are applying for a position at a magazine company. And Zoella was doing it so it must be cool, right? So, I opened up an account on Blogger, chose one of their templates, and got writing. My first post was a review of a bottle of Gucci Flora perfume I had been given for Christmas (you can read it here and lol at me). I was posting almost every day and I loved interacting with other bloggers. It was super informal. I'd snap outfit pics in my bedroom mirror and write up either a long, rambly post or just drop the links to the outfit below the pictures.

Fast forward to 2018 and things are very different. Long gone are the days of automated blog templates and blurry phone pics. Everything is so polished and some bloggers are even doing this as their full-time job. It is crazy to me that even my blog that I started on my parents' super slow PC sometimes makes a bit of money too. But, with that, comes a certain amount of pressure.

In all honesty, there are times when I feel a bit deflated about blogging. Don't get me wrong, I love this industry and most days I feel so pumped to get the camera out and snap away but occasionally, I can't seem to muster up that energy - but I kinda feel like I have to. Like the other day when I met up with my best friend from school. We went for lunch in a village restaurant and caught up on everything going on in our lives and then drove around looking at the views. It was so nice to have time away from a screen and part of me felt like I never wanted to use my phone again. But another part of me was reaching for the camera which is perpetually in my bag. Part of me felt like I couldn't eat a meal with snapping a pic or drive past a nice view without stopping to document it on insta stories.

The thing is with blogging these days is that it is so fast-moving. Trends come and go so quickly and the industry is super competitive. You feel like you have to be 'on' all the time and, when you're not emailing and editing and DMing and live tweeting, you are planning content in your mind. In order to grow your brand, you feel like you have to be constantly available and producing a large amount of high quality content. As much as I do love writing blog posts and reading what other people have written, I do sometimes want to throw my phone out of the window and just spend my days making jam and hiking in the hills.

I do want to succeed in this industry because this is what I love doing. But, at the same time, I struggle to be online as much as I feel like I have to be. I struggle to switch off and just relax like I used to. But I am trying to change that. I am making a conscious effort to take time away from it all. Some evenings, I will just put my phone in another room and unwind. I will actually watch TV without having one eye on my insta feed at the same time. And I will go for walks and keep my phone in my bag so I can have an uninterrupted conversation.

I keep putting so much pressure on myself to constantly create and improve that it is making me a little bit miserable. I started blogging as a passion and I think that I need to work on keeping that passion alive if I want to carry on doing this.

What do you think about the blogging industry today?

Jumper: New Look (similar)
Skirt: H&M (similar)
Boots: Primark (similar)
Bag: John Lewis (similar)

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

How To Create Fashion Content Without A Photographer (Or Insta Husband)

Since this blog was born back in 2012, I have relied on my long-suffering husband Isaac to take all of my outfit pictures. And he's got pretty good at it. He knows the types of shots I like and he is very dedicated to getting a good picture. But, as I have gotten more into Insta, I have wanted to post more and more fashion content and I started feeling a little guilty passing him the camera every time we were together - especially as he is usually majorly tired from work. So, I had to find a few creative solutions in order to create the content that I wanted without the help of my insta husband (or a photographer that I definitely couldn't afford).

Invest in a tripod
I have owned a tripod for over a year but only just started using it for outfit pictures lately. The main reason for this is that it takes guts to go out there alone and shoot some pics with a tripod and I am mega shy. But I have managed to do it twice and I got some fairly good pics both times. My tricks were to go to slightly more secluded areas at quieter times - residential areas around midday are good options. And, if anyone walks past staring or asks what is going on, simply tell them you are doing a photography course - it works a treat!

Get creative at home
If you haven't quite mustered up the courage to get out with a tripod yet or simply would rather spend your hard-earned cash on other things (namely chips and lipsticks in my case) rather than kit, this could be a great option for you. Try balancing a camera on top of a table or cabinet for those candid, home-style shots.

Lay out your outfit on your bed, on the floor, or on a spare curtain you put on the floor to look like bedding and get snapping. Flatlays are great ways to show off your outfit without needing anyone's help or leaving the house - I mean, you don't even need to change out of your PJs for this one so it's a real winner. You can also include other things in the flatlay to introduce a theme to the pic (think pumpkins in autumn) and generally enhance the vibe you were going for with the look.

Focus on the detail
This is one of my current fave style of taking outfit pictures. Simply face the camera towards yourself and focus on one part of your outfit that you want to share (eg. the slogan on your t-shirt or a cute belt). This looks especially good if the background colour works well with the outfit snippet - think a pastel wall with a white t-shirt.

Use a mirror
This is a style of outfit picture that I don't think will ever go out of fashion. Simply take a picture of your reflection - how easy is that?! I especially love outfit pictures like this when the person is sat on the floor in front of a full length mirror and wearing quite an edgy outfit - it just works.

What are your top tips for taking outfit pics without a photographer?

Blazer: Primark (similar)
Jeans: Primark (similar)
Trainers: Nike (similar)

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Why I Want To Take More Fashion Risks This Autumn

I have always been a pretty avid follower of fashion. From the days of checking out which scrunchies were in style in Mizz magazine to modern day where I spend way too much time stalking fashion bloggers on Insta, fashion has always been something that has peaked my interest. However, this interest hasn't always translated into me dressing well. I mean, I am a creature of habit - when I find a pair of jeans I like, I repurchase them for the next eight years (here's looking at you, black Primark jeans). When I find an outfit that I think works well, I wear variants of it until the day I die (and I'd probably be buried in it too). It's safe to say that my fashion choices are well within my comfort zone. They're not ugly or boring - just a bit samey and definitely not experimental or expressive. And the more I put on the same pair of black jeans and white t-shirt, the more I feel like I am missing out on the excitement of trying something new and exploring which looks really project who I am to the world. Other than my usual 'I'm a mum who likes to be comfy and I just really like jeans'.

So, lately I have been pushing myself a little bit to try something new everyday. I have been trying to step out of my comfort zone and liberate some of my clothes that I was too scared to wear from the depths of my wardrobe. I even bought a hat for the first time in my life. And I just feel more like me. I feel like the world is seeing the part of me that I haven't really shown before. The part of me that loves putting looks together and being a little bit extra. I feel like so much of our self-expression comes from what we choose to wear as it shows how we choose to present ourselves to the world and I don't think the slightly boring looks I was wearing before presented who I really am.

The thing is, I just didn't have the confidence before that I have now. I have done a lot of work on myself to get to this point where I can say that I don't really care if people think I look silly because this is what I want to wear. For the longest time, I would postpone outfits 'until I was skinny'. I had whole looks that I had mapped out for future size 8 me. Looking back, it seems crazy that I hid away in huge jumpers because I despised my body to that point but, a few years on, and I have worked hard to change my mentality and accept my body as is. I think that is partly where this shift has come from. I have made peace with myself and my appearance but I realised that I was still hiding away in the same clothes. And I knew this had to change.

I feel like this was the final hurdle I had to face. It is all well and good to think you look ok behind closed doors but actually standing up and letting the world see you rather than fading into the background is scary. There are days when I have a bit of a confidence wobble but, to be honest, it is also really liberating after years of feeling like I'm not cool enough or skinny enough to pull off certain looks to just walk into Topshop and buy what I like and actually wear it instead of putting it at the back of my wardrobe waiting for the day when I magically transform into a 5'9 model with a pixie cut and cheekbones that could cut a man.

So, this autumn marks a new chapter. I want to wear all the cute clothes that I love and not care if they are flattering or not. I want to wear hats and look like an extra from Oliver Twist just because I think they are cool. I want to be so far outside my comfort zone that I can't even find the way back.

Autumn is a great time to make a change. Not to reinvent yourself but to embrace further who you really are.

Dress: River Island (similar)
Black T-shirt: Primark (similar)
Belt: ASOS (similar)
Shoes: New Look (similar)

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Camping With A Baby: The Survival Guide

Despite the fact that we are now heading into pumpkin spice season and camping is probably the last thing you want to do as the nights get colder, today I am sharing my camping with a baby top tips. Now some people may think that I am crazy to even consider taking a ten month old baby camping - especially as she is struggling with teething and hasn't exactly got into a sleep schedule (see bags under eyes for reference). And, in all honesty, I was a bit worried. I thought a couple of nights away may ruin what routine we do have and other practicalities seemed a bit tricky to navigate - like making her formula or stopping her from screaming the campsite down and getting us chucked out. But I was also pretty excited to share this new adventure with her - especially as I have such fond memories of camping holidays as a kid. And, not to boast, but I think we nailed it. Thankfully, I had my parents on board to help me out (I even got a lie in one morning!) and Ava is usually quite easy going as long as she has food and attention (just like her mum) but I did learn a few things in the process too. And that's what I am sharing with you guys today!

Research the campsite
We chose Oakdown just outside of Sidmouth for our trip and it was the perfect choice for us. It had a lovely (clean!) shower block and a family bathroom right near our pitch and it even had a mini kitchen which had a freezer, sinks, and a microwave in. It also had a café (so coffee was always on hand) and a little shop in case you'd forgotten anything. Hell, they even served pizza in the evenings on site. This was great because it meant that we had all the amenities we needed and it made our stay so much easier. The fact that I could bathe Ava in an actual bath not have to navigate the whole 'pass the baby to me in the shower and then wash her and pass her back whilst I wash' fandango made everything so much easier. So, my top tip is to do your research. Read reviews of a site and see how family friendly it is. Look at the facilities they have onsite and also research how far it is from a town/Tesco Express in case you run out of formula.

Pack for all weathers
It may be the height of summer but as soon as you get the tent out, it's sod's law that the skies will turn grey and you will hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. I am so glad that I bought Ava a waterproof coat for this trip and didn't listen to the voice in my head saying 'she'll be in the pushchair with the raincover on anyway'. What I wish I had packed was also some little wellies for her and a lot more carrier bags to put the wet clothes into. Because boy did it rain. But also pack suncream and dresses because this is the UK and we can go from tropical heat to artic blizzard and back in the space of an hour.

Keep the baby active throughout the day
We were lucky with our location that we were quite close to Exmouth and thus quite close to The World Of Country Life where we spent a lot of time in soft plays and generally tiring the baby out. Keeping the child active throughout the day is majorly important because the new setting may make them less likely to settle in the night. After a full day of crawling around soft plays, Ava slept through the whole night on our first night in the tent and, I have to say, I was pretty impressed. I mean, I woke up hours before she did. If you don't want to pay for soft play, great alternatives are going to parks and running around after a ball or taking the baby swimming. Just get out and about is my advice.

Invest in a cool bag
Thankfully, my mum is a very organised person and carried a cool bag full of ice blocks so that I could keep Ava's open puree pouches cool throughout the day. I would say that this is really something you should consider investing in if you are going camping with a baby as anything like milk or puree is best kept cool and a cool bag is a great way to do that (even on the move!).

Wrap that baby up
Despite the fact that we went camping at the start of August, the nights were still absolutely freezing. To sleep, I put Ava in a vest, a long sleeve top, a cardigan, her sleeping bag, and under a blanket and she was just about warm enough sleeping beside me so that just shows how cold it was at she usually only wears her sleepsuit and sleeping bag to bed at home. So, pack a few extra warm layers for the baby and a couple of blankets (to account for any dropping blanket in mud disasters).

Pack lots of toys
As much as I wanted to have a few days away from Ava's singing plastic toys, I was actually happy that I packed them in the end because Ava got bored a lot quicker than she usually does at home and then started getting into everything that was in the tent. At one point she poured a pot of marshmallows onto the floor of the tent which, as you can probably imagine, became very sticky quickly and was like a siren call for wasps and ants. You need something to stop the baby from getting into mischief. Pack the plastic tat. You'll thank me later.

Have fun!
It may feel like two nights of hell whilst you're there but the memories of the baby screaming bloody murder when you try to take her paddling in the sea and how you had to use buckets to catch the rain that poured through the holes in the tent will last a lifetime.

Have you ever taken a baby camping?

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Friendship In Adulthood

I have never really been a social butterfly. In all honesty, I have spent most of my life much preferring having my head in a book than going to parties and surrounding myself with people. But I have always had a small circle of friends. Girls that I would spend hours on the phone with discussing every part of our lives, planning our futures, and mooning over the boys we fancied. As I got older, my circle of friends got smaller. With every year that went by, it seemed like I lost contact with another friend. What with working and partners and travelling and everything else that comes with being in your twenties, keeping childhood friendships alive became hard and some of the people I once called my best friends soon became people that I only heard from when they wished me happy birthday on Facebook once a year.

Friendship as an adult is difficult. You're no longer at school where you'd just befriend the person who was sat next you on the seating plan or the girl who likes the same scent of Charlie body spray. If you work, you often find that you have 'at work friends' but those friendships rarely leave the office. Or, if you are a stay at home parent, you find that friendships at parenting groups revolve around your kids but are never really friendships - just people you sit next to when you sing nursery rhymes and talk to about how much your baby sleeps. Our lives become much more compartmentalised and navigating friendship becomes a little bit more tricky. Searching for a friend that isn't just a work friend or just a mum friend but a true friend can sometimes feel like searching for a unicorn.

For me, I have very few friends. I am still in contact with some of the girls I grew up with and I absolutely love them but also there are some whose lives have taken a completely different direction to mine and I find that we struggled for things to talk about. And I think that is really the reality of holding onto childhood friendships into adulthood. We are all kinda struggling to make friends so we hold onto the people we know but often these aren't the people we would naturally gravitate towards now. That's not to say that I don't love these friends - I have a handful of friends that I still get on well with and have a laugh with but that can't always be said with every friendship. As you get older, I think you learn which friendships are worth the time and effort but you also see which friendships were more friendships of convenience rather than a true relationship.

But maybe that is what makes the friendships we form in adulthood more special. We all have so little time in our busy lives but we do make time for the people who are important to us. Rather than just befriending the person you were placed next to in class or the girl who also hates PE, you befriend someone because of who they are, what they believe, and how we feel when we are around them. As adults, we don't just make friends because we don't want to sit alone at lunch. We make friends because we believe these people can add something to our lives. Because we value them as people and like being around them.

But I think we also have to accept that friendship is different as an adult. Sometimes a friend needs to understand that being left on read doesn't mean we hate them - it just means we are mega busy (and the baby is probably trying to pull the TV onto herself or eat stands she has pulled off the carpet). Adult friendship is a bit less passionate than the friendships we had as teenagers where we'd stay up all night talking on the phone and vow to run away together and date popstars. As an adult, we just need a friend that we can go to coffee with and rant about life together and occasionally go out all night and pretend we're not exhausted by 11pm. Adult friendships call for more understanding. It doesn't mean these connections don't run as deep as the ones we had as teens but they are just different. Because life is different.

Personally, I am still trying to navigate these waters. I am trying to learn how to meet people who have similar interests to me but also how to be a better friend myself. I am pushing myself to find time for the people I value and to be less generous with my time with people who I don't feel good around. And I am learning to appreciate the small things that my friends do for me and how they make my life better.

Trousers: H&M (here)
Jumper: H&M (similar)
Shoes: New Look (similar)

What does friendship in adulthood mean to you?
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