Wednesday, 28 December 2016

I was hygge before it was cool.

Last month I went to my parents house for dinner, the lighting was low and candles were burning. 'It's huh-gah,' my mum proclaimed and with that the term 'hygge' officially became mainstream.

The thing is, I'm Scottish so I'm used to long, dark, cold winters. And I'm lazy, so I'm used to long periods sat on the couch in fleecy pyjamas with the heating on. Since buying a flat 4 years ago I have shunned expensive nights on the town in towering heels for cheap nights in the flat by candlelight. It's not that I'm trendy, it's that I'm tired and skint.

I don't need a 'Little Book of Hygge,' I was rocking a grey cotton lounge combo long before EasyJet started offering cheap returns to Copenhagen.

Like 'Normcore' and the 'Dad bod' before it, 'hygge' has taken a simple concept and given it a rebrand. Staying in, being at home, spending time with family: all everyday, unglamorous albeit fulfilling achievements. Yet without the sexy skandi terminology why are we so ashamed to just stay at home and vegetate?

The period between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to exercise your right to lounge, so put on your comfiest pyjama bottoms and a jumper that has seen better days and chill the fuck out. 

Turns out I do need the Little Book of Hygge

Monday, 21 November 2016

An ode to the Pret Christmas sandwich.

My favourite part of Christmas is the eating: tonne boxes of Celebrations, M&S party food and enough roast potatoes to cater for a small principality. There is no festive feed mightier however, in my humble opinion, than Pret's Veggie Christmas Lunch.

A Christmas sandwich is a wonderful thing: an edible celebration contained within two slices of delicious bread. It is a taste of the best of times that can be eaten at the worst of times, a little bit of festive cheer for a long train journey or a joyless lunch stuck at your desk.

Pret offers 2 Christmas sandwiches (3 if you count the vegan one, I don't) and while the traditional meat number is delicious it is the vegetarian alternative that has my heart. Perfectly roasted chunks of butternut squash sit alongside something akin to stuffing, nutty and rich with a surprisingly fruity edge. Add in some mayo, some rocket and a smattering of crispy onions and you have a taste sensation. Just thinking abut said sandwich has made me ravenous.

Basically what I'm saying here is go to Pret today for your lunch, buy it, eat it and feel fucking fantastically festive. No need to thank me.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Treat Yo'Self

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the simple stresses of life permeate your soul. I'm talking about the everyday Everest's: a particularly painful week at work, an empty bank account a fortnight before payday, the anxiety of an overdue smear. Like Jenga, these individual non-issues stack up unsteadily before one rogue piece (a misplaced set of keys, a finger burnt while cooking dinner) renders the whole thing a messy heap.

So how can we help ourselves when we feel overwhelmed? 'Don't worry' is a comforting phrase but I'm the kind of person who assumes my boyfriend's been in a terrible car accident if he's over 15 minutes late getting home from work. When I was young I would lock myself in my bedroom and cry if a member of my household was poorly, worried about what fate awaited them.

So, to stop myself from crying in the work toilets or reaching for a weeknight bottle of wine, I've found a few things that help me look after myself:

Sheet Masks
I am obsessed with Japanese style sheet masks. Soaked in cooling serum, these super thin cloth/paper masks require the wearer lie down for a minimum of 15 minutes. May I recommend pairing with a comedy podcast for ultimate escapism.

Going for a walk in the crisp winter weather is perfect for clearing your head. I find I get some of my most rational thinking done when powering home from work after a hectic day.

Get into a TV show with loads of episodes and get caught up in somebody else's world for a little while. Warning, binge-watching American Horror Story may result in some weird dreams.

While my inability to write as regularly as I'd like makes me agitated, I find quiet comfort in composing these mundane monologues. Carefully selecting words and phrases challenges my brain and calms me down.

Eating pizza in my pants
Because sometimes carbs and the Kardashians is just what you need...

A winter walk

Monday, 31 October 2016

Forget FOMO, this Autumn it's all about GOMO (Getting Out More Often)

As autumn makes itself truly known with a blanket of glorious russet leaves underfoot and a cool, crisp chill in the air, it's hard to resist the overwhelming urge to hibernate. Outside is cold and inside is so very warm (if you are as lavish with the central heating as I am). 
The term hygge is this year's buzzword and while the Danish wellbeing philosophy of hiding away from the elements certainly has its place we shouldn't use this as an excuse to avoid living life. The lead up to Christmas is jam-packed with fun things to do, so I’m going to embrace autumn and GOMO (Get Out More Often).

Halloween is an underrated holiday in my opinion. Every year since I was small I’d start planning a costume weeks in advance and my Mum would ensure the house was suitably spooky for a night of dooking and guising. This year I’m hosting a small soiree complete with cake pop eyballs and bloody punch, the scariest thing will be fitting more than 2 people, in costume, inside my tiny flat!

Bonfire Night
I’m a little bit scared of DIY displays after a rogue rocket came straight for me and burnt a hole in my brand new Skechers in 2001. That being said there are some perfectly safe Firework spectaculars going on all over the country where you can watch the sky light up in glorious technicolour.

Autumn rambles
There are few things more satisfying than walking through a carpet of crunchy leaves. Autumn is breathtakingly beautiful in its gold and copper glory and the weather is perfect for long walks with loved ones. Grab your coat, wrap up warm and head out into the great outdoors.

Run for it
I’ve signed up for a hill running event in March (full disclosure, it seemed like a good idea after 2 glasses of wine) so I’m going to use the autumn months to get into running. I figure if I can find the willpower to pull myself away from Netflix to do exercise outside in the cold then I’ll feel unstoppable.

Whatever your plans for autumn, you can promote, manage and host your own successful GOMO events with event planning software from Eventbrite.

The gruesome cake pops

Friday, 7 October 2016

The perennial pains of shopping for wedding guest get-up

I love weddings. Dressing up, drinking all day, slow-dancing with the one you love: all excellent things. I adore watching as soulmates exchange vows, best men tear up and Fathers beam proudly. Full disclosure, I am also obsessed with canap├ęs. What I strongly dislike however, is finding the perfect outfit to wear to watch your pals get hitched. 

Despite my penchant for the colour pink I'm not really a girly girl and when donning my gladrags I like to feel comfortable and look cool. The unofficial uniform of a female wedding guest is body-con or flashy florals painstakingly picked from your local department store. These particular styles make me feel fat and frumpy and uninspired (no offence Coast, it's not you, it's me). 

This week has been a race against time to find something, anything, to wear to my cousins impending nuptials. I am one high-necked, unflattering dress away from a full fraud investigation on my credit card. Yesterday, in a leather pencil skirt, I threw on my running shoes and hotfooted it across town on my lunch break in search of something spectacular. It was a sweaty affair.

What I found was something safe: a black, boxy blazer/blouse hybrid that when teamed with black shorts looks smart and simple. Yes, it could probably also be worn to a funeral but with a 'statement' bag (when the cashier said this I immediately liked the bag 75% less) it will do the job.

I know it shouldn't matter what I wear, it's all about the bride etc but there is NOTHING less forgiving than a candid, high definition wedding photograph. Especially, if like me you have been blessed with the world's most expressive face. 

But basically, the moral of this story is there's something out there for everyone to wear to a wedding in order to feel like the most sparkly version of themselves even if you drive yourself insane trying to find it. And anything goes (except perhaps a long, white gown).

The life-saving blouse. £36 Topshop

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Things they don't tell you on Instagram #2

We are living in the age of the #health hashtag. Our social streams are awash with clean eaters and bikini clad burpee babes. Our beloved carbohydrates have been replaced with vegetable imposters and I'm here to say what others won't: cauliflower rice is pretty crap. 

Let's face it, cauliflower would be lucky to make it into anybody's fruit & veg top 5 unless smothered in a rich, silken cheese sauce. So when you have to whizz it in the food processor, squeeze out the liquid (rendering your fave dish towel unusable) and flavour it with a million things to make it palatable it seems like a waste of bloody time. 

Courgetti is marginally less offensive but is best enjoyed raw so that when smothered with bolognese and half a block of Parmesan it has a texture that is vaguely akin to pasta. As soon as you try and warm it through it becomes a soggy, squidgy mess. 

Lettuce wraps are also a thing and I am ashamed to admit that I have, on occasion, used them to wrap fajita filling in place of a gluten laden, kcal-tastic tortilla. But I didn't enjoy it, I was just trying to be 'good'. 

I know we should look after our bodies and that replacing refined carbohydrates with more nutritious alternatives is a positive lifestyle choice, and one which I endeavour to follow (at some point). But let's cut the bullshit: pasta is delicious, rice is nice and bread is best. Nothing compares...

This was a sad day. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

the consequences of living for the weekend.

I, like many of my peers, am the epitome of a weekend warrior. A classic 9-5er, by COP (or whatever other moronic corporate acronym you despise but definitely use in work emails) Friday I can hear a Prosecco cork pop from 50m.

The thing is I'm just not built for binge drinking anymore. As I write this, on a Wednesday evening, I am still faintly aware of Sunday's abhorrent hangover lurking around in my temperamental gut. It has taken 2 pizzas, a Nandos, a mountain of mac and cheese, endless cups of tea, countless cans of Diet Coke and hundreds of comforting cuddles to help get me back to normal. And that's just the physical symptoms.

For me, the emotional aftermath of a heavy weekend is often as debilitating as the actual hangover. I feel anxious and sad (especially when my rum-fuelled drunk persona has been 'annoying crying girl') for days and the slightest thing can bring me to tears. Scuffing the shit out of brand new silver boots for instance.

This week, drowning in the depths of this harrowing hang, I cry; "never again". Until next Saturday that is...

Friday, 17 June 2016

It’s not easy being green

I’m a jealous person. Not in the malicious and cruel way that can cost people relationships, instead my envy builds slowly and steadily turning my whole being green like a slothful Hulk.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a monster and more often than not I feel positive emotions towards my peers: happiness, pride, joy, awe.  But every so often I suffer from an overwhelming and intense bout of envy that renders me miserable. 

I want everything I do not have and feel achingly dissatisfied with my wardrobe, my body, my job, my life. These periods can be disastrous for my self-confidence and my credit card. The thing is this negative emotion can often be the catalyst for something good.

Today I was reading this week’s The Dolly Mail by Dolly Alderton, an email newsletter which resonates so strongly with me I sometimes feel as though Dolly and I are intrinsically linked in someway, and I was overcome with jealousy. Jealous of Dolly’s perfect prose and jealous of the fact that her writing is also her career. 

However, rather than letting myself be consumed by it, I was inspired. Inspired to spend my lunch break typing furiously rather than reading the dirty Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame.  Sometimes it takes somebody else’s success to give you the chutzpah to just fucking do you. 

The thing is the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, life is what you make it. Envy is a deadly sin, but sometimes it’s just what you need. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Things they don't tell you on Instagram #1

I spend approximately 86% of my day on Instagram, looking at other people’s pictures and wondering where I went wrong in life to be so flawed.  This series exposes the truth behind some of social media’s most ubiquitous myths.

White painted floorboards are a bitch to maintain

Whitewashed floorboards are the epitome of country chic: bright, clean and perfectly rustic. When I discovered there were beasties living in my bedroom carpet last year I recoiled and then rejoiced, FINALLY a reason to rip up my gross beige carpet. The carpet removal revealed relatively even albeit rainbow painted floorboards beneath and after a quick sand and a quicker clean I was ready to make my Pinterest-perfect fantasy floors a reality.

What I soon realised is that painting the floor in a flat the size of a cupboard is a logistical nightmare, but, after 3 weeks of leaping and jumping over islands of wet paint and 3 haphazard coats, we were finished! The room suddenly seemed bathed in light and with the addition of a faux-Persian rug and a flattering Instagram filter, the boudoir was complete.

A couple of days in it became apparent that my stark white floor was incredibly unforgiving. Fluff, dust and alarming amounts of my hair littered the bedroom. My dreams of a Skandi-style, fuss-free way of life were shattered and with my dustbuster in hand I embarked upon a clean-up mission. I’ve* been cleaning up ever since…

The room in question.

*Disclaimer: my boyfriend probably hoovers more than me.

Friday, 26 February 2016

My Lenten Promise.

It’s currently just over two weeks into Lent, which for me means 40 days and 40 nights of trying (and sometimes failing) not to eat crisps and chocolate. The thing is I’m not really all that religious but for whatever reason, maybe it IS a higher power, I am finally able to exercise some semblance of self-control.

For those who didn’t spend 13 years in the Catholic school system, Pancake day is simply a wonderful excuse to eat batter based treats but for me, Shrove Tuesday has always marked the start of a personal challenge. A campaign against my gluttonous, greedy ways.

I have half-heartedly been on a diet since my early teens, trying to find the secret to skinny. Along the way I’ve mostly just discovered how much I bloody love carbs, and cheese and things that are deep-fried. 

My relationship with exercise is also predictably rocky. I love the way it makes me feel when I get there but the biggest hurdle is getting out of the door. This exercise dread often wins and with that comes an oppressive wave of guilt (the Catholicism coming out to play again).

I may seem like somewhat of a hypocrite, embracing one religious practice while ignoring many of the others but for this small period of time I can try a little harder, push a little further and eat a little less rubbish. And once it’s all over, who knows, maybe I’ll be a changed woman…

…or maybe not.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


A few months ago I started writing this piece for the annual Elle Writing Competition but predictably I got distracted by real life (most likely a Keeping Up With The Kardashians marathon or some sort of baked good) and didn’t submit it in time. The subject was ‘Relationship Goals’ and this is the egotistical outcome…

I have a wonderfully supportive family, effervescent and inspiring friends and a loyal and loving boyfriend. I am lucky in that I am surrounded by positive people who enrich my life in so many ways. For me, the relationship that takes the most work is the one I have with myself.

At 28 I feel less like myself than ever. I can be plagued with insecurities and irrational anxieties. At school I was smart, at university I was partying and now, in my late twenties, I sometimes feel lost.

The older I get, the more self-critical I become. It’s easy to doubt my talents, question my purpose and criticise my body. Once a bold and confident clotheshorse I now find myself in loose fitting black clothing or baggy boyfriend jeans. I don’t feel sexy or pretty, so I cover up, which in turn makes me feel less sexy and less pretty.

And it’s not just the superficial things that lead me to a semi-schizophrenic war on myself: I no longer believe my own hype. Back in the day I’d fake it till I made it, but now I regularly work myself into a tizzy desperately trying to impress.

I don’t think that the humble hashtag is helping. Social Media makes it easy for us to worship false goals: the ultimate bikini body, the Pinterest-perfect abode, the sexy, shiny social set. We now constantly compare our apparently mediocre lives with the carefully curated snapshots of others. At what cost?

I’ve decided that in 2016 I will work to maintain my marvellous relationships, take each day as the glorious gift that it is and above all, be kind to myself. This is not a goal, it’s a mantra.

N.B. #RelationshipGoals has a whopping 2,031,388 posts on Instagram. Let's stop posting our ambitions on the Internet and instead work on making them a reality.