Currently Coveting #19: The Perfect Sweatshirt

Lately I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with sweatshirts. They are perfect for this time of year and easy to throw on in the morning when you don’t want to think too hard about what to wear. I also like the idea of teaming them with skinnies or a leather skirt and heels for a casual, yet glam, night time look. There are loads of nice sweatshirts out there at the moment, from bright coloured ones with brash slogans (which I’m definitely on the wrong side of 20 to wear! Only college kids could get away with those in my humble opinion) to more subtle options in muted hues like the ones I’ve picked out here. Comfortable AND stylish is always the best combination!

Sweatshirt 1

Karen Millen sweatshirt with sport detailing, reduced from £60 to £48.50; People Tree Love Heart Sweatshirt, reduced from £60 to £45; Asos sweatshirt with glitter heart, £25

Swaetshirts 2

Hamptons NY Baggy Beach Jumper from Wildfox, £101; Noisy May Varsity Sweatshirt, reduced from £20 to £15; Ribbed Sweatshirt by Boutique at Topshop, £45

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W Applique Sweatshirt from Whistles, £75; Whistles Fleur Logo Sweatshirt, £75; Cities Tri Marl Sweatshirt from Topshop, £24

Five on Friday

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{Clear blue skies and pretty blossoms made me smile despite the runny nose and sore throat}

I sat down to write this post and suddenly realised just how tired I am. The weekend really couldn’t come at a better time and for once the diary is quite empty so hopefully we can fit in some proper family time. I’ve been battling a horrible cold all week so it will be great to get a chance to recharge the batteries and just chill out at home. On the plus side we have had some fabulous weather – isn’t it lovely to reach for the sunglasses rather than the umbrella before heading out the door?

Spirulina

{I’ve been trying to stay healthy and boost my immune system with a daily dose of Spirulina. The boys have dubbed it ‘alien juice’ because of the green colour! I have to admit it does taste pretty awful and is just about bearable mixed into orange juice or a smoothie. But if it keeps the cold symptoms at bay it is definitely worth it.}

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{I promised Casper that I would include a picture of him dressed as a Viking for his class assembly this week. He did really well, remembering all his lines and the words to the all the songs, and there were quite a few. Strange to think that his next assembly will be the leavers one, before he and his classmates move onto the junior school.}

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{My ballerina pumps had their first outing this week. These are from H&M (last year) and so comfy but I need to buy some more – in black, silver and maybe pink.}

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{Despite feeling like death warmed up I made it to my rescheduled hair appointment this week. I had a good couple of inches taken off the ends – as I use hair straighteners every day without fail (I know, slap on the wrist for me..), my hair was quite damaged. I love the shorter length though and the lighter colour. I’ve only been to this hairdresser a couple of times but she’s definitely a keeper! Incidentally, while I was there I read an article which argued that taking selfies is good for your self esteem. Not sure I agree with that, it took me about 20 attempts to get one that I was vaguely happy with and I don’t think I’m exceptionally vain.}

Happy Friday everyone! Mine was made even better by the fact that my husband brought me flowers when he came home from work. That doesn’t happen every week, believe me! X

Recipe: Butternut Squash Pasta

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Butternut  squash is hands down my favourite vegetable – I love it roasted, in risottos or whizzed up into a soup. My husband, on the other hand, is not as keen on the orange starchy vegetable but, thanks to the Jamie Oliver cookbook I received at Christmas, we have now found a dish we both enjoy.

The recipe for Squash Rigatoni is featured in Save with Jamie and I have only made a couple of small changes – I use rosemary instead of thyme as we both prefer it, gluten free pasta as my husband can’t eat wheat and I have sprinkled some pancetta fried in garlic oil over the pasta before serving.

Butternut cooked

Start by roasting a whole butternut squash in the oven (180 degrees/gas mark 4) for one and a half hours.

Butternut cut

Once it is cooked, split it in half, deseed and scoop out the flesh and either use right away or save for another day. The recipe only calls for half a squash so you can use the leftover flesh to make soup or another of Jamie’s recipes such as squash houmous or squash fritters.

Here’s how to make the pasta dish: 

(Serves 4, cooking time: 20 minutes)

Ingredients: 

320g dried rigatoni (or other pasta)

Olive oil

Dried chilli flakes

8 sprigs of thyme

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons of creme fraiche

40g blue cheese

1-2 tablespoons of boiling water

Parmesan cheese

Put a generous splash of olive oil and a pinch of dried chilli flakes into a large pan on a medium heat, then strip in the leaves from the thyme (or in our case rosemary) and squash in the garlic through a garlic crusher. Fry for one minute then add the creme fraiche, blue cheese and a splash of boiling water. Simmer gently while you cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain reserving a cupful of cooking water. Season the squash mixture, toss the pasta through it, loosening with the cooking water if needed. 

If, like my husband you don’t feel you’ve had a proper meal unless it has some meat in it, fry some pancetta cubes in a pan until just crispy and sprinkle over the pasta along with parmesan cheese before serving.

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Apologies that my pictures aren’t the best – I cooked this in the evening and with no natural light it is hard to make food look appetising. But take my word for it, this recipe is definitely worth trying!

Linked In

Links I love

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hard to believe that we are already halfway through the working week. I have had one of those (very rare) productive mornings where I managed to get loads done without being distracted by the Internet (Facebook is the worst – I can easily waste half an hour on there without even realising – although I’m a lot better now that I’ve deleted the App from my phone) or the pile of glossy interior magazines currently residing on the kitchen table. So far I’ve written an article for work, put all the washing away, hoovered upstairs and ordered a pair of new football boots from Cameron (Rather scarily his feet are now just one size smaller than mine.) I still have half an hour until I have to collect Clemmie from preschool so plenty of time to share some of my best finds from around the web this week.

1. Now that the children are a bit older I would love to start travelling a bit more. I found this list of 100 places to visit before you die and there are plenty of places on there that I have yet to visit.

2. We all have different food tastes in our household but one thing that we all love is a good bowl of pasta. Here are 25 best pasta recipes to try.

3. Tips on how to write the perfect thank you note – and even better if it is written on this gorgeous Smythson stationery

4. The secret of a happy marriage is apparently to tell your partner you love them ten times a week and go on at least three dates a month. Does dinner a deux at home count? Otherwise the babysitting bill could start piling up…

5. This is one that I really need at the moment as I’m trying to sort through all the stuff from my parents’ house as well as old and outgrown clothes, toys etc. I don’t consider myself to be a hoarder but sometimes I have a hard time deciding what to keep and what to throw out or sell. How to edit your wardrobe and avoid stuffocation 

6. Finally, here is a collection of Fashion Quotes to inspire and amuse.

Still 15 minutes to go so I’m off to sit in the garden with my coffee and one of those tempting magazines. Have a great Wednesday. X

The Beauty Edit: My Skincare Regime

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So, I know you’ve all been dying to know what was hiding in my Space NK bag the other week (apart from the Narsissist cheek palette of course..) 😉

Pretty much all my skincare products had run out so I desperately needed to restock on everything from cleansers to moisturizers. While I was happy with the Verso serum and day cream I was using before, I’m not exactly what you would call a loyal customer when it comes to beauty products. So I walked into the shop with a very open mind, ready to heed the advice the experts had to offer.

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One product that I did re-purchase was the Express Makeup Remover by Ren as it does such a thorough job of removing all traces of makeup (including my waterproof mascara) and saves time on using a separate eye makeup remover and cleanser. I also bought an exfoliator by the same brand which is gentle enough to use every day.

Skincare 1

Here’s a new brand for me: Darphin. As the name would suggest, it hails from France and the blurb says it is “a professional botanical Parisian skincare line based on a harmonious blend of plants and pure essential oils.” Sounds good to me so I bought the serum, night and day creams. The serum is very light but a little goes a long way. The creams both have a wonderful texture and are quickly absorbed by the skin – again you don’t need to use much, so while they weren’t exactly cheap the pots should last quite a while. I’ve only been using the products for a week and a half but already my skin looks brighter and maybe a little smoother.
Now, in case any of you were wondering where the eye cream is, I have to confess that I never use one. I know most skincare advisors would probably recommend a separate product for the skin around the eyes, but I’ve always been fine with just my regular face cream. You can read a bit about the pros and cons of using a separate eye cream here and here

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I have very pale skin which can look pasty in winter, matching the dull grey weather perhaps, but not exactly uplifting when looking in the mirror. I’m forever searching for a fake tan that will add a hint of colour without any orange undertones. The sales lady at Space NK suggested I try the Xen-Tan daily face tanner and it’s just what I wanted. In the winter I only use fake tan on my face, neck and decolletage but I plan to buy the body lotion as soon as the weather is warm enough for bare legs.

The Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour cream is a sample I received a while ago but it’s great at keeping chapped lips at bay. I also try to use a face mask once a week but I don’t stick to any particular brand. This Sanctuary Spa mask was another sample (from a Glossy Box last autumn I think) that I have yet to try but I’m intrigued by the fact that it heats up on your skin!

And that’s it – eight products in total to (hopefully) keep my skin looking its best. As I get older I’m finding that I would rather spend more on a few products that really make a difference than clutter up my bathroom cabinet with bottles and jars I rarely use.

By the way, I don’t know if any of you have had problems with WordPress today. It doesn’t seem to be working on my computer so I had to write this on the iPad which took over an hour… Hopefully it will be back to normal this evening.

Hope you’ve all had a great start to the week! X

The Weekend in Pictures

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{I went for a walk on Saturday morning and snapped these lovely daffodils}

Isn’t it amazing what a difference a bit of sunshine can make? We have had glorious weather this weekend and somehow everything seems so much easier when the sun is out, everyone is happier (including the normally grumpy drivers in London!) and even food seems to taste better when it is eaten outside, underneath bright blue skies. I wonder if it’s just because nice weather is such a rarity on these shores. I’d love to know – if you’re lucky enough to live in sunnier climes, does it still boost your mood or do you just get used to it?

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{The outdoor furniture could do with a good clean but it was blissful to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a magazine, listening to the birds chirping in the trees and the children arguing over the football (oh well you can’t have it all!)}

Blue accessories

{Lady in blue: Me up in town this morning wearing my blue pumps from New Look (bought five years ago), a white and blue scarf (bought in Sweden), knitted jacket by Odd Molly, jeans by Paige Denim and sunglasses from Oliver Peoples}

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{We try to go up to the Swedish Church in Marylebone twice a month so the children can go to Sunday school and practice their language skills. Afterwards, there is always coffee and plenty of cakes – during Lent they serve traditional Swedish semla (cakes flavoured with cardamom and filled with almond paste and cream) – sooo yummy!}

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{It looks like it will be the perfect week to fit in a few power walks and trips to the park. No doubt the rain will return at some point so I intend to make the most of it!}

Now the kids are all in bed, the washing up is done, my blog post is written and I think we have time to squeeze in a couple of episodes of House of Cards. We’ve almost watched all of the second series so have to find another one soon…

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend. X

Dreaming of Chanel

Chanel Collage

Tonight, my dear friends, I am dreaming of a classic, quilted Chanel flap bag. Nonchalantly thrown over the shoulder it would be the perfect accessory to set off my spring wardrobe. I like it best when it’s paired with a casual outfit like the ripped jeans or slouchy sweater in the pictures above – the juxtaposition of polished and dishevelled gets me every time…
The price tag may be steep (to put it mildly!) but a classic Chanel bag will always be in style. And if your appetite hasn’t been sated by these pictures, there is of course a Pinterest board with even more inspiration – check it out here

Which accessory would you love to own if money was no object?

Five on Friday

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{Some of you may remember that I was lusting after the Narsissist eye palette by Nars a few weeks ago. Alas it was not to be – I had planned to buy it with my Space NK vouchers but as the eye palette was exclusive to Selfridges here in the UK, I didn’t feel I could justify the £55. So instead I bought the Narsissist cheek palette which was stocked by Space NK and comes with a blusher, highlighter and bronzer.}

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{I’m loving my coffee table books at the moment. They make great home accents and I like to flick through them for inspiration. My most recent additions are the Alexa Chung book ‘It’ and a beautiful Chanel book filled with images to drool over.}

The best laid plans as they say…

This week hasn’t turned out quite how I wanted. On Monday Casper came home with a sore ear and he hasn’t been back at school all week. We went to the doctor who diagnosed a viral ear infection so antibiotics wouldn’t help, all we can do is try and reduce the pain with Nurofen and Calpol. It’s not too bad during the day but at night it is very painful as the fluid in ear builds up and he has trouble sleeping. So pretty much everything has been cancelled this week – from playdates and after school activities to my hair appointment and lunch date. While I hate to see him suffer, it has been really nice having him at home. With three children it’s not always easy to find one-to-one time, especially with the boys as they are at school all day. He has had to amuse himself with Lego and the iPad while I’ve been working but we have also had time for nice chats, board games and baking.

Hopefully his ear will improve as we head into weekend. The weather is set to be lovely – with temperatures of 17 degrees forecast for Sunday! – so I’m looking forward to sitting out in the garden with a cup of coffee to soak up some rays.

Hope you have a fab weekend! X

Clutch 1

{The clear-out at my parents’ house continues and this week I saved a silk clutch, that my dad bought in Japan for my mum in the late 70s, from going off to the charity shop. It’s not my usual style but I think it will look good with a cream summer dress or just jeans and a simple tee, with gold heels and jewellery.}

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{Cameron looked great in his Sherlock Holmes costume for World Book Day yesterday and I’m happy to report that my Burberry returned home unscathed.}

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{It’s been a busy week but I managed to take a few minutes out to read the interview with SJP in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar. And of course, you can’t have a proper break without coffee and chocolate biscuits!}

World Book Day – My Recommendations

Books

As anyone with school age children will no doubt be aware, today is World Book Day. My eldest scooted off to school this morning dressed as Sherlock Holmes in my old Burberry mac (under strict instructions not to leave it behind on the football pitch at break time!) as well as a deerstalker hat, pipe and magnifying glass hastily ordered from Amazon on Express Delivery a couple of days ago.

As a working (albeit part time) and blogging mum of three, I haven’t got much time to read books and when I do get a chance to pick one up I usually go for lighter stuff that you can dip in and out of without losing the thread. I have vowed that I will immerse myself in the classics when the kids are older and I can actually read more than a few pages without being interrupted. Like most people, I read quite a few of them at school but some, like Anna Karenina and Atonement for instance, are still on my list and there are others that I think I would enjoy rereading without having to analyse the content in an essay.

Anyway, I had a hunt around the house this morning (as we only have two bookshelves it didn’t take long!) and for what it’s worth, here are my recommendations for a good read.

Chaperone

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

This was the most recent book I read. Set in the 1920s it tells the story of Cora Carlisle who has been hired to act as the chaperone for a 15-year-old Louise Brook as they journey from Kansas to New York city. It soon becomes clear that Cora is hiding secrets of her own, including the real reason why she longs to visit New York so much…

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Front Row by Jerry Oppenheimer

If you’re into fashion, Vogue powerhouse Anna Wintour hardly needs an introduction. However, while everyone is familiar with her sleek bob and huge sunglasses, the woman behind them remains an enigma. Based on scores of interviews, this unauthorised biography chronicles Anna’s climb to the top of the magazine world exposing how she artfully reinvented herself along the way.

Elvis

Elvis has left the building by Tania Kindersley

I read this book when it was first published in 2001 and as I picked it off the shelf today I decided that it is definitely due a re-read. Weaved around the art world, it’s a funny and poignant story about a heartbroken girl coming to terms with the end of a nine year relationship and gradually taking her revenge.

Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This is probably the book that I most associate with my teenage years. I studied Sylvia Plath at school and was fascinated by both her poetry and personal life. First published in 1963, the book is as relevant today as it was then, and provides a haunting insight into the reality of mental illness.

Faithfull

Faithfull by Marianne Faithfull and David Dalton

A memoir by the original rock chick which recounts her days in the swinging 60s including her much publicised relationship with Mick Jagger, her descent into heroin addiction and subsequent recovery. A brutally honest autobiography, the book also serves as a captivating cultural history of London’s music scene.

Recipe: Daim Biscuits

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You can’t beat a good biscuit – together with a nice cup of tea (or glass of milk for the kiddos) it can turn a bad day into a bearable one with the first bite. The children and I first made these biscuits over half term and then Casper and I whipped up another batch this week when he was off school with an ear infection. I honestly think that just the delicious smell wafting through the kitchen did him as much good as all the spoonfuls of Calpol put together! If you don’t believe me, try them for yourself, quick and easy to make, they are the perfect mix of soft and crunchy – what’s not to love?

Daim biscuits:

(makes around 20-30 biscuits)
100 g butter (at room temperature)
80g caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp golden syrup
150 g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 regular Daim bars (crushed into small pieces with a pestle and mortar)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead into a dough. Divide in two pieces and roll into two long sausage shapes. Place them on a tray covered in baking parchment and flatten with your fingers. Bake in the oven at 175 C, for 12-15 minutes. Take out the tray and cut the biscuits diagonally before they have cooled.

Enjoy! X

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