Friday Favourites: Summer Holiday Style

I don’t know about you, but when I go on holiday I think the outfits I choose to pack have to earn their place in my suitcase.

My clothes have to be easy to pack (I really can’t be doing with ironing at the best of times, least of all on holiday); be suitable for day and night (with accessories to make an item appropriate for an occasion); comfortable and easy-to-wear.

Oh, and look good, of course. I don’t want much, do I?

So for today’s Friday Favourites post, I thought I’d share with you my style choices from my recent holiday to Bordeaux and the surrounding countryside.

Butterfly Print Skirt

I love this White Stuff skirt – it’s fun and flirty. The multi-coloured butterfly print means it’s easy to wear with pretty much any colour of top. I teamed it with my Joules statement necklace – and felt fab wandering around Bordeaux.

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Excuse the detritus in the background!

Geometric print dress

I found this dress, by Lily and Me in an independent shop in my home town. I was pleased to discover them – I love their prints, and the cut of their dresses and tunics complements my shape.

Day 2 in Bordeaux was really hot: the dress was perfect for wandering around in….

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…or for enjoying a glass of wine during an al fresco lunch.

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Navy Kookai Dress

Ok, this (and the next dress, by Naf Naf) didn’t travel to my holiday in my case. In a wonderful coincidence of timing, our holiday in Bordeaux coincided with huge sales. I spent a happy hour in the department store Galeries Lafayette (while Martin spent a happy hour waiting for me outside), where I bought this and the Naf Naf dress).

I was delighted to find this dress, which was a complete bargain. It reflects  quintessential classic French style: so effortless and elegant with simple details such as little frills on the sleeves, and there’s a little fabric tie at the bottom of the V on the back of the dress.

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The shape of the dress made me step out of my comfort zone – I wasn’t sure about it at first, but glad I took the plunge.

I couldn’t wait to wear the dress, and wore it out to dinner that night. I felt very chic!

Coral Naf Naf dress

Another Galeries Lafayette bargain. Dresses in this shape are perfect for hot summer days – the way they drape helps keep me cool, while also accentuating the bits of my body I like and skimming over the bits I’m not too confident about.

The vibrant colour is beautiful.

Wearing my Naf Naf dress while holding baguettes, just to prove I really was in France...

Wearing my Naf Naf dress while holding baguettes, just to prove I really was in France…

...and with a field of sunflowers.

…and with a field of sunflowers.

White Stuff dress

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This gorgeous dress, kindly gifted to me by White Stuff was a perfect frock for the evenings, too. Worn with a statement necklace, it’s a great compromise between looking like I’ve made an effort and not being over-dressed. It’s so easy to pop on and head out for dinner and drinks.

On my feet

My trusty purple Teva sandals are fab for wandering around a city or in the woods once we got to the countryside of our holiday. Practical and comfy while being pretty, they are a holiday footwear staple.

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My pretty Clarks metallic sandals are brilliant for the evening, and were comfy in the daytime too.

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Last but not least, while I can’t walk far in flip-flops they’re invaluable for walking around the hotel, swimming pool or gardens.

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On my head

Hats are a stylish way of protecting your head from strong sunshine (not to mention avoiding a sunburnt scalp – ouch!).

I picked up this gorgeous floppy pink hat from Go Outdoors for about a fiver. It’s brilliant – it’s a lovely shade of pink and it’s made out of some kind of clever fabric that means it easily folded down small to be easily slipped in to my handbag without losing its shape. Genius!

Also vital in the sunshine are sunglasses. Being a glasses wearer, I love my Orla Kiely prescription shades (they feature the classic print on the arms), which feel very glamorous.

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What are your holiday style favourites?

 

Fashion Friday on MummysGotStyle.com

Mums' Days
Style Me Sunday

Friday Favourites: Things About Blogging

This week my Friday Favourites post is all about blogging!

Blogging is wonderful, in my humble opinion: what began as a hobby and an  outlet for my creativity has become a lifeline through living with grief, and provided me with a sense of purpose during the darkest days.

In no particular order of importance, here are my favourite points about blogging:

I can write my words, my way, and in my own time.

It’s my own little corner of the internet! No one is required to sign off what I write, which is refreshing! Provided I am happy that what I have written is for the right reasons, factual and accurate, and that I am not causing any offence (intentionally, at least) I have carte blanche to do as I like.

No one telling me what to do, no direction, no deadlines.

If I want to write, I write.

If I don’t want to write, I don’t.

Freedom!

Exploring different ways of writing

The majority of my posts in the last year have inevitably focused on Hugo, what happened around his birth, life, and his death, and dealing with what came after.

These posts have had a range of styles: some are stream of consciousness, some are commentary and opinion – I have even explored poetry as a way of articulating my emotions.

Over time, I have felt able to write about what makes ‘me, me’ with more frivolous posts including a bit of humour, contemplating life, the universe, and everything. Oh, and bags and dresses.

Just like with the point above, I am free to write what I want to write, according to my mood or feelings that day – and in the way I want to write it.

The freedom to explore different styles of writing has built my confidence as a writer – if you tend to stick to a particular style, why not experiment? You can always write drafts and not publish things until you’re happy with them.

The opportunities I have been given.

My blog is my platform for Hugo’s Legacy, to make a difference to other families in his memory. Through it, I have met the most incredible, inspirational people; been invited to speak at events; learned how Hugo is helping influence health care professionals’ practice.

It really is wonderful to behold.

Friendship and Support

While it may seem cheesy, the blogging community is wonderfully supportive to one another. We provide mutual support, and I have made wonderful friends. I’m fortunate to have met many of them in real life, too, such as at BritMumsLive a couple of weeks ago.

Bloggers – as well as others who visit my blog – have provided me with so much love and support, helping keep me going and giving me valuable reassurance that my Hugo will never be forgotten.

I feel privileged to be a part of the community.

Blogging also means I am able to provide support to those who are only just beginning their journey after birth trauma, neonatal care, or the death of their baby – the importance of knowing you are not alone cannot be underestimated.

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Above and below: Some of my lovely blogging friends.

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Without blogging, my life today, my outlook on life, and my view of the future are likely to look very different indeed.

Thank you all.

Mums' Days

Friday Favourites: Words That Are Good for Our Emotional Wellbeing

You may have heard of terms like mindfulness, meditation, self-care, self-compassion. These might be concepts you already use, or you want to find out more about what they are.

You might think those words, and ‘nurturing your emotional wellbeing’ is all airy-fairy.

The fact is, we all need a bit of time out from our hectic lives, a bit of emotional comfort every now and then. We all need to nurture our emotional wellbeing to help recharge the batteries and prevent us burning out.

You are likely to find the books listed below in the ‘self help’ section of the bookshop. I don’t like the term ‘self help’ very much though; it implies there is something ‘wrong’ with you, something that has to be fixed. It’s more about fine-tuning. Many self-help books can be guilty of navel-gazing, too. That’s why I prefer to call them ‘words that are good for our emotional wellbeing’.

Mindfulness means different things to different people – to me, it means taking the time to appreciate the flowers and the birdsong; to make time for self-care; to be compassionate to myself when I am having a bad grief day by acknowledging the strong feelings are part of grief and do not make me a bad person; to clear my mind of racing thoughts. It is not, and can never be a cure for grief or emotional troubles – it helps me cope – and therefore find more joy and happiness in life.

I found most of the books below as a result of my grief journey, but they are not specific to grief. Anyone interested in finding a bit of emotional time out will find them useful.

The Little Book of Mindfulness by Tiddy Rowan is a good place to start exploring the concept. The book is full of information about the benefits of mindfulness, and suggests ways to practise mindfulness, and meditation too. The suggestions are easy to integrate in to your everyday life – it’s not an ‘extra’ thing to have to do. Mindfulness should be a bonus, not a burden.

It’s perfect to dip in and out of, and find something that resonates with you – you don’t need to read it cover to cover.

As the title suggests, the book is little which means it’s easy to carry around and have a read when you have a few moments to spare.

I placed a pen next to the book so you can get an idea of scale, and that the book's size lives up to its title!

I placed a pen next to the book so you can get an idea of scale, and that the book’s size lives up to its title!

The Alphabet of the Human Heart by Matthew Johnstone details the A to Zen of Life. A psychiatrist suggested the book to me, and I am glad she did; I have now become a big fan of Matthew Johnstone’s books!

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Positive concepts…

...and concepts that can be damaging to our wellbeing.

…and concepts that can be damaging to our wellbeing.

The concept of the book is simple: it contains beautiful illustrations alongside some words of inspiration and encouragement, from A to Z. At one end of the book are positive words and concepts; turn the book around, and there are words and concepts that can be harmful to your wellbeing.

Again, it is a good book to dip in and out of when you have a moment. It is also effective when you are having a ‘moment’ – I find it helps calm me, and the simplicity of the text means it’s good for a foggy brain.

Become The Best You by Renee Davis. My lovely blogging friend Renee (Mummy Tries) wrote this  account of how she broke the cycle of a dysfunctional early life to be the person she wanted to be. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make positive changes in their life, whatever their background or whatever those changes are. You can read more about the book in my review.

The Little Book of Resilience by Matthew Johnstone – this is the book I read last week that led to my lightbulb moment (I am pleased to report that I am keeping true to the  promises I made!).

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Resilience is understanding that life will not always go to plan, that life does not always play fair, and finding ways to get back on your feet again. Like all Johnstone’s books The Little Book of Resilience is very visual, with humorous illustrations accompanying tips to help you build up your resilience. I love this picture – it pretty much sums up the book!

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I discovered Flow Magazine while browsing in WH Smith. It is quite unlike any magazine I have ever read: it focuses on encouraging creativity, imagination, imperfection, and mindfulness.

The magazine’s ethos reminds me of a BBC Horizon programme a few years ago, which was about how the best ideas come when you are not trying to think of ideas, but when your mind is relaxed and open to things. It makes sense: sitting at your computer trying to write a post when you are feeling uninspired doesn’t work, as I have discovered! Going off to do something else instead helped inspire me to write a post from the heart – the lesson for me was don’t force it.

The magazine is full of pretty little things like little ‘poetry pictures’ and a journal. Priced at £10 it seems expensive for a magazine, but being quarterly it is good value, especially considering the quality of the contents – and the potential for giving a boost to your creativity, leading to more ideas and inspiration!

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You Baby Me Mummy

Friday Favourite – Me!

Today’s Friday Favourites post was supposed to be a light-hearted one about my favourite TV series. I had it all planned out in my head: it shouldn’t have taken long to write. Light-hearted or not, though, my heart just was not in it.

I was in a low mood anyway, and couldn’t summon much enthusiasm.

I procrastinated, tried to make myself write it, reasoning that I had already missed one Friday Favourites post (I wrote about the result of the General Election last week instead) until I realised that, of course, it does not matter. No one is going to be any worse off for not learning what my favourite TV shows. Probably no one cares, or noticed (not fishing here, I’m being realistic about people’s busy lives!).

Such a post – or any blog post, for that matter – cannot be more important than my own emotional well-being.

So, I switched off the laptop and snuggled on the sofa under a blanket (it was chilly this morning) and read my new book on resilience that arrived yesterday.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that for many months after Hugo died I would force myself to write, to work on my blog irrespective of how I felt as a form of punishment to myself. Self-care was something I really struggled with back then, but it is something I am now making a conscious effort to invest in, make time for.

Resilience is about understanding life will not always go to plan, and about having inner resources to deal with adversity, and getting on with life in a different way. That does not mean forgetting whatever has affected your life – I shall certainly never, ever forget Hugo – to me, resilience means looking after myself. Looking after myself means putting less energy in to things I cannot change, and investing more energy in to things I can.

More energy helps me cope much better.

Back to the book I was reading – it’s called The Little Book of Resilience, by Matthew Johnstone. It’s excellent, and I can recommend it highly to anyone interested in learning more about it. The text is engaging and down-to-earth. I’m a very visual person, and it is full of humorous illustrations.

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Reading the book, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment: I should make myself the topic of my Friday Favourite post. Not in a narcissistic or self-centred way; in a self-care way.

I enjoyed giving myself time out to sit and read the book rather than forcing myself to write a post my heart wasn’t in, it would have been rubbish as a result, and that wouldn’t have helped my mood!

In that reflection was a lesson.

So, I made myself my favourite. My reasoning is that you treat someone or something that is your favourite with extra care. It is about time I treated myself with extra care, especially now I have evidence of the benefits that I can remind myself about if I’m tempted to work through the fog again.

As a result, I made a few promises to myself:

– To write only when I’m feeling inspired, in the mood, ‘in the zone’

– To remember that self-care comes first

– To listen to my body more

– To trust my instinct

– To find time every day to practise self-care – even if (gasp!) that means turning off social media for a while so I can’t get distracted

– To be compassionate to myself about my feelings, meaning to practise self-care if I am feeling low rather than ignore them or tell myself off for feeling that way

– To have perspective about my blog (that’s part of the title, after all!)

– To not worry too much what others think, and remember most people are caught up with their own lives to notice what I am or am not doing

– To remember that not everything has to be done ‘now’

– To stay true to myself

There will probably be some other promises I add to the list too. What would be on your list of promises if you made yourself your favourite?

 

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Word of the Week – Me

The Reading Residence

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Friday Favourites: Make-Up

For this week’s Friday Favourites I am going all girly and sharing with you my favourite make-up and make-up tips.

I have been dabbling with make-up since my early teens. It took until I was in my 30s to feel confident and comfortable with wearing it. A complication is that my skin is sensitive, and it has taken much trial and error (not to mention lots of pennies) to find the right products and shades for my skin.

I am a big fan of Clinique. It is a bit pricier than other brands, but the bonus for me is it does not irritate my skin, and it does last for ages. Other brands became a false economy for me when they irritated my skin, or I otherwise didn’t get on with them and so got consigned to the back of the drawer, or the bin.

So, without further ado here are my favourite products (this isn’t a plug for Clinique, other brands feature too:

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1. I dab a little bit of No7’s Skin Illuminator on my forehead and cheeks and mix it with my moisturiser. It gives me a healthy glow, which is especially handy for when I can’t be bothered with putting anything else on.

2. Clinique Almost Powder Make-Up is the best foundation I have found – and believe me, I have tried a lot! Previously, I have tried liquid foundations, BB creams, tinted moisturisers. This powder is really light, is easy to put on with a big brush (I hate the faff of liquid foundation, and don’t like the feel of it), and lasts well. It has a slight iridescence, which again helps fake a healthy glow, and doesn’t dry out my skin. The powder evens out my complexion, while still showing my freckles so I don’t look too ‘made-up’ for every day. That said, the coverage can be built up which is useful for a more made up look for a special occasion.

3. Clinique Cheek Pop in Berry Pop. These are so cute; I love the flower design. This shade is perfect for spring. Again it’s really easy to apply and lasts well.

4. Clinique Chubby Stick for Eyes. These products are brilliant: they are basically like a crayon that you glide over your eyelid. There is no faffing, and you don’t get flakes of colour falling on to your cheeks like you do with powder eye make-up. I had previously stuck with neutral shades for my eyes, but tried the lavish lilac shade I received in a recent bonus gift and was hooked. I’ve now bought a chubby stick in portly plum; I wear the lavish lilac shade on my lid, and sweep the portly plum across my eye socket. The purple is a lovely complement to my green eyes. The bold colour also helps my eyes stand out behind my glasses.

5. Clinique’s cream shaper for eyes is fabulous. I was never able to get the hang of liquid liner. As the name suggests, this pencil has a creamy texture that makes it easy to draw a line. It’s quite forgiving, so it doesn’t matter too much if the line isn’t straight – you can just smudge it. I’m a fan of the black diamond shade, which has a subtle sparkle making it a bit less harsh than normal black.

6. Benefit They’re Real mascara. I had been sceptical of fancy mascaras until the day a Benefit assistant collared me in a department store. My mascara was removed and replaced with They’re Real – it works. I am fortunate to have long lashes anyway, but this mascara makes the most of them by giving them a bit of a lift and curl – without clumps. It lasts really well, too (in fact it can take a few goes with the eye make up remover to get it all off!)

7. Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Roomiest Rose. I’ve never got on well with traditional lipstick (I’m a right awkward so-and-so, aren’t I?). I love the hint of colour the chubby sticks give; this one is a lovely rich deep pink. They’re not drying – kind of like a fancy tinted lip balm that lasts a bit longer.

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What are your make-up favourites?

 

You Baby Me Mummy