The ‘Just because…’ Gift Guide

Lifestyle

Is there any better feeling in the world than when you buy someone a gift that they absolutely adore? A gorgeous little trinket or something really personal. A little gift that you saw and thought of that person the second you saw it. The feeling is even better when it’s a ‘just because’ gift, not because we’ve been swept up in the mayhem of a commercial holiday but just because we wanted to.

Here are some of my favourite ‘Just because’ gifts, all from lovely independent/responsible sellers.

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Instagram: The Little Market

The Little Market is a fair trade shop set up by friends Lauren Conrad, of The Hills fame, and Hannah Skvarla who through a shared love of design, travel and empowering women set up this nonprofit organisation as a way of alleviating poverty and bringing a brighter future to those in need. The Little Market works with artisans from all over the world offering them design and business advice and bringing their beautiful, lovingly made products to the world. You may not be living on the beautiful Californian coastline within walking distance of Conrad and Skvarla’s picture perfect store but you can still get your hands on their unique, one of a kind pieces. If you are on a slightly bigger budget then please go and take a look at their wonderful gift sets. You can choose from either preselected sets, there really is one for every occasion, or create your own by handpicking the items you like. My personal favourite is the Celebrating Women gift box inspired by Women’s equality day. For those of you who don’t want to spend a (very) pretty penny, check out the ceramic trinket trays and tableware. My absolute favourite, pictured above, is made by Chabi Chic in Morrocco and are hand sculpted. That blush and gold pattern is the absolute tableware of dreams.

Purchase here.

Don’t forget this is a US based store so take extra shipping and tax into consideration.

 

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Not on the High Street: Wue (Bees Knees silver earrings)

Now, these are the bee’s knees! Gorgeous sterling silver studs from the husband and wife team at WUE. All of their jewellery is made in the UK and each comes beautifully presented with small personal sayings and mottos. Perfect for a little pick me up or motivation for anyone that needs it. I picked the bumblebees above because they are just super sweet and always seem to remind me of the UK in springtime. My favourite season. I also have my eyes on these because the lightning bolt design is adorbs and I am obsessed with the message on them. What a lush present for a friend or loved one!

 

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Website: Crown and Glory (Aurora and Luna Moon and Star barrette set)

Crown and Glory are without a doubt one of my favourite British brands. Founder Sophie King created the brand after an unsuccessfull hunt for the perfect, pretty hair accessories. Today, the Cornwall based brand boasts a star-studded following and their products have been seen on the pages of Vogue, Grazia and Rock n Roll Bride. If you are getting married, or are maybe just super extra, then you must check out their Bridal accessories. Their Nebula star veil is the thing of dreams, I have genuinely sat and contemplated if I can wear a veil anywhere other than my own wedding because it is just that gorgeous. For something a tad more low key then what better than the Aurora & Luna Moon hair set. This celestial bobby pin set is a must buy for the star in your life.

P.s. Please send tips on how I can wear this to every possible social occasion.

 

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Etsy: Minetta Jewellery (Personalised hammered disc necklace in gold)

Ok so my gift ideas are basically all jewellery or accessories but I just can’t help it when there are necklaces as pretty as these around!!! My best friend bought me a necklace very similar to this as a bridesmaid gift and it is honestly my most treasured piece of jewellery. I wear it almost every day and I swear I am just waiting for it to erode away on my neck into dust because I wear it so often. These necklaces are 14k gold fill and what I love the most is that you can pick the chain length depending on your preference. This necklace is by Minetta Jewellery, you can find them on Etsy, and they specialise in simplistic, minimal jewellery that you can wear every day. Their personalised gold bar necklace is going on my hit list sharpish.

 

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Instagram: Papergang

Last but not least, the perfect treat for any stationery lovers in your life (Hooray, It’s not jewellery again I hear you cry!). Papergang is a Monthly subscription service, BUT, you can buy a fixed period subscription or even a gift card, so no scary moment when you forget to cancel that direct debit and your mate is left swimming in free stationery at your expense. Papergang is another wonderfully responsible brand. For every four Papergang boxes that are sold, one tree is planted in association with Tree Aid. The trees benefit the environment and also provide food for villagers that they can grow, eat or even sell. So your lovely friend gets a beautifully designed box of stationery AND you get a healthy touch of the feels for doing your part for charity. You kind so and so.

So that’s my list, Happy spending, spoiling and just being the kindest little gem you can be ♥

Why ”Friends Are Your Most Important Romance”

Lifestyle

Norman teaI played with the idea of picking up Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton’s book, Everything I know about love, for months. I don’t typically enjoy reading a run of the mill, soppy, romance novel. They are almost always set in New York. The heroine always has the perfect apartment and wardrobe to boot and falls head over heels for the sexy, always a stockbroker, man of her dreams. This book may have love in the title but it is certainly not that.

I eventually picked up this book in a red wine-fuelled haze on Amazon. It sat on my living room shelf for a few weeks after. Then last month I had a work trip to Barcelona and grabbed it in a rush so that I wasn’t bored to tears whilst shoved into my tiny dayglow orange Easyjet seat with my tiny g&t. I read the entire book back to front in 4 hours. The second I landed in the UK and arrived back to my office I pressed it into the hands of my colleague and best friend. Why? Because I read this book and I instantly wanted to tell her all about it, I wanted to buy copies for all of my female friends. I wanted to tell them all that they were the great loves of my lifetime.

Through each chapter, Alderton takes you through her teens, twenties, and thirties retold with anecdotes, letters, and recipes (The Got kicked out of a Club Sandwich is an end of night saver). Each chapter dotted with hilarious and often ugly but beautifully honest recounts of her drug-fuelled, drunken, boy crazy years. There is one consistent theme though, her friends. Boyfriends, good and bad (mostly bad), come and go and occasionally so do her friends but the message through it all is that we need to put “more friendship in our romances and more romance in our friendships”. We ask ourselves over and over again if we only get one soulmate or one great love, well to that I say absolutely fucking not. Look at your friendship circle and tell me that some of you weren’t absolutely made for each other…

I thought not.

 

My 4 reasons why we should all start appreciating our ‘Great Loves’ a little more:

1. Do you know what I have spoken to my female friends about in the last month? Water retention, Mood swings, Shaving your thighs (or not), Hairy bums, That time I got sick in my hair and ‘Unfortunate Sam’ (It’s a story for another time). How many of those things would you speak to your partner about? In the same totally shameless manner that you would with your friends? My boyfriend is arguably the best person on this planet but he has no need or intention to start discussing the ins and outs of a water infection with me.

2. In the wise, wise words of Carrie Bradshaw – “And why is it that we can see our friends perfectly but when it comes to ourselves, no matter how hard we look, do we ever see ourselves clearly?”. How many times have you told one of your friends that she looks absolute fire in that new midi dress? Or that she is wayyy too good for that guy that hasn’t text back? Your friends are your cheerleaders, They know your insecurities inside and out and they know when you need a pick me up. We may look at our friends and wish we had their tiny waist or their sense of style, but I can assure you, they are doing that right back.

3. Your friends may know the best of you but they also know the worst of you and they aren’t afraid to tell you straight. Partners have that whole ‘She’s hormonal and may actually fatally injure me if I say that” thing to deal with but friends know that we could never stab them! After all, we’ve already made murder pacts of ex-boyfriends/office bitches/rude uber drivers together and sworn each other to secrecy. They can tell you when you are being an over-controlling freak or when you really shouldn’t order that chicken burger because it will 100% set your gluten allergy off. I can’t say I always listen to them but hey, they try…

4. Girl time is sacred. Now by that I mean friend time is sacred. My perfect Sunday involves brunch, gossip, a few glasses of prosecco and an animated discussion about some kind of Man-splaining incident one of us has had to suffer at work. Joe’s perfect Sunday most likely involves a gym session, some form of meat-heavy lunch followed by a beer-fuelled afternoon ridiculing his friends back and forth in the harshest way possible. It’s our ‘secret friendship behaviour’ and we all need it! It’s not a competition of whether you enjoy the time more with your partner or your friends. They should each be as enjoyable because they are each totally different!!!

You can buy a copy of Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love here.

Dedicated to my great loves.

Is this the real ‘Gin Craze’?

Lifestyle

We all have a story about a particularly bad moment fuelled by gin, don’t we? I legit lose my mind after a few too many. I swear it’s like I’m possessed. I’ll also gladly spend £20+ on a double if it means it comes in a crystal goblet with edible flowers and pretty garnishes. That’s the true craze…

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We have Prince William of Orange to thank for our seemingly new found addiction to this spirit. He brought genever to Britain in 1688 which at the time was the Netherlands liquor of choice, quasi-medicinal and fondly known as “Dutch courage”. Long story short the new Dutch King was a tad lax in the rules surrounding distilling genever and soon absolutely anyone could distill their own and sell it! Unlike beers and ales, the sale of gin wasn’t regulated and soon gin-shops were serving the public around the clock. The drink quickly fell from a drink of the Upper classes to the cheapest drink in town, synonymous with poverty, thievery, prostitution, and violence. The lack of any distilling regulation led to cheaper substitutes for juniper being added, turpentine, sulphuric acid, gin became an elixir for the poor and desperate. Thus the Gin Craze was born. It was only in the 18th century when the gin craze was finally wrestled under control and soon London dry gin began to be developed and with it, the g&t was born.

From mother’s ruin to modern tipple, the UK is now awash with gin bars, gin-vent calenders, gin hotels and even gin inspired perfumes. Gin has seen a huge revival and you can’t even walk into your local Wetherspoons nowadays without being confronted with around 30 different variations of the quintessentially British tipple. The resurgence of this spirit is accredited to Bombay Sapphire. Vodka was the spirit of choice for most bartenders until Bombay Sapphire’s floral gin showed up and in a striking blue bottle to boot. Sipsmith and Hendricks distillery shortly followed and each one of them are today household names.

Today you will find gins containing anything from lavender, cucumber, rhubarb or rose to the more unusual tobacco, tea or kelp! In an Instagram obsessed world, gin is the perfect drink. The addition of botanicals, edible flowers, and even glitter all stacked into a beautiful goblet shaped glass – its no wonder that gin sales soured in 2018 to a whopping £1.5 billion.

Drinks trends tend to come and go but long may this gin trend continue! To help you all along with your modern day ‘Gin Craze’ here are a few of my fave picks!

Little Bird

In case you hadn’t noticed I am a huge fan of a good old-fashioned London dry. The folks at Little Bird have knocked it out of the park with this one. A recipe of pink-grapefruit, orange peel and ginger & seven more unnamed botanicals. This spirit is a true London gin too! It’s distilled in Peckham. If that isn’t enough to twist your arm then just take one look at the bottle, the gorgeous pinup ‘Miss Ginger’ is inspired by the work of Alberto Vargas who began painting pin-ups for Esquire Magazine. Definitely a bottle for the front of the shelf.

Serve with: Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and a slice of pink grapefruit.

Purchase here

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Jawbox

Another classic dry but this time from our friends in Belfast. Jawbox is a small batch distillery just outside Belfast in a vast 16th-century country estate. They use time-honoured methods and triple distill their gin in traditional copper stills with various botanicals as well as local Black Mountain heather. The end product? Light notes of juniper and citrus that are clean on the nose and the palette. The freshness of this gin finished off with the slight hint of pepperiness thanks to the addition of the hillside heather.

Serve with: Ginger ale and a wedge of lime! The original Belfast serve.

Purchase here

Also worth a try is their pineapple & ginger gin liqueur! Which you can find here

Dyfi Pollination Gin

I had to include a Welsh gin, didn’t I? This family-owned distillery began production in 2016 and has already been awarded the ‘BEST UK GIN’ title at the Great Britain Food Awards.  Dyfi Pollination Gin is everything you would imagine a Welsh inspired gin would be – a grassy and fresh taste with hints of wildflowers, fruits, and conifer tips. This gin not only tastes wonderful but is wonderfully eco-friendly, its distilled using botanicals foraged from the Dyfi Biosphere (A UNESCO site), the Snowdon foothills and some of the other surrounding areas.

Serve with: Fever Tree light tonic, torn mint leaves, juniper berries, and lemon peel.

Purchase here

For the Cardiff/South Wales based amongst you, try some of these incredible venues for a fantastic range of our favourite modern-day tipple. Just don’t go starting your own gin craze…

Gin & Juice – Castle Arcade, Cardiff

Chapel 1877 – Churchill Way, Cardiff

Gin 64 – Penarth

Pennyroyal – High Street, Cardiff

Hogarth’s – Newport & Swansea

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30 before 30

Lifestyle

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Why is it that the jump from your 20s to your 30s is the most terrifying? It certainly is for me anyway. Am I where I should be? Have I really lived my 20s to the fullest? It’s all just a continuous question. August 8th, 2020 I will hit the big 3-0. It has terrified me since the day I hit 22 to be perfectly frank with you. Something my mum says to me suddenly resonates in my mind.

“It’s better than the alternative babe”

Right she is. It is better than the alternative, whatever that may be (I like to imagine some kind of paradise where Spurs actually win the league and I can eat all the calories I want, surrounded with all the Pomeranians I can dream of).

With that in mind, I am making a conscientious effort, in the year (and a bit) running up to my 30th to do some of the things I’ve always wanted to do. Whether small or large, things that make me happy and make me appreciative for everything I have.

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1.Buy a piece of art

I’ve always loved art. I miss living in London and going to the TATE or The National Gallery on my lunch break. Nothing soothes me more than plugging my earphones in and wiling away an hour looking at some beautiful art. I want that kind of relaxation at home.

2.Visit the Little Mermaid Statue – Copenhagendone, November 2019

I think this has been my favourite film since the day I was born. My obsession soon spread to the fairytale and then to all of Hans Christian Anderson’s work. I want to see where it all began.

3. Go to a Michelin star restaurantdone, April 2019 – The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny

I’ve been to a few before but never really fully appreciated it (too young). I want to go and spend an offensive amount of money on food and wine and really indulge in the moment.

4. Take a cooking class

Maybe Asian or Pan-pacific? Something with stacks of flavour and spice!

5. Entirely finish one room in my house – Decor included!

I’ve managed to tick buy a house off my list but it’s still slightly in renovation nightmare stage. I want to fully finish one room, top to bottom, and just really love it!!

6. Read 50 books in one year

No explanation needed other than, PURE ESCAPISM. Oh, and it’s good for my brain.

7. Go to New Yorkdone, September 2019, The greatest trip of my life to date ♥

I have never been. How have I never been?! I want to go and revel in all the cliches of my NY minutes.

8. Take a spa day for no particular reason

Self-care. Self-love.

9. Create a home office space

Kind of the same as no.5 but I don’t care. I want a space where I can work from home! Instead of in front of the tv watching Sex and the City re-runs.

10. A road trip through Scotland

I fell in love with Edinburgh the second I stepped a foot into it. Ever since I have been yearning to see more of this beautiful country. Ideally, I’d like to travel through the highlands and maybe stay on the coast too.

11. See an operadone, September 2019, Carmen at the WMC

”Did you like the opera, dear?”- “It was so good, I almost peed my pants”

12. Go to the Harry Potter studio – done, Joe took me for my 29th birthday! August 2019

No need to explain.

13. Attempt to conquer my fear of fish – (Please note the word attempt)

The thought of going into the sea surrounded by fish repulses me. Which of course means I have been to some of the most beautiful coastlines and islands in the world only to sit on a dry, hot beach whilst my family and friends frolic in the crystal blue waters. So, sadly for me, it means me getting up close to Nemo and his gang…

14. See a Tottenham game at the new stadium

My childhood team. Devastated to see White Hart Lane (Our old stadium) knocked down but I can’t wait to see the new one! Football is all about time with my family for me and is a huge part of my childhood memories. I plan on creating many more in our new location.

15. Learn how to make a really good cocktail

I feel like everyone needs a good cocktail in their locker.

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16. Plan my own 30th birthday party – exactly how I want it!

Anyone that knows me knows that I l.o.v.e organising. It makes no sense for me to lumber one of my loved ones with planning a do for me if I can just plan it myself and really enjoy planning it!!

17. Start my own home veg/herb patch

I already grow rhubarb in my garden and it feels so amazing when I pick it and can make a lovely tart or crumble. I want to get my Charlie Dimmock hat on (or should that be a white vest) and start growing more!

18. Travel to a new country

I’ve been very fortunate to travel to some beautiful places, some of which I have fell head over heels for and so gone back time after time. It’s time I fell in love with somewhere new!

19. Go see a concert – and make it a good one.

I’m talking Tom Jones, Fleetwood Mac, Cher… A real superstar.

20. Build a real skincare regime

A real one, that doesn’t consist of cold water, Sephora make-up remover and a cotton pad.

21. Buy myself an expensive pair of shoes

If you hadn’t already guessed, I basically want to be Carrie Bradshaw. For my 18th birthday, I begged and begged my parents to buy me these. Totally impracticable, I’ve worn them only a handful of times. So my next pair is going to need to be wearable. I’m thinking maybe something like this. Or these. Oooohhh or these!!

22. Pay it forward

Do a kind deed for a random stranger and for no particular reason. Kindness matters!

23. Do something that I have never done before done, March 2019 – Duck herding and Sausage making at The Celtic Manor

Or should I say several things? I want to run toward the weird and the wonderful and push myself out of my routine. I want to see new places and do new activities that I would never normally do. That’s the way we find out what we like right?

24. Take a picnic

This may seem like such a basic one but I think going for a picnic is one of the loveliest things you can do. Away from technology, soaking up the sunshine, watching the world pass you by. All whilst drinking prosecco out of plastic flutes.

25. Learn how to make sushi

Please pardon my ignorance, I know sushi refers to the rice so really I mean learn how to make maki, temaki, sashimi etc. I eat enough of the stuff, I should at least learn how to make it.

26. Create a capsule wardrobe

I am awful about buying an outfit every time I go somewhere new. I wear it once and then it resides in my wardrobe (floordrobe, same thing) never to be seen again. It’s bad for my bank balance and bad for our lovely planet. So, I want to build a capsule wardrobe. Think lots of tailored, classic pieces that can be styled up for all seasons.

27. Have a Harry Potter marathon

The books were such a huge part of my childhood. The films shortly followed. The magic has stayed with me even now when I’m 28(.5). The plan is to watch all 8 movies in just one weekend. That’s 19 hours, 39 minutes of heaven.

28. Take a ride on a horse-drawn carriagedone, and in the ultimate location, Central Park September 2019

I’m a girl that has an unhealthy obsession with chick flicks. Sorry, can’t help it, let me live my fairytale.

29. Learn to dance

Joe insisted on this one as he doesn’t believe “The Robot” is appropriate to pull out at weddings. Whatever.

30. Have a piece of my work officially publisheddone!!!, August 2019, Thank you Visit Cardiff

That’s the dream, isn’t it? Its why I started this blog, it’s what I’ve always dreamt of. Let’s set the bar high.

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