With Mothers Day just over a week away, I figured a little gift guide might come in handy for some of you. It can be daunting trying to think up an original gift idea for that very special lady in our lives; something that is both personal to your mum and properly shows how much you appreciate everything she does for you. Often it’s a case of picking up a scented candle, some flowers or expensive chocs at the last minute, and very nice though these treats are, I thought it would be fun to look at a few alternative gift ideas, each costing no more than a fiver.
I was therefore delighted when the kind folk over at TK Maxx sent me a gift card recently to spend in-store on Mothers Day gift ideas. I have made no secret before of just how much of a TK Maxx fan I am and after a very enjoyable wander around the store, I chose a handful of goodies which I think make quite unique gifts, so if you’re struggling on the present front, have a read for some last minute inspiration…
I was lucky to recently experience the sights and scenes of Qatar’s capital city, Doha, when I went to visit my brother and his family there at the beginning of March. Having never travelled to the Middle East before, it was a totally new experience for me and one which I thought I’d share with you here today.
I managed to take in some of the amazing architecture, interiors and culture during the few days I was staying in the city, thanks to my wonderful tour guide a.k.a. my big brother, so I’ve pulled together a few shots of things that particularly caught my eye, from beautifully tiled pavements to those towering skyscrapers so typical of a fast-growing, modern city in this part of the world…
I don’t know about you, but these cold, dark mornings are making me feel really lazy and lethargic when it comes to getting out of my warm bed at the start of the day. I’ve also never been that good at getting myself organised and off to bed early during the week; the draw of on-demand telly whilst cocooned in a thick blanket on the couch, being my particular downfall. Who’s with me on this? Or perhaps you find yourself scrolling through Pinterest, searching for the answer to your dream kitchen cupboard colour – been there? Thought so. We are all depriving ourselves of wholesome sleep for every minute we waste on our tablets or phones when it’s past our bedtime, and in the morning when the alarm goes off, we pay for it.
I was therefore really excited to be contacted by the lovely folk at IKEA, asking me to work with them on their Win at Sleeping campaign, which you may have noticed recently on TV and in the press. It’s no secret that as a nation, we aren’t great sleepers, with many of us struggling to get a decent eight hours’ kip on a regular basis. The fast pace of modern life, along with the addictive pull of ever present smartphones and tablets with their stimulating blue screens, is certainly a major contributing factor, however many of our sleep problems have startlingly simple roots, such as inadequate sleep preparation, bad sleeping habits or a poorly organised bedroom environment.
IKEA are determined to promote better sleep for all of us and for good reason, too. There are countless benefits to be had from sleeping well, including better mood, raised energy levels, improved productivity at work and school, as well as positive health effects, such as improved memory, a sharper mind and lower stress levels. And the best thing about it? It only takes making a few small changes to guarantee ‘The Wonderful Everynight’ that we all need…
I talked in my last post about how I love this time of year for the cosy touches we can bring into our home to prepare for relaxed evenings by the fire, snuggling down into soft cushions and enjoying taking life that little bit more slowly. It is also, of course, a time to reintroduce cosy textures into our wardrobes, as we pack away our flimsy summer threads and begin to cocoon ourselves once more in wonderfully warm layers of big woollen scarves, oversized jumpers and long socks.
Love, love, love this time of year!
In fact, I had been clearing out my own wardrobe recently to begin the gradual transition to Autumnal climes, when I was offered the chance to try out a new style of unique watch from US brand JORD. They produce both women’s and men’s wooden watches in a range of styles and finishes and upon checking out their website, I immediately felt they would be the ideal wrist accessory for the season ahead! Even better, JORD include free international shipping with every watch purchase and I was delighted to receive my Fieldcrest women’s watch within 10 days of my order.
You may remember some time ago, I wrote a post about the Danish culture of Hygge, a concept centred around celebrating the little things in life, most often associated with staying cosy during the long, winter months and enjoying time with friends and family, but also getting out into the fresh air in the summertime and having picnics or a simple glass of wine in the garden with a good book.
Well, it seems that the Scandinavians have got it right again with the Swedish culture known as ‘Fika’. According to Wikipedia, Fika is:
” a concept in Swedish culture with the basic meaning “to have coffee”, often accompanied with pastries or sandwiches”.
Sounds pretty spot on to me! However, you may be thinking “So what? Everyone can enjoy a cup of coffee”, but there’s much more to it than that. For the Swedes, this is an opportunity to pause your day, share time with friends or colleagues, much like Hygge, but essentially it’s a moment in which to leave the stresses of work behind you, unlike here in Britain or the US, where coffee is a fuel to be taken in short bursts at your desk or on the commute. I think whether you’re at work, in the middle of studying or in between school runs, everyone could do with practising the art of Fika.
And what’s Fika without the right equipment?! It seems many of the homeware retailers out there are embracing the trend, too; Oliver Bonas has dedicated a small collection of tableware entirely to Fika, and you can find an ever-growing number of Fika inspired cups, mugs and teapots in many stores across the country.
Here’s my pick of everything you need to take a little pause in your everyday life and embrace this longstanding Swedish tradition…
It is at this time of year when the cheery Christmas lights have been packed away, yet the days are still likely to be dank, grey and cold for the foreseeable future, and having enjoyed plentiful tasty, comforting food over the festive season, we are now made to feel guilty for craving anything without kale in it when what we really need to get through this cold season is a pile of warm toasted crumpets, dripping with butter, and a large steaming mug of milky coffee. This is the juxtaposition we call January in the UK and in my opinion, there is only one way to survive it – it’s time to embrace the Danish practice of ‘hygge’!
To round off the summer holidays, we’re taking the children off on a camping trip to North Yorkshire over the August Bank Holiday which we are all very excited about as the kids will get to spend some quality time with their Yorkshire cousins. Never one to miss a shopping opportunity, I’ve been looking at our camping gear and deciding what we simply cannot do without (doesn’t everyone need a new set of designer enamelware in their lives?) Ok… maybe not quite, but there are lots of fantastically practical (and fantastically pretty) camping accessories to be had if you shop in the right places. The trick is to find stylish items that are also realistically practical for use in the ever changing summer weather we are ‘blessed’ with. Whether you choose to rough it out in a one man tent, live it up in a yurt or get cosy in a glamping pod, there are new suppliers of cool camping kit out there with the right gear just for you.