Sustainable Valentine’s Gifting

Hey, my little lovebugs! Happy month of luuuurve! I love *love* and everything about it, and I think it’s so fun to celebrate Valentine’s Day (even though it’s a kinda ridiculous marketer’s-dream holiday). However, I am not about to tell you buying tons of crap for your loved ones is the best way to go. It’s not! Just like birthdays and Christmas, I think it’s important to try and think of the recipient and what they would really like. Although you can never go wrong with chocolates, right?! We all know the typical ‘dinner and a movie’ date idea (dates are totally gifts too!), so I thought I’d throw in a few other suggestions…

*Disclaimer: of course the practicality and sustainability of any gift is subjective, so please take these ideas with a pinch of salt and tailor them if necessary! They are all things I personally/people I know would love. I’d love to hear other ideas in the comments section!*

Jewellery
One of my very favourite gifts to give and receive is jewellery. There are so many options for both men and women, you can pick something with meaning, you can pick something on a small budget or a large budget… there’s just so many options. My go-to jewellery brands to browse for women are Missoma, Monica Vinader, Aleyole, Daniel Wellington and Olivia Burton. For men I’d suggest looking at Monica Vinader, Ted Baker and Thomas Sabo. It’s also handy if you know if the recipient has a preference, for example I only wear silver jewellery because I’m allergic to gold! (I really don’t like gold jewellery either as I’m so fair skinned, so this works out pretty well hah).

A candle
Candles are my love language. Seriously! Candles set the mood for romantic evenings, make a room feel so much more welcoming and are honestly just an integral part of my morning/evening routine. I burn candles every single day, they just make me so happy! My very favourite luxury candle brands are Jo Malone, Diptyque and The White Company, although I love more budget friendly brands such as Waitrose, Dovecote (which are a local brand and I’m so happy to support them), and Aldi’s own brand just as much. If your significant other already has enough candles *cough, no such thing, cough* I think reed diffusers and room / linen / pillow sprays also make wonderful gifts.

An experience
I’m not exactly suggesting you sign yourself and your partner up for a life art drawing class – although each to their own – but doing something together that’s different than your norm is SO MUCH FUN. And, er, you get the benefit of the gift too. Whether you know your way around a kitchen or you’re likely to burn toast, taking a cooking class is a sure fire way to heat things up between the two of you! Maybe going to see a sports game is more up your street, or a trip to the theatre, or even a spa day. Whatever floats your boat, surprise your loved one and book something they wouldn’t be expecting. Almost two and half years ago Matt and I went to Go Ape and it was one of our best ever date days, I’d totally recommend that!

Fragrance
Another of my most favourite gifts to give and receive is a beautiful fragrance! Perfume is such an important part of getting ready for me, as I think it is for most people, and it’s such a beautiful gift. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, my favourite ever perfumes are Lancome La Vie Est Belle, Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt and MAC Turquatic, although I’ve been eying up Dior Joy for the longest time… maybe that will be my V Day present to myself! There are so many incredible men’s fragrances, although I think my personal favourites would be Bleu De Chanel (I bought this for Matt two years ago for Christmas and he treats it like it’s gold dust!), Mont Blanc Legend and Dior Sauvage. Don’t be afraid to buy someone a scent they’ve never tried before either – if you like it and it makes you think of that person I think that’s such a sweet gift!

Breakfast in bed
If there’s one day that practically screams ‘let’s have breakfast in bed’ I’m going to safely say it’s Valentine’s Day. Whether you go all out with poached egg and avocado on toast (my fave!) or stack pancakes up high drizzled with maple syrup and all the berries or Nutella (Matt’s fave!) there’s so many options and so many choices. If, like us, you’re working on Valentine’s Day even a cup of tea and an extra five minutes of snuggles in bed is a special treat that will be so appreciated. Whoever gets the short straw to make breakfast in bed just has to make sure they get a little something in return!

Flowers (or a plant!)
Plants are incredible gifts to give because they have actual health benefits! Plants help to purify the air, boost your mood and even can relieve stress or anxiety, and let’s be honest… they looks so dang pretty! You can even buy a cute plant pot to house the new plant in, which is a very thoughtful 2-in-1 gift. Flowers are a great gift for yourself too; I love to buy myself flowers and I don’t care if that’s not something people ‘normally’ do. Occasionally when I’m doing our weekly grocery shopping I’ll pick myself up a bunch or two, although I have to admit there’s something a little extra luxe about M&S’ flowers! You don’t have to spend a fortune either; most bunches are less than £10.00, and if you’re giving them as a gift delivering them personally is way more inexpensive fun than sending them by courier.

I hope this post gave you a few ideas if you and your partner are giving gifts this year. Maybe you’re celebrating galentine’s (on February 13th) with your best girlfriend and want to give them a little treat, there’s so many possibilities! Please just don’t feel stress about gift giving, or the day itself. You can always treat yourself… What is your favourite sustainable gift to give or receive? If you’re in a relationship, do you and your partner celebrate Valentine’s Day?

-G x

A Mini Lush Haul ft. The Halloween Collection

Hi, loves! Lush is one of my favourite ever brands, and I’m kinda obsessed with them and everything they do for the beauty world. I definitely buy way more products during the Autumn/Winter months because I love the themed products, and I take way more baths during this time of year. Bath bombs and bubble bars are my favourite treats, and Matt secretly loves a Lush bath too. Well, I guess not so secretly now, hah! I am so impressed by this year’s Halloween collection, they brought back some favourites and introduced new products that made my heart happy. I also had held on to a gift card from my lovely co-workers to spend this time of year, so I kinda went a little crazy picking things up. Almost everything I got was from the Halloween collection, but I did pick up a tried and tested favourite and a product I LOVE but didn’t realise was now part of the main collection!

Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar | £4.95
This is a Halloween product I buy every year, and despite how much I hate the glitter on this (it goes EVERYWHERE) it’s such a fun bubble bar! I break it into four pieces to get four baths out of it; your money goes much further with the bubble bars compared to one use products like the bath bomb. This turns your bath the most beautiful orange colour and smells gorgeous. Also, thankfully the glitter doesn’t stick to your body once you get out of the bath!

Lord Of Misrule Bath Bomb | £4.50
I love love love this bath bomb so much that I picked up two, and I’m already planning to pick up more. It has popping candy in it! Another product I buy every year, and stock up on once they begin to phase out the Halloween products, this is just a dream. This bath bomb turns your bath the most amazing dark colour perfect for Halloween; the green and pink mix together to make a dark purple and there’s glitter throughout, but not the kind of glitter that sticks to you. Your bath sparkles and shimmers and it’s a bath you’ll seriously never want to get out of. Matt and I always buy my mum this bath bomb as part of her birthday present (her actual birthday is on Halloween!)

Pumpkin Spice Lip Scrub | £6.50
I was so excited about this, and trust me, it did NOT disappoint! I didn’t even smell this in the store, I just picked up one and put it straight in my basket. If you know, you know. This is the perfect pumpkin spice scent; it’s got hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, and of course pumpkin, which is just lovely to use. I really have to stop myself from licking it off my lips each time I use it! Matt’s a big fan of this too; Lush’s lip scrubs are amazing at getting rid of dead skin and allowing your lip balm to fully do its job. I always use this in the evenings, and I’ve started to use it most mornings too as it makes my lip product for that day apply so much better. This lip scrub is a must have for the colder Fall weather!

Mercury Retrograde Bath Bomb | £4.95
This is – I believe? – new for 2019, and although I haven’t yet tried it I’m so excited to. It smells citrus-y yet cinnamon-y (great descriptions, I know #blogger) all at the same time, which is two scents I wouldn’t have previously put together, but it somehow works. I’m so interested to see what colour this will turn my bath as it has orange, green and purple in it, as well as little black

Punkin Pumpkin Bath Bomb | £4.95
A pumpkin bath bomb that smells like pumpkins? I AM IN. Like, that’s my idea of heaven. This is a delight; it’s aesthetically pleasing – hello, prop for all Autumn themed blog photos – smells incredible and makes for a wonderful bath time treat. I’m so excited to try this one out, and I think I’ll mix it with a little of the Sparkly Pumpkin bubble bar for all the Halloween feels. Also, the description on the website for this made my day, it’s a parody of This Is Halloween! Snapple fact: I know all of the words to that song – doesn’t everyone? – and sing it to Matt probably five times per day around this time of year. He loves hates it. 🙂

Sleepy Body Lotion | £9.00
Pretty much every time I shop in Lush I re-stock on this lotion, I just love it! This is my everyday go-to evening moisturiser, and it just works SO well. The only other moisturisers I’ve reached for over the past few months is this in-shower moisturiser if I’m having a super lazy moment or this amazing cream for a pamper night. Lush’s Sleepy body lotion genuinely works to relax your body and mind before going to bed; it’s calming and the lavender smell is so beautiful. I’ve said this before on my blog; I’m not the biggest fan of lavender but this scent is amazing. When Matt has had a super long day at work (he’s on his feet all day long) he loves a foot massage with this, too! He’s spoilt, haha. The smallest amount goes such a long way, and it’s a product I genuinely look forward to using each evening.

So White Bath Bomb | £3.95
Okay so this baby was the curveball. I was SO HAPPY to find out this bath bomb is now available all year round! So White has been one of my favourite Christmas bath bombs for years, one that I stock up on each holiday season, and one that is now part of the main collection?! I don’t know when it happened and I’m probably super late to the party, but it’s seriously one of the best ever! Sticking with the Snow White theme, it smells like apples and rose, and is truly one of the most relaxing, comforting scents. It turns your bath milky white (although it used to turn it green, I think? I’m pretty sure it had green and pink inside a few years ago!) I only picked up one but Matt and I both love this one, next time we’re in store we’ll definitely be getting a few more to add to our collection!

Thank you so much for reading! Did you get a little inspiration to immediately run to your nearest Lush store?! What is your favourite item from the Halloween collection? What’s your favourite Lush item ever?! I think my favourite from the Halloween collection would have to be the Lord Of Misrule bath bomb, but favourite Lush product ever? The jury is still out on that one! Also… the lovely guy at Lush Gateshead, who seems to be the one who always serves me, gave me a little sneak peek at some of the Christmas products and guys. You are going to be blown away! They come out on September 25th, a whole three months before Christmas, so you can bet I’ll be including them in a little haul on the blog in the next few weeks.

-G x

Meal Planning: The How’s And Why’s

Hi, loves!

Meal planning is a huge part of Matt and I’s week, and it’s something we now do every week without fail. I love routine, I love organisation and I love being able to do things in a quick and effective way. Matt isn’t as fussed, but what we’re having for dinner each night is something I had always made the decisions on, because Matt is super indecisive! Now, through changing our habits and meal planning, this makes it a joint decision for both of us. I’ve mentioned meal planning many times on the blog, and been asked lots of times for recipe ideas and why we do it. I’d love to share a week’s worth of dinner recipe ideas, so that will definitely be up in the blog in the next month or so. Today I’m focusing on the how’s and why’s of meal planning for us, and asking some of the questions I see popping up over and over again. Is it actually beneficial to our lives? Should you be doing it? What does it even mean?

What is meal planning?
It’s pretty self explanatory, but meal planning is literally to plan – usually for the week ahead – the meals you (and your partner/family) will be eating. Some people do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however Matt and I only really focus on breakfast for Matt (I generally eat at work), dinner for both of us with leftovers for lunch the following day and healthy snacks/desserts. I’m not really a baker at all, but I made this banana bread last week before I picked Matt up from a night out with the boys and it was so good! Also, no bake desserts are great, and they’re super quick and easy when your evenings are busy.

How do you do it?
On a Sunday, Matt and I sit down for twenty minutes to talk about what we want to make the following week, and plan our shopping list(s). We look at Matt’s shifts as this has an impact on what we make; on the days he works until 9pm I make dinner ready for him coming home, so we tend to go for meals that go in the oven and can be timed perfectly (for example, cod and roasted vegetables or a good ol’ pasta bake). I make a list in the Notes app on my phone of what meal we’ll make each evening, writing underneath all of the ingredients required to make the meal. I don’t include items like sauces or spices which we use in every meal as we already have those, although if I had to re-purchase something during my shop that week then I’d write them down too. Miscellaneous items like almond milk, protein bars and bread are bought every week, so I keep a generic shopping list I buy from too. I love that I can tick off the lists as I go through my shop, and have even started writing in the order that I’d walk around the shop, that’s dedication LOL. I grocery shop twice per week, sometimes a third time if we’ve ran out of anything, and I can get round the store in fifteen minutes or less every time.

Does it save you money and/or time?
YES. As we plan ahead and have a shopping list, I literally buy to the shopping list. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sneaky bag of Haribo or Cadbury’s buttons will find their way into the trolley – I’ve no idea how – but most of the time I stick to our list. I tend to do almost all of our grocery shopping as it just works easier that way, and I enjoy buying based on a list as it saves so much time. It also cuts out any extra deliberations in store where I ring Matt and say “is X okay for dinner tonight? What do you fancy for tomorrow?” I also have the flexibility to go to more than one supermarket when I can, as I know what I need to get and we prefer certain items from certain places. Aldi and Lidl are great for freshly baked bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and they also have great deals on pasta, spices and yoghurts. When it comes to chicken and meat, we always buy from Asda as I feel you get more for your money there, and we buy specific branded things like rice, almond milk, frozen goodies, and sauces there too. To be honest, I generally do most of our shopping at Asda as it’s nearby work, but I should get better at buying from various stores. However if we’re ever having a cheat night and eating rubbish, we love the Taste The Difference flatbread pizzas from Sainsbury’s (with a tub of Halo Top or Alpro ice cream thrown in, obviously)!

How do you get your ideas for recipes?
This has built up over a long time of trial and error of trying out new foods, as we now have our own little (mental) portfolio of go-to meals we love. We don’t eat much red meat and it’s something we’re actively trying to cut down on, and we generally favour chicken or fish dishes if we’re not eating vegetarian. When we’re not cooking a tried and tested favourite and want to try something new, I firstly look through our three favourite cookbooks. Our go-to’s are Pinch Of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, A Year Of Beautiful Eating by Madeleine Shaw and Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape by Gino D’Acampo. Whether we follow the exact ingredients and method, or take inspiration to create something else I can almost always find something that looks good. If nothing was to take our fancy from those cookbooks we’d then look online at BBC Good Food, Pinterest, Tesco Real Food and of course, social media.

Do you find it easy?
I really do, and I would advise anyone who is thinking about giving it a go, to just try it. It took us a long time to start cooking with fresh ingredients, and we were regulars at M&S Food Hall for their dine in for two offer (we ate those almost every night!) for our first year of being together, but now that’s definitely a treat and something we do on the nights we really have no time. We didn’t know how to cook at all prior to last Summer, so we’re self taught (well, with the help of Matt’s lovely mum). I hear people say all the time “I don’t know how to cook” but honestly you just have to give it a whirl and practice lots, it gets easier and now we love every aspect of it. After we got the methods down, it took us a little time to tweak how we do things each week, but after a little trial and error it works perfectly for us. We’ve also been eating way healthier since we took meal planning seriously, as it’s developed a new interest in creating new meals, and we’re forever trying new things. I’m very interested in eating more vegetarian meals, and Matt’s on board to try whatever I want to try too, which is great! We’re thinking of eating vegetarian only for a week, pretty much just to see if we can do it, and if we do I’ll definitely share my thoughts on it with you on the blog.

Does it work every week?
Yes, for us it really does. We look at the week ahead, so if we’re heading out for date night on Friday we know we don’t need to buy anything for that night, or if we have plans with friends on the Saturday we’ll more than likely grab something when we’re out. If Matt’s out for the evening with the boys I also take great pleasure in having a kid’s tea before I go pick him up (Quorn crispy nuggets, Strong Roots spinach bites and a whole lot of this amazing BBQ sauce, if you’re interested) and those are the kinds of food we always make sure to have in the freezer, and I replace without fail on an almost weekly basis (especially those spinach bites, we literally eat them with almost every meal HA). The best part of meal planning is that it works around your life and your schedule, and it’s very flexible as a result. You could definitely just do one shop per week but we buy so many fresh vegetables and fruit it means by the end of the week items are out of date or just not as good as they should be, so I’d rather not waste food and just go to the supermarket two or three times per week.

I hope this post was informative and helped in some way! I love seeing what people eat for dinner, and what must-have recipe they recommend to others. I can’t wait to share with you a week’s worth of dinners for Matt and I. If you’re wanting to get a start on meal planning, I’d really recommend the three cookbooks photographed/linked in this post! Do you meal plan? Do you have any extra tips that may help me or my readers?!

-G x

How To Become A Morning Person This Spring

Hi, loves!

I’ve always loved the idea of being a morning person. A sense of getting up when the birds begin chirping, being up and about roaming around before others have even opened their eyes, and just getting started on the day from the crack of dawn. My boyfriend thrives in the mornings, and I had just resided to it not being for me. He’s always full of the joys of Spring (appropriate, right?) the second his eyes open, and despises the fact I snooze our alarm at least twice every morning. Well, I used to!

Over the past few months I’ve been working so hard to become a morning person, to enjoy early mornings and to look forward to them, instead of dreading them. There’s a few things that have worked wonders to change my mindset, and I’m now officially one of those people. It’s actually pretty great, and I can’t stop banging on about it to my friends. Also, it means you get to eat more delicious food. Breakfast really IS the best meal of the day!

Prepare your clothes/bag/food etc the night before. I used to do this way back when I was in school, and I felt great pleasure in having my uniform hanging on the front of my wardrobe door, my Jane Norman bag filled to the brim with crap I didn’t need (textbooks? what are those?) and my makeup set out and ready to go. When I went to college, I started to go for the just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-possibly-still-hungover look more often than not, and my eagerness to be prepared for the day ahead went down the drain. Then, I started the world of work, and I just never got into a rhythm that worked for me. Fast forward to 2019: after almost seven years in the working world, I’ve got it down. My work bag is always ready to go, Matt and I’s clothes are ironed and hanging up on our wardrobe door before our heads hit our pillows, and our lunches are prepared for the next day. It’s one less thing to think about in the morning, and sometimes I still even place my makeup products on my dressing table, ready to use when I’m bleary eyed and fighting the urge to jump back into bed for another cuddle!

Go to bed a reasonable time. It’s probably the most obvious thing to point out, but it’s for good reason. Waking up early and feeling ready to take on the day, are never going to go hand-in-hand if you’re falling asleep mid-way through a movie you decided you just had to watch at 11pm. Matt and I are such homebodies – we love our cosy evening routine so much – and quite honestly we’re very rarely awake at 11pm! That is the latest of nights for us, specifically reserved for weekends when Matt’s off work. In our twenties and living the high life. We’re all different, but scientists believe the optimum number of hours we should sleep lands between the six to eight hour mark, and I have to say for us, I agree. If we get less than seven hours we’re a little cranky, and counting down to having an early night from the second our alarm goes off. I think the best way to tweak this is to try to go to bed 10 – 20 minutes earlier each day, gradually working up to an hour or hour and a half earlier, and seeing how you feel getting up at the same time or earlier in the mornings.

Stop pressing snooze. Seriously. I admit it: I’m a fan of the snooze button. I used to religiously set alarms for an hour (or sometimes two) before we were going to get up just so I could enjoy snuggling back in and falling asleep again. I know. Matt hated it but never complained, bless him! You’ll be glad to know I’ve finally relaxed on the super early alarms. I still set our alarm a tad earlier than we need to get up to get ready for the day ahead, but generally by a much more reasonable 10 to 15 minutes. This gives us a little time to wake up, snuggle in with each other and talk about our sleep and the day ahead. *Cue lots of me telling Matt he said something super cute but he was fast asleep and has no recollection. And I’m probably complaining about him stealing all the covers. He does it every night!* In hindsight, I never actually felt better from snoozing our alarm either, if anything it made me more tired and grumpy, because I would fall back asleep then jump awake, feeling more startled every time.

Create a routine. I love routines. Love, love, love them. That will be no surprise to any regular readers, I think they just make life so much more simple! Due to Matt’s varying shifts throughout the week, our mornings are a little different each day, but that actually makes things a little easier for me, I think. Some days we’re up at 6am, and he’s out of the house around half an hour later. On those mornings I love to write and edit upcoming blog posts and/or squeeze in a thirty minute yoga session before I have to get ready for work. The days we get to snooze a little longer are when I’m out of the house first (much later at around 8.30am), and they’re generally reserved for little lie ins and cups of tea in bed. Both glorious in their own way! Of course, weekends are a whole different ball game (if Matt is off work, that is) – it’s our time to sleep a little longer and just move at a slower pace. Also, I find my days start so much better if I don’t start to browse social media the second I turn off the alarm. I’m obviously not perfect and I do usually catch up on my chosen platform (Instagram, ALWAYS!) before I leave the house, but it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up anymore. Matt and I try so hard to not look at our phones whilst we’re lying in bed in the morning, otherwise it makes us want to stay there for at least another twenty minutes! It’s still a work in progress, but little steps climb mountains. Or something like that.

Give yourself things to look forward to. It’s almost like bribing yourself, but having something in the morning to get up for is going to make you want to do it. I don’t really need to do this any more, but in the early days of trying to get up earlier and enjoy it, I really did need all of the motivation I could get! Whether it was the promise of a yoga session, an extra twenty minutes to binge-watch vlogs whilst I got ready (look no further than Emma Hill or The Anna Edit, they’re a dream) or cups of tea in bed, these little things became a reason to get up and get on with the day.

Let in the light and open the windows. Hallelujah, it’s no longer like the dead of night when it’s time to get up! Since mid-February when the mornings started getting warmer and lighter, my mood rose so quickly. We all know getting up when it’s dark and cold outside is ten times harder, so putting ourselves into new routines throughout the Spring and Summer gives us a better shot of carrying it on throughout the colder months too. Matt and I sleep with the window open every night (although, not too open. A few weeks ago, our next door neighbour’s cat let himself in during the middle of the night, plonked his bum on our bedside table and DRANK OUR GLASS OF WATER. guys. IT DRANK FROM THE GLASS. I woke up to the sound of his tongue lapping it up and screamed until Matt woke up. I sh*t you not. Also, we are not cat people hahaha). Anyway, I digress, but waking up to a light chill in the room is actually quite nice, and I find it weirdly motivating. It’s not freezing cold, so I find it just wakes me up a little more. Also, any excuse to wear bae’s dressing gown while I get ready, it’s so much cosier than mine!

Experiment with delicious breakfasts. Let’s be honest, food is the best part of everyone’s day, and in my opinion breakfast food just pips anything else to the top of the list. If you have time for homemade pancakes and berries covered in syrup then more power to you, but I’m thinking the quick, easy options are the best to go for in the mornings before work. Think avocado toast, oatmeal, Special K (I’m having a bit of a love affair with that right now!) or smoothies packed with all the goodies. If there’s one thing that’s sure to get me excited about getting up it’s food! Also, not to sound like your grandma, but breakfast is so important. Even if you’re running super late and barely have time to catch your breath, at least grab a banana or protein bar, you’ll thank me for it when the 11am slump doesn’t arrive!

I hope this post helped to give you a little inspiration, or maybe a few laughs at least! Are you a morning person? Do you enjoy getting up and getting on with your day? Please let me know your tips in the comments below!

-G x