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?
Hi, loves! This coming Friday, on May 17th, I turn 25 and I’m happy to say I’m way more cool about being a year older than I was when I turned 24. I think our twenties are a weird time; from being teenagers we had goals and aspirations for where we thought we’d be at *insert age* and we may not have met the goals we’d laid out for ourselves. I’m actually really okay with that this year, and I feel so blessed to be turning 25 feeling genuinely happier than I have for all of my twenty-something birthdays. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my last birthday and Matt and I had so much fun, but I was still so worried about being another year older. Back on my 21st birthday I didn’t even celebrate because I was really struggling with my anxiety and felt so rubbish, yet now at 25 I feel like a whole new person!
Even though I still deal with anxiety and panic attacks on a semi-regular basis, I’m truly the happiest I’ve ever been right now, and I can’t tell you how good it feels to say that! I have the most amazing boyfriend in the whole world (you might have heard me mention him from time to time…) and my family and friends are just the best I could wish for. I have a job, a car, lots of new goals I’m working towards and my blog is my little baby! If you had told 21 year old Gill that this would be her life at 25, she’d never have believed it. Anxiety has re-shaped my whole life over the past six years, and although it has been terrible in some parts, I have grown so much and I appreciate life in a whole new way.
1. Your mental health must always be your first priority. Only you can do this for yourself, and it’s so important to listen to what you need (and deserve). No matter what the situation is, if you don’t feel up to it you don’t need to do it and you’ll thank yourself later. We live in a generation where it’s not at all uncommon to suffer or know someone suffering with mental health problems, and it’s something we need to stop being ashamed of, and start speaking up about!
2. Being in love is the best feeling in the whole world. I feel beyond blessed to experience such a deep and meaningful love at such a young age, that some people don’t find in one thousand lifetimes. Matt is not just my boyfriend but my rock, my soulmate, my biggest supporter and my favourite person in the whole world. Falling asleep and waking up with the person you love every day is also hands down one of the best feelings you’ll ever experience, it still makes me so happy every single day/night. I’m so lucky to be in love with my best friend, and I never have or will take that for granted.
3. Moderation is key. This applies to most aspects of life really, but especially with food. Since I was super young I’ve had a bit of a weird relationship with food; I either binge on anything and everything I want, or I barely eat. Over the past few years I’ve found a much better balance; I eat tons of fruits and veggies, and if I want to eat chocolate, sweets, ice cream (or whatever!) I’ll enjoy that too. I also have the worst sweet tooth, sometimes I literally can’t help myself!!
4. Learning to drive is one of the best thing you’ll ever do. Well, for me it was. I struggled and stressed my way through driving lessons, failing tests I wasn’t ready for and having panic attack after panic attack at even the thought of another lesson. I finally plucked up the courage to change instructors and breezed through my test (third time lucky!) and now, three and a half years on, I truly couldn’t imagine my life without being able to drive, or my cute little Viva!
5. Always buy the scented candle. Seriously. I am a connoisseur of candles, if I do say so myself, at the grand old age of (almost) twenty five, and if I like the candle I’m going to buy the candle. It makes me happy, and life is too short to not do what makes you happy. Which is more the point of this lesson: do what makes you happy. And buy the damn candle.
6. Always be kind, no matter how you feel that day. But do not expect every kind act to be reciprocated, or you’ll be sorely disappointed. Kindness is so so important, and we can all be a bit nicer from time to time! It’s just important to remember that you don’t know what anyone is going through, and everyone has their own problems to deal with. I delved into this topic way more in this post.
7. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve spent almost twenty five years trying to please everyone, and keep everyone around me happy. It’s a fact that you’re not going to gel with everyone you meet in life, and that’s okay. I really want to be less of a people pleaser, and it’s something I’m working on. I joked to Matt the other day that sometimes I feel like Amy Santiago with the Captain in Brooklyn 99 – desperate to be liked, lol!
8. Always pay yourself first out of your wages. Setting up a direct debit into my savings account has totally changed how I save money; you can’t miss money you didn’t ever see! Every month the day after I get paid, X amount goes straight into my savings account and is there for emergencies only. I have separate savings accounts for various things, but that *just incase* money is so important, and gives me peace of mind.
9. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. This is a hard lesson; to share and to learn, and it’s something I still struggle with now. I want to believe that everyone’s nice and life is sunshine and rainbows but I know that’s not true. If someone talks badly of you when you’re not around, makes you feel/look stupid in front of others or will happily throw you under the bus for their own gain then they’re not worth it.
10. Travelling feeds the soul. I’m not one for backpacking round Australia for three months – props to you, if you are – but I love to explore new places, and Matt is (obviously) my favorite travel partner. Whether it’s city breaks, day trips or week-long jaunts to a hot climate, I absolutely love to travel and I can’t wait to tick more and more places off our bucket list. We got to Croatia in five and a half weeks and I’m SO ready for it!
11. Never apologise for being curious. Asking questions is the way we learn, and it’s not something to be looked down on for. Ever. During my second week at my job back when I was 19 years old and super shy, I innocently asked the person teaching me why she did a few things so I could get a better understanding. She scoffed that I ask too many questions, laughed about me with our other colleagues, and made me feel so uncomfortable for being genuinely curious and wanting to learn. Her reaction sticks with me to this day, and I try to be as helpful as possible when teaching others as a result.
12. There’s a Disney quote for every occasion. There really is! My favourite is always going to be from the man himself: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
13. Having the confidence to walk into the unknown is a beautiful thing. Like starting this blog. I had wanted to create a blog for most of my adult life, as an avid reader/follower of so many, yet I lacked the confidence to do so. I wrote myself off as being not good enough, yet I love writing my blog more and more as the months go on. I’m so thankful for my platform, and even though it is just a hobby for me right now, I take it so seriously.
14. The quality of your social circle is much more important than the quantity. Treasure the people that always have your back and fill you with joy, love and happiness, they’re the good eggs! As you get older I think it’s so difficult to meet new people and make friends, that’s something that shocked me a little about getting older. I’ve said this thousands of times, but I know I’m so lucky that Matt is my boyfriend and my best friend, and I thank my lucky stars for that every single day. Quality over quantity, always!
15. Being open with your emotions does not make you weak. I’ve been told several times that I’m ‘too’ emotional. It’s true that I cry a lot (whether I’m happy or sad, ha!), I often lead with my heart and I definitely wear my heart on my sleeve. Being emotional means I’m very empathetic to others’ situations however, and that is not a bad quality to have!
16. Learning to cook is life changing. Matt and I flipping LOVE cooking. We love to try new recipes and methods, create our own meals and experiment with different ingredients and flavours. I feel sad I didn’t have an interest in cooking from a younger age and I wish I’d developed it sooner, but I’m so happy it’s something Matt and I are able to learn about together! I delved into how and why we meal plan in this post, and I’m excited to share some of our favourite recipes on the blog in the coming months.
17. Being kind to the planet is so important. I’m ashamed to admit that this is something I’ve only truly thought about over the past two or three years, but I’m proud of myself for making changes to my everyday life and doing what I can to make a difference. I wrote a post about small changes we can make in our everyday lives to live more sustainably here if you’d like to check that out for a little inspiration. I definitely want to write more about this topic on my blog!
18. Mums are always right. If I had have told my 14 year old self this I would have literally laughed in my own face, but it’s true. My mum and Matt’s mum (she’s my second mum, I’m so lucky!!) always know what to do or say no matter what the situation is, and they are strong, amazing women that I’m so lucky to look up to.
19. There’s no place like home. *clicks glittery red heels together* ha! For real, Matt and I are homebodies in every sense of the word. We love cosy nights at home; lighting our candles, cooking a lovely dinner and snuggling up to watch a show. (I’m so excited to do this in our own home, hopefully next year!) We also love our hometown more than anything – Newcastle is honestly the greatest place on earth to us. From where we live, we’re ten minutes away from the city centre in one direction, the beach another, and the countryside in another!
20. Friendships change and that’s okay. Sometimes friendships grow into a life-long bond, sometimes they mould into a weird new territory and sometimes they fizzle out all together. Take the good with the bad and be sure to appreciate the good memories you make as they will last way beyond any empty friendships. You learn so many lessons from your friendships, and I wish I knew this when I was a teenager.
21. Comparing your life to somebody else’s will never bring you joy. You were made to be you; a unique individual with their own thoughts, looks, style, opinions etc and that is a wonderful thing. Don’t feel envious of other people’s lives or circumstances, and put that focus back into yourself. Stay in your own lane and you’ll be so much happier for it.
22. You’ll turn into a grandma sooner than you think. Like I said above, Matt and I are homebodies. We’re those people that think we want to go out for date night, but when the day comes we’d rather stay in and cook a meal or grab a takeaway. We also would rather get an early night in so we can head out early in the morning for breakfast and ‘a wander’ (potentially around a garden centre…). We buy clothes thinking about the purpose and/or longevity. If we’re in the house you can pretty much guarantee I have a blanket draped over me. We’re literally turning into our grandparents more and more as the days roll on and we’re okay with that, just someone please stop me if you see me going in for a blue rinse!
23. Standing up for what you believe can be hard, but always worth it. I hate confrontation. I hate disagreements. I hate arguments. BUT there is always a way to get your point across in a level-headed, relaxed way, and it doesn’t need to cause uproar. Being respectful is the main thing; it’s okay to disagree with someone’s opinion, stand up for your beliefs or voice your thoughts, and it’s something I really need to do more often.
24. Less truly is more. After the rise of minimalism, sustainability and Marie Kondo, we all felt a bit embarrassed about the amount of crap we’d accumulated, right? Since having several clear outs – tbh, Matt and I really need another – I’m very happy living with less and truly loving what I own. I think about this with everything I buy, and it means I’m way more clever about what is worth the purchase. Does *insert item* spark joy? Will I get use out of *insert item*? Material items will not bring you happiness, no matter how hard you try to make them.
25. Making ‘me time’ is so important. There’s so much more to self care than just the beauty aspect, but I swear treating yourself to pamper evening at least once per week will make your whole life feel different. Go all out with a face mask, hair mask, full body scrub and a Lush bath bomb. Book yourself in for regular salon appointments to keep your hair looking pretty, and indulge in getting your nails done now and then. When you look good you feel good, and I really appreciate ‘me time’.
Thank you so much for reading, it truly means the world to me! I’m taking a little of my own advice from this post, and for the first time on my blog, there won’t be a new post up on Sunday. I’m SO SAD saying that, but I want to enjoy my birthday weekend with Matt and not have to worry about editing, scheduling or keeping up with my new post, I hope you understand! Can you relate with any of the lessons I mentioned in this post? What’s the most important things you’ve learned so far in life? Let me know in the comments!
I’ll be back on Wednesday, have a wonderful weekend!