ULTIMATE LOUNGEWEAR FOR A COSY WINTER

ULTIMATE LOUNGEWEAR FOR A COSY WINTER

For cold nights + crisp weekends

The nights are drawing in + it’s time to get cosy. My loungewear has to be effortless, super warm (no cropped anything, I have energy bills to keep down) + stylish, from popping to the grocery store to taking the latest long haul flight.

Here is the essential loungewear that I’ll be investing in this season:

Slippers
Mahabis have long been on my wish list + these leather wool lined slippers (£149) are stylish, comfortable + durable. As if that wasn’t enough, what’s so great about Mahabis is that they have a detachable sole (in the colour/s of your choice), taking them effortlessly from indoor slippers to outdoor shoes + back again. So they get bonus points for that flexibility + extra efficiency as a capsule wardrobe item.

Lounge pants
I’m coveting these luxurious M&S cashmere joggers (£99) + was very tempted by Hush’s printed star joggers (£45) (unfortunately they remind me too much of the curtains in my son’s bedroom!). However I’ve settled on these super soft joggers from The White Company (£45), comfortable loungewear that I can wear inside + outside.

Casual slogan tee
NOPE. Not today. This Thug Life tee ($27.95) always makes me laugh. Can’t you see I’m lounging? Please don’t ask me to do anything, I just want to drink my soy chai latte in peace.

Extra long sleeve jumper
I want something big that I can hide away in, like I’m wearing a cuddle. Cashmere + turtle neck + extra long sleeves to keep my hands warm = winner. This H&M jumper (£59.99) is on its way to me now, with this Zara ungendered sweatshirt (£22.99) as back up for more casual lounging (eating pizza in bed, *cough*).

Snood
I had quite the snood collection before I capsulized (I’m pretty sure that’s a word) my wardrobe. Now a staple when I want to feel maximum coziness is a giant knit infinity scarf (Etsy, £35). There’s no being shy when it comes to wearing this – you’re stating: it’s freezing + I’m totally prepared. Own it.

What are your essentials for keeping cosy this winter?

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HOW TO: BEGINNER’S WINTER VEGETABLE PATCH

BEGINNER'S WINTER VEGETABLE PATCH

For a garden crop through Winter + into Spring

I’m lucky enough to have a garden + this year was my first foray into growing vegetables, keeping it simple with courgettes, green beans + tomatoes. I was able to grow enough vegetables to feed me + my son (just missing potatoes + carrots, which I will try next year), with more courgettes than I knew what to do with (they ended up in salads, cakes, risottos, “courgetti”, fritters, you name it). I want to keep this cost-effective + satisfying process going through the winter. It’s also great for my son to get to run into the garden to pick vegetables + see them go into his food. As well as being thankful for a garden, I’m also thankful to my brother, who bought me the materials to make a raised wooden garden bed. Having assembled the bed, I’m ready to get a permanent vegetable patch established.

Materials
Wooden bed beams + screws
Compost
Seeds
Markers (so I can remember what I have planted where)
Garden mesh (for the peas to grow up)

The bed was very easy to assemble, all I needed was a drill + it only took me about half an hour to assemble. It will take a lot of compost to fill + I will need to start composting for future years (blog post to follow). I’ve cut the garden mesh to size + tied it with wire to vine eyes along the fence panels.

Vegetables
In choosing what vegetables were suitable for my patch, I had the following criteria:

  • Must be winter hardy + suitable for late sowing
  • Must be able to direct sow into the patch (I don’t have the inclination/patience to start seeds off in seed trays)

I followed Thompson + Morgan’s guidance on Top 10 vegetables to grow over winter + chose spring onions (Winter Lisbon), perpetual spinach + peas (Kelvedon Wonder). I found some cheap seeds at SimplySeed so even if they don’t take (it’s a bit late for planting out now) I haven’t lost out too much!

HOW TO: BEGINNER’S WINTER VEGETABLE PATCH

I’ll keep you posted on how the seeds get on + what recipes the produce ends up in. Let me know what winter vegetables you’re growing + any other tips for beginners!

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5 MINUTE RECIPE: PEANUT OAT PROTEIN BARS

5 MINUTE RECIPE: PEANUT OAT PROTEIN BARS

For when you need a quick + nutritious breakfast/snack

The fancy name for these is “no bake, three ingredient, gluten + dairy free protein bars”. But for me, these oat bars are simply a super quick, cheap + easy staple of my fridge. From breakfast-on-the-go to a mid-morning boost, these are delicious + keep me going. Even my three year old loves them + our cherished morning cuddles in bed now include milk for him, cup of tea for me + protein bar to share.

Ingredients
Makes 12

5 cups of oats
1 tub of peanut butter (I use crunchy for added texture; either type works)
200ml milk (as I’m lactose intolerant, I use Lactofree which works just fine)

There are many variants – you can add a sweetener (stevia or agave if you’re one of the cool kids), chocolate chips (delicious; less virtuous), chopped nuts/seeds, dried fruit – whatever you prefer.

PROTEIN BAR

Method
Add the milk to the peanut butter + stir till it’s all mixed in.
Add the oats (I stir them in a cup at a time, it makes it easier to get all of the oats coated).
Spread in a baking tray in a layer approx. 2cm thick.
Chill overnight or for about 8 hours. (They would also taste delicious cooked, but ugh, effort)
Cut into slices.

How simple is that? This is also a great way to start getting kids into cooking. There’s lots of simple scooping, pouring + mixing. It’s one of the first recipes I started making with my son + as long as you’re prepared to sweep up all the spilled oats afterwards it’s fine!

Cost
You can make these oat bars very cheaply + also significantly cheaper than a certain brand of particularly crumbly oat bar. I keep costs down like this:

Oats – 750G bag of Tesco’s everyday value oats – 75p
Peanut butter – tub of Tesco’s value crunchy peanut butter – 62p
Lactofree milk is insanely expensive (1.35 for 1l in Tesco’s, working out as 27p for 200ml) but cow’s milk would obviously work out cheaper.
Still, that comes to approximately £1.26 for 12 bars. Bargain.

What do you like to add into your protein bars? Share any new ideas!

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HOW TO SET UP YOUR BULLET JOURNAL: LAYOUTS

HOW TO SET UP YOUR BULLET JOURNAL: LAYOUTS

Get started with these simple planner layouts

You’ve decided to start bullet journaling + you have your chosen materials ready. What next? Here are some basic layouts to get you started.

Index
The index – contents page – is where I add page titles and numbers as I go along, for easy reference. I also add post-it note markers to key pages that I use regularly.

Key
Sounds fancy; just the signs you use to mark progress against tasks – I use some of the ‘standard’ key signs for that have been developed. I use very few, because I don’t need anything too complicated. On some planners I also use ‘L’, ‘M’, ‘H’ to mark progress from low to high priority of tasks.

HOW TO SET UP YOUR BULLET JOURNAL: LAYOUTS

Year planner
I use this primarily for birthdays. It’s been a very long time since I last wrote down birthdays + I’d become a little too reliant on Facebook for reminders.

Monthly planner
I set this up at the beginning of every month with key dates – birthdays, appointments, social events – circled. It helps me to get an overview + a sense of the lead in time I might need for various events.

Weekly planner
My weekly planner sets out my key dates, tasks + meal plan for the week.

  • Tasks: weekly to-do list and in-progress tasks
  • Food log: planning breakfasts, lunches + dinners. This helps me in two ways:
    • It helps me shop efficiently + quickly, only buying what I need for the week + keeping food bills down
    • It means I always have quick, nutritious meals to hand for my son + I. When I get home from work, the last thing I want to do is spend a long time figuring out what’s for dinner + preparing food. I want to cuddle with my son + learn about his day. Having meals already planned + the ingredients to hand helps me get to mother + son time more quickly.
  • Shopping list: based on the food log

Regular tasks
I keep track of regular weekly + monthly tasks with these two trackers, which are divided into my broad categories of: home, garden, beauty, errands. These trackers help me, for example, not let my houseplants die by forgetting to water them (it’s happened too many times…) + keep on top of the small, regular tasks that help keep everything running smoothly.

In my next post I’ll share one of my bespoke layouts for planning + organising a capsule wardrobe.

Do these layouts work for you? Let me know if you have any questions or layouts to share.

HOW TO SET UP YOUR BULLET JOURNAL: LAYOUTS

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5 KEY PIECES FOR YOUR AUTUMN LOOK

5 KEY PIECES FOR YOUR AUTUMN LOOK

Get ready for the colder months with these top picks

It’s time to get ready for Autumn + that means a wardrobe overhaul. Thanks to some bullet journal planning to help cull the clothes that aren’t efficient enough (blog post to follow), I’ve streamlined this season’s wardrobe + identified gaps that are going to work for all my needs across the season. The essentials on my wish list are:

Leather biker jacket
A classic that’s missing from my wardrobe, I’m finally going take the plunge + invest in a leather jacket. Staying on the high street + within a reasonable budget, my current favourite is by Mango (£119.99). My heart leaps for the red; my practical side will go for the black. This item is going to work hard for me this season, across work, weekends + nights out. When it gets really cold, I’ll layer it up with this oversize blanket scarf from ASOS + fingerless knit gloves.

Ankle boot
As well as my tan leather Kurt Geiger ankle boots, I’m looking for something a bit funkier (but still sturdy) to put a spring in my step through the winter months. ZARA have some amazing shoes at the moment + if practicality (i.e. weather) wasn’t a consideration I’d buy these beautiful blue velvet boots in a heartbeat. Their twist on the details of a Chelsea boot (£39.99) is probably the winner for me, although these patent lace ups are a close second.

Roll neck + cashmere top
Cashmere always make me feel luxurious – like I’m wearing something a little bit special. Add a roll neck + you’ve got a solid top to see you through winter. Add extra long sleeves + I’m smitten. This Sisley version (£37) is on my list, although my top tip for buying cashmere on a budget is Oxfam‘s online shop – I’ve found some real bargains there.

Midi dress
An everyday midi dress is a simple winner for work. This Cheap Monday midi dress (£55) can easily be dressed up or down + has some great detailing to add some interest to the colour (yes, I’m one of those people who ‘basic’ally wears three colours). Win!

Perfume
There’s no way around it, Diptyque’s Philosykos Eau de Parfum (£95) is a real splurge but has become my firm signature scent. I’ve never spent this much money on a perfume before, but it’s the first perfume I’ve found that really suits me + all occasions. I don’t like floral, sweet or musky scents, which rules out a pretty broad range of perfumes for me. However, the tones of fig + wood in this perfume carry me from memories of Mediterranean summer nights to bonfires + leaves crunching under foot.

Share your Autumn / Winter classics – what are your essentials this season?

5 KEY PIECES FOR YOUR AUTUMN LOOK

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5 MINUTE RECIPE: MOISTURISING BODY SCRUB

5 MINUTE RECIPE: MOISTURISING BODY SCRUB

For exfoliated + moisturised skin all in one

Saturday night, my son’s tucked up in bed – that means it’s time for some relaxation + pampering. With a bellini in hand, I need a long, hot bath + some treatments. Today I’m going to share with you my new favourite body scrub recipe, courtesy of my incredibly talented friend Ewelina Kolaczek. I use a lot of exfoliator; my favourite brand when I can treat myself is Clarins. However the rest of the time I buy whatever’s cheapest. I would never have thought to make exfoliator myself until Ewelina told me about the scrubs she makes – generously not only sharing her recipe but also making me a customised, sensuous scrub (I love it; that recipe is between the two of us…).

There are a few things that make this scrub really special as far as I’m concerned. First of all, this scrub meets two needs – the exfoliator/body oil mix means that you end up polished + moisturised with one product. I was struck by how dense the exfoliator was (I’ve often been disappointed by products where there seem to be only a few grains lurking in a gel), giving my skin a thorough yet gentle polish before dissolving, then leaving the oils to work into my skin. (I’m a big fan of body and hair oils, look out for a future post about my favourites) Furthermore, the scrub is very quick + easy to make + the ingredients are completely natural.

Ingredients
Fills a standard jam jar

¼ cup fine sea salt
Under ¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup base oil
Essential oils (add drops, in combinations of your choice, until it smells gorgeous!)

  • Ewelina recommended Naturally Thinking to me as a good company for base oils
  • Pinterest is also a good source of scent combinations

5 MINUTE RECIPE: MOISTURISING BODY SCRUB

Method
Mix ingredients thoroughly
Cover body with scrub
Wash off with water only (no soap required)
Pat skin dry
Luxuriate in amazing skin

My skin is smooth, moisturised + smells gorgeous – this pampered, relaxed mama is off to bed.

Thanks to Ewelina for sharing her recipe with me + letting me share it with you. If you make your own scrub, share your recipes + tweaks!

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A NEW WAY OF ORGANISING: THE BULLET JOURNAL

BULLET JOURNAL

“The analogue system for the digital age”

Bullet journaling has increased my productivity, improved my planning + given me a lot of satisfaction in the few months since I started. Developed by digital product designer Ryder Carroll, it’s a versatile + completely customisable way of tracking anything in your life that you need to track, from events, meetings + social dates to planning projects + managing lists. It brings you back to (analogue) basics: all you need is a pen + a notepad to take complete control of your organisational needs. I’m an expert organiser, but even so, I never really found a digital way of organising my life that provided everything I needed in one place – my personal organisation was spread across Gmail, iCal, Clear, scraps of paper. With bullet journalling, all of my organisational needs are met in one place, because I have complete control over the system (developing new “features” as I go to meet evolving needs in my planning/organisation). An additional plus for me is that the record is saved for posterity. I’m never going to be a diary writer, but preserving my dates + tasks in this way forms, for me, the closest I’m going to get to one.

For me, one of the key advantages of bullet journaling is its flexibility. You start off with an index (contents page), which you fill out as you go. It doesn’t matter if a to-do list or planner for a future project falls smack bang in the middle of your weekly planners for a particular month. You’re not beholden so much to chronology + your index means that all content is easy to find.

(Also one big advantage for me was that I realised I had become reliant on Facebook for knowing people’s birthdays. That is not ok! I had stopped writing them down and started to forget. Definitely not ok!!)

BULLET JOURNAL

What to use?
Notebook: You can use any notebook. It all depends on your approach. The most-talked about bullet journal is the Leuchtturm1917. Patience isn’t my strong point + once I’d committed to the idea of bullet journaling I went to see what was available at my local Waterstone’s. I found a real gem in the Princeton Architectural Press’s Grids + Guides Notebook for Visual Thinkers. It contains a number of different types of grid paper, which give flexibility, spark creativity + are fun to work with.

Writing/marker materials: Some bullet journalists really go to town with different coloured pens, post it notes, washi tape, creating beautiful journals that are as much works of art as organisational tools. It wouldn’t be true to me to follow that path (my handwriting is awful; I’m not much of a doodler), so I adhere to the ‘minimalist’ school of bullet journaling. I use a Foray porous point pen (I am fussy about this, no other pen will do), occasionally a red biro, a ruler + post it markers so that I can find key pages super quickly. Easy.

Layout inspiration
I got started with a few ideas from Pinterest + now I’m in the swing of it, I feel confident mapping out my own layouts – I recently free-styled a layout to help me streamline + reorganise my wardrobe (blog post pending). I will confess to having torn out a few pages that I messed up, so now if I’m doing something new I tend to sketch it out on scrap paper first to test it before committing to it in my journal.

In future blog posts, I’ll take you through layouts, ideas that work for me. Let me know if you have any questions!

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5 MINUTE RECIPE: BERRY OAT SMOOTHIE

BERRY OAT SMOOTHIE

For when you need a quick + nutritious breakfast

I’m coeliac and the quick breakfast options aren’t great – I haven’t found a gluten-free cereal or bread that I actually enjoy (apart from in the US; how I miss you, Rice Chex). So recently, thanks to my Mum treating me to a new food processor, I was inspired to give breakfast smoothies a go.

As usual, my main criteria are quick, easy, cheap and gluten/dairy free. I’m also highly unlikely to drink anything green, so I went down a more traditional route of berry oat smoothie.

Ingredients
1 banana
2 tbsp frozen berries
2 tbsp plain yoghurt (I use lactose free yoghurt)
1 tbsp linseed / flaxseed
Approx. 150 ml milk, depending on how thick you like your smoothies (again, I use lactose free milk)

BERRY OAT SMOOTHIE

Method
Are you ready for this? Ok, here we go:

Put it all in the blender.
Blend.
Pour.
Voila!

In order to save time in the morning, and possibly get an extra minute in bed (hahaha), I put all the ingredients in the blender – except the flax seed – the night before and store it in the fridge. In the morning I take it out, add the seeds, blend and I’m ready to go really quickly.

  • The reason I don’t add the seeds overnight is that they were congealing on the bottom of the blender overnight and just not mixing in when it came to blending time.
  • This is also a great recipe for getting kids involved. It’s easy to add the ingredients and now my son runs into the kitchen every morning just to turn the blender on. I wouldn’t have expected him to like this, but he loves a cup every morning too, and it’s a great source of nutrition for the both of us.

Cost
I’m still on the hunt for cheap frozen fruit, and when the pennies are tight I just add less – they pack a punch in terms of flavour any way. The fruit quota can easily be bulked out with tinned peaches, which are very cost-effective, and of course have delicious syrup that you can add.

You can also make cheap subs for the seeds. When I can’t stretch to flaxseed, I substitute oats. Another cheap (but gluten-containing) alternative is Weetabix (adding one biscuit will do).

Let me know any tweaks you’ve made and versions that have worked for you!

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WELCOME

ELSIE DE WOLFE

Welcome to Gratitude + Beauty

Does the world need another lifestyle blog? Probably not. But here we are!

What do I offer that other lifestyle bloggers don’t? Well, everything has to fit within real life. This is aspiration within the every day. I’m a single mum. I’m on a tight budget. I need to plan my life meticulously in order to be as productive as I want to be.  However, the most beautiful houses, gardens, clothes, makeup, recipes etc mostly have price tags behind them that are way out of my reach. I’m just finding what works for me, what makes my world a better place, and sharing it with you in the hope that what works for me, and brings me joy, might just bring you joy too.

Aren’t blogs pretentious? There’s no pretension here, or at least when there is, it’s with a knowing wink. One of my best friends can attest to the fact that I was seriously look at designing this site’s logo via Hipster Logo Generator. (Listen, I like the crossed arrows symbol, ok?).

Where are all your posts? This blog is brand new. Give me time. If you want to know more about anything I post, just leave a comment and we can start a conversation. I’m here to learn too.

And finally, why now? I was inspired by the quote below, which popped up in my Instagram recently. In some ways, I’ve had a really rough time recently. But when I focus on everything I have to be grateful for, and open my eyes to all the beauty around me, I can feel how lucky I am and how good my life is. This Autumn/Fall feels like the chance for a new beginning. (And a beginning that I wish I was seeing in at New York Fashion Week, but well, there’s always next season).

CARRIE BRADSHAW SEX + THE CITY

 

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