7 Ways to Find Calm (when your schedule is hectic)

Pictured: ‘Luxe’ bath towels, bath mat and face towels c/- Christy // apothecary cabinet // H&M copper basket // Windle & Moodie hair masque c/- // Leonor Greyl shampoo & conditioner c/- // Fresh lychee shower gel // Aesop rose body wash // Aerin vanilla body wash.

Between my day job, blog, and an always hectic schedule, I hardly ever get any of the downtime I desperately crave in order to recharge. So this month, when my diary is even busier than usual with a flurry of holiday events + looming end-of-year deadlines and I’m on the verge of feeling overwhelmed by the stress of 2016 (seriously, what is with this year?!), I’m making a conscious effort to carve out a little quality ‘me’ time whenever possible this month.

If, like me, your schedule is threatening to trigger an anxiety attack, here are my seven easiest hacks to get you through to the end of the year in a state of merriment rather than stress:

1 // Make the everyday a little more luxurious

Until the day I can hire my own team of assistants, I have to the same mundane tasks as anyone. And while we can’t avoid doing things we don’t enjoy, we can make them feel a little less boring. Blast your favourite tunes and the morning commute feels suddenly more pleasurable; burn a scented candle and household chores feel less tedious; swap your tired old bedding for a delicious new set and bedtime feels like the ultimate treat.

2 // Choose optimism + practice gratitude

Instead of worrying about every little thing that stresses or annoys me each day, I’m trying to focus on that which I can be grateful for. I’m not talking about ignoring injustice or the issues that really matter (which most definitely deserve my attention), but rather not letting those little things – which in the scheme of things are insignificant – mount up and ruin my day; my train running late, someone making a hurtful comment online, or a rude stranger. Instead, every time I start to get stressed at something I can’t control, I try to shift my thinking, take a few calming breaths, and actively focus on what is making me happy instead (‘I’m going to be home an hour late, but I can use this time to catch up on my emails and message my sister, and there’s a cosy bed waiting for me at the other end’). 

 

Pictured: ‘Luxe’ bath towels, bath mat and face towels c/- Christy // apothecary cabinet // H&M copper basket // Sisley radiance face masque c/- // Estee Lauder cleansing balm c/- // Estee Lauder treatment capsules.

3 // Turn your bathroom into a spa

Instead of just quickly hopping in the shower and racing through your beauty routine as quickly as possible, carve out a little extra time a couple of nights a week to treat yourself to some pampering. Leave your phone in another room, play some calming tunes (I’m all about the ‘Nutcracker’ score at the moment; everything feels more festive and wonderful when accompanied by the ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies’), light a couple of candles, put on a hair/face masque and run a bubble bath. That’s at least 20 minutes of peaceful ‘me’ time. If all else fails, the most luxurious towels and body products will make even the most hurried morning shower feel a little more indulgent.

4 // Wind down each evening

Instead of just coming home exhausted, parking yourself in front of the tv, and then falling into bed exhausted, carve out a window before bedtime to de-stress and wind down from the day. I like to make a cup of tea, dim the lights, climb into my pyjamas and escape with a chapter of a feel-good book (when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I actually prefer to re-visit an old favourite like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Harry Potter that I know will bring comfort). Those relaxing moments help quieten my mind before bedtime and stop me running through a million things I’m worrying about/have to do when I should be going to sleep.

Pictured: ‘Lilian’ bed linen c/- Christy // mirrored bedside drawers // bed // West Elm lamp // F. Scott Fitzgerald books // Warby Parker glasses // Clarins candle (large) c/- // Diptyque candle (small) // John Derian glass dish. 

5 // Prioritise health + sleep

I confess this is the one I struggle with the most; when things are especially hectic and I’m trying to squeeze too many things into a day, making it to the gym and getting a good night’s sleep are often the first thing to go and I find myself having to scrape by on 4 hours sleep more than I care to admit. But no good ever comes from that, and it makes the following day feel unnecessarily like a struggle (and it’s so much harder to feel cheery when you’re sleep-deprived). While a full 8 hours’ sleep is not always possible, at least try to aim for the best quality sleep possible. Invest in the best quality mattress, pillows and bedding you can afford, ensure your bedroom is a sanctuary and take care of yourself as best you can.

6 // Schedule some festive downtime

While I love a jolly Christmas party, I also make sure to block out some time in my diary for some festive downtime, just as I would any other event. Whether it’s a Sunday at home wrapping presents and baking gingerbread, a festive afternoon tea with a girlfriend, or an evening spent snuggled indoors + watching favourite Christmas movies, it’s important to take time to slow down, go offline and enjoy the season rather than just rushing through the entire month.

7 // Seek out small pleasures often

I’m a firm believer in seeking out small pleasures that make you smile wherever possible. Wearing your favourite shoes just because it’s December; pausing to admire the Christmas decorations in town, the smell of hot chocolate, wrapping yourself in a fluffy robe fresh from the dryer, or finding a new favourite lipstick that makes you feel instantly more glamorous. It’s all about quality vs quantity (and not ‘saving’ your favourite things for a special occasion).

 

Pictured: ‘Lillian’ bed linen c/- Christy // Yawn pyjamas c/- // ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ book // copper tray // Anthropologie mug. 

How do you find a sense of calm and make time for yourself when your schedule is hectic? Please share your best suggestions in the comments below!

Love, Miss B xx

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This post is in partnership with Christy UK #DreamChristy

The Best Hostess Gifts: 30 Gifts for the Domestic Goddess

The Best Hostess Gifts for the Domestic GoddessPictured (clockwise from top left): marble serving platter // brass ‘hello’ ornament // monogrammed tumbler // copper tray // gold-rimmed glasses // cut glass cocktail mixing jug // gold fortune cookie // kitchen towel // brass apple candle // ‘perfection’ dish // large candle c/- // small candle // conversational side plates // gold cheese knives

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is nearly over, but here we are at the end of November already. Of course, with the arrival of December comes the wonderful festivities of the holiday season. My own diary is rapidly filling up with holiday parties and events galore (and we’ll be hosting a few events for friends and neighbours at our place, too).

I was always taught to never show up at someone’s home empty-handed, and whether I’m just staying for cocktails or the whole weekend, I always like to take a small but lovely gift for my hosts. While flowers or a bottle of wine are always excellent standbys, I personally like to put a little more thought into a token I know they’ll be able to enjoy long after the party is over (but which needn’t cost much more than that predictable bottle of wine).

Because everyone has different tastes when it comes to their home, it’s best to stick to items which will work no matter the recipient’s taste or decor. I find it hard to go wrong with some classic cut glass or brass, or a touch or marble or copper. And I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t be thrilled to unwrap a beautifully scented candle, for any occasion. So below, a few ideas for the perfect gift; whether it be a thoughtful gesture for the party host, or just a beautiful present for the glamorous homebody.

For the gracious hostess: a set of chic tea towels and an offer to help with the post-party cleanup, a bottle of the most luxurious hand wash, or a guide to every entertaining scenario for the modern-day hostess.

For the budding mixologist: a bar cart-worthy cocktail set, a pair of gold-rimmed champagne coupes, a cut-glass mixing jug, or a set of monogrammed tumblers.

For the passionate foodie: a handsome box of the very best chocolates, a gingerbread candle (which doubles as a cookie-cutter once finished), a pair of marble platters, or a wedge of French brie and a set of cheese knives.

For the glamorous homebody: a golden monogrammed mug and a tin of salted caramel hot chocolate, the ultimate guide to a stylish home, a whimsical lucky charm for the coffee table, or the most beautifully-scented candle.

Let the holidays commence!

P.S. Stay tuned for a few more gift guides in the next two weeks (and as always, let me know if there’s anything in particular you want to see on here). 

Love, Miss B xx

7 Things for the Weekend

a-girl-a-style-_-autumn-in-cambridge

Happy Friday! This week has been especially hectic, so I’m looking forward to some much-needed time away from my desk this weekend. We have family visiting from Australia, and are headed to Amsterdam for a long weekend away (I went earlier this year for a day for work and loved it so much I vowed to return in the autumn). I can’t wait to explore those gorgeous streets again! Let me know if you have any suggestions for things to see/do/eat in the city.

1. My friend Alex is visiting today and I’m SO excited to see her! We’re going to have lunch, go punting on the river, and wander around the colleges in all their autumnal glory. I adore this time of year but feel like the window for glorious autumn weather is so short, we have to play tourist in our own city while the weather is still lovely.

2. Come autumn, I’m all about that classic collegiate preppy look (I’m pretty sure I say the exact same thing every year, but I know what I like…), and this is exactly the skirt I’ve been searching for for years (it also comes in a cute mustard colour). I’m teaming it with a crisp white shirt and ballet pumps for now, and tan knee-high boots and a cashmere sweater once the weather gets cooler.

3. October’s arrival means it’s officially boot weather. It’s time to pack away your summer sandals and do a fall footwear stocktake. I was in need of a new pair of ankle boots (I live in them for autumn), so just bought this cute pair from Topshop until I’m ready to commit to the Rag & Bone version.

4. I’m a year-round bright lipstick lover, but lately I’ve been wearing a deep burgundy red on repeat. I added this one to my collection a few weeks ago and it’s so perfect for these crisp autumn days (the ‘Charlotte‘ shade is dark and glamorous without veering into gothic territory).

5. The days are suddenly getting rapidly shorter, and the resulting temptation to spend cosy evenings tucked at home has set in. The joy of getting home from work, lighting a candle (this is my current favourite), climbing into fresh pyjamas (I just bought this pair; they look like Kate Spade but are a total bargain) and curling up with a book (I just started this one) / Gilmore Girls marathon is real. Whatever your cosy pleasures are, embrace them guilt-free before the party season fatigue sets in!

6. For some reason, I hate using the word ‘Fiancé’. Even though I’m engaged, it feels somehow smug and pretentious; like I’m saying “I found a man, aren’t I clever?”. I always thought I was being slightly irrational, but the New York Times is here to tell me I’m not alone: the term is officially out of fashion.

7. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect weekend to switch over your seasonal wardrobe (sadly, the summer weather is now behind us). I’m still teaming many of my favourite summer dresses with ankle boots and a leather jacket or trench coat, but the rest gets packed away to make room for lovely new-season sweaters (these are my favourites), coats and cosy scarves.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Style: How I dress for a week in my double life (politics-meets-blogging and everything in between)
Travel: A weekend in Vienna
Style: On wardrobe staples + that back-to-school feeling

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx

 

7 Things for the Weekend

A Girl, A Style _ Brooklyn New YorkWearing: By Malene Birger dress (old, but similar style here) // Valentino bag // Karen Walker sunglasses // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (similar style here) // Dune sandals.

Hello lovelies! The past two weeks have absolutely flown by around here. I’ve been trying to make the most of the sunshine and have been cramming in as many hours outdoors as possible (hours spent reading in the park, having picnics, and weekend brunch outdoors with friends). This Sunday I’m so excited to be heading back to New York for a week! I’m actually going for a press trip with a few fellow bloggers to see Michael Buble (*faints with excitement*) and then I’ve extended my stay by a few days to catch up with my friends and just soak up the city. If you have any suggestions for great new cafes to try, your favourite things to do in the city, or how to score tickets to Hamilton, please leave me a comment below!

1. Is the weather going to be nice where you are? There’s only a month left of summer so make sure you get out and enjoy it. Last weekend y cousin came to stay and we got ice cream, lazed by the river, had a picnic and saw an excellent performance of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ in the Kings College Fellows’ garden at sunset. It was just perfect. If you’re in Cambridge in the next couple of weeks, try to get to one of the productions of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival (they perform a different play in each of the college gardens and it’s one of our very favourite annual summer traditions).

2. I have lots of beautiful perfumes, but when I wear this fragrance, I literally get stopped on the street to ask what I’m wearing. I’ve never been to the Mediterranean Riviera, but I imagine this is how summer holidays there must smell. I have a major thing for Aerin (both the woman and the brand), but this is by far my favourite from her perfume collection.

3. I had a bit of a pre-emptive packing panic ahead of New York this morning and ordered a couple of new summer dresses, including this cu-ute little white number. I’m really not ready to say goodbye to summer dressing just yet, and thankfully it’s meant to be scorching hot everyday that I’m there, so I only want to wear dresses that pack well and that I can just throw on with sandals, sunglasses and little more.

4. Filling my home with art and prints I love is proving to be a very slow process (mostly because it takes me forever to get around to framing everything), but I’m gradually getting there. I just added this marvellous print to my collection and can’t wait to hang it by my desk (I also love the ‘London‘ and ‘Paris‘ prints).

5. Lipstick is one of my ultimate treats, and I recently indulged in two of the new ‘Hot Lips’ collection by Charlotte Tilbury (the 60s pink Bosworth’s Beauty + the perfect nude Kim KW) and they’re just as good as the hype. So good in fact that I’m going to go back for the fuchsia Electric Poppy.

6. When I travel, I always try and take a book set in the same city as the one I’m visiting. I bought this book from Strand Books (one of my favourite bookstores in the world) when I was in New York last May, and was so enthralled I’d finished it by the time my return flight touched down at Heathrow. It was so good, I’ve just ordered the second book for this trip (and will pick up another New York-themed book while I’m out there).

7. Every September I get that ‘back to school’ feeling and become obsessed with organising everything; life admin, working through my absurdly bulging ‘to do’ lists, and getting back on track with my New Year’s resolutions. Although I put all my appointments in my phone calendar, I still love keeping a proper agenda for scribbling all my thoughts, ideas and daily lists. I’ve just ordered this 16 month 2016-17 Kate Spade version (my annual favourite), but I also love this striped version.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Life: On seeking (and finding) that summer mindset + how I’ve been having the best summer yet
Travel: A weekend spent exploring beautiful Brussels
Style: A technicolour rainbow on the amazing island of Burano, Venice
Style: Weekend brunch dates in Notting Hill + the perfect little white dress for summer

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx