Fun and fancy for free


They say the best things in life are free and I wholeheartedly agree (with the exception of buying dresses, of course). A person can’t live on dresses alone and nor should they try! Since wages aren’t what they should be and, anyway, Money Makes You Mean, here’s a list of shenanigans that won’t cost the earth (or even an island). Some of them cost nothing at all. Imagine that.


  • If you’ve got it, flaunt it: Use that gym membership that is totally neglected, delve deep into the recesses of Netflix, wiggle to your premium Spotify and enjoy your ad-free fantasy world (damn you). Read an entire book of poems that you haven’t picked up yet. Just an idea.
  • Stroke an ego: Maybe your own, but not necessarily. You could beat down a friend’s door with flowers and serenade them in a creepy Ginny Weasley’s cupid kind of way.
  • Deal with it: Crack out a pack of cards or a chessboard and make a move.
  • Booked up: Raid a library, whether a public one or a friend’s. Get stuck in. Reading can sometimes feel daunting if you’re out of the habit so start light – maybe don’t go straight for War & Peace… try one of the Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press, maybe. Or Mills and Boon.
  • Dirty Dancing: Learn an iconic dance routine. Become Kevin Bacon. Or leap into Jennifer Beals‘ dancing shoes.
  • Creative cooking: Dig out everything in your cupboards and create something from what’s in there. Things might get interesting…
  • Snuggle ‘n’ snacks: Is there anything better than a cosy cutch and some first-rate munchies. The correct response is no.
  • Water baby: Go for a muddy walk and splash in a puddle. Put a watering can out in the rain. Steam your face. Try watersports…
  • Found you: Grab some free magazines, chop them up and make found poems with the headlines (see main picture for ‘Here’s one I made earlier…).
  • Beauty queen: Go through your beauty supplies and spend some time experimenting. Try some basic nail art or play around with a shade of lipstick you never use. Try repurposing it as a blush stick. Try something a little different, or get ready for halloween… Youtube is your friend.






Travel Chic: How to stay glam on the road

Staying a style icon whilst travelling or going on holiday with limited luggage can be difficult. Maintaining a varied, kick-ass  wardrobe with just a few pieces is no mean feat when you’re on the road. When travelling, keeping comfortable is the main aim, along with making an entrance.

A few rules of thumb:

  • Want vs Need: Pack only what you need – don’t be over-stuffing and huffing and puffing at stations and getting your hair in a frizz. Unless you’re going to Mars, there will be shops if you get snagged tights or period panties.
  • Put a cape on it: Travelling is tiring so build a blanket into your outfit. Wear a cape/ wrap/ shawl or pashmina. Light enough for a megabus sauna and cosy enough for a chilly train ride.
  • Now, neutralise: Outerwear in neutral colours is great because it goes with everything. I tend to opt for my grey woolen blazer and matching beret.
  • Put on your dancing shoes: One pair is quite sufficient. Brogues are a good all-weather, walk around and smart option, although a reliable sandal is good for hotter climates.
  • Colour scheme: Take outfits that revolve around one or two colours to make accessorising easier.
  • Accessories for all occasions: You only need a couple of things – maybe one square scarf, one belt in black or tan and a hair flower in a match-all colour like white or cream.


Happy adventuring!

Living with eczema and anxiety

Baby, I was born this way. And, unlike a lot of people, I stayed this way, too. Eczema in babies and children is quite common, but it is thought that most people will grow out of acute or chronic eczema by the time they reach adulthood.

Apparently, my mother knew that I would be a scratcher because she was constantly itchy during her pregnancy. I’ve tried lots of lotions, potions and products since I was born with varying amounts of success. Prescription creams and bath oils made me feel greasy and dirty, but moisturising is the most important thing in managing the condition. Atopic dermatitis, as it is also known in the trade, is partially due to faster shedding skin, but also involves the skin reacting to allergens and other factors. Common allergens are dust and dairy. Eczema can often be exacerbated by over-washing or using perfumed products, or even hard water. But, one of my biggest triggers is stress – my skin is basically a big old drama queen. It likes to throw a hissy fit every time things are not going my way.

Living with eczema and anxiety side-by-side sometimes feels more like existing than living because it’s a non-stop cycle of stress causing flare-ups causing bad skin causing stress causing flare-ups and so on. It’s also an exhausting combination because both take their toll on self-confidence. Whilst anxiety is busy nibbling away at your brain telling you that you are ugly and worthless, eczema gives a helping hand by destroying your skin in a very visible way which gets reactions ranging from, ‘poor you’ to ‘is it contagious?’.

Here are a few ways I manage my eczema:

  • Nailed it: Keep your nails cut short and filed down to help keep damage to a minimum.
  • Move on: Don’t try and stick it out with a product that doesn’t do you any favours. It can be a total pain, especially if you’ve spent money on a new magic lotion and then it gives you hives.
  • Keep it clean: Wash sheets on a high temperature to kill any dusty-mitey-itchy stuff. Also, use unscented, non-bio, sensitive washing liquid or powder.
  • But not too clean: Over-washing and washing in water that is too hot can make the problem worse. Wash in warm, not scalding water and don’t sit in the bath for too long because that won’t do you any favours either.
  • Food diary: Keep a track on what you’re letting into your body – there might be some allergy issues making your skin act up. I’m a recent convert to soya milk.
  • Whatever you’re doing, stop it!: Stop scratching. Now. No, stop it. Seriously. Try patting, rubbing, gently slapping to stimulate your skin without drawing blood.
  • Take it easy: Keeping your stress levels down is key because it’s one hell of a climb back up from the bottom of that cycle.


Body and mind as one! Be gentle to both 🙂


Life is Lush (and vice versa)

Anyone who knows me, knows my deep love of Lush Cosmetics. I am a lover of all things Lush. What’s not to love? Their products are all natural, cruelty free, fantastically fragrant and have witty names. What more could an ezcema-prone, allergic-to-everything, literary lovin’ lady want in her hygiene routine?  (Rhetorical question: the answer is nothing)

Here are 10 of my favourite Lush products and why I think they are the bee’s knees:

  • Skindrink: A rich moisturiser that is perfect for winter when your skin needs a bit of extra TLC. Great for really dry skin, but the scent is an acquire taste. If your skin is very sensitive/ allergic, try Celestial – a little lighter and good in summer.
  • Angels on bare skin: My cleanser of choice. Gentle but gives a little scrub to feel that deep clean. A little bit faffy to use at first, but you’ll soon be a pro paste-maker.
  • Soft coeur: This smells amazing, like honey and chocolate and everything beautiful. Although it’s primary use is as a massage bar, I also use it as perfume and I keep one in my underwear drawer, too. Winter aches and pains call for Wiccy Magic Muscles, with its cinnamon and peppermint cosy smell.
  • Vanilla puff: My favourite of the dusting powders that must have been discontinued (WHY?!). Also good is Silky underwear. As well as on my body, I like to sprinkle these  magic fairy dusts in my shoes to keep them smelling fresh and in my bed-sheets so I wake fresh as a vanilla pod.
  • Honey trap: Lip care at its most luxurious. Nourishing without being sticky, pretending not to be food but clearly smelling good enough to eat and contains chocolate. Winner on all counts.
  • VanillarySo good they named it unoriginal-ly. One of the Lush Gorilla perfumes. Karma is my other favourite, perhaps for a clandestine rendezvous. Vanillary is my everyday, never-leaves-my-side-kind-of-vibe. I like it in solid form.
  • Jackie OatesColour supplement for all over coverage. Sensitive skin friendly and lovely mixed to make a tinted moisturiser. Makes you feel as fresh as an English Rose.
  • Feeling youngerUse this as a highlighter/ primer/ eye-brightener. If you’re feeling a little bit 90s, maybe get a shimmer on your shimmy shoulders for a Big Night Out.
  • Creamy Candy: Bubblegum baths for all! Chuck a few crumbs in your washing, too, for a scent kick on a sad day.
  • Fantasy: Bright gold eyeliner to blow a few minds. It’s big and bold and it’s not going anywhere.


Not only are the products at Lush incredible, but the staff are always gorgeous, friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about finding the best product for you.

A few final tips and tricks:

  • Try me: Ask for samples and make sure you find your one.
  • Open-ended: Lots of Lush’s cosmetics are multi-purpose, so think about other ways you can use your new toy. Ultrabland is a good all-rounder to have – it serves as a make-up remover, cleanser, barrier to henna/ dye, general smoother of chapped skin.
  • What’s in this?: Don’t be squeamish about asking about ingredients – it might help you to identify any allergens or scents that don’t make you feel like a unicorn which, let’s be real, is the aim of the game. Plus, if one product really works for you, you and your Lushie guide will be able to find other products that will also make good things happen.


Happy hygiene routine!


How to shop vintage: tips and tricks


Dressing in a particular style should be fun; it is an extension of yourself. The 40s/ 50s vibe that I love is a confidence boost and something that I enjoy. When I shop, I try to remember these rules of thumb to find fantastic retro pieces:


  • Charity shops: Always my number one port of call. Can’t be beaten for price and you’re doing a good turn by someone else, too. Win-win.


  • Money talks: On that note, visit the charity shops in affluent areas of your city – that’s where you will find more high-quality pieces.


  • My size: Ignore sizes when shopping vintage; anything can be belted, slouched, reworked into something unique and wonderful.


  • Try me: always, always, always check and double check with vintage. Try everything on and check it out from all angles.


  • Quality: Find a really good vintage shop in your area that excels in customer service and hand-picked gems. It’s worth a bit of an extra journey to find that one bobby-dazzler.


  • Pick your battles: You can’t always wear 50’s ballgowns, but when you can, splash out a little for something incredible.


  • Beg, borrow, steal: Ply your family with chocolate/ alcohol/ favours and raid their wardrobes. Your mother definitely has an 80s skirt suit in there somewhere. Also, try freecycle.


  • Vintage Fairs: Currently all the rage and rightly so. Time-travel and snap up lovely tidbits – what’s not to love? Look out for Lulu’s vintage fairs across the UK.


  • An outlet: Try outlet stores or designer warehouse-type-places that have discounted designer clothes.


  • It’s all in the audience: Look in shops intended for an older clientele, like BHS, for example. They will often have items with a more vintage feel. And comfier shoes.


  • On-the-line: For accessories Etsy is a good shout. Ebay has some good stuff, too!


And, last but not least, don’t be shy! Be yourself!