Top Trends for Spring/Summer 2016

It’s finally that time of the year when shorts, sundresses, and sandals can once again be pulled out of storage (or bought anew from that favourite shop) for the season. And now that spring fashion is in full swing, why not start looking ahead to the styles that perfectly reflect the balmy, sun-washed days of summer? From laid-back designs to feminine details and everything in between, the season’s offerings ensure that there is something for every taste. Seamlessly take your wardrobe from spring into summer by incorporating these top trends into your warm-weather rotation.

Pajama-Inspired Pieces

It may be true that wearing underwear as outerwear is nothing new (hello, corset trend), but this season, silky pajama-inspired separates are topping the trends as an elegant way to rock boudoir fashion. And though the slip dress has certainly become the go-to option for adding a slinky style to your arsenal, there are a variety of other pieces to consider as well. Bustle lists everything from silky tap shorts and lace-trimmed rompers to satin pajama blouses and camis as more unexpected, but just as seductive, lingerie-inspired separates. For a subtler take on the trend, pair a floor-grazing kimono with ankle boots for a sultry daytime look.

1. slip dress lyst

The Flat Mule

The chunky mule had its moment in the fashion spotlight, but now it’s time for an updated version of the classic shoe to take center stage. According to Style Caster, fashion lovers are opting for a more lo-fi take on the shoe for the spring/summer season, with flat mules in leopard print, flashy metallics, and classic leather making the rounds. A dressier alternative to a shoe you might wear poolside, the flat mule is versatile enough (not to mention comfortable enough) to be paired with anything from denim cutoffs while running errands to a mini dress on date night. As seen in Lyst’s extensive collection of options, there’s a flat mule out there for everyone, whether you love the bold finish of a print or the chic simplicity of a neutral.

2. flat mule lyst

Ruffled Accents

If just hearing the word “ruffles” brings to mind your grandmother’s matronly frock or the less-than-flattering bridesmaid’s dress you were made to wear in your friend’s wedding two summers ago, it’s time to give this particular accent another try. This season’s ruffled pieces are decidedly fresh thanks to cascading silhouettes, unconventional fabrics, and asymmetrical hems (see designers such as Balmain, Chanel, and Jason Wu for further proof). While the demure detail still retains its signature feminine flair, this trend takes on a modern, minimalist vibe when styled with vintage denim and of-the-moment mules.

3. ruffles lyst

The Tassel Earring

The fringe trend has officially broadened to encompass the jewelry world this season by way of the fun, flirty tassel earring. Swingy and statement-making, these earrings come in all shapes, colours, and sizes. Adorn your lobes with a technicolour pair that pops against a neutral ensemble or opt for smaller chandeliers in a solid hue for a more versatile approach to the tassel trend. Brit + Co even named the tassel earring summer 2016’s accoutrement of choice. And really, with styles ranging from sleek, silvery drops to bold and bright ear jackets, who could argue with that?

4. tassel earrings lyst

*This is a collaborative post

A trip to Los Angeles

At the end of our stay in California we tagged on an extra 10 days as a holiday. I know it probably sounds like we were already on holiday but Nick had been working really hard and we definitely needed the break. Granted, driving 8 hours down the coast with a toddler in the car isn’t the most relaxing way to spend a holiday but Nick had been banging on about going back to LA from the moment we returned home from there in 2010. Being a food writer, LA is obviously the place that gets talked about the most. It always has the newest, most innovative restaurants and most trends seem to stem from whatever is happening there. So, it was only natural that our entire trip was based mainly around where we were going to eat! (No changes there!)

Our first stop was a place called Ohana Poke Co on Sunset to try a poke bowl, which are all the rage right now and I can’t seem to open a website without a mention of one recently. And rightly so. It was light, fresh and totally delicious. Just what you want in the beating heat of a bustling city (or a nice beach in Hawaii I’d imagine!)

Ohana Poke Co Los Angeles

After that, we went straight to Grand Central Market, which is a little bit like Borough Market in London and is the home to the famed Egg Slut, whose line was by far the longest! The cool thing about Grand Central Market is that there are tables scattered around all over the place so you could go with a bunch of friends, all buy something from a different vendor but still all sit together at the same table without having to feel awkward about it. Not only that but it’s a photographer’s dream, with all it’s neon signs, cool hipsters and Instagram-worthy food porn shots waiting to be taken. (Sadly not for me though as mine are all blurry!)

Now totally full of food we drove to Griffith Observatory which is somewhere that we didn’t make it to on our last trip to Los Angeles because we were stupid enough to ditch our hire car! Personally, I think the trip to LA is worth it just for this. Not only are the views from the observatory arguably the best in the city, there are tons of awesome hikes you can do from there all while being watched over by the Hollywood sign. Add to that the fact that when the observatory is open it’s totally FREE. It’s a beautiful building to wander around and has some fascinating displays inside.

Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory

Hux at Hollywood Sign

After that, yep, you guessed it, more food. This time at Guisados, a Mexican place that Nick really loved. I wasn’t quite so sold on it but I think that’s because we ordered a mixed platter so I had no way of knowing what was going to be spicy and what wasn’t and that along with being pregnant and nauseous meant that I didn’t have the best time there.

As I’m writing this I can’t quite believe we did this all in one day but after that we went to Echo Park. Rather than staying at a grotty motel on the side of a freeway, we were staying in an awesome Airbnb in Silverlake. This meant that we were much closer to all the cool restaurants and our stay had a really lovely ‘neighbourhood’ feel to it. Our Airbnb hosts were amazing and I’d highly recommend their place to anyone looking to stay a few nights. The view of Downtown from the shower is unreal! Anyway, I digress! So, we went to Echo Park and it was golden hour and the light was dreamy and the air was warm and it was just so perfect. I actually spotted mega bloggers Evelina & Racquel Natasha snapping outfit photos a few meters away as we watched the turtles swimming in the lake! They are both SO BEAUTIFUL. Echo Park is another must-see when visiting LA for me, especially if you have kids.

Echo Park, Los Angeles

Echo Park at Sunset

The following day we got up nice and early and made our way to what is quite possibly the hottest brunch spot on the planet right now, Sqirl. We were a bit anxious as it’s notorious for having queues around the block no matter what time you arrive so we were pleasantly surprised to find no more than 4 people stood in front of us when we got there! I have to admit that a lot of the time I’m not that adventurous when it comes to food and it’s usually Nick forcing me to try stuff, and with also being pregnant, all I really wanted was a fry-up. But Sqirl is definitely NOT that kind of place. They are credited with being the ones who made #avotoast what it is today. They serve theirs with hot pickled carrots, garlic creme fraiche, sorrel and za’atar. See what I mean? Not your ordinary breakfast offering! So, I did initially turn my nose up at a lot of the menu offerings as some of them sounded truly bizarre. I played it safe and chose the quiche (which was probably the best quiche I’ve ever eaten alongside Tartine in San Francisco & Big Sur Bakery) and a side order of bacon (which was also out of this world) and Nick ordered their famed crispy rice salad. We added an order of ricotta on toast at the last minute after seeing someone tucking into it at the table and I can honestly say that was the best decision we made that day. It was truly life changing. You wouldn’t think that ricotta and toast would work. But trust me, it REALLY DOES. I also had a homemade rhubarb lemonade that was insanely scrummy. Seriously, if I could eat there everyday for the rest of my life I’d be a very happy lady.

Famed ricotta toast at Sqirl LA

We’d planned to spend the rest of the day at the beach and playing in the sea. Unfortunately for us, the weather had other ideas. It was beautiful and warm and sunny in Los Angeles, until you got to Santa Monica. I’m not even kidding. It was literally just the beach that was shrouded in fog. You could see the clear-cut line where the cloud ended and the rest of the sunny city stretched away from the ocean. Being British, we of course soldiered on and settled down on Venice Beach despite not being able to see more than a metre in front of us. To be honest, once I laid down on the sand, it was actually gloriously warm and I could easily have fallen asleep there.

Fog at Venice Beach

After about an hour, we decided that we wanted the sunshine back so we parked up outside a Starbucks to use the free wifi like total tourists as our mobile phone credit had run out and Googled ‘water parks’. Unfortunately, due to it being only April, most of them were still closed but then Google threw up a lovely looking little park called Coldwater Canyon Park nestled in the middle of the mansions of Beverly Hills. It was amazing. There was a beautiful little manmade creek running the length of the grass which Huxley happily played in for hours. It was nice and shady and there were toilets and a regular play park right next door. And you could ogle all the incredible houses and keep your eye out for superstars at the same time. Dream!

Coldwater Canyon Park, Beverly Hills

After that we decided to return to Griffith Observatory to watch the sunset. It was crazy busy but totally worth every second. The sky turned a million different colours in the space of about an hour and it was great fun watching all the lights gradually switch on and it felt like the city came to life beneath you. They had the huge telescope open so you could get a look at Jupiter but the queue was quite long and Huxley was already getting a bit grouchy at this point so instead I queued up outside one of the smaller telescopes on the front lawn and got a glimpse of a teeny tiny ball of light. It was awesome.

Griffith Observatory sunset

Griffith Observatory sunset los angeles

 

If you’d like to see a more detailed account of what we got up to in Los Angeles then you can watch my vlog here.

 

 

Considering a Greek Island holiday

Now that I’m pregnant again it’s unlikely that we’ll be going on a big exotic long-haul holiday any time soon and I won’t be able to fly after 28 weeks, which will be around August-time so we were thinking of squeezing in a quick, relaxing getaway somewhere hot and pretty. Top of our list right now is one of the many, stunning Greek islands. (I had no idea that there were 227 of them!!!)

Although ‘relaxing’ is probably a bit of a stretch when you’re taking a 2-year-old along, we’re hoping that all the splashing around in the pool all day will wear Huxley out enough that he sleeps like a log when night falls. The prospect of not having to stress out about meals and cooking on top of this has definitely made us consider the joy that is all-inclusive holidays* which will be a totally new experience for both of us.

Crete is probably the most obvious destination when talking about a package holiday for a young family being the biggest and most touristy island, however it’s also said to boast the best food which I know will definitely pique Nick’s interest. I love the sound of the pink-sand beaches and Samaria Gorge looks so beautiful.

Crete

Santorini is obviously up there on everyone’s bucket list as it’s so insanely photogenic  – I mean, think of the Instagram shots, right?!? However, I’m not sure how child-friendly it is and I’m worried that it will just be a bunch of honeymooners and older couples whose kids have left home and Hux won’t have a whole lot to do.

Santorini

To be honest, the island that has captured my imagination the most from the pictures I’ve seen online is actually Zante. I never in a million years thought I’d be saying that as I know it’s notorious for it’s massive clubbing areas, in fact, my sister went when she was a teenager and had a typical Brits-abroad getting smashed type holiday there. But apparently, in a similar way to Ibiza, if you avoid the touristy areas, you’ll be rewarded with forest-covered mountains and insane turquoise seas with no noisy nightclubs ruining it all. (Also, it’s real name is Zakynthos – who knew!?)

zakynthos

So, who knows where we’ll end up! Have you visited any Greek islands before? Have you got any advice or tips about where we should go or what we should avoid?

 

 

Baby #2!

So, this is the reason some of my America vlogs were a little strange! If you’ve been watching them, you may have noticed that I started off the trip super upbeat, going on hikes and walking lots of places and then I gradually turned into a hermit who barely left the house and complained about feeling sick a lot – well this is why!

13 weeks pregnant

I’m currently 13 weeks pregnant and so far, this pregnancy has been quite different to my first one. When I was pregnant with Huxley I didn’t get any symptoms at all. This time round, I’ve had far more symptoms but I think I’ve still had it pretty easy compared with some women. I felt pretty nauseous all day every day from about week 6 – week 12 but was never actually sick. I can’t work out if I was less tired this time around or whether I just had less opportunity to realise I felt tired due to running around after a toddler all the time. I definitely had worse cravings this time around and my sense of smell and the nausea made me super fussy.

Since I’ve been home and passed the 12 week mark, the nausea has definitely worn off  but I am ravenous ALL THE TIME. I literally eat about 7 meals a day. I am getting a bit more frustrated this time round now though because I get so worn out even just walking down the road and for someone who is often left without a car and an energetic toddler to entertain, it’s not great! I’ve just taken on a new social media client though so we’re thinking about putting Huxley in nursery for another morning a week which should make things a little easier.

I was thinking I look much bigger this time around but actually I’ve just looked back at my 12-week bump pictures from last time and it’s probably about the same!

In terms of care, I’m being consultant-led this time rather than just seeing a midwife because of what happened when Huxley was born with him being in intensive care for a week. I never really went in to detail about that on my blog because it was too difficult for me but he was basically losing oxygen and I ended up having an emergency c-section which was all fine but the next day we noticed he was twitching a bit funny so we called the nurse in and they whisked him off to intensive care (NICU) and put him in a little plastic box with lots of tubes poking out of him as he was having seizures. The next few days were pretty intense as you can imagine and he had various blood tests and an MRI scan. Luckily, he had no further seizures and they decided he was okay and we’d just have to keep an eye on his development as he got older. The trouble is, because he’d been trapped indoors for a 4 days, he then had jaundice and on top of this, they have to test him for every other possible illness going while he’s in there and unfortunately his results were sent off on a Friday which meant we got stuck in there over the weekend and everything got delayed. It was all very stressful and meant that most of my family couldn’t touch Huxley or cuddle him the first time they met him which was quite upsetting. Anyway, you can read my birth story here if you’re into that kind of thing.

So, I’m being consultant-led anyway, but we got the blood results back for the Down Syndrome screening the other day and my PAPP-A levels are low (I don’t even know what that is) but apparently it means that the baby is growing small so I would have to be consultant-led for that anyway and it means I’ll have to have more scans than usual to check the growth.

Anyway, I’m literally going to have to go now because I’m so hungry that I feel sick, despite having just eaten a bowl of cornflakes and a gingerbread man.

But yay! It’s due on 3rd November and we’ll be finding out the sex at our 20 week scan which will be in June sometime.

A day at Muir Woods National Monument

A few weeks ago we went to Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a national monument (which is slightly different to a national park but don’t ask me why!). It’s just outside San Francisco and is totally beautiful. It’s basically a huge forest full of enormous redwood trees. I’m not sure why we’ve never been before as it’s super close to the city but it’s just something we hadn’t got around to.

Muir Woods National Monument Entrance

Anyway, we turned up one Saturday, about mid-morning to find a nice long queue into the car park – it was the first sunny Saturday in about 4 weeks so we should have known it was going to be busy! After some sneaky parking manoeuvres we were off and ready to go. Our visit also coincided with their Junior Ranger Day which was cool because it meant Huxley got some stickers and an activity pack to fill in as we were walking around. They let us in the front gate with his little bike but we found out later that they’re not allowed in (neither are pushchairs – so bear that in mind if visiting with a baby/toddler). I actually felt rather awkward pushing his bike around as there are tons of signs about keeping quiet and his bike can be pretty noisy so we ended up carrying it anyway just to try and not disturb the peace!

Muir Woods California

Nick & I both had mixed opinions about Muir Woods. It’s obviously very beautiful but due to it being a national monument and so close to a major city, it’s also VERY busy (it’s the most visited national monument in America). I’ve just read on Wikipedia that in 2017 they are introducing a reservation system to limit the number of cars able to enter every day so that’s something else to bear in mind if you plan on visiting next year. We thought the traffic was bad when we arrived mid-morning but it was nothing compared to the insane queues we saw about 3pm when we were leaving. Add to this the entrance fee of $10 per adult too and we really started to question whether it was worth it. We’ve been to other places further down the coast in Big Sur (and I’m sure there’s more further north too) where you can see redwoods for free. We’ve just parked the car up at a random location and gone on a mini-hike in the woods and it’s been just as beautiful – and I’d go so far as to say nicer as there aren’t a million other people there.

Muir Woods Redwood Trees California

We had a really lovely time at Muir Woods but I don’t think we’ll go back. It’s not super breathtaking like Yosemite is and I think there’s better places to see redwoods but if you’re on a whistle-stop visit of San Francisco then it might be worth adding to the list if you’ve never experienced anything like this before.

Muir Woods National Monument

Nick & Hux

Nick & Hux at Muir Woods

Me & Hux at Muir Woods

Family photo at Muir Woods

Junior Park Ranger Day at Muir Woods California

Renovating a house

One of the things that I’ve thought about a lot while I’ve been in California is how much we’ve achieved in the past year. Facebook keeps sending me those reminders of what I was doing this time last year and seeing all the photos of our house renovation pop up really brings it all home to me how crazy the past 12 months have been. If you’d have told me 12 months ago that today I’d be sitting in California and our house would be nearly completely finished, there’s no way I’d have believed you. We were living at Nick’s parents, Nick was waking up at 6am to drive to the house to get a couple of hours work done before driving an hour to work all day as a food judge, having to do his copywriting work in his lunch break before driving an hour home and working until 10pm at night on the house before driving back to his parents and flopping into bed completely exhausted. This went on for the best part of 4 months. Then he broke his leg. (Luckily most of the house was finished by that point!)

bedroom1

I know it’s easy to make stuff like this look like no big deal on blogs and social media but I just wanted to write a post about what real hard work it’s been. Nick & I did 80% of the work ourselves (and I’ll be honest, 90% of that was just Nick). We knew that in order to maximise our return on investment, we needed to be doing the work ourselves. We didn’t hire a £250-a-day skip, we drove to the local tip several times a day or dug several enormous holes in our back garden and buried the rubble – which is completely backbreaking. We didn’t hire a decorator or a painter, we only had skilled tradesmen in for things that were completely essential. The only ‘luxury’ was having a tiler as Nick had made a bit of a mess in our last home so I put my foot down on that one!

bathroom 1

1. It will take longer than you expect

Everything you plan to do is guaranteed to take longer than you expect or allow for. Even if you get tradesmen in to do the job, there always will be delays, whether it’s people just deciding not to turn up for the day without letting you know, or delays with supplies being ordered and delivered or  in getting the building inspector to come and sign off the work before you can do the next bit, everything will take longer than you want it to. Try not to stress out too much. Most of the time it’s out of your hands. Go and have a cup of tea and appreciate the rest.

kitchen1

2. It will cost more than you expect

Yep. There’s a whole ton of stuff that we didn’t budget for that soon adds up. We were quite accurate with our estimates for the big stuff like plasterboard and paint but all the little things like nails, screws and paint rollers that cost £5-£10 each time means the costs quickly mount up. That’s without factoring in the furniture that you didn’t realise wouldn’t fit up the stairs (hello new bed*!)

kitchen3

3. Things will go wrong

Countless things went wrong during the renovation process. Nick sliced his hand open rather badly on a porcelain toilet that he was smashing out, Nick’s dad hurt his hand while he was knocking down a wall for us, my dad did his back in while he was helping to strip wallpaper and that’s without mentioning the physical things that went wrong with the house! You’re bound to measure something wrong at some point or drill a hole in the wrong place or drag a bucket along a freshly painted wall (yes these all happened) but don’t sweat, most things can be fixed quite easily – as long as you don’t nearly electrocute yourself on a random wire poking out the kitchen wall that the electrician assured you was dead!

garden1

4. Nobody around you will quite understand your exhaustion

Unless they’ve been through it themselves, nobody else will quite understand the extreme exhaustion you’re going through. The constant calculation of measurements for huge, really expensive items and worry that you’ve given the correct figures mixed with the hard manual labour is truly exhausting (& that’s before you add a toddler into the mix). Trust me, it’s nothing on a newborn baby.

kitchen2

Obviously, here we are a year later and I can honestly say it was totally worth it. I love our house so much. But this kind of project isn’t for the faint-hearted!

You can see the finished rooms at the links below (we still haven’t got much art on the walls though, I think it will always be a work in progress!)

Kitchen | Bathroom | Bedroom | Lounge | (I haven’t actually done an office one yet!)

*This post is in collaboration with Oak Furniture UK as part of their DIY Disasters campaign

Life in California

Oh my goodness I am SO behind on all of this! To be honest, I haven’t been taking a lot of photos the past 2 weeks as it’s been raining for 12 days straight. Thankfully that’s over now and it’s back to glorious sunshine and wonderfully warm.

So I’m afraid there isn’t any real structure to this post, it’s basically just a photo-dump of all the nice things we’ve been doing recently. Our weeks have been filled with trips to the park, hiking in the hills and visiting San Francisco zoo.

Our first hike was back when we were still staying in Sonoma. We decided to do the Sonoma Overlook Trail which is a 3-mile round-trip and has stunning views over Sonoma and the valley – and San Francisco – which nobody had told me about so it was a very nice surprise! Huxley was amazing and walked nearly the whole way up. He loved spotting all the different animals we saw along the way. On the way down we even spotted some deer that got really close to us! He fell asleep shortly after that, bless him!

View of Napa Valley from Skyline Wilderness Park

View of Sonoma from Sonoma Overlook Trail

Huxley hiking

Sleepy-sausage

Our favourite park to visit right now is Crane Park in St Helena, it’s so beautiful and always full of kids. We stayed there for 5 whole hours one day! St Helena is a bit further up Napa Valley and it’s just incredible.

St Helena Napa Valley California

Crane Park St Helena Napa Valley California

Napa Valley California

We had dinner at In’n’Out Burger a few weeks ago. I’ll probably get things thrown at me for saying this but I really don’t rate it. The burgers are okay but not that different from McDonalds but the real killer for me are the fries. They taste powdery and dry and are so vile I could barely stomach them. But Huxley had fun with the dinosaur stickers and little hat that they gave him so it was worth it just for that.

In-n-Out burger California

In-n-Out burger Huxley

We visited San Francisco zoo a few weeks ago after Huxley had been going on and on and on about seeing some animals. We all thought it was amazing and were very impressed. The whole place is so green. There are trees everywhere. Huxley loved seeing the lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, zebras and penguins – the only thing missing was an elephant but there’s one at Oakland Zoo which we might visit soon. Huxley could have stayed and watched the hippo all day I think. All he wanted was to see the hippo do a poo and all I can say is that the hippo delivered! I’ve never seen someone so excited about some poop! They also had a little farmyard area where you could buy food to feed the goats and brush their hair.

Feeding goats at San Francisco zoo

Brushing a goat at San Francisco zoo

Zebras at San Francisco Zoo

Chocolate-ice-cream

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

View of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

 

 

What to wear on holiday in Mallorca

Mallorca is such an ideal holiday destination for so many people and it’s not hard to see why. Beaches, sunshine, culture, good food, the list of reasons to visit is endless. Not to mention that you can fly there from most local airports, without having to lug all your stuff to a major city airport. The lucky people of Mallorca see over 300 days of sunshine a year and the average temperature is 21 degrees – so what are you waiting for? Book Mallorca* today!

With this in mind, I’ve put together some outfits for some of the most popular Mallorca activities.

I thought I’d kick things off with ‘Lunch at the local food market’…

 

Lunch at the food market in Mallorca

Bag: Blank | Dress: Toast | Denim jacket: New Look | Sandals: Billabong (similar) | Necklace: Aurelie Bidermann

There’s a huge food market in Mallorca called Olivar Market (or Mercat de l’Olivar) where you can browse stands for all types of delicious wares and once you start to tire, take a rest and grab a bite to eat at one of the tapas bars. This casual pastel outfit is perfect for perusing fruit and veg and blending in with the locals.

Climbing mountains in Mallorca

 

Sports bra: Nike | Tank top: Nike | Leggings: Adidas Originals | Trainers: Nike | Hat: Roxy | Bottle: Camelbak

In 2011, Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana was granted UNESCO World Heritage status for being an area of great physical and cultural significance. The Puig Major is the highest mountain in the Balearic Islands and is well worth checking out. The trails are made up of stone pathways and are well marked so you’re unlikely to get lost and offer spectacular views over the ocean. And while you’re at it, why not do it in style? Check out those Adidas leggings – aren’t they dreamy? Also, I am the proud owner of one of those Camelbak bottles, in fact, Nick & Huxley do too, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

 

Exploring cathedrals in Mallorca

 

Bag: Rag & Bone | Blouse: Mango | Lipstick: Nars | Trousers: Etro | Bow: H&M | Shoes: Gianvito Rossi 

Palma is home to the La Seu cathedral which was built on the site of a former mosque. Construction started in 1230 and continued for a jaw-dropping 400 years. It’s easy to read facts like that and just skim over them thinking ‘hmm that’s interesting’, but seriously, FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. That’s insane. And it’s huge. The nave (central part) is 44m tall (Notre Dame in Paris is 33m). As far as I’m concerned, those 400 years were time well spent as it’s totally beautiful and this outfit would be perfect for walking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies.

At the beach in Mallorca

 

Bag: Accessorize | Sandals: M&Co | Suncream: Nivea | Swimsuit: Topshop | Sunglasses: RayBan | Hat: Eugenia Kim | Kaftan: Melissa Odabash

And last but not least, the pinnacle of any Mallorca holiday – the beach outfit! How amazing is that swimsuit! I love when you find great looking high street pieces. And don’t even get me started on that hat! How cute! I spotted Rosie Londoner wearing it in one of her blog posts recently and fell head over heels. It’s a bit pricey for my little purse though!

*This is a collaborative blog post

A day at Lake Tahoe

Our first weekend here was a Bank Holiday, President’s Day to be exact, which celebrates George Washington’s birthday, and we decided to spend our time visiting Lake Tahoe. It’s somewhere we’ve both always wanted to go but on our previous visits to California, Big Sur, Yosemite and Napa had won out.

It’s about a 3 hour drive to Tahoe from Sonoma, which in American terms is considered ‘just down the road’. We had fun pointing out all the big chain restaurants we could spot on the side of the freeway and I was really surprised at how quickly the huge snowy mountains came into view on the horizon. The fun really started when we pulled off the freeway and started up the winding mountain roads. I definitely squealed like an excited child at the first sight of snow.

We’d been tipped off by a friend to take the scenic route past Donner Lake for some spectacular views and I’m so glad we did. Check this out….

Donner Lake California

Donner Lake near Lake Tahoe California

After a quick photo pit-stop we continued on to Lake Tahoe itself, which is about 30 minutes further. We drove past loads of places doing tubing (which is sliding down the snow in a massive inflatable rubber ring) and it looked SO MUCH FUN. I was absolutely desperate to do it with Huxley but we decided to see the lake first and go on the way back (unfortunately we had far too much fun at the lake and Huxley fell asleep in the car so I never got a chance to do it! Boo!)

We decided to drive around the North side of Lake Tahoe on this visit, which I think is a lot quieter than the South end. To be honest, I was totally surprised at how uncommercialised it seemed. I was expecting massive Nike stores and McDonalds all over the place but it all seemed to be independent ski shops and mom-n-pop restaurants which was really nice. We did take a quick dip into the massive resort of Northstar, which is where the Ritz-Carlton is and it was a totally different vibe. It was insane. Everyone looked like they were DRIPPING in money. It was so swanky. Northstar’s slogan is something like ‘the way it should be’ and I have to say I probably agree. We actually didn’t end up venturing in as parking was crazy.

Anyway, our first stop in Lake Tahoe was King’s Beach which was a little dull. We had a quick explore of the beach and then decided to hop back in the car and drive round a bit further. I hadn’t actually realised that Lake Tahoe was split almost down the middle between California and Nevada until we drove over the state line. The difference was clear almost immediately. The Nevada side of the lake was much less built-up. I think the next bit we stopped at was Sand Harbor. It was totally beautiful. The water is crystal clear. Everything was so blue and it was like being in a dream.

Being February, there was snow on the beach which Huxley really enjoyed but it was sunny enough to be pleasantly warm. We threw snowballs at each other, explored all the nooks and crannies of the rocks and built a snowman on the beach (whose head Huxley proceeded to eat!).

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe Nevada

Lake Tahoe Nevada February

Lake Tahoe in February

Huxley at Lake Tahoe

Making a snowman on the beach at Lake Tahoe in February

All in all it was an amazing day and a trip that I would definitely recommend to anyone. We’re desperate to go back and try out some of the fun activities on offer and I know Nick can’t wait to get himself back on a snowboard again. California really does have it all!

How to decorate your house like a pro

It can be difficult in this age of cookie-cutter interiors, where everyone’s home looks like it jumped straight out of the Next catalogue, to put a unique spin on the finishing touches in your home. BUT! I’m about to help you remedy that with the help of a glorious website called Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Goods recently contacted me to ask if I would put a post together for them and I jumped at the chance after getting lost in their website for several hours. (Seriously though, you have been warned!)

There is WAY TOO MUCH cool stuff for me to showcase all of it here but I hope you’ll check out their website and have browse around for yourselves. And before you start feeling guilty about clicking and shopping, you should probably know that Uncommon Goods have a Robin Hood twist. The lowest-paid worker at Uncommon Goods earns 50% above minimum wage, over a third of their collection contains recycled materials and support four different not-for-profit organisations including Women for Women International and American Forests. So there, now you can shop with purpose and no guilt whatsoever. You can thank me later.

This map was one of the first things that caught my eye when I scrolled through their selection of art work. Then I noticed it was made by the amazing children’s author, Oliver Jeffers, a firm favourite in our household. And of course it’s of America. I’m starting to wonder if there’s too many map and/or America related pieces of art in our house now? (Although saying that, this series of prints by Carolyn Gavin has taken my fancy too…)

oliver jeffers places in america map uncommon goodsERMAHGERD I need this hammock chair in my life immediately. Once we get our back garden sorted out, Nick is planning on building a decking area so there’s more room to sit people, but mainly because he wants to fit his smoker on it. I’m wondering if I can convince him to construct some sort of device so that I can hang this somewhere. It’s literally my life-long dream to have a hammock. Check out the rest of their unique furniture here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/home-garden/furniture

do good hanging chair hammock uncommon goodsI practically squealed with delight when I saw this living wall planter. I know that you can grow plants vertically, and I’ve seen several ‘living walls’ around and about but it had never occurred to me that you could make a teeny weeny version to have in your home. I love love love this idea for the bathroom or even the kitchen, but really, anywhere you can squeeze an extra bit of living green stuff into your house the better! For me, the home decor section is the area that Uncommon Goods really excels at. There’s tons of quirky bits and pieces that you definitely won’t find anywhere else.

succulent living wall planter kit uncommon goods

I love the colourful, playful illustrations on these cushions. I was never really into personalised stuff growing up because my name is Emma and there were like 3 other Emma’s in my year at school so it never felt special or exciting to see my name written on stuff. However, now we’ve got a little Huxley and you can’t find his name on ANYTHING, I’ve definitely become more interested in things that can be personalised. Hux would love these cushions but I’d have a hard time deciding whether to get the bear one or the elephant one. There’s tons of great wedding gift ideas on the website too.

personalised story book pillow uncommon goodsSo there you have it. Another website for you to lose yourself in for a few hours. Let me know what you love on the Uncommon Goods website!