Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Using Sunglasses As My Shield




SUNGLASSES - ZEROUV* // JACKET - MISSGUIDED (similar here) // JEANS - ASOS // SHOES - NEW LOOK

I'm insecure about a lot of things: how big my thighs are, how short I am, how much I slouch without realising. Sometimes, I get so upset about my insecurities, that I'd rather stay inside than go out.

You might be thinking, 'well, hold on, you're a blogger. If you're so insecure, why do you post photos of yourself on your blog?'

I can easily answer that. Posing for a photo is not the same as being yourself in public. Images are composed, carefully constructed, shot and then re-shot until the perfect picture comes to life. It's the other bit that I'm afraid of. Being myself.

I know I get judged. I was once going up an escalator in a shopping centre when I heard a girl behind me say to her friend, 'oh my God, she should not be wearing that skirt'. It hurts, and so logically I feel more comfortable when I'm in my own home by myself without anyone to judge me.

But I can't live like that forever. It's antisocial, it's boring and it's a fast way to worsen your mental health. So I decided to create my own 'shield' in the form of sunglasses.

I know, it's kind of like giving your kid a magic blanket when they go to their doctor to protect them. For me, wearing sunglasses makes me feel protected from insecurity (or more so, anyway). How? Sunnies have this 'I can see you, but you can't see me' mechanism. It makes me feel like there are less eyes on me, and thus I can feel less insecure. 

When it comes to sunglasses, it's 'the bigger, the better'. I love the circular ones because they can look super vintage-Chanel, and nothing can beat a good cat-eye when I'm in the mood. Plus, it's such an easy way to experiment with colour, pattern and texture - think marble, leopard print, stripes and metallics. Sunglasses are the introvert's perfect extrovert accessory. And the perfect shield for those of who are a little bit insecure.

As silly as it may seem to some, we all have these little ways of coping with our anxieties. What are your methods?

* Gifted for review
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Becoming a Better Person in 2017


SCARF - ASOS // JACKET - ZARA (similar) // BAG - H&M (similar) // SHOES - PUBLIC DESIRE

I know I'm not the first person to say that 2016 was not a great year. Sure, time is linear and our calendar is just something that we've made up, and we shouldn't blame a year for everything that's gone wrong in the world - but nonetheless, last year wasn't one for the books.

Or was it?

Thinking back to last January, 2016 didn't start off great for me. My family had moved away, I lost my job due to liquidation, and I was fearful of losing my home. I got depressed when I started working in a job that I hated, and I was starting to become the negative, anxious person that I never thought I would be.

I took a little bit of time off to clear my head, and that's when I decided that I would pull myself together and take control of my life. Much to my family's disapproval, I quit my awful (though well-paid) job, and took a risk on a different path.

The months flew by and now my life may not be perfect, but thanks to following my gut last year I was able to get myself back on track. It's because of this that I'm thankful for 2016.

The reason I've named this post 'Becoming a Better Person in 2017' is because I want to take this year to cleanse the excess negativity I have in my life, and to focus on the good. Good things are happening all the time, from all the love I felt at Christmas from my partner's family, to becoming besties with my amazing coworkers (and finding awesome new vegan chicken places to visit - hello, Temple of Seitan!).

In contrast with last year, when I was too low emotionally to focus on all the good, this year I'm going to take the good and run with it. Every time I get a compliment, I'll appreciate what that compliment meant rather than asking myself why I was complimented when I didn't deserve to be; every time I write a blog post or a feature for a magazine, I'll take pride in having written it instead of excessively critiquing myself; every time I get into a debate with someone about my beliefs or values, I will feel fulfilled at having defended my own opinion, rather than questioning myself.

Just so this post isn't about me, I've put together a little list of things everyone can do to become a better version of themselves. Not all of these might be to everyone's taste, but one or two may help!

Don't relish past negativity - when bad memories or regrets begin to surface, remind yourself to think of something good that has happened to you recently

Try to have a social media-free day - we're on our phones so much that we've forgotten what it's like to interact with the natural world

Keep a diary of only good things - look back on all the beautiful things that have happened to you in the last year with a happiness diary

Volunteer - whether it's just for a day or a weekly commitment, doing something to help someone else is always a good feeling

Exercise - you might hate it as much as I do, but it releases endorphins, which make you happy!

Book a holiday - we all work too much. Let's de-stress.

Watch an inspiring film - Eddie the Eagle, The Devil Wears Prada and Pretty Woman are just a few of my favourites

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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

From Over-processed to Silky Smooth Hair in One Product


Like a lot of women, I have over-processed hair from colouring and bleaching, which is all thanks to my love of bright and unusual colours. I’ve done the whole brunette-to-blonde ombré, and on top of that I’ve gone purple, green, turquoise and navy (I was prepared to go bubblegum pink, but my hairdresser talked me out of it).

Over the past five years, we’ve witnessed so many colour trends taking the world by storm – each one more daring than the last. Recent trends I’ve seen have included the ‘orbital ombré’ – involving a halo of cosmic blues, purples and greens – and of course the trend for leafy-green hair as brought on by Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2017: Greenery.

This year, the colour trend remains strong; however a lot of celebrities and influencers are now opting for healthy, virgin-like hair with mirror-sheen smoothness – which may seem like a pipe dream for most of us. And as hair care is so personal, it's so difficult to find products that instantly click and do wonders for your tresses.

We've all been drawn into the hype of two-minute masks, leave in conditioners and luxury shampoos. Then, of course, 2016 saw the evolution of bond-rebuilders, which have been doing amazing things for those with damaged hair. But there's one product that has always been light-years ahead of the rest, and that's Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer

Now, before you say anything, this isn't a sponsored post. I have been on a quest for the world's best haircare products for my entire life, and so I would not hesitate to give my honest opinion if it makes that journey shorter for others.

The Elasticizer is a product that has been around for 40 years. Developed by the late Philip Kingsley for Audrey Hepburn, it is a pre-shampoo treatment that doubles up as an intense overnight mask - and it really is a miracle worker.

I tried it on a whim one day after hearing rave reviews, and my God am I thankful I did. Slathering it onto dry hair, I waited for around 20 minutes before rinsing it off and carrying on with my normal haircare routine. You know when you can instantly feel a product getting to work? That's what I felt after applying the Elasticizer. After blow-drying my hair, expecting to feel my usual straggly, coarse split ends, I ran my fingers through soft, healthier-feeling hair.

After one application, I was hooked. It didn't take long for this to become one of my hair routine staples. 

Even more, it smells so delicious, and the different versions (Geranium & Neroli, Elderflower & Rhubarb) provide something different for everyone. The packaging is also super pretty, and looks perfect on my bathroom shelf next to my favourite flowers (lilies, if you were wondering...)

UPDATE: I attended the Philip Kingsley Summer Solutions launch, where we were introduced to their new products for summer 2017. I can happily say that the brand is launching a new version of the Elasticizer, Coconut Breeze, which features a beautifully summery and sensual scent that makes me so excited for holiday season!
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Friday, 6 January 2017

Fashion For Lunch talks Instagram, Chanel & bright colours

Images via @labelsforlunch

London-based blogger @labelsforlunch (otherwise known as Fashion For Lunch) began Instagramming in October 2012, when her detail-shots of pretty vintage finds, sparkly nail polish and colourful foods attracted followers in droves. Now, at just over 40,900 dedicated fans, this self-confessed colour addict gives us the scoop on fashion, photography and following her wanderlust across the world in 2017.

Your Instagram profile is full of vibrant, enchanting clothes and accessories, but what would you say is your most prized fashion find?

Ohhhh probably my Chanel items. Many of them are gifts from my fiancé and they are all items I dreamed of owning when I was younger. I love wearing them and they feel really special and important. I also have some really special vintage dresses which I loved wearing when I was at uni! I can’t get rid of them even though I will probably never wear them again!

There’s never a dull image on your feed – was colour something you set out to focus on from the very beginning? Or did your aesthetic progress as you went along?

I think it’s gotten more colourful as time has gone on, especially as I learnt to use a camera and whatnot! Also, I moved house; my last flat was dark and dingy (a rental in East London) and now I have bigger rooms with more light and the freedom to decorate, which has really let me have fun with colour!

You don’t feature in many of your photos. Do you prefer to stay behind the lens?

Yes, for some reason I feature myself on my blog more. I feel more exposed on Instagram; I’m always afraid I’m going to get trolled or something silly! I occasionally put details shots in which include my arm, legs, hand, etc. There’s something about putting myself on Instagram which just makes me feel somewhere between self-conscious and self-obsessed!


In your opinion, what makes a ‘good’ Instagram feed?

For me, I always look for accounts which are really fun and playful or really cool. I like seeing new things, new angles, new trends, new brands… But I also just love really pretty pictures! I follow some accounts which are really brown and natural, and others which are pumped-up accounts filled with bright-coloured everything. It’s nice to follow a mix as long as it’s stimulating and beautiful.

You’ve got a huge fan base of fellow colour addicts; what can they expect to see from you in 2017?

Hopefully planning some trips to some really cool corners of the world! Doing interior design in my house so lots more fun to be had there (I painted my front door pink recently and gave it a ‘there’s no place like home…’ lettering on it) – so more like that! Hopefully just keeping things improving and keep having fun! I always share loads of content on my blog and Twitter too so it’s always worth popping by there for more info and images!

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Follow @labelsforlunch on Instagram here

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This interview is part of a series on unique Instagram pages in the realms of fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel and food. If you think you've got an eyecatching Instagram page and would like me to interview you, please message me on Instagram @jenloumeredith.

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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

I'm a woman of little time and little energy, with little use for fussy furniture, but a big imagination; so, naturally, Ikea is my best friend. Hand me an Ikea catalogue, and I can spend the entire day planning out an entire room full of repurposed creations, some of which could be copies of far more expensive furniture seen elsewhere.

For Christmas my partner and I received an Ikea voucher (yes, we love Swedish furniture so much that it has become a running joke between friends and family), and we decided to use it to purchase a kitchen island. As we've only got a small kitchen, storage and counter space is like gold dust - therefore a kitchen island would make our lives so much easier.

However, me being me, I was looking for something quite specific: 

1) It needs to be small enough so that it wouldn't become a hindrance, but large enough to fulfill its purpose as a place to store small kitchen appliances and crockery

2) It needs to be easily movable so that I can push it out of the way if I need to vacuum or if we have a party

3) It should be between hip and waist height so that we can use it for preparing food

4) It needs to be affordable (i.e. under £100)


T H E   O U T C O M E


After browsing the website, I found a few islands and kitchen trolleys that I liked the look of; however, they were over our budget, so I decided to get creative. I saw the Kallax, a simple, square shelving unit which had oodles of potential, and decided that this would be our starting point.

We went to the store to get a feel of what it would look like when all the components were pieced together, and excitedly made our purchase. In total, our little project came to just under £80:

Kallax Shelving Unit in White, £20
Kallax Inserts in White (x2), £18
4 pack of Rill Castors (wheels), £8
40cm Grundtal Rail (x2), £5
Lamplig Chopping Board (x2), £24
Skydd Wood Treatment Oil, £4.25
Total = £79.25


Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

We began by putting together the Kallax. Easy enough.

Then, we attached the castors to the bottom of the unit. Screws are not supplied with the castors, so make sure you purchase some before you start (they need to fit a 4mm hole, and you'll need 16 of them). Luckily, we had some in our tool kit.

We then turned the unit on its side to attach the Grundtal rails. These also need extra screws, and the fixtures overhang the unit by a few millimeters - so make sure you get the measurements right

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

After that, we put together the door inserts that would fit in the squares of the Kallax to act as cupboards. We wanted two inserts, so that we could use the other two square spaces as display shelves. Helpful tip: make sure you line the inserts up correctly, as you don't want them poking out the back of the Kallax unit and making it look un-neat.

Next were the chopping boards. As we wanted to use these as the surface for our kitchen island, they needed to be oiled to protect the wood and prevent against the build-up of bacteria. The Skydd wood oil is perfect for this, as it's a natural mineral oil which doesn't contain harmful chemicals. A bottle will last you forever, as you only really need around a tablespoonful per board, and it only needs to be topped up every couple of months.

I flipped the boards over and attached them to the top of the Kallax using large-size Command Strips so that the island can be easily repurposed if needed, but you can use wood glue if you have it to hand.


Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

This took around four hours to complete - and we're so in love with it. It fits our specifications exactly, and was incredibly affordable (so much so, that we were able to get a few extra pieces of home decor with our voucher!). However, I have to say that the best thing about this piece of furniture is that we put it together ourselves and made it our own.

What do you think of our creation? Have you repurposed any Ikea furniture? Let me know in the comments section below!


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Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith
Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith
Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

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