Friday, 26 May 2017

Boohoo's Dress of the Month

If you hadn't already taken note, gingham is a big trend for SS17. Designers such as House of Holland, Shrimps and Molly Goddard went full-on with the print on the runways last September, taking inspiration from the Wild West, school girl pinafores, and The Wizard of Oz protagonist, Dorothy.

Gingham wasn't on my radar this season as, unless it's a stripe, I'm not a doting fan of all-over patterns. I didn't particularly want to look like a saloon barmaid, or a tablecloth. But then I was contacted by Boohoo to style their Dress of the Month on my blog, and this happened to be a gingham dress.

Boohoo's 'Dress of the Month' is a campaign which lets influencers receive a surprise sample dress from the brand's current collection, and style it as a source of inspiration for your readers. I was chosen for this month's campaign, and given the Jenna Gingham Ruffle Hem Smock Dress* to style.

When I took it out of the bag, I was pleased that it wasn't a bodycon affair, as I'm far too body-conscious to cope with anything skintight. Holding the dress up against my body in the mirror, the cogs in my mind starting turning. How will I make this work?

I was thankful that the dress came up larger than average - it's designed to feel oversized so that it hangs off the body for an easy, comfortable fit. In my head I was picturing an outfit along the lines of off-duty Alexa Chung circa 2014: something laid back with an indie rock vibe. However, the ruffles across the chest gave the dress a modern look, which meant that I would still look current.

I chose to keep my accessories mostly black and paired this dress with black patent boots from Public Desire, some round sunglasses from zeroUV* and a black shoulder bag from Dorothy Perkins. The only pop of colour was a Mary Katrantzou scarf, which I'm currently wearing with everything.

Since it was bitterly cold the day I shot this look, I brought a light duster jacket from Topshop with me. I'm not usually able to pair a coat with an outfit and make the whole thing look cohesive, but I think this finished off the look quite well.

What are your thoughts? Would you buy this gingham dress? Find it here.


* Gifted for review

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Put down that avolatte

If you've been awake in the past five years, you'll know that avocados are kind of a thing. A big thing, in fact. This time last year, the Telegraph wrote that 'sales of avocados overtook sales of oranges in December [2015] with around 44 million being sold per year'. There was even an avocado pop-up restaurant in London (of course), where customers could order from a menu comprised entirely of avocado-based dishes - it was called, in the most original way, AVOPOPUP, and it will be returning this year as AVOLUTION.

If you think Britain hadn't already reached peak avocado obsession, think again. This week, I saw that a coffee shop in Melbourne had created a particularly icky-looking 'avolatte' as a toungue-in-cheek gesture towards Australian millionaire Tim Gurner's comments on millennials and housing affordability, but it somehow caught on here in the UK. Now, I'm hoping the irony hasn't worn off (we can't really be THAT basic, can we?), because that amount of creamy fat is bound to encourage a heart attack. 'But it's good fats!' you say. Maybe. But I'm not going to tell you how many calories are in your favourite vanilla latte, because it will probably make you cry.

Instead, let's take a step back from the Instagram-fueled madness, and strip avocados down to their bare pits. These little green fruits are a great source of monounsaturated fats; research shows that this type of 'good fat' lowers cholesterol, decreases the risk of breast cancer, lessens the painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and lowers the risk of heart disease. Avocados also contain high levels of potassium, dietary fibre, and vitamins A and B-6, which is why it's called a superfood.

Now, if you've already eaten more plates of avo-toast than you can count on both hands, there are other ways to enjoy an avocado. For example, you can pop it in a blender to add creamy texture to a smoothie, mix it into a nourishing face or hair masque, or even use it to create a rich mug cake. 

However, if you're not much of an alchemist, you might be glad to hear that avocado is emerging as a key ingredient in everyday products such as hair care and tea, due to its amazing benefits. 

Heath & Heather's Organic Green Tea with Avocado already contains antioxidant-rich green tea, but when combined with avocado this soothing drink becomes even more beneficial. Boiled for three to six minutes in water, the tea bag releases a smooth, creamy infusion of ripe avocado, which is perfect to enjoy at any time of day - though I prefer mine at lunchtime with my avo-toast and a Happy Egg Co poached egg. It feels like an indulgent treat, but it's so healthy!

This is an ideal drink for those of you who love green tea and avocado, but if you'd rather try something different, Heath & Heather have also just released two more flavours in addition to their huge range: Organic Green Tea & Imperial Matcha, and Organic Super Green Tea Matcha & Seaweed. As these teas are organic (no nasty chemicals here), they're great for your body and great for the environment! You can find these online, or at your local Holland & Barrett. 

Last year, Tesco released its first avocado spread which (I believe) is a vegan alternative to butter, but please correct me if I'm wrong. I know it contains palm oil, the production of which causes widespread environmental destruction and even threatens the extinction of certain species, so perhaps it's not the most ethical alternative. However, if you're not ethically minded, this product does contain avocado oil, which features some (not all, I must say) of the benefits of eating an avocado as-is, including vitamins D and A, plus the added benefit of Omega 3.

High street hair care favourite Aussie has released its new Miracle Nourish range for long hair, which includes a shampoo (£4.19), conditioner (£4.19), and the much raved about 3 Minute Miracle (£4.99), a treatment which works its nourishing magic in just three minutes. Infused with avocado oil and eucalyptus extract, this range promises to deliver a kick of moisture to limp, lacklustre locks - and it does! Having tried this on my own, very long, very overprocessed hair, I can wholeheartedly say that this delivers more of a moisturising effect than your regular high street shampoo. 

The blue formula smells delicious, and is a pleasure to use. You don't need much of the shampoo, but I tend to use more conditioning products, so the addition of the three minute miracle is perfect for me, as I can use it in place of the conditioner if it runs out.


Do you have any avocado-based products to recommend?


Friday, 12 May 2017

Your summer 2017 essentials

Summer's approaching fast. Just today (in glorious May), I felt myself getting a little too hot in the office, and the holiday daydreaming started to kick in. Unfortunately, as it happens, I'm probably not going to go on holiday this year as I'm trying to save money - so I'll just have to limit my use of social media (to escape those pesky Insta-vacay-snaps) and hope that the English weather will be enough to at least make me look like I've just come back from a weekend in the French Riviera.

In case the weather does hold out, and I somehow manage to catch a tan whilst standing at the office water dispenser by the window pretending to fill up my glass, here are the fashion and beauty items I'll be purchasing this year:

Festival hair Rings, Johnny Loves Rosie, £12

Pop these in your plaits for an instant style update.

Matte Yellow Anorak, New Look, £34.99 (Get 25% off until 22.05.17 - no code required)

Because it rains in England. A lot.

Nelih Sandals, Moda in Pelle, £79.95 (Get 20% off until 21.05.17 with code MAY10)

Pair these with a tan and you're golden. Literally.
Flute Sleeve Poplin Shirt, Miss Selfridge, £32

This bell sleeve trend ain't going anywhere.

Grey Jersey Frill Hem Shorts, Nobody's Child, £14

Who doesn't love a cute pair of shorts when it's too hot for jeans?

Bette Printed Playsuit, Reiss, £195

Pricey, but that tropical print is oh so worth it.

The Activist Body Oil, Mio Skincare, £29.50

Literally the best body oil I've ever tried.

Ivory Pineapple Print Sundress, Dorothy Perkins, £20 (Get 25% off during DP VIP week - no code required)

Pineapples + anything = a happy Jen.

Did you know Dior made a Luminizer? Neither did I. But I need it.

1 Piece Orange Bathing Suit Dary, Pain de Sucre, £104.90

No guarantees you'll look like Halle Berry emerging from the water in James Bond, but you'll rock it either way.


Friday, 5 May 2017

Vegetarian Recipe: Butternut Squash and Spinach Risotto

I know. This isn't a food blog. Yet I constantly yap on about food like I think I'm some sort of expert (I'm definitely not, just to clarify). Like any other glutton, I love to eat, and I guess that's where this constant need to mention food on my blog stems from. I hope you don't mind.

So, if you hadn't read my Twitter bio, I'm a vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian for nearly a year, and I quit meat for various reasons (but that's another post). Experimenting since then has been really fun, and it's made me far more creative with my meals - not to mention feeling super great about the amount of vitamins I'm getting from eating so much veg.

One of my go-to meals is risotto - I love it with roasted pumpkin cubes in the autumn, or with mushroom and asparagus at the beginning of spring. But you can pair pretty much anything with risotto and it'll give you that nice comfort food feeling even without adding in the usual cream, butter and white wine.

This week, I was clearing out my fridge, and saw that I had a bit of butternut squash and some spinach left over. I popped this in with some risotto, and found myself another delicious combo! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients (serves 1):

200g butternut squash
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
200ml vegetable stock
70g risotto
Handful of fresh spinach leaves


1. Preheat over to 200 degrees Celsius.

2. Peel and chop the butternut squash into bitesize cubes, then place in an ovenproof dish. Crush the garlic and sprinkle on top of the butternut squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 30 minutes.

3. Place the risotto in a saucepan and pour the vegetable stock on top. Stir, then place the lid on the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the handful of spinach, then leave for another five minutes.

4. Spoon the risotto and spinach into a bowl, then spoon the butternut squash on top. 
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