Lifestyle and home education blogger at Wildling Wishes, main contributor and editor for She Might Be, draws pictures for money at Rymermade on Etsy.
Lifestyle and home education blogger at Wildling Wishes, main contributor and editor for She Might Be, draws pictures for money at Rymermade on Etsy.
This time of year is one of my favourites, because it’s full of heart-shapes and romance wherever you look. Not only is there Valentine’s Day, but there’s something about cold nights cuddling up to a loved one that just makes you feel good. Following on from my post about date night ideas for Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share ideas for a few more locations across the UK – all of them are perfect for when your usual date night is looking a little bit stagnant.
I gave Scotland and England all of my attention in my last post, so I thought I would kick things off with some top places in the Cardiff dating scene (sorry, Northern Ireland! Maybe next time!). What I love about the way Cardiff dating looks is that there is nature and culture literally right there for the taking. If you and your date are outdoorsy people, or you fancy stepping outside of your comfort zone, then trying out the City Safari from Planet Wales is definitely worth a shot. There’s nothing that makes date night more special than seeing something breathtakingly beautiful together; neither of you will ever forget it.
Devon is one of my favourite places in the UK, so I knew I was going to need to share some Devon dating ideas! Sure, you could meander along the beach and watch the sunset together – or you can do something a little bit weird on your next date night, and head over to the Gnome Reserve! This is definitely another outdoosy date night option, but I love the idea of cuddling up to your date so you can both sqeeze in to a selfie with a giant gnome. Perfect for bonding over a few chuckles!
I’ve only ever been to Lincoln once, so I definitely had to do a bit of nosing around to find the perfect date night idea for Lincolnshire dating. Though a night at the cinema is pretty standard date night fodder, I found Kinema in the Woods and actually loved the idea of it. Kinema in the Woods is the only cinema left in the UK that still uses back projection, and is super old fashioned. There is even a resident organist who plays in the intervals! From May onwards there is an outdoor cinema also, so this is definitely one to keep in mind for future date night plans.
And finally, another beach location – I’m wrapping up by looking at some Kent dating ideas! You can definitely take advantage of being right next to the ocean on your next date night, either by enjoying a romantic river boat tour of Canterbury or doing something a little bit more intensive and donning your life jacket on a sea safari across Dover. You’re definitely never going to forget either one!
I never go in for all of that ‘New Year, New You!‘ crap that happens every January, but there is something in my soul that is desperate for new clothes at the start of every year. I don’t know if I have this vision of myself in my head in which I transform into a magical creature of impeccable fashion when the clock strikes midnight, or if I just want to pull myself out of the post-Christmas blues, but either way: I can’t get enough of browsing every sale in sight as soon as January hits, and today I am crushing hard on Society Plus.
The down side here is that I’m not actually buying anything, of course. It might be a new year but there are no ‘New Year, New Bank Account!’ posts that I have been able to find, so I am restricted to window shopping. Of course it does come with its positives: I never feel buyer’s remorse, I can actually use the money for important things like food and electricity and, of course, I can bring American brands into my line of sight. If I’m looking to actually spend money I rarely even bother with American brands because the customs tax makes the price ridiculously high, but hey – no spending, no tax. Enter, Society Plus.
Well hello, brand new love of my life. Why is there a sequin rose gold skirt that doesn’t belong to me? I’d be prepared to take all of the waistband scratchiness that these sequins were going to give me for the chance to swish around in this sparkling wonder.
Skirts and crop tops seem to have totally been my aesthetic when I was picking out these pieces. This navy polkadot skirt makes me think of a calm Winter night with shimmering stars. The quote ‘made of moonlight’ from Gerald’s Game pops into my head when I look at it – fans will know this quote is definitely not as pretty as it sounds, yet when the words are on their own they seem almost melodic and calming to me.
So imagine you woke up one morning and you were a cupcake. How adorable and fluffy would you feel?! This plum coloured skirt is giving me aaaall the cupcake vibes and making me think I would need to wear some sort of giant taffeta hair bow to complete this look. And I am 100% here for it.
This harness style crop top looks like its been paired with the ‘made of moonlight’ skirt, and it is definitely something I could wear every season. I love that its faux suede so it looks almost soft and cosy (and would fit perfectly under a nice cardigan) and would be a cute-yet-edgy Winter wear, but if I wore it with a fluffy skirt and nothing over the top of it, it would transition perfectly into Spring.
My hair colour changes basically every twelve minutes right now, so I try not to pick bold colours incase they are just not going to work with whatever hair I’m rocking that week. This mustard crop top is bright enough to make a statement but muted enough not to clash, and the way the model is pairing it up with that scarf? I’m getting serious comfort vibes going on with this top.
I don’t think it would be wrong of me to suggest that for a long time Society Plus were associated with their perfect tutus. They were the first brand that I knew of that offered reasonably priced tutus that were available in superplus sizes and looked puffy and full. I’ve had a real hard time choosing a colour for the perfect tutu that I will eventually own, but today this gorgeous grey was jumping out at me – classy and timeless, it looks like it would go with anything.
I am in love with the colour of this gorgeous long skirt. I feel like I could wear it with nothing more than a plain black t-shirt and I would still look totally dressed up and effortlessly chic. I am getting serious winter berry vibes from this outfit and it looks effortlessly comfortable to boot.
Finally, I can’t turn my back on my old favourites – I had to include this adorable skater dress. It’s definitely one that is better for Summer, because it makes me think of a Mr Whippy ice cream cone, but I think it would brighten a dull day if I were to pair it with a cardigan and tights. And can I just take a minute to appreciate the accessories on this model?!
Are you loving Society Plus too? What are you hoping to see in their 2018 – 2019 ranges?
No matter the occasion, it’s always hard to find good gifts for the men in your life. Typically, they keep themselves quite closed off and rarely talk about the things they love. Then, when you do find something they like, you kind of overuse the gift idea all the time – or is that just me? My husband always ends up with the same themed gifts for birthdays, Valentine’s days, Christmas, and so on. He loves gadgets, though, and I’ve come to realise that a smartphone would be the perfect present.
While it may seem like an expensive gift, it’s still a gift that will bring a grin to any guys face. There are many reasons they’ll like this gift and many reasons it’s a great idea. If you don’t believe me, you can check out all these reasons right here:
The beauty of a smartphone is that they’re, well, smart! They’re smart enough to go beyond the usual call and text functions and offer so much more. The man in your life can play mobile games on their phone that are really engrossing and take hours to complete. In fact, some games are neverending and can constantly be replayed over and over again.
The great thing is, there are so many different mobile games out there for your man to download and play instantly. If they’re into adventure games, they can find allies in the Final Fantasy XV mobile game. If they’re a sports lover, they can sink some hole-in-ones in Golf Clash – a top rated game on the App Store. If they prefer to test their mind, perhaps they can download Puzzledom, a puzzle game with loads of puzzles rolled into one package. You get the idea; there’s something out there for everyone, and it means you might finally have found the gift that your loved one isn’t likely to get bored with!
Having a smartphone means they’ll be more likely to answer their phone whenever you ring, so there will be no more endless missed calls when you get to the shop and realise you’ve left your list at home. Oh, and smartphones can be linked up to cars via Bluetooth or wifi – so they can answer while they drive too. Definitely handy when you’re travelling long distances without eachother and need to keep in touch!
These days, smartphones have taken over most people’s need to buy a camera. Back in the day, every dad, uncle, and grandad in the country carried around a camcorder. They’d film everything at family parties and outings, collecting loads of memories. Then, there seemed to be a period where no one had a camcorder or video recording device as they were too bulky to carry around.
Well, with a smartphone, the man in your life has a video recorder in their pocket at all times. They’ll always be able to capture memories; no matter where they are. Whether it’s your child’s first school play, or the fireworks display on New Years Eve – they’ll never miss a moment again. In fact, if they are anything like my husband, they will take 50 pictures of every single moment. In reality, though, it is great for the family as you get to document and save special moments with one another.
When you think about it, a smartphone is pretty much the perfect gift. They give the owner everything they need; functionality, entertainment, and a camera/video recorder too. Not to mention the fact that new versions come out all the time, so you can upgrade your gift every year or two. Plus, phones come with accessories like cases, protective screens, car mounts, and so on. As a result, you’ve immediately got loads of additional gift ideas for other occasions!
For those of you at the back who might not have heard me every time I’ve shouted about it: I love Christmas. The shimmering decorations, the twinkling lights and the tacky clothes are just the perfect recipe for a Happy Sophie. I love a good gimmick, and I love to go all out every festive season, so any Christmas clothing that makes people cringe is okay in my book. I had a look around some of my favourite brands to find some casual Christmas clothes and let me tell you – I pretty much need every single one of them. Here’s what I found!
Simply Be are always a great place to start when you’re looking for inclusive ranges, and their collection of casual Christmas clothes does not disappoint this year. This gingerbread swing dress is super reminiscent of Topsy Curvy, and at only £15.00 you can’t really go wrong. My favourite piece, though, is this gorgeously cosy looking ‘Mince Pies Before Guys’ jumper. Seriously, the model looks so snuggled up! Which is why it doesn’t surprise me that this has completely sold out in plus sizes and is only available at the smaller end of the range.
Brands – once again, because I am getting bored of hearing myself say it – if your plus size range is continually sold out, extend it because we have a lot more money to spend and a dearth of brands who actually stock our sizes.
If you feel like being really crap at Christmas, this plain black ‘Christmas T-shirt’ top is ideal. I kind of hate it because Christmas should be joyous and colourful, but I do like a good tongue-in-cheek t-shirt joke so I decided to keep it in the round up. Besides, I feel like if you hate Christmas but I can get you to at least buy this t-shirt, then I can probably worm my way in to your soul (that escalated quickly) and make a Christmas lover of you yet. And then before you know it, you’ll be buying adorable jumpers like this gingerbread Christmas tree (which, again, is sold out above a size 12) and chucking tinsel around like snow in a snowglobe.
Topsy Curvy are the first brand that I can think of who offered casual Christmas clothes in inclusive sizing. Though their range isn’t super diverse, they have been picked up by Lovedrobe in 2017 so hopefully that is a sign that there is more to come. At the moment, they do have these adorable ‘jolly gingerbread‘ tunic, the minimalistic but super cute ‘reindeers in love‘ tunic and the monochrome delight that is the ‘silly snowman‘ tunic. All of these are available up to a size 28, but Topsy Curvy are known and loved for their stretchy fabrics that don’t compromise quality, so they’re always a brand I like to recommend to people.
Yours Clothing are one of my most-loved brands because they always have inclusive sizing (now up to a size 36!) and they realise that being fat doesn’t mean losing your fashion sense. I love that I can walk in to Yours and I can come out dressing like the 27 year old that I am, rather than an old lady who needs to get back to her knitting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but its just not my aesthetic.
They definitely do not fail when it comes to casual Christmas clothing. The ‘varsity jacket’ trend has been pretty big in the last couple of years, and I love that Yours combined varsity and red glitter to make this adorable ‘Team Santa’ t-shirt. I can’t even imagine how warm and snuggly this Rudolph eyelash jumper would be. My only concern would be quality, as any eyelash jumpers I’ve had in the past have got holes in them quite easily, but given that it has pretty much sold out online I’m going to hazard a guess that people are not disappointed with this jumper.
Speaking of soft and gorgeous, I am living for this Santa Claus fleece hoodie. The bobble hat hood is ridiculously adorable, and I love the thought of looking like a big fat snuggly Santa on a cold Winter’s night. This longline Penguin top is another one that has Topsy Curvy vibes, but the fact that it goes up to a size 36 gives Yours Clothing the edge on this one – and the design is absolutely adorable.
And finally, an important message: ‘I believe in Father Christmas‘. Too many people are sceptical about how real Santa is, and I think its important for believers like me to wear t-shirts like this so that children know that the magic is real. It’s an adorable t-shirt and I’d rock it with a metallic gold skirt (like this one GG wore!) and a sprig of holly in my hair. Oh my goodness I cannot contain my excitement.
Every night, I tuck my little wonders in to bed and I begin an evening of candlelit relaxation. The wine is flowing, I hear nothing but the sound of the crackling fire and I spend my evenings indulging in smooth chocolate and wonderful literature.
All of what I’ve just written is a lie. In reality, my life is pretty chaotic. I home educate two children, I am self employed, I am studying towards a masters and I have daily CBT homework. Any spare time I have is spent keeping on top of the housework, preparing food for my family and catching a few moments here and there to enjoy some online gaming. It is my only time of the day to do something completely for myself, and whether its something that takes skill like Words With Friends or Rabbit Smash, or something based entirely on luck like a good game of Texas Hold ‘Em or having a go on the Slots, I love to take that time to zone out and recharge.
I love gaming across all of my devices. I use my laptop on a daily basis to engage in my Uni reading, write my blog and do admin on my Etsy shop (and to write and proof for a little website you might have heard of, called She Might Be…) and I try to break up the monotony by giving myself 10 minute breaks which are filled with nothing but mindless fun every hour or so. My favourite way to play on my laptop is definitely gambling – I like bingo and slots the most, and I’m particularly enjoying the Santa game on CasinoEuro. Nothing beats the adrenaline of winning a bit of money, especially when you can trust that you aren’t going to lose any more money than that which you earmarked at the beginning; CasinoEuro allows you to set yourself a deposit limit, and even gives you the option of switching on a ‘reality check’ which will periodically let you know how long you have been playing and how much money you have spent. You can’t be too careful when it comes to money, and I love that these measures have been introduced to ensure that you can spend your time on the website having a great time instead of worrying that money will automatically be taken from your account if you lose.
When I’m on the go I use my Samsung Galaxy S7 for all of my gaming. I can even have a round of something to keep my mind busy when I’m standing in line at the post office – it is so quick and simple to immerse yourself in gaming. The great thing is that I also game on my husband’s iPad Pro, and the majority of what I play is available across Apple and Android devices. This has opened up so many other games to me – while I have played Texas Hold ‘Em for years, I didn’t think about using a tablet to indulge in any other casino games. I really enjoy games with a competitive edge, but nothing beats that feeling of winning through sheer luck.
So yes, I do have a chaotic life. But when I do have a chance to relax, I’m not one to sit in a quiet room and ponder life’s great questions – instead, I go for fast-paced, exciting gaming which will let my mind unwind within minutes. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There almost definitely won’t be snow this Christmas, but there is always room for ice underneath the tree. I’m always an absolute nightmare to buy for at Christmas time (seriously, ask my husband!) so when F.Hinds asked me to have a little gander at their beautiful jewels I knew I need to throw away my entire Christmas list and just send my husband the link. Here are some of my top picks from their website, and some of the amazing discounts that they are currently running.
I hardly ever wear earrings, because I tend to buy cheap ones that make my ears itch after a day. But when I look at these gorgeous white gold and diamond cluster studs I want to start wearing earrings again pronto. They are so dinky and elegant, I absolutely love them – and I love the price too, as they’re currently offering £150.00 off of the recommended retail price.
Okay, how cute is this idea?! A diamond… Made of diamond! I really love jewellery that shows a cute graphic, and the fact that it is covered in jewels is definitely an added bonus. I can imagine rocking this with every single party outfit I could choose this Christmas, and it is simple enough to add a classy touch to your daywear, too. Definitely worth the £59.95 that it has been discounted to. My wedding ring is gold with a band of white jewels, so I’m always on the look out for gorgeous piece of jewellery that will really compliment and highlight what I’ve already got. I would love to twinkle this Christmas in this gorgeous 9ct gold heart necklace. Even the chain is pretty, and its another piece that is completely versatile – and all for under £100!
Am I the only person who loves the simple elegance of a tennis bracelet? I am such a clumsy person that I’m not sure I would even trust myself to wear this many jewels, but I’d definitely be up for giving it a shot. This beautiful bracelet is at the higher end of this gift guide in terms of price, at £750.00, but it would definitely make for a breathtaking Christmas morning.
Okay lets get a ‘Sophie checklist’ going here. Rose gold? Check. Hearts? Check. Geometric looking pattern? Check. These earrings are just begging to be worn by me – and I am so happy to oblige that I’m considering just buying them myself! Who needs to wait until Christmas, right?!
I don’t often wear bracelets, but I love this sweet rose gold number so much that I’d definitely make an exception. I love the cute smaller hearts placed at each side of the bracelet, and at under £100.00 it’d definitely make the perfect present for somebody you love this Christmas.
The final piece I chose is a complete cheat choice, because it’s actually three items in one. I love these round solitaire diamonds, because I just think they look really classic and elegant. This set contains 1/4 carat diamonds, which would definitely sprinkle some joy into Christmas morning. It’s another high-end price point, but definitely one that I would consider worthwhile if you’re looking to buy somebody something extra special this Christmas.
I love the Winter. Christmas is wonderful, the snow is glorious and twinkles under the Winter sun and I love nothing better than cosy coats and hot chocolates. If you see me bundled up under a fluffy hat with rosy cheeks, you know I am happy. But as much as I love Winter, it really does not love my skin.
My skin type is very much ‘dry/sensitive’. Not only do I have to be super careful with which products I am trying, but even a change in the temperature can cause a flare up of my skin. I would much rather put on two pairs of socks and a dressing gown than turn the heating on, for example, because artificial heat immediately dries my skin out and what my husband affectionately nicknames “map face” is never far away. Over the years I have had to adapt to the festive season by taking steps to make sure my skin is as happy and healthy as it can be before I face the coldest of days. I grew up in the north of Scotland, so I am definitely used to cold Winters! Here are some of my favourite tips for keeping your skin looking brighter than the Winter sun this season.
Water is just the best way to look after everything, isn’t it? I’m really lucky in that I actually love the taste of water, but I know for some people it can become a real chore to drink the recommended amount of water every single day. I don’t tend to stick to a target as such, but I do have a glass of water each time I eat and I tend to stop off in the kitchen for a glass of water on my way back from the bathroom, just to ensure I am as hydrated as I can be. I might pee like Seabiscuit, but at least my skin is glowing, right?
Using sunscreen in the Winter seems totally counter-intuitive, right? But the Summer sunshine doesn’t hold the sole blame for harmful UV rays which can hurt your lovely skin. This is particularly true if it is snowing, as snow actually reflects the sun’s rays and amplifies the effect of UV damage. A tinted moisturiser with a level of SPF can really help protect your face – a minimum of SPF 30 is best for my fellow freckled friends.
On the subject of moisturiser, I really try to limit my make-up usage in the Winter. I’m not somebody who wears make-up a great deal anyway, but when my skin is feeling dry and painful, the last thing I want to do is throw on a layer of foundation. I look for light, hydrating make-up options like moisturising primers or tinted moisturisers and I use micellar water to remove any product that I have applied during the day.
Even though my skin can feel really dry in the Winter, I find it especially important to steer clear of oil-based moisturisers wherever I can. When my face is on the brink of a flare-up, the last thing I need to be doing is giving myself acne and blackheads. I often notice them creeping up at the crease where my nose meets my face, and as soon as I see that I immediately know I need to visit Chemist4U and find something that is really going to unclog my pores and give me a deep cleanse. I make sure to only use this on affected areas to ensure that my skin does not begin to dry out.
This is a bit of a weird one, but I try to make my baths and showers shorter in the Winter. As tempting as it is to sink in to a steaming hot bath after a chilly day, the change of temperature can really confuse my skin and cause it to become dry and irritated. I swear, my skin needs therapy sessions or something because it is ridiculously temperamental and flares up at the slightest sign of trouble. I go for a warm shower rather than a piping hot one, and I am sure not to hang around any longer than I need to. As soon as I am out of the shower, before even getting dressed, I apply some moisturising products to my face and hair. That way I feel like my skin is ready to fight off any encroaching dry patches that decided to invade while I was distracted in the shower, and it just makes my skin feel really clean and happy.
What skincare tips do you try to follow every Winter? Do you find that your Winter and Summer skincare habits are totally different? Let us know in the comments!
Those of you who know me outside of She Might Be might know that I also have a home education blog. It’s pretty new, but I mostly talk about the benefits of home education, and some of the things we get up to. As with anything, though, once you get a taste for something you want more: and as much as I am probably never going to get to experience it, I keep dreaming about a life of roadschooling.
I guess it makes sense when you think about it: if homeschooling (which we tend to refer to as home education within the UK home ed community) is schooling your children at home, then logically roadschooling is educating your family on the road. I even love the idea of keeping our flat as our ‘home base’ and travelling for three or four days at a time to places all across the country. The freedom and the multitude of new experiences we would be exposed to every single day is so exciting to me – we don’t even have a garden at the moment, so the idea of the whole of the UK being our garden if we want it to be is just fantastic!
Of course, on top of work and shared custody, there is also the fact that we do not have a budget that allows us to look at the kinds of cars you need to successfully live on the road. In an ideal world I would be lounging in a Winnebago (scratch that – I would be in Priscilla) but realistically that is something that is way way in the future, if ever. I also love the idea of getting a people carrier or a minivan and doing a complete DIY makeover on it ourselves. I have spent so many nights poring over websites that sell cars and vans, wishing we could just bite the bullet and go ahead with it. I definitely feel like getting a pickup truck could be realistic for us one day, and maybe just packing a tent and a couple of spare pairs of underwear, and seeing where the road takes us.
I’ve always been a bit of a free-spirit. As a child I lived in the countryside, and would spend entire days on my own just exploring. I liked to act out adventures, make daisy chains, climb my way over any terrain – I just felt free. I would love that for my children. When you take it back to its root, I suppose it doesn’t matter about where you’re going, what cars you’re travelling in or how long you’re gone: I want my children to experience life, and learn through experiences that they could never have if they were sitting in a classroom, and I would love to be able to enjoy that magic with them and be part of their happiest memories when they grow up.
Well first of all, you can make room in your bag for me! But in all seriousness – research. Research research research. This is not going to be something you can start next week. You need to look into the right kind of vehicle for your family – which I will get in to in the next paragraph! You need to start a nest egg that is just to be used while roadschooling. You need to study maps, look at efficient routes to take, talk to locals in the areas you want to visit via local Facebook pages and think about the right kind of times to go to certain places. Your children can be involved in the planning stage, learning about the places you want to explore and helping you plot imaginary routes as part of their home education experience.
Choosing the right car – or van, or whatever you decide on – is at the crux of roadschooling. Before anything else, you need to look at the needs of your family. Does it have enough space? Is it big enough to accommodate you all comfortably, as well as the belongings you’re bringing with you? You need to look at the miles per gallon (MPG) that you can get from a vehicle before you buy it. Normally websites will give you the ‘combined MPG’, which is the average MPG when you take into account city driving and country driving. City driving tends to offer much lower miles per gallon because there is a lot of stopping and starting, so try to look at the countryside MPG if it is available to you, and try to go for something in the late 30s at least. You also want to look at the suspension in your car, because it is going to need to be able to stand some bumpy roads and some long adventures! It might be cheaper to buy a second hand vehicle, but it is so so important to do a full check of things like tyres and brakes so that you don’t end up paying much more in the long-run than if you had just bought a new car. Personally, I’d look for pockets in the back of the seats so that the kids could store activities such as journals, art supplies and cameras, but of course those things are all just added extras, and can even be customised once you own the vehicle.
Who knows? Maybe, like me, you will find that it is all just wanderlust and probably won’t ever come to anything. But maybe this post is about to spark an entire change of lifestyle for you. And how exciting if it does!
Have you ever thought about getting out on the open road? Does the idea terrify you or, like me, does it make you want to drop everything and hop in the car right now?