Zoë Meers

Zoe

Fan of big earrings, sad songs & strong perfume
Whiskey, tattoo and snack enthusiast

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Summer Wishlisting: Interior Edition

Almost every single year, when it starts rolling around to summer, I start wish listing like it’s going out of fashion. The improvement in the weather always has me looking around and thinking about what could use an update. Admittedly, my wish lists are usually wardrobe based, but this year I’ve been thinking more and more about my home environment too. I’m wondering how I can bring more of the warmth, light, and greenery of outside to the inside; so here are some steps I’ve already taken, and a couple I’m dreaming of making happen, to update my interior space this summer.

Houseplant Interior

PLANTS – this list was always going to start with plants! Whilst I’m partial to a bunch of pretty flowers, I particularly love leafy green houseplants such as Aspidistra, Peace Lily, and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. I’m in the market for some cute cacti for my windowsill too. In general, succulents are a great option as they are easy to care for, although sadly I’ve personally never managed to keep one alive for vey long. I love the life green houseplants bring to a space, and their gorgeous leaves even clean the air of your home!

COLOUR – the warm weather makes me want to brighten everything up in my house, and whilst I’d love to splash some bright new paint on the walls, it doesn’t have to be quite that permanent. I’ve painted furniture, switched artwork, and even changed all the soft furnishings to brighter and bolder hues. These small adjustments really make an interior feel summer appropriate, and the best part is that they can all be switched back to something with an Autumnal vibe to cosy the space up when October comes around.

Lantern Roof

 

RENOVATION – if you are in the market for a more large scale, or adventurous, summer update then the ultimate way to bring the outdoors into the home is a conservatory or orangery with a high and wide aluminium lantern roof. This is a dream idea for me, and as soon as I’m able to do some serious restructuring on my home this is at the top of my wish list. It’s the ultimate way to freshen up your interior space and bathe your home in natural sunlight – and I know my houseplants would absolutely love it too!

NATURAL MATERIALS – wood, rattan, hessian… natural textures and materials feel just right for interior spaces in the summer months. That cane furniture isn’t only for the garden, and light cotton sheets feel like bliss when the long day and evening have been warm. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for synthetics, but when the sun is high I love to switch out some pieces to more natural, traditionally ‘outdoor’ materials.

 

Do you shake up your home decor for the summer months? Will you get some new plants or swap out some of the soft furnishings like I do? Or do you have some big renovations planned for your space this year? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear your stories!

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Before You Travel; The Ultimate Holiday Checklist

Whether you travel all the time, or you are gearing up for your first holiday in a while, it can be difficult to remember what you have to take, or what you need to do, before you go. Today, let us take care of that for you with our handy holiday checklist to go through in the months, days and weeks before you travel. Whether it’s for just a few nights, or for a much longer stay, this ultimate holiday checklist list will help you to make sure you have everything you need for a fun and worry-free trip.

 Before You Go, Holiday Checklist

 

Ultimate Holiday Checklist:

In the Months Before You Go

  • Passport – make sure your passport has enough validity left on it for your return date, the general rule of thumb is it needs to have 6 months validity left on the date of your return. Checking this as early as possible will give you enough time to arrange a renewal if needed.
  • Visas – in a similar vein, do you need a visa for your planned destination? Lead times on arranging a visa for travel can vary depending on the country you are visiting so check this as early as possible.
  • Vaccinations – for some countries, it is recommended that you have either a single or course of vaccinations or boosters before you go, check with your GP if this is required for your intended destination.
  • Insurance – line up some travel insurance for your trip.
  • Itinerary – make sure you know your travel timeline and write it all out if you need to, look at the dates and times of flights, any connections, baggage allowance, seat numbers etc.

 

In the Weeks Before You Go

  • Packing Prep – this may sound really early, but going to pack a beloved item of clothing the day before you fly only to find it in the washing basket is so frustrating! Get your case out and do a few huge rounds of laundry (yes, even those whites that have been languishing at the bottom for months). When the items you want to take are clean, put them on top of your case to make sure you remember to pack them, and that you don’t wear them again until you travel.
  • Contact Info – give the contact details of where you will be staying to anyone who may need it at home. Similarly, make sure you know where to find the contact details of your service providers (such as airline, hotel, travel agent etc) as they can be difficult to dig up once you are away. Somewhere like Customer Service Guru is perfect for this as they provide particularly hard to reach contact numbers for holiday websites and airlines.
  • Exchange Money – shop around a little in the weeks before you go to get a good rate for your cash, there are plenty of places on many a high street where you can walk in and exchange currency, however some online services can offer a better rate and come with next day special delivery options so double check – or run a price comparison – before you commmit.
  • Inform Bank / Credit Card Company (CCC) – if your bank / CCC allows it, then it could be a good idea to contact them and let them know you intend to travel and to expect transactions from a different location. Whilst this doesn’t always prevent stops being placed on your accounts, it’s still worth doing. Please note: some banks and CCC’s no longer require you to inform them of your travel plans, so please check what your providers ask.

 

Ultimate Travel Guide Holiday Checklist

 

The Day Before You Go

  • Double Check Itinerary – now is the time to look over your itinerary again, make sure you have all the necessary timings and documents to get you where you need to be.
  • Finish Packing – if you prepared in the weeks leading up to your travel date, this should be easy! Pack away everything you’ve chosen to taken with you, use the rolling method with your clothes to really make the most of the room in your case.
  • Liquids – check that your liquids will fit into the pre-measured clear bag (I usually grab a handful every time I’m at the airport so I can pack the liquids bag ahead of time). Decant anything over 100mls into travel sized bottles.
  • Charge EVERYTHING – put all of your electricals on to charge: phones, battery packs, laptops, tablets, electric toothbrushes… charge them all fully and then pack them in your case or hand luggage once they’re done.
  • Cash – make sure you have a little bit of your local currency in your purse / wallet as it’s handy to have some cash for anything that might crop up before you jump on the plane.
  • Last Minute Chores – here is where you take care of last few domestic tasks. Water your plants, throw away or donate any perishable food that will go off while you’re away, take the bins out, put your lights on the timers etc.

 

You’re nearly there! If you’ve followed the holiday checklist so far you should feel calm, collected, and most importantly prepared on your travel date. So put on your comfy travelling outfit, pack your toothbrush and the last of your toiletries, turn all your plugs off, lock all the windows, and – last but not least – don’t forget your passport!

Travelling, whether for business or leisure doesn’t need to be complicated. The most important thing to remember is that preparing well – either using our holiday checklist or a more tailored version, being comfortable, and doing everything you can to enjoy the ride are surefire ways to ensure you start your journey in the most positive way possible. Now, go forth and have excellent adventures!

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Embracing ‘Smart Casual’ – A Monochrome Look feat. Damart

Smart Casual Monochrome Jacket Cropped Trouser Plus Size Fashion From Damart

 

I spent the vast majority of the office-based period of my working life in fear of ‘smart casual’. Because, really, what does it even mean?? It’s such a non-specific dress code; and just as I’d gotten used to one workplace’s definition of smart casual, an interview or change of job would come along which meant I had to go through the whole agonising process all over again.

When you add the sourcing and wearing of plus size clothes into the ‘smart casual’ mix, putting together outfits that fulfil the criteria but still feel like your kind of style becomes really difficult. How did I deal with it? Well, I lived in cardigans and black jersey skirts: which is fine, but not much fun.

 Smart Casual Plus Size Outfit from Damart

When Damart got in touch and asked if I’d like to review some of their new styles for She Might Be, I went to their online catalogue and found some great smart casual options in the collections on offer. It was also nice to see that the majority of their lines run to a size UK28, with some also running to a UK30 & 32. I’ll confess to never having browsed their clothes before, but if you’re into classic styles and shapes (as I am for workwear) then they’re worth a look.

I chose the monochrome Milano Jacket* (because I’m really into the print) and this super sleek pair of 7/8 length trousers*. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to try and wear trousers more often in 2018, and I as I have never worn trousers to the office in my entire working life I thought I’d challenge myself to wear them for this look.

 

Damart Monochrome Blazer and Cropped Trousers

 

 7:8 length trousers black roll neck and longline blazer damart

 

The Milano jacket is so comfortable! It’s cut to be long in the body, which is perfect for wearing with trousers or over dresses. The material has a decent bit of stretch in it which I found to be super useful for my upper arms. The sizing is really generous, I picked up my usual size and found it to be accommodating enough that I could have worn a thicker jumper underneath it with no issues.

The trousers, on the other hand, run pretty small. They fit me but they’re designed to be looser in the leg than they appear on me. I’m a fan of the length and I do really like the design, but I think sizing up once would have been a wiser move. Regardless, they’re still very wearable… just maybe not out for dinner!

Monochrome Milano Geometric Print Blazer from Damart

I’m aware that there is a strong 80’s executive vibe to this outfit but I don’t hate it at all. If I wore this outfit to a job interview I’d feel comfortable, confident and most importantly like myself. I’m really looking forward to recreating this entire look and swapping the trousers for black Mom jeans, and I’ll definitely be finding more ways to wear these black ankle grazers.

The concept of a smart casual dress code is so vague that although this look to me feels like I’ve 100% nailed it, someone else might think that this comes down way too much on either the casual or the smart size. That’s cool, because everyone views fashion and style in a different way and it would be boring if we all liked the same things!

The best way I can think of to tackle smart casual is, really, to just wear things that you enjoy wearing. Unless your workplace has a set of hard n’ fast rules for dressing, then most people at the office will be winging it too so – if you’re able to – try and have some fun with it.

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this post contains items that were gifted for review, however all opinions remain my own.
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How to Find Your Perfect Wedding Venue

How To Find The Perfect Wedding Venue

One of the biggest challenges we came up against at the very beginning of our wedding planning was trying to find the perfect wedding venue. No matter how hard we looked, nothing was really standing out as somewhere we could see ourselves getting married. Added to that, there’s just so much choice, it was a little overwhelming and made a tough choice almost impossible. We kept worrying: what if we missed ‘the one’ because there were just too many to weigh up properly?

After many, many, many hours of searching around online and getting nowhere it was time to start thinking outside the box a little bit. I spent some time thinking about exactly what we wanted from our venue, and used some alternative methods to track down that one perfect place. If you’re faced with the same tough choice, I thought I’d share with you some tips and tricks we used that just might help you find your very own perfect wedding venue.

Location

Initially, we didn’t really have any particular location in mind – other than the UK in general – and this was probably our first mistake. We thought keeping the location so open would make finding somewhere that little bit different so much easier, but in reality, for every idea we had there were endless venues across the country that fit the bill.

Narrowing down the ‘where’ really helps with making solid decisions further down the line. Sometimes having too many options means you can’t see the wood for the trees, having a smaller pool of venues to choose from helped us make a better decision because we had more time to visit places and consider them properly.

Theme

Are you thinking of having a themed wedding? This can actually be a huge help for choosing your perfect venue. A theme doesn’t necessarily have to be something very specific like ‘Disney’ or ‘Wes Anderson films’, it can be more of a vague aesthetic; including the time of year you choose.

If you love the idea of a winter wedding, then a venue that relies heavily on it’s outdoor space might not be the one for you. However, if you’re looking to get married in the spring or summer, then those kinds of lovely country house venues with tons of outdoor space (like these stunning ones from Bijou Weddings) would fit the bill perfectly.

Guest List

Another factor to consider is how many people you’re inviting. There are many ‘non-traditional’ venues that cater to smaller and more intimate groups, such as bars and restaurants, which can have such beautiful decor that you could save a fortune on the cost of decorating yourself!

Social Media

Once you’ve narrowed down the location, theme and guest list you should have a really good idea of what kind of venue will be perfect for your wedding day and in which area. If all the usual avenues of tracking somewhere down – such as google searches and local word of mouth – are turning up a blank, then try turning to social media for help.

Wedding groups on Facebook are great for recommendations from people local to the area you want to get married in, you can even get some excellent advice from brides who have used venues exactly like the one you’re looking for! Searching through hashtags on Instagram and Twitter is another great way of using social media to find venues too, try hashtags for where you want to get married or ones related to your theme for the best results.

Hopefully, the above tips will help you on your way and give you some additional ideas to find your perfect wedding venue. How did you find yours? Did you find it to be a challenge or was coming across your dream venue relatively easy? Please share your experiences in the comments to help other brides- and grooms-to-be in their quest for the perfect venue!

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Affordable Plus Size Lingerie feat. Perfect4U (with Giveaway!)

Valentine’s Day is on it’s way, and if this particular time of year has you on the lookout for some nice plus size lingerie or nightwear then I have got a great recommendation for you today. Not only that, there’s an opportunity for you to WIN some fabulous Perfect4u with our giveaway at the end of this post!

 

Double Layer Fab Plus Size Black Lace Nightwear Plus, Perfect4U

 

Perfect4u are a new-to-me brand that sell super affordable lingerie, slips, bodysuits and robes up to a size UK32 in most cases. There’s a whole host of gorgeous satin and lace pieces as well as really fun patterns such as polka dot on mesh. They also stock some great basics, with a range of practical and comfy tank tops or vests.

 

I chose a couple of items from their current range to review for this post: the Black Lace Robe with Satin Belt in a size UK18/20 and the Double Layer Fab Plus Size Black Lace Nightwear also in a size UK18/20. Even though I chose them to wear separately, it turns out that they also go really well together.

 

 Affordable Plus Size Lingerie Double Layer Black Babydoll, Perfect4U

 

First of all let’s talk about the robe: it has loose kimono-style sleeves that fall below the elbow and the hem comes to upper thigh on me (I’m 5’10” for reference). I love the pattern of the lace because it’s not a run-of-the-mill floral design, it has a more crochet feel to it instead. The sizing is spot on. Dual sizing can sometimes be a little off, but here I felt that it fit very comfortably and the satin tie belt (although not worn here) fit with adequate length left over.

 

I really like this robe, it’s incredibly light and soft, and although it’s delicate it did not pull too easily. When the summer comes around I’ll be 100% wearing this over a strappy dress or top.

 

 Affordable Plus Size Lingerie, Perfect4UPlus Size Lingerie Fabulous Black Lace Robe Perfect4U

 

Next up is the double layer chemise, a lace with mesh creation that for me strikes a really good balance between sexy and comfortable. One of my favourite things about it (apart from the double layered skirt) is the elasticated and adjustable straps which give you so much control over how it fits.

 

The only downside with the chemise is the amount of support it offers… which is absolutely none. This usually doesn’t bother me but, as you can see in the pictures, in this case I needed to wear a bra underneath for support. Otherwise, the sizing is pretty generous and I’m fond of the cute bow at the front.

 

 Perfect4u Plus Size Lingerie Lace Robe and Black Nightie, Perfect4U

 

Overall, the quality of these pieces is really good and the price point is outstanding. I’m so happy to have found another great place to find affordable plus size lingerie because you can never have too much choice, right?! If you’re interested in grabbing something of your own from Perfect4u, for Valentine’s Day or otherwise, then make sure you enter our giveaway below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Identities: What Being Disabled Means to Me

Identities what being disabled means to me

Being disabled is just one of many identities I have, but it’s perhaps the most important to me. I ‘became’ disabled as an adult so the word wasn’t one I immediately and comfortably identified with, this was down to my own preconceived ideas about disability and what I thought it meant.

I wasn’t convinced that my illness really qualified as a disability, I wasn’t sure that I was ‘disabled enough’ and even if I were, did I really want to apply the term to myself?

As someone with a lot of privilege it was up to me to take the time to learn and unpick my feelings about disabled as a label and my reluctance to identify as such. I did, and I don’t expect or deserve any congratulations for it.

It’s important to me now – as my disability is invisible – that I actively identify as and call myself disabled. It’s crucial that different types of disability are represented clearly and often, as many abled people just haven’t had any experience of seeing, knowing, or even talking with disabled people… or rather, they think they haven’t. I feel that this is where many of the ill-informed preconceptions about disabled people come from; lack of experience, lack of awareness.

My disability means that I experience day to day life differently now than I did previously; I space out any activities and try not to take on too much. I work extremely part time from home. I prepare, plan ahead and ask for help. I have to find out if new places are accessible as so, so many aren’t.

It’s incredibly frustrating that rather than not being able to do stuff independently, it’s more a case of the world outside my home not being set up for me to use it easily on my own. My world is a lot smaller than it was before; I spend a lot of time within these four walls. I wish it was different. I want to help make it better.

As such, for me an important part of my identity as a disabled person is campaigning for change. There is so much to fight for right now: representation, rights, accessibility, financial support, benefits, equality… the list goes on. I do what I can when I’m able to, I’m also incredibly grateful when others turn up and shout for the cause when I’m not able to.

Being disabled is not automatically a negative thing and I regret ever having seen it as such. It’s changed the way I experience life and it’s changed my attitudes in many ways; but having said all of the above, I’m still fundamentally the same person (and can still be a complete nightmare at times).

For more perspectives on disability, identity, and what that means to different people then please head on over and watch this video series called ‘Identities’. Each short film takes the form of interviews with disabled people and documentary footage of their lives with a focus on each individual’s opinions and experiences; I found all three videos to be incredibly thoughtful and interesting.

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Making Friends as an Adult; An Online Guide

In my late teens and early twenties I worked in a whole load of short term office jobs, and during this time I found one of the office-chatter subjects I ended up talking about most often was the amount of addresses I had had in my life so far. At one point it was nearing the same number as years I’d been alive. My new colleagues would often be kinda surprised and ask how on earth I’d managed it, and the answer was just that my family moved a lot (comparatively to others around me) which is a habit I seem to have kept up with as an adult.

 

Making Friends as an Adult an Online Guide

 

I just can’t seem to stay put for more than a couple of years at a time!

Of course, the downside to moving all the time is finding people to hang out with. Forming new friendships was a thousand times easier when I was younger, both because of my age and because I was spending 8 hours a day in an actual workplace with people. Socialising with your new colleagues is the perfect way to get to know a place and settle into a new area, even if you’re never going to be each other’s new besties. But what if, as is my situation now, you work from home? How can you make new friends as an adult if you never really leave the house, for whatever reason?

Well, as with a lot of these sorts of dilemmas, the logical answer is to turn to the internet. With so much of my life lived online already, online solutions to chat with and meet people seemed like a good start. I have a great circle of ‘online’ friends, as well as mutuals who I enjoy getting to know and chatting with over on places like Twitter and Instagram. This circle has taken me a little while to build up, as I’m turning into a bit of an introvert in my old age too, but my online pals are scattered across the UK and the rest of the world – so whilst I love that they’re in my life, however large or small a part they play, none are really able to pop round for a coffee.

So I started to think about how I could meet people online who a lot more local to me. One fun way has been – as I’m a blogger – chatting to local bloggers through facebook groups and insta hashtags. Even though this might seem blogger specific, you can do the same with any hobby or interest. Plus, having the shared hobby means there’s no real danger of running out of things to talk about too!

Another option is using what are traditionally seen as ‘dating’ sites, as so many of them these days are geared towards making non-romantic friendships too. Aside from the big names in the dating world, there are some more specialist and localised sites that are worth looking at too:

  • Vina – billed as Tinder for female friends, a global app which now covers the whole of the UK
  • county-specific sites – these cover much of the UK such as the Cambridgeshire dating site, Surrey dating or Norfolk dating
  • Meetup – you propose a group activity (whether it be a night out, a coffee or a country walk) and others on the site with the same interests RSVP and come along. Great for meeting pals in a low pressure group setting
  • city specific sites – these hyper local sites cover most major UK cities and towns such as Glasgow dating and Aberdeen dating.

If none of those above appeal to you, have a search around online as honestly, there are loads. If you know of any great places online for meeting new people and making new friends then do let us know in the comments so we can add to the list!

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Getting to Grips With Using a Stick

Getting to Grips with using a stick

 

In the past 18 months or so, the symptoms of my chronic illness have meant that there are some days that I need to use a stick to assist my walking or else I can’t leave the house. I started out with some standard, NHS-issue grey crutches while I got used to using an aid to walk; but I found these ultimately to be quite heavy and painful on my arms and across my shoulders. So last year I finally took the plunge and began to look for something that was more permanent, lighter and easier to use.

While browsing online, I found that there was a world of brilliantly designed sticks out there in loads of colours, patterns and for almost any purpose you could think of. Something so simple as having a wide choice of designs available was ultimately really helpful to me in coming to terms with using a stick as a mobility aid, as I was able to find something that I felt expressed my personality a little and could even coordinate with my outfits!

 Getting to grips with using a stick image 2

 

Through a bit of trial and error with different kinds, I discovered that my absolute favourite type of walking stick are the folding ones. They have an adjustable height feature so I can change the height dependent on the shoes I am wearing and, happily for me, they often come in the widest range of colours and patterns. The collapsable design is ideal as sometimes I feel fine when I leave the house but get worse throughout the day, so I can stow my stick away in my handbag in case I find that I need to start using it at some point. To round it all off, I’ve found this type to be really affordable too.

I also love the type of stick which opens out into a stool on three legs; although they cost a little more they are perfect for going to gigs or festivals, or for any place you find yourself that has the potential to be ‘standing room only’.

Now that I’ve turned into a bit of a collector of different patterns and colours of walking stick, I love to match them to what I’m wearing. Just because I need to use a stick doesn’t mean I can’t feel stylish and look great when I want to.

I know it might sound superficial but treating my stick as part of my outfit, and sometimes planning what I wear around it, helped me so much. It really opened the door to me starting to see it as a positive thing. Because honestly all I could see were the negatives at first, which meant that I was ignoring the hugely obvious benefit: I could actually leave the house independently on some of my worst days when that just wasn’t possible before.

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