We’re all at risk of high-speeding it through the digital highways with the inevitable not-so-good-knock-on effect on real life, and we all need to remember to soft pedal it at times, for our health, sanity and loved ones. The funny thing about slowing it all down is that the important things do carry on happening, so you realise how much the apparent necessity of continuous momentum is in your head…
Or so I like to think. 😉 We’re taking our first tentative steps into summer holidays and I have one more week (the boys are away up north!) to work before we embrace a proper break, fully en famille. Preparing myself, I realise that possibly I’m a bit ragged around the edges and a bit overtired. So I’m looking to the things that make me step back and slow down a bit, that help me re-centre, rebalance and remind me of the value of allowing some time to think a little as well as focus on self…
Last week I hopped on the train to St Albans to meet Emily Mathieson. A travel writer and former travel editor at the Guardian and Condé Nast Traveller, last year Emily launched her online shop Aerende. Of course, the simple beauty and soft muted colours of the homewares immediately takes hold of you, but looking deeper, the real aim and ethos of the brand becomes apparent. A lover of beautiful things, Emily also cares deeply about the who, what and where behind them. Emily’s business is a social enterprise working with charities in the UK supporting people facing social challenges in work – those with disabilities, mental health problems, prisoners, women refugees and those struggling to find work.
As we chatted, I absorbed Emily’s passion and enthusiasm for a slower, more thoughtfully paced consumerism that gives something back to the community while falling madly for her aesthetic – a separate interview and house tour will be up soon! – and beautiful way of living. The pieces I’ve included in the edit today hopefully give a good overview of what you’ll find on the site – a handmade stoneware coffee cup & saucer made at The Grange, a residential Gloucestershire estate for adults with learning disabilities; espadrilles made from waste leather and hand-stitched by women in east London facing barriers to work (go up a size in these!); and an organic cotton & linen cushion sewn by rehoused refugee women in London receiving support from the Refugee Council. But go take a look for yourself, there are beautiful baskets, table linen, plant hangers and so much more!
Coffee cup | Aerende
Espadrilles | Aerende
Cushion | Aerende
I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to come round to and feel an affinity with initialled pieces – I remember personalisation landing in the blogging world with a bang a few years ago and at the time hurriedly deciding that it wasn’t for me. I’m guessing it may be to do with my own issues – I had a childhood nickname for so long that my own name never really felt like me. However, I have since made my peace to the point I have jewellery with all our initials, and now very much so, in the form of this perfect little envelope bag by Aurora London, which couldn’t be more right for those times when you only want keys, phone and a purse with you.
Designed in London by former marketing & PR duo Sarah Auerbach and Devina Dicarlo (ex LVMH, Bell Pottinger and L’Oreal) and made by artisans in Spain, the bags – I was able to check out a few of the designs – feel seriously luxurious and well-made. And for a price that is extremely reasonable. The little Willow is the ideal for evening or even as passport & money pouch while travelling. I’ve taken to knotting longer straps and wearing them higher cross-body fyi. 😉
One thing I will be tucking into even my smallest bag is a therapy balm stick from Scentered. Scented with essential oils, you apply to your wrists and take a relaxing sniff to engender a sense of calm and relaxation, happy or focussed feelings. My mum’s always been a big fan of these; I think it’s so easy to forget what a strong impact scents can have on our mood and emotions. I adore the sandalwood of Escape, which is good for when you’re feeling tired. There’s scents for de-stressing, love and sleep, all equally delicious. And I always think things like this make for a sweet and soothing present for someone you care about.
I’ve also be using on repeat the Hello Sunshine body oil from MOA, which is nice and reviving with its eucalyptus and lemongrass. In the bath too actually, as all scented oils seem to have this double purpose in life and I chugged through the Bath Oil pretty damn quick. Baths are very much my saviour for stiff muscles and frazzled nerves these days! And I always keep a pot of Green Balm by my bed to slather on my dry heels (although having a mid-summer rare moment of not so dry right now, hurrah!)…
Bag | Aurora London
Therapy balm | Scentered
Body oil | MOA
There’s wearing sunhats because they look nice – in which case they often start to quickly annoy me…! – and there’s wearing sunhats because it’s bloody hot and you need to shield yourself from the sun. In which case, they really come into their own. I’ve had one most trusty see me through my recent Greece trips and which having been stuffed into suitcases, handbags and invariably sat on, is looking wonderfully worn & battered and I love it all the more for it.
However, the Italian glamour puss in me (curses, for she does exist!) craves something a little more elegant. Which I discovered in the shape of this wonderful vintage style (why am I thinking 50s?) style with a sweet little neck tie – from one of my favourite Spanish accessory brands Malababa. It hangs exquisitely round the neck, down the back. And perhaps, maybe, might, at moments, be all about the look and yet with such a broad brim a total lifesaver next month in Algarvian hot August, right?
Hat | Malababa
Furthering my adventures into makeup – now that I seem to have nailed bronzer, well at least I think I have! – is iconic NARS multiple Orgasm stick which I guess is make-up made pretty easy. It’s a stick of soft pink, which you can put a bit of (I use fingers, apprehensive as ever) onto your cheeks to brighten you up a bit, and should things get a really crazy, a small amount applied to lips seems to look pretty sweet.
I don’t know why I was surprised when the Oskia face cleanser came out a pleasing shade of peachy-pink-pumpkin, somehow I’d just assumed it’d be white! A pleasing number of nutrients for someone entering the fourth decade – Vits A, B2, C & E, starflower oil and magnesium – and good cleaning action has had me reaching for it again and again. I’m starting to get a feel for why Oskia is such a beauty world favourite; they say they use clean ingredients and avoid harmful synthetic chemicals and the special formulations they use are aimed at preventing and as well as correcting.
I’ve also been using the Eye Wonder and the slightly eye-wateringly priced Super 16 serum morning and night, but must say I can’t remember my skin looking quite so un-finelined, especially around the eyes. Not the cheapest why to go about it, but definitely one that works. Now that I’m knocking out red meat and alcohol for overall health and in an attempt to lower iron levels, I reckon I could trade these products in…
Makeup stick | NARS
Face cleanser | Oskia
I like summer sandals that you don’t have to bend over and do up. No straps please. Because then I will wear them most days, if not every day. Bizarrely, I only have a couple of pairs that actually fit this description, a two decades old pair of Jigsaw thong sandals and flip flops. So time for an update I think. I’ve been eyeing up ATP Atelier for near on a year now. Ever since I first spied the cutout style, which are so wonderfully elegant & different, but in the end just cover up to much foot. And then I got distracted by the new braided Ancient Greek Sandals, but they felt just a little too bare and probably not that easy to slip on. So in true Goldilocks style, the minute I saw the ‘just right’ ones, I pounced.
I thought I wanted black, which I couldn’t find on Net-a-Porter, but settled for the wine coloured pair, which, in the end, turn out to go with everything and are so refreshing in that, they are not black. And they are shaped exactly right for my foot and there’s no foofaraw slipping on them on, no toe curling or foot shimmying, they just glide on like dream. And they are comfort defined. I imagine to have these for the next 20 years, so prepping you now…
Sandals | ATP Ateliar at Net-a-Porter
More essential oils, organic for beauty and for home too. I love a mother and daughter team coming together to create something they are both passionate about. KINN is Soil Association COSMOS certified, non-toxic, vegan and cruelty-free brand created by property entrepreneur Maria Levabre and her interior designer daughter Sophie Lavabre-Barrow. The essential oil scents come through nice and strong in the bath and body oils, and to see home-cleaning products so beautifully packaged is quite the temptation, such a real treat to wipe down the kitchen surfaces and the do the washing up with delicious smelling lavender and rosemary. The washing up liquid comes in at £3.50 for 500ml, so Ecover is cheaper, but goodness it’s a whole different experience and works just as well.
Bath & body oils | KINN
I’m getting bolder and bolder with the shades. Moving from the safety of tortoiseshell wayfarers to something metallic and catseye to now the biggest, darkest matte frames I ever tried. And all I can think is how cool! How Marilyn! These are by celeb favourite Quay Australia – they’ve just done a collab with Kylie Jenner – and the fun oversized frames range from £35 to £55. I say try it, works wonders for making life feel a little lighter!
Sunglasses | Quay Australia
And to finish off with the most important self-help of all, a good night’s sleeps. I used to never need a sleep mask, I could snooze through the brightest daylight streaming through. And now, it’s not desperate, but if I wake early as light creeps in past the curtains, to ensure I get back to sleep I always have an eye mask to hand. And by the far the most luxurious ones around in sheer size and softness are by Holistic Silk. My current cotton print of swimming ladies is looking a little crumpled (not least because I make the mistake of letting my husband get his paws on it) but this beautiful new special edition anti-ageing deign for Port Eliot next weekend – I will definitely be popping in for some yoga at Holistic Silk’s ‘Instant Retreat’ in Lark’s Haven – is a real lavender-filled beauty with its double-sided satin silk (retains skin hydration & helps stop facial creasing; yes to less facial creasing!) and velvet ties… Zzzzz.
Sleep mask | Holistic Silk
*Some items in this post have been gifted for review; all styling and words my own.