My team thought they’d play hard to get and leave you all guessing as to what their seasonal favourites are in recent months (how rude of them, I know!) but I’m pleased to say that they’re back in all of their glory for LEM Team favourites – The Winter Edition.
Given that aside from our mutual love of fur babies, we’re all fairly different (I mean, Carrie and Fi share DNA but that’s besides the point!) I always look forward to reading what their favourites have been so I hope you enjoy getting to know them better too.
SKIN TYPE – Normal to dry, prone to sensitivity with weather changes or hormonal fluctuations.
HAIR TYPE – Half wavy, half curly, fine but lots and lots of it.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL – Minimal effort always!
INTERESTS – Food and wine, cooking, my little Bolly Moo, hiking, travelling, date days with my friends, staycations.
BEAUTY – These Dr Dennis Gross retinol pads have been my night time skincare saviour for when I’ve stayed away from home in recent weeks. If I’m only away for a night or two, I hate having to pack countless toiletry bottles so products that deliver such great results without having to take a few kgs of baggage are right up my street for super fast packing. The tingle it leaves on your skin that you’re all ‘clean’ feeling and glowy – heaven! It really is a super find.
BOOK – I always ask for books at Christmas as I love nothing more than unwinding with a good read, snuggled in my pyjamas and a hot chocolate – pure bliss! I tend to go for crime thrillers, but Malibu Rising by one of my favourite authors, Taylor Jenkins Reid, was the perfect escapism read over the Christmas break. Set in Malibu (no kidding!) it gave me all the ‘must book a holiday to the sunshine soon’ vibes but kept me hooked throughout and engrossed for hours on end. A light and easy feel good read, I loved it.
I also devoured Blood Orange by Harriet Type. Far more my usual ‘type’ of book (thriller fiction FYI), and the twists in this went through the roof- so very clever. Utterly loved it!
RESTAURANT – French Affaire in Stony Stratford. It was my anniversary in January and so the man and I booked a table to this little gem near us. I have been a long term fan of French Affaire (since opening day, literally!) but ashamedly, this was the first time we had visited for dinner. With live acoustic music, a bloody beautiful bottle of Medoc, gorgeous salmon starter and melt-in-the-mouth fillet steak, it was pure joy. The owners also made us a gluten-free chocolate hazelnut delice as a gift for our anniversary which was so kind and so scrummy to end the meal. It was so wonderful I’ve booked to take my family there in a few weeks’ time.
FOOD OR DRINK ITEM – Romanian Pinot Noir. Yup, I hadn’t tried Romanian wine before either. Well, not *good* Romanian wine. However on a mini break in Somerset, we booked for a Sunday roast at The Sheppey (side note: their wine list was so impressive) and this particular wine, Paparuda Pinot Noir, Estate Selection – OH. MY. GOD. I was actually annoyed I was driving so only had a glass but it made me want to curl up by the fire all afternoon. Rich and warming and everything I wanted with my roast beef.
NEW PURCHASE – A pair of lace up Zara Boots in the sale, reduced to £70. I have not stopped wearing them! I’m very much a boots and dresses girl and they’re casual enough for a day dress but smart enough to wear to dinner. Instant love.
GAME CHANGING FIND – So, I am incredibly partial to a spritzer when I’d like a glass of wine but don’t want the heaviness of a whole glass. Safe to say, I was going through bottles of soda water like there was no tomorrow and despite recycling them, I felt terrible for the waste. Enter Soda Stream. My world has been rocked. It’s slimline, so, so easy to use and means I have a constant supply… to the point where I’m now having sparkling squash just because I can. So rock and roll Carrie, I know…
PODCAST EPISODE – I’ve had a little break from podcasts recently, for no particular reason. I just noticed I was walking Bolly and listening to nature instead. Sunrise in the fields with the birds waking and the sheep has accompanied my quiet time for the past few weeks and it’s been wonderful.
MONTHLY MANTRA – ‘We are all becoming human doings, not human beings.’ We need to step back and allow ourselves space to just ‘be’ rather than living on a constant to-do list. It really struck a chord! As someone who prides themselves on my level of organisation, juggling working, renovating a house, seeing friends and family and being social again (hoorah!) means that the level of overwhelm for the never ending stream of new things to consider or action has been really intense lately. This therefore just resonated at all the right levels. A perfect reminder to stop, breathe, and remember that I still need to ensure I prioritise my own happiness over burnout!
RECIPE – I have spent a lot more time baking new things this last few months, trialling new recipes so I don’t get stuck in the same rut. This has been to varying success! A new fruit cake recipe was so solid you could have built a house with it (but tasted decent enough so some tweaking needed!) However, sometimes, cravings just prevail and for a wine hike with Lydia and Carly, I baked a batch of my own recipe salted dark chocolate, peanut and pecan cookies and they were just what the doctor ordered!
SKIN TYPE – Normal/Fair – leave me for 10 minutes in the sun and I’ll fry like a tomato!
HAIR TYPE – As my hairdresser always says, “you don’t have thick hair Fi, you just have a ton of it..!”
MAINTENANCE LEVEL – Minimal effort/the basics unless I’m going out out, in which case I might go wild and curl my hair!
INTERESTS – Cooking, exercise (I rotate between HIIT, yoga, pilates, running and horse riding), discovering new coffee shops, supporting indie businesses and spending time with family/ friends/fur babies.
BEAUTY – I’m a workout first thing kind of girl so my morning shower is not just a necessity post-sweat sesh (!) but something I look forward to because I know that I’ve ticked off my ‘move your body and look after yourself’ box for the day. With that in mind, if there’s one beauty/wellness product that I’m always keen to stock up on, it’s a shower gel that matches my morning mood! Elemis’s Sharp Shower Body Wash is my current favourite along with Sukin’s Signature Botanical Body Wash (the latter of which I picked up in home sense for a bargain!)
RESTAURANT – My partner grew up on the outskirts of Edinburgh so after many an hour or two spent comparing recommendations on Trip Advisor for date nights, we finally settled on Taisteal when we went up there at Christmas – a family-run restaurant in the heart of town that combines local Scottish produce with culinary techniques from around the world. Not only was it 5* food as we’d hoped for but the service and atmosphere was incredible without feeling pretentious. Well worth a visit if you’re heading that way soon!
FOOD OR DRINK ITEM – We’re very lucky that we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to drinks at the office but I remain a Pukka girl at heart, through and through! Once I’ve got my two back-to-back coffees out of the way first thing, their ‘three mint’ tea is my ultimate go-to in the afternoon/evening but I’m partial to their ‘feel good’ blend too.
NEW PURCHASE – I asked Santa for the Our Place ‘Perfect pan’ for Christmas after falling for their oh so crafty Instagram ads that had been sending hints my way for months (!) and I’m so glad that I did because it’s lived up to the hype. Not only is the non-stick on this thing up there with the best but it also comes in an array of gorgeous colours to match any kitchen. Carrie’s boyfriend got me the add-on bamboo steamer too so I plan to raise my dim sum/bao bun game in the coming weeks. Watch this space..!
GAME CHANGING FIND – It’s not exactly something you can purchase right away but next time you get your nails done (if you get them done that is) ask your nail technician to add The Gel Bottle Inc’s ‘Builder In A Bottle’ under the colour. I had my nails done for a recent ski trip 2+ weeks ago and 17 days later, all 10 nails are going strong. I also used these SPF 50 drops from Rodial when I was on the slopes and they worked a dream for the winter sunshine!
PODCAST EPISODE – I feel like I’ve listened to so many good podcast episodes recently so I don’t want to narrow it down to just one! The Skye Marshall and Julianne Hough episodes of Sophia Bush’s ‘Work In Progress’ are an amazing insight into how successful women navigate the ebbs and flows of life. Carrie’s already mentioned Jamie Oliver on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place but that too was such a great example of resilience at its finest. And I also loved the Jake Humphrey/Fearne Cotton crossover at Christmas where the quote I’m about to share below was discussed in full.
MONTHLY MANTRA – “It might not be your fault but it is your responsibility.” Lydia briefly mentioned the chat we all had about this quote in her recent blog post but this quote from Jake Humphrey helped me to summarise how I feel about so much of the comparison/blame culture we’re all living through right now. For me, these words are a great reminder that no matter how unfair or tough our individual circumstances might feel at times, instead of projecting our insecurities and frustrations on others, it’s on us and only us to do something about them.
RECIPE – I wish I could blow you all away with some incredible bao bun recipe but the steamer has yet to make its debut! With that in mind, I’ll just share a very simple but reliable pistachio and cranberry biscotti recipe that I turned to last Sunday when I fancied a baking sesh. They make for the perfect post-lunch pick me up in my eyes so much so that I’d 100% double the recipe!
SKIN TYPE – Very fair (reflective), I burn easily but can get a light tan.
HAIR TYPE – Long, thick, frizzy and wavy (It’s my Irish heritage). Naturally light brown/dark blonde but dyed fiery copper red. Please note: Not always brushed.
MAINTENANCE LEVEL – Usually very low maintenance. I’m a no makeup and jeans kind of girl but I love to bust out the gold sparkles and a bright red lip for a night out.
INTERESTS – I’m learning to cook and absolutely loving it; painting is something I’ve enjoyed for several years and don’t do nearly enough of. I’ve loved reading since I was three years old and this year I’m planning to learn photography.
BEAUTY – Now that we’re in the midst of the winter weather I am treating my skin to this incredible Sunday Riley Good Genes Glycolic Acid Treatment once or twice a week. It “smooths, refines, clarifies and brightens, whilst improving your skin’s thickness and elasticity” and the results I get from this are unlike anything else I’ve tried. If you’ve found any good alternatives then please let me know though because this one is eye-wateringly pricey! Beware, if you’ve not used acid treatments before then it may sting a little at first, but now that I use this regularly I no longer have this issue.
BOOK – My sister-in-law gave me The Shadow of the Wind after she was finished with it at Christmas and I just fell in love with this world of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I remember everyone talking about this book when it first came out way back in… (I don’t want to say the year because I’ve just realised how long ago it was!) and I refused to read it at the time because of all the ‘hype’. Well, the hype was justified in my opinion, because this has murder, romance, mystery, drama, the lot!! I’m looking forward to reading the other three books in this series.
RESTAURANT – After so many months of lockdowns since the start of the pandemic, plus my husband being away a lot for his work, we managed to have a long overdue date night on Southbank just before Christmas. We had one of our first dates along the Southbank almost 10 years ago so it was a nostalgic trip back for us and this time we went to Cantina del Ponte and the food was great. The other diners were all having the Tiramisu for dessert, so that is obviously a popular choice, but I went for the Pannacotta – deliciously wobbly and decadent.
FOOD OR DRINK ITEM – As I wasn’t drinking over Christmas and neither was my cousin’s husband (a police sergeant) we were drinking Eisberg Sparkling White from Waitrose. It’s a delicious alcohol-free sparkling wine which seems to have been so popular that it’s now sold out everywhere. But I do have my eye on Real Royal Flush to try next…
NEW PURCHASE – After finding a good risotto recipe towards the end of last year I quickly realised my kitchen pots weren’t up to scratch so found this Procook casserole dish which is perfect for making risottos. They are a fraction of the price of Le Creuset cookware but with outstanding quality! Having googled them extensively before buying (I’m that person) I found out they can also be used for making bread too, so that’s next on my recipe list to try.
GAME CHANGING FIND – In the chaos of packing after Christmas at my inlaws, we left our electric toothbrush charger up there. Jumping on to Amazon in a panic I found out that electric toothbrush chargers WITH USB PORTS CONNECTIONS are a thing!!! Say goodbye to stupid bulky adapter plugs or having to rely on shaver sockets in the walls (we don’t have these). Honestly game changing, in my opinion.
PODCAST EPISODE – After taking a podcast break over Christmas to get stuck into more books, I started back in this month with Fearne Cotton’s guest appearance on The Diary of A CEO. They chat about ‘ imposter syndrome’ and ‘the consequences of acting’ amongst other topics and it’s a great listen for all women, not just those in business.
MONTHLY MANTRA – “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
RECIPE – At the end of November the Royal Family’s chefs posted their Christmas pudding recipe on Instagram so I bravely and heroically offered to make one for the big family dinner this year. After making a call to my mother-in-law to make sure she would have a backup pudding on standby, should it all go t**s up, I set to work… The mixing is simple, the steaming takes ages. I steamed them for 7 hours when I first made them up and then a further 2 hours on Christmas day to reheat. Pour a strong liquor over the top and then flame on! Both puddings I made were inhaled and not a crumb was left behind so my family thoroughly recommends this Royal recipe. Also, a massive shout out to the adorable old married couple in Tesco for helping me choose the right beer for my recipe (Newquay Brown Ale) and giving me the best cooking times. The husband actually ran off to get his wife from the other side of the supermarket when he realised I needed help making a Christmas pudding because according to him she “makes the best Christmas puddings in the world!” NOTE – I have also been told it’s a good idea to start making next (this) year’s pudding now and topping it up with more brandy every couple of months.
HI There! I have a question on where I may purchase Lydia’s beautiful wood oval vanity mirror? Any information would be appreciated!
Thank you, Ilene Anderson-Charleston,South Carolina ,USA