Festive Admin: Get Through Your Christmas Checklist With Ease*

The festivities seem to already be in full swing- decorations are up around the shops, and all the adverts are out and giving us that warm Christmas feeling. It’s a busy (or hectic) time of year (well, they don’t call it party season for nothing) and there’ll be plenty of places to visit and faces to see over the coming weeks. However with everything happening so fast the weeks and days seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate before the big day arrives- along with the week following Christmas in the lead up to New Year. Therefore you’ll probably have a list as long as your arm in your head with things you need to organise, complete and sort out in good time so that you can relax and enjoy celebrating as much as possible.

It can be a challenge getting through all your tasks however big or small they are with time left to spare to relax and enjoy watching Home Alone, or thoroughly let yourself go at the office Christmas party. However the more you prepare and plan the next few weeks the more you’ll (or yule) have a fun and carefree Christmas ahead of you. Ensuring that you have everything on your list is the first step; so you’ll need to make sure that’s out of the way first so that you can begin working through it methodically and effectively. The following are some tips, ideas and inspiration for the ultimate Christmas admin list and will ensure that you’re the most organised elf this festive season.


Equipment At The Ready

When you go through the festive season you’re likely to have to decorate, wrap presents and you might even be partial to a spot of Christmas baking. Therefore there’s no time like the present to ensure that you have all you need in your cupboards to see you through each task. If you haven’t already it’s worth gathering an array of different wrapping papers, ribbons, cards, and more importantly, plenty of sellotape so that gift wrapping becomes a little easier. You don’t want to be buying one sheet of wrapping per present and running out to the supermarket to grab more sticky tape at 9 pm- this will only waste your time and money and send your stress levels up when you should be relaxing in front of Strictly. Brown parcel paper and washi tape can go a long way and create a beautiful-looking package so make sure that you have everything you need to be as creative and decorative as you want.

The same goes for anything that you want to create in the kitchen- stock up on the basics first, like flour, sugar, colouring, icing, spices and butter (you can freeze this) so that you can whip up a festive biscuit or cupcake whenever you want to. You can start looking through some of your favourite cookbooks for festive recipes- decide when would be a good time or great occasion to make things and begin to gather your cupboard and freezer ingredients so that you just have any fresh items to purchase nearer the time.

Thoughtful Gifts

When it comes to presents it really is the thought that counts, and it’s not about the size of a box or the cost of the gift that your recipients will appreciate. Therefore write your gift-giving list and have a think about what each person may enjoy and why. For your dad or boyfriend check out some unique gift ideas for men so that you’re not wrapping up socks again or aftershave. Perhaps you haven’t spent a great deal of time with your mum or bestie this year so you could book a spa day or an afternoon tea to enjoy together in January. Whatever you decide to get them make sure it shows you’ve taken the time to think of something special and meaningful.

Time To Prepare

The most crucial thing (that you might be lacking) during the upcoming weeks is the gift of time to do everything on your list. Therefore sit down for an hour or so and take a detailed look at your calendar. Prioritise social get-togethers with friends and family, utilise your free evenings and weekends to get your shopping, decorating, wrapping and cooking done and ensure that you get to see everyone you want to. Be the organiser= you can plan a couple of get-togethers with different groups of friends and visit a Christmas market or meet for dinner so that you’ve seen them all and can hand out cards and gifts. Make the most of the festivities and enjoy yourself knowing that you’ve got everything under control this season.


Gift Guides: Christmas at Home of Juniper

Like it or not we’re creeping ever closer to the festive season- two weeks today and it’ll officially be December, and try as I might I can’t help but feel a little bit excited about Christmas this year.

For my next gift guide instalment I’m returning to a brand I featured earlier in the year, Home of Juniper have some of the loveliest Christmas decorations and gift ideas I’ve seen and I can’t wait to share them with you.

grow your own christmas tree | solar chalet light | jewellery | mini christmas soap | peppermint and chocolate marshmallows | penguin decoration

I think the solar powered chalet light is my favourite item on the entire website right now- at £25.00 it’s an adorable AND affordable way to bring some festive cheer in to your home without being too obvious and is something I’d bring out year on year.
Other particular favourites are the little penguin decoration (penguin obsessive here) and the rather delicious sounding peppermint and chocolate marshmallows which I reckon would be absolutely divine popped in to a massive mug of hot chocolate.

Have any of these pieces caught your eye? Let me know in the comments if you’ve spotted anything you love from Home of Juniper.


5 Cheap Cities For Long Term Travel*


If you’re reading this article there’s a high chance you have a pretty long bucket list when it comes to travel, and with so much to do in such little time you might question whether the trend of “slow travel”- where one spends a reasonably long time in one place, for example a month, often working and fully integrating with the culture of the destination is a viable way to squeeze more from your travels, or whether slow travel is actually just slowing you down.

The thought behind “slow travel” is that by spending more time in one location- be that a few weeks or a few months, you can experience the city in more depth and more authentically. The term “like a local” is often used to describe the experience of getting beneath the surface of a city and living more like a local – however to do this in a weekend isn’t realistic no matter what guidebook you possess.

However, if you have a month or more to integrate with the local culture and genuinely live like a local, in that you rent a home and perhaps even get a part-time job; you will experience a whole new side of the city that is much richer than the typical tourist trail.


Chiang Mai is known as the “capital of the north”- Many would describe Chiang Mai as a mystical land of temples, rice paddies, monks and natural jungle. Whilst this is true for areas around Chiang Mai, the town turned city itself is pretty bustling and at times resembles a more relaxed version of Bangkok.

Chiang Mai is a digital nomad’s paradise with a high concentration of freelancers working from the many independent coffee shops and restaurants scattered around the city’s walls. There’s also a large university meaning the city has a young, vibrant and aspirational feel to it.

Finding somewhere cheap to live in Chiang Mai is pretty simple. There are several modern condos available for exclusive rent on AirBnB at a cost of just $10 per night if you are renting for a month or more. In terms of finding a more traditional short term lease there are property agents, but the majority require three to six months minimum stay.

Chiang Mai is a great place to have as a long term base, in which you can explore the rest of Thailand. With direct flights to Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui you are able to have a base in the North of Thailand (much cheaper than the south) and go on mini breaks to more exotic locations.


Istanbul has unfortunately received a lot of bad press in recent years, with terrorist attacks, political instability and social unrest bombarding the headlines. The truth is that whilst there are pockets of unrest Istanbul is a place where people get along with each other very well and there is a sense of community and brotherhood that instantly makes you feel part of the culture. Yes, there are the occasional demonstrations but on the whole Istanbul is a very safe city due to its police presence and security measures now in place.

Istanbul is much like London, New York and Paris in that it is is one of the world’s greatest cities, yet comparatively cheap to it’s western counterparts. The joy of Istanbul is the city retains a traditional and authentic feel yet is superbly modern, design oriented, relaxed and friendly.

Istanbul is unlike any other city in the world due to being separated by the Bosphorus Strait which divides Istanbul into two sides on two different continents- the European Side and the Asian Side. The European side offers the more modern side of the city with well known brands occupying prime real estate on the busy high street whilst independent hipster bars and coffee shops can be found nearer the river. Indeed the European side has a feel of San Francisco about it with all its unique and creative independent stores, cafes, restaurants and watering holes.

In terms of finding a property it’s this side of the river where you’ll find trendy loft apartments at a quarter of the price you would pay in New York. The Asian side, however, is a little more shabby and this is where you’re likely to find a great deal on a property. The Asian side has a much more “local” and rustic feel to it.


Marrakech is an incredibly colourful and vibrant city. The majority of people visit for just a short while as there is an element of endurance to be had with exploring Marrakech due to the frenetic pace, the hustle and bustle and, in summer at least – the sweltering heat.

Marrakech for some may feel like stepping into Disneyland in that it is such an overwhelming delight/attack on the senses. Whilst it provides a stark contrast to the Western World it is only a short hop on a cheap flight to Mainland Europe and the “new city” offers some very luxurious accommodation at an incredibly cheap price.

Whilst you may not choose to live in Marrakech for a number of months it can be a fantastic place to base yourself for a few weeks whilst exploring the gems of Morocco such as the Sahara Desert and Atlas Mountains. A more relaxed alternative to Marrakech is Essaouira which has a more chilled out coastal vibe to the city.


One of the dangers with hunting for cheap destinations for long term travel is there’s normally a reason the destination is so cheap; perhaps there are socio-economic problems, adverse weather conditions, political instability, or a lack of modern infrastructure. The challenge is that whilst a destination can be “cheap” it doesn’t always provide good value, therefore below you’ll find two “cheapish” cities that might not be the least expensive but offer a great value experience.


Singapore is a melting pot of cultures with a serious foodie scene. Whilst Singapore isn’t particularly cheap as a place to live you can earn a decent wage here and regulations for foreigners working within Singapore are reasonably easy to navigate.

Hotels can be pricey but there are some great deals to be had on long term apartments. HDB flats have a number of listings for places to rent in Singapore, some of which include short-term leases.

Singapore offers a great place to have as a base for exploring other parts of South East Asia such as Bali, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. There are very cheap flights to the majority of popular tourist destinations within South East Asia and flights are just a few hours long.


Berlin is a large multicultural city that is very “cool” yet manages to have an unpretentious charm where the locals value personal freedom and a creative lifestyle more than wealth and status. This means the vibe in Berlin is very light, fun, relaxed and yet still lively. Berlin on the one hand is a vibrant city with very intense parties – yet on the other it is a relaxed artsy bolthole that is occupied by a variety of gentle creatives.

Berlin is a large city yet the key areas are easily navigated on foot as they are all congregated in a reasonably compact central area. Germany is not known for being a cheap destination when compared to countries such as Nepal and India, but if you are looking for a fun European city that offers great value for money in terms of the experience you’ll have – it’s hard to beat Berlin in terms of bang for your buck.

With regard to accommodation then the best bet is to look for somewhere on AirBnB as property agents tend to require a minimum six month commitment – whereas many enterprising creatives list their modern (and occasionally funky) home on AirBnB at a great price.


Statement Pieces for Winter – a wish list

Last year I was all about fashion that allowed me to blend in to the crowd. I was feeling vulnerable and lacking in confidence and my choice in clothes seriously reflected that. This year however, I’m feeling great! I can’t remember a time where I’ve been more happy and more content with my life, and as such my sartorial choices are reflecting that. It seems that any spare time I have is spent browsing my favourite retailers (I’m looking at you, Monki!), blogs and websites such as Lyst for style inspiration and making the most of having an afternoon at home for once I’ve put together a little wish list of stand-out pieces I’m loving.
The run up to Christmas is the perfect time to sport sequins for night and day, and whilst I might be getting ahead of myself a little bit, when you see pieces like this skirt from new discovery and firm favourite LOTD. This is the perfect example of a piece that can work daytime and a night out- just pair with a chunky black knit and flat ankle boots to tone it down or pump up the glamour with some shimmer and heels.
Another multi-tasking sequin piece that’s caught my eye is this pair of jeans from Monki. I’m a big fan of their jeans, in my eyes it what they do best, and this pair would work equally well with trainers and a slogan tee or a metallic top and some shiny court shoes for a smart-casual night out.

Knitwear is one of my favourite things to shop for in the colder months, and despite being an absolute essential it really doesn’t have to be dull. Take something like this cosy knit dress for example- a bold colour and interesting cut means you keep nice and snug whilst still standing out from the crowd. This dress is probably top of my current Monki wish list, if I don’t manage to get my mitts on it before Christmas then I’ll be keeping everything crossed that shopping karma strikes and it goes in to the sale.

Vinyl is big news this season and whilst being a trend that I’m still a little bit scared of, incorporating it in to outerwear makes it seem a little less bondage and a lot more workable. I’ve never really been one to covet a puffer jacket before, let alone anything so shiny, but somehow Topshop have won me over with this number- another I’m hoping might find it’s way in to the January sales.

Is there anything more satisfying than bundling up in a scarf? Much like knitwear, your winter warmth essentials don’t have to be boring- take on the faux fur trend the subtle way with this patchwork faux fur scarf (also from Topshop) and tick off the trend for all things fluffy whilst keeping seriously snug!

it wouldn’t be a wish list from me without a pair of boots now would it? These New Look glitter slouch boots made it in to all of the glossy magazines, and with good reason. Want to jazz up your jeans? Look no further than these designer dupes. A steal at £34.99 they’d also be the perfect party shoes on a frosty winter night.

Are there any statement pieces or trends you’re seriously taken with right now? I’d love to see which highstreet pieces have made it on to your wish list- leave links in the comments below.


Swan Song

It’s big knit weather! I don’t know how we’ve suddenly zoomed to the middle of November, but here we are in all it’s cold and frosty glory. Now I’m properly back at work I’ve been able to indulge in a little bit of shopping and warm and cosy knits have been top of my list. Of course, Monki was my first port of call and I picked up an absolute gem.

Jumper: Monki (here) | Skirt: Pull and Bear (similar here) | Boots: Miista

I love a good print and this Swan jumper pretty much jumped off the hanger and in to my arms. It was quite the bargain at £25 and is the perfect balance of slouchy and warm. I love the look of a big knit teamed with a pleated midi skirt so pairing the jumper with my old faithful Pull and Bear number was instinctive. Finished off with my default black opaques and my bargain Miista boots which are now several years old and still a favourite this is exactly the kind of outfit I’m living in when not at work.

I’ve been saving hard and I’m hoping for another shopping trip in a few weeks time with my partner in crime, Mum. We’ve gone from seeing each other pretty much all day, every day to being like ships that pass in the night. Life has got so un-believably busy compared to this time last year, it’s still a bit like “pinch me” every time I take the time to sit back and reflect- from being signed off work, under threat of hospitalisation for anorexia and being utterly miserable to working in a new and exciting role, getting my health back and absolutely loving life. I never imagined I would be where I am right now and I wouldn’t change it for the world (except for factoring in Mum time). I certainly never dreamed I’d be in a loving and supportive relationship, or joint owner of a little kitten- a post to come on that one!

Where are you loving for knitwear right now? In a fit of madness I got rid of a lot of jumpers last year so I’m on a mission to have a major wardrobe upgrade.