Treat yo self: this month’s gifts from me to me

I'm really reaping the financial rewards of my new 'spark joy' philosophy for shopping. I only bought things which I love or which sparked joy. So this month hasn't been crazy. 

Laurie Lee ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning’

I had to go to Wales for work last week and, a consequence of being averse to tardiness, I had a lot of time to kill in Paddington Station. This book jumped out at me in W.H. Smiths. I liked the title. I didn’t know much about Laurie Lee, apart from that he wrote Cider with Rosie which I read at school. This is a sequel to that. I decided that if I was still thinking about the book when I got back from Wales, I’d buy it, and so I did. It’s fantastic. It’s about how he leaves his home and travels first to London and then to Spain by foot. He makes leaving home and travelling with no money seem totally do-able. On our last holiday, we went to Spain and visited a tiny town where my husband spent his summers as a boy. The people we met were so kind and this book echoes that. 

Laurie Lee | Laughing Heart

Zara shirt

This was an attempt to inject some colour into my black, white and navy wardrobe. It actually looks quite nice on with my gold chain. I continue my experiments with colour. 

Reiss trousers

This was another attempt to inject colour into my wardrobe. I love the colour and the fit. My crumpled pair on the left (I had to take them off to photograph them, sorry) and the way God intended them on the right. 

Office flats

I googled ‘how to look more sophisticated’ and the first article I clicked on said ‘get rid of ballet flats and go for a pointy toe flats’ and so, after an intense period of loyalty to French Sole,  I did that. I love these shoes. they’re comfy and make me feel like a put-together gal about town. Although I wear them with opaque tights which looks a bit weird. I will reassess this next week and my well opt for a less intense denier.

Frames

My husband was sent some pictures of his grandparents on their wedding day and a picture of his great grandpa playing polo in the twenties which I thought would be nice to frame. I bought them in Zara Home. I also had a picture of my grandmother which found a home in a Zara frame and a cute picture of my dad and picked this up this silver plated frame in John Lewis for a bargain £6. 

Treat Yo Self: This month's gifts from me to me

I shouldn't have!  But I'm glad I did.

Nars Sheer Glow Foundation (MINI REVIEW)

I finally came to terms with the fact that my tinted moisturiser wasn’t doing the job for me face-wise. 

It’s hard to find a colour match for my skin but after walking past hundreds of foundation shades on the NARS counter in my local department store, I decided to try their Sheer Glow foundation. i use the shade 'Punjab' which is slightly warmer because we're heading into summer. 

It’s really transformed the way I feel about myself. It looks really natural.

It stays on all day and it’s not in the least bit drying. My husband said my skin looked 'perfect' yesterday. He then said: 'See? You look better with no make up on!' THAT'S how convincing this foundation is. 

It’s quite expensive (more than a tinted moisturiser) but totally worth it. The downside is that you need to buy the pump separately (£3) which was annoying but for me, necessary. It's like when you happily take an armful of merchandise to the till, knowing you’ll spend a fortune but when you have to pay the 5p bag charge, it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. 

I had a colour-match appointment at Westfield London. I went straight from the gym without an appointment but it’s best to book. 

The lady who helped me, Brenda, put zero pressure on me to buy. A good shopping experience! 

Sheer Glow £31

Make up mirror

I needed a new one because my old one kept falling over.* I spotted this in John Lewis.

I can’t say too much about a mirror that will blow your mind - but it reflects the light which hits it and I like the clean perspex and chrome design.

One side is a normal mirror and the other side is magnified for people who must be really confident or insane.

Buy it for £20

Warehouse Dress

I suit pencil shaped dresses, I love planning my summer wardrobe and I hate showing my legs (you wouldn't know it by looking at the picture but i do) so this dress is a total winner.

I scroll through so many items online without success that if I see something I instantly like, I go for it. I love it so much. We’ve got quite a few short holidays lined up in Berlin, Spain and Portugal and I will wear it LOADS.

On sale for £44!

The Design of Everyday Things - Donald A. Norman

Bad design is something we encounter it every single day: the kettle spout which pours boiling water everywhere when you’re trying to fill your mug, the CCTV footage which is ‘too grainy’ to make out anything, machines which don’t give change, the mirror which won't stand up*.

The author of 'The Design of Everyday Things', Donald A. Norman gives the famous example of poor design is the door which you have no idea whether to push or pull (now called ‘Norman Doors’).

Norman is the possibly the world’s most influential designers, in part because he is an engineer and a psychologist. This book champions design which meets the psychological needs of people. And he also makes you feel better for not understanding instructions or how to work an object. It's not you, it's poor design! 

If you're interested in design and psychology, you must read it. 

Buy the book for £10.95

Pants

In the series Girls, there’s a scene when Ray goes through Hannah’s underwear drawer and says: ‘Crotchless panties! Wait, those are holes. There are holes in these underwear.’ I found myself in a similar situation. So I went to M&S and bought some pants and now I feel like $100.

Pants on the left are on sale for £4.25. Pants on the right are £12.50. 

'I think this belonged to your ex...'

I went on a few dates with a Norwegian which happened to fall over the Christmas period. On the night before returning to his homeland, he called at my flat with red glitter all over his pale, chiselled, Scandinavian face.

On my doorstep in the cold and dark he presented a gift wrapped in red glittery wrapping paper. It was a very sweet scene. I welcomed him into my living room where my two flatmates sat, eager to find out what was in the package.

I was reluctant to open the gift with an audience, but he told me to open it, so I did. It was a copy of the collected plays of Henrik Ibsen.

ibsen

What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. Nothing. But when I flicked through the book, there was something tucked between the pages: a photograph of the Norwegian. And his ex-girlfriend.

I thumbed further through the book, it felt as though there was something else. Yes, yes there was! The stub of a plane ticket which belonged to her.

It had once been her book.

My two flatmates and I looked down at the floor. The Norwegian looked away. I must say that he recovered it well. Early the next morning, he posted an Moleskine notepad through my letter box, with a card which read: “No nasty surprises in this book. Fill it with your poems.”

The Norwegian was a recycler of gifts sure, but he was also a good guy with a sense of humour. It wasn't meant to be between us but he wins the award for the best recovery.

The worst gifts I've given

 

There is never an excuse for sending a thoughtless gift. I've spent the last ten minutes  thinking of whether there can ever be an excuse. Nope. We're clear to proceed.

I consider myself a competent gift-giver now, but there was a time when I was totally incompetent.

Let's limp down memory lane together. 

BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE

It was Christmas and I gave my brother this. Just one magazine. No subscription. No free gift. And I wrapped it. Nothing says ‘I’m not Santa’ more than a magazine picked up at a train station left under the Christmas tree.

'TALENTED GENIUS' KEYRING.

Another gift for my brother.  I thought he could attach his locker keys to it. This was a terrible gift. Reason one: he was already teased at school for his genius and a keyring saying that he was a genius would guarantee a playground beating. Reason two: I happen to think he is a talented genius but he is humble and would never, ever use the keyring. Which begs the question: who did the good people at Keyrings-R-Us think would buy this keyring? Oh..that's right...me.

SHREDDER

The council fined my husband for putting his rubbish out on the wrong day. They found out it was him by going through his rubbish and locating a wet envelope with his name on it. I thought that if he shredded all his letters, he would evade possible future  punishment by the authorities. Another failure of a gift. Reason one: he should just learn to put his rubbish out on the right day. Reason two: it takes less effort to put rubbish out on the right day than it does to shred every letter. Reason three: by the time I presented the shredder, he'd forgotten all about the incident and I had to remind him: 'You know, that time the council fined you?...They found out your name...Bins?' Pathetic.

EMMA, BY JANE AUSTEN

 When I was 13, I didn't have enough money to get everyone in my friendship group a present. So I gave one girl my own copy of Emma by Jane Austen that I hadn't read yet.  I wrapped the book, forgetting I had written my name on the inside cover. When she opened it she knew that it had been my own copy and wasn't new and she wasn't impressed and made a snide remark. I felt bad about that for a long time. Now I see that it was quite a sweet thing for me to have done. Well done, resourceful, 13-year-old me.

JUMPER

 I thought I'd get my husband's mum a cashmere jumper for Christmas. At that point, I hadn't known her long. I didn't know what size she was and so I guessed. Never guess. In this age of information, there will be someone, somewhere who knows the answer. It's probably in a database. I knew that I couldn't go for a bigger size or I'd run the risk of offending her. So, with logic as fuzzy as the jumper, I went for the tiniest size I could find. This was a ridiculous gift. Reason one: I made her feel like she was enormous. Reason two: because I am slight-of-frame it looked like I had bought the jumper for myself.

Learnings:

  • As with all mistakes, it's important to spend a few moments in quiet reflection in order to understand what went wrong. In some cases you'll realise you make a mistake because you didn't have time to think through your options fully or because you had too much time and didn't trust yourself.
  • Recognise that some actions feel like mistakes but aren't really mistakes at all. Like with the copy of Emma that I gave a friend - it wasn't really an error. I did the best I could.
  • Don't dwell on gift-giving under performance. Rumination only makes you depressed. There will be another event, just round the corner in which you can bring your a-game.