TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 20, 2020

Our Favourite Literary Instagrammers

One search of the 'bookstagrammer' hashtag and you'll find over five million posts dedicated to books - reading them, styling shelves with them, drinking coffee with them. Evidently, reading has never been cooler and we're v happy about it.

Instagram has become an invaluable source for peer-to-peer reading recommendations and deliciously short reviews we can devour in 60 seconds flat with our morning latte.

Not only can you find outfit inspo and #relatable memes, but you can also peruse the overflowing stacks of your favourite bookfluencers, discovering their latest can’t-put-it-down reads & the ones that missed the mark.

From undeniable classics to new releases and hotly anticipated debuts, it’s thanks to this well-read bunch that our TBR piles are out of control.

Here are our favourite lit-loving accounts to follow. In bookstagrammers we trust!

Maddie Says…

@Cals_book_Account – How could I not talk about Callum. His Instagram account shot to fame following his sister tweeting that he was getting a hard time from classmates who found out he liked writing book reviews. I’m so pleased the internet came through for Cal and that he’s more dedicated than ever to reading and spreading his love of books.

@abigailbergstrom – I’ve known Abby for years having worked on many projects together and she’s without a doubt the most book passionate person I’ve ever met and probably one of the all-around coolest cats out there. Her account features her favourite literary finds, must-reads as well as her incredible roster of powerful writers.

Charlotte Says…

@hannahfgale – Hannah’s stories are the place to be when it comes to widening your literary library! As Hannah has a little one, I trust her book recommendations as instant hits knowing that her sacred spare time would not be wasted on anything not worth reading. She’s also the queen of an aesthetically pleasing bookie flat lay…

@fellaby – Faye Ellaby- Not only do I want everything in Faye’s wardrobe, but I also have bookshelf envy too! I’ve loved every book I’ve read on Faye’s recommendation and trust her reviews in helping me find my next ‘can’t put down’ read.

@meganstaunton – Working in the book world means Megan’s reviews stand high in my estimations, as her expert eye never fails in recommending the hottest new releases and ‘must-haves’ for your morning commute.

Zoe Says…

@PieLadyBooks – Steph lives in Colorado and not only fills her feed with tonnes of book recommendations but bakes the most epic pies with book-related quotes and book themes. Her account is bright, fun and so positive!

@EmmaGannon – Emma has always been my go-to for book reviews and recommendations. Not only is she a successful author in her own right, but she also interviews plenty of fellow authors on her podcast CTRL ALT DELETE too! Absolutely tonnes of book-related content from her!

@InquisitiveBookWorm – I followed Ana recently and love her Instagram account. Every time I see her post about a new book I want to add it to my TBR pile.

@AmysBookShelf – Another gorgeous account that is so cosy and beautifully curated. Amy will leave you with the longest amazon wishlist pile once you’ve been on her account.

Lareese Says…

@Cofeeandbookss – Tanbir Kaur – As well as creating beautiful arty flat lays with books and coffee, Tanbir always offers insightful and intelligent discussions and reviews on her latest reads. She’s influenced my reading list and my latte cravings on several occasions.

@Polly.Florence – Polly basically turned the art of curling up with a good book into an aesthetic. An avid book lover, photographer and ambler, her account is a joy to follow and she’s certainly made me nurture my inner bookworm. If you love nostalgia, books and cosy coffee shops in Cambridge, she’s your girl.

@Hannahfgale – I’m echoing the other girls by citing Hannah Gale as my go-to book guru here but if Hannah’s shared a book she’s loved you better believe I’m heading straight out to get it. Her reviews are always hearty and honest too, which I really appreciate because it helps me decide exactly what to prioritise on my never-ending reading list.

Danielle Says…

@PandoraSykes – Loads of you probably already know Pandora from The High Low or her Fashion background. I love following Pandora for her book reviews and recommendations as I think she’s an incredibly trustworthy source as she actually reads the books. She’s thoughtful and intelligent and will do her best to let you know which books you must read.

@Mylittlebooktique – Possibly one of my faves because her images are so gorgeous! She posts useful information on the books she’s currently reading like the synopsis and her thoughts so far/at the end which always makes me want to read them too. She also tells you what she doesn’t like which is always refreshing

Darcey Says…

@CrimeByTheBook – Abby – This is one to follow if you like crime fiction, as you have probably worked out from her username, that’s exactly what she reviews. I’m not a crime fiction superfan, but I find it interesting to see what new ones are being released! I also really enjoy how aesthetically pleasing her account is. I love a cafe shot, book in hand and coffee on the table, or vice versa.

@SubwayBookReview – This is a really interesting account looking at what people are reading on the subway/underground worldwide. I find it fascinating getting an insight into what other people are reading and why. It’s also different seeing people’s opinions on books before they’ve finished them too and their thoughts on where they think it could go. I really like this aspect of the account.

Holly Says…

@bethsbookclub_ – I only recently started following Beths Book Club because I only really have just gotten into reading. I love it because it’s not pure books, it’s SO aesthetically pleasing and Beth has made me want a wall of books SO much. Very honest reviews and I completely agree with her analysis on books I’ve also read so I am trusting her recommendations from now.

Who are some of your favourite literary Instagrammers?

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 19, 2020

In Conversation With Samantha Cusick

This month, we're In Conversation With hair extraordinaire, Samantha Cusick.

One of the hottest names in hairdressing, Sam runs her own independent salon in the heart of London’s charming Notting Hill and in just over three years, has cemented herself as the queen bee of balayage with a cult following to boot.

No doubt you’ll have seen her perfect beach waves and signature colour transformations all over Instagram and daydreamed about what kind of magic she could work with your own mane. Form an orderly queue!

From the statement wallpaper to the glitter-topped Mermaid Martinis, you can tell this is a woman on a mission to make having your hair did one hell of an experience. Plus, she just so happens to be bloody lovely too.

We got her in the chair to chat about her hairdressing roots and career highlights so far!

How did you start out?

I started out in my home town of Nottingham, where after my A levels I was all set to go off to uni to study criminology but I couldn’t face more academia so instead opted to take a year out to try something different. I had always LOVED the idea of Hairdressing (my Mum is a hairdresser) and I was obsessed with the TV programme The Salon which was like a reality tv show based in a Salon, so I enrolled in a full-time hairdressing course at college and never looked back!

Describe yourself in 3 words:

Driven, Enthusiastic and self-critical.

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

I think the biggest misconception about my job and hairdressers, in general, is that we’re ‘stupid’ and that hairdressing is an easy option. People think that my job ends after a hair cut or colour, but there is so much more. To get to the point I am at has taken continuous learning, sacrifice and development in all aspects of not only work but life. 

What’s the best part of your job?

There are so many AMAZING parts fo my job. 

I LOVE owning and running my Salon, watching it grow and being apart of the team there makes me want to go to work every day.

Being able to take my dog, Sid, with me is pretty awesome too.

What’s the worst part of your job?

It’s kind of the other side of my answer on “what’s the best part”, the worst part is that the Salon is all-consuming.

It’s great as I said, watching something you’ve created grow, but the downside is the pressure and responsibility of making sure it continues. It can be anything from choosing the perfect coffee cups and furniture to making sure people continue to get paid for the job they love doing and protecting the environment we have created at the Salon.

Fave celebrity hairstyle of all time?

OK, so for me the Olsen Twins have epitomised cool girl hair. From their effortless colour to how on earth they make greasy hair look cool af.

What gives a hair salon cult status?

I’m not really sure, broadly, I think it’s the drive to stand out and try to do something different, whilst having a clear message on why you approach your hairdressing in a particular way.

It’s a difficult one to answer I guess, as I think the only ones that did achieve cult status did it so long ago…we really have to go back to the 1960’s to try and answer it.

Hair trend you wish never happened?

The Mullet? What even was that!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew then about your career, that you know now?

For years I worked at salons that I hated, from the way they interacted with the clients to the clicky bitchy, gossip groups that would call me a ‘one trick pony’ when clients would seek me out for my balayage work. I use to get so upset, I wish I could go back and tell myself not to let it bother me and that it will be different, you can make it different.

If you weren’t making people’s hair look sh*t hot, what would you be doing? (other careers)

One of the parts of open the salon I enjoyed the most was choosing all the interiors. I love doing it so much that I have renovated the salon twice already! I am just starting to plan the look and feel of the second location and it is honestly the most fun, so to answer the question if I had to do something else for a career I would LOVE it to be an interior designer!

Do you have a career highlight / pinch-me moment so far?

I remember seeing GHD at Coachella on social media in 2017 and I said to my fiancé Greg I would LOVE to do that! Two years later I was so lucky to get signed to GHD as a Creative Artist and they asked me to go and style hair at Coachella! That for me was a pinch-me moment!

Balayage, baby lights, low lights – what do they all mean?

This is something I get asked a lot so I wrote a blog post that explains the difference between highlights and balayage, read it here.

Top tip for anyone nervous to go for a change at the hair salon?

Change can be terrifying no matter what it is but for some reason when it comes to changing our hair that can instil fear like nothing else. Before you book your appointment to either change your haircut or revamp your colour I always recommend booking in for a consultation. Most salons offer this service totally complimentary and it’s a great way to chat through with a hairdresser exactly what you want to change.

This was you can get a professional opinion on if this would suit you if it is even possible to achieve if it’s not what can you do and ask all the question about maintenance so you can make an informed decision and become your own #HairGoals.

What are some of the top hair trends you’ve noticed at the moment?

I love that bobs are still at the top of the hair trend list! (Handy as I have just cut mine). A lot of our clients at SCL are opting for a stronger face frame with their balayage or highlights which  I am so here for. 

Do you have any personal hair faux pas? Spill the beans…

OMG HAVE I! As a trainee I was always messing about with my hair, trying new things I had just been taught, from neon orange hair to cutting the hair around my crown so short it would stand up on end it there were many horrific looks I will not be repeating that’s for sure! It’s always funny when Facebook memories pop up and my hair in some of them is bad! 

What are your go-to tips for a healthy mane?

OLAPLEX! I am such a champion of Olaplex, it has honestly changed my hair and in turn my client’s hair.  Olaplex is a bond multiplier with a patented active ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. It works on a molecular level to seek out broken bonds in the hair that are caused by chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage and repair them! Make sure that your colourist uses Olaplex in your colour services especially lightening service and you’ll notice a difference immediately.

Top 3 products we need in our hair routine?

Davines Oi All In One Milk! – this is a little miracle product, heat protector, de-tangler and leave-in conditioner all in one spray! I use it every day and make me not dread brushing my hair after washing!

GHD Platinum Plus Stylers – These are my go too’s for creating any sort of wave or curl in the hair! The technology in them ensures that they never get too hot and stay at 185 degrees which is optimum for styling the hair whilst not damaging it or stripping hair colour. I LOVE them.

Dry Shampoo – I can not live without dry shampoo. I would have to wash my hair every day if it wasn’t for dry shampoo. I also use it as a texture spray when I want super beachy waves. 


How often should we actually be washing our hair?

This does differ massively from person to person, some lucky people can wash just once a week and others like me have to wash our hair every other day and dry shampoo on the non-wash day. Washing less often is better for the hair, I would just say no more frequently than every other day.

How often would you recommend getting your hair cut for optimum hair health?

If you are maintaining, for example, a blunt bob you should aim to get a hair cut every 6-8 weeks. If you are growing your hair you should aim to get a trim every 8-12 weeks.

Top tips for longer-lasting hair colour?

– Use a sulphate free shampoo and conditioner. Sulphates can pull the colour out of the hair very quickly. I recommend Davines Oi shampoo and conditioner to the majority of my clients.

– Use a heat protector before heat styling your hair, this includes blowdrying too.

– Avoid washing your hair in super hot water. Hot water can cause your colour to fade much faster.

Top tips for a salon-worthy blow-dry at home?

GHD has just launched their new helios hairdryer and it is honestly the best dryer I have ever used. It makes blowdrying your own hair super quick and easy making getting a salon-worthy blowdry at home a lot easier.

My other tips for achieving the perfect blowdry on your own hair:

– Prep your hair before you dry. Using the right products for your hair is vital to achieving the finish you want from your blowdry. For example, if your hair is prone to frizz apply a smoothing blow-dry balm or if our hair always seems to lack volume apply a mouse before drying.

– Add a nozzle to your dryer so you always have maximum control over the air-flow of your dryer and you can ensure the air always blows from the root of the hair to the tips to keep the cuticle layer fo the hair laying flat for salon shiny hair.

How often should you use purple shampoo on blonde hair?

This is quite dependent on the tone of blonde you like. For example, if you like a very ashy, silver-toned blonde you’re going to want to use your purple shampoo more frequently if not every wash. If you prefer a more creamy blonde then once a week is plenty. I really like the Redken Blondage range of purple shampoos and conditioners because they keep the hair super bright and do not dull the blonde like some other purple shampoos I have had used. 

I would ultimately recommend using it when you notice your hair looks a bit too yellow then you can’t really go wrong.

What do you think is best for curls, straighteners or curling wands?

This is a super hard one for me to answer to be honest because I love different tools for different looks! But if I had to choose 1 it would be my GHD platinum Plus Straighteners as you can create most styles with them. They are so versatile and I know if I have those in my kit bag I can create pretty much any look I need to.

Short or long hair? Blunt Mid Lengths.
Blonde or brunette? Blonde
Straight or wavy? Wavy
Bangs or no bangs? Grown Out bangs
Up or down? Down
You have 5 minutes to do your hair… what do you do? GO! Low pony with a giant scrunchie or my new Fendi hair clip (so extra).

Find the Samantha Cusick London Salon on Instagram here, her personal account here, and book in for your hair transformation over on their website here.

Shop Samantha’s Hair Picks

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 18, 2020

Easy Iced Easter Biscuits

Easter and sweet treats go hand in hand and we're not about to pass up on the opportunity to go ham on a foodie tradition.

Easter and sweet treats go hand in hand and we’re not about to pass up on the opportunity to go ham on a foodie tradition. Not when there are bunny-shaped biscuits to be had, for crying out loud.

Whether you’re hosting a family lunch and want fancy-schmancy homemade bakes for pudding, or you want something fun to do with the kids, these Easter-themed biscuits are a delicious alternative to traditional chocolate eggs. You can even hang them on your Easter tree for a pretty darn edible table centrepiece if your guests have enough willpower to sit and stare at them until dessert’s up, that is.

Taken from an original recipe featured in Cordially Invited, these decorative delights are bound to put a hop in your step. Let’s get cracking on the recipe!

SERVES
PREP: 20 MINS COOK: 12 MINS
EASY

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees / 170 fan oven / gas mark 5

Separate the egg white from the yolk and set aside for the icing. Cream the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and egg yolk together in a bowl or a stand mixer and add in the flour gradually until it’s all combined. Press the dough together, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Line a baking try with non-stick baking paper and dust your work surface with flour, ready for the dough. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out half the dough until it’s approximately 5mm thick.

Using your Easter themed cookie cutters, cut out your biscuit shapes and carefully transfer them to the baking tray. If you’d like to use the biscuits as hanging decorations, take a drinking straw and punch a hole in the top of each biscuit, leaving enough space around the top so it can hold the weight of the decoration.

Bake the first batch for around 10-12 minutes until golden brown and leave to cool on the tray until firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Add another sheet of baking paper to the baking tray and use the remaining dough to make another batch, using up all the cut offs as you go. Bake as above.

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar with the egg white and two teaspoons of cold water if the consistency is looking a little too thick.

Divide the icing into separate bowls adding food colouring of your choice to each one – we’ve gone for seasonal pastel colours. Stir vigorously and add in a few more drops if you want the colour to really pop.

Spoon the icing into separate piping bags fitted with thin nozzles / cut a tiny hole at the end and pipe onto your biscuits. If you don’t have any piping bags to hand, sandwich bags with the corner snipped off work just as well.

Finish decorating your Easter biscuits with sprinkles and whatever else your heart so desires!

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 17, 2020

13 Questions With Karen McManus

We caught up with the author of the March Zoella Book Club pick, Karen McManus!

When did you first start writing stories?

I started writing at the age of eight, when my second-grade teacher gave us a creative writing project. It was so much fun, I kept going on my own. My first book was about a witch who couldn’t cast spells.

How many books have you written?

Four that are published or ready for publication (One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, One of Us Is Next, and The Cousins), and a draft of what’s going to be my fifth book, You’ll Be the Death of Me. I also have three books “on the shelf” – two early novels that I wrote before I had an agent, which will never see the light of day because they have unfixable flaws, and a YA rom-com that’s cute but so totally off-brand that I can’t figure out what to do with it (add murder?). So I’ve written eight books total, but only five are published or will be published.

What are some of the best parts of your job?

For me, the early stages of drafting are the most fun part of the writing process – that’s when a book takes on a life of its own and I often feel like I’m just along for the ride. I also love being able to meet readers and other authors in person and getting an early look at exciting new books.
 

What are you currently working on?

In March and April I’m traveling to promote One of Us Is Next, while also gearing up to launch The Cousins, which is coming out December 3 in the U.S. I’m in regular contact with the film producers who have optioned One of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep a Secret. And I’m expecting an edit letter for You’ll Be the Death of Me soon, while also brainstorming something new.

What did you study at school/uni to help you become a writer?

I was an English major in college and a journalism major in grad school. Both were helpful in different ways; an English degree requires a lot of reading, writing, and critical thinking; while journalism teaches you how to build an effective story and—perhaps most important for the kind of stories I write—anticipate and address questions that readers are likely to have.

What are some of your all-time favourite books?

The Hunger Games, And Then There Were None, Vanity Fair, Gone Girl, A Secret History, and the Narnia series

What are you looking forward to reading this year?

So many books! Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu, Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon, and Admission by Julie Buxbaum are high on my list.

Who are some of your favourite new authors?

Rory Power, Phil Stamper, Justin Reynolds and Isabel Ibanez all had recent debuts that I loved.

Tell us about ‘One of us is lying’ and what inspired you to write it?

I was driving to work one day when the theme song from The Breakfast Club came on. I started thinking about that movie and its core theme of looking beyond labels, and then it occurred to me that it would be fun to write something inspired by the movie with a dark twist. The phrase “The Breakfast Club, with murder” popped into my head and stayed there. By the time I left work that day, I had all the characters down and the first few chapters outlined in my head.

If you had any advice for aspiring writers what would it be?

First, read a lot and read for craft; think about what’s working for you as a reader (and what isn’t) as you go along. Second, find critique partners—other writers who are at the same stage of the publications journey as you are—and exchange work with them.

What do you always carry with you?

Lip balm. I’m addicted.

What would your last meal be?

Ajiaco, chocolate lava cake, and a lot of wine.

What are you looking forward to most in 2020?

I’m excited to have two books out in the world, and I’m also excited that the second is ahead of schedule so I’ll actually have some down time to spend with my family!

Find Karen on Instagram here.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 16, 2020

The Five Binge-Worthy Book Series You Won’t Want To Put Down

You know that bittersweet feeling of finishing a great novel but not being mentally prepared to shelf it and say goodbye?

You know that bittersweet feeling of finishing a great novel but not being mentally prepared to shelf it and say goodbye? That’s the best thing about a series – once you’ve finished one story, you know there’s a little silver lining in the way of a sequel to remedy your book-ache; another paperback to fill that wizard-shaped hole in your life for a while.

From YA vampire romances to high fantasy trilogies, these are the binge-worthy page-turners to add to your reading list or pick up again in 2020.

Harry Potter

“After all this time? Always.” sniff Seriously, what did we do to deserve books? We couldn’t do a book series feature and not include HP, could we? That would be a cardinal sin. We laughed and cried with the characters, patiently awaited our very own Hogwarts acceptance letter and got into heated debates about the correct pronunciation of Hermione. For years, J.K. Rowling let us get lost in a world steeped in imagination and feast on magic and for that reason, we will always be Potterheads.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Featuring three books – Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass – this captivating trilogy follows Lyra Belacqua, her shapeshifting daemon and Will Parry as they journey through a series of parallel universes, meeting armoured bears and soul-eating spectres along the way. Philip Pullman just might be the best storyteller of our time – add it to your reading stack immediately!

The Hunger Games

If you like strong female protagonists that don’t go down without a fight, dystopian universes, televised blood sport and sacrifice, then you’ll love this series. The Hunger Games is the ultimate tale of survival and there’s only one rule: kill or be killed.

Twilight

There’s no saga like a Twilight saga. Ever since the first book in the four-volume series was released in 2005, millions have been captivated by this unconventional vampire romance. If you like a love story with a bite and missed the hype first time round, now’s your time to sink your teeth into a bit of YA nostalgia.

The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary trilogy puts fantasy fiction on the map. One powerful ring, the ultimate good vs evil quest to destroy it, and the most relatable protagonist, like EVER – it’s a perennial favourite for good reason.

What book series changed your literary life forever? Let us know in the comments below!

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 15, 2020

Weekly Wants: Shirt Styling

The humble shirt is a must in anyone's closet! It's a hardworking style staple that looks just as good paired with your weekend 'fits as it does with your 9-5 workwear.

From crisp cotton basics to fashion forward puff sleeves and oversized silhouettes, there’s few items that offer as much versatility as this classic.

Ready to shop? Here’s a look at the pieces at the top of our Weekly Wants wish list!

Shop the post

*This post contains Ad-Affiliate links.

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 14, 2020

Spring Cleaning Series: 8 Hacks For Getting Your Wardrobe Sh*t Together

It's 8am. You're staring at the wild abyss that is your wardrobe: the seven identical shirts, the jumper embroidered with Ketchup that you're abnormally attached to and the white t-shirts bearing their very own grubby halo of foundation.

It’s 8am. You’re staring at the wild abyss that is your wardrobe: the seven identical shirts, the jumper embroidered with Ketchup that you’re abnormally attached to and the white t-shirts bearing their very own grubby halo of foundation. Then there’s the jeans. Oh, the jeans. We haven’t been able to park our arse in them for three years and counting and yet, they’re still here clinging on for dear life.

You’ve called it – it’s time.

You embark upon the character-building journey of… clearing out your wardrobe. You lose yourself, in the music, the moment. Cue the Eminem music.

What ensues thereafter is generally a mad four-hour episode of pulling everything out of the deep depths of your nether regions and onto the floor. No one knows what signs of life you might uncover: Turkish Delight, a white witch, Aslan – anything could happen.

There will be times when, knee-deep in charity shop piles and tops that now resemble Winnie The Pooh’s finest OOTD, you wish you could turn back and abort the mission, just shove it all back in and walk away from responsibility. Marathon runners call it hitting the wall. Americans call it bonking. In this context, we like to call it losing our sh*t and pouring a large glass of wine instead.

Fear not! With a little logic and a few organisational tips, we can muster up enough stamina to see this endurance exercise through. Not sure where to start? Let’s break it down. Here’s how to clean out your wardrobe.

Set some manageable goals

Ok, so you want to declutter your wardrobe, we know that much. But what do you want to focus on? Do you want to be more aware of the clothes you already have, curate a capsule wardrobe or create a stress-free environment for getting dressed in the morning? When you set intentions and objectives for your clear out, the task in hand won’t seem so daunting and the focus shifts beyond just sorting out your clothes. It’s a mentally beneficial task as much as it is a physical one.

Take everything out

Yep, even your knickers and hangers! Clear the rails and pile it on the floor or your bed so you can get a good view of everything you have.

Evaluate and cull

Inspect each item in your wardrobe and evaluate how much you enjoy wearing it. Does it still fit? How often do you wear it? If you decide it’s no longer serving a purpose in your life but could benefit someone in need, donate it to a charity shop, clothes bank or a recycling scheme like H&M’s garment collecting programme. Simply hand in a bag of old clothes in any condition and receive a £5 voucher towards your next purchase in-store or online.

If you haven’t worn an item in the last 12 months but lust after a capacious wardrobe, now’s the time to be ruthless, tackle the weeds and let go!

Create separate piles

You’re thinking of the scene in Sex and the City too aren’t you? Creating separate ‘keep’ ‘donate’ or ‘repair’ piles for your possessions can help you make clear and practical decisions about each item.

Identify the hardworking basics

Keep hold of the pieces you know you can layer with some of your trend focused in-season items. Your trusty denim, turtlenecks, the versatile blazers and everyday tees are all items that will never really go out of fashion.

Rotate your wardrobe seasonally

Few of us have a big enough wardrobe to accommodate our thick space-invading Winter knits as well as all our Summer gear. Something’s gotta give. The key? Seasonal rotation.

Pack away the heavy pieces that see you through the colder months to enjoy in a few month’s time, that way you get to free up a bit of wardrobe space without sacrificing your favourite pieces. Seasonless wardrobe staples can stay put but as for the rest, if you’re not going to wear it in the next 3 – 4 months, fold it away into storage.

Maximise on space

Once you’ve been through your closet and asked yourself if each piece still gives you a 10/10 sartorial orgasm, it’s time to put it all back in.

Here’s where you can really claw back some space by folding items away and organising properly. Make like Marie Kondo and get practising that royal roll for items you want to stow away in drawers and categorise the clothes you hang up by seasons or occasions.

Stock up on hangers

If getting confused and stressed when you’re choosing what to wear in the morning is all too familiar, consider organising your wardrobe with matching velvet hangers – it’s a game-changer. Not only will the new sense of order motivate you to keep control of your wardrobe on a long-term basis, but the velvet also holds onto your clothes, preventing items slipping off and sitting in an unloved pile at the bottom of your closet.

Try facing your hangers away from you in the wardrobe, turning them towards you each time you wear an item. It’s an easy way to keep stock of the items you love and those that you’re simply not getting the wear out of.

What are your best tips for tackling a wardrobe clear out? Let us know!

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 13, 2020

Between You and Me – Answering Your Problems Pt. 2

Our 'Between You & Me' write-in is a regular series dedicated to answering your personal problems...

It’s that time of the month again where you write in with your Between You And Me dilemmas and we do our best to dish out some solid life advice – because a problem shared is a problem halved and all that!

This time we’re tackling cheating boyfriends, pubic hair, sexuality, A-level stress and periods.

Got something weighing on your mind? Email us on [email protected] and we’ll be in touch!

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 12, 2020

Styling Corners Of Your Home For Spring

Banish the Winter blues and brighten up your pad in time for Spring with these easy styling ideas. From floral accents, fresh scents and pastel colours, here's how to inject a healthy serving of Spring into every nook and cranny of your humble abode.

Pops of pastel

Breathe new life into your living space with pastel accents and a sprinkling of pattern. Mirror the invigorating colours of Spring with blues, vibrant greens, yellows and soft pastels. Now’s the time to shake up a tired and stuffy colour palette. If you’ve got any cheery decorative plates hibernating at the back of a cupboard somewhere, display them on open-shelving / cabinetry.

Deck the halls with a Spring wreath

Whatdoyaknow, wreaths aren’t just for the holidays! With every season, there comes a new opportunity to style your home in accordance with the seasons and adding a decorative wreath – much like flowers – can offer a quick way to introduce a touch of nature into your living space.

Whether you go for an all-out Easter theme, or simply style a fresh wreath with foliage and a medley of tulips, nothing welcomes guests quite like a well-dressed front door.

Switching up your home fragrance

Out with the ‘oud’ in with the new! While Winter is all about the heady, comforting spices and warming ouds, Spring inspires us to scent our homes with fresh and uplifting fragrances that energise and motivate us – the candle equivalent of going for a brisk seaside walk to to blow the cobwebs away.

Bringing the great outdoors in

Nature really knows how to show off in the Spring. Daffodils and hyacinths are particularly fragrant and aesthetically pleasing bunched in a vase and placed on the kitchen counter, or as a centrepiece on your Easter dining table. The house plant trend is going nowhere either, so go ahead and create your very own Spring sanctuary with a smattering of leafy friends. A trailing string of hearts looks great in an office, while a snake plant is a delightfully low-maintenance addition for a bar cart or console table.

Introduce lighter fabrics

Create a calm and airy ambience in your boudoir by changing up your heavy Winter bed threads for crisp whites or ditsy floral prints. Go for light, breathable fabrics on your bedding, switch out heavy blankets for cotton throws in the lounge and crinkled cotton table cloths in the kitchen. It’s the season for letting go of unnecessary layers!

If you’re a fan of letting the light flood in through the curtains in the morning, then opt for sheer curtains for a laid-back boho mood mixed with Moroccan overtones and earthy hues. Dreamy!

Creating space

Once we’re done lapping up the comforts of hygge season, we often feel a need to clear out, refresh and rearrange our living space to reflect the shift in seasons and the sunnier days ahead. Evoke a calm home by organising your cupboards and drawers, paring back your bedside table and lightening your bookshelves. There is beauty and functionality in the unadorned wall and the ship-shape kitchen counter. Embrace the space! Need some motivation to get your place looking Hinch-levels of tidy? Read our Spring cleaning tips here.

Natural textures

Channel those vacation vibes with natural materials and an aesthetic style firmly set in contemporary minimalism. Introduce wood, rattan, bamboo or seagrass textures for a neutral palette that’ll work with any interior aesthetic. Wicker baskets are both functional and stylish storage pieces for your hallway or lounge, while rattan planters work well for a bedroom or a reading nook. You can also try switching up your Berber style rugs for natural jute for a lighter but still lived-in look.

How do you style your living space for Spring? We’d love to hear your best tips!

TEAM ZOELLA MARCH 11, 2020

Gardening For Your Mental Health

We all know that spending time outside and reconnecting with nature can benefit both our mental and physical wellbeing.

They don’t call it the great outdoors for nothing! In a technologically driven world, never before have we been so divorced from nature thus unplugging from our devices and the hustle and bustle of digital noise is becoming increasingly important.

The Japanese have long recognised the healing power of green spaces with the practice of forest bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’ becoming a cornerstone of preventative healthcare and a globally practised wellbeing activity. No bikini required.

We don’t always have to head off into the depths of the forest to get our happiness fix, though! Nurturing our mental health can start from our very own backyards. Yep, we’re talking about getting out in the garden and flexing our green fingers! Crocs… it’s finally your time to shine.

The benefits of gardening go far beyond making our grass greener. Tending to our outdoor spaces fosters our innate connection with the earth, creating a sense of order and calm in our lives by observing nature and the cycle of seasons. It’s a valuable source of relaxation that gets us out of our heads and into the present moment.

We’re exploring how taking a holistic approach to our wellbeing and immersing ourselves in a bit of green-thumbed therapy can help keep our mental health in check.

Vitamin D

Sunlight improves our mood and is conducive to a good night’s sleep, so when it comes to looking after our mental health, getting outside and lapping up the sunshine is a sure-fire way to forget about the stressors of daily life and get a dose of that all-important happiness.

Exercise

Much like hitting the gym, gardening is a positive habit to build into your day. All that raking, digging and weeding gets your muscles moving and your endorphins flying. If you’re feeling lethargic, a productive hour in the garden can provide an effective workout while putting minimal stress on the body.

A sense of achievement and self-worth

Cultivating your very own green space can give you a unique sense of purpose. By giving it your time and energy, you get to reap the fruits of your labour – whether that’s beautiful scented flowers, home-grown veggies or simply the satisfaction of giving back to nature.

It’s inclusive

Young or old, gardening doesn’t discriminate. Its rewards are for everyone!

Stress-buster

Gardening is a natural stress-reliever and while it might not compete with combative sports like boxing, taking a trowel to the soil and pushing a lawn mower round can certainly help to let off some steam and calm your mind.

It’s a safe space

Plants don’t judge. Simple! For those struggling with mental health issues, those simple day to day tasks or socialising with others can be the most overwhelming. Gardening is a great way to get outside and channel that nervous energy into something purposeful, motivating and creative.

Community connections

Cooperating with others and working towards a shared goal promotes a real sense of community. Mental illness can be extremely isolating and for those who struggle with confidence issues, meeting new people can be a daunting experience. Joining a communal gardening group can be a great way to nip fear and discomfort in the bud and connect with likeminded people.

We spoke to Brighton and Hove Food Partnership about their dementia-friendly gardening sessions and the work they do to help propagate mindfulness in the community.

Explain the work that the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership organisation does within the community.

The Brighton & Hove Food Partnership is a not-for-profit organisation which has 15 years’ experience using food to make positive changes in people’s lives. We help people and organisations to grow food, buy locally, cook & eat a healthy diet and waste less food. This ranges from running a community cookery school and growing vegetables in public spaces to campaigning about food poverty or helping food businesses get together to ‘ditch the plastic’ locally. Our work brings positive food experiences to people experiencing deprivation, isolation, poor health and other life challenges. Over many years we have found that growing, cooking and eating with others can make lasting changes to habits and behaviours which improve lives.

How can gardening benefit our mental health?

Many national studies and reports evidence the benefits of garden/ outdoor projects for physical & mental health (Kings Fund 2017, Natural England 2016, Growing Health 2014, Mind 2013), including reducing stress, depression, self-harm & destructive behaviours and improving social interaction, life satisfaction, self-esteem, meaningful activity and achievement. Evaluation of Brighton & Hove garden projects by the University of Essex found:

– 97% of participants reported improved happiness, mood or wellbeing

– 89% reported improved physical health

– 90% reported greater skills or confidence

– Participants increased their fruit and vegetable intake by an average of 14% and physical activity levels across the group increased between 10% and 17%.

88% reported that coming to the garden would have a long-term impact on them in the future, while 16% noticed an improvement in life satisfaction after 3-6 months.

We have found that community gardening is a perfect way to achieve the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ – connect, be active, take notice, learn and give.

Here are some quotes from people who have been involved in our gardening projects.

“Sometimes when I am depressed I miss coming but I know that if I make the effort to get here I will instantly feel better.”

“I suffer from anxiety and the gardening sessions are calming and boost my mood. I leave feeling more relaxed.” ​

“It’s been worth more and more useful to me than all the psychotherapies I’ve had. It’s been amazing for me.”

“Now I’m at stage now where I want to get right stuck in with it all, I want to give something back now and I’ve come a long way in my recovery. It’s given me a different view of living in this city coming to gardens like this and I feel I want to move towards helping other people in gardens like this who used to feel like me.”

The Food Partnership helped to triple the number of community gardens in the city, from 25 to 75, and we estimate that 4,000 people volunteer across these community gardens each year. Since that time, we have focused on supporting existing projects to be stronger and more effective. In particular we have prioritised running and supporting gardens that work with vulnerable people, as they need more specialist expertise/ safety / skills and capacity. Between 2014 and 2017, we supported over 2,000 vulnerable people to improve their mental health, physical health and skills at therapeutic gardens across the city. With new funding for the Wellbeing Alliance we look forward to growing this further and reaching out to new areas.

Tell us more about the dementia-friendly gardening sessions…

The gardening sessions are a time for those living with Dementia and (sometimes) their carers to spend quality time in a glorious private garden tucked away in central Brighton. We tailor the sessions to suit those who come along in terms of their interests, energy and mobility. In the past activities have included things like transplanting seedlings, making pinecone bird feeders, planting bulbs and making nasturtium pesto from plants in the garden. We have incredible volunteers who work one to one with those that come along enabling them to participate in the activities on offer. Our volunteers are a key part of the success of the gardening group as they bring a wealth of experience and compassion which creates a warm and welcoming environment for everyone. Over time we get to know the participants really well as they share stories about their lives and we learn their particular sense of humour. We always have lots of tea and cake, you can’t garden without tea and cake can you?

How important is the community aspect of gardening?

People who attend our gardening groups tell us that belonging to one of these groups help them feel connected to their communities and give something back by tending green spaces around the city. We often chat with park users (for example in Preston Park) about food growing techniques and they share with us how much they enjoy seeing all the different plants growing and cropping through the year.

What are your top tips for getting started with gardening?

If you are keen to start gardening for wellbeing in Brighton, the good news is you’re in the right place. The city has loads of different supportive community gardens which you can find out more about through our directory: https://bhfood.org.uk/directory-map/

You can always visit a few different gardens to find the one that suits your availability and your particular interests. It may be that a shared meal is really appealing or you’re especially interested in gardening for wildlife, so exploring a few different projects will guarantee that you find the right one for you. If you live outside the area, maybe check out the projects that exist near you, many will have a Facebook page or even a website you could find through using a search engine.

Have you got a favourite story you can share with us from the work you’ve done with the gardening scheme so far…

It’s so hard to choose as I’ve been involved with community gardens in Brighton for nearly 7 years now and met so many brilliant people through this work. One lady from our last Dementia friendly gardening group does spring to mind though. The joy she expressed from week to week of visiting the garden was very moving. She would describe the Garden House (where we run the Dementia friendly gardening sessions) as the secret garden and the garden of her childhood dreams. One day she told us that she viewed her Alzheimer’s as a gift ‘because it enabled her to have beautiful experiences by being part of this wonderful group.’ It’s moments like that when I realise that what we create together is special – it’s garden magic!

How can someone get involved / volunteer?

I’d recommend looking at our website bhfood.org.uk and checking the directory; contacting the gardens that you’d like to volunteer at directly is a good way to find out more about what they and you, are looking for, through volunteering.

Let us know your gardening tips in the comments below!

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