TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 17, 2021

Can a Hobby Help Combat Depression? The Art of Discovering Something You Love…

Not only does learning a new skill or pastime help your conscious brain by offering a tangible distraction, the act of consistently partaking in a hobby can help to relax the body and mind by tuning in to the parasympathetic nervous system and helping you to find a more neutral go-to.

Living life alongside depression, whether it be a daily battle or appearing in bouts, can be a complex and draining experience, oftentimes leading to a lack of motivation and desire to do anything other than basic survival. Lockdown (all three of ‘em) has tested the mental health of everyone, but there is something to be said for partaking in a hobby that might just be the golden ticket to healthy distraction from the complexity of mental illness.

Finding the motivation to do even the simplest of tasks can be so difficult for those suffering with depression, but any baby steps in the right direction toward breaking your normal routine and trying something new can all be seen as positives.

Not only does learning a new skill or pastime help your conscious brain by offering a tangible distraction, the act of consistently partaking in a hobby can help to relax the body and mind by tuning in to the parasympathetic nervous system and helping you to find a more neutral go-to. Studies show that “engaging in creative behaviour such as a hobby leads to increases in wellbeing that last until the next day”, showing the positive upward spiral that can be achieved if you add these activities to your routine regularly. Finding the motivation to do even the simplest of tasks can be so difficult for those suffering with depression, but any baby steps in the right direction toward breaking your normal routine and trying something new can all be seen as positives.

Sounding too good to be true? Keep reading for the ultimate accessible activities list, and learn how to make your hobbies habitual…

Cooking up a storm

Did somebody call the Duke of Hastings because wow your cooking skills are leaving us speechless after one lick of that spoon. Planning meals and cooking for yourself regularly can be really challenging when basic self-care feels unachievable, but there’s a lot to be said for a little extra time in the kitchen both to nourish your body and heart.

Cooking is an incredibly grounding activity, focusing the mind on small, achievable steps at a time and temporarily allowing you to give focus to something tangible.

Hobbies that not only help to soothe your mind but also enhance your day are endlessly beneficial, and cooking a simple but delicious meal provides a huge boost of accomplishment, whilst also ticking off survival self-care in one fell swoop.

For those with difficult relationships with food, learning to perfect some basic but tasty meals or bakes can be even more rewarding in the long run. We believe in you!

Please don’t stop the music

The pubs and clubs might be closed but come hell or high water, we’ll still be bopping around the kitchen with a drink in hand. There are mood-boosting chemicals aplenty to be found after a shimmy to Shake It Off (other pop songs are available), with studies finding the increased levels of happiness after dancing can manifest in the body for up to a week afterwards – work smarter, not harder people.

Tension and uneasiness are common feelings that can manifest in the body of those struggling with depression, but dancing freely or committing a routine to memory can free up headspace

Tension and uneasiness are common feelings that can manifest in the body of those struggling with depression, but dancing freely or committing a routine to memory (yes a TikTok dance does count) can free up headspace by dispelling nervous energy, and release mood boosting-chemicals that unlock a portal to a calmer mind. Ya see, there’s a lot of magic to be found in a good zig-a-zig ah.

And it doesn’t stop there – the human connection that can be harnessed from dancing with others helps to increase feelings of interconnectedness and community, giving us another glimmer of positivity on our long list of things to look forward to post-pandemic.

Move, stretch, breathe, repeat

In states of dissociation and extreme low mood, it’s easy to feel like the world is moving on around you whilst you’re standing still. Using grounding techniques can help redirect your brain from distressing thoughts and allow you to come into your body and calm the mind.

Yoga and Pilates are wonderful, mindful hobbies to take up and require no equipment, (if you don’t have a yoga mat you can use a beach towel or blanket) whilst making a big difference to your day and general mood. If you struggle with insomnia due to mental illness, then small breathing and stretching practices can do the world of good in relaxing the mind and body and signifying to your brain that it’s time to rest. We love Yoga with Adriene@mindfuldeandre and @theunderbellyyoga.

The art of average art

Art therapy is a real thing, and you don’t need to be in formal counselling to feel the benefits. Using different artistic mediums to express your feelings is a great way of venting and channelling emotions that might feel hard to vocalise verbally.

This is your gentle reminder that hobbies do not need to be productive

Art therapy is said to help improve self-esteem, mood and overall wellbeing, and is especially beneficial in helping participants feel less isolated- something we can appreciate right now. And you don’t need to be a Van Gogh in the making, no siree! This is your gentle reminder that hobbies do not need to be productive, and the act of channelling time and energy into something calming in itself is something we can all benefit from, regardless of the creative outcome.

“Our ‘hobbies,’ have become too serious and lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it,” – Tim Wu, Author and Columbia University law professor.

Finding your inner author

Whether it be journaling about your IRL worries or taking yourself to another destination altogether, getting thoughts down on a page is something that can help quiet the brain and grant a moment of clarity. We’re loud and proud fans of Matt Haig and his brilliant collection of books are a testament to how beneficial it can be to channel difficult emotions into creative writing.

Oftentimes the lows of depression can trigger thoughts it might be difficult to share with loved ones, but writing provides an outlet for these spiralling anxieties that might be challenging for even you to decipher.

Writing is like an exploration of the mind, unlocking doors that might currently feel slammed shut and helping you to feel more in touch with yourself and others. And, if it’s a community you’re seeking out, there are endless online groups that can connect you with others and encourage you to share your words, if you wish to.

In a pandemic winter it can feel preferable to hide under the covers with Netflix and a mountain of carbs, and whilst on many occasions this is totally valid, even the smallest dip of a toe into a new hobby can be transformative in extended periods of low mood. Rope in a friend and hold each other accountable or switch up your routine with someone in your household and let’s get working on our mental health pals.

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 16, 2021

13 Questions With Katie Snooks

Katie has been creating content online for over 10 years and she covers an incredible range of topics, from acne, to birth control, from how to get over a breakup to going on Tinder dates, to body confidence and sex toys. Find out what she's up to at the moment...

First of all, how are you and how are you finding 2021 so far?

Being totally honest, I am STRUGGLING with 2021. I have zero motivation and have a complete lack of confidence in myself, so even getting out of bed before 9:30 am is an achievement! I’m trying to focus on the things we have to look forward to – spring, the days getting longer and each day being closer to spending time with family!

Can you talk us through your career online and how it’s evolved?

I started a beauty blog in 2010 whilst I was doing my photography degree – I just loved talking about makeup with this awesome online community whilst taking nice pictures to match! After university, I started working in social media and ran the Twitter/FB/Insta accounts for beauty brands and every evening and weekend I would write blog posts and film YouTube videos for my own platforms!  I then took the plunge to quit my day job and focus on content creating full time which I feel so lucky to be able to do!

What can people expect from you online in terms of the topics you tackle?

I want to inspire, empower and make people feel confident and beautiful within themselves, whilst chatting openly about topics all women experience growing up!  From acne, to birth control, from how to get over a breakup to going on Tinder dates, to body confidence and sex toys, I like to talk to my followers as I would a best friend… no topic is too taboo.

What are your top tips for staying motivated during the pandemic?

Firstly don’t put too much pressure on yourself, we all need days to wallow and mope around and feel a bit hopeless because of this bizarre situation we’re all in.  Don’t write a huge to-do list and feel awful about yourself if you don’t get it done – everything you accomplish is an achievement, from taking some time to self care to putting a knicker wash on, to writing an email and showing up virtually to your friends, be kind to yourself and you’ll feel more motivated!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to create content online?

Start now! Don’t put it off for another day.  Also please try not to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing and instead just focus on creating content that you enjoy and would want to see yourself. My other biggest tip is consistency – create a little schedule and try to stick to it, whether that be to post 3 Instagrams and week and one YouTube video every Monday; it’s nice for your followers to look forward to your content.

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?

In 2017 after documenting my acne journey on my YouTube channel, I presented my own BBC Newsbeat documentary all about acne to really understand just how much it can impact confidence and self love.  I am SO proud that sharing my imperfections helped so many people and lead me to such a great opportunity like that!

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just started a new Instagram advice series which I’m really excited about as I think it’ll help lots of people. My first was about gaslighting and emotional manipulation in relationships and I’ve also got topics coming up like the best chat up lines to use on dating apps to my top tips for acne prone skin!  My dream is to also publish a book one day, I’ve written my first novel and I’m about to start plotting my second, so fingers crossed that dream becomes a reality one day!

Who are some of your favourite follows online?

Thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my all time favourite black content creators – these girls are amazing.

@mossonyi

@basicstouch

@femmeblk

@asiyami_gold

@romeosfashionfix

If you weren’t an online content creator what do you think you’d be doing for a living?

It’s always been a dream of mine to be a forensic criminologist/forensic photographer. If I had time I would love to study this! More realistically however, I think I’d make a great blogger/street style photographer and after having photographed some weddings in the past, I’d love to do that full time too!

What do you always carry with you?

Lipstick, my kindle and Bluetooth headphones for podcasts! My favourite podcasts are My Favourite Murder for true crime and the Off Menu podcast because I love food!

What does your perfect weekend look like?

A lazy day with my fiancé which would definitely start with brunch – hash browns, scrambled eggs and loads of sriracha, followed by lots of tea and reading books on the sofa. I’m currently obsessed with Stardew Valley on the Nintendo switch so probably some of that and then a nice meal out with my besties!  Lockdown has definitely made me appreciate the small moments in life.

If you could only eat one meal again what would it be?

Hardest question ever. World food buffet? So I could get my world cuisine takeaway fix all at once – spring rolls, sag paneer, Thai curry all at the same time (lol)!  Isn’t it sad to think buffets might not exist after COVID! Too unhygienic.

If you could give one positive message to our followers what would it be?

If you’re struggling with confidence or low self-image, remember that your ‘imperfections’, quirks and flaws are what make you, you.  Embrace them, stand proud and be unapologetic about them!

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 15, 2021

We Made Love Prints With the Legend That Is Sophie Tea

Clad in her epic neon green overalls, Sophie Tea, the woman, the myth, the legend, walked us through her technique...

She’s been disrupting the art industry ever since her glitter boobs went viral at Coachella back in 2017. Since then, Sophie Tea has gone on to carve a distinctive gallery-less career, selling her artwork exclusively on social media and accruing a legion of devoted fans and collectors from around the world in the process.

Image Credit: @Sophieteaart

Second only to commissioning her to draw us like one of her French girls, painting abstract love prints with her was a peak lockdown / Galentine’s activity. A peak life activity actually, if we’re going to be pernickety about it.

Clad in her epic neon green overalls, Sophie Tea, the woman, the myth, the legend, walked us through her technique and then we were left to express ourselves. Gulp. Easier said than done when you’re in the presence of the OG glitter-boob tycoon and one of the most in-demand artists of our time. No pressure.

Image Credit: @Sophieteaart

An hour later and there we were, covered in paint splashback and exhibiting our hearty creations on Zoom for peer-to-peer validation like we were holding up baby Simba for the whole kingdom to see. It was the most momentous occasion of lockdown 3.0 so far and we’d quite like to share it with you.

You’re now cordially invited to the team Zoella X Sophie Tea exhibition.

Lareese

Evidently, I’m no Van Gogh but that did not stop me from going ham with the paintbrush. I have vivid memories of me, aged 10, sat in my bedroom having just spent my £5 pocket money on a set of watercolours from Sussex Stationers, using an old kitchen sponge to paint a tree. I was in my absolute element and I think my mum hung that painting in the kitchen by the calendar for about two years. That was probably the last time I painted – that sounds like a tragic opening of a memoir but it’s true.

Armed with my Sophie Tea kit, water for the paintbrushes and a glass of flat prosecco for me (for creative fuel, obviously), we started our Wednesday night art class.

Lareese

You’d think it would be somewhat – difficult – to fluff up a heart shape alas, mine looked more like a butternut squash than a beautiful beating ticker on canvas. I’ve got previous when it comes to disfiguring shapes though, so at least I had managed my expectations. If you think my heart’s bad, you should see the state of my stars. It’s like looking at a pissed sorting hat. Nevertheless, she persisted and with a few top tips from Sophie, I added a sh*t load of white paint to resuscitate it. Kinda.

In true Sophie Tea style, there’s a hidden message in my masterpiece. What can I say, there’s a reason it looks like a sea of pizza. Bids welcome.

Huge thank you to Sophie for being nothing but the 11/10 art teacher, boss and all-round babe you’d expect her to be, even if I did singlehandedly ruin the movement, ha! There’s no-one else I’d rather send my nudes to.

Danielle

I absolutely loved sitting down and doing a bit of crafting with the team! I’m quite rubbish and spending time on anything that doesn’t include a screen at the moment so it was such a nice moment to actually do something tangible I could concentrate on.

Sophie is such a great teacher, and makes what she does look incredibly easy but let me tell you it’s no mean feat! I Loved hearing all about how Sophie became the artist she is today, the work she does with nudes is incredible and she shared some lovely stories from women who sent her images of their bodies for her work.

Creating the heart was definitely one of those projects that came together at the end! I felt like it was terrible but kept going and part of what makes Sophie’s work so engaging is the layers and layers of colour that goes into it. I love that she can leave something for the evening, let it dry, then alter it the next day by adding more, I was always under the impression if you messed up with something like that you’d have to start again but instead it all just becomes part of the process.

Painting really invigorated my love for a bit of crafting so I’ve since purchased some clay and made some candlestick holders I’m going to paint with my Sophie Tea colours.

Danielle

Darcey

I’m no painter that’s for sure and also very bad at doing things in a ‘messy’ style or abstract! I absolutely love Sophie Tea’s style of art and have been a fan for a while so I was super excited to get an art lesson from her via zoom! She was so, so lovely and funny too, I loved hearing about how she got to where she is today and her pathway finding love for art.

I spent the majority of the zoom thinking that I’m absolutely doing it wrong and that my technique was less than to be desired, but actually, I’m quite fond of the final outcome and think I might frame it!

I loved getting a bit messy and taking a step back from my screen to do something arty, it’s actually inspired me to buy a few more canvases and get painting more often!

Darcey

I left the Zoom with a newfound love for painting and my desk covered in paint splats, whoops ha!

Maddie

I have been a big fan of Sophie Tea since meeting her at an art show over 2 years ago in London. She was incredibly warm and lovely and her studio was top to toe splattered in multi-coloured paint. At the time she was creating a lot of abstract pieces but now she paints anything from bees and butterflies to hearts and most recently the female form, her pieces are simply gorgeous and definitely a lot of fun.

I’ll definitely be framing mine until I can afford the real deal!Maddie

For someone who likes her interiors fairly natural and monochrome, I’m not afraid of colour when it comes to art and Sophie’s style is very up my street. So when I learnt that Sophie was going to give the team a bespoke art lesson for us to recreate our own hearts, I was THRILLED. I’m definitely not arty but Sophie was a great teacher and it was amazing to see her create a piece of art and make it look so effortless. I’ll definitely be framing mine until I can afford the real deal!

Charlotte

This was such a wholesome midweek activity and I’m so thrilled I have paint left to continue this arty pastime as lockdown drags on. I haven’t painted with acrylics probably since year 11 art GCSE so it felt really nostalgic and weirdly comforting to be doing so again.

I was just as much of a novice as I remembered but the act of mixing colours, adding different brush strokes and making some attempt to map out a design was really therapeutic. If I was to work on my piece again I think I’d focus on fewer colours and emphasise the brush strokes as I think this is one of the most beautiful things about Sophie’s work- the depth but also simplicity.

The paint splatting was definitely a highlight and somehow I managed to avoid making too much irreversible damage to my carpet haha!

Charlotte

Holly

The Sophie Tea workshop definitely reminded me of my love for painting/all things crafty! I mean I’m not going to be an artist anytime soon but it was still great fun. I even brought some canvases after the call so I could try out some more this weekend.

I found it very therapeutic, I got my wine and just had fun. I’ve never explored the idea that art can be imperfect but I think that’s why it was so therapeutic, I wasn’t worried about it going wrong because there is no wrong.

Absolutely great evening, wish me luck for my weekend of painting ahead!Holly

Sophie was a great teacher, super friendly and happy to answer any of my questions. The reason she pursued her career as an artist is also super inspiring and makes what she’s doing all the more impressive. Her work goes beyond just painting in my opinion. Her body inclusivity paintings have even got me wanting to send her nudes!

Purchase your very own heart print from Sophie Tea herself in her latest release here. But be quick as her the limited edition runs sell out quick!

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 14, 2021

Weekly Wants: The Zoella Team’s TBR Books

The spike in book-y Instagram accounts and lockdown reading challenges can make selecting your next read somewhat stressful, so in today’s post, we’re sharing a handful of the team’s TBR (that’s to be read if you’re new to book ~lingo~) book selections.

2020 was the year reading became trendy and honestly, we’re so here for it. Give us a glass of wine, weighted blanket and some mood lighting and hey presto, wholesome self-care unlocked.

From thrillers to beach reads, factual tales to pages brimming with advice, our bookshelves are looking varied and our eyes are bright with excitement

The spike in book-y Instagram accounts and lockdown reading challenges can make selecting your next read somewhat stressful, so in today’s post, we’re sharing a handful of the team’s TBR (that’s to be read if you’re new to book ~lingo~) book selections so dreamy that they keep us racing through our current reads at record speed.

From thrillers to beach reads, factual tales to pages brimming with advice, our bookshelves are looking varied and our eyes are bright with excitement (it’s lockdown okay, even taking the bins out gets us going a bit). Let us know the books on your TBR pile and happy reading!

Find the full list of the team’s TBR books available to purchase via Bookshop here. Bookshop is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.

As more and more people buy their books online, Bookshop wanted to create an easy, convenient way for you to get your books and support bookshops at the same time. If you want to find a specific local bookshop to support, find them on this map and they’ll receive the full profit from your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookshops. By design, they give away over 75% of their profit margin to stores, publications, authors and others who make up the thriving, inspirational culture around books!

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 13, 2021

100 Sexy Jams to Make Your Bed Rock this Valentine’s Day

Here’s the soundtrack to your Saturday night under the covers - and yes, it absolutely features the sexy Vitamin String Quartet and goose bump-giving Kris Bowers arrangements, brought to us by Bridgerton - because no Valentine’s Day playlist could do without it.

It’s Valentine’s weekend. You’ve ordered the takeaway, you’re two glasses of wine deep and slowly sinking into that pleasure-loving cul de sac of candlelight and cupidity.

It’s all crumpled bed sheets and snatched orgasms with hazy carbs in between and it feels glorious to be here

Everything feels like Sunday; it’s all crumpled bed sheets and snatched orgasms with hazy carbs in between and it feels glorious to be here, showing up for l-o-v-e in all its nuanced guises, and blissfully excused from the mediocrity of what feels like a whole year of rainy days and Mondays. You’re excused from the front row of f**kery; plucked from the pandemic to be reacquainted with the rose-tinted glasses, if only for one starry-eyed evening. Thank you, February, you sexy rake.

Fuelled with whispering angel and aphrodisiacs, you slink into the boudoir to bookend your Valentine’s with uninterrupted hedonism. Even if you’re on your own, you don’t feel alone. You feel empowered; like a warbling enchantress poised on a pillowed rock.

Cue the music.

Here’s the soundtrack to your Saturday night under the covers – and yes, it absolutely features the sexy Vitamin String Quartet and goose bump-giving Kris Bowers arrangements, brought to us by Bridgerton – because no Valentine’s Day playlist could do without it.

Hit the play button (on all your devices) & may your orgasms make sweet haste.

1 Pillowtalk – ZAYN
2 Call Out My Name – The Weeknd
3 Drunk In Love – Beyonce
4 Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
5 I’ll Make Love To You – Boys II Men
6 Buttons – Pussycat Dolls
7 Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
8 Pony – Genuwine
9 Grind With Me – Pretty Ricky
10 Bed – J Holiday
11 Birthday Sex – Jeremih
12 Feeling Myself – Beyonce & Nicky Minaj
13 Doin it – LL Cool J
14 Hot In Herre – Nelly
15 Thinkin Bout You – Frank Ocean
16 S&M – Rihanna
17 Positions – Ariana Grande
18 Drake – Practice
19 Redbone – Childish Gambino
20 Body Party – Ciara
21 Your Body Is A Wonderland – John Mayer
22 We Could Form An Attachment – Kris Bowers
23 Naughty Girl – Beyonce
24 Wildest Dreams – Duomo
25 Thank You Next – Vitamin String Quartet
26 God Is A Woman – Ariana Grande
27 Sexy Love – Neyo
28 You Really Got Me – The Kinks
29 Lose My Breath – Destiny’s Child
30 Earned It – The Weeknd
31 WAP – Cardi B, Megan T
32 Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye
33 Like You – Bow Wow, Ciara
34 Kiss It Better – Rihanna
35 Falling For You – The 1975
36 Versace On The Floor – Bruno Mars
37 Please Me – Cardi B
38 Focus – H.E.R
39 I Want Your Sex – George Michael
40 Nice & Slow – Usher
41 Slow Hands – Niall Horan
42 I Swear – All-4-One
43 Adorn – Miguel
44 Slow Jamz – Twista, Kanye West
45 Weak – SWV
46 Beautiful – Snoop Dogg, Pharell Williams
47 Comfortable – H.E.R
48 Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles
49 Until The End Of Time – Justin Timberlake
50 Freak Me – Another Level
51 Bonnie & Clyde – Jay Z, Beyonce
52 Bedrock – Young Money, Lloyd
53 All My Life – K-CI & JoJo
54 Love Sex Magic – Ciara, Justin Timberlake
55 Carolina – Harry Styles
56 No Control – One Direction
57 Best I Ever Had – Drake
58 Sweat – ZAYN
59 Crazy In Love – Beyonce (50 shades of grey soundtrack)
60 Candy Shop – 50 Cent
61 Formula – Labrinth
62 Dress – Taylor Swift
63 I Wanna Know – Joe
64 Senorita – Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes
65 Dance For You – Beyonce
66 Lollipop – Lil Wayne
67 Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
68 Slave for You – Britney Spears
69 High For This – The Weeknd
70 I Put A Spell On You – Annie Lennox
71 Brown Skin – India.Arie
72 Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill
73 Pyramids – Frank Ocean
74 Juicy – Doja Cat
75 Into You – Fabolous, ft Tamia
76 Meet Me In The Middle – Jessie Ware
77 Coffee – Miguel
78 Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande
79 Body Say – Demi Lovato
80 Wild – John Legend
81 Two Weeks – FKA Twigs
82 Lingerie – Lizzo
83 Ride – Ludacris, Ciara
84 Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon
85 Love Me Harder – Ariana Grande
86 Beyonce – Partition
87 Kevin Abstract – Peach
88 Bound 2 – Kanye West
89 Streets – Doja Cat
90 34 + 35 – Ariana Grande
91 After Hours – The Weeknd
92 Black Swan – BTS
93 Motivation – Kelly Rowland
94 Work From Home –
95 Private Show – Little Mix
96 Peacock – Katy Perry
97 Slow Motion – Trey Songz
98 Rock Me – One Direction
99 Lights On – Shawn Mendes
100 Rude Boy – Rihanna

Find the full playlist on Spotify here!

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 12, 2021

12 Saucy Books in the Same Throbbing League as Fifty Shades

Here’s a look at some of the saucy bedside companions you need in your life, ideally enjoyed in tandem with The Fireman or The Frenchman.

You know what we need more of in 2021? Kinky reads, that’s what. It’s been 84 years since E.L. James blessed us with her Fifty Shades of horn and we are well overdue our next instalment of erotic fiction. So, here’s a look at some of the saucy bedside companions you need in your life, ideally enjoyed in tandem with The Fireman or The Frenchman. If you know, you know.

1. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty – Anne Rice

In the first book in her Sleeping Beauty trilogy, Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning, BDSM and fantasy. In this retelling of the classic tale, Beauty is woken from her century-long slumber not with a kiss but with a sexual initiation and if the reviews are anything to go by it’s one frisky fairytale of princesses and porn and there’s nothing soft-core about it. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

2. Call Me By Your Name – André Aciman

Before it was a major motion picture and Netflix sensation, it was a precious work of art written by award-winning author André Aciman. Set in the mid 1980s, this coming-of-age story chronicles the sexual awakening of 17-year-old Elio as he finds himself falling for Oliver, a 24-year-old grad student staying at his parents’ mansion on the Italian Riviera. Let’s just say you’ll never look at a peach or a pair of Bermuda shorts the same way again. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

3. Insatiable: A love story for greedy girls – Daisy Buchanan

Broken-hearted Violet wants more out of life – better friends, better sex, a better job – so when she lands a new role at an exciting start-up, she jumps at the chance to start working with Lottie and Simon but it’s not long before she’s dipping her pen in the company ink. Insatiable is a smorgasbord of gloriously rude, Friday-night sex parties and unapologetic smut so you better buy multiple copies because your first well-thumbed edition doesn’t stand a chance of making it through lockdown 3.0. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

4. Addicted – Zane

The Queen of erotica does it again. Zoe has a seemingly perfect life: the thriving business, three beautiful children, the childhood sweetheart for a husband and… a serious sex addiction. Just, not with her own spouse. Infidelity is just the tip of the iceberg in this tale of fatal attraction and forbidden desires. Purchase the book via Amazon here.

5. Bad Behaviour – Mary Gaitskill

A collection of nine short stories of sexual obsession, power games and drug addiction, set against the back drop of New York in the 1980s. A snappy, voyeuristic read to devour in the bath, the boudoir or even the virtual boardroom, if you’re feeling extra kinky. Fans of innuendo will be right at home here. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

6. Bared To You – Sylvia Day

“Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other’s most private wounds . . . and desires.” This is one bonkfest of a novel that you won’t be able to keep your hands off. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

7. Sweet, Filthy Boy – Christina Lauren

From the best-selling writing duo behind Beautiful Bastard (Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of lifelong writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) comes this irresistible story of three besties having it large in Vegas. And we all know how that story goes, cue the hook-ups and hangovers. Viva Las Vagas! Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

8. Say My Name – J. Kenner

The first book in J. Kenner’s titillating Stark International trilogy kicks off with an explosive romance between Jackson Steele (must be something in the name) and Sylvia Brooks. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

9. The Wedding Date – Jasmine Guillory

A sexy page-turner that doesn’t shy away from tackling issues of race, privilege and safe sex as well as all the adorable fluffy meet-cute stuff. Note to self: get stuck in an elevator more often. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

10. The Pisces – Melissa Broder

Hot sex with a merman? We’re in the like swimwear. We’re already heavily invested in this bizarre premise and ready to pay a bit more attention next time we’re at the beach. Melissa Broder has crafted one hell of an addictive debut that will no doubt be dividing readers for years to come. Brb, off to climb into a clamshell to wait for a half-man, half-fish to wash up on the local shoreline. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

11. Forever – Judy Blume

First published in 1975, Judy Blume’s ground-breaking novel of first love and gloriously realistic first times was way ahead of its time, so much so that it has been the frequent target of censorship (and not just because of a little character called Ralph). Leave it to Blume to handle teen sex with the unabashed realism and honesty it deserves – pre-cum, contraception, masturbation, warts and all. Banned books don’t get much better than this essential read.

12. Women – Chloe Caldwell

A compulsive romance told through the power of the female gaze. You’ll read it in one Valentine’s Day sitting. Purchase the book via Bookshop.org here.

Find the full list of Saucy Books in the Same Throbbing League as Fifty Shades available to purchase via Bookshop.org here. Bookshop is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops.

As more and more people buy their books online, Bookshop wanted to create an easy, convenient way for you to get your books and support bookshops at the same time. If you want to find a specific local bookshop to support, find them on this map and they’ll receive the full profit from your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookshops. By design, they give away over 75% of their profit margin to stores, publications, authors and others who make up the thriving, inspirational culture around books!

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 11, 2021

The Products Worth Adding to Basket for a 10/10 Skincare Routine

Does anyone else feel like they need some lessons at skincare school? Us too. It's a confusing and crowded marketplace and between hyaluronic, lactic and glycolic acids we might as well be back in Chemistry lessons- does anyone really know what they're doing? Let's take it back to basics ...

Does anyone else feel like they need some lessons at skincare school? Us too. It’s a confusing and crowded marketplace and between hyaluronic, lactic and glycolic acids we might as well be back in Chemistry lessons- does anyone really know what they’re doing? Let’s take it back to basics …

Your bathroom shelfie doesn’t need to look like an extra from Boots Pharmacy, so it’s often best to start small and gradually introduce new products to avoid a complexion conundrum.

First thing’s first- finding out your skin type. The bareface method is one of the easiest ways to do so and is foolproof, even for skincare newbies. Wash your face with a mild cleanser and wait 30 minutes before evaluating the situ. If your skin feels tight and flaky, then you can be sure it’s dryness you’re struggling with, but if there’s a sheen in your t-zone or acne prone areas then it’s likely you’re dealing with oily skin. Once you’ve got this nailed, it’s time for the fun part: shopping!

Your bathroom shelfie doesn’t need to look like an extra from Boots Pharmacy, so it’s often best to start small and gradually introduce new products to avoid a complexion conundrum. The basic steps that cover all bases in treating and maintaining healthy skin include: cleanser, toner, serum, eye-cream, moisturiser and SPF. 

Once you find your go-tos it’s smooth sailing from here. Cleansers that calm angry skin, serums that soothe, toners to tackle problem areas and SPF to ensure your skin is looking smoooooth for the long run. Welcome to the happy skin club, it’s lovely to have you.

Cleanser

Toner

Serum

Eye Cream

Moisturiser

SPF

Masks

*This post contains ad-affiliate links

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 10, 2021

Edgy Pancake Day Recipes to Spice Up Another Night In Lockdown

In the spirit of making the every day feel that bit more magic, here’s a bunch of edgy recipes to make you question every former Shrove Tuesday snack you’ve ever shared with your mouth.

It’s 2021 guys, we’re stepping our pancakes up. Whilst there is absolutely no shame in trotting off down to Tesco to pick up the sacred bottle of batter because just adding water is all our bandwidth can handle right now, going all out for Shrove Tuesday seems as good a tonic as any to soften the lockdown slog.

So, in the spirit of making the every day feel that bit more magic, here’s a bunch of edgy recipes to make you question every former Shrove Tuesday snack you’ve ever shared with your mouth. There is a whole life after lemon and sugar, so let’s start living it.

What pancake recipes will you be whipping up this Shrove Tuesday?

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 9, 2021

13 Questions with Kate Spiers

Kate Spiers formerly known as Kate Lavie is a beautiful blogger who's been going since 'back in the day!' She currently resides in Glasgow with her husband Jordan and works on BAFTA-nominated television show Scotland's Home of The Year. Find out what she's been up to during the pandemic and what she's working on next...

First of all, how are you and how are you finding 2021 so far?

I’m doing good, better than expected! I’m a summer baby so winter always has me feeling like I want to hibernate, but I’ve actually been keeping busy with lots of fun projects and just generally trying to make this a good year, regardless of all the uncertainty! I keep reminding myself that every day is a step closer to lighter days and better weather.

Can you talk us through your career online and how it’s evolved?

I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, first starting just after I left university. I was feeling a bit lost, I knew I didn’t want to pursue a career in my degree subject so blogging gave me a creative outlet while I figured out what I wanted to do. Eventually, I found the beauty blogging community (including Zoe!) and it all started to take shape. We had our own corner of the internet to share reviews, outfits and snippets of our life.

Eventually, I started gaining a following and as I’ve grown, my audience has grown with me – some of my followers have been with me since the very beginning! I love that I’ve created this positive space with a really loyal audience, I feel incredibly lucky.

What are your top tips for staying motivated during the pandemic?

My daily walk keeps me on track, I put on a playlist and take a coffee and head out for an hour or so every single day. It helps me to gather my thoughts first thing, and I think it’s a great way to start the day.

I also love making a to-do list every day, getting my goals down on paper really motivates me and I love ticking off my tasks throughout the day. If I feel like I need it, I’ll take an hour or the afternoon off and read – I don’t feel guilty for having time off if I need it.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to create content online?

Keep at it! Persistence is key, so start small and set yourself a goal to upload a few times a week and go from there. If you’re creating original, fun and creative content, you’ll soon build an audience – and over time you’ll find your niche too, that unique selling point what sets you apart from the rest!

We LOVE Scotland’s Home of The Year, what is it like to work on the show?

It’s hard work, but I love it! We get to travel the country and see parts of Scotland I wouldn’t usually see, and after doing it for three years we’ve all become really close so it’s always good fun. At first, I found doing TV tricky because I was used to being in control like I am with my own content – I film, edit and upload everything myself, so it was strange not being in charge but I’ve learned to enjoy it. The show is a massive part of my life and I’m so pleased it’s been so well received!

What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?

We just renovated our new flat during the pandemic which was near impossible but we did it! It took a while for this place to feel like home (we loved our old flat so much but we had outgrown it), but now we’ve really settled in.

The property needed everything completely overhauled, so we ripped out the entire flat and started again – keeping all the beautiful period features. It was hard work, and there were so many big decisions to make (why is picking tiles SO DIFFICULT?!), but we managed it!

What are you currently working on?

We’re still doing some renovations on the flat, those last-minute little snags that finish off a room, so I’m finally getting around to sharing more of the renovation project on my blog and Instagram.

I’ve also been in the process of writing a book, a selection of essays on heartbreak, loss and healing – it’s been so cathartic to write, so I’m hoping something comes of it. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book, and I’ve uploaded to my blog for well over ten years, so I feel like it’s a good time to put my time into something more physical, and more personal. Fingers crossed!

Who are some of your favourite follows online?

Oh I have so many!

  • Janea (@jnaydaily) for her interiors, food & lifestyle content, I love everything she posts and she is hilarious too!
  • Carrie (@wishwishwish) is another OG blogger who I’ve known for years, her content is incredible. So many beautiful photographs!
  • Yrsa Daley-Ward (@yrsadaleyward) is an author who shares poems daily, they are magical! I’ve recently purchased one of her books and I can’t wait to read it!
  • Elsa Bowman (@elsabowman) has such a beautifully curated feed, I’m obsessed with everything she uploads!

If you weren’t an online content creator what do you think you’d be doing for a living?

I think I’d be working in a similar career, maybe marketing or writing in some way. I think I was meant to be on this path so I don’t think I would have strayed too far from it!

What do you always carry with you?

My phone, AirPods, lip balm, keys, face covering and purse. I travel light!

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Saturday is for big walks, housework, errands, coffee with a friend, and then a nice dinner with a glass of wine with my husband, Jordan.
Sunday is my lazy day – I get up late, read my book and have a pamper afternoon. I put on a hair and face mask, fake tan and relax. Dreamy!

If you could only eat one meal again what would it be?

Ooh I think a really good Mexican feast! Fish tacos, all the guacamole and Pico de Gallo, and margaritas too, of course!

If you could give one positive message to our followers what would it be?

Have faith in yourself! We spend too much time thinking we’re not enough, that we don’t deserve to go after what we want, and all it does is hold us back. A positive attitude does wonders, so believe in yourself and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.

Follow Kate on Instagram here!

TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 8, 2021

Virtual Palentine’s Day Ideas to Remedy a Year of Missing Out

Until we can celebrate friendship IRL, here are a few ideas for bringing the squad together in spirit this Palentine’s Day.

There’s only so much you can do with your friends when you’re holed up at home but if you’re missing the days when competing for breath around a brunch table with your prosecco-filled chums was the merry norm, then a virtual Palentine’s date will work wonders to remedy the yomo – (year of missing out).

Until we can celebrate friendship IRL, here are a few ideas for bringing the squad together in spirit this Palentine’s Day.

Do a DIY wine and cheese tasting night

Let’s be honest, you’re not here to scrutinise the wine profile, oh no, no, no. You just want to sip the stuff and slope off into a fuzzy, brie-fuelled rhapsody, surrounded by your bezzie pals and their fickle WiFi.

Have a Spotify Date

Using Spotify’s group session feature, listen to all the nostalgic tracks that have seen your squad through life over the years. We’re talking mascara-robbing f**k boy anthems, the soundtrack to your teenhood and the songs you would listen to ON REPEAT on your iPod Nano. Prize for the lyrical genius who can still spit those Jojo Leave (Get Out) rhymes like it’s 2004.

Host a book club

This one requires a little bit of prep but picking a book with a strong friendship theme and hopping on Zoom to discuss it is a great way to bring the group together. Some favourites we’ve read as part of our book club include Olive, Such A Fun Age and Queenie and G.O.A.T reads worthy of a Palentine’s Day plug include Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Swing Time, A Little Life and Sula.

Learn a TikTok dance

Bored in the house doesn’t even come close but at the very least we have TikTok dances to show for our tragic productivity levels. Ladies, fellas – get in formation.

Games Night

Are we all gamed out? Possibly. But one more for good measure won’t hurt. Bottomless bingo and Droopy Drawers sound about right.

BYO feast

Order a takeaway and sit there and eat it together. That’s it. That’s the idea. This is a sacred space to chat sh*t in your worst pjs and bust a grub and quite frankly, it doesn’t get more wholesome than that.

Get your Ghost on

Channel your inner Demi Moore and get hands on with your P Day fun. Friendship bracelets, clay penises, vulva trinket dishes, whatever your heart desires. Blue Peter the F out of February.

Tarot card reading

Yeah, it’s a bit witchy but maybe getting witchy is exactly what we need in 2021 and really, how much spookier can our card pull get? We’re prepared for anything to come to light at this point. If you want to go really woo-woo, book a virtual tarot card session with a reader, or each buy a tarot deck and pull your own – you can always look up the interpretations online and mediate on their meanings with your favourite Sanderson sisters.

Pamper session

You know those Instagram lives you think you’ll have the willpower to abandon after a few mins but half an hour later, you’re in DEEP watching a stranger on the internet knead her jaw with a Gua Sha? Well, we would absolutely like to emulate that kind of inexplicably mesmerising content, please. Grab your jade rollers and your sheet masks and make a night of it – home spas are OPEN.

Throw a Bridgerton themed tea party

Complete with all the SPOONS, because why the hell not! Who needs a Duke when you’ve got pink cake and this season’s incomparable crockery. Live your best Regency life, people.

How are you and your gang planning to celebrate Palentine’s Day, this year?

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