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All White Now – 12 Stunning Summer Tops

May 22, 2018

Summer Tops

Nothing shows off a great sun kissed complexion better than a white top. I don’t think it is possible to have too many in your wardrobe during the summer – well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! 

Quick and easily styled with pale blue denim jeans, or if the weather is on your side a pair of shorts – effortless dressing is something I really adore about the summer! I picked up a new organic cotton top in Avoca at the weekend by Selected, it is so light and comfy, we just need the weather back again. The purchase inspired me to share some more white beauties currently screaming out to be in our summer wardrobe!

Summer Tops

Detailed top with lace inserts from Anthropologie, £78.

Summer Tops

I love the flash of bold primary colours on this peasant top from Anthropologie, £88.

Summer Tops

Perfect to dress up in the evening with a skirt or relaxed during the daytime with denim, crepe lace v neck top from French Connection, £45.

Summer Tops

Now this is the dream white top… Isabel Marant Etoile. If I owned this beauty I might even stop buying others! Embroidered cotton voile with scalloped edging and ruffles, £255, Isabel Marant.

Summer Tops

Perfect for throwing on during holidays, bow shoulder top, £17.99 from Mango.

Summer Tops

Marks & Spencer always have a great selection of white tops every summer this sweet lightweight knitted jumper is ideal for cooler days and a great price, £29.50, Marks & Spencer.

Summer Tops

Another store to always have a great selection of white tops is Monsoon, isn’t this lightweight cutout cotton top beautiful. Very like the Isabel Marant for a fraction of the price, £59, Monsoon.

Summer Tops

You can’t go wrong with a simple white tee for smart casual summer dressing, we love the added puff sleeve detail on this Selected top, £45.

Summer Tops

Another great basic for your summer wardrobe this longline top with keyhole back detail, £44.95 from The Bottom Drawer in Portadown, also available online.

Summer Tops

I’m all for adding a little hint of quirk to an outfit and this make a wish sleeveless shirt is just the right amount of fun! Available from The Boudoir, Linen Green, Dungannon and online, £59.

Summer Tops

For a touch of pretty this bell sleeve top with floral appliqué would take you to work and to town! Available from The Walk in Wardrobe, Banbridge and online, £66.

Summer Tops

And finally, year on year you can always rely on The White Company for a great white linen basic, love this embroidered t-shirt! £89, The White Company.

 

Life

My Seven Favourite Podcasts (and why I love them)

May 15, 2018

Image via Desenio

Good morning! I’ve had this post in drafts for a while now as I’ve been a little scared to share it. But what’s the point in writing something if you never put it out there, so here goes… 

When I first thought about writing this post I never intended it to be anything more than a quick chat about six podcasts I’m loving right now and nothing more. But as I’ve thought more about what I was actually going to write it, I started to reflect more on why I love podcasts so much and what they mean to me.

When my youngest daughter Ruby was around the age Arden is now, I was one big ball of overwhelm. I was finding life really tricky and I was scared of myself. That sounds so strange but I got to the point that I was so afraid of my body and what was going on inside it that I was frightened to leave the house with the kids in case it just stopped working. Let me explain.

Growing up, I was always aware of mental illness because my mum suffered on and off from bouts of depression and low mood that began after she had children.  Now, like any mum, I have times when I am tired and impatient with the kids but I’ve always felt like I have my dad’s strong and sensible head, and I thought that I would be pretty safe on the old mental side of things.

Turns out, when you are breastfeeding your youngest for nearly a year and you have a six year old and four year old to care for, the mind does play tricks – and that steam you were once running on can run out.

At the time I had a monthly membership to a kids soft play centre and every week I’d take them after school to run off some steam. On one visit I ordered a large cappuccino and four finger KitKat – stick with me on this!  I didn’t really drink coffee and as the three shot bucket, combined with the chocolate sugar rush, hit my bloodstream – bang.  There I was, a 28-year-old mum of three in the middle of soft play shaking, struggling to breathe and thinking this was it, I was done for. I don’t really remember how I got out of there but I drove (whilst shaking like mad) to A&E where they couldn’t even take my blood pressure because I was moving so much. It was a horrific panic attack brought on by the caffeine and sugar hit, coupled with my anxiety. I got home and went straight to bed whilst my brother looked after the kids.

From that day on I was sure something was wrong and here started 8 months of constant anxiety. I was back and forward to the doctor for blood tests and kidney scans (I could feel a constant pain in my kidneys), but thankfully nothing ever showed up. My sleeping went to pot and I’d roam the house until 3 or 4am like a banshee. David was incredibly supportive and encouraged me to take up running and to speak to my doctor, whilst promising I would be ok and that he’d look after me. I did visit the doctor and we decided that medication wasn’t for me; the strong side of my brain was still there under all the fog and with time and a lot of support from David and my best friends I did get there. My sleeping began to return – and that was all thanks to podcasts!  Desert Island Discs to be exact – every night I’d choose what personality I was going to learn about, plug myself in and listen to it as I drifted off to sleep. In the beginning I’d get to the end of one and head straight for another, but over time I was hearing less and less of them and that’s when my sleeping returned.  I still listen to podcasts when I’m going to sleep, when I’m feeling stressed, when I’m alone in the car (almost never!) or simply to relax as a treat at the end of a long day.  

Congratulations if you’re still with me – without further ado here are the six podcasts I currently listen to and love, and I hope now you understand why I love them so much!

 

1. Desert Island Discs – Where it all began and my saviour from long lonely nights! If you haven’t heard of DID (where have you been?) basically every week Kirsty Young interviews a celebrity or person of importance on their life story, career etc and they choose 8 tracks that they would bring to a desert island with them. Personal favourites are Billy Connelly, Jo Malone and most recently, Stella McCartney. 

 2. Table Manners with Jessie Ware – Table Manners is a little like DID as in each week singer Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie interview (which is more like just a chat) a celebrity at their home and cook them a meal. I love the guests they’ve had including Jay Rayner, Ed Sheeran and George Ezra and the banter between mum and daughter. 

 3. Is It Just Me? – Presented by my big-time-female-crush Jo Elvin (of Glamour fame) and James Williams, Is It Just Me always guarantees a laugh as they chat with personalities about everything under the sun from grief to clubbing. Maybe not one to listen to in the company of kids! 

 4. Get It On with Dawn O’Porter – This is a pretty old one that I’ve went back to re-listen to. Dawn (who is married to Irish actor Chris O’Dowd) interviews her friends about their style. If you’re even slightly interested in how people dress this is a great one for you. 

 5. Aly Talks: Build a creative business in a noisy world – I just love local whirlwind Aly Harte. She fills all my social media with her incredible artwork and her inspirational and strong messages. This year Aly has dipped her toe into podcasting about business and I for one have been loving it – meaningful and educational Aly has got it spot on! 

6. The High Low – When I grow up I wouldn’t mind being as smart as presenters of The High Low, Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton. The weekly pop-culture podcast covers all sorts of topics from the current week so expect grown up discussions with a varied range of content. 

7. How to Curate Your Life – This podcast by Lizzie Evans who owns a design and lifestyle store in London is great for creatives who want to learn and pick up some tips from other creatives. Lizzie has just announced she will be back with another season very soon which makes me very excited! 

Life

Lovely Linen Pieces for your Home

May 10, 2018

linen for your home

I adore linen, both wearing it and using it around my home. I have a very pleasing collection of linen bedding sets (years old but in excellent condition – all from Foxford FYI) that get better each time they are washed, and linen tea towels are my jam.

Linen is a textile made from the fibres of the flax plant which is very absorbent and is great for keeping us cool and fresh during hot weather which is why I bet most of us have some pieces in our wardrobes that we take out year on year. In our home linen has a very laid-back look from cushions to bedding and I think every home deserves some. I’ve been dreaming of fancying up areas of our home – well okay, we really would love to majorly change every room but you know, money! – and I’ve found some lovely linen pieces that will add just the right amount of lounging appeal. 

Main image above: Silver cotton linen mix bedlinen from Foxford. If you’re an NI local I highly recommend a visit to the Foxford store in the Linen Green, Dungannon! Send my apologies to your wallet 😉

linen for your home

Zara Home is a great place to pick up beautiful linen pieces at pretty affordable prices – only available online to us NI peeps though. This blue quilt with stitching would make a great newborn gift | Orange embroidered lace cushion | Geometric embroidered table cloth (below).

linen for your home

Locally, Deborah Toner creates the most gorgeous range of individually designed, machine stitched and handmade pieces including cushions, maps, lampshades and bespoke items. Each piece is stitched with architectural scenes from the Belfast skyline to even your own home. Deborah’s Instagram is well worth a follow and she is at St George’s Market on a Sunday.

linen for your home

Maven on Maryville Avenue  just off the Lisburn Road in Belfast have these linen cutlery holders which remind me of a lux version of those little paper pockets your cutlery would arrive in when on holiday! They’d make a great engagement or wedding present.

linen for your home

We’ve featured Jupiter Red on the blog before – see it here – Janet’s handmade range of linen pieces are perfect for a housewarming gift and made in good old NI too! I’d be very happy with this linen apron and tea towel set – hint, hint Mr P!

linen for your home

Now onto one of my favourite online independents, Rockett St George. These next two pieces are top of my wish list for sprucing up our rather dull bedroom! The soft linen lamp shade in charcoal has the perfect blend of modern and traditional styling that I love, and those acid yellow frill cushions are just right up my street!

linen for your home

linen for your home

A table runner mightn’t be top of your essential shopping list but wow a good one can transform your dining table during special occasions, plus it won’t cover up the beautiful table that cost you a fortune! I love the simplicity of this design from Anthropologie.

linen for your home

And why not give your home a calming scent with a Field Day linen candle, available online and in store from The Bottom Drawer, Portadown.

linen for your home

Life

Style on Sunday #1: The Cushion Edition

April 22, 2018

style on sunday

Hello & happy Sunday! I hope you’re all enjoying the weekend and spending it with the best people. 

Yesterday I visited Finnebrogue Woods with David and the kids for their annual wedding open day, with the sun in the sky it made this magical venue even better! Check out Instagram highlights for a peek around or visit www.finnebrogue.com to read more about this unique place. 

Today I am dance mum – it’s the first major competition of the season for my eldest, Safran and her awesome dance troupe, they are dancing a lyrical composition to Shining Light and it gives me goosebumps every time. Go Team JLM! 

But back to today and our first Style on Sunday post. I’ve wanted to get more home and fashion content up here so I’m thinking Sunday is a good, relaxed day to go with it, plus style goes nicely with Sunday ;).

First up cushions, pretty random but you can’t beat a good cushion. 

style on sunday

Main image above – sweet pink heart print cushion by Sophie Allport available from The Bottom Drawer, Portadown, tel: 028 3833 3297.

Blue jersey weave, Marks & Spencer / Watercolour effect floral, Dunelm / Multi-colour tufted, Habitat

Coral print with tassels, Oliver Bonas / Apple blossom flowers, The Bottom Drawer / Jacquard weave cushion, H&M

Coral pom pom embroidery, Monsoon / Pink flamingo, Sophie Allport / shaggy dog tweed cushion, Mourne Textiles

Linen stonewash with tassels, Avoca, Belfast / Ladybird embroidered, Marks & Spencer / Natural tufted by Helen James, Dunnes Stores

 

 

 

Life

The Martins: A North Coast Family Session by RinkaDink Studio

April 10, 2018

Got cute kids who deserve to to be front of the camera – this one’s for you then, but first a little story…

A long, long time ago (we’re talking 10 years!), I picked this photographer up in Portadown and took her to Galgorm Resort for a photo shoot recce – we had a fun morning, she survived my dodgy driving/bad jokes/weird car snacks and the shoot was a great success. That girl was Janine and all these years later, although she has hung up her wedding photographer hat she is still taking incredible photographs alongside Lindsay, her fellow girl boss and partner in crime. These two run RinkaDink, a specialist children’s photography studio in Belfast, where they take the BEST photos of your kids – believe me, I have a lot of photos to prove it! You can view their work at www.rinkadinkstudio.com. 

Today I’m SO excited to share the beautiful Martin family’s coastal session taken by Janine last summer. Janine and Lindsay work from their softly lit, cosy studio at Portview Trade Centre on Newtownards Road in Belfast which is full of the coolest kid-friendly props, and their NewbCube©. Last summer, purely by chance Janine happened to be holidaying on the coast at the same time as Claire, Chris and their gorgeous kids and the off the cuff beach session came to fruition – yes, we’re super glad too! 

Family shoot at RinkaDink

Thanks to the Martin family for sharing their special summer memories  & to Janine and Lindsay for being so RAD!

www.rinkadinkstudio.com

 

Life

Friday Feeling

January 23, 2018

Emma Smith Musings

I always look forward to Friday, do you?

In this house Friday means lifting the foot off the pedal for a bit and enjoying the need to be nowhere. Well it did, once upon a time.

Friday looks like this…

Making an attempt at finding the porcelain under all that discarded toothpaste.

Same with the highchair but substitute toothpaste for porridge.

Digging the now probably moulding swimming suits out of the bottom of the laundry bin.

Doing several laps of the house collecting anything that can be stuck in the washing machine.

Making a list of all the work I didn’t get done during the week and resolving to do it over the restful weekend.

Ordering the third fill of oil this winter because kids need to be kept warm and this winter has went on for about 546 months right now.

Ten minutes are spent wondering how different life would look if X amount of our cash wasn’t spent on keeping us warm.

Operation clean floors because we’ve trodden in Rice Krispies for too many days now.

Too many minutes spent googling random things like how to be brave enough to move to a warm country.

The 6pm bell meaning wine time. At last.

 

If that merry little list didn’t make you jealous enough, here’s how tomorrow is shaping up…

8.45: Ruby swimming lesson

10.00: Ruby birthday party number 1 – until 12.00

10.30: Emma spin class aka hell on earth (but essential for France non jelly butt)

10.45: Safran ACRO class (acrobatic dance to you and me)

11.45: Keenan birthday party – until 2.30

13.15: Safran swimming squads

16.00: Ruby birthday party number 2 – until 18.00

18.00: Emma passes out

I’ve had a lot of messages and emails asking how life with four kids is. Busy. It’s bloody awesome but man is it busy.

*Featured image: Good Moods

Life Suppliers

Review: Farnham Estate Mini Spa Break

January 10, 2018
Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

Happy Wednesday lovely readers, I hope the week is going well for you so far.

Today I’m sharing my mini spa break at Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort in Cavan – spoiler alert, it was awesome!

One thing you don’t have when you’ve got three children is a lot of willing childminders so back in July, a few weeks before Arden arrived, the stars magically aligned and not only did I find myself with the aforementioned willing childminder, but the promise of a super-relaxing mini spa break at Farnham Estate in Cavan. Being eight months pregnant and in the middle of the school summer holidays I was ready for it, let me tell you.

Farnham Estate lies on the outskirts of Cavan town, an original Irish country house set on the most beautiful grounds and surrounded by spectacular woodland. The 400 year old house itself is an absolute joy to behold at the end of the driveway, whilst the contemporary glass addition houses the grand lobby area, Botanica Restaurant, modern bedroom wing and Spa.

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

After checking in to our beautiful suite on the top floor of the old house David (well it would have been rude not to bring him!) and I wasted no time in heading straight for our treatments in the Spa.

I was booked in to have an ESPA facial and he was having a massage. Robed and ready as soon as we were greeted at the Spa we hit the relax button and headed off for our treatments. My facial was lovely and relaxing, dear love my therapist, being heavily pregnant I couldn’t lie totally flat and in the normal cocoon like position, instead I could only recline slightly and had to have regular breaks to sit completely upright and sip on ice cold water!

Breaks or not my skin felt incredible afterwards and I learnt a few things about the composition of my skin thanks to the latest ESPA technology, SkinVision analysis – relaxing and educational! We went on to try out the infinity pool, inside and out and completed our afternoon treat in the thermal suite, which David absolutely loved, I had to lounge by the pool as I couldn’t use the facilities being pregnant.

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

Refreshed and feeling great we headed for a short stroll before having dinner in the Botanica Restaurant that evening. Farnham Estate has walks to suit all ranging from 45 minutes in length to over two hours, all which begin and end at the front door of the hotel.

Dinner was from the restaurants set menu which has a good selection to choose from and was very tasty. We ended our night by speaking to the kids on Facetime from one of the majestic drawing rooms in the old house, they were pretty impressed with mum and dads home for the night!

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

After a brilliant nights sleep in one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in we made our way back to the restaurant for a great breakfast – it was just as good as I was hoping, I think hotel breakfasts are my favourite thing!

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort, Cavan | The Promise NI

To finish our 24 hour mini break I made my way over to the resorts wedding wing to have a look around. I have featured incredible weddings at Farnham before (here & here) and seeing it in real life was even better. The contemporary ballroom is understated and elegant in tones of natural wood and brick, perfect for brides who want to add their own personal stamp on their Big Day, and the large arrival area is perfect for mingling with your guests. On arriving home I discovered my cousin has chosen Farnham for her day next year and I can’t wait to return!

As a pre-wedding escape, a luxury spa break with your girlies or simply just because, a visit to Farnham Estate will leave you refreshed and content with life!

 

*Thanks to the staff of Farnham Estate Spa & Golf Resort for our complimentary stay, all opinions are my own.