Elle Files

{A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog}

I’ve found that the best way to deal with stress is to take a moment in the day to treat yourself to some ‘me-time’. When I feel completely overwhelmed, I've realised that nothing makes me happier than taking a nice, long bath and snuggling up in my comfiest pyjamas. Also, of late I’ve gotten into the habit of following a nightly wind-down ritual, which is probably the only reason why I haven't turned into a massive ball of stress.

After a warm bath, I slip into my toasty radiator-warmed pyjamas and make myself some cardamom-infused tea. I'm not much of a tea or a coffee drinker, but this warming brew reminds me of home and that's a very comforting thought before bedtime, isn't it? Then I slather myself in the heavenly Sleepy body lotion from Lush. I initially thought it smelled too sickly sweet but I've slowly grown to like it. Apart from the dreamy lavender hue, I LOVE the soft, whipped consistency. I'm not a big fan of body lotions that are too rich and creamy, so this is the perfect alternative - it's lightweight, sinks in well and coats the skin in a delicious fragranced layer.

 With the turn in the weather, my hands have started to look more pruney than usual, so I moisturise them with the Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose cream. It has a lovely medicinal smell and is incredibly soothing with no greasy after-feel. Next, I brush my nails with the mango-scented cuticle oil from NAF Salon - a super cute salon in Glasgow with Pinterest-worthy interiors. I've been looking to buy one for a long time now and I didn't want to pay an extortionate amount for it. So, when I saw that they sold these for just 8£, I added them to my basket immediately. This has restored both my nails and my faith in cuticle oils - they really do work!

And finally, I apply a generous layer of the By Terry Baume de Rose to my lips before cuddling up to R. It's super posh and pricey, but it's worth every pretty penny! It's a deliciously thick and buttery balm with a soft rose smell. What I particularly like about it is that it’s emollient without being greasy and, it stays put the whole night. I'm seriously obsessed! (Two exclamations in one paragraph- can you tell I'm in love?) I'm even considering buying a miniature version of it for my handbag.

All this takes me a little over five minutes and I've found that carving out this little time for myself in my busy day makes me keep my cool and not feel like a wound up robot. 

Well, hello everyone! I’m back after a brief hiatus. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time away, it feels great to pen down my thoughts again. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I was away travelling and I’m currently experiencing a serious case of holiday hangover, but the good news is I’m off to Malta in a month’s time. Also, after months of job scouting, I finally started a new role and I’m still settling in. It’s a pretty fast-paced environment and I have tons of responsibilities, so if you don’t see regular updates around here, you’ll know why. Since I’ve had a busy past few weeks, I haven’t really had a chance to read much or listen to any new podcasts (shocking, I know), so I'm going to share all the things I packed for my Italian Riviera adventure. 

 The weather was gloriously warm with just a spot of rain on one of the days, so I mostly packed breezy frocks and sandals. I’m currently having a full-blown love affair with off-the-shoulder pieces, so that’s all I wore on pretty much all days. Our first stop was Pisa and I wore one of my favourite dresses ever – this blue embroidered Zara dress is slightly big on me even though it’s an extra small, but I like how billowy and comfortable it is. Also, it comes with pockets, so I didn’t have to constantly check my bag to see if my phone was in there. 

For sauntering through the historic streets of Florence, I chose a spotted off-the-shoulder dress from New Look. I rarely shop from there but this one is so well made and fits me really well. Since rain was forecast, I threw on my leather jacket from Next and swapped sandals for these suede espadrilles. I love the effortlessness of this look and the espadrilles are the comfiest pair of shoes I own.

After spending the day queuing up to see Michelangelo’s David and other seminal works of art, we made our way to La Spezia, and from there we explored the five historic villages of Cinque Terre.  For Riomaggiore, I chose a pink and black floral midi dress from Topshop. What I like about this dress is that it cinches in the waist and falls to a flattering length on me. I paired it with my trusty suede tie-up sandals from ASOS. I didn’t buy a new beach bag knowing that I wouldn't get much use of it throughout the year, so I carried my old striped basket bag. Wandering through the beautiful lanes of Riomaggiore and Corniglia was definitely the highlight of my trip.

 The next day, we visited Vernazza and Manarola, and I picked a red floral maxi dress from Urban Outfitters. It’s so hard to a find maxi dress that doesn't dwarf me and this one falls to the right length. Though I had packed four pairs of shoes, I ended up wearing the tie-up sandals again – it’s incredibly comfortable and imbues an effortless holiday aesthetic to any look.

For our final day, I wore another Topshop midi dress, but I don’t have a single picture of me from that day because all we did was lounge under the warm autumnal sun with a drink by our side. While R snoozed, I read a sweet tale of romance set in Sicily by Nicky Pellegrino. The perfect beach read if there ever was one. 

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a minimalist, but the idea appeals to me more and more as I grow older. I’ve ruthlessly edited down my wardrobe, and my makeup collection fits neatly into a small drawer. I really enjoy the freedom that comes with having to choose from a small curated collection as opposed to tackling an overflowing wardrobe/drawer that's bursting at the seams. Last Sunday, after a weekly flat tidy-up, I decided it was time to give my dressing table a much-needed facelift. I had a Muji drawer filled with used up samples and expired makeup, so I got rid of it along with some old makeup brushes.

I used the pink ceramic vase from Tiger to store the remaining brushes and some eye pencils. The gold brush holder behind it is from Kikki K; it holds all the makeup tools I reach for on a day-to-day basis. The gold tray from H&M is one of my favourite pieces - it's perfect for keeping everything in one place. When I'm in a rush, the last thing I want to do is rifle through the drawer trying to find certain products, so I use the tray to keep a few of my favourite everyday essentials like mists and moisturisers within reach.

The jewellery stand is another stellar find from Tiger; it has a sturdy marble base and looks particularly lovely on the dresser. I bought it in an attempt to be more organised, as I'm known for leaving jewellery around the house. The candle is from SpaceNK's Christmas range; they bring it out every year with different packaging. It fills the room with a heady scent and burns for hours and hours. I used to have a dracaena plant on the dresser before, but it started to wilt, so I've replaced it with fittonia verschaffeltii, which doesn't need as much sunlight as the other one does.

The gold and blush theme was entirely unintentional, but I like how it looks now. After this little rearranging experiment, I've come to realise that transforming your space even in little ways can make the world of difference to a room. 

Well hello everyone and happy Sunday! Hope you had a great week. Before I share this week's reading list, I'd like to thank everyone for reading my posts and leaving such positive and thoughtful comments. I was very skeptical about changing the course of my blog, but these posts have been doing so well that they lead me to believe that I'm doing the right thing. Anyway, here are this week’s stories to get stuck into.

I didn't get a chance to read a book this week, so I'm sharing the ones that are currently on my wishlist. 'How To Be A Grown-up' by Daisy Buchanan is all about navigating adulthood and it sounds like a hugely comforting and inspiring book. 'Beta: Quiet Girls Can Run The World’ by Rebecca Holman has a slightly gimmicky name, but the book covers everything from surviving the 21st Century workplace to dealing with imposter syndrome.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article by Haley Nahman on Man Repeller. She talks to five authors about their writing processes, how they find inspiration and what they like to wear when they sit down to write. It’s a fascinating and incredibly inspiring read. 'What it's like to be fat in France' by Gabrielle Deydier is deeply affecting and thought-provoking. She talks about how being fat is considered a self-inflicted disability in France. It's very rare to read such a candid account of someone's life and she talks about it with so much honesty. 

Podcasts have become such an ingrained part of my morning routine that I literally can’t function without them. The one I eagerly wait for every week is 'Fat Mascara,' a beauty podcast hosted by Jessica Matlin and Jennifer Goldstein. They are engaging, funny and talk about beauty in a BS-free way.

After putting away my summer clothes, I realised that my A/W wardrobe was looking a bit dull, so I bought a few dresses and jumpers. I had to send most of them back as they were either too big or just too long. Sigh, the downside of being petite. The only two items that made it my wardrobe are these court shoes and gold-toned star earrings.

In other news, I received a very exciting package from Glossier. They sent me their Phase 1 & 2 products and I'll be doing an in-depth review ahead of their launch here. Also, Jennifer from AmourJnfr asked me if I wanted to be her pen pal and I readily agreed. I spent the last two weeks putting together a little care package for her and it's made me so happy! 

Am I crazy for wanting to splash 290£ on a jumper? 

Last year R and I spent a week in sunny Santorini, and I never got around to writing about it, so I thought I'd put together a mini travel guide for you lovely readers on this fine Wednesday morning. 

Where to stay// R went all out and booked the best places to stay as we were celebrating our first anniversary. In Fira, we stayed at Villa Soula, a cosy B&B located near the main street. In Imerovigli, we stayed at Abyssanto Suites & Spa - a luxury hotel with a private jacuzzi and an infinity pool. The best thing about this place was that our room was on the upper level, and we could watch the sunrise from our bed. Saving the best for the last, R really outdid himself when he booked an entire villa for ourselves in Oia. It was a beautifully furnished cave house called Canava View with a huge jacuzzi on the balcony. We spent every evening watching the sunset from our jacuzzi. Absolute bliss!

Where to eat// Gyros, souvlaki, Greek salad...yum! While we mostly ate at small tavernas, we found some great restaurants. On our first night, we chanced upon a charming garden café in Fira called 'Kipos', and we liked the food and ambience so much that we ate there two nights in a row. There's nothing more perfect than dining amidst a garden with towering palm trees and twinkling fairy lights. They also offer a wine tasting session where you get to try local wines paired with Cycladic cheeses. Imerovigli Tavern, which overlooks the Caldera is a beautiful spot for a leisurely lunch. Ochre Wine Bistro in Oia offers an expertly curated wine list, and the food is exceptionally good too. Tranquilo in Perissa is a colourful, Carribean-themed beachside café that's perfect for a round of drinks and small bites.

Getting Around// The best way to get around the island is by renting a bike. We hired a quad-bike for the first few days and a scooter for the rest.

Top things to do

Akrotiri// Located at the southern tip of the island, Akrotiri is a Minoan Bronze Age settlement which was buried in a volcanic eruption. You can easily spend a day in here marvelling at the painstaking work that has gone into excavating this place.

Beaches// Of the Island beaches, we visited Red, Perissa and Kamari Beach. We spent an entire afternoon in Kamari lounging under the sun and sipping on cocktails.

Caldera-edge walk// If there's one thing that we recommend doing, it's walking along the caldera-edge pathway. It's a long nine-kilometre walk, so don't forget to carry a sun hat. The path is peppered with little cafés, antique shops and boutique hotels, so there's plenty to explore. At sunset, make sure to climb up the Byzantine Castle Ruins, for a magnificent view of the setting sun.

Volcano cruise// The boat cruise is a must-do as you get to trek the volcano-islet of Palia Kameni, which was last active in 1950. After that, you get to jump off the boat and swim to the hot springs.

Insta-worthy spots

The whole place! The whitewashed houses with blue domes; sunlounger-filled beaches, cobbled promenades, windmills. I particularly liked walking through the maze-like alleyways of Oia and stopping to snap pictures of all the houses shaded by the fuchsia-hued bougainvillaea creepers. 

This week has been one of swings and roundabouts for me, but I’m not complaining because life is all about balance. I’ll talk about it in much more detail when the time is right, but for now, enjoy this week’s round-up.

I was recently sent a few perfume samples from Clive Christian, and I've fallen head over heels in love with them. Woody Leather is my favourite amongst the two; it's a dark, sexy oriental scent with a deep smokiness. It smells very masculine - I can't wait to spritz it on some thick jumpers and knits for Autumn. Green Floral is a great all-year-round option as it smells fresh, dewy and has a sharp grassiness. Check out their selection of ladies perfumes.

Greenery makes me feel very happy, so every part of my house is filled with plants. Taking care of the plants though is a different ball game altogether, so I bought Sophie Lee's ' Living with Plants: A Guide to Indoor Gardening.' It's a beautifully illustrated book with handy tips on taking care of houseplants. The book is peppered with some brilliant styling advice and easy-to-follow DIY tutorials.

What It Feels Like Going To Uni If You’re Working Class’ was very heartbreaking to read. I even teared up a little on reading some of the stories shared by the students who felt that they had to hide their identities and accents to be taken seriously. I identified so much with this story because feeling like you are a misfit is demoralising in so many ways. It knocks down your confidence, and you perpetually live in the fear of being judged. Even after living in the UK for over two years now, I still feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. Anyway, this is a great article if you are interested in reading more about how classism affects people.

Imogen's article 'Being Yourself on Social Media' is inspiring and thought-provoking in equal parts. She shuttered her old Instagram account where she had 1,900 followers to start over again because she wanted it to be a true reflection of herself and her personality. She sums it up quite beautifully: "I felt confined to the low saturated, bright, black and white/ sort of floral picture my life was supposed to look like. In reality, my life looks nothing like my Instagram. My life is warm, full of books and vials covering my dresser. I have plants everywhere, stripy-dresses and it's a kind of beautiful chaos."

 '73 Questions with Tracee Ellis Ross' is by far the best one yet. Tracee is whip-smart and super sassy - she's my new girl crush. If you've been watching Youtube videos since the beginning, you'll probably be familiar with ChelseaWears. Although Chelsea doesn't make videos anymore, she recently uploaded a 22-minute casual, chatty GRWM-type of video and it's so entertaining.

Nothing. Nada. I was really tempted to buy this midi dress from H&M, but I didn't.


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