Insta – catch up.

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What better a way to catch up than over Instagram?

I have a deep, love-hate relationship with Instagram. When I first caught the insta-bug I loved how real the photos were, I loved following my favourite bloggers even if it was just what they bought from target, or a good old fashioned fitting room outfit post, those are the posts I think we all love.

The downside however, is once one person has a picture-perfect Instagram its kind of hard to swim against the tide. My own is sketchy at best but its also greatly helpful for us catching up again after so long!

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Lined up once this site is all polished are plenty of travel posts (I may have finally mastered hot weather packing – from trips to Italy & Malta). Along with that, this summer we’ve been experimenting with our garden – from being black fingered to green there are plenty of vegetables that we have somehow grown!

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If anything, the last few months have been about living primarily. Without a constant stream of blog content to write I’ve been able to spend more time reflecting and taking the time to actually live in my outfits rather than just recording them!

Its made me think long and hard about content beyond a stereotype flat-lay and about the brands behind the lifestyles we want (brand spotlights) to how clothing has the potential to change how we feel, or create an identity for ourselves! I’ve also read more on closet building, thought more on my spending habits and even how I can be a better consumer in the face of fast fashion.

I think the key to living out of an instagram account is finding what truly matters and giving yourself space to build a true persona, rather than a public face and its this type of content you will get to see on the new, re vamped blog – less contrived and a lot more real!

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Until then there is still plenty to see on Instagram and catch up on the last few months before we dive head first into the new! Now if only I could have a well formulated Instagram, that would be great! Anyone have any tips?

therealjlow is back!

no more hiding trjl header

If I had kept count, this is possibly the hundredth, thousandth time of writing this post. I’d written it over and over, and over again until I finally had the one, all neatly tied up on my IPhone. The only problem? I traded it in this weekend – sans iCloud backup.

So now I have a fancy phone but minus this post.

Starting again, here it is, the final version. (I hope)

Why I’m here after so long is to give you an in-email heads up. therealjlow, its coming back.

Finally!

When I left in May a lot of things changed, but as the months moved I still wanted this space. The only issue was, did I want this space in the same way or did I want to make a change?

I decided that a change, ultimately was the best option.

The site as we know it, is about to change. I’ve somehow coerced Josh into helping me make the switch but fingers crossed in a few weeks time the site will be back ( a little revamped possibly) and with its very own domain!

On the other other side I have no idea how much of the existing site is going to come over and whether the email function will stay or not – so while I can I want to make this super simple.

Heres our new domain: www.therealjlow.com (don’t be alarmed – there is nothing there yet!)

If thats not enough for you this is my Insta (lots of travel pics at the moment!) @therealjlow & my twitter handle, @JessicaAbigailL.

So if its too quiet and you think I should have posted something by now, maybe I have and it just hasn’t made it to your inbox – If that is the case keep an eye on twitter – where as normal I will announce every new post swinging your way! (Perhaps multiple times)

In terms of whats going to be appearing on the new site moving forward, the content is going to be a little different and all at once, the same. In essence the site is growing up, moving away from too many simple outfit posts I want this space to encompass more. What that looks like eventually is uncertain, but be certain of something“therealjlow” is back and its going to be good!

Drop me a line if there is anything you want to see!

Speak soon,

Jess

Abandoned Fashion(s)

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Abandoned fashion

Sometimes it catches me. A girl wearing black, boot cut hip huggers*, or black ballet pumps with a wrap sweater that there are all these staples pieces which I have abandoned to probably never wear again.

The other day it suddenly occurred to me after lusting over a knee length denim button up skirt that once upon a time as a teenager I thought a denim mini skirt would always be in fashion. Now, no one wears them not even teenage girls trying to impress spot covered boys on the hill in my hometown.

Now we all invest in normcore. Ripped skinnies we think will never date, leather jackets which actually may one day be relegated to the back of the closet where you* hide military inspired jackets and shirts reminiscent of Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

We make promises to our hoarder selves “These will come back around. We had a good time once, no point to chucking them when I can look effortlessly cool in my own vintage!”

More likely you will never wear these things again. Your daughter, son might but to you they will never again quite hold that same fresh vibe. Trends will resurface, polished and altered to fit new body shapes and ideals of beauty. You’ll buy others casts offs for that vintage cool you can’t get anywhere else. You might buy my hip hugging black flared trousers to pair with some futuristic heel and a bandanna and I’ll be purchasing your cast off skirts and leather normcore I missed the first time.

After all, the problem we have, as millennials, is we’ve been spoilt with fast fashion. If it’s not new to us it’s tarnished, old, forgotten like denim mini skirts. Reserved only for the memories of a similar, embarrassing time when you would flirt outrageously and think somehow you looked just as cool as you think you are now.

Abandoned Fashion it seems is all around. (A little like love…actually) because of this I have been thinking a lot about slow fashion. I was recently privileged enough to meet Pioneer, Safia Minney for work and honestly I have been fan girling ever since. I’ll speak more about this at another time but I have been thinking a lot about my relationship to fashion and in this case, abandoned fashion. The pieces you once loved above all else and now … not so much, how our choices change and how that affects the way we consume fashion. How our social attitudes affect our purchasing decisions and ultimately how we let the retail industry dictate to us how to consume fashion.

I’m getting real deep here when all I wanted to say is this. I for sure, still have leather military pieces, I never bought a denim mini skirt and I’m lacking a suitable amount of normcore, so do you think you guys could save yours for me? I’ll probably be looking for it several years from now . . .

#AbandonedFashion

*Because I wrote this on my ipad, this originally said, hip nuggets. I was loathed to correct it, so now you know!

*I hid them, I did! I just can’t say no to a leather military jacket

Beauty | Bare Faced Bravery

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“Somewhere along the line I became convinced that if I was wearing makeup then that decreed that I must wear foundation. I felt oddly naked without it and the thought of going to work in anything less felt ludicrous. So I gave myself my marching orders, no more foundation for a while, there has to be another way. . .”

When I started wearing makeup, it was an awkward time. White eye shadow reigned supreme and foundation was all about ‘glowing’. However, with the technology at the time only going so far they instead, filled foundation with glitter making you look like the real life Edward Cullen on sunny days.

On the whole however, I wore translucent powder and eyeliner. It was a simple time, and a better time for just getting out of the door. My skin wasn’t too bad either.

Now I’m wearing concealer, mascara and my normal blusher, having done away with my normal foundation routine. Josh tells me I look glowier and that my uber dry skin is less noticeable. All a great response for only the first week.

The problem always starts at this time of year. The weather is horrid, its cold and there is far too much central heating in our homes, transport and offices and it plays havoc with our skin. For me that means eczema on my legs and my face becomes a flaky mess that refuses to be moisturised by even full strength moisturisers. Worst still I use the same, semi drying foundation that I used with full on, raging PCOS oily skin which is no longer my skin type and so my skin has been suffering.

My decision to stop using foundation was a tough one since a small voice still tells me that I have bad skin. See, if you have PCOS you can suffer with the worst adult acne. At its worst my chin looked like a map of hills and mountains and hurt so bad I wanted to stop talking. A couple of years down the line trying out medication and reading about diets for PCOS and my skin is no longer such a mess that I really even need that much coverage! With this my amazing work colleague and Friend Z suggested only wearing concealer during the week.

At first I was petrified, sharing my actual skin? Would I look patchy? Would you see that I’ve had terrible acne before? I was nervous and I felt ridiculous and I wanted to know, why? I don’t wear foundation at home! In fact most recently when I had to work from home due to bad train conditions the first thing I did coming in was take it all off. Why can I let the whole of kent see me sans-foundation so why do I feel so differently anywhere else?

Its funny especially when you think that, most popular make up is made to make you look naturally your best so why do we cover our skins in thick liquids created to disguise? I am trying to be braver now, only wearing concealer the bulk of the time, even though I am considering buying Yves Saint Laurent’s, Le Teint touche Eclat foundation for those days when I need something extra … It feels strangely liberating yet petrifying. Like revealing a part of myself previously hidden, clearly my skin defines me more than I’d like to think.

Heres to bare skinned bravery however. Just think of that extra time spent sleeping or chilling in the morning and putting on sun screen and not worrying that my foundation on top will slip straight off! Natural beauty all round,

Anyone else up for a week of no foundation?

The Weekend |Post Sharing, Sarah Jenks Finding your sweet spot

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(A fantastically fuzzy photo from our Devonshire holiday last year! one thing I know to be incredibly therapeutic for me is long walks and this was a week of really, good walks! Also pig tails and a hat with ears how could you go wrong?)

I never usually do this but having read Sarahs post on the train I couldn’t help but sit back and stare out of my window and go yes, this is something I need to work on for myself today.

If you’re anything like me then you are a busy woman. You take on a lot and struggle saying no to things that interest you, even when your perhaps already sinking under responsibility and what else you have to achieve.

It seems to be an increasingly difficult thing to balance. In fact this post+ from last week about making time for tea is along the same lines! But enough about that, what about Sarah Jenks and her blog post about finding you sweet spot? This is one of those articles that just comes at the right time and from the comments I don’t seem to be the only one either!

This is well worth a read for anyone feeling overwhelmed with too many moving parts and not enough satisfaction and results from all that flustering! Sarah’s reply to comment is my favourite take away and that is,

“…Which of the 2 career paths most fuels you? If it’s quitting your day job, crunch the numbers and figure out what you would need to make your part-time job your full-time job and lay out a plan to make it happen so you can quit one of them on “x” day. If you’re most committed to your day job, figure out how you can earn more to quit the other. I hope that helps!”

Remember this doesn’t have to be applied to a career question but in all areas of your life. What fuels you and what gives you the most joy? Then choose that path over the other and ask, is this more fulfilling?

I know I haven’t found my sweet spot yet but I also feel like I’m closer to knowing, and that seems to be half the battle!

Read Sarahs article here+ and check out her blog and business! Its all about living more and as my Grandma would say, the time for living is now!

 

All I want for New Years is . . .

 

Mariah Carey is not the obvious choice for new years resolutions however with new years here and glistening its that typical blog time where we tell the world our plans to stop ourselves backing out so here I am, deep breath, here goes . . .

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Be more brave and exploratory

2015 certainly had its break throughs and big steps but for 2016 I want to be even less timid about mine and Joshes future and where necessary make the harder choices to secure the better path. At 25 I realise that its not enough to go easy, to make allowances but to instead be a little bolder and a little braver.

Health in all forms

Buy a house and then see how your well being drops.

In 2015 we have stressed ourselves to max, forgotten all our good eating habits and become sloppy. Like million across the globe, January means health, it means more exercise and it means being more serious about making good food choices.

 

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Be more saving savvy

Pre-house we were so good at saving it hurt. We pushed for making ourselves as secure as possible and honestly owning a house costs far more than just a deposit, it requires fixes (quick and long) it needs your attention and then other things do to, like when your car breaks down, you cough up that cash but it does take its toll if your not replacing those depleted funds properly.

Thats not to say that we haven’t been saving, we have but not to the same extent that we would like. I’d also like to put a disclaimer in here, from what adulthood has taught me we are not the modern norm to want to save and to put away, the way we do. I like flying by the seat of my pants on most things but for me being secure monetarily is not fly by the seat of your pants acceptable. So in the months of February and March (which in the UK are non council tax months) myself and Josh are going to challenge ourselves to get out a small, set amount of cash for the month and try not to spend anymore than that. Its gonna be a challenge but we are excited for it a chance just to see how much we can live on. So stay tuned for more on this and how you can join along!

And then . . .

Thats it really. We have other things happening in 2016 like getting married etc but these are the right now things, keep your fingers crossed for me and lets see where 2016 takes us all!

The Weekend | Treat yo’ self

Hallelujah its Friday! Finally!

This week has been one long line of tiredness with delayed and cancelled trains! I haven’t gotten home at my normal time since last Thursday! Which seriously takes some doing! But finally its Friday and after a quiet week on the blog I thought why not check in with you lovely people and share a little of what we are doing to rewind this weekend!

  1. Yoga & Magazines

Morning yoga with Adriene+

Recently I have been horrendous with missing my nightly yoga and believe me I feel it! So with a casual Saturday morning in waiting for our new dining table and to have our electric meter switched over this is the perfect time to take a little time out.

If you are Yoga inclined this is excellent for really letting go of mental and emotional baggage. I don’t completely switch off very often so to give myself half an hour of no thinking and letting stuff go I can almost completely turn my day around! This morning yoga video is great as well for anyone like me whose joints are problematic first thing.

Secondly of course is magazines! I have a three month high pile of unread magazines so when the electric is turned off for the engineer it is the ideal time for catching up! Also leggings may feature in this weekend plan!

2. Date Night.

I am the biggest believer in the healing power of a proper date night. Myself and Josh are quite lovey dovey anyway but we love to get a little spruced up to go get dinner and reconnect more than just, “The traffic on the M25 was the worst today!”

Because we are going to catch a movie (hello Daniel Craig) I’m going to be keeping it simple with lots of moisturising and a dab of Yves Saint Laurent’s, “le teint Touche Eclat” foundation. Which is really light and dewy and kind of perfect for those air conditioned cinema seats!

A swipe of Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme mascara (Also I am totally asking for this gift set for christmas! completely my jam!) Then all I need is Clinique’s Baby tint in budding blossom. A lot of women who I have spoken to hate this colour. They say its too pink! I however absolutely love how pink it goes! It feels so light and fresh and perfect for a healthy glow!

I have also picked up this months UK Harpers Bazaar for the free sample of Estee Lauders night repair cream. I have wanted to try this forever so when I saw it as a freebee it had to come home!

At only 25 my poor skin seems to be showing more of when I’m uber tired and that just isn’t gonna cut it for me! I definitely agree that make up can be cheap but don’t mess with what works for your skin! (Especially for those like me with PCOS it can be a real struggle to find the right way to deal with oily and acne prone skin!)

( I bought this tray recently from TK (TJ) Maxx and I love it, its just Christmas enough for me to be excited by December whilst being calm enough to be used all year!

Sunday

Sunday is again going to be really relaxed, originally we weren’t going to do anything bar maybe popping out for a walk or cycle ride but now we are going to enjoy the company of Josheys family for a lovely, chilled Sunday lunch which I think will  be just what the doctor order bar rest and of course, NO SOCIAL MEDIA!!!! I might go back on that but . . . . here’s hoping I won’t!

Have a great weekend guys and hopefully see you again soon!

Home Owning and The Capsule Wardrobe | Moths and mice – all things . . . nice?

Before I found a white worm on my dress, on the morning train to London I had half written posts all over the internet telling you that I couldn’t keep up a capsule wardrobe properly.

Fast forward to literally freaking out and stripping down in a public bathroom to pat down all my clothes and I’m re thinking my thoughts on a capsule wardrobe.

So what happened? Honestly we got Moths. A thing of my literal nightmare moths grow from maggot like worms and as a bug-a-phoebe – it’s a thing – they horrifically live off of your clothes. What’s mildly humorous about this bar the mental image of my hopping around a train station bathroom stool patting myself down and screaming internally is that something I have kept saying to Joshey when we pulled our bedroom apart was I must buy lavender and the modern equivalent on the moth ball, cedar wood balls only I kept forgetting. It kept slipping my mind and now I’m here paying the price.

As I write this I have a bag by my feet (5p for a plastic bag folks, that hurts to start with) with a new jumper dress and a t shirt) so that Josh can as he is in this moment wash all my clothes on the baby setting. AKA so hot no germs are getting through. And all I can think about is where it came from; did it fall from the many trees on my walk to the station? Was it because, yes, I did find this dress on the floor this morning; are they under the skirting boards? And if so are they in the two suitcases still packed with our clothes. Then quite frankly I feel like an idiot.

I have spent a month now in my house going to work, renovating and cleaning and going to work and not once have I really paused to think about the rest of my clothes still packed. Do I miss them? Do I even know what they are? No, no, no. The Capsule Wardrobe was meant to beat this out of me and yet . . . all I’ve been is afraid. Afraid to throw out clothes like they are somehow important memories when clearly they are not. Those floaty skirts are gorgeous but unworn since 2009 and guys I’m chucking them.

I’ve made a decision it’s time for all these clothes to go. Find a new home, get a new life, but they are not welcome here anymore. Clothes do not dictate my happiness or my memories and quite honestly if they come with white maggot like worms attached I’d rather go naked. And you can quote me on that.

p.s a week later and a house full of moth killing products we are not so convinced that we actually had moths in the first place!? Success? Maybe but what I have learnt remains the same. I have no interest in keeping unnecessary products and things so heres to living with less!

Make a small treat feel like a big treat!

It is now officially a year until our wedding. Cue screams you for excitement and me in horror since I feel seriously un prepared but then again maybe I’m just doing the old school wait till the night before to get everything done but lets hope not!

Anyway because of this we realised we really needed to get ourselves back onto the health and fitness track which since we were moving had gone completely out of the window!

So its clearly not enough to just join the gym (apparently you have to go to? Horror.) but we also wanted to overhaul our diets as well! So as you might not know I love myself a snack and in particular I have a hugely sweet tooth. Now if there is one thing that can derail a diet it’s a sweet tooth!

Now, I had completely forgotten this trick which I believe I stole from my grandparents and that is to use a small spoon. Who would have thought that something could be so simple but which works really well and even worked after photographing this fruit bowl!

What I love to do and what I have done above is take a smaller portion of fruit than normal. I choose four medium strawberries, six (slightly large) raspberries and a handful of blueberries and for the naughty bit a tiny amount of chocolate drops. The next thing to do to make your snack or in my case breakfast to go further is to cut any big fruit down! So each strawberry I managed to cut down into about four to five pieces which meant that four became twenty! And cut my raspberries in half! So you have immediately made your snack double in size! Then put them into a small bowl and there you have it a snack twice the size of what it actually is! Then of course I had to add a couple of chocolate drops since it was the weekend after all!

You’ve already made your snack look bigger than it is but to add to that then make your spoon as small as possible! Why does this work? Because you can’t fit as much on one spoon it takes you longer to eat. If there is one thing you are doing wrong when eating it is this, you don’t pay enough attention to the food your eating and you eat too fast.

This is pretty much the most helpful thing that you can do when you’re trying to be healthy and that is stretching out the food you want to eat. Also if you eat for longer it gives you time for your body and brain to catch up and tell you that you are in fact full! Which can take up to twenty minutes.

So there you have it! The easiest way to make a small amount of mostly healthy food go further! Another steal from my super grandparents is crumbling a meringue over fruit for an evening dessert or adding a probiotic yoghurt to the mix which is also great for those of you suffering with IBS!

Make: Joshes, end of summer Mocktail/Cocktail

A refreshing cucumber & lemon Mocktail or Cocktail when you add Gin!

So did you know that Josh is the main Chef in our house? You might be surprised by this but Josh is one of the best cooks I know and I am blessed weekly by all his lovely food! In fact terribly you can witness how often I cook by how often I post an Instagram of food, if its Instagrammed I’ve made it. Mad proud of my limited skillz ok?

We had this little dream of a mocktail a few weeks ago and although I had photographed it and talked everyone I knows ear off about it it just never made it to the blog. So although this is a little out of season it is just as good to have now! (we also have this as a mocktail but you can do this same drink with Gin and it will be just as good!)

Ingredients 

  • Tonic Water
  • Mint
  • Cucumber
  • Lemon (you could also use limes – we had run out!)

(Glasses (are from IKEA!!), chopping board (from Joseph & Joseph and knife!)

So these are the Josh instructions!

Firstly cut your ingredients (cucumber and Lemon) into pieces and pop them in the bottom of your glasses. Next thing is ice cubes! Crushed ice would be amazing but we have these strange reusable ice cube things which you can see above instead. The next of course is, mint. Crushing this is best so tear it into your glass as you go! Now once the three are together a good idea is to crush the ingredients down a little bit as this will give you more flavour! From then it really is as simple as adding tonic water. A great idea is to let this settle somewhat as it gives you more flavour but I can understand that if your in a rush you might not wait all that long!

Another tip is if your adding gin put that in first before the tonic water and crush your lemon or lime into this mixture!

To finalise it we also put a few pieces of fruit in there as well just for a more summer vibe!

p.s we may have also eaten a nice big bowl of strawberries and raspberries! Sooooo good!

Lifestyle Blogging | Why I decided to open up the blog . . .

Why I decided to open up the blog

When I began therealjlow I had in the back of my mind the idea to have the blog cover various topics, the problem? I had no idea what I was doing and second I had no money to do what I wanted to do. (Like buy a whole new closet of clothes, change all our furniture weekly and you know find world peace . . . the normal)

So I had to look at what I could do and what I could do was the 30 x 30 challenge. I was completely in love with Kendi Everyday at the time (and still am, have you not read her blog?) and the idea of wearing clothes I already owned in different combinations gave me a months’ worth of content instantly. What actually happened however was I got a job, got distracted and started a personal style blog which ultimately led me to buying too many clothes and most of which I would rarely wear and be onto the next. I was honestly in the beginning the worst blogger known to man, I wrote sporadically, failed to really advertise blogs I didn’t join blogging communities like the Independent fashion Bloggers for the longest time and really it was sort of a none starter until I would guess 2014.

I started making plans, started speaking with incredible bloggers who I love and started working on content that really matters, the lifestyle you want with the budget you’ve got. A little bit of realism in an industry which is on the whole a lot more unrealistic than it was back in the day!

So what does this mean for me and you with therealjlow well here is the thing I would hate to not talk fashion anymore, because it will always be my first love but I really wanted to open up the playing field for everything else that we love in life, whether that is choosing your first piece of furniture or seventh! Putting together a cocktail or dinner for your friends right to issues affecting us every day!

I also really want to get you guess more involved. Something I have really wanted to do more of is blogger collabs! I love doing them and I love reading them and sharing the love so I really hope that some of you want to join forces and come up with some amazing things!I even want you to drop me a quick line about you want covered after all there’s always something I might miss so having your input is of great importance to me! My goal (I know I said this last year) is to get TRJL over to its own site! Saying that I have no idea where to turn with getting all this blog over to wordpress.org so again if you know of anyone (and who doesn’t cost a bomb!) I want to hear from you!

I am really, really excited about this! I’m looking forward to having a bit more freedom, trying more things out and sharing with you all! I think this will be the start of an incredible adventure!

Furniture | Copper Accents

Made, three legged table +  Desk top lamp from Sainsburys (now, only in store), Utensil pot, Oliver Bonas (now only in store if available), Large bamboo display bowl+ Next copper mirror +

I hate to tell you that I’m trend led but sometimes I am. There is something so delicious about a good metallic that how could I resist such beauties? Whats a particular favourite about a metallic is it reflects light! I know my flat wasn’t exactly in the dark but I certainly have my days of wishing we had more light and a little light reflecting lamp stand or bowl and your laughing, in copper perfection . . .