Remember how I boasted about enjoying the Côtes du Rhône at home this summer? Well I’m back to do it all over again, but this time with a festive hat on and a bottle of Rasteau wine in tow. I was lucky enough to be sent a beautiful Christmas hamper including a bottle of Rasteau wine, as well as some delicious cheeses, chocolate etc to enjoy alongside it.
Côtes du Rhône at Christmas
Picture this – a village nestled deep in the heart of the Southern Rhône Valley, perched on a sun laden hillside with ancient Château ruins. This is the village of Rasteau – the wine’s namesake.
This November, the Rasteau appellation celebrates 10 years of being recognised as a Cru (recognised for its quality and distinctive terroir) of the Cotes du Rhone; the highest accolade given within the region. It’s well known for producing a small, yet impressive, selection of both still and fortified wines.
Typically, Rasteau red wines have a spicy warmth, which in my opinion is perfect for this season. They’re also ideal for food pairings, such as stew, charcuterie, blue cheese, slightly spicy dishes and chocolate – so I know what I’ll be doing with my bottle. If you’re looking for a bottle or two to adorn your table this Christmas, I’d suggest you take a look next time you’re perusing wine shelves (whether they’re virtual or physical).
Personal wellbeing is something I’ve been discussing on this blog for years and I believe it’s even more important now than ever before. With a lot of people spending more time at home, I got thinking about what I could touch on next. My own sleep pattern has been up and down for years, but oddly it’s improved since lockdown. I’m sure this is due to a number of factors (some of which I touch on below) but I believe having a bedroom that allows me to breakaway from all of the chaos of the day helps a lot. So here are my wellbeing tips for the bedroom.
5 Wellbeing Tips for the Bedroom
Create a calming environment
Above everything it’s important that your bedroom is a calm place that you can withdraw to when you need it – whether that’s for a cheeky midday nap, or just as the room you escape to at the end of a long day.
One way of creating a calming environment is to do a spring clean. Clear out things you don’t need. For those that you do, less is more – choose storage solutions that allow you to hide clutter. It will help you feel less stressed and make it easier to tidy your room.
Introduce some nature into the bedroom
Houseplants are an amazing way of transporting you to a different place. Research has shown that they can reduce stress & anxiety, lower blood pressure and help with breathing problems. Some of the best plants for improving the air quality in a room are snake plant, peace lily and devil’s ivy. And of course they look lovely.
Also consider natural materials in your bedroom. Try cotton sheets, wooden interiors and a wool throw – for example.
A tech free room
Lying in bed and watching tv, or scrolling on your phone – everyone does it. But technology in the bedroom is a big no no. It’s been shown that the light omitted from our phones, laptops and tvs can contribute towards a poor sleeping pattern and keeping you awake for longer. Removing the temptation from the room (no tvs, laptops etc) can go a long way towards helping.
Make your bedroom look good
It’s not rocket science, a well styled room makes us feel good. So why not do the same with your bedroom? Blue is the best colour for painting your bedroom – it’s a calming colour, which is conducive to sleep. In terms of bedding, choose quality fabrics that will let your skin breathe such as Egyptian cotton.
Luxury bedding company Dusk’s research has shown key design trends across the UK:
Scot’s purchase 10% of Britain’s faux fur (more than anywhere else)
Simple, minimal styles are favoured more in Wales
Londoner’s purchase more goose-down bedding
Northern Ireland spend more on luxury (higher togs and quality fabrics) bedding
Lighting is important
Natural light has a ton of benefits, physically and emotionally. It does wonders to boost both your mood and quality of sleep. But did you know that having a lack of light in your bedroom is just as important?
Black out curtains are a must to block out artificial and natural light whilst you’re sleeping. Darkness is essential for your body to produce melatonin – basically to get a good nights sleep and help your body clock. If you love being woken up by the sun, sleep lamps are a great idea and mean you won’t have to compromise.
Items were gifted by DUSK, however all images, words and opinions are my own.
I’ve been working with brands for over 8 years on my blog and social networks. I’m not a ‘big influencer’ (I’d be classed as a micro influencer) but I’m contacted on a daily basis by brands; I’ve been gifted products, experiences and even holidays – all because of my content. Lately I’ve seen certain brands calling bloggers out for contacting them about potential collaborations. Not only is it unprofessional and just downright petty, it makes no sense. Influencer-brand partnerships can be rewarding for both the company and the content creator.
I don’t want to get started on the politics of small or big bloggers being paid, marketing strategies etc. Those are rants for another post. But I do want to give some advice for bloggers who want to work with brands, but maybe feel they can’t reach out to them.
How Bloggers Can Work with Brands
Ask to be put on their mailing lists. This is a great way to get an insight into the brand/industry and how they work. It helps to build a relationship with the PR, and can lead to potential gifting or partnerships.
Follow brands on social and interact with them
@ them when you include them in your organic content.
Be genuine, let them know why you love their brand.
Blog/Instagram quality content regularly
Brands want to work with creators who are consistent in both timing and quality.
Uploading quality content on a regular basis will help grow engagement and following, which is exactly what brands want to see.
Show brands what you got!
Pitch them your ideas for content (e.g. ‘Valentines gifts for foodies’).
Show them stats and link to previous work you’ve done.
Tell them why you’d be a good fit for each other.
Don’t expect something for nothing
Be realistic. If you are brand new to the game it’s unlikely you’re going to be gifted the latest iPhone or be paid big bucks.
You need to tell the brand what they will get in return. Let them know how you can both help each other out, and what you will bring to their marketing campaign.
Reaching out isn’t a bad thing!
Pitching has been a part of marketing for a long time. This is no different. Don’t be afraid to contact brands. After all, you don’t lose anything by contacting them and the worst thing that can happen is they say no. I’ve been turned down before, and it just inspired me to work harder and do better (“that’ll show ’em!”). That said, most of the time I get a positive response, and so can you!
I hope this has helped any budding bloggers, or the more seasoned ones who are maybe still unsure about how to reach out to brands. If you enjoyed my ‘How Bloggers Can Work with Brands – A Guide’, let me know if you like to see more posts, such as email templates etc.
This time last year, long before lockdown was even a thought in people’s minds, I was holidaying it up in the South of France. Provence to be precise. I was basking in the sun, enjoying everything the region had to offer – food, laid-back culture, stunning scenery… and of course, wine.
Funny story, I actually didn’t drink wine until I met my now husband. His family are wine lovers, who coincidentally shared their passion with me. In fact one of my best memories from recent years is holidaying with them for the first time; travelling around Provence to different vin yards, tasting the wine on offer, and getting an in-depth understanding of the people and their craft.
Enjoying Côtes du Rhône at home
I’m by no means a wine connoisseur, but I can get by. One of the areas I know more of (thanks to it being my father-in-laws favourite) is the Côtes du Rhône region. The Côtes du Rhône Villages is a French wine Appellation d’Origine Controlle (AOC – you’ve probably spotted this on your bottle of wine), in the southern wine region of France. They produce red, wine and rosé wine, which only 21 select areas can claim the ‘village’ title to.
I was lucky enough to be sent some amazing bottles of wine (which you can see in my photos) from Côtes du Rhône, as well as some delicious cheeses, bread etc to enjoy alongside them. We enjoyed this with the rosé on one of the hotter days this year, with the 21 Stories of the Côtes du Rhône podcast on in the background, it almost felt like we were back in the South of France.
Last month I received an email titled “Emma, your invite to Moonpig’s VIRTUAL event in July”. I was shook. An event… in this lockdown?! No but seriously, I was already a fan of Moonpig having used them during lockdown to send flowers and cards to family, and the mention of a virtual press event had me intrigued.
How to host a successful virtual event
I always think there are 5 key things to any successful press event. In no particular order, they are:
Food & Drink
Info on the company & the new “product”
Why? First off you need to be hydrated and energised, and I don’t know about you but there’s nothing that makes me feel more relaxed than nibbles and a good drink (alcoholic or not). Next you need an activity – something people can get involved with, that’s fun and will give them a memory to take away from the event. Of course both of these also help to encourage networking and socialising. And lastly, you need some goodies for people to “take home” with them – something that screams ‘[your] brand’, something they can show off on social media. For me personally, this is the recipe to a successful event.
Moonpig’s Virtual event
Let’s look at what Moonpig’s virtual event included:
We were given a food voucher so we could have dinner on the day.
A cocktail kit with alcohol, fruit etc. and a bouquet of flowers were sent the day before.
During the event Moonpig hosted two DIY classes for us to follow – flower arranging and cocktail making.
We were also sent gifts before the event, to showcase Moonpig’s products and delivery.
On the night Moonpig walked us through the app, some exciting new features, and how to personalise a card.
So was Moonpig’s virtual event a success? I think so. Apart from some slight difficulty in networking – anyone who has used Zoom with more than two people will get this – it had everything I would have looked for in a regular event.
It was cool to have someone from Moonpig’s product team talk us through the app, and show us personalisation options in real time. And obviously the classes stood out as a really cool experience – I’ve made the cocktails a few times since. I felt that I came away with a deeper understanding of Moonpig and what they’re about; if that’s not a success then I don’t know what is.
You can get 30% of a card & gift via the Moonpig app with code: APP30ORDER
Items were gifted by Moonpig, however all images, words and opinions are my own.
New lockdown regulations were brought in on July 24th, meaning that mean many of us will be spending more time wearing a face mask. For a lot of people with sensitive skin (like myself), it can lead to irritation or breakouts due to fabric rubbing, and a warmer/moister environment on the lower part of your face. And whilst these reactions may be frustrating, obviously wearing a mask and protecting yourself and others is more important. So what can you do?
Lockdown Skincare Tips
Thankfully Dermalogica have put together some top tips for keeping your skin healthy and protected, whilst wearing your face mask.
How to minimise a breakout:
Wear a clean mask every day – if you’re using reusable face masks, make sure you have a couple handy, whilst you clean the others.
Avoid wearing makeup underneath the mask – not only do you save time on your makeup, but you can focus on making your eyes shine.
Take your mask off regularly, where appropriate, to give the skin some fresh air.
Include anti-inflammatory formulas in your regime that include Salicylic Acid to help decongest pores and reduce breakouts.
Apply spot treatment formulas twice a day to increase healing.
Exfoliate skin regularly to reduce congestion and build-up. Try a gentle daily use formula to avoid over sensitising the skin.
Keep skin hydrated with a light or oil free moisturiser to improve the skins defensive barrier.
How to ease redness & irritation from a face mask:
Choose a soft breathable cotton fabric – ensure your mask fits well and is not too tight.
Avoid artificially fragranced products or those with astringent botanicals as they can increase redness and aggravate the sensitivity.
Keep your regime simple with a gentle creamy cleanser and a hydrating moisturiser.
Include a concentrated soothing serum to aid skin healing and try a replenishing masque for extra calming.
Betaglucan from oats and Vitamin B5 are great for reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
Lockdown Skincare Faves
So with the above in mind, I thought I’d share some of my favourite skincare products that have helped me keep my skin in shape during lockdown. Apologies for using empty bottles and not including some items in my photos, but I need to repurchase most of these.
Amazingly 6 out of 10 people have difficulty sleeping, and skincare addicts are not exempt! Unfortunately over the past few years I’ve been having trouble with my own sleep patterns. But once again, my favourite skincare brand Dermalogica have come to the rescue. They have partnered with Penguin Random House who have launched a new collection of audiobooks. In particular I was gifted ‘Sleep Tales’. An audiobook which has been developed with the Sleep Council to help you to relax before bed and improve the quality of your sleep. Much like Dermalogica’s Sound Sleep Cocoon – a revitalising gel-cream that transforms skin overnight by optimising night-time skin recovery. Motion-activated encapsulated lavender, sandalwood and patchouli essential oils work all night to promote deep, restful sleep and healthier-looking skin by morning.
Get a Better Night’s Sleep
I’ve been using the Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon* for about a year now, and I love how it feels lighter than your usual nighttime moisturiser when applied, but it works just as well. Worn by itself, I have actually noticed a difference in my sleep pattern as well as my skin. And since I started pairing it with Penguin’s‘Sleep Tales’ I’ve found myself enjoying a much deeper sleep. Penguin’s Sleep Tales include relaxing sounds like rain, and the sea – two things that I know myself and a lot of people find super relaxing. It’s amazing how something so little can make such a big difference.
If you’re a skincare fan who wants to get a better night’s sleep, or perhaps just add a new product to your regime, Dermalogica’s Sound Sleep Cocoon is the one for you. And it definitely wouldn’t hurt to download Penguin’s Sleep Tales audiobook for those that love some auditory relaxation too.
The items feature in this post were gifted to me by Dermalogica, however all views, photos and words are my own.