Battening Down The Hatches [Combatting The Winter Blues]: Warmth

Today in my ongoing Battening Down The Hatches series, I'm looking at warmth. Both physical and visual warmth are super important at this time of year - we all want to feel cosy in our homes when it's cold outside, but we also want our homes to look warm and inviting for ourselves and guests. Texture, in the form of throws, cushions and perhaps the odd sheepskin work fast miracles in this department.



Drape a throw or two over the sofa and armchairs, add a Mongolian sheepskin and some textured cushions and voila, you can take a space from cold and stark to cosy and inviting just like that.

I've pulled together an edit of my current favourite pieces to help you warm up your space. I'll have one of everything, pretty please!



1. Soft Palette Blanket by BFGF at A New Tribe

I've been obsessed with BFGF throws for quite a while now and am determined to own one one day! These are such cool pieces that really are works of art in their own right and would look brilliant framed (admittedly the frame would cost more than the blanket, but the point is, you'd have a large scale heirloom piece of art for a fraction of the price that something that size would normally cost). But as we're talking about warmth, just throw it on the sofa for now, and maybe have it framed in the Spring!

2. Faux Fur Brushed Tips Throw - West Elm 

I of course knew that West Elm would have some fabulous throws - you can't really beat a bit of faux fur for cosy texture, and these are so stunning!

3. Rain Throw by Sylvain Willenz at Hem

I spotted this one the other week at the Hem pop-up at the new Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross. Can't stop thinking about it, so here it is.

4. Labyrinth Throw - One Nine Eight Five

Obsessive?! How very dare you! Okay, yes, I am obsessed with this amazing Labyrinth throw by One Nine Eight Five (made from 75% recycled cotton) - it really is talking my language.

5. Mongolian Sheepskin Throw - Suburban Salon

Nothing adds texture like a Mongolian sheepskin, and the very clever Julia from Suburban Salon has nailed it with her beautiful collection.

6. Jacquard Weave Leopard Print Blanket - H&M

I bought one of these fab leopard print blankets a while ago (pictured up top) and they work brilliantly with so many different styles.

7. July Throw by Slowdown Studio at Opumo

Yes I'm also slightly obsessed with this throw by London based Illustrator James Daw from Slowdown Studio which would also make an incredible piece of art. I really really really really want one!

8. Stripe Mohair Blanket by VISO at The Conran Shop

A blanket blowout, but boy is it beautiful. And such a gorgeous colour combination!

Right then, onto cushions...



1. Dot Tint Cushion by HAY at Really Well Made

The Dot Tint cushion is a classic with a twist. The cotton-linen blend is a timeless finish with a beautiful texture and that central button makes it extra special.

2. Round Lush Velvet Cushions - West Elm

What can I say?! They're round and they're velvet. I had to really stop myself from shoving one into my coat when leaving a dinner with them last week. True Fact. Oh and they come in blush too!

3. Cumulus Cushion Cover - Caravane

Texture, texture, and more texture. This delivers in the texture department in bucketloads. Love!

4. Soft Cushion - Tom Dixon

Hello my pretty pretty (pretty) plush mohair velvet dream. Bet you'd look good on my sofa...

5. Fluffy Cushion Cover - La Redoute

A bit of quiet texture to complement any other sofa pals.

6. Frame Cushion Cover - The Conran Shop

This cushion has gone straight to the top of my wish list. I'm completely in love with the striking pattern and to die for colour combination. Hello Santa, are you listening?!!

7. Close To My Heart Cushion - Bella Freud

I'm not immune to the charms of Bella Freud, and I really rather love this cushion. Besides, merino wool and embroidery really tick the texture boxes.

8. Wool and Cotton Jacquard Motifs Cushion - Maisons Du Monde

Another hardworking offering. Wool? Tick! Tonnes of Texture? Tick! Pattern? Tick! Pink? Tick!

Now go forth and get cosy, and don't forget to tune in next week for the next installment of this series (I'll be talking about all my favourite home fragrances), plus my mega Christmas Gift Guide!











Battening Down The Hatches [Combatting The Winter Blues]: Mind

You may have read my manifesto (of sorts) last week, about how I'm intending to put measures in place to cope with the long winter months. If not, you can catch up here.

In todays' Battening Down The Hatches instalment, I'm focussing on the mind. Though it's actually a combination of all the things on my list that will ultimately pool together to (hopefully!) create a happy me this winter, one of the specific things I've already started doing is light therapy by way of a SAD light and Bodyclock from Lumie.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches - Combatting The Winter Blues - Mind

I posted a little while ago on Instagram about how the grey skies affect my mood and asked if anyone had tried SAD lights, and I was really happy when Lumie got in touch to see if I'd like to try some of their products.

If you don't know what SAD is, it stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, which the NHS describe as a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, with the symptoms being more severe and apparent in the winter, and is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight in those months.

I don't suffer from depression, but I feel less happy and driven in the winter and the grey skies really get me down, so whilst I may not be clinically diagnosed with SAD, I definitely suffer from the Winter Blues, or am on the milder end of the SAD spectrum.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches - Combatting The Winter Blues - Mind

One of the treatments for SAD symptoms is light therapy (which is recognised by the NHS), and Lumie make several different products for just that. They sent me their Brazil SAD light and their Bodyclock Shine 300, and I've been using them for a few weeks now.

The Brazil is their biggest and most powerful SAD light, and for me the effects are immediate. Like a moth to a flame I'm drawn to the light and it makes me feel instantly happy. Funnily enough, both the kids are drawn to it too, yet Ed is indifferent, and it made me wonder if people who don't need it aren't drawn to it. Speculative I know, but interesting...

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches - Combatting The Winter Blues - Mind

As I'm Antipodean and the UK isn't my natural habitat, I do wonder if that also makes me more susceptible. I'm speculating here again, but it kind of makes sense. Anyway, apparently around 3% of people in the UK are affected with a severe form of SAD, whilst 20% are somewhere on the milder Winter Blues spectrum like me. I suspect that in truth the percentage is much higher judging by the number of conversations I've had with people since bringing it up, in my small 'sample group'.

I have my Brazil light sitting on my desk next to my computer, and have it on for at least half an hour a day.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches - Combatting The Winter Blues - Mind

This is what Lumie say about it...

'Just as sunlight naturally makes you feel good, topping up with extra bright light in the winter months, or when you're stuck indoors, is proven to put you in a better mood and make you feel more awake. Using Brazil every day makes a big difference to symptoms of SAD such as tiredness, over-eating and a lack of energy and motivation.'

The Bodyclock Shine 300 is smaller, better looking and more high-tech than I expected, and apparently using it in tandem with the Brazil has a more powerful effect on combatting SAD. I'm impressed that the 'sunrise' wakes me up without noise, though you can have an audio alarm set with it too if you like, choosing from the radio or a selection of sounds. It also has a sunset option to help get you off to sleep, though I usually go to bed pretty exhausted and don't really need any help in that department!

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches - Combatting The Winter Blues - Mind

Waking up with the sunrise setting is said to improve mood, energy, productivity, and you could also use it for kids who wake way too early, setting an acceptable time for them to get up!

Here's what Lumie say about the Bodyclock...

'Bodyclock Shine 300 is an alarm clock that mimics the light and colour of a real sunrise so when you open your eyes you feel properly awake and refreshed. Waking like this helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle and has even been shown to boost mood, energy and productivity levels for the rest of the day.

A sleep/wake light like Bodyclock Shine 300 is not just a nicer way to start the day. It can help beat the winter blues and is a useful complement to a lightbox in treating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). The British Swimming team use Lumie Bodyclock to get them up bright and early for training on dark, winter mornings.'

I love Lumie's passion about their products and their keenness to spread the word about how helpful Light Therapy is, and I was more than willing to help spread the word as I know that sometimes simple things like this can be so effective. See also Vitamin B, Vitamin D.... but that's a whole other conversation.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches - Combatting The Winter Blues - Mind

My Brazil light will be my constant desk companion over the winter, and the Bodyclock has settled in well on my bedside table. I feel I'm heading into winter better armed to deal with the grey skies and that alone makes me feel more positive.

Lumie have given me a discount code to share with you which is not something they normally do so don't miss out! It's active for the next two weeks only, and ends at midnight on Friday 16th of November. Enter the code FFP20 for a brilliant 20% discount.

This post is in collaboration with Lumie.

Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]


I hate Winter. There. I said it.

Maybe it's my Antipodean roots, or maybe it's just me, but I dread the winter here in the UK. Darkness falling at 4pm, endless grey skies and cold temperatures do nothing for me, and I generally spend the majority of winter longing for the first glimmers of Spring.

If I could chase the sun year 'round, I absolutely would. I don't need HOT, I just need WARM. Warm temperatures and blue skies. Year round t-shirt weather would be just fine thanks, but as that's not an option, I've decided that in order to make it more bearable, and to not be wishing away several months of each year, that I need to make some changes and, well, get better prepared, so that it doesn't seem quite as much of a drag. And I want to really enjoy the festive season too!

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]

I've been thinking about this for a while, and making a mental list of practical, aaaaand not so practical things that will get me through the winter with a happy mind, body and soul. I figured I’d pop it here (offloading again - blogs are great for that!) and then I’ll work my way through it and document the things I manage to check off as a little Battening Down The Hatches mini-series, in more detail as I go. I'm sure I'm not the only one that finds the winter hard-going, right?

So what’s on my list? Loads! Here's my breakdown...


Warmth


Sorting out any heating issues, which we've made huge strides towards over the last several months with the new Amtico parquet floor throughout the ground level of our house (no more gappy floorboards and icy drafts wrapping around our ankles in the living room and dining rooms!), and replacing the old rusty radiators with new ones from soak.com in the living and dining rooms and hallway. The boiler does need a service though, so I'll be booking that in pronto, and I need to get the plumber back to sort out what we think might be a blockage preventing some of the radiators from properly heating up. Now is definitely the time to do this!

Perhaps I might be in the market for another cosy throw or two, and maybe a sheepskin to add another layer of physical and visual warmth the the living room too. Nothing like upping the layers of texture to transform a room into an inviting space.

Let's not talk about the single-glazed, drafty and worse for wear sash windows though okay? That's on the list for next year.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]


French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]

Lighting


I've got a pretty good collection of lamps going on I must admit, and this secondary lighting is super important in the colder months to create a cosy atmosphere, so that's something to consider if you're lacking in the lamp department. There's a dizzying amount of choice at all price points so I'll be putting together a list of current favourites. See also candles - scented and otherwise. And fairy lights. Obvs. Last year we wrapped the tree in our garden in outdoor fairy lights, only for a fox to break them within days. Maybe we'll try take two again this year!

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]

Sound


When we moved into this house over ten years ago, we intended to install a wired music system that would allow us to listen to music in every room. We didn't. We were frozen by too much choice and indecision, and then we were frozen by lack of funds. And for ten years, it's just sat on the to do list and I'm ashamed to admit that generally music has been listened to either on the digital radio, or through a computer or the TV. Technology has come a LONG way in this time, and it's so much simpler, easier and more affordable now. It's time to finally sort it out! 

Mind


I don't know if I technically have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I do know the lack of sun and blue skies affects my mood adversely, and I've been taking measures to help with this in the form of light therapy, which I'll be talking about in a post next week. Oh, and Vitamin D (in an easy to administer spray) is a regular thing in our house too.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]


Soul


What's good for your soul when it comes to home? For me, it's trying (and admittedly, regularly failing - especially in my line of work) to keep the clutter at bay. So another thing on my list is to fight my way back to a less cluttered existence. And not just on the surface, although that's a good start, and I may not get much further than that this side of the new year, but I definitely need to go through the cupboards, the kids rooms and my own wardrobe too. It's time to let go of the 80% plus of my wardrobe that hasn't fitted me for years. Would I even wear it if it did fit? Probably not. Why am I holding onto it? I have no idea. Just me?

Smell


Ah, one of my favourite topics! Any excuse to buy another scented candle. Feeling down? A scented candle will fix it! Feeling happy? A scented candle is in order! Celebrating? A scented candle is deserved! Cooking smells? A scented candle will mask it! Feeling bored? Frustrated? You get the picture...In my book, a new scented candle will fix pretty much anything. At least temporarily. So yes, I'll be sharing my all time favourites with you too - some are old faithfuls, some are new to me, and some are relatively new to market, and have shot right to the favourites list. And believe me, I'm very hard to please in this department. I need to have a scented candle or three on the go at all times, and a few on standby for when they're finished. There's always one on my Christmas list too!

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]

Finishing What I Started


I start DIY jobs and I don't 100% finish them. I'm not proud. My excuse is that I'm always in a rush - my working hours are the school hours - we don't have any childcare, so I work when I can. This means things are often finished 'enough' which also often means they're not finished properly. I have a list of things in every room that I really want to start working thorough. The ceilings in the living and dining rooms still need finishing, the bedroom windows and door still need another coat of paint, the mystery leak in the upstairs bathroom still needs to be fixed - and the list goes on. If I can get just a few of these niggly jobs crossed off I'll be happy, and hopefully inspired to keep working my way though the list.

Christmas


I kind of tie all of the above in with Christmas, which be it a good or bad thing becomes a bit of a looming deadline for me, albeit a self-inflicted and wholly unnecessary one! Along with a few other things like clearing out the spare room (that'll be the decluttering again) and making sure we have lovely bed linen, pillows and duvets for guests. My mother will be coming all the way from New Zealand, so it's the least I can do! Besides if, the majority of these things are addressed before then, it will mean a lovely relaxing Christmas. Well, fingers crossed anyway.

French For Pineapple Blog - Battening Down The Hatches [How I'm Getting Ready For Winter & The Festive Season]

The Finishing Touches


Flowers, and fresh foliage, make such a difference to a room - whether it's supermarket bargains, a trip to the flower market or a florist blow-out, it's particularly good for the soul (well, it is for mine) to have fresh flowers in the house during the winter, and especially at Christmas. I'll be visiting our local flower market on the Sunday before Christmas to make sure this one is ticked off the list.

Ahhhh...


I feel better putting this into actual written words instead of having them tumbling around in my head. Oh, I forgot about all the painting that I intend to get done! Maybe I'll cut myself a little bit of slack and not vow to get the entire hallway done before Christmas, but I'd definitely like to make a good start!

How about you? Are you a winter lover, or do you find it laborious like me?

Check back for the first Battening Down The Hatches - Mind instalment next week, where I'll be talking about Light Therapy to help keep my mind in a happy place.

And this Friday, I'll have the first in the French For Cocktail series ready for you too!