It's happening. The John Lewis advert landed last week. They're playing Christmas songs in the shops again. Fenwick's window has been unveiled. The temperatures keep falling. There are Christmas films on TV. The festive season has officially arrived. But why does it feel so early this year? It's like Halloween just happened then cue the usual panic of what to buy who and how much I can really afford to spend. Every time I speak to someone who's 'already started wrapping' I just want to punch them in the face. Seriously. It's only November and yet everyone has that festive fever. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am excited. Maybe I've already started to think about where we should go for our work's Christmas do (Bond night in Monte Carlo, anyone?) Because you know, places book up well in advance. And maybe I've already got a festive trip to the Tyneside planned to see It's A Wonderful Life. But I still feel as though everything is going too fast this year. We've fast-forwarded through summer and all the nice stuff I was going to write about (but didn't quite get around to), suddenly doesn't seem to fit with the season. Now we're back to rubbish lighting and Christmas wishlists already. For weeks and weeks I've been planning on getting my blogging back up to speed. So before we get into all that wintery stuff, I've got a few more colourful posts lined up for you.. and a whole new approach coming very soon.
I don't know if it's just me, but there's something about this time of year that makes me crave adventure. I've always got a list as long as my arm of two things: books I want to read and places I want to visit. They're the two things I can never seem to get enough of. And I'm forever adding to both my lists. Since summer (along with all of this year's adventures) is starting to seem like a lifetime away, I'm starting to get itchy feet again. I can't stop looking for where my next holiday could be and fretting about how I can afford it. Ever since I was younger, we've always gone away somewhere during the half term, but usually for a wintery city break. So maybe that's the reason I always feel like I should be wrapped up wandering around a cobbled Parisian street or finally booking up to go to Prague... or Berlin again... Maybe it's that my instagram feed has just become overwhelmed with #LiveFolk and people having an 'authentic' time against the backdrop of insane wilderness, that it's starting to brainwash me. But I just can't stop thinking about planning a Nordic trip. I've only ever been to Denmark, but there's something about Scandinavia that has an almost irresistible lure. The break-taking scenery and the crisp, cold air. It feels like the perfect place to plan a wintery break. I'd love to do a winter cruise to see Scandinavia's many fjords and the Northern Lights. For years I've wanted to travel to the Arctic Circle to take in the Aurora Borealis. Ever since I read Phillip Pullman's novel, I can only imagine how breathtaking it would be to see the sky lit up so beautifully. There's something eerily, otherworldly about it. Mind you, I have the same feelings of overwhelm when I look at photos of glassy Norwegian lakes and green countryside. So I think right now, I'd probably be happy with either. Now if I could only find a way of making saving up for a holiday seem a little easier and more desirable than going on a bender in Urban Outfitters or Zara...
Breton top: Petit Bateau, jeans: BDG, bag: Mulberry, sunglasses: Rayban, watch: Daniel Wellington.

Despite filling the house with pumpkins and dried berries, I seem to have fallen out of love with autumn lately. It's strange though because I've always loved the colder months. The darker nights, crisp mornings, bundling up in loads of layers. But this year, Autumn feels like it crept up too soon. Or maybe it's just that the year has just passed too quick? I'm not sure. Either way, I'm not making the transition into Autumn well. It feels far too early for my big coats and thick jumpers but I've finally resigned to wearing tights again. Reluctantly. Instead my wardrobe has felt a lot simpler. I'm favouring breton stripes, jeans and a battered old Mulberry. Old classics and new favourites that just seem to suit any occasion, from running odd errands to rummaging around Jesmond Food Market. If you follow me on instagram, you'll already know that the Orla Kiely manicure gives these away as last month's Jesmond Food Market. But somehow the last month sort of ran away with me... so I never quite got around to putting the post together. If you've not come across Jesmond Food Market yet, it's the brain child of Anna Hedworth (aka The Grazer) and is a monthly market that brings together some of the best food traders in the city. Along with a range of other floral, plant and produce stalls.
Basically Jesmond Food Market is just the perfect excuse to wander along Armstrong bridge and into the Dene after indulging yourself in an afternoon of good food. Or in my case, buying a pile of food and setting yourself up with a wintery picnic and making the most of the sunshine. Is there any better way of spending a saturday afternoon than with freshly cooked pizza and prosecco? Probably not. So if the weather holds out, you can bet I only need half an excuse to treat myself! Since the market is still only really starting out, the last couple of months have seen a great mix of local traders. Plus it's actually been years since I bothered to wander around Jesmond Dene, so it's nice to have a reason for venturing over and wandering around. You know when you have something really beautiful so close by that you just forget it's there? And now that autumn feels like it's finally arrived, it's starting to turn the perfect shades of orange and brown. Maybe when I start to feel that crunch on the ground, I'll get back into that autumnal mode and dig out my proper winter wardrobe. But I'm sticking with the breton for now.
In the last few weeks, I've really felt like I needed to take a little more me time. But to be honest, it's not something that I've ever been that good at. In my head it sounds amazing. The thought of spending a whole day just lazing about, drinking coffee and reading a magazine sounds like an absolute dream. In reality, when I do find myself with time on my hands, I spend more time fretting about how I should be using it best. And more often than not, I end up just being a hot mess that gets nothing done. I've never quite learned the art of just being still. Of just getting up and thinking, 'yeah so today I'm going to do absolutely nothing'. Even the idea of it now makes me feel a bit twitchy. I just need to feel like I'm doing something worthwhile in my time. But the last couple of weeks has made me realise that actually doing little things for myself is a good use of my time. Like indulging myself with a longer lie in than normal. Or staying in a hot bubble bath with a good book until my skin starts to pucker. Or treating myself to some cheap flowers.*
*Although on this occasion, this lovely bunch was a nice surprise from Blossoming Gifts! (They've also very kindly offered my readers 33% discount with the code: BGIFTS33. The only bouquets excluded are the 'Flowers By Post' range!) Let's face it, huge, bright hydrangeas like these aren't your average bunch of supermarket flowers. When they arrived at work in their giant box with a nice note and a little box of chocolates, they definitely made my day. Isn't it funny how sometimes it's just the little stuff that makes all the difference? Ultimately the last couple of weeks have been about taking a step back from everything. With all the craziness of work and life lately, I've felt the need for a little extra indulgence in my day to day. I'm not talking like full on spa days, but just products that make you feel a bit more pampered than usual. So I thought I'd share a few of my current faves for skin, hair and teeth.
I don't want to go into it here, but hair has been something of an issue for me for a while now. I've fallen in love with Kerastase Densifique though. Honestly, I've never had a product like it. It gives my hair more fullness and makes for such a beautiful blowdry that I feel as though I've just stepped out of a salon when I use it. I'm also addicted to Ojon's Rare Blend Moisture Therapy Conditioner to make my hair feel nourished. I love them both because they're the sort of throw on in the shower products that leave you with an incredible blowdry without massively interfering with your day. Ojon Rare Blend Moisture Therapy Conditioner is hands down the easiest hair treatment I've ever tried. You leave it in for 2 minutes in the shower and it leaves your hair deeply conditioned and ridiculously glossy. While on the skin front, I've switched from my usual dermalogica to a SK:N cleanser and moisturiser. Although there's a SK:N clinic in Newcastle, I've not actually tried their products out before. But when my usual products ran out, there seemed no harm in trying. Although I'm kinda bummed to say I'm using an anti-ageing moisturiser at 25, (26 next month.. eek!). Even if it says it's for younger skin... I've also been experimenting with a new whitening and enamel repair treatment, Regenerate. I was recently sent a whitening kit from Smile Brilliant (more on that later), so it's been quite interesting to use this following my whitening. Unlike the kit, this toothpaste replaces your normal one but is designed to build your teeth's enamel back up. I've definitely noticed that since using it my teeth do look a little more whiter than their natural colour. But also that I'm experiencing less sensitivity. Although the £10 price tag is a bit steep for toothpaste, I think it's worth investing. And if it adds a little bit of a spring to your step, then why not?
If I've taken anything from the stuff that's happened this year, it's that it's always worth investing the time and money into looking after number one. Whether that's a fancy cream that makes your skin feel like silk or a bunch of flowers that lift your spirits. Or even an afternoon to yourself, to watch trash on Netflix and flip through your big stash of unread fashion magazines, that you're always too busy to get to.
new york
Before my trip to Canada, I read a book called Mindfulness Plain and Simple. I felt like I was stuck in a rut, and in reality I was. I'd had a string of bad luck and nothing seemed to be going right. It was like I could see how I wanted things to pan out and yet it was all unravelling in front of me. When you're feeling a bit down, or something bad happens, people do try to help. But more often than not, I've found a lot of people don't say the right things. Mainly because they don't know what to say. People always say cliched stuff like, 'life is what you make of it', and 'the difference between adventure and ordeal is attitude'. Usually not at the right times. But I'm starting to think that there's definitely something in those old adages. And that it's definitely true that shifting your perspective can change your whole experience of situations. Like having your flight cancelled, being delayed for 36 hours (after an insane 2 weeks and no sleep from the night before), and feeling like the most unlucky person in the world. It's all about perspective. Because while I was tired and stressed at the idea I wasn't going to be headed back to the UK on schedule, I had the sudden realisation that it meant a free 36 hours in New York. And who does that really happen to?
So what do you do when you find yourself stranded in New York? Since my flight wasn't until the next day, I was put up in a hotel near Newark Airport and pretty much left to my own devices. Disclaimer: now I feel I should probably point out that I've never really travelled alone. Or been in a foreign country completely by myself. It's not that I'm an unseasoned traveller as such. It's just I'm not a solo one. And the idea of being alone has kind of terrified me. So when that iconic skyline came into view, and knowing that I had a full 24 hours til the next flight to Newcastle, I was simultaneously more terrified and excited than I've been in a long time. So where do you start? I've only ever been to New York once, when I was 15 years old on a school trip (it was the only reason I chose Media Studies). Yet it's one of those places that's stayed with me and that I knew I'd always love to go back to. It's by no means a place I know like the back of my hand, or a place I felt even vaguely familiar with. But I wasn't about to let those nerves get the better or me and when I jumped on a train headed for the city , all I could feel was excitement. Since my train from Newark set me out at New York Penn, I was right in the heart of Midtown. It's not my favourite part of the city, but finding yourself wandering through Times Square on less than two hours sleep is a pretty spectacular experience.
Since I was staying outside of the city, I needed a base to get my bearings and go over my cheap map. After spending a little while wandering aimlessly, I ended up stopping in the citizenM in Times Square. Although it's a firm favourite of certain (well paid) bloggers, I've never actually been to a citizenM hotel before. And finding myself in their cosily decorated lobby was a strangely comforting feeling being somewhere completely alone and thousands of miles from anyone I knew. Their layout is more like someone's sitting room and it felt easy to just slip in and order a drink while I tried to get my head around my surroundings and how to make the most of my short time there. So when my phone battery started to die (after a quick search of instagram and some frantic googling), I decided I should just wing it. Rather than worry about where to eat, I thought I'd just kind of figure it out as I went and see what took my fancy. after contemplating the queue at Shake Shack for all of 5 minutes, I decided I needed somewhere I could sit down (and that didn't have a queue snaking out the door and down the street). So instead I settled on a random French bistro and ordered myself moules-frites along with a large glass of white wine. Now I want to get this straight, this isn't a city guide. Or a post about the best way to spend your time in New York. It really isn't.
I spent my random 24 hours wandering around the city, breaking my neck as I gaped up at buildings and tried to take in as much as possible. All the while pinching myself that I was even there, or that any of it had even happened. Yeah I knew I probably wasn't making the best possible use of my time in the city. But there was one thing that I was sure of, and that was drinking in as much of my surroundings as possible. Because despite all the trials and tribulations that this year has brought, how many people are insanely lucky enough, not only to take the trip of a lifetime but to get to extend it for free with a day in New York? I'm not one for solitude and I very rarely need to get away from people to have 'me time'. But actually, being alone in such an amazing place did give me the clarity I needed in that moment, to think despite all the heartache and a run of bad luck, things aren't really that bad now.
I'm having an identity crisis. With my blog I mean. Don't worry, if we're pals in real life then I'm keeping this one short so stay with me. For months now I've been struggling with what to do about my blog. Do I do a full redesign and new name, or just redesign and stick with Raspberry Kitsch? It's becoming the bane of everyone I know's lives. Seriously. I mean, I hardly blame them, I've been going on about it for the past twelve months. Each time I go from being sure I'm going to change it, to being sure I should stick with it. And so on, and so on. You get the idea and you can imagine how bored everyone is.
It's so hard though, right? I mean I don't want to lose any rank that my blog has built up. But then it kinda feels like it's not relevant anymore. And I'm starting to feel like maybe it needs to come more in line with my professional life. Lately though I'm back at a point of thinking I should stick with my name and find a way of making it work. But let's face it, that could change in like a week. The redesign is a definite though, just as soon as I've figured out my new typefaces and colours. Things definitely need freshening up around here. Honestly though, I don't get why decision making is scrambling my head so much lately! It's not just my blogging (or lack thereof) that's causing me issues though, this weather is too.
This weather is playing havoc with my wardrobe. We're only in September but it feels like someone's fast forwarded to winter. And of course all of my wardrobe feels wrong because my mind is still stuck in summer. But at the rate the temperature is falling, I'm going to need to pack away my suede skirts in favour of my sheepskin. I've always had a thing for autumnal fashion but this year it seems to be coming too early. I'm not quite ready to get all bundled up in chunky knits and big coats. Not just yet anyway. So I'm trying to make do with summery skirts and tops teamed with little jumpers and braving bare legs for now. But maybe I'm definitely going to need to trade in the strappy sandals for my ankle boots soon. While I'm craving a bit of sunshine, I'm going to be (finally) editing my travel photos from the summer. I guess if I can't be in a bikini right now, then I can at least reminisce.
I can't believe September is here already. It feels like summer hasn't even lasted 5 minutes. Plus I've still got a load of summery posts I want to share before the cold weather comes. At this rate though we're going to end up in winter before I've even started editing. Maybe it's just me but it feels like the seasons have already started to change and click into place. We're in that in between weather where it's starting to get just a little bit too cold for bare legs and no coats. I don't know if it's just me, but when we get to this point of the year, I always feel restless. It's too far away from Christmas to get excited about the winter yet but I feel restless. And I've got itchy feet to plan some sort of adventure so I've got something to look forward to. It's like you get back from summer holidays and all of a sudden it's months until you have any time off again. And the only thing looming is the festive season. I feel as though I need a trip to the Lakes to explore the great outdoors and get snuggled up in a little cabin by a real fire. Or maybe a city break? Even if it's just a weekend away in London with the girls like at the start of the year. I haven't quite decided what yet, but the city break is looking more likely than an extra holiday. But rather than just go explore the city, I'd quite like to go back in December to catch the Nutcracker ballet or opera shows in London. Because it's something I've never actually done before. I've never seen an opera (let alone a big scale production) and what better way to start my education than with a performance from the English National Opera? Plus there's something very festive about the idea of spending a long weekend down in the big smoke and topping it off with a night at the opera. And the perfect excuse to get all dolled up in sequins, heels and fur.