My Summer Essentials

Living in the islands of perpetual summer and being fortunate enough to enjoy sunshine around 90% of the year, I have had plenty of time to get my summer wardrobe and summer essentials pretty much sorted. Summer seems to be flying by (June disappeared in the blink of an eye!) but we still have plenty of warm weather left and I wanted to share some of my summer staples with you. From top to toe I’ve got you covered. So, whether you’re going on holiday soon, or just enjoying some warm days in the park in the sunshine, these are a few of my summer favourites! 

 

Summer Essentials - Beach and Holiday Style Post

 

 

1 :: Kimono – 

A great kimono can really elevate that simple shorts and t-shirt outfit. It adds a splash of colour and an additional layer of interest. They’re chic and they keep the sun off your shoulders, win win. They are also great for keeping in your beach bag and throwing over your swimsuit as a cover-up. I favour a bright floral or a leafy palm print. These Amazon kimonos are fantastic for only $15 and come in 26 colours and patterns.

 

2 :: Sunglasses – 

I have to hold my hands up here, I have soooooo many sunglasses! Too many sunglasses, you could say… but I refuse to apologise for it. Against the bright sunshine I am basically blinded as soon as I set foot outside and always have to have a pair on hand. (In my car, in my beach bag, in my hand bag, on the side board, on my dressing table, on the coffee table, on my desk… they are liberally scattered around so that there is always a pair within arms reach!)

Along with my favourite Sojos pair, Amazon have thousands of pretty styles at really affordable prices, many of which are polarized (which is my preference) and still don’t break the bank. I have my eye on this pair to add to my collection, don’t tell the husband… 

 

3 :: Summer & Rose Microfiber Towel – 

Featured in my FabFitFun Summer box (and now available on Amazon.com), I was an instant fan of this lightweight and quick-drying beach towel. I hate carrying home soggy beach towels full of sand after a day by the ocean. This beauty is a great size, a vibrant print, easy to pack and you can just brush the sand right off! A beach day game changer! 

 

4 :: Beach bag – 

I have a number of really cute beach bags, and switch between them regularly, but sadly that still doesn’t stop me constantly looking for new ones! I am a complete sucker for a pom pom or a tassel – which is why I am totally obsessed with this one by Daisy Rose, isn’t it adorable? I love the neutral straw with the brightly colored embroidery and the tassels are to die for. I also love the striped inner pouch and the fact that it has a zip closure to keep all my beaching knick knacks secure. It is on my wishlist!! 

 

5 :: S’well water bottles – 

I have been a big advocate of reusable water bottles for the longest time. But, as the weather warms up, it’s even more important to ensure that you are appropriately hydrated and carrying around one of these full of icy water can help ensure that you won’t get sucked into buying single-use plastic bottles of water when you’re out and about and start to feel that thirst! Keeping your water cold for a whopping 12 + hours, throwing one of these in your beach bag makes life so much easier. S’well does lots of beautiful patterns and colours, but I love my tropical print bottle. 

 

6 :: Reusable straws – 

In my bid to cut down on the amount of plastic I use I have been attempting to ensure that I have reusable alternatives to the common plastic straws when I am out. There are so many available on the market but the two I have tried so far are these beautiful copper ones and this bamboo set. Yes, it’s a little bit more effort to walk with these, and you have to clean them! But plastic straws are so bad for the environment and just so unnecessary! Starbucks hit the news last week as they revealed that they will be phasing out plastic straws and eliminating more than 1 billion straws a year by completely eradicating them from their stores by 2020. I say ‘Bravo!’ to Starbucks and urge you to join in on this initiative! 

 

7 :: Kindle – 

There is no better accompaniment to your beach time or pool time than a really good book. In fact, I have a post on my recommended summer reads that you can check out right here! I have been a kindle convert for some time now (I literally can’t leave home without it) because I love the freedom of having so many books at my fingertips, if I finish one – no problem, I have another just waiting to get started. It’s so freeing taking all those great titles with me in my beach bag without any of the weight of carrying the books. Recently I have been thinking about starting with audible too – might be good for workouts or when you’re lying by the pool just gently snoozing. Have any of you tried it? Audible have an offer at the moment for two free audible books when you sign up for a free 30-day trial, which I might just need to take advantage of. 

 

8 :: Bamboo Ark Bag – 

A beautiful and affordable dupe for the Cult Gaia Bag – this has been my favourite purchase of the summer. Available for just $40 and coming in both small and large (mine is a small for reference) this bag is the perfect summer accessory. Sturdy and stylish it goes with every outfit and has been the object of many admiring glances and compliments (even from the boys!). The small is a great size and roomy enough for all my daily essentials (wallet, keys, lipstick, iPhone 7+ and kindle) I just have to stop myself buying the large one as well… 

 

Summers Essentials - Beach and Holiday Style Post

 

9 :: Hat – 

A great sunhat is an absolute must for the summer! Fantastic for keeping the sun off your face and protecting your most delicate skin. (Also a great photo prop in my honest opinion…) I like to keep one in my beach bag just in case. I love all the summer hats with the cute adorable embroidered sayings. I already own this perfect ‘do not disturb’ hat, but there are a couple more that I have my eye on!

 

10 and 11 :: Coola Mineral Sunscreen – 

I shouldn’t need to tell you that spf is so important for the summer months. Regardless of whether you are going to be sunbathing or not, at the very least you need to make sure that the delicate skin on your face and décolletage is protected, even as you go about your errands. I discovered the Coola products a year or so ago and I love their organic formulas. Even better news, the Coola Mineral Sunscreens are also reef safe! I had been researching sunscreens a lot recently with the increasing amount of information coming out about the risk of regular sunscreen to our delicate reef life. Oxybenzone (one of the main active ingredients in the majority of sunscreens) is a major contributor to coral bleaching. Hawaii has lead the way in banning sunscreens containing reef harming ingredients like Oxybenzone and hopefully it won’t be long before other places follow suit. Get ahead of the curve and start looking out for reef-safe sunscreen. I was thrilled to discover that I could still use my favourite brand if I was just a little more selective about which of their products I was using. Also available – this cute 4-piece Coola Mineral Travel Set

 

12 :: Sandals

 Obviously a great pair of sandals is a must for summer weather – a little smarter than flip flops but still super comfortable and practical for sand and cobbles and other holiday terrain. I like a pair with a bit of interest, so these studded beauties are just perfect. I think that they are somewhat reminiscent of the gorgeous Rockstud Valentino sandals, without being an obvious dupe. They have great reviews!

 

13:: Swimsuit – I feel like people are always really surprised to learn that the majority of my swimsuits come from Amazon. Like maybe they hadn’t considered Amazon as a place to shop for swimwear? I own a couple of these Cocoship suits and absolutely love them, they are fantastic quality for the low price and come in a lot of different colours and prints. The high-waist is super flattering and they are surprisingly supportive… giving you the perfect 50’s pin-up figure!  I feel like this pretty blue and red floral one needs to come home with me! 

 

14 :: Denim shorts – 

An absolute summer essential, I virtually live in mine. I love a white pair for a clean and fresh look. Pair with a vest top, a t-shirt, a cami, a tunic or just a bikini top. Super versatile, perfect for pool days, no self-respecting summer wardrobe should be without a pair.

 

15 :: Maxi dress – 

Is there anything more comfortable or flattering when the weather heats up than a loose and flowy maxi dress? Super forgiving, covering a multitude of sins, the maxi dress is a summer wardrobe essential. Amazon.com have some beautiful and affordable beach maxi dresses, which are so easy to wear but still make you look really put together. Perfect for evenings out after a day at the beach, or for summer brunches with friends. I love this tropical and leafy maxi, but it comes in 8 different colours and prints, if this one isn’t for you.

 

 

Amazon Prime Day starts today and there are hundreds of special deals exclusively for Prime subscribers. If you haven’t yet signed up for Amazon Prime you can start a 30-day free trial today.

 

Which would be your picks??

 

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Friday Favourites – Spartina 449 Edition

Good morning happy, sparkly Friday people!

Bit of a specialized Friday Favourites post for you today. I recently bought another couple of Spartina 449 pieces and have received so many compliments and questions on them that I thought I would showcase what else is on my wishlist.

I would like to preface the post by saying that this post is in no way sponsored and none of the links are affiliate links. I just like to share.

So with all that out of the way – here are some of the gorgeous pieces sitting in my cart at the moment! I really feel that their whole style is perfect for island girls, wannabe mermaids or any lady that likes to channel her inner beach babe, with so many nautical and tropical charms and motifs. Have a look and see what you think – 

This Boho Chic Toggle Bracelet comes in both beachy sea foam green and a pretty cream colour way with coral accent beads – $72


I love the pretty tassels on the multi-coloured boho bead wrap bracelet – $46.50 add charms to it like the little ladybird or the turtle on the sea foam green version



I love my ‘Greetings from Hawaii’ charm necklace with the sweetest pineapple and hibiscus charms – but I also have my eye on the O’ahu version with the little turtle, surfboard and anchor… Aloha! $40



How sweet are these adorable sand dollar and starfish earrings – $30 for the set of two. 


I love the pretty turquoise beading on these beaded horseshoe earrings – $26


This beautiful beaded tassel toggle necklace is the perfect way to add a chic touch to your casual bikini and cover-up outfit. A great length too at 36″ – $76 


My Ships Ahoy necklace is a great statement piece with the 34″ chain and the chunky anchor charm – $44.  

I have a couple of items that I’m lusting after which are currently out of stock and I’m keeping my fingers crossed and patiently waiting to see if they come back in… And don’t even get me started on the beautiful range of tunics, handbags and even stationary! They deserve a post of their own!

So there you have it – a few of my favourites – any of them tickling your fancy?

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10 Things You (Absolutely) Have To Do In The BVI (No Excuses)

Everyone that lives here (and some of the frequent visitors) will have their own shortlist of must do/see/eat/drink in the BVI (but mine’s better, obviously) – see my suggestions below!

:: Explore the Baths

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I’m slightly biased here (living on Virgin Gorda) but the Baths on VG is not an award-winning tourist destination for nothing (and cannot be missed). Trek down to the beach and then through the myriad of boulders (with multiple stops for pictures) before arriving at Devil’s Bay for a well-deserved swim in the crystal clear water and to relax on the sand.

:: Take a Powerboat tour around the Holy Trinity

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Photo by alookingglass

Known as the ‘Holy Trinity’ your day consists of visiting Sandy Spit, White Bay at Jost Van Dyke (be sure to get the infamous Painkiller at the Soggy Dollar) and the Willy-T. Each a notable destination in their own right, it makes for quite the boozy day but it’s great fun. More on this trip here.

:: Drink a Painkiller Cocktail

painkiller

Photo credit: Zach Stovall – Islands.com

A couple of bars lay claim to creating the Painkiller (notably the Soggy Dollar and Pussers) but arguments aside, one thing that’s for sure is that it originated here in the BVI. Do not get back on that plane until you’ve tried one!

:: Party under the light of the Full Moon

Bomba's Surf Shack Tortola

Photo credit – Island Roots Charters

Where possible, it is advisable to time your trip to the BVI so that you’re visiting the islands over a Full Moon. Head out to West End and find the brightly colored (and panty-covered) Bomba shack and the crowd spilling into the road! Be warned, this is an adults only party and there are hallucinogenics freely available.
For the PG-rated (but equally fun) Full Moon celebration take the family to Trellis, watch them light the fireballs in the Bay and marvel at the Moko Jumbies.

:: Enjoy a sundowner at Cooper Island Beach Club

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The key to getting the most out of your visit to the BVI is getting out and about to as many of our islands as possible. Each one has its own distinct personality and vibe. I like heading to Cooper for a laid back lunch on the beach, a game of darts and a happy hour cocktail in the water as the sun goes down. Bonus: Cooper has a beautifully curated gift shop for some unique island souvenirs.

:: Snorkel the Caves and the Indians

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I can’t find the source of this image to credit – sorry!

A short boat ride from Tortola, just off Norman Island, you’ll find the Indians, four tall rocks standing proud of the water just teeming with underwater activity and some of the best snorkeling in the BVI. Stop for a margarita at the Willy-T before you head home – you know you want to…

:: Eat the freshest lobster in Anegada

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Photo Credit: Caribbean Buzz Helicopters

A little different to its cold-water brethren, but just as tasty, the best and freshest Caribbean lobster can be found on Anegada. Take a 90 minute-long (and occasionally rough) ferry from Road Town or a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 12 minute flight from Beef Island and head out to explore. Anegada has the whitest sand and bluest water of any of our islands. Rent scooters or a safari bus but go carefully as most of the roads aren’t paved. Drive between Cow Wreck and Loblolly and look out for the flamingos.

:: Helicopter over to Saba for lunch

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Right in the middle of the North Sound sits Saba Rock. A teeny island with a bustling restaurant (have the lobster panini, trust me!) and some gorgeously appointed hotel rooms. If you’re staying on Tortola my favourite way to get to Saba is with Antilles Helicopter Services, which affords you breath-taking aerial views of our island archipelago. Bonus: you’ll feel like a total celeb when you touch down on that helipad and they come out to greet you with cocktails…

(FYI it is also super easy to get here with their free boat transfer from Gun Creek, North Sound)

:: Visit the Callwood Rum Distillery

callwood-distillery

Buried deep in Cane Garden Bay (and seemingly still looking much the same way that it did 400 years ago) Callwood Rum distillery is still producing rum and offers tours (for only $2) and tastings of their four rums for another $1. The Panty-Dropper is my personal favourite.

:: Hike Sage Mountain (or Gorda Peak)

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All that boozing and beaching can leave you feeling a bit blah. If you fancy picking up your heart-rate a bit, and working off those creamy cocktails, it’s time to hike Gorda Peak (Virgin Gorda) or Sage Mountain (Tortola) – our two highest points. Both are beautiful areas of National Park with hiking trails and lookouts for gorgeous views across the islands. The higher you get, the better the view.

Anything you think that I’ve missed??

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My (Miracle) Morning Routine

I posted recently in my New Year’s resolutions regarding my desire to improve my morning routine. I was always feeling grumpy and rushed as I’m really not a natural morning person (!) and I wanted to find a solution for me, a routine that could add some calmness and restore some order to my morning.

In an attempt to stick to this resolution I invested in a book that I had been hearing a lot about – ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod which claims to give you the ‘Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)’ – bam, some pretty big words right there.

To briefly clarify, I am neither a skeptic nor a devotee of self-improvement books. I have a lot of time for Tim Ferriss’ ‘4-Hour Body’ as it seemed to work for me and make sense, but other than that I don’t have much experience of them. I do, however, like to read, like to learn and I’m open to new suggestions. I think that you just have to find what works for you and I was ready to try another one!

Anyway, let’s review my old morning routine and then the new one that I’m trying to incorporate:

Old Morning Routine  –

Alarm set for 6:30 am

6:30 am, alarm goes off – snooze

6:40 am, alarm goes off – snooze

6:50 am, alarm goes off (cue not insignificant amounts of grumbling from the husband about the effing alarm), drag my carcass out of bed, put the kettle on and hop in the shower. (Meanwhile husband walks the dogs)

7:05 am, after a quick shower I complete morning ablutions with a rather undignified amount of rushing (especially as the husband will be demanding the shower as soon as he gets back from the beach).

7:10 am, forget kettle had boiled, boil again, make tea and start the husband’s cooked breakfast (a wrap with scrambled eggs, spinach and cheese, if you’re wondering) (sidenote: solid food for me, especially eggs, at this time of day is distinctly unappetizing so I stick to tea.)

7:25 am, get dressed very hastily, pray that nothing needs ironing and feed the dogs.

7:40 am, race out of the house for a brisk 20 minute walk to the ferry.

8:00 am, enjoy lovely 30 minute ferry ride to work with just enough time to catch my breath, check my email, drink my tea (which I took to-go) and read a bit of my Kindle.

8:35 am, arrive on Tortola and race another 10 minutes walk to work.

8:45 am, get to my desk and reward myself with more tea.

 

There were some very obvious items in this routine which needed some work. Namely the excessive use of snooze and the not eating – I didn’t need Hal to tell me much about those.

Here’s how I decided to improve my morning. After reading TMM I implemented the following changes:

  1. I started to get up earlier (yes, I’m aware that this seems totally counterintuitive when you’re sleepy AF and permanently exhausted)
  2. I bought a blender – since solid food wasn’t working for me I decided to incorporate protein smoothies.
  3. I started to stretch – vigorous exercise first thing (like running) might be on the cards at some stage, but for now I’m starting small in an attempt to keep my new routine manageable. I’ve never been particularly flexible so this has the added benefit of hopefully making me a little more limber.
  4. I claimed back the morning dog-walking duties from the husband – which involves sunrise on the beach, not a huge hardship.
  5. I started to meditate – just a little bit. 5-10 minutes at a time. I’m currently using both Calm and Headspace and assessing which one works best for me. (I think I’m leaning towards Calm – anyone else have a preference?)
  6. I’m oil pulling.
  7. I started a gratitude journal and am working on my calligraphy.

 

New Morning Routine

Alarm set for 5:45 am

5:45 am, alarm goes off and I get out of bed (not exactly leaping, but not dragging my feet too badly either)

5:45 – 6:00 am, stretching on our deck.

6:00 – 6:15 am, hot water and lemon on the deck and some time to reflect and meditate.

6:15 – 6:30 am, work on my gratitude journal, calligraphy and positive visualization.

6:30 – 6:50 am, walk the dogs on the beach and through the quarry by our house, collecting sea glass and stopping to take endless photos of admire the sunrise.

6:50 am, time for a shower and oil pulling!

7:10 am, smoothie time – now that everyone is awake I can get the blender out… also make tea for the ferry

7:25 am, get dressed and feed the dogs

7:40 am, race out of the house for a brisk 20 minute walk to the ferry.

8:00 am, enjoy lovely 30 minute ferry ride to work, try to ignore my email, drink my tea (which I took to-go), make blog notes and read a bit of my Kindle.

8:35 am, arrive on Tortola and race another 10 minutes walk to work.

8:45 am, get to my desk and reward myself with more tea.

Because what’s not to love about starting your mornings like this…??

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This is still early days (and I can’t swear to having done this every day so far this year) but so far I am loving my new routine and feel more productive and so much better prepared for my day ahead. I’m probably going to bed a little earlier but that’s no bad thing. I’m hoping that I can keep this up – any morning people out there who can share their tips and tricks?

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Weekends On The Water With Celtic Powerboats

While weekdays in the islands often blur into the same mundane cycle of sleep, work, dinner, laundry, sleep, as the rest of the world – on the weekends we really try to make up for it! Year-round sunshine and 50+ islands and cays to explore makes for some epic weekend adventures.

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 Photo by the Barefoot Angel

This weekend we were fortunate enough to be invited out by Celtic Powerboats for a Holy Trinity tour; hitting three of the BVIs top island attractions in one day – Sandy Spit, White Bay and the Willy-T. All of which are an absolute must if you plan to come and visit.

 

We met our friendly Captain, Patrick, at his dock in West End and, after a thorough safety brief, we were on our way. Patrick’s boat is immaculate and there was plenty of storage to keep all our belongings dry. The weather conditions were perfect, beautifully flat calm and it made for a super comfortable ride over.

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We stopped awhile at Sandy Spit, the picture perfect island idyll, so small that it would only take you 10 minutes to walk the whole way around, (less probably) before moving onto White Bay – home of the Soggy Dollar and the Painkiller cocktail. (Trust me, you don’t want to be getting your Painkiller anywhere else).

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We rounded out our day with a visit to the infamous Willy-T, a floating bar and restaurant where clothing is optional and the cocktails are potent! Also great venue for a spot of lunch.

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We love any excuse to get out on the water, sailing or powerboat, but you can’t beat a powerboat for getting to visit as many of our islands as possible.

This is not a sponsored post.
All photographs (unless otherwise specified) belong to alookingglass

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