My Currently Loving posts feature an eclectic mix of bits and bobs to wear, to read, to eat, to use, and to do. This list includes things I am particularly enjoying right now. Some are brand new, while others are much more tried and tested. Some just bring back fond memories. The idea of this very bloggy blog post is to simply give a thumbs up to the things I like, and give you some ideas for yourself, some recommendations, some thoughts, and maybe help you get to know me a little better.
There seems to be lots of clothing items this month, apparently it was time to update my wardrobe, but you’ll also find an app, a musical, a present from some lovely old colleagues that now has a room to match it, and a souvenir from a road trip I’d love to repeat sometime.
As always, once you’ve read mine, I’d love to read yours – note your I’m currently loving bits and bobs in the comments box below, let me know what you think of my choices, and feel free to send me links to your favourites posts over on twitter to let me know what you think I’m missing…
Currently Loving | July 2020
01. Colour in our Garden
I have found a new joy in curating colour in my garden this spring and summer. I’ve planted all kinds of things, and have been very pleased to have all kinds of loveliness growing in our little outdoor space. The previous owners were certainly green fingered, no doubt about that, but the colour selection we were left with was very, er, pink. So we’ve been adding yellows and oranges and purples into the mix, choosing things that bees and butterflies will enjoy as much as us. There is also a trough planted with wild flower seeds, which I’m looking forward to flowering soon.
It’s not all been completely successful, we had an empty courgette thanks to whatever critter got to it before us, and some of the lavender plugs just haven’t taken, but we are learning and getting there. I wouldn’t say it is my new hobby or anything like that, but I don’t hate it anymore… I never thought I’d actually enjoy making my garden colourful, but that space has become something of a happy view from my at-home work space over the last few months.
02. Mallard Duck Doorstop
We’ve spent the last week redecorating our bedroom (hooray for another lock down bonus point!). We chose a beautiful chalky sage green colour for the walls, to give us a cosy retreat, and I am most definitely in love with it. And while I am most certainly currently loving my new-look bedroom, it’s this very cute and practical doorstop I wanted to include in this post. This was a gift from colleagues when I left my job in Lincolnshire and moved to Gloucestershire, and looking at it certainly reminds me of them. It’s been sat doing its job perfectly well since then, keeping the bedroom door from slamming when we’ve got windows open. With the new colour on the wall, it now looks so good – it’s exactly the right “look” for the room and I’ve discovered I like it even more now. I admit I wouldn’t have gone shopping for this particular doorstop myself, but I’m so glad my friends and colleagues in Lincoln did, it is just perfect. I don’t know where they got it, but this one is similar if you’re looking for something like this for yourself.
03. Columbia Crew Sweater with Pockets!
I’ll be honest, I hate paying for delivery. So, when I finally got around to ordering a second pair of the Mountain Buck trousers I’ve been wanting for months (and months), I decided I definitely needed to treat myself to a new sweater to avoid that charge. Definitely an excuse; I saw it the Lodge Crew Sweatshirt, thought it looked comfy and cosy and everything else I needed in a jumper, and decided I was worth it.
The caramel colour isn’t as bright as it looks on the Columbia website, but it’s such a great colour that’ll go with anything, and the cut and fit of the sweater is spot on. It’s warm, soft, and has pockets to keep your hands warm (and maybe some snacks in)… ideal for days out in normal British summer temperatures or just for keeping comfy when lounging around. I bought the medium so it wouldn’t be tight or restrictive, and that was the right choice for my size 10-12 frame. I’ve already worn it loads, and just know it’ll be a staple for as long as I can keep it looking nice.
I also bought the CSC Pigment Tee in olive green, with sleeves that are the perfect shape and length, and while that’s not pictured, it is definitely something I’m currently loving.
04. Saving the Oceans with a Jack Wolfskin Tee
(PR gifted item)
Okay, so one tee with a cute slogan isn’t going to actually save the oceans from the amount of plastic that is floating around the globe, but the story behind this tee is a decent one and Jack Wolfskin and partners SEAQUAL should be commended for their work here. My Sea You Soon tee (mine’s in the blue) was a PR gift, but it only features in my currently loving post because I genuinely like it, both as a nice-to-wear tee, and as a message. The organic cotton and polyester blend is light, soft, and stretchy in all the right places. I’ve mentioned before that I dislike tight clothing, but this fits well, is comfortable for casual wear, and as it has that smooth finish with a little bit of stretch, it is also good for the trail. I’ve worn it a few times while wearing a pack and it sits right, is quick drying, and I think looks good too. It’s got a wide neck and a long body, with enough material to not feel self-conscious while still being a feminine fit.
What makes this tee special is that the polyester content is 100% recycled, supplied by SEAQUAL. This , who have a fleet of around 400 boats that sail around the Spanish Mediterranean, recovering plastic waste from the sea. The plastic is then turned into a high-quality polyester fibre for the textile market, which Jack Wolfskin are using in a range of products. I realise the fact that Jack Wolfskin are using material made from recycled plastic found in the Mediterranean isn’t going to save the planet on its own, but it’s an excellent effort in that quest, and I am very happy to endorse outdoor companies that are doing their part to do better by the environment we all love. This particular tee is on sale at the moment (the white one is just £17), and you can see all of Jack Wolfskin’s sustainable products, including the full SEAQUAL range, on their website. As I say, not sponsored, just currently loving!
05. Smartwool Socks
(PR gifted item)
I can often be heard saying that life is too short for rubbish socks, and that is something I will always stand by. I will wear my good quality hiking socks, whether they are Bridgedales, Stance or Smartwool, over and above any other pair of socks in my drawer. Every day. But the problem with hiking socks for every day wear is they are generally quite thick, and while I want them to be comfortable and provide cushioning when I’m doing miles and miles in my hiking boots or shoes, I don’t really need or want that when I’m wearing my converse or trainers. Sometimes what is best is a pair of thinner socks, cooler socks, that don’t feel too over the top for a casual wander around the block or into town. Enter these Mini Boot Socks by Smartwool (mine are the Floral Dot in Purple Mist).
These were a gift from Smartwool, sent along with a new Merino wool tee I’ve been trying out (watch out for a review soon), and I’m sold. They’re quite thin, but not cheap and nasty thin, just very tightly woven thin, with a virtually seamless toe and a comfortable tighter bit along the arch to provide support. Length wise, come up just the right amount to wear with trainers or ankle boots, are brightly coloured (why wear boring plain socks?!), and being 54% merino wool, provide an excellent barrier to keep feet cool, dry and comfortable. Since these arrived I’ve been wearing these and washing them on rotation, which I think means I need to buy myself a couple more pairs so I don’t have to go back to my thick hiking socks in between wears any more.
06. Harley Davidson Souvenir Glasses
When we travel these days, we tend to do so as light as possible. We like to go road tripping and so are limited by the space in our motorcycle panniers or in our car boot, or if we do fly we take carryon baggage only or one case between us to save on costs. This, and the fact that we don’t really want lots of “stuff” on our shelves and window ledges at home, means we rarely buy souvenirs when we are away any more, we tend to take photographs and have those as our memory joggers instead (along with stickers for my top box). However, these Harley Davidson glasses are something of an exception.
Actually, we didn’t buy them, they were a gift from our Eagle Rider guides back in 2014 when we joined a tour riding Harley Davidson motorbikes in the Wild West of America (this tour, I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants something a bit different or is looking to dip their toes into motorcycle touring). Jeff, Wilm and Mike presented them to us as we ate a group dinner at the Harley Davidson Café on The Strip in Las Vegas, and while our first thought was how on earth are we going to get these home safely (especially as we still had a week of riding left to go), we are so glad we did. Like a lot of people, we’ve been clearing out things during lock down, which means these two special glasses have been given an even better space on the shelf they had previously, which is probably how they’ve found their way into my currently loving post after so many years.
It helps that these oversized beer glasses are practical and so there has always been a reason to keep them, souvenirs of a trip that opened our eyes to a different kind of travel and changed us for the better.
07. Microsoft To Do App
I’ve been using Microsoft To Do for about a month now, and I’m really finding it allows me to keep track of things I need and want to do, without needing to rewrite my list regularly or use up all the post-it notes. It’s part of the Office 365 suite of programmes and works on PC, Mac, phones and tablets. I love how I can have lots of lists on the go for all the different parts of my life, identified by my choice of emojis, that all feed into one list I can work from each day. This means I only see the tasks I’ve decided I want to work on today, not the 100s of things in all the separate lists, and so as long as I am sensible with the number of tasks I add to My Day (the “to do today” screen in the app), I find the overwhelm I can feel from seeing ALL the tasks on a page is much less strong.
I have a list for regular chores, one for blog admin tasks, a separate one with blog posts I want to write, one for the “big projects” I would like to complete, and a final one full of all the random stuff I want/need to do. I can look at each list on its own or them all at once, add subtasks to split things up into smaller chunks, set due dates and recurrences, and even send tasks to other people if I want to (watch out LincsGeek – chores coming your way! I would highly recommend To Do to anyone looking for a basic list app to keep them organised. If you want to read more of my thoughts, I actually gave the app a mini review over in my Weekly Blog (read Episode 25 here), including some of the things I don’t like about it!
08. Broadway on Disney+: Hamilton
I’m a huge fan of musicals, and I definitely have to give a currently loving mention to Hamilton this month. I already knew a lot of the music thanks to listening to the soundtrack, but now I’ve actually been able to see it courtesy of my Disney+ subscription, and I can’t stop humming! Filmed live over several performances on Broadway (plus an extra empty-room performance to get close-ups) back in 2016, the recording includes the original Broadway cast including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonathan Groff. The release date was due to be October 2021, but in light of the pandemic closing theatres all over the world, Disney brought it forward by over a year, and I’m so glad they did.
The musical tells the story of the life and career of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an orphaned immigrant, from his arrival in New York City in 1776, his work as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the American Revolution, how he met and married Eliza Schuyler, his post-war work as the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and his death in a duel with friend and rival Aaron Burr. It’s utterly brilliant, using hip hop, super-fast lyrics, comedy and subtle visual cues to tell the story. I admit I learnt a lot about the Founding Fathers I just didn’t know before! I love the comedy and the messages to modern day society found in the script and music, it’s a very cleverly written show indeed. I truly hope that theatres will be able to open up again at some point before they all go bust, but there’s an opportunity to watch this great musical while such things are otherwise closed off to us.
If you have Disney+ I think this link should take you directly to Hamilton.
09. Oddballs Bralettes
Bralettes are something of a revelation to me. Over the last year or so I have found myself wearing my sports bras more and more often, choosing them as the most comfortable option in my underwear drawer. But sports bras are still not all about comfort, are they? They’re tight, they’re supposed to be, and seem a little bit over the top for everyday wear. So I treated myself to a couple of bralettes from Oddballs (the well-advertised company that aims to raise awareness of Testicular Cancer), to keep me comfortable on normal days and lengthen the life of my actual sports bras. The bralettes are stretchy, made from cotton (95% cotton and 5% elastane), are easily supportive enough for hiking and motorcycling, have a scoop back so you can wear them with any kind of top, have reasonably wide straps so they stay up on your shoulders, and come in a range of great patterns and colours – bras should be as interesting as your socks!
Gone are the underwires, I’ve not worn a normal bra since these arrived, and I’m very happy about that. They’re not even expensive – £14.99 for a bra is cheaper than the bog-standard t-shirt bras I got from M&S. The only thing I’d say is once I’d decided I would actually buy some, I had to wait quite a while before they had my size in stock in anything other than the Gloucester Rugby design, but now I’ve got them I am very content. If you’re looking for a supportive and comfortable bralette for easy everyday wear, check out Oddballs.
10. KEEN Terradora Sandals
(PR gifted item)
I’ve worked with KEEN for a number of years and absolutely love it when they send me something new to try out. This time around it is their new Terradora II Open Toe Sandals, which I mentioned over in Episode 24 of my Weekly Blog, and make it into this currently loving post before I’ve had time to write up my full review after walking a fair few miles in them over the last month. I’m already a big fan of the Terradora mid-height boots, more like trainers than hiking boots to wear (I really should buy myself a new pair), the Terradora sole is really very good on the trail when you want to be flexible and move quickly. These sandals have that super grippy and flexible sole, but with a sandal as an upper, making them great for days out on very hot days, or when you want something that can be a bit amphibious. I know hiking sandals aren’t for everyone, but I like wearing them in the summer, and I now have a small collection to choose from.
I have these KEENs in the navy colourway, ordered my usual “hiking” size (half a size bigger than my everyday shoe size), and say they both look and feel the part, having been comfortable right out of the box. They adjust easily at both the ankle and toe, have a seatbelt style clip to fasten them (rather than velcro or elastic), and there is plenty of room for my toes to spread out as I walk. Oh, and keeping these clean, as sandals certainly get very dirty, couldn’t be easier – a bit of soap and water does the trick, no bother at all. These have been sent to me to review, but consider this your sneak peek!
What are you currently loving this month? What do you think of my choices? Tell me in the comments below.
Want to see all my Currently Loving posts? This link should help.
In the interests of full disclosure, and as mentioned within the text above, the KEEN sandals, Smartwool socks and Jack Wolfskin tee were all PR samples, for which I am very grateful. I have therefore marked this post as gifted, but it is not sponsored – no-one asked to be included in my Currently Loving. There are also affiliate links on this page, including all Amazon links, the funds from which help me keep playing at this blogging game.