podcast episode no.4 Q&A with Lizzie Evans – how to curate your life

:: by Lizzie

 

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You know those days when you’ve been working really hard on something you’re super proud of and it all falls apart? There’s a technical glitch and you lose everything? Computer says no. Or you are asked to speak on a panel and say the wrong thing and feel like a complete tit!? Sometimes it’s really hard to give yourself a break, find the best way forward and move on out of the mess. Episode no. 4 of my podcast ‘How to Curate Your Life – Work Life Balance for the Creative Entrepreneur’ is entirely focused on this subject. Finding a positive outcome after disappointment or failure. 

 

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I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who got in touch with a question. Each question answered in the episode is listed below including the person’s instagram handle. Feel free to get in touch with each other to discus these topics further. Some people wrote really interesting and insightful questions and comments that you might want to feedback on yourself.

 

You can listen to the episode on iTunes here, or simply scroll to the bottom of this blog post and click play. Scroll down too for show notes. Thanks so much as always for listening. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a brand new interview based episode. Thanks for bearing with me this week.

 

Lizzie x

 

@ethicalcreature – What do you do on days where you run out of motivation or it all gets too much? I’m just starting out and sometimes it all gets a bit overwhelming.

 

@sarahstranguk – Moments of failure are often associated with the phrase “it’s how you deal with it” – what are three action points or series of steps in your creative process that represent for you, “dealing with it?”

 

@thesumofthings – I ‘tryyy’ to channel my frustration into something else worthwhile… also go out for a drink with friends, buy myself something small but lovely, eat really good food etc…

 

@quittingquince – Why is it that failure is perceived as a bad thing? And how can we REALLY manifest the mantra of “failing forward” or “failing is part of success”? I know all this in theory and I still struggle.

 

@thecoachingdiva – To cut a long story short, I moved to Melbourne and I had to wait for my visa for ages. I could only see limitations and I felt defeated until the day I made a conscious choice to see this situation in a positive light and focus on what I had control of. You cannot control whether or not you will fail but you can control your attitude. SO whilst I was waiting for my visa I designed notebooks and my business is launching in December. Try and see what doors the universe is opening for you rather than staring at the closed ones.

 

@matusbalogh – What was a lesson you learned from one of your failures that you then incorporated into your daily life?

 

@han_ratcliffe – Have you always felt creative and therefore felt justified to start SMUG? Growing up I have loved crafting, art and design and tried it all but don’t feel particularly good at one thing. I’d love to start a personal blog but my fear of a ‘lack of talent’ is holding me back… Loved your last podcast and looking forward to the next!

 

@laurenwelland – So sorry to hear about the files but this sounds like a great idea. My question would be – What’s the one thing that at the time felt like a big fail in your business but in fact turned into something positive?

 

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S H O W  N O T E S :

 

Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk – www.glossier.com

Glossier Haloscope in Quartz – www.glossier.com

Ottolenghi Islington – www.ottolenghi.co.uk

Sarah Akwisombe – www.nobullblogschool.com

 

 

Photos by Amber-Rose Photography

 

 

 

8 little luxuries that bring me joy

:: by Lizzie

 

Hi gang! So sorry for the radio silence (and for this not being the first time you’ve heard this start to a blog round these parts). I seem, like many others, to be failing slightly to find time in the day to achieve everything I want to. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll probably know that I’m a creative business owner. This means that as well as running my bricks and mortar business, a design store in Islington named SMUG, I am also trying to do a million other things related to that business to grow it and to develop my own career. Be it creating content for our social media platforms (of course), designing my own patterns and products, launching a podcast, managing the Islington Design District, spending time writing as well as speaking on a panel here and there or judging a prize, and maybe even teaching/writing a course/workshop (to name the first few that come into my head) my days can be full of all sorts. This means I really struggle to find the structure that good blogging really needs. And I’m sorry about that. I’m still hoping that I’ll develop a groove that works for me and leads to more regular content here on the blog. Thanks for baring with me.

 

One of the things I’m researching and feel I’ve learnt a lot about over the years is trying to get Work Life Balance right when you’re a creative entrepreneur. You’ll be hearing lots more about that very soon, but for now I wanted to share with you the eight little luxuries that make a positive difference daily to my currently slightly overwhelming life. Everyone has their special little treats that make them smile. The items that others might see as not really worth the bother or money, but that to you are well worth their weight in gold and bring you a whole load of joy. These are mine.

 

 

1. MAGIC CREAM, Charlotte Tilbury – this bad boy is soooo hydrating. As I get older, my skin gets drier and most moisturisers don’t really do the trick for me. There are some out there that are thick and heavy enough to go deep and do the job but I find them far too greasy and I don’t like the weight of them on my skin. They also tend to not work at all well under makeup. This moisturiser however is perfection, not heavy at all and lifts any dullness right away. It’s full of wonderful things (you can see the full ingredients list here) but like it says on the pot, it’s essentially magic! It also happens to be the most extravagant little luxury on this list but it’s well worth it in my opinion. I’m 33 now, about to be 34 and I feel it’s the right time to really start taking care of my skin. Most importantly, applying this lovely smoothing cream to my face as the last step of my skincare routine both morning and evening makes me feel like I’m treating myself to something special every time. Self care and all that!

 

2. BAUME DE ROSE, By Terry – I’m totally 100% confident in telling you, if you don’t know already, that Baume De Rose is the best lip balm of all time. Ever. Like Charlotte’s Magic Cream it’s super moisturising and is packed full of ingredients that do wonders for your lips. I’ve never really been into lip balm. I’ve found most didn’t work and some made things worse. This leaves my lips feeling soft and supple and is pretty much all I ever wear on them these days. If this doesn’t convince you (which would be totally fair enough – what do I know?) then listen to the creator herself talk about how this cult product came into being on Anna Newton and Lily Pebbles’s podcast ‘At Home With…‘ While you’re at it listen to the whole series. It’s great!

 

 

3. RIND CONCENTRATE BODY BALM, Aesop – This is such a treat! I don’t actually moisturise my body for most of the year (feeling like that might be about to change however as I’m so in love with this product). I have recently had a wee holiday and got a teeny bit of a tan, so I’ve been doing my best on a daily basis to soak a load of moisturising goodness into my skin to keep the slightly bronzed glow going for as long as poss. This Aesop number is by far my favourite body moisturiser ever. Citrusy, creamy, refreshing deets here.

 

4. LES EXCLUSIFS DE CHANEL 1932, Chanel – So, actually this is the most extravagant luxury in this list. However, it was a gift from my wonderfully generous and beautiful mother and I don’t use it every day so it’s lasting me ages. Also, I have the 75ml one! I love it so much (mum and I in fact both love the whole Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection so much) that I was in too minds to share it with you. It’s absolutely a special occassion jobby but every time I wear it I feel and smell like a million dollars. 1932 has notes of pear, grapefruit, iris and exotic jasmine. It’s stunning.

 

 

5. COLOURFUL LACE KNICKERS, Dora Larsen – I completely have a thing for fancy pants. Always have. I suspect I always will. Having gotten my face, limbs and more wobbly bits in-between smooth, moisturised and ready for the day, I rather like popping on a pair of lovely pants. Mine must be comfortable (no thongs here!) and very pretty. These Dora Larson colourful lace ones are a current fave. If you’re looking for somewhere to try some on (always try on bras and pants – online underwear shopping sucks!) then visit The Pantry Underwear on Camden Passage. Eloise is wonderful. She really knows her stuff and has a shop stocked full of everything undergarment related you could ever need. It’s a must stop next time you’re at/near SMUG. She’s only a few doors down and well worth a visit.

 

6. SIMPLE JEWELLERY, Ruberg – So what’s next? A very subtle bit of understated bling me thinks. I pretty much wear the same jewellery every day and I love it. My engagement ring which I still spend time gazing at happily every day (been married over 4 years) is from Ruberg, also on Camden Passage. Their work is beautiful, simple and a little bit interesting. I couldn’t be happier with my ring. It feels perfectly me. Thanks Kamilla! My wedding ring was my husband’s grandmothers (I know, so nice to have that special link, I’m very lucky) and my gold link bracelet is a vintage piece given to me on my wedding by my dad. He’s a very stylish man.

 

 

 

7. CUT FLOWERS, Angel Flowers and Dansk – As you may rightly assume, like SMUG, my flat is full of house plants. I love them. They are named, cared for and spoken to like children. But there’s something so very special about cut flowers. I only have them very occasionally and find every time that they bring me so much joy! The ones pictured in this post are from Angel Flowers and Dansk both in Islington and always full of sensational and unusual blooms. New kids on the block/Passage That Wild Bunch are well worth a look and an Insta follow too.

 

8. Chocolate Peacan Cookie, Ottolenghi – Hands down the best cookie in the world and my favourite sweet treat. I’m a huge Ottolenghi fan full stop and am far too often found there breakfasting, brunching or lunching. Sometimes I just pop in for a takeaway salad box and/or a cookie. Seriously though. The cookies! Try one.

 

So that’s it for my eight little luxuries that bring me joy. So much joy :) Do you have any regular special treats that keep your days intentional, bright, productive and happy? If not, I suggest you start finding some. Self care, self care, self care.

 

10 ways to cope with anxiety

:: by Lizzie
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Hello all. I hope things are going well with you. I’m good thanks if you’re wondering. I think it’s best though that I just get right down to business and talk to you about what’s been on my heart recently, as I fear this is going to be a rather long one. I’m writing this post because I want to spend some time focusing on what I’ve learnt from this year so far, having had a bit of a shaky start. Although things are massively improving in the ‘honesty stakes’, for want of a better term, in the world of blogging and social media, I still feel as though there’s room for a lot more of us to talk about our struggles and growing pains, not only our wins and successes. This is important firstly in reminding readers/listeners/viewers/all of us, that we’re not alone in feeling a bit crappy every now and again. And secondly, that it’s okay for there to be seasons within our working or emotional lives where we are not so fruitful or productive, where we are not quite on top of our game, where we feel misaligned and out of step with where we want to be. Working for yourself is hard. Working for someone else is hard. Being out of work is hard. Even for people with the most happy lives, there’s always hard stuff. We need to encourage one another to take the time to be good to, and to take care of, ourselves. To stop and take a moment. Not to feel as though we must always be striving to achieve more. I’ve come to understand that just powering through isn’t even the most productive or successful way to move forward anyway. And I thought it was about time I touched upon how I’ve come to this realisation.

 

Towards the end of December last year and throughout most of January, I experienced regular panic attacks. This is not something I’d ever had to deal with before. To give you a little context about me, my friends in the past have joked about me actually forgetting the word anxious. ‘Lizzie is so confident she can’t even remember the word anxious!’ And it’s kinda true. That really happened. Sure I’ve dealt with lots of pressure and stress in running and building my own business but until this year, I’ve thrived under it. I’ve had some very tough moments and periods of struggle since I opened SMUG in 2009, but I have always felt level headed and found a way to simply increase my capacity to work harder and solve whatever the problem was in front of me. At some points of course I’ve really needed to take a break to rest and realign but during those times of rest I would often be coming up with exciting new ideas and adding to my to do list and that all worked fine for me.

 

I’m very lucky to have had a lovely childhood, to have good relationships with my family, wonderful friends and a fabulous husband. I love my job, I love my home, I love the city I was born in and continue to live in. I have always thought of myself as a together, well adjusted and strong person and I never would have expected to have to deal with something like anxiety or panic attacks. In fact, in many ways, that was the hardest part about being in the middle of the attacks. I felt weak. Whether actually experiencing an attack itself with the lack of breath, the tears and panic, or being in the in-between place where you feel you could have another attack at any moment, I didn’t feel at all myself. I felt as though I could not breath. I had always previously felt utterly comfortable in my own skin. I thank my parents and brothers for that. But during this period of time, I felt as though I physically couldn’t just be in my own skin. It was like being chlostrophobic inside my own body. At times I felt like wanted to rip my own skin off just to get out and to stop feeling so trapped. I couldn’t cope with the sun going down at 4pm. The darkness made me feel trapped too. I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour or so and I’d wake up several times a night panicking, wanting to get out. But out of what? Out of the flat, out of my skin, out of my head? I guess I was trying to get away from the constant feeling of being constricted, deeply uncomfortable and not at all myself. It was awful.

 

The reason I am telling you this, is partly to draw light on how common anxiety and panic attacks are. Several of the people I confided in at the time, who I happen to consider strong, rational and reasonable friends, went on to tell me all about their experiences of panic attacks in response to my story and that really helped me. I hope that in the same way, my sharing might help others. I do also want to share though, some of the ways I actually managed my experience and the simple things that I learned helped me during my periods of panic. Some of these tips/suggestions/lessons are routines I have woven into my daily life and find really valuable on a day-to-day or week-by-week basis and I’d recommend them to anyone interested in wellbeing and a healthy mind.

 

1. BREATH.  This may seem really obvious but worth sharing I though as I realise now that I just don’t breath enough. I hold my breath all the time. Maybe it’s a bad habit, maybe it’s having tiny nostrils! But the act of just breathing slowly and deeply and focusing on that breath makes all the difference in the world. I’d recommend taking a moment to do it every day. Whether first thing in the morning when you’re still in bed, or in the afternoon at your desk for a quick break. It certainly is the first thing you must do if you feel panicked or anxious. It may seem very simple but it’s the thing that helps the most and that helps the most quickly.

 

2. TALK ABOUT IT.  At the beginning of this journey when I was having my very first attacks, I found it difficult to communicate my feelings and symptoms for fear of bringing on another attack. However, with the patience of my husband and family, the act of trying to talk about my symptoms came eventually and although in some cases it came with tears and frustration, it really was a relief to verbalise my struggles, even though in my head (and some of the time out loud too) they sounded irrational and odd. It was so important to share what I was going through in words.

 

3. GET OUTSIDE AND MOVE YOUR BODY.  As I mentioned, one of the things I’d feel having woken up in a panic in the night, was that I wanted to get outside. I found eventually that making sure I spent a good hour a day outside walking or running or even just sitting on a bench (breathing again!) made a huge difference to managing this. I would feel like I had at least had my ‘quota’ of outside time and exercise while the sun was up. This really helped me feel less trapped and restricted by the evening portion of my day and helped me feel more ready for reading, curling up and being cosy.

 

4. MEDITATION.  Again with the breathing! Do you see a theme emerging? I used at the time and continue to use both Headspace and Rituals apps to start my day with meditation. Being intentional in that way, giving yourself time and prioritising noticing how you feel both physically and emotionally really helped. I continue to enjoy doing it when I can/whenever I remember, now I’m no longer having the attacks.

 

5. PRAYER.  I realise that this one might be a bit divisive so I hope this doesn’t put you off but I am someone who prays. I’m better at it when I’m at church in the context of a church family or congregation of others praying together. So it was actually really good in a way for me to have a period where I felt I needed to pray more on my own, with my husband or parents and with my vicar who was amazingly wise, gentle and kind about the whole thing. This helped me more than anything else but I understand that it might not feel like the right thing for everyone. So let me draw your attention to suggestion no. 6 which is similar in some ways but relies more on your own intuition than the guidance or comfort of a God you may not believe in. Although I would say, if you have any inclination at all to pray, I would certainly encourage you to do so.

 

6. WRITING TO YOUR INTUITION.  This was something I had never done before but had heard about through a podcast I listen to called The Lively Show. It’s basically like writing in a diary but in this case writing down questions that you’re struggling with and then trusting yourself to write down the answer too. It’s about looking into yourself for comfort, wisdom and guidance. It was a lot easier to do than you might think and I found it particularly helpful. I’d suggest giving it a try. You can find out more about how to start here.

 

7. RESTORATIVE YOGA.  This has been a game changer for me. I find Restorative Yoga to be so very relaxing and nourishing. It realigns your body and your mind. It’s very gentle but I’ve found it to be powerful too. My experience has been that taking the time to do this for myself two or three times a week has not only relieved stress, be has actually increased my productivity levels. Projects have moved forward faster than if I had taken the same time spent practicing yoga to work on the projects themselves instead. I hope that that makes sense. It’s something I plan to talk more about in the future. I am a member of The Life Centre in Islington and I would highly recommend taking one of their Restorative Yoga classes if you’re able.

 

8. OSTEOPATHY AND ACUPUNCTURE.  Another reason I’ve found yoga to be helpful is because I have a mild form of scoliosis. Because of this mild condition my body, from time to time, gets quite badly out of alignment. I have an Osteopath and Acupuncturist who I completely trust and who massively helps me get my body back into physical alignment. It took me a while to go to him with reference to the panic attacks but I am so pleased that I finally did. It has been very interesting to hear his diagnosis and suggested treatment having met with me and observed my body. It hadn’t occurred to me that my body being physically out of alignment could trigger such an emotional response in the form of the panic and really quite deep inner discomfort I had been experiencing. I had tried to find the right therapist to help me unpack the attacks so I could better deal with them and hopefully stop them completely but I never found that person. Interestingly, although my Ostepath/Acupuncturist is hugely pro therapy and I would suggest pursuing that too if you feel it’s right for you, his opinion was that my symptoms could and should be treated physically.

 

9. CUDDLING A PET.  Another big game changer was that in January our kitten Mabel joined the family. There has been research done on the calming and even healing qualities of a cats pur and the vibrations that are created by the cat and experienced by the owner. I certainly have found that cuddle-time with Mabel is hugely relaxing and lovely. It feels to me like playing with, caring for and being physically close with her, has completely taken me out of the place I was still teetering on the edge of when she arrived with us earlier in the year.

 

10. TEA.  I thought it might be nice to end on the easiest of suggestions but do not because of that underestimate the power of tea. I had enjoyed camomile or fresh mint tea in the past after a meal for example but had never really gotten into drinking tea during the day or in the evening as a therapeutic act. And let me tell you, it’s made so much difference. Maybe you’re a big tea drinker already but it might be nice to remember to take time over your tea, to take a moment to enjoy the warmth of the mug in your hands, the fragrance of the tea itself. I found that herbal teas blended to help with sleep became an important part of my bedtime ritual when I was finding sleep difficult and I continue to enjoy tea breaks during the day in order to take stock and find a moment in all the busyness to relax.

 

So, to sum up, I have learnt that ‘strong’ or ‘tough’ people who put themselves under a lot of pressure, whether they feel it at first or not, are prone to panic attacks. It’s not just something that people who consider themselves anxious regularly have to deal with. It’s something that anyone might experience at any time in their life. I feel hugely sympathetic to anyone dealing with this right now in an ongoing way. I am pleased to say that for me, it has passed for the moment. But I do feel it is now something that lingers with me some of the time, under the surface. Something I need to keep in check. So the above suggestions are not only for those seeking help or inspiration having found themselves in this difficult place. But also as a reminder to me and even to others who have never experienced anything like this, that it so very important to be kind and gentle with yourself. To take care of yourself and to prioritise your emotional as well as physical health.

 

Even with my business owner, yes person, wanting to make stuff happen hat on, I would say that in order for you to make a success of yourself/your career/your relationships/your life in an on-going and meaningful way, you must work with and to your own rhythm. You must understand yourself, know yourself and take time for yourself and even be okay with your ‘high achieving’ or ‘productivity’ levels fluctuating. I have a lot more to say about productivity and spending time making sure you’re in alignment before taking action but that’s for another blog post. Thanks so much to those of you who have made it to the end of this very long post. It means a lot. If you’d like to be in touch to share your story or leave any comments below please fell free. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again, Lizzie x

 

5 workshops to try in 2017

:: by Lizzie

It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it!? Tougher than I had originally anticipated. There’s been a fair amount of picking oneself up, dusting oneself off and starting again. There have been changes to adjust to too. Changes we didn’t choose or ask for. But within that frustration and discomfort there has been inspiration and hope to be found.

 

The encouraging and reinvigorating things that have happened to me this year have been due to my accepting challenges, saying yes and growing as a result. Scary stuff. I’m learning that scary isn’t so bad as I once thought. I’m still working away on my pattern collection that officially launched in September. There’s so much more to do. Rolls of fabric going missing, a serious flood in Camden Passage (meaning closing SMUG for several days at our busiest time of year), fabric coating changes by the supplier at the last minute (meaning all of the fabrics needing resampling from scratch) and various other upsets to my ‘perfectly planned schedule’ have meant that some of this, my first collection, will launch in 2017.

 

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A year ago, I not only didn’t know how to create a pattern, I considered myself someone who couldn’t even draw. It has been a year of learning. Learning to make marks. Learning to be patient with myself but disciplined all the same. Learning how to find my own illustrative voice/language. Learning new technology and new techniques. Trusting in myself. Giving myself time. To my slight surprise, I found that living in this considered and intentional way was not just beneficial to my development as a designer, but hugely rewarding in all aspects of my life. Health, skin, relationships, happiness, productivity, all strengthened by this methodology of giving myself time to learn.

 

So, my advice to you for 2017 is to learn a new skill. I think there’s something here for everyone but if the below ideas don’t take your fancy, I hope that this post inspires you to go find your thing. Go try something new, something that excites you, that you’ve previously told yourself you don’t have time for. My experience was not that it gave me less time for other things but that the joy of learning and the act of prioritising this new skill for myself, created a equilibrium in my life. A place that, after the whirlwind of Christmas, I am very much looking forward to getting back to in 2017.

 

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1.  L O N D O N  T E R R A R I U M S   :

Who hasn’t been loving plants in 2016 I ask you!? Everything’s been plants plants plants and we’ve been all the better for it in my opinion. Even if you’re not the most green fingered, learning the skill of making a Terrarium with Emma of London Terrariums is a truly lovely way to spend an afternoon. You will learn how a terrarium works, how these self-contained ecosystems survive so well on their own, how to create your own and how to take care of it. 

Find out more here.

 

 

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2.  B R U S H  L E T T E R I N G  :

Now this is my absolute new favourite thing. I took this class in the mad run-up to Christmas when I was so busy that I forgot I was even signed up to take part. Luckily the lovely Teri or The Lovely Drawer as you may know her, reminded me just in time and it ended up being exactly what I needed. So therapeutic and actually pretty addictive. I am really excited to get good and start using my own style of brush lettering on my Lizzie for SMUG cards and other products in my collection.

Find out more here.

 

 

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3.  S P O O N  C A R V I N G  :

After something a little more earthy? Max of Forest + Found will teach you the skills you need to carve your very own spoon from a chunk of wood. The process is both messy and beautiful. A good amount of hand eye coordination is necessary if you don’t want to leave with too many plasters on your hands. Hard work but very rewarding.

Find out more here.

 

 

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4.  W E A V I N G  :

Wanting to go even bigger? Then the Bezalel Weaving Workshop could be the one for you. It’s a 4 hour class designed to give you a thorough and intensive grounding in tapestry weaving. You’ll learn foundational weaving skills, such as shape-building, colour blending and structure. I absolutely loved it and got really quite excited about the endless possibilities open to you once you’ve gotten the hang of things. A really lovely class covering advanced techniques too such as pick-and-pick, soumak and rya knotting. The aim of the class is to not only cover a wide range of styles but also to encourage you to develop your own distinctive voice as a weaver which is a really lovely angle. I’d highly recommend.

Find out more here.

 

 

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5.  O R I G A M I  :

A classic and time honoured option when it comes to creative skills to learn and master. Esther of Origami Est is a brilliant teacher who is as passionate about sourcing stunning papers to work with, as she is about teaching this beautiful and versatile craft.

Find out more here.

 

3 game changing productivity tips

:: by Lizzie
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Paper Clips  |  Diamond Tray  |  Fittonia Plant available in store at SMUG  |  Habits Journal

APNTD Notepad  |  Seize the Day Notepad  |  Gold and Powder Pen  |  Brass Index Clips

 

 

1.  M E A S U R E  W H A T ‘ S  U R G E N T  &  W H A T ‘ S  I M P O R T A N T

When I heard this system quoted on Jess Lively’s podcast it really struck a chord with me. It’s from the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Dr Stephen R Covey and focuses on helping us work out how we spend our time and how to better prioritise it in order to be more productive. Let me explain. Covey splits the combinations of urgent and important tasks into 4 quadrants. Quadrant 1 is both Urgent and Important. A good example would be, your house is burning down and you need to put the fire out. It’s urgent because it’s happening that second and it’s obviously important – people could get hurt, your home and belongings could be lost.

 

Quadrant 2 is Not Urgent but it is Important. An example for this would be exercise. It’s important we all take care of our bodies by exercising and eating well but it’s not urgent. However, not taking care of ourselves now could lead to an urgent health problem later, ending up in Quadrant 1. Quadrant 3 is where the majority of people spend most of their time. Urgent but Not Important. This is the stuff that’s happening right now and drawing our attention but that isn’t actually important. Constant emails pinging at you, phone alerts, text messages, phone calls that you feel you must answer but that might be a distraction from what’s actually important. And then the final Quadrant is 4, where things are Not Urgent and Not Important. Hopefully you’re not spending too much time in that one.

 

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What really hit home with me is that most of us spend the majority of our working lives in Quadrants 1 and 3 when actually Quadrant 2 is the place to really push the needle and be most productive. As someone running their own business, this realisation has been a huge game changer. I can get so bogged down with the day-to-day running and admin of SMUG along with ‘urgent’ requests from press, suppliers and customers that I don’t get anything like enough time to focus on the things that would take SMUG to the next level. The tasks that fall into Quadrant 2 can feel like vanity projects – designing a pattern collection, writing a book proposal, taking time to design more complex window displays in advance, spending time developing content for the blog on a regular basis, styling in-house photo shoots at SMUG – but these are the things that actually develop SMUG and push what I’m doing forward. It’s so easy to stagnate in Quadrants 1 and 3 when Quadrant 2 is where we can actually flood new life and energy into what we do and make leaps and bounds forwards, towards our goals and in our productivity. I’m feeling pretty excited about this. Can you tell?

 

 

2.  P R I O R I T I S E  Y O U R  T O – D O S  &  S T I C K  T O  T H E M

I love lists. I’m pretty well organised when it comes to making them but when it comes to ticking everything off of them, I do sometimes struggle. There are a few problems I come up against regularly: Firstly my list for the day tends to be unrealistically long. This means I never get to the end of my to-dos, so jobs are always being pushed over to the next day and I miss out on that sense of achievement in finishing everything off. Another problem is that I’ve often started with the easy/fun items on the list and put off the ‘big’ or ‘hard’ jobs till later which can foster a bit of an uncomfortable feeling of doom overhead, until those bigger jobs are ticked off. Also, with lists in ‘Notes’ on my iPhone, it’s so easy to copy and paste tasks to the next day and generally move things around, that my to-do lists just weren’t fixed enough and were leading to me not feeling much sense of achievement for clearing a list of jobs.

 

So my new system is to make a hand written list in my notepad everyday (with tick boxes!) of around 5 – 8 tasks (no more) and most importantly, I write them in order of priority. This way I force myself to start with the most important task which leads to a real sense of achievement when I’ve finished that job (and can tick it off!) and it tends to really give me a boost to get on with the next item on the list. Of course, because of the nature of my job, things get added to the list during the day in order for me to support my team and deal with the happenings of the day at SMUG. But this way my day essentially gets easier as it goes on and every task is a little more simple and quicker to complete than the last. Genius no?

 

 

3.  C R E A T E  A  M O R N I N G  &  E V E N I N G  R O U T I N E

I find that I’m at my most productive when I have a structure and am actually taking pleasure in what I’m doing. I really benefit from having both morning and evening routines. My morning routine is designed to help me get up and out of bed, feeling positive and ready for the day. If I start the day with intention, using a routine that makes me happy, I am absolutely more productive that day. Little things like starting the day with a big glass of water and a skincare routine that makes me feel pampered, give me the kind of structure that helps me get out of bed happy and with purpose. If I’m able to go for a run or a swim or do a bit of yoga as part of my morning routine, I feel so proud of myself that I make better choices throughout the rest of the day. I like to have ingredients for a yummy and healthy breakfast at hand to keep things simple but keep my tastebuds interested in the morning. You can read my blog post on healthy breakfast inspiration here.

 

My evening routine helps me wind down from work, ready for a good nights sleep. Taking off my makeup, lighting a scented candle, prepping my hot water bottle, doing a face mask, painting my nails or reading a book, all help with me feeling rested and ready for bedtime. This in turns helps me get an excellent nights sleep so I wake up revived and ready for the day the following morning. These choices to take pleasure in and give purpose to my down time, genuinely make a huge difference to my productivity and general wellbeing. I’m often too busy and rushed off my feet but focussing on the above in my work life, taking Sunday as a day off with my husband (and the comforting structure of belonging to a church and the peace I find in prayer when I remember to do it) makes me feel happy, blessed, productive and on the way to getting that work-life balance people talk about.

 

how i keep breakfast interesting

:: by Lizzie
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I’m a big believer in breakfast being the most important meal of the day. The thing is though, I’m a real food lover and generally you can get away with eating a lot more for lunch or dinner (greedy much? – yes I am!) So why do I think of breakfast as being so special? Like many others I find that how I start the day really effects how happy and productive I am throughout the rest of that day. I’m liking the word intentional at the moment, and the reality of being so. I find it much easier to be intentional in all I do, if I start the day with intention in this way. So I try to have something home prepared, yummy and healthy for breakfast, that gets my taste buds going and will keep me satisfied till lunch-time. As you know I enjoy a breakfast smoothie (you can see my favourite blueberry and oat one here) but for those days when I feel I need a bit more than a liquid breakfast (which tends to be the case a lot more in the winter – and certainly at the weekends), I go for one of the below…

 

 

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H O M E M A D E  G R A N O L A  W I T H  Y O G U R T  A N D  N E C T A R I N E  :

 

I like to have a jar-full of homemade granola on hand at home to whip out on mornings where I’m in the cereal mood (and am trying to avoid reaching for the Frosted Shreddies that are tempting me in the cupboard). I regularly make batches of the stuff for CAFE SMUG so tend to just make a bit extra each time, et voila – our own personal batch of crunchy goodness. There are lots of recipes out there of course. I like mine very nutty and with no dried fruit so take a peek below if you fancy making your own.

 

3  C U P S  O A T S

1  C U P  W H O L E  A L M O N D S

1  C U P  P E A C A N S  ( O R  H A Z E L N U T S )

1 / 2  C U P  P U M P K I N  S E E D S

1 / 2  C U P  S U N F L O W E R  S E E D S

1 / 2  C U P  S U N F L O W E R  O I L

1 / 2  C U P  H O N E Y  ( O R  M A P L E  S Y R U P )

1  T S P  V A N I L L A  E X T R A C T

 

Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees C and combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spread out onto a baking sheet or tray and bake until golden brown (around 30 mins), turning occasionally. Take out of oven and leave to cool. Once cooled, store in an air tight container and enjoy with yogurt (sometimes Greek, sometimes coconut) or milk (I favour almond milk) and seasonal fruit. I like to add a sprig of fresh mint to my yogurt/fruit based brekkies so keep a plant growing on the kitchen window sill.

 

 

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S U P E R F O O D  B R E A D  W I T H  P E A N U T  B U T T E R  A N D  B A N A N A  :

 

This superfood bread is totally gluten free, vegan and oh so healthy. It’s a Deliciously Ella recipe which you can find here. I tend to rustle some up when I’m feeling particularly ‘good’ and am avoiding having too much bread. It’s not as satisfying as ‘real’ bread but it’s pretty tasty and peanut butter and banana make a v nice topping. Sometime I have it with my homemade jams (and butter!) or smooshed up avocado. I’m a big fan of freshly squeezed orange juice as an accompaniment to brekkie. I have this citrus juicer and I think it’s a really good model. Very compact, easy to clean and store.

 

 

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F R U I T  S A L A D :

 

If I’m feeling fruity and want to keep things really simple, I just chop up whatever fruit we have in the fridge and fruit bowl. I try to include a banana to be sure I’ll be filled up and often add sunflower or cia seeds for a bit of extra crunch.

 

 

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A V O C A D O  O N  T O A S T :

 

If I’m feeling more brunchy, then avo on toast is always a winner. I like mine on sourdough. I smash up 1 whole avocado, adding salt, pepper and chilli flakes. I tend to whack some rocket on top for the extra greens (and peppery taste). The avocado is so creamy there’s no need for butter. If you’e wanting to avoid gluten and yeast as well as dairy then go for the superfood bread I’ve already mentioned above.

 

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H A R D  /  S O F T  B O I L E D  E G G S :

 

Some mornings my body really fancies protein. It’s often after a run that I reach for the eggs. I favour poached eggs if out for breakfast, but when home I tend to just hard or soft boil a couple, peel, slice in half and enjoy with sea salt and lots of black pepper. V nice with a fresh OJ or green juice. I sometimes add soldiers of course if I’m particularly peckish.

 

 

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B A N A N A  P O R R I D G E  W I T H  S T R A W B E R R I E S  A N D  A L M O N D S  :

 

My go-to when I’m after something warm and comforting for breakfast has to be porridge. I make mine in a pan on the hob with almond milk and banana. I use 1/2 a cup of oats, 1 cup of almond milk and 1 crushed banana. Put the oats and almond milk in the pan on a low heat. After a couple of minutes add the mashed up banana and cook for a further 3 – 5 mins. I like to serve mine with flaked almonds, strawberries and a dash of 100% pure maple syrup.

 

What’s your favourite healthy but hearty breakfast? Any tips or suggestions for me? I’m always looking for more options to add to my morning repertoire. Let me know in the comments below. Happy eating! I wish you all good starts and intentional days :)

 

today’s smoothie – blueberry and oat

:: by Lizzie
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Hi guys. I’ve had a few requests now for my regular morning smoothie recipes so I thought I’d better get round to sharing some of my favourites with you. When it comes to the ingredients that make up my breakfast smoothies, there are some old faithfuls that I like to always keep well stocked up on, in either my fridge or cupboard. So if you’re thinking of becoming a smoothie regular it might be worth making up a little shopping list of the things you’ll need regularly. I would recommend – Almond Milk (I use Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk which is lower in calories than cows milk and contains no saturated fat or cholesterol). Bananas are what give the smoothie its creaminess and help keep you full of energy till lunchtime. They’re also a great source of potassium which is key to maintaining good heart health. Medjool Dates are super sweet, so the perfect plant based low fat alternative to sugar. They’re full of fibre too and a very popular sweetener in many healthy baking and desert recipes, so stock up on these bad boys. They’ll come in v handy. I also keep in my cupboard Milled Flaxseed, Chia Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, 100% Pure Maple Syrup, Raw Cacao Powder, Peanut Butter (the real stuff that’s just made up of peanuts and water, avoid ones with nasty ingredients) and try to have lots of different berries in my fridge. My faves are strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. But for this recipe all you’ll need is below…

 

B L U E B E R R Y  A N D  O A T  S M O O T H I E :

 

1  C U P  B L U E B E R R I E S

2  D E S E R T  S P O O N S  O A T S

1  B A N A N A

1 / 2  C U P  A L M O N D  M I L K

1  M E D J O O L  D A T E

2  T E A  S P O O N S  G R O U N D  F L A X  S E E D S

 

Something I’ve started doing recently id slicing up my bananas and keeping them in the freezer ready to use in my smoothie for the morning. I love a cold smoothie! It does make things a little thicker though so if you’re considering doing this then maybe add a 1/4 cup more of almond milk. Once measured up, I put all of the ingredients into my nutribullet to blend. Here’s the one I have but any blender/food processor will do. Just pop everything in, blend for 30 seconds – 1 minute, until everything is creamy and smooth and enjoy. This recipe serves 1 so just double everything up if you’re making for 2. :)

 

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fitness files – july

:: by Lizzie
photo-2

 

Oh what a lovely month July was. We spent the first two weeks in the south of France catching up with family, eating yummy food and spending a lot of time in the pool, which was uncharacteristically warm.

 

But what was July like health and fitness-wise? Well, I’ve already mentioned that we enjoyed lots of good food but I’m happy (and maybe a little surprised) to say we were generally pretty good at portion control and, because of all of the beautiful fresh produce available at the market, we ate really quite healthily (big chunks of marzipan aside). I’ve been trying to get more into cooking fish and, as I mentioned in my Today in Lodeve post, my aunty Julie and uncle Peter inspired this cod recipe which I loved and will be cooking again tonight.

 

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B A K E D  C O D  W I T H  O N I O N  A N D  C H E R R Y  T O M A T O E S :

Dice and fry a large white onion in some olive oil without letting it caramelise too much. Try to stop at the slightly transparent but fully cooked stage. Slice a load of cherry tomatoes in half – about a punnet sized amount. Fill the bottom of an oven proof dish (I like Le Creuset best) with the tomatoes and onion and pop in the oven at about 200 for 15 mins. Once the 15 mins are up bring the dish back out of the oven and pour over a little white wine and lay a few springs of rosemary in there too. Then place your cod fillets on top and drizzle with olive oil. At this stage I like to grind on loads of black pepper and chuck in some sea salt to season. Back in the oven it goes for another 15 mins and after that, bang, you’re done! Serve with new potatoes or griddled asparagus.

 

But let’s back track a bit so I can tell you about how I’ve changed up my morning routine (or more accurately, started trying to have a morning routine). A couple of months ago I got into skincare and started looking after my skin properly which led to having a morning/evening skincare routine (post on that coming soon) and I’ve really enjoyed the addition of a little more structure because of it in the mornings. Reflecting upon how beneficial this tiny change had been, I made a conscious decision at the beginning of July to try to start my days much more intentionally. One of the things I’ve started doing is drinking hot water and lemon when I wake up and before I eat anything. The health benefits are huge and it’s such an easy step to add in to your day.

 

lemons

 

W H Y  Y O U  S H O U L D  B E  D R I N K I N G  H O T  W A T E R  A N D  L E M O N :

– lemons are a rich source of vitamin C

– they contain pectin fiber which serves as a powerful antibacterial

– hot water and lemon early in the morning helps flush out toxins and aids digestion

– it also balances pH levels in the body

– it’s a great source of citric acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium

– it helps with reducing pain and inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid

– the potassium content in lemon helps nourish brain and nerve cells

– it strengthens the liver by providing energy to the liver enzymes when they are too dilute

– it’s great for your skin as it helps prevent the formation of wrinkles and acne

– it helps maintain healthy eyes

– it also helps replenish body salts

 

I’ve also been trying to do a little gentle exercise, every morning I can manage it, before breakfast. I find that making a conscious decision to start the day well in this way really helps me make better decisions regarding food and exercise all day long. I’d really recommend it. My morning warm ups of choice have been swimming (it was far too hot to run in France) and yoga. I got into swimming so much in France that upon my return to London I really missed it. We had a family wedding in Sussex in July and stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel (which was everything a Sussex B&B should be so if you’re ever in the area you should totally stay there) and which turned out to have a pool, steam, sauna and jacuzzi. Result! I had no idea it would and we were only there for one night, but such was my excitement at the idea of getting to have an early morning swim before the wedding, that I managed to purchase myself a nifty black Speedo cossie at the spa and swim I did! It’s actually quite nice to have a super practical swimming costume. Here’s the one I have.

 

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I’m not quite sure how yoga crept up on me but I’m really liking it. I’d done a bit of Pilates here and there but not really yoga and wondered if I’d find it too challenging. It’s possible I would actually find it a bit much if I was going to ‘real’ classes and feeling like the least flexible person there but I’m not, I’m ‘cheating’ and doing it at home with the utterly wonderful Adriene. I’ve totally fallen in love with Yoga with Adriene and am working through her 30 Days of Yoga videos. It’s totally doable, totally rewarding and totally free! It’s so nice to wake up in the morning and ‘go to the mat’. Adriene makes yoga very accessible and I’m feeling a real sense of achievement every day I practice. Yay me! Maybe at some point I’ll be able to peal my spine one vertebrae at time rather than it just plonking the whole thing down in one go, but for now I’m pretty proud of my planks and who doesn’t love shavasana?

 

adriene
 

fitness files – june

:: by Lizzie
women'shealth copy

 

This is my first ever ‘fitness files’ blog post. Hoorah! I’m aware that I’m certainly not at my ‘fittest’ at this particular moment in my life, but I am, I think, more interested in health and fitness than I have been in the past. I’d certainly like to make it more of a priority – hense, the ‘fitness files’. My plan for these blog posts will be to share at the end of each month how I’ve been doing with my health and fitness, highlighting the areas of exercise and nutrition/diet I’ve been focusing on. Hopefully it will encourage me to get on with it!

 

So, what have I been doing health and fitness-wise in June? Firstly I’ve tried to adapt my diet slightly to make sure I’m getting enough fruit and veg. I’ve been starting most days with a breakfast smoothie. Here’s the recipe for one I’ve been enjoying.

 

S T R A W B E R R Y  A N D  B A N A N A  S M O O T H I E :

1 cup strawberries

1 banana

1 tsp chia seeds

1/2 cup coconut water

Blend, poor into a glass and enjoy. I like to garnish with a mint leaf.

 

I’ve also been carrying with me a little stash of whole almonds for those moments when you feel like something to nibble on. Since opening CAFE SMUG on the lower ground floor of the shop it’s been rather tempting to dig into the baked goods when the 3pm sugar low comes, so these almonds are a bit of a life saver. I can’t say I make it through every Saturday without one of Manolya’s sweet treats but I’m trying to keep it as a weekend reward.

 

Something I’ve tried for the very first time this June is reading Women’s Health magazine. I was pleasantly surprised by what a good read it is and most importantly, how much fashion and food is packed in as well as suggestions for excercise routines and nutritional info. It actually does make you feel like going for a run which is a winner.

 

June was a good month for me exercise-wise. I’ve enjoyed running in the past but had fallen out of the habit. I signed up a few months ago with a group of friends (see image in slideshow – I’m the one too lazy to jump) for the Nike Womens 10K around Victoria Park and absolutely loved taking part in the race. I’ve not been running much for the last year or so but June was the month to change that and I tried to run 3 times a week in preparation. Obviously I took the opportunity to treat myself to a new pair of running shoes – Nike Flyknit Lunar 3. The week before the race I managed to run 8K for the first time and I felt (and was advised) that if I could do 8K I could do 10, so after that rested my limbs.

 

Having never run distance before I didn’t fully understand how what you eat before you run could make such a big difference. My friend Ben Clark, who has three marathons under his belt now, suggested I have pasta for dinner the night before and a small portion of porridge 2 or 3 hours before the race the following morning and it worked a treat. Thanks Ben! I’m not a fast runner (yet) but I ran happily and continuously for the whole thing and did it under 1 hr 10 mins. Next year I’ll aim for under and hour! My plan for July is to take up Yoga and maybe a bit of swimming so I’ll let you know how that goes. Wish me luck!

 

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we got hitched

:: by Lizzie
spin_midd

 

Lizzie Evans, the Smuggler herself, on May 4th 2013 (which is of course international Star Wars day – May The Force Be With You) was married in London to her fellow former A Level CDT student now design/retail lover/guru and partner in crime Daniel Gleadall.

The wedding was styled by the couple and enjoyed by 200 friends and family members. Photography by Wolf James Photography. Hair and make up thanks to Simone Vollmer and flowers the very lovely Vicky Barrett.

 

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