A Week in Lunches

While we're pretty good at making lunch to cover off the beginning of the week, by Wednesday we're lacking in both appropriate fridge-fodder and combos that keep our interest. Cue your adeptly balanced shopping list and menu for the week, courtesy of dietician and food-worshipper, Deirdre Fagan. Here's how our editor, Laurie Prescott, got on when she spent a working week following Deirdre's meal plan. In summary, if you like feeling good, probably give it a go.

Shopping List
Feta cheese, avocados, salmon, wholegrain wraps, sweet potatoes, lemons, kale, broccoli, hummus, spinach, beetroot, carrots and frozen peas (they'll have defrosted by lunchtime).

Save time by doing some Sunday prep
1. Cook one cup of quinoa in four cups of vegetable stock. Cooking quinoa in stock makes it taste SO much better.
2. If using dried lentils, cook one cup of lentils as per the packet instructions.
3. Cut your sweet potatoes into cubes. Add half a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 200℃.

For filling but nutritious lunching, include a combination of starchy carbohydrates, vegetables and protein. For each meal aim roughly for:

● ½ plate of veg/salad (fresh, frozen, tinned or dried - eat the rainbow!)
● ¼ plate starchy carbs (quinoa, couscous, potatoes, bread, rice)
● ¼ plate protein (chicken, fish, lentils, peas, beans, nuts, falafel, hummus)
● A small amount of fat (cheese, avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil)

Monday: Roasted sweet potatoes, cooked lentils, broccoli, leaves, kale and/or spinach with tahini dressing

I have something of a sweet tooth, so I’m suitably excited about the sweet potatoes in this combo. Also including a handful of lentils, I get the carbs I need to keep me going without my usual mid-afternoon grab for something desserty.

Tuesday: Quinoa, beetroot, peas, kale, feta cheese, vinaigrette

On Tuesday I’m still feeling pretty smug. I assembled today’s lunch yesterday evening, earning myself an extra snooze button in bed. The addition of feta lifts this textured dish into treat territory, rather than strict dietary regime. 

Wednesday: Roasted sweet potatoes, feta, grated carrot, spinach and kale wrap with tahini dressing

This was the easiest meal to prepare — it was literally a case of throwing all the prepped ingredients into a wrap. It was also the lightest, meaning I found myself slightly hungry by 3pm. But rather than my usual Twirl, I snacked on granola (recipe below), so still felt great.

Thursday: Cooked salmon fillet, quinoa, peas, broccoli, vinaigrette

I’m normally guilty of not using everything in the fridge before it's past its best, but this week I notice the entirety of the shopping list is getting used. My new found cost-efficiency makes today’s salmon, cooked at 200℃ for 15 minutes, taste even better. Coat in wholegrain mustard for added chutzpah.

Friday: Hummus, beetroot, grated carrot and spinach wrap

A colourful and surprisingly substantial end to the week, wholegrain wraps weren't available when I completed my shop at the weekend. But rather than fixating on what I couldn't easily get, Deirdre encourages substitutions for items that you're not keen on or don't have, so I’m using a white wrap. Easy.

No more hangry
To avoid reaching for sweets or chocolate, or chocolatey sweets, it's a good idea to have a snack on hand. I made a batch of oat granola on Sunday and added yoghurt and berries throughout the week.

Join Deirdre for healthy eating and yoga wellness at Barefoot Birmingham, then The Plough. She'll be debunking food myths and providing easy to recreate recipes as part of Nourish and Flow, on April 1.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Sleeves

Bell-shaped, trumpet, frills and ties, sleeves are having a moment. Up your officewear game with dramatic details to achieve enviable arm action. 

Modern Rarity - £150

Modern Rarity - £150

Palmer//Harding - £455
Warehouse - £35

Warehouse - £35

M&S - £39.50

M&S - £39.50

Zara - £29.99

Zara - £29.99

Kitri - £65

Kitri - £65

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

Power Dressing

Feminine styles don’t deplete strength. But a strong suit can have the cerebral effect of donning an infantry's worth of war paint. Throw in some bold colours or patterning for added fearlessness.

Pleats Please Issey Miyake is god of all things fashion and innovation. The result is functional and comfortable clothes with a Japanese influence, like this grid-print crepe combo. Jacket - £630 Trousers - £395

Pleats Please
Issey Miyake is god of all things fashion and innovation. The result is functional and comfortable clothes with a Japanese influence, like this grid-print crepe combo.

Jacket - £630
Trousers - £395

Lean In Green High street favourite Zara nods to the 80s with this dark reinvention of the classic double-breasted suit and cropped trouser combo.  Jacket - £69.99 Trousers - £29.99

Lean In Green
High street favourite Zara nods to the 80s with this dark reinvention of the classic double-breasted suit and cropped trouser combo. 

Jacket - £69.99
Trousers - £29.99

Bold and Blue Narrow lapels and a charcoal collar give a modern twist to the bright blue wool blazer and slim-leg trouser of a certain Stella McCartney. Jacket - £895 Trousers - £375

Bold and Blue
Narrow lapels and a charcoal collar give a modern twist to the bright blue wool blazer and slim-leg trouser of a certain Stella McCartney.

Jacket - £895
Trousers - £375

Softly Softly Danish brand Samsoe & Samsoe delivers the requisite simple Scandinavian silhouettes. The Evin blazer and Avian trousers are in a soft pink, for a relaxed take on tailoring. Blazer - £135 Trousers - £100

Softly Softly
Danish brand Samsoe & Samsoe delivers the requisite simple Scandinavian silhouettes. The Evin blazer and Avian trousers are in a soft pink, for a relaxed take on tailoring.

Blazer - £135
Trousers - £100

New Age Androgyny A showstopping co-ord, this red jacket and cigarette pants from Topshop is the antithesis of timidity, with trainers or killer heels. Jacket - £65 Trousers - £35

New Age Androgyny
A showstopping co-ord, this red jacket and cigarette pants from Topshop is the antithesis of timidity, with trainers or killer heels.


Jacket - £65
Trousers - £35

Polished Patterns Matchy matchy patterns are a thing and not even in an ironic way. ASOS' high-fashion feeling floral jacquard blazer and trouser suit is our proof. Jacket - £60 Trousers - £40

Polished Patterns
Matchy matchy patterns are a thing and not even in an ironic way. ASOS' high-fashion feeling floral jacquard blazer and trouser suit is our proof.

Jacket - £60
Trousers - £40

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

Affordable Art

Okay, we’re not talking originals here. And we're fine with that. Prints and posters can have a load of impact without the associated financial strife.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

Lifestyle Books

Sometimes a glossy magazine just doesn’t cut it. These beautiful pages deserve to be treasured. Flick through them at leisure for covetable visuals or leave on the coffee table to admire from afar.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

A Drink with Jess Phillips

“My husband said in bed last night: ‘I don’t think it’s a willingness to work hard that you have, Jess. It isn’t that. You’re driven by the desire to keep going. You’re wired differently to most. Your end goal is to push yourself to your absolute limit."

Jess Phillips hasn’t reached her limit. Not even close. With International Women’s Day on Wednesday, we’re sitting in the Old Joint Stock with an MP who two years ago was managing domestic abuse refuges for Women’s Aid. She’s done more for women than most ever will and she’s only just got her sleeves rolled up.

“Universal free childcare. Equal paternity pay. These are the things we need to take on.” She says, eyes wide with the rush of the challenge. “I want men to be as big a pain in the arse to employers as women. That's how we get equality.”


It’s hard not to get swept away with the passion, but this is more than soapboxing. This is a woman who’s going in search of her own limit and making it look easy. Switching from sexual inequality to Spider-Man quotes with the realness and warmth that only the most Birmingham of Brummies can.

“I’m reading Harriet Harman’s book. Have you read it? Thirty-five years she’s been an MP. Thirty-five. She’s shown such incredible patience.”

We’ve not read Harman’s book, but we’ve read Phillips’. And she doesn’t portray herself as a patient person. Entitled ‘Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth’ it had us wholesale sobbing on the train last week with its thumpingly honest accounts of her childhood in Birmingham, and her traumatic tales from Women’s Aid. But just as with Jess, there’s an overriding theme of hope to every chapter. And a wry humour. “I am a hopeful person, I guess. Which must be a good thing because things are quite shit really, aren’t they?”

Jess talks with such openness and candour that you’d be forgiven for thinking she’d spent Harriet-levels of time in the House. Not so. She first entered the Commons in 2015 and set her stall out pretty quickly. “I nailed my colours to the mast so heavily early on that I don’t think people would mess with me in the same way they might others.”

Her unconventional style might not be to everyone’s taste, but it works. Being herself, being bold, being normal in a parliament where normal seems so abnormal has pushed her not only into the political landscape, but has even had her addressing a UN congress on violence against women.

“The other day Jeremy Hunt was making a statement on how he had basically lost 700,000 pieces of NHS correspondence,” she says, “And to every woman who asked him a question, Hunt would be so patronising. Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem MP who hasn’t been in the House for long, asked a completely valid, well thought through question and he responded in this awful: Oh you’ve not really done this before, have you? sort of tone. I don’t think you understand. It was so patronising. He never would have spoken to her like that if she were a man. And all Labour female MPs rallied. “No mate, you don’t understand. You’re the one who’s lost thousands of cancer results, pal.”

A woman first and a Labour MP second, Jess is not the only female in the Commons who can set political agenda aside to level off gender imbalance. Olney was elected on a ‘Remain’ ticket and Jess, a vocal Remainer, knows all too well the vitriol that can come with that outlook. “On her first day in Parliament I sought Sarah out and said: “You are on not on your own. Do not hesitate to come and find me if you’re finding anything difficult. Particularly on social media. We will fall in behind you. We will back you up. The women across the House — Labour, Tory, Lib Dem, every party — the women stick up for one another because there’s a common agenda.”

1850d335-08e0-4cb0-9965-2624f75a7067.jpg

We can’t help but think Phillips will be of particular help on the social media element of her pledge. Parliamentary patronisation is one thing, rape threats on Twitter are another. She’s so used to 140-character hate that her stance has had to become utterly resolute. “These days the Twitter abuse is more trying than it is terrifying,” she says. “It’s relentlessly dull. I’m desperate for the trolls to come up with a new angle.”

The fear, for a seemingly fearless woman, is more offline than on. “I don’t feel I can’t walk around Birmingham and be exactly the person I am. I can go to the shop in my pyjama bottoms and buy a pint of milk and feel completely safe. In fact I feel like Brummies who know who I am actually look out for me. But there are moments in my office where I’m sat under a massive sign that says JESS PHILLIPS — I have an open office because I want people to walk in and be able to seek help — there are times when I feel like a sitting duck. I feel like someone could just come in and hurt me. And since Jo [Cox] died that feeling has, I think, got worse. And I know I’m in no more danger than I was before we lost Jo, and I know the rational thinking is that I’m loads more likely to be hurt by someone I know. But it doesn’t stop me feeling at risk. It can unnerve me.”

With that level of pressure we wonder if Jess ever sleeps. “I don’t sleep, but that’s not entirely out of worry. It comes from being a mom and wanting some bloody time to myself once they’re in bed. I work instead of sleep, particularly when I’m in London. I won’t go to bed until 3am and I get up at 7am.” Like Thatcher, we joke. “Exactly like Thatcher,” she responds. “She had two kids too. And that’s where the similarities end.”

If Jess Phillips were a poker player, we get the impression she would go “all in” on every hand. We can't help but wonder if she dialled “the Jess” down by about 10 percent, she might get 30 percent more done. “Yeah I would,” she agrees without missing a beat. “But that’s not a natural characteristic of mine. I’ve never been able to dial it down. It’s not a skill I have.

“But I have learned that there are moments when you don’t need to unleash hell. I’ve learned to pick my battles. I’ve developed the foresight to be able to predict if an argument I’m about to have can possibly result in an outcome I can be proud of. And if I decide it can, then I’ll unleash hell.”

You can buy 'Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking the Truth' for £14.99 in bookshops or right here.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

The Art of Business Travel

It may have been said (by us) that we’re experts when it comes to travelling. Work trips abroad probably sound like the whole reason you got your degree but the reality is noisy hotel rooms and irons that are a certified crime against humanity. Our gift to you? The critical pack list — learnt the hard way.

Packing

It's already 11pm, and your taxi — which you've totally booked — is arriving in seven hours. You've rolled (never folded) the essential items but making hotels bearable is all about the home comforts for us.

These Desmond and Dempsey cotton pyjamas are based on the shape of a man's shirt — with a comfy long cut body. We favour their shorts pairing for battling over-officious heating.

These Desmond and Dempsey cotton pyjamas are based on the shape of a man's shirt — with a comfy long cut body. We favour their shorts pairing for battling over-officious heating.

Dispense with the need for hold luggage, and any reliance on the products offered by your hotel – decant your faves into Muji's travel bottles. Conditioner is key.

Dispense with the need for hold luggage, and any reliance on the products offered by your hotel – decant your faves into Muji's travel bottles. Conditioner is key.

Your blackout curtains aren't going to fit in the case. Make like Holly Golightly and take matters into your own hands with this super soft white waffle eye mask.  

Your blackout curtains aren't going to fit in the case. Make like Holly Golightly and take matters into your own hands with this super soft white waffle eye mask.
 

Hotel tea-making facilities won't include Prince & Sons. Take your own stash of camomile — the queen of calming herbal teas, and mint to ease the obligatory late suppers.

Hotel tea-making facilities won't include Prince & Sons. Take your own stash of camomile — the queen of calming herbal teas, and mint to ease the obligatory late suppers.

Flying

Armed with nuts, seeds and fruit for snacking purposes (when have you ever had good food on a plane?), pick up that book you haven’t got round to reading yet, or hide your trashy mag in something highbrow. We won't tell. 

Spray on moisture from thisworks hydrates your thirsty visage with plant oils and organic aloe vera. It also smells great.

Spray on moisture from thisworks hydrates your thirsty visage with plant oils and organic aloe vera. It also smells great.

Over 20 million hold bags are mishandled each year. This four-wheeled carry on is ergonomic, strong and lightweight — perfect for dashes between terminals.

Over 20 million hold bags are mishandled each year. This four-wheeled carry on is ergonomic, strong and lightweight — perfect for dashes between terminals.

Queuing and airports are a thing. Accept this fact and have your travel docs ready at all times in this slim, leather Smythson travel pouch.

Queuing and airports are a thing. Accept this fact and have your travel docs ready at all times in this slim, leather Smythson travel pouch.

Fill a water bottle as soon as you pass security. Bobble's range are dishwasher safe and filter the taste of chlorine from tap water less exceptional than Birmingham's.

Fill a water bottle as soon as you pass security. Bobble's range are dishwasher safe and filter the taste of chlorine from tap water less exceptional than Birmingham's.

Wearing

Opt for classic items that are versatile and can easily be worn together to create different looks. Darker colours are always wise when away from a washing machine or wardrobe full of alternatives.

Charcoal wool with a longline silhouette, this tailored Whistles blazer looks presentable straight off the plane.

Charcoal wool with a longline silhouette, this tailored Whistles blazer looks presentable straight off the plane.

Court shoes are universal workwear. This grey pair from Carvela update the staple with a block heel and are comfortable as well as professional.

Court shoes are universal workwear. This grey pair from Carvela update the staple with a block heel and are comfortable as well as professional.

Add interest and colour with this ochre and blue graphic print scarf from Hobbs and use it to cover up if the flight gets chilly.

Add interest and colour with this ochre and blue graphic print scarf from Hobbs and use it to cover up if the flight gets chilly.

Polyester sounds awful but this Cos shirt looks and feels like a silk blend and best of all — zero ironing. Goes rather well with a tailored blazer too.

Polyester sounds awful but this Cos shirt looks and feels like a silk blend and best of all — zero ironing. Goes rather well with a tailored blazer too.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Land and Water

A melange of ideas, research and culture — this year's Arts and Science Festival traverses land and water, in the form of talks, exhibitions, screenings and workshops. Sign up for the largely U0B-based events from March 13 to 19.

Talk — A Journey Through Deep Time: Plants, Rocks and CO2.

Talk — A Journey Through Deep Time: Plants, Rocks and CO2.

Talk — Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Identity, Inclusion and the Politics of Immigration.

Talk — Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Identity, Inclusion and the Politics of Immigration.

Talk — Secrets of Trees with Professor Alice Roberts (pictured).

Talk — Secrets of Trees with Professor Alice Roberts (pictured).

Exhibition — Where Lands Meets Sea, by scientist and photogapher Dr Richard Greswell.

Exhibition — Where Lands Meets Sea, by scientist and photogapher Dr Richard Greswell.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Spectacles

Götti Switzerland specs are the ultimate in Swiss-ness: traditional craftmanship meets timeless design and functionality. Brittain Opticians are having a Götti trunk day, in-store on March 4. Here's our wish list from the collection:

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

Statement style

We’re logophiles. We can’t get enough of the written word and hey, sometimes that crosses over to our apparel. Since Vivienne Westwood’s game-changer God Save The Queen tee, countless brands have embraced typography. But text doesn’t have to mean shouty, or kitsch. Here’s our fave in wordy womenswear.

Summer nights Referencing French street art found in Île de Ré, this Clare V hand-lettered, bright blue print on a clean, white top is lightweight enough to wear on your next trip to warmer climes. Or for layering.

Summer nights

Referencing French street art found in Île de Ré, this Clare V hand-lettered, bright blue print on a clean, white top is lightweight enough to wear on your next trip to warmer climes. Or for layering.

Netflix chic Embroidered pink text emblazoned over a boyfriend style, black jumper makes for a casual, but statement look. Dress up with skinny jeans and heels if you’re so inclined — but works just as well for lounging at home.

Netflix chic

Embroidered pink text emblazoned over a boyfriend style, black jumper makes for a casual, but statement look. Dress up with skinny jeans and heels if you’re so inclined — but works just as well for lounging at home.

Post-work out brunch The incredibly named Selfish Mother celebrates motherhood with slogans such as ‘winging it’ and ‘hurrah for gin’. This sweater is made from organic cotton and the particularly super part — £10 from each sale goes to charity.

Post-work out brunch

The incredibly named Selfish Mother celebrates motherhood with slogans such as ‘winging it’ and ‘hurrah for gin’. This sweater is made from organic cotton and the particularly super part — £10 from each sale goes to charity.

Hard-working hues Switch up your winter work wear and girl-boss it in beige, with this understated take on a slogan sweatshirt. The big-thinking team at Monki have gone for an organic-mix cotton for added comfort.

Hard-working hues

Switch up your winter work wear and girl-boss it in beige, with this understated take on a slogan sweatshirt. The big-thinking team at Monki have gone for an organic-mix cotton for added comfort.

Retro all-rounder And who doesn’t love him? The light-hearted bouclé-embellished slogan adds personality to an otherwise classic, crew neck black sweat from Hush. That we want to wear on Sunday, Monday... Hush imagery source

Retro all-rounder

And who doesn’t love him? The light-hearted bouclé-embellished slogan adds personality to an otherwise classic, crew neck black sweat from Hush. That we want to wear on Sunday, Monday...

Hush imagery source

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

The Edgbaston

With more heritage than your family tree, The Edgbaston launched its new cocktail menu last night and their resulting elixirs are full of lovely nods to the great minds, crafts and artists of the city.

Hobbits in Manhattan —inspired by Tolkien's Lord of The Rings. Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Guinness Byrrh, cherry brandy

Hobbits in Manhattan —inspired by Tolkien's Lord of The Rings. Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Guinness Byrrh, cherry brandy

Hooch and Nut — an ode to Bournville. Bacardi 8 YO Rum, Pusser’s Rum, tonka bean, burnt sherry, chocolate, almond milk

Hooch and Nut — an ode to Bournville. Bacardi 8 YO Rum, Pusser’s Rum, tonka bean, burnt sherry, chocolate, almond milk

99 Problems — but a Flake ain’t one! Tanqueray No 10, rhubarb and raspberry liqueur, lemon, ice-cream tincture, Cadbury Flake

99 Problems — but a Flake ain’t one! Tanqueray No 10, rhubarb and raspberry liqueur, lemon, ice-cream tincture, Cadbury Flake

Watercolour Summer — for landscape painter David Cox. Bombay Sapphire Gin, elderflower, vodka, pea, grass and magnolia

Watercolour Summer — for landscape painter David Cox. Bombay Sapphire Gin, elderflower, vodka, pea, grass and magnolia

Daiq-O-Matic — dedicated to local pop artist, Peter Phillips. Bacardi Carta Blanca, bubblegum bitters, lime, raspberry and rose, sherry

Daiq-O-Matic — dedicated to local pop artist, Peter Phillips. Bacardi Carta Blanca, bubblegum bitters, lime, raspberry and rose, sherry

Striking Gold — think Staffordshire Hoard. Sipsmith VJOP, Tanqueray Rangpur, Visa Mezcal, blueberry shrub, mint

Striking Gold — think Staffordshire Hoard. Sipsmith VJOP, Tanqueray Rangpur, Visa Mezcal, blueberry shrub, mint

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Verve

A new festival of poetry and spoken word is coming to a town near you. Among the luminous spheres of wordsmithing at Verve, winner of the Melita Hume Prize and local PhD student, Jenna Clake, is performing at the launch of the Birmingham Anthology. Here are some words Clake ordered particularly splendidly.

The Cow Whisperer


The cows were in dissent. They said, You will not take our milk from us. The cows wanted rights. The cows wanted breaks, greener grass, more time outside. The cows wanted clearly-defined job roles. They wanted to not be stared at by people, especially when they were working. They wanted days off. They did not want to be forced into a field with a bull. They wanted a greater choice of bulls. They wanted to be paid for milk.

The cows were threatened with becoming beef. They laughed at the predictability of the threat, as a person laughs when they nervously leave their car somewhere strange overnight and return the next morning to find it stolen. The people said the calves would be taken away. The cows whispered about veal when the people were sleeping, and placed the calves in the centre of the field during the day.

The cows lay in a circle. A person would walk towards the cows and afterwards, they would say, I was walking to the cows, and then I suddenly needed to walk the other way. A few people began to believe that the cows were powerful. They tried to join the circle but could not. Most people grew afraid of the cows. Children’s bedtime stories were adapted to include cows as thieves, cows as bullies, cows as child-eaters. All books containing positive or neutral information about cows were burned at the town barbecue.

The people called the Cow Whisperer. He was said to have sorted out situations like this before. The Cow Whisperer, contrary to rumours, wore a suit. The people watched him talk to the cows. The cows stood up and turned away from him. The Cow Whisperer, in an act of desperation, is thought to have said, Give up now. Do you really think this is going to make things better? The cows are said to have looked at him blankly, as though he were a tourist asking for directions to an attraction that was directly behind him.

The people called an official meeting with the cows. The Cow Whisperer would mediate. The people served scones with jam from Tesco and cream made from the cows’ milk. Some cows cried. Some cows refused to continue with the meeting. Most cows joined the meeting and glared at the people. They let the people speak, uninterrupted. As a peace offering, the people presented the cows with sacks of improved food. You can eat this now, they said, smiling. The cows looked at each other, and began to bite the straps of the bells around their necks: We are not pieces of meat, they said. The people looked to the Cow Whisperer, who was hiding underneath a table, cramming scones into his mouth.

Verve runs February 16 to 19. And in case you're not totally sure where to start, we've been demanding recommendations from festival insiders:
Emma Wright: "I'm really looking forward to seeing Hannah Silva perform an excerpt from her feminist satire Shlock! — I've heard a lot of buzz about it."
Jenna Clake: "I'm excited to see Melissa Lee-Houghton — her collection, Sunshine, is incredible, and I've heard her readings are wonderful too."
Cynthia Miller: "I cannot wait for Mona Arshi and Helen Mort — their collections have had a real impact on me; seeing them live will be incredible."  Tickets

The Cow Whisper was originally published by The Bohemyth

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Earrings

Delicate jewellery will always have its place. But right now it's all about ostentatious earrings. Add as much colour as you can muster.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

Minimalism

Rather than less - minimalism is really about having more. By getting rid of things that aren't essential, the theory goes that you create more time and energy for more experiences, more people, and for more things that aren't really things at all. This week editor Laurie Prescott takes advice from the masters of the minimal, and puts the 'less is more' mantra into action. 

0221b542-77d9-45dc-abb8-3aa5abcf9955.jpg

1 // Analyse your lifestyle

The tip: "Your ideal wardrobe depends on many factors, most importantly your own personal preferences and unique aesthetic ideals. Spend time defining your style and assessing your lifestyle and eventually you’ll figure out your own perfect wardrobe size " - Anuschka Rees

In practice: "I prescribe to a heavily monochrome wardrobe, but I inject colour through accessories and add interest with layers. At work I have to dress smartly and at the weekend I'm rarely seen out of jeans and trainers. So there is no point in having one pair of New Balance but 20 brightly-coloured cocktail dresses. It just doesn't reflect my lifestyle. Time to take inventory."

2 // Do a wardrobe audit

The tip: "Only two skills are necessary to successfully put your house in order: the ability to keep what sparks joy and chuck the rest, and the ability to decide where to keep each thing you choose and always put it back in its place" - Marie Kondo

In practice: "The KonMari method advocates going through *every single item* and discarding those that don't 'spark joy'.   If you need to employ crowd-control over a heaving wardrobe, this is the part that is really time consuming. I found it easier to tackle a drawer at a time, so it's not an overwhelming task. I donated everything that was no longer joy-sparking to Oxfam."

3 // Be a smarter shopper

The tip: "Buy less, choose well, make it last.  These are the overriding principles of getting smarter at shopping.  Focus on fewer items of higher quality; only buy things you truly love; learn to take care of what you own and use or wear them until they fall apart." - Privatelifeofagirl

In practice: "ow I’ve edite y existing wardrobe, I can clearly see what items I am acking and what need replacing. Instead of going out and buying on impulse — cheaply made, fast fashion doesn't last long — I'll consider spending more on pieces that last longer. Also, how many ways can I wear the new item? It needs to work in at least three different outfits to be worthwhile."

4 // Challenge yourself

The tip: "Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months" - Courtney Carver

In practice: "Yes, that includes shoes and accessories. It’s still early days in my minimalism experiment but I already feel like I've created some serious headspace. Now, all my clothes are my favourite clothes, so getting ready in the morning is much easier. I’m left with more time and energy for everything else in my life. I still have considerably more than 33 items though, so next on the list is Project 333. Join me?"

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Cake

Tomorrow, it's not January any more. Which makes the eating of sweet things absolutely obligatory. Break the cake hiatus at Cocoa by Ali — a LinkStreet pop-up created by Brum's GBBO thoroughbred. It's open until Feb 12th.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Colour of the Year

Pantone has declared Greenery the colour of the year. If you want to get technical, it's all about 15-0343. Yep, we're not too keen on the tangy shade either, but here are some less Kermity takes on the tone, to help turn your house into an urban jungle.

282fe5f5-1503-4de5-941c-a5e76de7be4d.jpg

By all definitions, this new wallpaper collection, which forms part of Cole & Son's Ardmore range is maximalist. For extreme impact, use a combination of patterns, like Narnia (pictured first) and Khulu Vases (pictured second). Both draw inspiration from the fantastical flora and fauna of Africa. Or pair with charcoal grey to retain a semblance of subtlety.

Velvet is having a bit of a moment. This olive chaise longue from Love Your Home offers a luxey take on two big interiors trends. Clean lines and simple piping, the Tallulah in fir varese velvet has a mid-century feel and it sings next to Little Greene's muted Salix silver-grey paint.

So dark it appears almost grey, Studio Green from Farrow & Ball has an enduring, old-world quality, which immediately makes us want to drink tea from china cups. Bring out the verdant tones of the paint with handblown, Scandinavian Muuto glassware inspired by nature.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

Athleisure

Functional no longer means fugly. Performance fabrics get an upgrade with our sporty picks, whether you're gyming, jogging, or just want to look really good.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

In

Amsterdam

It's no secret that buzzy boutiques and beauteous bars are what normal looks like in Amsterdam these days. The design-focused, season transcending city is less than an hour's air time from BHX, with around six flights each day throughout the year. Get familiar with your itinerary in three, two, one...

Stay // Maison Rika by Ulrika Lundgren
In the middle of De 9 Straatjes (exactly where you want to be), Maison Rika is arranged across a three-floor townhouse, with a reception that doubles up as a local gallery and lifestyle store. Original beams, high ceilings and life-affirming views of the Herengracht canal make The Loft (pictured) the kind of hideaway that will demand you take breaks from that guide book you definitely weren't going to highlight. And tab.

Drink // Hiding in Plain Sight
Central, but tucked away enough to avoid the swarms, HPS is all about ambitious, exquisite flavour combinations. And pretty things — the cocktails are uniformly gold star gorgeous, and crafted with story like narratives. On a side street off Waterlooplein, avoid the rather touristy flea market of the same name for your pre-activity and instead get inside the striking premises of the Gassan Diamond Factory a block away.

Do // EYE
Eye is the the first major cultural institution to settle across the IJ harbour, and a rather compelling excuse for you to take the trip — by shuttle boat from the city centre no less. The angular 'house of film' conceals cinemas, exhibition spaces and a cafe-restaurant with views back across Amsterdam that really didn't exist until Eye's 2008 inception. Take in the permanent exhibition, luck out and join an event, or just linger over coffee as Centraal Station provides both traditional architecture and people watching from across the water.

Eat // De Foodhallen
The uniform at De Foodhallen is trainers rather than heels, not only because of the tracks that run across the converted tramshed. In Amsterdam's answer to the Jewellery Quarter (the Oud-West district), get a reassuringly high-end dose of indoor street food with 20+ traders including one dedicated entirely to cheese. With a long, high seating area and number of bars as the focal point, keep turning up until Le Big Fish make you soft shell crab bao.

Shop // Restored
Restored is a studio and shop with a nerdy kind of fervour for pure, simple designs that we can relate to. In addition to their usual jewellery and ceramics, regular hook-ups have led to Uncover MOD, a collection of textiles united by a grid structure, with gradients rendered in greys and indigos. Probably upgrade the luggage allowance and make room for the soft plaids of their luxuriant shawl made from mohair, merino wool and cotton. Totally timeless.

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.

New films, female filmmakers

This weekend, The Mockingbird Cinema's celebrating new movies made by a rather particular 50% of the population. Expect this big thinking lot.

The Incident — Jane Linfoot, Adult Life Skills — Rachel Tunnard, Light Years — Esther May Campbell, Couple in a Hole — Zoranna Piggott

Bell & Smokey is a free weekly email covering beauty, brands, travel and trends. Elevate your inbox. Subscribe below.