01/05/2020 | That "Spark Joy" moment....Amanda's musings
01/05/2020 | That "Spark Joy" moment....Amanda's musings

According to Marie Kondo (she of the de-cluttering-your-life fame) the term to “Spark Joy”  is a loose translation of the Japanese word ときめく (tokimeku), literally “to flutter,” “to throb,” “to palpitate,” or “to beat fast,” as your heart would when it feels excited… now girls…honestly, who can admit that they have never had this reaction to a dress at some point? … My first ever sartorial Spark Joy moment was as a 5 year old, a confirmed tom-boy (2 older brothers and a deep felt commitment to toy cars rather than dolls)… being persuaded by my mother to put on my bridesmaid’s dress for my Uncle’s wedding …I will never forget it…rich blue velvet trimmed with white swans down (yes it was the late 60’s and the height of chic I promise) …anyway, I felt like a complete princess… filled with Joy  … I loved every moment of that day and the experience of wearing that Spark Joy dress …




Having spent the last 5 weeks in the country cocooned in cashmere I am now dreaming of wearing dresses again…in fact to get me in the mood for writing I put a dress on this morning….albeit under said cashmere and with my trusty sheepskin Birkenstocks (slightly obsessed…will need another pair at this rate ) … but I want to feel pretty again…a bit floaty and feminine … I may even need thick tights and chunky boots too if the truth be told… but, in the spirit of over-sharing (which we all seem to be doing a lot of right now)  I am wearing a midnight silk tulle midi dress (the one with the silk crepe de chine sleeves and the tie cuffs) layered under my midnight customised BRIT rollneck Kloss cashmere …sleeves slightly pushed up to show the pretty tie cuffs… I have to admit that a silk tulle midi dress is one of my wardrobe staples…there is nothing more ethereal, fluid and flattering than pure silk tulle…it is timeless Goddess dressing … and as importantly for me, rolls up with its lightweight jersey slip into a tiny ball and squeezes into any weekend bag…and almost as importantly, it’s gently shirred waist and stretchy slip …. Well lets just say it “moves” with me …what I mean is that it never feels tight so I never feel like I may have over-indulged… 

This very same dress was featured a few weeks ago on the cover of You Magazine worn by Kate Ferdinand in a beautiful shot with her husband Rio Ferdinand…the photographer caught a gorgeous, intimate moment …the kind that made me think of a reportage wedding shot …I am digressing…my point is that the colour of an item can totally transform its end use … here in ecru you really do have the perfect alternative wedding dress …one that will undoubtedly get to be worn again… or the slightly boho summer dress to dress down with a contrasting leather belt, flat Grecian sandals and an oversize hobo bag…

Talking bags…I worked hard with one of our tanneries to create a leather that had all the joy and appeal of a basket weave (it has a real 3D aspect created through texture, matt and shine and two tones of colour…so super clever ) but it has none of the downside of the very on-trend, but horribly snaggy, basket bags … check out our gorgeous Rowlands Hobo in either Gold or Silver stamped weave leather … they just scream summer to me ….and it wouldn’t be summer without a Hobo somehow…

A fresh manicure has always sparked joy for me…I am a girl who would honestly rather go out without makeup than without immaculately polished nails…its just my thing…so Lockdown meant it was either a case of get over myself and go bare nail OR learn how to do my own nails… Now, I could always paint pictures relatively well (at school at least)…albeit that was quite a while ago … but I think I have nailed (couldn’t resist that one ) the Slightly Cheaty Home Mani…admittedly a professional manicurist would do things differently…but for now, this works, I promise, as I have been doing this once every 6 days for the last 5 weeks (yup my manicure doesn’t last the extra day a professional one does …but not bad nevertheless) The right kit is really helpful and everything in the picture is easily available on Amazon 

Now follow my slightly unorthodox step by step guide:

1 Shape your nails BEFORE you take your polish off…this way you will see that you have the shape correct and even…trust me its much harder with bare nails

2 Soak your hands in soapy warm water gently pushing your cuticles back…just for a minute

3 Dry off and apply a generous layer of cuticle remover gel

4 Gently push back your cuticles with a double ended metal cuticle pusher as well as cleaning up around the whole nail 

5 Rinse off, dry your hands while pushing the cuticles back again and then clip any remaining bits of dead skin with a cuticle clipper (if you have done Step 4 right there should be very little left)

6 Remove your polish…I have discovered this genius Nails Inc Nail Polish Remover Pot…totally brilliant…you just put one finger in at a time…move it around and bam your polish is off…no faffing around with nail polish remover, cotton wool and if, like me, you like a dark nail, A LOT of mess and smudged colour on the skin around the nail… I am totally converted …I only wish they did one for toes…

7 Wash your hands and towel dry again while giving your cuticles one final push back

8 Gently buff the nail with a soft bluffing block… just a little as this can weaken the nail if done too regularly and too much

9 Clean your nails with a final sweep of nail polish remover on a cotton pad to remove any last traces of polish or dust…but make sure there are no pesky bits of fibre from the cotton wool pad left on the nail

10 Using the Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish (this is NOT Gel but has a wonderful gel effect as well as being hard wearing) gently apply your two coats of polish…at the moment I am loving the colour Model Clicks…it’s a deep dark berry colour . This is the best polish I have found for home manicures as it has a wide brush making it so much easier to apply…be careful not to flood your cuticles as, especially with dark colours its really hard to clean up…however, should your hand be not quite as steady as you would like (better not to paint after an Expresso or a late night…but who is doing either at the moment…and anyway, you don’t need one without the other surely?) … help is at hand in the form of an OPI corrector pen (its like a highlighter pen with nail polish remover… genius invention) …take your time and gently remove the messy bits around the nail

11 Apply Seche Vite Professional Dry Fast Top Coat… 

12 Give yourself 15 minutes grace to let everything dry…and 45 minutes before trying to pull a pair of boots on…

13 Apply a couple of drops per nail of OPI Drip Dry Laquer Drying Drops …drop on the nail including the cuticle


Ahem…if you have managed to smudge a nail you can generally dab it with a little more colour and apply another layer of Seche Vite …then …W.A.I.T….for your nails to dry…why not try some mindful breathing even…?

Final top tip is, if you find your nails “wearing” at the tips just touch them up with your colour and apply a full coat of Seche Vite and you will honestly feel like you have a fresh manicure all over again…oops and apply a really good hand cream every night and leave a generous amount in your cuticles and you will find you have far less cuticle to deal with …

There …my Slightly Cheaty (but very effective) Home Mani …mine has been drying while I have been (very carefully) typing this…

 PS I am not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned … I am sharing them as they work for me…

As anyone who knows me well will know I am a complete chocoholic…chocolate Sparks Joy in my life!  My love of chocolate started before I was conscious… my mother is nearly as much of a chocoholic as I am… so it must have all started in the womb surely? Probably not fair… when it comes to chocolate I am just, well honestly, greedy…as long as it’s of the very dark variety… preferably 90% if eaten alone and nothing less than 70% for cooking. When I lived in NY back in the late 80’s I developed a taste for David’s Cookies (probably late night Munchies ) … but from what I can remember they kept their stores open pretty much 24/7 and their molten chocolate cookies were beyond anything I had ever tasted… I have done my best to re-create them with a  chewy biscuit and large chunks of molten chocolate…super easy to make and best eaten while the chocolate is still runny…


  • 250 g brown sugar
  • 115 g melted salted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 220 g dark chocolate chopped into chunks of various sizes


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, and butter until a paste forms with no lumps.
  2. Whisk in the egg and vanilla, beating until light ribbons fall off the whisk.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking soda, then fold the mixture with a spatula.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks, then chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. For a more intense toffee-like flavor and deeper color, chill the dough overnight. The longer the dough rests, the more complex its flavor will be…as I love these oven-fresh I sometimes split the cookie dough in two (to avoid complete gluttony) and keep in the fridge or deep freeze for another moment of indulgence…
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Scoop the dough into small balls (the size of a desert spoon) and place 10cms apart so that they can spread (otherwise you end up with a cookie cake …)
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges have started to barely brown.
  8. Cool slightly before munching….can be messy so white linen napkins are not necessarily advisable…

I was lucky enough to capture this complete rainbow on Thursday afternoon… its unusual to see a full rainbow and I have to admit it was a joyful and optimistic moment… I am sure we all think of Thursdays as NHS-day at the moment and this felt like a good omen…let’s hope … and in the meantime here’s clapping all you awesome Doctors, Nurses, Carers and Key Workers thank you, thank you…

Wishing you a peaceful and JOY filled weekend … please stay safe and well