Wednesday, 1 June 2016

I don't know how does she (she being me, M&S and Alexa Chung) does it?

You know that 2011 film starring Sarah Jessica Parker, based on Kate Reddy's book about a woman whose life is spent nursing a nagging guilt along with the sometimes near-impossible demands of everyday life - that story is resonating with me today; especially as I am at work this week whilst the hubby and kids head to the west country to visit family. Whilst on the plus side I can watch back to back episodes of Grey's Anatomy, it does feel rather quiet at home alone.

Fear not, this is not a post to lament how easy life would be if I didn't work or pat myself on the head and say well done me for just about fitting it all in and still remaining sane. Its a collective 'GET YOUR SH*T TOGETHER' and 'WELL DONE' to us all for getting through the day, keeping our jobs, families and to do lists on the straight and narrow - we did it, if only to pick it up again tomorrow.

Whether you are single or in a couple, focused on your career and/or growing family, a working or stay-at-home parent or a grandparent, life is one long juggling act of emotions, activities riddled with 'I wish I could do that' or 'I wish I didn't have to do that'  - or usually a combination of the two, winding up in an emotional rollercoaster that is life.

When I started this blog, I had visions of a twice weekly blog post, speaking to a growing audience of like-minded women (and men!) - and yet I am down to just once a month. And that's ok. I enjoy sharing myself this way - its a fun outlet, if only to taunt my husband with all the 'tat' I purchase!


So with that in mind I wanted to get that rant out of the way, and point you in the direction, on this wet and windy June day (WTF!!) of a new found love of mine, its only Marks and bloody Spencer!

Of late they have been taunting me with emails of discounts and BOGOFs so I have been scouring the site for something I gets like that on some days. And it was on one of these search expeditions that I found the holy grail of the latest fashion love, CULOTTES! Yes, Simon and Trevor, swing your pants.....

The Archive by Alexa Chung range is a beauty and whilst  I hasten to add that the rest of the range is not really my cup of tea, these are by far my most amazing wardrobe item of 2016 (BOLD STATEMENT BY ME!). When you buy something you need to picture yourself wearing in at least 5 ways - otherwise it becomes that lovely item of clothing that goes with nothing! These trousers literally go with everything:

Dress up for work - tick

Dress up for night out on the town  - tick (sorry about the pout!)

Dress down for school run - tiiiiiiick (skipping to school, that's me!)

Dress for......anything you want! Summer, winter, rain or shine.....they really work!

HEAVEN!!! conclusion for the most random blog post yet, I do know how I do beautiful babies, my supportive family and friends (particular nod to husband who keeps me on the straight and narrow unless there is Cointreau involved), my incredibly rewarding job, my (extreme at times) social life and all the other activities and enjoyments that make me the person I am ie. fashion, make up, food, fine or indeed rubbish wines, gin (my new fave tipple!) and did I say make up!!

But I tell you what, these culottes make me an even better version of myself.....ok, now I am joking....but seriously if you feel good, you can do just about anything (except make it sunny it seems!).

Thursday, 5 May 2016

My first ever detox!

So it's been 9 days of cleansing and detoxing. Quite frankly, 9 days off the booze and caffeine was an absolute miracle so the fact I was able to keep this up shows me that I still have some will power - phew!

The Clean 9 Forever Living detox is essentially a great weight loss kick starter. For me it was more than that - a way of cleansing my body and pressing the reset button. I have suffered with IBS for a number of years and it is getting increasingly worse - and for no apparent reason. My food triggers are random and don't seem to have a pattern - tuna I have found to be a nightmare (so random!!), gluten is fine in small doses, milk is off the menu but hard cheese is fine. Obviously wine is not a problem AT ALL!!

So I started the Clean 9 detox on a Thursday. The first 2 days are the killer - no food (except some fruit and veggies that are on the' free list' throughout the detox), lots of Aloe Vera gel to drink (which is totally disgusting - reminds me of the texture of something I won't mention, but those of you who have tasted (both!) will understand ;)) but is a great gut healer!), tablets to curb hunger and encourage the metabolism to get working and a protein shake for dinner. The shake (I went for chocolate) is fabulous mixed with almond milk....I am going to get some more of this as it great as quick fix when you haven't got time for lunch!

After day 2 it's pretty much plain sailing as you can eat your evening meal as normal - limiting to 600 calories. I found myself really looking forward to and savouring the taste of my food. I snacked on grapes, sugar snap peas and frozen blueberries and relished the taste. I have already done a Tesco shop since I finished the detox and its full of healthy snacking options -  the mid afternoon sugar low is my downfall and healthy snacks like these are tasty, filling (ish!) and not going to pile on the pounds.

In all I lost about half a stone in weight. My clothes fit better, my skin looks clearer (a cliche but genuinely have noticed the difference). I think the good habits over the 9 days have set me in good stead.....ok, so I had a massive night out on the Friday I finished the detox and drank my body weight in gin, wine and few sambucas to really finish me off. But food wise I am all about going back to basics - clean eating, lots of fruit and veg, zero gluten, no dairy apart from cheese (I LOVE CHEEESE!!). Wine will be reserved for weekends and bank holidays (phew!). I feel I have pressed the reset button and it feels good!

Where to get Clean 9?

There are loads of suppliers of Forever Living but my favourite is the lovely and very knowledgeable Anna Walker-Bettles. She is local to Bedford and having used the products for years, is a great source of information and guidance. Her daily texts to check I remained on track helped me through the whole detox process! I am happy to provide an intro if you want to get in touch with Anna!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Back to our teens - Body Shop Beauties!

Memories of the Body Shop conjures up images of my early teens as a walking, talking jumble of Body Butter and White Musk - or the now discontinued, Dewberry perfume!

I haven't stepped foot in a store for years but having read on many a blog that there are some new amazing products that rival the more high end brands, my ears pricked up and I delved in!

First the Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil, for anyone who loves a hot cloth cleanse - or not - is a brilliant product that no matter how much make up I trowel on, including waterproof mascara, always manages to get every ounce of make up off my face leaving it wonderfully soft. And whilst you would expect an oil to leave a residue or be greasy, it isn't at all. Now I've tried a few cleansing creams, oils and balms, from Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish (which is well renowned and totally brilliant) to Emma Hardie's cleansing balm and Clinique's Take the day off oil. All are great at the job, and I wouldn't hesitate to purchase any of these again, but at more than half the price of some of these (significantly more for the Emma Hardie Balm), the Body Shop alternative is a real penny saver!

And if you use the Body Shop's pretty regular 3 for 2 offers or 30-40% discount codes (available here), it becomes even if its 3 for 2, what else should we buy!!??

Still on skin care, the Vitamin E Sink In Moisture Sleeping Mask, is a cream that you apply at bed time and literally wake up the next day with baby soft skin. You only need a small amount so it lasts ages and the smell is divine - almost sleep inducing in itself. I will continue buying this forever!

The make up range has come a long way since the beige lip pencils of the 1990's. As part of the 3 for 2 purchases recently, I bought the Lightening Touch concealer pen, similar in packaging and texture to the YSL Touche Eclat. Its light-diffusing so hides dark circles and fine lines without feeling like its caked on. I love the consistency and the coverage, and at half the price of its more famous counterpart, its a good buy!

Of worthy note before I sign off, one product I have used time and time again is the Lip Line Fixer. Now I don't wear bright red lipstick that much, but when I do, I reach for this. Its creates an invisible barrier that stops the lipstick from 'bleeding', and its great because it means you don't have to seek out that perfect lip liner match for every lipstick you own - it goes on clear.....genius!

So its safe to say that the Body Shop is back on my shopping stomping ground. I have graduated from the sickly smelling body butters and floral perfumes, but for great skin care and make up, its a keeper!

My #coatoftheday is one I am desperate to own - its from Asos and is by a lovely brand called Weekday - not for this season, I hasten to add, but ready for the autumn/winter 2016 - is that a bit too organised I wonder??

And please could I have a middriff like that!