Saturday, 19 May 2018

5 Accessories to update your summer wardrobe

Is it safe to say that Summer is on its way? Well I'm going to embrace it because nothing lifts your spirits than when the sun is in the big blue sky and there's a smell of burning sausages in the air.

I've been getting over excited and ready for upcoming holidays by searching for and buying some accessories to update my summer wardrobe. Is it just me or do you feel you can go out of your normal style zone and go a bit quirky with holiday/summer accessories? Take this super cute crab straw bag, which is first on my list of 5 accessories to update your summer wardrobe.

1. Round Straw Bag
Topshop £22.00
Round straw bags are hot this season. I love the natural material and texture of the woven fabric and a round bag is a change to the usual rectangle or square shape we're all used to. And whilst there are a lot of rigid round bags around at the moment - this one from Topshop ticks more boxes for me. Because it's not rigid, it'll easy fit in my suitcase (you know that front pocket on suitcases) and I won't be worried about it getting crushed. And although it has a handy long strap for wearing either cross body or on the shoulder, it easily hides away inside the bag so you can hold it by hand. There's also the button closure so the bag has a level of security. There's a cream cotton lining and a handy deep zipped pocket in the lining.
And of course there's the crabs.. too cute.  I've see that Pull & Bear have a purse that will match as well that I think I just have to get. (£12.99)
Pull & Bear
Hang on that's a lobster..or a shrimp?!

If you did prefer a more rigid bag, this one also from Topshop has a more secure closure. £27.00
2. Woven Shoes
To go with your straw bag, why not get get some woven shoes. 
I bought these simple flat woven sandals from Matalan for £12.00 and they're so comfortable.
However, I'm also after something a bit dressier. These softly textured shoes I've picked below are smarter and would be great for more formal occasions or work. They are on trend and a more fun look than a usual court shoe. And because of the open texture, your feet will stay cool, so are great for holidays too.  

I've got my eye on a few and just can't decide just yet which ones to go for..
These M&S slingback sandals will look great with dresses, skirts, jeans and trousers and M&S do them in tan as well. I've tried them on and they are comfortable and the heel height would be absolutely fine for all day or night wear. £55.00.

Topshop have some great woven design shoes and I think one of these is what I will end up going for.
I love these Mary Jane shoes, they are so adorable and would completely make a wedding guest outfit. The soft pinky nude colour would go with any outfit choice as well. £49.00

And if you like this style but not with the strap.. how about these slip on shoes in the colour of the season.  Imagine how sharp these would look with cropped jeans. £46.00 (also from Topshop).
3. Cat Eye Sunglasses
For a while I didn't think cat eye sunglasses would suit my round shaped face but I don't think these look at all bad. I bought this pair from Zara for £15.99 and I like them because they don't have a really extreme cat eye shape which there are a lot of about at the moment. The extreme shape I don't think many people can or should carry off. 
The only thing I would say about this pair is although they don't feel heavy on they do leave a dent mark on the bridge of my nose quite quickly.

I also like these from Asos and they're a bargain at either £12.00 each or £18.00 for both!
 Or these pricier but red cat eyes also from Asos at £115.00
 4. The Headband
For those days when you don't want to think too hard about your outfit and your hair needs a wash - there are so many headbands/scarves about. And what I love about this one from Zara (only £7.99) is it's got an elasticated back so you just pop it on, either over your hair like I've worn here or the normal way and you've made a bit of a statement. And it's comfortable to wear.

Zara have load of other designs, like this one..
5. The Beach Bag
A big bag that you can chuck your beach towel, book, bottle of water and sunscreen in for a day by the pool or beach, can also be used in the Summer as your shopping tote. I favour a beach bag that will easily fold in to my suitcase, has a wipe clean lining and small zipped pocket but I also really like a lot of the big straw baskets that are everywhere.
Here are some of the beach bags I am lusting after..
M&S £35.00.

 Accessorize £29.00.
Alphabet Bags
Alphabet Bags £22.00.

So those are my accessory additions to freshen up a summer wardrobe. I hope you like them.



Sunday, 13 May 2018

Six New beauty things I've been trying

I've got six new things to me, and maybe you, that I've been trying out for a little while now, so I can give you a proper tried and tested review. Here we go then:

1. Sanatio Naturalis Sweet Orange 100% pure essential oil*

I love a multi functioning product and this 100% pure essential oil is one of those gems that does more than just smell nice (and it does). You can use a few drops of this oil on your pillow for a better sleep, in a diffuser to scent your room with an uplifting and refreshing aroma or mixed in with Tea Tree oil and water to make a natural kitchen disinfectant.
I've been putting a few drops of the Sweet Orange oil in to water and in a tealight burner. The scent is subtly sweet and clean and is lovely for freshening up a room.
A 10ml dropper bottle is £15.00 and available here.

2. Elemis Superfood Facial Wash £25.00

In my opinion this is not a make up removing cleanser. But as a morning cleanser or as your second cleanse, it's very nice. The gel texture leaves my skin soft and not at all dry. The scent is typically Elemis, you'll smell like you've been at one of their spas for the day, and that's not a bad smell at all. The superfood element is formulated with active ingredients from Avocado, Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed oils and these are combined with a natural Pre-Biotic to help balance the skin’s precious microbiome. Wheatgrass, Kale, and Nettle leave the complexion looking luminous, bright and radiant.

3. The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask £17.00

This 100% vegan charcoal mask has bits in, which I wasn't expecting, so make sure you stand over a sink when applying. But once its on, it does dry down quite quickly and is fairly comfortable to have on, even though there is a slight tingling sensation. Although taking this mask off is messy because of the bits, it's worth it as it does deep clean those pores and leaves my skin feeling very clean, smooth to the touch and actually visibly glowing.

4. Altruist Invisible Sunspray SPF 30*

I'm quite a traditionalist when it comes to sunscreen, as in I've always favoured a cream but over the past few years I've seen how easy sprays are to apply, and so I branched out. However, whilst cream sprays are definitely easier to apply, you do still need to rub them in.
Not so with Altruist Invisible Spray. Not only is this literally invisible, as in it is a clear liquid but the fine mist means you just spray all over without any rubbing in. The mist is so fine that it means you're not left feeling sticky or tacky and in sinks in straight away. The spray has been developed for sensitive skin and is non pore blocking, which is a real plus point for me. 
I used this on my recent 3 day trip to Dubai in 36 degree heat, and didn't burn at all. Whilst there is no tell tale holiday scent to this spray (which a lot of people will prefer), the ease of application outweighs this for me and at only £5.00 for a 200ml can, it's much more affordable than other sunscreens on the market.
Available from Amazon.

5. Revlon Volume + Length Magnified mascara £9.99

If a brand brings out a whole series of mascaras, for all different requirements - they've got to know their stuff and be really good right? Hmm not so much. Also doesn't everyone want volume, length, separation and definition in just one mascara? Or am I just asking too much?
Needless to say this volume and length mascara offers neither. The brush just doesn't grab lashes enough to comb the product through, which is your starting point. I haven't got anymore to say on this.

6. Kiko Hydra Pro Matte Mattifying Moisturising Fluid £20.90

Regular readers of my favourite's posts may recall me raving about Kiko Hydro Pro Glow - a moisturiser with built in glow, like you can visibly see the glow on your skin and I so enjoyed using it. So when I went to buy another bottle, I stupidly faltered and asked the sales assistant if I should instead go for the matt version for my combination skin, and of course she said yes the matt version would be much better for me.
I'm not as keen on this. I don't think it mattifies my skin at all and I miss the glow. At least with the Hydro Pro Glow I wasn't matified but I had a glow.
I can't wait to use this up and get my glow back!


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

What's in my suitcase for 3 days in Dubai

What's better than 3 days in Dubai than 3 days in Dubai with your best sisters and a few new wardrobe additions? As we're getting to that exciting time of the year when we all start to become obsessed with looking for new holiday bits that'll rejuvenate a tired suitcase full, I thought I'd show you some of the pieces I've recently bought.

The back story is myself and my two sisters jetted off for a long weekend to Dubai. We flew out on Thursday night (night flight with BA - awful, no sleep. I really want to rant and rave about people reclining but I might be in the minority and/or give myself another tension headache, so I'll leave it!), landed Friday morning, just in time to check in at the JW Marriott Marquis hotel (really nice-big rooms, lovely bathroom, long waits for the lifts!), shower, change and meet our friend for brunch at Ruya in the Grosvenor Hotel. I can highly, highly recommend brunch at Ruya. I've been to a Dubai brunch before and although initially you might think they are very expensive (and they can be), it's great value for money with several hours of non stop food and drink. Ruya was different in that there was no keep getting up and down from the table to peruse the food stations, at Ruya the food is brought to your table and my god was it amazing food. There was also a DJ playing and as the day went on, he was joined by a bloke with a drum and then the party really started. Great atmosphere and food.

We then had 2 days by our hotel pool and lots more lovely food before getting an early morning flight back (sat behind another recliner..) on Monday morning.

So what did I pack for 3 days in Dubai:
The tankini above is new and from M&S. What I really like about this is that the strap easily comes off so you can sunbath without fear of strap lines, and actually I prefer this as I found the strap quite tight around the back of my neck. (£28 for top and bottom).
I bought this all in one swimsuit in the Tu (Sainsbury's) sale and whilst it looks really nice, especially with the tie waist detail, the boob section is ill fitting. I think it's me because I had to get a bigger size as hate trying to get on a tight swimming costume but what that means is that the boob area is too big for me (boobs not as big as the stomach!). There is padding in the bust area but even when I took them out it just didn't look right. So I didn't take this on holiday and it will be assigned to gym swimming pool sessions. Of which there will be zero sessions.
I've worn Haviana's for years and have them in a variety of colours but I can say without doubt that these 90p, yes 90p, flip flops from Primark are the most comfortable pool side footwear you will wear. Granted they are very flip floppy (in noise) but for 90p who cares.
This Asos dress is from last year I'm afraid. What I love about this is the knotted detail on the tummy area, which is perfect for brunch time or any meal in fact. The pattern also helps to hide a few too many ice creams! 
A similar style dress is currently available on Asos for £32.00:
Although we decided against wearing them all at the same time, myself and both my sisters all bought this same dress from Zara (one of my sisters has it in white, which is just as nice). £19.99. This is a definite keeper.
I bought this black cotton dress from Asos and really couldn't decide whether I should keep it or not. In theory it is my style - loose, girly, can spin in it. So I did keep it but I didn't wear it in Dubai as I felt it would be too hot. Although it's made from cotton, it's heavy and because it's broderie anglasie, there is a black cotton slip underneath. I think if I got some really big pants, I could wear it without the slip and in some light you would be able to see through but with a tshirt bra and big pants, I think it would look quite cool. I think.
There's also a long tie at the back of the neck.
Last year H&M did these really simple cotton tunics and they were perfect for warm work days. They're doing them again this year and in more holiday vibe patterns. This year I picked one up in a larger size as I wanted this to be really loose to either wear over swimwear when I'm going for lunch and don't want to get full on changed or even with some big jewellery for a casual evening dress. £17.99. There are a few different designs and this is part of the Anna Glover x H&M collection.
From H&M I also bought, what I believe, to be the perfect cotton top. It's the sleeves. For those of us who aren't overly keen on our arms, this is the answer. There are sleeves but they're not tight. The top is so versatile as well - think a summer work wear top with cropped trousers or worn on holiday tucked in to black paper bag shorts (or denim shorts). £12.99.
tucked in..
I also bought a few new holiday accessories and you'll see those in my upcoming post "5 things to refresh your holiday wardrobe".



Thursday, 26 April 2018

How to get your hike on (an absolute beginner's guide)

I hate exercise. I hate exercising. But I also hate that I have put on weight steadily since turning 40. I'm not sure if it's (late) middle age spread, the sofa and Netflix or generally just that long gone are the days of being an easy size 8 and being able to eat what I want and do absolutely nothing.

I'm not a strong swimmer, I don't know how to use gym equipment and I spend the whole hour looking at the clock in any exercise class. So what could I do to get fit, get out of my mental funk and lose weight? Hiking, that's what!

Hiking/walking is the exercise that anyone and I can do. Although that said I've never been much of a walker, and would often go to the effort of driving my car from one end of a car park to the other of my local large supermarket, just so I didn't have to walk!

And it took one of my sisters talking me, and a group of lovely ladies, in to signing up for a Cancer Research UK hike. I'd heard about people doing charity hikes last year and it had peaked my interest because here was something, with training, that I reckon I could do.

And so since January, nearly every Saturday morning I've been out hiking. Granted you don't need to start a training plan for the CRUK hike until 12 or 4 weeks before your chosen event but I wanted to start it as soon as possible because frankly whilst I was very keen, I wasn't sure if I could do it.

I've been going for walks once a week since January and will now start building this up to 3 times a week. I do the longer walk at the weekend when I've got more time and can come home to a bacon sandwich. I aim to do a couple of 3 mile/1 hour walks in the week.

I started off with a 3 mile walk and every weekend I've built on this, increasing by 2-3 miles each week. The longest walk to date I've done is 14 miles but it was a flat, although gentle inclined walk. We also mix in a few shorter but more undulating walks, and this is because our CRUK hike is 20.5 miles along the Jurassic Coast, which is classed as a difficult hike.
For me the most important thing is just to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, even when it's icy cold and wet fresh air.

I use Map my Hike to track the distance and keep a log of all my walks so I can see how my pace is improving.
For walking routes, I really like ifootpath - depending on where you want to walk, there are a few to lots of guided walks which work even when you've got no signal. There are written instructions but I prefer to use the map once I know what direction I'm going in. The only thing I would say is I wish there were more longer walks on this app as the majority are between 4-6 miles but that is just because we are training for this long hike.
I've also downloaded Viewranger, which has lots of longer walks on it but as yet I can't really figure out how to use it.
When I get a new hobby, I am the epitome of "all the gear, no idea". And hiking is no exception, although I've not spent much on each item and have got some real bargains. Although to be fair I wish I had spent more on my boots as I didn't realise then that I would enjoy walking so much.
In my kit I have:

  • walking boots or shoes. It's personal choice on boots or shoes but because I like my ankles to be supported and for our walk, boots are better, that's what I went for. I ended up getting kids ones because a size 4 in adults was too big for me. I got my boots from Mountain Warehouse.
  • waterproof, lightweight jacket (blue one from TK Maxx)
  • quilted, lightweight jacket for extra warmth (not pictured but from Asda)
  • backpack (TK Maxx)
  • walking socks. I really rate the walking socks that Aldi did when they had a hiking special in the middle isle of fun. These socks have extra padding where you need them, do not fall down, stay up and keep your feet warm. I've bought much more expensive socks from outdoor shops and they are not as good as the Aldi ones.
  • insoles. After a few weeks of walking I developed a really painful top of my foot, to the point where I had to get an emergency GP appointment. The Dr suggested I go to a podiatrist and get special insoles. I couldn't get an appointment but picked up runner's insoles at Lidl and they have completely solved the problem.
  • walking poles. I only have one as find 2 a pain and using a pole, particularly on hilly walks has really helped me, not just for the support to my hips but to steady me when the ground is slippery. I will get a second pole for the CRUK hike.
  • bottoms. Depending on the weather, I will mostly wear normal gym leggings and recently bought some walking trousers from Lidl and they are great for when you want to wear something a bit loser around the leg.
  • tops. I wear a gym dri-fit top, and layers depending on the temperature.
  • snacks. Always take water, a small flask of tea in the colder weather for a half way or end of walk treat. Protein bars - these have initially been hit and miss for me, some are like eating very dry cardboard, with a layer of sandpaper. I now enjoy Nature Valley ones.
Hiking is the only exercise I have ever really enjoyed, it's so simple, there's no complicated equipment and you really do get to discover areas that you have never been to or appreciated. I'm lucky to live close to The Ridgeway but had never walked it. It is beautiful but took this new passion for me to discover it.

If you fancy getting out and would like the challenge and motivation of doing a CRUK charity hike (there are lots of different hikes in different areas of the UK to choose from) or one of the many CRUK Race 4 Life events, I've got a code which if you use to register by Monday 30 April, you won't pay a registration fee. And what better charity than Cancer Research UK.

The code to use at Race for Life is PINKTIX1
And if you needed any motivation to get outside, here's some..



Monday, 23 April 2018

How to do an in flight spa

Flights are boring aren't they? Especially long haul flights. After the initial excitment of checking what films you can watch, flicking through the Duty Free magazine and deciding on your meal.. there's not much else to do. And as well as having a lot of time to kill, flying can play havoc with your skin, de-hydrating it from the circulating air and generally just having six plus hours of no fresh air or proper day light, and add to that a lack of proper sleep and it's no wonder no one looks their absolute best when they leave the plane.

So why not with the many hours you've got.. pamper yourself and give your skin some tlc to help combat against flying.

I was kindly sent the Inflight Essentials from Heathcote & Ivory The clear bag, which is the perfect size for putting your liquids in, is packed full of travel sized goodies that will help to get you relaxed on your flight. The bag contains:
A pack of playing cards, which are great for either on your own playing patience or a few games of 21 with your flying partner. The bag also contains a very handy pair of ear plugs. I detest the general plane noise and so to be able to shut all that noise out will help me to unwind and find my zone.
A hand cream which smells refreshing and leaves hands feeling hydrated and soft. I like to use hand cream after using a hand sanitiser, which you also get in the pack,  to leave a nice scent and moisturise hands.
This is an interesting and very useful item to have when flying - a calming gel. The lavender scented gel smells very spa like and because it's lavender, very relaxing. Dot a small amount on to your pulse points (wrists and temples) to help calm any flying nerves.

This handy in flight essentials bag* is only £12.00 from Heathcote & Ivory.
For longer flights I like to take all my make up off and the easiest way is with a face wipe. This is the only time I use wipes and these micellar wipes from Aldi were cheap but will do the job of removing all my make up and freshening up skin. Also good for cleaning your hands.
I know some people like to sit on a plane in a full on sheet mask.. but I think most of these people are sat in First Class where you can do what you want and have more privacy! So I won't be sitting scaring people in the cheap seats in a sheet mask but I am happy to discreetly use eye patches. These clear hydrogel eye patches super charge your under eye area with much needed hydration. And no one need know you're wearing them. £3.50 from Soap & Glory.
I also slather on Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream on to my hands and especially around my dry cuticles, which will get them looking holiday ready. Use this every few hours on your lips as well.

To keep my face moisturised and help keep oiliness at bay, I will mist on the Tony Moly Sleek Mist every few hours as well. This mist has such a refreshing spray and I would recommend this or any facial mist spray for flights and holidays. Available from Cult Beauty.

Another treat would be a foot mask, the ones which are like socks with the serum contained inside. Put the socks on and the mask will not only cool and help with the normal swelling of feet during a flight, but will get your heels sandal ready. Masque Bar do an intensive moisturising mask and is available from Boots.

And last of all when you've pampered yourself and watched enough films, read enough of your new book, slip on a sleep eye mask, pop your ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones on and get some shut eye ready to wake up in your new destination.



Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Sorry State of Blogging

Have you ever started something, like a new hobby/friendship/TV series/pack of biscuits and you honestly feel at that point that you never want it to end? And indeed you'll work hard to make sure it never does. But what if, despite all your very best efforts, throwing everything you've got at it, it just doesn't pan out the way you had hoped for and then you find yourself drifting away, feeling a bit let down and disappointed.

Well that's been me for a little while now with the whole blogging lark. I know when it happened - some of you may or may not know that I used to write for another beauty blog, a big UK one. I was one of a group of contributors and I was really proud to be part of this group. We didn't get paid but did get to keep any items we wrote about, a bit like what happens now with my own little blog. And I really enjoyed this because I had felt that this other site would give me exposure to a wider audience and earn me the respect of the blogger who fronts this blog. It didn't and my dreams of maybe one day being able to write for this other site as a full time blogger came to an abrupt end when all the contributors were dropped. It was disappointing.

But I decided to throw all my time and writing effort into my own blog, which I did and decided to challenge myself to post 24 days in December. And I did it, but I don't know, maybe because everyone is busy in December but the number of readers I got to these Christmas Beauty Advent posts was really low. And it left me feeling despondent and I lost my enthusiasm for blogging. This was also coupled with the six month long winter we had in the UK and the complete lack of any decent light to take photos! I stopped buying things just so I could write about them. In the last few weeks I've also read from lots of bloggers - full time ones and small hobby ones like me, who too were feeling generally fed up with the whole blogging world and that all their time and efforts were just not receiving the readership they had previously been used to.

I know myself my consumption of content has changed - I very rarely buy magazines anymore and when I do I literally flick through looking at the images and I never read any of the words, apart from where I can buy an item and how much it is! Even my obsession with watching Youtube has gone. I used to look forward to Sundays when the majority of the Youtubers I subscribe to upload new content. Not any more.

Instagram, the only social media platform that really interests me, has lost its appeal. Not only for people like me that like to promote new blog posts and images that I think might interest and appeal to my very few followers but as a non blogger, it irritates the hell out of me that I'm not seeing posts on my timeline in chronological order. What is the point in seeing a post from a brand or someone alerting you to a new in product but to then realise you're seeing this post for the first time when it is already two days old, and said item is now sold out?!

We all (myself included) seem to have suddenly turned in to quick fire content consumers. No one wants to read anymore, we want information in quick short bursts, which is why Instagram Stories has become the most popular platform. But it's crazy isn't it because I for one can spend hours scrolling on my phone looking for these short bursts of information. And it frazzles your brain doesn't it. Who else has spent that half hour before going to sleep just scrolling only to then find when you want to sleep, your brain is too switched on and reeling from all the images you've just bombarded it with. If I halved the time I spend mindlessly scrolling and actually reading an article, blog post or book I would surely be consuming a more in depth level of content and useful, quality information. I'd get a real time spent review of a product, rather than just the quick packaging shot I currently am? I mean great if it looks pretty but does it actually work??

So for the here and now I'm back on it. This is my hobby, not my job, so I can afford the blog a little down time, while I hopefully refresh. And if now and then you want to dip in and read about what moisturiser or foundation I'm using or where I've been on holiday and what I've bought myself to wear and what I think you might like too ... please be my guest.

And to tempt you, these are some of the posts which will be coming up..

  • Just 5 things to refresh your summer wardrobe
  • What's in my case for 3 days in Dubai
  • Treat yourself to an in-flight spa
  • Hiking. The beginner's guide.
  • My 1st spray tan experience

Let's go back to the old school, let's get back to properly taking the time out to digest what we're reading, and I will continue to give you my absolute honest opinion on everything I write about here. And hopefully we can all get back to enjoying some time well spent with a cup of tea, a couple of biscuits and a good read.

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