Friday 9 October 2015

Our book club

Lello bookshop, Porto, Portugal
This is so stunning, it looks like it belongs in Hogwarts!!

As I know many of you are avid readers like myself,  I thought I'd tell you a bit about our book club & how we choose our books.

We're a group of friends roughly the same age & we all either live in the village or have children at the village school.  It was started up about 4 years ago I think but I've only been going for about 3 years after talking to a mum at nursery one day about reading & she mentioned about coming along to their next BC which was to be held the following evening.

There are about 10 of us who go regularly & other members who come along as & when they can.  We meet once a month at each other's houses, each taking turns & the host house provides the all important snacks, wine & cake!

In January when the meeting was at my house, we decided to change the way we chose our books as a lot of people felt that their choices were never being picked due to the more vociferous members of our group getting theirs chosen all the time.  So we decided that for each month, we would have a genre & we would all bring along a suggestion for that specific genre.  These are anonymous suggestions that are written on a piece of paper & put into a 'hat' & one is pulled at random - this is the book we then read.  By doing it this way, everyone gets an equal chance of having their book chosen & we get to read some brilliant books - books we'd otherwise never have chosen!

This is our genre list for this year & what we've read so far:

January - Pot Luck
  The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

April - Pot luck
Room by Emma Donoghue

May - Auto/biography
Do No Harm by Dr Henry Marsh

September - History/historical fiction
 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

December - Pot luck
tbc but is usually a 'lighter' Christmassy read!

I really enjoy my BC nights & have discovered some fabulous reads that I'd never have chosen myself in a million years as I tend to stick to psychological/crime thrillers, so it pushes me waaayyy out of my comfort zone.  And let's face it, it's also a great excuse for a catch-up with my friends!!

Is anyone else in a book club?  What are your favourite books, I'm always looking for new suggestions?!

Friday 18 September 2015

Autumn outfits

Wow, that was a rather long - and unintentional! - break from blogging but you know, sometimes life just gets in the way!  The kids are all well ensconced in school, I'm back to my morning 5km walks round the reservoirs just across from my house (which I really missed doing during the summer holidays) & I've been helping a lot at the school again.  This teamed with my mum being unwell & running around helping her out has left little time for post research/reviews etc so I've been a blog reader, not a poster for a while.  But my mojo is back & how fortuitous that it should happen entering my favourite time of year & all the shops are getting all of their autumn/winter stock in!!  I *may* have made a sneaky purchase (or 10!) already......

It's no secret that I LOVE a bit of poncho/wrap/cape action so it pleases me immensely that the shops are full of these again this year.  I've bought a couple of new ones already (and have my eye on a couple more, ahem!) & I'm on the hunt for a new wool fedora this year.  I can't decide between this grey one from New Look or this charcoal & tan beauty from Zara that my friend bought last week.  We don't live near each other however, so won't have the worry of turning up wearing the same thing!  But then I keep coming back to this navy one from Topshop too, decisions, decisions!!

I feel like I've 'done' navy to death over the past year so this season I'm veering back towards black & grey. My old but comfy pair of black skinnies are now more of a grey colour (which I don't dislike!) so new pair of high waisted black skinnies are on the list.  I'm also looking for a grey cross-body saddle bag so have been trawling the internet looking for one.  I like this from Clarks but I'm just not keen on the patent straps, however I do love the more casual style of this one from White Stuff.

I've always been a bit self-conscious of putting OOTD posts on my blog but I've decided I'm going to do more of them from now on starting with these few outfits I've been wearing over the last couple of weeks with some of my new purchases!!  Apologies in advance for the poor photos, mirror selfies just aren't clear!

Left: grey jumper dress, Primark, current
black leggings, M&S
black trainers, M&S
Right: oversized grey cardi, Primark, A/W 14 but similar in store
black (now grey!) jeans, Asda
trainers, as before
Left: black blazer, H&M '14, similar here
white shirt, M&S
jeans, Next
sliders, Garage 
bag, eBay
Top right: navy boyfriend cardi, Primark '14, similar in store
top, Next, S/S '15, similar here
jeans, Next, as before
sliders, as before
Bottom right: black trainers, M&S, as before
Left: check coatigan, Primark, current (my favourite new purchase!)
grey jumper dress, Primark, current
black ponté trousers, H&M, similar here
trainers, M&S, as before
Right: rust blanket wrap, Primark, current
black jeans, Asda, as before
trainers, as before

You can probably tell that I'm MUCH happier dressing for autumn/winter so I'm looking forward to hunting out all my other ponchos, wraps & hats!  The dark nail polishes are also back out now too!

What will you be wearing for A/W this year?

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Current skincare for hormonal acne

I've spoken a few times about my hormonal (menopausal, ugh!) acne & after a re-jig of my skincare, I seem to have found the perfect products that have really helped to clear up my skin in the last 7 weeks so I thought I'd share them with you.

After using my Simple eye makeup remover cream, I take the bulk of my makeup off with the Garnier Micellar water & then follow up with a deep cleanse using the Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil.  I love this silky, lightweight oil as it never feels greasy or leaves a film on my skin.  I always use a clean flannel every day to remove this as the lightweight muslin cloths leave too much product behind for my liking - Primark luxury facecloths/flannels are excellent.

These Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Pads by Nip + Fab are a recent discovery, bought on a total whim one day when I spotted them on offer but I'm soooo glad I found them!  I noticed a huge difference in my skin after using these for just a few days - my blemishes starting clearing up immediately & redness was reduced.  Don't be put off by the 'glycolic acid'  or 'exfoliating' tags as these pads are so gentle on the skin but incredibly effective.  The acid is the exfoliating agent whilst they also contain witch hazel to tone, hyaluronic acid to hydrate & blue daisy to soothe.
If my skin is having a particularly bad breakout, I give it a light spritz with this Serozinc by La Roche-Posay.  I don't think it particularly treats blemishes but it helps to mattify the skin without drying it out.

Another new purchase is La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I.  This is a targeted breakout corrector cream & I apply this on any new blemishes.  You only need a tiny amount & it really helps to immediately reduce imperfections & reduces the chance of scarring.
Another wonder product from LR-P here & one I've spoken about before on the blog - Effaclar Duo+.  This lightweight gel-crème helps to rapidly clear up any breakouts & refine the skin's appearance & I'm now on my third tube of this.  It's really helped to reduce the scarring on my chin & any redness is immediately soothed - I love this stuff!!

Hydrate & nourish
More new products, this time from Vichy.  After Vichy kindly sent me the Liftactiv Supreme to try (read my review here) & I loved it so much, I decided to buy their Aqualia Thermal serum.  It's so important for all skin types to keep really well hydrated so I always use a hydrating serum under my moisturiser.  I had been using Hydraluron & Clarins Hydraquench but I really like this from Vichy too.  One pump is enough to cover my whole face, neck & décolletage & teamed with the rest of my skincare routine, my skin still feels really well hydrated when I wake up in the morning.

My skin has cleared up enormously since using this regime & scarring is reducing all the time.  My breakouts are not so regular - or horrific! - now & overall, I'm much happier.  It's amazing how much having acne can zap your confidence!

Are there any other skincare recommendations out there?

Friday 17 July 2015

The nip/tuck debate!

So we all know about the dinner-party rule of no discussing religion, politics or money but I've discovered a fourth no-go topic - cosmetic surgery!

I was with a group of friends the other week & somehow, the conversation turned to cosmetic surgery & there was a real divide in opinions on it.  Personally, I've never really had a problem with cosmetic surgery as there's usually a very good reason for wanting it done....I just like it when it's well done - and by that, I mean subtly & not over-done!  For example, Sharon Osbourne looked absolutely amazing around 9/10 years ago but now, I personally think that the surgery has been too overdone & she's starting to take on the stretched but pillowy look, prevalent in so many celebrities.  (I still love her though but please stop now!!)  I could have chosen many, many examples of people to show here, this is most definitely not a personal attack on Mrs O at all.

Photos taken in 2004, 2010 & 2014 from Google.

As I get older I'm becoming more aware of the tiny lines starting to appear on my face & yes, I've thought many times about getting a wee bit of Botox, which I think can be amazing, again when not overused leaving that waxy, vacant expression!  I've seen some very good results from Botox but I've also seen some very obvious, not-so-good applications that would have left me horrified if it had happened to me.

But is Botox seen as a big deal these days?  To me, it's still kind of a big deal - anything being injected into your body has got to be, surely?  But as much as I think I could do it, I'm not sure if I actually would....I'm a bit of a scaredy cat!  I really wish however, that these younglings would stop getting it done at the age of 20, that's just ridiculous unless it's for medical reasons.  Shame on the practitioners doing it too!

Seriously though, if the aforementioned scaredy factor wasn't so high, I would love to get my boobs done. Not enlarged, hell no, quite the opposite!  I would like to get a breast reduction with a serious uplift!  This is the downside to naturally large breasts - big = heavy & heavy = rapidly heading south :(. However, unless a lottery win is in the pipeline, this won't happen!  And even then, I'm not sure I'd have the guts to go through with such a massive surgical procedure even though I'd gain great relief & have a lot less back & shoulder ache with smaller boobs!

This is a totally random, waffly post but what are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery?  Are you quite au fait with the idea, have you had anything done or are you vehemently against it?  It's been a long time since a discussion subject was quite so emotive amongst my friends!

Thursday 16 July 2015

Vichy Liftactiv Supreme

I posted back in June that I was approached by Vichy to see if I'd like to try their Dermablend range (see my review here) & the new Liftactiv Supreme moisturiser.  I reviewed the foundation straight away but wanted to give the moisturiser a fair trial before posting my opinion.  I've now been using this cream for 6 weeks & I have probably enough product left for another 3 or 4 days.  During this time, I've used no other day or night creams or facial oils, just the Liftactiv Supreme for normal/combination skin & a hydrating serum underneath.  

On receiving, I did the usual texture test & even though this felt rich & immediately nourishing, because it is more of a gel-crème formulation rather than a heavy cream, I knew my skin was going to like it.  The only thing that slightly concerned me was the merest hint of shimmer given by the the white micro-pearls as in the past, any product with 'illuminating' properties (ie, anything with shimmer so most highlighters & a lot of other primers & creams) have broken my skin out terribly but I'm very happy to report that I had no reaction whatsoever to this - yay!!  You can read more in depth product information on the Vichy website, I just want to give you my findings on this today, not bamboozle you with science!

So, after 6 weeks of twice-daily use, what are my thoughts on this cream?  Hand on heart, it's been a long time & a lot of products since I've used a moisturiser that I've loved this much.  I've noticed a tremendous difference in the texture & firmness of my skin, my face just looks a lot 'fresher' at the moment!  When I wake up in the morning, my skin still feels plumped & hydrated & that hasn't happened in years, believe me.  Also, I could be imagining it but I'm positive that the fine vertical frown lines I have between my eyes are less noticeable now - I'm so annoyed I didn't take a closeup 'before' photo as proof!!

 I was so impressed with this & happy that this suited my skin so much that after only 3 weeks of using it, I ordered the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Serum to replace my depleted stocks of Hydraluron & Clarins Hydraquench Serum & another pot of the Liftactiv Supreme.  Never before have I used a product that I've felt the need to replace before I've even finished it so that in itself speaks volumes!! Thank you so much Vichy for sending me this & bringing your lovely products back to my attention!

Liftactiv Supreme is available from Boots at £31.00 but shop around online, as other sites sometimes have it on offer. 

Life lately ~ Summer 2015

Wow, I can't believe the kids are halfway through their summer holidays already, some schools in England haven't even broken up yet!!  I took a wee break from blogging whilst we enjoyed the end-of-term shenanigans & we all took a trip down to stay with my dad & step-mum & enjoyed a couple of days in London whilst down there.  I did actually have every intention of doing a couple of posts whilst we were away but Blogger just doesn't work well from an iPad - you can't upload photos nor go back & edit posts.  I feel I may have to invest in a wee netbook/laptop for holidays if I want to blog on the go!!

We've also visited Glamis Castle for the annual Vintage Motor Extravaganza & yesterday, I spent the day with my two besties & their children up at Blair Atholl Castle, which was absolutely stunning.   Shockingly, the sun actually shone & wait for was hot too, almost like summer, you could say!!! ;)

I won't bore you with the nitty gritty so here's a few collages before I get my head firmly back in the blogging game!!!


Tuesday 16 June 2015

Vichy Dermablend

Just after my birthday in April I had a monumental breakout leaving me with very red, sore, bumpy - and extremely unattractive - skin, mainly around my chin area.  I know this was down to a huge hormonal surge due to my ongoing peri-menopausal symptoms (read about it here) & it was really leaving me feeling very depressed & self-conscious.  Without going on some very heavy-duty acne treatments, which I didn't want to do, I knew I was going to have to give my skincare routine & makeup a huge shakeup so I really couldn't have been contacted at a better time by the lovely folk at Vichy.

They asked me if I'd be interested in trying their Dermablend Corrective Foundation & their new Liftactiv Supreme moisturiser, and knowing the benefits of the Dermablend range, I took them up on their very kind offer!  After choosing my shade & skin type from the options on their website, I received a parcel from them a few days later & discovered they'd also very kindly enclosed a Dermablend Corrector Stick to me to try.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Dermablend range, it is known & well-loved for it's fantastic camouflaging abilities, covering skin imperfections such as scarring, redness, uneven skintone etc. without leaving your skin feeling like it's been totally caked in thick, heavy makeup.  The SPF 35 foundation has a medium consistency & blended evenly.  The website recommends to apply using fingertips or a damp sponge, although I'd like to try it with a Beauty Blender too so that's next on my list to order!  It's easily buildable should you require more coverage but for me, I only used a very small amount for my entire face & neck.  I chose the lightest shade Opal, which was just a tad on the pale side for me, especially as I now have a hint of a tan on my face but I will buy another one in a slightly deeper shade - it's just that good!

The SPF 30 corrector stick, as you can see comes in a twist-up bullet & has a much thicker consistency, but the coverage is seriously unbelievable with this!! I had at the time of photographing, a big red bump on my chest & I very lightly patted the teeniest amount of this over the top with my fingertip & it just vanished with absolutely no hint of redness to be seen.  And it did not shift or melt away all day, amazing, really!  You can see this with the before & after shots I've taken.

As I have rosacea & acne scarring, I am the perfect candidate for trying this & showing it to you because I am truly very impressed with these products!  Unfortunately (for me, that is!!) this means that I have to be completely bare skinned & makeup free for all the world to see which is some feat seeing as I haven't been seen in public sans maquillage since 1990!!!  But to be totally fair to the product & to show it's coverage honestly, here are my totally untouched before & after shots, redness,  lumps, bumps & all!!

Completely bare skin, eeeek!

With a very light application of Dermablend foundation, no other makeup

Dermablend foundation & corrective stick, blush, eye makeup & nude lip balm

Muuuuch happier!!  (I was also testing my new Eyeko liquid eyeliner pen, review to come!)

Such a happy camper aren't I, I honestly don't feel as miserable as I look here!!  But look how it's completely evened out any redness & even though a couple of bumps can still be seen on my chin, the coverage is amazing!!  It's so highly pigmented, you really do need the tiniest of amounts so the tube will last for ages, you can't fail to be impressed!

What do you think?!  Is anyone else a fan to the Vichy Dermablend range?  Keep an eye out for my review of the Liftactiv Supreme, coming very soon!!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

NOTD Barry M Gelly ~ Sky Blue

It's no secret that the Barry M Gelly polishes are my go-to brand & this one is no different.  Sky Blue is from the Spring 2015 range & yet again, offers the perfect formula & application now expected of these, even for a pastel shade which are notorious for bad coverage.

This is with just 2 coats with my usual China Glaze Strong Adhesion base coat & Seche Vite top coat & as I find with most of the Gelly polishes, it lasted a week with no wear or chips until I removed it to re-paint my nails.  It shows more green than it looked in real life, it is definitely blue though!  For just £3.99 a bottle, I really think you'd be hard pushed to find better quality at this price!

Are you a fan of the Gelly polishes?

Tuesday 2 June 2015

MAC ~ Call the Hairdresser!

This is the one & only MAC item I picked up whilst I was in NYC, shocking I know, but it's a goodie!!

MAC Call the Hairdresser! is an lustre finish & is a beautiful pinky coral shade, perfect for summer.  Annoyingly though, I can't find it on the UK site so it must be unique to the States, sorry!!  I'll try & find a dupe & add it on if I find one.

What's your favourite shade of MAC lippy?

Monday 1 June 2015

New York shopping

Well, after all my planning & preparation, to say my shopping 'haul' from New York was a bit disappointing is a huge understatement!!

A lot of the makeup I was after was sold out in many (many!!!) Sephora stores & even though we went into pretty much every CVS & Duane Reade we passed (so yeah, a LOT!), the displays were nearly always empty so I didn't get everything from there either.

Here's the few pieces I did pick up....

From Sephora, I only managed to snag a mini Sephora mascara for $5 (from the Aisle of Temptation!  You'll know if you've been there!!) & an Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade, which was $18.  From CVS I bought two lipsticks from Wet n Wild for a couple of dollars each (which are surprisingly good & give MAC a run for their money!)  I also picked up a MAC lipstick in Call the Hairdresser from Macy's from the rudest sales assistants I've ever had the 'pleasure' to come across.

I desperately wanted to find the E.L.F. store but the address we had, after traipsing up & down this sodding street several times in torrential rain, we discovered had closed down, grrrrr!!!  So I thought that'd be a no-go but then I found a small display of products in Old Navy & picked up 2 each of the brushes shown here (one set for my daughter) & a BB cream.  However, apart from the MAC & one of the WnW lipsticks, everything else is as yet unused waiting to be reviewed so watch this space!!

I didn't find one single bag that I liked enough to warrant spending a few hundred dollars on & no clothes were to be found either.  Anything I found that I did like, I knew I could buy cheaper here so I left them!  To be honest, we spent most of our money on bits for the kids!

But the one thing I did buy that I really wanted & is now my pride & joy, was my Tissot watch.  However, this was bought from Duty Free at Heathrow so doesn't really come under the 'New York shopping' heading but hey ho!!  I googled the price of the watch in NY & it would've been significantly more to buy there so as I was going to save £70 off the price buying from Duty Free, it was a no-brainer!!

So I'm sorry I don't have more to show you but now that my computer is working again, I'll get reviews of the bits I did get up asap!!

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