Saturday, 30 July 2011

Wedding Photos

Today I earnt my pennies as a wedding photographer, as always was a nervous wreck beforehand!  Am very pleased with the results, here are a couple of my favourites.
Mr & Mrs Donald!
The contrast between the dress and flowers is beautiful.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Nature knows best.

One of the "nice" things about being 45. What tosh. One of the very few benefits of being any age over about 29 is that you do sort of get to know stuff that you didn't know before. Nothing huge you understand, still cant split an atom, but just the stuff that makes you go "ahhh. now I geddit".  Anyone thats done/doing/about to embark on the wonderful journey that is motherhood will find these "geddit" moments have a weird way of cropping up right when you need them to!

Lets face it, within about 10 seconds of seeing that little blue line appear on the stick most womens first thought is "Bugger. I've seen babies, their heads are HUGE. That is going to hurt"  for 8 months you torture yourself with thinking about the unimaginable and question whether you can actually survive pain so bad.  Then at about 8 and a half months you wake up one morning and think "right, sod it. I don't care how it happens just get this bloody thing out of me".  That's nature kicking in and helping you to welcome a situation you had thought you couldn't be dragged into kicking and screaming.

Here's another example.  Myself and OH in car with 6 month old Emily in the back of the car, in her car seat.  The stitches had healed, I hadn't had mastitis for a whole hour, was no longer breast feeding so my nipples had stopped being scabs that stuck to my breast pads, so that I had to shower the pads before I peeled them off or risk ripping off a nipple. (the "Breast is best" league would have my guts for garters!) and I was rather loving being a mummy.  We were driving past a school at kicking out time.  OH said "Weird to think Emily will be going to school in four and a half years time".  This terrible realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks; my tiny, precious person that no-one could ever love or look after as well as me was going to have to go to school, six whole hours ever day where I would have to hope some woman with 29 other little people to look after would keep half an eye out for my baby to ensure she didn't run with scissors.  I had to pull over I was crying that hard.

Exactly four years later and we are standing at the school gate.  Well not standing, exactly. Em is clinging to me like a tiny marsupial and I am trying to shake her off without appearing to be too callous and unfeeling.  I was working freelance and had her 3 yr old brother to look after and frankly it was time. She was ready for school and I was ready to let her go.

Emily is now 19 and still living at home.  I suspect you may all have just worked out exactly where this post is going!  It's going, my friends, to a flat or a house share. And it's taking it's washing, ironing, cooking and cleaning with it.  It will however be leaving behind my phone charger, plugged in by my bed where I always leave it. My make up, in my make up bag and that £20 that "fell out" of my purse, safely tucked away for me to spend on me!  

I have always dreaded the idea of my babies flying the nest but with Tom off to University next September the possibility of having a child free house is looking sweet indeed!  As she has no plans to go to Uni, I had assumed Em would live with us til she was at least 30; we all get on, she's great company and ok so she's messy and in a week generates as much washing and ironing as the other 3 of us put together, but she's my baby and my friend.  

And so mother nature has done her thing again!  Suddenly Em and I are bumping up against one another, nothing major just a little parting of the ways and I am certain that she's as keen to leave as I am keen to see her go, which is exactly how it should be.  Always safe in the knowledge that we love one another and that she will always have a place with us if she needs it, but for now she needs the chance to learn that she cant just fritter her salary away every month and that if she spends her weekends partying she is going to spend her Monday evenings ironing and watching Eastenders!  

Just to bring things full circle I rang my mum yesterday to ask how I manage when my lovely 19 yr old daughter is going slightly off the rails.  Her response? "Wait til she's 45 and rings you to ask what she should do about her 19 yr old daugther going off the rails.  Then roar with laughter"!! I do love my mum

Monday, 25 July 2011


Had mentioned to OH was blogging about the guest house and how my next post, a letter in response to a horrid review on a travel review site, was writing itself in my head, couple of hours later and in the midst of our daily row he pointed out that I needed to get my head in order and should stop being so bitter about the guest house.  Had a meltdown, deleted several partially written posts and cancelled my twitter account.  Then realised that perhaps where I had gone wrong was not actually writing the blog posts, which could be viewed as cathartic, but by telling HIM I was writing them. So shhh! here's that letter I mentioned!

Dear couple from Horsham,
Thank you for your recent review of our guest house in which you expressed consternation at the fact that the duvet cover in  your room did not match the curtains, which has apparently had a dreadful affect on your aesthetic sensibilities and completely ruined your 4 night stay in West Yorkshire.

I notice that you have reviewed 5 guest houses in West Yorkshire, all of which, with one notable exception, you have found wanting.  May I respectfully suggest that perhaps you holiday only in West Sussex and allow the hard working hoteliers of Halifax and Huddersfield to go about their business without having to invest undue amounts of time in matching their soft furnishings.  The guest house that you have reviewed in glowing terms, going so far as to compliment on the owner on her "tasteful eye for decor" (she was no doubt thrilled to be praised by such an arbiter of good taste) has 3 suites which cost £110 a night.  The other four accommodations which you found "tired" and "mismatched" charge an average of £70 a night, some like ourselves at £55 per night, charge much less.  Therefore might I also suggest that you align your expectation with the amount you are prepared to spend.  If I was charging £110 a night you can be assured that my fripperies would be both tasteful and matching, in fact for that money you could probably email me in advance and request the exact shade of chintz you would prefer.

In your review you made no mention that for the duration of your stay you were untroubled by our 2 dogs, having mentioned when booking that your husband had had an "unfortunate" experience last year with a dog in a guest house, you didn't elucidate but having met you I can quite imagine how he might have been led astray.

I would recommend in future that when you are booking holiday accommodation that you provide your hosts with a list of acceptable colour schemes for their interior decor.   You might also suggest they employ the services of an expert in Feng Shui prior to your arrival, lord only knows what sort of review you might write were your chakras to be misalinged by the unfortunate postioning of a mirror.
Tasteless guest house owner.

The offending room!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

NOTD - China Glaze Stellar

The other polish I bought in my first ever visit to Sallys.

Blackened violet with a gold shimmer and a super high shine finish, love it.  Have had pale nails for ages now, had forgotten how much I like them dark!

Indoors, daylight

Indoors, bit more daylight

Outside, not full sun

Outdoors, bit more sun

Outdoors, as much sun as you would expect in England in July!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

So, here we go!

This feels weirdly like starting a new exercise book in school on the first day of term, new pencil - with rubber on top still intact - nice new pencil case and a brand spanking new exercise book. Hold on whilst I underline the date and title with my new red pen!  Oh I used to love that first day of term.

So I thought I'd start off this new chapter in my blogging life by giving everything a bit of context.  I love make up reviews that finish with the eye shadow, or lipstick, or whatever shown "in the context of my face" whilst its a truly weird expression, actually seeing the full face photo makes much more sense of the product and I am hoping that this introduction to who I am and what I will do will do the same thing for my blog.

I am the 45 year old mother of two, Em 19 and Tom 17.  If I have done anything well in my life it's mothering those two, they are a credit to me (oh, ok "us") and all their bad bits are my making too!  I have 1 husband (Steve, or S for brevity) and have had him for 23 years.  That's a very long time and it's sometimes been a bumpy road, that said all the most interesting journeys have blind bends and a flat tyre or two along the way. So we bump along.  We run an 8 bedroom guest house and frankly that's where things start to go tits up.  

I really am a people person. Truly. I genuinely like people, am interested in them, how they think and what makes them tick.  I am just not interested in sharing my home and every waking moment with them.  Which isn't altogether unreasonable, although is a bit of a hinderance if you happen to run a guest house.  My intolerance (we'll call it that for now) is compounded by S's complete and utter inability to see that sometimes for the sake of our marriage and our sanity the customer is not always right.  You can probably see where this is going.

So, in addition to running our guest house, which is apparently a "life style" business (fine, if peed off and knackered are how you want to live your life) we also run 2 other businesses.  This is not because we are workaholic megalomaniacs.  Its because we need to eat and wear clothes and pay our £6,000 annual gas and electricity bills.  I kid you not.  S runs a domestic cleaning business and I work freelance, 7 hrs a day for a publishing company selling advertising and managing a website.  In addition I do a little paid photography, the one area of my income I would love to develop as it's fantastic to get paid to do something you love!

By now you have probably decided that I am the most negative, bad tempered blogger you have ever had the misfortune to read.  Not a bit of it, I am a resolutely half-full kind of a person, who believes that hard work generates good luck, that earning good karma is more important than earning big bucks and that if you smile the world smiles back.  I just struggle to remember this about myself at times!

So that's it; some context.  Perhaps when I launch into a full scale rant about a guests' minor indiscretions - crap parking is a particular bug bear, or leaving the front door wide open, hate that too - you wouldn't go out and leave yours wide open at home, why do it here - you'll understand a bit of where I am coming from!! 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Deviations, departures and new directions.

I have decided that my blog is no longer going to be exclusively beauty based.  I started blogging because I spent a lot of my time emailing friends and family saying "bought this at the weekend, its fab, you should buy it" and decided that rather than spamming them with email recommendations I would be better putting it onto a blog and then they could choose whether or not to read it.  Most of them seem not to! Although they do still email me and say "I need x sort of product, what would you recommend?" which I am very happy about.  

Once I started with the blog I got swept up in the whole quest for page views, readers and the longing for an email from a PR.  Of course I have now realised that this is pointless; there are more beauty blogs than there are lipsticks and whilst its a huge pie unless you are aiming to work as a freelance writer or want to make money from your blog the frenzied amount of work required to garner more than a tiny morsel of it is overwhelming!  Post daily?  Are you sure? 
Blogging is a hobby and as such should be fun, feeling envious of someone else's page views is just not a constructive emotion in the grand scheme of things so why bother, I am never going to earn my living writing, its just something I enjoy and trying to do it to a timetable is tearing the arse out of it for me.  

So whilst I will still be blogging about make up, because I will still be buying it and I will still be loving it I am also going to post about more random "life" stuff. Rather than my toe-hold in the world of beauty blogging this blog is going to become my online place to vent, think and discuss with photos, thoughts and feelings.  It may contain swearing, just a warning!  I try to be ladylike but sometimes a sweary word just adds to the humour and I do like to try to be amusing, apologies in advance for that!

So a bit of a departure but not a fundamental change, hope you'll come with me for the journey and see where we end up!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Korres Shower Gels

When I was in Chania on the Friday of my holiday I nipped into a chemist having spotted some Korres products through the window.  I have only seen them occasionally in the UK, mainly because they don't feature highly on my rader, I am sure they are more readily available in the Trafford Centre than I realise. 

I am a citrus addict - I am loving Boss Orange Sunset at the moment and since wasting an hour in duty free I have a massive need to own Aqua Allegoria Manderine Basilic, it is the most incredible fresh burst of a fragrance and I am determined that it will be mine, tbh kicking myself for not just buying it there and then.  Anyway, so in this chemist I found Korres Citrus shower gel, the smaller bottle was 5 Euro and this big on just 8 Euro 50, I had no idea how that compared to the pricing in the UK but fell in love with the smell so bought it anyway.
When I used it for the first time I was really impressed with how well it lathered, usually shower products that are "free from" everything nasty under the sun produce a rather thin, mean lather.  Not this one, a nice amount of bubbles, terrific natural fragrance and I really did notice the difference in how my skin felt - bear in mind I was spending pretty much all day every day laying in the sun so it was pretty dry too.  

Of course having got all the way back to the hotel I realised a bottle each of the shower gel would make perfect present for my mum and sister.  Managed to find a chemist in Platanias and with my face pressed against the window spotted the Korres stand. Went on the Saturday morning only to find it was closed so set off on my last morning determined to get there when it was open.  It was a comfortable 25 degrees, I was strolling along in my sun glasses and a vest top (hideous - would never go out like it at home) and it took about 20 mins there and 20 mins back.  I got mum the Jasmine shower gel, a citrus one for my sister and having gone to all that trouble thought I should have the Vanilla Plum for myself!  Strolled back a happy bunny purchases in the bag.
At lunch time I was moaning to Em that my hair was irritating my back.  Then that my arms were feeling really rather sore.  At that point she took of her sunglasses and said "oh mum".  I had burnt my chest, arms and back and my face - and because I had been wearing sunglasses I had a broad white stripe across my eyes, I looked like a red and white raccoon!  I was incredibly lucky that my back didn't blister, it felt as if it might but some good advice from Simone and Gisele Mir via twitter (thank you ladies!) meant I managed to avert that disaster, although I have since peeled.  I was so cross as I had been so careful too.

So, having left the UK with no shower gel I came home with 4!  The citrus one is lovely for when I want a pep up shower and the vanilla plum is a darker, more musky scent that I also love although its impossible to describe and not as vanilla as I had thought.  Now wishing I had also bought the Vanilla Cinammon one.  

These can be bought online from Look Fantastic and the 250ml bottles are £7.50, would definitely recommend if you like your shower gels free from parabens, silicones and mineral oils.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

NSpa Body Brush

Really quick post about a great product I picked up in Asda the other day!  I paid £1.59 for this NSpa body brush and massager, I had wanted to buy a body brush for a while, but never felt the need to spend a fiver on one, when I came back from my holiday my sun burnt skin felt like leather and some serious buffing was required, this seemed just the job.


I have a quick belt around with this before I leap in the shower and then slather on a bit of body lotion after the shower and my skin feels sooo much better - and it seems to be helping my tan to last, result!  Not sure what the massage "nubs" are supposed to do, guess if I used it in the shower they would come into play a bit more, but that wasn't what I was buying it for.

If you are nipping into Asda I recommend grabbing one of these, for £1.59 you can't go wrong! 

Saturday, 9 July 2011

NOTD - OPI Mermaids Tears

So Sally's are in the UK too, not just the US. Who knew? Erm, everyone apart from me it seems!!  I have Miss Merx and Caroline Hirons to thank for that earth shattering bit of info, I am eternally grateful, my wallet might not be!!

So ploughed in there on Friday to buy China Glaze Papaya punch, then I put it up against my hands and had a re-think.  Not completely convinced I could get away with it, but might have a longer look next time I go back.  I did pick up a China Glaze polish in Stellar, will do a NOTD with that soon.

I had gone into Sallys knowing I would find China Glaze, I had no idea they would have a massive OPI stand though. There were not words.  The girl behind the counter was equally thrilled, she had only been working there a week and we had some serious nail varnish bonding going on, she produced a wheel of blank nails and we went into a bit of polish frenzy to help me choose my purchase - at £10 a pop I didn't want to get it wrong.  In the end I settled for Mermaids Tears from the Pirates of the Caribbean collection.

Usually when I am going on a nail varnish mission I do all my prep before I leave the house, cuticles done, nails shaped, base coat applied so that the minute I walk in the door I can try out my new polish.  That's a bit sad isn't it?  I like to think of the fact that I am so easily pleased as a strength, ok!!

So enough yadda yadda; pics!
In bright sunlight

In shade
 So there I am congratulating myself on having found something really unique - I love an usual shade of a popular colour and whilst the pale minty greens give me monster red hands, this one doesn't. I know they look red in the above pics, its cos I cant adjust the white balance on the crappy point and shoot!  And then I looked down again and thought "Models Own Grace Green" and my heart dropped, had I really just spent £10 on a dupe of a polish I already owned?  I tried to console myself by letting my polish snob take over "who cares OPI is waaay better" but wasn't totally convinced so dashed downstairs (we live in a basement, don't get me started) and rifled the polish drawer til I found Grace's Green.
 Not a dupe - Grace's green is much greyer tinged than Mermaids Tears.

Here are some old Grace's Green pics for further comparison:

See - murky & minty - ish!
Looking at these old pics its quite clear my nails are in way better nick these days - laying responsibility for that with Mavala Scientifique and Nailactan. Will. Never. Be. Without!!

So that was going to be a flash post, turned into a load of waffle! Happy Saturday folks. 

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Duty free shopping - MAC, Boss Orange, Sanctuary Spa

Anyone that follows me on twitter will know that before I went on holiday I had a list as long as my arm of the things that I wanted to get in duty free!

I spent an AGE on the MAC website sorting out the 4 shades of eye shadow that I wanted to get to put in to a palette.  I finally settled on Contrast (blueish purple), Fig. 1 (aubergine matte), Copperplate (smoky grey matte) and was going to pick a lighter one at the stand although Vex (green/peach duochrome shimmer) was of interest.  Quick note: MAC aficionados please excuse my gauche descriptions of MAC eye shadow finishes, I have no clue!

My plan was to pitch up at the MAC stand at some ridiculous time when the scary, snotty over made up SA was half asleep.  So as soon as I cleared security I grabbed Em and hauled her off to duty free at 5.45am.  I needn't have worried, seriously the SA was so lovely it was like she had been meant to go to Illamasqua and just ended up on the wrong concession!  She was incredibly helpful and chatty and didn't seem at all put out that a crepey eyed old bag was waving a print off of the four shades of eye shadow she wanted in her face. Yeup, I was that tragically over prepared!  Of course I didnt realise that they don't have the pro palettes in duty free, which rather put the mockers on my plan, didnt really see the point in paying more in duty free for shadows in a pan than I would have paid for them ready to go in the pro palette if I bought them in Selfridges, even if I did have to weather the disdain of the SA's to do so!

I was also hugely glad that I had done my homework. There is something immensley under-whelming about a stand full of MAC eye shadows. None of them leap out and yell buy me crepey eyed one, they all just look a bit meh.  I knew I wanted Copperplate more than I wanted to go on holiday, well almost, so I nabbed that and then having had a play decided that as I already had a matte blue (Revlon one) that it would be wiser to get Fig. 1 to have a matte purple that I couldnt get on the high street than to buy Contrast. So that was my decision made; Copperplate and Fig. 1.
Copperplate and Fig. 1 both from Matte 2 collection

Fig. 1 and Copperplate in shade, fairly heavy swatches

Same but in direct sun

I used both on holiday, in the evenings and I think Fig.1 is great for a wearable smoky eye on my blue eyes, will have to take a pic next time I do one.  I think I do actually prefer it to Copperplate now that I own both. Haven't been totally wowed by these tbh, they are a bit powdery and can a pain to blend.  Will do a more detailed review of each with an eotd post.

That job done I headed off to purchase the Hugo Boss Orange shower gel and body cream I had been wanting since my birthday. Never, ever want something, it will pretty much make it unobtainable!  They did have the body lotion but not the shower gel, so I purchased that and decided to head to Boots for a shower gel for my holiday as was so convinced would be purchasing in duty free hadn't bothered to pack anything (there is an irony to this which will become apparent by the end of my "holiday" posts!).
This is delicious, so glad I got it, sinks in quickly, leaves my skin glowing and soft and smells like heaven. Added advantage is that it makes my Orange Sunset last longer too!

Nothing in Boots, unless I fancied taking Sanex on my holidays. Was almost despondent so had to go to Frankie and Bennys for breakfast, pancakes cheered me up!
So on the plane perusing the in flight duty free and there like a shining beacon was a Sanctuary Spa gift bag with body butter, scrubby shower gel, bath float and body exfoliator in a lovely zingy orange bag for £10!  
Bright enough?!

Couldnt get the money out fast enough - so my bathing needs were fully taken care of before we even landed!
Quite a bargain for a tenner don't you think?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Champneys Super Rich Cleansing Balm

One of my treats when I used to shop in Sainsbury's, before the recession, was to pick up a Champneys shower gel or hand cream to sneak in along with the family shop!  Once I started shopping in Asda I missed my Champneys treats and so was delighted to spot the range now being stocked in Boots.

Regular readers will know that I have mature dry skin that tends to be sensitive.  I have been using Avene cleanser for quite a while but was really fancying something that utilised a muslin cloth - I actually want the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish but as am on a spending ban an online purchase is out of the question so I have to wait to splash my secret stash next time I am in Leeds or Manchester!  I decided to have a look in Boots to see what I could find and whilst I was tempted by the No 7 hot cloth cleanser I wanted to wait to try the Liz Earle version first.  I have used the Botanics balm cleanser and really liked it so the idea of a Champneys cleansing balm really appealed, especially one that was billed as "super rich".

They say:
This super rich cleansing balm with avocado, jojoba and natural floral oils lift away every trace of make-up and impurities to renew your skin deeply cleansing, toning and exfoliating in one indulgent treatment.

How to Use

Champneys therapists recommend...
...using weekly as part of your evening routine.
Warm the balm in your hands until it feels smooth, inhale the therapeutic aromas and massage in your face and neck using small circular movements.
Soak the muslin cloth in warm water, squeeze out any excess and hold over your face and neck for a few seconds before lightly polishing off.
Rinse with cold water.

I loved the idea of "theraputic aromas" I'm Taurean, we like our stuff to smell good!  And I also liked the inclusion of oils, my dry skin mops them up.

The balm comes in a nice heavy weight plastic jar (so its not so heavy you cant take it on holiday!) and has a muslin cloth packaged with it.  It has a very oily, slightly gritty feel to it.  I suspect that it might only be useful for oily skins working on that oil attracts oil basis and then only used infrequently - if you have dry skin you should try this.  I know they say use once a week, I have been using this every evening and most mornings for the last 3 weeks and have seen no ill effect, in fact my skin is looking pretty fab, apart from the appalling damage I did when I got sun burnt on holiday, more of that later.


I use a small amount of the balm and every other evening massage is straight onto my dry skin, the gritty texture lasts until you add warm water and the oil starts to emulsfy so every other night used dry to exfoliate and then the other nights melted with some hot water for a smoother clean.  I give my face a good old massage with this and then clean it off with the muslin, dunked in warm water and wrung out.  If I have lagged myself in slap I might do a second cleanse.  I particularly like that you can rub this right into your lash line to remove mascara and eyel liner without trashing your eyes and then use the cloth to really make sure all the eye make up is gone.

After using this I am now spritzing with Avene Eau Thermal Water spray (£6.50 from Boots or online here) and then whilst my face is still damp with the spray massaging in a couple of drops of facial oil.  I have used all of my Sanctuary Therapists Secret Facial oil (£17.50 from Boots, online here) and really really need to buy another asap.  Putting the oil on top of the water seems to help trap the moisture into my skin and also helps my skin to absorb the oil. 
The balm is £13 in Boots and you can buy it online here.


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