Monday, 13 February 2017

Toasty whilst running in the snow, thanks to Cocobay

We awoke on Saturday morning to a sprinkling of snow, which I really love running in. It was so pretty out, although it didn't last long and by the time that we got home, the snow had nearly disappeared.

I was so toasty and comfortable in what I was wearing, thanks in part to these bodyglove leggings from Cocobay which are totally brilliant in this weather. They are made from moisture wicking fabric and one of the great things about them is that they kept me at a constant (warm) temperature for the entire run - and have done so on previous long runs too.

Somehow these leggings look so more exotic in the sun!

One of the other things that I love about them, is the waistband. When I first tried them I wondered whether they were a bit snug around the waist but in fact they're not. After a minute or two I'm totally unaware of the waistband, which is wide and fitted and it doesn't shift, not even a millimetre, on a really long run. So whereas before I was stopping and hoiking (I'm not sure if that's a proper word - but you know what I mean) my leggings up every few miles, there's no shifting with these whatsoever. And I know that they must be good because now when a long run is suggested, these pop into my mind as being the leggings that must be washed and ready for action.

I'm also wearing the Seafolly Flower Festival Windbreaker hoodie, also from Cocobay. I really love the print and styling of this jacket and the hood offered perfect protection from the elements without making my head over heat, which hats can do. There are toggles on the hood so that it can be pulled tight enough so that it doesn't fall off. It really is a most attractive look from the front!!! When the warmer weather comes I will be able to lose my heavier jacket but for now at least, I like to layer them up together.

I shall be interested to see how the leggings feel in the warmer months and whether they adjust to the heat. They will definitely be coming skiing with me next week as I think that they will be great under salopettes....that is if I get as far as the slopes. But if not, they will be great for running in (if the conditions permit) or for HIIT training (am I allowed to say whilst watching Joe Wicks without his top on - which is actually quite a pleasant sight)?!

Oh and don't forget that you can get 15% off Cocobay's new range of Activewear with the code BETHACTIVE

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A pretty layer

Oh golly we're all ready for the daffodils to start making their way through the ground aren't we? And the opportunity of casting the odd layer aside would be nice too. But until such time, I thought that I would show you a lovely layering top that just might make your winter jumpers seem a little less winter like. And this one comes in a daffodil colour too!

I bought this topshop long sleeve pie crust frill top (£19) in this green colour earlier in the week. It would great under a grey or navy crew neck jumper. Sometime I just want something a little bit pretty and a little less practical than my plain white long sleeved t-shirts that I layer under pretty much anything and everything throughout the winter months.

This Me & Em pleat trim collar layering shirt (£99) is a gorgeous top too and would do just the same job. Or it could be worn alone or layered underneath a biker or leather jacket.

And I'm a real sucker for a pussy bow, so this Me & Em frill detail layering shirt (£79) holds huge amounts of appeal.

If anyone has come across any dungarees recently that they really like, I would love to know. I've just tried the Boden ones but they are too loose and some H&M ones that I tried are way too tight - think of a cross between high waisted 1970's style Y-fronts and laderhosen. They did make me laugh though. The Topshop ones don't look quite right and I just can't bring myself to take my clothes off in town to try anything on at the moment - unless I think that I'm on to a winner. So all suggestions would be much appreciated. I've now decided that I would love some - even more so with one of the layering tops underneath. Thank you in advance!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

An easy new season trend that we can all give a go!

Ruffle hem ponte trousers from Topshop (£24)

We've all the seen the ruffled, fluted, dip them in your coffee, get them caught in the dishwasher, sleeves of the last few seasons. They are everywhere, they are lovely and they are here to stay - but it's also the turn of the ruffle hem.

As a concept I very much like the idea of them. A black trouser with a frill at the bottom? Yes I can definitely go there. And I won't get them caught in the dishwasher either. Well, unless I'm doing some kind of contortion whilst filling it. I shouldn't really trip over them either, which has been known to happen with wide trousers and pointy toed shoes. Plus I can go trainers and a blazer with a slogan t-shirt, or kitten heels and a sparkly jumper. So they tick the versatile box too.

Waffle mermaid trousers from Topshop (£39)

Topshop also have this pair too, which we should all buy just because of their name. Who doesn't want to be likened to a mermaid on a daily basis?
A closer view of the mermaid trousers

High waist circle flare trousers Topshop (£95)

You know what I just said about tripping up? I might fear for my safety in these but those who are loftier than I am could no doubt pull them off a treat. And don't be scared of the double ruffle or fluted hem. Here the ruffled sleeve and ruffled hem have been mixed with aplomb.  

I suspect that we will see these everywhere this season so keep an eye out and have a play. I have the first Topshop pair on order, so I'll give them a go when they arrive and let you know how I get on. My hopes are high!

Friday, 3 February 2017

My Charlotte Tilbury Make-Up experience

After Christmas, I created a list of things that I wanted to do this year - and one of them was to have my make-up done by Charlotte Tilbury. We have one in our local Selfridges and people always talk really positively about the experience, so yesterday I bit the bullet.

There are 10 Charlotte Tilbury "looks" to choose from ranging from - amongst others - "the Ingenue" to "the Sophisticate", "the Bombshell" and "the Rebel". You just go and choose the look you like, they make you up and then you can buy the make-up to re-create the look you've chosen.

As I was going to parents' evening, I decided not to go for the full on rock chick look but instead I opted for Uptown Girl, which is a pared back version of rock chic (and obviously I looked just like the model below!!!!)

All started off really well. First of all my make up was taken off - the lotion or cream used felt a bit gloopy but that's just one of those things. Then the make up was applied by the lovely Sharon in the following order:

Foundation, Eyebrow pencil, Eye shadow x4, Eye liner, Mascara, Concealer, Bronzer, Highlighter
Blusher, Lip liner, Lipstick, Lip gloss - now that's a lot of make-up! But Sharon was great, showing me in the mirror how she did things, talking me through why she was doing things and so on. The difference for me was the smoky eye with a pale lip look. I wasn't sure if it suited my colouring and wearing so much make up, I felt, made me look older. Sharon said to go home and see what my husband thought.

The Ingenue - Fresh faced and effortlessly cool

The problem came in my right eye, which quickly started to water. Which made my eye make-up run. And then my nose started to run too. I asked Sharon whether anyone had ever been allergic to the make-up and the answer was no. So I didn't think any more of it.

After I'd had my make-up done one of the girls on the counter kept looking at me. And then she came over. I was sure that she was going to say how lovely my make-up looked but instead she said:

"Did you know that your jacket is on inside out? It's a bit like when you have a leaf in your hair and no-one tells you and I couldn't let you walk around like that all day. "

Pride. Fall. Lesson learned.

The rock chic - she's the coolest girl around

And then I got home and my eye continued to water and my nose continued to run. And before parents' evening I had to wipe all the black marks off my face. By the time I got to parents' evening, I felt lousy. And then when I got home and looked in the mirror and I saw what the poor teachers had had to look at (plus all the parents I'd spoken to) I felt very sorry for them. Deep creased eyeshadow, a smudged face, watery eye and runny nose. Great.

And by the time my husband saw me? It was not a pretty sight. By that time not only was I all of the above but I was also tired, hungry and grumpy and rather than admiring my gorgeous new "Uptown Girl" make up look, everyone ran away from the runny eyed, runny nosed, grumpy person.

The Rebel - Brave, bold, beautiful

Do you want to hear the story of me trying to take it off? No? Well I'll share it anyway. After about 55 wipes my face was streaked with black from the industrial creosote type mascara. The lashes were spectacular, as was the mess the mascara made. Oh the relief in getting it all off. I felt like me again (warts and all!)

So would I go back? Absolutely. Fortunately the base make up that they used was out of stock as I'm sure that's what caused the reaction but I bought the eye palette, the blusher and the lipstick. The make up brushes and the lip liner was also out of stock which wasn't a great selling point but hey ho.

The Bombshell - Born gorgeous, empowered by make-up

I had to swallow a little before I paid for what I'd bought but I can't actually remember the last time that I bought any make up so I bit the bullet. And then when I got home? Luckily the tax man had refunded me the exact amount that I'd spent on the make up. I took that as a good sign.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Coco Bay launches its activewear range

Cocobay are already well known to many for their fabulous swimwear, beachwear and accessories. They stock brands such as Seafolly, Banana Moon and Baki. Part of their appeal to me is that they have a section dedicated to DD/E/F bra sizes plus a great choice of bikinis and swimming costumes which fit and flatter like other brands just can't. I have several happy clients who have used their service and who wouldn't now dream of shopping in a store for their swimwear.

The girls at Coco Bay also know their stock really well and give great customer service, to the point that recently they won Feefo's "Excellence in Customer Service Award".  On the back of all of that, they have recently expanded into activewear, with their philosophy being simple:

"Together with our award winning Customer Service, we aim to make buying activewear easy and totally un-intimidating for our customers. We are offering our own unique edit of products that all combine quality and innovation along with style that is aspirational yet approachable."

Loving Coco Bay as I do, I was really interested to see that they would be including activewear in their range and I couldn't wait to see their collection. When I discovered that it included Seafolly (many pieces of which are exclusive to Coco Bay), I knew that it would be great.  Being a bit of a runner and a lover of exercise, I was delighted to be able to try out a selection of their pieces

First off, the jacket. Oh this is so gorgeous. I'm wearing the Seafolly Activewear Flower Festival Windbreaker Hoodie I  love that it's both feminine and practical. With its pretty print and cropped style it's just lovely. It would also be a great piece for a festival, or a beach holiday so unlike some active wear jackets which have "sports gear" written all over them, this would be multi-functional.

On my bottom half, I'm wearing the Bodyglove Activewear Wonderland Tsunamui Capri Leggings  in multi. These have mesh inserts to assist with ventilation which is handy on a long run. They are also super stretchy so great for yoga or pilates and the fabric just feels a lovely quality.

Bodyglove (who make the above leggings) is a brand that I haven't come across before but it was started over 60 years ago by twin brothers in Missouri, who made the first practical wetsuit. It is still a family owned surf/dive brand and they have now expanded into beach and activewear. Given the fabric and fit of these leggings, the brand's history doesn't surprise me. As Coco Bay are the only UK stockists of Bodyglove, if you're not a fan of being seen in the same as everyone else, this could just be for you.

The long sleeved top that I am wearing is also by Bodyglove and it's the Chinook mesh hooded top in diva red. It's a looser fitting hoodie, which will have particular appeal to some as not everyone likes close fitting layers. It's made from a lightweight mesh, breathable fabric and I  have to say that the combination of this top and the jacket meant that I was warm but that the air was circulating - if you get my drift!

What really appeals to me is that the Coco Bay founder, Belinda Robinson found the concept of activewear completely alien and it was only when trying on the samples from Seafolly and Bodyglove that she appreciated what the fuss was all about. It's true what she says, the products really do feel amazing on (much nicer than most of the slightly shabby washed out stuff that I wear) and I am led to believe, by my friend, that the leggings are flattering.

And I think that all of the above is important for anyone just entering the activewear clothing arena, as well as those already well and truly in it. Like pyjamas and underwear and all of those things that we "make do" with because we don't feel that they really matter, sports wear often gets neglected. However I have to say, with particular reference to the leggings, wearing some that don't fall down, or ride up, or cut you in half, that breathe and stretch and make you look better than you do - well that's a revelation that has me jumping for joy.

Oh and just as a little enticement, there's a 15% discount off all of the lovely activewear with the code BETHACTIVE!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Re-working the 18th party outfit with a Topshop top and Boden heels

It's party party in this house at the moment! After last week's 18th birthday celebrations, this week we went to a friend's 40th birthday party, which was fabulous.

After buying the Belshaw fold A-line skirt from Finery (£75) for  Flo's 18th, I wanted to wear it again so at least the cost per wear went down to £37.50. Hmmm. I'm not selling that. Think that I might need to work on it.

However I swapped the top that I wore last week, for the tie back t-shirt from Topshop (£25), which is lovely - made even lovelier by the fact that I borrowed it from Flo's wardrobe (oh how I've longed for that particular moment to arrive!) 

Describing the top as a t-shirt doesn't do it justice as it's definitely a "blouse" or a "top" in my book. The back is really pretty too - I've put some more pictures of it below. I just wore a little bralette from M&S over the top of my bra, so that it covered the back strap - which wasn't particularly small, or lacy!

I also swapped last week's spotty shoes for the Tabitha heel from Boden (£51.60 down from £129). These were meant to arrive in time for last week's party but they didn't quite make it - but at least I could wear them this week. They are a little marmite - and have a slight equestrian feel about them one might argue but I like them and they are hugely comfortable.

So that's it really. One skirt worn two (slightly) different ways. This really is a lovely skirt and Finery have some great pieces so if you're on the look out for something that the world and his wife won't be wearing, it's really worth taking a look. Plus the price point is good too, which always makes me happy :)

The Topshop blouse from the back

The Topshop blouse from the front - the sleeves are really pretty

A close up of the Boden Tabitha shoes

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Kitchen Refurb - Part 1

This is our kitchen (on a tidy day!) To put it into context, this Ikea kitchen had just been installed when we moved into our house 12 years ago now. When the house was renovated (which was just before we moved in) what had previously been a car port was turned into the kitchen, which runs the length of the house.

Having had the work done on the back of the house last year, we needed to do a bit of tweaking to the kitchen. The trouble was that most of the kitchen was still fine. We didn't want to replace the work surfaces as we liked them and I think they were quite pricey. Plus anything that we replaced them with would be of an inferior quality. Nor did we want to risk moving the huge surface over the island, as no-one could guarantee that it wouldn't crack.

Also, because of the shape of the kitchen, the design couldn't change hugely. All that we would have done would have been to swap the cupboards for drawers - but that would have made for a whole lot of very expensive drawers. So after going around the houses (and the streets, the town, the city and the country too) we decided on the following:
  • To have the tall bank of cupboards removed and replaced with different, equally tall cupboards, which would work better for us in terms of storage i.e. we would have a bigger fridge, an improved larder cupboard, a built in microwave and two extra cupboards on the end;
  • To replace the door fronts with handless doors, with the ones along the front of the island possibly being in a different colour to the rest;
  • To change the plinths for ones with led lights in them;
  • To remove the mdf splash back (which I painted exceptionally badly) and replace it with tiles;
  • To get the kitchen decorated.
Now you know what a fan I am of making things up as I go along. Well that's what's happening with the kitchen too - other than the design of the cupboards which clearly had to be decided upon in advance.

The things that are still up in the air are - the colour of the replacement kitchen doors, the colour of the paint and whether to paper one the big wall opposite the kitchen island or not.

The one thing that have been decided upon are the tiles. Remember the round the houses comment from earlier? Well that applies to the tiles too.

These are the sort of encaustic tiles that I really love. This photograph was taken in Guernsey last year at newly opened restaurant. So the search for something similar began, albeit for the walls.

Tiles are pricey! I loved the Fired Earth tiles (who doesn't)?

In particular the colours in the Toulouse range really appealed to me but at £168.53/metre they were probably more than we wanted to pay. Plus at only 20cm x 20cm there would have been a lot of tiles in quite a small space, which could have looked a little "bitty". And they failed to send a sample to me. Tut tut.

The other thought that I had (I had quite a few thoughts) was that if they were in a space that was relatively free from clutter, for example in a shower, they would be fine but once they had a toaster, a breadmaker, utensils, bottles of oil and all the other kitchen detritus in front of them, they might just look messy and put me on edge. But I still really like them.....

So then I looked to the Henley tile at Topps tiles. At £44.40 per metre they were a better price but at 45cm x 45 cm they were too large for the space and would have been taller than the stainless steel splash back behind the cooker - which could have been changed but (I couldn't be arsed!)

The Berkley also featured in my deliberations but as it too was 45cmx45cm, it was too tall for the space.

Then I read about the Laura Ashley tiles at tons of tiles but they weren't quite right. So then I thought about tiles laid in a Herringbone pattern (too much waste and difficult because of them not going to the top of the wall) then I liked the wild blossom tile from Topps (although in seagrass)...

..but the family gave them the thumbs down. However the shape of the tiles really appealed and at 20cm x 50cm they were the perfect size. So what to do? Keep on looking of course.

Well next I found another brand that I liked - Ca Pietre. I've linked to the patterned encaustic tiles because there are some great choices. These are some of my favourite designs (from top to bottom, mixed eye, Darcy, Lily pad and origami).

I didn't think that the samples would  reach me in time but with two bathrooms that need sorting, these are definitely on my list for future reference.

And then I finally went full circle and chose exactly the same tiles that I chose for our utility room in the summer. The tiles I first thought that I would go for but which I discounted because I thought that I ought to choose something different. And the reason that I chose them? Because they ticked the boxes of having a geometric print that I liked (and which the family didn't object to) of being textured, reflective, grey and the right size and price - just like they did when I chose them the first time around. (I am turning into my mother!)

This picture is from the Topps website and shows them in powder blue

The Attingham tiles come in three different colours (mist, seagrass, powder blue), they are 45cm x15cm, cost £45 per sq metre and there are five different designs in one box (or they can just be bought plain). Really I'm a commitment phobe when it comes to something too distinctive - unless, like wallpaper or paint, it can be changed pretty easily. So I get that these seem a bit boring compared to the encaustic ones but they are tried and tested.

I have to say that if I never see another tile in my life, I really won't mind. Maybe Mr SG can choose the bathroom ones instead.

Friday, 27 January 2017

A poem about getting older....

This post is a little different from usual! I started this "poem" in my head whilst driving down the motorway yesterday and I was so engrossed that I missed my turning (I probably shouldn't admit to that.)

Some of it is autobiographical but most is in anticipation of what is yet to come. I think that my point is that whatever is happening on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts. The only real measures that I take against ageing are trying to eat well, to get plenty of exercise and sleep, to drink lots of water and not shut my mind to new possibilities. Other than that I don't do much but it is a debate that I do have with myself from time to time. Anyway, hopefully it make you smile (a little). Have a super weekend!

My hands aren’t my own
I don’t recognise my face
That “hair” lying across my forehead
Is actually a wrinkle I can’t erase

My thighs are going squashy
My chins are doubling
And soon my husband will be requesting
Some “conscious uncoupling”

Those stretch marks that seem from nowhere, to have appeared
cannot solely be attributed to those I have reared.
My hair is grey in every imaginable way
I think about not dying it. But I'm not ready for that…maybe one day.

My knees are wrinkly,
My bum’s heading south
“Are you sad?" The children ask
No, it’s just my droopy mouth.

Would botox make a difference
or laser or peels?
Or should I grow old gracefully?
I know how it feels…
To look around and wonder what to do
When others who are older, look younger than you
Because they’ve gone down that route that so far you’ve resisted
But they have persisted
In refusing to accept
That it’s over yet.

Why am I looking in the fridge? And why have I come up the stairs?
Why have I put the milk in the microwave and why do I stare
When I catch a glimpse in the mirror
of someone who sort of looks like me
But she has wrinkles and saggy eyes. Oh no! SERIOUSLY?

Your body stops producing the things that keep you young,
Less collagen, oestrogen and failing pelvic floors mean you have to run
To the loo when before you could take as long as you liked
And don’t get me started about the middle of the night

“You were snoring” says my husband when we make in the morning
But really it was him, which is why I’m still yawning
And he woke me at three
when he went for a wee
And for ever thereafter that was my nightly fate
All as a result of his dodgy prostate

My husband is talking about paying tax when I’m dead
I wasn’t expecting that whilst lying in bed
Because you see, in my head
I’m no older than when I had our son (Fred)

But it’s not all bad I have (a bit) more time than before
To go for a wax,
Or to sort out our tax (!)
To do a tough mudder
With some other crazy bugger

So what keeps you young?
It’s about having fun.
Go stand in a queue
if there’s something your children want to do;
And don’t say “ouch”
when you get up from the couch

It’s all about your spirit and all about your soul
It’s all about laughing at the prospect of getting old
For whilst outside things may sag and things may change
Inside our spirits remain the same

You can choose to be old or you can choose to be young
Age is only a number although for some
It’s a hindrance to excitement, exploration and fun

Move as much as you can (even if it hurts)
Dig out your sparkles and your mini skirts
Laugh with your mates
Go out on dates
(Unless you’re married when that’s probably not a good idea…)

Monday, 23 January 2017

My 18th birthday party outfit....

Well it wasn't strictly my 18th birthday party was it? No, of course it wasn't. That was nearly 29 years ago now. (Oh flip, can I swear a little please?) And the fact that it was our daughter's 18th birthday party only serves to reinforce just how old I feel. How can that have happened? How can she be 18? I can remember the cheese and ham sarnie that my husband made for me when I came home from the hospital with her so clearly. I swear that it was the best food I've ever tasted. No Michelin starred restaurant can ever compete with that.

So what to wear to a party with 50, 18 year olds in attendance? Well my first rule was a lot. As in a lot of coverage was required. No legs, no cleavage, no back or arms on display. And definitely no mid-riff.

Secondly, nothing from Topshop, H&M, Reiss etc. Nope, I had to head to a brand that no 18 year old would shop at. And any "fun" stuff had to be on the fringes - so nails, ear-rings, shoes etc, that was the place to have the fun stuff. Other than that I decided to keep things plain but with a bit of colour.  

Well this was an easy top given the name of our daughter - the Florence jersey top from Finery (£39). This is the most brilliant top if you fancy a fancy sleeve but you don't want to dip it in your soup or catch it in the dishwasher or end up with toothpaste all over it. The fancy bit is made of a fabric which is a) wipe clean and b) which you can fold back and it will stay there. Double result.

And I also wore this Belshaw skirt from Finery (£75). I'm a big fan of a statement skirt and a top as it's so versatile. And of course the pink had my name written all over it. I also ordered the zebra jacquard skirt which I loved but the colour against my bare legs wasn't great - so that will be going back. It's a great option though for anyone on the look out for a funky printed midi skirt.

Oh and I bought the bag in the Whistles sale and the shoes were a few seasons old from Aldo. There's a shoe story which I will save for another day!

The party was a success and the birthday girl was really happy. Happy Birthday sweetheart!