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Showing posts with label Lifetsyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lifetsyle. Show all posts

4 Apr 2016

Miller Harris - Perfume for the discerning

If you're a little bored of celebrity fragrances and generic designer scents then perhaps it's time to try something a little more special. I was delighted to spend some time perusing the shelves at Miller Harris' Mayfair store on Bruton Street as it is a such a special treat.  When you enter it is so serene,  after the hustle of Berkeley Square. It feels like a chinese tea room or a library, it is somewhere you would go to appreciate carefully curated items.

Miller Harris is British brand which was created by Lyn Harris and named after her father.  Harris trained for 5 years in Paris before relocating to Grasse (the world famous home of fragrance) to train for a further 5 years.  She has an amazing "nose" an can identify 1000 different fragrances by smell alone. Miller Harris has grown quickly since it first came on the scene and has become known for it's grown up fragrances.  The perfumiers is a favourite of Kristen Scott-Thomas, Madonna and Sophia Copolla.

Miller Harris started with just a core collection of 4 fragrances but has since expanded to over 30. There is something for everyone and each is tied to a story such as an afternoon in Southern France or a morning cup of tea, if you read the description of each perfume on the website you can learn what inspired each fragrance.

Miller Harris works hard to ensure they only gets the most premium ingredients for their perfumes and wait months for just the right batch.  The perfumes aren't cheap but neither are they especially expensive at around £60 per 50ml of Eau de Parfum.  I was pleased to learn that they don't do Eau de Toilette, which I think is fantastic because who wants a watered down perfume, what's the point?

We were there to sample the new fragrance called Vetiver Insolent which is a bold fragrance for either men or women.  It is a truly distinctive smell and goes beautifully with so many of my other fragrances.  I use it as a long lasting base note upon which to layer more sweet and sharp top notes.  It smells of Vetiver, Lavender, Amber and Cardamon. For anyone who is as clueless as me, vetiver is the root of an exotic grass and has a distinctive smell often found in high-end male fragrances.  It is a smoky, woody, incense like smell, but also a little like mown grass and patchouli, that 70's hippy fave.  Vetiver Insolent is the creation of Perfumer Mathieu Nardin and I was delighted to learn that all  3 of the fragrances I liked best were his creations.

We were lucky enough to smell the myriad of fragrances on offer and my absolute favorites were Tea Tonique

Like hearing a captivating story for the first time, Tea Tonique’s energy infuses your surroundings without overwhelming them. Beguiling and cultured, it engages its audience with musical tones and an unpredictable nature. With an infusion of Italian Bergamot suggesting smoky birch tar, it is equally at home in the English countryside or a London café, rejoicing in the many-layered characteristics of an aromatic tea.

and Rose Silence.
The week is gone, the room is your own. A beam of light streams in through the curtains and you wake slowly, breathing the scent of a fresh white pillow. An unexpected embrace: faint, fresh rose with undertones of sandalwood and patchouli, untouchable yet crisp, possessing an intoxicating magic. An intimate, thrilling moment.

The one things all the bloggers noticed was just how different the perfumes smelled on each of us.  Our personal PH, the food we had eaten and the level of oils in our skin, changed the smell of the perfume on each of us dramatically.  Never again will I just buy a perfume by smelling a tester strip.

I loved the personal hand engraved bottles we each received, it is such a beautiful touch.

Miller Harris fragrances can be bought online here, but I would definitely visit the store if you live near by so you can try the fragrances on and get a real sense of what works for you.  It feels like such a treat visiting them store in person and everyone we met was insanely knowledgeable about fragrance.

10 Mar 2016

How cute are these!  

I don't know about you but I'm the laziest Mum ever when it comes to name labelling my children's school clothes.  With 3 children, it is pretty much laundry marker all the way for me, that is till I found these adorable name tags, that require NO sewing, NO ironing and stick to most anything.  I have heard of My Nametags before, but never gotten around to ordering anything from them.  These arrived within 1 day of placing the order which is fantastic if you're in a rush.

I've put mine on lunch boxes, shoes, pencils, clothes, coats and even Kindle's. I waited for a few washes to see if they stood up to the wear and tear of real life use and I'm glad to report they do, they even survived the dishwasher!

I think these would be ideal for nursery or reception children who struggle to read their name, as they are so easily recognisable for them.  My daughter is 9 and still loves these though, so defiantly not just for little ones.  My only slight gripe is that you can peel them off if you want to, which could be good if you are handing down clothes to friends, but is a pain when unscrupulous mum's pull the tag out of items of uniform then just re-label it as their's, grrrr!

See them here, they are just £14.95 for 56 which should do even the largest uniform and still have plenty left over.

*sample provided for review purposes.

5 Sep 2014

Starting a New Exercise Routine - Running

September is my favourite time of year, new beginnings, fresh starts and the children go back to school, so I can actually get some stuff done.

I have decided to change my exercise routine from Zumba to running.  The two main reasons for this are timing of the classes and the cost.  The Zumba classes only run on an evening and by 6:30 I have no motivation left to go exercise.  I am very lucky in that my sons Nursery is opposite a beautiful big flat rugby pitch/village green with lovely views, and so I decided to make use of this free facility and start to run there.

Chipstead Meads
Now before you start having images of my sprinting round the field like a supercharged gazelle, I think I need to create a more honest picture for your head.  I haven't run for about 10 years and so my stamina is pants.  I have therefore decided to try the 5k Runner app, which has come highly recommended from a few friends who have begun running again.  It costs £1.99 for the full version, which you will need if you want to get past week two, but this is a bargain as Zumba costs me £5 a pop.

Each session gets gradually harder, you start off just running 1 minute at a time, then by week 4 you are doing 5 minutes runs interspersed with walking and then by week 8 a full 35 minute run.

Motivation Tips

New Kit
There is nothing like getting some new threads to make you feel ready for the task.  I am usually pretty good at not over buying in anticipation of my new found love of any sport.  I learnt my lesson many moons ago after several over-eager purchases (hello heart rate monitor and criminally expensive running shoes, that I just use to garden in).  But I did treat myself to some new exercise leggings, as I only have 1 pair.  I got these rather generic yet very flattering ones from Very.  They were just £22.  I have pretty generous thighs and they even make my thighs look presentable.

I wear Adidas Duramo trainers, I love all the Neon Nikes but as I have large feet, they just call attention to this.  So I have some minimal black ones.  I also have some Saucony white ones, but they look so large it puts me off wearing them.

I also wear a long line vest as I try to hide my thighs bum as much as possible (not fooling anyone)  I have this one and this, which I love, from NUX, it was only £12 in TK Maxx.  I must also mention the topic of sports bras, I use a Shock Absorber one that I have had for 3 years now and it is still going strong.  It cost about £35, so it wasn't cheap, but it is the best one I have ever owned.  It is supremely comfy, keeps everything in place and is actually quite cute in it's own right.

I have on different workout trousers in this pic.

Write a list of why you are doing it
Here's mine;
  1. To bring calm - I always feel much happier after I workout
  2. Space outside on my own- space to think, and plot and ruminate
  3. To maintain my weight, possibly loose some more
  4. For a sense of achievement.
  5. To set a good example for my kids
  6. To improve my skin, I find that exercise gives the best youthful glow
  7. To use my body for what it was built for
  8. To boost my metabolism
  9. To fight off ageing - I know that is not possible, but a reduction would do
  10. To help reduce back problems

Is anyone else starting a back-to-school workout routine, or got any tips for running?

1 Aug 2014

Food Lately

I have been trying ridiculously hard recently to eat more veg and less meat and processed foods.

Here is a quick post with some of the great bits I have eaten recently.

Top Left - Taquitos from Wahaca
I cannot begin to explain how much I adore this place.  I first heard about after watching Thomasina Myers on Masterchef and I was delighted when she set up her own chain of Mexican street food restaurants.  This is some of the freshest, most vibrant tasting Mexican food you can find and it is astonishingly good value.  I always wangle a trip to Wahaca whenever I go into London with my Husband.

Top Right - Bunless Burger
This is one of my own creations.  I had a great bunless burger whilst out one night and so I tried to make my own version of it with more topping obviously.  This one is topped with cheddar, chipotle chilli sauce, Bacon and Jalapeños.  I then made butternut squash fries in the oven and served it with sautéd peppers and onions.

Bottom Left - Itsu Sushi
I miss this so much from the years I spent working in Canary Wharf.  The food at Itsu is so fresh and has fantastic presentation.  I was in London and needed somewhere to go for lunch on my own so this was my first choice.

Bottom Right - Charcuterie Platter
Another homemade one. I had something similar whilst out at the White Hart in Chipstead, and thought I would pay homage to it.  There is proscuitto, milano salami, vine leaves, red pepper houmous, olive ficelle, spanish tortilla, buratta, rocket, balsamic dressing,course pate and olives.

Here was the table I set for me and my husband, the kids were at their grandparents.

I have also being trying to liven up my lunches, so instead of something bread based, I have made fresh salad everyday.  Here was todays's asian offering...I got a little carried away with the Cayenne on the eggs!

18 Jul 2014

1 Month to Holiday Countdown - Preparation

In 1 month I get to spend 17 days in Spain!!! eeeeeeee. Let the countdown begin.

This time of year every year I always aim to loose half a stone, and up my beauty routine ready for a few weeks in the Sun.  I aim to loose 8 lbs or 4kg in 4 weeks, which I reckon should be manageable as I have lost 1.5kg already. 

Food and Exercise

I have read two really inspirational health books lately.

Cameron Diaz's Body - I got this as the reviews were so good, and I am really glad I did.  Cameron really knows her stuff and doesn't go in for any of the pseudo-science bull, that you get in so many health books.  She speaks in her book, the way you would imagine she would chat to you in real life and the book is so positive.  I completely recommend this.

Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath 

I bought this after reading about the authors struggle to avoid cancer.  Tom has spent most of his adult life trying to avoid getting tumours due to a genetic disorder the makes him more prone to them than you or I.  He has spent an enormous amount of time studying everything he could find to discover how best to preserve his health.  I loved reading this book and zipped through it, as it is so easily digestible and gives you lots of easy-to-implement ideas to improve your health.

My Main Changes 

Apart from weekends and nights out (of which there are many to navigate my way through) I will be trying to stick with veg/fruit, dairy and meat most of the week.  

  • Breakfast - Yoghurt with Granola (still obsessed with this.)
  • Lunch - Beetroot Rainbow salad with egg
  • Dinners -Courgette pasta with creamy tomato sauce and lime basil chicken or Cauliflower Paella/ Kedgeree


I have the worlds worst feet so most of my efforts will be spent trying to improve them. I have knobbly toes and dry skin on my heels from wearing flip-flops and open shoes nearly constantly. 

  • Foot Sanding - Twice weekly sessions with the Scholl pedicure spinny thing - just checked it is actually called the Scholl Express Pedi.  I got this for free as a sample and I love it, so easy and satisfying to see all the horrid dead skin come away.  It goes through batteries like no bodies business though, so you may want to invest in some rechargeables if you fancy one of these.
  • LOTS of foot cream,  I use Sanctuary Foot balm as it is relatively cheap and smells nice and fresh.  It is usually £5ish but is often on 3 for 2.
  • Deep Conditioning Hair - twice weekly - My usual favourite of Aussie 3 minute miracle, I will also be taking a full bottle of this to use everyday after going in the pool.

To Buy

Suncream - I am so sick of the ramped up prices everywhere for suncream, Boots are advertising products that usually cost £6 as 1/2 price but still costing £6!

I have found my newest favourite Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration (LOVE the smell) for £5.25 a bottle at Asda usually around £7.50 a bottle, and Boots claims it costs £15 before their half price deal, really!  This stuff looks so nice on your skin it really sinks in whilst leaving a lovely flattering sheen.  I would use this as a moisturiser just for the smell and finish regardless of it's SPF protection.

We have a collection of my husband and my favourite Malibu SPF 15 dry oil spray, that we get in Home Bargains Up North for £3 a time, but it is not any good for the kids. Smells divine though and so easy to apply as you can spray from any angle.  I have just realised that they stock this at Asda too for £3 and it comes in an SPF 30.



As I have mentioned before, I love a good list, nothing makes me happier than writing things down and checking them off.  I designed these sheets a couple of years ago, and I use them every time I go away to ensure that I have everything covered before I go.  I have now printed off the ones for this holiday and am busy checking everything is ready.

I will try write a post each week about all the bits I am doing to get ready and leave me all set to enjoy my holiday without worrying about details.

14 Apr 2014

10 Random Facts About Me

I believe that every person has a story, and something worth sharing with the world. My life is a big string of contradictions, none of it makes sense in a linear way and seems like a load of random events just chucked together.  I have a ridiculous need for change in my life and so have had many homes (28 so far), jobs and relationships.  I have however been with my husband for 10 years now though, I figured we will just change together.

These are the things that tend to surprise people when they find them out about me.

1) I am a bit of a petrol head.

My dad used to do Rally Car Racing, Banger Racing and Grass Tracking when I was growing up, he also worked as a Mechanic.  I spent a staggering amount of time around cars when I was a child and this has obviously rubbed off on me.
Strangely though, I didn't pass my test till I was 27.   I lived in central London when I went to university and then in Canary Wharf when I got a job, so there was never a need for a car. When my first child was born, I refused to try and do the buggy/bus tango.  It took me 5 attempts to pass it, but only 10 lessons, I figured that driving lessons at £20 a go represented bad value in comparison to a test at £45 where there was a chance I could pass and be done with it all. I have been driving for 7 years now and still drive like a boy racer most of the time, I am always making resolutions to Slow Down but I enjoy it so much, and now I have a car that can keep up with me, the temptation is too hard to bear.  My car currently does 0-60 in 6.5 seconds.  zoooooom.

2) I lived in a caravan for 3 years whilst my parents built our house.

My parents had quite a few grand ideas when I was growing up, and life was never boring (nor stress-free) They decided to build the home of their dreams on a plot of land in a sleepy rural village. It ended up taking 3 years due to planning issues and so we lived in 2 static caravans (like the ones you get a holiday parks) joined together by a make-shift bridge.

Me and a pile of washing, check out those curtains!

My brother with the house completed

3) I have a randomly large IQ.

I was a bit "disruptive" in class when I was younger and the child psychologist gave my parents a diagnosis of superior intelligence.  Cue me appearing on Kilroy, joining Mensa, being in the paper and various other brainy activities to follow.  As a guide I test somewhere between 142 and 132 which is on the top bracket of most scales and in the top 1% of the population but I'm no Carol Vorderman or Stephen Hawking. Although I did well in life I don't think my high IQ is any where near as useful as people make it out to be.  It set me apart from my friends in school (which I rebelled against) and I now value common sense much more highly.  I make some outstandingly bad decisions at times and my IQ hasn't saved me from any of them. It is handy for sudoku and other pointless time wasting puzzles though.

Graduation Day at The Barbican in London - A long time coming due to some of my spectacularly bad decisions

4) I travelled around Southeast Asia on my own for 3 months.

I don't think this is a particularly strange thing to do, but some of my friends do.  I think they feel it is dangerous to travel alone, I just figure I would probably kill someone/anyone if I had to spend 3 months straight with them.  I loved this time, but it wasn't all beaches and cocktails as I was on a ridiculously tight budget.  I learnt a lot though and saw some amazing things.  I will be encouraging my children to do the same when they are old enough, I was 22.

Me with a group of friends I met on Bottle Beach in Koh Phangnan - Thailand (must stand up straight)

5) I am a Feminist

This has become a bit of a dirty word recently, implying that I don't shave and berate men.  This couldn't be less true for me, I write a beauty blog FFS.  I also LOVE men, most of my best friends from 18-30 were men, only recently have a begun to get on better with women.  I do however think the media portrays women terribly and we are under-respresented in every field in life.  I thinks the skills and talents that we have to offer are undervalued and mens preferences and skills are overplayed.

6)  I am ridiculously English

My Uncle researched my family tree a while back, so I dug in to his findings with relish expecting to find exciting and interesting foreign people in my past.  It turns out however to be much more mundane than that.  My ancestors come from the North of England all the way back to Tudor times. My Maiden name apparently means "from Statham" which is near Chester. Boring much!

7) I am a Stepmother

I became a step mum when I was 25 and it wasn't easy, as you can probably imagine.  I also had my first baby when I was 27, which is in no way young, but it definitely felt it at the time. Nearly 10 years on and it is better but will always be challenging.  It is ridiculously hard to balance bringing up a child between two homes.  My husband has always done his best to keep access to his daughter and so she has lived between us and her mother in at least a 50/50 split since birth.  She goes to school Monday to Friday from our house with our other children and I think we have done as best as we could at getting the balance right.  It is so hard as someone always feels left out, whether it her mother, father, herself, me, the grandparents, or our kids.  I am stepchild myself though so I think I am pretty realistic about what to expect.

I felt so young when I had my first child as my friends were still all partying.

The Kiddies, they're a bit older now

8) I am obsessed by food.

I don't think this is that rare, but still I am not one of those women, who say "I just forgot to eat."  I cook most things from scratch and love doing overly complicated Michelin star dishes from cookbooks.  My favourite chefs are Jamie Oliver, Ina Garten and Marcus Wareing.  I tried out for Masterchef, I got through to the last round before TV (which actually turned out to be  a good things as I hate seeing myself on video).
I am not really into sweets, I eat biscuits or chocolate with a cup of tea but I rarely order or make a dessert. I eat most things except, liquorice (blleeuugghhh) and slimy shell fish (whelks, cockles etc...) I am the proud owner of a fish kettle, potato ricer, mandolin and sausage maker.

Mmmmm Food!

9) I lost 5 stone once.

This follows on nicely from the previous post, my fascination with food obviously leads me to eat it, a lot.  This in turn leads me to put on weight.  When I was 21 I weighed 15st 7. I had only gotten large since going to university ( I was very active before this) and so found it very difficult. Over the course of 5 months I lost 5 stone.  I didn't do it the healthy way, I drank heaps of coffee, and only ate dinner every day, but it did work.  It changed everything for me.  I went from being a size 18 to a size 10 and I got a lot of male attention (mostly insincere) My weight loss taught me how much women are valued by their looks, it was a real eye opener I'm not sure whether I liked it or hated it, I'm still not.  I lost 3 stone again after the birth of my last child and I am now a size 14 and have been for 3 years. I find this weight relatively easy to maintain and also pretty easy to dress and still look nice as I am 5 foot 7, so quite tall.

The 2nd time I lost weight - I lost 3 stone
My current weight and size I weigh 12st7 and am a size 14

10) I used to own a nappy laundry

After having my first child I didn't want to go back to work in Banking so I set up an eco friendly business to bridge the gap in my earnings.  I lived in southwest London and there was no service providing real nappies so I set one up myself.  I can't say it was easy because it wasn't, owning your own business is as hard as everyone says it is, but it enabled me to see my children grow up. It is also not the most glamorous job washing nappies, I used to wash, dry and fold 2000 nappies every week. I sold it after the birth of my 3rd child as I knew I wouldn't have the time, and luckily I no longer needed the income.  I am pretty "green" in most things I do, though I couldn't give a toss about organic food or cosmetics, just money for old rope in my opinion. I do however recycle like mad, never waste things, have a hybrid car and try to buy only what I need.  I currently moderate our local freecycle group too so I still try to do my bit.

Well that was a lot of information.  Most of it more personal than I intended at the start of the post, it was supposed to be a light hearted look at the more bizarre aspects of my life but instead I think you actually got a post that most of my friends would say shows me quite accurately.


3 Apr 2014

TAG: Spring Beauty 2014

The lovely Sarah over at Seriously Shallow tagged me for this Spring Beauty Post.  I had been suffering with Bloggers Block, so this was just the push I needed to write a post.

1. Do you change your makeup when Spring arrives? If so, how?

I love to get the chance to change my look, I move to more coral lips and cheeks, my favourites are Coralista from Benefit and Revlon lip butter in juicy papaya. There is great Coralista dupe from Beauty UK called Rustic Peach it is only £2.99. I love that it brings a lovely warmth to your skin, it does have gold flecks though so maybe not for everyone.

I often go for a more dewy foundation look (not the easiest to pull off on my already "dewy" skin.) I have just repurchased the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation to aid me in my transition. I'm currently mixing shade 53 with my Revlon Colorstay in Nude to make the right shade. It's so much easier in winter as my skin stays pale for about 3 months straight, but in Spring, Summer and Autumn my skin changes every week!

2. What’s your favourite Spring fragrance?

Flower Bomb by Victor and Rolf (cheap here), so pretty and flowery.  It’s a really fresh, girly fragrance, I can’t say my Husband particularly likes it (even though he bought it for me!), but you can’t please everyone.


3. What’s going to be your favourite accessory this Spring?

This necklace from Dorothy Perkins, it goes with nearly everything in my wardrobe yet doesn’t look too over the top.  Did I mention it only cost £2 in the sale! 


I'm currently wanting to get this when I get "paid" next week.  I love the colour and it's not to big, lis at £12.50 it won't leave me skint.

5. What are your Top 3 favourite Spring nail polishes?

  • Berry M Gelly in Papaya, I have this on at the moment and it’s such a nice colour (it is actually better on tanned skin, but I’m living in hope.)
  • Essie - Mademoiselle - most boring choice ever but it’s a classic for a good reason.  Looks clean and fresh without making your skin and cuticles look dirty in comparison.
  • 2 True - Shade 3 - this is a cheap and it isn't amazing on it's own, but with a decent base, and Seche Vite on top, it's a great happify-me colour.


6. Do you prefer pumps or sandals in Spring?

Both, whichever go with the outfit, I actually wore sandals today as the thermometer hit 18, but I will wear a pump if that is what is called for. I am a bit if a fan of sparkly ballerina flats (grey goes with everything) or white plimsolls (Dunlop Green Flash are my plimsoll of choice as converse are only for those with small feet, plus I like the more skater look) in spring too. My most worn shoes has to be these black suede wedges, I get a lot of compliments on them (God knows why? they are just neutral shoes that go with everything)

7. What’s your favourite Spring Jacket?

I have actually just ordered this new one from La Redoute as again I am bored to death of my winter coats and they are just too bulky. It was only £38.50 and it's not too bad.  The waist is a little high for my liking, but it is great to fling on over a dresses or skinny jeans to smarten up the look without being overly warm. Most importantly it has no buttons (even writing the words makes me feel a bit sick!) I would talk about my hatred of all things not zips but I detest them so much, I'm afraid you will just have to take my crazy word for it)

8. What’s your favourite flower?

Lilies -  I adore them, and unlike many, I love the smell too.  I know they are meant to be funeral flowers but...I had hundreds at my wedding. I spent over £1000 (wholesale prices) at New Covent Garden Market on flowers and transported them all the way down to Cornwall where a family friend (who is a florist) and a large collection of my nearest and dearest arranged their hearts out for 2 days so I could have the flowers I wanted.  So very grateful to them.  

I'm terrible at the re-tagging part of these TAG's..what happens if people don't want to do it???

Oh well, here we go.  I tag, Kerry Just Beauty and the lovely ladies at Agent Smyth.

13 Mar 2014

Before Pinterest and Blogging

What did we all do in the 90's when the internet was just something you used at school, and mobiles were pointless because no-one else had one?

We kept notebooks of style inspiration (I say we, but really only crazy people like me did).  I found these the other day whilst sorting out. The first 3 shots are from when I was 19 (so 1998) and the later ones from when I was 22 (around 2001)

It was funny looking back at my style 15 years ago, also at stars style back then.  I don't think mine has actually evolved all that much!

I even used to do my own note taking! I knew that my obsession with beauty products wasn't normal. Thank God beauty blogging was born!

I was a bit hippy/surfer girly when I was younger.

Love my use of good-old pen on paper here, need to keep this next to my dresser.
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