Month: November 2015

Sheep in boots

Yes, I know that’s the wrong animal. But “bear” with me. I’m not “barking” mad.

(sorry, not sorry)

Sheep in boots

So, a few weeks back, the husband asked me if over the knee boots were “in”. The reason being that I’d ordered some, and he’d seen Caroline Flack (his celebrity crush > good taste!) wearing some on Twitter.

He thinks I’m a fashion follower.

Of course he doesn’t realise that I’ve been trying to get some for about 5 years. He doesn’t realise because I hide all the boxes and parcels and bags as I try to find the right pair.

And also, I know I’m not.

The problem I have is slim calves. Which sounds like a real first world problem. But actually is a ballache. I can’t buy off the shelf long boots, and I’m too tight fickle to pay for high end or custom made. I want Primark prices but not Primark fit.

The solution is stretch legs. Not my legs. The boots. I need some that are made from shrinkwrap fabric. Elasticated legs.

This year’s escapade started with an order from Deichmann. After the success of my stompy ankle boots, I thought that was the way to go with long boots.

Deichmann over the knee boots

They turned out to be slightly too baggy round the legs, but apart from that were lovely, if that’s the look you’re after. For me they were a bit too stompy. I wanted something a bit more delicate (like what I am, ha!)

Then I tried a pair in Prmark that seemed everything I wanted – from the front.

Primark over the knee boots

When I turned sideways there was a big flap of unfilled fabric around the calves. I don’t blame Primark. I blame myself…

After that, I turned to Tesco F&F. I ordered a flat pair and a wedge pair. The flat pair were a little bit principal boy.

Tesco flat over the knee boots

The wedge pair had some elastication but were a strange mix of fabrics. And I didn’t really want wedges.

Tesco over the knee wedge boots

So I turned to ebay. Good old reliable ebay. And I found a pair described as “stretch”. With calf measurements that suggested they would fit.

So I took a punt.

Ebay over the knee boots

They’re not skintight, but they’re pretty good. better than anything else I’ve seen or tried. And it means there’s space underneath to wear tights, leggings or jeans.

Plus they’re round toed, so I don’t¬†look like I’m auditioning for Pretty Woman (the over 30s version, obvs).

So, is this a happy “follower of fashion” ending?

I wouldn’t know. Ask the sheep ūüėČ

 

 

All I want for Christmas is a new…big toenail

I’m currently living in the aftermath of an incident.

(building some drama!)

Toes

I hate masks. They freak me out. Even the fun ones. I think it’s because you can’t see people’s eyes properly.

Anyway. The husband bought a Guy Fawkes/Anonymous mask around Halloween time. I don’t like it.

Anonymous mask

On our recent day off, he randomly put it on. I ran off. He chased me. So we had a Benny Hill style race around our flat, with me freaking out. Naturally I headed for the bathroom and shut myself in.

Thinking it would be safe to leave after a few seconds (what with the husband having a short attention span), I gingerly opened the bathroom door. The coast was clear. Then he poked his head round the corner, still wearing the blasted mask. I screamed (I know, it’s not like I didn’t know it was him!), retreated into the bathroom, and got my big toenail stuck under the door.

Carnage ensued. I swore (a lot). I blamed him (a lot). I poked at my toenail (a lot) expecting it to fall off.

So far it’s still attached, but feels very loose. It’s turning a rather peculiar colour. I have no doubt that it’s going to fall off and leave a big old ugly gap where my toenail should be.

Wah!

Last night I painted all my toenails metallic cherry red (it’s the equivalent of turning the radio up when you hear a noise in your car – just pretend it isn’t there). Now it’s started to ooze with goop.

I don’t think that bodes well.

(sorry for the TMI!)

I’m now mourning all the pretty sparkly sandals that I can’t wear (ok, it’s winter and I don’t wear them anyway).

Can you buy false toenails?!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

I could have had a baby!

Today is my 9 month blogging anniversary.

Wow! In that time I could have made and given birth to a baby! <<shudder!>>

Baby on blog

(image from fullcirclewomenshealth.com)

Here are 5 things I’ve¬†learnt during this gestation period:

1 – I like blogging. I enjoy it. I like the writing process and committing my thoughts to paper a computer screen.

2 – I don’t have a niche. I’ve blogged about this before. As time passes and my post count increases, it becomes ever more apparent that I just couldn’t stick to one topic. I have too much to say about everything!

3 – I hoped it would be more successful. Ouch, that’s painful. Not successful as in I’d be snapped up for a full time writing career with a magazine! Just maybe…more followers? More interaction? It kind of feels like I only have a handful of “regulars” (to whom I’m very grateful and love exchanging comments, so please don’t think I don’t appreciate you). But I don’t have time to build a community and Twitter presence and promote it and myself while also engaging with other people. I’m not part of the blogging community because I haven’t made myself so.

On the flip side, it’s ok that it’s not as “successful” as I hoped. It proves that I’m in it for the right reasons. I remain dedicated to creating and posting content, and I’m proud of it as my corner of the internet. It’s very me.

4 – It potentially needs more time than I have to offer (or am willing to commit). Layouts and themes and coding all take time that I don’t really have. But it was never supposed to become a burden. And maybe that’s part of the success bit as well?

5 – My husband is never going to get over his embarrassment at me taking photos of food when we go out to eat!

So happy “birth” day in the truest sense, to my little rambling blog of stuff!

Put away those summer dresses? No need!

I’m a fan of layering long sleeved tops under short sleeve or sleeveless stuff when the weather gets colder – it means all year round wear for clothes that would usually be useless in winter.

I prefer to layer underneath than on top, because I pretty much hate cardigans, apart from the very odd few. Whilst I appreciate the benefit of being able to take one off if you get hot, they’re usually at odds with the length of your coat or the neckline on what you’re wearing underneath. I’ll wear blanket cardigans and long cardigans instead of a coat, when it’s mild enough, but once you need an extra outer layer I just find them awkward to work with.

I digress.

This year, it seems the polo neck is back and de rigeur. I love a fine knit slim fit black polo. It works in so many ways.

Black skinny fit polo outfits

And this little beauty from H&M is perfect for layering.

H&amp;M long sleeve jersey polo neck top

It’s thin jersey, so won’t bunch up under dresses or waistbands, and the neckline isn’t so bulky that it will annoy you and leave you wanting to claw your own skin off by the end of the day,

Best of all it’s only ¬£7.99.

I actually have some summer dresses that are a bit too short to wear in actual summer (they need the flesh hiding properties of opaque tights) so this is an ideal way to integrate them into my autumn/winter wardrobe.

I’ve also purchased a slightly different option in a ribbed fabric, from Tesco F&F. Again it’s only fine, so not too bulky underneath clothes, and the neck is a nice tight fit to keep you snuggly. This one is ¬£8. I’m wearing it today for the first time, under a jersey dress and it’s very comfortable(this picture makes it look looser than it is, mine’s tight fit – saucy devil that I am).

Tesco black skinny rib polo

And I’ve just spotted it in a cream and black stripe as well, for just ¬£7, so I’m going to order that one too.

Tesco black and cream stripe skinny rib polo

Top tip if your hair is long; you might find a polo neck more comfortable and/or temperate if you go for a ponytail or messy bun. Hair down and a tight neck jumper can be a bit claustrophobic and annoying, if you’re that way inclined.

Are you an “under” or “over” layerer? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Fabulous faux fur

As much as I’m totally happiest when the weather is warm and sunny, I’m actually pretty glad that it’s finally¬†turned cold because it means I can bust out the fur!

One of the only good best things about winter is wearing fur. I love it. Fur coats (faux, obvs) are so glamorous and snuggly. I have 5 of them.

Which means, I’m most definitely not probably not unfortunately not in the market for a new one.

Although, if I was…

…I’d be all over this beauty from Dorothy Perkins.

Cream camo faux faur Р£59

Dorothy Perkins cream camo fur coat

This one’s described as charcoal, but looks more brown to me?

Boyfriend faux fur Р£69

Dorothy Perkins charcoal fur boyfriend coat

Navy fur is very unusual…I haven’t got a navy one…hmmm… (¬£59)

Dorothy Perkins navy fur coat

Oh, and Dorothy Perkins has 25% off today…double hmmm….

These two from New Look are lovely

Snow leopard Р£49.99 currently down to £37.49 in their cyber event

New Look snow leopard coat

Leopard print Р£69.99 down to £42 in the cyber event

New Look leopard print coat

Great value from Tesco F&F

Striped fur coat Р£35

Tesco F&amp;F striped fur coat

Multi fur coat Р£39

Tesco F&amp;F multi fur coat

And I’m sure there are oodles more everywhere, but in truth I’m scared to look in case I accidentally on purpose buy one.

So I’ll leave you with a (rather disjointed multi mirror) picture of me in my absolute favourite, from Tesco last year.

Me leopard print fur coat F&amp;F

Are you a fur wearer?

Thanks, as always for reading! x

 

 

 

5 things you only know if you dye your hair red

While red hair is incredibly cool, it’s also an incredible pain in the ass at times.

Red hair

Here are 5 things you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever gone scarlet.

1 – It fades. Really quickly and disappointingly. If you’re naturally blond you’ll start to look pink. You need to colour it at least every 3 weeks to keep it at it’s best, which is expensive and time consuming.

2 – You can’t use white towels. Staying in a hotel? Take your own (or face the wrath of the laundry people who have to bleach/throw away your towels after use). One year, on holiday in LA, I hid my hotel “hair towel” in the wardrobe every day before housekeeping came in so I didn’t have to wreck a new one whenever I washed my hair. You can imagine the state of it when I handed it back at the end of our trip.

3 – If your hair is longer, you can’t leave it to dry naturally – unless you want pink stains all over your t-shirt/jumper/pyjama top.

4 – Swimming pools are a source of worry. “No I didn’t get my period in the water! It’s just my head leaking!”

5 – It can be annoyingly wardrobe limiting. Rendering a chunk of your existing wardrobe redundant.

Have you got any hair colour tales or disasters? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Restaurant review – Fahrenheit at Genting Casino, Edgbaston

This week the husband and I did something a little different, and went for dinner at the Fahrenheit Restaurant at Genting Casino just outside Birmingham city centre.

The reviews were great and it’s nice to mix things up a little sometimes. Neither of us are gamblers, so casinos are not our usual stomping ground (I’ve been to one a couple of times, many years ago for work Christmas parties).

What a great decision it was!

The whole experience was fabulous. On arrival we were asked if we would like to join, and advised that we couldn’t bet more than ¬£1400 without ID. Funnily enough, that wasn’t a problem! Photographs were taken for security (fair enough) and then we were shown through to the venue.

I was a little concerned that the atmosphere might be a bit brash, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The gaming area is on one side of the space, with an opulent bar area in the middle, and the restaurant tucked away offering a quiet and sedate dining experience at the other side. We were welcomed by the manager who invited us to take a seat while he brought drinks to our table. We were given menus to peruse and then ordered our meals before being shown to our table in the restaurant.

Bar area Genting Casino Edgbaston

Drinks in the bar

The menu comprises a good selection of starters, a grill section of steaks and burgers and a mains section with various fish and meat dishes. For starter we both ordered the black pudding scotch egg; in fact this was one of the reasons we decided to eat at the restaurant because I’ve been raving about them to the husband for ages, and he’s a big black pudding fan.

For main course I ordered yuzu glazed pork belly with pea and potato salad, and husband chose the chicken burger with chorizo and halloumi served with sweet potato fries.

First the starters Рthey lived up to expectations and then some.  A crispy coating, not too thick or crunchy gave way to a layer of flavoursome black pudding encasing a soft boiled egg. It was cooked to perfection, the juice of the yolk spilling out and mixing with the accompanying delicately flavoured mustard aioli to give an extra bit of moisture to an already juicy dish. Just stunning.

Black pudding scotch egg

Main courses were well presented ; husband’s burger on a wooden board with a metal basket full of sweet potato fries and his extra side order of the house chilli and bourbon sauce.

Chicken burger

I sneaked a chip (because, why wouldn’t I?!) and they were so good; crispy, crunchy, fluffy and extra delicious dipped into the sauce which was a mix of sweet and fiery and rich. The burger toppings of halloumi and chorizo were plentiful, although he did comment that the chicken was slightly too overcooked around the edges rendering it a little crispy. A small thing to deal with in the grand scheme of things.

Close up of chicken burger

My meal was served in a glazed bowl; two thick pieces of pork belly on top of peas, broad beans, purple baby potatoes and pak choi. The crust of the pork was slightly dry in places, but the meat was incredibly succulent and fell apart on the fork. The salad lacked seasoning and was quite bland, but a good helping of salt resolved that and the freshness was a perfect foil against the indulgent pork.

Yuzu pork belly

Yuzu pork belly close up

Now, generally when we go out to eat I’m not a dessert person, but the dessert menu¬†was very good and peanut butter cheesecake was too¬†tempting an¬†option to not try. Served with a smear of strawberry jam, freeze dried raspberries and salted peanut brittle, it was just divine.

Peanut butter cheesecake peanut brittle

Like contort-your-face-into-all-sorts-of-enjoyment poses divine. The topping was light and fluffy, with a distinct taste of both the peanut butter and cream cheese, on top of a sweet biscuit base. The brittle was crunchy and sweet and savoury all at the same time, and the sweetness added an extra zing.

The staff were exceptionally good – from the manager who gave us his personal welcome to the two waitresses who served our table; they were polite and keen to please without being too over the top or in your face (I hate that when I’m eating out). The ambience of the restaurant was really lovely; softly lit and welcoming.

Fahrenheit restaurant Genting Casino

Interestingly, the bit that put me off (that it’s in a casino) actually intrigues me for our next visit. I had a wander around the gambling area and it’s all very enticing – not in a “gamble your house” kind of way, but in a “this is something a bit different after a meal” kind of way. Obviously they’re equipped for big betters (and I’m sure that’s their preference) but minimum stakes on the roulette table start from just 50 pence so even just a tenner could be a fun way to round off a night.

I already can’t wait to go back.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Are you HIV positive?

I bet your immediate response is “absolutely not”. But do you know for sure?

News of Charlie Sheen being HIV positive doesn’t come as a surprise to many people. By his own admission he’s been promiscuous and indulged in drug use.

Charlie Sheen

That’s not to say he deserves to have contracted the disease, as some media outlets and small minded individuals seem to be suggesting.

When rumours began last week about a Hollywood A-Lister about to be exposed, many people’s first thoughts turned to Charlie Sheen. The reporting was dramatic and OTT, and in many ways irresponsible. Such furore serves only to remind people that HIV is still a very stigmatised disease, and does nothing to reassure those who have already been diagnosed that they are accepted in society. Of course it’s a big deal, and our thirst for celebrity news and gossip means that of course there will be interest in the story. But it would have been far better for the media to take the approach of here’s a guy who’s lived a life of fun and is paying a sacrifice for enjoying himself – let’s support him and use his story to educate and inform the general public that this could happen to them. Headlines suggesting Hollywood women were living in fear of who it might be and whether they themselves would be affected were clearly there to garner attention and sales. It was suggested that he’s been practising unprotected sex in the time since his diagnosis and deliberately putting people at risk. Now that he has come forward to tell his own story, he vehemently insists that he hasn’t.

Back to whether or not he deserves it. Only a nasty and sadistic individual would suggest that anyone deserves a life limiting disease (with a few exceptions, of course). No-one truly deserves to live their life with the shadow of disease and an uncertain future hanging over them; not least one that still has the power to turn a person into a social pariah. HIV isn’t sympathised with in the same way as cancer or heart disease. There is still a blame culture around it. Maybe people are trying to say that he openly led a life that put him at higher risk of contracting HIV than your average Joe. And maybe that’s true. But when you’re a world famous film star with money and a love for women and booze, who can honestly say they wouldn’t go crazy once in a while?

In truth it doesn’t matter whether he had unprotected sex thousands of times or just once. The risk may have been higher, the odds more against him, but remember this – HIV happens to people from one sexual encounter with an infected person, or one infected needle. Just once.

HIV and AIDS aren’t at the forefront of most people’s minds when they have unprotected sex. It seems such an uncommon disease; certainly not many people know someone who has contracted HIV (or at least someone who is living with it openly) and so we have that “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Unwanted pregnancy is still at the forefront of most people’s minds; perhaps followed by chlamydia. HIV isn’t talked about. It isn’t in the media and it isn’t in the mainstream, and so it remains this silent elephant in the room that we only consider when we’re faced with it, and then our response is to judge and condemn.

Shame on the people who have been blackmailing him. Shame on them for making him feel guilt and fear. Shame on them for perpetuating the misplaced rumour that HIV is a dirty disease. Shame on them for manipulating him into parting with cold hard cash to keep them quiet about his business, to the point where he has come forward not through choice, but through no choice.

So, what now for Charlie Sheen? Well, he’s now “the famous actor who’s HIV positive”. Which is a real shame, because it wipes out years of his career. Then again he’s been “the famous actor who’s off the rails” for a while, so perhaps it’s a long time since anyone thought of him in terms of his acting prowess.

Hopefully he’ll use his position positively. Because, like it or not, he’s now a figurehead for HIV. In every news article, whether about his illness or not, he’ll be referred to as Charlie Sheen, the HIV positive actor. It shouldn’t be the case, but it’s true. And so hopefully he can remind people not to put themselves at risk, not to put fun before being sensible, not to live a crazy life and screw the consequences. Hopefully he can show that HIV can happen to anyone; not just gay men, not just drug addicts. It doesn’t avoid you because you’re rich and famous. And hopefully he can help to destigmatise what is still an emotive and divisive disease; showing that it can be controlled with medication, that he can still live a full and enjoyable life, and that HIV most certainly is not the same as AIDS.

So, back to the original question. Have you ever been tested? I have. I found out that a boyfriend had been cheating with numerous other girls. For my own peace of mind I decided to get checked out for everything. And sitting there, waiting for the results, was petrifying. The duty of the doctor to tell you that, if the result is positive, you may never get a mortgage or health insurance (I don’t know if that’s till true, this was many years ago). That you could be discriminated against by your employer, your friends and even your family. That everything in your life will change.

It’s hardly surprising that people aren’t keen to share their news.

Are tattoos on women becoming more mainstream?

X Factor, whether you like it or not, is mainstream Saturday night TV. So it’s great that Rita Ora consistently shows her tattoos on the show.

Rita Ora tattooed bicep

Rita Ora tattooed wrist

OK, so Cheryl is known for having tattoos but, aside from the one on her hand, they’re generally hidden from view (what with her not getting her bottom out on TV, as much as I’m sure some people would like her to!)

Cheryl Cole tattooed bottom

Rita has quite a large and visible inking on the inside of her left bicep, as well as her right wrist, amongst others.

Not only that, I’ve recently noticed a tattooed McDonalds worker in their new advert. I can’t recall seeing any tattooed females in an advertisement before.

McDonalds advert tattooed girl

Tattooed males have been mainstream for quite a while, and represented positively in the media (not the bad boys they once were). David Beckham is lauded as a family man and ambassador for Great Britain and he’s extensively tattooed, including his hands and neck which at one time was for the realms only of the real hardcore of society. Most young boy bands have visible tattoos these days, with sleeves seemingly de rigeur. One Direction have a large collective collection of inkings and their fan base runs from very young girls through to fully grown women (although possibly for different reasons!)

In the past, public representation of tattooed females tends to be quite extreme – those who have a lot of coverage (like Jodie Marsh). It’s good to see a woman in a workplace on TV (I know she’s an actress, but even so).

One of my main bug bears has been the lack of tattooed models on everyday websites. ASOS, for example, uses a majority of tattooed male models (including, most recently, one with ink on his face) yet there never seem to be any women. This reinforces the stereotype that tattooed women are very much an exception, and can’t be used to sell an image or product. Why is that? Does it suggest that tattoos are off putting and undesirable? Strange, when beautiful women like Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie are inked.

So I was pleased to spot a couple of female fashion models with tattoos recenltly. Small, but it’s progress.

Boohoo featured this model on an eshot (note the not huge but nonetheless visible wrist ink).

Boohoo tattooed model

And H&M went all out with multiple ink locations, including fingers, on an email advertising party wear, no less!

H&M tattooed model

What are your thoughts on female tattoos? Are you offended by seeing them? Are tattooed men more “acceptable” than women? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Thanks. as always, for reading! x

Christmas considerations

I grew up loving Christmas. Long past when it was cool to do so; long past when most teenagers lost interest. It’s always been such a special and exciting time for me, and my parents always made it fabulous.

When I was 21 my parents divorced, and our family dynamic changed. My Mom’s new partner had two young children, which was just magical for me as a Christmas lover. Seeing their little faces as we lavished them with presents, having a genuine reason to play with lego and dolls again in my mid-20s, the joy of buying toys and clothes for little people; I loved it.

Now we’re entering into another Christmas experience – the kids have grown up and don’t play with toys anymore (wah!)

And these days I find the lead up to Christmas very stressful and, dare I say it, less enjoyable than I used to.

Christmas 2015

Sadly, and completely playing into the hands of all those people who complain about the commercialism of the season, the main reason for this is gift buying. It hurts my brain. And, in a way, it’s my own fault. We’ve always bought multiple gifts for family members, meaning that a bottle of aftershave or a new shirt just isn’t enough. That’s not from the gift recipient point of view. It’s from mine. I have it in my head that there must be oodles of presents to open, therefore increasing the stress on myself!

The trouble is that these days things are so accessible that people tend to buy themselves stuff throughout the year as and when they want something. If we’re lucky enough to be in the position of having disposable income, there’s no need to wait for those shoes/bag/earrings.

Plus, the older people get, the more stuff they already have.

And don’t get me started on gifts for men!

It hurts me that I now look upon the festive season with a sense of apprehension and fear, when I should be concentrating on the fun things like seeing friends, eating, drinking and being merry. We’ve been watching Christmas films for the last couple of weeks but they only serve to remind me that the big day is getting closer and I have little idea of what to buy my family. The German market opened in Birmingham city centre last week and the very thought of it even being there gives me a headache.

On that note I’m off to breathe deeply into a paper bag while making a list of things people don’t even need…

P.S – if anyone has any cool/unusual/inspiring gift ideas, do let me know!

Oh, and while I’m on a Christmas rant, what’s with the mild weather? It’s not even cold enough for a winter coat, let alone¬†for Santa. We need some festive temperatures so I can drink mulled wine without sweating. Because nothing says Christmas less than stripping off layers of clothes and fanning your face with a festive flyer.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x