Monday, 14 March 2011

Let Them Eat Cake...

I used to smoke. It was the eighties and everyone smoked and they did it everywhere. I smoked at work, in the pub even in a restaurant after a meal and no one minded because it was socially acceptable.

When the anti smoking campaign kicked in, I had absolutely no objection as it has been proved beyond any doubt that smoking is bad for you. It can in fact kill you, which if you think about it is the worst kind of bad for you that you can get.

What I do object to however, is applying the same kind of censorship to other areas which are not so black and white in terms of their effects on your health.

Take cake for example. I love cake. Granted it is not the best provider of nutrition that will pass your lips. It has a calorific content off the scale and more teaspoons of sugar than, well, something with lots of sugar, but I still love it. Women for centuries have baked cakes for their families; countless hours have been spent consuming it with cups of tea; English fetes award prizes for the best examples of it. It is a national heritage but no, it seems the health do gooders are trying to do to cake what they did to smoking – banish it from the face of the planet. And how do I know this? Because eating cake is starting to become socially unacceptable.

I have lost count of the number of people who tell me with some glee how bad for me it is as I about to impart a small morsel into my mouth. These are usually the same people who pick at a salad at lunch time pretending they are enjoying it and then eat a multi grain flapjack for afters. I bet they have good toilet habits.

I can actually feel the disapproving stares from other customers when I order cake for dessert in a restaurant as a ripple of disgust, or is that envy, washes around the room,

“Have you seen what she’s eating?”

Even the old office ritual of bringing in cake for birthdays is not what it was.

“Better not,” most say tapping their stomachs in a virtuous way.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it if people don’t want to eat cake I just mind it when they don’t want me to.

So does eating cake make me a bad person? No, because like everything else, I do it in moderation and that after all is a much better approach to life.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Clever Storage and Reclaiming the Dining Room...

I dream of having the stylish interiors I see in Living Etc. I am often found pouring over a homes magazine or one of Kelly Hoppen’s latest books, obligatory glass of wine in hand visualising new interiors - all white and glass with the odd piece of natural wood thrown in for good measure. Clean simple lines with a random ornament here and there for effect. Possibly even lit with a low energy mood changing bulb and a lightly scented Jo Malone candle burning in the background…

But in reality it looks nothing like this. Our house looks like the aftermath of a particularly energetic robbery. There are things everywhere.

After a brief tidying up session in the dining room last week, Mini-Me had already re-infiltrated the space with her vast array of Sylvanian Families. Three more families had recently joined the ever expanding brood; a brood that had taken to camping at the end of the dining room, settling like a mini travelling community. They’d even got the caravan. And I don’t think an injunction served by the local council was going to get them shifted.

Word Was Getting Round About a Great New Camp ...

Is it possible then to mix normal family life with a designer interior?

My epiphany moment came when I realised that things don’t get put away in our house because they have nowhere to go. It appeared that the answer to my tidying woes lay in clever storage. (Have you noticed how editors always apply completely inappropriate adjectives; what exactly makes storage clever?) One magazine I saw recently claimed to have storage solutions to get your heart racing. I knew exactly what they meant.

Armed with a tape measure and an unwilling Husband, I set about marking out the room and making a list of all the items that needed to be found a home.

It seemed that we needed the equivalent of Dr Who’s tardis to house all of the items I was planning to buy a cupboard for. How come we never have anything to watch when at the last count we had over 300 DVDs? I also discovered CDs still wrapped in their cellophane, 4 old Next Directories and chargers for mobile phones I hadn’t seen since the last century. Still undeterred, we made a quick pilgrimage to Ikea and soon spied some full height white gloss monsters with hidden door handles. Perfect.

These have now been strategically placed around the dining room and lo and behold they actually do exactly what we wanted. By positioning shelves at the right heights for each item we have managed to cram in an enormous amount of possessions in a relatively small space. And nothing got broken in the move. Although we did have one hairy moment when Mini-Me was waving around The Husband’s prized vinyl collection asking “What are these black circles with the holes in for?” Who said having children keeps you young, although I suspect The Husband hasn’t moved that fast since his 3rd year Sports Day.

So now everything can be neatly stored away in its proper place, will this make us tidy? Probably not but at least I can get to the back of the dining room without feeling like I’m reliving Gulliver’s Travels.

Just the rest of the house to go….

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The Clarisonic Facial Brush and a Marketing Dream...

I am a marketer’s delight – the person that advertising agencies dream of. The one they have in mind as they sit around their white boards designing their next campaigns.

Why? Because I believe.

I believe that the latest shampoo/moisturiser/makeup range is the one that I cannot continue to live without; the one that once mine will enhance my life beyond its current dull existence.

Put these ads into a magazine and I believe them even more. A beauty editor’s write up is likely to have me scampering off to the shops, money in hand before I get to the end of the copy. Every year I pore over Instyle magazine’s beauty awards, checking off what I already own and making a mental list to purchase those I have yet to try out.

And whilst I’m old enough and wise enough to know that most claims do not live up to my expectations, I still continue my pursuit for the next miracle product.

So when beauty editors started to rave about a new face brush, I got the familiar urge to buy.

The Clarisonic is a new sonic facial brush that uses the same technology as a toothbrush to give your face a deep clean. It promises smooth, soft, clear skin. Not only that but I am informed that with all of the gunk removed from my delicate pores they will not only shrink into virtual non existence but will allow all of the expensive creams that I own to work much better. Wow! Sounded too good to be true.
The first major downside came with the price. At £155 this is an expensive replacement for a face flannel. But I am assured that the product is worth it. One editor’s husband apparently asking her how she had managed to put her make up on when he had just seen her leave the shower.

Luckily I had some money from my birthday so justifying the price was not a major issue. And anyway, wouldn’t this actually be saving money given that I would never again require a facial?

When the box arrived in the post, it contained some products (cleansers, moisturisers etc) that I immediately consigned to the bin and the brush itself, along with a couple of additional heads. The second downside which I hadn’t considered was that the brush head would need changing every month or so. At around £20 for a replacement head, this was beginning to become very expensive indeed.

The brush itself is quite large – larger than I had anticipated given that it needs to fit into the contours of your face. You can it seems take the outer bristles off to enable the brush to fit more snugly around your nose but to be honest I can’t see myself messing about with that every morning.

The controls are easy to use given that you just press start and the brush starts to rotate. You use it on your forehead first for 20 seconds, then you nose and chin for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds on each cheek – the brush beeps handily at each interval to let you know when to move on. Irritatingly though all of the controls are on the beep so you need a degree in Morse code to work out what each beep means. At one point, two weeks into use, I thought the brush had broken as it suddenly stopped working. Apparently the increasing number of beeps it had steadily emitted throughout the last few sessions were its way of telling me it needed charging!

The big question is though does it work? Well I can say that if I look really hard my pores are a tiny bit smaller and a couple of people at work have commented that my skin is glowing. I suspect though that this is more to do with following a routine – the brush is too expensive to justify missing a twice daily cleansing session – than the brush itself.

What it does give you is a feeling that your skin is clean as the brush is extremely satisfying to use.Like using its sister the sonic toothbrush you do get the impression that you are getting a really deep clean.

Would I recommend it? If you love gadgets and have £155 to spare then give it a go – there are plenty of rave reviews across the internet to justify a purchase. Personally I think Liz Earle’s cleanser and hot muslin cloth do as good as job.

But I can’t stop, I’ve just heard about a new eye cream that will take 10 years off me…

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Today I'm Loving...Shu Uemura Essence Absolue

  1. Is your hair dry and prone to breakages?
  2. Has it lost its shine? 
  3. Do you struggle to pull your brush through the tangles?
  4. Have you got a spare £39.50?
  5. Do you want to look like Jennifer Aniston?

Well ok it is expensive but if you answered yes to the others you are in desperate need of Shu Uemera Essence Absolue.

Traditionally the Geishas of Japan tended their hair with rich Camellia Oil to keep it soft supple and shiny. Shu Uemera have captured this oil into a treatment that nourishes and protects hair.

It can be used after shampoo and conditioner to protect your hair through styling and then as a finisher when hair is dry to soften and treat. This combined with my Babyliss Big Hair has given me soft silky hair with a great shine. It smells lovely too.

Don't use it at the roots though unless your want your newly coiffed locks to instantly resemble the bottom of a chip pan.

Chris McMillan, hairdresser and friend of Jennifer Aniston uses it on her hair to add gloss and texture at the ends and to give a smooth finish to her blowdry.

Hair like Miss Aniston's for under £40.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Lusting After...Karen Millen SS11 Colour Block Handbag

There’s nothing like a good purchase to pick you up when you are feeling low.

If like me you’re struggling to find the right clothes to take you from one season to the next, why not make this the ideal time to invest in a new handbag? Darker winter clothes take on a whole new lease of life when you add a colourful bag and Karen Millen has one in their Spring Summer collection that I am totally in love with.

This gorgeous satchel style bag is an eye popping red, fuchsia and magenta leather with an unusual tassle feature. Its strong structural shape is very popular at the moment, think Victoria Beckham’s latest collection, and would be an ideal asset to a capsule work wardrobe.

Whilst it isn’t as roomy as my current soft leather tote, what it loses in interior space it makes up for in sheer wow factor.

Like most new season items advertised at the moment, it has yet to make it into the stores – their press department is on speed dial as we speak…

Monday, 7 March 2011

Try Something New Today…Maybe a Skirt by Gok Wan?

Sainsburys have just announced a new partnership with Gok Wan which will see clothes designed by the great man himself hitting the shelves this autumn.

The collections will reflect Gok's philosophy of making women feel confident, stylish and positive about their bodies, whatever their size or shape.

Gok Wan said: "I can't wait to get started; this is a first for me. While I've styled thousands of women over the years, soon millions of women are going to be able to wear something I've created."

Now I confess I like Gok. He’s like the cheeky best friend of your baby brother, warm, approachable and non threatening.

But whilst I followed every episode of his Feel Good Naked programmes, I have not had he same interest in either of the last two series. And this is largely to do with the “something he’s created”.

Even though Brix Smith-Start is incredibly irritating and looks like she could do with some style advice from Gok herself (and Nicky Clarke for that matter), she does have an eye for gorgeous clothing. Whilst Gok enthuses that his H&M jumper with bits of feathers sewn on looks just like Dior, it does in fact look like an H&M jumper with bits sewn on. And what will happen to most of these creations when they hit the washing machine?

Don't get me wrong, I like a bargain outfit as much as anybody but really, would anyone you know turn up at the school playground in some of his so called designs?

So I await his new collection with much interest. He clearly has an eye for style and I would hope that this would show through in well cut basics in neutral colours; classic yet stylish to flatter real women.

But this is Sainsburys where the average price is well below great cuts and good quality materials. Clothes that sell here need to grab your attention as you whiz around the aisles at breakneck speed. I suspect therefore we’ll see signature pieces and distinctive patterns that will define Gok and his brand. And whilst this may make for some great clothing at an affordable price do you really want everyone to know you bought your hot new top from a supermarket? That’s before you actually go out in it and see the world and his wife wearing the same thing. 

Whilst an allegiance with a supermarket certainly cashes in on his housewife appeal, I fear it will do little to make his designs credible in the world of fashion. Still, I will keep an open mind and watch with interest after all we do need to...Try Something New Today.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Today I'm Loving... MAC Girl About Town Lipstick

Peter Philips. International make-up artist and Chanel makeup’s Global Creative Director. What this man says goes and what he said this season was Fluorescent Fuschia Lips.

Fendi and Jil Sander both sent their models down the runway sporting neon pink lips carefully painted by the great man and his team. And what’s great about this colour is that it looks even better against pale skin – perfect for an English Spring. Application requires a perfectly steady hand and a crisp outline unless you want to look like you’re auditioning for the circus. Way back in the eighties this shade would have been “enhanced” with a much darker lip liner but the key now is to apply carefully with no visible outside edge.

MAC’s Girl About Town lipstick is perfect for this look taking the runway colour and just toning it down a little for everyday wear. Saves on the office sarcasm! Team with neutral eyes and clothes so the colours don’t fight and if you want to be really on trend clash with some hot orange nail varnish.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Life On the Open Road...

At this time of year my thoughts move to holidays. Like every year before it, I genuinely believe that this year we will have a long hot summer. And with perfect weather comes the belief that we can have perfect family holidays and spend the summer months camping.

“You hate camping” The Husband said when I brought it up over dinner.

True, the last time we ventured out under canvas was two years ago. The holiday started out idyllically enough. That was before the gale force winds that had even the most seasoned of caravanners hoisting in their awnings and battening down the hatches. The tent leaked, the camp bed was uncomfortable and we awoke every morning to condensation covering everything inside. Add that to the long walk every time I needed the loo or wanted to wash up or have a shower or brush my teeth and the whole camping thing became very tedious very quickly.

But I must be missing something as so many of my work colleagues spend their long hot summer nights outside, sipping wine, listening to birdsong and picking at delicious food cooked over a fire.

So I have concluded that it is not the idea of camping that doesn’t appeal, it’s the method we have chosen to execute it. Camping is obviously something we would love as much as everyone else if it wasn’t quite so basic. The answer is obvious - we just need to upgrade a little.

“You want a motor home?” The Husband gasped incredulously. “Do you know how much those things cost?”

Getting a motor home seems the ideal solution. It would be the perfect little home from home, giving us the camping experience without the hassle.

Determined to convince The Husband, who by now had retreated to the safety of the garage, I set about dealing with the problem as only I know how. Make a list.

So here are my lists of pros and cons to owning a motor home;


  1. They are so sweet inside; just like little doll’s houses
  2. We could take the dog on holiday. The Husband has pointed out here that we don’t actually have a dog but we could get one and take it on holiday.
  3. We could go on holiday more often. Well in about 10 years we could when we had finished paying for it.

And onto the Cons:

  1. They are very expensive. For the same price you could probably buy a small house in a foreign country. You may even be able to buy the foreign country.
  2. It would not fit on the driveway.
  3. Even the large ones are quite small inside.
  4. You have to pack everything away every time you want to go somewhere in it. Being an Official Untidy Person, this could be quite traumatic.
  5. It is too big for me to drive
  6. You can probably only travel 2 miles to a gallon.
  7. You would need at least 6 free spaces to park it anywhere.

So the motor home idea seems to have stopped before it really began.

And are we looking forward to a summer under canvas? Can’t stop, I just have to nip out and get some cruise brochures.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Today I'm Loving...John Frieda Precision Foam Colour

Like most women I have experimented with the colour of my hair. I have dyed my naturally dark brown hair a myriad of shades from darkest brown through reds and mahogany to blonde streaks. I once even dyed it black. This was however a complete accident as the box said mid brown. My skin is so pale I had to wear bright red lipstick and lost of blusher every day to not look like an extra from the Undead and even then I still gave Morticia Adams a fair run for her money. But I digress; the point is that I dyed my hair because I chose to -  like I would choose a different eye shadow or lipstick shade to match a different outfit.

This all changed a couple of years ago at Mini-Me’s birthday party. One of her friends was upset so I bent down to console her.

“My mummy has hair the same colour as yours” said one of the other girls.

I tried to picture the lady in question from the gatherings around the school gate.

“Has she?” I answered brightly.

“Yes” she replied smiling.

 “She’s got a big grey stripe down the middle as well”

From that point on I could no longer kid myself that dyeing my hair was a fashion choice. It has now been officially reclassified as Maintenance. Like waxing, plucking and shaving this is Something That Has to Be Done To Not Look Old.

Given that the product I choose now has to perform a function – i.e. cover the ever expanding stripe rather than just put a gloss of colour over the top, this has narrowed the choice considerably. For a start, I now have to go to the end of the shelf where the Permanent Dyes live. Semi permanents have no impact whatsoever on these little grey impostors.

The thing with permanent hair dye is that it does exactly what it says on the box – it permanently colours your hair which is a very scary proposition. Because if it goes wrong it doesn’t wash out. Ever. And that means you have to grow it out or pay a hairdresser to sort it out for you.

My Grey Stripe is Getting Harder To Hide...

I have tentatively tried a number of products on the market since the untimely outing of my Grey Stripe. Whilst some appear to lightly cover the offending hairs within a couple of washes their wiriness is soon poking out amongst their dark still coloured  friends. So it was with some trepidation that I tried John Frieda’s Precision Foam Colour.

What I have learnt, particularly after the Black Dye Incident, is that your hair is actually a couple of shades lighter than you think it is. So I chose shade 6N for my dark brown hair.

The mousse is extremely thick and easy to apply although it does have a strong smell of ammonia. The colour takes longer to develop than some on the market but the results are amazing. Strong, glossy, vibrant colour with no greys. And they stay hidden until they grow out.

I have now used this twice and the colour each time has been exceptional and very natural. Even my new hairdresser commented on it.

So for now, my greys are gone and my hair colour worries are over...until next month.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Today I'm Loving...Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage

Too much wine, lack of sleep and the stresses that come with Mini-Me do not good skin make. This is why I could not live without my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage. I don’t tend to wear foundation often as it aggravates my dry skin, so this on top of tinted moisturiser is all I need to get me through the day. It hides dark patches, spots and broken capillaries with a stroke of a brush and no caking. Now no-one will ever know you had an alcohol and chocolate feast the night before!

But don’t just take my word for it; it gets voted as best concealer in the Instyle Beauty Awards every year.

So what makes this product so special?

Certainly not the price tag as this is a hefty £26. But as the old adage goes you get what you pay for and this is going to last you for ever, so the price per use is very low. And you will use it every day without fail. It’s that good. There is also a very handy mirror in the lid of the packaging so this is a very useful addition to your handbag in more ways than one.

The unique two shade system means you can mix the perfect colour for different areas of your skin; and the concealer itself is very thick and highly pigmented so a little goes a long way. Apply with a small brush for perfect coverage and set with a thin layer of translucent powder.

If it’s good enough for Sarah Jessica Parker…

Monday, 28 February 2011

Don't Call Me Baby...

I have been married to The Husband for nearly 17 years. There are many perks to being married but apparently one that I hadn’t considered until recently. That is, he has a title; a description that lets everyone know exactly who he is and how he is related to me. I hadn’t been aware of the immense advantage that this gave me until talking with my office colleagues one afternoon.

“I never know what to refer to him as when I’m talking to people I don’t know” one of the girls bemoaned.

And there’s the problem. Because what exactly do you call The Man You Are In Love With if he doesn’t slot neatly into the title of husband or fiancé?

Partner seems to be the general default of most although this is not without its disadvantages. Conjuring up images of lesbian lovers or someone you have bought a half share in a racehorse with, it is not exactly the most romantic of descriptions.

Next on the list is Live In Lover but what about if you share a bed but not a house? It also has a touch of 70’s sitcom. Boyfriend sounds ridiculous to anyone over the age of 30 whilst Manfriend doesn’t even warrant a mention. Friend appears to be the hot choice of the over 60’s but doesn’t imply any level of commitment.

For clarification, Fluffy Froggy or any other pet name should NEVER be disclosed in general public!

So what’s the answer? Seems there isn't one.

“I just call him by his first name,” my friend retorted when pressed further “And hope that no-one asks.”

Friday, 25 February 2011

Wardrobe Organisation

I have become obsessed with wardrobe organisation. Granted it’s not in the same league as many addictions; I doubt that I would get applause and nods of admiration if I stood up in a crowded room and professed my love of matching coat hangers; but none the same it is starting to take over my daily thoughts. I find myself lusting after wardrobe interiors in the glossies- eyeing up the carefully colour coded racks of clothes and shoes laid out by style and heel height.

But here’s the problem. English wardrobes are tiny and that’s basically because English houses are tiny. Unless you have a footballer for a husband or are descended from Royalty you are only likely to have an average double wardrobe at your disposal. And that’s probably come from Ikea. American wardrobes or closets as they call them over there are huge. In fact there appears to be whole rooms set aside for the storage of clothes which leaves me with a total feeling of inadequacy. (One of my favourites is Emily Schuman’s walk in closet at Cupcakes and Cashmere, an American blogsite.)

Emily's Amazing Closet (Cupcakes and Cashmere)

I tried to persuade The Husband to convert one of our bedrooms into a walk in affair a la Sex and the City but he just walked off muttering something about reducing the house value and how I already have most of the hanging space in the house.

So as a space challenged nation, how can we arrange the small amount of space we do have available? One of my favourite websites currently is Practical Princess which claims to be able to “bring the luxury of complete organisation to your life”.

An interior styled and organised by Practical Princess

Their premium service involves a Personal Princess coming to your house and going through each piece of clothing within it. They can then advise you on what doesn’t work, how to wear your remaining items together and what gaps you need to fill when you next go shopping. But at £375 per day for a Deputy Princess, with an additional £175 for an assistant if you have a lot of sorting to do, this is not a cheap option. Surely if I want someone to go through all my clothes and give me an opinion I could ask The Husband, although everything would be “looks alright”; or if I was feeling really brave, Mini-Me, but her opinions are often brutal. But that’s the beauty of getting in the experts; imagine that getting paid to nose around someone’s wardrobe and tell them with some glee that all of it’s contents make the owner look crap; they give an honest but professional opinion with great advice that leaves you motivated into action not crumpled into a sobbing heap on the floor. So whilst this does seem an expensive option, how many clothes do you have hanging in the wardrobe still proudly displaying their tags? How often do you moan that you have nothing to wear or struggle to put your individually chosen pieces into great outfits? How much of your expensive purchases over the years have you actually worn? Put into this context, employing someone like Practical Princess could actually save you money in the long term.

But if this is still well outside your price range how do you achieve similar results on a budget? Again PP comes to the rescue with a great page of tips on how to get organised.

In the last few weeks I have started to put what I’ve learnt into action. Old clothes have been thrown away or donated to charity and anything that no longer fits or is beyond repair has gone. Whilst this has been a cathartic process I can now see just what things I have left that are actually wearable. (It has also highlighted that I seem to have a small obsession with purple tops). Shirts and blouses have now been hung in colour coded order above bottoms with a new section built by The Husband for dresses. I am still coveting the wardrobe interior pack from the girls at Practical Princess but things are definitely starting to take shape.

Now I just need to hit the shops and fill the gaps…

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Today I'm Loving...Babyliss Big Hair

Throughout my adult life I have fought with my hair. This is because we have a Major Difference of Opinion – it wants to lead a kinky existence and I want it to be straight.

Growing up, before the invention of good straighteners, this meant long tortuous blow drying; taking it section by section and wrestling it around a barrelled brush. Hours later, with aching heavy arms, it would still not look sleek.

Then a miracle happened in the form of GHDs. Women like me everywhere saved an hour every day and finally had the straight glossy hair we yearned for. But like playing with the devil, eventually this came with a heavy price – dry broken hair and unattractive split ends.

I have finally had to admit defeat and have been experimenting recently with different ways to style my stubborn mane.

Firstly, my hairdresser has cut layers throughout the length which works with the kinks creating natural flicks. Secondly, I have discovered the Babyliss Big Hair styler. This innocent looking hot brush has totally transformed the way I style my hair. 

I admit I was sceptical, having already tried every curling tong on the market without much success. But with a huge amount of Boots points, a legacy from the vast amount of Christmas shopping, it was essentially free. I would however pay double if necessary as it is THAT GOOD.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin. It doesn’t give me big hair which would initially appear to make it a complete failure. It does however give me smooth, shiny hair that looks like I’ve had a blow dry in the salon. Swishy, bouncy and full of life; and it takes less than half an hour to wash and go. Result!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Lusting After...French Connection Capsule Wardrobe

The last item I bought from French Connection was one of their slightly rude t shirts. My grandmother was not amused. Since then, whilst I have wandered around from time to time nothing else has really caught my eye. Until now. Their new collection for Spring is simply gorgeous with the designs all about pared back, contemporary style. Shunning the rest of the High Street’s obsession with bold colour, these clothes are muted and classy – a sure sign that you will be wearing them for more than just one season.

So if you’re hankering after a new capsule Spring wardrobe, make French Connection your first stop with these adaptable separates:

4. Bravo Sir Wide Leg Trouser £87               
5. Frankie Floral Shirt £52                 
6. Orchard Jersey Dress £57

Throw in a pair of your favourite jeans and there's enough pieces to make a different outfit every day for a week. Add some hot pink lips or bright coloured shoes and you've got the neon vibe covered too.

I want them all!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Today I'm Loving...New Choos

Smell and feet are not normally two words that should be used together in polite company but it appears that Jimmy Choo has overcome this social faux pas perfectly with the launch of their new fragrance, imaginatively titled Jimmy Choo. The Eau de Parfum “expresses an aura of strength and beauty. Glamourous in attitude, confident, intelligent and with a sense of fashion and fun, the fragrance is a modern Fruity Chypre with warm, rich, woody depths. It’s a fragrance inspired by modern women” Wow! Not sure what all that actually means but the perfume smells divine.

Jimmy Choo Perfume: available from The Fragrance Shop

Now normally I’m a Chanel girl through and through. In fact so loyal am I to this particular perfume brand that I literally looked over my shoulder in Selfridges when I bought this in case someone saw me!

“I don’t normally buy anything other than Chanel” I whispered to the woman behind the counter.

“Don’t worry” she answered conspiratorially, “you’re not the only one - we’ve had a lot of Chanel customers buying this”

Still to be sure I bought the smallest bottle in an I’m not showing this any commitment just dabbling so don’t think you’ve enticed me with your posh shoe brand because you haven’t  kind of way.

So now whilst I don’t have the fabulous shoe collection of Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choos Chief Creative Officer, I definitely smell like her. And I can honestly say that my dressing room has Chanel and Jimmy Choo side by side – even if it is on the dressing table and not in the wardrobe!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Baby Don't Care for Me...

Call me old, call me behind the times, call me whatever I used to call my mother for not being “with it” but I just don’t get Facebook. In particular I don’t get relationships on Facebook. As a society we’ve learnt a lot in the years since I was a teenager. We’ve learnt to make mobile phones smaller, carry our whole music and film library around in our pockets, straighten curly hair and google our exes but we haven’t learnt not to air our dirty washing in public. When I was dating, if things weren’t working out you dumped or got dumped with a simple “it’s not you it’s me” chat. Everyone knew where they stood and more importantly; and this is the big difference; knew before everyone else.

At one of Mini-Me’s dance rehearsals recently I started talking to one of the other mothers – an attractive girl in her mid 20’s. “My boyfriend and I have been having some problems recently” she confided, “but I think things are back on track because he’s updated his Facebook status to in a relationship” What? You need to check Facebook to confirm that you actually still have a boyfriend? Have you thought of just asking him?

Love Through Facebook

I have friends who, still seething from the latest arguments with their other halves, let out vents of fury on their Facebook page. But here’s the thing that everyone seems to forget – this page is public. That means that OTHER PEOPLE CAN SEE IT. And while you may have calmed down, forgiven and forgotten, your friends and his may not be so accommodating. Because the drunken ramblings you posted on your Facebook page have been viewed - even if you hurriedly remove them in a fit of remorse the next day. So what started out as an argument between two lovers quickly escalates into an all out war, with friends and relatives all getting in on the act.

So ladies, next time you have a major domestic with the other half, throw plates, scream, cry, slam all the doors but please back away from the keyboard! 

Friday, 18 February 2011

Today I'm Loving...Coastal Scents Palettes

Anyone who knows me will know I have a small obsession with MAC makeup. Actually small obsession doesn’t quite do it justice – I am a complete MAC addict. The colours are so intense and perfectly matched to the season’s fashions that there are few other brands that can compete. MAC are very much a fashion led company and keep their followers interested by launching new collections every couple of weeks in exciting new packages.  But here’s the major problem – this is not a cheap option. At £11.50 for a single eye shadow it doesn’t take much of a splurge to break the budget. That’s why I got so excited when I discovered Coastal Scents 88 Palettes cunningly named because each palette contains 88 – yep count ’em – individual tiny eye shadows.

Whilst Coastal Scents are not a brand widely recognised throughout the UK, the palettes have become a minor sensation on YouTube amongst the makeup gurus who post there (more on these soon). My current favourite is the Warm Platte which contains a myriad of usable colours from the palest blues through to the deepest browns, hitting mossy greens, golds, bronzes and mulberry colours along the way. There are also a wide range of highlighter colours for the brow bone and inner eye. Whilst each colour is only the size of a 5 pence coin, they will last for ages as the colour is so intense and pigmented. Over an eye shadow primer, they did not move or crease all day. A perfect compliment to my Mac collection.

There are not many stockists in the UK but I picked mine up from Ebay for around £29. The brand is also stocked by

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Today I'm Loving... Spring Nails

Last week saw a rare glimpse of sunshine that had me yearning for brighter clothes to escape the dull greys, blacks and purples of winter. Luckily I didn’t splurge on too many items as we are now firmly back into the depth and gloom of February. Somehow when its cold and wet outside wearing that new season tea dress just seems wrong no matter how many cardigans you throw over the top. To counter this and to give me a quick Spring fix, I’ve invested in these cute little nail varnishes from Barry M.

Barry M Nail Varnishes

They sum up the prettiness of the season ahead beautifully and yet at only £2.99 each won’t break the bank. Not only that but they go on well with a nice coverage, dry very quickly – important when you want to change the colour several times through the week - and don’t chip too easily. Perfect. Now my nails are on trend even if my body remains encased in its winter wardrobe; which is perhaps not a bad thing as:

  1. The excesses of Christmas are still loitering around my middle
  2. My skin hasn’t seen any sun since August and has taken on a bluish tone
  3. My legs could give the left back player at Charlton Athletic a run for his money – waxing definitely required!
Hmmm seems there’s a lot of work to do pre Official Springtime but at least my nails will look good!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Worth More Than a Cheap Hair Colour...

I blame Cheryl Cole. To be fair, if I was offered loads of money by L’Oreal to change my image I would probably be very tempted; but did she really need to choose that hair colour? Do these celebrities really understand the consequences of their actions?  One pop of a flashbulb and the image descends upon the magazines to be devoured by impressionable young women everywhere. And this is where the problem starts. Because unlike the clothes, handbags and shoes adorning the glamorous Miss Cole, this hair colour is well within the affordability of most. One quick visit to Boots later and half the country seems to be showcasing the ubiquitous Castings Crème Gloss shade 550. This wouldn’t be a bad thing in itself if the colour wasn’t so absolutely awful. I remember dying my hair the same sort of shade when I was 15 (and getting sent straight home because schools didn’t stand any messing in those days - OMG I sound old!). Hair products weren’t so sophisticated either with the choices limited to mousse, to increase the height and width of your perm; green watery gel to wet look your curls; and a Shaders or Toners wash in wash out colour which,  no matter which one you picked, would give a burgundy hue closely akin to Miss Cole’s latest look.

This shade is also extremely high maintenance. Just like dying your hair bright red it needs work to keep it looking fresh. Conditioner, masques and colour safe shampoos are a must, as this intensity of colour literally fades before the eyes when exposed to any kind of light. This is where so many have got it wrong. So while Cheryl Cole has moved on to her next new look the rest of her avid followers are left sporting slightly pink coloured hair with dark roots on full show. Surely we’re all worth more than that?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lusting After...Bee Necklace by Alex Monroe

Given that we are in the depths of a financial crisis I have been trying to avoid temptation for anything other than essentials this month. That was however until I discovered the website of jewellery designer Alex Monroe. Alex’s designs have been extensively featured in the press and have even been worn by Emilia Fox’s character in Silent Witness – that style icon of  yummy mummies - Nikki Alexander.

Bumblebee Necklace by Alex Monroe

I am now lusting after this gorgeous bumblebee necklace  (in 22 carat gold plate over silver). This is somewhat unfortunate however as:

  1. It fulfils none of the criteria I have set myself for the definition of an essential purchase i.e. I don’t have one already that needs replacing, life would not be impossible without it, it costs more than £10.
  1. I am scared to death of bees. Even the slightest drone from one a mile away in the summer can make every muscle in my body tense with fear and cause my heart to literally stop beating for a second
  1. I don’t normally wear gold jewellery.
That aside I still want it. I have tried the advice that wise professionals give other shopping addicts – walk away before you buy it and see if you still need it tomorrow or the day after -  and I still want it. I have now book marked the page and look longingly at it on a daily basis. Perhaps I could justify it as therapy to conquer my bee fear…..

Monday, 14 February 2011

Beginning at the Beginning....

So here it is  - my first blog. I suppose you may be wondering what the point of all of this is going to be or worse still you may not even care which to be honest doesn’t put us in the best position. But let’s start as we mean to go on and hopefully by the end you’ll be popping back on a daily basis for a quick update.

Assuming that you haven’t yet flicked onto another website and supposing that I have your attention for a little while longer let me explain what I hope Pink Kitten will be all about.

So what interests me?

  1. Fashion. I am however slightly different to any other so called fashionista in that whilst I know every trend, designer and hot piece of clothing for every season I don’t have an extensive wardrobe, although my 8 year old mini-me can’t say the same!  And I lead a pretty normal life so my clothes need to be practical and beautiful. Currently sharing my age with Kylie and Jennifer Aniston gives me a glimpse of what women of my age could look like (although granted they are a) millionaires and b) neither of them have had any children which is my number one favourite excuse for why anyone can still have the body of a 20 year old) and this inspiration leads me onto the quest for the Perfect Clothing Item.

  1. Beauty Products. My experience with beauty products is so extensive that I can honestly say I rival Boots in terms of stock. I am always searching for that elusive magic product that will transform me into a hotter version of me –well to be honest will turn me into Jennifer Aniston but I don’t think that particular scientific formula has been invented yet.

  1. Hot accessories. Both for me and my home. Along with all other women on the planet I love shoes although I am always gravitating towards the most impractical uncomfortable pairs. So beautiful have today’s shoe designs become that I have a friend who actually uses her shoes as ornaments in her dressing room as they are “just too gorgeous to spoil by wearing them”. I am also a massive handbag addict. And I love jewellery. And scented candles. And cushions. And beautiful wallpaper. See the problem?

  1. Self improvement – by that I mean anything that makes me feel better about myself or look better because of it so I am often on the quest for fulfilment.

  1. And as you will see I love lists!

My blog will cover all my purchases and I’ll give an honest review of products so I hope you will come back and see how I'm getting on with it all. You may find a dream product from my searches, get some fashion inspiration or learn something new and who knows we may have a laugh along the way!

Welcome to the World Pink Kitten!
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