Saturday, 25 February 2017

Days off when everyone else is at work...

...are the best invention ever! Could there ever be a better phrase than 'you need to take the holidays you have left' Glory, glory, hallelujah! 

Just this last week I had 1.5 days holiday and they were brilliant! I finished work on Thursday at 1pm and I unashamedly spent the rest of the day lounging around on the sofa, reading my book, listening to podcasts, catching up on some TV...basic summary? I did sweet eff-A, and it was the BEST thing ever! 

On Friday I would have had a sleep in, but the dog came running up the stairs, jumped on the bed and proceeded to 'dig me out' of the duvet at 7am. Sleep in? What's that then! I did however have an incredibly lazy start: I ate my breakfast in my pyjamas, I watched some more TV, I took the dog out for a lazy stroll, went and visited my parents and enjoyed a hot cross bun, a cuppa tea and some slightly heated political discussions, went shopping for some new clothes, enjoyed a coffee outside with actual sun on my face, before coming home for some more lazing around. 

Days off! Especially when you know everyone else is at work and you would be too normally cos you're not actually away on holiday anywhere - sweeeeeet! 

And you know what's even better? I have two more left to take - wooop! I already know what I'll be doing...

Friday, 24 February 2017

Style wishes

I know it's not even the end of February yet but I am dreaming about Spring! That slight hint of warmth in the sunshine, blue skies, longer days, flowers popping up out of the ground...CAN'T WAIT! 

I've got a bit of a wish list going on for my Spring style, but I'm having one big problem: I can't find anything that I want. So frustrating! The new season stuff is still starting to come in admittedly, but I am slightly concerned that most of it seems to be a) cropped, as in it might fit my 13 year old niece, and b) all the pastel shades. Now I'm not averse to some of the pastel stuff, in fact I've just bought a beautiful pair of blush pink kicks today but that will probably be my one nod to pastel, it's a tough shade to pull off when you're pale of skin and red of hair. 

So here in no particular order is what I want in my wardrobe for Spring. If you've seen any of these things please shout up in the comments! 

1. A long line blazer, slim-ish fit but with slightly baggier sleeves that can be rolled up to about three quarter length. I'd like this in a navy or a black to be classy. Think Julia Roberts in the final scene of Pretty Woman...

2. A pair of trousers. At this point I'm not fussy about anything. Today I visited about six shops and tried on countless pairs. They all look awful. Any big-bottom-ed girls out there who know where to buy trousers, please share, PLEASE! I desperately want some! 

3. All the florals - loving this trend! Any colour, any style, bring them on! 

4. A couple of nice loose (but not too baggy), cotton (but not see-through) shirts that I can wear for work tucked into skirts and paired with the mythical trousers that may not exist. 

5. Some brown/tan suede loafers. You would think this is easy but I have a couple of new demands on shoes now - they cannot be completely flat to the floor anymore (all that pounding the floor in libraryland number 2 in rubbish shoes has done bad things to my legs!) so a bit of a block heel, maybe like an inch. And they also have to be totally comfortable from day one. Blisters are evil and make your life a misery. I cannot be doing with any footwear that requires 'breaking in' - been there, done that with the Doc Marten boots that actually cut my feet to shreds back in the day - memories - ugh *shudder* 

6. A moving into Spring skirt. I'm still to decide on the actual type but maybe one that is a little bit lighter than fifty shades of grey and blue which is my current skirt situation. 

7. A three quarter sleeve cardigan that is lightweight cotton but does not contain any lace. Lace is itchy and rips easily and as we all know Claire = clumsy so not a good combo.

8. Some new trainers that are worn purely to look good with an outfit and do not, in any way, shape or form, turn into dog walking trainers. I'm still considering New Balance...

9. A white t-shirt that is good quality cotton, will wash well and is not see through. This does not seem like too tall an order but paired with the mythical trousers has yet to be discovered. What's up with that?!?

10. Blush pink kicks - YES! Tick! Bought today and already loving. 

So in summary: some pretty specific demands that give a clear indication that my style is evolving. As I move around in this 40-something decade I'm feeling a need for quality over quantity and am definitely willing to pay more if this means that a clothing item will endure countless wears and still look good. I'm also finding that I'm way more about looking as chic as I can manage (with the messy hair it's never going to be entirely chic and sophisticated) while still being totally myself which is a little bit funky, a little bit cool-cat, a little bit, dare I say, smart...? Who would have thought that would ever be a word I would use...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Postcards from the edge...

I feel like I say this a lot but I genuinely have no idea where the time is going. How can it be almost March? How?! It was only Christmas five minutes ago and now, at work, they're already talking about Christmas this year...I cannot even deal. And as for this week? Schummmmmmmmmm! (the sound when time flies by in an instant)

Admittedly it was a particularly busy week. First of all I went on a training course to Manchester. Due to the early start I travelled down the night before and stayed in a hotel. All by myself. It's normally Dave doing this kind of thing but this time it was me, talking through the iPad and confusing the poor dog no end - I can hear the human lady, but there is no way she will fit in that black box with all the cakes she has been eating...I stayed in a Premier Inn which in terms of style is not that high, but in terms of comfort? Beds of dreams! Also, as I was to discover, breakfasts of dreams! And I opened the curtains to the most beautiful building right opposite me! 

The course was really good - I met loads of lovely people and the instructor guy (also really nice!) reinforced my belief that I am approaching my job in the right way. Quality over quantity, don't say something for the sake of it, be creative. Tick, tick, tick. Claire = happy. 

I had all these grand plans to wander around Manchester afterwards as it's somewhere that I have always wanted to go. I set off in the direction of the Northern Quarter where all the cool cats live...but it started to rain...and I had holes in my boots and the fluff round my hood was getting soggier and soggier, the final nail in the adventure/wandering was when I realised that my rucksack that I was carrying had been making my skirt ride up at the back and my coat too and I was probably showing the whole of the North West my blue pants that would be clearly visible through my black tights. Classy. Enough adventuring for one day, I headed back to the train station. I would definitely like to go back though. Just not wearing those boots, and maybe not that skirt either as that is one sartorial misadventure too far. 

This week I also ate yet more cake. This absolutely, positively, definitely has to stop and this time Dave is with me, as he ventured on to the scales and did not like the numbers that came back at him. For me, my clothes are starting to feel not that great - I always think it's probably a sign it's gone too far when the comfiest clothes in my wardrobe are my pyjamas. Ahem. Two is stronger than one in the eating better department. We can do this! We can. But that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy a photo of the cupcake that I enjoyed on Tuesday. 

The biggest accomplishment of the week was definitely being told by our new 17 year old apprentice that me (and my work buddy Rachel) are cool. In true Claire style I immediately removed any sense of that by announcing to everyone that we had been declared as cool...but for that brief moment, well, what a day! I could be her mam! I mean at a push I could probably be her granny...maybe not...but you know, me = old, her = young enough to believe that she can eat 36 mini donuts in a week and remain a size 8 forever (I kid you not, that is actually real, and is also just a drop in the ocean for the actual consumption of food, oh and 24 of those were in one sitting...) 

The weekend finally rolled around. I had my hair did, I met up with Andy for some serious catching up and a wander around a rather big but definitely disappointing charidee shop, and ended Saturday at theatre with the cast and crew enjoying a pizza and a couple of social beverages - gosh, how civilised! Sunday has been dog walking, dog showering due to galloping at top speed through every single muddy puddle (there were lots of them), cooking lunch for Dave's mam, and then discovering that I can download Girls via iTunes - oh! Yes! I can finally catch up ready for the new series, which hopefully I will also be able to get through there. Who knew? Why did I not Google this sooner? Durrrrrr. 

And now another weekend has ended. Why so fast? The soup is on the hob and I'm winding my way into another snoozy evening so until next time please enjoy this view, which I think looks kind of like an English countryside painting of old. It's fast becoming one of my favourite places to wander and lots of happy memories are being made. Hope y'all had a happy weekend too! 

Monday, 13 February 2017

The good, the bad and the totally brilliant

I know I only had a lotions and potions post on Friday but these early months in the year are when I step up my skincare testing to try and combat the winter skin effects - in my case red, sore, dry and all round hydration-seeking. Here's my latest round up of the good, the bad and the totally brilliant. 

First up let's start with the bad, the rotten tomato in the group if you will. When it comes to base I'm not really a foundation kind of girl - more often than not I use a tinted moisturiser, a primer, or some equivalent like a CC cream. I can't even remember why I decided to spend ten of my hard earned pounds on this L'Oreal Nude Magique Blur Cream, perhaps I'd seen a review somewhere online that sounded like it would be the perfect product for me. Except it wasn't. It was, to put it bluntly, utterly shite, and a massive waste of money as it's going in the bin. 

Let me tell you why. First of all it has a weird texture, that strange silicone type that feels all weird on your fingers and even more so on your face. In all fairness, it probably wasn't the right time of year to try a 'blur' effect cream - those kinds of things are generally better for summer when my face has some colour and doesn't really need much adding to it, but I still think it could have been better. It took a lot of product to cover my skin (and I have pretty good skin that doesn't need massive coverage!) and it's a pretty small tube so if I had committed to using it, it wouldn't have lasted five minutes...but! 

There always has to be a but! The absolute worst thing about this was the way the stuff came out of the tube. I'm not even sure if I can describe it accurately without grossing everyone out...let's just say it spurted out, making some very disturbing farty noises along the way, and it was all bitty and gross and the slimy silicone feel of it...eeewwwww! It was grim. It's going in the bin. Big fat waste of a tenner. Do not buy this product - ever! 

Things can only get better now! On with the good - step up the Body Shop Almond hand cream. Lovely product, lovely smell, lovely feel, all round loveliness. The only thing that kept it from being brilliant was the tiny, tiny lid. I have a real problem with screw lids on stuff, and if they're even more fiddly than usual it's my worst nightmare. Coupled with hands that have just had hand cream put on them? Little tiny black lid flying all around the bedroom! 

Sidenote: As you can clearly see, that tube has been well and truly wrung by my marvellous tube wringer device! Absolutely genius and the best £25 I ever spent! A lotions and potions lover's dream to ensure you use absolutely all the product up. I digress. 

Time to move on to the brilliant. 

My brilliant trio. Lotions and potions of dreams if you like: Avene Hydrance Serum, Caudalie Vinosource Overnight Recovery Oil and Weleda Skin Food. 

The serum was lush, totally hydrating and sank right into the skin - a real winter saviour and one that I'll be seeking out next year at the same kind of time. I think it came in at about £16 and I used up every single drop in a month so pretty good going really. Well worth the extra few pennies when your skin needs it most, and easily available too - I bought mine in Boots.  

Ah Caudalie, Caudalie, I love every single product that I try - so nice! I recently watched a vlog when someone went to the spa in France and it looked AMAZING and when I'm rich I'm planning to go myself. Just saying. The Vinosource range is one of my favourites and this oil was an absolute delight to use. So nourishing and hydrating, and it smelled delicious! As with all Caudalie things, it wasn't the cheapest but for me, it is a brand that is well worth splurging on (by splurge I'm talking between £25-40 which may seem a lot but we're talking really good quality here). I've picked up a different brand to try as a replacement and I'm already wishing that I'd re-invested in this - you live, you learn. Definitely a re-purchase for me though and one I think I'll come back to over and over again. 

And then we're back to Weleda Skin Food. I blogged about this on Friday so scroll back through a couple of days and have a read - it mainly involves words like marvellous and brilliant and I can only repeat those same words here. Very highly recommended and a bargain to boot! 

Good, bad, brilliant. Any recommendations that I need to try? I'm very easily persuaded when it comes to lotions and potions...

Saturday, 11 February 2017

New time!

Now that I'm back from outer space and back in the (almost) daily blog game, I've decided to switch things up and change my times. I used to go for 9am but I decided that after 5 and into the evenings is much more accessible. That way when I just sit down at the end of the day and hammer some odd ramblings out, it's all more likely to be going out at around the same time, giving you the consistency that you may desire...or not...either way, if you've got a comment, feel free to shout out below. 

What a week. It's flown by! And each day has properly flown too. I worked from home on Wednesday and I swear it was like just after lunch but when I looked at the clock, it was 4pm! I still don't know where those three hours went to. 

🍩 Ha! I am loving that you can now add emojis to blog posts, I hope they're showing up as that. Just in case, this one is a donut. Which I decided to share because I recently started following Krispy Kreme on social media and this has not been a wise move at all. They post very regularly and I want to eat EVERY SINGLE THING that they post. And we don't really have one nearby which is kind of a bummer. But also probably for the best or I might start looking like a donut. Truth. 

We've had a day off today! The set at theatre is completely finished which means we have enjoyed a rare Saturday at home. Woop! I'll let you know what we got up to in my weekend round up tomorrow - bet you can't wait! See you then! 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Friday Find

There is absolutely nothing better than a new discovery, in any way, shape or form, I love finding new stuff that pleases me so. Yep, I will freely admit, that stuff often comes in the form of lotions and potions. Step up my most recent Friday Find - Weleda Skin Food. 

Weleda skin food

I had heard many, many good things about this wonder product, mainly from 'green' beauty bloggers who talk about organic and cruelty free products. Now having used it, I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to trying it, because frankly, it is bloody brilliant! 

It's called Skin Food for a good reason - you can basically use it everywhere! So far I've used it around my red and raw nose (ha! obligatory cold of doom reference!) which took less than 48 hours to heal; also on my red winter suffering cheeks, my lips, my elbows, dry skin patches around my ankles, and even (turn away now if you're squeamish!) up my nose! Regular morning and evening use and all have taken less than 48 hours to become baby soft and significantly less red and sore - it's genius, I tell you! 

As you can see by my squished up tube, supplies are already starting to run low, but I can say with absolute certainty that before that tube is empty I will be replacing it as I honestly think it's something I now won't be able to live without! A true find! 

The 100ml version is £6.95 from Holland and Barrett and there are several other sites that sell it online and include free shipping. Brilliant, bargainous and bloody marvellous - what more do you need! Buy it now! Go! 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

TV Times: Apple Tree Yard

I am all about the recommendations this week! You'd think I've not done anything else except lie around and read books and watch TV...actually that's kind of true. What? It's cold and dark outside and if you can't do those things in the chilly winter months when can you? If we were in Denmark they'd be calling it 'hygge' - gawd, anyone else sick of seeing that? I've been doing it for years! Loads of people have; in fact I would say that a large majority of people are proper experts at the whole hygge lifestyle without ever knowing that it had an actual name, however, as per usual, I digress. Back to topic. 

Let's talk TV. And by that I mean let's talk one of the BEST series I have watched in ages, and you know I never say that lightly...unless it's Nashville and I have said on many an occasion that you can judge me all you like, I don't care. Again, digressing. Stick with it woman! 

Apple Tree Yard. BBC drama. Starring Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin. Drama, thriller, call it what you will, by episode 3 you will literally be on the edge of your seat and be ever so grateful that Aunty Beeb decided to show the last two episodes over two nights. Except of course you will be watching on catch up or on demand or whatever, so you will have the added advantage of watching them all in 4 hours flat. And trust me when I say, you probably will. Set aside an afternoon, grab a cuppa, some munchies and a few cushions/big jumper/someone big to hide behind cos you're gonna need it! 

Obviously I can't give too much away, but let's just say you will not be prepared for what happens at the end. And you might even gasp out loud and do the whole shocked face/massive bulgy eyes emoji - effin brilliant! 

Doing it all backwards, I've ordered the book from the library cos I simply have to read it now - if the TV version is that good can you imagine how good the book must be?! Need! I'll keep you posted...but at least I'll be prepared for the ending now and hopefully won't gasp out loud if I'm reading it in a public place...

I still can't get over it. SO GOOD! 

Apple Tree Yard, available from iPlayer near you. Go! Hurry! 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Bookshelf: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Today I finished the first of my three giants - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. There are so many reasons why I'm glad I picked this one up first, even though at 864 pages it is a proper weight of a book that was so wide it wouldn't fit in my handbag. Admittedly this is probably more handbag issues than book size issues...

Generally I'm a little intimidated by books that clock in at that many pages. But somehow with this one, once I had started it didn't even occur to me, mainly because it has been an absolute delight to read. First up I should have probably told you that The Secret History, her first book, is one of my all time absolute faves - the copy that I have has been read so many times the spine is almost threadbare - so I was really excited to finally get around to this one. And it hasn't disappointed at all. 

You know the drill by now, I'm really not good at these book review things, but I so like to share that I keep on trying! I would describe this as a pretty epic tale really, spanning a life from a shocking tragedy at 13, taking something that you really shouldn't have and the consequences of it all throughout the rest of your life. How's that for a rockin' description?! I'll bet you're rushing off to the library right now to order your own copy...

Ahem. Maybe instead of trying to do the whole review thing we should just call these posts "Claire says you should read this", post a picture and have done with it? 

So in that spirit. I say that you should definitely read this. It is 100% worth the 864 pages and you will thank me for it. 

And when you're done with it, ask me if you can borrow The Secret History. And hope that it doesn't fall apart as you read it cos that spine really is looking a little bit fragile now...

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Back from outer space!

Helloooooooo! I'm back! Wow that was a long break away feeling sorry for myself 😊 The good news is that the evil cold of doom is almost gone! I say almost as there are still some lingering things that don't really need to be shared, especially if you are in any way squeamish and don't like the words snot and phlegm...I still went there, ugh! I just can't stop it now. STOP IT! 

Anyway, I decided I was well enough to be able to come back and not only talk about the cold of doom and I still managed to fit it in the first paragraph! Oopsy. Let's move swiftly on shall we? 

What's been happening? Any exciting news to share with me? 

I have so many things that I want to do now, it's not even funny. So many films to go and see! I've been patiently waiting until the cough had gone as I would have been annoyed at myself coughing through the film, much less any other poor audience members who had paid all that money to enjoy the film my cough. Trainspotting 2! La La Land! Lion! Manchester by the Sea! A Monster Calls! I have no idea when I'll actually fit them all in, but I'll give it a good shot. This is truly the best time of year for films, all those Oscar contenders - love!

I also want to get out in the garden and get ready for Spring. So many plans for this year's good life living. Come on you Spring! 

And house jobs...and sorting of the things...and and and! I can't keep up with my head! 

It definitely feels good to be back in this mode though, the exciting and planning mode. I'm sure you might have picked up on it from the endless moaning but the cold of doom really got me down. It's been a long time since I've had anything that bad that has truly "knocked me for six" as Dave has kindly said on more than one occasion. Coupled with the whole January being all dark and grey it's felt like a bit of a bummer start to the year, but onwards and upwards! I've got all sorts of things to chat about on the blog now, so here we go again. Take two as it were. Let's do this loves!