Five Good Reasons to be Grateful for Being Broke

How to feel good about being broke? I’ve had a lot of practice honing this skill through September and October, what with many, many expensive things: cars, dogs, husbands, paying off holidays I’ve already enjoyed, waah waah waah. So with the money stretched over a particularly long month (who pays on the last Thursday of every month? What kind of ridiculous payment code is this?) and one day left until the money lands, I’m looking for items which make me feel better about being brassic.

I’m trawling the net for the cheapest looking of the most expensive, the totally unflattering, the over-rated, the proper horrids, the stuff that makes me think “Can’t afford you and didn’t want ya anyway.” ‘Tis the season to be grateful for having more sense than money.

1. Versace Jacket.

Urgh.

It’s made of poor little foxes, costs more than £13,000 and yet still looks like it could have come off Bescot market. What’s not to hate? Team with skinny jeans and a bag over the head.

2. Maison Martin Margiela Cardigan.

Sagmungous

Sagmungous

I did exactly this to my Marks and Spencer grey school cardigan in 1992. For considerably less than £500 you can achieve this look by hooking your grandad cardy over your knees and stretching it. Best done whilst listening to the Smiths and worrying about whether Kraig Brown fancies you or not.

3. Carritz Ankle Boot.

Noseybonk

Noseybonk

Carritz Ankle Boot

Carritz Ankle Boot

Nobody needed to be reminded of 80s kids TV horror Noseybonk and yet that’s exactly what this ankle boot of doom did for me. I’m pretty sure I remember an episode where he stole a baby and no-one wants feet that look like baby stealers. If you need another reason they are also clearly impractical unless you have someone available to carry you from place to place for the next five months at least.

4. Aurelie Bidermann Necklace

"Open"

“Hiss”

Admittedly pretty useful if you’re trying to gain access to the Chamber of Secrets. Otherwise not much cop unless you’ve got a neck like Iman. Which I haven’t.

5. Donna Karan Belt

Snazzy.

Snazzy.

Your mum might say this was ‘snazzy’. It also contains ‘bling’ or even ‘bling bling’ if you prefer. It might make you look ‘fabulous’. It’s a snip at only £200 as opposed to its original price of more than six hundred. I don’t have enough ‘sass’ for this one and my friends would quite rightly laugh at me and call me a prat if I wore it. It would however have gone really brilliantly with the fuschia Clockhouse batwing sleeved sateen number and starched skirt with “Chinese writing” motif I wore to a school disco in 1983 though. Team with a flicked fringe and blinkers if you must.

PS- And while we’re on the subject, just because the M & S pink coat’s back in stock still doesn’t make it a good idea.

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Detox Treatment 2: The Victoria’s Secret Model Approved Version

I recently bought a copy of Harper’s Bazaar for its Beauty Hot 100 supplement expecting to find lots of lovely things to covet and add to my future investigation list. I wasn’t expecting to see a product I’ve been using for a while being highly recommended. It’s always lovely to feel like you discovered something first and got it right. *Smug*.

I’d picked up The Eco Bath’s Epsom Salt Bath Soak on a bit of a whim when I couldn’t get hold of my usual cheap standard catering size sack of salts.  To be honest, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the purchase at the time as it was expensive compared to my usual but I decided to pay the £9 rather than having to wait for an online delivery to arrive. I’m a big fan of Epsom Salts already. There doesn’t appear to be any hard evidence that they have a beneficial effect, product information is generally full of comments about how it ‘may’ remove toxins, ‘may’ soothe skin problems, ‘may’ soften and exfoliate. I just really like using it in the bath and I do find it lessens my post-scuttle muscle ache somewhat and makes my skin feel nice and that’s good enough for me.

See? Not a glamorous addition to the bathroom.

See? Not a glamorous addition to the bathroom, but a worthy one.

Having considered this to be a distinctly unglamorous product, the recommendation caught me by surprise. According to HB, this, their best bath treatment, is “a pre-show essential for the Victoria’s Secret models”. It’s recommended for its effects on de-puffing the body and treating water retention. And about time too- those Victoria’s Secret models are sooo bloated. It’s about bloody time they made some sort of an effort to look presentable. Well, I had no idea about these benefits. Imagine I’d just been wallowing away with no awareness that I was allegedly de-puffing. I needed to take a better look at the effects. So earlier today in the spirit of scientific investigation, I prepared the bath according to instructions rather than just plopping a load in and then- get this- made body measurements! Let it also be noted that in the interests of fair testing a cup of red bush tea was imbibed during the bath. I realise now that this was a mistake that could have affected the results, rookie error huh?

Naturally I wasn’t expecting any change so wasn’t disappointed by the results. Hip and thigh measurement just the same, however my waist had reduced by about a centimetre. A fairly tiny amount but not bad for an hour’s loafing is it? I wont be ordering my wings just yet though… I will be buying these again but mostly because they are kinder to my hair than basic Epsom Salts which I’ve found to be drying. Any de-bloating effects are just an extra bonus.

Detox Treatment 1- The Luxury Version

I’ve been meaning to try Therapie’s Himalayan Detox Salts for ages but wanted to give them a run for their money so following a busy week at work, last Saturday seemed like the right time. I’d woken up nice and early, been for a run (probably more accurately described as a slow scuttle if my reflection in the local windows is to be considered) and felt pretty good, awake, hangover free. Off I went to run a bath and read the instructions, having not seen a bath salt since they were cruelly ousted by bath bombs in the nineties. I don’t remember them needing instructions back then beyond the self learned skill of swishing around in the bath effectively to dissolve them having launched too early into the tub and received an arseful of bath gravel. I was hoping for a different experience this time but was cynical that it would live up to the claim that its like a natural version of Valium. I’m not a big fan of detoxing having never seen any evidence personally that it works but wanted to give it a proper chance before assigning it to the ‘meh’ file in my mind.

photo (10)photo (11)

The  dark violet glass jar in which the crystals are kept to prevent sun damage is the first obvious sign that you’ve just bought some bath salts for £35. Yes, £35. The second is the colour- very tasteful variations of coral and no dust. The third and slightly more striking one is the smell. You know that bit in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where they open the egg and are met with an unendurable sound? Well this is the equivalent for your nose. I’m used to having a good sniff of any new beauty product and being rewarded with loveliness. This is different, extremely strong, slightly like smelling salts actually and certainly caused me to recoil. Luckily these, like the Harry Potter egg, improve massively in the water. In fact my bathroom smelt like a really expensive spa once they started dissolving and doing their magic.

For the first five minutes or so it felt like a normal bath. There I was with my notepad wondering what to write. Wet? Lack of unwelcome bum prickle? They had indeed fully dissolved but then again I had done a precautionary swoosh around with the had first just to check. The instructions advised staying in no more than twenty minutes. Being a dedicated watch deny-er, I asked my husband to give me a shout when the time was up. It was about then I had to put the notepad down, overcome with the urge to shut my eyes. And there I lay for twenty minutes, or so I thought. He forgot me so I was in for thirty I think, who knows? What happened next may be normal or may be because of my Himalayan mineral overdose.

Following the instruction to rest for half an hour after the bath was only a problem in the sense that I could hardly get out of the bath for drowsiness. Not unpleasant, I just felt like a block of wood. I clumped off and lay down on the bed, unable to do much else. And that was me for the next hour- completely zonked out. Unmoveable right down to the eyelids. And I’m one of those people who never ever sleeps in the day. I never fall asleep in the usual places, can’t sleep in the car, on the sofa, not even in front of friends after a few drinks and a good night. I’m always the designated waker-upper in all situations. I wasn’t expecting this, especially not at nine o’clock in the morning. However, by ten I was starting to return to a semblance of normal, in fact feeling pretty refreshed. My husband said I looked good and well rested but this could have been a ruse to cover up for forgetting me because he couldn’t drag himself away from Breaking Bad.

I definitely got results for my £35 here, more than I expected. Along with the hardcore relaxation effect, I also felt a lot more stress-free and sort of lighter and happier for the rest of the day. It would make a good present for someone who struggles to sleep or needs to chill out. Next time I’ll be seeing it as a treatment rather than a bath. Don’t bother taking a book in with you- you wont need it. I’ll also be enjoying the effects at the end of the day next time rather than the start, giving the bathroom a clean and lighting a few candles- the whole shebang. Am I more convinced now that detoxing works? A bit more. It was a powerful experience that obviously had an effect on me. Would I spend £35 on a detox treatment again? Unlikely- too stressful.

Any Colour So Long As It’s Not Pink

All the hype about the new season Marks and Spencer pink coat has left me quite baffled. I think pink is a great colour- I’m sitting on a pink sofa right now. I’ve also written about pink on here before. I was also quite excited about the possibility of pink winter coats a few months ago when it started to become much talked about. Is it just me though or does the soon to be ubiquitous M & S pink coat look vastly different in the advert to how it does in the shops?

01-pr-woman-marksandspencer_pink-coat-autumn-fashion-style-ideas-medpink coat by marks and spencer

I’ve been comparing the two through this Guardian article and there’s such a difference to my eye. The top one is of course created to spark interest and ultimately flog the thing and so obviously lit to look chic and expensive; there may also have been bulldog clips involved. To me it just looks fuller in the sleeve and deeper in the collar. It’s a very well taken photo. The other picture on the other hand looks like what I’d expect: a reasonably priced and pretty generic Marks and Spencers coat. The photo below however is taken from the website- it barely looks like the same colour does it? I’m assured they are the same.

31B5kwJSxfL._SX280_SY364_SH35_

Reviews on the coat are mixed, but one thing is certain: it’s completely sold out and new stock will be rolling out soon. That’s an awful lot of pink coats that are going to be trotting around the high street over the coming months… Personally I’ll be wearing my classic red Ted Baker coat and clashing with the buggers. Otherwise I’d be looking to these beauties:

652001-00-1

377759_in_xl397755_in_xl

image1xl (8)

Tuesday’s Unexpected Glycolic Renewal Peel

Yesterday a particularly delicious package arrived from SpaceNK including a couple of splendid Lipstick Queen products, a Rococo nail varnish (more on these later) and a free sample of ReVive Glycolic Renewal Kit. I’d not heard of the brand previously but apparently it was founded in 1997 by a former plastic surgeon who looks a bit like Andy Warhol if you squint and imagine a wig. This was good enough testimonial for me, so I gave it a go.

Free samples are always very exciting in my world. I love this time of year partly due to the upped quota of perfume samples in the glossy magazines as their manufacturers try to win your loyalties in time for the Christmas market. I also always walk very very slowly through Department Store Beauty Halls making maximum eye contact just in case someone’s giving something away. Clarins are blooming brilliant at putting extra lovelies in your bag at the checkout and Jo Malone are also fab when you buy online. I’ve found a lot of now established favourites this way- it definitely works on me.

Having never peeled glycolically or otherwise, this was a new experience. It promised younger, brighter, more evenly toned skin which was all quite encouraging for a Tuesday night. The instructions on the other hand were somewhat alarming: for a product that you put on your face I found it quite challenging that I needed to avoid contact with my eyes, lips, neck and any irritated skin. This might fill some with a thrill of acids doing their stuff but like all good hypochondriacs I imagined extreme bloating of the red variety. It luckily wasn’t that bad. The first stage involves ‘wiping gently’ with a cleansing pad. A bit of a sting sensation but I might have been a bit heavy handed. The gel is then applied and left on for a reassuringly pleasant and warm five minutes. Then it’s rinsed off and apparently meant to be followed with ReVive serum and moisturiser, but there was no free sample of these sadly, aw. My usual trusty moisturiser seemed to do the trick. Now all I need to remember is to avoid sunbathing for the next week which isn’t much of an issue in the dreary and damp West Midlands.

All Used Up

All Used Up

Afterwards my face certainly felt slidier, tighter and warmer. I was also extremely shiny which continued all day today with my skin producing more oil than usual. This reminded me vaguely of my twenties face which wasn’t an experience I was particularly missing, but I did look quite healthy with the new sheen. I was pleased enough with the results to linger around mirrors a fair bit to evaluate the impact and also got online to check out the price but at £190 a go and recommended usage of twice a week I think free samples is the closest I’ll get to this for now at least. Cheap I guess if you’re looking for alternatives to the more invasive treatments out there, but I’m not so for me a good one off experience.

Shameless Eavesdropping Pays Off

I mentioned in a previous post that I’d accidentally overheard ( shamelessly eavesdropped) a woman in a cafe waxing lyrical about Liz Earle’s limited edition Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser with Grapefruit and Patchouli. Having heard other good things about this product I decided this was a sign from the heavens and I had to give it a go. They weren’t wrong. Unfortunately I can’t have been the only person to get wind of how good it is as it’s currently out of stock. I don’t usually post about items that aren’t available but I’m hoping this is a temporary situation (unlikely as it’s a limited edition, I know) and if it’s not, well then next time I’ll be using the original version instead.

I knew pretty much immediately that this product was going to have positive results. I squirted it onto my hands to apply and then rinsed off after application as you do. Even just doing this made my palms feel softer straight away which was very encouraging! I have no idea if this is just a temporary thing but it is lovely to have immediate reassurance that you haven’t wasted your cash isn’t it?

This is a fabulously ritualistic product involving application and removal in a particular way which I love, plus it feels like a much more methodical and gentle way of cleansing, especially good for sensitive skin. It’s removed with muslin cloths which are supplied. They are quite big (hanky-ish sized) and although this is a good thing I haven’t mastered the art of removing the lotion without dribbling water down myself throughout. I’m sure most reasonable people have no issue with this: I am a little slapdash. Due to the slowness of the cleansing process I haven’t really fitted into my morning routine yet not being that zen at half six. I am working on becoming slightly more organised but every second counts.

After it’s all done and dried my skin feels really great and looks very soft and smooth. In fact, since I’ve been using it my skin feels better before I’ve moisturised. (Better quality moisturiser needed. Liz Earle does these too so might take a look.) I’ll definitely be restocking with whichever is available once I’ve run out. Oh, and I’d recommend buying online- good delivery and a free gift of the original Cleanse & Polish in a 30ml tube and with its own cloth every time you shop. No wonder it comes highly recommended. Pass it on.

Liz-Earle-Grapefruit-Patchouli-Cleanse-and-Polish

Fashion and the Inevitable Ageing Process Part III

So turning forty is upon me and according to the mainstream media I should be histrionic by now. Apparently, come 9th September, everything will rapidly slide downhill,  corrugate, sprout hairs or crumble. Or maybe do it all at once. How exciting! Never fear though- according to Channel Four’s How Not to Get Old, I too can ‘fight’ the signs of ageing in many, many ways. Having watched carefully however, I have found that they’ve missed out a few but don’t worry, I’ve got them covered.

Recent Ways I Have Fought the Signs of Ageing.

I have:

  • Made a silly choice over hair colour and had to get an adult to correct it.
  • Worn new shoes with no socks. Ouch.
  • Gone on YouTube to learn how to put my eye make-up on properly.
  • Got bored and taken loads of selfies.
  • Mixed wine and beer. Also ouch.
  • Sulked with my mum.
  • Cuddled the dog until he was sick of me.
  • Purchased some Back to School shiny shoes.
  • Given myself nightmares by watching scary television.

And next week I will continue to fight the good fight by writing a birthday list and asking for a glockenspiel.

So, the real issue for me is how to fight the signs of immaturity. Any of these items would do nicely.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser- Grapefruit and Patchouli Ltd Edition

Liz-Earle-Grapefruit-Patchouli-Cleanse-and-Polish

Whilst simultaneously eavesdropping and nosing in a cafe recently, I happened to find out from the lady at the next table that this stuff is fantastic. She had amazing skin, so to follow her advice shows great wisdom.

Mulberry Bayswater in Mole Grey

HH1805_091C185

 

This shows firstly that some bags do age gracefully and secondly that grey is good thing.

Tory Burch Stella Suede Ankle Boots

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Nothing speaks of maturity like a bit of Tory Burch and I reckon I will have learned to walk in them proficiently by the time I’m fifty. I don’t do heels yet.

And finally,

Winter Tyres

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Because I’m nearly forty and know that this is what I really need to buy. Looking forward to telling people about it at length at dinner parties.

Lip Butter Obsession Reaches All Time Low

I have a fickle relationship with lipsticks. Although lips have always happily played second fiddle to eyes make-up wise for me, I have continued to keep the faith that somewhere out there is a lip colour with just the perfect amount of pigment to add a little je ne sais quois. And it appears I really don’t know what.

Suspecting that I have quite a few snuffled away in bags around the house, I’ve just done a quick lipstick/balm/gloss amnesty. Here’s the results of five minutes light searching:

Ooh, Chanel! I forgot I had that...

Ooh, Chanel! I forgot I had that…

It’s good to learn from your behaviour. I’ve learnt that-

  1. I have a fairly hefty Vaseline habit. I know there are more of these out there.
  2. I am obviously under the illusion that peachy tones suit me, despite the overwhelming evident in barely touched products here that it doesn’t.
  3. I can’t remember buying a lot of them and need to actually use them maybe. Apart from the peach ones.

The Lip Butter Obsession started a couple of weeks ago. I read about Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter, that it’s a glorious blend of colour and balm so I gave it a go. Firstly I tried 001 Pink Truffle. It complimented my blue eyes, went on well and although it needed reapplying regularly, I really liked it.

Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle. I really liked it.

Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle. I really liked it.

Then I started to get a bit twitchy that they would discontinue it. So I bought another.

I felt a bit more secure.

I felt a bit more secure.

Then I made my mum buy one. She didn’t really want it but she’s a good mum so she bought it.

Then I started to wonder if I was missing out on better shades. So I headed back into town and bought a couple more. By this point I must admit I had become one of those women who glazes over in certain well known pharmacy chains, drifting along the aisles, possessed and more than a little beyond hope. Without a whole lot of thought I bought 035 Candy Apple and 096 Macaroon because I needed more didn’t I? Didn’t I???

Pretty.

Pretty.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realised the beloved Candy Apple had been opened and used by some greedy dope for whom the tester wasn’t good enough. Ah well, I thought, They’ll only have used it on the back of their hand anyway. Reader, I used it.

It’s only now I go back for another look at the top of the lipstick…

It's a tooth mark isn't it?

It’s a tooth mark isn’t it? Who does that?

I have reached an all time lip obsession low. Because I haven’t thrown it away yet.