Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Skin


Growing up, I was never a particularly attractive child. Puppy fat and a succession of bad haircuts didn't help matters. But I always had good skin. Lucky enough not to be afflicted with teenage acne, I took my skin for granted. 

Now that I'm knocking on a bit (my most recent birthday was described as 40 with a 10% discount, thanks dad!), I can see lines and wrinkles, dry patches - things that just weren't there before. I went into a bit of a spin about it last year, and randomly bought all manner of anti-ageing, Q10, radiant whatnot serums and lotions, mainly because they were on offer, and looked scientific enough, and because I was panicking. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. One of my Christmas presents was a voucher for a Dr Hauschka facial treatment. I'd used the Dr Hauschka range a bit before having kids, but not recently, and when asked what I'd like for Christmas I knew I needed some kind of relaxation, please.

Grace Emmerson offers the official treatments from her beautiful home in Bristol. Part of the session involved explaining my usual skincare regime, and it was while revealing this to Grace that I realised quite how ridiculous things had become. I feel a little ashamed just writing this, but I tell you what I told Grace about how I never take off my make-up at night (despite wearing black liquid eyeliner every day), each morning I scrub my face with whatever soap happens to be in the shower (Pears or something else cheap), and then apply the richest moisturiser I can find (often a night cream - my face must be very confused, jet-lagged even).

Grace did an excellent job of not looking too horrified, and began to talk me through the Dr Hauschka way, explaining what all that scrubbing was doing to my skin cells. The treatment itself was amazing - completely relaxing and very restorative - but it was her advice that's really changed things for me.

My new 'prescription' lets me off the night time make-up removal (hooray!), but sees the introduction of a Cleansing Milk applied in the shower using the Dr H 'press and roll' technique. This is followed by a spritz of Facial Toner (which is really zingy and fresh), then application of Rose Day Cream. I love all things floral, especially rose, so this cream really did it for me. Since I've started using these products regularly, I've seen such an improvement in the tone of my skin. It looks, well, younger. Or, more accurately, how I remember my skin looked before. I now look in the mirror and see something more akin to the face I imagine.

The potions are not cheap, and I bought mine using John Lewis vouchers saved up from two Christmases. But I think it's a worthwhile investment, particularly after meeting Grace and seeing how radiant she looks.

What products do you use? How do you feel about the 'science'-y anti-ageing products out there? Would you go chemical-free?

*this is not a sponsored post, although clearly anyone who'd like to gift me Dr Hauschka products would be most welcome. 
I have included affiliate links, however, which means I earn a tiny commission from any purchases made through the John Lewis links above.
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Sunday, 24 February 2013

8/52


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013


A: Likes skulking about the house 'like a real secret person'. As addicted to technology as the rest of the family.
T: Learning so many words now with clear ears. Asked the name of something, the first response is always 'NO!'

Been thinking more and more about the hold technology has over us. Last week I read this post and it made a lot of sense - we're frequently in our own little worlds, held fast in our hands, not engaging with the people around us.

From now on, we're going to try Sundays unplugged. No devices, no screens. The thought of it is far more horrifying than it should be, a fact that compounds my shame further. Eeek! Say it's not just us?
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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Weekending



Oh! How glad I am that it's the weekend at last. The sky is looking a little bleak but I won't let that stop play.

These next couple of days I'm determined to conquer laundry mountain, to have a good old chinwag with one of my oldest friends (who introduced me to my husband nearly 20 years ago!), to make flapjacks with the kids, to make a big old Sunday lunch for the in-laws, to potter, to get some perspective.

I'm also working on a new blog series that I hope you'll join in with. More details soon...

Here's a little ditty from Gene Parsons to start the weekend. Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but the older I get the more time I have for country music of the vintage variety. Don't worry, there won't be any Shania on Oyster & Pearl any time soon, but I do love a bit of Gram, the Byrds, the Grateful Dead. I draw the line at tie-dye though.

Happy weekend!
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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Optimism





Times is tough. Without airing dirty laundry in public, I think it's fair to say that February 2013 could've been better. Not just for us but for so many people I know. A friend of mine thinks the year has begun the way it will continue, given there's an unlucky 13 in the mix. I hope, for all our sakes, she is wrong.

I like to think I am an insufferable optimist so, with that in mind, here are some things I'm looking forward to, thankful for, and stuff that's generally making me happy through the gloom.

:: kneading bread, which is just so therapeutic. Tonight I'm making chapattis to go with a couple of curries
:: the violets and the lilacs - two of my favourite, fleeting flowers. Soon it will be rose-pruning time, too, and the garden will begin to resurrect itself
:: ink. Maybe. I'm toying with the idea of getting a tattoo...
:: some exciting work things on the horizon, too soon to speak of them and there is some rubbish stuff to get through first, but I hope to turn a bad ting good
:: lighter evenings, warmer days
:: and I'm the newest contributor to This is Your Kingdom, which is about as exciting as it gets. Go and take a look if you don't already know this site, a directory of lovely things to do in the UK.

How about you? Has February been kind, so far?

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

7/52


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013

A: Let's just say that this week has been hard for everyone and leave it at that.
T: Hair getting darker, curls dropping. You're growing up.

The pox is on its way out. Poor A has been so poorly. It's been hard to watch, but he's never really been unwell before so it came as quite a shock to all of us.

The other symptom? B.O.R.E.D.O.M. We've taken it in turns being the chairman of the bored. I just hope my two aren't in the 13% who get chicken pox a second time.

Enough of the pox posts. Over and out.

52 project: dreamed up by Jodi, embraced by hundreds.
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Saturday, 16 February 2013

In like a lion, out like a lamb: the Toast March collection





Source: toast.co.uk via Lottie on Pinterest


At the risk of sounding a total bore, the new Toast March collection iconis quite something. I do have a tendency to love most things they produce but never have I added so many items to my wish-list as I've done this season.

I have a couple of Toast dresses already, usually picked up cheap in the sale, and the fit is just right for my tediously waistless figure. That Hatch iconnumber at the top has to come home with me. Curiously, a lot of the items that caught my eye are blue. My mother always said it was a colour that suited my complexion. At 36, I fear I may have to concede, finally, that she is right. (Although it will never suit my political leanings.)

Have you had a look at the collection? What's floating your boat?

{Apols for the quietness of my blog this week, we've been in quarantine hell. First day out in real life today and I drank in the freedom and fresh air. Normal service to resume shortly!}


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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Little pockets




All this illness and snow and illness and winter has meant an awful lot of hanging around the house. And hanging around the house means an awful lot of noticing. Noticing the things I like about the house and the things that could do with a change. I think I'm ready for a spring clean.

1. 'Enjoy your youth' - indeed / 2. daffs in vast quantities / 3. framing / 4. marmalading / 5. pancakes! / 6. hyacinth bouquet

Oh, and I've been nominated in the MAD blog awards! Lucky me. If you feel like giving me your vote, head over now to the nominations page. I'll be your best friend x
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Sunday, 10 February 2013

6/52






A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013
A: Star Wars-obsessed. Full of questions I cannot answer.
T: When I asked to brush your teeth, you exclaimed 'it's not fair! I'm a baby'. You're learning fast.

A's now come down with the pox, and is suffering far worse than his brother. Can't wait for all this illness to be gone. It's not just us - everyone seems to have been hit hard this winter.
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Saturday, 9 February 2013

True Romance



Last night my beau took me out on a surprise date. He wouldn't tell me much - we had to be there on time, I had to eat beforehand, we'd definitely be back by 10.30 for the babysitter - so I deduced we were watching a film. Even when we bought the tickets, I didn't know what was coming. It was only when the film's programmer came to the front dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and Elvis sunnies that I guessed correctly - True Romance.

We watched this film, the story of Clarence and Alabama, endlessly when we were teenagers and we knew every word. I think we were a little obsessed, even to the point of dressing like the characters - me in my ponyskin mini-skirt, carrying a little blue patent suitcase, him in a blue hoodie, shirt and those specs. Some of the dialogue has been incorporated into our own, a fact I'd forgotten until watching the film again last night.

It's at least ten years since we last saw it, and so I watched this time with fresh eyes. I was struck by how violent it is, by Patricia Arquette's beauty, how strong and idiosyncratic is Tarantino's voice, what an incredible cast feature (Dennis Hopper is exceptionally good, Christopher Walken never more terrifying, Gary Oldman grotesquely genius), and how I never did have a son called Elvis.

In one short evening I journeyed back in time, recalling days of freedom and youth, love and romance, fun and inappropriate clothing. (I think I might have to buy myself a leopard-print coat.) I enjoyed it so much, and the fact it was a total surprise just added to the romance.

Thank you BV. You're so cool <3
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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Recipe: Earl Grey tea loaf














I have a well-documented love of tea. As well as attempting to start my mornings with a healthy green tea, I've been finding other ways to a. take tea, and b. eat healthily. What better way than with a fragrant, fat-free Earl Grey tea loaf? A delicious way to detox.

Ingredients:
5 Earl Grey tea bags
300g raisins
100g apricots, chopped to the size of the raisins
1 tbsp orange flower water
1 orange or clementine, zest and juice
1 egg
200g light soft brown sugar
400g self-raising flour
1 tbsp mixed spice
25g flaked almonds

Method:
1. Brew your tea-bags with 300ml boiling water. Leave for at least five minutes.
2. Put the raisins and apricots into a pan, pour over your tea, and bring to the boil. Leave for about an hour, both for the fruit to plump up in the tea and for everything to cool down.
3. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, butter and line your loaf tin.
4. Add the orange flower water to the fruit mixture and grate over the orange zest.
5. Beat together the eggs and the sugar, either in a freestanding mixer or by hand.
6. Mix in the sieved flour and spice.
7. Stir in the fruit, the tea, and the juice of the orange, and mix well.
8. Scrape this sweet-smelling batter into your loaf tin, smooth down the top, scatter over the almonds, and put into the centre of your oven.
9. Bake for one hour, test with a skewer or toothpick. Give it another ten minutes if batter still sticks to your tester.
10. When cooked, allow the loaf to cool in its tin on a rack, before turning out.

Best served with a hot cup of tea and a good old chinwag.

* This is a sponsored post
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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Chicken Pox 101



We made it! The pox is on its way out (for T, at least, we're still on spot-watch with A) and we're getting back to normal life.

So many lovely people gave us brilliant advice that I thought I'd share it here for you to refer to, if and when you go through the same. And as a reminder for me when A comes down with it too.

A note: the following suggestions are not intended as a replacement for professional medical advice, merely things that helped us. 
Please check with your own doctor if you're at all concerned about your child's health.





Soothing your child is hard when they feel out of sorts and itchy. We administered regular doses of Calpol, although the Piriton was spat back out faster than it went in. The fever peaked around day 5, but luckily A takes after me and told us he wanted to go to bed, sleeping it off until morning. Baths were run with a home-made remedy - oats in a sock or stocking, hung from the tap and squeezed into the bath for a soothing, milky soak.


T was completely off his food (weirdly, he was ravenous in the week preceding the pox). Some days he couldn't even be tempted by a yoghurt or a chocolate button (that never happens) - we concluded he must have spots inside his mouth and throat, poor thing. We resorted to cooling banana milkshakes, ice creams and lollies. When he was peckish again, we cooked plain soups, or offered breadsticks and houmous. It's only now, ten days on, that he's really got his appetite back. 


The main issue we had was being bored out of our brains. Being quarantined is no fun for anyone, and cabin fever soon set in. A kind friend brought round a bag of puzzles and DVDs, and we played lots of games, hide and seek, play dough, a treasure hunt, drawing and painting, and we even got the face paints out to draw spots over the whole family, so A didn't feel quite as left out.



I confess to being guided by T, indulging his wants and needs. I wish I'd taken a photograph of him, lounging on the sofa in his pyjamas, watching telly with a bowl of popcorn in front of him - he looked like Elvis Presley in the later years. There may also have been a little indulging of grown-ups too. Those chocolate buttons are so hard to resist.


Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but there are some parents out there who want their kids to catch chicken pox at an early age and/or a convenient time (I remember noticing spots on A one evening before we went on our only holiday of the year, dreading a contagious illness meaning a cancelled holiday). In the end, we didn't have a pox party although I had visions of a bright red polka dot-themed do. However, we did work out which of our friends had already had the disease and so had a bit of company when T was up to it. And there were a few who came to visit anyway.

Have I missed anything? Leave a comment if you have tips to share.

Here's hoping I'm not on the brink of Round 2... not least because these spots clash awfully with my blog design.
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Sunday, 3 February 2013

5/52



A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013

A: So very kind to his brother today, I almost shed a tear.
T: Recovering, but still covered in spots. Poor thing.

This week's been hard. The decorator hasn't finished, the house is upside down, various things feel a bit going-wrongy at the moment.

But there've been good things too... Thanks for all the sweet words about our anniversary - we celebrated in style last night with Cava and tapas and glorious FREEDOM (for a couple of hours).

Here's to a better week ahead, with lighter mornings and evenings. Spring is on its way, I can feel it.
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Friday, 1 February 2013

9



9 years ago we were married. 9!

Out on that winding, windy island, where dresses blew into the sea and rose petals became bruised, turned from ivory to brown. We married. Fused. Cold walks to the summit, hot in deep deco baths, hide-and-seek in ruined shelters. Gin and tonic, cheese and pickle, the Pilchard Inn. Forgetful, having too much of a good time with our friends and family in the pub, unaware of what solemn act we had agreed to commit later that day, what serious promises were made, what prophecies were spoken.

Pink dress. Turquoise waves. A spider. Brass blazer buttons. Cocktails. Diamante. Dusty Springfield.

A sudden change in light and a shaft of sun appeared, illuminating that glazed stage; the players, the heritage, those cherished family members no longer with us.

We were married.

These are my memories. Memories that don't have staged, beautiful photographs to illustrate our story. Memories that live on, vivid in my mind, technicolour in my heart, cold and solid on my finger, alive and warm in those brown, brown eyes I look into each day. Always.

Thank you lover x
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