Heatwave vs Holiday

Holiday Habits Logo

It’s hot.

We all know it’s hot.

Our social media feeds are full of complaints. The national news is warning that people could die – normally old people. They seem to be at risk whether it’s hot or cold. They can’t win really.

And it’s been hot for ages. Apparently, our longest dry spell since 1998. Argos has run out of fans, Asda has run out of BBQs and everyone is panicking (#FirstWorldProblems). We being the prepared-for-anything-bar-nuclear-disaster family are OK because we own 2 stand up fans.

We’re also big fans (get it?!) of holidaying abroad but we hadn’t done so since my son was born (almost 5 years ago) due to the economic downturn. We missed it a lot, especially as Norn Iron was doing it’s best to imitate the North Pole for most of last year.

So it was with some sadness that I took part in a bloggers poll by Moneysupermarket website about “holiday habits”. How you choose your destination, what you pack, where you go and what you do when you’re there. But I knew the infographic produced would make for good reading and I was keen to know if habits have changed much in the half-decade since I’ve managed my own escape.

True to form, we’re creatures of habit, and they haven’t changed much. We probably use social media on our smart phones to keep in touch with family more than we used to – heck I remember the joys of logging on to a foreign computer in a web cafe to message my friends on Bebo and trying to work out the weird symbols on the keyboard!

We still moan about the same things of course, mostly our partners, and long to bring a hot celebrity with us instead. But alas, we must make do with a good book! Or iPad, as seems to be on the rise these days. And I have to agree. I’m neither technical boffin nor gadget show-off, but my son has an iPad and it has saved us on many a car journey. It will DEFINATELY be packed the first time we head off on a plane.

Which will hopefully be very soon. Because despite how spoiled we’ve been with the local heatwave (2 weeks now and counting) it’s just not the same as researching a new destination, packing your suitcase, heading off into the sky by plane and leaving your cares behind. And it’s much easier to cope in the heat when you’re beside a swimming pool or azure-blue sea and you don’t have to cook dinner because you’re heading out for local cuisine every single night!

OK, I’ve talked myself into it, we’re going on holiday ASAP!

Lx

What’s In Your Handbag?

Hillary Clinton: “Handbags Should Be The Great Uniter Of Women”

This post was inspired by a recent blogging competition run by Money Supermarket dot com which they aptly named “What’s In Your Handbag?”

Now we see magazine articles about this all the time. They range in theme from the difference between the single gal’s handbag and the mummy handbag (an abundance of plasters being the obvious addition to the latter) or to give us a deeper insight into celebrities so we can aspire to their lifestyle (or be depressed that their lipstick cost more than our car).

#wiyhb mag features

I found the premise for MSM’s idea much more interesting because they’re looking specifically at insurance and the value of what we’re carrying around on our shoulders/arms/hands every day. And therefore, the value of what we risk losing! I agree that it’s interesting to see how all the essential bits and pieces we can’t live without quickly add up. And when we factor in our gadgets and the all-important-purse, it’s easy to see how the worth of our handbag increases.

However, I was dubious that mine would come anywhere close to the example cited on their site (£881.68) since I’m such a bargain hunter. I blogged recently that my latest handbag was a mere £12 in the h&m winter sale. So that wasn’t too high for starters. And I’ve also proactively tried to put less in my bag recently because the internal pocket lining lasted all of a fortnight and now when I try to organise things, they get lost somewhere up the inside of the bag. So most days I stand elbow-deep, “blind-bag-fishing”, unable to find my car keys.

But actually, when it all spills out on to the floor, you can be surprised. So what’s in mine? Let’s start with the “big stuff” –

1. Purse

Purse

Obviously, the main staple of most of our bags. Mine is a lovely pink quilted number from River Island, a gift from my bestest buddy. Yet it is more than just a money-minder. My purse tells you everything from my bank card number and my business card details, to my blood type, my solicitor, what my son looks like, and pretty much every transaction I’ve made in the last week. I clear it out regularly and I try to keep it safe, i.e. I don’t keep pin numbers in it. But despite the lack of physical currency in it, I would be devastated if I lost it. Value: £12.99 + £5.78 cash

2. Mobile Phone
Another handbag staple, and a lifestyle crutch for many, losing my phone would be akin to losing a limb. It contains all my contacts, my social media/email access, my photos, my To-Do lists, everything. It is this fear which drives me to regularly carry my phone in my pocket so that I wouldn’t be without it if my handbag was stolen (take that, muggers!) Being an iPhone 4 it is by no means the latest in gadgetry, but it is still the most valuable item in my handbag. Value: £329.99

3. Car/House Keys
These are a little item. But they provide access to the 2 most valuable material possessions any of us will buy. My keys are the gateway to my beautiful, still brand-spanking-new, car. All 13 thousand pounds worth of it. But even if a thief couldn’t find the car, it’s still a shockingly-high figure to replace the central locking system key fob! Value: £60

Now for the “lil’ stuff” –

I can no longer claim to carry the designer make-up, fashion magazines and hair straighteners of my youth. But I do keep a few necessities including:

bag contents

– an SPF lip balm (to TRY to suppress my constant cold sores)
– tissues (unused, but without their original packaging)
– my work diary (so I know where I’m supposed to be everyday)
– chocolate (for emergencies only… of course)
– a pen (because the ones in banks NEVER work)
– pain killers (for when annoying people hurt my head)
– minty gum (in case I meet the man of my dreams in a lift)
– and a book (for the odd moments of peace and quiet). My current brain-food is “The Boy Who Fell To Earth” by Kathy Lette and is a funny but poignant read that I can’t wait to finish! Total Value: £20.67

That’s a staggering £429.43 in total that I’m carting around outside every single day!!!

I now think, despite my fear of growing up (I have yet to purchase life insurance, but don’t tell anyone!) I will have to take the advice of the MSM home insurance expert Hannah Jones and check the home contents policy to see just how much – or how little – would be covered if the worst happened.

But if I were to win the blogging competition? Heck, the Mulberry Bayswater shoulder handbag would be getting an insurance policy all of its own! Priorities people, priorities…

Lx

Un-passport-genic

Oh.My.Days.

Passport Photos.

I probably don’t need to continue but in true moaning style, I will. What exactly is “le craic” with passport photos? By that I mean, why are they so bad? So unflattering. So downright frightening to small children. Could it be the lack of lighting, the close-up nature or the rules against smiling, that make us look our most horrific.

I needed new photos on Friday because, having moved home recently, they wanted an up-to-date photograph in order to let me change the address on my driving licence (what with not updating your address being an offence that carries a pretty high penalty!) I was gutted at this turn of events because back in 2003 when I was joining University, I managed to get my most decent passport photographs ever taken for my student card but had unfortunately run out of them now (10 years later!) Add to that the weird printing system the DVLNI use and I was even given a perma-tan glow recently. As the years went by and my hair got shorter it looked nothing like me, but that’s besides the point:

driving licence

Cue Friday morning, errand-running/rushing while the little person was at school. Greasy hair, hardly any make-up, an untrained photographer in the local chemist and voila! Needless to say, I shouldn’t use these on my actual passport when it runs out or I may very well run the risk of being refused entry to my country of visitation because I’m downright unphotogenic!

passport photos

OK I concede it looks like me.

It looks like me after a night of debauchery, caught speeding down Hollywood Boulevard in a Maserati while high on drugs with Lindsay Lohan in the back.

And this was the police mugshot.

Lx

An ‘Epic’ Time at the (Friendly) Cinema

This weekend saw an absolute downpour of relentless rain. Rain of “epic” proportions. So it was both fitting (and convenient) that I had planned to take the little person in my life to the cinema to see the new animated film Epic.

Epic Poster

Ever since we saw the trailer a few months back and thanks to the cunning marketing folk over at McDonald’s, he’s been counting down the days to the films release (literally, on his calendar) and collecting a new toy each week until he has the whole collection.

I haven’t really talked about my son on this blog. Given the kerayzee nature of t’internet I don’t want him to find all sorts of muck when he Google’s himself as a teenager. Assuming that Google will still be the dominant search engine in 2020… But also because I’ve never wanted him to feel labelled. But the fact is he does have a label, a technical one the medical profession use to pigeon hole him, and they call it Autism.

It’s rather fun as you can imagine. Not. Thankfully the little person is what they call “high-functioning” which means he is intelligent enough to learn how to make his way in the “normal” world, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy for him. So the calendar countdown and the collections is actually a very HUGE thing, a thing we must get right – much to the annoyance of the folk who do the window at the Drive-Thru – but everything’s got to be just right, on time, in order, in a good mood, or else!

autism-spectrum-conditions

But the little person is also 4. And 4 year old’s like 4-year-old kinda stuff. They like dinosaurs and cars and trains and they like anything those clever animation folk over in America create to entertain us. They also like anything with sword fighting, funny slugs and magic! So Epic seemed just perfect. The only problem being the many quirks that autism adds to everyday life, never mind an outing to the cinema. But thankfully, last year I discovered a UK organisation called Dimensions who run “Autism Friendly Screenings” in Odeon Cinemas across the UK, roughly once a month. And I was well-chuffed when their Enewsletter told me that this month’s film was Epic, an advance screening no less.

Because if it wasn’t a friendly screening, the cinema trip would be a helluva lot harder. But the friendly screenings are so friendly I could kiss them! ‘What makes the screenings autism friendly?‘ you say. Well:

The lights are on low – hugely important if your child drops things or fidgets a lot
The volume is turned down – Autism brings with it sensory difficulties. One of the little person’s is noise. He fears both the hoover and the hairdryer. The lower volume means he can watch a film without ear covers on
No trailers at the beginning of the film – it’s hard enough for even the biggest movie fan with autism to sit through 80 or 90 minutes, never mind a half hour of ads before it even starts
You’re able to take your own food and drinks – luckily, despite the little person’s extreme pickiness with food textures, he will eat Cola Bottles
You’re able to move around the cinema if you like – my little person doesn’t do this, but it’s great to see families enjoy the day out together without feeling guilty about ruining it for all the “serious-movie-buff-neurotypicals” in the seats around them.

Autism Screening

Of course, even with all the adaptations, it doesn’t make the cinema trip super-smooth. We still had to get dressed, encourage a pee at the toilet (3rd time lucky), get over the emotional outburst of leaving Nanny behind, walk from the parking space to the cinema (tired leg syndrome, I carried all 3 stone of him there and back), we then had to debate with the confectionary lady about why he couldn’t have his Pick’n’Mix in a popcorn box instead of a paper bag, then we had the second emotional outburst when a main character died (thanks for the warning Beyoncé!), and then the third round of crying and wailing at the end because the little person wanted to live in the cinema and watch the film again.

Exhausted yet? Welcome to my world. Motherhood on speed.

That’s why it’s so important that local organisations get behind these initiatives. It might not seem like much, you might not fill a cinema screen on a Sunday morning, but you will be making such a huge difference to the quality of life of autistic little people and their big people who want to spend family time together, the way everyone else does, without feeling guilty, or ostracised or radically different in a bad way. I hear other cinemas have followed suit and I hope that big attractions and events will do likewise.

As for the film? Well it was darned good I must say. I enjoy these family movies anyway, but knew this one from the makers of Ice Age would be a much better outing than Sammy’s Great Escape was (a poor man’s Nemo!) In a nutshell Epic tells the story of an ongoing battle between the forces of good, who keep the natural world alive, and the forces of evil, who wish to destroy it. When a teenage girl finds herself magically transported into this secret universe, she teams up with an elite band of warriors and a crew of comical, larger-than-life figures to save their world… and ours. Throw in lots of sword fighting, bird riding, Beyoncé and Colin Farrell and, well, it was Avatar for kids. And we loved it, as I’m sure, will everyone else.

20130521-210502.jpg

Because in our silly, upside-down, back-to-front world, we’re just like everyone else.

Only better!

Lx

Contrology

Anyone who knows me will know I am adverse to exercise. Luckily, having an overly fast metabolism and a penchant for forgetting to eat, I have never needed to exercise for vanity reasons. My arteries may well have rivalled that of a Two-Tonne-Tessy but I couldn’t see them so I didn’t give it much thought.

But then 2 things happened to me. Firstly, I got pregnant. Albeit, almost 5 years ago, but I did put on 4 stone in weight and although I lost it all eventually I’ve been left with boobs and a bum of the, shall we say, saggier variety.

Attractive, I know. I’m single. Shocker!

Secondly, my Mum’s chronic back pain was formally diagnosed. It has a fancy name, we can barely pronounce it let alone spell it. But basically she has benign tumours between her spine that grow and cause nerve pain and a regular inability to put your own socks on. And it’s hereditary. Whoopdeedoo.

Mum’s physiotherapist taught her special exercises to do at home and you’ve probably heard of them because all the cool kids in Tinsletown are doing it – Pilates or “Contrology” as it was first named by the dude who invented it, Mr Pilates. No, really, that’s his name.

Contrology

I thought I should try this exercise as a sort of preventative method of strengthening my back. And I might just get a bum like Pippa Middleton in the process. But that would be a bonus. It seemed like one of those airy-fairy things lady-folk do where you don’t have to break a sweat but you become one with your inner core and all that jazz. It sounded nice. So after much procrastinating, I finally signed Mum and me up to a local studio in Finaghy called CorePilatesNI, a little gem hidden in amongst numerous fast food outlets at Finaghy Crossroads. Ironic.

Studio

We had our first session on Monday. The first of 6 classes in the Beginners block. We loved it! I am shocked to even say it because I really did not expect to. Here’s just a few reasons why:

Fashion:
We wore leggings and tight tops and socks. No need to invest in expensive lycra gear that you might never wear again. And you don’t get all sweaty and yucky or have to shower in communal changing areas (dodge-the-veruccas). It’s a very civilised form of exercise.

Pilates Gear

Teacher:
Elaine Wolstenholme is a lovely, softly spoken (but very assertive) practitioner who has trained with the best. She also has a body that makes you want to put the work in. But not in that unsightly body-builder way. She still looks like a woman! She packed so much in to the one-hour class but yet it never felt too fast-paced or too jargony to understand. And she’s funny, which makes it all very warm and welcoming.

Elaine

Exercise:
Like most people, I dislike pain. I have a high enough threshold when I need to (9lb 10 baby, gas & air, ’nuff said) but I don’t want to use that superpower unless absolutely necessary. Like, for instance, when you need to push another human being out of your body. Elaine explained that Pilates is practiced a lot by male athletes, including Premiership footballers and it was obvious why. It’s not about madly sweating off calories, but you can feel that you’re using muscles you weren’t aware you had, and strengthening them. There wasn’t too much pain, what with it only being the first day, but I did “feel the burn” a few times and I came home feeling like I had done about 100 sit-ups! I also had to adjust the rear-view mirror in my car before the drive home because my posture was such that I think I grew an inch in height.

pilates funny

Testimonials:
Pilates has been a firm favourite with celebrities for some time, the latest news story being that the fitness system was responsible for Pippa’s derrier at the Royal Wedding. But the one who really sells it for me is Jennifer Aniston, a woman who seems to defy both time and gravity as she grows older! She was quoted as saying;

“I’m a Pilates person. It’s great. I had a hip problem. I had a chronic back, a pinched nerve and a hip problem and it’s completely solved all of it. I love it. It makes me feel like I’m taller.”

jennifer-aniston

So she’s healthier and easier on the eye.

And she doesn’t need to sweat like a Cypriot at a cash machine to achieve it.

And it’s not fluffy girly stuff, it’s proper hardcore athletic stuff which makes you feel energised and strong and healthy.

Oh stop listening to me just go and DO IT!

Lx

Trendy Bargains

I love bargains. Things always taste/feel/look better when you secretly know you got them on the cheapksy! And I found some corkers this weekend:

Firstly, I got some new tunic tops from h&m for work, which are actually bang on trend (unusual for Sale items) including a black & white striped light jumper – I believe this is known as “Breton” – see how much I’m learning?! As well as a cream silk-look grandad-collar shirt. 100% Polyester so I’m as static as a cat that’s been rubbed all over by a balloon. But I look good so it’s OK.

£7 each. Bazinga.

tunics

My second bargain was the groovy “Converse” style high-top trainers from Matalan. They came in at a recession-busting £12 full price! They’re cute, comfortable and stopped me trying to justify £50 to look like my teeny-bopper relatives. Dad offered to draw a star on the back of the heel with black marker pen but I’m old enough and confident enough now to wear my cheap rip-offs with pride!

fake converse

Lastly, I finally found a decent chilled coffee to rival the calorific-dessert-masquerading-as-coffee that is the Starbucks Mocha Frapuccino. And where did I get it? An independent coffee shop? Another coffee chain?

Nope.

McDonald’s. Or “McCafe” as they call their fancy beverage selection. McWhatever.

Chilled Coffees

I kid you not friends. I hate Mcdonald’s food. Or the weird plasticky stuff they dress up like food. I am dragged there begrudgingly by the 4-year-old who is under their evil marketing genius spell. But having tried SO many frappé style coffees in the past to find a cheaper alternative to “Remortgage-The-House-For-Caffeine” Starbucks, I was pleasantly surprised with my local Drive-Thru. Unfortunately, its a special, and like all good things at Mickey D’s it will eventually go and the traditional muck will remain…

Ah well, Viva La Bargains!

Lx

Gettin’ Chubby in the Cherub

Last night I had the pleasure of the company of a good friend (for her own protection, let’s call her “Gloria”) and the promise of great food in a restaurant that I’d heard loads about but hadn’t tried yet – The Chubby Cherub in Belfast’s Upper Arthur Street.

Chubby Cherub Logo

The website promises “SMALL, COMPACT AND QUAINT NATURE OF AUTENTIC ITALIAN CAFÉ CULTURE” and that’s exactly what you get. Although I wasn’t surprised, seeing the girl who recommended the restaurant is half-Italian and said it was the closest she’d come to authentic cuisine outside her Mother Country! Everything is authentic from the table cloths to the candles in old bottles, the vines hanging from the ceiling, the mismatch chairs, the big pizza-oven in the open kitchen, and even the laid-back goaty-bearded waiters – all rather handsome I might add.

Ceiling

OK, I’ll admit I’ve never actually been to Italy so I can’t judge the authenticity, but if I’d looked round to find 2 dogs slurping spaghetti beside me with Dean Martin serenading them, I wouldn’t have been surprised!

Cupid's Corner Booth

One thing I am equipped to comment on is the food. I love my grub. And having been seated in a quiet little nook they call “Cupid’s Corner” (people will talk about us) we perused the menu. We decided on some good ol’ fashioned Tear & Share dipping breads to start. Then “Gloria” opted for her favourite Tagliatelle Chicken and I chose a butternut squash Risotto with chilli seasoning. It was IMMENSE and no they haven’t paid me to say that! It truly was well-made, flavoursome, beautifully presented food. I was devastated to leave at least 3 forkfuls of that risotto in the bowl.

Chicken Tagliatelle
Butternut Chilli Risotto

But of course, when in Rome… (kind of), we just had to have dessert. And “Gloria” assured me they were light desserts and she was right. “Gloria” had a traditional lemon cleanse-the-palet-type-thing (I can’t remember the name of it, but it was nice) and I had Tiramasu which was divine.

Tiramasu

Lemon Dessert

We supposedly had the table only until 7pm (from 5.30pm) but with no sign of being chased on we enjoyed some frothy Cappuccinos and leisurely ended our evening at 8pm. With 2 Diet Coke’s and “Gloria’s” cheeky Prosecco thrown in – while she waited on me striking gold with a parking space in the city centre – the bill was just slightly over £60.00 which is a real bargain in my opinion. For financial reasons I don’t get out to eat as regularly as I’d like to but when an eatery makes me want to return soon and encourage others to go, then it’s more impressive than the norm. And it has definitely made me want to try the company’s other establishments like the Treehouse and Cabaret Supper Club.

So if you haven’t been, go soon! Get “Chubby in the Cherub”, fill yer boots, horse it into ya, Cynthia!

And as for “Gloria”, well in the words of Happy Feet – Gloria, Gloria, I’d like to see more’o’ya🙂

Lx

Sunshine Side Effects

Today was a pretty ordinary day, a regular Tuesday. Except a very extraordinary thing happened. The sun shone.

Like, REALLY shone. It was Costa Del Belfast.

sunshine

My car thermometer (always wondered where that is) registered 21 degrees celsius on the drive home, at 5pm.

And we weren’t expecting this joyful turn of events. If we had been, I’d have booked the day off work! Of course, we spent every day of our long Bank Holiday weekend hoping, praying, that the clouds would break. But they didn’t. Dad was in and out to the clothes on the washing line like a yo-yo as the sky suffered it’s chronic multiple-personality-disorder.

And, as usual, we had spent every day being subjected to the “national news” – one of the joys of being part of this weird cluster of islands – telling us how our neighbours in the South East of England were baking in glorious sunshine. Hmmf. Don’t they always (*angry face). I often think the SE lot are like that annoying friend you have on Facebook (we all have one), you know the one who has the fantastic life and rubs their social exploits and lavish gifts up everyone’s nose, making you want to punch them in their pig-arrogant little face… but you begrudgingly hit Like because they’re “your friend”?

Yeh, that’s Kent. And London. And all the other warm places that speak English.

I find this kind of weather here confusing for a few reasons:

1. BBQs – Everyone seems to whip out a BBQ here at the first whiff of sunshine. That part I understand. BBQs are fun, if not a slightly dangerous and painstakingly slow way to cook your dinner. The bit that confuddles me is, WHERE exactly do they all come from? The BBQs I mean. Do people living alongside us in the South-Arctic actually invest in permanent BBQs? Because the disposable ones are a bit muck. And if you own one, how do you clean it? Surely when it only gets used sporadically its practically crawling up the garden on its own by the time the sun comes out? Spiders, yuck.

Pondering these things hurts my head.

2. Clothes – not in general. I mean seasonal clothes. “Summer clothes”. I’m sure most people own a few things for going abroad that they can hoke out when the sun escapes our concrete clouds. Personally, I don’t own a pair of shorts. This won’t surprise you by now, seeing my wardrobe is being built from scratch. But it’s also because I’d rather sweat it out than walk about Belfast like I’m living La Vida Loca in Magaluf. No, what confuses me is our retailers and their choice of offerings. For example, I brought the little one to Next in Boucher Road because he had grown out of most of his tops. He doesn’t like short sleeves. Could I find a single long-sleeved top in the place? No. Newsflash shops – there’s a recession, some of us haven’t been abroad in years. Cater to your market! I came home and ordered what I needed online.

And they wonder why the High Street is becoming extinct.

3. Drivers – again, not in general (although I could write an entire blog on my road rage pet-hates!) The one thing I don’t understand is people who fail to keep a pair of sunglasses in their car. I know you think this is not necessary in our chilly climate, but although we rarely get warm sun we actually get lots of low, blindingly bright Winter sun and morning sun in the Summer, before the rain clouds gather to Monsoon us mid-afternoon. I see people struggle with their visors, attempt to do the steering wheel and gear stick one-handed while they shield their eyes and nearly run all manner of 2-wheeled travellers off the road that they can’t see in the glare.

Sunglasses are like a pound in Primark. Save on the Florida Keyes steel BBQs and the neon beach dresses and buy a pair. Leave them in your car.

You could save a life. And stop me swearing.

Anyway, back to normality tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that…..

Weather Forecast

Lx

How Now High Brow

You can’t judge a book by its cover but you can perhaps judge a woman by her brow.

I am, of course, talking about the latest beauty craze sweeping the nation. Known by those who partake in it as “HD Brows” (like it’s some kind of 3D film on your face) and known by those who laugh at those partaking in it as the “Scouse Brow”.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the definition of the Scouse Brow is;

“When the eyebrows are very heavily drawn in with a black eye pencil, giving the appearance of two small furry animals crawling across the forehead. Favoured by Scouse WAGS and wannabes.”

I would agree with this personally. I think most of the people who have them end up looking like a drag queen – in fact, I imagine drag queens would take offence at this because most of them could teach us women a thing or two about make-up application! It’s simply too difficult to pull off unless you’re dark in colouring and you have a naturally long arched brow on your head in the first place. Like Miss Fox. It’s also surprisingly easy to go too far with the colouring-in. A la Miss Price:

Celeb Brows

See the difference?

But many, many women disagree with me and it seems they are heading in their droves to local beauty salons to have their brows plucked and DYED to within an inch of their lives. In fact, Google search for “Scouse Brow Tutorial” and you’ll get a very healthy 14,200 results. Now, don’t misunderstand me on this one. I think it’s a good thing that we have stepped away from the tweezers since the late 90s/early noughties when it was a bit touch-and-go as to whether some of us would pluck our foreheads bald! That was not a good look. But it was all Sex and the City and the Brazilian waxes and we just went through a period of not liking body hair at all. Our follicles have forgiven us and thankfully they do grow back.

We can’t claim to be pioneers of the thicker brow either, since Audrey Hepburn was rocking the look long before most of us were born. But this year in particular, those two strips of hair have become a fashion statement on catwalks, the red carpet and in cities across the UK. I worry, however, that we’re going a little too far with our brows and it is summed up nicely by the ‘bright young thing’ on the fashion/modelling scene that is Cara Delevingne. She describes herself as a “professional human being”. Wow isn’t she eccentric, quirky and oh so original? Anyway, she’s a pretty girl but, in my opinion, she really ought to sort out the Hungry Little Caterpillars on her face:

Cara Delevingne

They may be popular among the celebs and even the Duchess of Cambridge (who you do not speak ill of in my presence), but heavily penciled eyebrows have been voted the top beauty blooper of the 21st century. According to a recent study quoted in the Daily Mail (high-brow reading material that it is), the tattooed look is the biggest make-up faux pas women can make.

I agree with the Daily Mail.
Note this moment, it may never happen again.

But there is hope for us women here on the Emerald Isle, with more of us erring on the right side of Panto Dame and going for the Au Naturale look. According to Debenhams department store sales figures, in-store beauty appointments show that ladies in Ireland opt for the “tadpole” eyebrow which is thick and round at the inner corners; it then goes into an immediate thin arch and ends with a very thin brow. This is the look I try to attain. Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert by any means but I’m not adverse to some polyfiller on the brow because I was an overzealous tweezer in my youth and I have bald patches.

My Brows

Debenhams sales figures reflect our common sense this side of the Irish Sea, showing that Ireland sells the least amount of eyebrow products.

And long may it continue ladies, go easy on the pencils!

Lx

White, Red and Retro

As promised I am going to show you the fruits of my t’internet labour with my outfit for the big night out on Saturday past. You may remember I was going for Frankie from the Saturdays in a monochrome ensemble featuring white blazer and leather trousers. This was the outcome:

Monochrome outfit

I was chuffed, especially as I managed to do it on a budget. The boyfriend style cream tuxedo jacket/blazer is from missguided.co.uk for a steal at £25.99 – I hadn’t used this site before but friends recommended it based on price, quality and speed of delivery. And they weren’t wrong. To the companies who treat Northern Ireland like you’re posting to the Outer Hebrides, take note from Missguided.

The black dip hem top was a last-minute purchase when I realised I didn’t own a black vest top (I know, I don’t even have the basics, I’m a serious case!) But New Look sorted me right out as always for just £6.99. And the leather stretch trousers are originally New Look but I got them on eBay for £4. Not only were they a bargain, I was encouraged, nay bullied in my drunken state, to “Slut Drop” and they didn’t rip! Although I may well have left my dignity on the floor but that’s another story.

The hidden platform suede shoes are a Primark classic bought 2 years ago for £11 and they are WELL WORN.

I was also feeling a bit adventurous in the make-up department and wore, for the first time since I was about 15, lipstick. It’s always frightened me because I wasn’t sure how to keep it within my lip line, if it would emphasise my tiny upper lip or if it would make my teeth look yellow…

Red Lips

…but the new Lasting Finish by Kate Moss collection for Rimmel UK was a godsend because I was able to “have a go” without any practice, it stayed on all night with only 1 re-application on a trip to the ladies. My shade was 111 “Kiss of Life” in case you’re wondering and it’s priced reasonably at £6.99. Oh and it smells like sweet cupcakes – yum! I have to say my lips benefit from some definition so lets hope this craze lasts a while before that god-awful gloss product comes back into fashion!

rimmel-lasting-finish-matte-lipstick-by-kate-moss

And lastly today, what does one need when one is suffering a hangover? Apart from painkillers and greasy food of course. Ah yes, comfy clothes. But you can be groovy while you’re comfy. And no, I don’t mean in a ONESIE (an item I am still yet to buy). I want to introduce you to one of my favourite online stores that I can once again afford to shop on, since the move home. Truffle Shuffle sells retro clothing from the 60s through to the 90s and it is nostalgia on a t-shirt! I find it hard to choose because there’s so many I want; Connect 4, Care Bears, THUNDERCATS! But I opted for a Saved By The Bell number which, at £21.99 isn’t cheap, but it is a beautifully soft material, a great fit and again it was delivered superfast.

Truffle Shuffle Tshirt

And it makes me feel tingly inside like in a mid-life-crisis kinda way. And I like it!

Lx