The Long and The Short Of It

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Our trip to the Amalfi Coast was everything I hoped it would be.  Picture postcard scenery, beautiful weather, delicious food.  It was a real treat and I’ll write up a blog post with all the details of how we got on soon.  In the meantime, as I know a lot of people have their holiday plans ahead of them, I wanted to give you feedback on the clothes situation and in particular what I felt I didn’t have.

 

Obviously, I had done a little bit of shopping before I went away and had focused on dresses and swimming costumes mainly.  However, when I got there I found that the most worn item, apart from two blue dresses, was my trust pair of denim shorts.

 

They’re just the easiest item to pack and perhaps the pair above are getting a little short for me now (!), but I still reached for them nearly every day.

 

To be honest I wished I’d taken more pairs.

 

I didn’t expect that to be the case, but for sightseeing, general trudging to and from the beach, having a pair of shorts was the handiest, simplest and coolest item to pair up with T.shirts and strappy vests in the day and dressed up with light flowing blouses or crisp cotton shirts and piles of jewels in the evening.

 

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Daisy dukes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.  I understand that. But I’ve taken a look around and retailers this season have taken this on board and introduced longer length denim shorts.

 

If you don’t want to reveal your thighs to the world then a length that ends just above the knee can give you a more flattering silhouette.  Takes me back to the cycling shorts of the eighties!

 

Marks & Spencer has even introduced a Sculpt and Lift Denim Short. Made in cotton, the denim has added stretch so that it is kind to your curves and helps accentuate your figure.  See the red pair in the reel below.

 

It’s worth trying on shorts with a nice pair of wedge espadrilles. The perfect summer shoe, they generally are easier to wear than strappy heels and can elongate the leg.

 

What do you think?  Fancy trying some on?  Here’s a selection of shorts on the high street.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xx

Summer Holiday: Part 2

 

Who doesn’t want to look nice on holiday?  However it can be tricky finding the right outfits and taking all the things you ‘need’ in a 20 kg suitcase.

 

At forty nine I’m also treading a fine line trying to find new pieces to add to my holiday wardrobe while avoiding pieces that only the girls on Love Island can wear (they really need some diversity on that show, not all women, young or older, look like that).   I don’t want to look frumpy either.

 

There are certain parts of my body I want to keep cool, but don’t want to have on show (chubby top half) and that is causing me a few issues, but ultimately I do just want to look and feel nice.

 

In last week’s post I wrote that I was finding it really hard to get what I needed, but on Friday, determined that I wouldn’t head off to foreign shores with a face like a slapped ass, I headed back to the shops.

 

Perseverance paid off and I came home with three new pieces that I’m delighted with.

 

First off is this Mango dress for £49.99.  I love the fine stripes, pale blue colour, midi length and belt, which I can pull in for added shape.  Also thankful for the sleeves, for a bit of arm ‘armour’.  I think I’ll be wearing this sightseeing and dressed up for dinner.

 

 

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I bought this top, also from Mango (£29.99), which I originally thought would look great worn with my daisy duke denim jeans in the day.  Then I remembered I had a pair of linen trousers in the wardrobe, which are from Marks & Spencer’s Autograph range.  I bought these over 20 years ago, when M&S was a client of an agency that I worked for.  The office joke was I got paid by them each month and would then spend my hard-earned cash in their stores.  I loved the range though, still do.

 

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Lastly, I’ve gone out of my comfort with this linen button through dress from Warehouse.  I don’t like showing my chest and top half, but the colour of this dress drew me in.  I love yellow and this dress is super cool with large pockets.

 

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I think that’s it on the holiday shopping now.  Just a swimsuit to get and I’m heading straight to M&S.  My friend recently urged me to sign up for a Sparks card and it’s paying off, I’ve got 20% off on my card for swimwear this weekend.  Who doesn’t love a bargain?

 

Here’s some of the designs that M&S has in store and online.  I have my eye on the first one.

 

We’re heading off this week, so I’ll see you on the other side, unless you follow me on Instagram.  The next Not Givin In blog post will be on June 30th.  Until then, have a fab few weeks.

 

 

Gail xx

 

 

Summer Holiday: Part 1

 

Summer is here, she says, as rain washes over the garden!

 

May was fab, but it’s ended as a wash up, so I hope anyone who has managed to get away for the half term school holidays is having fun, either here or on foreign shores.

 

I can’t wait for my summer holiday.  SP and I are off to the Amalfi Coast in two weeks, for our ten year wedding anniversary.  Cue early morning runs and shopping like a madman, trying to find some things to add to the summer wardrobe, because the ten year-old stuff surely needs to be replenished now (any excuse).

 

I haven’t had much luck in the shopping department to be honest.  I spent two hours in town this morning and came home with nothing.  Maybe it was an off day, but my usual haunts aren’t inspiring me and I’m struggling to find pieces for me in other people’s favourites, like Mango.  That didn’t work either.

 

However, I am loving good ole M&S at the moment and bought this dress (£45) for my hols a few weeks back.  I had seen it on Instagram and ordered it straight away.

 

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Pure Linen Half Sleeve Bardot Midi Dress

 

I love it Bardot-style, but also listened to another blogger, The Fashion Lift, who is wearing this style of dress as a one shoulder option too, copied by me on the home page.  If you like this dress, click here for more details.

 

Here are a number other dresses that I’m keen to try on in Marks & Spencer.  Some of which might be in a re-stock phase as they’re proving so popular.

 

 

 

Yes, I’m going for blues and neutrals for my holiday wardrobe this year.  Inspired by the new dress and loving the shades of blue around this season, I’m trying to include some more, and I’m trying to find more cotton and linen options as they’re both cool for when it gets hot.

 

After my poor performance this morning there is obviously more work to be done.  Follow me on Instagram to see how I get on and I’ll be back next week with an update.  I have to give myself a deadline or it won’t happen and I’ll end up in jeans in Italy!

 

Have a great weekend folks!

 

 

Gail xxx

Skinny Bakery: Review

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If you’ve been following me since Christmas or longer, you’ll know that I want to cut down on the evening sweet treats.

 

It’s a thing.  Started by SP, but certainly supported by me, and it shows!

 

If we can’t cut it out then surely we should cut it down and I’d love to lose some lbs before we hit summer hard.

 

So you can imagine my delight when I was contacted by Skinny Bakery to try some of their low calorie cakes and cookies.

 

Needless to say, no arm twisting was required and in pursuit of utter joy, wrapped up in a delightful treat that gives me (and him) a slimmer waistline we eagerly anticipated a delivery of goodies.

 

I have tried Skinny Bakery before.  My good mate bought me a gift of goodies for a birthday present once.  (Only a good mate can do that.  Can you imagine my disdain if it had been my mother!)

 

They offer next-day delivery across the UK and you can take your pick from the range, so you can choose which treats you fancy?

 

We received:

 

NEW Choc-Nut Pearls                                                                     199 cals per 80g pack

Mocha Pearls                                                                                     196 cals per 80g pack

Double Chocolate Meringue Cookies                                           141 cals per 40g pack

Skinny Red Velvet Pearls                                                                169 cals per 85g pack

Skinny Mini Gingerbread Men                                                      109 cals per 30g pack

Skinny Choc & Orange Cookies                                                     181 cals per 50g pack

 

These really are bite-size bundles of joy.  I’ve listed the calories per pack above, but these bakers ensure you don’t lose out on taste, while making sure they limit fat and sugar per mouthful.

 

For example, our favourites, the Choc-Nut Pearls, are 40 calories per mini cake and if I went mad and gobbled them all I still would only have eaten 199 calories (7g fat, 18g sugar) for the whole 80g pack.   A Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar is 240 calories (14g fat, 25g sugar) per 45g bar, so for the same size as the pack of pearls I would consume an awful lot more in calories, fat and sugar.

 

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We absolutely loved the pearls, which are light, soft bite-size cakes.  SP’s favourites were the Skinny Red Velvet Pearls – beetroot sponges piped with a quark-based low fat cream cheese frosting.  The sweet smell when he opened the box pulled him in within seconds and the taste was just as good.  Click on Instagram highlights to see SP steaming in on my taste test.

 

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For me, it’s Choc-Nut all the way – chocolate and hazelnut sponges made with Nutella and piped with Skinny Bakery’s signature tofu-chocolate frosting.  Hello!

 

I also really enjoyed the Double Chocolate Meringue Cookies, which crumble in your mouth and enjoyed the gingerbread cookies, which had a strong smell and delicious taste.  In fact, we devoured them all, but would have loved more taste with the Skinny Choc & Orange Cookies, which are lovely and chewy, but could have more ‘pow’ added when it comes to taste

 

That said, I’ve just heard new PBJ Pearls have been launched and Orange Cheesecake Pearls are available to order too.  Yes, I am placing an order.  Prices for the range start from £2.99 plus delivery, with free shipping in the UK on orders over £24.99.  You can freeze these treats too, so I’m going to buy in bulk and eat at my leisure!

 

I want the enjoyment without the guilt and if I can cut back a little more, I’m all for it.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xx

 

Just to be clear, I was gifted the selection of cakes and cookies sent to me, no money has exchanged in payment for this review and I have given you my honest opinion.  Have you tried Skinny Bakery?  What are your favourites?  Please share in the comments below.

 

Being Present

Credit: Priscilla-du-preez via Unsplash

 

I was seriously craving some ‘time out’ last weekend.  The plan was to chill, enjoy some sun, fun, food, family and friends and unwind the knot that was giving me some serious gyp in my neck.

 

So imagine my frustration when I spent the first 45 minutes of Saturday morning working.

 

That I’m aware of, I don’t save lives for a living, but it has become second nature to look on my phone ALL THE TIME and it was my addiction to grabbing my phone, while in bed, that got my weekend off to a bad start.

 

The annoying thing is that it didn’t have to go that way.  If I hadn’t opened the email I never would have known that someone had contacted me, or felt the need to respond, there and then.

 

I’m the same with text and whatsapp messages.  I’ll be sat eating supper with SP or we will have just sat down to watch a film together when a message beeps at me from the coffee table.  I don’t think twice about responding, sometimes with messages going back and forth for an hour at a time.

 

Of course, I start those conversations off as well.  I’ll ping off messages to friends late at night, assuming they’ll answer.  Of course, they will.  We’re all on our phones, aren’t we?  To be honest, I think a lot of us are.  But is being available 24/7 good for us and is it starting to affect our relationships with others in real life as well as our health and wellbeing?

 

Certainly, I’ve seen SP throw me some side eye when I’ve picked up my phone at every ad break to continue a message with someone else and as Saturday demonstrated, spending nearly an hour dealing with a work query was not the best way to start a much longed-for weekend of fun.

 

Emails, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Facebook, are all time thieves allowed into my life daily and I think it’s down to me to use them more wisely.

 

The internet and the invasive way it has entered our lives won’t be slowing down any time soon and to be honest I love the way the use of mobile phones has opened up my world.  I meet new people through it all the time, can multi-task life admin without leaving the sofa, and even glean new opportunities for work.  So what’s the problem.

 

It’s just too much.  I’m on it too much.  I feel anxious that I have to respond to every beep that lands on my phone.

 

I started dumbing down notifications, but have you noticed that with one single app you can receive three notifications, in separate ways, per message. I’ll get a ping, then a notification at the top of the phone screen and just to back both those up, a message to say I’ve got a message in my emails!

 

I mean!!

 

So, taking control back in to my own hands, I’ve decided that first off, I’m going to turn off the phone at 8 pm each night.  I need to give myself a cut-off point and SP keeps his phone on, so if anyone needs us in an emergency then they have his number, or our landline.

 

Secondly, I thought I would start reading my emails at scheduled times of the day.   Checking them constantly gets in the way of my to do list. As a PR, I communicate all day long, but I often need to sit down, gather my thoughts and write copy.  With constant interruptions it can take some time.  So perhaps a schedule of 9.30, 12.30, 2:00, 4:00 and 5:15 will be enough to read and respond to queries, even if it is to say I got your message and will get back to you tomorrow.

 

With this in mind, I started the experiment this week.  Here’s what happened:

 

Monday

Phone went off at 8 pm.  Twitched for two hours til bed-time, but slept better than I had in a while.

No work, no emails.

Tuesday

Phone off at 8 pm.  Less twitching, but my eyes were closing earlier than normal and I had to excuse myself from the Ten O’clock news…

Checked emails at 9.30 am.

Wednesday

Phone off at 8.10 pm.  I had to finish off a text…

First checked emails at 9.45 am.

Thursday

Phone off at 8:05 pm.  Responding to a text…

Checked emails at 9 am.

 

So I think I’m doing pretty good.  Albeit there does appear a loosening of the rule as the days go on, the deadline is firmly in my head and that’s because I’m already starting to feel the benefit.

 

Without the phone on and my eyes constantly staring into bright lights, they are naturally dimming ready for bed.  My mind is also less anxious for the two hours before bed-time, well unless SP puts The Walking Dead on!

 

What you will have you noticed is that I have paid hardly any attention to the email scheduling.    Apart from starting to check them at 9.30, I have still been looking at my emails all day long, until the phone goes off at 8 pm.

 

Still room for improvement obviously, but I’m glad I have nailed the timeline for the phone.  I instantly feel relaxed when it’s off and the world hasn’t caved in.  Yet.

 

As for keeping in touch with family and friends, I hope my relationships will benefit. It’s already on my mind to make arrangements and meet up with people and when I go out with them, I’ll leave the phone in the bag…as soon as I’ve taken a pic of my food for Instagram.

 

I can cut down, not out.

 

Have a good weekend.

 

Gail xx

 

How do you feel about your mobile phone?  Friend or foe?  And even if a ‘friend’, is it over-staying its welcome at times?