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?

 

Baby Got Back

 

 

Ignoring that we’re expecting beautiful weather over the next few days, I’m planning on wearing my brand new jeans.

 

I’ve been looking to update my denim for ages.  Out of skinnies and into straight leg has been a move I’ve wanted to make for a while, but it’s taken me ages to find the right pair.

 

Straight leg, of course, harps back to my youth and I couldn’t abide trying on jeans back then.  Too short in the leg and too wide in the waist, my shape didn’t ‘wear’ jeans very well and I always felt too bulky in them.

 

Cut to 2018 and there are enough jeans to go around that I should be able to find a pair that flatter, right?  Well it’s taken me ages to find some, even though kind stores now have more sizes and styles available.  I guess you’ve got to kiss a few frogs eh!

 

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Traditionally, jeans were made of tough, thick denim and straight legs are from that ilk, so expect them to feel a lot different than our skinny, lycra-made jegging friends.  They don’t cling to your shape, more hang over it, which depending on what you want to show or hide, is something you’ll like or hate.

 

Due to my thicker middle I realised that I needed a high waisted pair to pull me in and give me some shape.  Consequently, when I showed SP what I’d chosen, the first thing he said was “blimey, it gives you a bum”.  I took that as a sign of appreciation!

 

I also went for a pair slightly cropped at the ankle, because I either look better in crop with a heel or to the ground…. with a heel.   Neat on the ankle accentuates my lack of height.

 

So, I finally found my perfect pair in Zara.  I know this store is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me I know their sizes work in my favour and I confidently ordered these online.

 

The most popular straight jeans of the moment are in Top Shop.  I’ve spotted loads of people saying that they are perfect.  They look better on ladies who have some height, I think.

 

Levi’s are a classic source and pretty much every store on the high street will have a pair of straights in their denim range.  Look out for tapered ankles if you have a waist as these can align with your curves. Raw hems give you a street, casual edge and you’ll find everything from dark to pale washes to choose from.

 

Here’s a selection to start your search.

 

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xx

 

 

The One Foundation I Keep Buying

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I love trying new make-up, but this week I want to share with you a beauty product that I’ve just re-stocked.  It’s a hard-working, effective foundation and I really love it.

 

Rimmel London’s Wake Me Up Anti-Fatigue Skin Brightening Foundation with Vitamin C and SPF 20 just ticks all the boxes for my tired skin and the price makes my purse happy too.

 

I don’t normally buy drug store foundations.  Indeed, I love Estee Lauder, Chanel and Marks & Spencer’s Autograph foundations, but I work from home mostly, so wearing expensive make-up that only SP and the postman sees, feels like a waste of money (sorry babe).

 

I started to look around for something under a tenner.  It had to have SPF cause those rays will catch you, even if you’re putting the washing out, and I wanted an element of glow added to my skin, some kind of illuminating power that could help me look alive.

 

Rimmel is a classic brand.  If it’s a good enough for Kate, it’s good enough for me and when I caught sight of its anti-fatigue qualities, I was intrigued.

 

 

What the brand says (taken from Boots website):

* Rimmel Wake Me Up, a foundation that instantly reawakens skin with a healthy, radiant glow and minimizes premature skin ageing

* Formula has a smooth, light texture that effortlessly glides onto your skin, leaving you with a lightweight foundation that feels barely there, yet gives you 100% poreless coverage and a flawless natural finish

* Instantly eliminates signs of tiredness and lifts skin from fatigue, while the use of peptides means elasticity is increased, so your skin recovers and bounces back more quickly

* Luminizing foundation contains radiance pearls, which illuminate your skin for a healthy, radiant glow that’ll get rid of any greyness in no time

* Silky smooth, light formula to feel as if you’re wearing nothing at all

* Contains radiance pearls to illuminate the skin and give you a healthy glow

 

What I say:

* It really does what it says on the tin and leaves me with illuminated skin

* It has a soft, creamy texture that I really like, but I don’t feel like I’m wearing lots of make-up

* The pump dispenses just the right amount of product

* SPF, SPF, SPF (my last drug store foundation from Bourjois didn’t have it and I had to give it up)

* I use a foundation brush to apply and the coverage is evenly applied

* Did I mention, it’s only £8.99 for a 30ml bottle

 

What others say (my mate Louise who asked me for a recommendation):

* Love how it dispenses from the pump – hate it when there is no pump and you have to use finger/back of hand

* Blends evenly over face

* Great range of colours

* Skin feels soft.  No caked/tight feeling that some foundation leaves you with

* Love that is has SPF

* Lasts all day and it is great value

 

Pretty good reviews eh!  If you’re in need of a little freshen up on the foundation front you might get on with this one.  Available in Boots, Super Drug and lots of other places for a under a tenner.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Gail xx