Monday, 12 December 2011

Messing About in Boats

Another fun weekend that slid by just too soon. Monday is back at my door again, that unwelcome visitor come far too soon.

It didn't start in the most auspicious manner. I woke up to a cold, grey morning that didn't exactly beckon me out of bed. I'm also beginning to feel as if I'm getting ill- just that drained, sniffly, sore throat feeling that says flu is just around the corner.

Just in time for next Saturday's big Christmas night out. Typical! I've launched an immediate pre-emptive strike with vitamin c tablets and Lemsip before it has a chance to think about developing.

Anyway, I'd promised to go down and visit my friend (and former chief Bridesmaid) the lovely Lady T. She's recently moved down to Cambridge, following a really rough couple of months where her long term boyfriend dumped her completely out of the blue after five years together.

They'd had a marathon summer of attending weddings (ours being the final hurdle) and I think it had crystallised for him that he didn't want any of that. Anyway, they had to untangle their lives and possessions and T had to move out of the house.

Unbelievably, almost immediately afterwards she was also made redundant from her job as an Account Manager at a small PR firm - although that wasn't as much of a surprise, ad she knew the company had been struggling to pull in enough business.

Still, what an absolute shit storm.
My heart really goes out to her. I tried to be there for her, but she was determined to put a brave face on it all.

With no job, no home and no other half to speak of anymore, she moved down to Cambridge to stay with her half-sister and try to figure it all out. A fresh start is just what she needed, but I really selfishly miss her. All my other girlfriends seem to have moved away for work, and I sometimes feel like I have no one to spontaneously call up to go for coffee.

But you don't really get lonely when you're married- there's always someone to do things with, and I've gained two sister in law that I get on well with. But still.

Anyway, I drive down to explore T's new city. And what a beauty it is. I've never been to Cambridge before, but actually it was pretty much as I imaged- beautiful old winding streets, weeping willows and breathtaking architecture.

The day had evolved to be cold but full of perfect golden sunlight- just the ticket for wandering around and seeing everything to its best advantage.

We enjoyed sushi for lunch with a lot of catching up. Really nice as Darling Husband won't come within 20 ft of a piece of raw fish, so it's something I can only do without him. Indulged ourselves with salmon teriyaki, duck gyoza and mochi aplenty- yum yum!

Then we went for a wander around the charming shops. Cambridge seems to have a far nicer selection than Nottingham! There was a little open air arts and crafts market on in a tree-lined square, and we also visited the most amazing independent kitchen store that was a cook's dream!

The staff were lovely and spent ages taking us through the pros and cons of the espresso machine T is thinking of buying. They also had KitchenAid mixers in every colour of the rainbow- acid green, bright purple, cherry red. It's like a toy shop for adults!

On a whim, we then decided to do the ultimate touristy thing and take a punt tour of the colleges by river (hence the Wind in the Willows inspired title). We had blankets wrapped around us and got amazing views of the sun-dappled famous buildings of Trinity, King's, Clare, St John's and others- complete with very witty commentary from the student guide who led the tour.

It got us both thinking about our own uni days and how different they could have been! Suddenly, I was filled with what if visions of studying and living in one of the historic buildings, cycling through town with my wicker basket, dressed head to toe in Joules and Jack Wills. *sigh*

If I could have my time again, it would be so different. I'd throw myself into it all more, embrace the lifestyle and the experiences, instead of being full of unresolved teenage angst and self doubt! I didn't know myself then, and I made lots of misguided choices. I could do it all so much better now.

Boat trips and daydreams aside, we warmed back up afterwards with a pot of tea and a gorgeous cake at the beautiful Patisserie Valerie. What a place! Calorie counting went out the window.

It was a lovely day though, and so nice to catch up with T.

Sunday was designated Christmas day in the Frost household. Darling Husband insisted on an early start to commence the annual mission of choosing the Christmas tree. He nearly came to blows with a blonde who rudely snatched the tree we'd been eyeing up and made off with it.

But finally, the winning tree was found and we spent the rest of Sunday decorating it and baking our first batch of mince pies with Christmas songs playing in the background.

It really feels close now!





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Sunday, 11 December 2011

OOTN: Christmas Party

A fashion and make up post is a little bit of a variation on the rest of the posts I've done so far, but it was something I really wanted to do.

I put a fair amount of thought and effort into planning my Christmas party look, and it only seems right to record it in some way.

I'm quite a girly girl, and I make no bones about the fact. I don't buy that being interested in your appearance makes you brainless and immoral. I have about an equal interest in lipgloss and politics! But I am a lover of decadent beauty and style. I devour glossy magazines and style blogs. Nothing gives me quite the same thrill as a new eyeshadow palette or a sparkly clutch bag. It's not all there is to life, but it's certainly fun to play.

Outfit run down then- the mink gold sequinned shift from Ted Baker won out in my Christmas party dress choice! Well, there aren't many occasions where sequins are at home. Plus, the looser fit means plenty of room for my three course meal and all the wine!

Paired it with my beautiful black patent sandals with metal spike heel from Kurt Geiger. Black clutch bag with gold studs a find from Primark.

To accessorise, I was looking everywhere for a metal, boyfriend style watch- until I figured out I could just steal one from Darling Husband! The watch is Sekonda, not sure on the model.

To keep out the chill, I covered up in my snuggly brown faux fur jacket from Hooch. Darling Husband maintains that this garment makes me look as if I've hunted and skinned Bungle from Rainbow, but I like it!

Make-up was centred around a gold toned smoky eye with lots of lashes, with sculpted cheeks and nude glossy lips. It was loosely inspired by j.lo and that golden glow look she's famous for.

A quick run down of the products used:

Face
Rimmel Fix & Perfect Foundation Primer- its important to try and make party make-up last the distance, and this inexpensive primer does a great job for a purse-friendly price. I've only recently starting trying out primers, so this is a good entry-level product.

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in 021 Nude - absolutely my go-to foundation, even over the premium versions I've tried. This base is a winner for its flawless coverage and easy blendability.

Sleek Face Contour Kit in Light- a very matte bronzer and a peachy-gold highlighter to fake killer cheekbones.

Benefit High Beam - to raise your game for night time and really get your glow on, dab some of this in a shallow c-shape from browbones down to the tops of your cheekbones.

Eyes

Urban Decay Primer Potion- to prep eyelids and keep intricate shadow from sliding off on the hot dance floor.

17 Metallic Eye Pencil in Gold- now sadly discontinued by Boots but still available on eBay. This is a fantastic product for a small price. I blended it all over my lids as a base colour- its a flattering silvery gold that really lights up eyes.

Urban Decay Eyeshadows in YDK and Midnight Cowboy Rides Again (from the Sustainable Shadow Box)- YDK is blended all over the lid to give a rich gold colour with depth, then using Benefit's Get Bent angled liner brush, I stroked Midnight Cowboy just under and into the inner corners of my eyes- its a lighter shade with silver glittery particles.

Urban Decay Ink for Eyes cream liner in Zero - I used this to make a thick, 60s style cat flick

Sleek i-Divine Au Naturel in 'Bark' and 'Noir' - again using my angled liner brush, I used Noir, a matte black shadow, over the top of the liner to set and hold it. Then I used a fluffy blending brush to work Bark (matte dark brown) into the crease and winged out to the corners.

Nouveau Lashes eyelash extensions (courtesy of Real Retreat)- for a little extra party flutter!

Benefit Brow Zings in Dark- a daily essential for me to groom and define my arches.

Benefit Eye Bright- I always use this creamy, whitish pencil to highlight under my eyebrows.

Lips

Wet n Wild Beauty Benefits Dual Effects Lip Pencil in Blossom- this product was a recent cheap discovery of mine from the poundshop, of all places! (don't judge, I go there for my house cleaning products! Who wants to spend more than a pound on Flash spray and Toilet Duck?!?). It was a curiosity buy that turned out really well. One end is a creamy, automatic pencil lip liner and the other is a tingly, plumping balm. It's gorgeous!

Mac Sheen Supreme in Bare Again - one of my all-time favourites, the hybrid lipstick/gloss in this pinkish beige is the perfect foil to heavy smoky eyes.

Hair

Blow dried into loose waves by the pros at Saks Hair and Beauty

Then I just gave it a quick spritz of Toni & Guy Insights Shine Addiction Glossing Mist before I left the house.

Nails

I painted over my gel extensions with Andrea Fulerton Nail Boutique polish in 'Nigella'- a dark purplish black. These polishes and products are a top tip of mine- great quality.

Next time will try to add some better, high definition make up pics!


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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Body of The Year?

So this blog post is going to be a little different- not about my day, but more of a comment piece on something I read the other day that really made me stop and think.

The below image is of the new 'it' model of the moment, Karlie Kloss. Vogue has just christened her 'the New Body' (as opposed to supermodel Elle Macpherson, who has been referred to as 'The Body' since the 90s, in case you are not up on your model gossip!)

When I saw this image, it really stopped me in my tracks, and not in a good way. I actually found it quite grotesque. I think Karlie looks scary and just plain wrong- like you can see every sinew and fibre of her emaciated frame. It just doesn't seem right.

I speak as someone who actually does think skinny (or slim, at any rate) is beautiful. I think a slender frame is more elegant and appealing than a curvy one- its a matter of personal taste, of course, but that is my opinion.

I've spent a lifetime torturing myself for not being as lean and taut as I would ideally like. But these images are a step too far, even for me. They seem to speak of nothing but suffering and self-denial. I find them starkly unattractive. It was a revelation to find I didn't like them.

Normally, I'm envious of skinny models but this just seems like a sick, sad joke. I think Vogue are vastly irresponsible in celebrating this as the ideal shape, it's hideous.

God knows how many impressionable young minds will be branded with this image. It makes me shudder.

And I'm not alone. There's been a huge outcry on the web about the images, and Vogue Italia pulled them from its website after discovering that pro-anorexia websites were using them as 'thinspiration'.

I've collected 'thinspiration' myself in the past. I still want to be beautiful , desirable and think I will achieve that by losing weight. But this girl just looks like a holocaust victim- and that's no joke.

What on earth does it say about our society that this is the body of the year? It's not enough to objectify women anymore (and other women,myself included are the worst culprits for that in my opinion)- now they have to suffer to be desirable.

It makes mad that this is what were all supposed to aspire to now, because we deserve so much better. Celebrate being healthy, celebrate being slim even, but dear God, let's not celebrate looking as if you have a terminal illness. That's just harmful.

For contrast, compare those two images with the similar first picture of the woman previously wearing the mantle of 'The Body'. Really slim? Yes. But there's a world of difference- Elle doesn't look like she's about to keel over!

She's slender, but in a healthy, daily gym session way. Why isn't that enough anymore? Gah. Epic fail Vogue!

Speaking of gym sessions, today was the first session of week four of my
Couch to 5k programme. And it's the first week it's actually been really tough.

I'm not good at the mental side of running- the part where you tune out and try to push through any discomfort. So as the running intervals get longer, that becomes the real challenge. I really hope I can stick with it.

All this running will hopefully pay off and carve me out a body like Elle's- because THAT'S sexy, not the miserable denial Karlie Kloss represents.



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Monday, 5 December 2011

A Winter Walk

I've had a few days holiday left to use up, and so I ended up with a long weekend (even though the time has flashed by!).

It's not great timing, as work is so manic, but I have to use it and I'm not allowed to carry it into next year. I actually planned to do some work from home, but somehow I've managed to be too busy even to think about work.

On Friday, Darling Husband was off with me. It was one of those edible winter days- really quite cold now, but with that gorgeous, late-in-the-year red gold sunlight that makes everything look like a present. We headed out early to Colston Bassett for a wintry walk. It's something we always fantasise about on nice days when we have to go to work, so it seemed only right.

Strolling across the beautiful Vale countryside, I knew more than ever that I'd love to live in a big country pile with a range, making homemade bread and cakes, keeping chickens and labradors, doting on my apple-cheeked children. All very Boden catalogue, I know!

Another example of how much my aspirations have changed from the glossy, cocktail in hand urbanite existence I previously coveted.

But seriously, houses there must be so rare to come up- there aren't many of them, and people tend to hang onto them. Where we live now, we are lucky to be in a very nice, affluent suburb, but there is a fair amount of churn. Less so in some of the country villages.I have a feeling it might take quite some time to fulfill that wish!

We circled the fields, the ruined church looming over us. When we first got engaged, that was where we dreamed of being married. It's so peaceful, poised on a hill, away from everything.

Of course, logistically, it would have been an absolute nightmare. There's not even a roof, so it would have been ruined if it rained- and we all know what the English weather is liable to do! I had some half-baked romantic notion about lighting up the ruin with candles and fairy lights- I think the episode of Friends where Ross and Emily get married may well have influenced me here!

It would have been a hell of a feat to pull off, but amazing. Sadly though (or perhaps luckily depending on how you look at it), even though it's still consecrated ground, the parish priest said no.

However, it's still a special place for us both. The ashes of Mr's grandfather, who was a special person to us both, are scattered there, and it's so personal and peaceful. There is also the big manor house. Mr's grandfather was once offered the chance buy it for a song and declined. Which is a shame as we could have been lord and lady of the manor! We certainly have the attitude!

On Saturday, I braved going into the city to pick up some Christmas shopping. Ive tried to do a lot of it online this year, but somethings I either wanted to see in person or they were too small to be worth paying postage on.

So I joined the battleground. I was in town for 9 oclock as the shops opened and it was already crowded. I had planned what shops to go to, in what order, and what I needed from each place, but it was still hellish. I felt like I'd run a marathon by the time I staggered back to the car with stuffed shopping bags. At least it's all done now and I can just look forward to giving all those nice gifts.

In the evening, we met up with K and Nick and took our niece to see the christmas lights switch on- which she slept through! Still, it was nice to have some family time.

On Sunday, I finally made it to mass and now feel a lot better having gone. A new priest today who sounded disconcertingly like the comedian Michael McIntyre when he spoke! But I definitely feel replenished in some way. I need to remember to prioritise going in future.

It must have been a good day, because I also went to the gym for the final week three session of couch to 5k. Trying to keep the motivation flowing as it becomes more a challenge.

The rest of my long weekend has passed off far too quickly and I can't believe it's back into the breach tomorrow. I keep telling myself it's not too long until the Christmas break! Hopefully things will ease up a bit this week.






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