Saturday, 31 December 2011

Feel good Christmas movies

The Christmas holidays are long over and I must admit I do feel a bit deflated not because I'm tired. On the contrary I'm well rested and looking forward to the school run. Am I excited by Christmas? Whenever I'm asked I always downplay Christmas and say that Christmas is for children. Yet I always end up spending more than I budgeted, treating myself to more than I need as far clothes and fashion accessories go, buying too much food and getting all caught up in the hype. Thank goodness christmas comes only once a year.

If I'm honest though, what I do look forward to each Christmas is lighting my wood burning fire, curling up on the sofa in front of the television with my bowl of roasted chestnuts and watching feel good Christmas movies. Like clockwork, your modern christmas stories like The Holiday / Love Actually [DVD] with Hugh Grant and other stars and The Holiday [DVD] starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz is usually available on terrestrial television but I still cherish the heart warming traditional classics showcasing the miracle of christmas with snow, love, sharing, giving and santa.

I just can't get enough of those classics that sensitise and popularise the notion of Christmas so christmas specials like the idealic "The Waltons " is really special to me. I mean what is Christmas without the magic of belief. My daughter still believes in Santa a notion my son attempted to squash by sharing his 10 year old logic with her. But the innocence of youth prevailed and unknown us she left Santa a letter downstairs on the sofa.

Needless to she came up stairs in tears complaining that Santa didn't come because he hadn't taken the letter at which point I nudged my husband to get downstairs and get the letter. I guess I'm just as bad at perpetuating the belief.  But moving the letter was not enough as she had already spotted it. Now she's convinced that she will have to find a weather vane on a windy day, wait for it to point north then let the letter go to be blown away to Santa in the north pole. Windy weather we have been having plenty off lately, now all we have to find for her is the weather vane.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Cashmere cardigan

Don't know what it is with me and the colours brown, bronze and orange but I do like these warming colours especially in winter.  Maybe it's because I love copper jewellery so much. Again I found this lovely cashmere cardigan but alas 10 and 12 all sold out. I like adding special things to my wardrobe and this orange cardigan is indeed special yet practical and warm.  The frills really add a sexy girly feel to this cardigan and I can't say that I have any cashmere in my wardrobe.  I'm so good at justifying my purchases aren't I?

This frill cardigan is part of the per una speziale range so can't risk buying a size 14 as Marks and Spencer's sizes are generous and a cardigan like this I would imagine needs to fit pretty snugly to look and feel good. I could sometimes find myself fitting into a size 8 at M&S which is the most wonderful feeling since I'm usually fluctuating between a size 10 and 12.  That's the thing with online shopping if you do it often enough you can become a sizing specialist and know what size you should order depending on the store.  For instance when I'm online shopping at Zaras I find myself ordering medium and large especially when it comes to their jackets as their sizing seem to be a bit on the petite side.    


brown woollen cowl neck tunic

It's annoying when you find yourself the perfect addiction to your wardrobe and your size is sold out!! That's just my dilemma with this brown woollen cowl neck tunic reduced from £75 to £37.50 - so great price too but only size 16 left I'm afraid or size 14 and 16 in the lighter colour which is gorgeous as well.

I can see this nude cowl neck adding lots of winter charm and sophistication to my winter wardrobe (not to mention warmth) and no doubt it will last for many cold winters. I'm already imagining how ideal it will look under my alpaca wool wrap that I'm tempted to buy myself the size 14 since it's not exactly a figure hugging outfit. 

I could put such a stylish nude look together with this cowl neck jumper teamed with my tan alpaca wool wrap, brown ribbed tights and knee high light brown suede boots.  For variation and a great alternative to boots I love wearing knee high socks over my tights for extra warmth and style. So hurry ladies if 14 or 16 is your size here's a chance to grab a great winter bargain.  

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Are we there yet?

Surprised my husband with a Garmin Sat Nav for christmas which actually was not much of a surprise as my darling son was with me at the time of purchase and promptly came home and told his father exactly what mummy was out buying that day.  

It's not that my husband hasn't had a built in sat nav in his car for years.  It's just that he is always reluctant to use it because it's a pay as you go navigation system where you pay per trip calculated and I suspect for every time you have to reroute to your destination as it does not automatically adjust your route if you take a wrong turn.   Not withstanding cost, between you and me, he also thinks he has a great sense of direction, which to be fair is better than mine.  But many an argument has ensued from the lack of a sat nav as I sit quietly biting my tongue while he goes around in circles refusing to ask for help. Unbelievable!!!!  Even with a navigation system, one wrong turn and I ask for help if I see someone nearby.  I simply must get around to reading Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus if I'm to understand this puzzling phenomena whereby men simply hate asking for directions.

I have no shame in admitting that I have a lousy or no sense of direction and have found countless new routes to avoid peak time traffic using my tom tom.  Hooray for me!!!  I'm always amazing my husband showing him new routes.  But alas I take no credit for it and simply tell him that I use my sat nav as getting lost is not my idea of fun so one wrong turn and even with a sat nav at the first opportunity I ask someone for help, for as I'm sure you will agree the technology is not always perfect. 

I deliberately did not buy a case for the garmin although they were on half price offer at the time.  But even at about 10 quid, it was so not worth the money as it was made of a synthetic material (not leather) and neither was it a hard case.  So I've just found an ideal hardcase on Amazon to store the sat nav.  While there are many sat nav cases to choose from as you can imagine, I'm opting for the hard case which is handy for holding the car charging unit as well.

Crisp white shirt

Seasons change as the cycle of life continues with a rebirth in spring, my favourite time of year. But whatever the season there are some key wardrobe essentials that you should have year round and a crisp white shirt is one of them.  This classic shirt is a must have item great for dressing up or down depending on the occasion.  You can get this classic shirt in a tailored fit with rounded hem great for wearing casually over jeans and a great look for the cooler months. In the winter layer your shirt under pullovers and cardigans for another casual look.  For the more formal look, wear with skirt or trousers suit for work or for dressing for that all important job interview. My eye is always peeled to that crisp white shirt George Clooney wears under his suit in that expresso advertisement on TV. This Anna David button down white shirt in a robust cotton with tapering collar is a great quality shirt.

Top tip - buy a good quality white shirt that can endure several washes and still look perky white as with white garments you may need to wash after every wear. The large broad cuffs and the herringbone structure on the  milano shirt below really sets this 100% cotton white shirt apart from the rest.  It's small details like these that make a mundane shirt look special and will go a long way to help you to stand out at job interviews. 

I think I bought my last crisp white shirt at Marks and Spencer which was a great buy as it lasted me over 10 years and I did wear it quite regularly.  While cotton is more practical and hard wearing I have always wanted a white shirt in silk which can be a gorgeous but I am yet to find one that I like.  

New years eve partywear

Still looking for that drop dead gorgeous news years eve party dress?  I know I am.  Some of my friends already have their sparkle and shine new years eve partywear in foiled print and sequins.  But the glitter and shine ladies sequinned partywear dresses dresses is really not my style.  I much prefer an elegant conservative style that is simple yet dramatic at the same time.  So this woven jersey dress really flatters my fancy.

This long jersey dress from Ben de Lisi features a plunging v at the centre back with woven panels underneath and ruching along the sides which is ideal for camouflaging those extra winter pounds around the tummy especially post christmas.  Some great reviews on this dress as well with customers commenting on the wonderful colour and how well the fabric drapes.  A great option too if you want to get away from the conventional black dress.  Wear with this exquisite copper necklace jewellery set from Munique Fashions.

If I do go for some sparkle and shine though it will have to be this other mustard and white starbust print design black dress again from Principles' Ben de Lisi.  What fantastic detailing on this print!! With a drape front, slash neck and three quarter length sleeves this black dress still offers elegance with a bit of shine minus the sequins and glitter of course.  This dress will look stunning with Munique's 
pewter cuff bracelet.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Add ethnic style and colour to your wardrobe

I'm not the most organzied or neatest person but when it comes to my wardrobe I can't help but hang my clothes according to colour.  That way I can see what colours are missing from my wardrobe, what colour I have too much clothes in and most importantly how the colours match up together.

I was helping my cousin Jane find an outfit in her wardrobe to attend a last minute christmas party with me and by force of habit I simply could not stop myself from organizing her wardrobe according to colour.  That task didn't take long as when I was finished I could not help but comment that she seemed to have only three colours in her wardrobe.  There were loads of navy blue, black and grey jumpers, dresses, suits, pullovers.  I had to let her know that there are other colours in the rainbow and that you can still inject colour in your wardrobe even if it is winter.

Even if like Jane you are uncomfortable wearing blocks of colour, here are two variations of black that would be perfect additions to any colourless wardrobe.  I'm always looking to diversify my wardrobe and this ethnic maxi skirt and ethnic maxi dress would certainly be new clothing styles for my wardrobe. 

The knitted jacquard ethnic maxi dress is perfect for entering guests at home or attending a dinner party. The detailing on the sleeves and hem really makes this maxi dress stand out for me.  It is elegant, conservative and at the same time stylish.  

The ethnic maxi skirt is in no way conservative but very dramatic and resembles no other garment in my wardrobe.  If you are too shy to wear this skirt to go out then try wearing it at home especially when you have guests over.  Once you've been complimented several times, I'm sure you'll have no problem wearing it on your next night out. 

Birmingham's German Market

Hope you had time to visit the Birmingham German Market this year. I made an effort to go for the first time this year 2011 and absolutely loved it. What's not to love -  great atmosphere, lots of german food, beer and gifts. There was local english foods available and craft stalls from local artisans as well so something for everyone.  It was such a big market that it stretched from the birmingham symphony's hall all the way down to the bull ring. We walked from one end to the next, a feat I will never attempt at any other time.  Some say that this birmingham german market with over 180 stalls is even larger than their own Frankfurt market.

When it came to food there were german hot dogs, german ham, german bread all being cooked on site. The confectionery stalls were simply to die for with loads of donuts, chocolates and other sweets delights your heart can wish for. Lots of waterholes for when you got thirsty with german beers and german ciders and hot chocolates and mulled wine for those who wanted to warm up. It was a culinery delight to behold and taste. At one point it reminded me of a carnival minus the costumes.

While some of the items on offer were clearly mass produced there was quite a lot of handmade jewellery and handmade accessories including crafts items like handmade wool hats and lambswool scarfs.  A woman buying a scarf at one of the stalls turned to me and said you can actually smell the sheep in the lambswool used to make the scarf.  It was that rustic an experience at some of the stalls for some.

At the end of the day other than food, I didn't buy much, just a felt hair clip for my daughter, a warm woolly dress for myself, a vase and some german bread.  That said we spent the better part of 4-5 hours at the german market as our parking charges would show. But it was a great night of good food, lots of novelty christmas gift ideas to behold.  I'm so going back next year 2012.

La Redoute up to 60% boxing day sale

Finally the madness of christmas is over.  The kids have their toys, I've done the christmas dinner and now its me time and what better way to fill the time than shopping the after christmas sales.  Once I venture into my emails try as I might  I know I cannot resist the post christmas sales emails coming at me about all the fantastic sale reductions.  So if you can't beat then why not join them I say in my moment of weakness.  

But I don't go forth into battle without my armour so I always make an effort to start off sensibly by making a mental list of my needs to ensure that I'm not fulling up my wardrobe with more of the same.  After all diversity is the spice of life. 

I've tried the boxing day sales shopping on the high streets and shopping centres but find the crowds too manic and the changing rooms simply too long a wait and that was even before I had kids.  Now with two kids in tow online shopping in the christmas sales is so easy and convenient.  The kids can continue playing with their toys and I can find solace on the computer shopping away in the christmas sales.  My hats go off to those who can get up in the wee hours of the morning and line up to be the first into the stores.

So far I'm shopping the La Redoute boxing day up to 60% sale and have found this grey stretch twill skirt which will go fabulous with a cropped woollen grey jacket that I already have. I always love it when a look comes together as I'm not one of those shoppers who simply must match up clothes in a store before buying a top, a skirt or jacket as the case may be.  Now I've found the perfect skirt for my grey jacket and at a whooping 60% off but needless to say I'm still having a browse of all the other sale offers from La Redoute.  I think I will be heading to the winter boots section next.  

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Classic coats

Every winter whether I absolutely need a new coat or not I simply can't resist looking at all the styles of winter coats on offer.  The thing is my myopic vision always sets in and I find myself drawn to classic style coats like this corduroy trench coat for example.

For me this coat ticks three boxes as material, style and colour really hit the mark for me. You can't get more classic when it comes to material than corduroy or more classic than the faithful trench when it comes to coats or more versatile when it comes to colour than brown.

The trench coat has been around for centuries and is the iconic coat for many a detective drama.  The first that comes to mind for me is the ever popular Kojac, I Spy, Ironside and Get Smart with Ann Hathaway sporting a modernised double breasted white trench.

I spotted this coat at Debenhams and now I see that there is a half price on winter coats.  With a whooping 50% off, my trench is now £45.00 down from £90.  Let's hope they still have my size.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Boden winter Sale 50% off

Boden have just launched their winter sale with up to 50% sale lines so fantastic savings to be had.  Will be getting myself this notch neck knit dress which has had great reviews with regards to how comfortable and practical it is.  Customers who bought this dress also commented that the dress is well made and retains its shape which means it will be seeing me through quite a few winters.  This dress will go perfectly with my "passionate heart" leather necklace.

My house is overrun with toys so clothes is on my christmas shopping list for my daughter.  She would look fabulous in this big button girls corduroy dress.  It is full of colour which I love and very flambuoyant just capturing the nature of children or my daughter in particular.  Just last week her piano teacher commented that she was the most colourful student he has, referring to the fact she wears very colourful clothes.  I normally say that we don't want any of the colours of the rainbow to feel left out.

These are just some of the winter clothing clearance items you will find in the boden winter sale and don't worry if colour is not your style as all outfits come in varying colour combinations so there is something for everyone ......  happy shopping!!!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

winter boots selection

After two harsh winter I am in the market for a new pair of boots which this time will not be worn in snow.  Leather and suede are my default material when it comes to boots but I am open to suggestions.  Brown and black boots are my go to colours usually because they can practically go with anything. Finally my last criteria is wedge heel boots for added comfort.  Sorry, actually I do have one last criteria which is knee high or calf high boot.

My picks of this seasons winter boots starts with this Bertie Miguel leather wedge calf boots in a tan colour.  I love the two tone effect of the leather.  This bertie boot is also available in dark brown.

This tan leather knee high boot is also a contender for its versatility.  This italian made winter boot designed by Marta can be worn as a knee high boot or as a calf length boot. Made from the finest quality leather, this boot is fitted with a unique cushioning support.  Although not a wedge heel, this boot heel is thick enough to offer stable support.

So far my key favorites for boots are brown in colour so I've been forcing myself to look at black boots.  While browsing I came across this fab boot accessory faux fur cuff boot leg warmers perfect for wearing over stocking feet or socks to give your winter boots that added wow dimension when you want to glamour it up a bit.  The hunt is still on for some black winter boots though. Will keep you posted.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Wellingtons for christmas

Keeping my feet warm and comfortable in winter is always a priority and now I find myself bootless as I can't tell you how the last two severe winters damaged my boots. All I can say is don't go wearing your suede boots or leather boots in deep snow. When its snowing you absolutely need wellies which can leave your feet feeling cold but nothing two or three layers of socks or some wellie liners or boot socks can't take care of.

It's amazing how fashionable wellies have become. While out doing some last minute christmas shopping last year, I couldn't help but notice how trendy wellies had become with fun and funky colours and patterns or this stately looking heeled wellingtons, all simply gorgeous. Gone are the days when wellingtons were just for splashing through water on rainy days or tracking through mud on those muddy dog walking trails.

Wellingtons are so trendy now that they are becoming cool christmas gifts as I discovered last year when my cousin Penelope surprised me with one under the Christmas tree which I really appreciated as it was so funky. Funky wellies are so on my list christmas gifts for friends and family especially since it is becoming fashionable to have more than one pair it seems.. 

Friday, 2 December 2011

Get in shape for winter

Everyone talks about getting in shape for summer. But I've decided to get in shape for winter and have been experimenting with various keep fit options. Yes believe it or not I'm going to be watching what I eat, Christmas day excluded of course, but I need an exercise regime to keep me going.

So far I've tried good "ole" aerobics or old school aerobics as it is called on the gym brochure but after one class my body felt so traumatised that I'm daunted at the prospect of having to do aerobics to keep fit. After my last aerobic encounter, my knee was swollen for a week which just made me realise that I'm simply not 25 anymore. I also tried the very popular zumba which I found to be too random for my liking. But to be fair I'm sure different instructors offer varied routines so it is a matter of finding an instructor whose style you like.

So I went right back to hot yoga which a my friend Sally introduced me to a year ago, but which I had given up for a while. Each time I mention hot yoga my friends are always intrigued as it sounds exotic and spicy but hot yoga is simply practising yoga in a very hot room which increases your heart rate, flexibility and as you can imagine builds up quite a sweat which is great for releasing toxins from your body. You leave hot yoga completely drenched in sweat, underwear included, to the extent where you literally have to peel your yoga wear off at the end of class.

Part of getting in shape always include healthy eating so I'm thankful for my recently purchased vitamix blender which makes the most amazing smoothies and soups with no mess and no fuss.  Click here to read all about the vitamix blender.

Where can you find hot yoga classes? The only place I know offering hot yoga at the moment is yoga haven which have branches in Birmingham, London and Brighton.  So wish me luck in keeping my end of year resolution as I'm no good at making and sticking to new year resolutions. 

My new vitamix blender

I waited absolutely ages to get myself a new blender after I apparently "smoothied" my last blender out by overloading it with too much frozen fruit. In fact I had 2 blenders neither of which could cope with my smoothie making. In one blender the blades went flying while The spinning mechanism on the other blender simply broke. No chance of that happening with my new vitamix blender which I got from John Lewis.

My friend Sally kept raving about this new blender she bought that could make smoothies, soups, ice cream, sorbets, iced cappuccino, can crush ice, blend bread dough, ground rice and corn to flour. Amazing I thought but when she told me the price I told myself a regular kenwood blender would do just as fine. But since I was still intrigued I did a little more internet research and found this helpful demonstration.

After watching this video clip of vitamix in action I was certainly convinced. The hard part was persuading my husband for as you can imagine it was not cheap to buy. My husband thought I was having a laugh when I told him the price until I dragged him down to a John Lewis a couple of Sunday's ago where vitamix staff was on hand doing a live demo.

The demo is even more exciting up close and personal especially since we were able to sample smoothies, soups, iced cappuccino. At the end of it all, Hooray!!!! my mission was successfully complete, he was convinced and I had my vitamix machine.

 I wasted no time in resuming my daily smoothie making and can effortlessly make myself soups for lunch and grind my curry seasoning. I am yet to get started on the ice cream making but I know I am going to have lots of fun with this machine that is simply more than a blender. With a 7 year guarantee on this product I have absolute peace of mind that I will have and use my vitamix blender for years to come.