Who Cares

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It seems this was a popular sentiment yesterday....


I actually quite enjoy reading blog posts about other people's goals and resolutions for the new year, but my Twitter feeds both business and personal were filled with Dry January and diet related food tweets, as well as the apparently obligatory first day back at work business- I find this odd not least because I know a good deal of people don't take 2 weeks off work for the festive period, in fact it's been a bit of a shock for us, because T is obliged to, due to working heavily with construction projects.

ANYWAY! I was a bit ambivalent to the ringing in of 2015 this year, strange as I usually love New Year, a bit like starting a fresh notebook or sleeping in fresh sheets with new PJs and clean hair... I didn't feel any great urge to set goals because most of the aims I have for 2015 are business related but in the first few days of January, it has become clear there's something I do need to resolve to do:

Take better care...

The final quarter of 2014 was blighted with illness- a nasty nasty experience with my gall bladder back in October, coughs, colds and my shoulder deciding to play up. I spent most of December feeling tired, run down and generally out of sorts. And more time away than at home. I haven't had my eyebrows threaded since September, my skin hates me and my poor hands are so dry that they're falling apart.

So, no diets, no desire to be generically more 'fit' or 'toned', no giving up things that make me happy (and vodka does make me happy!) but and understanding that I need to take better care of myself:

  • Get up 15 minutes earlier- I'm not a morning person, but I've trained myself into getting set up for work- at home or my hot desk by 0800. The extra 15 minutes is to eat breakfast- a habit I've fallen out of and am suffering for, and to ensure that the full routine of cleanse, tone, moisturise, eye cream, lip treatment and hand cream can be implemented
  • Take a break- I work predominantly alone. I work from home or a hot desk which is on the lower ground floor. This means that I don't see as much daylight and there's nobody to make me take lunch breaks or venture out of the door. I have a weekday alarm set for 1230 & 1530 on my phone, to remind me to get up, go and take the rubbish out or take the package to the post office or even just step outside for 5 minutes. Like a lot of people who work alone or for themselves, I'm guilty of burning the candle at both ends, and I'm less productive for it. 
Taking time to enjoy the view
  • Schedule appointments & treatments- I feel so much better for having my eyebrows threaded. I know, right?! It's not expensive and it's quick, but it's something I never make time for and therefore don't get round to. I also treated myself to a UV lamp for gel nail polish before Christmas (I already had the polishes etc from previous access to a lamp) and I love the novelty of a manicure that lasts longer than 2 days (which is the average life of my nail polish) and I've set reminders on my calender for a rotation of 2 weeks of gel polish followed by removal followed by 1 week of rest (and OPI Nail Envy). I have booked my next hair cut in advance. Sounds oh so trivial, but these small things mean when I look in the mirror, I feel a bit better put together. 
Now I remember why I normally do my own shellac... 1 week in and it's grown almost the nail length and I have a fight with a veg peeler.
How not to wear your gel manicure....
  • Water- I suspect my skin is raging for 2 reasons- first is that in December I drank more coffee than usual, and nowhere near as much water. Annoying, not least because drinking more than the recommended volume of water each day hasn't been an issue for me in a decade. And secondly because my skincare routines were not consistent. I've managed to dig out my mini filter coffee machine (makes a single mug at a time) and  I'll not be using the coffee pot through the week, as well as paying a bit more attention to emptying a 2 litre bottle of water between 0800 and 1800 each day. My skincare was disrupted because I was away so much in December, so this month it's back to more regimented practices, in a bid to try and even things back out again- including not changing any products. I find consistency helps. 
  • Preparation- And finally, the old adage, fail to prepare and prepare to fail. I took some time to ensure I have hand cream and lipsalve in with my diary, notebooks and phones. Having them on my desk- be that at home or in the office helps remind me to actually use them. I've had a good go through my skin care and make-up, ditching things I'm never going to use or that haven't worked for me. Following a few sale purchases to top up my wardrobe (why is it that I never seem to have the right balance of tops/blouses to skirts/trousers?!) a bag of donations has been compiled, I'm wearing and binning a handful of items this week and after my spectacular handbag purchase in Spain, a couple of the worn out or busted ones are now in the bin. 
I don't actually like the scent of this hand cream, but it was in the freebie stash and I can't justify spending £20 on the Aesop cream of dreams until I get through a little more of those tucked away things. 

There is an inherent theme of linking how I look and how I feel. I'm aware this may seem contrary to the many messages we as women are bombarded with regularly- that we're supposed to be able to embrace our natural beauty, or whatever. Rightly or wrongly, looking and feeling good are linked to each other for me. I'm aware this isn't everyone, and that's cool too, but it's a cycle of if I feel good about how I present to the world then I look better because I smile more, walk taller and find it easier to make eye contact. If I look in the mirror and see a young woman who looks after herself and takes a certain level of pride in how she presents herself to the world at large, I feel more confident, I find it easier to communicate with others and I find it easier to be more present as opposed to worrying what strangers, friends or the world at large might be thinking of or about me.

Likewise, when I am physically under the weather, I find it more difficult to be resilient to rejection- a natural part of the sales element of my work, It's tough to be positive when all you actually want to do is go back to bed and hide from the world until you've stopped coughing. It's hard not to feel weak or irrelevant when you've used everything you've got to get up and get working, never mind eating, drinking, laundry or leaving the house. Another good reason to ensure I put some effort into taking better care.

Life is too short to give up the things I like, and I like cheese. And carbs. And wine. And vodka. And Pfeffernüssen. Oh and cake. So I'm not. It's normal service resumed in our household, because we didn't depart all that far from it to start with, cheese happens mostly at the weekends and cake is portioned appropriate to amount of exercise performed in a day. But it's time to enjoy all these things not for comfort but for added joy. 

In My Bag I Packed: A Spanish Handbag Purchase

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I didn't necessarily go to Spain with the intention of buying a new handbag, but I did have in the back of my mind that a new mid-sized handbag that doesn't knock out anybody in a 2km radius (a la the Aquascutum beast...) for y'know, leaving the house without a laptop and 3 phones.

When I walked past the shop initially, I spotted a few very nice looking bags, but on day 2 of 5, I didn't feel I could justifying blowing over €100 on a present for myself, despite T telling me I should anyway. Cue major buyers regret..... hand stitched leather and a dreams of something green instead of black. I wouldn't say I'm much of a daddy's girl.... but on departure day, T persuaded my Dad to drive us back into old town Marbella to make the bag purchase, since we had a fair volume of Euros left....

El Potro Green Leather bag

Green El Potro

Although priced at €115 when I looked at it, the lady either took pity on me, or was pleased to be making a sale before even officially opening the shop (yes, I was the creepy girl hanging about the shop waiting for it to open....) because she gave me 20% off, taking it down to €92. The leather is beautifully buttery and the pictures above show a mostly true to life colour- a fabulous forest green. There's also a shoulder strap which can be attached to the handles, but I'm not currently using it.

El Potro Green bag

Based on the current exchange rate, the approximate cost in sterling was around £72, considering the beautiful leather, construction and the unusual colour, I'm pretty happy with that. I've become a bit militant about finding leather bags since I've had a few non-leather, even ones that have cost a similar amount to this beauty, fall apart or worse, become very scruffy with scrapes or wear on corners, and although prepared to pay for a good quality leather, I can help feeling this was nearing bargain territory.

The inside is made up of a single large space, with a zip pocket and a small pouch style pocket set into the flat lining. I quite like this as I use a lift-out bag organiser and a centre divider can be a nightmare for that.

I won't be posting specifically about our little jolly to the Costa del Sol, it was a brief family trip in lieu of doing Christmas presents, which seems to be a new tradition. We ate a lot, drank a lot and I don't think videos of us lot singing along to Donna Summer (don't ask) are quite what I have in mind for my blog content.... Suffice to say, landing back into Gatwick on Tuesday was disappointing!

3 Moisturisers Tried on Oily Skin

Saturday, December 13, 2014

*None of the following products have been sent to me for review, and I have not been paid to feature them on this blog. All news, views & reviews are my own and this post is merely an account of my own experiences*

Moisturisers are the bane of my oily skinned life. Whilst my oily skin and annoying breakouts aren't by any stretch 'cured' I have successfully navigated the world of cleansers and exfoliants to find things that work for me (I mentioned these four cleansing products recently...), finding a moisturiser has continued to be a trial with lots of error.

Moisturiser for oily skin

So we'll start with a super epic fail.

Dermalogica Ultracalming Barrier Repair - Available here for approx £33
I was dubious when a beauticean was super keen for me to give this a go, mostly because it's packed full of oils. For me, this often leads to mass break outs and blackheads, and I wish I hadn't taken a 2 day trial as proof it would work.

Moisturising, yes. Nice barrier between my skin and city grime, yes. Amazing to apply make-up over, yes. Breakouts? By the million. It took 2 weeks to clear my skin back up again, and whilst you can read all kinds of science-y stuff about how adding oil to oily skin isn't a problem, it causes problems for me, without fail and I shall continue to roll with oil-free solution.

A side note- the one puzzling thing about this product is that it never made my skin feel greasy and although it's packed full of oils, it doesn't feel oily on the skin. It didn't work for me, but if you're not sensitive to oils, it's worth a look. Now to try and palm off the remaining 75% of this tube on someone!

Dermalogica Moisturisers

Dermalogica MediBac Clearing Mattifier - Available here for approx £39
Billed less as a moisturiser (best followed by their Moisture Control Lotion apparently) and more as a treatment, I was recommended it as an alternative to the above. Whether it helps to clear anything especially is difficult to tell, mostly because I'm so religious in my regimen of cleansing, exfoliating and toning.... but it certainly keeps my skin from being too greasy. My issue is that it doesn't moisturise for me at all. My aforementioned religious cleansing leaves me skin in need of a big drink, as does the wintery wind and cooler weather from being on my bike, this does not deliver. Based on needing 2 products rather than one (I have tried the lotion too) I decided it was a bit of a rip off, and although I'll be using the tube up as a night time product, I won't be replacing it.

Origins Zero Oil Moisturiser - Available here for approx £24
And so the quest continues. Something that moisturises effectively without leaving my skin greasy or causing it to break out. Origins is a brand I've not tried before, and I happened across this when searching a beauty website for something to try.

Origins have created a product that focuses on moisturising without promising much else and being oil free. I think I quite like the idea of pairing it back to basics, so two weeks in, I'm so far quite liking it. The combinations of mint and other herbs in this mean it's not one for those who don't like a medicinal scented product (personally, love it), but it does seem to do what it says on the tin. For the first time in a month, my skin doesn't feel tight or stiff, and I'm not suffering any exceptional break outs, so I'd say the oil-free thing is a winner.

Origins Zero Oil

Fitness Fix: Mountain Warehouse Winter Kit Review

Thursday, December 11, 2014

These products were NOT sent for review, this post is not sponsored. All news, views and reviews belong to yours truly & the products featured were purchased with my own hard earn cash.

Dude. Winter arrived briskly. I've spent the last month saying '...but it's NOT THAT COLD!' Except that this week it really kinda was. Cue realisation that I've lost my cycling gloves that have actual fingers and I only have one long sleeved baselayer t-shirt. Yeah. 

Mountain Warehouse Winter Review
Baselayer t-shirt & Gloves both Mountain Warehouse

It was therefore a relief to find when logging on, that Mountain Warehouse had a massive sale on and a further 20% off everything as well. I've talked about their activewear before, having been given some to review, but I don' think there's much higher praise than subsequently spending your own hard earned cash on more of it. Long story short: I liked it, I still like it.

So, the baselayer t-shirt was £12.50 on sale, less another 20% . A whole £10. It's long sleeved, it wicks, it comes in pink if that's your bag, but personally I love and much prefer the grey. It's thicker than I expected (a good thing) and it's not a skin tight fit, in fact it's rather flattering. No pictures of my in it though, because I was a hot mess when I got off the bike and realised I should probably have taken pictures.

MW Panna Base Layer Close Up

It's not earth shattering, but for £10, I can't help thinking it's tough to go wrong, and from experience of my other base layer, they wash and wear well over a period of time. In the end, I actually ended up with two of these, which probably tells you everything you need to know.

Side note: the sizing of the Mountain Warehouse gear is quite generous. I would normally need to size up in sports wear to fit my tits in, but a 12- my general top half size is a good and definitely not snug fit.

Now, the bike specific main event. I got quite excited about these, yes I know that probably means I need to get out more.

Reflective back of Cycle Gloves
Reflective Back

Gloves. Cycling gloves seem to range from expensive to hideously expensive, so I was quite please to see these at £14.99, and pay £11.99 for them. Not a bank breaker, and for a brand that most wouldn't associate with activewear or cycle kit, these gloves boast some pretty impressive and well considered features.

The reflective panel on the back is freakin genius. It's dark at both ends of the day, so anything extra I can do to be visible, including when indicating is the best thing ever. As lots of gloves do, they have toweling along the thumb, so if you wiper your face free of whatever is splashing against it, you don't scrape off half your skin and the palm is pretty good too. Minimal but sensibly place padding- I don't like my gloves to feel like cushions...., hard wearing suede style fabric, and I got a perfect range of movement.

Cycle Gloves Padding
The palm side

So far, so reasonable, but the best thing of all about these gloves....

Cycle Gloves Touch Screen

Those little chevrons on the thumb and index fingers. Those my friends, mean you can use touch screens whilst wearing them! Sounds minor, but so many brands bang on about how special they're gloves are and how pretty, but you can't use a screen with them- which means, no segment checking on Strava, no map checking on Google maps, no whatever it is you look at on the newer Garmin products....

For a sensible price you're getting a decent pair of gloves, with well considered features in a nice neutral colour. These are female specific, and a blue/black male version is available, but it looks as though the only difference is the way they're sized. A good find.

Chloe Likes To Eat: Tilapia with Roasted Vegetable

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's not that I don't like fish, but I don't eat it that much. Mostly, it's laziness- buying meat is easier, and I know what to do with it! When we received some Tilapia in a recent Hello Fresh box, I decided to mostly follow the recipe card for it. A reminder (since it was super quick and simple) that I should probably eat more fish.



The tilapia is coated in panko bread crumbs, bunged in the oven for about 15 minutes and the grilled for roughly 3-5 minutes. I served ours with a ton of roasted vegetables, because I like all the roasted vegetables, but I think the original recipe called for just peppers and courgettes. Side note: Peel brussel sprouts, cut them in half, shove in roasting tin, spray with lemon juice and a little salt, roast for 25-30 minutes. You'll never look at them the same way again!

A simple school night supper for us, but anything that takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook is only second to food from the slow cooker.