May Beauty

Body confidence. Something I am not feeling at the moment. I would love to be one of those women who embrace their pregnant bodies and all the stretch marks but right now, with 6 weeks left I feel pretty rank. My bump looks like a sack of spuds that is just hanging off me. My tummy is covered in stretch marks – I was really good with bio-oiling in my first pregnancy, during my second I got a bit cocky and lazy and as a result I am a stretch marked nightmare. I also had an umbilical hernia which was repaired after my second daughter was born so although I don’t have an outy this time, my tummy button is a little like a fried egg. I also have varicose veins everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. Really. I feel heavy, bloated and cumbersome. Now for a bit of positivity…..my skin looks good. I like my pregnancy freckles and I do look kinda glowy or that could be the sweat…..don’t get me started on the sweat. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€°πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

  • Drunk Elephant. Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser. Β£29.

My husband calls me an advertisers dream and unfortunately he is right. When Drunk Elephant first arrived in the UK I really wanted to try it mainly because of the packaging. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ The bold colours are just so eye catching. Then of course I read reviews and REALLY wanted to try it. I was a good girl and used up all my other cleansers, all the while looking at the pot of green loveliness that was waiting for me in the bathroom.

πŸ’šπŸ˜πŸ’šπŸ˜Good points…..

1. It has lasted ages so far….8 weeks and going strong.

2. Honestly does melt the makeup. Gets rid of waterproof mascara with no scrubbing and no irritation.

3. Leaves skin really soft.

4. Comes with a little vial of Bamboo Booster Grains to exfoliate.

5. The colour of the packaging. I πŸ’šthe green!!!

6. It comes with a funky, magnetic spatula thing. To be honest, I think this is a little gimmicky….I mean do we really need a spatula? Can’t we just gouge??? For those who aren’t gougers I’m sure it’s a good thing and magnets are cool.

Bad points…….

1. The smell of β€˜nothing.’ This is a pretty ridiculous bad point and hard to explain unless you have had an opportunity to smell the β€˜nothing.’ The lack of perfume prevents irritation but the smell of β€˜nothing’ is quite strong. 🧐🀨😊🧐🀨😊🧐🀨😊🧐🀨🀨⭐️🀨 In conclusion, I would definitely repurchase.

  • Clairol Root Touch Up. Β£4.99.

Brilliant. School run, pouring rain, Edie tells me I look β€œjust like a man.” She then softens the harsh brutality of her comment by saying that I look like β€œthe horrid boy from the wizard film.” She means Draco. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ She isn’t talking about my youthful 11 year old skin, she means my slicked back blonde hair. πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈ πŸ‘±πŸ½ πŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±πŸ½πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘±β€β™‚οΈπŸ‘±πŸ½πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘±β€β™€οΈThis brings me on to my topic….Being Blonde is a Ball Ache! First World Problems I know. As a child it’s ok. You never get to play Mary in the Nativity but you are often the 🌟 or Gabriel. I only started dying my hair in 2011. I just wanted a few highlights for my wedding. Little did I know the high maintenance life that would ensue. The colour options are numerous…honey, ashy etc. It’s a hard colour to wear when you look a bit pale and knackered. And the roots!!!!!! I tried to embrace the roots until a child asked my why I dye the top part of my hair black. Also, I’m not cool enough to be β€˜rooty.’ My hairdresser is totally brilliant but the reality is that blonde hair takes maintenance and I can’t be arsed. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ This Root Touch Up is my saviour. In between dye jobs I just chuck it on, wait 10 minutes and it looks better!!! It defo keeps the dye job going and blends really well with the colour my hairdresser uses.

  • Paula’s Choice Calm Exfoliant. Β£24.00.

I really love this stuff. Having children does weird things to you skin and I have definitely noticed that now my chin is pretty red. I was looking for something calming, hydrating and exfoliating and this definitely did the job. My glowing chin has definitely calmed down. It contains 1% salicylic acid which removes skin build up. I tend to use it in the morning and Pixi Glow Tonic at night and the quality of my skin has definitely improved beyond measure. Sun spots, red patches and pores are reduces and skin feels moisturised. Brilliant.

  • O’Keeffes Skin Repair Body Lotion. Β£5.99.

Thanks to my slack mumness, I am often guilty of shaving my legs with very old razors. Consequently, my legs are often red, itchy and sensitive. The sensitivity definitely gets exacerbated by warm, sweaty, summer nights. This body lotion is brill. Mega thick and if you put it on in the morning your skin still feels moisturised by the evening. Also the packaging is yellow…who doesn’t love yellow? Anyway for quality and value for money it’s top 🍌!

Coming up next month will be reviews of Rose Hibiscus Facial Spritz and Emerald Facial Oil both by Herbivore. They arrived today but I am going to give it a month or so so they can work their magic. So far I can tell you they smell beautiful.

Thanks for reading. See you in June. X

April Beauty

Woohoo. I have finished work. It is currently 8:02 am and I am leisurely walking the dog whilst contemplating brunch with my sister. I didn’t have a show last night so even though the 3 year old got into bed with us I don’t feel like death. Baby isn’t actually due until beginning of July but work has a holiday in a couple of weeks so I have been really lucky timing wise. My plans???? As every good pregnant woman will say “I plan to redecorate my whole house.” πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

  • Merumaya Mineral Cleansing Paste. Β£18.99.

Ooooooh I love a cleanser that leaves my skin feeling cleaner than a clean thing and this one does!

It contains Zinc for skin healing, magnesium which helps skin look stress and anti fatigue free….something I definitely need, copper which keeps skin supple, iron to give skin a glow (defo needed), silicon to help form collagen, corindon 100 which is a very fine powered to polish the skin and finally sweet almond oil to nourish and moisturise. What a list!!!! You can put it straight into dry skin to give a good deep cleanse or mix in a little water to dilute a bit. It is gentle enough that skin doesn’t feel tight or tingly but you do get that feeling of a good deep cleanse!!!

  • Everyday Oil. Dr Jackson. Β£62 for 50ml.

As a teen, I luckily escaped the misery of full on acne. I did however get a few spots before my period each month. I lived in fear of these pussy, red mountains so after cleansing twice a day with Clearasil I would lather on the Oxy10. Twice a week I would scrub my skin raw with Apricot Scrub and to finish this highly complex skin care routine, I would smear my eyelashes with Vaseline to ‘help them grow.’ My poor skin. No moisturiser, nothing nourishing or hydrating. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ˜±πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ As a grown up, I have gone to the other extreme and in my opinion you can’t hydrate enough. I bloody love an oil and this one is my current oil of choice. Branded as a unisex product (surely all products are unisex no?), the packaging is lovely and reminds me of those old-school apothecary bottles. Apparently it can be used on nails, skin and hair but in my opinion it too luxurious to waste on my nails and hair. This is a skin treat. It’s made with baobab and Marula oil which is really hydrating and also arnica (the stuff your mum put on your bruises) which helps to calm inflammation and irritation. In my opinion, the arnica is what makes this stuff special…..if you are someone who is prone to spots and steers clear of facial oils because of the fear your face will look like a chip pan….this is the oil for you. It’s absorbed really quickly and helps calm spots as a treatment. I use it after moisturising to seal in all the good stuff. It’s also apparently fab to use after shaving your beard. πŸ§” Brilliant buy. Give it a whirl.

  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Β£26.00.
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer. Travel Size Β£15.00.

So let’s talk about primers. Do you wear one? To be honest I never used to bother but now I am a bit of an addict. Putting foundation straight onto my face feels a bit weird. I tend to go for Korean brands…Erborian and Skin 79 make brilliant BB and CC creams but I was recently sent these two primers to review so I thought it was worth a shot. The combination of the fact that I work on stage and I am unashamedly a sweaty lady, mean that I need a primer that literally melds my make up to my skin. Both of these did and I didn’t need to reapply my foundation at all. They both cover my horrible open pores and feel really light when wearing. If I had to choose my fave it would be the Radiance Primer for quite a few reasons. Firstly, it is absolutely gorgeous to wear on its own….it provides light coverage whilst giving skin that healthy glow you see on 14 year olds after a game of netball. This is not a glow you often find on 37 year olds who are surviving on chicken nuggets and 5 hours of sleep a night! Remember that thing when you first slept with a bloke and you woke up before him to put on a layer of makeup to convince him you are still luscious even after a night of full on frolics???? Well this is the product you need. It makes you look better than normal with minimal effort. Secondly, it is packed with hyaluronic acid which I bloody love. Skin feels moisturised all day and you don’t get those annoying patches of uneven colour. You also feel that even though you are packing on the makeup, you are giving your skin a bit of a treat at the same time.

Thanks so much for reading and see you next month. X

March Beauty

Hi all. 3 completely wicked products this month. None of them crazy money and all completely fab.

  • The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. Β£11.20.

In my constant quest to look like I have had 8 hours sleep when in fact I have had 5, this stuff from The Ordinary is the business. 🀩🀩🀩πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€©πŸ₯³πŸ€© It’s cheap, it works and it lasts yonks. As with all peels, don’t go crazy…once, twice a week and don’t follow it with your glycolic toner, retinol serum etc. I read a review on Amazon of a lady who used it every night…I’m convinced she looks like Anjelica Huston in The Witches….sans mask! πŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈπŸ§™β€β™€οΈA couple of words of warning…………………

1. It tingles a little. Don’t be alarmed. Man up!

2. When the peel is on it looks like you have smeared your face in the blood of vestal virgins. Maybe don’t apply when there is any danger that the postman will knock at the door. This is without a doubt a nighttime ritual when the blinds are down and you are alone. ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ Anyway, it works. In fact I just did the school run without make up. Am still wearing massive πŸ•Ά – it doesn’t eliminate eye bags but my skin is clearer, sun spots reduced and open pores….what pores???

  • Hask Purifying Deep Conditioner with charcoal and citrus oil.
  • Boots. Β£2.99.

I have to admit that I am pretty good about maintaining my hair cut and colour. This shouldn’t really be a boast as since my amazing hairdresser has moved to Leeds, she hops on the megabus every 6 weeks (πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ🚍🚍🚍) and comes to London to do a handful of haircuts for clients. Brilliantly for me, this involves minimal effort. I can sit in my kitchen in my pjs, safe in the knowledge that my whole family are queuing up in a production line to get their hair done without leaving the comfort of our own home. Lazy, lazy, lazy. I actually live in fear for the day that will surely come when Elthia wakes up, wonders what the hell she is doing, decides not to board the megabus at 5 in the morning for a 6 hour journey and we never see her again. This day will happen and I will have stop being a lazy bitch and drag my family to a salon!

So, as I say, my colour and cut are always pretty up to date. The condition of my hair is unfortunately crap!!! I received this hair mask in a beauty box and it’s brill. Bloody everything has charcoal in nowadays doesn’t it? I was a little concerned before opening that it would stain my blonde hair but as you can see, it doesn’t really have a colour. It smells really citrusy which I love and is absolutely fine to use on coloured hair. I particularly like the fact that’s it’s purifying so it removes all the product build-up (a lot of dry shampoo and hairspray) and leaves my hair feeling baby soft and with a new lease of life! You can buy this little packet of Joy for just Β£2.99 from Boots. My hair is chin length and the packet has lasted 3 washes which is great. Defo worth a try.

    Kate McIver Secret Weapon Serum. Β£34.99.

Woohooo! Another beautiful product that works like a dream. Secret Weapon Serum by Kate McIver. 🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️🌟❀️In 2016, Kate was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Treatment left her skin dull and dry. Using her knowledge from her job in skin aesthetics, she decided to make a product that would give women their confidence back. πŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒπŸ™ŒThe Serum is oil based so it instantly feels hydrating and really pampering. It contains borage, rosehip and evening primrose which contain fatty acids to develop healthy skin. These 3 ingredients contain Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which encourages the production of collagen and elastin which fight wrinkles and encourage that β€˜well -rested-glow’ something I am always on the hunt for. All natural, no harsh chemicals and suitable for vegans. It’s honestly totally gorgeous and if your tired, dull, dehydrated skin needs a treat you should try it. πŸ’žπŸ’ž

Anyway thanks for reading. See y’all next month .

February reads.

Hi all. I think my reading this month has been pretty varied. The easier reads of Judy Blume and Penny Vincenzi have been balanced out by the Coetzee and Morrison which were pretty harrowing.

It is now the 1st March and I am embarking on the epic that is The Cider House Rules. This is one big ass book which will probably take me the majority of the month!!! πŸ™„

  • Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. 4⭐️.
  • J.M. Coetzee born 9th February 1940.

After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy’s isolated smallholding. 

For a time, his daughter’s influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.

If you had asked me my thoughts at the end of the first chapter, I would have told you that the book was destined for my charity shop bag. To say I hated the character of Lurie is is an understatement. I loathed this man. I found his relationship with his student utterly predatory and distasteful. I couldn’t bear the thought of committing my time to this individual for another 200 pages. It was the writing that made me persevere. Coetzee writes with a total lack of pretension which I loved. As the winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature, I was wrongly expecting flowery, writing. This is not the case and this in my opinion is the strength of the language. Coetzee does not waste words or sentences which I think makes the story even more brutal and immediate. The visceral writing, makes it impossible not to connect with the story.

I think I started to enjoy (if enjoy is the right word….it’s not) when David went to stay with his daughter on the farm. Throughout this section I softened towards the man I initially loathed. His relationships with his daughter, Bev and the animals were so interesting and bleak that I couldn’t fail to be moved.

I think this might be my first foray into South African literature and it definitely won’t be my last.

  • Then again maybe I won’t by Judy Blume. 3⭐️.
  • Just Blume born 12th February 1938.

Tony Miglione is thirteen, and his family lives in a cramped house in New Jersey. But then his Dad invents something that makes them rich, and they move to a luxury home in Long Island. But being rich brings it’s own problems – Tony’s Grandma feels useless when she doesn’t have to cook any more, and his mum is obsessed with impressing the neighbours, but Tony knows the boy next door isn’t as perfect as he looks. The only upside to his new life is that his neighbour Lisa keeps undressing with the light on. As he tries to adjust to his new life Tony starts to suffer from anxiety attacks and wishes everything would just be normal again.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t is a classic coming of age story from the boy’s perspective, from Judy Blume, the author of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Oh Judy, Judy, Judy. My first sex education teacher. The woman who taught my 11 year old friends and myself about wet dreams, hard ons, boobs, periods and …..RAPLH!!!! I remember break times at school with my friends, hiding under the stairs with a copy of BIG magazine, Just Seventeen and Forever. It was lucky one of us had an older sister so we could steal these epic bibles of sex education. I remember feeling scared, intrigued, disgusted and clueless. So clueless in fact, that when the tampon lady came to give us the talk I spent at least two occasions walking around with the tampon AND the cardboard applicator inserted…..really painful! You literally couldn’t pay me to go back to those days.

Reading Judy Blume as an adult and a mother of two girls stirs up as much emotion as was contained in my 13 year old self. Different though. It makes me appreciate the stress my parents must have gone through with me as a teenager. I was a bloody nightmare. Boys, boys, alcohol, boys. My 5 year old daughter is already chatting about boys. I think as punishment for my teenage years, I am destined to have a boy mad daughter….I just thought it would start later than 5!

I guess having read this book as a mother, and having wisdom and age on my side (😳), I can take some comfort in knowing that everything will be alright (touch wood). You can’t stop kids being interested in sex etc and neither should you. Hopefully, if you bring up your kids well, they will always have some kind of moral compass and not go too far off the rails. In this book, Tony is a great kid. Sure he spies on the next door neighbours daughter and raids the drinks cabinet but on the hole he comes off a lot better than his incredibly annoying mother. Having listened to this on audio I think I hated Mrs Miglione ten times more because of the reader’s screechy, high and slightly hoarse voice he used for all the women in the book. Mrs Miglione comes off as a weak, social climber, desperate to keep up with the Joneses. I was impressed how money didn’t change Tony. He had a strong sense of fairness and what is right and wrong. As teenagers go, I think he is pretty special.

I am left pondering what teenage boys today would think about this book. As a mother of 5 and 3 year old daughters, I have no contact with teenagers. I am left wondering if today’s teens would find Judy Blume a little dull. Due to social media, you tube, tv, computer games etc, I think kids grow up quicker now and are less shockable. I can’t imagine the teenage girls I pass on the school run, reading Forever under the stairs in lunch break.

  • Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. 3⭐️.
  • Lisa See born 18th February 1955.

Nineteen-year-old Joy Louie has run away from her home in 1950s America to start a new life in China. Idealistic and unafraid, she believes that Chairman Mao is on the side of the people, despite what her family keeps telling her. How can she trust them, when she has just learned that her parents have lied to her for her whole life, that her mother Pearl is really her aunt and that her real father is a famous artist who has been living in China all these years? 

Joy arrives in Green Dragon Village, where families live in crowded, windowless huts and eke out a meagre existence from the red soil. And where a handsome young comrade catches her eye… Meanwhile, Pearl returns to China to bring her daughter home – if she can. For Mao has launched his Great Leap Forward, and each passing season brings ever greater hardship to cities and rural communes alike. Joy must rely on her skill as a painter and Pearl must use her contacts from her decadent childhood in 1930s Shanghai to find a way to safety, and a chance of joy for them both. 

My slightly macabre fascination with Chinese history started when I was a child. I remember being on holiday and my mum was reading Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Mum read the section about foot binding to me. I remember being repulsed, terrified and fascinated all at the same time.

Since that fateful holiday in Javea I have read a lot of books about China. Lisa See is completely brilliant and I have loved everything she has written. Shanghai Girls was the first in this series of two books and I have to say that I enjoyed it slightly more than Dreams of Joy. The first book was more of a family saga, centered around the Pearl and May, sisters who travel from Shanghai to LA. The book spans the 1930s-1950s and deals with sibling relationships, immigration and racial prejudice.

Dreams of Joy centres around Pearl’s daughter, Joy. She leaves LA to return to Shanghai to search for Shanghai and join the Communist movement. Pearl follows her daughter and returns to the Shanghai of her childhood. The country is now under communist rule and is much changed. People are suspicious of eachother, food is scarce and everyone’s moves are monitored.

There definitely wasn’t as much action as Shanghai Girls and at times I felt it was all a bit slow but it’s definitely worth a read.

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison. 4⭐️.
  • Toni Morrison born 18th February 1931.

Terrible, unspeakable things happened to Sethe at Sweet Home, the farm where she lived as a slave for so many years until she escaped to Ohio. Her new life is full of hope but eighteen years later she is still not free. Sethe’s new home is not only haunted by the memories of her past but also by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

One of the things I have noticed since starting my mission to read books written by authors who were born or died in the month we are in, is that books are chosen because of the authors and not the content. This means I often have no idea what the books are about before I delve in. Of course I had heard of Beloved but I thought it was a story set on a slave plantation. Of course there are aspects of Sethe’s previous life on the plantation of Sweet Home but the book is also a ghost story and about how the characters have adapted to life since being released from slavery. The story is told in flash backs and through the memories of the main characters. The central event is Sethe murdering her own daughter rather than letting her be captured and returning to a life of slavery.

In writing the novel, Toni Morrison was inspired by the sad story of Margaret Garner. Garner escaped from slavery in 1856 and fled to Ohio which was a free state. She killed her own daughter rather than letting her be recaptured. When she was arrested, authorities didn’t know whether to try her for murder or desecration of property.

I have to admit that I preferred the flash back chapters to the chapters which involved the character of Beloved. Initially I found the magical realism element in a book about a subject as harrowing as slavery a little confusing. A couple of days ago I listened to a podcast with Toni Morrison who said that all the characters within the novel were trying to escape their past. Morrison wanted ‘the past to come in a sit at the kitchen table.’ This is definitely what happens with the character of Beloved and the question of whether she is a reincarnation of the murdered daughter doesn’t actually matter. Her arrival means that all the characters have to face their previous lives. I think this is what I found so heartbreaking….ultimately, all the characters are still wearing the shackles of slavery.

In the podcast, Morrison also talks about how a second reading of a novel is always richer. I am sure that without a doubt this would be true of Beloved. I am ashamed to say that I don’t think I could read it again. I found it so harrowing that I had to give myself a couple of days off. Hard though it was to get through however, I honestly don’t think I have ever been so moved by a book in my life.

  • Into Temptation by Penny Vincenzi.
  • Penny Vincenzi died 25th February 2018.

Power, politics and closely guarded secrets abound in INTO TEMPTATION, the third and final novel of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi’s Spoils of Time trilogy. ‘Like an illicit lover, I have been sloping off all week to snatch another hour’s pleasure with … Penny Vincenzi’s terrific new novel’ Jilly Cooper. For any reader of Elizabeth Buchan, Santa Montefiore or Harriet Evans, and for any fan of epics such as Downton Abbey.

The Lytton family past is full of secrets, and only Lady Celia knows them all. There’s her daughter Adele’s difficult, dark past; the dreadful cruelty of a truth her son Kit had to confront; even the shadows of Celia’s own life, and that of Barty Miller, the child she rescued from the slums in babyhood who now owns more than half of the Lytton publishing house. Some secrets are more dangerous than others, some shared with Celia’s family, some entirely her own. And all absolutely safe in her keeping. Until something threatens to reveal them all…

Are you ever guilty of judging a book by its cover? Are you ever guilty of making rash judgements about books based on an author’s name or genre. Without a shadow of a doubt this is something I am 100% guilty of but I am also someone who can admit they were wrong. Penny Vincenzi, I owe you an apology.

I first came across Vincenzi’s books when I was in secondary school. I had a good friend whose mum always had one on the go. I remember they would be 800 page door stops with terrible covers – women pictured in profile, often wearing a large, glamorous hat, Penny’s name picked out in gold, raised font. I remember thinking ‘my mum doesn’t read books that look like that.’ Chick lit I thought. 800 page books about women who were looking for a man, thinking about their weight and what to wear.

Two years ago a friend bought me The Spoils of Time trilogy. I must admit, I was appalled: you want me to read Penny Vincenzi???? Author of middle-aged chick lit???? Nope, nope, NOPE!

The books sat on my bookshelf for about six months. I then decided to try the first one, No Angel (πŸ˜±πŸ™„πŸ˜„bloody awful title). I’ll try the first 100 pages and then as I will probably hate it, I can take the whole trilogy to Oxfam and reclaim a large chunk of my bookshelf. The shocker came when I didn’t hate it. In fact I really enjoyed it. What’s not to love. A family saga set in the most interesting time in British history. The women weren’t man hungry nymphos. Celia Lytton is a strong, modern woman. Ok, yes, there’s the odd affair but this is in no way a soppy, romantic love story.

I am now nearly finished the last book in the trilogy.…Into Temptation (πŸ˜±πŸ€£πŸ™„ another shit title). Whilst reading on the tube this morning, this book actually made me cry!!! I usually pride myself on being a bit of an emotional desert….I cannot believe Vincenzi made me cry. I am torn between being a little embarrassed and wanting to become a massive Vincenzi cheerleader.

Anyway Penny, I apologise for my misgivings about your books. The Lyttons will always have a fond place in my heart….I do think a Lady Celia would have been utterly appalled by your titles and covers however!!!

Anyway, that’s all for this month folks. Sorry for the rather eclectic choice of books.

See you next month and thank you so much for reading .

January and February Beauty Saviours.

Hi all. Can’t believe we are about to start March?!?!? I am just willing the next couple of months to go quickly. I finish work in April and I’m just going to enjoy being pregnant for the third and last time and finally spending some time with my kids and husband. I feel I have been a little absent since Christmas.

Anyway onto the products….apologies for lumping Jan and Feb together but there are some goodies!!!!

  • Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Body Buff. Β£21.00
  • I felt we needed a sunshiney product for this miserable January. Things don’t get more sunny than this body scrub. For starters it’s yellow. Really yellow. Turmeric yellow….you might need to give the shower a little wash down after using….but it’s worth it. You can either use it on wet skin as a scrub or put it on dry skin and wait for 10 mins…like a mask. If you go down the mask route, defo lock yourself in the bathroom….don’t walk round the house naked like a weird, gritty, yellow monster. After washing off, all that miserable winter skin is gone and you are all glowy and smooth.
    • Pick Glow Tonic. Β£18.00 for 250ml.

    As a self confessed product junkie, I am definitely guilty of sometimes over-doing the whole skin care routine. I remember having a bit of a game changing facial when I was in my mid twenties and the therapist basically told me off for piling my sensitive skin with too many products in the hope one of them would rid me of spots. This was back in the day before hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid and retinol became the beauty buzz words. As a mum of two with a third on the way, I am an advertisers dream. If a product promises younger looking, glowing skin, it is snapped up. Around Xmas time, I decided my poor skin needed a break. It, like myself was stressed, spotty and miserable. Since January, I have pared it down. Just a cleanse, tone and moisturise….like the good old days. No peels, no heavy duty serums and only a once a week face masque. Going cold turkey is miserable for the product junkie in me, but my skin is breathing a sigh of relief. It also makes it much simpler to work out which products are working and which aren’t.

    The Pixi Glow Tonic is an game changer. A product that definitely lives up to the hype. Gentle enough to use twice a day, not too harsh and people have commented how good my skin looks. Completely brilliant. Mums, dads, people with no work/life balance….this is the product you have been waiting for!!!

    • Weleda Skin Food. Β£11.20 Amazon.

    Stressed? Who me???? Cue wide-eyed look, tearing at hair, slightly like Bertha Mason locked in the attic. Actually, right now, the thought of being locked in an attic sounds heavenly.

    Right now, it is the Thursday of half term. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant with my third child. This pregnancy is ridiculously stressful as I lost a pregnancy at this stage in August 2018. This week has been spent rushing into work to rehearse Merry Widow which opens next week, rushing home to spend some time with the kids then rushing back to work to either do Akhnaten or Boheme. Stressed is not the word. I am Bertha Mason. I feel like I am juggling too many balls and dropping all of them. My skin has taken a total battering. Make-up on, make-up off. I am getting through a serious amount of cleanser and wipes.

    When my skin gets stressed and tired I get horrid, little bumpy spots around my jaw line. It’s hard to resist the compulsion I had as a teenager to just barter them with products that ultimately are going to make it worse. This is where Skin Food comes in. Just cleanse, tone and put this stuff on. It’s pretty thick so a tube will last a while. I think you can also get a lighter version. It smells slightly medicinal…which helps to convince me that it knows what it’s doing. None of your pink, flowery smells here!!! I’m currently storming into work, letting it work its magic…already I can feel my jaw-line-enemies retreating.

    Seriously, busy, stressed people….buy it!

    • Omorovica Balancing Moisturiser. Β£85.00.

    Yikes!!! I have to admit that when I was gifted this product I had no idea it was quite so expensive. I definitely do not have the cash to spend Β£85 on ANY product but if I did I would buy this without question. It smells AMAZING. Beautiful lavender which immediately adds to the luxury factor. I can honestly say that I look forward to putting it on just because of the beautiful, calming smell. As a day time moisturiser it keeps shine at bay, keeps my foundation clinging on and clears up my spots. My skin looks tons clearer and the dreaded pores look smaller. I am also wearing it at night but sealing it with a bit of facial oil for an added hit of moisture.

    Really beautiful product. Unfortunately, I don’t think my maternity pay will allow me to repurchase but I can dream.

    Anyway, until next month. Thank you for reading. X

    December Beauty

    Well tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and to be honest I am well over the Crimbo Limbo. It’s a funny old time of year isn’t it??? I am well happy to kiss goodbye to 2018 which in many ways has been a bit of a shitter but I am a little scared of what 2019 will bring. I mean January?!?! What is that month about?!?!? Does anyone like January?!?!?

    My hopes for 2019???? A cure for my crater like open pores and maybe just maybe I will embark on some Botox. Maybe. I’m not sure. Maybe .

    • Sand and Sky Australian Pink Clay Mask. Β£39.99

    There has been a ton of hype surrounding this product. By hype I mainly mean that each and every time I log onto FB the adverts come up practically begging me to buy it. My husband calls me an advertisers dream. To be honest, if a product promises to reduce my pores then it’s bought.

    As ever, I embark on products like these completely believing that it will change my life. I’ve now been using it 2-3 times a week since October. The little pot has lasted really well, mainly I think due to the brush you use to paint it all over your face. I bloody love the ritual of using the brush over my face…..the lack of mess is brilliant. The mask tingles a bit and dries very quickly. The flannel/sponge thing takes it off beautifully and my skin looks glowing and clear after removing. Are my pores reduced???? So, having become a bit of a product queen in the last couple of years, I wonder if the open pore holy grail exists. Maybe I am actually needing a miracle. After using this, my pores aren’t massively reduced but this is a bloody good mask that leaves my skin feeling thoroughly cleansed and looking lovely. I will continue my quest for the grail but I have a feeling I will definitely repurchase this product.

    If there was any product that has changed my 2018 it is hyaluronic acid. I wish I had discovered it years ago, maybe I would still look like a 16 year old. So, over the past few months I have used 3 bottles of hyaluronic acid serum. Hands down the best was Pestle and Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum Β£36/30ml. The consistency of this was the thickest out of the three and therefore the product just felt more substantial. I used it twice a day and my skin immediately looked plumper, more refined, glowing and felt like velvet. The Poppy Austin Hyaluronic Acid Serum Β£15.49 for 60ml, although being really good value was my least favourite. It seemed to work well but for me, the consistency was just too thin and watery. That being said, for those among you who like a product to be pretty much immediately absorbed, this could be the one for you. For me however, I like to feel that I am getting a little more bang for my buck.

    The Viola Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid is the cheapest of the bunch at Β£6.85. Although cheap, I have been really pleased with this product. Skin feels hydrated and looks plumped. The addition of Vitamin C has helped to fade the pigmentation I developed in my last pregnancy. Nice consistency too. I mean for Β£6.85 I can’t really complain!!!

    Right off I trot to walk the dog. I am trying to do more daily exercise to avoid getting back on the anti depressant wagon. Not 100% sure it’s working but I’m going to persevere.

    I hope you all have a great night tomorrow and a fabulous, wrinkle free, clear skinned 2019.

    November Beauty

    Where the hell has November gone????? It seems like Bonfire Night was yesterday. This month has been utterly crazy and the image of me on a hamster wheel definitely springs to mind. We have opened 3 shows in the last month and at the moment we have shows every night. As a self confessed product whore, I have to say I feel a little make-upped-out and I would definitely benefit from 3 consecutive days of not smearing it all over my face. Anyway Christmas is coming and during that happy time when everyone is piling on the glitter and shimmer, my poor husband is going to have to gaze at my make-up free face….poor bastard.

    • Patchology Flashmasque.

    I was really pleased to receive these sheet masques from Patchology which is a company I had never heard of but stock in Space NK. You can buy them individually for Β£8 or a pack of 4 costs Β£28. The great thing is that each masque targeted a specific problem and the BEST thing is that they claim to work in only 5 minutes. This is perfect for me as sheet masques and I usually aren’t the greatest of mates. I very rarely (never) make time to just lie down with a masque on for 15 mins so a 5 min fix definitely had me intrigued.

    • Milk Peel.
  • This contains coconut and soy milk to moisturise, and soothing papaya, grapefruit and pineapple enzymes. Don’t let the word ‘peel’ put you off as it is suitable for sensitive skin. I really liked it. Skin looked glowy and felt moisturised after use and literally only 5 minutes!!!!!! There is tons of product on the masque so afterwards you can rub it in. I did it last thing at night and my skin looked great the next day.
    • Soothe
  • Contains aloe vera and cotton seed extract to calm inflamed skin and a lovely combination of lavender, rosemary and sage to soothe irritations. I kept thinking when I was using this that it would be wonderful straight out of the fridge onto sunburned skin .
    • Hydrate
  • So, as a bit of a beauty junkie I am slightly embarrassed to say that my discovery this year has been hyaluronic acid. How had I not used it before??? Shaming. Anyway if something contains it, I buy it. This masque is full of it and vitamin B5. I probably kept this on for about 15 mins: mum of two, full on job….I need all the help I can get right?!?!? Immediate results after using to the point that I almost felt tempted to take my primark pjs off and go out on the rave. Came to my senses pretty quickly but my skin felt like a baby’s bum (a clean one) and looked dewy and healthy.
    • Illuminate
  • Contains Licorice and grapefruit seed extract. Probably my fave out of the bunch. Honestly these masques are saturated with product to the point that they drip…really lovely. Skin looked glowing and hydrated after use and I actually had some comments!!!!
    • Skin Brilliance and Skin Revive by Beauty & Go. Β£3.99/bottle.

    When I was asked to review these drinks from beautyandgo I admit to being a little sceptical. Would it be different than all the other β€˜healthy’ juices out there??πŸ₯€πŸ₯€πŸ₯€πŸ₯€πŸ₯€πŸ₯€

    I think maybe they might be. I tried REVIVE and BRILLIANCE. Both tasted good, particularly having been in the fridge but BRILLIANCE tasted of Turkish delight which was particularly lush.

    They contain ingredients such as collagen, vitamin C and hyaluronic (honestly this stuff is everywhere at the moment) and aim to hydrate and combat wrinkles.

    Ok, so I only had two and the idea is to have 1 a day but I am definitely going to pop into Boots on my way to work and grab one of these instead of my usual Starbucks.

    Defo worth a try.

    • Max Factor Radiant Lift Foundation. Β£14.99.

    I frequently use Nars, Clinique and Mac foundations and this foundation stands up to any of these brands. I work in the theatre and this foundation lasted for a whole rehearsal and a show. The coverage was great, didn’t sink in my pores and made my skin look glowy and radiant.

    • Max Factor Radiant Lift Concealer. Β£9.99.

    I loved the colour and consistency of this concealer. It was light enough not to sit, clogged in my fine lines but also did a great job at concealing my dark circles. My issue is with the applicator as I think it is imprecise and really wasteful. I have been using this concealer for a week now and already the tube is almost empty.

    Thanks for reading this month and ask for some Hyaluronic Acid serum from Father Christmas.