Self Care Sunday 11th February

This week was one of those weeks. I woke up on Monday morning with yet another sinus infection, this time accompanied by a sore throat. I felt so rotten that by lunchtime I had come home from work and was curled up on the sofa eating comfort food. I always crave baked beans and cheese when I am not well. Usually I would have it with mash but as I have been back on the Bodycoach plan there wasn’t a potato to be found in the house, so I had to make do with toast instead. It’s funny how our body craves certain foods when we are ill isn’t it? My husband is a little healthier than me and will normally tuck into bananas when he is not well. What about you? What is your comfort food of choice?

I have been suffering for about six weeks with ongoing sinus infections and headaches. I think it is a virus I picked up on the plane home from Portugal. As I first got ill two days after flying home from our Christmas holiday. The diffuser and eucalyptus oil I bought in early January has been a godsend and has been working overtime.

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser and Mystic Eucalyptus Essential Oil both from Amazon

I spent the next two days at home curled up on the sofa. Working, writing up my assignments and watching box sets. My favourite at the moment is Life in Pieces which can be found on Amazon Prime. Each episode consists of four short stories based on different members of one extended family. It is very lighthearted and funny. I can highly recommend it. I can also recommend the remake of Dynasty on Netflix. It is a little trashy but very addictive and it definitely something you can totally switch off to.

On Wednesday I was cheered up when February’s Birchbox arrived. I have only been receiving these beauty boxes since November, when my husband bought me an annual subscription for my Birthday. I have been pretty impressed with the products I have received so far and they have helped me in my quest for self-care. I have only tried one of the products in this month’s 1970’s themed box. The Laqa and Co Blush & Highlighter. I wore it to work on Thursday, not that I needed any additional colour on my cheeks as the sinus infections have played havoc with my skin. But it gave a lovely dewy peach shimmer to my skin.

Birchbox UK Beauty Box subscription £10.00 per month plus delivery charge.

I went back to work for the last two days of the week, even though I still wasn’t 100% as I had a lot of work to do before the end of term. I did manage to escape early Friday though which meant I had time for a mini facial at home using some of my favourite Liz Earle products. I try to have at home facial every week but I have neglected this the last couple of weeks due to spending all my time studying and finishing the assignments for my Diploma of School Business Management. My quick facial routine consists of cleansing with Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish before applying one of the face masks. This week I opted for the Brightening Treatment Mask but I also like the Nourishing Mask too. After removing the mask with hot water and a muslin cloth I wipe my skin with the Instant Boost Skin Tonic before applying the Superskin Concentrate for Night. If you want to try any of these products pop over to Liz Earle. There are always special offers on the website. 

I felt a little better on Saturday morning, in time for a trip to London in the wind and rain to meet up with two of my Instagram friends, Liz & Alex. We spent a few hours at The Ivy City Garden where we enjoyed afternoon tea and champagne. It was lovely and such good value for money. The place is amazing. Definitely worth a visit. We are planning a return trip in the Summer so we can sit out in the garden area.

I made the most of being out out and arranged to meet my husband back in Kent for drinks. It was the first time we had been out of our Village for a night out since the beginning of January,. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and a little boogie and got home just after midnight.

The ruffle jumper I am wearing here is a recent purchase from very.co.uk and cost £14 in the sale. It also comes in red, which I am very tempted to buy.

I woke this morning feeling a little dehydrated but fortunately not hungover. We popped into town early to pick up some shopping and grab a full english breakfast at what I call the “proper” cafe. After a few chores at home I found the time for a little more pampering. My skin has been neglected recently and I am looking about 100 at the moment. I used both of these products, which are total opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of cost. The Elemis Frangipani Body Oil is a luxurious treat for the body. And it smells divine. It costs £37 and can be purchased here. The Lacura Soy Restorative Serum costs only £2.79 in Aldi and is just as good. I first used this serum last Summer when my skin was dry from the effects of the warm weather. When I finished the bottle I didn’t bother repurchasing as my skin was in good condition. But today I grabbed another bottle while I was picking up my weekly fruit and veg shop. I am hoping that it will help restore my skin condition and give me back a little radiance. It just goes to show though that the cheaper beauty products are just as good and you don’t need to spend a fortune.

I spent the rest of the day camped out on the sofa. Although I have struggled to find any me time this week. My husband and I have made sure that we are continuing with our couples self-care. This weeks selection from our Self Care jar was to cook a nice meal together. We cheated a little and bought the M&S Valentines Meal for Two for £20. It didn’t actually cost us anything as we had a M&S Voucher. We have bought this meal deal for the last two years. We never have it on Valentines Day as we don’t celebrate it. We both feel that we dont need one day of the year to appreciate each other as we do it all year round.

The meal we chose was amazing, Restaurant quality. We picked the runny scotch egg for starter and the rump steak with peppercorn sauce and potato rosti’s for main and side. I cooked some spinach and mushrooms which I had in the fridge.

The dessert was out of this world, a raspberry and prosecco bomb. I can’t event describe how tasty this was. One really wasn’t enough. We did leave the little box of chocolates for another day but obviously we managed to polish off the bottle of Rose Cava that came with the deal.

So the end of the week was much better than the beginning. It’s half term this week and I only have to work two days so I am planning on making the most of having some time at home to relax and recharge my batteries. I am planning lots of self-care. A few beauty treats, writing blog posts and reading some of the books I received for Christmas. We have no plans to go out but next week’s couples time is Board Game Night. So we will probably get a takeaway and a bottle of wine for our Saturday night at home. All we have to do now is decide which board game to play…. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Othello or Monopoly.

I hope you all have a great week and manage to find some time to yourself. If you are celebrating Valentines Day I hope you are spoilt rotten. And for those of you at home with the kids, I hope it is not too stressful.

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

 

Jazzing up black at Christmas

I love Christmas. I enjoy decorating the house with glittery ornaments and fairy lights. There is nothing that gives me greater pleasure than giving presents to the ones I love and I love getting together with friends and family for drinks and good food.

But there is one thing about Christmas that I have always found somewhat stressful. Dressing for all the different Christmas events. I know for some people this is a relatively easy task. If you like all things sparkly, shimmery and full of sequins there is plenty of choice on the high street and online. Also easy too if you are a dress person as there always seems to be twice as many lovely dresses in the shops at this time of year.

But what if you are like me. I am not a dress person and I really don’t suit anything remotely sparkly (I have tried and I just can’t carry it off). Wherever I look, in the shops or on social media, everyone is pushing sequins, lace, body hugging dresses and a variety of colours that resemble baubles on a Christmas tree. Everything that is so not me.

I prefer a understated style. And for a night out I love the colour black. But black at this time of year screams bah humbug, boring, party pooper. And believe me I am none of those things. I just like the simplicity of a black outfit.

In recent years it has not been too much of a problem as I have only had a couple of events to attend over Christmas. But this year we have become more sociable in our new surroundings and so I have a lot more events to go to including my work Christmas do, a neighbours house party, drinks with friends, a family Christmas get together and a meal out with my son’s girlfriend’s family (it will be the first time we are meeting so I need to make a good impression). And finally a New Years Eve party at our local pub.

I am quite excited to be so sociable this Christmas and I want to look fabulous. So I have been looking at ways in which I can jazz up a plain black outfit without breaking my no spend challenge. I have a little birthday money put to one side so I can purchase a couple of small statement pieces but I need to be inventive and use what I have in my wardrobe.

So here are my outfit ideas for the Christmas period. Most of the items listed are very affordable. All but one of these outfits can be put together for less than £100. I don’t know about you but because I don’t wear dressy items very often I begrudge spending a fortune on things that will hardly ever been worn.

Work Christmas Meal
Work Christmas Meal – Total Cost £98.49

This will be the first big work Christmas do I have been to for a number of years. We are going to a local hotel for a meal, entertainment and late disco. Although, as I am Senior Management, I will be leaving at the start of the Disco so the rest of the staff feel comfortable enough to let their hair down. I’m not sure they want me there when things start to get messy. I will be wearing a version of the above next Thursday night.

  • Black leather look Midi Skirt (mine is old from Next) similar here at Asos £45.00
  • Red Ruffle Sleeve Blouse – Matalan £16.00
  • Black Vamp Shoes – boohoo.com £20.00
  • Leopard Print Clutch – boohoo.com £14.00
  • Black Earrings – These are old from boohoo.com similar here at New Look for £3.49
  • Neighbour's House Party
    Neighbour’s House Party – Total Cost £89.97

Dressing for a house party is a little easier for me as I feel more comfortable in jeans and a tee. But the addition of a little sparkle and some velvet turns a casual outfit into the perfect party outfit.

  • Stradivarius Skinny Jean With Ripped Hem – Asos £21.99
  • Red Christmas Slogan Tee – Matalan £6.00
  • Black Velvet Jacket – H&M £29.99
  • Red Glittery Court Shoes – H&M was £17.99 now £11.49
  • Embellished Star Clutch – Asda £14.00
  • Gold Star Hoop Earrings – Top Shop £6.50
Drinks with Friends
Drinks with Friends – Total Cost £90.99

I love wearing black coated jeans on a night out. They are so comfortable and can be dressed up or down. I have two pairs from Noisy May. Both a couple of years old. One pair is a little “rock chick” with several zips on them and the other pair is slightly glittery and perfect for a night out. If you are happy to spend a little extra a faux fur jacket would look great with this outfit and there are some gorgeous pale pink ones around at the moment to complement the black and fuschia.

  • Black Mid Rise Coated Jeans – F&F at Tesco £16.00
  • Black Plumeti Blouse – H&M £12.99
  • Fuschia Court Shoes – M&S £35.00
  • Black Bird Print Clutch – Next £24.00
  • Black & Pink Long Tassel Earrings – Primark £3.00
Family Get Together
Family Christmas Get Together – Total Cost £96.49

We are away for Christmas so will be having our family “Christmas Day” at my house in the New Year with my children, their partners and my parents. It will probably include a walk after lunch to our local pub so I need something that is comfortable but also stylish enough to wear out. I think loose fitting trousers are the perfect answer whether they be palazzo pants, cigarette trousers or smart joggers and teamed with a teeny bit of sparkle and/or animal print they won’t look too boring.

  • Black Ribbed Velour Palazzo Trousers – George at Asda t £14.00
  • Black Blouse with Metallic Neckline – La Redoute £44.00 with current 20% discount
  • Leopard Print Ankle Boots – These are old from Zara, similar here at Tesco £25.00
  • Gold Glitter Envelope Clutch – F&F at Tesco £10.00
  • Black Earrings – These are old from boohoo.com similar here at New Look for £3.49
New Years Eve Party
New Years Eve Party – Total Cost £99.46

This year we are going to our local pub along with some of the regulars who have become good friends over the last 18 months since we moved to the Village. Everyone will be dressing up and I know that many of the ladies will be wearing sequins. Whilst I am not comfortable in full on sparkle I am happy to add a little bling in the form of statement footwear. I saw a friend in a pair of silver glittery ankle boots from Aldo the other day, she was wearing them with a pair of jeans and a dark grey blazer and she looked fabulous. I haven’t decided whether I am going to give in and buy these yet. I don’t want to break my spending ban, so I may just bling up a pair of old black ankle boots that are lurking in the back of my wardrobe with some silver glittery spray paint.

  • Black Coated Leggings – Matalan £12.00.
  • Silver Camisole – H&M £19.99
  • Black Tuxedo Jacket – H&M £39.99
  • Silver Glittery Ankle Boots – New Look was £34.99 now £17.49
  • Mustard Envelope Clutch – New Look £9.99

 

Meal Out with Son’s Girlfriends Family – Total Cost £128.98

Early in January my Son is leaving the UK for an eight month deployment in the Middle East. We are not throwing a leaving party for him but instead we are going out for a meal with him, his girlfriend and her parents. We have booked a very nice Italian restaurant and it will be the first time we have met. I want to wear something I feel comfortable in but that also looks great. So I will be opting for a black faux leather pencil skirt and dressy jumper with statement shoes. How fabulous are these shoes. I will not be buying these but I am thinking of revamping an old pair of black court shoes that I never wear with some coloured gems to recreate this look.

  • Black Faux Leather Pencil Skirt – River Island £30.00
  • Black Lace Balloon Sleeve Jumper – New Look £22.99
  • Black Multi Gem Court Shoes – Top Shop £59.00
  • Mustard Envelope Clutch – New Look £9.99
  • Yellow Bead & Tassel Drop Earrings – Top Shop £7.00

So there is my round up of Christmas outfits. Not a dress in sight and very little in the way of sequins or sparkle. I am now actually looking forward to getting dressed up for my many events. I hope you all enjoy whatever events you have planned over Christmas and I am sure you will all look amazing. I would be interested to hear what you are planning to wear though. I am always looking for inspiration.

I now have a holiday wardrobe to plan. Six days/nights in the Algarve and I am only taking carry on luggage. Now that is definitely going to be a challenge!

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

 

Shopping My Wardrobe – Week 4 


I started the week with the worst cold ever. Unfortunately I didn’t have the option of taking any time off work to recover as I had a couple of members of my team off work. Plus the week leading up to half term is always extra busy and this week was no exception.

This week was all about the black ankle boot. Throughout the week I wore four different pairs. All two or three years old.


Monday – I made no effort at all this morning. I felt so ill I only just made it out of bed. They always say when in doubt wear black. So that’s what I did. Black shift dress, black tights, black blazer and black ankle boots. All from Next. I did add a couple of pearl beaded necklaces, so it didn’t look too much like I was going to a funeral.

Tuesday – Getting dressed was a real effort again this morning. I felt so tired and really didn’t have any enthusiasm for anything including chosing my outfit. I grabbed the first thing I saw when I opened my wardrobe, which happened to be a Red Pencil Skirt (Warehouse) which I teamed with a simple breton top and black blazer (both La Redoute) and black ankle boots from Next.


Wednesday – I felt a little better and picked an old favourite stripe linen shirt to wear (Next). I haven’t worn this shirt to work before as I normally wear it with jeans but today I teamed it with a Navy wrap skirt (Next) and Tan suede ankle boots (Joe Browns).

Thursday – Slowly feeling normal again and decided to wear something a little snazzy to work. This Wallis palm print pencil skirt has a split up the front. Not altogether appropriate for wearing in a Primary School so I turned it around so that it was much less revealing with the split up the back. I added a simple cream tee with lace trim (HM), a black blazer (Next) and Clarks black suede ankle boots.


Friday – I made it to the last day of term in one piece. It has been a tough seven weeks. Most of which I spent recovering from a serious ankle injury which I incurred on the first day of term. The weather is on the turn and it has definitely turned cooler. I decided I wanted to wear something bright today so I teamed my Grey trousers (LA Redoute) with an old 3/4 sleeve hot pink jumper (Next) and Black studded ankle boots (River Island). I did take a grey tweed blazer (Next) to work today although I didn’t end up wearing it. I always try to have one in the office as I never know when I might get called into a meeting with other school leaders or parents.


Initial plans for the weekend were to stay indoors, taking a well earned rest and hiding away from Storm Brian. I ended up venturing out of the house twice.  First an early morning walk to our local Co-op to stock up on beer, wine and chocolate. I ventured out without make-up and threw on the first pair of jeans that came to hand (old Primark), a simple black tee (Next) and blush chunky cardigan (Primark). Later in the day the husband and I decided we fancied a drink in our local pub. So I threw on a pair of skinny jeans (Next), a bright pink jumper (La Redoute) biker boots (Next) and Parka from La Redoute (my last purchase in September before starting this challenge). We battled against the wind for the ten minute walk and found the pub unusually empty. We didn’t expect to stay long but an hour after we arrived a couple of friends walked through the door so we ended up staying until closing time and grabbing a chicken kebab on the walk home. Not exactly the healthiest of days but it doesn’t hurt once in a while!


Due to the late night possibly one too many Saturday night I did not feel my best when I got up Sunday morning. It took a couple of hours to get moving. But after a shower, a couple of cups of coffee and a good breakfast I felt better. With no plans to go anywhere I spent the day in loungewear, which actually consisted of an old jersey jumpsuit that was very nearly sent to the charity shop. I bought it online from Littlewoods a couple of years ago to wear on my honeymoon. But now that I am two dress sizes smaller it is a little big. I rescued it from the charity bag back in August when I decided to take it to Summer Camp to sleep in. It is so comfortable that I am now wearing it around the house either with a vest top underneath or like today a tee thrown over the top (long sleeve stripe tee from HM). The only downside is the fact that you have to practically strip to go to the toilet. Probably best not to drink too many cups of tea when wearing !!

So that was the run down of my week. One of the most tiring I have had for a long time. I am looking forward to half term next week. I am working three days but I still get plenty of extra time at home. I really don’t mind popping into school to work in the holidays as I can get so much done with no teachers and children around. I can also wear casual clothes to so expect to see plenty of denim in next weeks outfit posts.

I hope you all have a good week.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxx

Shopping My Wardrobe – Week 3

I started the working week sore and bruised and wearing the ankle brace once again after my little slip in the rain on Saturday night. And before you ask it was before the party so I can’t even blame alcohol !!

Just when I had started enjoying working my way through my collection on ankle boots I was back in trainers for the first three days of the week.


Monday – Floral is not something I find easy to wear. I can get away with it if it onkly makes up a small part of my outfit and is a bold colour. This dress from HM is perfect for me. A short shift dress, with pockets with bold pink and purple flowers on a black background.  I had to wear it today with black trainers but normally I would wear with black ankle boots.

Tuesday – One of my favourite outfits of the week. The whole outfit is Next and all a couple of years old. The trousers are so flattering. The trainers I wore today complimented the colour of the shirt and I received a number of compliments on my outfit today.


Wednesday – A day out of the office today at another School Business Manager conference in London. I opted for smart casual and rediscovered my love for these dark denim, high waisted straight leg jeans from Next. They are just so flattering. Mine are a couple of years old but you can still buy them from Next here.  The navy star print pussy bow blouse received lots of compliments on my Instagram post. I bought it from La Redoute earlier in the year. It is one of those items that just looks so much more expensive than it was. I wore trainers again but to stop the outfit looking too casual I added a navy blazer (Next) and nude shawl (Matalan). It also made for the perfect day to night outfit as after my conference I met up with my little sister for drinks in the City.

Thursday – Not much thought went into this outfit, tired and a little hungover meant that I just wanted something simple and comfortable to wear. Grey Trousers and Navy Tee (La Redoute) and Navy blazer from the day before. I added a blue snake skin pattern belt to just add a little pizazz to the outfit. I bought two of these belts in the Next Summer Sale. The other is yellow and they are a cheap way to add a little interest to plain outfits.


Friday – The end of a long tiring week and Friday the 13th called for the colour Red. This Blazer from La Redoute was one of my best buys in recent months. It is the statement colour of this season so I know I will get plenty of wear out of it.  The pussy bow blouse is a couple of years old from Next. The black slim tuxedo trousers (La Redoute) have a satin stripe down the side.  They are my “go to” work trousers and the ankle grazer length means they are perfect to wear with ankle boots such as my favourite “Chloe” dupes from Next.

I was so happy to get to the end of this week. I felt a cold coming on but that didn’t stop the husband and I popping to the local pub for our weekly catch up. A quick change after work into old favourite distressed girlfriend jeans. In fact the first pair of ripped jeans I bought four years ago from River Island. Recent La Redoute Burgundy Trainers and an old sparkly ombre jumper from Next. I added a quilted jacket with faux fur trim (Next) which I bought when we moved out to the countryside as we now walk everywhere and a heavy wool coat or leather biker doesn’t quite work.


For most of the weekend I didn’t even bother to get dressed. I was floored by a rotten cold so spent most of the time snuggled up on the sofa in my pjs. Both bought from Primark years ago. I don’t spend alot of money on nightwear or lounge clothes because I am slightly clumsy and inevitably I end up either spilling food down myself or covering myself in biro when I am working or studying. But I do like a good pair of socks and have two pairs of cashmere socks in pink and grey which were a Christmas present last year.

So this week I rediscovered my love for a straight leg. I found them to be really flattering. So maybe skinnies are on their way out. What do you think? Although maybe my preference is driven by the fact that I have added a few lbs since injuring my ankle last month. But whatever the reason I know I will definitely be wearing them again.

Thank you for reading.

 

Melanie xxxx