SimplyBe Lingerie Review

I’ve written several times about my search for a well fitting bra and just how important good underwear is to me. When you wear the kind of sizes I do, you simply cannot do otherwise! So when SimplyBe asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing some of their lingerie I jumped at the chance. Just not too high and not without support, lest I give myself a black eye 😉 !

I’ve used SimplyBe many times over the years. They are a wonderful resource for all sorts of plus size wear. For example I’ve bought everything from swimwear to dresses to (wonderful wide fit) shoes from them. But for some reason I’ve never bought underwear from them. I don’t really know why, when they stock bras in back sizes 28-56 and cup sizes A-L. I guess I’ve been buying my bras from specialist retailers for so long now (gone are the days when M&S can help me any more!) that it just never occurred to me to get them online instead.

I was intrigued.

I was fitted by a specialist store not that long ago, meaning I was pretty sure of my size, but wary. As with all clothes just because a size fits in one style/make, doesn’t mean it’ll fit across the board. And unlike jeans, an ill fitting bra can be a serious detriment to your health! Despite being able to exchange the bras free of charge if they didn’t fit, I proceeded with caution.

I was actually really surprised at the range of lingerie brands SimplyBe carries. And also really pleased that, unlike some specialist store bras, these didn’t seem astronomical in price. I chose two very different brands and styles to try.

Elomi

The first brand I tried was Elomi. Funnily enough I’ve come across this brand before. My wedding basque was by Elomi and was absolutely beautiful. As it happened I couldn’t wear it on the big day as my dress was cut too low, but I did wear it many times under strapless dresses and loved how supportive it was. I’ve also worn bras from Elomi’s sister companies Fantastie and Freya, so couldn’t wait to try something from their range.

I decided to go for a very functional, every day, full coverage bra from Elomi in my current size. And I can honestly say I have never worn a more comfortable bra in my life! Even the ones I already had, in the same size and had been fitted professionally don’t feel as comfortable as this bad boy!

Don’t get me wrong it’s not the prettiest thing to look at (there is a whiff of military grade issue about it 😂) but if you’re like me and need loooots of support in this arena, you’d have to go a long way to find anything more comfortable. And I love the shape it gives me. Somehow it accentuates my waist, giving me a rather curvy, 50s vibe. And it really does look smooth under my Surrey Mummy uniform of striped Breton top!

Curvy Kate

The second bra I chose was from Curvy Kate, a brand I’d never tried before. A balcony style, in a sheer fabric, it was much prettier than the Elomi, but still the kind of thing I’d wear every day. The style also means it’s much better for low cut tops.

I have to say, compared to the Elomi bra, this wasn’t as comfortable. I mean it wasn’t uncomfortable per se, but I definitely had to adjust it more during the day and was very ready to take it off come the evening (other larger busted ladies will totally know what I mean here!)

But it was much prettier and still gave me a great shape.

I also loved the advice from CoppaFeel, the charity dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer in younger women, in the label. What better way to get that message across?

Thoughts

I have to admit I wasn’t convinced buying bras online would be for me. A professionally fitted bra is, in my opinion, one of life’s essentials. But I have to say, if you are pretty sure of your size, particularly those of you, like me, with a larger back and/or cup sizes, then I would highly recommend checking out the SimplyBe lingerie department. While they have a great range of affordable bras, they also stock all kinds of underwear, sleepwear and swimwear.

I know I’ll be revisiting for more Elomi bras. And who knows, I may even treat myself to matching knickers*

 

 

 

*yeah, I probably wont. What mama has time to match her underwear in the mornings??

 

Thank you so much to SimplyBe for gifting me these items for the purpose of this review.

I was not paid to write this post and as always all opinions are my own.

 

Halfords Black Friday Giveaway

Oscar’s Autism meant that he didn’t start using language in any meaningful way until he was 3 and a half. And yet every day since then it seems like he learns another word, grasps another concept, answers another question. For me it’s thrilling. Only last night did he described his book case as a “library”! Asking for things has also been slow to arrive. We focused for the longest time on getting him to express his needs, which he still sometimes struggles with to be honest. So you can imagine, asking for things he wants, verbally, hasn’t been high up on his agenda. Until recently. Suddenly he can tell me when he’s hungry and two weeks ago he told me he wanted a bike. And when your child, who has only just (at four and a half) learnt to sit for long enough in order to learn to pedal, asks you, with words, for a bike, you start looking for a bike. Believe me.

If you follow me on Facebook you’ll have seen I asked my lovely readers where they’d recommend when looking for a first bike, particularly one that was good quality but also value for money. The answer from almost everyone who joined the discussion was Halfords. To be honest I’d completely forgotten Halfords did bikes but I had so many recommendations for them, I couldn’t not check them out online. I had no idea how much a child’s bike cost. Looking around the internet it would appear you can happily pay whatever you like. Bikes are one of those things I think. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the ones at Halfords weren’t crazy expensive.

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Now I don’t know about you, but I love a bargain. I’m the kind of person that takes great pride in finding something I want in the sale. However, I’ve never really got involved with the whole Black Friday thing. The images of people trampling each other to get a cheap telly always left me cold. There’s no bargain on Earth worth that kind of behaviour. But then I saw that, this year, Halfords are having an online Black Friday sale on 25th November. Not a trampling in sight. They are discounting things every day until the main event on 25th and I’m keeping my eyes on the site but I think I’m going to wait for the biggie, the main event on 25th, to be in with a chance of a really decent discount.

Now I love a bargain, but what’s a bigger bargain than free? Alongside their Black Friday discounts Halfords are also running a Black Friday Giveaway. You can enter any time up until 22nd November to be in with a chance of winning one of three prizes of either £2000, £1000 or £500 worth of Halfords goods. That’s a lot of Christmas pressies right there! I’ve put a link to the Halfords Black Friday Giveaway page in the image below.

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I’ve entered. And you’ve got until 22nd to do the same! Good luck!

Right, back to looking at bikes. I only hope Oscar doesn’t ask for anything more expensive. Like his own private jet or a Ferrari. If he asked me with words, I’d probably get it for him!

 

This is a collaborative post.

Unbrand my child!

I’ve never been particularly interested in clothing covered in branding. Not for myself and not for the boy. He’s had a couple of GAP hoodies with branding across the front, but other than that I don’t really go in for turning my child into a walking billboard. But what irks me more than branding, are children’s clothes covered in TV or film characters. It’s brand stretching at it’s most cynical.

Your kid likes this TV show? Why not advertise for us by having him walk around plastered in the stuff? Come on, we give you hours of fun for free, you owe us! Well no actually, we don’t. And producers realised long ago that the hours of ‘free’ fun could be paid for by ads. Maybe that’s why character clothing is on the increase. Traditional advertising revenues are falling with the advent of streamed TV and Internet. Whatever. Doesn’t mean I have to be part of it.

I would just like to make it clear that this is a totally personal preference. I don’t judge anyone for the clothes they choose to put their kids in. The fact you’ve got them up and dressed is a win from me! I just dislike character based clothes on my own child. And that’s fine. I’m happy to just avoid it. But that’s getting harder and harder to do. Even previously classic bastion of good quality children’s clothes, Marks and Spencer, have covered their recent children’s collections with TV and Movie collaborations.

I was looking for a plain, thin, summer hoodie for Oscar last weekend. The boy has one lovely one from Next, but I was looking for some variety. I was shocked at how little I could find that wasn’t covered in either branding or characters. And it saddened me. I mean I know the high street in Guildford isn’t the very pinnacle of choice when it comes to shopping, but it’s big enough, surely, not to have to devote any and all children’s clothing retail space to the big character names?

In the end do you know where I found a lovely, simple and well cut summer hoodie without any branding or character tie ins? Primark. I defied my own number one shopping rule and went in Primark, on a Saturday afternoon. And I found exactly what I was looking for. It almost pained me to realise my favourite brands had let me down and here was Primarni doing me a solid. I even ended up buying him the cutest pair of denim shorts and some socks too. Well, in for a penny in for a pound. Well 12 as it happens and I left pleased with my purchases. Happy ending.

Or rather, it’s really not. The hoodie has washed really badly. First wash and the fabric is incredibly bobbled. I’m gutted, but not really that shocked. It’s the reason I’ve avoided the chain in the past. You get what you pay for. And had I been looking for cheap I’m not sure I’d be as bothered. But I wasn’t, I was looking for plain, unbranded, uncovered in characters. That’s all. Is this what it comes down to?

High street chains please take note. Not all parents want to dress their children in ads for the latest blockbuster. At least while they still have a say in their children’s clothing. Who knows? If Oscar ever starts giving a hoot what he wears, I may just be eating my words!

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Life with Baby Kicks

My day out at Spirit of Christmas

I love Christmas. And I’m not just talking about the day itself. No I love the run up. Sometimes I think I prefer the run up. Receiving presents isn’t the big thing it once was for me. I guess that comes with age and having a child! No, its the festivities that come with the season that make my heart happy. I’ve written before about how much I enjoy the traditions and excitement of Christmas. You can read that here if you haven’t already. And this year is no different. I’ve already got Christmas tunes on and I’ve been burning my Christmas scented candle for weeks already. Good job it’s a biggun – it wouldn’t last until the end of November if it wasn’t!

One of the things I love about this time of year is shopping. No, I haven’t gone mad. I’m not talking about fighting other parents at the door of Toy R Us for the years ‘must have’ toy. To be honest I do most of my Christmas shopping online these days and have done for years. It usually works really well for me – except in 2010 when my beautiful organic Bronze turkey got snowed in and nearly didn’t make it in time – ooo just thinking about that makes me hold my breath! However, that being said, I love and I mean love a good Christmas Fayre. I love the chance to have a mooch about, discovering independent and often local retailers and although I can’t say hand on heart I shop exclusively local/independent it is something I’m trying to do more off. There’s nothing nicer than spending a morning wandering around to the sounds of Christmas tunes with the wafting scent of cinnamon and if you’re lucky mulled wine! One of my favourite local ones is at Secretts in Milford and the Haslemere Market is great fun (if a little chilly). If you’re nearby I’d urge you them to check both out.

This time last year I saw the advert for the mother of all Christmas Fairs, The Spirit Of Christmas Fair, held at Olympia. I knew back then I wanted to go and that my friend Helen, who’s more bonkers about the festive season than I am, would also love it. Trouble is Hels lives in Plymouth, a long old way from Olympia! So when she suggested she come and visit me this month I bought us tickets as her Christmas present. Which is how we found ourselves, without our children, on the 8.30 train, whizzing towards London.

Helen got a little over excited on the train!

Helen got a little over excited on the train!

The fair was everything we both hoped it would be. The stall by the door had wreaths and decorations made with a heady mixture of orange and cinnamon and cleverly put you in the mood as soon as you walked in. We decided to walk around the edge and then up and down the rows, which we attempted, but there were just so many glittering things to drag the eye sideways! We spent 7 hours there, with a short 15 min break for lunch, but not once did I feel bored or like I’d had enough. It was busy, don’t get me wrong, but not so as it ever felt claustrophobic, which is probably because Olympia is so huge!

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Never felt crowded

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Olympia is huge!

There was everything you could imagine from art to tea towels and firepits to tweed. And candles, so many candles! I had something of a celeb moment when we happened across Richard E Grant manning the stall selling his own fragrance, Jack. He was lovely enough to give us a sample and pose for a photo with me with all the gentlemanly grace you’d expect from him. I have to say I was a little star struck; Withnail and I is one of Ben and my favourite films. I walked away a little shaky and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Helen on the other hand was unmoved, asking who he was again!

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What a gent!

Other than celeb spotting, I was actually looking for a bauble for this year’s tree (something I do each year) and whilst I didn’t find what I was looking for (despite the thousands of baubles I saw) I did get several Christmas decorations.

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These are cookie cutter lights. How gorgeous? I plan to wind them through a garland and then up the banister, as the stairs are in our kitchen.

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This is a sort of cage, it opens out completely and you can fill it with whatever you like. The stall I got it from had one filled with Quality Street and another with sprouts. And what’s more Christmassy than sprouts! I haven’t decided what to fill mine with yet, but I might just fill it with LED lights and hang it over the fire!

The second floor of the fair was devoted to food and this was the bit I was worried about the most. I know it was going to take some will power to avoid all the tasters that I knew would be on offer. And for the most part I did. Who knew there could be so much cheese in one room! I tasted free foods like turkey and smoked salmon and avoided the spirits. Helen got herself some unusual charcoal flavoured cheese, some Black Bomber Cheddar and some beautiful garlic jam. I also bought myself a couple of foodie treats:

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This I couldn’t syn, but I guessed it was better than a wedge of cheese. It sounds odd, but let me tell you if you haven’t tried garlic popcorn you haven’t lived!

I couldn't tell you how excited I was to find a Heck stall at the Fair. I've been looking for these chicken sausahes since our Area Manager told us about them. The lack of gluten based rusk and using low fat chicken means this whole pack is just 1/2 syn. Yes you heard me right. The WHOLE pack is 1/2 a syn. I bought three packs and let me tell you I wish I bought more. They are GORGEOUS!

I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to find a Heck stall at the Fair. I’ve been looking for these chicken sausages for ages. The lack of gluten based rusk and using low fat chicken means this whole pack is just 1/2 syn. Yes, you heard me right. The WHOLE PACK is 1/2 a syn. I bought three packs and let me tell you I wish I bought more. They’re GORGEOUS! EDIT: In Jan 2015 Slimming World revised the syns in these sausages. They are now 1/2 syn EACH

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I got bacon and mackerel from these people. I like a nice bit of smoked fish and whilst mackerel isn’t free (1.5 syn per 100g) it is one of my faves. This was lovely.

One of the best parts of the day was also food based. We managed to get spaces on the free biscuit decorating workshop run by the Biscuiteers. They provided five biscuits and everything we could need to create our own little Christmas masterpieces. It was just so much fun!

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I sat in the row behind Helen, primarily so I could pass her notes and flick balled up bits of paper at her head!

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Beautiful cinnamon biscuits ready to be prettied up

This picture was taken by the Sprit of Christmas team for their FB page. Thats my arm inthe top corner

This picture was taken by the Spirit of Christmas team for their FB page. I’m the one at the top of the table.That’s my arm at the very top of the picture!

My attempt. Yeah one is missing. Well it wouldn't fit in the box and what's a girl to do ;)

My attempt. Yeah one is missing. Well it wouldn’t fit in the box and what’s a girl to do 😉

We arrived home laden with our goodies and full of Christmas cheer. The aching thigh muscles didn’t start until the next day 😉 I would absolutely go again, particularly if I could go with such a dedicated follower of Christmas as my mate Helen.

Same time next year Helly Welly?

Same time next year Helly Welly?

I was not paid to write this post and I paid for both our tickets with my own hard earned cash. I did get a sneaky 1 off my lights, but I think that was because it was the end of the day and the guy just wanted me to stop talking to him 😉

Mama and More

A Dress to Impress – a wedding guest shopping haul

So you may or may not remember I had a rather unusual weekend planned for the weekend just gone. When I say unusual, the sad thing is that it didn’t used to be unusual. We had friends to stay and I went shopping to buy things for me. That used to be so run of the mill that it was hardly worth talking about. Today, time spent entertaining (anyone other than the boy) and focussing on me a2re a luxury and one to be absolutely cherished. If you’re new to this blog and wondering what on earth happened to turn something so ordinary into the extraordinary I can sum it up in one, sweet word.

Oscar.

Yeah, it’s the same old story. Girl meets boy, girl moves in with boy, boy and girl live together doing their ordinary things and taking them fully for granted for years, girl and boy get married, girl gets pregnant and kisses goodbye to shopping days and leisurely trips to the hairdressers. I kind of guessed this would be the case, which is one of the reasons we chose to wait to have him. We wanted to be selfish for a bit. I’m so glad we did.

Wistful sigh

Anywho! As these weekends are so precious to me now, I thought I’d record it in something of a haul post. I’ve never done one before (partly cos I don’t go shopping enough!) So I hope you enjoy.

Saturday morning saw my friend Michelle and I getting up and ready in record time. We left the house as soon as we could, leaving the boys to sort the children out. This was going to be a proper day off and although I know Michelle felt bad leaving her hubby with their daughter all day, I’m sorry Ben I really didn’t. Maybe it’s because I’m with Oscar all the time with no break at all in the week? Or maybe I’m just a heartless wench – whatever!

We chose to get the train so we didn’t have to worry about parking and we behaved like two excited girls on a school trip the whole way there (by which I mean giggling and stuff – we didn’t moon anyone or sing rude songs, well much 😉 ) When we arrived we cracked on with the job of finding me a dress for the wedding I’m off to this Saturday. The first shop I wanted to try was Pepperberry. As I’ve written about before I’ve had great success in Bravissimo, their sister shop, and wanted to try some of their dresses which are fitted depending on your chest size. I tried on so many styles and designs, in any number of combinations, from 18 Super Curvy to 16 Really Curvy, but not one fitted me properly (except one, which I quite liked until Michelle took a picture and I realised how mumsy it made me look – gah no!) So I left, feeling a little down. If I couldn’t find something in the shop that actually catered for my shape, what chance did I have elsewhere?

Bleh! Couldn't look more frumpy.

Bleh! Couldn’t look more frumpy.

We wandered up the high street where I saw Joules. I mentioned how gorgeous their little peoples clothes were and glanced through the open door, where I saw the most amazing mint and floral shift dress. It was so summery. I pointed it out and Michelle suggested I try it on, and any others that might be around. Despite my initial reticence (“nothing in here will fit me!”) I picked up two dresses and took them into the changing room. The mint dress sort of fitted except it was a bit too tight across the boobs (story of my life) and the sleeve length wasn’t right for me.

Not right for me but such a happy dress. Joules - Marcie Dress size 18

Not right for me but such a happy dress. Joules – Marcie Dress size 18

So I held out no hope for the ivory and floral number Michelle had picked out. It was the only dress I’d tried on that I could do up myself and it fitted perfectly. Everywhere. I took a step back looked at the mirror and welled up. It really accentuates my new shape. Since losing 6 stone I actually have a waist and boy does this frock set it off! I became so emotional I wasn’t actually sure what to do with myself and ended up ducking back into the cubicle and closing the curtain on a poor bewildered Michelle! After that I had no option but to buy it. It didn’t matter that it was a shape, colour, pattern, design I’d NEVER have bought or worn before. It was the dress. Simple.

Joules - Julie Dress, Size 18

Joules – Julie Dress, Size 18

Now I know this isn’t a picture of me in the dress, but I promise to post one once I’ve been to the wedding. I’d love my family to see me in it first; nothing beats the real thing for impact 😉

I couldn’t believe I’d achieved what I set out to, even before lunch! Which for the record we went to Nando’s for. Who knew Nando’s could be so low syn?! I had a Butterfly Chicken (medium heat) for 3 syns, a large spicy rice for 5.5 syns and a mixed leaf salad and a diet coke for nothing. A full on proper meal for 8.5 syns! The lowest sandwich I’ve ever found was 13 syns. Madness! It was really nice and I will definitely be going back.

After such an early dress success it meant I could relax and enjoy wandering round for the rest of the day. I got some make up which I’ve desperately needed for a while now. A new mascara to replace the rubbish No7 one I’m using (I used to love their 360 mascara til they stopped making it and flogged me one that is NOT the same), a neutral eye palette (great for travelling and pretty much the only colours I wear these days anyway) and a new creme blusher from MAC (I’ve used this blusher for years, but the last time it ran out I tried to economise by buying a much cheaper No7 one. What a false economy that was!)

A rare make up haul!

A rare make up haul!

Soap and Glory Thick & Fast Mascara in Super Jet Black - although I fear the wand may be too big for my stupidly short lashes :-(

Soap and Glory Thick & Fast Mascara in Super Jet Black – although I fear the wand may be too big for my stupidly short lashes 🙁

Soap & Glory Lid Stuff

Soap & Glory Lid Stuff Neutral Eyeshadow Palette

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Ladyblush - which sounds a bit too much like lady bush to me!

MAC Cremeblend Blush in Ladyblush – which sounds a bit too much like lady bush to me!

And in keeping with my theme of trying more bold summer wear, I also got a t-shirt from M&S in an amazing neon orange. Had I not worn it yesterday and splattered pomegranate juice all over it while making tea last night I would have posted a picture! I’m hoping it comes out in the wash, but for now you’ll have to believe me that its an awesome colour and it makes me look uber tanned!

We had the most relaxing day, just pottering and chatting and I want to say thank you to Michelle for coming with me and to Ben and Lee for looking after the children. I know Oscar wasn’t the easiest to handle when I left, but he needs this as much as I do. I came back feeling like a different person. Only that different person was just me and I don’t often feel like that.

I’m so excited for this coming weekend. Oscar gets to see his favourite person in the world (his cousin Lucas) and to have a night away from me. I get to see my family and I get to see Stacy marry her Craig. I also get to wear my dress and feel like a grown up.

I can’t bloody wait.

 

 

Not sponsored, not paid for, just me

 

 

Mama and More