Liquid Eyeliner and Me

I’ve been wearing liquid eyeliner since I was 17 years old. You don’t need to know that was 20 years ago, but I’ll tell you anyway (while sobbing into my make up bag!). Anyway recently, I’ve started to notice that my skin isn’t necessarily as, errr, taught as it once was, particularly on my eyes; meaning my Rimmel liquid eyeliner is getting harder to apply and more importantly to look good. Gone are the days of just ‘drawing the line’ and being done with it!

Now I don’t wear make up day to day. Partly because I’m lazy and partly because I just don’t see the point. It’s all I can do to remember to slap a bit of moisturiser on in the morning. But I think it’s also something to do with ingrained make up habits I’ve had for a long time, i.e. when I do it, I do it full on. Primer, foundation, concealer, blusher, three shades of eyeshadow, liner, mascara, khol, lipstain/stick/gloss. I just don’t see the point of just mascara, or just gloss. Go large or go home, that’s my make up motto and the same goes for my eyeliner preference. I love a good dramatic wing.

033e9e5b8c31be02ee088bead83e28e8

So back to not being so good at them. While meandering through Boots last week on a rare day by myself, I decided to ask the Benefit ladies about their gel liner pen (the They’re Real Liner – nope not a fan of the name sorry). I figured perhaps gel would be easier to apply to my wrinkled old eyelids. As the 17 year old assistant who served me agreed! A sigh and a sob! No, she was a dear really and was able to do a lovely, if small for my taste, wing on one eyelid for me. But could I get the other eye to match? Could I figroll!! What a mess. But it did seem to be going on well, so I spunked out the cash for the new pen and off I trotted with my first piece of Benefit make up. Happy me.

Trouble was, I just couldn’t do it again when I got it home. Oh blimey, what a palaver. I watched Benefit’s own tutorial videos and everything and I still ended up wonky. Too thick this side, too thin that. I think the pen is going to take practice too, it’s a very different style to the fine liquid liner I’m used to. However, give it it’s due, it has the staying power (although not, I hasten to add, the consistency) of dried on Ready Brek. Nothing (except my lovely Liz Earle) can get the bugger off!

Anyway, somewhat in despair I started searching Pinterest for some kind of tutorial. All the ones I’d seen on YouTube, were good and all, but were make up ‘experts’ showing you how to do it on other people. I needed to know how to do it on myself. Then I stumbled on a doozy of a blog post by Batalash Beauty. It’s a great post, however the two most important things I took from it were:

  1. Look down when applying your liner, not forward
  2. Hold the liner almost parallel to your eye, rather than at a right angle to it

I tried this and immediately the wrinkle issue suddenly wasn’t one and by holding the liner differently I could draw the line with even a khol pencil! It was a revelation. Straight away I could do an even, decent, dramatic wing.

Now I just need to practice using my new pen. The 17 year old me would be so proud.

f3d3fb65405440a0dfdd8c876dc03b32

 

 

 

50 things that make me happy

I’ve seen versions of this post all over the place lately. I think its a great idea to focus on the positive in your life, whenever you can. I haven’t been nominated by anyone to write this list, but what the hell, I need some positivity in my life right now, so I’m taking the initiative and writing it anyway!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the top 50 things that make me happy:

  1. The sound of wood pigeons cooing
  2. Summer evenings
  3. When Oscar uses a word in the right context, particularly if it’s unprompted
  4. Oscar’s time at nursery
  5. Painted toenails
  6. Bare feet10579998_10153262821310616_5956843849656468359_n
  7. That second glass of wine feeling
  8. Eating out, particularly lunch
  9. Getting in to clean, fresh bedding. Definitely cotton, preferably white
  10. The smell of my perfume; Jean Paul Gautier Le Femme Intense
  11. The look and smell of newly cut lawns
  12. Writing a post that illicits a response from people
  13. When people tell me they love my writing
  14. Diet coke in a tall glass with lots of ice and a straw
  15. Facetiming my mum and watching Oscar try to kiss her
  16. Baking. With the boy or withoutimage
  17. Weigh in night homemade burgers
  18. When Ben tells me how delicious something I’ve made is
  19. Receiving unexpected parcels (or letters) in the post
  20. My swishy straight hair after it’s washed & dried
  21. A trip to the hairdressers
  22. Memories of holidays past
  23. Having a full diary (no seriously I’m happiest when I’m busy)
  24. Going on holiday
  25. Spending sunny days in the gardenOscar's Garden
  26. Finding the perfect gift for someone
  27. Knowing there’s something I really want to watch waiting for my on the Sky+ (and the fact I can record it in the first place!)
  28. Selling things, either on Facebook or on eBay (eBay gives me more of a thrill, but FB is easier!)
  29. Volunteering with my local NCT group, particularly at the Nearly New Sales
  30. The smell of washing dried outside
  31. Kisses. Smooches, baby kisses, air kisses, all kinds of kisses
  32. Everything about BBQs
  33. Bread and butter
  34. The five minutes (five minutes who am I kidding, five seconds) after the lounge is hoovered
  35. Making Chutney
  36. Seeing my friends, be they near or far and whether I saw them for the last time two days ago or two years ago
  37. Hugs
  38. Being trusted
  39. A cheeky bounce on the boy’s trampoline11214038_10153887813530616_7339576867824186491_n
  40. Binge watching TV series on Netflix
  41. Having my expectations exceeded
  42. Lying under a large tree in the sun
  43. Popping candy
  44. A roaring fire
  45. When Oscar says anything even approximating mama
  46. Finding good free wifi when out and about
  47. Christmas Eve
  48. The smell and taste of cinnamon
  49. Saturday mornings in bed with my guys10996355_10153746764350616_4561563403846210757_n
  50. When Ben brings me coffee.

OK so I thought that was going to be inordinately hard to think of 50 things, but once I started it was ridiculously easy and I could have kept going past 50! I think this list shows I’m quite a sensory person. Sounds, tastes, sights and smells all feature heavily in here. Who knew!

I think the original idea of this post was that you tag other bloggers to go on and write their lists. However, as this has been going on for so long there probably isn’t a blogger left who hasn’t already done it. Therefore I ask anyone who wants to compile their list to have a go, blogger or not. It’s immensely satisfying and once you start thinking about the things that make you happy you may realise just how many there are, regardless of how small they may be.

Do you share any ‘happy things’ with me?

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

Sold!

I’ve never been a hoarder. Ever since I left home at 18, with my life packed up in my boyfriend’s Citroen AX, I’ve been acutely aware of keeping what I need and moving on what I don’t. I moved house a lot in my 20’s, which only served to reinforce my brutal approach to clutter (you try moving house, across London, on the Tube with only two large rucksacks and a boyfriend for help and then tell me you have to keep that pair of jeans you never wear or that frog ornament you never liked.)

Since having Oscar I’ve become ultra efficient at moving stuff on, for two reasons. One is that children out grow EVERYTHING very quickly. Not just clothes, which they can speed through quicker than you can say “this season’s JoJo catalogue” but also toys, books, equipment, furniture. You name it, they use it and grow out of it. The other is that we live in a tiny cottage. We have two bedrooms, one of which is a loft extension, meaning storage is at a premium (our “loft” consists of three small cupboards in the eaves of Oscar’s bedroom). These things combined mean I have little option other than to constantly move things on. You simply couldn’t live in this house, with a child and not be a ruthless declutterer.

But do you know? I love doing it!

I get a real thrill from seeing things I no longer have use or space for, being given a new home and a second lease of life, while I get a little money in my back pocket. I have several ways in which I do it:

eBay

I love eBay. Yes I know it has its issues and not everyone wants to pay the fees they charge, but as platform for selling to as wide an audience as possible it’s hard to beat. I’ve been selling on eBay since 2009, when I moved to Swansea, with no job and time on my hands. Because that’s really what selling on eBay requires, a bit of time. I still regularly put things on eBay, although with the cost of postage going up and up I am finding it less and less appealing for children’s clothes. People just aren’t prepared to pay more than a couple of pounds for an item they then have to pay 3 or 4 postage for. I still sell adult clothes with some success but for children’s clothes I have started to favour Facebook.

Facebook

You can advertise your items in your own News Feed, if you think you have friends who might want what you have but I’ve found the best way to sell through Facebook, is to join a local buying and selling group. I’ve joined several community groups, aimed specifically at buying and selling childrens items. These groups are all voluntarily run and the good ones are run really well. They enable other members (usually people local to you) to see the items you are selling and contact you directly about buying and collecting them. I’ve become much more keen on using this method for Oscar’s things as they charge no fees and buyers seem happier to pay a little more for each item as there is no postage cost.

Nearly New

I don’t know about your local area but we have a really active NCT branch where I live. They do all sorts for local parents, but being a charity have to fund their work themselves. One of the biggest ways in which they do this, is their bi-annual Nearly New Sales. This is a mammoth feat of organisation, but results in a super opportunity to buy really decent quality second hand items. I’ve been attending our local sale since I was 8 months pregnant with Oscar, first as a buyer, then as a volunteer. I also tried my hand at selling last year. The sales offer an opportunity to sell items for you (no manning a stall needed) and the fees charged go to a local charity rather than a massive corporation. However, preparing items for sale can be rather time consuming, particularly if these items don’t sell. I had better luck selling equipment and toys rather than clothes here. I think I’ve learnt you have to make a decision at sales like this. Do you want to make money or space in your house? I know one of our most successful sellers sells large quantities, but at 50p an item. So you need to ask yourself, why are you selling your items, before pricing them up.

Charity Shop

I tend to donate things only when I’ve tried and failed to sell them or if they were given to me in the first place. All things donated really need to be in good condition – which some people forget. I used to work for a charity that had a shop. I have sorted many a bag of generous donations, but I am telling you now, if you wouldn’t sell it because it’s torn, stained or unwearable, then charity shops can’t sell it either! If they’re switched on then these shops will be able to recycle these items, but, seriously people, think before you donate!

Recycling

I’ve taken clothes to recycle banks (like bottle banks but for clothes), but I’ve only ever used paid recycling when I worked at the shop. There are more and more companies springing up that collect clothing and pay a small amount for it per kilo. I have never had enough at one time to make this worth me doing, but my Mother in Law had a proper clear out recently and managed to make 11 at 50p per kilo! If you’ve got heavy adult items (or perhaps just lots and lots of children who have trashed clothes you can’t sell any other way) I guess this might be worth a look.

There are lots of other ways, including various online swapping, selling or giving sites I’ve tried but had little luck with. I have also never tried a car boot, yard or jumble sale, again because I’ve never had enough all at once to make it worth while, but I’d be willing to give it a go if I did. I’m happy to move most things on, in any number of different ways. But despite this being the case, I can assure you, I don’t lack sentiment.

In my wardrobe I have a tote bag filled to the brim with pieces that mean something to me, all that bring back a memory of Oscar’s life. I have the 0-3 Month baby grow we were going to bring him home in, the (second hand newborn size) babygrow we actually did, the outfit from his Pleased to Meet You baby party, his first rattle, his first shoes, his first pair of jeans, the list goes on. Occasionally I take them out and look at them. I remember, when I’ve forgotten, just how tiny he was and I smile.

Yes I’m a ruthless declutterer, yes I get a thrill out of selling our stuff, but there are some things I would never sell.

Not for all the tea in China.

Mums' Days