Blogger Gift Swap Haul

So you may remember back in November I mentioned that I was taking part in a Blogger gift swap, a kind of Secret Santa for people who do what I do run by Viola over at apieceofviola.wordpress.com.

I was so excited when I found out my swap pairing was the lovely Charlene over at charlenejess.wordpress.com. Turns out she is a book reviewer, so my first thought was to get her a book. However the more I read of her blog the more I figured she would get books no matter what. Charlene is a single mum, with very little family and mentioned in a blog post that she doesn’t receive many presents, so I decided to get her something she probably wouldn’t get for herself, something a bit fun. And when she told me she liked Marvel and the colour purple, well, I think I found a great present to send her. I do hope she liked it and I can’t wait to read her post about it.

I received my gifts from her a few days before Christmas. I was thrilled to have received several little gifts – I love the opening as much as what’s inside and I couldn’t wait to put them in my stocking on Christmas Eve.

My Blogger Swap gifts on Christmas Eve

My Blogger Swap gifts on Christmas Eve

Charlene told me her 8 year old son had wrapped and labeled them for me. What a dude! Thank you Lynx, you did a stunning job!

So I wasn’t sure what kind of things I get. I mean I’d never met Charlene and it was difficult to know what she’d think of me, just from what she’d read. It’s so difficult to know what kind of persona you put out there on social media, but turns out I put out exactly who I am! I loved the gifts and would have chosen them all!

Excited face!

Excited face!

 

What a haul - thank you so much Charlene!

What a haul – thank you so much Charlene!

Ombre nail varnish set. I haven't tried the ombre effect yet, but I have worn the mink colour. I love it!

Ombre nail varnish set. I haven’t tried the ombre effect yet, but I have worn the mink colour. I love it!

A neutral eye palette. I love neutral shadows and this pallets has a real great choice of shades. And a fab mirror!

A neutral eye palette. I love neutral shadows and this palette has a really great choice of shades. And a fab mirror!

A personal organiser/notebook. I've wanted a new notebook for ages and spiral bound are my absolute fave! Aren't the colours cute?

A personal organiser/notebook. I’ve wanted a new notebook for ages and spiral bound ones are my absolute fave! Aren’t the colours cute?

I can never find a pen when I want one. This one can live in the spirals of new new notebook and it matches the design too! Love it.

I can never find a pen when I want one. This one can live in the spirals of new new notebook and it matches the design too! Love it.

And more matching! Such a cute stationery set!

And more matching! Such a cute stationery set!

It was such a great set of gifts, that I’m loving using already. Thank you so much Charlene. I hope you liked your gift as much.

I’d also like to say a massive thank you to Viola for setting this gift swap up and running it so beautifully.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers.

 

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

 

 

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