Archive for April, 2012

When I read about the new Estée Lauder Mad Men Collection I was so excited-this is a seriously beautiful capsule collection comprising a creme rouge and a perfect, true red lipstick. Unfortunately it’s not available in the UK (or it’s not at the moment anyway-fingers crossed they will release it here one day) but luckily for me my lovely Dad and step-Mum live in the States and responded quickly to my begging emails! They got it in Bloomingdales and it came with a free gift set too which was a nice bonus. (Actually, it was out of stock in their local Bloomingdales so they got it shipped from California to them and then from them to me-they are amazing!)

So here it is, first with the freebies. (There was also a make up bag but I forgot to get a picture of it. It’s nice though-pretty big too which is handy.)

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So from left to right, missing out the Mad Men bits, you can see a Pure Colour Blush Trio (the colours are Peach Passion Shimmer, Sensuous Rose Satin and Wild Sunset Shimmer) with a mini but good quality (ish-it’s a little harsh feeling but does blend well) brush, Soft Clean Tender Creme Cleanser, Idealist, Day Wear moisturiser, Pure Colour Lipstick in Pink Parfait Shimmer and a duo of Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara and Star Pink Shimmer gloss. Unfortunately the lipstick got a bit squished in transit but it’s going straight into my palette anyway so it doesn’t matter. I’d never tried this particular mascara before and I like it a lot. It’s not particularly good in the volume stakes, despite its name, but it does give lovely definition.

And here are the Mad Men lovelies in all their glory…

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As you can see, they are gorgeous. The Creme Rouge is 01, Evening Rose; it’s intensely pigmented so you only need a little but once on it’s quite sheer and is easily blendable. It’s a very good pinky blush for the ‘English Rose’ look but I reckon it would also look great built up a bit on darker skins. The lipstick is 78, Cherry, and is a fabulous red, though not as vampy as I expected. It would suit cool and warm skin tones and lasts a good few hours, leaving a nice stain too. I have to say though, I was a bit disappointed that the lipstick is a miniature size! That was definitely not reflected in the price and it seems a bit bizarre that the freebie lipstick is full size while the very expensive one is only 2g. I’ve read elsewhere that lipsticks in the 50s and 60s did tend to be smaller, so perhaps EL are mirroring that. The packaging, however, is utterly beautiful, and I expect how Estée Lauder get away with the price they’re charging. The rouge was $40 and the lipstick $25, so not cheap, but in my opinion, worth it just for the joy of getting these out in public. They’re satisfyingly heavy and clunky and the rouge has a lovely ‘click’ shut with the blue stone on the front. The gold is glamorous and classy in an obviously vintage way, and I’m really looking forward to slipping them into my handbag! Definitely check out the Estée Lauder website and read the reviews-this collection is proving very popular. Apparently it will be followed by another collection next year, so I can’t wait to see that. I hope there’s a powder compact in there. This collection is beautifully designed and I can imagine the women on Mad Men whipping either piece out in order to freshen up or seduce someone! Who wouldn’t want to be as beautiful as Betty or Joan? This collection takes me one step closer!

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Inspired by my favourite online stalker/coven member/bride to be and a new blog which is rather good, called Bare Naked Toes, I have taken up running!

To understand how momentous this is for me you have to understand a few things:

1) I was picked for teams about 3 times in my entire secondary school career, and then only when the games teacher was desperate because other people had the plague or something. We only had about 15 girls in our year. If you wanted to play team sports, you were a shoo in.

2) Whenever I’ve tried running in the past I’ve given up very quickly due to that awful cold air down your throat feeling which I just can’t bear.

3) I’ve done Cancer Research’s Race for Life a few times and on no occasion have I done anything that might reasonably be called ‘training’. I show up on the day, run/jog/walk/crawl/hobble for 45 minutes, get my sweaty picture taken with my medal, and then put away my trainers for another year. (Literally. I’ve lost them. I had to go and buy new ones this week.)

4) When I went through a brief gym phase at university I didn’t run on the treadmills, opting for the cross trainer every time. Even the word ‘treadmill’ seems to imply some kind of torture. Like you’re a hamster, doomed to an eternity of straining for freedom but never moving forward. Or something.

5) I am really, really fucking lazy.

But you know what, I have really surprised myself this week. Ok, so I’ve only done it twice so far, and two runs do not a runner make, but I’ve enjoyed myself a lot and – shock horror – am actually finding myself looking forward to my next run! I was out tonight and was genuinely surprised and a bit gutted when I realised my half hour was over.

I don’t mean to imply that I’ve been doing a full half hour of running of course-I am smart enough to know that almost 30 years of inactivity interspersed with a bit of shredding and zumba cannot be overturned in a day. I’ve got an app for my iPhone called Get Running which is brilliantly simple and effective. It’s one of those C25K programs and takes 9 weeks to complete. Week 1 comprises of three runs where you do one minute of running followed by a minute and a half of walking, repeated 8 times, with a warm up and cool down included too. The beauty of this is that nearly everyone is capable of running for a minute if they know they’re going to be able to slow to a walk at the end of it, even if they’re super unfit or overweight, so it starts you off easy and reels you in. The amount you run increases a little bit each week until the final week where you run for 30 minutes straight. So far I’ve enjoyed the running bits so much that I’ve skipped some of the walks and kept running through them. Enjoyment is a completely unprecedented side effect of running for me…

This is the app:

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When you’re in a run the screen shows a little clock but as you’re unlikely to be looking at your phone it doesn’t make much of a difference. You can listen to music and every now and then a nice lady turns down the music and tells you what to do next.

I’d highly recommend giving it a go, even – or particularly – if you’ve tried running before and hated it. You might just surprise yourself…(do get fitted for running shoes first though. My converse did not cut it last week in my fitness class and I was glad to get proper trainers this week.)

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When I started this WW lark-and this blog-I worked out how long it would take me to get to 10 stone if I lost 2lbs a week, 1lb a week or 0.5lb a week. My earliest target was therefore 17th April 2012, the date I would get to 10st if I lost 2lbs a week.

Well, today is 17th April 2012.

And I weigh 9st 13.5lbs.

I am sitting in the back of my WW meeting trying not to cry. Ridiculous I know, but I am so, so happy.

I love the fact that I went for a run yesterday and didn’t collapse under my own body weight. I love that when DD looks at me she sees ME, not fat me, or miserable me. I feel bloody fantastic. Now I just have to stick to it.

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Despite the title, Oxfam’s ‘Big Bra Hunt’ is for bras of all shapes, sizes and varieties. The ‘Big Bra Hunt’ aims to collect a million bras in the month of April. They’ll be taken to Senegal where they won’t only help women who can’t afford to buy or make their own bras have a degree more comfort but they’ll also provide career opportunities.

As bra manufacturing is a complex process, very few developing countries have the facilities to make their own. Second-hand bras are therefore a valuable commodity and one of the most desirable items of clothing in West African second-hand clothing markets. Frip Ethique meaning ‘ethical second hand clothing’ – is a unique project run by Oxfam in Senegal that sorts and trades unsold second hand clothes from the charity’s UK shops. The project provides essential employment for disadvantaged women in the area and generates profits which can be invested in the charity’s work in West Africa.

So if you read my blog on wearing the right size bras and have realised you’re not, take your old ones to Oxfam and not only will you clear drawer space but you’ll also be helping women in Africa in more ways than one. (And buying new lingerie will be even sweeter.)

My maternity bras went to Oxfam this morning. The closest one to me is a bookstore so the 70+ year old man behind the counter looked a little frightened when I upended my carrier bag on his desk and announced loudly, ‘they’re for the bra amnesty!’ To his credit, he didn’t blush.

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Ideal weight?

How do people work out their ideal weight? How do they know in advance what weight they will look their best at? I had 10st in my head at the start of this process and I’m very nearly there. I still have considerable flab though! If I aim for 9st 7lbs will I feel the same when I get there or will that be the magic number? My healthy weight range is 8st 7lbs-10st 10lbs.

Numbers on a scale are so arbitrary. I wish there were some machine I could get into that would zap me and provide me with a print out telling me exactly how much I should weigh for maximum health and attractiveness.

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Yesterday I did a class with Fitness4Mums in York’s Rowntree Park. It’s called Pramtastic and they run twice a week; I’m definitely going to go back, though annoyingly one of the sessions clashes with my WW weigh in. I might skive the weigh in a couple of times a month-I figure it’s the only good reason to skive it so my leader can’t mind too much!

It was really fun but my God am I in pain today. I’ve never done so many lunges-the fronts of my thighs are on fire every time I crouch down (which is a lot, what with all the picking up of DD I have to do!) and having to jog was a wake up call about just how unfit I am. I loved it and hated it at the same time and I’m already dreading and simultaneously looking forward to next Thursday! DD didn’t mind it at all as about half the class was with the prams (plenty of opportunity for peekaboo!) and the other half we were just next to them-she actually fell asleep about 20 minutes in though which was ideal. The only thing I’m not sure about is that she normally has a bottle at 11, which is when the class starts, and because it’s in a park there’s nowhere to give it to her. Yesterday was fine as I just got there early and fed her on a bench, but if it’s raining that won’t really be an option. It’s about a 45 minute walk from home so I can’t feed her at home and then set off as she’d be eating so much earlier than she’s supposed to that it would mess up the rest of her day. I’m mulling this one over as I don’t want it to be an issue, so hopefully I can find a solution.

I thoroughly recommend the class though-it is really good to feel that I’m doing something active and taking a bit of control over the flab.

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I’m really looking forward to next week’s class!

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One of the things that I get a bit fanatical about with my friends (though actually I think the last of them saw the light on this about 5 years ago-hence my new mission to convert the Internet) is the importance of a well fitting bra. Here’s what most women do in this country:

Age 13-get measured in M&S by a nice, matronly lady who measures your ribs, adds 4 or 5 depending on whether it’s an even or odd number, sticks a letter on it and sends you out into the world wearing a 34B.

Age 16-buy some slightly more risqué 34Bs.

Age 20/25/30/35-have a baby and buy some 36Bs, non wired for the pregnancy/breast feeding bit, wired for the toddler bit.

Age 50/55/60/65-go back to non wired and buy some 38Bs.

Here’s the secret. M&S cannot measure women for bras FOR SHIT. If you want to be properly measured there are very, very few places that will do it properly, particularly if you are large of bosom. I recommend Rigby and Peller, Bravissimo, Leia Lingerie or an independent retailer who has been suggested to you by someone who knows what they’re talking about. A good example is Kathryn Rolfe Lingerie in York, though for some reason I can’t link to her website. The thing that all these people have in common is that they know that a) if you’re a pro you probably don’t need a tape measure and b) adding 4 or 5 inches to your rib measurement to get your back size is ludicrous as bras are all now elasticated! It may have been necessary pre war, but it honest to God is not necessary now.

The problem with women believing the nice ladies in M&S is that if they wear a back size that is too large it will ride up their backs, rather than sitting in a nice, straight line. This will then mean their boobs aren’t supported by the bulk of the bra, so they sag. These women then have a choice-they can tighten the shoulder straps as much as possible to hoik their boobs back into the right place, thereby giving themselves painful and unsightly red marks in their shoulders, and meaning their shoulders take all the weight rather than their (much stronger) backs, OR they can leave the shoulder straps loose, let their boobs hang free and pretty much negate the point of wearing a bra in the first place.

What they SHOULD be doing is wearing a back size that is actually their back size. A tape measure comes in handy for this bit if you’re starting from scratch and doing it yourself. Measure round your back, under your boobs, in inches. That’s your back size. If you come out on an odd number the chances are you should go down an inch, though this will depend on the make and fit of the bra. So if you measure 30″, you are a 30″ back. This blows lots of people’s minds, mainly because M&S seem to only stock 34s and 36s, with the occasional nod to a 38. However, the chances are that if you are a size 6, 8, 10 or 12, you are much, much more likely to be a 28, 30 or 32 bra size.

To put this in perspective, I am now a size 10 or 12, depending on the shop and the item of clothing, and I wear a 30.

Now to balance this out, (as my giant boobs balance out my hips, ha ha!) I am a 30G. Or even a GG in some brands. This is huge but not as huge as it sounds. It’s roughly equivalent to a 32FF, a 34F, a 36E (sounding more like what you’re used to?) or a 38D. I could wear any of these sizes and my boobs would fit in the cups. BUT, without a well fitting back band, my boobs will be round my knees, unsupported, and swinging free. Also, my silhouette will be crap. So if you’ve merrily been wearing a 34B since you were 13 and I’ve convinced you it’s not right for you, try a 30D, or a 28DD. You may be amazed.

The trick with cups is to find your back size and then try on a variety of cup sizes in the bra you like. To do this properly:

a) do up the back and put your arms through the shoulder straps
b) lean forward
c) hoik each boob from the outside into the cup
d) stand up and observe
e) press the middle bit so it’s flat between your boobs and check it stays there. If it bounces forward it’s not fitting properly.
f) turn round and check the back band-it should be dead straight. This will feel tighter than you’re used to if you normally wear ill-fitting bras.

If you have the dreaded 4-boob effect, try the next size (or sizes) up. If there’s excess fabric, try going down a size.

The other lie that the M&S ladies peddle is that when you buy a bra it should do up comfortably on the middle hooks. This is rubbish-and I can’t even think of a good reason why they might think it’s true! You want it to do up on the loosest hooks because bras-like all clothes-stretch with time. In order to get longevity out of it you want to be able to periodically move in a set of hooks and get the same level of support. If you get to the tightest hooks and the support isn’t there anymore, it’s time for a new bra.

Yesterday I bought this in two colour ways from Leia:

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It’s gorgeous! Fantasie, Freya and Fauve are all great brands for big boobed ladies. There are many more, particularly in palaces (not a typo, I love it) like Rigby and Peller, but they cost quite a bit more. They’re worth exploring though. No price is too high for boobs that sit high so it’s obvious you do have a waist after all, make you look slimmer, make clothes fit better, and generally are worth showing off.

Glad I got that off my chest.

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