Wednesday, 30 January 2013

FitFlop - made for men too!

Supertop in Inky Blue

My husband doesn't really like my FitFlops - he much prefers heels (like most men let's face it) but I fly in the face of his raised eyebrows and wear mine in Summer and Winter. The truth of the matter is he should also look to invest in a pair. Nine times out of ten he buys casual trainer type shoes and often after one wearing he's moaning... So I am doing this post to make him, and other men, aware that FitFlop make shoes for them too! So stop moaning about aching, squeezed tootsies - no one will ever know you're wearing the same shoe as your partner!

Here are some of the latest styles from the new Men's Spring/Summer range. And if you'd like to order a pair for your man or yourself I also have a Free Shipping code you can use when you order from the website - simply use FFBLOG4. (*Free standard delivery on purchases from valid from 29/01/2013 – midnight 05/02/2013. The code is not valid in conjunction with any other offer or promotion.)

Ike Boot in chocolate,

Flex  in Inky Blue

Supertone in Slate Grey

Flex Bungee in Cord

Many of these are on offer at the moment on the FitFlop site so check them out for some real bargains!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

French Hens at Annie Sloan

I've got so many friends in the suburbs who keep chickens I can really get the popularity of chicken themed prints and papers. Annie Sloan has some really pretty designs - it's just wise to use them sparingly! Also check out the Annie Sloan site for great paint colours and some gorgeous little home decor vintage finds.

French Hen chair
French Hens fabric

French Hens
French Hens depicts chickens, roosters, eggs and a feather on a linen look background. Use it to cover a chair, make cushions or kitchen curtains.  It is excellent value as it is an old design and comes straight from a French factory. 
160cm wide with a pattern repeat of 63cm/25ins
80% cotton and 20% polyester

* Also available from stockists in the USA & Canada, Ireland, and continental Europe 

Price: £19.90

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Revlon Just Bitten Lipstain and Balm

Revlon Just Bitten Lipstain and Balm
Now my nails are more often than not 'just bitten' but never my lips but I get where their coming from here. Not a gloss or lipstick this lipstain gives you a stain of colour and contains a balm too enriched with Vitamin C - what we all need in deepest winter. I love this bright colour as it has real zing and heralds the Spring but I know I will be opting for something safer from the palette of seven, available colours. Revlon Just Bitten is available from Boots at £7.99.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Kate Moss on the front cover of LOVE magazine


I don't know about this at all I really don't. The magazine editor in me says 'Wow, what an amazing shot and this will really stand-out on the bookstands' the woman and mother of two daughters says that this is totally unrealistic and photo-shopped to within an inch of it's life. Once again we are confronted with unobtainable images of womanhood. At least the coverline is hinting at a feature decrying the heroin chic look from a while back, but is this really any better? I can't decide but it is a beautiful cover all the same...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Roma Cuff bracelet from Aspinal of London

Roma Cuff Bracelet in Black, Leopard & Brown Snakeskin - Aspinal of London
Roma Cuff bracelet from Aspinal

Cuffs are still around and can suddenly make the simplest outfit just that bit more glamorous! Upping the glamour stakes further is a cuff from Aspinal of London and this one with black, leopard print and brown snakeskin has all the glamour you'll need. Team it with a plain black sweater or dress for pure class. And of course there were lots of pieces of over-sized jewellery on the catwalks for this season and I predict they will still be around next winter too.
The cuff is handcrafted with inlays of fine snakeskin leather in a trio of contrasting colours all set in pale gold colour. Of course it's engraved with the signature Aspinal logo on the outer edge and is available in 2 sizes. 

Here are some other colours from which to choose.

Roma Cuff Bracelet in Rainbow & Gold Snakeskin - Aspinal of London
Roma Cuff Bracelet in Purple, Gold & Fuchsia Snakeskin - Aspinal of London
Roma Cuff Bracelet in Zebra & Cobalt Blue Snakeskin - Aspinal of London
All cuffs shown here £79 from Aspinal.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Aethic Sovee sunscreen - helping to save coral reefs

Barbados beaches - clean and beautiful

Unless you can afford the Caribbean in January (and few of us can) then it'll be a while before you will even come close to thinking about sunscreen. But when you do and especially if you are going somewhere with a coral reef, it is worth checking our Sovee the world's first certified Marine Positive sunscreen from Aethic. This sunscreen is founded on the principle that skin and the natural environment are each incredibly valuable and deserve the best care. But what does this actually mean?

Aethic Sovee sunscreen

Most sunscreens, according to Professor Roberto Danovaro who published a scientific study in The National Geographic and The Times in 2008 on subject, kill coral. The ingredients in sunscreens can trigger dormant and deadly viruses in coral so you may be unwittingly contributing to the 40-50% of our coral reefs that have already been lost.

Aethic Sovee is formulated to include the best, most photostable sun-filters available alongside three organic moisturizers with Vitamin E as a skin anti-oxidant. It only uses food-grade perservatives and even the bottle is biodegradable. there is no nano particles, no alcohol, no titanium dioxide, no zinc oxide and no pertroleum emollients. So it's good for you and the environment too.

I have a tube and although the snow is still on the ground so I can't put it through it's paces, I can tell you it's quickly absorbed and smells gorgeous.

Part of the profits go to the coral nursery programme The Going Blue Foundation. Visit them and also check out Marine Positive for more information.

Aethic Sovee is available in spf 15, 25, 40 and is £40 for 150ml.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Snowdrop Days at The Chelsea Physic Garden

Okay once this blizzard has abated we may all feel like venturing out and when we do there is so much to do even in the winter months. A visit to The Chelsea Physic Garden is definitely on my to-do list for a wander and I may well target one of their Snowdrop Days which are the first week in February.

The garden doesn't officially open until March 29th, but from 2nd - 10th February they have a series of guided walks to see the snowdrops and to take in a talk or two (there's even one on bee-keeping which I quite fancy, beats chickens in the suburbs anyday). For a full list visit The Chelsea Physic Garden's website for the full list of walks and talks.

The Chelsea Physic Garden is the second oldest botanical garden in England and was founded in 1673 to promote the growth of plants for healing purposes. It is a walled garden in the heart of London and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Admission Charges

£9.00 for adults and senior citizens
£6.00 for students*, unemployed people* and children (5-15 years old)*
Free for Friends of the Garden (please remember to bring your membership card to ensure free access)
Companions of disabled visitors are admitted free.
* Proof required
Visit the Garden year-round - support us and join the Friends of the Garden from £38 per year.

Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS, UK 
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7352 5646  Fax: +44 (0)20 7376 3910   Registered Charity Number 286513

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Lola Rose - some sale bargains to be had!

Check out Lola Rose as there are some fab bargains to be had in their sale - but hurry they won't last for long at these prices!

Lola Rose Sparkle ring, £34.20 instead of £114
Lola Rose Harley ring, £34.50 instead of £115

Lola Rose Oriana ring £66 down from £220
Lola Rose Addie necklace, £57 instead £190

Lola Rose Wren necklace £29.40 instead of £98

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Home-made Butternut Squash soup

Perfect for lunch, perfect for a dinner-party starter this butternut squash soup is delicious and easy to prepare.

Simply cut a butternut squash in half and take out the seeds and pith. Put blobs of butter on it and bake in the oven (around 180 degrees) for about an hour until soft.

soup recipe
Prepare your butternut squash with salty butter

Scoop out the soft flesh and add to a saucepan with 1 litre vegetable stock and a medium potato diced. Cook until all veg is soft then blend (or use a potato masher). Add milk for everyday or cream for a dinner party. Serve with freshly ground black pepper on the top!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Pampering your hands after Christmas Cooking

The presents have been unwrapped, the turkey has been served and the champagne drunk dry. Now for the not-so-fun part… Cleaning up. Washing the dishes and scrubbing away that grease can leave your poor little mitts dry, scaly and wrinkly – not the prettiest start to 2013, hey?

With all the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle, it’s common to neglect your skin. And unfortunately our hands are often – quite literally – left out in the cold. Heaters, gloves, detergent… It all takes quite a toll on the sensitive skin and nails. While there’s no getting out of doing the dishes, you can help to protect and revitalize your hands with a few easy beauty basics.

Save your hands with Wild Rose Hand Cream, The Body Shop

The Body Shop has an extensive range of creams, oils and treatments specially designed for hands and feet. Keep some Wild Rose Caring Hand Wash (£5) next to the kitchen and bathroom sink – it’s softer than regular soap and gently moisturises while cleaning. A tube of soft Body Shop hand cream, like the classic Vitamin E Hand & Nail Cream (£8), is a handbag essential – plus it makes a great stocking filler if you’re looking for that little something special. If your hands have already been in the wars, you’ll need some serious repair – before bed, slather on some of the Wild Rose Nourishing Hand Butter (£11) and pop on a pair of the Thirsty Hands Moisture Gloves (£7) and let the rich cream work its magic overnight. Long-lasting and non-greasy, you’ll be saying good morning to deliciously soft skin.

Now that your skin is sorted, it’s time for the nails. Get your fingers ready for some New Year cheer with a quick at-home manicure. Remove any old polish with a non-acetone remover, then gently file the nails from outer edges towards the centre. Buff away any ridges and restore natural shine with the Big Nail Shiner (£2), before softening your cuticles with the two-in-one Almond Nail & Cuticle Oil (£7). Use an orange wood stick to push back the cuticles – never cut them though as this can lead to infection. Dry away any excess oil and apply a nourishing base coat. Follow with two coats of your favourite party shade and then seal it all with a glossy top coat.

So, get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions and treat yourself to a DIY pamper session – put your feet (and fingers) up, grab the hand creams and indulge in a little TLC… ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Brilliant Spring/Summer nail colours from Max Factor

Baby it's cold outside - and I mean cold. Plus I can't see past the snow, but I am thinking about Spring and nothing conjures up Spring colours like vibrant pinks. So I am now looking forward to being able to wear this brilliantly Springlike collection from Max Factor!

Max Factor Punk Pink Spring/Summer 2013 Glossfinity nail shades
Newest shades for Spring/Summer 2013 from Max Factor.
These Glossfinity nail polish shades are just £4.99 on the Boots website and are hard wearing with really true , multi-toned colours that shimmer. I shall be getting down to Boots and getting my hands on at least two of them...

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared - book review

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

I haven't done many book reviews but as part of my New Year promise to myself (and because I do read books albeit on my Kindle) I am now going to start telling you about the one's I like. The one's you shouldn't bother with are not going to be reviewed just the one's I would recommend.

To start with I must tell you about The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson and translated by Rod Bradbury. I loved this book so much I have bought and given it to my husband and one of my best friends. Don't think because this book is by a Swedish author that it is similar to Larsson (who wrote the superb Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest etc) or Mankell (who wrote the Wallender series) because it's a completely different type of animal entirely.

The protagonist, Allan Karlsson, is 100 years old and we meet him bored and lonely in an old peoples home.  Being livelier than his years would normally dictate, he decides to do a runner and climbs out of the window, across the flower beds to freedom.

We follow Allan through the story of what happens next while visiting his past life where, due to being in certain places at certain times, he becomes embroiled in some of the most exciting and historic events of the 20th Century from the Russian revolution through to saving Franco's life and getting drunk with President Truman.

It's a surreal crime novel and a surreal historical novel. The characters are mad, the situations even more so. Our hero unwittingly becomes involved in problems with drug-dealers after taking their suitcase full of money at a local bus station, and is soon being chased through the countryside where he teams up with a small-time thief called Julius.

This book is pacy and will have you hooked after the first couple of chapters as you really can't believe that things can get any more bizarre - and yet they do. You will laugh and will be amazed at the genius of the author who ties in so many varied events of huge significance in a way that is highly entertaining and infinitely readable.

I loved reading it and finished it in about a week. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared is available in paperback and ebook.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Best films of 2013 - what's coming up

We've launched Handpicked Media TV which is very exciting and I must share with you this great interview with Hey You Guys who are a brilliant film site and who we managed to get to give us some exclusive insight into what's coming to a screen near you soon...

I can't wait for the new Star Trek movie - but what are you going to be booking cinema seats for this year I wonder - do let me know!

Take a look at the pick of Cos for Spring/Summer

Cos is going strong and I have to say it's my 'turn to' label for easy to wear yet stylish clothing. You do need to be taller than average I must admit, as many of the designs are long and lean, but having said that, you can also get away with it if you are curvy (which I am). Timeless, classic, well-made - what's not to love!

Fabrics are good quality and hard-wearing and the colour palettes are classic and will span the seasons. Here are a few of my favourites from the new Spring/Summer collection which is available to buy online!

Cos coat for Spring/Summer 2012
Printed Spring/Summer Coat, £125, Cos 
Cos fashion for Spring/Summer
Abstract print top, £59, Cos

Pastel Cos pleated top
High-neck top, £59, Cos
Cos jersey dress for Spring/Summer
Elastic detail soft jersey dress, £55, Cos

Cos accessories necklace Spring/Summer
Coiled bronze necklace, £29, Cos

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Vichy Dermablend Corrective Foundation Review

I was given a tube of Vichy Dermablend Corrective Foundation and with the loss of my tan it has become a vital part of my morning make-up routine. I like the Vichy range - it's simple and there's something for everyone. I have already reviewed the Vichy Activ Serum which was impressive too so check that out when you have a moment. Being simple in ethos holds true with this particular product also as there are a range of colours to choose from (I chose Sand) and although it says its for those who want to cover blemishes, I find that it's not too opaque and covers evenly without me feeling over made-up.

The Dermablend fluid combines pigments with an ultra-malleable texture - hence I find it blends in really well. The finish is good - not too matt or shiny, and the pigments seem to have a 'soft-focus' finish which really does help with my lines, broken capillaries and bags!

So what else is good? It is really gentle so better for sensitive skins than other similar products. It is hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and has soothing Vichy Thermal Spa Water as an ingredient. It is also paraben free.

I do feel that I'm not wearing make-up - which is pretty impressive for one that sets out to be corrective. Buy from a wide range of pharmacies and Boots, £15.50.

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Eco-friendly fashion from People Tree

I love what the people at People Tree try to do. They are worth a look as they have some perfect styles for the weird 'mid-seasonal' period that will take you through to Easter and beyond. What's so special about People Tree?
Their products are eco compatible with the planet and they work hard to create livelihoods and sustain incomes for an impressive 4000 artisans and farmers from around the world. They work to minimize environmental impact and use organic and Fair Trade cotton. Dyes are safe and they steer clear of synthetics. If this is all sounding a bit dippy, hippy it's not - it makes great sense and the products are both relevant and stylish. Jewellery is produced in India and Kenya and is handmade by Fair Trade groups, often supporting disabled artisans.

Here's my pick for the season.

People Tree twisted copper bangle with bone bead charms, £25
People Tree Sausagedog jumper, £57
People Tree Eloise 100% cotton fleece dress, £65

I can see myself in all of these and I'll feel good wearing them for more than just the looking good!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Alexander McQueen ring - my perfect mix

I love skulls and I love bees (I even have a tattoo of a bee as Deborah means Bee) so coming across an amalgamation of the two on the Alexander McQueen site set my heart racing. Definitely one for the list for the coming season this gold/amber crystal bee and skull cocktail ring is a mighty affordable £150. Gold is the colour of metal too which I prefer over silver any day so that is another tick in this ring's favour.

Gold/Amber Crystal Bee and Skull Cocktail Ring
Gold/Amber crystal bee and skull cocktail ring, £150, Alexander McQueen

Friday, 4 January 2013

Fuerzabruta, Roundhouse - well worth a look.

Fuerzabruta at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm

Last night we had our annual family outing to a show. Would that it were more often than this, but we're not always in the same city at the same time, so it's not always easy. Fuerzabruta caught our eye as it looked completely different from anything else and was more affordable than the West End. And none of us had been to the Roundhouse in London's Chalk Farm since it's been refurbished, which is shocking as it's been open at least 6 years.

Fuerzabruta (which means Brute Force) was actually the show that re-opened the Roundhouse in 2006 and is now here until 26th Jan - so there is still time to go if it grabs your interest any.

So what is Fuerzabruta exactly? I did lie awake this morning trying to figure out how I was going to describe a performance that is neither one thing nor another and have come to the following conclusion.

It's not dance. It's not really theatre. It's not circus. What it is, is a performance pulling together all three into a show that never really lets up in terms of surprise and is enormously entertaining. Is it performance art then? Well nearly, but I'll come on to that...

The Roundhouse is the perfect venue as you stand in a space with the action taking place above head height. There are moving walls, a perspex (or something similar) box suspended above your head filled with water where nymphs play, loud bangs, a live drum orchestra, cardboard, wind, water, tissue paper by the load and lots of trapeze.

It isn't as acrobatic as something like Cirque du Soleil so comparison isn't fair. And to describe it as performance art comes close but it really isn't anywhere near as pretentious as this so often can be. My daughter is studying Theatre and Performance which should make her err towards being a bit pretentious herself, but strangely if anything, it has just heightened her 'bullshit radar' - and she loved it.

Crashing through cardboard walls, Fuerzabruta
This is not a show for those who can't stand for an hour or those who don't like being in close proximity to others. If you like a bit of a rave you'll love the music - lots of the younger audience members (and there were many) joined in with signature hand-waving and air-punching in time to the beat.

It is sexy - but not in an overtly sexual way. Interestingly the male performers remain fully clothed in suits throughout whereas the females get down to luminous pants and not much else. But even the ardent feminist in me who still surfaces occasionally wasn't put off by this obvious inequality.

The performers defy gravity, make us look at things through a lob-sided world and throw themselves in with great abandon. 

The Telegraph newspaper gave it rave reviews back in 2006 and it looks to be the same show. It's an hour which is long enough and is great value for money - it's from Argentina (Buenos Aires to be exact) and has sold out in New York. Catch it while you can... you certainly won't catch them!

Fuerzabruta, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London. 

check out this trailer

and here is a scene from the watergirls section

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Popchips - healthy snack for the time of year

Back in the office which is really rather pleasant. Sometimes being back in a routine is good and this one feels good. Good and progressive just how I like it. But how to stick to my regime set out by my Fitbit as described recently?

Popchips are little beauties which will help I'm sure. These potato chips are not fried or baked but have a little heat and pressure applied to 'pop' them perfectly. There are also no fake colourings, no artificial flavours, no grease and they taste really delicious. We had a load sent into the office which will keep us all off the sweet stuff for a while - so thank you Popchips!

Popchips in Salt and Vinegar flavour

Calories per bag 94, fat 3.1g, saturates 0.4g, salt 0.51g, sugars 1.3g so really not at all bad...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Gorgeous Balenciaga Bag from Matches

Balenciaga bag, £495

I must be in a dream state as it's New Year but I have been ever so slightly hypnotised by this Balenciaga bag on the website. It's a little messenger bag which will be filthy in no time if I ever get my hands on one - but a girl can dream can't she? Balenciaga messenger bag, £495,

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