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The 8- Hours- Or- More Sleep Challenge

 

 

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Last year I set myself a challenge where I wanted to see if I could cope without using my hair straighteners for a month. I’d discovered the benefits of straightening my untameable waves since my mid-twenties and couldn’t live without them. But years of using the heated hair appliance had left my locks parched and frizzy so I decided to abandon my straightening regime for a while. Over the course of a month – with the exception of straightening the front sections of my hair (I just had to!) – I found that I didn’t need to use my straighteners all the time and my hair got it’s va-va-voom back. A challenge well worth doing.

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Well now I’ve set myself a new challenge. And it’s one that’s much more vital than forgoing the old hair straighteners…

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been one for getting a good night’s kip. We’re supposed to be getting, on average, eight hours of good quality sleep a night but I can’t remember when was the last time I’d slept for that long. I currently get on average around five to six hours sleep a night. So naturally I’m shattered every day. Furthermore, I’ll be starting work an hour earlier in two months time which will mean getting up even earlier in order to begin the long commute into work. Not good!

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When I was younger, I was often told how tired I looked (and quite often I felt it too) and things got worse when Mr.D. came along because we were long-distance for quite some time, and the nine hour time difference meant that I’d either go to bed really late after talking to him or I’d have to get up mega early to Skype him. My sleep patterns became quite erratic and I’ve never been able to regulate my sleep schedule. And I definitely, definitely need my sleep. Without it I can’t concentrate, can’t string a sentence together, cab be rude, snappy, and irritable. In short, I can be a right bitch! And I can also see the toll that lack of sleep is taking on my face.

Lack of sleep makes me feel like tearing out my hair!

Lack of sleep makes me feel like tearing out my hair!

 

It doesn’t help that I’m something of a night owl and can stay up for hours. But then it’s an ordeal having to get up in the morning. Is it any wonder that coffee is my best friend? But even then coffee can only do so much and it definitely can’t work miracles. It can’t banish my under-eye circles, or illuminate my tired-looking face. I don’t think make-up can hide my tiredness. I just look tired with a whole ton of make-up on! And it can’t make me focus better or improve my memory – but I believe sleep can do all these things and more which is why I’m challenging myself to get eight hours of sleep (or more) every night for a month.

Sleep makes you feel healthier and fitter

Sleep makes you feel healthier and fitter

 

I’ve been sacrificing sleep in favour of other things I feel I need to do but sleep should never be ignored as it’s so vital for our overall health and mental performance. The health benefits include:

  • Improved memory
  • Less fatigue
  • Increased stamina
  • Sharp attention
  • Less stress
  • Increased immune response
  • Feeling happier
  • Less depression
  • Decreased dependency on caffeine
  • Better judgement
  • Reduced chances of developing certain illnesses and health problems
  • Improved efficiency and productivity
  • Reduces risks of accidents and making errors
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Better sex!

And let’s not forget the beauty benefits – after all, it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing:

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  • A radiant complexion
  • Bright eyes
  • Smooth skin
  • Look more youthful
  • Gives your body a chance to renew, restore and rebalance
  • Reduced dark circles and bags
  • Gives overnight beauty products a chance to get to work
  • Look better in photos and not like a Toby jug!
  • Less make-up  needed!

Now with all these fantastic benefits isn’t it worth getting a little extra shut eye. Hopefully the new and improved me will be reporting back exactly a month from now feeling like a whole new woman.

Wish me luck!

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The ‘No Straighteners’ Challenge: An Update

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Back in April, I told you that I was planning to ditch my hair straighteners, having used them constantly for almost a decade. As I have unruly, ultra-wavy hair, my straighteners were most definitely my best friend, and I always felt my most glamorous with super-sleek, straight hair.

Unfortunately the battle with my hair really began early last year. Years of straightening had left my hair frazzled, parched and a little on the static side. There were days I looked like Mr. Majeika and no amount of hair product would help. I was beginning to lose hope of ever having hair I could be proud of again.

I cannot live without my Tresemme hair straighteners.

I cannot live without my Tresemme hair straighteners.

I  made a great egg and olive oil conditioner – but was too lazy to prepare it every time I washed my hair. Naughty! I also tried a variety of shampoos and conditioners which I thought might help improve the condition of my hair. Everything helped to some degree but nothing eradicated the problem completely.

That’s when I decided that the only thing left was to ditch the hair straighteners. I knew it would be hard because without straightening my hair, I look like a small shrub! Would I be happy for Mr.D. to see me looking like this every day? Could I walk down the street and not mind the horrified stares? Would  I be able to ignore the smirks from my students?

But I knew that if I continued to straighten my hair, it would just become an even bigger mess. My hair was so straw-like I felt as though I had a haystack on my head. No, the straighteners had to go.

So they did. Well – almost…

I set myself a challenge that I would go a month – possibly longer – without straightening my hair and see if it made any difference. For the most part, I was actually very good and kept to my word BUT…  I couldn’t stand the kinked sections of hair that framed my face, so I cheated a little and straightened those sections. But that’s all I did. The rest of my hair was completely untouched by my straightening irons. Thankfully my Tresemme Keratin Smooth shampoo and conditioner left my hair adequately sleek so that I could get away with not straightening my hair.

Image from en.wikipedia.org

Image from en.wikipedia.org

In fact it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve taken to straightening my hair again but not in the same capacity as before. The straighteners only come out when necessary and even then it’s only to smooth down the sections that really need it.

And what’s the condition of my hair like now? A million times better! All the effort was so worth it. Yes, I still have a little frizz going on but my hair is definitely more soft, shinier and a lot smoother. It’s less dry and looks and feels much, much healthier. It’s definitely been given a new lease of life, and I intend to keep it this way.

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I’ve also been paying more attention to my diet and been eating more fruit, vegetables and oily fish as well as taking vitamin supplements, as I know that what you put into your body is just as important as what you put onto your hair. I’ve also felt that having super hot showers might also have been drying out my hair, so I’ve been washing my hair in much cooler water.

So I didn’t adhere to the challenge one hundred per cent – but I still think I did quite well. And now I no longer depend on hair straighteners to have great looking hair.

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So for you ladies out there who are reaching the end of your tether with dry, straw-like hair, there is hope. The best advice I could give you is a healthier diet and using your heated hair appliances a lot less.  It could well be the making of your hair!

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Good luck!

The No Straighteners Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

Forget the wheel, the motor car and even the mobile phone; for me, the greatest invention ever has got to be… hair straighteners! That’s right, hair straighteners. But then when you’ve got unruly hair that can only be tamed by a good pair of straighteners, you’d think that they were the best ever invention too.

I have been using hair straighteners since I was in my mid-twenties and I could never get over the transformation: I went from looking like a small shrub to looking like a girl from a hair commercial. Amazing! I have a fantastic pair of straighteners by Tresemme and they go everywhere with me.

 

Sadly, I’ve noticed that all this non-stop straightening over the years has left my hair in something of a sorry state. It’s become quite parched, frizzy, static and more unruly than usual. Using styling products is only a short-term solution to the problem. I’ve tried using home-made remedies such as conditioners made from egg and olive oil and switching to different shampoos which are suitable for my hair type. I’ve also limited the number of times I use my straighteners, use a heat-defence spray before using heated appliances, and have reduced the heat setting on it. And it has made a noticeable difference… but it’s not enough.

 

I now have to concede defeat and ditch my straighteners. At least for a while – a long while! I realise the problem are the straighteners and until I stop using them completely, my hair is never going to recover. My hairdresser was appalled by the condition of my hair which she said had been ‘burnt’ from over using heat appliances.

But the question is, after years of being heavily dependent on them, can I leave my house with my hair looking au natural? How will I be able to face my work colleagues with crazy hair? Can I deal with the sniggers from my students? Will Mr. D refuse to be seen in public with me? What will having shrub-like hair do for my confidence? Well, I think my confidence will be in even more tatters if I continue to wreck the condition of my hair which has always been one of my best features and if I want it to stay one of my best I have to take care of it and make sacrifices… meaning no more straighteners.

 

 

So I’m going to give my hair a lot of tlc; continue doing what I’m doing as well as having conditioning treatments at the salon, and not use my straighteners for one whole month and see if there’s any improvement. I’m hoping that some really good hairstyling products will help in making me look ‘presentable.’ But will I really be able to get through a whole month without my beloved straighteners? Watch this space…

…and wish me luck!

 

Thank Tresemme! Keratin Smooth To The Rescue

 

 

In recent times my hair has been giving me cause for concern. Despite the fact that I suffer from irritating frizz (grrr!) especially when it comes into contact with slight drizzle, my hair has always been my fave feature. But over the years, constant washing, styling, overuse of heat appliances and styling products have really taken its toll on my soon lifeless locks  – making straw look soft, glossy and  manageable. In fact at one point the frizz was so bad and causing my hair to stick up, I swear I looked like Mr. Majeika’s love child! And no matter what I used, I couldn’t get it to lie flat.

But there were things I knew I had to do in order to get my hair looking and feeling at its best again. I used an egg and olive oil conditioning treatment; cut back on the washing and styling; used heat appliances only when necessary and used hair products as sparingly as possible. I ate healthily opting for foods that were hair-friendly and started taking the right supplements.

It all made a difference and my hair started to look and feel better. But just when I thought that there was nothing else I could do, Tresemme came to the rescue…
I’ve always been a huge fan of Tresemme products. Despite trying lots of other brands, I always come back to Tresemme. Their products are always reasonably priced and it does what it says on the tin. Mr. D knows me so well – when I asked him to get a new blow-dryer for me, he came home with a lovely one by Tresemme! Yes, I have the best hubby ever!

 

So while wandering around the shops, wondering what to do about my damaged-beyond-repair-hair, I stumbled across Tresemme’s keratin smooth hair range. It apparently eliminates frizz for up to 48 hours so hair becomes smoother, shinier and sleeker. The range of products have been infused with keratin – the key structural component of hair, skin and nails – so regular use will help hair to become soft, manageable and frizz-free. I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a go as I selected the shampoo and conditioner and tossed it into my basket. “Let’s hope it works it’s magic,”I thought. Although if I’m honest, it was a miracle I needed more than magic!

So fast forward three months…

 

Am I loving my hair again? You bet! Although it still feels a teeny bit dry, it’s in much better condition. I’ve also started using the Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque which has worked wonders. There’s just a smidgeon of frizz but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was before. At a risk of sounding like the voiceover in a shampoo commercial, my hair really does look healthier and glossier, and I’ve had some lovely compliments on how great my hair looks. In fact I can honestly say that after using products from the Keratin Smooth range, my hair straighteners are no longer essential – even though they are by Tresemme! If I need to, I just quickly run the straighteners over the front sections of my hair to iron out any minor kinks – and I’m good to go.

So if there’s anyone out there seriously pulling out their hair at the sorry state of it, give this hair-changing range by Tresemme a go. It could be the best thing ever to happen to your hair.

 

Armchair Masterchefs

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My husband and I pretty much gave up on television a while back. No matter how many channels there were, there still didn’t seem to be anything worth watching. But there are still some shows we make time to watch religiously. At a risk of sounding like a couple of oldies who have nothing better to do, Mr. D. and I are addicted to culinary competitions which seem to be all the rage on television these days: Come Dine With Me, The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef, Next Great Baker… you name it, we watch it! In fact it’s more than watching it’s become a full scale obsession. We must tune in to see what happens next: who stays… and who goes.

We have a lot of fun watching these shows. They’re entertaining and informative but they can also be quite depressing. Why? Because after years of thinking that I’m a pretty good cook (I’m no Heston but I’m not bad either) I’ve suddenly realised that compared to the contestants who take part in these shows, my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. I’ve come to this conclusion after realizing that:

  • My pastry making skills are far from perfect (as explained by Mr. Hollywood and Ms. Berry.)
  • I have no idea how to make sushi – even though I love to eat it!
  • There is a tenancy for me to overcook food (as pointed out by Mr. D!)
  • I can really only bake cakes when I have a little help from my friend Betty Crocker.
  • Rare, medium rare, medium, well done… it’s all the same to me!
  • I’ve lost the ability to poach a decent egg.
  • I’ve never heard of half of the ingredients mentioned in the show.
  • There is no way I can chop onions, apples, carrots etc. so that all the pieces are virtually identical.
  • I have no idea how to debone a duck.
  • There’s very little chance of me being able to adequately filet a fish.
  • I don’t have the kind of palette where I can successfully identify every ingredient in a dish.
  • It’s really not a good idea for me to attempt to flambé anything…
  • Me and sharp knives are a dangerous combination so it’s really not a good idea for me to go at the speed of the professional chefs or the other contestants.
  • I like to take my time in the kitchen – that probably explains why we never eat before 10pm.
  • I probably don’t add as much seasoning as I should.
  • I love eating shellfish – but haven’t got a clue how to prepare it.
  • This may be an Anglo-Italian household but there is no freshly made pasta in this house as neither of us know how to prepare it!
  • If I cook fish so that the skin is super crispy, it’ll be burnt.
  • We like to drench our food in sauce – none of this ‘little smidgeon’ business.
  • We also like large portions in this house!
  • I haven’t got a clue how to make ketchup or barbeque sauce from scratch.
  • I’ve never used most of the gadgets and kitchen appliances I’ve seen.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve learnt a lot from watching these shows and have got lots of new ideas.  We like to put what we’ve learnt into practice:

  • I can make bruschetta better than I did before.
  • I now know what goes into making honeycomb.
  • I know how to remove bones from fish easily.
  • I know the secret to a good pesto sauce.
  • Seasoning is important!
  • So is not overcooking food!
  • Garnishes are important but there should also have a purpose other than just decoration.
  • We come across lots of new flavour combinations.
  • I know that you should never wash sea urchin (not that I’m likely to cook it!)
  • we’re trying to put into practice that less is more!
  • I know what’s meant by tunnel boning.
  • I also know what a ballotine is.
  • I know how to pronounce words such as ‘coulis’ and ‘melange’.
  • I see the contestants mistakes and know what NOT to do.

 

I still have an awful lot to learn and I’m getting there slowly. There’s still hope for me. But I know that no matter how much I learn, I would never want a dressing down from Mr. Hollywood or Mr. Ramsay so there’s no chance of me ever entering one of these competitions. I know which side of the television screen is the safest for all concerned!

 

Thank You Veet!

 

 

I’m not really much of a beauty gadget girl; until recently my hair straighteners and blow dryer were the only appliances I needed. But then I discovered the Veet EasyWax electrical roll on kit which promised ‘salon wax results at home.’ “Yeah, right!” I thought rather cynically.

 

 

 

Shaving proved to be such a hassle that I stopped a decade ago and have been waxing  – using hot wax – ever since. Like most women, I have waxing treatments done at salons, and as much as I love being pampered (it’s really not that painful!) visiting salons requires time and money I don’t always have. While living in the States, I was shocked to see the price of waxing treatments in salons. Things are usually much cheaper in America than they are in Britain – but not getting your pins waxed! I knew that this was something I wouldn’t be able to do regularly due to the expense – and I hated the thought of looking like a cave woman!

 

 

 

Of course, I tried waxing at home. I’d buy a tub of wax and a pack of cloth strips and although effective, proved to be very messy and time consuming. it was all that running down the stairs to the kitchen to reheat the tub of wax that was going cold! In the end I gave up and just stuck to visiting the salon whenever I could. Though I did worry about what I’d do if ever we moved back to Oregon. I didn’t want to bankrupt myself just because I wanted silky smooth legs!

 

 

 

Then I heard about the Veet EasyWax. It sounded like the answer to my prayers but a lot of my local stores didn’t stock them. it was only recently, when I moved to a new area that I managed to find one.  It had already been very reasonably priced but now it was on SALE!!! talk about a stroke of luck! So I snapped one up but it was about another two weeks before I could put it to use.

 

 

The EasyWax is a handheld gadget that looks like a larger than average lady shaver. You pop a wax cartridge into the EasyWax, plug it in and wait for the wax to heat up. Then just roll it on and whip it off with the wax strips! It comes with a super simple set of instructions and I was absolutely delighted with the results. Cartridges can be bought separately. most of the gadgets I buy only get used once before they’re consigned to spending the rest of their days cooped inside the box they came in. It won’t be happening with the Veet EasyWax.

 

Worth every penny. Veet – we salute you!

 

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