My hands are really in a shocking condition and I can’t understand why. Despite applying twice my weight in hand cream, and taking my vitamin E capsules religiously, my hands are extremely dry, rough and look as though they’re in danger of starting a fire if I rub them together! It’s actually quite embarrassing. My hands get used quite a lot in my job as they are always on show so I’m starting to feel more than a little self-conscious.
Feeling low at the dry condition of my hands, I’m considering hitting the bottle.
The milk bottle that is!
I’ve had dry skin pretty much my whole life and when I was in my late teens I developed a mild form of eczema. I only have flare ups maybe once every couple of years so I’m quite fortunate. But during periods when my skin is very dry, I use milk on my skin instead of water. It’s very moisturizing and hydrating, and I really notice the difference. After about two days, my skin comes back to life again.
So I’ll be resorting to this treatment for my dry hands but I’ll be using honey as well which is another ingredient I’ve found to be very effective for dry skin. And of course this treatment isn’t just limited to your hands. You can use it for your face, feet, elbows, knees, lips… anywhere where you’re skin’s a bit parched, isn’t looking it’s best and needs a much-needed moisture boost.
You can use any kind of milk or honey that you prefer. I generally stick to my favourite manuka honey. This treatment is so simple as it only uses between two to four ingredients, so it’s well worth giving it a go.
MILK AND HONEY TREATMENT FOR DRY HANDS
YOU WILL NEED:
1 tbsp. honey
Enough warm milk to fully submerge your hands in
Apply honey to your to both sides of your hands. If you wish you could gently warm the honey before applying it to your hands.
Leave for around ten minutes.
Then place your hands in a basin of warm milk. Remember the milk should be warm not hot. You want to revive your hands not scald them!
Leave them in the milk for about five minutes or until all the honey has rinsed off.
Once you’ve taken your hands out of the milk, you can either give them a super quick blast with cold water to remove the honey-milk residue (with the emphasis being on super quick.)
Or you could remove all traces of milk and honey with cotton wool soaked in rosewater.
Slap on lashings of hand cream.
Use this treatment once a day for as many days as you need.
If you have any discolouration on your hands, rub a slice of lemon over it before applying the honey.
If you are using this treatment for a part of your body that you cannot simply just dunk in a basin of water, wipe the honey of with milk-soaked cotton wool pads.
Summer is just a matter of weeks away and it’ll be here before we know it. And despite the fact that it’s very cool today, no one could have failed to notice that the temperature has been rising these last few days. And as the temperature starts to soar, there’ll be lots of legs, arms, shoulders and tums on display, so it’s important to start getting your skin looking it’s very best. The winter months means that we’ve cranked up the central heating and indulged in long, hot baths which aren’t the best things for your skin. In addition to that, our bodies have been kept under wraps during the winters months and our skin hasn’t been getting the TLC it needs.
Well now’s our last chance to get our skin looking and feeling in tip-top condition before the big reveal in the sweltering heat of the Summer.
It’s super important to exfoliate before you tackle anything else as it makes hair removal easier, and the moisturising and tanning products more effective. Exfoliating is also important for removing and preventing ingrowing hairs, getting rid of scaly skin, and preventing blocked pores. For those of you who shave as part of your hair removal regime, exfoliating means that your razor won’t get clogged with flaky skin.
If your skin is a bit on the parched side, it will be more effective for you to use a scrub on dry skin rather than wet. Pay particular attention to heels, knees, and elbows.
I swear by using my loofah but I don’t have a particular favourite scrub although I generally prefer to use one which has lots of lovely natural ingredients and is cream based rather than oil based. Find the scrub that works best for your skin but remember NEVER use a scrub designed for your body on your face – it’s much too harsh.
2. HAIR REMOVAL
I still can’t get over the shock of seeing a lady on the bus wearing a short skirt with seriously hairy legs. It was definitely a case of ‘what were you thinking?’ in conjunction with ‘are my eyes deceiving me?’ Unfortunately they weren’t but it goes without saying that summer clothes generally mean fuzz-free skin, paying close attention to legs, underarms and bikini line – especially if you’re hitting the beach.
There are a whole ton of hair removal methods – shaving, waxing, epilating, depilatory creams, or laser hair removal – so choose what works best for you.
3. MINIMISE CELLULITE
Urgh the dreaded dimply, orange-peel skin that strikes fear into the hearts of women everywhere! Cellulite has been the bane of my life for more years than I care to remember but I know that my unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is to blame so I can’t really talk. The key here is to stick to a diet that is rich in wholegrains, raw fruit and vegetables and oily fish and low in salt, caffeine, and processed fatty food (yes, all the things I love!) Oh yes, and to get exercising!
There are also a lot of cellulite creams that reduce the appearance of cellulite by eliminating the toxins under your skin. And of course body brushing is fantastic for eliminating cellulite and getting rid of dry skin. Sadly it does feel like you’re being attacked with brambles but once you get passed this stage the results will be worth it!
I know, I know – we’re all a little lazy when it comes to moisturising and I must confess I’m no different. But if you want to keep skin looking young, supple, hydrated and flake-free then it’s a must so regular moisturising is a stage that should never be skipped.
There’s some fantastic products out there in the form of lotions, oils, body butters, whipped body butters etc. but if you’re a bit neglectful with the old moisturising, then try adding some oil in your bath water for some much needed hydration.
5. ELIMINATE DARK PATCHES
It would be delightful if we all had an even skin tone but in reality a lot of people don’t. Toes, knees, elbows and knuckles are just some of the areas that typically tend to be a little bit darker than the rest of our bodies. There are creams available which even out skin tone, and you can naturally lighten these areas by rubbing half a lemon over them for fifteen minutes a day. Yes, you’ll feel a bit of a lemon while you’re doing it but it does work! If you find lemon to be a bit harsh, try potato slices.
6. BANISHING ACNE
I really sympathise with women who have acne on certain parts of their bodies. I was lucky as a teen in that I didn’t have facial acne unlike a lot of my schoolmates. But life had a bigger surprise for me in store, and as I approached my twenties I got hit by the acne stick all over my chest, upper arms, and worst of all my back. It was not a pretty sight and quite embarrassing, and I was stuck with it for years.
Thankfully I was spared a visit to my doctor. Changing to organic bath products that were free of SLS, using a body wash that contained tea tree oil, and cleansing, toning and moisturising these areas the same way I did my face (yes, even my back which might explain my super long arms!) helped tremendously and now, apart from the odd spot every now and again, my skin is very clear. And I have to admit, I do love wearing, sleeveless, strapless, off-the-shoulder, or backless clothes because there was a time I could never get away with such outfits.
I have to admit that I’ve never used a fake tanning product in my life as I’ve never needed to so I can’t pretend to be the world’s greatest expert in this area. But I know that for some ladies, the appeal of a fake tan is that they feel healthier and look slimmer. Tanning products work best with smooth skin, so if you’ve followed all the previous steps, your product should go on easily and effectively with minimal risk of streaking.
Build up your tan gradually every day or use one that develops overnight and lasts several days. And don’t forget areas such as feet, ankles and fingers.
And I have to say, I’ve seen some awful fake tan jobs in my time (who hasn’t!) so go easy on the product and aim to get a gorgeous, naturally-looking, sunkissed glow.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
Increased immune response
Decreased dependency on caffeine
Reduced chances of developing certain illnesses and health problems
Improved efficiency and productivity
Reduces risks of accidents and making errors
Maintain a healthy weight
And let’s not forget the beauty benefits – after all, it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing:
A radiant complexion
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.
Jennifer Aniston has admitted that watching The Bachelor is her guilty pleasure. I watched one series back in 2012 where Courtney Robertson waltzed off into the sunset with her bachelor Ben Flajnik. I found the show to be over the top, contrived, and appeared to be scripted. It was something that people watched when they didn’t want to engage in anything too intellectually taxing… but oh my goodness it was so addictive! I hated myself for not doing something more productive with my time but once I started watching I had to continue in order to find out who Ben would choose. But I made sure that it was to be the last series I watched!
We all have our guilty pleasures in life. We all enjoy something which we feel a little bad for liking. And we shouldn’t feel bad – after all no one is ever harmed while we pursue our guilty pleasures – but we can’t help feeling a little bit naughty all the same.
It got me thinking about my own guilty pleasures – and I had a lot more than I thought. Naughty Mrs. D!
1. Romance novels
I wish I could say that I love rolling with the classics and I have a copy of War And Peace on my bedside table but that just wouldn’t be true! I’m a sucker for romance novels and it’s one of my ambitions to increase my collection of Danielle Steel and Mills and Boon novels. I’m lucky to be married to such a romantic man so there’s no shortage of romance in this household but these novels do help to reaffirm my belief in love and romance (as if I need reaffirmation!)
I’m sure I’ll get around to War And Peace one day!
I have a ridiculously sweet tooth. My parents are big sugar fans so I reckon I inherited my sweet tooth from them – and my dad in particular loves puddings. And if there’s lashings of custard, so much the better! I always stop off at M&S every Friday to ensure that I have enough yummy desserts and puddings to last until Sunday. During the cold winter months, there’s nothing I enjoy more than to curl up with something sweet. Unfortunately it means that I go back on the promise that I made to myself to be healthier.
Oh well – at least I’m sensible from Monday to Thursday!
I’ve loved magazines pretty much from the time I’ve been able to read. When I was a kid, my aunts and uncles used to spoil me with comics and kids magazines. As I was growing up, I’d sneak a peak at women’s magazines that my mum and aunts used to buy before I graduated to pop music and teen mags. At one point, I used to buy pretty much every magazine that was out there (or so it seemed!) which looking back was a ridiculous waste of money.
These days I limit myself to just two magazines a week which isn’t too bad and provides me with something to read on my way to and from work. The only problem is that our home is permanently strewn with magazines and pages that I’ve ripped out from them. So far Mr. D hasn’t complained…
I get such a buzz from buying things I really want that have been reduced to a fantastically great price. Books, clothes, shoes – you name it; if the price is low enough, I’m snapping it up! I don’t mind admitting that I’m a great bargain hunter and I try very hard not to pay full price if I can avoid it which often means waiting until it’s on sale. Whether this is a good thing or not is debateable but at least I can honestly say that say that I’ve never annoyed a retailer – or embarrassed myself – by haggling in my quest for a good bargain.
5. Reading in the bath
Reading in the bath is all very good if you live by yourself. But when you live with others, you run the risk of irritating them when you hog the bathroom while you indulge in a bubble-filled bath with a little light reading material. Whether it’s a magazine or one of those romance novels, it’s perfect ‘me’ time – especially when I throw a little chocolate into the mix!
6. Salon pampering
OK so there’s a lot of beauty treatments I pay for at professional salons which I could actually do myself at home thus saving money. But I’m often short of time (OK, a little lazy!) and I like being pampered. Grooming often feels like a chore when I have to do it myself.
And it doesn’t help that there is a salon right down the road from me…
7. Celebrity gossip
I don’t like gossip. I don’t like people who gossip. I’m careful not to gossip or repeat things that I’ve heard especially if it sounds dubious. So why is it that I’m addicted to the celebrity gossip pages of a particular national newspaper? It’s not only me but one of my closest friends as well who can’t get enough of the same gossip column, and we can often be found at work discussing in great depth what we’ve just read about Angelina, Jordan and co.
Mr. D is not impressed by any form of gossip and I have to admit I’m not too proud of myself either – but I try to convince myself that we’re not gossiping about real people!
8. Take aways/Eating Out
When I cook at home I save money, I know what’s going in my food, and it’s healthier. But there are some days when we just can’t be bothered to enter the kitchen – especially when we’re having a lazy weekend, in which case we’ll phone to get something delivered. And if we happen to be in town, we’ll stop off at one of our favourite restaurants. The food’s always delicious but I can’t pretend I don’t feel guilty afterwards.
9. The Internet
Ever since I discovered the benefits of being connected to the world wide web, it’s totally taken over my life. I do use it constructively – most of the time – but then there are times I’m just aimlessly surfing and I can spend hours wasting time looking at sites with animals wearing silly hats and people doing funny dances! I’m not sure what’s so addictive about the internet that it causes me to waste time when I actually do have things to do like sleep for example – but it’s one of those things that can’t be explained.
I may enjoy lounging around in the bath tub but I absolutely love my bed and no matter how much time I spend in my lovely comfy bed it’s never enough time. It’s where I sleep; read my magazines and romance novels; indulge in puddings; surf the net; eat my take always; shop for bargains on the internet, and of course snuggle up to my gorgeous hubby.
In the last few years, the world has gone bucket list mad – including me! There’s tons of things we all hope to do before we ‘kick the bucket’.
I’ve always been a bit of a bucket list girl and I’ve already managed to tick quite a few things off my list including being front row at a concert; visiting certain countries; going to a New Kids On The Block concert; finding my dream job, and marrying the love of my life.
But there’s still plenty of things that I haven’t done and am still waiting to tick more off my list, such as spending NYE in Time’s Square; writing a book; becoming a really good baker and confectioner; reading the entire Bible, and becoming fluent in another language… and many, many more! In fact I don’t think I’ll ever have a completely crossed-off list as I keep adding to it.
But the thought of an anti-bucket list had never occurred to me until I saw The Daily Post’s writing prompt, and it got me thinking about things I would never in a million years want to do, want to have, or want to go to!
So here’s my selection of twenty (that’s right, twenty) things – in no particular order – that complete my anti- bucket list!
1. LEARN TO MAKE QUICHE
I absolutely hate quiche with a passion. If you came to my house for lunch, you can be sure that you won’t be served with this vile savoury tart/flan/whatever you want to call it. Why the rest of the world is quiche crazy, I’ll never know. Even though I want to hone my baking skills, this is one area of baking I don’t feel I need to even bother trying to learn let alone improve upon.
2. BECOME A BIGOT
Obviously no one goes through life intent on becoming a bigot. And even when most people do have an extreme intolerance towards others, they naturally won’t admit to it or even realise how offensive their views are- though you will get a few who don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with having such prejudicial views and will defend these views to the hilt. What they don’t seem to understand is how ignorant they sound.
Going through life with an open mind is so important on many different levels and for so many reasons- at the very least it makes the world a far better place.
3. APPEAR ON THE APPRENTICE
Don’t get me wrong – I love watching The Apprentice and tune in every year to find out who will be Lord Sugar’s new business partner. It’s addictive, and as someone who’s keen to go into business, it is of great interest to me.
There are times I think, fleetingly, about applying to go on the show but I know I never would. The other contestants show way too much arrogance, ruthlessness and attitude, and many of them are nowhere near as good as they claim to be. I really don’t think I could handle so many huge egos under one roof.
I’ll still continue to watch the show though!
4. VOTE UKIP
The media would have you believe that the whole country is full of UKIP supporters even though I know that that’s not necessarily the case. I can see why a lot of people have fallen under the spell of Farage and co. but those who can look at things objectively can see that they clearly lack credibility, so whether they are the flavour of the month or not, I will not be jumping on the bandwagon and be voting UKIP.
And is it just me, or does their logo resemble something similar to a budget supermarket chain?
5. READ FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
It’s meant to have enhanced activity in the boudoir and had women buying the E.L. James novel in droves. Nothing wrong with that of course. However, unlike Christian Grey, I am a hearts and flowers kind of person, so this isn’t a book that will be gracing my bookshelf, and I prefer old-fashioned though slightly corny romance rather than raunchy in your face erotica. Give me Mills and Boon any day!
6. WATCH WHAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HOT ON BRITISH TV RIGHT NOW
The Only Way Is Essex, Made In Chelsea, Big Brother, The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, I’m A Celebrity… these might constitute compulsive viewing at the moment but quite frankly I find it all quite boring. I used to watch shows like these a long time ago but then it started to lose a bit of its gloss and I just gave up. However, I can’t escape these shows entirely because the ‘stars’ are always in the media. Even though I can’t profess to be a National Geographic kind of girl, this sort of telly really isn’t for me either.
7. BABYSIT A SPOILT CHILD
I like children as much as the next person but when it comes to children who lack discipline, don’t know the meaning of the word no, and think that all adults should do as they’re told (by them)… forget it! I once had the misfortune of babysitting a child (and not just any child, but a relative!) who was a complete and utter nightmare but clearly thought that his behaviour was cute. And when his mum was told about his behaviour, she clearly couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
I think it takes a special kind of person to be able to handle a spoilt child. I’m obviously not one of them.
8. BECOME ADDICTED TO TECHNOLOGY
There’s no denying that we’re in the digital age and we all use technology to some degree. But to become addicted to gadgets to the point where it overrides common sense and courtesy is unacceptable. I really don’t wish to be that kind of person.
9. APPEAR ON MASTERCHEF USA
Once again, Masterchef USA is a show Mr. D and I tune into religiously every year, and we’ve actually picked up a few tips from this cooking competition. However, I would never want to be a contestant on this show, even if I did live in The States, because Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich could very easily reduce me to tears and turn me into a nervous wreck. No thank you!
10. ATTEMPT TIGHTROPE WALKING
There are a lot of adrenaline junkies out there but I’m not one of them and heights are not my thing, so you won’t see me on a tightrope anytime soon.
11. SWIM IN SHARK INFESTED WATERS
As I’ve said I’m not an adrenaline junkie and clearly do not have a sense of adventure, so once again not for me.
12. RETURN TO WORKING IN RETAIL
Before anyone accuses me of putting down people who work in the retail sector, let me explain. I spent more years than I care to think about working in retail, so I have a lot of respect for those who work in retail because I know how tough it can be – especially at this time of the year.
In theory, it should all go swimmingly. After all it’s not the worst job in the world; you get to meet people every day; and there are some exceptionally enjoyable perks i.e.- going to trade shows, generous staff discounts etc.
However in practice I’ve found it incredibly draining. Dealing with the general public is not easy. Dealing with those in head office is even harder. Sometimes your colleagues don’t understand the importance of working as part of a team. And let’s not forget with more and more stores open for longer hours and seven days a week, it leaves you with little time for yourself, family and friends. I still like the idea of owning a shop of some kind but I doubt I’ll ever do it as I found it incredibly draining.
13. WORK FOR A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER
It was my childhood ambition – until a careers officer said after a consultation that I lacked the ruthlessness and forceful character to be a journo. That and the fact that I didn’t like to pry into other people’s business!
Yep, I think I’m better suited to teaching English!
14. HAVE BOTOX
I know I’m getting older and I can see the signs. I don’t look or feel twenty one any more. However, I don’t believe that Botox is the answer – why would I want to inject poison into myself? I don’t believe in putting anything into my body that really shouldn’t be there, so I will fight aging with happy and healthy living.
15. BUY SUPER EXPENSIVE CLOTHES
When I was a teenager I was into labels and brand names as most of my peers were. That didn’t always mean I’d get them though and fast forward several years, I’m very grateful that my parents didn’t give into my every whim. I still love clothes and probably have more than I need but I don’t spend a fortune on each item and love spotting a bargain. I’d hate to spend a grand on a coat and then feel I’d need to wear it for the rest of my natural life and then be buried in it just to get my money’s worth!
16. BECOME A POLITICIAN
Where do I begin???
17. BE PART OF THE IN-CROWD
During the course of my life, I’ve met some exceptionally interesting people who seemed to have it all. They said all the right things, had all the right things, looked the right way, surrounded themselves with all the right people and were seen in all the right places. In a nutshell, they were the in-crowd.
The only thing is that their hearts weren’t often in the right place and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised what’s important.
18. TO WATCH ANY MOVIE THAT’S BOUND TO LEAVE ME TRAUMATIZED
Twelve Years A Slave and The Passion Of The Christ are out as interesting and as fascinating as they are, when I watch a film, I want to be entertained not left feeling depressed.
19. OWN A FLASHY CAR
We’d all like a flashy car parked on our drive but I can’t help thinking what a waste of money it is. Unlike houses, the value of a car generally tends to go down not up. So I think I’ll invest my money in bricks and mortar, thank you.
20. RIDE A BIKE AROUND LONDON
I am most definitely not hot on two wheels at the best of times but riding around London with its super busy streets which I don’t believe is really ideal for cyclists… I’ll give it a miss. I’ve heard a great deal about accidents on our roads and even been at the scene of one, and my heart really goes out to those who have been hurt or worse. And I take my hat of to those who are far braver than me and are willing to have a go.
I bought a book today which is absolutely, fantastically, smack-you-in-the-face awesome! It’s called The Vintage Tea Party Book and it’s by – I just love her name – Angel Adoree.
I’m a huge fan of books about tea parties, dinner parties and home entertaining because it’s based on something I love to do – have a house full of people eating, drinking and having a bloody good time! Angel says in her book that her parents ‘ have always been motivated by feeding people’s souls with food laughter and cocktails,’ – and that pretty much sums up the story of my life! And like Angel, I think my own parents played a big part in my love of home entertaining as it wasn’t unusual for them to have dinner parties and gatherings at home when I was growing up. I was allowed to join in even though I should have been tucked up in bed. But I grew up with memories of Dad’s awful jokes; raucous laughter; happy people, and empty dishes as everyone loved Mum’s cooking. So it’s no surprise that when I grew up I had an overwhelming desire to recreate those fabulous evenings.
The first thing you notice about the cover of The Vintage Tea Party Book is the shades of red, white and blue, and the images of top hats, monocles, pocket watches, Union Jacks, pipes, a cake stand, china teacups and teapots, pearls, butterflies and rose buds. What you get is a cross between a quintessential British vibe with full-on vintage glamour – two themes which feature heavily in this book. This suits The Vintage Tea Party Book down to a, well, tea!
The cover also explains that The Vintage Tea Party Book is ‘a complete guide to hosting the perfect tea party,’ but in reality it is so much more than that. What you essentially get is Angel Adoree between a hardback cover. We get a glimpse into the author’s life with pictures of her family, friends, and some childhood snaps. There are also quite a few pics of the present day Angel; a buxom lady with cherry red lips, and hair the exact same colour worn in a victory roll.
We hear about her childhood, work, entrance into the world of business, appearance on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, and her business venture, The Vintage Patisserie. And as if her appearance wasn’t enough of an indicator, the reader also learns about Angel’s lifelong love affair with all things vintage.
The Vintage Tea Party Book contains more than just recipes for a good tea party. There are ideas about how to host a party; helpful hints about sourcing vintage items; fashion and beauty advice for those who want to look 1940s; grooming advice for men; a little about the history of the Union Jack, and suggestions for games to play. There’s also arts and crafts with instructions for sewing aprons; drying edible flowers; making a butterfly display, and more. And let’s not forget templates for invitation and thank you cards. All this before we even get to the recipes.
And you won’t be disappointed with the recipes. They’re divided into three parts: brunch, afternoon tea, and evening tea.
The usual tea time treats are still there but they’ve been elevated to a more sophisticated level. So instead of your usual cucumber finger sandwiches, you’ve got cream cheese and cucumber heart-shaped, open sandwiches, and there are lemon scones with lavender cream instead of your usual run-of-the-mill (but nonetheless delicious) scones with clotted cream. There are some really unusual and delicious sounding treats such as hot baked grapefruit; chilled raspberry soup; crab choux, and pork and lemon quail scotch eggs. I especially liked the sound of the romantic sounding rose panna cotta, and the very unusual rose petal sandwich. There are also recipes for a selection of drinks including iced teas, smoothies, cocktails and hot drinks. I particularly want to try the white chocolate mocha and the bourbon slush.
The Vintage Tea Party Book is most definitely going to be one of the most inspiring books I own, and I can’t wait to try out the recipes and put the other suggestions to good use.
And just to give you a hint of how awesome this book is, I’ve posted Angel’s recipe for the divine sounding cherry and dark chocolate trifle shots. Yum!
Angel Adoree, we adore thee!
CHERRY AND DARK CHOCOLATE TRIFLE SHOTS
6 sponge fingers, broken into small pieces
100ml cherry brandy or chocolate liqueur
50g dark chocolate, grated
1 pack of dark cherry jelly, made up according to instructions, then chopped up
jar of morello cherries
100ml whipped cream
Arrange sponge finger pieces at the bottom of 6 shot glasses.
Add 1 tablespoon of chosen liqueur to each one.
Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon chocolate.
Once the sponge fingers have absorbed the liqueur, add a heaped tablespoon of prepared jelly to each shot.
Top with a few cherries and more grated chocolate.
To serve, top each shot with a heaped tablespoon of custard, and a tablespoon of whipped cream.
Finish with decorative sprinkle of grated chocolate.
As everyone knows, things go in and out of fashion and trends change whether it’s clothes, shoes, hair, or make-up. But there are some things that have never changed and probably never will, and will always be a mainstay in a girl’s wardrobe and handbag. So let’s take a look at some of the things that a girl can’t live without regardless of changing trends.
1. THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS
Black will always be the new black and nothing screams glamour and sophistication quite like the Little Black Dress. A little black dress or LBD is traditionally an evening or cocktail dress, which is usually cut simply and often quite short – hence the ‘little’.
The origins of the little black dress are linked back to the 1920s designs of the legendary Coco Chanel. The dress was intended to be simple but stylish, long-lasting, versatile, affordable, and neutral in colour. No lady’s wardrobe is complete without the “little black dress” and it is considered a rule of fashion that every woman should own a simple, versatile, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Every girl has at least one trusty black dress in her wardrobe which she can slip into and it’s our go-to dress when the occasion calls for it – which saves a lot of faffing around, deciding what to wear. My own fave LBD has tiny white polka dots, spaghetti straps, a (very short) scalloped hem, and ruching along the front. It’s great for a party, informal dinner, and I can dress it up with boots and a leather jacket for gigs. It’s also short enough to pass as a top so I can team it up with jeans or leggings. Not only do I feel great in it but it’s also very versatile.
Although the original LBD was intended to be simple, these days anything goes, and as party season approaches, you can bet your life you’ll see a stunning array of black dresses in different fabrics with various necklines, hemlines, sleeves and embellishments. With so many different styles, the little black dress can never be boring or outdated. And with so many styles available, there’s always an excuse to add another one to our collection!
Skinny, Bootcut, Hipster, Flare, Straight Leg and Boyfriend… whichever cut, wash and colour you choose, jeans are a wardrobe necessity. The styles of jeans may have changed over the years but those faithful denim trousers have always been a part of our wardrobes. With the exception of my mother, I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a pair of jeans. I practically live in mine and I’ve lost count of the amount I have. Right now skinnies are in, so I have loads of those in black, charcoal and various shades of blue. But I do have some boot-cut ones too and loved that particular style – until I discovered skinny jeans!
During the tomboy years, I used to wear my jeans big and baggy to the point where they were practically falling off me before graduating to a more straight-leg style. A few years back there was a trend for teaming jeans with short floaty dresses. I was surprised that I could pull off that look and thought I looked great – though my brother told me that he thought I just looked confused! But then, what does he know about fashion?
One thing I love about jeans is that with the exception of formal events, you can wear jeans just about everywhere. I always go to work in jeans and wear them on nights out. It might look as though I don’t wear anything else but I always feel my best in a pair of jeans. However, I’ve never particularly cared for white or coloured jeans. Give me a pair of blue or black any day!
3. CHANEL No. 5
I’ve heard that giving someone a bottle of Chanel No.5 is the equivalent of giving a bouquet of flowers. Well in that case – as much as I love flowers – give me a Chanel No.5 every time! This fragrance is a timeless classic launched by Coco Chanel (who else!) and a bottle of this perfume has adorned the dressing tables of women around the world for decades. The key flowers are ylang-ylang, mayrose and jasmine.
I’ll never forget being given my first bottle of Chanel No.5 when I was in my early twenties. I suddenly knew what all the fuss was about. It was like glamour in a very sophisticated, sleek bottle. No wonder it was all Marilyn Monroe wore to bed. It’s not really one for those who like subtle fragrances. This one is bold and really makes an impact. I know some people have criticised it for being old-fashioned and ‘an old lady’s perfume’ but I reckon these are people with a very poor sense of smell! This fragrance is a classic and continues to be a firm favourite with women all over the world – regardless of their age.
4. SCARLET LIPS AND NAILS
Gwyneth Paltrow’s secret to being super-confident is wearing a lipstick in a ‘kick-ass red.’ Red is a colour that never seems to date, and although lip and nail colours may change in terms of what’s hot and what’s not, red has always been the number one colour for those who wish to make a statement. Bold and attention-grabbing, it’s synonymous with power, seduction and glamour. It’s not a colour you wear if all you want to do is blend into the background. Not all of us can wear the bright fire-engine red – definitely not a colour for me – but thankfully with so many shades available, we can all find a red lippy and nail colour that suits us and to release our inner-vamp.
5. BACKCOMBED HAIR
I love wearing my hair like this, and Mr.D thinks it’s awesome too. It’s a look that was made famous by The Ronettes and Brigitte Bardot and was very popular during the 1960s. It even became Claudia Schiffer’s signature look during her modelling heyday, and of course it’s synonymous with Amy Winehouse.
Whether hair’s backcombed into a beehive do or a tousled mane, us girls know that when we need an instant dose of glamour, backcombing is the only way to go. It’s a great look for a night out but I’ve seen women rocking backcombed hair while wheeling a trolley around a supermarket during the day – and it works! Backcombing also instantly gives the appearance of thicker, fuller hair but unfortunately it can be quite damaging especially if you backcomb hair regularly, so it’s probably best saved for special occasions.
You could honestly write a book about the million and one uses of Vaseline – or petroleum jelly to use it’s non-brand name! It can be used to soften lips, moisten dry knees and elbows, condition eyelashes, slick eyebrows into shape, add a shimmer to cheek bones, put around nails when painting them… I’ve even come across one beauty tip which instructs putting Vaseline on teeth before drinking coffee in order to avoid staining. Er, yeah, I think I’ll be giving that one a miss thanks. But with so many uses, is it any surprise that women the world over have a little tub of this wonder product in their handbags?
Despite the fact that I’m a bit of a shorty, I definitely feel more comfy in a pair of flats so tend to wear them every day. However, comfort counts for nothing when it comes to dressing up to the nines when only a pair of heels will do – the higher the better. Not only does it look better with the outfit you’re wearing, but it makes you feel more confident, foxy and glam. So whether they’re dainty little kitten heels or skyscraper stilettos, us girls definitely have a collection of heels to rock any outfit. True, I can’t walk in a pair of heels to save my life but as a friend once said, trainers are for walking in and heels are for posing in. Couldn’t have said it better myself!
8. SMOKEY EYES
Where make-up is concerned, trends seem to veer towards a more natural look with lots of ‘nude’ shades. However, full-on smokey, vampy eyes will never go out of style no matter what the in-thing may be. Like the LBD, smokey eyes are timelessly sultry, It’s also right up there with the red-hot lips – but of course we all know the eyes or lips rule so would never wear them both at the same time. Smokey eyes are perfect for when you need a little sophisticated drama. I remember that a few years ago when I was getting my acting headshots done, the make-up artist gave me the most amazing smokey eyes. She did such an amazing job that even strangers stopped me on the street to comment on my eyes. To this day, I am kicking myself for not getting her card.
9. BALLET STYLE PUMPS
Ballet pump style flat shoes are what I live in during the summer months. They’re more forgiving than sandals and I find them easier to walk in than flip flops. I also think they’re really sweet looking and you can wear these ballet type shoes with most styles of clothes. These shoes are literally everywhere and they come in an array of styles. You can get very simple designs for everyday use and more glitzy, glam ones for more special occasions. I’m not surprised that they’re such a hit with women everywhere because they are a practical solution to footwear and can be worn both day or night. I’ve been known to carry a pair of these in my bag on nights out which is a very welcome relief to my poor, weary feet. Heels might make me feel sophisticated and womanly, but I feel super cute and girly in my ballet style pumps – so I definitely have the best of both worlds.
10. BLACK LEATHER
Black leather may be considered very 1980s, but it’s very edgy, practical and rock n’ roll. I really don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t own something made from black leather, whether it’s a jacket, boots, shoes, trousers or even a wallet. It’s extremely durable and can be worn for both day and night. I absolutely love my boots and jacket, and they have often received admiring looks and comments. Even my old PE teacher who was veering towards vegetarianism last time I saw him, admitted to having a leather jacket because it was the only thing he had that kept him warm – and in London that’s essential! Of course, it’s all about the look, so for those who don’t wish to wear genuine leather for ethical reasons, can’t fork out the hefty price tag, or in my sister’s case, can’t stand the smell, there are some pretty good leather-look items out there.
Even though it’s unlikely that leather will go out of fashion, it can look dated. So I never wear anything that’s covered in millions of studs – even though heavily studded leather jackets seem to be in all the shops at the moment – and as I’m not a biker or in a 1980s tribute rock band, there’s no need for me to wear head-to-toe leather. Instead prefer to mix leather with other fabrics and styles for a unique look.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
A recent article in a women’s magazine made me seethe. Emblazoned across the top of the page was the headline: WHICH SIZE BREASTS ARE BEST?
SERIOUSLY???ARE YOU SERIOUSLY GOING TO ASK US THAT??? I had to check the cover of the magazine because for a moment, I thought I might be in possession of a lad’s mag. Nope – definitely a women’s weekly!
“FLAT IS THE NEW BIG THING!” shrieked the pull quote. “HAVING A HUGE BUST IS OUT OF FASHION IT SEEMS!” the intro proudly announced.
Oh OK then. I’ll just remove my big boobs, stick them back in the box, return them to the store and exchange them for a pair of smaller, pert, perkier ones. I would never have known they were out of style had it not been for this feature.
Excuse me, fashionable? Clothes, shoes and hairstyles may go in and out of fashion but not body shapes as far as I’m concerned. I was always under the impression that body parts were functional rather than fashionable. Most parts of our anatomy are not like hair which can be cut, lengthened, coloured, curled, shaved, straightened, teased etc. to best fit what is considered to be the look du jour. What do you do with body parts which are not the right shape or size?
The article went on to state that envy over big-busted girls has gone out the window as women prefer to have a more toned and athletic physique over Jessica Rabbit curves. Yes, breast enlargements are still being carried out but now women are opting for a more natural look over anything that screams plastic. Small busted ladies are encouraged to thrown out their underwired bras and ‘be proud of those fried eggs!’ Despite the fact that the closing paragraphs encouraged ladies to love what their born with, the overall tone of the article was to big up (excuse the pun!) those who are not massively endowed while diminishing (again no pun intended!) those who have more up top. I can’t help but feel a bit miffed – and that’s putting it mildly.
The basis for this feature came from findings from a poll that was carried out by a company who develops and manufactures implants and expanders in which 2000 people were surveyed. It found that 72% of women said that, if they had to have surgery, they would only go up one bra size, while men also agreed that when it came to boobs, less is definitely more.
That’s all very well when you’re talking about cosmetic surgery and people’s expectations from cosmetic procedures but what about when what you’re naturally blessed with isn’t necessarily the look that’s being coveted? How does that make you feel?
SMALL BOOBS ARE BEAUTIFUL… AND SO ARE BIG!
During my teenage years, my mother was alarmed at the rate in which I was moving up cup sizes. I, on the other hand, like most teenage girls, was delighted. And it wasn’t just because they made my jumpers hang nicely! I wasn’t blessed with a flat stomach and when supermodel pins were being handed out, in all the excitement, I fell over and knocked myself out while running to join the queue – so Cindy Crawford got what should have been mine. Therefore, I was naturally quite proud of my chest. Even when I lost the puppy fat, my bust was still very evident even though I didn’t have page three bazookas!
So do I think big boobs are better than little ones? Not at all because even I know that there’s a downside to being bigger on top. You have to deal with spiteful comments from women and goggle-eyed stares from men (don’t even get me started on the drunken comments) You have to be careful what you wear because the wrong items of clothing will over-emphasise the bust area; leave you looking matronly, or have you fearing fall-out! Then there are the problems when you get older where your boobs have the bizarre urge to say hello to your feet whereas ladies with smaller boobs look more youthful. And girls who are massively endowed have complained about back-ache to the point where a breast reduction is a necessity rather than for vanity’s sake.
Have there been times when I wished my boobs were smaller? Yes. In order to be taken seriously and to stop the stares. I also got quite frustrated at how certain style of clothes looked so elegant on small busted girls while it just looked trashy on me. And of course I do worry about what they’ll look like after pregnancy – will I be tempted to go under the knife in order to obtain perfection? And when complete strangers comment on them, there have been times I’ve definitely wished I was less curvaceous.
But when all’s said and done, I absolutely love what I’ve been blessed with. They’re not totally in your face but they’re mine, they’re a part of me and they’re what I’m used to. And Mr. D is definitely very happy with them! Hollywood stars Christina Hendricks and Catherine Zeta-Jones have both said how having an ample bosom makes them feel “womanly and sexy” and I know exactly what they’re talking about.
I didn’t find the article annoying because it seemingly went against what I’ve naturally got. But I feel that talking about what’s en vogue body-wise can have a detrimental effect on women, especially impressionable young girls. Body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders and teenage depression and bullying all seem to be on the increase. You only have to pick up a paper to know that and I don’t feel that features like this help – even though I’m sure it was intended to be nothing more than a light-hearted talking point. It’s one thing to report on survey findings but totally another to debate which breast size is best. And anyway, aren’t we supposed to encourage women to be more than just boobs on legs? Don’t we criticize glamour models, WAGS, and reality stars for being just that? Isn’t it better, in an age, when breast cancer is a growing concern, that we focus more on having healthy breasts rather than their size?
The truth of the matter is that people are very rarely totally happy with what they have – maybe it’s just human nature. And if my boobs are out of fashion then it’s just a damn good thing that I’ve never really been a follower of fashion which is proven by the number of calls I get from the 1980s! When it comes to loving your body, I would leave all talk about what’s fashionable or not to the catwalks of Paris and Milan and focus on being happy and healthy and making the most of what you’ve been blessed with.
So whether you’ve got pancakes, fried eggs, or melons, stand tall and be proud. Embrace what’s yours and feel totally gorgeous.