Fashion has got a Spring in its step!

The weather may not have made it easy for us to have a spring in our step over the last few months but thankfully the shops have been more than making up for it with their fantastic range of Spring/Summer wear this year. Unlike in previous years where I’ve found myself put off the shops by a dull or bizarre trend (jewel tones are not my favourite fashion of choice) the key trends this year are fresh, vibrant and exciting as well as nicely feminine and fun.

In particular the resurgence of neon, smattering of mint green and feminine and floaty dipped hem skirts are my favourite key trends that have been popping up all over the high street. As I frequently indulge myself by browsing (and occasionally treating myself to) items on the Select and New Look website I thought I would share a few of my favourite examples of these trends with you…go forth, indulge and enjoy 🙂

Loving this snake print dipped hem dress – a must have this season!

Facebook saints vs Facebook sinners

I’m going to preface this post by saying up front that I love my Facebook friends and family very much and this is not aimed at anyone in particular!

Facebook has been in most of our lives now for a number of years. Long gone however are the days of imaginary aquariums, superpokes, sending gifts and taking quizzes like “what kind of horror movie character would you be?” Facebook is now a sophisticated marketing tool for…well pretty much any company in the world, a hub for all your photos, a place to check-in to local cafés and for some, the place they get the majority of information about their friends.

This is where I think we’re all going wrong. Over the last year or so I’ve become more and more aware of the bad habits my friends and I have fallen into, there is a weird confusion which has developed about which tools we are actually using to communicate with…do we share our news by text, email, apps, Twitter, Facebook, phone or (as increasingly unlikely as it is) letter? Even when we are spending time face to face we are glued to our phones, checking what the people who are not sitting next to us are doing. I don’t want to go off on a rant about putting more effort into friendships, whilst I’ll probably touch on some of those aspects I’ll leave the bulk of that for a future post…what I want to focus on is this amazing tool we have at our fingertips and how we are not using to it to its best potential. If we really want to connect more with people and are genuinely interested in what is happening in other people’s lives then we need to stop being social media sinners and start being social media saints.

So here is my rough guide to the bad Facebook habits to avoid and the good ones to start adopting. If you think you’ve never committed a Facebook crime against your friends keep reading…some of these I’ll admit to having committed myself from time to time and others I’ve made a note of after hearing about other people’s Facebook peeves.

Status updates

Don’t post passive aggressive statuses, they only alienate friends…if you have something you need to get off your chest because someone has annoyed or upset you don’t allude to it in your status it makes you look cowardly and foolish. Try and tackle the problem directly with that person and in private.

Don’t post dull statuses…keep your updates funny, informative, thought-provoking and worth interacting with…explain your experiences, share your feelings or thoughts about something but flat observations like “my risotto smelt really good this evening” (yes this did appear on my timeline not so long ago!) really don’t benefit anyone!

  Don’t plagiarise…jokes may be funny but if they’re not your own then attribute it to the right person and don’t make a habit of it…if people wanted to hear a different person’s views they’d look them up for themselves.

 Good Manners – don’t be abusive, racist or sexist; don’t seek to offend others, rub people’s nose in your successes, compare other people’s special days with each other or play favourites by only interacting with a select few. Celebrate differences and challenge people’s preconceived ideas yes but don’t go seeking arguments or to upset people….just because you are behind a computer screen does not mean that you have a free reign to let rip and judge others…standard rules of decency and respect apply as if you were having these interactions face to face. Save confrontation for private communication, whatever you do don’t get into arguments on a public forum; no-one comes out looking good when this happens.

Don’t list a running commentary of negatives…this goes hand in hand with passive aggressive statuses. We all have rough patches, upsetting times and bad work days but generally Facebook is not the place to share these…they often make people feel uncomfortable and pity or annoyance is not what I’m guessing you’re aiming for from social media. Save the ranting for your (hopefully patient and understanding) close friends over a drink at the pub or a phone call after work.

Try not to share your very important life updates with those closest to you for the first time on Facebook. It’s lovely to be able to share pregnancies, engagements and new jobs with everyone but don’t let your parents, siblings or best mates read about it at the same time as everyone else in your life…make sure you’ve put the effort into those relationships away from the computer so that they can feel valued before you share it with the rest of the world.

  Post a status you would want to read, something which you would want to comment on…before you post something ask yourself “would I want to read this”?

 Don’t forget to “like” your friend’s statuses…treat it like a reward, if they have updated with something that doesn’t resemble the sinner’s examples above then show them you have taken an interest in their lives…interacting isn’t just about commenting (unless you have something you want to add) but letting someone know that you have seen what they’ve shared and have taken an interest can make them feel valued.

 Don’t forget to share, people are friends with you because they are interested in what is happening in your life…try and post at least one a week but ideally not more than 2 or 3 times a day, you don’t want to bombard everyone.


Don’t post random pictures of meaningless affirmations…yes most of us have done it and some of them can be amusing but on the whole this goes hand in hand with passive aggressive statuses…posting a picture which just says “Karma’s only a bitch if you are” just sounds like a cry for help and is only more likely to push people away than make them look forward to your next update.

 Share pictures of travels, celebrations and things others will enjoy. One of the key benefits of uploading your pics to sites like Facebook is so that you can share them with people who are unlikely to ever come round for a cuppa and go through your photo albums…remind people of the fun times you’ve had together and show people the nice things you do in your life.

Basic information

Don’t block key information like birthdays…its fine not to have the year listed for security reasons but missing a Facebook friend’s birthday and then finding out afterwards when you see others posting can feel quite embarrassing and frustrating. Let people show you they care.

 In the same way don’t forget to wish your Facebook friends a happy birthday; it doesn’t have to be in the form of a long essay but assuming you see the notifications on your page don’t forget to wish them a happy day.

 Don’t forget to have a profile picture that people can recognise you from. Its fun for a while to have your picture as a cartoon character or you at a distance in the middle of the sea but this won’t help your friends connect with you, especially those who you may not have seen for a few years and need to see your face to make sure it’s really you!


 Don’t be pushyCompanies are already using Facebook to flood us with advertising so don’t join forces with them and demand people “like” your company’s webpage, your scout camp’s charity page or the latest release from your friend’s YouTube vault…share pages and videos by all means and explain your reasons for sharing (if you enjoyed the song, you’ve benefited from the charity or you love the new perfume) but bombarding people and forcing them to share your interests will only annoy them and you may swiftly find yourself being blocked on a timeline or worse unfriended…

General tips

Don’t block content to and from your friends unless you really have to. Yes we all have the occasional need to spare someone’s feelings by not flaunting our new relationship in front of the previous one, a pregnancy in front of a friend who has lost a child or a holiday in front of someone feeling lonely and isolated but keep this to a minimum…again share and interact as much as you can…make those Facebook minutes count…

Don’t be socially slutty…yes there is a temptation to “connect” with everyone you’ve ever met, chatted to at a bus-stop or had your haircut next to but realistically keep your friend’s list to the people you really care about and your posts will become more honest and meaningful…you will feel less self-conscious if you know you’re in safe hands.

Remember your digital identity – like it or not Facebook forms part of your digital identity and online profile, monitored and looked at by employers, future employers and official bodies…don’t therefore post negative comments about your boss, workplace or colleagues…even if you hide it from certain audiences it just reflects badly on you so save this for constructive feedback in your next personal review or for your next catch up with mates and certainly don’t call in sick to work and then spend the day playing games and posting pictures of the previous drunken night!

 Help others connect with each other – Facebook can be really fun when you see people from totally different areas of your life interacting. By making your content interesting and engaging you might find you connect people from different parts of your life and can sit back and watch the people you care about come together over mutual interests…

 Share, share and share – Facebook isn’t just for telling people how your day was, use it to share interesting news, warn people about global events which may affect them and make observations about the world around you…show people who you are and your view of your community and maybe this will have a positive impact on them…share your thoughts on a restaurant you’ve visited, a movie you’ve seen or a discussion you’ve had but remember to make it engaging.

 Support your friends…if you know someone has a job interview coming up, is taking a new direction in their life or stepping out of their comfort zone don’t forget to show them some love…this doesn’t have to be soppy or over the top but think how nice it is when someone just let’s you know they’re thinking of you and sending good thoughts your way.

 Forget distance – very few of us get to live around the corner from everyone we love and have fun with so by sharing you are reducing those distances that other factors put in the way…let people know what you’re up to and the miles between you will start to feel reduced.

 Reconnect with people…those old school friends, work mates or neighbours who found you after all those years apart…don’t make it just another face on your friend’s list…get involved and find out what they are up to now otherwise you may as well have left them in the past.

I guess ultimately I have learned from experience that Facebook works best when you have control over what you interact with, and what you put out there is something others find worth engaging with. I’m sure as technology and society adapts there will be new challenges to come but for now let’s help make these communication tools be as positive as they can be.

Happy Facebooking… 🙂

It’s a Jungle Out There…

So my latest guilty pleasure is a show on the Style Network called Jerseylicious. Set in a New Jersey hair salon the show focuses on the wild antics of its employees including (as everyone good show does) their arguments, tantrums and love lives. Let me reassure you that this is NOT Jersey Shore which brought us the likes of Snooki (not that I’ve ever seen it, only heard the Joan Rivers jokes!), this is a workplace reality show and as such is much tamer in its content. Now not everyone will be a fan…its an acquired taste for sure but for me it has replaced a void left from the absence of my other guilty pleasure shows Girls of the Playboy Mansion, Kendra and Holly’s World.

Jerseylicious (

I’ve noticed lately that this show has started to have a profound effect on me, most notably in my fashion taste. Being a person who usually avoids patterns like the plague I have suddenly become drawn to animal print (as worshipped by some of the central characters in this show), hot pink and garish accessories. The unique fashion style of these Jersey natives, proudly expressing themselves through a haze of zebra print, cheetah nails, orange tan, big hair, bigger earrings, and smokey eyes but with a Godfather twang in their accent has made me realise it is like watching a cross between The Only Way Is Essex and The Godfather movies! The thing which keeps drawing me in however is that beneath these extroverted faux fur exteriors they are all quite ambitious and talented individuals. This is not a programme about lay-abouts or lazy scroungers, they have drive, career goals and chronicle the highs and lows of a workplace (working with people you hate, not getting your own way, having bad customers), which I find remarkably relatable given we exist 3444 (give or take) miles apart! The most ambitious of them all, Tracy, can often be seen arguing her case with the gusto of a lioness protecting her cubs…let me just say I’d rather be on her team in an argument than on the opposing one although one can’t help but feel sorry for Olivia, her nemesis who often cops the brunt of Tracy’s outbursts!! This is not a show about weak people…there are some valuable lessons about productive social interaction to be learnt here.

Quite simply this programme has opened my eyes to a whole new side of New Jersey, where pizza and pasta is celebrated, curves are admired, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, career goals are sought after with vigor and relationships are dealt with openly and (even if at times too aggressively) swiftly. I now feel able to wear zebra print and pink together with pride because Jerseylicious has shown me Jersey gaudy and all that comes with it isn’t always a bad thing 🙂

Colour My World

I learnt recently that I’m a very visual learner, I have to picture an outfit in my head before I put it on, choose shoes by shade of colour, have lots of colourful things around me and learn by seeing pictures or diagrams. This now explains a lot to me because for some years I have loved organising my belongings at home in colour (spectrum/rainbow) order. My wardrobe and cds have been this way for a very long time (much to the amusement of my friends at school) and I vividly remember when I first got together with my now husband within weeks I had convinced him to rearrange his cds and dvds in the same way. To this day I still chuckle when I remember him saying “Oh yes, today I want to listen to something from the turquoise section” and it’s true. When I get questions like “how can you remember where everything is?” I just think, well I just know…it’s a bit like reprogramming your brain, instead of reading a cover of a dvd you recognise it from its colour…I’m not even at home right now I can remember that Dirty Dancing is pink, Groundhog Day is blue and Mean Girls is purple!

A few years ago I had “my colours” done with a friend. I was a bit sceptical but I’d heard about the benefits of it from other friends and whilst loving colour around me I was still living in the cliché of wearing lots of black and would rarely be seen out in anything bolder that wasn’t a dark shade of purple or navy! It was actually a real revelation. After 2 hours of learning my type (Soft Cool for those in the know!), I learned why I got complimented whenever I wore lilac or looked like a walking traffic cone whenever I wore orange. Now I’m not saying knowing these colours changed me entirely but I tell you what I carry my samples with me everywhere I go and have done for 4 years and frequently use it in shops to check that the shade of red or blue I’m buying will suit me; and for what it’s worth I wear a lot more colour now (because I know what suits me) and get more comments about the colours I wear. If you ever get the chance I would recommend it, I feel I got my money’s worth 🙂

Above all the thing I have come to realise is that I’m grateful for being able to see the world around me and it’s a colourful world so why not try something new today and order your wardrobe or dvd collection by colour and see what shade you’re in the mood for next time…go on, I dare ya!! 🙂

New Year, Fresh Start…

Well hello! Yes I have indeed been neglecting this blog for a while haven’t I? The latter half of the year seemed to go by in a bit of a Christmassy blur but I wanted to kick start the New Year with a fresh start…not quite a re-launch but a reboot perhaps.

2012 is a year everyone is already talking about; the hype surrounding the current political, financial and sporting landscape are dominating the news so I will endeavour to counter balance it with lots of updates on trivial and pretty things to remind us to find beauty and happiness in smaller and less obvious ways. Yes who wouldn’t want to win the lottery, live like a rock star and have the acclaim of a rocket scientist but if we don’t we’ll just have to cope with what we have and enjoy it right…so on that note here’s to all our New Year’s resolutions…to a year of exploring how to have fun with less and almost certainly to celebrating the wonder of a sparkly shoe 🙂 Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

What’s in a name?…

Well, as it turns out quite a lot given my recent experiences!

I’ve been married now for 5 years, with my now husband for 12 and I (so far) have yet to take his name.

People frequently ask me why not and I can’t deny I find this quite strange and intrusive. I would have thought that given the modern era of women’s rights, same-sex marriages and all manner of individual relationship arrangements the idea that I would want to keep the name I’ve had for the best part of 30 years wouldn’t seem so bizarre, but it appears it’s a bigger deal to some than I originally thought.

I would love to say I have some dramatic moral reasons for keeping my name but I really don’t…as a young girl dreaming of her wedding day I always assumed I would want to take my future husband’s name but as time went on I obviously spent more time developing an identity with that name and I’m rather fond of it now! When people quiz me (which is often) I don’t have one definitive answer for them. Some days I say it’s because my passport was in my old name and I couldn’t be bothered to change it, some days I can’t perfect the signature (which given some annoying moments in the past when HSBC refused to acknowledge that I was actually me when I collected a new bank card from them, because my signature did not match the one they had for me on file from when I was 13 I’m now rather wary to risk a similar situation!) and from time to time I just feel that my long-suffering Dad who has lots of daughters and no sons deserves to have his family name continued for as long as it can. I’ve always thought if I ever published a book I would want it to be under my maiden name, and funnily enough the more academics I meet the more I realise this isn’t quite such a strange concept among this circle of people!

I have no doubt that one day I will want to change my name; I may wake up and just decide it’s the right time. Certainly constantly having to justify my reasons and explain that it has nothing to do with a lack of commitment to my husband (which by the way my husband fully supports), or my marriage is rather tiresome to say the least. It has now almost become a battle of wills though, I almost don’t want to change my name because of the reaction I get from people who can’t get their heads around it. Even today my local post office refused my husband when he tried to collect a package on my behalf, he provided documentation showing we live together yet even he was met with the disbelief of a stranger that we were married and yet I hadn’t changed my name. I felt bad for him, why should he have to justify this to some ignorant stranger?

I don’t care whether people think it’s strange for me to have a different name to my husband; it has nothing to do with the nature of our relationship. I suppose I ultimately feel that this is a matter of ignorance in others and quite frankly I’ll keep the name I have on my birth certificate as long as I like thank you very much 😉

Why my wardrobe needs a serious clear out…

Ok, so I’m assuming (and desperately hoping) that I’m not alone in this but I’m a recovering shopaholic, yes that’s right I admit it, I’ve had issues in the past with over indulgent shopping which over the years has resulted in me having no money to speak of and a wardrobe which is overflowing and bursting at the seams. Don’t believe me, well check this out…

And that’s just my day-to-day clothes, this doesn’t even cover the 6 giant vacuum bags of old clothes I have stored in my loft!

You see, I also suffer with the problem that I hoard a lot of clothes from my skinnier years. I would LOVE to be the size I was at 18, I was certainly a lot happier and confident with my look and figure back then and somehow I’ve come to feel that the clothes I owned at that time are the only reminder of the person I was back then. When I look at my wardrobe these days it only serves to remind me of the person I don’t want to be.

However as I approach a new era (as Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30 would say, the era of “30, flirty and thriving”) I want my thirties to be positive, healthy, confident, successful and less materialistic. I want to have the financial freedom to buy what I want and need when I see it but not feel the urge to drown my sorrows in purchasing wasteful and tacky tat which will ultimately sit like a toxic bog at the bottom of my wardrobe making me feel miserable whenever I open the doors and see it. I want to purge my wardrobe and free myself from the weight of this mountain of cheap material where I am living in the shadow of my former skinner self…

The questions I intend to ask myself in order to clear the decks include;

  • Does the item fit?
  • Is it in good condition?
  • If not would I really want to wear it again if I could fit into it?
  • Does it create the look I want to achieve?
  • Have I outgrown it (in terms of age)?
  • Do I like it?
  • Do I wear it?
  • If I don’t wear it why not?
  • Does it have sentimental value (restrict to only a few pieces)?

I’m hoping to enlist the help of some friends in this pursuit, after all I can’t sort through 12 years of purchases, 3 wardrobes and 6 vacuum bags on my own, but hopefully at the end of it I will be lighter and freer to go forth and start my thirties in the manner in which I would like them to continue. Watch this space; I’ll keep you posted… 🙂

Just a few reasons why I love Las Vegas…

  • It’s an adult’s playground – like Disneyland for grown-ups!
  • It has everything you could ever want to indulge in…pampering, shopping, eating out, gambling, drinking, dancing, shows (my personal recommendation would be Penn & Teller at the Rio), tourist attractions and thrill seeking
  • It is a mecca for bright colours, neon lights, glitter and feathers
  • The Killers (one of my favourite bands) come from there
  • All major hotels have a pool
  • The weather is likely to be warm and sunny for most of the year
  • You can let your mood decide whether you want to visit Venice (Venetian), Egypt (Luxor), France (Paris) New York (NYNY), Medieval Castle (Excalibur) and so on, on any given day
  • There are free attractions everywhere, such as the Bellagio fountains and the Mirage volcano eruption
  • You can be in a Jacuzzi bath in your hotel room and have a rollercoaster, complete with screams from passengers, flying past your window every 5 minutes 24 hours a day! (my personal experience of the NYNY!)
  • You can get married in weird and wacky ways (such as by an Elvis impersonators, in a diner or in a drive through!) although my personal favourite would be to go to the Chapel of the Flowers for something a little more relaxed and intimate.
  • You can always find a deal on food somewhere (and my personal favourites were the Cheesecake Factory, Cold Stone Creamery and the America at the NYNY hotel)
  • You can find plenty to do at any time of the day or night
  • Celebs are always hanging out there so you’re likely to see someone if you look hard enough
  • The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam are only a few hours drive away
  • It is drivable from L.A
  • It is currently home to one of my favourite (guilty pleasure) celebs Holly Madison who is starring in Peepshow
  • There is never a dull moment 😉

The seasons are shifting

Wow, I didn’t realise how long it had been since my last post, goes to show how preoccupied I have been with juggling everyday life (this summer has been far from quiet!). What made me want to post today is that I literally woke up this morning and was reminded of the Sex and the City episode (for those in the know it’s the one at the end of Season 4) where it feels as though the seasons have shifted overnight. The mornings seem duskier than a few weeks ago, the sun doesn’t feel as warm or as summery and the leaves have started dropping from the trees. This is my favourite time of year…the transition into Autumn.

I always associate this time of year with the back to school feeling you used to get as a kid, when a new pencil-case, bag and shoes were the symbolic start of a new academic year. For me as an adult, it is far more about that feeling that you have left behind the person you were over the last year and are just about to start on the adventure of who you will become in the next 12 months. I find this a much more introspective and interesting time of year for reflection that say New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. For me these precious few weeks of the year are far more motivating and exciting. The era of summer holidays is almost over and the countdown to the next chapter, whether at work or just personally, begins.

Personally I also associate this time of year with the countdown to my birthday (in October) followed shortly after my Bonfire Night and then Christmas, full of exciting events, glittery lights and the smell of bonfires in the air. Whilst it can be one of the most annoying for picking outfits (too warm for coats or layers but too chilly for bare legs and arms) I don’t mind wrapping up warm, in fact I love Autumn clothing, lovely boots, cosy jumpers and lovely sleek skirts not to mention the rails of pretty glittery dresses waiting for their turn to go to a party 🙂

Whereas the Winter and post-Christmas slump is my least favourite time of year and brings nothing but frustration and depression this epoch is the yin to that yang…I just know that beautiful leaf colours, cosy evenings of snuggling on the sofa with a nice hot dinner and a whole new wave of ambition, hope and passion are imminent. Of course it wouldn’t be Autumn without acknowledging that the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing are about the return to our televisions for the next 4 months…so be prepared to snuggle down on your sofas with a nice bowl of warming soup, damp hair from kicking crunching leaves in the rain and enjoy Saturday evenings in for a while  🙂

Cupcakes vs Whoopie Pies

Whilst hard to believe it was only a few years ago that the bakery industry and consumers delighted at the huge comeback of the cupcake. Some attributed it to the economy downfall, providing small guilty pleasures to boost morale, others have cited the scene in Sex and the City where Carrie munches on a cupcake from the Magnolia bakery with fellow character Miranda as the true cause of the resurgence. Whichever reason it is I, along with thousands of others, have been indulging, enjoying and obsessing ever since. Wedding cakes made from towers of cupcakes, parties and hen do’s themed around making and decorating them, bakeries and shops coming up with innovative new ways to market them in every style, theme, colour and flavour imaginable, not to mention the memorabilia that has flooded the shops in the last few years are evidence of its popularity. So could the cupcake bubble be on the verge of bursting…have people had enough of cupcakes? Well the introduction of a new cake in town, the whoopie pie, certainly seems to be threatening the cupcake’s market share of the treat and cake industry.

Sneaking onto the market just 18 months ago, first through luxury London boutiques and then filtering down to high-end food retailers the whoopie pie is now being described as the new “IT” indulgence. Originating in Amish communities in America and thought to be made from leftover cake batter by wives for their farmer husbands lunch boxes the whoopie pie (two wedges of sticky cake sandwiched together with frosting or buttercream) has started showing up in food markets and on bakery shelves in places where cupcakes used to be causing me to wonder whether our love for the simple cake topped with icing is diminishing? I personally hope not. Whilst I have sampled and (eventually) liked whoopie pies (not without a few dodgy ones along the way which were just far too sickly) there is a simplicity to cupcakes which I far rather enjoy. Maybe it because it reminds me of the fairy cakes I had a child at kids parties, maybe it’s because they are far more versatile in both flavour and appearance, and easier to make (in my opinion), or maybe it’s because they somehow seem more elegant (when done properly and served on a fancy cake stand). But whilst I will rarely turn down a bit of whoopie (!), I can’t deny that I’m just a cupcake gal at heart 🙂

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