Posts tagged ‘Space NK’

June 21, 2013

What’s in your handbag?

Regular blog readers might remember me writing a ‘what’s in your handbag’ post ages ago. Shortly after which the bag in question, along with its contents, was stolen from my kitchen. Thankfully it was all insured, and therefore replaced with shiny new things! Huzzah!

I’m choosing not to think that lightening can strike twice and so I’m risking writing a new version of that post, because, if you’re as nosy as I am, the contents of a handbag are fascinating …

So, here goes.

The bag that I carry around switches between a silver Cambridge Satchel, a Mary Katrantzou for Longchamp tote, and a brown leather satchel that my Dad gave me to replace my beloved stolen Mulberry Antony. Each of the bags is useful for different occasions, but the one I have today is the brown leather one. Simple, logo-free and with enough pockets for me to endlessly think I’ve lost something, this bag is perfect for slinging across my shoulders and leaving my hands free for important things like ice-cream eating, hand-holding (romantically with my other half, or to stop my kids jumping into a lake) or endless Tweeting.

I like to carry a lot of stuff. So, small fancy bags are not really any good for me and this list really does prove it!

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Inside the bag:

  • Suncream. I used some chemical peel pads earlier this year and although they’ve improved my skin lots, they have left it very sensitive to the sun. Daily suncream is essential now. This one is by ROC.
  • Moleskine diary and fineliner pen. Because although I love technology, nothing beats pen and paper.
  • My purse. I love, love, love this purse. It was made for me by the talented Abi of ‘Sew You’ and it’s large enough to hold my keys, lipbalm, iPhone earphones, and a tiny box of dental floss as well as my cash and cards. After my last one was stolen, she sent me a free replacement, which just proves how fabulous she is.
  • Lifeventure water bottle. Reason enough for a giant bag! I carry water with me all the time after a kidney infection earlier this year, and the bottle – bought for me by my beloved – is with me every day.
  • My essential make-up kit: Rodial Glam Balm, Nars Sheer Glow foundation (in Mont Blanc, which just shows you how pale I am!) classic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, a very old Shu Uemura eyeshadow in Medium Brown, YSL Touche Eclat, Kevyn Aucoin eye pencil (one of the best I’ve ever used) and finally, lip gloss in Jean Queen from Lipstick Queen which is the perfect everyday pink.  Most of this haul was bought from my local Space NK
  • A packet of Chewits. Because you never know when the Chewit Monster might strike! Remember him? Actually, I have to confess that, having discovered them in my bag when I emptied it to take the photo, I’m eating them right now, as I type.  I quite often have a little something sugary in my bag. To placate my children – what a mother – or to to give me a little energy boost at 3pm. I know, I know, I should be eating fruit or almonds or something. But I’m not.
  • A magazine. In this case, the wonderful stationery-special issue 17 of Uppercase. For many, many reasons. It has a scratch ‘n’ sniff cover, for a start! Scratch’n’sniff! I know that at the age of 37, I should have grown out of such things, but it’s cherry, so therefore brilliant. I always have something to read in my bag. Being a public transport user, I never know when I’ll end up stuck somewhere and I prefer my reading material in print, not via e-reader. Books never die.
  • A Rapha musette. A gift from my lovely boyfriend, this little bag is often with me so that I don’t have to use carrier bags in shops.
  • And finally, my beloved iPhone 5. At 64GB, this is worth more than my car and I love it almost as though it were my third child. I’m not even joking (much) about that. My addiction to Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and, I confess here … Happy Street … mean that I never want to be without it.

So, that little lot is worth quite a lot. A quick tally up shows that replacing it would cost me roughly £950. Mostly because of the unlocked iPhone, to be honest but even the make-up would cost me a fair bit to replace in one go. That’s actually quite a surprise. I’d better go and check that insurance policy …

This post will be entered into a Money Supermarket competition. 

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November 5, 2012

The Paradox Of Choice.

I’m banned from the supermarkets these days. Not by the stores themselves, you understand, they’d be only too happy to have my time and money. It’s a self-imposed ban. Not for any  ethical reasons, although I do have plenty of those. For my sanity.

I have come to realise that I don’t cope well with too much choice. In a restaurant, I behave as though it’s my last supper every time I order, and I often struggle to choose my lunch (when I’m not using up leftovers, that is) but the time it really comes to the fore is in the supermarket.

It begins in the fruit and vegetable section. If I’m buying apples, for example, I’ll look at the variety, the condition they’re in and where they have come from. I prefer to buy UK grown fruit and vegetables, but if I’m buying from abroad, then I’ll look for a Fairtrade label.  There are pros and cons to air-freighted vegetables, so I’ll make decisions about that too. So far, so complicated. But in fact, this is now the easiest section of the supermarket for me to be in. When it comes to packaged food, I find myself looking at labels relentlessly, searching for ingredients, working out who owns the company, which type is cheaper and what looks the most appealing. It goes on and on. My husband says I go into something like shock; the proverbial deer in headlights. The last straw came when he had to drag me away from a whole wall full of tooth-pastes. I mean, why do we need so many options? Whitening, fresh breath, gum health, complete care. Do I want spearmint, fresh-mint, sensitive? Is one of those stand-up pumps better than a normal tube? Which works out cheaper? And what are blue micro-beads for anyway? There is no wonder I go into some kind of choice paralysis. Coupled with the bright lights and Christmas music in October, it’s a wonder anyone gets out alive.

These days, we order our supermarket shopping online. Using the information from the last shop, I can quickly whip through the list and, even when I change things ( I always check for special offers and cheaper deals) it’s so much less stressful in front of a laptop and away from the store. An added bonus is never having to take my small children with me. Not for them the opportunities to throw extra sweets into the trolley, destroy the magazine aisle or have a ginormous tantrum because I won’t buy them everything they want. Those days are over.

Of course, it’s not just supermarkets. The paradox of choice is everywhere – from choosing a mobile phone (uppermost in my mind, after losing mine) to a pair of jeans, and much much more. The size of the market, which is allegedly one of the greatest successes of a Western society, does not do me many favours after all.

At the moment, I’m in the throes of yet another de-cluttering of my house. This time I’m being more ruthless. I’m getting rid of lots of things that I have been keeping for sentimental reasons, despite them being hidden away and forgotten about. I’m looking for voluntary simplicity. I’d like to have far fewer things, and only buy things that I need or truly love, and keep them forever. I want things that are not trend-led but designed to last, and for my surroundings to be peaceful instead of feeling as though the house will explode if we bring one more thing into it.

It is a difficult enough thing to do with a small family for whom more is better. My son in particular is a collector and is desperate for every single engine in the Thomas Take’n’Play collection, so I will have to accommodate that to a certain extent.

Yet, the real challenge comes from within me. It is becoming easier and easier for me to get rid of things. I’m far more comfortable with that now – and I can tell that clearing out the house is doing wonders for my mind too – it’s as though as weight is lifted from them when I give away yet another bag of unwanted belongings to the charity shop. But what about when the time comes to buy something new? To replace something that is worn out and cannot be repaired? I’m not talking about the occasional luxury here (those things tend to be used up anyway, given that my favourite treats are things like a bottle of fizz or a luxurious bath oil) I’m talking about the things that I hope will last forever.

If I want to have far fewer things, then any new things that I buy need to be the very best choice there is for me. That doesn’t mean the most expensive, it means the best suited to what I want and need. I already prefer to have fewer clothes that are well-made than lots of cheaper clothes, so it’s just spreading that to other areas of my life and making the best choices about the things I want in my life. But given that I cannot even choose a tube of toothpaste without assistance, that might be something of a challenge…

October 3, 2012

Space NK and leaving beauty boxes behind.

I had a subscription to one of the beauty boxes until recently. Each month, I’d get a pretty box filled with a selection of sample beauty products posted through the letter box. And for a while, it was great. I love to get exciting post, and this was a little treat just for me. But after a while, the lustre wore off the whole thing. I heard rumours that beauty bloggers were getting different products to the rest of the subscribers, purely so they could act as free PR for the companies, and then another rumour about a ‘premium, invite-only’ box, that the company were going to just make available to a select few people. Quite how they were going to decide whose £12 a month was the most deserving of this premium line, I don’t know, but it seemed a little bit of ‘us and them’ behaviour to me. Of course, these were just unsubstantiated rumours, and I’m no beauty expert, but I decided to leave.

The other thing that I really realised about the experience is how much I love to go into stores and play around with products before buying them. Even getting the samples in the post wasn’t really the same, because part of the fun for me is chatting to the staff and learning more about the products that way. So, I’m back in the stores, trying things out, and enjoying the great customer service you often find with beauty brands.

One of my favourite places to do this is in Space NK. I like that they have a range of different brands, and that the staff in my local branch all seem to be really passionate about what they do and what they sell. Maybe they’re on commission, it doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that I always feel as though I’m being treated well and leave the store with a happy feeling.

At a brilliant card holders’ event recently (where I had my hair straightened) I came away with a incredible free bag of lovely goodies, after spending enough money (on gifts and for other people, so not spending money to get freebies, which is really bad maths!) and I really don’t think it would have been bettered anywhere else. I have favourite brands elsewhere (Liz Earle and Neal’s Yard Remedies for example), and favourite brands in Space NK (Eve Lom, Darphin, Caudalie, Diptyque to mention a few) and there is room in my life for them all! I’m enjoying the process of choosing things in store again, and I don’t think I’ll be going back to a beauty box subscription any time soon.

September 28, 2012

Curls.

On Wednesday night, I had my hair straightened for the first time. At a lovely event at my local Space NK (about which I’ll talk more in another post next week!) I volunteered to be the guinea pig for their new straighteners and it wasn’t until I saw myself in the mirror that I really knew what it would look like.

It was an odd feeling really. You see, I was bullied at school. Not mercilessly, and by the time I’d got to high school it had pretty much gone, but it was enough to reduce me regularly to tears. And it was always about my hair. My mum, possessor of sleek straight brunette hair (apart from an unfortunate period of perming in the early nineties) never really knew what it was like to manage curls, and so would brush it out when it was dry. Which led to it being one eight foot wide mass of frizz, and provided the local bullies with an excellent target, either for words, or on a couple of memorable occasions, for chewing gum.

By the time I got to high school I’d worked out that if it was washed and left to dry on its own, the frizz died down to actual curls, so I rocked up to school with sopping wet hair on many a day, never quite having realised the value of a hairdryer and diffuser. To this day, I’m usually in so much of a rush to get out of the door, it’s still damp when I’m on the school run or waiting for the bus to work.

But it has also become one of the ways I suppose I define myself. If you asked me to describe what I look like, it’d be average. Average height. Average weight (give or take the odd cake) Average looks. Curly hair. Curly hair. The one thing that I hated about myself as a child has become the one way in which I’m more than average. For a moment, looking in that mirror, I wondered what it might have been like to have that straight hair as a child but then I’m sure they’d have found something else. I mean, curly hair  – it’s not exactly three eyes, is it? Not that I’m suggesting people with three eyes deserve bullying either, you understand. But perhaps any little thing that marks you out as being different, in however small a way, is enough. For me though, that little thing has turned into something, after many years of battle, that I rather like about myself.

So, although it was an interesting experience, it’s not one that I’m going to repeat. I like my curly hair now. It’s part of who I am. So there…

January 20, 2012

Sprinkles: why it’s time for serious skincare.

I went for a run the other day. The first one in months, and of course, the day we decided to venture out, it was minus 4 degrees. Covered up in as many layers I could practically manage whilst still retaining full mobility, with a pink Buff secured over my ears, I looked great. By which, I clearly mean, a bit rubbish. The run itself went really well. It was bloody cold, but the fact I am pretty unfit meant I was soon warm and running through the woods, jumping over fallen branches and avoiding frozen puddles was as much fun as I remembered it being before my stupid foot injury, so I was really pleased. At the end, I was steaming like an out-of-condition racehorse, so the weather wasn’t so much of a problem.

Only when I got home and went into the bathroom for a shower did I notice the skin on my face. I’m blessed with that ‘lovely’ pink skin. You know, the kind that turns red at the hint of the sun, rarely tans, just gets more freckles, and in my case, turns bright purple after exercise and stays that way for hours… So, naturally, it was purple at that moment. It was also really sore though and it still is.

My skin appears to hate the cold. Which is weird really, because it hates hot weather too. So basically, my skin is against ‘weather’ in general. That’s helpful.

Alongside this revelation is my lovely son’s obsession with my ‘sprinkles’. I must have spent most of my life being in a state of shock because I always seem to raise my eyebrows. Always. Which means that although I’m not massively wrinkly on the rest of my face, I do have lines across my forehead, deep furrows like perfectly ploughed field. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but they are there. And my son is very concerned about them. The other day, he gave me a little cuddle, then ran his hand across my forehead, talking about my ‘sprinkles’. Then he frowned with all his might, and pointed to the teeny tiny furrows between his eyes.

This is why I forgive him…

Adorable though it was, I have now started spending a lot more time in front of a mirror peering at them, pulling at the sides of my face to see what I might look like if I had a facelift and imagining a perfectly-Botoxed and therefore furrow-free forehead. Not that I’m going in for surgery. The mere idea of voluntarily injecting myself with any form of Botulism purely out of vanity makes me shudder – although each to their own and I know lots of people do.

What I am going to do, though, is invest a bit more in my skin care. I need a serum, decent moisturiser, face masks. Whatever it takes to make me feel a bit better about it, and stop my face feeling so sore. At the moment I am hacking off the tops of off my lotions and potions to make them last until pay day. Once it arrives though, I am planning to spend a bit of money on saving my face. First up is an emergency treatment to take away the soreness, then I’ll look for a serum and moisturiser to help me deal with my sprinkles…

Here are my favourite emergency skin-saving remedies:

Eve Lom TLC cream – rich, designed for more mature skin and great for taking away the tightness of dry and sensitive skin and the soreness of my wind-chapped cheeks.

Neals Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm. I use this lots-  as a creamy cleanser and exfoliator (when used with the muslin cloth it comes with) or, more often as a rich, use anywhere, moisturiser. It smells wonderful, and although it has quite a greasy texture, it sinks in well. I really recommend this for things like chapped lips too.

Darphin Aromatic Renewing Balm. This works really well as an overnight balm on dry and sensitive skin and the combination of essential oils makes it smell amazing. Great as protection against environmental conditions.

I admit that they’re all pretty expensive but they do last me for months and months.

I’ve also heard very good things about the following two creams. Although I haven’t tried them yet, I intend to soon:

Lush Skin Drink – Designed for dry and sensitive skins and great at helping you to winter-proof your skin. Plus this one is quite a lot cheaper than the others, so  could use loads if I needed it!

Lush Skin’s Shangri La – Described as being great for winter, and leaving you cheeks that are soft to the kiss!

So, that’s my chapped cheeks dealt with. Next is the search for a great moisturiser and extra treatments to save my face in the longer term!

My sprinkly face…