Thursday, 20 August 2015

Prepare and Survive #6: The Clutter Busting Guide from Total Wardrobe Care

Wardrobes are quite emotional spaces, because they’re filled with memories. Even if you’re wealthy, often the only things that are entirely yours are your clothes (along with your watch and your bed, probably). They are personal to you. They also reflect your changing shape and age, the fashions you grew up with. You need to be feeling quite strong, to make changes. 

And yup, it’s going to take time. There’s no getting away from it. Rather than resenting this and feeling miserable about it – or putting it off for years – set aside a weekend and prepare yourself for a military operation. Send the kids to your parents or friends. Switch off your mobile phone. Don’t organise anything else, not even a movie in the evening. It’s TIRING!
  • Get in snacks (oat bars, fruit bowl, water, juice for sugar energy)
  • Get a roll of black bags and labels
  • Get a big felt tip pen and prepare label bin liners with ‘Sell’, ‘Charity Shop’, ‘Repair’, ‘Dry Clean’, ‘Specialist Repair or Cleaning’
  • Get in a clothes rail, as mentioned before, and lots of hangers
  • Get cleaning stuff: bucket, duster, vacuum cleaner, cloths
  • Check out nearby charity, nearly new and second-hand shops before you begin: will they take clothes of any season, or only the appropriate one? Is there anything they won’t accept? Do you have to clean donations first? When can you drop them off?
  • Check out recycling opportunities at your local tip.
  • Check out eBay for re-selling – in this case, you will need a good light background for photographing items.
  • Time to phone a friend. You really need someone whose taste you trust so that you can try on clothes and get an honest opinion. They also need to understand that this day – or weekend – is about you.
  • Give yourselves a break every three hours.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Frugal Bugle #9: Car Insurance

Go Compare
1. Be paid to compare. Pick two comparison sites (I head to Go Compare and, put your details in and see what the best quotes are. Yes, you can get more quotes than this, but really, two is probably sufficient, given the time it takes. Get all your documents together, including your previous insurance certificate, beforehand.
I make a start on the comparison task once I have received the renewal notice from my current company, as this gives me a figure to beat. I use Go Compare and because if I access them via TopCashBack, I get a couple of quid just for a accessing a genuine quote. TopCashBack will only give you the cash back if you really are comparing insurance quotes so it's not something you can do frequently. The American site can be found at

2. Staying vs Saving. If the best quote you can get is only slightly less than the renewal notice from your current provider, weigh up whether it is worth the hassle of switching from one insurance company to another. Before you decide, contact your current insurer, and ask them to beat the online quote you have found.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

How to Build Up a Warm or Cool Nude Repertoire

Anyone, as I have proved over the years, can bang on a ton of green eyeshadow or draw eyeliner from eye-corner to ear, but to apply make-up that looks as if you're bare-faced takes a fair amount of skill.

If you pick from the wrong end of the nude spectrum, colours will show up anything but neutral, so it's worth thinking about whether your skin is warm-toned (browny/yellowy) or cool-toned (bluey/pinky). The fundamental question is whether you look Scandinavian or not. Me, I've got Welsh blood in my veins; with my brown eyes, dark hair and easily tanning skin. Someone once came up to me on the street and asked (apologetically) if I was French. I'm an earthy Celt type, look you.

As I have discovered during my jaunt through nude make-up shades this year, only a few products suit warm AND cool skin tones.

For you Scandi girls, I recommend:
  • Velvet Touch Lipstick in "Angel" (£6.49) by GOSH, which would look wonderful with your baby blue eyes, and is complimented well by their lipliner in "Angel Kiss". On me, it looks a bit too innocent.

  • If you have green eyes and pale skin, Breeze lipstick by B. would suit you well.

  • Eyeshadow is hardly worth it unless you can blend like a pro, but GOSH's eyelight trio "Three of a Kind" is very forgiving and flattering.

  • If you like matching lipstick with nail varnish, which I realise is a bit 80s, but hey, I was in 1975 so what you gonna do, then "Pretty Ballerina" is a perfect partner to "Angel", also by GOSH.

If you have a warmer complexion, build up your nude repertoire with the following:

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Must-haves for a Self-catering Break

PhotobucketTo celebrate the King's recent Significant Birthday, we went back to Lancaster for a short, child-free break this half term. It's a city that we'll always be fond of; it's where we were students, where we fell in love, and where we got married. Much has changed since we graduated in 1997. For one thing, I no longer wear white eyeshadow, black Cleopatra-style eyeliner, blue lipstick and denim platforms.

Good times.

And although parts of Lancaster - especially the campus - are hardly recognisable, our favourite haunts - The Dukes, The Whale Tail, The Sultan, and, erm, Wilkinsons - remain.

New to the good times list is Sun Street Studios, modernised self-catering apartments that didn't exist when we were students, but were just what we needed for a short, good-value break in the city centre. What's more they overlooked the place we were had our first date and, a year later, our wedding reception!

Here are some what-to-pack tips if you're new to self-catering apartments.

1. Coconut Water Haircare

Coconut water is the latest fashionable drink for its hydrating properties and now Superdrug has captured this in a new haircare trio which promises hydration without leaving residue. I took their shampoo from this new range with me on holiday as it's suitable for all hair types, meaning that both the King and I could use it.

Coconut is the scent of summer, evocative of tropical islands and heady cocktails. But coconut isn’t just a great taste and fragrance, it’s also one of nature’s most hydrating ingredients.The result was lovely, shiny, smooth-feeling hair, and the fragrance is fine for both men and women. Toiletries were provided at the apartment but they were nothing to write home about so I used the shampoo as a shower gel as well, bringing a real scent of summer to the Lancastrian air.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Prepare and Survive #5: Summer Survival Calendar

It’s that time of year where the trees are greening up, the grass needs mowing, flowers are blooming, and gardens are underway (along with all the weeds!). Ah, the joys of spring! And with spring comes summer break, right around the corner!

We in the UK can count ourselves lucky that our summer holidays only last six weeks. In the US, summer vacation lasts TWO to THREE MONTHS!

Typically the summer holidays start off fairly promising and then descend into “I’m bored!” or “There’s nothing to do!” Or maybe you don’t get that from the kids because they are zoned out watching TV or playing video games all day? And then when summer is over, you wonder where it went…you never got a chance to do all the activities you wanted to do with the kids.

Blast “boredom blues” this summer and make bonding time with your kids a priority by using The Confident Mom’s 2015 Summer SurvivalCalendar.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Appy Days #2: Intuitive Life Coaching Oracle

Sometimes I miss the security and certainty of belonging to a mainstream religion. Similarly, the excitement and mystery of discovering "alternative" spiritual paths is something that's not part of my life any more. I know where I stand on religion. You probably do too. I'm not here to convince you otherwise.

Something which can be as spiritual or as down-to-earth as you please is life-coaching. It can give you a focus or help you find a direction, whether you believe that guidance is coming from within yourself, from God, from angels, from a Higher Power. Where the guidance is coming from is not something I'm here to debate. 

Intuitive Life Coaching Oracle by Indie Goes Software is a lifecoaching app from Google Play that sits comfortably with me. It is as "new age" as you want it to be: the focus is on self-development and empowerment rather than on spirit guides. Tarot it ain't. If you want to bring angels into it, that's up to you.

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