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31 Oct 2011

Get running!

Trainee's on? Check

Croydon facelift ponytail? Check

I am ready to run!

I love running and I used to do a lot of it. In recent years I have blamed lack of time for my laziness - it's such a good excuse.

But I miss that buzz that you get with exercise and so I have dipped in and out of various programmes:
  • 30 days shred? I tried Jillian, I tried but I dropped out at level 2.
  • Bikram yoga? Try getting on a Tube and looking normal after a 1.5 hour sauna session. 
  • Pilates? Too expensive in central London and not enough of a buzz. 
  • Ashtanga yoga? A good gymnastic workout - and I do love that 15 minute rest at the end - but hard to find classes near me...

Excuses, excuses...

Thank goodness then for apps like Get Running - they make me feel like it's possible to get my fitness back and as much as I enjoy the likes of yoga and pilates, there is nothing like running.

I have actually completed this app already this year - it takes you from unfit to fit (ie, able to run a 5k) in 6 weeks and I am starting it again after what feels like months of "rest". :)

I like the structure of these running apps and there are a few around that are also great (i.e, Nike+). This is however what I recommend to beginners/those looking to get back in the game:

1) It starts slow and feels achievable - you run for 30 seconds then walk for a 1.5 minutes 8 times...a really easy way to break you in and then each week (after 3 runs) it increases the running time.
2) It has a nice way of encouraging you during the run - not too much, not too little. You know exactly where you are.
3) It interacts well with music being played - some apps abruptly stop your music to give you instructions...I hate that. This fades in and out and is a lot more respectful :)
4) £1.99 well spent!

In terms of what I wear for running? A whole lot of Nike, mascara, eyeliner, lip balm and slapped back hair :)

This is the before - no after will ever be provided :) ...

My trainers/sneakers! Old Nike's...

Apologies if this was a bit of random post but I guess it is technically appropriate - the app is something I bought after all, even if it was about 12 months ago :)

Now I just have to get round to actually reading the Tone It Up plan - also bought about a year ago. Oops! I have such good intentions...I really do! :)

PS. The app is here! Link!

PPS. If you have any other fitness app recommendations please let me know! We all have pretty similar taste I think so I am all ears! :)

29 Oct 2011

The Sexy Cowl?

I haven't worn a cowl neckline for years...literally years.

I remember it being all the rage when I was at university (circa 1998-2001) and I had a few from Wallis and Paul Smith that I whipped out for end of term formals...ah those were the days...since then though I haven't sported this kind of style at all.

That's a bit odd really because it's a fail-safe - a universally flattering line that suits all chest sizes and always makes you look like you made some effort.

ASOS describe this top as a "sexy cowl" and whilst I wouldn't go that far it's a really nice, versatile piece. The metalized material makes it worth of day and evening wear - wear it on it's own with trousers or under a structured masculine style suit.

I got it in the shade Champagne and it's a lovely metallic cream. I have to say though that I think would look even better on darker complexions than mine.

I wore it out for a little stroll around the marina...

Top: ASOS - Link!
Trousers: Miss Selfridge
Bag: Miu Miu
Shoes: out of shot but flats from Pour La Victoire
Watch: Rolex

Some FAQ

A big thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post by the way and to answer a few questions:

a) I still wear Studio Fix Fluid. The tiniest amount will make your skin look/photograph incredibly and this is why I have stuck with it for so many years. Yes, it stinks. No, it's not the most sophisticated of formulations but...it will make you look good. I wear the colour NC35 - sometimes this works for me and sometimes it doesn't shade-wise. On days when I look a bit pale it's back to the Chantecaille.

b) The necklace I wear is from Tiffany & Co and is the half carat Diamonds by the Yard. It's tiny but that's exactly why I like it.

c) The eye make up in the last post was basically Urban Decay's Naked all over the crease and NARS Night Clubbing smeared - and quite literally smeared - around the lashline. I finish this off with LOTS of MAC's Grand Entrance eyeshadow (LE). I am a big believer in the obnoxious inner corner highlight and it's part of my daily ritual.

d) I use a Canon 550d for all my photos. Canon no longer sell this model but I am a huge fan of their DSLR cameras and would recommend them to anyone. This coupled with a 50mm lens is a fantastic combination. The 50mm is a must - it helps create the type of photos that were the entire reason I bought a DSLR in the first place :)

I hope you all had/are having a lovely weekend :)

28 Oct 2011

Topshop crop jacket...again

I can't get enough of this crop jacket. I bought it back in August-time but it remains a staple and something that I literally pair with anything...today I slung it on over a maxi dress - chiefly to preserve modesty and body temperature when hitting air-conditioning.

It has a pretty satin collar detail, is true to size (I wear the 8) and literally goes with everything - as a black jacket would and should! It's a nice departure from the traditional blazer - which we all know I am a big fan of - giving you some coverage but with a more interesting shape.

I have had email from some of you asking whether this available on the Topshop site and yes it is - Link!

The ubiquitous sunglasses shot :)

Hello tired end-of-the-week eyes :)

PS. How red toned does my hair look? The only answer to that is very. This always happens and I am beginning to think that the words spoken by my good friend Gavin are true: "you can't fight the ginge, Ginge." :) 

Jacket: Topshop
Dress: Young, Broke & Fabulous
Sandals: KG
Sunglasses: Raybans
Watch and bracelet: Rolex and Hermes
Bag: Miu Miu

Can we also take a moment and pay homage to La Roche Posay Effaclar K

*Takes a moment* 

This is, I believe, the stuff of miracles.

Once a month I would always get some wicked spots setting up shop on my chin. These were the bastard spots - the deep, tender ones that remind you of cystic acne. Well, since consistently and religiously using this I have more or less said bye bye to bastard spots! It costs £13 for a tube from Boots and out of all the skin care products I have tried (Liz Earle and Sarah Chapman serum excluded) this is one of the best.

Of course what are the chances that now I have written this post I will now erupt in zits?

Other things I am adoring right this very moment...

1) Coldplay's new album - I know they often polarize opinion, with some hating and some loving but I love the new record. I pre-ordered it from itunes and got a nice surprise in my downloads tab when I saw it waiting for me on release date. Favourite tracks? There are quite a few Paradise, Major Minus, Up in Flames, Hurts like Heaven....yep quite a few :)

2) The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - enough said. How fabulously ridiculous is this show? Of course there is a serious tragedy attached to this series that will no doubt be documented on tape soon but this current series was filmed before Russell's suicide and so focuses on the Housewives fodder that we know so well - bitchy back-biting, copious drinking of wine at all opportunities and holding parties for no apparent reason.

3) The X Factor USA - I don't have easy access to the UK X Factor (other than what the Daily Mail report about that Kitty girl) so I have made do with the USA version. And I think it might be better. a) It has Simon and b) It has Drew, whose voice is absolutey incredible and haunting. Drew to win!

Hope you all had a good week! x
24 Oct 2011

Deliciously generic

So there I was, getting my mani and pedi on at Tips and Toes in JBR and the technician asked me what colour I wanted on my nails.

We all know that when it comes to Gelish I play it safe...a two week commitment requires some considered thought. This time I went safer than safe. I went for a French.

It's been a long time since I sported this look and whilst it's very "done" and generic, I cannot deny that I like it's polished appearance. Playing it safe has never felt so good :)

The Perfume Project

I am also secretly quite pleased to have used up a couple of perfumes - Tom Ford's Black Orchid and Balenciaga...whilst they are fantastic fragrances I have only two left here in Dubai...Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy and Gucci's Flora...

This is comforting because:

a) It doesn't make me feel like such an intense hoarder :) and
b) I know that by Christmas I will be fully justified in my purchase of Hermes Ambre Narguile - Merry Christmas Laura, Lots of Love Laura

You know what the funny thing is about this "project"? I have never even so much as sniffed Ambre Narguile - I just know that I will love it :) I hope after all this effort I am right :)

What's your next perfume purchase?
23 Oct 2011

The Sister Jane Blouse

Not going to lie to you. I was excited to wear this today.

This top is from ASOS and is by the brand Sister Jane. I love the classic collar, the light fabric (the finest polyester I am sure) and of course, the diamante detailing.

They define this as "pink" on the site....oooookay then....it's obviously the palest pink AKA cream but in ASOS's defence, the website pictures are very true to how it looks in real life so there were no nasty surprises upon its arrival.

I really love it and it has got me looking at the brand's other offerings which all embody the same sentiment as this top - retro shapes and modern styling. A perfect combination!

I paired it with a blazer (standard) and Cheap Monday jeans (also standard)...living on the edge I tell you :)

Top: Sister Jane - Link!
Blazer: ASOS - Link!
Jeans: Cheap Monday skinnies
Shoes: Were the ole' grey Kurt Geigers.
Bag: Miu Miu
Earrings: not sure of the brand but they are Akoya pearls?
Sunglasses: Gucci

In other news...

This is THE candle that is rocking my world at the moment - by the suppliers to Bath & Body Works, Slatkin & Co, it's good old Vanilla Caramel.

In some ways this is the most generic of scents - it's just a sweet vanilla that is duplicated by countless other candle companies. But the way this penetrates your home cannot be mistaken. It's strong and sweet and will make you crave dessert. I have a few candles from this brand and for the purposes of making your home smell delish (and for hiding kitchen cooking smells and my intense need to put garlic into everything I cook) this is one of the best.

For those of you in the UK there are a few sites that sell these beauties...here is one of them - Link! I have never purchased anything from them but it should tide you over until B&BW open up next year (as I have been told :)

Have a great Sunday :)
21 Oct 2011

New Look is out of control

Meet my new boots :)

The backstory

It was Kelanjo's post that initially piqued my interest - leopard print booties from New Look that I just could not forget.

Then, over the following week more and more bloggers and vloggers showcased their New Look goodies and I so a trip to the store was scheduled.

I love the New Look in Marina Mall - it's big, has a huge range and always seems to have the right sizes in stock.

In short, I went a bit mad.

I got a bag of clothing goodies...

...amazing blouses and dresses - some of which were massively reduced...

...but the highlight was to be found in the shoe department. I have long espoused New Look boots/shoes. I am convinced that they are excellent quality and obviously come at a fantastic price tag. I have boots, wedges and sandals from New Look that have lasted years without re-heeling requirements. Have I just got lucky?

Anyway, I got the boots that Kelanjo posted and a black pair...a hidden platform, deliciously chunky heel and tapered toe -  both pairs will look fantastic with black skinnies. Aah I cannot wait :)

Now I know that some people HATE animal prints. I get that but the inner Bet Lynch in me loves them. Pair with a minimal and de-slaggy outfit (i.e, no boobs or legs out) and you will be fine. Of course men often detest them but...sorry darling, take a good look and suck it up :)

PS. Links to the black boots are here and they are just £14.99 - Link! - (can't find the leopard ones)

And this might be my next pair! Glitter heel? Come on now!! - Link!

Some other news

1) I am currently reading The Happiness Project which I know a lot of you have already digested. Some of it seems like mumbo-jumbo but I like the jolt of pro-activeness it is currently giving me. Cue me making tons of to do lists :)
2) After I finish this I will resume serious fiction. I feel like it's been a while since I read a really noteworthy piece of literature as I have been drowning in chick-lit. I have to admit that it was of my own choosing - I just felt like reading some fluff. The last fluffy book was Hedge Fund Wives - I think the title tells you everything you need to know. I will make it up to my brain with S J Watson's Before I go to Sleep.
3) I cannot get Drive out of my head. It was hypnotic. I cannot think of another word to represent it. And I am not just referring to Ryan Gosling here. The way it was shot, the subtle acting, the soundtrack (already downloaded with A Real Hero pretty much on repeat)....mesmerizing. I urge you to all see it.

Have a fantastic Friday everyone :)
18 Oct 2011

American Apparel Interlock Pencil Skirt and tan chat...

Working from home again today which means sloppy, easy clothes. I had an informal meeting in the afternoon so I made some semblance of effort. In this case it meant removing denim shorts (you just know I was wearing them :), grabbing a blazer and pulling on my American Apparel pencil skirt.

This is one of those classic American Apparel pieces. You look at it online, you see it in store, you like it, you balk at the price and then you get it home and wear it A LOT. It's form fitting, comes in an array of colours and can be worn slung low or pulled high - you can even wear it as a tube top. Style it smart or wear it sloppy like I have :)

PS. I had henna applied on my hand on Thursday night. It was one of those "ooh-I-have-never-had-that-done-lets-give-it-a-whirl" type of moments, fueled by two glasses of wine (all it takes!)...when I woke up on Friday morning there was an instant pang of regret as it wasn't a good quality job. The fade has thankfully set in :)

Skirt: American Apparel
Tee: Forever 21 (I counted - I have 3 of the same tee :)
Blazer: River Island
Necklace: Tiffany & Co
Watch: Rolex
Sunglasses: Rayban
Bag: Miu Miu

I urge you...

Now there is one more thing I must discuss with you today.

I tried a fake tan recently as although I have some colour, it's patchy in places. It's pretty hard to find a range of fake tan in Dubai - surprise, surprise - so my local Boots just had to do. I picked up Soltan's spray tan - a brand I have seen for years and always ignored. I suppose I didn't think it was anything special and whilst it was probably guaranteed to give "alright" results, I never thought it was capable of producing anything great.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Now everyone is different and some fake tanners do better on me than on others - and vice versa - but I absolutely love this. I can honestly say it is foolproof (bar any residue left on bathroom surface - apply in shower!) Hands, feet and body will be sprayed with a light mist which when lightly buffed in with a mitt will give the most natural and even result I have EVER HAD from a fake tanner.

Other selling points?

* No spots - some fake tanners clog up my skin and the tell tale signs are little spots on my chest. This hasn't done that at all and so I have also liberally sprayed it onto my face.
* It dries quickly - just like the St Tropez mousse, you can wait about a minute and then feel free to dress without staining fears. This is a huge bonus as you don't have to flap around waiting for the clamminess to subside - spray and go!
* No need to wash off - St Trope and Xen-tan are fabulous but their lotions require you to wash off to reveal the true, even tan. I think because this is much lighter in colour, it does not require this step...not really a selling point I suppose but something that reduces the hassle.
* It's £8.99 in the UK - that is all.

Let me know if you have ever tried this...I know the nights are drawing in and the days getting colder in many places around the world but all the more reason why you should give yourself a little bronze boost :)

FYI - links to:

American Apparel Skirt - Link!
Boots Solton self tanner - Link!
15 Oct 2011

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill

It's been a week since I hauled some Armani eye makeup products and 7 days later, we are still having a love affair.

I opted for the Eyes to Kill Excess mascara and Eyes to Kill shadow in number 6.

The time I have spent agonising over these shadows....I cannot even tell you. I watch the YouTube video where people rave about their pigmentation and metallic finish but when I get to the counter I take one look at the crumbly testers and walk away.

Well this time the counter in Harvey Nichols had brand new testers out and I got seriously tempted. They are (almost) everything everyone describes - a gorgeous shimmering finish that is not overly sparkly but more on the metallic side, best applied with fingers or a flat brush (not synthetic though) and surprisingly smooth. The only downside I have found is that they will crease over time (they are not invincible to the oilies) and whilst they are a metallic finish this can easily be buffed away if you like to really blend them in.

Despite that I really love number 6. It's a cross between MAC Tempting and Rouge Bunny Rouge Abyssinian Catbird. That means a green/gold/taupe. I have worn it day and night.

And the mascara?

I think I may have overstated the wow-ness of this mascara. I think I was just so excited to find something that gave a full and thick effect to the lashes - after suffering through weeks of Lancome Doll Eyes (fail) - that I bigged it up a little too much.

I want to be honest and say that its a fantastic product and one that you will probably enjoy using. It has a weighted handle that allows you to steady yourself when applying the product ( a clever touch) and in one coat you will get fantastic lashes that are on the thicker side (you may hate that, I love it!) HOWEVER, Max Factor Masterpiece Max created a very similar effect on me - and that's about a third of the price.

Nevertheless, I am really enjoying it. I got it in the shade number 2 - a deep purple - and the pigments in this are slightly metallic. With flash photos you can really see the slight tint.

NB: This is one generous - and admittedly slightly clumpy - coat and the Eyes to Kill shadow in number 6 :)

Before I go I have to share some new ridiculous heels that I got in Steve Madden. They are the Dynemite in black suede and I am trying to break them in right this moment. I think these may make me about 5ft 11 inches. This sort of crazy heel/platform combo makes me very happy :)

Happy Saturday!

11 Oct 2011

Metallic Kimono

I tried to think of an inventive title for this post but....creativity is clearly escaping me and so here I am calling a spade a spade. Or rather a metallic kimono a metallic kimono.

This one is from Zara and I got it in store last weekend.

Link to kimono here

They have a fantastic collection of alluring metallics at the moment and whilst not all of it is practical (silver trousers anyone???) this most definitely is.

I have worn this twice since I got it - slipped on over practically anything it takes the most casual and basic outfit and turns it up a notch. The metallic colour - a hybrid of gold and silver - is super flattering and the casualness of the shape makes it work for any body shape. It's an easy peasy piece - and we all like clothes like that, right?

I wore this the other night on a little walk to Marina Mall. The weather is finally getting bearable in the evenings which is very exciting - no more hiding out in air conditioned rooms :)

Kimono: Zara
Tee: Forever 21
Trousers: Miss Selfridge
Bag: Miu Miu
Perfume: (I always like when people put this/say this even though they could be totally fibbing and wearing Katie Price's finest (not that I am knocking that - I have invested in the past :) ) Balenciaga
I took some photos today of Giorgio Armani's Eyes to Kill Excess mascara and hope to get that post up this week. It may be that I have been deprived of good lashes for so long (thanks Lancome Doll Eyes, thanks for nothing) but it's a truly incredible mascara. I know what I like and I like a BIG lash - exactly what this product provides in one coat.

Exciting stuff - for me anyway :)

9 Oct 2011

The Sturdy Skirt

I got this skirt from H&M at the weekend. It was one of those "walk-into-the-shop-and-immediately-zone-in-at-the-prize-moments" that makes me a little bit giddy. I consider it a top find for a few reasons:

a) The material is of such fantastic quality - stretchy but also sturdy. It has a gratifying weight to it that belies the price tag - which in the UK is just £29.99.
b) It's a really flattering fit - it hugs and sucks up the body in all the right places and most pleasingly of all
c) It's not transparent. White can be tricky but this is a thick material and that means that you can wear pants without paranoia. I love white though - it's such a fantastic shade to wear...I predict wearing lots of it, combined with metallics, for my autumn/winter :)

Needless to say I highly recommend and you can find it here:

H&M Skirt link!

Shirt: H&M
Jacket: Topshop
Shoes: Kurt Geiger
Bag: Miu Miu

I wore this today to a tech convention show and whilst the show was so-so, the highlight was seeing Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, up close and personal.

There were hundreds of us trying to take pictures but yet everyone was so respectful and nobody pushed and shoved....almost strange. Do you think people would behave like this for David Cameron....or do you think nobody would bother in the first place? :)

PS. Before I go I have to admit to buying two things at the Giorgio Armani counter this weekend...Eyes to Kill shadow and mascara. I am in LOVE - its so nice to be excited about make up products again :)

Have a great Sunday all. I am off to catch up on Coronation Street and farm my potatoes (yes, the Smurfs app has got me good!)
7 Oct 2011


Don't tell anyone. But I wore this outfit two days straight.

Don't tell me you haven't done that? Anyone, anyone?

I will also confess that I partly enjoyed wearing it because it features a pair of trousers I purchased last year to "slim into". Yep that's right. They didn't quite do all the way up in the changing rooms despite a sharp intake of breathe and a lot of hope but because they were:

a) Navy
b) Cropped and
c) A style I had been looking for, for a long time...

I bought them in the optimism that one day they would work. So I guess this is the "one day" :)

Trousers: Miss Selfridge
Top: GAP (old)
Cardigan: Forever 21 (I really like this - it's in stores at the moment. It's made of cotton, and has a creased finish to it which makes it look quite cool. Well, for about £15 I am happy with it :)
Bag: Miu Miu
Shoes: Guess
Sunglasses: Raybans

Plans for the day

So Friday is my Saturday...let me explain this.

The UAE weekend is a Friday/Saturday.....making Thursday the new Friday (in the true sense) and Sunday a workday. It screws with your mind a little but it does feel right not to work on a Friday, I have to say :)

I think a trip to the mall beckons....I saw a blogpost this week featuring some new shoes/boots from Steve Madden and it literally burned an imprint in my mind. Fingers crossed for some goodies :)
5 Oct 2011

Pink smoothie

After an all important internal wrangle regarding Gelish versus Regular Manicure - I went for Gelish.

Gelish is basically the same as Axxium, Shellac et al - it's all the same concept and a similar process - and that means a 2-3 week manicure that should remain shiny and chip free.

I first got this at the beginning of the year at a place called Vy's in Earls Court - the best nail place in London FYI :) - and have a few things to say about it:

a) It makes acrylics look like a relic from the past - this new generation gel treatment is kinder to nails and in my opinion, looks a lot better than acrylics. And we all know that I used to love acrylics ;)

b) It's a slightly tedious application process - maybe it's just me but after a while the whole UV curing process gets a bit dull....1 minute under the light here, 1 minute under the light there....time seems to pass soooo slowly when you are waiting for the gel to cure. The removal process is also tedious - soaking the stuff off and then preparing the nail for more...good job it's worth it! :) 

c) Don't have it all the time - I know quite a few people on Twitter and Blogger have said that it's not damaging and I do agree but I have also been told by various manicurists not to wear the gel all the time. It's great for a a couple of applications but then give yourself 2 weeks off before you go back for more. I think that seems sensible.

d) It (sort of) lasts 2-3 weeks - when my nails were a little longer, the Gelish quickly chipped away. I batter my keyboard and am quite...active?....with my hands (that sounds weird) and whilst it does strengthen the nail it does not make it invincible. In my experience, it tends to last longer - and look better - on short nails. Also, as a sidenote - Gelish seems to last longer than Shellac - at least on me.

e) You will feel guilty - the guilt will only hit those with a decent sized nail polish selection. If you do then you will feel like you are being disloyal to all those pretty bottles. I had such guilt that I even went on ebay to buy my own UV lamp and UV Seche Vite - enabling me to use my collection and get some benefit of a gel finish. That didn't last long - all the tools in the world don't disguise the fact that I am cack-handed when it comes to applying polish.

f) The colour range on offer is a bit pants - this is one of the most frustrating elements of the whole gel genre. It expands all the time but the salons that I have been to have, at most, 20 colours. Compare that to regular manicures with the likes of Essie and you start to feel a bit hard done by.

g) When you do choose your colour, choose wisely - I once got Go Girl applied to my nails: an obnoxious pink. The technician at Vy's really didn't want to apply it and I think she had a sixth sense because her warning rang true - it really started to piss me off after a few days. If something is on your nails for 2-3 weeks then make sure it goes with your skin tone, your clothing shades and your mood.

For that reason I went for a safe and lovely pale pink called Pink Smoothie this time. And I am not yet bored with it.

 Another colour recommendation is below - this (I think - it's been about 6 months since I had it applied) is Taffeta and was my first sojourn into Gelish. I just loved this natural cream. It's pretty sheer but that helps it remain non-offensive:

As I mentioned I get this done in Vy's in London and Tips and Toes in Dubai.

Phew - that was a lot of nail chat, wasn't it?! :)