30 July 2017

3 Tips For Shopping The Sales When You Are Plus Size

I must confess, I am not a fan of shopping in the sales.  Trawling through racks of clothing that have been looked at and rejected by many others before me and jostling for position for that one great item that everyone spots at the same time is not my idea of fun.

That said, the "in the shop" experience is not something that I do, mostly because the nearest shop to cater to my dress size is an hour's travel away.  Which means that 99% of the time, my shopping is online. 

Shopping in the sales online is sooooo much easier and there are many tips and tricks that I have established along the way to ensure that I get the items that I want, for a cheaper price with the minimal time and effort.



Maintain an Offline Shopping Basket
Although I love looking for new clothes, if I am strapped for cash but in need of an item of clothing, there is nothing worse than trawling through a dozen websites and navigating their sales sections.  With this in mind, what I tend to do is whenever I see something I like but cannot yet afford in the regular non sale sections, I note down the link to save for later.

I have a shopping document on my laptop where I note down my favourite items, what they are, the current price and a hyperlink to it.  Sometimes there are just a few items on this list, sometimes dozens when I have a particular event in mind.

Every week I spend around an hour checking out these links to see if any items have gone into the sale.  This technique works particularly well at the end of the season when many items have moved to the sale section.  I don't tend to move with current trends and instead focus more on what I like so I don't worry about what is "in" and "out".

Shopping the Sales in One Go
One of the most frustrating things about shopping in the sales online when you are plus size is the limited options available to you.  You know what I mean.  You hit the sale section, full of hope of finding a bargain.  You click on a section, and then filter to only include your size.  The screen refreshes and you are left with five options.  Four of which you wouldn't dress your grandmother in.

My upgrade version of my offline shopping basket is a site that I have found called LovetheSales that puts together the sales from all the sites and lets you view them all on one website.  Below is a screenshot of a search that I did on the site, filtering down to dresses and my clothing size of 24.


Did you just let out a little "Eeeeeeeek!".  Because I did.  The idea behind the site is that they host all the sale items in one place and then it takes you to the relevant website like Asos or New Look to purchase the item.  Couldn't be simpler!

Look for Discount Codes
This is something that we call should do, but usually forget.  I cannot tell you the amount of times I have shopped on a website, only later to find a 25% discount code that I could have used.  I also have cashback account with a site that I always forget to use.  

By combining items in the sale and discount codes you can often end up with a real bargain and by using my offline method, many of my favourite items have been bought this way.

Do you have any tips for shopping in the sales when you are plus size?

29 July 2017

Summer Wishlist

I feel that I have not talked about fashion for so long!  So to resolve this, today and tomorrow's post will be all fashion focused with favourite items in my most recent purchases and my current wishlist today and tomorrow, I am talking about how to work the sales when you are plus size.

I have always been big on patterns and bright colours.  So today I wanted to share a few pieces that I love that celebrate pattern and colour for the summer months.  First off is a recent purchase of mine, a jumpsuit that I bought from the Joe Brown Collection.

When you are plus size, finding the perfect jumpsuit can be an impossible task depending on your height, shape and the style that you are looking for.  This jumpsuit is perfect for me.  I love the bold pattern.  At 5ft 5 I had to have the length adjusted so that I wasn't falling over the hem and I also replaced the button fastening at the back with a press stud.  It is very easy to get on and off and I love it!

Next up is the dress for all occasions.  This is on my current wishlist as it is the perfect hardworking dress that can cover you for many occasions.  Again, this is a Joe Brown dress from Simply Be 

This dress will cover you for everything from going to work in the summer months to that after work drink with the girls (that turns into a few cocktails on a Friday!) simply by a change of accessories and shoes.  I would also wear this on a weekend for going out to lunch.

In September I am going to Grassington for their annual 40s weekend.  After going last night and loving how everyone had dressed up, this year I decided to do the same.  This is a dress that I have just purchased.


I love the dogwood print (which I confess I thought was cherry blossom when I first saw it).  The fit is just right and I will share photographs of the weekend after the event.  Now I just need to find the right shoes!

Lastly is a dress that is on my current wishlist from the Hell Bunny collection. 


I really like the 50s style with a sexy twist.  The length looks great and I am always a sucker for sweetheart neckline!  This is on my wishlist for the moment as I do not (yet) have the right occasion to wear it.  I may have to create one!

What are your favourite items at the moment?

26 July 2017

The City Break Checklist

Whether it’s Barcelona, Prague or London, packing for a summer city break can be tough. Unlike beach escapes where you can throw a few bikinis and a pair of flip flops in a case, city holidays need a carefully considered wardrobe.

City breaks are naturally more active than beach holidays, as you explore all that the city has to offer. With the wrong clothing, this can be a disaster — blisters and sunburn anyone? Thought not! Daniel Footwear is here to help with their our essential city break packing checklist.  Check it out below!

Shoes

Whether it’s ancient cobbled streets or long days spent sight-seeing, there’s only one thing for it: trainers. Thankfully, we’re in the midst of a 90s revival, meaning our trainers are bang on trend, as well as super comfortable. For a glam edge to your everyday style, we love our range of Michael Kors trainers.

When day turns to night, and the clock strikes cocktail o’clock, those cobbled streets and lengthy treks still remain. However, we fully understand that you might want to add a touch of glamour to your evening outfit. Depending on what you have planned, you may want to take some heels with you — you can always take a taxi if it’s a long way away. Wedges are a popular choice, and they look great with both jeans and dresses.

We recommend packing a pair of comfortable flats, such as sliders or Fitflop ballerina shoes, and a pair of embellished sandals too. Embellished sandals are a stylish alternative to heels, perfect for channeling that beach-to-bar look, while their added glitz adds a dash of glamour that every summer night needs.


Accessories

Sunglasses are a must – especially in those typical hot climates. They help you look stylish whilst protecting your eyes from the sun rays. Who doesn’t love a big pair of sunglasses? It can get extremely hot when you are out exploring a new city, partner your sunglasses with a sunhat for an instantly glamorous look. A sunhat is a timeless accessory that will shield your face from the mid-day sun, whilst making you look very chic.

For an evening, don’t forget to pack some statement jewellery to finish your look. Bold jewellery will mirror the glitz and sparkle of your embellished sandals.

Clothing

Maxi dresses are fabulous for the summer. They are a great city break staple that are cool and stylish by day, and totally glamourous by night when partnered with a pair of wedges and a chunky necklace – very boho.

When you are out exploring the city’s history, something light and floaty is ideal to keep you cool throughout the day. Cami tops, kaftans, floral playsuits and tea dresses are perfect, and totally on trend. They’ll even look great with your trainers. Fashion that’s comfortable, who would have thought it?

We also recommend packing some t-shirts to pair with some frayed denim shorts just in case you burn your shoulders. They cover up those sore burnt bits, whilst keeping you cool when you explore rest of the city.

Sun cream

Whatever you do, don’t forget your sun cream. It can get very hot when you are out and about during the day doing activities, and you might not realise the strength of the sun’s rays. You don’t want to ruin your strip with sore sunburn, or even sunstroke. Be safe and apply plenty before you head out into the sun.




*Collaborative post

17 July 2017

A Little Luxury in your Kitchen

Give your kitchen a luxurious feel

When you’re designing a new kitchen, it’s only natural that you’ll want to add a touch of luxury. There are several luxury appliances that you can add to your kitchen to achieve this luxurious feel, as well as making your life easier in the kitchen. Depending on your individual preferences and needs, your luxury essentials might vary.

For your caffeine fix, think coffee machines

For many of us, getting a caffeine fix from a hot cup of coffee on a morning is essential – you just can’t function without it. If that’s the case but you’re not a fan of clutter on the worktops then a built-in coffee machine might be a worthwhile addition to your list. Although they might seem pricey at first, many aren’t much more expensive than top-of-the range countertop models and think of all that money you’ll save not buying a coffee on your way to work every day. 

If you’re planning an appliance bank in your kitchen then it’s worth noting that most manufacturers are designing coffee machines to match their ovens and as a result a combination of three ovens and a coffee machine are becoming a popular configuration. Price points vary, from the very affordable semi-automatic models from Hotpoint to the pricier all-singing, all-dancing bean-to-cup coffee machine from AEG. If you can’t bear the thought of messy beans or grinds, then a Nespresso pod machine by Miele is a good option. 


For the wine lovers, think wine coolers

Whether you drink white, rose or red wine, you’ll know the importance of your wine being stored at optimum drinking temperature. Kitchens with zones for cooking, eating and entertaining are the perfect place for one of the latest luxury appliances – the wine cooler. While there might not be space for a wine cellar, the latest wine coolers are very sophisticated machines that will ensure all wines – both red and white are kept in the optimum conditions. 

Undercounter models from companies such as Liebherr, Caple and CDA vary in size from space-saving single columns to those with room enough for up to 48 bottles and featuring several temperature zones for keeping reds and whites at exactly the right temperature. Perfect placed on the dining side of an island so that guests can help themselves while you cook, look for coolers that also include UV protection and anti-vibration – to keep harmful light and stop the disturbance of sediments – as they’re important features to keep your wine at its best for longer. Larger models look great in a bank of appliances and many, such as those from Miele have elegant wooden shelving, three temperature zones and even a sommelier unit for sampling your best vintages.

For the master chef, think domino hobs

If you’re quite the dab hand in the kitchen, you’ll be aware of the importance of using the correct cooking technique for certain ingredients and dishes for the best outcome. With that in mind, if you’ve been seduced by the undeniable benefits of induction but can’t prize yourself away from the brilliance of gas for preparing stir-fried food, then incorporating domino hobs into your kitchen design might be the answer. 

These two-zone cooktops – usually measuring around 30 x 60cm come in a variety of different types. As well as gas and induction models, you can also buy charcoal-style grills for all-year-round barbecuing, steel tepanyaki plates for Japanese style griddle cooking and even fryers for perfect southern-style chicken. Whichever you choose it’s best to buy from the same manufacturer to keep the materials, design and size consistent. If you’d prefer to keep costs down with just one worktop cut, then AEG, Caple and CDA all have single glass topped hobs that include both a powerful gas burner and induction plates, proving that in some things, you really can have it all! 

For convenience, think hot water taps

Quite a new addition to the list of luxury household kitchen appliances, the hot water tap was introduced to the market following commercial models from companies such as Quooker. They began to show up in hi-end domestic kitchens for the main benefits of having boiling water at the drop of a lever. As a result, tap manufacturers began to develop their ranges, first with standalone taps and now the easier to include tri-flow monobloc with hot, cold and boiling water all in one, neat unit. 

Not just for making tea and coffee in a flash, combined with a super-fast induction hob, a boiling water tap can help you to prepare pasta and rice dishes in a flash as well as speedily steaming veg and fish. Most models heat the water to 98° but some, like those from Quooker reach 100°. Try also Grohe, InSinkErator, Franke and Zip for three-in-one monobloc models and Insinkerator and Blanco for standalone taps that are useful for prep sinks. Tanks vary in size but some are compact enough to incorporate into a small kitchen design and all designs feature child-locks to prevent accidental scalding. 


*Collaborative piece

13 July 2017

Getting The Confidence To Enjoy Being On Your Own

I have the week off from work this week.  My mum is away on holiday and my little puppa is in the kennels.  I was fretting that he would not take to it, but having rung the kennels up this morning; I hear that he is ruling the roost and all the staff have fallen in love with him.  No surprises there.

I have been looking forward to this week off for so long now.  I have been desperate to have some time on my own and relax.  I wanted a week to clear my head with no distractions, no commitments and time to clear my head.



The only thing that I booked this week was a day at the local spa for the thermal experience.  I am a member and usually go 4-5 times a year.  Usually with the girls, but sometimes, like this week, alone.

Having the confidence to do things on your own can be, and is, intimidating.  It takes confidence and the ability to not look around and wonder what people are thinking about you and concentrate on enjoying yourself.

As I have said in a previous post, next year, I would really like to go on holiday on my own or even travel a little.  This means building up my confidence to do things on my own and not worry about others.

I have been to the spa a couple of times on my own and each time, I felt self conscious and spent more time wondering if people were looking at me, judging me for being on my own and feeling sorry for me than I spent actually enjoying myself.

When you are fat you are more visible.  When you have large breasts that no swimsuit will properly cover so you end up with a massive cleavage you are visible.  When you are alone and all of these things, you are more visible.

Yesterday though, I decided that it would be different.  I would think about nobody other than myself.  I wanted to lose myself in my own thoughts and enjoy myself.  That is exactly what I did and it was wonderful.

I cleared my pores (and my head!) in the salt steam room.  I went in the outdoor jacuzzi and let the bubbles and the sunshine wash over me.  I swam in the swimming pool.  I floated in the relaxation pool with stars on the ceiling and soft music playing.

Half way through my day I decided that a cocktail was in order.  On my way to the terrace bar I bumped into an old work colleague.  This would have been my worst nightmare before.  Bumping into someone gorgeous and confident, surrounded by her friends and me, alone.

I didn't feel embarrassed for being on my own.  She asked if I was on my own and I was not ashamed to say yes.  I said that I was enjoying some me time and she replied, saying that she wished that she was confident enough to that too.  It was a genuine statement and it made me remember that we all struggle with confidence sometimes.

I enjoyed my cocktail in the sunshine on a comfortable settee and headed back to the relaxation room.  There are loungers surrounding the relaxation pool that I always see people reading on or having a snooze.  I always wanted to do the same on my own, but before, I would have worried too much to do it on my own.  This time, I had a 45 minute nap and then headed back out to the swimming pool, before getting ready for home.

I left feeling more confident, happier and clearer in my head than I had done in a long time.  I am getting there with enjoying myself on my own.  We should all be able to enjoy ourselves alone without thinking about others.  I think I have taken a giant leap in that direction.

How do you feel doing things on your own?


Put A Ring On It

When you’ve been living with a guy for two to three years, sometimes he can get stuck in his ways and used to the fact that you’re around all of the time. You’re ready and waiting for him to pop the question, but it seems like he hasn’t even thought of it — so why not drop a few hints to your man so that he knows that you’re truly ready to become engaged?

Together with Angelic Diamonds, retailers of bespoke engagement rings, we can advise on how to point your husband-to-be in the direction of a big proposal.


Keep your friends close, but your married friends closer

If you know that your boyfriend is slightly worried or anxious about getting engaged, make sure he hangs around with your married friends and family members who have children. This will make him realise that you’re comfortable with him being around others in more serious relationships.

Married friends will help show your other half that marriage has its ups and downs, but this commitment shown through other people will help him envision this with you. Although men who have parents that are divorced sometimes struggle to trust this commitment, replacing negative feelings with positive ones in this type of environment may help to bring him around to your way of thinking.

Remember you are his friend, as well as his partner

Sometimes when you’re in a relationship, you can fall into assigned roles and forget that you are not just partners, but friends as well.  If you’re constantly being left behind for the guys to do all the things he considers fun, then this is going to put a strain on his ability to propose and take you seriously.

Get him involved in your hobbies and take more interest in his.  Acknowledge that you both need time for your friends, but that you both started out as friends too.  Do things together.  Have fun and remember what interests you have in common.  If you can be part of his whole life, rather than just someone he spends time with, then he’ll feel like you’re indispensable. Once you get to this point in your relationship, then he’ll feel like proposing, as he can’t spend his time without you!

Don't let things go stale

It is easy to get complacent in a relationship and start taking each other for granted.  Although many don’t like to do this, sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind. If you don’t see your relationship heading in the right direction, and things are flatlining, try and find his pulse again by telling him you may move out.

Or, if you don’t want to be as dramatic, why not try changing careers without letting him know, or spending more time with the girls unannounced? Although he knows that you’re always there for him, this will make him feel that he isn’t being as included as he should be, and he’ll start to wonder why. Keeping him on his toes in this way will make him realise that he needs to put the effort in (by proposing!) so that he can get your undivided effort and attention in the future.

Honesty is the best policy

Although there are many hints and tricks you could use to get your other half to propose, sometimes communication really is key to the success of a relationship. If you want to get engaged, then why not talk to him about why it’s important to you.


If you can tell him why you want to marry him, then the likelihood is he’ll know how much he means to you. Sometimes people have the same fears and doubts within a relationship, but they are just too afraid to address them with each other. By talking about your future together, he’ll know that you want to be a part of it. By giving him that gentle nudge in the right direction, you may just be engaged before you know it. 

4 July 2017

Not Good Enough

The title is a little depressing isn't it?  Sorry about that.  But I have a million thoughts in my head right now and my blog is the vehicle is take them out and do something with them.  That is what it was created for, so here I am.

Be warned, this is a very honest post and a probably a trigger warning for anyone reading who is feeling and does feel the same as I; not good enough.

I watched a film tonight that I had recorded the other day.  Not my usual genre at all. The Vow.  This is the one with Channing Tatum (ok maybe why I chose to watch it) and Rachel McAdam.  The one where they have a crash and she loses all her memories, including those of him, her husband.

The main focus of the film is him trying to get her to fall back in love with him.  Whilst watching the film a thought entered my head that, I will be honest, has broken me a little ever since.  I thought that in reverse, a man would never fall in love with me twice.

I have struggled with feeling not good enough all of my life.  At first, for many years, I thought that I felt like this because of my body shape, but that isn't it.  I am confident in my body as it is, and wear clothes that do not make me invisible.

Which makes it worse really, because what I do not feel good enough about is myself.  I feel a lot like the picture below.  Stranded on an island with nothing surrounding me, nothing that can reach me.


An island is probably the most accurate description of how I have always felt.  I have been single for the majority of the time since I was 18.  I don't know why.  That is just how it is.  At 38, I think a lot now that maybe this is the way that I will always be.  I have amazing friends, a lovely but small family; maybe this is how it is going to be.

I have tried online dating.  I got a lot of responses, mainly from people who wanted to make me a fetish, others that copy and pasted their messages en masse to any woman they saw and of course, the most recent encounter with a potentially dangerous man.

I have been in love (really totally in love) once in my life.  With someone who was 95% right for me but someone who I knew deep down would never love me.  But damn, I loved him.  I used to say that he broke my heart but in reality, I broke my own on someone who I knew loved me as a friend, but nothing else.  Drunken kisses and "other things" didn't help matters.  He loved me, but not my body and that was my fault.  I couldn't accept that.

Every time I meet someone I seem to strive to change myself into what I think that they want me to be.  I change who am I, and then lose myself.  I cannot get over the overriding thought that I am not good enough as I am.

Jesus this is honest isn't it?  I don't like being this honest but if I am not, my mind will shove those feelings back into the box in my brain and not think about it again for a while; which is not healthy.  Publishing this means my words, and thoughts are real and not taken back and denied in the "I am fine, honestly!" kind of way.

So where do I go from here?  I don't know.  All I know right now is that I never feel good enough and that I unconsciously run from anyone who I think may like me, for fear of rejection.  I don't want to feel like this anymore because I AM good enough.

My head knows that. I just need my heart to remember that.

Signing off now.  Thanks for listening.



Rainy Days & Mondays



I have always had a love/hate relationship with rain.  99% of the time rain is an irritating and frustrating thing if you are caught out in it.  It comes down when you want sunshine, it gets you soaked on your way to work, it makes you have to change your complete outfit at the last minute; too much of it causes floods…  The list is infinite.

But then, there is the 1% that I love.

Last night the air was warm and my senses were tingling in that way when you know that it is about to absolutely pour down with rain. The kind that you could almost take a shower in.  I watched out of my window, waiting for it to happen.  Everything seemed to be on a pause, the wind was still and everything was waiting for the first drop to fall.  Then suddenly, it starts and it’s raining so heavily it’s like someone is pouring a bucket of water over the world.

I felt that inexplicable pull to go outside and stand there in the rain.  The thought in my head sounded ridiculous.  Why would I want to go outside and get soaked?  But I did.  I wanted to.  So before I knew it, I was opening the front door and stepping out into the pouring rain.   

I wandered out onto the path, moving away from the cover of trees right out into the open.  The neighbours probably thought I had gone insane.  In my head I knew I was being stupid, standing out there, purposely getting wet.  But somehow I was loving it and dancing around it in.  I felt so unbelievably alive, happy and completely at peace.     

I’m not an at one with nature person or especially into the environment.  I’m not someone who has raptures over scenery and I don’t see the point in walking up hills and dales for a view.  You only have to walk back down again.  

Why I suddenly had the urge to go outside in the rain last night I don’t know.  But it made me inexplicably happy and that is really all that counts.

Does the rain ever lure you in?

4 Tips To Have A Challenging Conversation With Your Partner



There will always be conversations that are hard to initiate. Those topics that couples usually don't talk about just to avoid being in a heated argument. Or perhaps, you are afraid to talk how you feel to your partner because it might make things worse. You feel stuck, and you do not know how to do it.

No matter how worse things might get, it is still better that you and your partner get to have a proper conversation. This way, both of you does not have to carry a burden in your hearts, and also to resolve any issues.

If you are having a hard time to do this, here are 4 tips to having a challenging conversation with your partner.

1. Choose the right time to talk.

This is the most important thing to consider if you want to engage in a challenging conversation with your partner. Try to choose a time where it both suits you. Do not just open a topic the moment they walk into the room after an exhausting day at work. Choose a moment where both of you are at your best. Try to ask them if it is the right time for the both of you to have a conversation. It is extremely important that both of you have the willingness to engage in a challenging conversation. Otherwise, find a better time.

2. Listen if your partner is talking.

A great conversation happens when the two people respect each other. And with that, it means that you give your partner a chance to talk. Be open and listen to your partner has to say in order to have a better conversation. Resist yourself from interrupting. Let them finish what they have to say, and do not stop them at mid-sentence.

3. Make your partner understand how important it is to have this specific conversation.

A lot of couples tend to forget on making their partners understand why they have to have to talk about some things. It is important that you let them know that talking things out can help both of you feel better emotionally and even physically. For instance, you may be worried about your sexual health, and you want you and your partner to get tested for STD or STI. Asking your partner to get tested can be extremely difficult because it is a touchy matter. This can be a very challenging topic to acknowledge, but if you can let them know how important it is, you will have a greater chance at having this conversation. However, it is important that you find out more about this certain topic before you open up to your partner.

4. Do not accuse.

Accusations can definitely kill a conversation. Try to keep the problem at hand by focusing on the main issue, and avoid accusing. This means that you also need to avoid bringing up ancient issues even it is related to your issue now. Stay on track and be level-headed. Do not do the blame game.



* Collaborative Piece