Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is one of my favourite holidays, I absolutely adore spoiling my mum and this is the perfect opportunity. I am normally super prepared and have a gift organised early in the year, so thought I’d share a few suggestions to give you some inspiration. I appreciate not everyone is as lucky as myself and may have lost their mum or have a difficult relationship so find this day hard. Mother’s Day doesn’t need to just be about a mum, it’s about showing someone you appreciate all they do for you be that a gran, auntie, friend, step-mum, dad, anyone.

If your mum needs some R&R time, why not gift her a book? One I’ve recently read is Because of You by Dawn French which is a story about motherhood. In the early hours of the millennium, two women give birth but only one goes home with a baby. It’s a heartbreaking yet heartwarming story, the narrative is beautiful and it’s a really great read. You can pick this up in larger supermarkets or on Amazon.

My approach with gifts for my mum, is things she would never buy herself. Something that is really lovely and indulgent is the Neom Real Luxury Intensive Skin Treatment Candle. You light the candle while you’re in a relaxing bubble bath or just before you go for a shower, then blow it out and use the wax as a body oil. It will leave your skin feeling soft, hydrated and the scent to relax will linger for the rest of the evening to put you in a calm state, ready for sleep. I’ve had this candle before and it’s worth every penny. At £40, it is expensive but you’re getting two products in one. It’s a real treat.

If you want to show your mum she’s your best friend, this Monica Vinader Linear Solo Friendship Diamond Bracelet is a step up from the pasta friendship bracelet you would’ve made her as an infant. I bought this for my mum last year and it went down a treat. It’s delicate, stylish, suits all tastes and can be engraved complimentary if you want to make it that little bit more personal. MV is my favourite jewellery brand and a big reason for that is their ethical sourcing and 5 year warranty. If in a few years it’s looking a bit battered, they’ll repair or replace it for free. This is £80 but keep an eye out for flash sales as this is normally included in them.

While no-one is going anywhere right now, if your mum is anything like mine, she’ll travel with lots of jewellery. My mum loves to accessorise and over the years has build up a lovely collection which you don’t want rolling around at the bottom of a make-up bag in transit. Katie Loxton have designed a beautiful One in a Million Jewellery Roll with dedicated compartments for jewellery. Be quick with this one, it’s currently on sale for £17.49 at John Lewis & Partners.

Caring for your hands has never been more talked about than in the last twelve months. In the cold british winters, I rely on hand cream and I also think it’s make a really lovely, thoughtful gift. For indulgence, Molton Brown have some decliciously smelling, rich but not greasy handcreams including this Heavenly Gingerlilly which is £10. If you want to go extra indulgent, what about Jo Malone English Pear & Fresia hand cream which at £25 for 30ml? This is one of my favourite Jo Malone ranges and is a perfect spring fragrance.

If you’re thinking along the lines of a sweet treat, M&S Swiss Truffle Chocolate Assortment for £8, she’ll be eating a mixture of milk and dark chocolate truffles for days. In my eyes, these are better than Lindor truffles and are so very morish. M&S chocolate is Throrntons chocolate which is my favourite, a hidden gem.

If you’re still stuck for idea’s, you could make your mum a gift box with all of her favourite little things, the supermarkets normally have nice little Mother’s Day trinkets and you could include things like bath bombs, photographs, hot chocolate, face masks, slippers, soap, or other bits and bobs depending on what your mum likes. I assure you this will go down a treat because it’s so thoughtful and personal- which is really what Mother’s Day is all about!

To make the day a bit more special, and since it’s unlikely we’ll be going out for lunch this year, you could make your mum a special afternoon tea to share and spend some quality time together. If you’re not a baker, lots of cafe’s are doing afternoon tea boxes for Mother’s Day this year.

Let me know if you think any of the above are good idea’s, if you have any idea’s of your own or if you are a small business owner and have anything that would be a good Mother’s Day gift, please leave your links below.

Is Online Dating The Answer?

Is Online Dating The Answer?

I was about eighteen when I first heard of Tinder. At a work night out, one of the older girls showed us this new app where you could match with men/women in your area, that were Facebook friends’ of friends. I didn’t view it as online dating. At that time, I viewed online dating for middle aged divorce’s or those who really were desperate for love that they didn’t have the patience to let it happen organically. Too naive and fresh-faced, and in the words of Rachel Green, I just assumed everyone would get that chance where you’d meet someone, fall in love and that would be it. I thought online dating was unnecessary.

Fast forward to 2015 onwards, online dating, in particular Tinder has taken off, and now has more than 340 million downloads. It’s become a common conversation, a giggle with your girlfriends, an easy hook-up, a success story for some but for a high number of singles under 30, the app sits neatly beside Instagram on their Home Screen. Online dating has intensified in the last twelve months when we were all told to stay at home, and singles everywhere were left scratching their heads while couples on Instagram baked banana bread and did wall panelling together.

My experience with Tinder is very lemon and herb. I’ve got a few hundred matches but have properly spoken to only a handful of people and they have ended in me ghosting, or guys getting fed up because I don’t want to meet and ghosting me. Why do I not want to meet them? Firstly, have you seen You? I still have the mind-set that I’ll end up in a glass box and/or dead if I meet up with someone I’ve met online. Secondly, I’m still of the hope that I’ll meet someone organically, in person and probably subconsciously stigmatise against the idea of explaining ‘oh we met on Tinder.’ That being said. I’ve been single for a while and other than a boomerang ex, there’s not been anyone for a while, which gets me thinking – if not Tinder, where?

Work = too complicated.
Through a friend = I mean how viable is that, really? My friends barely have male friends never mind single ones.
Club = How can you hear anything over the music, plus I’m normally too busy having a good time.
Bars = Everyone is focused on their own friends (myself included).
Out and about = Taylor Swift had my heart from the second she said she still hoped she’d meet someone in Starbucks. Ironically, on the two occasions someone has spoken to me at Starbucks, my shoes became real interesting.

Now you’re probably thinking, you don’t seem to be prioritising love here, to which you would be correct. It’s not a priority for me right now, and maybe that’s why I’ve never given Tinder a fair trial but the romantic in me (she’s buried way deep, but she’s there) wants to be swept, not swiped. While I’m not necessarily looking for a partner, in the last year I’ve opened myself up to the idea of it and maybe going into the above situations with a different mindset would’ve been enough, thanks to Covid we’ll never know.

Now some people love online dating, they’ll get all dressed up to sit at their kitchen table on video to someone, or talk to someone for a few hours before arranging to meet up. I’ve heard of people getting married, having kids, moving in together all from an app and I don’t know why I’m so weird about it. Props to the people who persevere on these apps because you do need to weed through the masses to find someone worth talking to. Someone once told me they wanted to put my head on a wall (not sure if it was a sexual thing, or a serial killer thing?!) and the amount of times I’ve been asked if ‘I’m recruiting for a big spoon’ (HR dad joke, come on!).

Plus, dating apps allow us to be a lot more judgemental, and to take people on face value. The slightest things have made me unmatched, swipe left or ghost (I’m a terrible person, I’m aware) which then makes me think, is it enabling me to be too picky?

I just don’t think it’s for me but I’m starting to worry wonder if that’s the most viable option when I get to the point I am looking, or does it still happen organically outwit education or the workplace?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I expect boys to do the ‘wooing’ but actually, they’re just as shy as girls, and in my experience, the confident ones want someone to take home for the night, not to their parents. Which begs the question, are we Millennials/ Gen Z’ers too socially shy? That the phones attached to our hands allow us to have the social skills of a tea spoon when it comes to meeting new people, so much so that online dating is now our preferred method of meeting a partner?

The other conclusion I’ve come to is that looks aren’t enough. Now while, despite what f**k boy Twitter would lead to you to believe, looks aren’t quite as important as we think in the sense that seeing someone you like isn’t enough to approach a stranger. I don’t know anyone who has been approached by a stranger, just because they were good looking.

So, where I’m going with this, are there lots of singles wandering about their daily life, too shy to flirt irl so rely on dating apps, or are dating apps just magnified because of the weird world we’ve been living in for the last twelve months and actually, I’ve just been blind to what was going on around me?

I would love to know your thoughts on this, whether you’re in my position or not. If you’ve been swept off your feet in Starbucks or have found love from a dating app before. If so, please share your success story! Tinder fails are also welcome, please share the weird and wonderful if for nothing else other than a giggle.

My Work From Home Routine | February 21

My Work From Home Routine | February 21

Working from home is my new normal, for the foreseeable and I mentioned in my post Let’s Talk About… Working From Home that I don’t think we’ll ever go back to a five day working week in the office. I went from no working from home, to blended working from home, to fully working from home and I think the key to getting it right is a good routine. A good routine doesn’t have to mean a routine that’s the pinnacle of health, it’s about finding what works for you.

7- 8am – If I’m starting before 7.30, I am known for working the first hour from my soft office with a cup of tea to wake up. I do this when I have quiet jobs I need done, and I know no one will try and call me on Microsoft Teams. If I’m starting nearer 8, then I’ll be sat at my desk, normally washed and dressed.

8am – I normally go through my emails when I log on, or do any jobs I’d planned the night before, to do first thing. Around 8am, I write my list for the day. I write two lists, a work goals and a non-work goals. I find writing non-work goals makes me move, makes me feel like I’m achieving things other than work and therefore keeps me productive and feeling a benefit of working from home. It’s a different way of working, you don’t spend ten minutes having a chat about what everyone is having for lunch, so you have those ten minutes for yourself.
An example list would be:
-Empty bins
– 3 minute YouTube workout (I love Lucy Wyndham-Read for quick workouts)
– Chop vegetables for soup
– Plan monthly blog posts
– Tidy out 1 drawer

8.30 – This is when I put light make-up on, do my hair, spray my perfume and really get ready. I know some people who happily work in their pyjamas but for me, I feel better being ready for the day. Particularly when I’m on calls and thanks to screen-sharing, seeing yourself on camera is a common occurrence.

9.40 – If I’ve not moved from my desk yet, this is my first break of the day.

11.30 – This is normally when I have something to eat. Normally eggs, porridge or yoghurt. I know it’s a bit late for breakfast but I generally try to fast 14 hours a day.

12.45 – Normally I take my half-hour break around this time and I always go for a walk unless I’m in meetings. It’s so important to get some fresh air and clear your head. Sometimes I’ll take the dog, but he’s getting older and likes to doddle so mostly I go myself. I like to listen to a podcast and my current favourite is Shagged, Married, Annoyed.

2.30 – Depending on what I’ve had for breakfast, I’ll grab some soup or a quick bite. When I worked in an office, I used to make a pot of soup at the weekend for lunches through the week. I still try to do this so I’m eating healthy through the week and not spending too much time on it.

3.30 – Since I started working the 9-5, I always had a coffee/ tea at 3.30 pm. My rationale was that by the time you’d drank it, it was about 4pm which was into the final hour before finishing time. Now I’m very lucky that I have flexitime and generally finish at 4pm, but I still have my 3.30 pm coffee and usually a little treat to keep myself going.

4pm – Log off. I generally am more productive in the morning and especially during the winter when it’s dark so early, I struggle to stay productive after 4pm, so I try to finish up sharp. As I was so used to non-flexible working, 4pm – 5pm is like a new hour in my day. During this hour, I write be that my novel or a blog post or sometimes I read. It means that I’m always doing something for myself to be productive every day.

Tips:

  • Get outside every day, go for a walk or even just sit in the garden for ten minutes with a drink (weather permitting), you will feel so much better.
  • Have something handy, that isn’t your phone. There’s no one standing over you to make sure you’re not constantly on your phone, so you need to be that for yourself. I bought an adult colouring book which I have at my desk for when I feel like I’m scrolling too much.
  • You need to work harder to move, but you’ll thank yourself for it. Whether it’s quick workouts, jumping jacks while the kettle boils or ten squats every time you go to the toilet.
  • You generally get business done quicker at home, so take time out to check in with your colleagues. It’s fine to have a twenty minute chat about what you’re watching on Netflix every few weeks, it will make you feel better.
  • Do some online learning. Whether your organisation offers courses, or you seek them out yourself. There are lots of free courses out there and while you might feel like you can’t be bothered, you might surprise yourself with what you take out of it.
  • Speak up if you’re struggling, your boss, your colleagues, friends and family are there to support you so don’t struggle in silence.
  • Remember, right now you are not working from home. You are at home, during a pandemic, trying to work.

Please let me know your home working routine or even if you’re in an office, do you have a routine to keep you productive? I’d love to know about it in the comments below.

Brand Spotlight – Jo Malone | February 21

Brand Spotlight – Jo Malone | February 21

Jo Malone is famous for is distinctive scents and luxury products. Made up of 146 scents (and counting), the English brand owned by Estee Lauder since 1999, sells its signature scents through colognes, home, bath & body, evoking memories, emotion and a lasting impression like no other. I couldn’t tell you many high-street fragrances hot on the market right now, but I can pick out Honeysuckle and Davana from a mile away, and I’m no exception. The brand has commanded loyalty and spending power that few other brands could dream of, or touch.

If you’re new to Jo Malone, it can be slightly intimidating as to where to start. Each store has rows of iconic, identical bar the name bottles neatly lined up down the centre so it can be overwhelming. The fragrances can be split into the following categories: Citrus, Fruity, Floral, Light Floral, Spicy and Woody. I would recommend a floral or light floral for someone buying their first cologne, in particular Wild Bluebell or Peony & Blush Suede, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

I’ve tried a fair few products and have made a note of my favourites below, if you’re looking for some inspiration.

English Pear & Freesia (Fruity)
This is one of my favourite spring scents. It’s a popular scent for other products such as hand wash, body lotion so you can build a full collection.

Nectarine Blossom & Honey ( Fruity)
It’s fruity, sweet and comforting at the same time.

Peony & Blush Suede (Floral)
My first ever JM scent and as such, will have a special place in my heart. It’s very distinctive yet subtle at the same time.

Honeysuckle & Davanna (Floral)
My signature scent, I get the most compliments when I wear this scent.

Orange Blossom (Floral)
Said to be Kate Middleton’s wedding scent.

Wild Bluebell (Light Floral)
I have the cologne and hair mist in this fragrance and they smell amazing. Sometimes I layer this with Lavender and Silverbirch for something truly personal to me.

Red Roses (Light Floral)
This is strong for a light floral scent and it’s not for everyone, but rose is one of my favourite scents.

Wood Sage & Sea Salt (Woody)
Who knew salt could smell so good? It’s gentle, not to overpowering and reminds me of being by the sea.

Lavender and Silverbirch (Floral)
Fruity, woody and floral. The lavender collection was a limited edition release this time last year and get the image of lavender pillow sprays out of your head, this is to DIE for.

If you’re not sure where to start, or if you want to treat yourself to a new fragrance and would like a hand, Jo Malone offer a scent finder on their website which you can access by clicking here. I’ve used this a few times and always been impressed with the outcomes, even if it’s been a cologne I’ve never smelled before, I’ve always loved it.

If you’re not in the market for a new cologne, why not treat yourself to one of their iconic candles? From the bow on top, to the complimentary matches, the candles are as elegant and luxurious as they come. Indulgent, yes, but a thirty minute burn will keep your room scented all evening.

What I’ve Been Reading | February 21

What I’ve Been Reading | February 21

My reading goal for 2021 is to read fifty books because I feel so much better when I’m in a good reading routine and I find goals really helpful to keep me on track. This month I’ve read a variety from fiction, YA fiction and biographies and that is my reading style. Since bookshops have closed, I can no longer wander around and make a wish list of my next reads so recommendations are always welcome.

  1. Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall 

Three university friends have now grown up and are living very different lives, when one of them is murdered, Elenor and Mary try desperately to put the pieces together of what happened to Nancy that night whilst navigating their own tricky relationships. 

I liked this novel, it illustrates the complexities of friendship as the tie that keeps them together is loosened and the characters are very real. Split into three sections, POV from each of the girls, there’s a few good twists and turns. I think it’s a loose fit as a thriller, I don’t think that dimension was very strong, more mystery. 

  1. No Shame by Tom Allen 

A candid, funny yet heartbreaking memoir of comedian Tom Allen as he reflects on his childhood, coming of age and life as a young adult. He’s honest as he tells stories about being an outsider, navigating the gay scene and his journey into comedy. 

One of my favourite comedians, Allen writes as he speaks with a dry, sarcastic humour that allows him to get very honest with himself. It focuses on the Tom Allen we don’t know, rather than the one we do, which I think speaks volumes of who he is as a person. Thoroughly enjoyed it as a fan, and from a human interest point of view. 

3. The Magpie Society – One for Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch 

Audrey moves to Illumen Hall, an English boarding school, to escape the drama of her past, little does she know she’s about to walk into a whole new drama. When Lola Radcliffe tragically dies at a school party, the police put it down to mis-adventure but an anonymous podcast cries murder and Audrey, along with her roommate Ivy, try to figure out who killed Lola, and who is the voice on the podcast.

Anything rich, boarding school tale, I’m generally sold on. While it has hints of Wild Child at the beginning, it quickly finds it’s own and I was hooked from early on. The chapters are told from Audrey and Ivy’s point of view but, like some novels, it doesn’t ever get confusing. I did work it out, but only with 20 or so pages before the reveal and it didn’t spoil it. It does end on a cliffhanger but not in the way you’d expect. I really enjoyed this and already can’t wait for the sequel.

4. What Would the Spice Girls Do? by Lauren Bravo

From the first three pages I felt like I was talking to one of my best friends, or someone who I’d love to be friends with. I remember thinking, damn this girl gets it and I was hooked. This book is about the girl power generation and how the spice girls influenced the millennial generation. It’s a really interesting read, regardless of your personal thoughts on the Spice Girls. If society has ever made you feel like you’re doing something wrong by putting yourself first as a young woman, you must read this. It’s an empowering, reassuring and relatable read and Bravo’s narrative is fantastic.

That was my January reads, I had aimed for five but with launching this blog, it may have been slightly overambitious. Next month my list is Becoming by Michelle Obama and Because of You by Dawn French to start me off. Any other recommendations are so welcome, please leave them in a comment below.

Product Empties | January 21

Product Empties | January 21

Philosophy Pure Grace Fragrance

This light floral scent smells so fresh, modern and clean, like stepping fresh out of the shower but with a distinctive note of leafy greens. It’s incredibly distinctive and luxurious. It’s not too overbearing so is a perfect summer or workwear fragrance. I equally love it on a crisp winter morning. This is pretty expensive in John Lewis/ Boots etc but Amazon sometimes have offers on when you’ll get a 60ml bottle for less than £25. There is a shower gel to match which is also incredibly luxurious, if you really want to treat yourself. I would buy this again, this was a hand bag size but I wouldn’t hesitate picking up the bigger bottle.

NXY Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil

I bought this as an easy, work from home foundation that requires minimal effort, isn’t heavy and just makes me look a bit healthier on camera. This one ticks all my boxes. It’s just on the oily side, so I would recommend for normal/dry skin, or use a light powder if your skin is on the oily side. It’s comfortable to wear all day, feels breathable and goes on really smooth so it’s perfect for when you just need something, but don’t want to put actual make-up on. It’s £10 per tube, but because so many places sell NXY, someone always has a discount on so definitely shop online.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinx 1%

This is a holy grail for so many people and I can’t make up my mind if it works for me or not. Sometimes it clears up breakouts within hours and other times it really upsets my skin. I’m on my third bottle and can sort of tell when its going to work and when it’s not (no science or logic, just intuition). I would repurchase this, I just haven’t worked it out properly yet.

Better You Magnesium + Calcium Body Lotion

The idea of this is that your skin absorbs the magnesium/ calcium into your skin to support bone health. I don’t know how gimmicky this is, I didn’t notice any benefits in one bottle but it did leave my skin soft and supple. It was quick drying and it had a sea-salt scent that I quite licked. I picked this up in TK Maxx in the sale. I wouldn’t specifically re-purchase this but if I stumbled across it on offer, I’d probably pick one up.

Molton Brown Rhubarb and Rose Hand Cream

Rhubarb and Rose are two of my favourite scents so this hand cream is a dream for me. It’s lightweight, moisturising without being greasy and the scent lasts so long. Infused with truffle oil, it leaves my hands feeling so soft. Hand cream is a staple for me all year round and I am meticulous about it in the winter but particularly this year with all the hand sanitiser and extra hand washing, it’s hard on your skin. At £10 a pop, this is definitely an indulgent treat (or a great present) but so worth it.

That is my product empties for the month. Please leave me a comment if you’ve tried any of these products or with any recommendations for me to try.

Buying Beauty Products Online

Buying Beauty Products Online

There’s not much I won’t buy online. From clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, homeware, furniture, you name it. I don’t have the same anxiety about ‘seeing it’ in real life that others have, until it comes to beauty products. Foundations, lipsticks, even eye shadow palettes cause me so much stress when I need to buy them online. Pre-2020 this wasn’t an issue, my second home is a shopping centre and wandering around Boots or Superdrug with 7 swatches on my hand was a normal Saturday. Then the shops closed, and the shops that stayed open removed all their testers, so there was no merit in going to a shop to buy make-up. I started looking online and found a few tricks to make buying beauty online a little bit easier.

Findation / Match My Make-Up

Run out of your foundation, want to try something new but have spent hours agonising over Goggle images trying to find swatches? Sites such as Findation or Match My Make-Up provide a matching service. Put the details in of a foundation type, and shade, that matches you well and let it do the rest. This was a lifesaver when I wanted to buy a new Charlotte Tilbury foundation during lockdown but I didn’t know my shade.

Influenster

Think TripAdvisor but for products. There’s not much, beauty or not, that aren’t on Influenster. Detailed reviews with user photos, the ability to ask questions, as well as it’s own awards, Influenster will make sure you have all the information before checking out. I use this all the time and I contribute reviews as well as reading them. It is American based so not all UK brands are on there but I would say the vast majority will be. Influenster also has VoxBoxes where contributors can receive a VoxBox in exchange for reviews, there’s different campaigns for brands and you get a tailored selection of products or the full release. If you like to review products of all kinds, and you’re not on Influenster, I would recommend you sign up.

Blog Reviews

My favourite types of beauty posts to read are product empties, favourites, or new in beauty. I find it so helpful to see what other bloggers enjoy using and would recommend and find it re-assuring if I’m buying a product I’ve never tried, or seen before. Some of my favourite beauty buys have been discovered via blog posts. If you’re a beauty blogger, or enjoy beauty blogs, please leave your links in the comments below so other people can check out your beauty recommendations.

Read the Product Description

This sounds basic but I think the majority of people, myself included, have been caught buying products because of how they look, the name or because they’re heard other people talking about them but don’t actually know what the product is supposed to do. It’s so important to read the full product description and

Do You Know What You’re Looking For?

Understanding your skin is difficult. Everyone’s skin is unique to them and your skin type not only changes with so many factors, it can be difficult to understand in the first place. With brands throwing so many claims around about what products do, you need to wade through a lot of noise to get to what the product is, what it should do and more importantly, will it work for you. While we all have the luxury of time, if you haven’t already, I’d recommend putting some time in to research all things skin. You’ll be able to make more informed choices, reduce the time spent scratching your head and build a skincare/make-up routine that works for you. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend Skincare by Caroline Hirons. The book is fantastic, it explains everything you need to know and gives some product recommendations.

I hope this post as been helpful and has given you a couple of ideas when buying beauty and skincare online. If you have any other tips, I’d love to know so please leave them in the comments below.

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | January 2020

What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix | January 2020

Rather than ‘what have you been up to?’ I’m now asking, ‘What have you been watching?’ With not much to do other than watch TV on cold and snowy evenings, I’m not the only one who’s been watching more Netflix than previously. I sometimes struggle to find things to watch, so find posts like this helpful. I hope you enjoy, please let me know any recommendations or thoughts in the comments below.

Tiny Pretty Things – 3/5

A very cliche representation of the ballet world when Neveah gets a space to study at an elite ballet school after another student Cassie, mysteriously falls off the roof and ends up in a coma. There’s a lot of dancing, bullying, corruption and sex, which is really what you would expect. It’s supposed to be a mystery, but that seems to fall into the background until the end. It’s okay, if it wasn’t for my obsessive need to finish things, I may have given up but actually, the last episode was pretty good.

Back to Life – 4/5

A six part British drama which follows Miri on her return from spending the last eighteen years in prison for murdering one of her best friends. With episodes less than thirty minutes, I put this on for a background watch but actually struggled to give my attention to anything other than this programme. It’s dry, crude, mostly somber and harrowing, with comedy laced throughout. I really enjoyed watching this although, it’s not for the faint hearted. The humour and storytelling reminded me of Afterlife, while the plot keeps the viewer interested until the end.

Life of the Party – 4/5

I love any film with Melissa McCarthy so I was excited when I saw this on Netflix. When Deanna’s husband asks for a divorce once they’ve dropped their daughter off at college, she goes back to finish her degree in the same year as her Daughter. It’s a light-hearted, coming of middle age, find yourself kind of comedy. It’s a nice film to relax to, it won’t leave you thinking too hard. I enjoyed it.

Get Organised with The Home Edit – 5/5

If you’ve ever wondered what Reese Witherspoon’s wardrobe (closet) looks like, Chloe Kardashian’s garage or how to best organise your kitchen so it looks straight out of Pinterest then this is the show for you. Clea and Joanna have made a living out of successfully organising all things home and take pride in making any space, not only aesthetically pleasing but organised, practical and personal to each of their clients. A mixture of famous faces and ordinary people, the programme is incredibly therapeutic.

Gilmour Girls5/5

The ultimate feel good, comfort watch. Following Lorelai and her daughter Rory as they navigate school, friendships, relationships and Lorelai’s complicated relationship with her parents. This is the ultimate, wrap you up in a blanket, show. The mother-daughter relationship is what most would dream of and it’s generally light hearted and entertaining.

That is my Netflix picks for January, please let me know if you’ve seen any of the above shows or if there’s anything else you would recommend I give a go on Netflix. I’m going to watch Ratched in February, and everyone is talking about Brigerton so I may give that a go too.

Let’s Talk About… Working From Home

Let’s Talk About… Working From Home

Welcome to the first segment of my new blog feature, Let’s talk about… short opinion pieces on a variety of different topics. I have plans to discuss relationships, work, things that are happening or general topics I, or you, find interesting. By day, I am an HR professional (Associate CIPD) with a particular interest in organisational development, employee engagement and wellbeing. I’ve looked on in interest as the world of work has stayed home, how I think remote working will become engrained in the 9-5 plus, my personal experience working remotely and starting a new role remotely.

Pre-2020, working from home was a luxury that was limited to most high level managers, or the ‘trusted’ few. The corporate world was stuck in a, broadly speaking, older generation of, and style of management whose principles were that any opportunity an employee was given to take advantage, they would. As innovative organisations introduced working from home policies and encouraged flexible working, those sat squashed on public transport, on their three hour round-trip commute, or those stuck in traffic heading home to a pile of washing, longed for the ability to work in their slippers. It was very much a wouldn’t that be nice, as you tried to dig your car out of 3ft of snow.

Whilst Covid-19 brought unbearable sadness, isolation and disappointment after disappointment, there have been some perks. The culture shift around remote working became life-saving and necessary with organisations having no choice other than to adapt to a new way of working. Twelve months ago, you wouldn’t have believed that ‘you’re on mute’ would become one of the most used phrases in business life, or seeing everyone in your team’s living rooms would become the norm.

Some people love it, other’s hate it. Some people haven’t left the house for weeks on end, and others are in the best daily routine they’ve ever been in, but it’s been proven that it works, it’s sustainable for businesses, CEO’s everywhere have pound-signs in their eyes with the prospect of less outgoings on accommodation. As business now re-assess their Covid-19 recovery plan, I have no doubt that there will be a huge pressure to keep remote working in some form or another.

Until I changed jobs in November, I was used to a big rowdy office, full or big characters, where we were always laughing or discussing something and when I knew I was going to a job home working, all day, every day, I was a bit nervous about how I would get on. Thankfully technology has given everyone a helping hand, I use Microsoft Teams, and what you can actually do on it, is fantastic. I was also surrounded by a supportive team who were well in the swing of remote working when I joined. It was a big daunting sitting waiting to go on video calls with people I’d never met before, or feel like I was constantly messaging people asking questions but I tried to remind myself that the same discomfort is present in an office when you’re new too.

Three months on, I really like home working. I’m in a good routine, which I think is key, and I’m lucky that I have personal circumstances that makes home working easier e.g. – I have space, I don’t have children that I need to home-school, I’m relatively confident with technology and I don’t live alone, so I’m still seeing people. I find meetings are much more productive, the way you work is completely different so you have more time for yourself, it’s easier to balance your home life because you’re not walking in at 6pm exhausted, having the dinner to make, lunches to make for the next day, the bins to empty, the list goes on.

Sometimes I do feel myself a bit camera shy if I have two or three days without a call, I notice that I can feel a bit of dread just before I go on but I try and combat this by making sure I’m calling someone every second day at least, even if it’s just for ten minutes to catch up, so I’m not getting out of the way of it. I struggle sometimes when there’s other people in the house because I’m used to my own routine, I try and make sure there’s at least one day a week when I’m in the house alone all day, that allows me the time I need to be selfish when working, and charge my social batteries. I’ve also had to vastly improve my small talk skills when waiting for others to join meetings or when the internet slow, Watched anything good lately? Is a favourite.

It looks like working from home will be a permanent solution to a, hopefully, temporary problem. While we’re not designed to be cadged up in the house all the time, this is the first step to the concept of working from anywhere which will open a lot of doors with those who don’t live, or can’t move to big cities. As the way we work changes, home working may be the first step towards a four day working week due to increased productivity, longer working hours due to lack of commute and more efficient ways of working.

Do not fear social butterflies, while I doubt majority of us will ever go back to a five day in the office week, I think we’ll move to a blended model of home and office working. Not everyone loves home working and personal circumstances are very relevant but I believe the key to successfully home working is a good routine and once the recovery plans are underway, employers need to focus on employee wellbeing in a remote setting.

If you would like to know more about my daily routine working from home, or what it was like changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic, please leave me a comment below.

Visage LED Face Mask Review

Visage LED Face Mask Review

At home LED light treatment became mainstream in 2020. What had previously been reserved for medical or high end beauty treatment use, was suddenly accessible and everyone was posting an Instagram pic with their face lit up like a Christmas tree. I looked on in interest, masks which can treat fine lines, ageing, acne, hyperpigmentation and get real results, sounds too good to be true. However, the price tag in the range of £250 – £400+ made the face mask a wish-list item for the majority of people unless they were ready to make a serious investment.

Two of my primary skin concerns are acne, after a love/hate relationship with my Cerazette which seems to clear my skin up but gives me a long list of side effects, and hyperpigmentation. The hyperpigmentation is half acne scarring from popping spots (my new years resolution is to not do that) and half a mysterious discolouring under my skin that has baffled dermatologists. I long for the make-up free life, particularly since Coronavirus has saw the world take life in the slow lane and having to put make up on three days in now an occasion. 

I noticed Aldi (my second most visited place in 2020) were selling a LED Face Mask as a special buy. For those not familiar with Aldi’s special buy concept (get involved), it comes from the infamous middle isle madness, where you don’t know what you need until you see it. They sell bigger special buys online, very limited numbers for very limited prices.

For £49.99 I got the carry case, mask, charger and controller, basically everything you need. Aldi did disclaim this isn’t a medical treatment so don’t expect you’re getting what you’d be getting in a medical setting… now that’s out of the way. 

It is recommended you use the mask two or three times a week, spaced at least a day apart. The treatment time is ten minutes and you shouldn’t exceed this. The instructions recommend that those who have fair skin or burn easily shouldn’t use this product. I’m relatively fair skinned and have never had an adverse reaction to it, but it is at your own risk. 

As it’s not for medical use, the instructions don’t specify the light for each setting but after some research, they are: 

Redfine lines/ wrinkle concerns
Greenpigmentation concerns
Blueacne concerns

Ease of Use
It’s easy to set up, the power/controller was already charged when I bought it, you just plug the mask into the power and switch it on. It has a velcro band for around your head which is fairly comfortable and the mask fits well. 

Your skin should be clean when you use the mask and I put a hyaluronic acid serum on before hand just so my skin doesn’t dry out. After use, I opt for a light moisturiser. 

Once turned on, it defaults to the red light and to change it to either blue or green light, you just press the on button again. Once turned on, the time starts counting down and it cuts out after ten minutes. You shouldn’t expose your eyes to the LED light and even with my eyes closed, I found it pretty strong (and hard to keep my eyes closed) so, I bought tanning goggles online which make a big difference. 

It holds it’s battery well, I’ve used it eight times and it still has three out of four bars of battery.

How well does it work? 

It wasn’t beyond my imagination that a £50 version of a £300 product may be a bit gimmicky but actually, I’ve been impressed with how well this works. I’ve been using the mask twice a week for a month on the acne setting and my skin is much clearer – even considering the volume of sugar I’ve consumed over the Christmas period. 

I can’t speak for pigmentation, or fine lines yet but if they work as good as the acne setting then this has been the best addition to my skincare routine in a long time. 

This product sold out so quickly the last time it went on sale. It is now back in stock and you can purchase it here

Have you tried a LED mask before? Or have you considered/ are considering buying one? Please let me know in the comments below.

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