Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe Dream

So much for regular blogging… I’m back though and will attempt, again, to keep this little piece of internet going.

Today I’m going to be rambling about the wonderful world of capsule wardrobes.  This is something that I’ve been bashing on about to people in the real world for the past few months because without wanting to sound too shallow, having a capsule wardrobe has genuinely made my life easier!

To summarise, I used to have a wardrobe packed full of clothes.  Most of them I didn’t wear and if I did wear them, it was only for a few moments before I took them off and went through every other outfit I owned before finally settling for the first one I’d tried on!  I’m sure most women can relate to this feeling…




I stumbled across a blog called ‘Un-Fancy’ during one of my random internet sessions.  
Un-Fancy is a blog by Caroline, who has absolutely nailed the capsule wardrobe concept.  So much so that she has been able to create a sort of ‘welcome pack’ for newbies like me to help transition in to a capsule wardrobe all of my very own.

Reading Caroline’s blog and seeing how stylish she looked with so few clothes got me thinking…  I had about 150 items of clothing in my wardrobe.  I have a uniform that I wear for work each day (a smart navy suit – nothing too offensive) so really, I only wear my ‘own’ clothes of a weekend and the 29 days holiday I get each year.  That means I wear my own clothes for a total of 133 days in a 12 month period making the 150 items in my wardrobe seem completely unnecessary.

So, loosely following Unfancy’s guidelines, I cleared out my closet.  Clothes I hadn’t worn for a while went in to a drawer for 3 months.  Anything I didn’t want to reach for in that timeframe got donated.  I followed that process twice until I was left with a small, manageable wardrobe where everything matched.  I bought a few extra pieces, which tied in to the theme and confirmed what I thought would be my permanent capsule wardrobe rules:

1)      2 wardrobes per year – Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter to change at the end of March and the end of September each year.
2)      No more than 40 items per season – including shoes.
3)      No ‘wild card’ pieces – everything needs to have a place.
4)      Handbags don’t count.
5)      Evening wear and evening wear shoes don’t count.

I started my capsule wardrobe in January and switched out to my next season in April and it has been a-maz-ing.  Genuinely, getting ready has never been so easy.  If I get home late after work and I’m rushing out to a meal, I can be ready in 10 minutes…  There’s no panic about what to wear, no changing outfits a hundred times because nothing feels good.  It’s fabulous.




BUT, I’m still picking certain items over others…  Even with my limited selection of 40 items, there’s still pieces I’m not wearing.  I feel like I’m really finding my style with the things I have been choosing to wear and that I’m steering away from things that don’t quite fit that style bracket.

So, I’ve decided to try for a 40 piece all-year-round capsule wardrobe.  Thankfully, I live in a country where we only have 2 actual summer days through the whole year, so I don’t need to dress too differently between seasons but this is the wardrobe I hope to have in place by the end of September…

6 x pairs of trousers

Black ripped skinny ankle grazer jeans, Navy skinny ankle grazer jeans,  Leather trousers, White cigarette pants,  Black cigarette pants, Khaki skinny jeans.

9 x tops

White Ralph Lauren fitted shirt, Blue stripe Ralph Lauren fitted shirt, Navy blue Ralph Lauren sweater, Cream Ralph Lauren sheer sleeve sweater, White V-neck loose tee, White cami, Black cami, Navy pussy bow blouse, Long cream chunky turtle- neck jumper.

9 x dresses/skirts
Grey jersey maxi dress, White and navy striped shift dress, Black jersey maxi dress, Grey midi skirt, Black skater skirt, Grey skater skirt, Navy shirt dress, Grey sweater dress, Oxblood sweater dress.

7 x outerwear

Black wool overcoat, Beige Burberry trench coat, Long camel overcoat, Black Muubaa leather jacket, Blush pink kimono, White blazer, Black blazer.

9 x shoes

Beige ballet flats, Black ballet flats, Tan leather flat sandals, Black flip flops, Gold anf white Adidas Superstars, Black Nike Roshe Runs, Black Chelsea ankle boots, 100mm black leather pumps, Over the knee boots.

So there we have it, my 40 items.  If this works then the aim is to slowly start investing in higher quality pieces, to create a truly timeless wardrobe.

I’ll keep you updated with OOTD posts on Instagram… 

Thanks for reading

Aimee x

If you’ve managed to conquer a capsule wardrobe let me know your tips in the comment below.  The ultimate goal is a 10 Piece Parisian wardrobe but I don’t think I have it in me to manage that!


Monday, 19 January 2015

The Review: Magnitone Lucid

I know I promised a review on this a little sooner but I got the flu and have just about dragged myself through work over the past few days, so the prospect of having to keep my eyes open past 6:30pm to even attempt to write a blog post was just too much to contemplate!

I'm fighting fit again now though, so here comes the review on what I am convinced is the best beauty product/tool/thing I have ever purchased.

If you're not already aware of the Magnitone Lucid, I'll give you a little bit of an overview; it's an electronic cleansing and exfoliating brush, designed to provide a deeper cleanse to your skin and leave you with fresh, smooth and radiant skin.  Magnitone are so confident with their product's effectiveness that they promise you will notice a difference in your skin within 7 days.  After two uses my husband commented on how smooth and soft my skin looked, so there's definitely something to be said for it!

         


The Product

The Lucid is the smaller, travel-size version of the Magnitone brush.  There is a larger version available, which I think can also be used for body cleansing and exfoliating but the Lucid is easily big enough for facial use.  The brush head vibrates and rotates, so the brush gets deep in to your pores to exfoliate and cleanse.  The brush heads need to replaced every 2 - 3 months, or as soon as the bristles start to splay or discolour and it's about £16 for two heads.

The Lucid comes in 5 different colours - blue, yellow, light pink, hot pink and mint green.  I opted for the mint green for no real reason, other than I'm trying to move away from surrounding myself with pink things!  All the colours are lovely.

I'm in love with the charger that comes with it, too and I never thought I would find myself saying such things about a charger but...  To make the brush completely waterproof (it can be used in the shower) there's no input-hole-thingy.  The power cord (which comes with interchangeable plug heads so it can easily be used in the UK or abroad) is attached to a little, white, magnetic box which then sticks to the brush handle and charges.  It's a great idea for something you want to leave lying about in a wet room, without fear of electrocution.

The Routine

As I've mentioned before on this blog: I have very temperamental skin.  It's oily-combination and isn't impartial to throwing up blemishes whenever it feels like it.  I've just managed to find a cleansing routine that really works for me and has cleared my skin up beautifully (I'm thinking about posting my routine on here, so let me know if it's something you'd be interested in), so I was a bit nervous about introducing something new, especially when I'd read a number of reviews that said the Magnitone makes things worse before they get better, but I decided to bite the bullet.

I made sure to follow the instructions to the letter.  The brush has two modes; a sensitive and normal mode.  I used the sensitive mode for the first 5 days, just as it told me to, while my skin got used to the deeper cleanse.  I used the brush morning and evening, for no more than one minute at each time and moved it over my skin in circular motions, letting the brush glide over my skin, without pushing.  The timing part is easy; you get 20 seconds to spend on your forehead, then the brush beeps to tell you to move on.  Then you get another 20 seconds to split between both cheeks, then the brush beeps to tell you to move on again.  Then you get a final 20 seconds to do your chin, nose and neck before the brush switches itself off.  Trust me when I say, you don't need any longer than 1 minute for this to work it's magic - anything more is too much and is likely to irritate the skin.

The Purge

I'd read so many reviews before investing in this product as, at £69.99 (although I got mine on sale for £50), it's a lot to spend on something that might not work and one common thread in every story was 'the skin purge'.  Basically, the brush exfoliates and brings so much badness to the surface - the same way a good facial does - that it's likely to cause some breakouts for the first few uses.  This is something Magnitone themselves state in the instruction book, so it isn't something unexpected.  I thought I would be guaranteed to have a reaction but other than one or two blemishes, mainly on my forehead, there hasn't been a huge volcanic eruption, like I expected.

There's a couple of things I've made a point of doing, that I think might have helped with this.  Firstly, when I'm taking my make up off in the evening, I cleanse my face with my normal cleanser first, the way I used to.  I'm no skin care expert but I can't imagine scrubbing make up in to your face is the best way to keep blemishes at bay!  When I've cleansed my skin by hand, then I use the brush.  One thing that has disgusted amazed me is how much make up is left on the brush when the cleansing has finished!  It's made me realise how much I was missing with my old routine.  Secondly, I've made a point of cleaning the brush thoroughly, with a little bit of cleanser, after every use.  I think this has really helped with my skin's happy reaction.

                 


The 5 Days

Once you've used the sensitive mode for 5 days and your skin is more used to the more intense cleansing, Magnitone suggest stepping up to normal mode.  I did this, very obediently and used normal mode morning and night.  This was where I did have a little bit of a reaction.  My skin was very red after cleansing and I noticed more blemishes - not huge great ones, but more than I had been getting.  While my make up was going on a lot smoother, I was finding I was putting more make up on after my morning cleanse, to cover up the redness and then once the redness died down, I had way more concealer on than I needed.  I decided to downgrade the intensity a little bit and moved on to a normal cleanse in the evening and a sensitive cleanse in the morning.  This reduced my blemishes, almost immediately and eliminated the redness, so I think this is the right routine for me.

The Opinion

You can probably tell already but I am absolutely in love with this product!  It has made such a noticeable difference to my skin; the way it feels, it looks so much brighter and smoother, my make up applies so much better and lasts so much longer.  I actually find the whole experience really relaxing, too.  I have to shut my eyes because the brush sprays a little cleanser while it's rotating and the feeling of the brush gliding across the skin and vibrating slightly is very calming.  It's like a little mini facial twice a day!  It's very usable and it a very comfortable size, easy to hold and operate plus, it looks very pretty on my bathroom shelf.

I have one downside; the timer for the cheek section is one 20 second timer, even though you have to split it in to 10 seconds per cheek.  This means having to count to 10 twice and I don't want to be doing that when I'm concentrating on relaxing.  Two separate 10 second timers would have been much better but if that's the only negative thing I can think of to say, that makes for a pretty good rating!

I would definitely recommend this product to anyone looking for brighter, smoother or clearer skin.  It's worth the investment.

Hope you enjoyed this very long review...  I really need to start writing shorter posts!  Have you tried the Magnitone Lucid or any other face brush?  What were your thoughts?

Aimee x


PS  For the avoidance of any doubt - I was not in any way sponsored or paid to do this post.  The lovely people at Magnitone have no idea that me or this blog exist!  I just wanted to let you all know what a fab product I think this is and it might just help you discover something that really works for you too. :) 





Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Ten Nail Polishes Every Woman Should Own?


During a random lunch time reading session I stumbled across this article on dailymakeover stating the 10 nail polish colours every woman must own.  Now, I am a nail polish addict.  I can admit it.  I have more nail polish than I'll ever be able to wear and there's still a huge amount that I'm coveting.  

So, I was curious to know if I have the '10 nail polishes every woman should own' or if there's still some I need to add to my collection...


The answer is:  yes.  Yes, I do own one of each of them.  As if there was ever really any doubt!   Shame though, as I would have liked the excuse to buy another polish! 

Anyway, here's my picks...


Classic Red - China Glaze 'Igniting Love' - It's the first one and already, I feel like I've cheated! This maybe isn't a 'classic red' but I have OPI 'Big Red Apple' and 'Keys To My Karma' and they just don't compare to 'Igniting Love'.  This is a stunning red, leaning very much towards orange, but it just looks beautiful.  It is my favourite red and the main one I pick up.  If I've got a meeting or something important that I need 'power nails' for (I'm hoping that's a real thing and I'm not the only one in the world who feels more confident if my nails are good!) this is the one I reach for.  

Light Pink -  OPI 'I Think In Pink' - This, to me, is the perfect light pink.  It builds up well and gives a lovely 'gel' effect when it dries on the nail - all thick and jelly-like.  It's a pure baby pink but is very warm with it - I have very pale hands and this doesn't make me look washed out at all.  This is one bottle that I'm actually halfway through, so there's a good chance I might manage to finish it and if I do, I'll definitely be buying another bottle. 

Hot Pink - OPI 'Kiss Me On My Tulips' - A gorgeous, blue-toned pink that screams 'summer'.  It's the colour for pairing with a deep tan, denim shorts and white tees...  Closely followed by some sort of jacket/cover up when I realise I live in the UK, not Australia!  Again, this is a bottle I've managed to get half way through and would happily repurchase. 



Glitter - OPI 'My Favourite Ornament' - This glitter was from the Christmas Collection but it's suprisingly subtle (as subtle as a glitter can be!) so it's wearable all year round.  It's a champagne colour,  with tightly packed glitter particles, so it only needs 2 layers to provide a full opaque coverage.  Yes, it's the perfect choice for Christmas time and aids with the quest to look like a giant glitter ball but it's also great to add a little dazzle to a simple evening outfit (LBD and heels anyone?) or just to liven your nails up if you're having a boring week! 

Nude - Essie 'Topless and Barefoot' - This is a new polish to my collection and if I'd written this blog post a month earlier my choice for this would have been OPI Bubble Bath (which I still think is the perfect French mani base) but Topless & Barefoot has taken the crown.  This polish gives me mannequin hands but has enough warm tones running through it that it doesn't make me look like I've stolen them from a ghost.  It's also completely opaque after 2 coats and is a great base for glitter topcoats. 

White - OPI 'Don't Touch My Tutu' - Again, probably a strange choice for this one, as I also have OPI 'Alpine Snow' which is a much more opaque white but 'Don't Touch My Tutu' is a beautiful, sheer jelly white, which can be built up to opacity with 3 or 4 coats.  As it's more of a jelly formula it doesn't look as harsh and is a bit more 'wearable' on an every day basis. 


Metallic - OPI 'Haven't The Foggiest' - For me, 'metallic' had to be silver and this one by OPI gives the perfect foil-like effect.  It's a very dark metallic, so is more suited and wearable for winter but again, looks just as good for every day wear as it does with an LBD to give a little bit of oomph!  

Grey - Essie 'Power Clutch' - Another winter colour and this grey is so deep it's almost black but it definitely ticks the 'classy' and 'sophisticated' boxes for me.  Application is perfect and it's the colour that will go with, literally, anything.  Another new one to my collection but it's become a fave very quickly. 

Navy - China Glaze 'One Track Mind' - Another new one (told you, I have a problem!) from the past couple of months and I am completely in love with this one!  A navy blue that tilts from pure blue to almost-black depending on how the light hits it.  It's easy to wear and a very sophisticated colour but with a little bit of a rock-chick edge.  More of a winter colour but I love it so much I'll probably break the rules for this one and it'll make an appearance in the sunshine! 

Lavender - OPI 'You're Such A Budapest' - This one was on my nails pretty much constantly last spring.  A gorgeous periwinkle purple with a light blue tint it's such an easy to wear shade, it can almost be treated as a neutral.  There's a very light shimmer running through the polish, so it isn't your typical flat pastel shade.  Another one I'm halfway through and would definitely repurchase. 


There's been no excuses to buy any new polishes but it's been nice to look at my collection and see what's actually there, as it's easy to forget sometimes!  A lot of the colours in this post are ones that I've used frequently and I'm further through the bottles than I realised, so maybe there can be some new polish in the not-too-distant future after all! 


Have you got a polish that fits every colour category?  Are there any polishes, different to the ones I've listed, you think I should try?  I am missing a light grey, so if there's any suggestions for that please let me know!

Thanks for reading.

Aimee x














Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Krakow

If you're anything like me you've got a little bit of the 'January Blues' happening right now.  I'm someone who absolutely loves Christmas and spends the whole of November and December being over-the-top excited about the festivities, only to find that when the holidays actual come, they're over in the blink of an eye.

I got my main Christmas present from Hubs a little early this year and found myself being whisked off to Krakow, Poland for a long weekend in the middle of December.  I love city breaks, I love Christmas so this was the perfect gift! 

This might be is a long post, so go grab a cup of tea and then make yourself comfortable...  Alternatively, if you're not feeling very wordy, you can just scroll through and look at the pictures!

Although this holiday was mainly lovely and magical, we did also visit Auschwitz while we were there...  I've included a section on that in this post, as it was an important part of our holiday but it may be quite an upsetting read, so I've separated it from the rest of this post, should you wish to skip past it. 


When we walked in to the main square and I saw the Christmas tree, I let out a little squeal of excitement - I am that crazy person. 

We stayed in the Hotel Wentzl, which is situated right on the market square.  We had a room on the top floor, with a balcony and this was our view... 


I was impressed enough during the day but at night it literally came to life... 


The square was completely packed every evening, there was a performance on the stage daily so we got ready to go out for the night with carols being sung in the background.  It was truly magical. 

We arrived in Krakow at about 12pm and spent the afternoon orientating ourselves.  We ended up at the Wawel Castle, sort of by accident but spent a good couple of hours wandering around the grounds. We popped in to the Royal Armoury and Treasury (more of an Armoury really, so only worth a visit if you're in to weapons and things... I was a little bit disappointed!).  


We stood at the top of the hill and watched the sun set over the city.  It felt very romantic watching the sky change from orange to red to purple. 




As we headed back down the hill we came across the 'Dragon's Den' - a statue surrounded by children, just watching.  It didn't make much sense to us, until the dragon started breathing fire.  The kids screamed and ran off in different directions.  Obviously, we had to wait until the next fire breathing moment to get a photograph...


Not a very good one, unfortunately, as I found myself jumping out of my skin when it actually happened - such a wuss!  It turns out, you can actually text the dragon to make him breathe, so we could have done it ourselves without waiting around. 

We headed back to the hotel through the illuminated streets and my festive feelings went through the roof! 




After a quick reset we headed back out and found a gorgeous, traditional-style Polish restaurant that served huge portions of food and stuffed ourselves.  The food is so cheap - £2 for a starter and £3.50 for a main course - but the portion sizes are huge.  Throughout the trip, we didn't spend more than £20 on one meal and that would get starters, mains and drinks for both of us.  The quality of the food was amazing too.

The next section is the part you may want to skip...

_ _ _

The next day we went to Auschwitz. 

This wasn't something I was particularly looking forward to, for obvious reasons but Hubs had been before and said it was something he genuinely felt everyone should experience.  That it gave a whole new perspective on life.  

We decided not to go with a tour group and just caught the bus through, early in the morning.  I'm pleased we did it that way, as it was nice to be able to spend time taking in the information that was available, at our own pace.  We spent about 5 hours between the two camps.  However, during the summer months, when things are busier, you have to join a tour if you arrive after 10am.

I honestly didn't think I would take any photographs while we were there.  I thought it would feel disrespectful and be in bad taste.  That changed when I arrived - the whole place is full of people's stories and I did take some photographs because it felt like doing that was acknowledging what had happened, as atrocious as it was and was marking the fact that these people, who had been through so much unimaginable horror, will never be forgotten. 




The old barracks have been turned in to exhibit rooms, each giving details about the different stages of the regime and the movement to Auschwitz.  The walls are lined with pictures of the prisoners, taken when they were initially held, putting faces to the '1.6 million' number that was repeatedly referenced.  Some pictures had flowers tucked behind them, from people who had found a family member.  

The glass cabinets, pictured above, housed just some of the suitcases, shoes and glasses that had been confiscated from the prisoners when they arrived at the camp.  These pictures show less than a quarter of the total amount confiscated...  There were hundreds of thousands of items in there.

After Auschwitz, we caught the free shuttle bus to Birkenau,  about 5 minutes up the road.




Walking around this vast, open space it became eerily clear just how huge an operation this had been.  We spent over 90 minutes walking around the camp, reading the information boards and looking at the memorials that had been erected all around.  

No matter how much information I saw, or how many things I read, I couldn't comprehend how this had been allowed to happen.  The rapid expansion of the Nazi operation resulted in literally millions of people being separated from their families, subjected to the most humiliating living conditions imaginable and ultimately, being murdered, just because of what they believed in and who they were.  

It goes without saying, these places are filled with sadness but one of the saddest parts for me, was this;  in authentic pictures, taken at the time people were being dragged from their homes or lined up for 'selection', the Nazi SS guards in the pictures are smiling.  They were genuinely proud of what they were doing.  They didn't realise, or didn't choose to acknowledge, the sheer devastation caused by what they were part of.   

As much as the atrocities of what happened were laid out in front of us, there was some light that shone through the darkness.  Stories of the survivors, the families who were reunited, the lovers who found each other again were there to be read.  Stories of the sheer determination of the prisoners, of their attitude towards each other and the support they gave each other.  That they never gave up hope.  That they came together to try and survive. 

I can't explain how visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau made me feel.  There was the deep, deep sadness that I had been expecting before I went, the complete failure to comprehend how there could be such evil allowed to exist in the world and the sympathy towards the victims, their families and the futures they could have had.  But there was also a feeling of faith, of belief in human nature and the ability they have to come together and help each other, no matter what hell they're going through.  It made me feel thankful and fortunate for my life.  It made me feel grateful. 

If you ever find yourself in Krakow, I would recommend visiting Auschwitz.  It may not be your usual tourist destination and yes, it is a desperately upsetting place that will make you question how people can be so evil but it does give you a different perspective on life.  Suddenly that rubbish day you're having at work, won't seem quite so bad.  Above all, I think it's important that we never let those people who suffered, unnecessarily, be forgotten and that we keep their memories alive. 



_ _ _

Okay, so back to it with Day 3...  We headed to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, about half an hour from the town centre.  Again, we just got the normal public bus through, it was easy to find and cheap as chips.  Once we got there we did have to join in with a tour, as there are so many different chambers, corridors and passages, it would be pretty easy to get lost without a guide.

Wieliczka isn't a working mine anymore but was functioning until 2007, having been built in the 13th century.  It's now a World Heritage site and a very popular tourist attraction with more than 1.2 million visitors a year. 


The scene above has been completely carved out of salt!  As we walked around, the Tour Guide gave us a little bit of history about the ownership of the mine, how it had expanded over the years and how the workers had lived.  


Anything carved out of salt, in such detail, is pretty amazing but the most amazing room, in my opinion, was the chapel. 


A fully functional chapel, carved out of salt.  The floors were salt, the walls were salt...  Even the chandeliers that hung from the ceiling were made out of salt.  The workers had built this to use as an active place of prayer and to this day, they still hold services and conduct weddings there. 


Even the religious frescos on the wall were carved out of salt... 




There was also a huge carving of Pope John Paul II, in honour of his visit to the chapel.


The tour took about 2 hours in total and covered 3 floors of the mine which, given that it's actually 327 metres deep and 178 miles long, is a tiny proportion!  Even so, we still finished the tour 130 metres underground, which is as far underground as I've ever been (or would ever want to go!).


When we arrived back in town the sun had gone down and this was what was waiting for us in the main square... 



THE COCA-COLA TRUCK!!!

I got very excited about this.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks it's not really Christmas until the Coca-Cola advert has been on, so seeing the truck in real life certified that it was, in fact, Christmas!  The square was absolutely packed with people and the queue for one of the personalised bottles seemed to be miles long, so I resisted the urge to wait in line and was satisfied with just seeing the truck.

For our last day, we only had a few hours left before leaving for the airport, so we'd booked a 2 hour walking tour around the Old Jewish Quarter and the Jewish Ghetto.

I felt sorry for our tour guide when he found out there was actually only the 2 of us booked on the tour (we think there had been a mistake with the booking site we used and our tour wasn't actually supposed to have existed!) but he happily showed us round anyway!

When he asked us to stand for a 'group photo', as he does with all of his tour groups, it made us laugh when the 'group' looked like this...



It was good to learn the history from this side of things, as it helped piece together some of the stories we had learned in Auschwitz.  Some of the places we went had been featured in the film 'Schindler's List' which helped revived the Ghetto from a run down area to a vibrant, lively and social place, which has been good for the community. 

Once our tour was over we spent one last hour walking around the market and filling our faces with street food before we headed back home. 

If you made it this far without falling asleep - congratulations!  I didn't realise this would be quite such a long post when I set off but I guess I had a lot to say.

I love, love, loved Krakow and would recommend anyone to go, especially at Christmas time.  Have you been before?  Is there somewhere you would recommend we visit next?  

Aimee x