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#ARWOMAN – Who inspires you?

Atterley Road are running a campaign to find out which women inspire us. It could be someone famous, someone from work, someone in your family, the options are totally open, it just needs to be a woman who makes you feel inspired and empowered.

There are a few women in my life who inspire me, the first being my amazing mum. She manages to give out so much care, love and support, no matter what is happening in her life, along with a never ending supply of patience, which is something I lack! I don’t remember her losing her temper with me when I was growing up, she was always my friend as well as my mum and I watch her with my kids now and see the same thing happening, she just has this aura about her. So my mum would be number one in my Inspirational Women List.

Then there are two women in the celebrity world who embody power, success and talent but still manage to do it with incredible style and class, Jenna Lyons, the J Crew creative director and Sali Hughes, journalist & make up artist. Both of them are *seriously* good at and love what they do – the passion shows.

Jenna has a sense of style nailed, red lips, big bold glasses, clashing prints, denim, if you know her, you know what she wears is spot on. She has been the Creative Director and President for J.Crew since 2008 and 2010, she’s been nicknamed the “Woman Who Dresses America, and her creative force and style have been named as the reasons that J.Crew has turned into a cult brand with its profits more than tripling in a ten year span. All this while being a mum to her son.

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What Sali doesn’t know about make up and beauty probably isn’t worth knowing, and if you haven’t bought her book,  Pretty Honest,  yet, you’re missing out. Sali started out as a jobbing make up artist, but now writes for magazines and newspapers and is also a regular contributor on TV and Radio. She has written features, for Grazia, ELLE, Red, The Guardian, The Observer Glamour, Stylist, Shortlist, Top Santé, NOW and Cosmopolitan. Since January 2011 she has also been the Guardian’s resident beauty columnist, featuring weekly in their magazine and online video tutorials, as well as running her own beauty site, writing her book and being mum to her two sons!

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See the theme? All three of of my inspirational women have created theses amazing lives and careers at the same time as being a mum. That’s what inspires me.

Atterley Road want you to join in the conversation and tell them who is your #ARWOMAN. Post a picture on Instagram, tag them and use the hashtag. Why not nominate some friends to do the same? The only goal is to get women celebrating and supporting other women.

You’ll find more information on their blog.

They will be following up the campaign with interviews from some really interesting AR Women, the first is cinematographer Tasha Beck, who has made a name for herself in a very male dominated industry. You can read Tasha’s full interview here.

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Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector

Clarins are so good at spring – and their new Instant Light Lip Balm Perfectors are right up there in the realms of prettiness.

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Part skin care part make up, they have been designed to moisturise, plump and illuminate the lips, giving just a sheer hint of colour. I am trying to get into the routine of wearing lipstick as my ‘face refresher’ but sometimes you just want to grab something that’s not too in your face but still gives it a little bit of a boost, and these are spot on.

The combination of wild mango and shea which is rich in fatty acids help to restore the hydrolipidic film, leaving lips nourished and soft. This cold weather can really batter your lips, especially when you’re in and out of central heated rooms, don’t drink enough water and generally ignore your mouth unless you’re stuffing chocolate in it.

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Available in 6 shades, pictured here are Rose, Coral, Orange and Red. They also have the balms in My Pink, which reacts to your own PH levels, to give you a personalised pink.

As always with Clarins, they smell amazing and they really do feel nice on the lips, not greasy or sticky in any way, it’s exactly like wearing a lightweight lip balm with a hint of colour. They’re the perfect size for purses and pockets and you don’t need to have a mirror handy to apply them, so they’re great to grab and go.

My favourite colour is rose, it’s just that right pink for me, not too pale, not too dark. I’m working up the courage to wear orange, maybe when it’s a little bit warmer outside and I’m a little bit less ‘blue’ tinged!

The Instant Light Lip Balm Perfectors cost £18 each and are available from Clarins.

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It’s all about….

Comfort.

Anyone else feel like they’re just starting to come out the other side of Xmas excess? After a couple of weeks of eating and drinking too much, staying up late, lazing around and just generally not having any ‘oomph’ – I’m starting to (I say starting to, I’m not 100% full of life just yet!) get back into the swing of things. We’re back on the school runs, back to work, after school clubs, and just general busy business, but at the same time I just want to hibernate for a little bit longer, so I’m all about wrapping up in my huge cocoon coat, big scarves and comfy flats.

Obviously I’m behind all the fashion bloggers as I’ve just noticed Stan Smiths *everywhere* and now they’re on my wish-list. Flat, trainers, comfortable, stylish. What’s not to love?! I’m so over wearing heels! Only decision is which colour to get?

I really need to get the right red lippie. I keep saying it’ll be my thing and I never get round to it. I can’t carry off heavy eye make up, and I can’t be bothered with the faff first thing in the morning, so the whole ‘whack a bright lip on and wake your face up’ really appeals to me. Except I can’t find the one. All the shades I’ve got are either too orange or too blue. Apparently Mac Ruby Woo is the one to try, so that’s next on my list.

That’s my January (and probably February) uniform sorted.

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New Car Love

If you follow me on any kind of social media platform, or you’re lucky enough to know me in real life, you’ll know that I picked up my new car on Wednesday last week. My gorgeous, sexy, super fast new car. It’s a Honda Civic in black (I have wanted a black car forEVER) and it’s just beautiful.

You know when you’ve spent years driving a (perfectly good!) normal car, and you then start driving one that’s so much nicer? I mean, it has so many buttons inside it’s ridiculous! (My last car had 2 buttons, one to start it and one to put the hazards on!) It’s like a dream to drive. Without sounding all Top Gear – minus the ageing presenters and lack of brain cells – it drives like a bloody dream. It sticks to the road (I know, I sound like such a car geek) and the steering is just fab. Don’t even get me started on the windscreen wipers!!!

For the first few days I was terrified of scratching it. The roads round here aren’t tiny but the cars park on the pavement and it’s a tight fit, especially when you’re not 100% sure how big your car is. I was one of those people that I used to shout at when they drove in front of me. You know “How big do you think your car is?!” “It’s not a tank!” “If you can’t drive it, don’t buy it!” I was one of those. I even avoided certain roads because I knew they were too skinny to drive down! As for the school pick up?! Terrified someone would bump my car!

Thankfully I’m over that now. After driving to Cornwall and back in a day (more on that another time!) I am now fully aware of the size of my car. I am still scared it’s going to get scratched or damaged though, even when it’s parked on the drive. If I had the dream house to match the dream car I’d probably want to have a garage to protect my baby. One of those fancy ones, electric garage doors, the lot! Although, knowing my husband like I do, it would probably get filled with boxes and the like. Although he’s always wanted a proper garage to build a motorbike from scratch, so you never know. There’s no room for a garage in this house, but when we do get round to buying the forever home, it’s going to have a double garage. And a driveway.

Cos, you know, we’re going to win the lottery soon….

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Thanks to Garolla for supporting LD

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Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough

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On Saturday the man and I escaped the hustle and bustle of normal life and took a drive up to Scarborough to stay at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. Having never been to Yorkshire I was looking forward to the drive (without kids, driving can be quite relaxing!) and getting a good blast of fresh, country air.

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It took us a good five hours to drive from Surrey, not helped by the long sections of roadworks that meant we had to do 50mph for about an hour and a half and the awful, awful rain that practically slowed the M1 to a stop! Once we arrived though, it was like entering into another world. It’s set amongst 17 acres of gardens in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and it is so peaceful. Even listening to the wind howling around it still felt a million times quieter than everyday life. The fact that there was zero phone signal added to the whole escape feeling. We had no choice but to switch off and just enjoy the moment.

We checked in and were shown to our room, one of the honeymoon suites, which was quite literally, bigger than our first flat. We had our own lounge, a huge master bedroom with the biggest bed we’ve ever slept in (what’s bigger than queen size?) and the most amazing bathroom known to mankind. I kid you not. The bath was big enough for the bloke and I to lay in together and the waterfall taps filled it in minutes, which was a good thing as I was planning on spending a lot of time in there! Double sinks (adds to home wish-list) and a massive power shower, I could have quite happily stayed in the bathroom the entire time, but we were booked in for afternoon tea and we weren’t going to miss that – it’s one of my favourite treats and it doesn’t happen nearly enough! We were due to have it at 2.30pm but because of the traffic we weren’t there on time, so the lovely receptionist rebooked it for us for 3.15pm giving us time to arrive, unpack and find our way around without rushing.

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We were seated in the bar area and even though there were a few people in there it still felt private and cosy. We got comfortable in our little armchairs and had good, strong, Yorkshire tea in a beautiful white tea set, with beef & horseradish, ham & mustard and cream cheese & cucumber sandwiches, freshly baked scones with jam and cream (not clotted cream which was a first, but it still worked!) and a selection of amazing cakes – lemon cheesecake, profiteroles, chocolate and pistachio sponge and lemon meringue, all in little bite-size portions. Heaven!

While we were enjoying our afternoon tea, a couple were sat at the table near us looking through a wedding brochure and I have to say, if we were getting married now, I would love somewhere like Ox Pasture for the whole thing, ceremony and reception. It would be an amazing wedding venue, it was stunning in January so I imagine it would be just as, or even more beautiful in the summer months.

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Once we had finished our tea, we decided to have a walk around the grounds, snap some pictures and take in the scenery. It was absolutely freezing, us Londoners are always complaining about the cold weather, but ‘up North it’s a different kind of cold! I think we managed about 30 mins before the lure of the bath was too much for me, so we made our way back to the room for another cup of tea and a very long, very hot soak.

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I had taken my own bath oil with me as I’d read a few reviews where they’d commented on the lack of bubbles provided so I was all set for a good long bath. We asked for a couple more towels because there were only two large ones and I have a lot of hair, which were sent over in minutes. After an hour or so reading my glossies and telling the husband how much I loved the bath, I had to physically extract myself before I wrinkled away. Only to put myself into the huge walk in, power shower to wash my hair. It was a hard weekend. I know.

We’d booked to have dinner at The Courtyard Restaurant at 8pm so we had plenty of time to enjoy the room, watching trashy TV, reading mags and chatting. It’s amazing how quickly you can reconnect with each other when there are no other distractions like emails, texts, kids….! It’s only when we get away and spend proper time together do we realise how much of a laugh we have, how easily we get on and how much we enjoy each others company. It’s so easy to get caught up in ‘he doesn’t do this, she always does that’ stress, running around and passing each other on the stairs Mon-Fri that it’s a real treat to just stop and remember why we married each other!

We made our way to the restaurant and were seated at one of the tables, I loved that all the two seater tables had seats next to each other rather than opposite so the romance could carry on!

Having heard amazing things about the food we were both looking forward to dinner and we weren’t disappointed! As the only restaurant in Scarborough to have been awarded 2-rosettes for culinary excellence and be recommended in the Michelin guide, you know the food will be as amazing as the surroundings. The menu is very traditional with a modern twist and has an emphasis on local produce, every single course was delicious as well as stunning to look at.

We started with the Goats Cheese and Beetroot Tart & Ham Hock Terrine, followed by the Pork Trio and Beef Brisket, we also sampled Chicken Roulade and the Butternut Squash Soup which was gorgeous. I wish I had gone for the soup now! Dessert had to be chocolate for me and cheese for him! The Yorkshire Cheese Board and Chocolate Trio. Wow! Just wow.

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We had a couple of glasses of wine and then made our way back to our room where we snuggled up on the sofa with a blanket and watched CBB, before, you guessed it, having another bath! It had to be done. We then crawled into bed and had probably one of the best nights sleep we’ve ever had.

The next morning we were treated to yet more amazing food (the theme really should be ‘amazing’ for this post!) fresh croissants, hot tea, orange juice and a bloody gorgeous cooked breakfast, sausage, scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, mushrooms and black pudding. The husband threw some toast in as well for good measure.

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Once we’d finished it was time to pack up and head home to our babies. We decided to make a quick detour to have a look at the famous Scarborough and I was surprised by how pretty it was. It was quite busy for a Sunday morning, which made the peace of Ox Pastures Hall which was a mere 15 mins away, even more special.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay while you’re visiting North Yorkshire, Ox Pasture Hall Hotel has to be top of the list. Luxurious, comfortable, friendly, quiet and relaxing all rolled into one. The staff were so friendly and open, I don’t know if that’s a northern thing or not, but they could teach the London hotel staff a lot, nothing was too much trouble for them, they were chatty without being over the top, just really lovely people who made the stay even more perfect.

Thank you to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel for such a wonderful stay!

We were given a complimentary stay at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in order to write this review, but, as always the opinions are all my own.

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Birch box January 2015

Hit Refresh. That’s the theme for the first BirchBox of 2015 and it’s a good one! Some of my favourite brands are included in this months box, REN, HealGel, Stila, what’s not to love!

It’s a collaboration with Women’s Health with an exclusive offer for BirchBox subscribers, to save 52% on a subscription to the magazine. That’s 10 issues for £18!

As always, BirchBox like to give us little boosts, and this time we have a booklet of 12 bite-sized challenges, quick, easy ways to make changes to your health and wellbeing.

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Inside the box, as I’ve already said, is a whole bunch of happiness for me! The first thing that caught my eye was the full size Stila Lip Glaze (£15) it’s a gorgeous, nude colour that will suit everyone, and sit well over all the nude lipsticks I have sitting on my dressing table.

Next up is the Philip Kingsley Body Building Conditioner 20ml (£19 for full size) This helps to transform flat hair, and help seal flyaway. It’s a wheat-protein conditioner that’s more suited to fine, limp hair which I don’t have, but I’ve heard amazing things about Philip Kingsley and would love to try this brand on my thick, long, long hair!

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renwal Mask – now, I adore REN as a brand, some of my favourite products are theirs so this is something I’m really looking forward to trying. It’s down as radiance in a tube, a fast working, exfoliating treatment that improves texture, tone and combats congestion. (£30 full size)

HealGel Intensive. I love all HealGel products. You can see my full review here. This protects and repairs skin with organic silicone, collagen boosting peptides and arnica. It smells amazing, feels amazing and works like a dream. I’m quite pleased to have a sample size of this one to throw in my bag! (£37.50 for full size but oh so worth it!)

activbod Cooling Finish Lotion (£12 full size) This is a brand I haven’t heard of but it sounds like a good product for the bloke to use after his squash sessions! It’s a menthol packed invigorating lotion designed to be used after a workout. (See, not really me that one!)

Embrace Matcha Green Tea (£24.99) I’m not really a green tea lover, I wish I was because I’m well aware of the benefits, but I will give this one a go, just out of curiosity. It’s 100% natural with 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea. You’re meant to take 1/2 a teaspoon and whisk it into hot or cold water, or you can blend it into juices or smoothies.

Another lifestyle product is the Pilates Band £7.99 which is a BirchBox exclusive! It tones, increases strength and improves muscle endurance when you incorporate it into your workout. I love pilates and yoga so I really need to get my backside back into gear. This band may have also been stolen by my 5 year old to use as a “Spider-man muscle builder” See, something for everyone in the BirchBoxes!

So what do you think to the January box? Birchbox costs £10 a month plus p&p and you can subscribe to Birchbox here. All the products and brands featured inside this month’s box can be picked up in full size with free delivery in the Birchbox shop!

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