3 Ways To Prepare Your Lounge For Spring

As some of you may know, I live in a rented house and so it’s difficult for me to decorate it as I would like, but obviously I am able to be creative when it comes to furniture and soft furnishings. But such is my life, my son has literally just had a nosebleed all over my lovely grey sofa so maybe it’s time to look at replacing that in the long run. But as spring approaches, I thought I would think about a few changes I could make to my lounge that would brighten up the room in time for when the sun is finally here.

 

1. Candles

I used to only burn candles in winter, favouring the heady/musky scents of fig, winter spices, blackberry and amber, but I’ve taken to burning candles the whole year round now, I just adjust the scent according to the season. So in springtime, I tend to burn The White Company’s Wild Mint or Grapefruit candles, a selection of aromatherapy style candles from TK Maxx or, if funds are running low, a three wick No.1 candle from Aldi. A great dupe for Jo Malone.

 

simply cushions

2.  Cushions

My children may argue that I already have enough cushions for my sofa, but they’re wrong. You can never have too many cushions or mugs, this is a known fact. In winter, I like to decorate the sofa with dark grey, fluffy throws and plush velvet cushions, but in springtime I like to introduce more colour, vary the textures and prints, and it’s amazing the difference a pop of colour can make to a whole room. These cushions below are from simplycushions.com.au, aren’t they gorgeous?

 

simply cushions

3. Flowers

I’ve never been one to wait for someone to buy me flowers, good job really, and if whenever I have had spare money, my go-to luxury item is always a fresh bunch of flowers. They bring colour and scent into a room for only a few pounds. Or even better, if you are lucky enough like I am to have a garden full of roses, snip a few off, find a pretty vase and voilà, your lounge is brought to life for free.

I hope you liked my three tips to prepare your lounge for spring. I am off to the garden with my shears to pick some flowers.

kate sutton

Dobby – What Happened Next With My Garden Centre Date?

For those of you that follow me on Facebook (and if you don’t, rectify that immediately) you will have seen I posted a couple of updates after my date at the garden centre on Sunday with a man who shall be known henceforth as Dobby. (Because we met at Dobbies … geddit?) This post will let you know what happened afterwards but also pose the question, who should make the first move after a date and ask for a second date?

 

Anyway, Dobby and I really hit it off on Sunday. We managed to make two coffees last three hours as we lost track of time and chatted non-stop. There was also a slice of cake involved, obviously, although the idiots had run out of my favourite, the infamous strawberry tart. Anyway, I digress. He was late turning up, which, as Shania Twain rightly pointed out, didn’t impress me much, but I genuinely think it was a mix-up of the times and he was suitably mortified, so I graciously forgave him. Plus, he bought me cake so I was easily swayed.

 

We sat in the garden of the cafe and the sun was shining. I had worried about what I could wear that would make me look less like the geriatric lady I feel like with this stupid broken arm, managed to step into a black vest dress and put a denim shirt over my shoulders, a la Supergirl. My best friend came round to help me not poke a mascara wand into my eyes and put dry shampoo into my hideously greasy hair. I looked glorious. Well, passable.

 

Anyway, the date went really well, the only downside being he has quite young children which is not really my jam because mine are ‘off my hands now’ (just meaning they don’t need me so much) and I feel like I’m entering a different phase of life to him, but it’s early days and not something I really need to worry about at the moment. He was due to play football after our date and I was conscious that he’d be late, so several times I said, “Do you need to leave yet?“ And he kept saying, “No it’s fine,I’m happy to stay… so I got the feeling he liked me at the very least.

 

We were both busy after our date so didn’t chat until the evening when he sent me a brief text to say he hoped I got home safely and that he had a really nice time. I replied with something similar. And that was that.

 

We didn’t chat again that night and by the next morning, he still hadn’t asked me out for a second date.

 

Now at this point, I would normally sack him (that’s sack) off and just put it down to ‘we had a nice date but he’s clearly not interested in seeing me again’ type thing. I would never, have never, been the one to say, “Would you like to see me again?“ But I wondered whether it was time I did things differently.

 

So I posted on my Facebook blog page and asked for everyone’s opinion. Without realising that it would mean having to actually take someone’s advice and not just do what I want. #annoying

 

Now my question was, “What would you do?“ … insofar as… would you be the first person to text and ask out the other person?

 

I would say 99% of the people that replied said yes, life is too short and I should just ask him out. And I appreciated everyone’s comments and understood where people were coming from. It’s not that I am into playing games, on the contrary, but I have always thought that if a bloke likes me, he will let me know and ask me out. And if he hasn’t done that, he’s just not that into me and it’s best for me not to make things awkward for either of us.

 

But I’ve been single for five years … so y’know, maybe it’s time to do things differently. So I took everyone’s advice and asked him out. Words along the line of, “Morning. It would be nice to meet again. What do you think?”

 

Silence.

 

I knew he was at work but could see that he had been online (the wonders of WhatsApp) but that he hadn’t read my message. I’m not even sure how that’s possible but it was several hours, after lunch in fact, until he replied.

 

*Drumroll*

 

He mentioned something like, was I enjoying the sunshine, and yes, he would really like to see me again – this week was difficult, would I be free next week? Mate, I’ve got a broken arm and can’t work, of course I’m free next week. But, obviously I now can’t help but wonder if he would have even bothered texting me had I not done it… But in the end, does it really matter? It will come out in the wash and I will soon know if we really like each other. It’s just foreign territory, that’s all.

 

I also find it strange that he would want to wait a week… I’m bloody brilliant, he should want to see me immediately LOL. But I get that he sees his kids during the week and he works in London, but going forward, maybe he just won’t have time for a relationship? Time will tell.

 

We’ve spoken a couple of times since but he’s definitely not a big texter, at least with me, which I think makes me feel a little uneasy anyway. I’m thinking, surely he wants to get to know me? But on the other hand, maybe prefers doing that in person? Anyway, it’s making me hold back because I feel like I’ve put my heart on the line now and I’m just going to see what happens next.

 

So we are supposedly going out on Monday night. He has offered to pick me up. Double-checked that that wasn’t too weird for me. And to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t talk again until Monday. That is strange though isn’t it? Then I do have a lot of time on my hands and I just want everyone to be at my beck and call lol. I’ve also noticed that he’s been back on Tinder today and if I’m honest I’m second guessing whether I should have listened to my gut instinct and got the hint he wasn’t that bothered, and not text him.

 

But I guess the moral of the story is that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – and applying that to dating. So I’ve really gone out of my comfort zone, done something I don’t think I’ve ever done before, been proactive and … I weirdly feel a little underwhelmed because of it. It’s not even that I want to be ‘chased’… I just want to feel that someone is as into me as I am into them and I guess the best way to find out is by seeing him again.

 

So that’s that really. I feel quite uneasy about the whole thing so have decided just not to think about it anymore. But I just wanted to give those of you who were remotely interested an update. Now I need to find something else elasticated to wear for Monday.

 

kate sutton

Reviewing StriVectin Skincare – Results After One Month

It has been five weeks since I wrote my first review of the StriVectin skincare range, and I want to give you all an update of how my skin is looking now, a month on. (There was a minor blip where I was in hospital for four days and obviously wasn’t able to carry on with this regime during that period, but as soon as I got home, I picked up where I left off.)

 

As I mentioned in my first StriVectin blog post, as I get older I am noticing that the lines are a little deeper on my face, not to mention the rogue chin hairs that seem to be multiplying day by day, and I felt it was a good time to start properly investing in good quality skincare. I have been strict about using the products throughout these last four weeks – cleansing my face in the morning and then using the StriVectin Oleic Rapid Recovery Milk, followed by my regular High Street moisturiser. I then use four pumps of the StriVectin Hyaluronic Dual Response Serum in the evening, followed again by my regular High Street night cream. And then twice a week I use the StriVectin Glycolic Skin Reset Mask.

 

I know I’ve had a lot on my plate, with a broken arm and all that really wanted to be able to give you honest feedback so really stuck to this routine religiously.

 

So here are some photos of how I look now and then I will include some comparison photos of how I looked at the beginning, a week in and then a month after.

 

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

 

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

 

Comparison Photos – Before, 1 week after, 1 month after

 

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

strivectin skincare

 

First thing I want to say is that for someone like me who always felt I didn’t have the time or energy to invest in my skin, I’ve completely changed my mind. Once you get into the habit of applying these products to your face, it becomes second nature. The great thing is that they soak into your skin so quickly you don’t have to hang around before you put your moisturiser on.

 

The second thing I’ve noticed is that my skin feels softer and definitely plumper than it did before. I never really suffered from dry skin per se but I do feel like my skin looks more youthful than it did before… yes, yes I know I’m 47, but it’s all relative. My ‘youthful’ is very different to 20-year-old’s ‘youthful’ but it definitely feels and looks brighter to me.

 

I know this probably won’t factor into your decision-making process but for someone with one arm like me, the fact that the products were so easy to apply, either via pipette or pump action, it has meant that I haven’t had to try and un-screw lids with my teeth or feet. Trust me, I’ve had to do that with other products and it’s not a pretty sight.

 

Granted, the price point is higher than my High Street moisturiser, but for me it’s been worth every penny. It’s been a great experiment to see how much my skin appreciates that extra TLC.

 

What do you think? Can you see the difference too?

kate sutton

 

Products available to buy on Amazon and at Harvey Nichols (London/Edinburgh/Dublin.)

You can find StriVectin on Instagram – @StrivectinUK

 

Why Did I Agree To A First Date This Weekend?

As you all know (because I’ve banged on about it enough), I’m not working at the moment because I’ve broken my arm, so I have way too much time on my hand(s). Fellow online daters will know the pull that dating apps have, and how much of a habit it can be, so it was no surprise that a week ago, I found myself downloading Tinder again and agreeing to go on a first date this weekend.

 

I told the handful of men I had been speaking to that I’d badly broken my arm and there will be no trampolining/bowling for me for the foreseeable future. Which, of course, is code for doing anything remotely physical. Sure enough, 99% of blokes backed away. Which is fair enough, saves me the trouble of working out what it is exactly they’re after. The only person that didn’t, is someone that said he wasn’t looking for just a fling in his bio, and we have been speaking for the last few days.

 

However, I have a few… concerns.

 

1.   He asked me out for a coffee, which is a great first date idea, especially for someone in my ‘situation’. He kindly offered to pick me up but followed that by saying, “That may be overstepping boundaries so let me know where you’d like to meet.“ Which was sweet. Now I don’t live in the middle of a big town so there are only three places that are in walking distance for me where we can get a coffee. Tescos, McDonalds, or Dobbies, the garden centre. None of which are remotely romantic, so it was a case of choosing the best of a bad bunch so yep, we’re meeting at the garden centre. #MightPickUpSomeBulbsWhileImThere

 

2.  Clothes. I never go ‘all out’ outfit-wise on a first date, and usually wear black jeans, a semi revealing T-shirt and heels, but I’ve been rocking hobo-chic for the last five weeks and the only clothes I can wear are elasticated. I certainly can’t wear a bra, it’s a rare treat if I bother to wear knickers (imagine rushing to the loo and trying to pull down pants one-handed, it rarely ends well) … and I’m really not sure what to wear that doesn’t make me look homeless or pregnant. Or both.

 

3.  Make up. I haven’t properly worn make-up since the accident, I haven’t needed to, I only ever go to Tescos (FML), and tbh I’m perfectly happy bare-faced. However, when I went on my big day trip to … the local shopping centre with my best friend on Saturday, I attempted to put a bit of make-up on before I went. Have you ever tried applying make-up with your non-dominant hand? It’s ridiculous. I only put the bare minimum on, not bothering with foundation or eyeshadow, and I still managed to look like Pennywise the Clown. Black mascara streaks down both cheeks, lipstick way over my lip line a la me wearing Heather Shimmer in the 80s and in the end I just wiped it all off because I looked like a poor man’s version of Ru Paul.

 

I’m not making that mistake twice. I’ve called in the big guns, aka my best friend, who has offered to come round on Sunday morning to put my face on for me.

 

See also … my hair, that is currently only washed once a week and kept in a tight bun on the top of my head, and secured with eleventy billion hair bands so it doesn’t move. I think I will just ask her to brush it out and then hope for the best.

 

4.  Attempting to look sexy. First dates are about giving a good impression, getting to know each other, a little bit of flirting here and there, body language being key, and the occasional bit of Sharon Stone-esque seductive crossing and uncrossing of legs never goes amiss. Non-commando of course. But I now walk like I’m pregnant. I seem to have adopted a weird side-to-side waddle and having one arm strapped to my chest, I’m surprised I don’t end up walking in circles. Every step I take I’m scared I’m going to fall over, so I’m a bit like Bambi on ice, whilst clutching my arm so it doesn’t move too far from my side. Soooo hot.

 

And then when I’m sat down, I can never get comfortable so find myself standing up and rocking my hips from side to side as if I’m holding a newborn baby. It is anti-sexy. If you want to know how NOT to act on a first date, come along on Sunday and watch me.

 

5.  God forbid he attempts to touch any part of my dodgy arm/hand because the skin on there is incredibly dry and no matter how much I exfoliate/moisturise, I have the hand of a lizard.

 

And they’re just my first thoughts!

 

Now having said all of this, as we all know, the date might not even happen. There’s plenty of time to be ghosted, and it happens all the time, so all of the above could just be one long moo(t) point, but I will let you know how it goes if he does show. And if he doesn’t, I do need some new garden shears, and they sell strawberry tarts to die for, so all’s not lost.

 

kate sutton

 

The Ridiculous Story Of How I Broke My Arm

It was 1am on a Saturday morning nearly three weeks ago, and I found myself in a dark alleyway between a furniture shop and a curry house. I was tipsy, not drunk, caught between the lure a handsome young man whilst panicking about the fact I had lost my best friend. Somehow, I lost my footing, tripped and fell and the rest, as they say, is history. This is the ridiculous story of how I broke my arm.

 

This is us before, loving life …

 

 

You might not want to read this next bit but for cathartic reasons, I need to type it out anyway. I tried to get up. I had braced myself with my left hand when I fell, so my palm was full of grit and mud, I got to my knees but as I lifted my right arm it flopped around like jelly. Think Harry Potter with no bones. Sorry, but it did. I keep reliving that memory and feeling over and over again, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

 

My best friend spent the next two hours ringing 999 for an ambulance, but one didn’t come for two very long hours. She begged me to get up so that she could take me to hospital herself but I couldn’t move. I was stuck on that cold, muddy, wet alleyway floor as drunk men walked past us without even a sideways glance. She didn’t live far away so walked home and got a big blanket for me and that’s where we stayed until, thankfully, an ambulance turned up at 3am. I thought they’d bring gas and air to me so that I could get off the floor – all I got was paracetamol when I finally reached the inside of the ambulance.

 

I spent the next eight hours in A & E. It was only my best friend that got me through it and I will be forever thankful to her for that. Every time I fainted she caught my head and stroked my hair. Every time I threw up, she got a sick bowl for me. She looked after me like a mother would her child and I can tell you now, the bouquet of flowers I sent her when I got home doesn’t go anywhere near showing her how grateful I was for her love and care that night.

 

 

I told her to go home at 7am after I had had a cast put on my arm because it was just a waiting game then, waiting for a bed on the orthopaedic ward. I then spent the next four hours on my own, sat on a wheelchair in A & E, unable to move, relying on a very kind family next to me that brought me water and a cup of tea. I love the NHS and as much as my care over the next four days in hospital was problematic and far from perfect, they can only cope as best as they can with what they have, so I won’t say too much more about that.

 

I got to the ward at midday on Saturday. There were four of us there; one broken hip, two leg fractures and me. My family visited every day but now I’m home it’s all a bit of a morphine induced blur and I’m not entirely sure who came when. I remember the woman to my right needed oxygen and it sounded like she was snoring all day, it was just so constant. She also played Bejewelled Blitz on her phone with the volume up, into the early hours. Thankfully, I had asked my family to bring my headphones in so I coped, on minimal sleep, but I coped. A couple of women came and went and after two days, and a few more very painful x-rays later, they told me I was moving to another ward.

 

 

It was a bit of a waifs and strays ward. For elderly dementia patients and people post operation. The lady next to me had been there for three weeks and was suffering from cervical cancer. The two ladies opposite me had dementia and were understandably vocal, scared, loud and attached to alarms that went off all the time. I think we were all probably pretty scared in our own ways. After 48 hours, I still hadn’t been seen by a doctor. The nurse had escalated my case to the point where they supposedly put a complaint in and yet still no one saw me. “We don’t normally have orthopaedic patients on this ward,“ they said. I’d been forgotten, or at least it felt like that.

 

On what turned out to be my last night on that ward, my best friend was due to come in and see me for the first time since the accident happened. I was tired, emotional, in a lot of pain and couldn’t wait to see her. I started slowly pacing the corridor as she was due any minute but she text to say the hospital was on lockdown, she couldn’t get up to see me, police had been called as a man was running around with, what turned out to be a walking stick, but security didn’t know that at the time, so they just called the police. My anxiety by now was through the roof and I rushed to see the Sister, someone who hadn’t actually spoken to me, other than to hand over my medication every four hours. I begged her to let me self discharge. I explained about my anxiety, the hospital lockdown, I cried, I begged her to help me… I’ve never been in such a state before, it was really awful.

 

She asked one of the nurses to turn the TV on in the day room I didn’t even know existed. She brought a fan in for me but because the window wouldn’t open, that just made everything worse because I just felt so trapped. Finally, my best friend arrived and I burst into tears. I asked if it was safe to leave the ward for us to walk outside for some fresh air, and thankfully I was allowed. When it was time to go back in, I knew I couldn’t stay there another night and to cut a long story short, self discharged.

 

The journey home was nearly as painful as the break itself. I felt every pothole and bump in the road, clinging onto my arm brace so that it didn’t move, which proved impossible but we finally made it home. She settled me into bed, using the metal frame that the lady from Occupational Therapy had given me so that I can sleep in bed, but I have to sleep upright… and that’s how I’ve slept for the last 18 days. Upright and completely still.

 

I broke my dominant arm of course and have had to re-learn how to do lots of things. I pick a lot of things up from the floor with my toes. I’ve bought one of those litter pickers to pick other things up. I look absolutely ridiculous and feel 100 years old. I’ve learnt to do the washing up left-handed, to chop vegetables left-handed, I even managed to change my bottom sheet by myself this week left-handed. But the hardest thing of all, has been dealing with my emotions as they’ve been all over the place. Up until three days ago, I was in constant pain… I mean constant pain. The morphine and diazepam would take the edge off but there were two days last week where nothing touched the agony I was in and I cried all day.

 

 

Thankfully, things have improved pain-wise but every day I’ve had to make phone calls to the doctor, to PALS, to Orthopaedics, trying to get back into the NHS system so that I can have a follow-up appointment. I don’t know if my arm is setting in the right position. I will obviously need physio, but as time ticks on, it’s a battle not to fall through the cracks of the system. Some may say it’s my fault for self discharging but I was so distressed I couldn’t have stayed any longer.

 

I haven’t worn make up, or underwear, for three weeks now and it’s quite liberating, but I look like an absolute horror. My wonderful niece visits every week to wash my hair, blow dry it and put up in a bun on my head … until she comes the same time the following week to look after me again. I’ve had friends send me flowers and cake, real life friends and friends I’ve met online, and I’ve had to learn how to ask for help which, for someone as stubborn and independent as me, has been quite difficult, but it’s something I’m getting used to. My best friend turns up every Saturday with a couple of bits of food from Marks & Spencer I can’t get for myself, knocks on the door and announces, “Wiltshire Farm!”, like I’m her invalid, geriatric mate… which I depressingly kind of am. Dad, bless him, comes round to cut my grass and rings me every day to see if there’s anything I need, and my brother was my drug runner, getting my prescriptions from the doctor and ferrying me to appointments when I needed them.

 

 

 

 

I’ve never broken a bone before and there is nothing humorous about breaking your humerus. I’ve made that joke plenty of times now and it’s still not funny, but you have to find a way to get through each day because I’m going stir crazy being at home. As much as I moaned about having to have two jobs, I miss going out to work, I miss driving, I have severe arm envy when I see people walk past my house just walking the dog, doing normal everyday things.

 

What happens next? I’m waiting for a phone call from my doctor to see if she can re-refer me without my hospital notes, failing that it’s been suggested that I go back to A & E … seems the only way I can get back into the system. But it’s a last resort.

 

I’m trying really hard to get back to feeling how I did before the accident. I make myself walk in the garden every lunchtime, watching out for every minor divot in the grass because I’m paranoid, and I will be for months/years to come, that I’m going to fall again. But I dribble my food down my top every time I eat, I have constant under-boob sweat and I haven’t had a shower in nearly three weeks.

 

I feel weak and fragile. I’ve cancelled my gym membership… not just because I can’t afford it while I’m not working, but because in the frame of mind I’m in at the moment, I can’t imagine ever feeling strong again. I took everything for granted and as much as I know my injury isn’t life-threatening, it feels very life changing at the moment.

 

Thanks to all of you that have left supportive and loving messages for me – I do read them all, it’s just quite difficult replying left-handed lol but, like with this blog post, I will try and dictate replies where I can. Hopefully I will continue to heal, in every sense, and will end up looking back at this as just one more of my ridiculous stories.

 

kate sutton

COMPETITION: Win Two Ultimate Disney Tickets for 14 Days (Worth £800) with Ocean Holidays

It’s Tuesday. It’s raining. My arm is still broken and I couldn’t think of a better day to share this blog post with you. (Via the medium of dictation so if there are any typos we all have to blame Siri.) But if you’ve ever dreamt of going to Disney, read on… this competition is for you.

 

I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Disneyland in America but I did go to Disneyland Paris once on a press trip. And, five years on, Dexter still hasn’t forgiven me. It’s amazing how teenagers have memories of elephants when it suits them – and yet they never remember when you ask them to tidy their room. Anyway, I digress. My small taste of Disneyland was amazing, in fact I made this random video of me on a rollercoaster that still makes me chuckle, especially the bit where I lose the phone down my cleavage.

 

mickey mouse

 

The prize is two ultimate Disney tickets for 14 days, worth £800, and it’s really easy to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below – it’s as simple as that. The competition will run for a month from the 1st to the 31st of May and you just need to take a look outside your window and realise it’s definitely worth entering!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s a fantastic competition and Florida has so much to offer.  The most amazing theme parks, water parks, character appearances, live shows and rollercoasters. And ‘The Ultimate Ticket’ is the only ticket you need – allowing you unlimited access to all 6 Disney theme parks – Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park for 14 consecutive days. And Ocean Florida are the UK’s number 1 independent Florida specialist and have helped more than a quarter of a million holidaymakers enjoy their dream Florida holiday, so it’s a company you know you can trust.

 

I may well take my boys to Disney as adults, because I don’t think you’re ever too old for Disney and I wish you all the best of luck … and if you want take me with you if you win, I absolutely, 100%, don’t mind.

kate sutton

 

* This competition is in partnership with Ocean Florida.

How National Citizen Service Can Help Your Teen

The thing about having teenagers is that time speeds up. Before you know it, your baby is balancing GCSE revision, friendships and hobbies – mostly without your involvement. The thing is, though, as big as your teens look, they still need a bit of help moving into the next stage of their lives, whether that’s a job or higher education.

 

That’s where the National Citizen Service comes in. The NCS is a four-week summer programme that’s open to all children who are 16 and 17 this summer.

 

To kick off their NCS experience, young people from a range of backgrounds are brought together for a series of outdoor experiences. Your teen might find themselves building fires, sailing kayaks or climbing. The idea is to give them a taste of adventure, and help them get to know the other young people in their group.

 

Next, the NCS participants will complete a residential course, often held at a university, where they will take on leadership and communication skills training. These courses are perfect if your teen lacks confidence for interviews, or needs some additional support in feeling ready for the move to higher education.

 

Finally, the group will devise and carry out a community-based project. This might be anything from a series of coffee mornings to raise funds for a community project, or taking on an environmental improvement project.

 

The whole scheme wraps up with a celebration for all the young people to mark their achievement. After all the stress of Year 11, NCS could be just the thing you teen needs to help them de-stress and prepare for the next stage of their lives.

 

ncs

 

What’s brilliant about NCS is that it takes young people out of their comfort zones and allows them to get to know young people from all different backgrounds and situations. In working together, the young people develop essential communication, leadership and team-working skills, as well as understanding the importance of ‘giving back’ to our society.

 

The NCS is a huge national scheme, with over 400,000 young people having completed the programme.

 

You might expect this sort of experience to be expensive but in fact NCS costs just £50, including travel, food and accommodation. For families that might struggle with this, bursaries are available on a case-by-case basis. Nor does NCS have to ruin your family plans this summer. If you get in touch with NCS they will do their best to find a programme and date that fits in with any existing commitments.

 

To find out more about NCS, head over to the NCS website.

 

You can find details about NCS on their website and across their social media channels: FacebookTwitter & Instagram.

kate sutton

Collaborative post

Reviewing StriVectin Skincare – Results After One Week

Now I’m not one to blow my own trumpet … although if I don’t blow it, who will – but I often get complimented on my skin. I’m 47 but it’s not too wrinkly, and I put that down to carrying extra weight (God bless my chubby cheeks), having good genes (God bless my Mum), and only getting the odd, hormone-related spot. Overall, it’s in fairly good condition and people often say I don’t look my age. (Careful Kate, you won’t get your head through the door at this rate.) But that’s from a distance. Up close, it’s certainly far from perfect.

 

When I was a teenager, I had really bad skin – not quite acne, but bad enough to warrant going to the doctor and being put on medication, which was quite a big deal back then. So I have a few large pores around my nose, a couple of scars here and there and I often get blackheads if I don’t wash my make-up brushes properly (shame face) … so it could be a lot better.

 

You may have seen me mention that I had a couple of electrical facials recently at the local college, I drink a lot of water, I’m afraid I’m a cleansing wipe kinda gal and I’ve only recently (in the last year or so) been regularly using a mid-range moisturiser. That’s the limit of my skincare, and I’ve always wondered whether it’s worth investing a bit more money in top of the range skincare products, especially as I get older. I think I’ve just taken it all a bit for granted, thinking I’ll ‘look young for my age’ forever, but that’s a big mistake. Ageing isn’t the end of the world, but I do think it’s important to take time to look after yourself, especially as you get older, and that includes investing in a proper skincare regime.

 

So that’s the background to this post.

 

I’m currently working with a skincare company called StriVectin, reviewing a few of their products and I’m reporting back on the results – this post is after using the products for one week, and the next post will be after using them for one month. Long-term followers of this blog know that I have no qualms about being bare-faced (as well as bare most things!) as I’ve always shared photos of me at the gym looking a hot sweaty mess, so I’m more than happy to show you close-up exactly what my skin is like before and after. And especially after my makeover photoshoot blog post, I think it’s always good to show the flips-side, me on the regular.

 

The three products I’m reviewing are:

 

strivectin

 

StriVectin Glycolic Skin Reset Mask – £55

  • Mask with micro-encapsulated Glycolic Acid that delivers gentle yet potent exfoliation to reveal smooth, soft skin.
  • Diminishes the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Brightens and restores radiance to the face.

 

strivectin

 

StriVectin Oleic Rapid Recovery Milk – £65

  • Visibly repairs and replenishes skin’s lipids for improved firmness and elasticity.
  • Restores youthful cushion lost with age.
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

 

strivectin

 

StriVectin Hyaluronic Dual Response Serum – £65

  • Dual-phase serum with six types of Hyaluronic Acid deeply hydrates skin and locks in moisture.
  • Visibly plumps skin and smoothes the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Improves skin’s ability to retain moisture.

 

They’re available to buy on Amazon and at Harvey Nichols (London/Edinburgh/Dublin.)

 

I’ve been using the products for a week now and I’m really happy with how it’s going. As you know, I’m now working an extra job so I’m finding that I’m extra stressed, extra tired and haven’t been feeling my best, so it felt like a good time to start using the StriVectin skincare range.

 

Here’s how I looked at the beginning, before using the products:

 

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

 

And here’s how I’m looking after a week:

 

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

strivectin

 

I’ve used them religiously, and as directed. So that’s both the Oleic Rapid Recovery Milk and Hyaluronic Dual Response Serum each once a day, morning and night, and the Glycolic Skin Reset Mask twice a week. The Recovery Milk and Serum are both to be used before your moisturiser – I use a mid-range moisturiser, under £15.

 

The products smell beautiful – fresh and ‘cucumbery/lavendary’ (new words), as opposed to antisepticy (you can tell I have a degree in English!), and are easy to apply, soak into the skin immediately which is great as I’m always in a hurry in the morning, and my face feels hydrated and slightly plumper afterwards. The mask I used twice a week doesn’t dry hard or peel off, you just wash it off with a flanel after five minutes. My skin felt a little warm but that was all I felt whilst the mask was on. I don’t think you can notice too big a difference at the Week One stage, but to me it’s definitely softer and a little more plumped up.) (Disclaimer – I was feeling a bit poorly when I took these photos above so please take that into account.)

 

I’ll report back in a month’s time to let you know how my skin is feeling and, more importantly, how it’s looking, and hopefully I’ll continue to see a difference. I also just want to say that I’m a big believer that if women want to have procedures on their face and body they should, but personally, if I can avoid that by having a good skincare routine and having a healthy(ish) lifestyle, then I should at least try.

 

You can find StriVectin on Instagram – @StrivectinUK

kate sutton

An Amazing Photoshoot Makeover with Red Shoe Makeovers

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have been chosen to work with Red Shoe Makeovers – a photography makeover studio in Chester. I already knew of the company as a fellow blogging friend, two in fact, had had makeovers over the past couple of years and I was so impressed by the finished photos, that it soon became something that I put on my bucket list of Things I Must Do Before I Turn 50.

 

I had mentioned on Facebook that I’d had a makeover photoshoot once before, in my 20s, and it was very old-fashioned. All soft focus and satin sheets draped over my shoulders, and I was adamant that if I ever did a photoshoot again, it categorically couldn’t be like that. And boy, this really wasn’t.

 

So firstly, a little introduction to Sarah, the photographer, because she is so instrumental in not just the creation of beautiful images, but to how I feel about the whole experience. And that’s what it was, an experience. I was there for the day, having my make-up done by the beautiful Nicole at Goddess Make-Up Classes, who did a stunning job, and they were women I felt a connection to immediately. Sarah and I had chatted via email a few times before the shoot because she likes to make everyone feel comfortable beforehand, and answer any questions they have, but from the moment we all met, we didn’t stop chatting all day.

 

WHAT TO BRING

Anything you like. My photos were only taken from waist up, so I just thought about colours and necklines, but take more rather than less. I took a selection of dresses, jewellery, a casual white top, a sexy black lacey slip that I wore under a floral blouse and a few different plain coloured tops. Sarah took them all out and created five different looks from what I’d brought.

 

MAKE-UP

As you can see, Nicole did a great job, but don’t worry that it looks like you’re wearing a lot more than usual, it’ll look less scary in the photos. I never do much with my eyebrows so panicked a bit when I looked in the mirror, but in the photos they look on point!

 

HOW TO POSE

I was worried I wouldn’t know how to pose properly, that I’d feel awkward and look ridiculous, but Sarah addresses that from the beginning by running through Posing 101 with you. She explains how she’s going to ask you to move in front of the camera, how to place your hands, your hips, how to look right down the lens and before you know it, it all feels natural. Trust me. Sarah’s job is to make you look good not silly, so trust that she knows what she’s doing when she directs you and I promise you won’t be disappointed … and by the time the photoshoot is over, you’ll want to do it all over again.

 

I found myself sharing my deepest secrets with Sarah, she just has that aura about her that you want to be honest and open with her, and she was with me, and as we got to know each other more during the photoshoot, we both cried because we recognised a pain and beauty within each other. Now that’s not to say that you have to be like that with her, but that’s what she brought out in me. And it felt good. I’m not a big crier, I hold onto a lot of pain still and it was so cathartic for me to let it go, just for a day, so I can’t thank her enough for creating an environment where I felt so safe.

 

This photoshoot was gifted to me to review, I’ve been upfront about that, but it was truly one of the best experiences of my life and one I’ll never forget. I don’t say that lightly, and I certainly don’t get any commission for sending people Sarah’s way, but I truly believe that every woman should experience this. Not just because of the amazing photos at the end, but … and it’s quite hard to sit here and explain it, but because of the experience itself. The fact that it is something 100% for you. That it’s ALL ABOUT YOU. FOR you. So that you can see yourself in a different light but still see that it’s you shining through those photos.

 

Anyway, here they are.

 

red shoe makeovers

red shoe makeovers

red shoe makeovers

red shoe makeovers

red shoe makeovers

 

I know these photos are pretty glamorous and, as my best friend said today, totally wasted on the men of Tinder, but I guess that’s the point. They’re for me. I still see me when I look at them, not ‘soft focus, satin sheet around the shoulders’ Kate.

 

Was it worth me driving all the way from Kent to Chester? Hell yes. I look at these photos and not only feel beautiful and confident, especially when some days I feel anything but, but I’m reminded of the deep connection and love women can have for one another, even strangers. And that my friends, is priceless.

 

Prices start at £100.

Contact Sarah HERE or on :  07826 847113

Twitter: @redshoeuk

 

kate sutton

Things I Loved In March

Inspired by my good friend Nickie’s blog post, I thought it would be nice to look back on the last month and remind myself of all the things I loved – I’ll no doubt write about all the things that have got right on my wick another time! If I have the time going forward, I think I’d like to do this every month. It’s a good exercise, thinking about the good in the world … even if it is just a new eyeshadow palette.

 

THINGS I’VE LOVED ON TV

 

Finally caught up with The Trip in Spain – the Coogan/Bryden comedy that chronicles their journey around Spain (the north of England and Italy in seasons 2 and 3.) I love the chemistry between them both, seeing the beauty and food of the country but most of all, I love them having impression-offs to see who can do the best impression of Mick Jagger. Also, Steve Coogan is one of my guilty crushes, so I sit there imagining him as my boyfriend throughout.

 

Next up was another programme I managed to watch on Now TV by signing up for a free two weeks, and that’s Big Little Lies. In fact, one of my very good friends had bought it for me on DVD for my birthday last year but my Macbook doesn’t have a disc drive so it sat there collecting dust. But it was worth the wait. An incredible TV series that focuses on female friendship, set in the beautiful surroundings of Monterey, California. Fantastic cast including Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman but it’s a hard watch, especially if, like me, you’ve a DV survivor. I binge watched the whole thing in two nights – incredible stuff.

 

My final choice for this month is This Country, on BBC Three. Season 2 is currently showing, but do catch up on season 1, it’s well worth it. Kerry and Kurtan are cousins living in rural Wiltshire, played by real-life brother and sister, Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, and it’s a mockumentary style sitcom but it’s hilarious. Great supporting cast too.

 

FAVOURITE FOOD/DRINK

 

Brownies, brownies and more brownies. I wrote about the perfect brownie recipe and haven’t been able to stop making the damn things ever since. I’ve added white chocolate chunks, played around with the ratio of ingredients and can now make it without weighing anything. This is why I’ll never be thin.

 

best chocolate brownie

 

Damn Marks & Spencer and their delicious cheese and onion crispbakes. Can’t get enough of the damn things.

 

You may have seen me mention that I went on a first date earlier this year and he bought me a bottle of Rhubarb and Ginger gin – well I cracked it open last night and it was delicious! The irony of drinking it on my own on a Saturday night was not lost on me.

 

rhubarb gin

 

INSPIRED BY

 

Nickie, the blogger I mentioned earlier, is a woman I’ve known for years and blogs at I Am Typecast. She started running a couple of years ago but, like me, has struggled with fitness … insofar as never finding it easy. But last week she suddenly signed up for a half marathon and completed it – how awesome is that! I’m always impressed by people that fight through the pain (and Christ I can imagine how painful it was,) so she gets a special mention this month.

 

MAKE-UP

 

I bought an eye-shadow palette by Make-up Revolution (woman on a budget here) and finally used it when I went out OUT with my best friend last weekend. Now I’m not the greatest at putting make-up on but picked up a few tips after my Red Shoe photoshoot and I think I did alright. First time I’ve used warmer, more coppery eyeshadow, and a darker, sparkly red on the corners (bottom left) – I just need to go out more often. Only £4.

 

copper eyeshadow

 

copper eyeshadow

 

I’m sure there was a lot more to love in March but I’ve been particularly focused on my new job, so these were the things I remembered. What did you love last month?

 

kate sutton