Hobbs Styling Session

I wrote a post recently about the changing shapes of the forty+ and fifty minus woman and my quest to find things that do actually fit and look stylish at the same time.

A term that I captioned ‘bang on trend but still able to bend’!

I mentioned that some of my lifelong favourite stores were no longer cutting the new shape and that my quest was on for some new places that were a little more to true to the sizing and style of women like me.

Shortly after this, I attended a styling session at the newly opened Hobbs store in Barkers Arcade, High Street Kensington which was hosted by Catherine Semmens who blogs all about fashion at Not Dressed as Lamb (such a fabulous name for a blog isn’t it).

Catherine’s strap line is “Who Wants To Be ‘Age Appropriate’, Anyway?” and she challenges the rules around clothing and the expectations of what we ‘should wear’.

Hobbs High Street Kensington

Many of us (myself included), have probably always associated Hobbs with formal work wear.  I have to say it has been ages since I visited one of their stores but to do so fitted perfectly with my quest to find ‘my kind of sizes’ and ‘wise garments’.

It’s always lovely to walk into a store and be greeted by this.

Champagne & Canapes Hobbs

Credit : Not Dressed as Lamb

There was an opportunity to have a good browse before the session started.  The fact that I had a glass of fizz in my hand made this even more pleasurable.

There is also something very decadent about walking around such a beautiful shop.

Hobbs Barkers Arcade

I was really impressed with the occasion wear.

In the past, my go to shop for weddings, do’s and such like has been Coast and Monsoon where I have always managed to get some great outfits.

I would never have thought of going to Hobbs so this was definitely worth noting for the future.

My go to stores for separates and casual wear are H&M, Dorothy Perkins, Forever 21 and River Island.

Again, it was good to check out the Hobbs range.

Just time for a quick picture with Catherine and then straight on with the session.

Catherine Semmens. Nicky Kentisbeer

Credit : Not Dressed as Lamb

Catherine had carefully chosen a selection of her favourite pieces and throughout the session, we were treated to seeing the lovely  models in some of the great outfits she had selected in line with her theme ‘Going for Bold’.

My personal favourite of the evening was this red top.  Well actually the whole outfit was pretty gorgeous.

Hobbs Model

Credit : Not Dressed as Lamb

 Hobbs separates

Catherine talked about always taking something a bit random or different into the changing room as well as your usual pieces.

This was a good reminder to change things up when it comes to clothing.

We can all play a little safe at times.  I know I am guilty of this and will always tend to go for a different version of the same thing.

I also find that I have more of a critical eye when choosing for myself these days due to the points around age and sizing that I raised in my previous blog.

Feeling comfortable is incredibly important to me now and there is nothing worse than feeling ‘trussed-up’ and just, well – ‘not right’.

Anyway, back to the show and next up was elegant pleats.

The outfit below really interested me as I wouldn’t have thought to tuck this style of top in to a skirt.  It definitely worked though and it looked stunning.

Hobbs model

And of course, not forgetting the accessories because, quite simply – a girl can never have too many!

Hobbs accessories

Hobbs Accessories

After the session, we were encouraged to try on anything we wanted with the help of the marvellous store staff.

This was my green light and one of the things I was particularly keen to establish during my trying session was how true the sizing was.

I have to say I give full marks to Hobbs for this because although I was initially recommended a Size 14, I actually managed to comfortably get into a Size 12 which found me having a little grin to myself in the changing room.

Don’t you just love it when that happens.

No purchases for me on this occasion as I’m still making a few tweaks in the form of sensible eating and exercise but Hobbs is a definite revisit for me the future.

My thanks to Catherine for her very ‘stylish’ styling session.  You can read more about it in Catherine’s own words here.

And thanks to Hobbs for hosting the evening in their lovely new store.

 

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Silly Mummy, Silly Daddy

Baby in a Bath Tub

I was at a bit of a loss for what to write today for many obvious reasons.

Not that I haven’t got lots of ideas on the go but more that I felt the need for something light.

Being a blogger means that I get to read lots of great stuff by other bloggers and it just so happens that a particular post by a dad blogger made me spit out my ham sandwich today and laugh out loud several times.  All as I sit here on my own at the keyboard.

The post has provided me with the much needed light-hearted inspiration that I was looking for.

And like any blogger on a Monday afternoon I have managed to spend the rest of the day giggling to myself whilst writing this post and taking a trip down Memory Lane.

I recently wrote about celebrating 10 years of parenting and how wonderfully rubbish we have been at getting The Kid to her 10th birthday.

Having read Bad Dadu’s post about attending the NCT class with his wife made me think back to our own days of new parenting.

Thank god we can laugh.

Being a new parent can be fraught with difficulty but in our case I think we have to concede that we made our own luck.

A recent airing of some baby videos were testament to the fact that we had our ‘new parent voices’ completely off-pat which made for very cringe-making moments as The Kid howled and fell off the sofa watching us try to carry out parenting in the early days.

Happy Father's Day

It’s a wonder that she has turned out so well really.

The voices that we used by way of communicating with her and each other while caught up in this new baby bliss were quite frankly wrong.

We drew the line at me calling Iron Man ‘daddy’ and he calling me ‘mummy’ but we failed to realise that our squeaky ‘coochy coo’ voices were far, far worse.

I assume you know the voices that I mean if you are a parent.

Generally, a child will go on to speak to her dolls in this voice all being well.

It generally involves saying hello in numerous different ways with a bit of tickling under the chin.  It is generally reserved for babies, dolls and I suppose people that don’t talk back.  Thank goodness.

Or maybe it’s just us.

The thing that really stands out to both of us is how incredibly stupid we were.

Being clean out of ideas on how to do anything normal was our normal and that was about as good as it got.

But there is always room in the world for a trier as my dear old dad used to say.

So, when faced with needing a passport photo of our precious bundle we did my dad proud and had a bloody good try.

We went through the various motions of trying to prop our baby against a blank wall.  The fact that she very foolishly kept sliding down the wall and laughing (whilst still looking like Charles Kennedy) didn’t stop us from trying.

Of course, we’ve still got the photos because it just so happens that we have about a million photos of every single moment of the poor child’s life.

These photos are proof that we obviously tried this on more than one occasion (clock the different outfits).

Oh the shame!

Enough OK!!

Screaming kid

Realising that our efforts were fruitless, we then engaged in a very logical exercise involving a sheet, a photo booth and the local supermarket.

I’m not sure who can take credit for this idea but it basically involved sitting in the booth with a sheet over our head whilst holding the baby.

This was fraught with problems as the person covered by the sheet couldn’t actually see where the camera was and whether her face was in the correct position.  Let alone whether she was smiling or wearing a hat.

This involved the other one trying to judge from the outside whether the face was correctly aligned.

We carried on though.  Several attempts.  Took it in turns even.

I really cannot remember to this day whether we even laughed at the time.

What I do remember is Iron Man emerging from the photo booth with the sheet still over his head and me making a comment that he looked like a ghost.

On reflection not only did he look like a ghost but we were also doing this in full view of the Sunday shoppers in the local Sainsbury.

We saw nothing wrong with this and I can remember just feeling frustrated when the photos dropped down the chute and The Kid was peering in from one corner looking a bit scared.  She was also sitting on the lap of a nutter wearing a sheet over their head.

I would share these pictures but their whereabouts in unknown.  A wise man may hazard a guess that they are on the Sainsbury staff room notice board.

I think we must have attended a few counselling sessions after this because we somehow found ourselves in a camera shop where they took baby passport photos as part of their day job.

If my memory serves me well, I think Iron Man and I probably made reference to the fact that we wish had known about this earlier.

Note the continued sense of humour by-pass.

Five years we had to live with that passport.

Silly Mummy.

Silly Daddy.

You know what I mean?

So I have to thank Bad Dadu for his wonderfully funny post and for the inspiration to sift through the Memory Box.

Do have a read of his post Come for the biscuits, stay for the friendship.  In fact, while you are there it’s probably worth reading a few posts as he is a really, really funny guy.

Maybe not whilst eating a ham sandwich though.

And if you are in further need of a smile, have a root through your old video footage.

You may not recognise yourself!

Nicky

The Kid and her doll

 

 

 

We’ve Turned Into A Nation Of Shouters

I am sure that I am not the only one that will be glad when today is over.

You may remember back in April I wrote about feeling the need to understand more about the implications of  voting In or Out.  Where I held up my hands to feeling a lack of knowledge in the area of politics and my desire to learn more about hard facts in order to make an informed decision.

Funnily enough, and not surprisingly, I feel no further forward with that.  I am sure many others feel the same.

As an adult, there are still many things I wish to know.  About everything.  Lifelong learning is my passion.  I love to listen to others.  There is always something new to learn if you are quiet for long enough.

Quiet is something that has been lacking during this Referendum campaign.

Facebook, it seems, has become the medium through which to share our views on the Referendum and I am sure we can all name a few people that have really got on our nerves during this campaign.  I mean really got on our nerves.    Nail your colours to the mast by all means but then just, well – just shut up.    We get which way you are voting.  Some of us may have felt a little envy that you reached a decision before us – but we applaud that.  We don’t then need you to share every piece of evidence that you have read to inform your view.  We do not need you to convince us of your decision.  Or are you still convincing yourself?  I wonder.

The Polling Stations are open.  Go exercise your right.  I shall be.

Equally, there are those that we are always interested to hear from.  Those that will always have a learned opinion.  They can debate from a reasoned perspective, they can talk about your views and their own without breaking into a sweat.  We are interested in how these people are voting.   They are interested in us too.  We trust these people and value their views.  They will value ours.  Whether or not we agree.  We don’t hear too much from them at time likes this.  Their less is generally more.

My question today though is who has had the backs of the children over the last few months.

The future generation.

The very people for whom we are claiming to vote.

The very essence of why we are voting the way we are.

Has anyone checked in to see their thoughts or how they are voting?

Children are like sponges.  They are also very easily influenced.  Children will generally be the voice of their parents.  I was.  You probably were too.  I have been keen to avoid this for my daughter, particularly as she grows into a young lady.

I am really appreciative that our school has had a mock Election for the children and that they have encouraged them to share their views if they want to.  I worked in a childcare business where this happened too.   It is great fun for the children, it raises their awareness of current affairs and encourages them to explore opinion.  They start to think about their own opinion, that they have one, and that others do too.  They will also learn that it is perfectly acceptable to have a different opinion to their friends.  I applaud schools for doing this.  And it’s just as well that they have really.

Because our future generation have been exposed to rather a lot of ‘shouters’ over the last few months.

They have been privy to seeing a level of unprecedented vitriol in this campaign.  Where politicians and leading figures – male and female, are using their fists to articulate their points.  Words like ‘fear’ and ‘hate’ have been bandied around so much they have gained hashtags.  A further example of the lack of eloquence from those in whom we have to place our trust.

What a wonderful example being set for the very group of people that we are claiming to be doing this for.

Debate is healthy.   It can also be animated.   Our children need to know that it is perfectly acceptable to have an opinion.  We call this democracy.

Our curriculum allows our children access to learn about historical political events which have shaped the way we are today.  Children are encouraged to share, to raise their hand, to join in.

Not raising their hand can be indicative of a child’s uncertainty of what others may think.  The fear of being laughed at or ‘turned upon’.

And then they see a bunch of enraged adults intent on humiliating each other by way of an example.

We cannot provide them with these tools in one hand and then take them away with the other.

There is no learning to be gained from that.

However you are voting today, I truly hope that that the result goes the way the way that you wish.

We are all doing our bit in the best way we can by turning up at the Polling Station today.

But let’s go back to being a nation that we are proud of tomorrow.

This is something that we have always done so well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s Doll Is It Anyway?

The Kid and her doll

Our first foray into the American Girl Place in New York with The Kid was a bit of an eye opener and I have to confess that we did have a bit of a giggle at the craziness of it all.

Parents (mainly dads) carrying multiple red bags, sitting in the waiting room of the Beauty Salon (asleep!), families dining in the dining room, dolls that looked real – which collectively was a bit scary, little girls dressed in the same outfit as their dolls and multiple floors of pink candy stripes and well – more dolls.

However, if you see all of this through the eyes of a child – you will realise that we ended up being well and truly dragged in and five visits later, we did emerge through the revolving doors carrying said red bags and laughing the other side of our smug faces.

How?

You are quite right in thinking that we appear to be quite sensible people on the whole but in our defence this place is a whole new world.

On a corner of 5th Avenue lies a very unique shop for little ladies wishing to purchase a doll that looks a bit like them and with whom they can experience a world of activities and experiences that are equal to girl heaven – and some.

Dolls

Dolls can be selected to match a child’s skin, hair and eye colour.  The rest of the floors are a little bit like a department store for dolls in so far as you can purchase outfits, accessories, friends, more dolls, books, food and hair and beauty treatments.  I understand that there is also a dolls hospital should one be required.

So, armed with her birthday money, The Kid decided that she wanted to buy one of these dolls.  At $115 before taxes at the till, these dolls are rather an extravagant purchase.  However, it was her money and after we explained all of this, she decided to go ahead on the basis that it would always remind her of the holiday.

So which one then?

American Girl

That part took care of two visits at least.  When faced with an army of dolls, choosing the right one can be a very nerve-wracking experience for the uninitiated.

Our experience in the shop showed us that it was simply the best compliment if someone said how much your doll looked like you.  No pressure here then.

The Kid and the doll

At this point I should warn you that The Kid’s doll did not come with that outfit OR that hairdo.  We are only on Visit 4 anyway so keep up!

Toilet anyone?

Dolls holder

Doll holders can be found in cubicles and next to sinks.  No need for grubby mitts.

It was at this point, The Kid decided she would like to get the dolls hair done.  So up a few flights and we found ourselves here.

Dolls Hair Salon

Only to find there were no appointments.  I kid you not!

Dolls hair salon

Which meant that there would need to be a 5th visit.  As we pencilled in a 3pm appointment for the last day of the holiday.

Dolls hair styles

So for now, we could leave.

Doll purchase

Until the next day when we saw ourselves running down 5th Avenue in the 30 degree heat to get to the hair appointment.

Doll at hairdressers

Where the hair was beautifully plaited by a doll stylist

Dolls hairdresser

But there was no time for any further treatments

Dolls manicure

We had a plane to catch and this doll needed to get back to the UK along with her owner.

Dolls hair plait

And her lovely hairdo.

We had to miss this.

Dolls Cafe

And of course you won’t be surprised to see this.

Iron Man and the doll

Of course he couldn’t wait to muscle in.

And we made sure to walk far enough in front so that he looked like he was on his own.

Me thinks he may be needing this!

Babysitting

All told we probably spent a day of the holiday in this shop.  It was like nothing on earth, yet wonderful and crazy at the same time.  Pure jaw-dropping entertainment for the adult and the child.

The doll and her owner are now safely back in the UK and all is well.

No further beauty treatments have been necessary.

Would you have done the same?

Nicky

The Loft Conversion : Bathroom Ideas

High flush toilet

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are about to have our loft converted and I am using the blog, not only to share my ideas (and hopefully gain more)  but also to help crystallise my decision process.  It’s also an opportunity for me to flex my creative muscle and perhaps to dip into the world of Pinterest and Instagram a little bit more for ideas.

I always find that an idea or scheme tends to come from something quite simple which then forms the basis of the design.  Our existing bathroom colours and design all stemmed from a towel that I liked.  The towel duly accompanied us to every bathroom, tile and paint showroom until I could see it all coming together.  Always good to have a dry run with your props in a pre-prepared bathroom mock-up in Homebase!  No point not liking it when it’s too late is there.

So, we will gain a largish bedroom and bathroom which will be all for us.  Grown-up space.

The bathroom is getting the attention at the moment and our recent foray into a bathroom showroom has shown how much choice there is today compared to eight years ago.  I started with an idea in my head which involved a bit of pattern.  We are also working slightly blind here as we only have rough room sizes to go on at the moment but we will need to buy quickly once things are underway.

Of course, all the ideas I am seeing are in huuuuuge bathroom displays and there will have to be a scaling down exercise to fit our humble abode!

img_6882

Bizarrely, I was immediately drawn to a marble effect sink.  Initially thinking how ugly it was, I kept finding myself going back to it. They say everything makes a resurgence and marble it seems is no exception.  Up until now, I would have given marble a complete swerve.  Whilst very fashionable and decadent in the 70s, marble has probably been quite high on my ‘gawdy’ factor list for many years.  I really love this bathroom set up and the colour ways.

Marble sink. Patterned tiles. Higt flush toilet.

As tends to be the way, I have since on a recent holiday found myself bumping into marble sinks everywhere.  The hotel room and possibly every bathroom I visited.  I have to confess to having become rather taken with the idea now.

Marble Sink

I am also very taken with the high flush toilets.  The very same ones that everyone couldn’t wait to rip out and replace with the low flush modern systems.  Funny that!  I need to seek some more practical advise on the wisdom of this but I can see it working quite nicely alongside the sink.  In terms of practicalities, I’m not sure we will have sufficient height for this sort of toilet.  I’m absolutely loving these tiles though.  This is the pattern loving part of me being addressed.

High flush toilet

I am also rather fond of the white brick tiles in the bathroom – this idea lends itself to the pattern being on the floor.

White brick tiles.

I pretty much have a free hand on colour schemes and designs in the home and Iron Man’s only stipulation is that we have a walk in shower cubicle that doesn’t feel like a telephone box with a decent pressure shower.   We have seen several that would be suitable and favour those with minimum chrome.  Something like this would be perfect.

Shower Cubicle

With the addition of some not so modern taps perhaps.

img_6811

So I guess on reflection, a couple of points are starting to emerge in terms of colour – I seem to be drawn towards grey and white.  The style is leaning towards old-fashioned with a bit of a modern twist.

The thing I want to particularly avoid is having everything in a line.  Obviously the bathroom won’t be huge but I do like to create an illusion of space where possible.

The next step is to address some of the practical issues around sizes and heights.

What do we think of the marble idea then?

Would love to hear views and suggestions.

Nicky

 

 

Home Etc

Why Should a Business Blog?

Have you ever considered using a blog to promote your business?

Blogging is a way to share your expertise and unique voice to engage with your clients in an informal, conversational style.

There is no better person to talk about your business than you.

You are, after all,  the expert in your field.

It is very easy to assume that others may know more about your business than they do.  As the business owner you need to make it as easy as possible for people to buy from you and to understand how you can help them.    A blog is the perfect medium through which to do this.  Let your customer know why they need your product or service.

People have moved to making their buying decisions in a more personal way.  They want to know more about who they are buying from as well as knowing that they are going to receive a good service and value for money.

Blogging offers a unique opportunity for your customers to get to know you better.  It is a way of talking about your business without making clients feel like they are being ‘sold to’.  ‘Know me, like me, trust me’ have a big bearing on how clients make their purchasing decisions.

Simple questions can be answered in a blog.  You can provide the solutions that your client is looking for.  Or better still – catch their interest before they have realised they need your services.  The comment section of your blog is also a great way to get chatting to potential customers and answers their queries.  Once your blog is established, it is also a place for people to comment on your good service – get your customers chatting even.  There is of course no finer recommendation than a happy client that is willing to share their experience.

We all favour making our purchases from someone with whom we can easily engage, that understands our needs and is able to offer sound advice.  Think of blogging as a way of building a relationship with your customer.

If your business relates to a product or service that you consider to be a little ‘dry’ or ‘technical’, and you are wondering how you can make it more interesting, think about it from the client perspective.  What information can you give them that helps their understanding.  Think about what their needs may be – invite them in to your world and teach them!  Try to pre-empt and break down any barriers that may be present.  There is always something to say.  Where words fail, use pictures – people respond more and more to images now – use them to your advantage.

Be a problem solver!

You can showcase your successes and help customers to understand the processes of what you do.

You may also find that other businesses become readers of your blog and it may present ideas and opportunities for collaborations.

There is no better time to start blogging and sharing your unique voice and brand.

Clients will get used to seeing your posts and expect them.  Once you get started don’t forget that your blog must be updated regularly in the same way as your website and social media accounts.  If you aren’t consistent it can be akin to not answering the phone or emails.  Always keep them coming.

Most importantly, enjoy it.

Your blog is the ideal place to share your passion for your business.

If you would like any further advice regarding blogging, please visit my Contact Page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review : Dermalogica Ion Active Power Facial

Beauty couch. Pebbles. Snaresbrook

I have to confess to having been a bit negligent in the beauty treatment department of late which is not very good practice for my poor skin, so when I got chatting to Javairya of Pebbles Hair & Beauty at a recent meeting, I was delighted to be invited to sample a complimentary facial treatment at her salon in Snaresbrook.

I have always been a Dermalogica girl.  The products have served me well and although I  have tried other products over the years, I do always come home to Dermalogica in the end.

Javairya specialises in facial treatments – in particular targeted treatments where a particular concern is present (ie anti-ageing, acne, pigmentation).  She works with a range of skincare brands and treatments – Non-Surgical facials, Chemical Peels, Dermalogica and Derma Roller to name but a few.

We talked about my wish to try something a little more targeted to my age group.

Pebble Hair & Beauty. Javeria.

As a Beauty Therapist in a previous life, I am always impressed by a Therapist that really knows their products and treatments.  Javairya is a Dermalogica Expert and really knows the product inside out.  She also offers many other facial treatments and is committed to providing skincare treatments for clients looking for results.  I found her to be very knowledgeable in all areas of skincare.

My current medical history precludes me from having any electrical treatments so I was very interested to hear about the brand new Dermalogica facial the Ion Active Power Treatment.

Dermalogica Ion Active Power Treatment

The Ion Active Power Treatment is ideal for people that are contra-indicated to electrical treatments and Javeria mentioned how excited she is that there is now a treatment available to address the concerns of fine lines, pigmentation and acne for those unable to take advantage of electrical treatments.

Ion Active Power Treatment formula contains powerful active ingredients including microencapsulated Retinol which has been shown to improve skin texture and wrinkles.

It was time for me to hop up on the couch for my 45 minute treatment.  This involved the usual cleanse and exfoliation.

Cleanse. Exfoliation. Beauty Therapy.

It is then straight to work with the targeted ‘treatment masque’ containing the active ingredients.

This is not a fluffy relaxation treatment – more of a functional facial that is focussing on particular areas.  You can feel the masque cooling, tightening and tingling while it is working.

Ion Active Power Treatment Dermalogica

I’m not a big fan of before and after pictures purely because if they show a huge difference, I don’t tend to believe them and for something like this, the result is not going to be hugely discernible to anyone other than me – especially after one treatment.

What I did notice was an immediate plumping in the cheek area and as they day wore on and the following morning, my skin looked much healthier and there was a difference to the fine lines which  made my skin look much smoother and alive with an overall glow.

I would most certainly have this treatment again.

For the reasons I have mentioned above, I would certainly visit Javairya at Pebbles again for skincare treatments purely because she is so passionate about skin care and products and her knowledge is testament to this.   I like to know that my Therapist is interested in my skin and is able to provide recommendations accordingly.

Dermalogica.

I am also very particular about comfort, hygiene, client care and certification to carry out treatments in a Salon and all of these factors exceeded my expectations.

Further, Javairya carries skin care retail items and I was able to purchase the Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel which I was almost out of.

Dermalogica Products.

It can be very easy to overlook the parade of shops in Snaresbrook.  Javairya’s treatment room is above the tanning shop at 9 Station Parade (opposite Snaresbrook Station).

Here is a link to the Pebbles Hair & Beauty website.  Give Javairya a try for yourself.

Nicky

I was gifted the Ion Active Power Treatment facial (value £55) for the purpose of providing a review of the treatment and the services offered by Pebbles Hair & Beauty.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and are in line with my expectations as if were a paying client.

I only review products and services in keeping with the content and ethos of my blog.