Friday, 20 March 2015

Style Forever - How to look fabulous at every age by Alyson Walsh

Style Forever by Alyson Walsh (Hardie Grant, £12.99)
Illustrations: Leo Greenfield

I’ve recently been enjoying a new grown-up guide to looking fabulous called Style Forever by That’s Not My Age blogger, Alyson Walsh. It's all about embracing age with panache and is stuffed full of seasoned advice from experts on looking great as we get older. How not to disappear into a haze of beige but say hello to Generation FAB (Fifty and Beyond). Here, here I say!

I tend to get lost style-wise sometimes, especially on the school run and at one stage in the not so distant past had slipped into a uniform of wellingtons, Barbour and flat cap - I know, I know - no excuse (unless I was Kate Moss at Glastonbury).

Style Forever hit a chord - why should I as an older mother not continue to enjoy clothes as much as I had in my younger days, okay maybe not the lurex hot pants or sky high heels my young legs and feet could carry off in my clubbing days, but yes decent shoes and a good pair of jeans with a well-fitting Breton top, rather than literally throwing on whatever was at hand. Thankfully I have been shopping since the wellington days and a with a pair of decent boots, a well cut coat and a big scarf I can pass muster at the gates. This is exactly the kind of advice that can be found in the book.

The author, Alyson Walsh was actually a magazine fashion editor and for years was making-over readers, friends and family so knows her stuff when it comes to looking stylish and feeling good in what we wear. Taking in elements such as fit, proportion, colour, layering, jewellery and make-up the book gives plenty of useful pointers such as: eight perfect pairs of jeans and where to buy the perfect Breton. I love Dr Sam Bunting’s advice on skincare - ‘Eat 80% of what you should eat and 20% of what you want to eat.’ 

You can also learn how to tie a scarf à la Mary Berry or perform a DIY facial by Su-Man with step-by-step diagrams beautifully illustrated by Leo Greenfield. I liked the chapter on inspirational women such as Kay Montano and Wendy Dagworth and it was interesting to see what they would have said to their 15-year-old selves.

‘Spend money on good shoes.’

I especially enjoyed the Grown Up Style Tribes chapter with where to shop and heroines for each title. And fab titles they are too: The Casual Glamourpuss, The Older and Bolder Brigade, The Superpower Dresser, The Gentlewoman, The Fabulous Femme, The Scandinista and The Ageless Rocker. There's nothing to say you can’t be more than one depending on how you’re feeling on a particular day, it’s all about following your style and not the fashion of the moment.

Alyson’s writing has a friendly warmth to it and is not preachy at all, I almost feel like I am exchanging tips with a best friend over coffee or Martinis on a shopping trip; sharing where to get the best trainers or various styles of sunglasses. Some wonderful visual imagery is conjured up to clarify points too, such as Neneh Cherry in 1988 or Farrah Fawcett in 1972.

‘Take your shirts to the dry cleaners’ - life is too short 

I’m also going to be purchasing a few new beauty products offered up by six experts in the field: especially Guerlain’s Terracotta Compact powder - 'every Frenchwoman's secret for looking healthy and rested' as recommended by Mak Gilchrist.

This is a book for grown-up women, either on the verge of menopause or who shut that door a long time ago, women who are confident in their style or have lost their way, but women wanting to stand up and be counted and look their best whilst doing it. 

I have a few wrinkles but I earned them and I earned the right to look my best. So what if I'm over 40. Over 40 and fabulous darling!

‘Fighting ageing is like the War on Drugs. It’s expensive, does more harm than good and has been proven to never end.’ - Amy Poehler

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Yummy Chocolate and Dairy-Free Easter Eggs - 2015

Easter falls at the beginning of April this year and I’ve been browsing the huge selection of wonderful Easter treats available, the choice these days is astounding, including dairy-free which is perfect for Erbie.

The GR and I are taking Erbie down to to the seaside to stay with grandaddy and are attempting our first night away. I’ve booked a hotel in Brighton for Good Friday and hopefully if things go to plan erbie will have a sleep-over with the Brighton is where I lost my heart to The GR with one very innocent kiss, stolen in a doorway 19 years ago. 

I'm going off-piste again, on with the eggs...

An all time fave the luxury chocolate brand Prestat have produced a wonderfully grown-up one, London Gin truffles in a lemon infused white chocolate Easter Egg with popping candy bubbles, nestled in this handsome box, fit for the Queen perhaps (they are appointed!). 

© Prestat London Gin truffles Easter Egg box 
£14.99 from Selfridges

© Prestat London Gin truffles Easter Egg

Or this wonderful milk chocolate Charbonnel et Walker egg filled with pink Marc de Champagne truffles from John Lewis £15.00.

© Charbonnel et Walker @ John Lewis 
© Charbonnel et Walker @ John Lewis 
Hotel Chocolat have produced this chocolate tek on a classic English breakfast - eggy soldiers or dippy eggs or Eggs and Soldiers as it is called, mmmmm. £7.00 John Lewis

© Hotel Chocolat @ John Lewis

There are some good natural looking speckledy eggs from this goose egg sized, cupcake inspired Mint chocolate one by James - £5.00 from John Lewis

© James @ John Lewis

Box of 12 Superior Seagull Salted Caramel Eggs by Rococo of Marylebone - £7.50.
  A caramel ganache with fleur de sel covered in milk chocolate in a fine sugar shell. 

© Rococo

Bantam sized Belgian chocolate speckled eggs in edible grass by Natalie also available at John Lewis for £8.00

© Natalie Belgian chocolate eggs @ John Lewis
And the ones I'm hoping for only available in a box at Eastertime. Hazelnut praline quail eggs, if you hid these in the garden you may be forgiven for thinking they were real. Rococo Chocolates £7.50
© Rococo Chocolate Praline Quail Eggs
© Rococo Chocolate Praline Quail Egg
If you don't fancy chocolate eggs how about beautifully designed Easter biscuits from Biscuiteers.
This beautiful tin of 8 jewel like Faberge inspired iced biscuits are available for next day delivery from Biscuiteers - £30.00

© Biscuiteers Easter Egg mini biscuit collection
Or you can have a personalised Easter bunny card, I'm thinking about one of these two for the Belle Mere. Available from - £11.50

© Biscuiteers Personalaised Easter Bunny Card

And for the kids - these super cute hand painted Easter Eggs by by Rococo Chocolates are solid  chocolate and come as a pair in a clear box with bow for £15.00 

© Rococo Chocolate

And last but not least dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free and egg-free Easter treats. 

Choices do these lovely dairy-free bunnies available at several shops including: Sainsburys and Holland and Barrett usually £1 or under as well as a selection of dairy free eggs in some stores. I prefer the white to the brown taste-wise.

© Choices Dairy Free bunnies

Moo Free Chocolates also do a fab range of Easter treats, these eggs come in 3 flavours, honeycomb toffee, milk chocolate and orange. All are dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan, so if you have just found out your child has a cows milk allergy these might be the perfect Easter Eggs for you! For stockists near you click here. Or check out their website

Rosie Rabbit - Honeycomb toffee, dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan Easter Egg.
© Moo Free Chocolates

Rice milk chocolate dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan Easter Egg.
© Moo Free Chocolates

Cheeky Chops monkey Orange flavour dairy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan Easter Egg.

© Moo Free Chocolates

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle