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Apologies – a belated “Happy New Year” to everyone.

A few styles you might like for Autumn/Winter

A few styles you might like for Autumn/Winter

I have never made New Year resolutions. But, I always like to begin the year with a positive mindset.

I like to keep busy and plan and prioritise my activities. Because having a few things to look forward to keeps us all ticking along and is good for our mental wellbeing – it can’t be all work and no play.

2018 wasn’t a bad year for my family – thank goodness!!  For me, health is the most important thing, so as far as that is concerned, it wasn’t an “annus horribilis”.

I have only been doing this blog for a short while, and while loving it, I’m still finding my feet.  I will continue for as long as it makes me happy and gives me some fun, which is the main reason I started it.  I may not be doing it as habitually as others, but I am just taking small steps at a time.

In a year or two, I may be blogging a lot more – who knows what is around the corner?  But, this has to fit in with my family and work.  I am also only posting when I believe I have something worthwhile to show, or talk about.

I do love fashion – so here are a few items that I have enjoyed wearing over the last couple of months.  And, I know I will go on wearing them.  Some items are from the back of my wardrobe that, thank goodness, I haven’t thrown out!  And, I still love them! For example,  the “Monsoon” skirt.  I have taken a few photos for Instagram, and quite a few people have remarked on it.

Thank you for your time and I hope you found the post helpful and informative!

Alison xx

Mango checked dress

Monsoon skirt – not current (please see similar ones below)

Camel Midi from mango, which is sold out  – Marks and Spencers have one similar for £35.00

Monsoon

* Includes some affiliate links *

Retin-A My Skin Care Journey

Retin-A My Skin Care Journey

I started using Retin-A at the beginning of 2016.  This post is purely to talk about my experience using Retin-A for coming up to three years.

I’ll briefly explain what it is.  Retin-A is a brand name for tretinoin which has been approved for medical use, since 1967.  It’s a medication used for the treatment of acne. It’s also considered to be the “gold standard” of anti-aging topical treatments.

It is thought to be effective on reversing the signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles; age spots; sagging; and dullness, by increasing collagen production deep within the skin.  Because of this, Retin-A should be used along with sunscreen, daily.

My reasons for starting to use it was my skin was dull and lifeless.  The usual symptoms of getting older, along with the menopause, was my reason to look for something that would help me.

Around this time, I decided to not only look at my skincare but my lifestyle as well.  I felt unfit – both physically and mentally (my poor hubby!!) – that is probably a whole other blog post!

I had always exercised – but had let it slip – so I started again in a more routine way, which was not only good for me physically but mentally as well.  I have a static bike and I put together my own exercise routine – incorporating weights and stretching.  I have tried my best to stick to 3 times a week, but, like everyone else, I sometimes fall off the wagon and it takes will power to get back on the bike (literally)!!   I’m not much of a social exerciser so the gym isn’t for me – though I am going to start yoga, in 2019.  I also really enjoy going for country walks around our beautiful countryside.

Back then, when I was doing my research, I listened to women, who, said they hadn’t had any cosmetic work done, but their skin had a great glow. I wanted that ‘glow’. Whether that sounds shallow or not, I just wanted to improve my skin and look better.

So, what were other women around my age using which weren’t injectables but could improve the look and feel of my skin?  Retin-A (retinoids) seemed to be the active ingredient mentioned time and time again,

So, I decided to give it a go – what did I have to lose?  I understood it would be a long journey though, and, if there were to be any improvements it wouldn’t be overnight, and patience would be needed.

Retin-A must be used sparingly (pea size amount), nightly.  There are side effects like peeling; redness; dryness; and irritation.  So, I decided to start with the 0.05%, though there are lower strengths available.  I was unable to buy it over the counter in the UK.  So, over the years, I have either bought it in Europe, (or Mexico, on the occasional long-haul vacation), or, asked friends to bring me tubes of it back when they have been on holiday, or, visiting other countries. This has always kept my supply in check.

I know Differin (a retinoid known as Adapalene) is available to buy in the US over the counter.

Adapalene is, apparently, more tolerable to other topical prescription retinoids and gentler on your skin, while still effective.  I haven’t tried it, preferring to keep on using the cream.

I started using Retin-A once a week for the first month, twice a week the second month, leading up to every day after approximately six months, always in the evening.  In the beginning, I would wait until my face was completely dry following my night time cleansing routine.  The skin is apparently more poress when wet.  I would then apply a light serum followed a few minutes later by the Retin-A.  Then, after about five minutes, I would apply a night time moisturiser.

At first, I applied the cream around my eyes avoiding the sides of my nostrils and around the mouth, as I had read these are very sensitive areas to be avoided at first.

I have since read that using a moisturiser following my application has probably helped transfer the cream to these areas from early on, breaking down the intensity. Using a serum before applying Retin-A and moisturising after, was beneficial to building up a tolerance to the cream in these sensitive areas.

During the first year and a half, I slowly built up to using it every night.  But the slightest irritation and I would go back a step by dropping a day for a few weeks and so forth.  This is probably why a lot of people give up using it, as it takes patience for your skin to acclimatise and adapt.

Retin-A - My Skincare Journey

Retin-A – My Skincare Journey

In my third year of use, I increased to the 0.1% strength and have been using that every other night, alternating with the 0,05% – my skin is still not ready to use the higher strength every night and seems good with the high/low application.  I am slowly becoming acclimated to it.  I do still get slight peeling and now I apply it directly to my under-eye area, but I still don’t apply it onto my eyelids or below the brow bone, I do, however, apply at the sides of my nose.

In my opinion, Retin-A has improved my skin.  I did have a few age spots from the sunshine over the years on my cheeks – but they have faded slightly.  I’m happy with the results and will probably use it, forever!

Don’t get me wrong, I still have lines and crow’s feet but, hey, I’m 58 years old and I don’t want to look way younger as I think that would look a little odd!  I just want to look the best I can for my age and I’ll be happy with that.

I have read articles where women have said that their droopy eyelids have improved using Retin-A.

If you are interested, check out the vlogger, Jackie, from “Hot and Flashy”.  Jackie said  Retin-A has helped her and has provided photographs to illustrate this!

I have always naturally had a little bit of a hooded eyelid so I’m not sure about that, but I definitely get remarks from other people telling me my skin looks good.  Mind you, a lot of sleep, a good diet and drinking lots of water contribute to that mostly – as well as not being overly stressed – that can take its toll on your skin, too

Going forward, and knowing I am now going to log the use of this cream, I will now take close-up photographs and I will monitor, on a yearly basis, especially as in a years’ time, I will be acclimatised to the full strength 0.1%, hopefully!

Thank you for your time and I hope you found the post helpful and informative!

Please leave a message if you have any questions.

Alison xx

I adore the plush fabrics that the colder months bring.  Cashmere woollens, velvet, and corduroy, as well as tweedy tactile fabrics – wrapping them around us – feeling comfy and warm.

Over the years, I have developed a love of coats. It might be due to living in the North East of England, where you spend best part of the year in one!   That said, we have had a long, warm summer, this year.  Recently, I have added a few versatile additions to my wardrobe as well as bringing out old trusted garments, which I still love and enjoy wearing (check my Instagram page).

I have the odd items of clothing that are so old they could be “vintage”, but, I still enjoy wearing them.  I’m pleased I didn’t have a mad moment and give them away, as I have done in the past!  Some of my older items were expensive, by my standards – others, I didn’t pay a lot for, but are still in excellent condition.

I’m a fan of casual glamour, a mixture of day and evening wear.  One of my mantras is, if an outfit works, and fits with your style,  keep wearing it,and  mix it up with other items.

I wear trousers a lot more in the winter, so, I have been experimenting with quite a few styles.  A  few haven’t worked, so,  I have had to return them.  But, others I have really liked, and they have made me a little more adventurous with my style – it’s never too late!  I purchased them to spice up my winter wardrobe.  I thought I would share some of these items with you to see what you think?

The three pairs of trousers that I’ve featured are all from H&M, which is purely coincidental.

Velvet Wide Legged Pants

I didn’t think I would like these at all.  They are high on the waist, which can be a little tricky to wear when you get older.   However, when I tried them on, I got a pleasant surprise.   The velvet is very soft.  It is also very comfortable, especially around the tummy.  I found that, worn with the correct clothes, they are surprisingly flattering, and they work.   Plus, I got a few compliments from trusted friends when I wore them.

 Here’s a few ways I wore them.

Wearing my Zara tuxedo with my H&M wide velvet trousers

Worn with Zara cardigan with contrasting trim.

Black tuxedo and cream cami – also photo-bombed slightly by Jarvis!!

Black slim-fit jeans with a slight flared hem.

I wear jeans a lot, in my everyday world.  These jeans caught my eye, because of the slight flare.  I was curious to see if they would suit me.  I tried them on in the shop, and got a pleasant surprise.

They sit quite high on the waist, pulling the tummy in, in a lovely way.  There is 1% “elastane” in the material, plus organic cotton, which I like.  I find them flattering.   They can be worn with high heels, or flats.  This style of jean is a lovely contrast as I usually wear straight legged jeans, so it’s nice to shake it up!  I have worn them a few times, and they are very comfortable.

Here are a few ways I have worn these jeans.

Worn with a Zara sweatshirt that was only £9.99 and a man’s Burberry scarf that I bought a long time ago.

Worn with a Tuxedo, plus a touch of leopard print.

Wide legged checked trousers

Again, these are not my usual style.   I was a little unsure if I would like them.  My legs are not super long, so I was worried they would appear shorter, due to the hem sitting above the ankle.

 However, they are smart, casual and a good fit and work well with most footwear.  I know there have been a lot of issues with H&M sizing, but there was no problem.  They fit me perfectly.  I am a 12 to 14 (depending on the brand), and with these trousers, I felt more comfortable in the size 14.   They are, in my opinion, a quality material, and I really like them – plus, they go with a lot of things.  So versatile!

What I wore with them.

“Next” leather jacket,which I have had for an eternity and still love! Plus, a black cashmere polo neck sweater from Marks and Spencer

Thank you for reading my post.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Alison xx

I am not quite ready to go bare faced.  I love a light, medium touch of foundation to improve the look of my skin and choosing the right one can be a tricky, costly affair if you get it wrong.

The choice on the high street is mind boggling and can be both daunting and confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for!

During my younger years, bringing up my family, working, and running around at ninety miles an hour meant minimal maintenance regarding my makeup.  It was applied very quickly and if it took away the deathly white glare that I had woken up with, I was content, happy and ready to go with my busy day ahead!

There wasn’t the choice back then, unless I was just too busy to take much notice. Of course, currently, there is so much choice it is hard to keep up!

Back then, if I was looking for a good foundation, I would do a little research, then get a few samples to try, just in case I had some strange horrible reaction to the ingredients.  Always wanting light coverage that would hopefully give me a little radiance, if possible.  The prerequisite was that it was a good, quality product.

The one I settled for and used for years was Clinique’s “Super Balanced Foundation”. This, I found to be very good – it wasn’t too heavy, it was light in coverage and looked quite natural.  I had no knowledge of applying foundation primers in those days. Out of curiosity, I got a sample of the same foundation, the other day, in ivory – which is my colour – and, it is still a great foundation.

Towards my late forties, I tried other foundations as my skin was becoming a lot drier, partly due to hormonal changes. So, I started to do my research, looking for a foundation that would help the dryness, facial redness, skin sensitivity and….. oh, the list goes on……  Hence, over the last seven years, I have used and sampled quite a few foundations.  I now wish that I had kept a detailed diary of my experiences – some good and some bad.  Because, back then, I never thought for one minute I would find the time to start this blog

My wish list, foundation-wise, is to have a product that will smooth out imperfections, whilst not settling into pores or wrinkles; give me a bit of a glow; and not disappear after a few hours’ wear!

I have listed my current four favourite foundations below.  And, I will continue to try new ones, as there are so many coming out, all, of the time.

CHANEL – “Perfection Lumiere Velvet Smooth Effect Makeup” SPF15 30ml (£37.00)

When I was doing my research, this foundation kept coming up time and time again with fantastic reviews for mature skin.  So, I gave it a try and immediately loved it.  I have been using it for around three years.  I find the foundation easy to apply, it gives a very sheer look, evens out skin tone, whilst still looking natural.  It may need a slight touch up if worn all day and can look a little luminous around the four to five-hour mark, but a fine dusting of finishing powder does the trick to sort this, I find.

Estee Lauder – “Double Wear Light” 30ml (£33.50)

This was my other “go to” foundation, though I haven’t used it for a little while.  I did find it to be very lightweight whilst giving a natural appearance.  It is long lasting and didn’t settle into pores or wrinkles.  However, since I finished my tube, Estee Lauder have now changed the formula.  My shade was “Number 2” with the old formula and I have noticed there are a lot more shades with the new one.  I will try the new one and let you know what I think

L’Oréal – “Paris True Match Liquid Foundation” 30ml (£9.99)

I bought this foundation from Sainsburys – it was on offer for £4 – can you believe!?

I had seen quite a few adverts for this foundation, so, decided to give it a go.  And, for that price, I couldn’t refuse.  Though I had to guess with the colour match, which worked out fine.  I went for beige and it’s a good match!!

This foundation is lasting for ages.  I’m still not even a quarter of the way through, as a little goes a long way.  It really holds its own against the more expensive foundations.   It’s easy to apply, very lightweight and hydrating,  There are also a lot of shades to choose from.

Clinique – “Super Balanced Silk Makeup” SPF15 30ml £25.50

I haven’t used this foundation for a while but included it, as I wore it for such a long time.  Out of curiosity, I decided to ask for a tester to see if it was still as good.  My colour is silk ivory.  After wearing it for a few weeks, I still find it to be a good foundation.  It has a lovely texture and sits well on the skin.  It also provides great coverage without being too heavy.

Thank you for reading my post.  If you have any questions please leave a comment.

Alison xx

I learnt a few weeks ago that House of Fraser (HOF) are not honouring gift cards in store or online.  My gift card for HOF is worth £80.00.   I have followed the process for getting my money refunded but I’m not holding my breath.  So my question is “are gift cards a safe bet”??

Since this discovery, I have been told it’s probably best to spend gift cards quickly in this present climate.   More importantly, I feel concerned for the staff of House of Fraser. It must be the worst feeling in the world for these employees to not  know what the future holds, and it makes the slight problem of a gift card seem trivial. But, nevertheless, £80 is no small amount!!!

Recently, I went to Newcastle to make sure my youngest son was settled into university for his final year.   We all met up in the city centre for coffee, then and I went into Fenwicks Dept Store.  This was a conscious decision as I had another gift card that I had received from Christmas 2017.  The whole House of Fraser gift card situation made me think that maybe I had to spend it quickly!

Wandering around Fenwicks, I couldn’t resist this pretty blue Daria Print Ruffled Skirt from Mint Velvet (£89.00).  It is chiffon material in a layered silhouette. This midi skirt sits high on the waist and I have already worn it quite a few times – pairing it with a Zara dark blue fitted jumper, or a cream fitted cardigan.

I particularly love the movement of the skirt and thought it looked good with this old leather biker jacket that I have owned for ages, along with some blue suede ankle boots.

This skirt could easily be dressed up in heels and a silky blouse or even a stylish t-shirt and sneakers with a little denim jacket – that would look cool!!

I know I will get a lot of wear out of it as it is so versatile and flattering – and I also love the midi length, which is my favourite.

Alison x