Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Variation on a Theme - First Depop Purchase

I'm overdoing it on the kimono front, though I like to think of this more as a floral jacket? Anyway, I bought it to take my mind off my sore back when we were on holidays - pure retail therapy. But it took ages to get here so when it did, it came as a total surprise I have to confess...thankfully I still liked it!
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It's from Topshop but I bought it secondhand from Depop - like a mixture of eBay and Instagram I guess? You can buy & sell anything on it but it's all mobile based and you follow the buyers you're most interested in...creating a 'feed' of products most suited to you.
Most items can be bought with the press of a 'buy' button but there's a big market in swaps too - so if you like something someone is selling, you can offer one of your items in exchange. It's also a bit of a free market too with people bargaining on prices. Oh and you can also post an item that you're looking for - in case someone happens to have one in their wardrobe that they're not wearing.
I will warn you that generally speaking, the sizes are small and the users are young - typically 18-24 year olds so you're not going to find much Boden or Mint Velvet for instance. Additionally, there's an increasing number of commercial sellers coming on board selling tat but at least you can chose who you follow and avoid them clogging up your feed. The only other downside is that the search facility is based on hashtags and needs to be controlled better because if I'm selling, say a Topshop dress, I can legitimately tag #chanel #zarayellowcoat #pinkcoat #rockstuds...or whatever word I think people are likely to search for, making searching for a specific item difficult. Anyway, it's worth a nosey and if you've teenagers looking for money this summer with bursting wardrobes, get them to download the app.

Now back to my kimono buy. It came from a girl also selling denim hot pants, white patent doc martens and a fluorescent yellow mini tube skirt (see what I mean about demographic?) and I was searching for Topshop cropped trousers when I found it (hurrah for aforementioned rubbish search engine).
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Kimono - Topshop via Depop (similar Oasis & New Look)
Black Vest - Zara Basic
Jeans - New Look
Sandals - Fly London (charity shop find)
Cross Body Bag - (Boden AW12 - similar here from Oasis)
Necklace - Freedom @ Topshop (old)

This was my first 'dressed-up' trip out of the house for about 2 weeks...at long last, the pain has eased in my leg & back. So the shop will reopen soon - possibly week beginning 11th August? Let me see how things go in the next week and I'll confirm then.

Meanwhile, after all the emails, comments and messages I got from my bad back sandal post, I've bought a pair of FitFlops. Everyone was raving about them so I searched online and found these on the Cloggs website.
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FitFlop Souza in Black - bought a size 7 as I'd heard to size up if half sized & they fit well.

I had never heard of Cloggs before and I was impressed with the service. They were only £45 (good for FitFlops), with free delivery and free unlimited returns and arrived within 2 days of ordering. First impressions are that they are very comfy and easy to wear. Perhaps not as funky looking as they seem online but very supportive. My main concern was the lack of ankle strap but it's not an issue thanks to the high second strap. I want to wear them for a while before I report back but initial impressions are good! Thank you to everyone who suggested them. The granny sandals are going to be eBayed...don't all rush to buy them at once now :)

Ax
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Monday, 28 July 2014

White Shirt Perfection with TM Lewin

No wardrobe should be without a white shirt - it's the perfect basic that will take you from the school run, to a night out, via the office. You can dress it up or dress it down and it suits every age, style and body shape. But you've got to get the right quality of material - my two biggest bugbears are see-through white shirts and collars that don't hold their shape and start turning up at the ends.
Well I've found the perfect one at TM Lewin and it has the added bonus of having a gorgeous stripe in the material..it looks so much more expensive than it actually is.
imageFitted White Stripe Shirt - TM Lewin
I bought lots from TM Lewin when I worked - I found their shirts to be such a good fit and they washed and ironed well. They also do amazing multi-buy deals that makes the shirts cost as little as £20 each. Since I finished work, I've mostly bought casual shirts for my hubby from their site and never really thought about the women's shirts for casual wear. I'd assumed they were all double cuffed for one thing.
Well, they're not - and in fact, you can filter your search for button cuffed ones - which I did and found this fitted stripe shirt which I've styled today with jeans, a white vest and my go-to sandals of the summer (bad back aside), the Next silver ones.


Shirt - c / o ™ Lewin (size-wise, I wanted it loose fitting so I sized up to a 14)
Jeans - Maison Scotch (similar here & here)
Vest - M&S (similar)
Silver Crossover Leather Sandals - Next (similar)
Watch - Michael Kors (similar)
Bracelets - Michael Kors, Jack Wills & Energetix

So you can see it works well untucked for a casual look but I also wore it tucked in, for a neater look

And it's obviously going to look great with a jumper over, or even for a night out too.

And for even more inspiration, head over to Fiona's blog to see how she styled her TM Lewin shirt!

Happy Monday,

Ax
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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Boden Order Decisions...again

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The Hermes man is a regular visitor as I keep ordering, returning and re-ordering from the sales...mostly Boden. With up to 70% off and free delivery & returns, last week was an opportunity to pick up some presents and some bits and pieces for the girls...oh and a couple of items for myself.
This selection is what I've kept of the kids' range. The strawberry T-shirt is the most impressive piece - really lovely appliqué design and nice quality jersey material. I bought all of them in size 7-8 (the girls will be 6 in November) as I find Boden comes up small for my kids. There isn't a huge amount of room in any of the items, with the exception of the Pointelle t-shirt which is definitely too big for this summer...so I'd say size up regardless, so the kids get some wear out of them next year.
Boden Kids Collage
Twin pack Cropped Leggings, Pointelle T-shirt, Applique T-Shirt, Fun Printed Skirt

I also bought a couple of navy jackets as I wear my Next one lots but it's lightweight and neat fitting so it's not easy to wear a long sleeved top underneath it. I'd had my eye on the Ponte and Blackfriars jackets for a while and took the opportunity to order both to try on when they went down to £26.70 last week. Always interesting to compare the same size in different items. Based on the reviews, which said to size down with both jackets, I ordered 10's. But what a difference! Here is the size 10 Ponte. Lovely lining (there's a sarong, which is perfect for using as a scarf, that matches this lining)
image image It's hard to capture in a mirror selfie with poor lighting, but it's quite generous in fit - long in the sleeves and boxy and is a proper navy blue. It's substantial enough for autumn and the popper button closure is actually ok and makes it look neat when closed - I preferred it open on me though. Plenty of room for a light jumper underneath. So I concur with the sizing down in this case.
Next, the Blackfriars jacket. I like the black trim around the seams - which I think will make it quite versatile. It's also got a zip closure, is a lighter shade of navy & is more of a peplum shape...and there's quite a difference in how this fits:


image image I only wore a vest under it and it was too small for me :( - but I prefer the fitted waist in this one over the Ponte. It's a more flattering shape and I liked how the zip only went from about 1/3rd up the jacket to the top. I've re-ordered it in a 12 and actually in a 14 too - just to see what the difference in size is. Will keep you posted on how I get on with the bigger sizes.


Also in this order were a couple of items I'd planned to give away here on the blog - the Mya Bag in Neon Pink and the Palermo Wallet in Silver Metallic
image image Both going back I'm afraid. The wallet just wasn't as nice as I'd hoped and the metallic finish was covered in fingerprints and smudges when I took it out of the packaging...which put me off a bit. Meanwhile, the bag is really not a good colour. It's somewhere between a neon pink and neon orange and is very shiny..making it look a bit plasticky. Such a shame as the leopard print in this bag was simply stunning and I'm a bit sorry I didn't order it when I saw it at Vicky's Boden Party back in May.


So another box waits to go back while a further one is dispatched to me as I type! All while I try my hardest not to look at the Autumn range just launched. It's stunning but I'm still in the summer mode while this weather continues to behave. Hope you're having a good weekend!


Ax

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Sandals to wear for a bad back...

aka granny sandals. SOB. I cannot believe I'm writing this post but I did think it might come in helpful and also because, do you know what? It's not all bad. There are some stylish options out there - not many, but some.

So the background was that my physio recommended I change my footwear when my back started to play up in June.....and it wasn't about heels - apparently very flat sandals are just as bad for your back and joints. And even Birkenstocks can cause issues for certain people as your heel sits below the ball of your foot. The advice was to rest my Birks to see if they had been part of my problem as I've worn them so much over the past couple of months, and to buy a granny sandal.

OK - not those words exactly - I was told to get a sandal with an ankle strap, a spongy sole to absorb impact and a slight incline to bring the heel above the ball of the foot a little. The search began...and was frustrating to say the least. I didn't want to spend ££'s on a sensible sandal - even if it was for the good of my back! I went to a local 'comfy shoe' store and looked at what was on offer and I have to say - no offence to people who enjoy wearing these kinds of sandals - a little bit of me died inside as I tried some of them on. I just couldn't do it....
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I ended up finally getting these ones in Clarks in Portsmouth because by then (10 days after the photos above), I was desperate and told myself how stupid I was being about 'style' whenever I could hardly walk! They're not that bad I know but actually this is a really good photo of them...in real life they are not as nice. In fairness to them however, they have been a helpful pair of sandals while I've been in pain...and hands up - they are AMAZINGLY comfortable!
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But since I bought them (typical!), I've been coming across lovely ones that fit the bill so I thought I'd share the brands that I've either found myself online or that other bloggers have suggested to me. In case you're ever in the same boat or indeed if you just want some nice comfy sandals. Nothing wrong with that :)

First up, Esska...saw this brand in a local boutique and although I couldn't try on the ones I'm featuring here - I googled them as part of my search and was very impressed with the selection. Nice back story to the company too - owned by a mum of 2 who had a total career change from architect to shoe designer.
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Esska India - Black & Bronze

Sue suggested some Elizabeth Stewart ones from Sarenza but I was leaving for holidays the next day so didn't have time to order online. Both of these fit the bill and they are further reduced since I looked at them at the end of June.
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Solen 421 by Elizabeth Stewart in Black

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Vidocq 421 by Elizabeth Stewart in Beige

Camper is another strong contender - they do have some great supportive sandals that are trendier than most. Not cheap though.
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Beetle Ada by Camper in Black (also available in red)

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Micro by Camper in Grey (I think)

Ecco were ok and I did try on some pairs in Chichester when we were there but the sale had mostly cleared out the store - and there is very little left online also. Oh and on an aside - what's with the 28% off? I prefer round numbers like 50% and 70%!
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Touch by Ecco in Black (and stone)

Fly London are a brand I've had sandals from before and they tend to be quite bouncy to wear & trendy too. I tried these on in Chichester as I thought they could work well but they were surprisingly rigid in the sole so didn't quite fit the remit...but not a bad price on Amazon (colour/size dependant).
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Oily T-Strap Sandal by Fly London

These were much more comfortable but they were £80 in an independent shoe shop in Chichester and by the time I tried them on, my balance was quite bad and I was worried I'd go over on my ankle in them.
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Bianca Wedges by Fly London

Finally, good old Clarks, where I did end up getting my granny sandals (albeit in the Outlet) but before I went there, I tried the Chichester store where the staff were actually really well versed in which shoes would suit different ailments. This sandal was one I'd not have considered before but it has a soft bouncy insole layer and was so comfortable. Sadly, as with the Fly London one, I had by this stage lost some power in my right leg and just didn't feel I could handle the height of the wedge sole and would end up falling over :(
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Ornate Jewel by Clarks

I also tried these Romantic Moon ones, which I've loved since the start of the summer but while supportive, they lacked the small bit of lift at the heel I needed. Still watching for these to be reduced...no sign yet!

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Romantic Moon by Clarks

UPDATE: Late addition to the post as I've had so many people telling to to try FitFlops - these beauties! £££ but stunning...
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Banda Sandals - Fitflop
Do share if you've any 'granny sandal' suggestions that are stylish but suitable for someone with a back that's behaving like it's twice my age! Meanwhile, if you're well of back and fancy a bargain, the Sail sandals I have in nude are now in the sale for £22.49 in the lilac/metallic & lime/neon colour ways (not the nude & black - reduced also but not by as much).

Sail Collage

Oh and the white shirt post is coming - had to rest up today after doing too much yesterday...gah!

Ax

PS usual disclaimer....I know nothing particularly medical about bad backs and the *actual* best shoes to wear from a proper medical/physio point of view..please consult your own doctor or physio for advice about what's appropriate for you. But you knew that, right?
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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Atterley Road Sale - thinking ahead to AW14

I'm aware that most of us are sale weary now and this is not a sponsored post at all - it's just that I noticed the Atterley Road sale has added additional lines at the same time as extending discounts to up to 75% off. On top of that, there's free GLOBAL delivery! Now I've heard mixed reviews about delivery speed, returns and delays in refunds/exchanges. Personally, I've never had an issue with the company and my understanding is from what I've heard is that if you get in touch via social media/telephone, issues are resolved promptly.

Back to the bargains and the items I've chosen here are definitely in the looking ahead category - thinking about items that are going to make you look fabulous in autumn and winter at a fraction of the price and I've also focussed on items that at time of writing have reasonable size range in stock.
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Yaya Kelim Black Blazer - £44 - from £80 (at time of writing available in sizes 10/12/14) Just a great autumn jacket that would work with jeans and a grey, white or black t-shirt...total minimal effort required. But it would also work over black on a night out too.
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Now these Zip Ankle Boots are not cheap but they're by Hoss Intropia and are almost half price. Just an amazing investment buy if you're looking for great stone coloured suede boots that will work year round.
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This InWear Hottonia real down filled coat will keep you cosy this winter ...and real down is what you need for proper warmth! It's a steal at £84 from £200 and with fur and puffa style coats huge on the catwalks for AW14, you'll be right on trend too (can you tell I've had time to read Vogue this month?!). Sizes 8,10,12,14 all available as I type.
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I love my Maison Scotch as you know and these La bohemienne patterned jeans have some lovely AW colours in them and are a nod to some of the western trends that will be in the shops. I wear a size 29 in my MS jeans and they just fit beautifully every time.
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Next up is WAAAYYY out of my comfort zone but AW is going to be all about short skirts and long boots - with 100D tights thankfully. Coloured tights were big on the catwalks too so I can really see this Bit Satin Skirt working with a chunky grey knit, grey tights and some long leather boots....I think...one of my stylist friends help me out here!?? Anyway, at £25 down from £135, it's worth a punt if you want to work the trend. It would also be beautiful on a night out...the detail is stunning - sizes 8-14 available.
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Jazz up the school run in something a little different to the usual navy/white breton - this Mads Norgaard Thilke pink/orange breton would look great with skinnies or boyfriend jeans.
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Finally - not entirely my style at the moment but this Saint James Maree striped dress/tunic is 100% wool and beautifully made so if you like a cosy dress with leggings or tights during the colder weather, it's available in 12 & 14 in this navy/white colour way and in a 10 in a gorgeous navy/cognac colour way. Really well priced at £50 down from £165.

There's loads more - especially if you've got tiny feet or are a size 6/8 in clothing so if you've got some time to yourself and you love a bargain, it's worth a bit of a trawl.

Back next with a classic - the white shirt.....I'm hobbling off now to get some photos taken by one of the kids! I may be some time....

Ax
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

New Look Summer Outfit!

It's not too shabby when you can kit yourself from head to toe for £50 - and that includes a pair of leather sandals! All from New Look who kindly offered me a voucher to spend on the current summer range.
I have to feature the sandals first...adore them:
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Asymmetric Strap Sandal - New Look
I worried that white sandals would look a bit 'medical'. Or a bit bright on the eyes but these are just perfect. I actually have exactly the same sandals in black that I wore almost every day in New York so I knew already that they were comfortable and practical. These are serious bargains - real leather for less than £15 and also available in the black as well as tan, on the link above. I bought a size 7/40.
Next up, New Look have great denim and I'd heard good reports about their high waisted super skinny jeans. They' re also in the sale and I have to say, the quality is really nice - well worth the £17.99 price tag. They are soft, stretchy and finish above my belly button. Three ticks! I'm wearing size 12/32.
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To top it all off, I'm having a real kimono moment. Loving them and trying to not buy more as I'm thinking they're not really practical once the weather cools but this one is only £12.99 and with the black in it, it's a good option for evening wear too. I'd say the quality isn't as good as the New Look £19.99 kimono I bought recently but I adore the print and it goes well with the pink charm necklace from my shop (currently closed while I recover but email me if you need anything urgently). I'm wearing size 10 - can't tell if it's petite or not?
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Oh and finished it off with a basic wardrobe essential - a white scoop neck vest
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Kimono - £12.99
High Waisted Jeans - £17.99
White Leather Asymmetric Strap Sandal - £14.50
White Scoop Neck Vest - £3.99
(all c/o New Look)

Check out the stripes on the lawn....hubby has done an amazing job this year. He's a pretty awesome guy - has been looking after the kids and I so well since I've been off my feet. I just don't know what I'd have done without him #love.

I was back in my bed fairly soon after these photos were taken - only so much standing up I can do at the moment but it felt amazing to be dressed in something other than tracksuit bottoms or leggings for an hour or so. And I'm very grateful for all the messages and tweets and texts. Thank you - I'll be back to full strength soon if I keep with the programme of physio, pain relief, rest and gentle walking. Meanwhile, I've a couple of new books to read while I rest - sent by my Godmother today. She knows me so well! She also sent me the Coco Chanel movie - looking forward to watching it later.
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Ax
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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Y.A.S Biker Jacket Bargain

UPDATE - This jacket has completely sold out :( but is available on the Y.A.S site for €149 in the size 38 only - which works out at about £120. I've searched and cannot find it anywhere else but if anyone else sees it elsewhere - let me know!

I put this on Facebook earlier and then thought it warranted a quick post of its own as I know not all of you are on Facebook.

One of my favourite bloggers, Anneli at What I Bought Today has been wearing an amazing Y.A.S. leather biker jacket for months now and every time I see her wearing it, I look for it online and wish I could justify the expense. 

That was until I found it on the Isme site yesterday - reduced from £250 to £75 (benefits of being bed-bound - oh and you can pay in instalments too...just saying...) Fabulous bargain if you're in the market for a real leather biker jacket - as I was, since realising how much wear I was getting from my H&M faux leather one.
So it arrived today and the quality is lovely. It's got that new leather look but I know it will get more beautiful with wear.

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Here is Anneli wearing it as it doesn't look so hot on me with PJ's and here is the bargainous link to Isme

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For info, I bought the size 40 - which equates to a decent 12 I would say - I wanted room to wear knitwear under it in the autumn.

PS Husband now threatening to take the laptop off me...

Ax
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Hush Try On

Ok - against all instructions from doctors and husband and friends, I did a very quick and very painful try on of my Hush order. Not only because I knew you were all waiting to see how I got on with my order but also because I knew some of it was going back and I needed to return it promptly.
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First up - the cargo trousers.
Now these don't get the best reviews and the advice was to size down. I ordered a 10 and they fitted perfectly and I have to say that I really do like them as an alternative to jeans but they're still a bit pricy for me at £50 as I'm not sure I'm going to wear them *that* much realistically. The quality is great - don't get me wrong - lovely soft material with a bit of a stretch. But I've overspent a bit on the sales to date so they will have to go back.
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Next up - the chiffon blouse - this was the only item where quality was an issue for me. This just didn't have the feel of a £60 top...it's reduced to £40 now but it's still not good enough. At £20, I might consider it as I loved the colour but it's very transparent and a little long for wearing untucked. Would make a great beach cover up actually.
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The fluro stripe tee is just as lovely as I'd hoped but too large in the M/L. I see it's back in stock in the S/M so I would like to exchange it for the smaller size.  Love the cut of the neckline and the shape.
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Really liked the crop jersey hacket also - just such a versatile wee jacket that could be dressed up or down. My only gripe was that the sleeves were very long but that's easily remedied. My reason for returning is simply the colour - it's not a flattering shade on me. Though I notice that the shawl collar blazer is back in stock in the slate colour so I'm tempted by it...
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Finally - the surprising star of my order - the jersey maxi dress in fuchsia - love it! I don't do strapless stuff normally but this is a really firm, secure strapless dress yet it doesn't push any excess out under your arms or above the top of the dress. It's a perfect length - I'm wearing with completely flat sandals (5'6 and three quarters!!) and the jersey is a nice weight, not clingy and not see-through. And it has pockets. SOLD. I cannot wait to wear this with a denim jacket once I'm mobile again - and the autumnal weather moves on.

Sales advice - keep checking back to the sales you love to see if things have reduced further or have come back into stock in your size. I've just noticed the Serrano sandals in Boden are now down to £17.70!!!
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Before I sign off - thank you to everyone for your all your kind messages and comments. Emails, blogs and social media are all really helping this rest time to pass faster.

A special thank you must go out to Steph at Imagination PR for the Aromatherapy Associates gift she sent to me yesterday to aid restful sleep and destress my muscles.
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And a thank you to Lizzi from Energetix magnetic jewellery who heard about my sciatic troubles and sent me a magnet to place at the top of my sciatic nerve, as well as a magnetic bracelet. And yes, that is Ronan Keating on the brochure...my friend Catherine's going to want to steal this I know!
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Ax
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