Friday, 30 January 2015

#LittleLoves

I saw this linky over on Emma's blog and I thought I'd try it out this week as it's a great way to share with you some of the things that have been going on with me over the past few weeks...seeing as I'm not exactly setting the school gate on fire with my style. The linky is hosted by Morgana over at butwhymummywhy so if you'd like to get involved too... just click on the little loves logo at the bottom of the post.

ReadThis week I've been I flying through my book club book. It definitely ranks as one of the best we've read. 'After the Fall' by Charity Norman is about a family who emigrate from the UK to New Zealand.  The book opens with a small boy falling off a balcony and being airlifted to hospital. The chapters alternate between present and past, following the boy's progress in hospital and sharing the background to the move to NZ. It's an interesting insight into the impact a long distance move has on a family and how the secrets and demons don't get left behind. It's an addictive, fast read - some of our recent book club books have been rather challenging so this was most refreshing!

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I enjoyed it so much, it prompted me to seek out another one of Charity Norman's books 'The Son In Law'. It's not as instantly gripping but I think it will be an interesting insight into a challenging family dynamic.

WatchedLiving at my mother in law's at the moment means I'm watching more TV than I normally would. We've got ourselves into a lovely routine some evenings of PJ's, G&T's and a 9pm drama so I've had to get up to speed with Silent Witness (harrowing at times/a bit hard to take seriously at other times), Last Tango in Halifax (not what I was expecting - really enjoying it!) and Broadchurch. Now I never watched the first series of Broadchurch as I have an 11 year old and I really struggle to watch anything that involves a child coming to harm. But I was told I could pick up on series 2 without having watched 1 and broadly, that is correct though I did read a synopsis of Series 1 online to clear up a few parts of the story that were confusing. Suffice to say, I'm hooked. David Tennant is really impressive and I love the dynamic between his character and Ellie.

HeardLittle May - an Australian band that Fearne Cotton played on Radio 1 last week. I was straight onto Spotify to listen to their debut EP and have enjoyed listening to it while blogging. I would say they're a bit like a female version of Mumford. Not quite as rocky but with similar strong guitar and harmonies. This is my current favourite song of theirs - Boardwalks


MadeLots of pies and casseroles Having lived with just a hob and microwave for the past month, it's been such a novelty to have the use of an oven at Granny's. Aunt Bessie's oven chips have made a welcome return too :)

WornIt's not been too exciting the past few weeks but I do think this has as much to do with the time of year as it does with the fact that I don't have all my clothes out of boxes, don't have a wardrobe and am living out of a suitcase! It was nice to finally locate this coral coat from Almost Famous (now in the sale!) - a fab coat to brighten up the grey and blue.

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But what I've enjoyed most this week is what I've worn on my skin. Back in November I succumbed to the marketing and bought a premium, cosmetic-giant face cream and the best way I can describe it is that I've felt like my skin has been clogged up with chemicals since I started using it. The cost made me perservere until it was finished but going back to one of my favourite organic natural brands was just amazing this week...my skin looks and feels 10 times better. If you're concerned about ageing, don't opt for the fast chemical laden results promised by the big corporations. In the long term, organic is the real secret to gorgeous skin. My new face cream is the Dr Organics Snail Gel Cream...don't be put off by the name - it uses the remarkable cosmetic benefits of Helix Aspersia Muller, a unique substance the snail produces to quickly regenerate its own shell and skin when damaged. It smells of lemongrass and is so lovely and nourishing.
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For cleansing, I've just bought some Moa Balm - I'm a huge fan of balm cleansers used with a hot flannel. My skin never feels as clean with cream cleansers or face wash. Moa is lovely as it's full of healing yarrow - great for scars or nicks/cuts. It's between £7 and £10 for a 50ml tub online - which is about two thirds the size I would have bought of my usual favourite, Temple Spa In the Beginning. So not a huge saving but it's nice to mix it up a bit - I think your skin gets too used to the same products so it's good to change things around. Boots Botanics have a great balm cleanser too though I'm not a fan of the smell. Funny how the smell is so important when it comes to skincare.
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and finally...
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A little message for all the mums out there awaiting AQE/GL results in Northern Ireland tomorrow morning. I've already negotiated to meet the postman at the start of his run though honestly, I'm not concerned about how well he scores at all...I just want this part of the process to be over. I know whatever he gets, it will all work out the way it's supposed to and it will be for the best.

Ax

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Spring Summer Inspiration

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I was in Tesco this morning (just before my back gave up the goat) and was immediately drawn to this subtle geo jersey drape jacket. This is a lovely weight of jersey and nicely styled with the blush pink here. Kind of wishing I bought it now but I've done too much damage online over the past week (blog post to follow on that).
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This grey top is caught my eye also. It has an asymmetrical front hem. A lovely alternative to black for a night out.
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These patent heels are a great neutral colour too:
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Finishing up with a couple of outfits from this week....I have really tried to make an effort, despite the building site of a house :) First up, some old favourites on Monday - a milder day so I didn't need a coat:
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Cape - Vero Moda (not very similar but the best I could find!)
Jeans - Replay
Burgundy Boots - Bertie (similar)
Burgundy Jumper - Next (similar)
Checked Scarf - SGS Shop (similar)
(all old items)

And yesterday some layering outside my new red door...
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Navy Jumper - Vero Moda at Call Me Pretty Boutique - called Black Iris but it's definitely proper navy!
Jeans - Replay as before
Breton - Boden
Long Brown (in need of a polish) Boots - Hobbs (past season - similar here & here)

Keep safe in the snow everyone - back on Friday with a slightly different kind of blog post...

Ax
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Monday, 26 January 2015

Nocturnal™ Ortho-K Lenses from Gillian Gervais Opticians

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Way back in December, I started a process with local optician Gillian Gervais, that has been, without any exaggeration, life-changing for me. I have worn glasses since age 14 and in fact, should have been wearing them for many years before that but my short sightedness was never detected and I thought it was quite normal to not be able to see the blackboard in school :)


I hated wearing glasses so in my 20's, I began to wear contact lenses and did so successfully up until about 5 years ago when genetic eye-dryness made lens wearing too uncomfortable for anything more than a day or two a week. So it was back to the glasses again and in recent years, I made more of an effort to buy funky, interesting frames so that the glasses were making a statement. But I was never happy with them and always took them off for photos or nights out etc.


As far as I knew, the only long term solution was laser surgery. The idea of laser scares the life out of me and it's expensive but I was seriously considering it until I was told that my results would be short lived (perhaps 5-7 years) and in that time, I'd have to wear reading glasses as my short sightedness would be corrected to such a degree that my long-sightedness would be compromised. So with that news, I put aside all thoughts of ever ditching the specs.


That was until Gillian Gervais (a reader of this blog) sent me a message back in September inviting me to the opening night at the new location of her optician practice in Carryduff. I wasn't able to make it but it started a thread of messages about my sight which led to Gillian telling me about Ortho-K Nocturnal™ lenses.  Gillian's own website and the Scotlens website can tell you all the science but essentially Nocturnal™ Orthokeratology (Ortho-k) is the process of wearing a contact lens only when sleeping in order to correct short-sight. Stable corrected vision is provided all day without the use of contact lenses or spectacles. The process is reversible and in 2010 established by the FDA as having the same safety as soft contact lenses.


I'll repeat the important bit - corrected vision provided all day without the use of lenses or glasses. To be honest, I was sceptical - it just sounded too good to be true but I agreed to come in to talk to Gillian and find out more.
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At this initial appointment, Gillian assessed my eyes to make sure they were suitable for the lenses. She also took topographical images of the eye that show the level of short-sightedness so that progress when wearing the lenses could be measured.


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A week later, my lenses arrived and I had a second appointment with Gillian to be shown how to put them in and take them out. They're hard lenses - so if, like me, you're a soft lens wearer, putting them in isn't greatly different but taking them out does take a bit of getting used to. After a few attempts & trying a couple of different techniques, I mastered it and was cleared to bring my lenses home with an appointment booked for the next morning so Gillian could assess how the first night went.


You put these lenses in literally as you're about to turn out the lights for the night - you shouldn't read or watch TV while wearing them. Equally, in the morning, taking them out is the first thing you do. Incidentally, you can see perfectly with the lenses in so there are no issues if you wake in the night and need to tend to a crying child.


Friends have asked if they're comfortable to sleep in. I think they're like mouth braces or rollers in your hair - you're aware of them initially so my first night's sleep wasn't the soundest I've ever had but a day or two on, I was sleeping through with no issues at all. When I'm awake, I am aware of them in the eyes but once my eyes are closed, I can't feel them at all.


But now for the best bit - the results! That first morning, I took out the lenses and it was like a miracle had happened overnight. For your first few days, the sight does diminish slightly as the day goes on so Gillian saw me early that first morning for an assessment. Normally, you correct to about half your prescription on the first day so I was a little lower than that - attributable most likely to a poor night's sleep. But even after just one night's wear, I managed without my glasses until about 3pm that day. On Day 2, the results lasted a couple of hours longer so that by day 5, I was getting a full day of perfect vision. In fact, at my most recent check up, I was measuring with 20/20 vision.


I've been wearing them now for just over a month and have not worn glasses since that first day. The lenses are so effective that they actually over-correct my vision slightly if I wear them every night, meaning I can now miss a couple of nights through the week without losing 20/20 sight. Putting them in and taking them out takes seconds now and the few minutes spent cleaning/disinfecting for the next night is just part of my morning routine.


The little things that non glasses/lens wears take for granted like putting on make-up, swimming, having a shower - what a novelty to actually be able to see what you're doing! Also, and this is a small one but means a lot to this sunglass lover - I can wear whatever sunglasses I fancy now - no need for dodgy prescription ones.


In terms of cost, there's an up-front payment of £150 which covers the initial consultation and assessment & the lenses themselves. If all is going well after a few weeks, there's a balance of £200 payable. Thereafter, you pay £25 a month, which covers the cost of your next pair (lenses are replaced annually) and all the ongoing support. And in case I've not already convinced you about how sold I am on these lenses, I've signed up to my standing order already. It's not much more than I was paying already per month for daily lenses (that I couldn't even wear all day) so it's a bit of a no-brainer.


The lenses are ideal for children too so I'm going to get my son assessed for them once he starts at big school. The benefits are obvious from a sporting perspective but in fact, the way the lenses correct the vision means they can in some cases actually stop short sightedness worsening - amazing for younger glasses wearers. Gillian has fitted boys and girls from about age 10 for the lenses and the reports back are fantastic from a confidence/self-esteem point of view AND in terms of how they've helped children involved in contact sports and/or water sports.


In terms of suitability, if you can see close up better than far away and your prescription is up to -5, you can explore Ortho-K lenses and if you're local, Gillian Gervais is the woman to contact. Contact details and more information on the lenses can be found on her website on this link. If you're further afield, you can find a list of practitioners on this link and it's possible to search for the closest one to you by post code.


Please just ask if you've any questions about the lenses, either in the comments section below, on social media or via email at schoolgatestyle@yahoo.co.uk.


Thank you to Gillian Gervais Opticians and Scotlens for enabling this post. No payment was made to me for writing it but I was gifted this initial set of lenses.


Ax

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Weekend Bargains at Hush

Would you believe me if I told you I've not worn anything worthy of a photo all week? I've been stripping wallpaper, racing around plumbing showrooms and providing an endless stream of coffee & cake to the amazing workmen we've had at the house. Love this photo the hubby took on Monday - I never knew so much money could be spent on stuff that ends up under your floor!
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For three of the days, I wore work-out gear...the same work out gear (washed over night). I'm amazed that this lack of wardrobe variety isn't bothering me - I guess the lure of a new kitchen is enough to keep me focussed. This week coming sees the floors levelled and the whole room plastered....the week after the floor is tiled and then on Monday 9th....the kitchen installation begins!


But one thing all the house activity hasn't stopped, is my penchant for a bit of last minute sale shopping. And today is a great day to look at Hush as they've put on final reductions on the last of the sale stuff. Unlike most retailers, Hush don't leave their sale stuff on once the new season is launched properly so if there's something you like, at this stage, I'd grab it as I've noticed a few things have gone out of stock since mid-week.


I've had this jumper in my radar for a while - dithering over colours. Today, seeing the further reduction, I've ordered the mallard colour.
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Fine V-Neck Jumper - £20


I've also lusted over this scarf all season but just couldn't justify it given the million or so scarves I already have. But now it's down to an amazing £15...would have been wrong not to
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Geometric Scarf


Finally from Hush, I've ordered this chunky cardigan to try out - not sure if it will work for me but ordering it gave me free postage so it was a strategic decision.. ;)
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Chunky Waterfall Cardigan - £25


There are beanie hats for £5 and the most amazing chunky socks that are perfect in wellies and long boots - also for £5. I can recommend both as I've bought in the past.


Ok - running here as we're off to church with Granny! Back with the lenses next post I promise - just finalising the technical stuff with my optician!


Ax

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Friday, 16 January 2015

Over The Knee Boots

Is there anyone out there??! I don't think I've had as long a break from blogging before. The house is taking up all my time (I started this post 12 hours ago!) and each day I rotate a very boring jumper/jeans/puffa jacket ensemble in shades of navy or grey. But I'm actually enjoying this forced capsule as it's so easy to dress....and it's inspired me to do a massive clear-out before my new wardrobe goes in during February. More on that when it comes - the hanging rails are melting my head!


So a quick return to blogging to show off one of my successful sales purchases - over the knee boots. The long black flat boots I already had were on their 4th winter and were starting to show it - especially as they were the only boots I had in my capsule after we moved so they were worn almost every day during December. I decided to look for another pair in the sales but this time to get some over the knee ones. On Boxing Day, I tried on several pairs in Belfast but couldn't get my size so ordered them online.


The try-on however helped me get a feel for what style suited best so I knew I wanted ones that were well over the knee at the front but open at the back, ideally with some detail down the back of the boot. I almost bought a pair that had buckles behind the knee to secure the front piece better but decided that would be a bit of a faff every time I had to put them on...they did give a nice slimline look to the leg though.


So here are the ones I bought - the Dune Torz boot - available in a few shops but the best price is at Zalando here and Amazon here - both coming in at about £80.
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The first thing that won me over is the quality of the leather and the smell from it. Just glorious. Even after a few weeks, I'm aware of it as I sit here typing this. Next was the ease of putting them on. The zip at the back is only a detail. there's actually a half zip on the inner leg that allows you to pull the boots right on and it's easy to zip up. They come well over my knee and I've had no issues with sagging. Size wise, I'd say they come up a bit big so if between sizes, go down. Mine are a 39.
So here I am wearing them today with endless layers as I had workmen in the house all day leaving doors open...grrrr. Wallpapering has been done but I've yet to carpet my hall, stairs and landing...hence the dodgy flooring :)
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Boots - Dune (size 6/39 - size down if you're between)
Jeans - Maison Scotch (Size 29 - past season - same fit different colour here & here)
Down Jacket - Uniqlo (Size M - Christmas present from hubby!)
Black Favorite Roll-Neck - Boden (Size 12 - Christmas present!)
Scarf - Benetton (old - similar here & here)|


Amazingly I've not had any smart comments from the hubby...and my mother in law compliments them every time I wear them. So they mustn't look too 'Pretty Woman' :) In terms of wearing with skirts, I've not had as much luck. Just didn't work but I've never been a fan of long boots with skirts on me anyway.


I'm off now to pack bags - the kids and I move back in with my mother in law tomorrow for a few weeks while the old kitchen is taken out and replaced, along with the gas boiler. It's going to be a long 3 or 4 weeks but this is the last big piece of work we need to do so I'm keeping focussed on how lovely it will be to have a proper working kitchen again. On the plus-side, being at granny's will hopefully give me more time in the evenings to blog - I've still to tell you about my my life-changing nocturnal lenses. I promise to dedicate my next post to them.


Hope you're all keeping well and that 2015 is treating you well so far..


Ax

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