Belfast-based, style loving mum of 3. Fashion, Lifestyle, Food & Fitness

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Review - Lighthouse Clothing

I've featured Target dry on the blog quite a few times. They're a Belfast-based company that produces a great range of technical outdoor wear and I've a few of their coats in my collection that are perfect for the school run.

Late last year, the company told me about their new range Lighthouse Clothing - more nautical and casual in nature. Seeing the mood board for it back then, it reminded me a little of Seasalt. I was very much looking forward to seeing the range when it launched during March and I wasn't disappointed. It's not a huge range yet but there was lots that I loved so it was my pleasure to select some pieces for the family to try out.
The girls chose the Carrie Printed Waterproof Coat - perfect for the next 6 months or so. It's not the usual light nylon waterproof material - it's more substantial than that with a softer feel and the whole coat is lined in cotton jersey so there is some warmth to it.
The main reason for choosing it was that the girls loved the colours - it's a great mix that goes with almost everything.
My advice would be to size up - these age 7-8's are a little on the small side for my girls although they are big for their age and wear 9-10 in some brands, despite being only 7. The price point is excellent on these for the quality - they have a zip closure with popper buttons, two front pockets with poppers also, elasticated wrist and the lining extends up into the hood. We've tried these out in rain showers and the water beads off them nicely.

My husband and I went for his & hers sweatshirts!
Simply because we both have Target dry raincoats that we love and that are still in perfect condition so there was no need to replace them. Apart from my BCGC hoodie, I don't possess a sweatshirt like this but every summer when we got to Donegal or up the North coast, I always wish I did.
Haven Cotton Sweater Top
It's got lovely detail on it - stripes on the neckline and at the wrist, in the zipped pockets each side and also down the zip.
It's a nice mid-weight soft sweatshirt material in 100% cotton. I am wearing the size 10 and it's true to size I'd say.
Himself is a big wearer of this style of zipped sweatshirt - smarter than a regular sweat but not as formal as a knit.
The mustard trip and the brown leather zip tab are nice touches. Even his mother approved so it must be good.
Seafarer Cotton Jersey Top
Again, sizing is spot on - BK is wearing the L here.

My son didn't chose anything and that's the only negative. The kids range only goes up to age 7-8 currently and the mens size S still a bit too big for him. But he was happy to be the photographer in this instance. Actually on that, please let me know if you've any suggestions for where to source clothing for tall, slim 12 year olds!

All told, I think it's a great addition to the offering at this innovative local company and I look forward to the range extending over coming seasons. Thanks to the guys behind Lighthouse Clothing and Target dry for always supporting the blog and for being key players in keeping my family and myself dressed for all weathers :)

Ax
Disclaimer - we were supplied all items free of charge but I was not obliged to blog about them nor was I paid to. All words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog - especially the local ones x
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Friday, 25 March 2016

Easter Sale Steals


Finally sitting down after a day of celebrations because the first born turned 12 today. I told him as I tucked him into bed that I was more tired after today's fun than I was on that day back in 2004 but I was definitely less bewildered....how that first born turns your world upside down?!

Anyway, being exhausted meant I properly sat down and as the rugby was on, I decided to do some online browsing. Which led to me spotting that some great sales have started so I thought I'd do a quick round up of some of the bargains I found....

Starting with Topshop where I saw WAY too many shoes. Look away now if you have shoe issues like me as you'll end up buying 4 pairs before you know it. 

Standard delivery is free all weekend in Topshop too!

Moving on and I have to say, I've not been feeling Boden at all recently. There are some more impressive bits coming through on the next SS16 drop but they're not in this sale. A friend down Moira direction is having a party on the 26th April and my sister is having a party in Tipperary on 10th May so I'm looking forward to exploring the range more at both of these parties. Email me if you want to come along too and need more details.

But for now, selected spring stock is currently at up to 40% off but I hear that it moves to 50% off on Tuesday...if you're not too fussed or the item you like seems to have plenty of stock left, then you might want to fill your basket and cross your fingers until then? Free shipping with orders over £30. 

These three items are honestly the only sale items I'd consider getting right now - I fancy the cardigan in both colours! 

Finally for this evening, Hush, where there's not exactly a sale but there's a discount....and they're rare enough to find outside of Summer and Winter sales. Use EASTER16 for 10% off (and free chocolate)
My military jacket from last year is now too big for me :( so I want to replace it with one of these which I think will work well as a throw on and layering piece without the weight:

These basic t-shirts get amazing reviews so I'm considering ordering a white one. My wardrobe is full of slightly oversized tops so I want to get a few closer fitting ones for wearing with culottes and skirts this summer:

And 10% off in Hush is the perfect incentive for me to buy my favourite Pomegranate & Peppercorn candle. I've tried lots of candles and this still beats them all for fragrance. You know it's going to be a good one when it scents your room before you've even lit it. I love that they come in smaller sizes too so you can try them before investing in a large one:

And a couple of off-line things - firstly, I've been told that the Gap outlets are down to 50% off now so the jeans I featured on my last post are even better value (sob) and secondly, there's 20% off ASOS with this month's Elle Magazine:

This is what I wore today for the wee man's birthday. Between making him his favourite breakfast (croissant & fruit), dinner (fajitas) AND birthday cake (Nigella's coffee cake), we went for a walk and a kick about. All about the practical:

Coat - Boden Everyday Mac (SS14)
7/8 Zipped Indigo Jeans - Piesak (via Sarah Jane Boutique, Magherafelt)
Trainers - Onitsuka Tiger (old)
Breton - Joules

So it's off to bed with me as I'm doing my first Parkrun tomorrow morning. Of course it's currently blowing a gale and pouring rain. I'll be sure to share a drenched photo on Instagram!

Ax
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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Leggings that aren't really leggings....

How are the holidays going so far? We are back up from Tipperary and try as I might, I've not had time to blog before now. But on the plus side, I've been enjoying time with the kids and getting caught up with laundry and other rock'n'roll home stuff. But I'm staying up late tonight to share my new jeans with you!

Back about a year ago, I bought some Gap Forever Stretch Leggings from the Banbridge Outlet in a faded black colour. I'd been looking for a faded (but unripped) pair for a while so was delighted to find them.

Let's clarify something at this early stage, they're NOT leggings...I have no idea why Gap call them that...but generally speaking, their jeans names don't do much to describe the fit (real straight vs slim straight anyone?)

In a further confusing twist, because of the stretch, the sizing is not numerical. They're available in a S, M, L or XL. At the time of buying that first pair, I was heavier than I am now and bought the size M - I reckon it's about a 12-14. They always were a little loose on the waist and recently, even more so. I got it into my head that I needed to get the S the next time I was in the outlets.

Well, what do you know? At the weekend, we needed a comfort stop en route back from Tipperary and it just 'happened' to coincide with Banbridge (where the outlets are) and would you believe, Gap had 40% off their jeans? Sweet.

Now a further caveat, these Gap Forever Stretch Leggings aren't exactly the same as my first pair of Gap Forever Stretch Leggings. Go figure. They're a thicker denim and not as soft. They also come up smaller. I had a moment when I got home thinking they'd not close on me but they are extremely stretchy....thankfully.

Colour wise, they are also different but I actually prefer this colour as it's more uniform across the legs. Sometimes random faded patches at thighs or on the bum can look unflattering.

So here they are today - it's actually my second time wearing them but I didn't take a photo the first time..and yes, the ankles were properly out and this seemed to cause some amusement on social media. It was a gorgeous day here and I was mostly in the car or in the house so I honestly DIDN'T have cold feet - I promise! I'm not such a slave to fashion :)
I digress but seriously, I have so much love for this jumper....every time I wear it, I get asked about it. Then I was stopped at pedestrian lights the other day and a woman walked across the road wearing the exact same jumper in grey (from this link). I need it in my life!
Jumper - French Connection (AW15 stock via Dice Boutique, Magherafelt) but it is available in lots of other colour ways on this link
Jeans - Forever Stretch Legging from Gap (via the Banbridge Outlet) in blue and dark black here
Cross Body - Boden (past season)

The verdict on the jeans (leggings)? Well I love them as I am a super skinny jean lover. I hate baggy ankles and jeans that slip down - these don't budge one bit! But they're also comfy and don't nip or dig in. So I guess in that respect, they're more like leggings?

In any case, they're down to about £26 in the outlets at the moment so if you're passing, make sure you take a comfort break :)

Ax
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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Warehouse & New Look try-on....

I got it into my head today that I needed some khaki in my wardrobe....specifically a khaki top. Not sure why but it all of a sudden seemed to be *the* missing piece in my wardrobe....the piece that would bring everything together. Maybe I just needed an excuse to go shopping. Believe it or not, I'm not a great browsing shopper. I have to have something specific to look for. Mind you, I'll buy all around me while I'm looking for that one item but to get me to the shops in the first place, I need a thing to look for.

Warehouse was first on my list and before I knew it, I had lots in my hands that I wanted to try on...all on a neutral/green theme.
Starting with this green mac. I love the shape and the colour is surprisingly neutral.
My only hesitation was that I need a black casual jacket more than another mac. A reluctant put back and now that I see the photos, I want it even more! <sits on credit card>

Next a couple of khaki tops and this first one was too big in a 14 but there was no 12. Great colour and lovely quality of jersey though. Can't find it online to link to - apologies.
The next one is closer to the colour I was looking for and has a lovely oversized shape
but I didn't like that it was a marl finish - I really wanted a solid khaki colour.

Then a couple of tops from the sale - this floral one has some great colours in it and a lovely open back detail which I've not tied properly but hopefully you get the gist.
This next cream one is almost a scuba style material and has a lovely pleat detail down the front. It was only a size 8 though and was a bit neat for me under the arms.
I love the putty colour in this next top, also in the sale. The pleating on the front is very flattering. It also has an open detail on the back.
I intended coming back to buy it after my grocery shopping but in fact, I ended up not going back to Warehouse for any of what I tried on because I saw a potential black jacket elsewhere en route!

But not before I'd called quickly into New Look, where I saw this asymmetric jumper from the Apricot range.
I get asked all the time about my Zara asymmetric knits and the cut of this is very similar. It's just £23 and again, I resisted but may go back now I've seen the pictures again (that's the good/bad thing about taking photos of what you try on!)

I did buy one thing in New Look - a khaki top! For £4 in the sale :) I didn't get a picture in store but here's one from when I got back home.
I prefer the shorter sleeve and the shape is great....already making up outfits in my head so that's always a good sign.

Oh and I'll share the black jacket on a separate post as I'm still mulling over it.

And here's what I wore today on the shopping trip.
Faux Leather Jacket - Dunnes Stores (past season)
Dark Wash Zipped Jeans - Pieszak via Sarah Jane Boutique
Scarf - preloved from DejaVu
Navy Bucket Bag - Warehouse (past season)

It's that time of year where coats are too warm and jackets a bit too cool so the scarf collection gets well worn. I am looking EVERYWHERE for a scarf with khaki in it, along with black and with a geometric/animal print (not floral!) but having no luck. Do let me know if you spot anything anywhere please.

Hope you all have a great weekend and Happy St Patrick's Day! Easter school holidays started for us today so I'm taking the girls to Tipperary for a few days and leaving the boys here to fend for themselves. My son still has school for another week and doesn't go back until the 11th. So that'll be 3.5 weeks of Easter holidays to manage. There better be all the chocolate...

Ax







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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Gait Analysis for Running

I've been asked about trainers so many times over the past few weeks - there are lots of you running right now, either first timers or post-injury like myself and many have asked me how I got on having my gait analysed, what trainers I ended up buying as a result and if I'd recommend the process. I hadn't originally planned to dedicate an entire blog post to the topic but here goes....and apologies in advance to the non-runners. I would have clicked out and moved onto the next post 6 months ago. It's funny how priorities change.
(Normal service resumes with the next post)

On the recommendation of my Magherafelt friend, Anne (and in an attempt to get me back up to there for another coffee & catch up!), I booked in with Geoff in Sportique in Magherafelt:
I know not all of you can easily get to Magherafelt but I urge you to go to an independently owned sports shop or a dedicated running shop if you want to have your gait analysed. Generally speaking, the big chains are unlikely to have the expertise that's required, nor will they have the specialised running trainers that are needed for certain gait issues.

The process itself is really straightforward. I was asked to put on a pair of trainers supplied by the shop and run on a regular treadmill for about 20 seconds.
Then I put on my current trainers and did the same. Geoff analysed my movement on an iPad using a super slow motion app. He was immediately able to identify an issue with my right foot where I'm flicking the foot outwards when I lift it, causing me to land unevenly. This was putting lots of pressure on my ankle bone - it was fascinating to see it on the recording.
I wear orthotics insoles that were custom made for me following my last back episode in 2014 so I then ran with these in the trainers. The good news is that the orthotics are doing what they're meant to do - Geoff was able to show me the significant improvement they make to the ankle movement. After studying the two videos, he recommended a neutral gait flexible trainer with good cushioning. If I did not already have orthotics, Geoff would have prescribed a more rigid pair with arch support, to mimic the effect of my custom insoles. 

And there-in lies the point of having this analysis done because had I just wandered into a sports store without this knowledge and bought a rigid pair, it would have resulted in an over-correction of my gait. Equally, if I didn't have orthotics and bought a neutral pair, my ankle wouldn't be supported. Both scenarios would likely have resulted in injury issues in the future - either at the ankle itself or more probable for me, at my weaker point - the knee.

So I then tried three neutral trainers - Brooks, Hoka and Asics - all running specific brands and each (in my opinion) very different. First up it was Brooks and in terms of look, they were my favourite.
Great colour and very wearable outside of running but I ran on the treadmill with them and just didn't feel they worked for me. They didn't have as much cushioning as I wanted and felt a bit neat on my wide foot.

Next up, I tried Hoka OneOne.
Now these have revolutionised the running market thanks to their unique design and cushioning. I have a friend who has struggled with running related back pain over recent years and since she started wearing Hoka trainers before Christmas, her pain is totally gone. Apparently, the company are only just about keeping up with demand, purely on the strength of word of mouth amongst runners.
And on trying them on, I could see how they can help. Their design is similar to MBT's in that they encourage the foot into a better position while moving but unlike MBT's, they are not tricky to wear and don't require you to change your walking style.
The reason why I didn't opt for the Hoka's is because they are specifically a running shoe and given running is only about 30% of my weekly exercise, I need a shoe that also works in the gym. Geoff felt that I'd be better with the next trainer - the Asics Gel-Nimbus
It's a great running trainer with maximum cushioning but it's also supportive and close enough to the floor for gym/weights work. I'll be honest, the colour wouldn't have been my first choice but they were in the sale and so I was getting an amazing trainer for the price and in fact, now I've had them for a few weeks, I realise that the brighter the trainer, the safer you are out running on these darker evenings.

So what did I learn about the whole process? Firstly, the right trainer does make a difference to how you run and how likely you are to suffer with injuries. Secondly, you do get what you pay for. All of the running specific trainers I tried were in or around the £80-£100 mark - the technology and innovation within them obviously comes at a price. I'll admit that until now, I would have struggled with paying that kind of money for running/gym shoes BUT if it prevents physiotherapy sessions (dread to think how much I've forked out on those after my last running injury) and allows me to get out there in the fresh air and enjoy running again, it's definitely worth it.

Before I go (and this is not a sponsored post btw!), if you are looking for some really amazing brands that are not stocked in just any old sports or outdoor shop, Sportique really is the place to visit (or phone). All of these niche and specialist brands can be purchased over the phone and can be posted to Ireland and the UK - just give the guys a call on 028 79632899.
and here I was all ready for my first 5k...I couldn't have gotten the proper running shoes without purchasing some proper scary running leggings now could I?
Leggings - Nike
Trainers & Top - Asics

Ax


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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Outfit Catch-Up

It's another outfit catch up post and a chance to let you know what I've been getting up to this week. I'm loving the sunnier days and (slightly) warmer weather so my lighter coats have had a few outings, starting with Saturday when I wore my green Zara one..
Coat/Jumper/Scarf - all Zara...all past season - new version of the knit here 
Jeans - Pieszak (from Sarah Jane Boutique)
Shoes - Seven Boot Lane Flame Trainers (℅)
Cross Body Bag - Boden (v old - similar here)

On Monday, I wore my navy Boden Zoe, which I got in the sale after Christmas. I love the oversized shape. Under it, I wore the River Island draped top I got before Christmas. It's in the sale now apparently but I can't find it online anymore.
Coat - Boden Zoe (in clearance) - I'm wearing the size S
Draped Top - River Island (past season - I'm wearing a 14)
Scarf - via Dejavu
Boots - Ash Jalouse in Navy (current season heresimilar here)
Cross Body Bag - Yoshi (on sale!) use 15EXTRA for 15% off sale prices

I also wore my green Zara coat on Tuesday..but here's what I had on underneath it. I had to do a talk on Blogging & Facebook, hence the slightly smarter look. Kept it simple though...when in doubt, wear black!
Black Oversized Knit - River Island (current)
Black Jeans - Topshop Joni
White Shirt - TM Lewin
Black Ankle Boots - Ash Jalouse (similar here & here)

Wednesday saw me at the launch of the Lidl SS16 fashion range - a lovely event in the Merchant Hotel. Here are some photos of my favourite items and the good news is that the first drop of this new stock started today in the NI and ROI stores!
Here's what I wore:
Black Wool Cape - Zara
Grey Roll Neck - Mango (old - similar here)
Blue Distressed Skinny Jeans - Pieszak (Sarah Jane Boutique)
Black Ankle Boots - Dune London

Finally, today I wore my Great Plain's coat again (from this post), along with the lace up Topshop pumps I bought in the sales (see this post):
Jeans - Kings of Indigo (via TK Maxx)
Shoes - Topshop (out of stock)
Black Knit - Zara

How is it almost Friday again??? And I've just realised that my kids break up for Easter on Wednesday next (the 16th) - cue panicked planning for this almost 3 week break. Surely half term was only last week?

Hope you've had a great week,

Ax
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