The Hundred Pound Haul

The Premise

Feeling a bit disillusioned with the process of updating her wardrobe for summer, my mum came up with the (quite frankly genius) idea of the hundred pound haul. Let me explain. Five, time poor, fashion savvy girls are challenged to spend one hundred pounds in a designated high street store with the goal of creating stylish new looks! All items purchased must work in at least TWO ways with current wardrobe staples. Once the mission is complete we all meet up, present our wares, drink Prosecco and hopefully learn a little something from each other’s choices.

Planning The Hundred Pound Haul

The Store

Marks and Spencer, no longer the sartorial home of your gran or a one stop shop for  Percy Pigs, is having something of a fashion moment. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wary of the fit of trousers and jeans in particular but for pretty summer tops and accessories you really can’t go far wrong.

The Meet Up

We really weren’t sure how this was going to work in practice – did we need to show the complete look or could we simply talk the others through it? What would happen if we all ended up buying the same items (believe me it wouldn’t be the first time). Would we get sidetracked and end up 5 hours later ordering Chinese in a prosecco coma? Nope, it worked a dream – so much so that we’re going to try and make it a bi-monthly event! We chatted, asked questions and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one that left with some great styling tips that would otherwise never have occured to me and there are at least two new pieces on my wish list. On this occasion, I’ve focused on the pieces that I personally chose but I can feature everyone’s choices next time if that’s something people would like to see.

The Haul

I’ll admit, I didn’t put 100% effort into thinking up and planning my haul – I just kind of went with my gut and purchased things that appealed on first sight. Next time I promise I’ll put more thought in but without further ado, here are my picks…

Embroidered Off Shoulder Top

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I had been on the lookout for a summery off shoulder top to pair with jeans or white shorts on holiday and this really fit the bill. I loved the‘Riviera’ blue stripe with the contrasting red embroidery. On the downside, its a little short in the body and I fear it may make a bit of a shelf out of my gargantuan, breastfeeding boobs! Hopefully, I can minimise this with my favourite ‘le tuck’ technique (aka tucking the front of your top into your jeans or shorts) as the top itself is a bit of a winner.

Find it online HERE

Bee Print Split Shirt

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I was a little torn with this one. As much as I loved the print (shocking as print usually scares the heck out of me) I wasn’t overly convinced that I could pull off the longer length without looking a bit mumsy. Yet, the fit is so on point and the fact that you can tie the shirt at the front really modernises the shape. The sleeves are such a good length which, for me, is always a big bugbear with most of the M&S offering and the fit over my bust is perfect. I’m intending to wear this over a bikini on my more glamorous days or knotted with a pair of white shorts and my Panama for shopping trips (and a few cheeky cocktails).

This seems to have sold out online but they have other styles in this print HERE

Biker Skinny Leg Trousers

The Hundred Pound Haul | Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

I’m still umming and ahhing about these. I love the idea and they remind me somewhat of the ‘J Brand Houlihans’ which incidentally, I threw out for being far too big (and then I got pregnant and now nothing is too big)! I digress. In my head, these look great with both heels or trainers, my ‘Me & Em’ Blazer and a plain white tee but I’m still on the fence about whether they’re actually that flattering on the hip area.

Find these online HERE

Drawstring Detail Sweater

Drawstring Detail Round Neck Jumper |The Hundred Pound Haul| Marks and Spencer | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The wild card. I bought this because I quite literally had no simple sweaters just to pull on with jeans – my post pregnancy wardrobe clearout was quite severe and I’m pretty much having to start from scratch. I was quite surprised by how much I liked this given my relative ambivalence. The ties are just enough of a nod to the whole statement sleeve trend without being obtrusive and getting in the way while you’re trying to eat.

Find It online HERE

Ideas I’ll be pinching

  1. Pure Cotton Striped Short Sleeve Shell Top. Find it online HERE
  2. Pure Cotton Poplin Ruffle Sleeveless Blouse. Find it online HERE

Both remind me of one of my favourite brands, By Malene Birger. She makes beautiful (but pricey) summer tops with a twist and these are just so perfect – ideal to style up with cut off denim or white shorts.

So there you have it, the inaugural hundred pound haul. Leave a comment if there’s any particular store you would like us to focus on or maybe you would like to see hauls of specific items or targeted at particular events? Let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen.   http://convertalinktest.awin.com

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Postpartum Fitness MuTu System – A Review

Approximately 6 minutes into my favourite pre-baby workout I realised things had changed. The body that had previously responded to anything I had asked of it felt out of sync, alien and simply as if it didn’t belong to me. I was tired, dazed, confused and completely unable to connect to the body I once knew. Is it any wonder the workout didn’t, well, work? I decided to do a bit of research into post pregnancy fitness and was amazed to learn about diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation) and horrified that a weak pelvic floor could remain so indefinitely! I felt I needed specific exercises targeted at women seeking to regain their core stability after having children and a quick Google led me to MuTu System.

About MuTu System

MuTu is a system is ‘for women who want their bodies to look, feel and function better after having a baby. It is a solution for mummy tummy, diastasis recti, pelvic floor weakness and core that isn’t as functional or strong as you’d like it to be.’*

The system is a 12-week programme with exercises starting gently and slowly building in intensity as you begin to regain your strength and stability. Walking is key and Wendy (MuTu’s founder) emphasises the importance of correct alignment and posture in restoring your core to strength. Core exercises include the use of resistance bands and a pilates ball to train your core as a whole using squats and lunges. For me, this insistence on gradually building up your strength and essentially teaching your body how to function properly again was so reassuring. I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Someone was telling me not only was it was ok not to want to hammer myself with burpees, mountain climbers and jump lunges (ouch), but that it could be potentially harmful. It was helpful to be reminded just how much of a trauma carrying and birthing a baby (whether naturally or via c section) is and that it is not realistic to expect results quickly. Wendy said, “your muscles don’t need boot camp, they need a little love.”*  I’m not going to lie, this sounded so appealing to someone who was in a permanent state of exhaustion and welded to a mini human!

 

Pelvic-floor-diagram-blogimage
Picture Credit MuTu System

 

Results

For the first six weeks of the programme, I was highly motivated and followed the guidelines to the letter. Then I got sloppy. Sleep deprivation meant the sugar crept back into my diet and I started missing the odd core workout. Despite these little lapses, the improvement I continued to both see and feel was incredible. I was very lucky not to have too much of a problem with abdominal separation but my pelvic floor was shot. Walking every day and learning how to properly engage my core using my abs, back, hips and pelvic muscles as a whole made such a difference both to how I felt and how I looked. People actually noticed a change and I could see my shape starting to come back.

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This is NOT the exercise programme to get you ripped but it is ESSENTIAL for anyone who has had a baby! I truly believe that this is the best foundation for building up your strength post pregnancy. I am not fixed – I don’t know whether that is even possible but as long as the exercises continue to help my body heal then I will continue to practice them. I now have an awareness of my core muscles and can apply that knowledge to my everyday movements. I have recently started a more intensive exercise programme to try and gain muscle and definition but MuTu has taught me to make every exercise a core exercise and to really think about and engage my core muscles in the correct way so as to avoid stress or injury. I wouldn’t have been able to attempt any of these more advanced exercises had I not firstly worked on my core strength. I am genuinely very grateful to have found MuTu at a time when I was vulnerable and floundering and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the system to anyone who has had a baby and just doesn’t know where to begin.

*For More Information visit www.mutusystem.com

Post Pregnancy Skincare Routine

After the first few queasy months of pregnancy, my epidermis took on that fabled mum to be glow! I know, I lucked out and I wish I had savoured the moment as since having my baby, breastfeeding and sheer exhaustion have definitely taken their toll! However, I’ve found that by sticking to a dedicated routine and obsessively stalking skincare guru Caroline Hirons have kept things from going downhill too rapidly! (If you have any concerns regarding your skin check her out – she is the business)!

Cleanse

I am religious about cleansing my skin – it’s non-negotiable! In the evenings I ‘double cleanse’ firstly with a balm (I love Emma Hardie’s ‘Moringa Cleansing Balm’) to remove makeup or SPF. I follow that with something light and luxurious like Oskia’s ‘Renaissance Cleansing Gel’ to clean my skin. Nothing feels as good as taking the day off your face with a lovely hot flannel.

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Exfoliate

I’m not talking about ripping your face to shreds with something that started out life as an apricot (that’s one skincare ritual best left in the 80’s)! The new liquid exfoliants contain acids (not as scary as it sounds) in varying strengths that help to lower the skin’s ph. This makes everything that comes next that little bit more effective! Pixi ‘Glow Tonic’ is great in the evening to slough away those dead skin cells and Alpha Hs cult classic ‘Liquid Gold’ is my twice weekly go to for a serious freshen up. I’m addicted to that warm post exfoliation tingle!

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Spritz

This is a completely unnecessary yet hugely enjoyable step in my routine. After a quick swipe of my chosen exfoliant, I’ll always give my skin a spritz of something calming, soothing and moisturising. My all time favourite is ‘The Jasmine Garden’ by May Lindstrom (seriously, for anyone who loves jasmine as much as I do, this is utterly, utterly delightful). However, it is prohibitively expensive and so I do use it sparingly! My daily spritz of choice would probably be the Clinique ‘Moisture Surge Face Spray’ (I actually had my husband spritz me with this during labour so it definitely does the trick)!

Les Yeux

There’s a bit of a debate about the necessity of an eye cream but I love a targeted eye product. (Particularly as I now only manage, at most, 3 hours of sleep in a row – the joys of motherhood)! If money is tight then taking your serum up to the eye area is perfectly acceptable, but I personally feel that this extra step is worth the effort. Zelens ‘Triple-Action Advanced Eye Cream’ is pricey but pretty unbeatable at smoothing the whole eye area and if I’ve had a particularly hard night then the Wei ‘Correcting Eye Treatment Pads’ are like a slice of heaven!  My baby turns from the demon of the night to the angel of the morning so I can usually find ten relatively peaceful minutes to lie back and chill why these luscious little pads work their magic!

Treat

Serums seem to be the most misunderstood part of any modern skincare regime. Simply put, a serum is there to treat whatever ails you – be that, pigmentation, blemishes or fine lines and wrinkles. It can take the form of a cream, an oil, a gel, can be thick, thin, runny or gloopy.  My current favourite is the ‘Organic Skin Oil’ by La Belle Lune. It smells delicious and keeps my post pregnancy skin calm and feeling super soft even when my hormones are having a fiesta!

Hydrate 

I generally think less about my moisturiser than any other aspect of my skincare routine preferring to target my problem areas with a good facial oil or a high tech serum.I tend to favour something simple and hydrating such as the Alpha H ‘Essential Hydration Cream’ and use it to lock in everything that’s gone before it.

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Added Extras 

If I’m going out or attending an event, nine times out of ten I will begin by prepping my skin with the Charlotte Tilbury ‘Goddess Skin Clay Mask.’ For clay, it smells divine and leaves my skin plumped up, glowing and with a perfect base for applying makeup. On the other hand, if my skin is acting up and irritated, or if I’m planning on being in the house all day, ‘The Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm’ by May Lindstrom is beautiful but again prohibitively expensive so do apply sparingly!

If anyone has any suggestions about how to achieve that ‘lit from within’ ‘J-Lo”  glow on minimal sleep and diet that consists mainly of tea, toast and giant chocolate buttons, then please share all! Obviously not eating said chocolate buttons and upping the water intake would help but, you know, baby steps!

20 Facts About Me…

  1. I am mum to Luna Belle and wife to Ilka. My wedding day was the greatest day of life… and then my daughter was born! These 2 humans are my world!
  2. I have a degree in Law but have never practiced.
  3. I worked in the fashion industry for 5 years but am still aspiring to that ‘Carrie Bradshaw wardrobe of dreams. ‘
  4. I am obsessed with history – tales of great lovers and royalty from times past never fail to thrill me.
  5. I am terrified of the telephone. Luckily my husband does not share my phone phobia and will quite happily pick up the phone to make a call – he completes me!
  6. I hate shimmery nail polish but love a short square opaque nail in coral, hot pink, nude or dark burgundy. Uma Thurman’s Chanel Rouge Noir Nails in the film Pulp Fiction are perfection!
  7. I have holidayed in the South of Spain since I was 10 months old – it holds a very special place in my heart.
  8. My family is my life and my best female friends are family members.
  9. My favourite film is the original Clash of the Titans and I once chained myself to a tree and waited to be rescued by a prince on a flying horse (spoiler…it didn’t happen).
  10. I have never met an 80’s power ballad I didn’t love…my husband is a  DJ and despairs of my ‘terrible’ taste in music!
  11. I love nothing more than curling up with a cup of tea and a good book (and by ‘good book’ I mean a trashy historical romance!)
  12. I am practical and reliable to the point of being a bit of a bore!
  13. I hate exercise but dream of being the ‘after’ photo in a ‘fitspo’ Instagram account
  14. I love Victoria Beckham and may or may not have 3 scrapbooks dedicated to her style.
  15. I truly believe Kate Middleton and I could be best friends!
  16. I’m an excellent researcher and a fountain of useless knowledge.
  17. I love a big, blousy bloom – roses, peonies, hydrangea…give me all the pretty!
  18. I always believe people will come through for you and am forever surprised when they don’t!
  19. I believe in the Loch Ness Monster
  20. Monica Gellar and Margo Ledbetter are my sitcom soulmates!

Continue reading “20 Facts About Me…”