The Anniversary Conundrum

Does anybody else hate buying presents for their other half? Let’s face it, men are (sweeping generalisation alert) quite practical creatures. If they want something, they’ll buy it – end of story. Forgive me if I speak out of turn but men, at least the men in my life, are a complete ball ache to buy for! Unless you’re about to present them with a Ferrari or (in my husbands’ case) a classic Mini Cooper they really couldn’t be less interested. Useful gifts are boring, novelty gifts are met with a polite chuckle and sentimental gifts with a shy smile (before its relegated to a bottomless drawer full of equally useless stuff you have no idea what to do with). So what’s a girl to do when, within the space of 2 weeks you have your husbands birthday, his first fathers day and our second wedding anniversay? (yes that was bad planning on my part)!

Our Wedding Day | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Horseshoe | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Our First Wedding Anniversary

The first wedding anniversary is traditionally celebrated with the gift of paper. Now I’m quite a traditional girl at heart and so I wanted to honour this custom. He’s not a big reader so any sort of book was out, then I struck gold. I ordered a custom illustration of us on our wedding day which I then framed and presented as a gift. I LOVE it! Unfortunately, this gift came under the ‘sentimental gifts’ header so, after the obligatory shy smile, the picture was left to me to display. If I asked him now I’m pretty sure he won’t recall where that picture came from or indeed that it was intended as a gift for him. This is probably as good as its going to get and I’ve pretty much made my peace with that.

Wedding Illustration | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Check out Custom Portraits by Blanka Illustration HERE

Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary

The second wedding anniversary is traditionally celebrated with the gift of cotton so I’ve gone full on cheese-central with this years gift…matching Mr & Mrs. Cotton Waffle Bathrobes! I’m not even going to apologise – I’m completely embracing the naffness and can’t wait to cosy up in them, Sangria in hand, on our first family holiday (as you read this we will be living it up in the South of Spain)! Fingers crossed he will actually get some wear out of it (even if he does forget where it came from and why)!

Bathrobes | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Bathrobes | The Anniversary Conundrum | jessicarhoades.co.uk

Custom Bathrobe Available Online HERE

If anyone has any completely brilliant suggestions when it comes to buying for the boys then please do leave a comment below. Yes, this is most definitely a first world problem but I can’t be the only one who finds it impossibly tricky? I have a full year to plan for Anniversary No3 – Leather! That’s one full year to lay a trail of subliminal messaging leading to the Chanel Classic Flap…Hmmmm (insert scratches head emoji)!

All Wedding Photography by the brilliant Claire Penn

 

 

 

Postpartum Fitness – The Journey So Far

Call me naive but I was completely unprepared for the way I would feel about my body after giving birth to my baby girl. I had read all the books and I had all of the necessary information, but there’s just something about pregnancy that makes you kind of, mentally block out the thought of anything potentially ‘icky’ or uncomfortable. Consequently, the profuse leakage, aching knees (seriously, no one ever tells you), and sheer bone exhaustion (not to mention the sizeable gut) came as something of a shock. Now I don’t mean to sound dramatic. Putting experiences down on paper seems to make them appear ten times worse and, if I’m honest, everything has been perfectly manageable  – that’s not to say I wasn’t caught off guard!

I’m about as far removed from a health and fitness fanatic as it’s possible to get – this is not a tale of how I grew to love exercise or a detailed testimony of I got my pre-baby body back. Simply put, 9 months down the line I still struggle every day with motivation (or the lack thereof) and lack of confidence in my own abilities. It’s been a long hard slog and I still have a way to go. Here are a few discoveries I’ve made along the way.

  • No one tells you why your body looks and behaves the way it does. At each postnatal check, my midwife would feel my tummy. I never thought to question why as it seemed a perfectly logical thing to do. My tummy had, after all, recently housed an 8Ib human so it made sense that someone would ‘check’ that it was doing o.k. in the aftermath. I wasn’t aware that she was checking the extent of my abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis Recti). If I’m honest I wasn’t aware there was such a thing!
  • Most women have some degree of separation after childbirth – some are lucky with only a minimal gap that will reduce over time. Others have a more severe separation that does require targeted core strengthening techniques to rectify and can be MADE WORSE by the wrong types of exercise.
  • Planks, crunches and other advanced abdominal exercises are the worst possible thing you can do for a post-baby pooch! Without regaining core stability these exercises will do very little for your mum-tum and may even make matters worse There is a definite lack of information as to how to optimise postpartum workouts.
  • Postpartum bodies do not simply snap back to what they were before. I think this myth needs busting right now. Yes, some women recover more quickly than others – every woman’s body responds differently and every woman has a different experience of both pregnancy and birth. Keep in mind that old saying – 9 months on 9 months off (in fact give it a good year or more).
  • As much as it pains me to say it (believe me I’m eye rolling myself right now), you do need to do something to help your body along. I love sweets, I love tea, I hate getting sweaty. It has taken an enormous amount of effort and willpower to summon the energy to prioritise my health and well-being. As I said, this is not the tale of how I now love exercise. It is hard! I don’t love it and it really is a struggle especially when you are in a permanent state of sleep deprivation. But here’s the depressing truth – exercise works! When I get out for a walk first thing in the morning I do feel better. When I finish a workout, I do get a buzz (simply from the sense of satisfaction at having completed it without keeling over) and after 12 weeks of core exercises, I am far less likely to end up in a puddle of wee when I sneeze! Having babies is nothing if not glamorous!

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

Click Here for a full review of the targeted postpartum system I have used to get to grips with healing my body post pregnancy.

*Update…Going Forward – BBG & Beyond

If I’m being honest, this post has been sitting in the drafts folder for a number of weeks. I just haven’t known when was ‘the right time’ and I certainly don’t feel qualified to advise anybody on the rights and wrongs of getting the ‘old bod’ back in action. Since completing my 12 weeks on the Mutu System, I’ve found myself wanting to (tentatively) take my fitness journey to the next level. My friend Kim recommended the ‘Kayla Itsines’ BBG Programme to me and, after four weeks (of beginner level) I’m certainly feeling stronger though the workouts are INTENSE! As I said I am no great exercise lover so would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned that I might not be able to go the distance – particularly as I have a holiday coming up! I have a feeling this could be an ongoing saga…watch this space!

Postpartum Fitness - The Journey So Far

I would love to hear anyone else’s experiences of working out or dealing with body woes after pregnancy. If you have any tips, tricks or stories to tell please do leave a comment below!

Shopping My Wardrobe – The Accessory Edit

Having babies is an expensive business. Just as soon as you’ve forked out for the ‘big things’ (i.e. the pushchair, the car seat, the cot), then they’ve grown out of them and before you know it you’re in a costly circle of spending and desperately trying to rehouse everything that is now surplus to requirement. So, not only do we have a great big hole in the bank balance but also a house bursting with swing chairs, bedside cribs and baby gyms that our (now 9 month old) has long since outgrown.

This is a roundabout way of saying that the time of the disposable income and of treating myself (succumbing) to the odd luxury splurge are (temporarily) a thing of the past! So, my new challenge to myself is to ‘shop my wardrobe’ and uncover the lost gems that are undoubtedly lurking beneath the boxes and designer dust bags. So, without further ado, here are a few rediscoveries that I shall be attempting to insert into my new ‘mum-drobe’ (Apologies in advance for the overuse of the word ‘classic’).

The Bag – The Louis Vuitton ‘Alma’

They say you never forget your first and I can think of no reason why this shouldn’t apply just as well to handbags as to, ahem, other areas. This timeless tote probably wouldn’t be my first choice today but holds so much sentimental value as it was a gift from my mum & dad when I received my A Level results. The eponymous brown monogrammed canvas is a true classic, eschewing the ‘naff’ tag that comes with so many brand logos (Burberry still hasnt recovered)! Although this bag doesn’t see as much use as it once did I think it’s definitely still relevant to a modern mum wardrobe as it goes with pretty much anything and is surprisingly roomy – I’m pretty sure I can squeeze all the baby changing essentials in here as well as my phone/purse/keys etc. (*sidenote – the mobile phone pocket is not at all conducive to iPhones but I’m pretty sure that this must be because mine predates the whole Smartphone genre (granny alert). I can only assume that the new ones have been adapted accordingly?)

The ‘Alma’ is still available to purchase HERE for an eyewatering £1050!!!! (pretty sure we paid £450 back in the day)

Shopping My Wardrobe | jessicarhoades.co.uk

The Belt – Dolce & Gabbana Gents Belt

I love a bit of menswear. Give me a pair of boyfriend jeans, a gents watch, my hubbies shirt and a pair of Gucci Loafers over a floral mini dress any day of the week! I picked up this belt during the ‘Great Dolce & Gabbana Splurge of 2004’ (more on that later) and have worn it every year, without fail since (it’s still pristine)! You would go a long way before you found a belt that looks this achingly chic with a pair of kick flares and a crisp white shirt!

This Belt is long gone but there are some amzing logo belts out there including this lustworthy Gucci Number 

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

The Bling – By Malene Birger Lily Bell Necklace

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the brand By Malene Birger and I just knew when I bought this necklace that it would be one of those things that lived in my wardrobe forever! I always think it’s worth paying that little bit extra for these kinds of pieces – the ones that are really unique! Statement jewellery, like anything, has its moments in and out of the spotlight but this little number can really take an outfit from ‘meh’ to ‘scene stealer’ in an instant. I’m really excited about this rediscovery as I can stick to my mum uniform of jeans & a tee but add this necklace and a pair of heels and it immediately takes it to a whole new level! This brand is another that has skyrocketed in price since I made this purchase – another reason why it’s so exciting to delve into the archives – you never know what gems you might unearth that you would pay an arm and a leg for today!

I can’t find anything remotely similar but there are some lovely Statement Necklaces at THE OUTNET HERE

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

The Beckham Acquisition

There was a time that I would covet everything and anything that was championed by the ever fabulous Mrs. Beckham.  These shades are a case in point. Does anyone remember the (oh so cool) collaboration between Victoria Beckham, Dane Bowers, and True Steppers? Yep, that was the one that was pipped to the No1spot by Sophie Ellis-Bexter’s ‘Groovejet’. In the video, VB plays a badass chick in a Matrix-style coat, an Audi convertible and ‘those’ Chanel shades! These were sold out everywhere in the UK and it was actually my grandparents who tracked them down for me in Marbella. This is what I love about these ‘stashed at the back of your wardrobe gems’ – everything comes with a story!

Find Similar HERE

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

The Dolce & Gabbana Affair

The year was 2004. A new designer had just installed themselves on the front line at Puerto Banus. It was the year of Dolce & Gabbana. It was one of those collections that gave you goosebumps, where each and every item seemed to scream ‘buy me’. The look was darkly glamorous – almost goth. Think black velvets, emerald green satin, ruby red jewels and rich gold tapestry. It was a look that was luxurious, regal and so very romantic. In the years before babies and mortgages, when disposable income was just that, I splurged…and then I splurged again. That summer is a distant memory but I still have those treasured pieces and treasured they are…

The Swag…

  • Jewelled clutch bag.
  • Crystal & Leather monogrammed cuff.
  • Leather & Chain monogrammed belt
  • Tusk pendant necklace.

I believe there was also a pair of jeans in this haul which (if I still owned them) I’m pretty sure wouldn’t go over my knees! That people is why, if you’re going to lose all sense of practicality and responsibility, you should do so in the accessory department only!

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

Shopping My Wardrobe...The Accessory Edit

I hope this has encouraged you to revisit items in your own wardrobe you may have stashed and try mixing them up with a few newer pieces. We all have things that we hang on to because we either paid a lot of money for them or simply because we love them. why not have a rummage, pull out a handful of long-forgotten items and see if you can give them a new lease of life. If your anything like me and need to save a few pennies then it’s a very interesting and worthwhile exercise in self-restraint and imagination!

Try It, Love It…The Tili Beauty Box

Beauty boxes are having something of a moment and really what’s not to love? A pretty box filled with tempting treats – it’s like crack for the discerning beauty junkie! So enamoured are we with these little boxes of delights, we’ve already seen beauty eggs at Easter and Advent Calendars at Christmas (the Diptique advent calendar is truly exquisite) and my favourite beauty girls (that would be Caroline Hirons, Lily Pebbles and Anna of The Anna Edit) have all partnered with online mecca Cult Beauty to create their own edit of beauty must haves! FYI, next time you see one of these collaborations coming up, get your name on the waitlist asap as they sell out FAST!

Try It Love It – The May Edition

This is the fourth incarnation of the Tili (try it, love it) Beauty Box which always contains a really good mix of niche and premium brands for a (quite remarkable) price of £20. You don’t need to subscribe to the box and you can see exactly what’s inside before you go ahead and hit the buy now button (so no nasty surprises lurking in its depths)!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

What’s in the box????

  • Alpha H Liquid Gold Rose – Wahhhhh, I think would have bought the box for this alone – this is a brand new launch (so no, the box isn’t full of old or discontinued items)!
  • OPI Nail Colour (this isn’t my shade but I love a bit of OPI and again this is from the new season collection)!
  • Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish – An absolute classic. I haven’t used this in years but I’m looking forward to trying it again.
  • IT Cosmetics CC Cream – I already own and love the full size of this product. It’s an amazing full coverage CC Cream that glides on a dream and gives a gorgeous glowy finish.
  • Erno Laszlo Cleanser Travel Set – This is a new one on me and I can’t wait to give it a go (apparently Audrey Hepburn was a fan and if it’s good enough for Holly Golightly…)
  • Benefit Rollerlash Mascara – I love a travel sized mascara. I find you can really get to the root of the lashes with a smaller brush although I don’t think I’ve ever tried a benefit mascara (I’m usually a Lancome girl) so I’m intrigued to give this a go.
  • Ultrasun SPF 30 For Face – I’m a bit crazy obsessive with SPF these days – I’m definitely starting to see the effects of my sun worshipping teenage days so a good daily SPF is a must.
  • Vita Liberata 10-Minute-Tan – The Vita Liberata Mousse from a previous Tili box was a real winner so I can’t wait to take this on my hols to try out!
  • Julien Farel Vitamin Shampoo and Conditioner – I’m not going to lie, shampoo and conditioner aren’t the most thrilling items in a girl’s beauty arsenal – essential yes, exciting, not so much. On the other hand, these smell amazing and it’s always nice to have travel sized essentials!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

5 Favourites From Previous Boxes

  1. Liquid Gold – I’ve mentioned this before in my Post Pregnancy Skincare Post but it really is one of my desert island products! (Although, obviously, if I was on a desert island, SPF would probably me the smart choice)!
  2. Vita Liberata Mousse – I hadn’t fake tanned for so long. I think I was bored of the whole sticky, smelly rigmarole and let’s be honest, it never looks that authentic. This mousse was a bit of a game changer – light, easy to use (i.e no streaks) and surprisingly convincing colour wise.
  3. Becca Illuminating Primer – I’ve used quite a few illuminating primers before but wow – this is a game changer! Every time I wear this I get ‘your make up looks amazing’ comments! Becca always make incredible ‘glow’ products (I’m lusting after their new ‘Chrissy Teigen Glow Face Palette’) so I’ll definitely be adding this to my shopping list.
  4. Percy & Reed Volumising Mousse – I’m not one to get excited by haircare products but this has given my heavy hair a much-needed boost not to mention its a FULL-SIZE product! (It retails at £12 on its own)!
  5. Decleor Aromessence Mandarin  – I absolutely love Decleor Facial Oils. I would usually go with Aromessence Neroli to calm my skin and give it that all important glow but the Mandarin is equally glow-inducing with the added benefit of smoothing those little lines that seem to be popping up a bit more frequently than I would like.

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Beauty Box Losers

By losers what I really mean is that these products either just didn’t work for me or that they simply don’t do it for me. I don’t think there are many losers in boxes like this as you can always pass something on to a friend or family member if it’s just not for you.

  • Laura Gellar ‘Spackle Tinted Under Make-Up Primer’ I’ve tried other products from the ‘spackle’ family and it’s a product that just doesn’t agree with my skin. It tends to give me breakouts and leaves my skin feeling greasy.
  • Nexxus ‘Nutritive Shampoo & Conditioner’ Not really a loser just something that fails to tickle my ‘beauty junkie’ tastebuds.
  • Essie ‘Mint Candy Apple’ Nail Polish. I think we’ve discussed my limited tolerance for anything other than Uma Thurman’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ Nails. Yup, mint green nails are just not my bag!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

Let’s Talk About ‘Those’ Boxes…

The physical Tili Beauty Box is a JOY to behold! Each box is themed to a particular colour with a full list of product ingredients and the whole effect is always crisp, clean and just yummy to open. It really is like receiving a gift, the packaging is that pretty!

Try It, Love It...The Tili Beauty Box

I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with the Tili Beauty Box. The price point is crazy for the amount and quality of premium product and the box itself (yes we’ve established I’m a crazy box lady) makes the product as a whole look so well thought out and pretty. Great gift, great gift to self, get thee to QVC on the double!

The Tili Beauty Box is available online HERE