Lady Emblem Elixir by MontBlanc

You know you've spritzed on something distinctive when people actually ask you what fragrance you're wearing because it smells so good - this has happened to me since I started wearing Lady Emblem Elixir. It's such sweet, yet light scent, with an unusual mix of notes - rose, honey and spices, orange blossom and vanilla to name a few. There are so many ingredients to this fragrance that it'd take an age to list them all - but what it results in is a beautifully unusual scent.


One thing I noticed immediately about Lady Emblem Elixir is that it smells as good at the end of the day as it did when I sprayed it on in the morning - no need to keep topping up with this!

Then there's the bottle - how pretty is this?


It's a gorgeous addition to my dressing table. Inspired by the Montblanc diamond, this rose gold beauty is just stunning. It fits perfectly with the scent - unusual, but beautiful and distinctive.

I'd not tried any MontBlanc fragrances before so was really interested to try this - I wasn't sure what I'd think, as I had it in my head that the fragrances would be stuffy and old fashioned. I couldn't have been more wrong! Perfect for a summer evening.


Lady Emblem Elixir by Mont Blanc priced at £54 for 50ml EDP.

*Thanks to Kenneth Green Associates who provided me this fragrance for review.

Cracking True Crime Podcasts

Latest obsession…..

True Crime Podcasts. I’m in my car for a couple of hours every day – usually stuck in traffic on the motorway -  so anything that makes the time pass a bit more quickly is a good thing. Lately, I’ve been listening to true crime podcasts. I’ve discovered, with podcasts, that the presenter makes ALL the difference. While you’re listening, you’re transported into their world, their thoughts - so how they convey them to the listener is crucial in keeping interest. I’ve listened to some corkers (and some duds). Here are my picks of the best…


I was a little late to the party on this one – Serial was first broadcast in 2014 and to date is the most downloaded podcast series of all time. In it, presenter Sarah Koenig examines the cases of Hae Min Lee, a high school student murdered in 1999. Her ex boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was charged with her murder and remains in prison today (there’s movement in this case at the moment, but I won’t spoil it for anyone yet to listen). Sarah talks to various people connected to the case, including Adnan himself.

While the case itself is certainly intriguing, I also found it frustrating – at one point Sarah makes a comment that Adnan doesn’t seem capable of murder, because he has ’giant brown eyes, like a cow’. This was obviously intended as a flippant comment, but I think it highlights the way Sarah treats Adnan throughout the podcast – she speaks to him many times, yet I don’t hear her asking him any truly uncomfortable questions, or pushing him on his constant ‘I don’t remember’ responses, when asked what happened during those January days in 1999. I think she treads very lightly with him – less so with others involved in the case, like Jay, a key witness for the prosecution. A bit biased? I think so, but absolutely worth listening to. There are dozens of websites, Reddit threads, newer podcasts and even books on the subject of this case, so there’s plenty more to dig into once you finish listening to Serial and feel like your life no longer has meaning (ok that’s probably just me).

Note, though  - if you listen to Season 2, don’t expect it to be anywhere near as interesting as the first. It’s a completely different subject – the story of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, a former Taliban prisoner. Personally, I found it so boring I turned off after 2 episodes.


David Ridgen presents this Canadian podcast series which delves into the case of missing 29 year old Sheryl Sheppard. Just days before she disappeared, on January 2nd, 1998, Sheryl’s boyfriend Michael Lavoie proposed to her live on TV during a New Year’s party – you can see the actual video of this on the podcast’s website. Her disappearance has never been explained, although there is plenty of suspicion. Michael is and has always been the main suspect for police investigating this case. David talks to Sheyl’s mother, various friends, family and people who knew both her and Michael at that time and have differing opinions on what happened. We learn a lot about Sheryl as a person, which, for me, made this podcast come to life just that bit more.  David has a kind, sympathetic manner and this also comes across – he’s very easy to listen to (and seems particularly enamoured with dogs, who he meets several of over the course of this podcast) as is one of the detectives on the case who sounds EXACTLY like George Clooney (really, he does – you need to listen!).


These are short, concise, individual podcasts detailing unsolved murders in the US presented by Heidi Galore, a crime analyst and former police officer. Heidi speaks calmly and slowly, which has the effect of making these podcasts easy to listen to, and chilling, all at once. We don’t learn a huge amount about these cases, but I really like Heidi’s presenting style – it’s her that drew me in. The first episode tells the story of Sister Cathy Cesnik (if you’ve watched Netflix’s The Keepers, you’ll know her story), then the following episodes cover different cases, including several unsolved murders which took place along the Colonial Parkway. There’s not a great deal of detail in these – as I said, they are short, concise podcasts – I suppose you could call them the sort of easy listening of true crime, if there can be such a thing!


Beth Andes was 23 years old when she was brutally murdered in her apartment in Ohio in December, 1978. Her boyfriend Bob was arrested and went to trial for her murder. He was acquitted. He was then acquitted a second time in a civil case brought by Beth’s family. There is so much about this case that is baffling, from what happened from the moment Beth’s body was discovered to the statements and behaviour of various people connected to the case. It’s a sad and intriguing story, presented by Amber Hunt of the Cincinnati Enquirer. I think this has been my favourite of all the true crime podcasts I’ve listened to so far. Amber has a chatty yet professional style which I think suits the subject perfectly. She asks all the questions I would have, had I been in her position. I don’t think I’m spoiling it for anyone yet to listen by saying Beth’s murder remains unresolved, however, given the commitment to the case Amber and producer Amanda Rossman have given – and continue to give, by all accounts – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it is solved some time soon. Oh, and one extra thing  - chapter 6, just over ten minutes in: CREEPIEST THING EVER. I’m serious. I was tootling along a busy road in the sunshine, in my bright coral Fiat 500 when I listened to this, and it was so chilling I immediately locked the car doors. You have been warned!!

North East Charity Shop Gems


You know it - I LOVE a chazza shop fashion bargain. It's undoubtedly become harder to find decent picks in the last few years, mind you - you're more likely to find a sea of Primark cast-offs that you couldn't pay me to wear in most of the charity shops around here - but there are a few gems. So here are my pick of the best places in the North East to pop some tags.....

St Oswald's Boutique, Hazelwood Avenue, Jesmond. 

Clue's in the name with this one: boutique. A super cheap bargain bucket this ain't - St Oswald's clearly send their best donations here - but it essentially is still a charity shop so prices aren't unreasonable, either. This is the place to come if you're looking for higher end high street brands - think Hobbs, Boden and Mint Velvet. Goods are neatly arranged by size and colour and the shop definitely has a more upscale feel.

Recent finds: Hobbs black patent courts - £6.50, Boden striped trousers - £8, Fat Face hoodie - £6.

Scope, Fore Street, Hexham.

Hexham has a number of charity shops but this is my favourite. Neatly arranged with a good selection of brands, I've also found a decent amount of brand new Boden stuff here on occasions - rumour has it that they donate past-season stock to Scope stores every once in a while so there are definitely bargains to be found. I've seen a lot of M&S, Phase Eight and Warehouse here,too.

Recent finds: Boden dress - £10, Phase Eight dress - £6.50, Carvela heels - £4.

St Oswald's, High Street, Gosforth. 

On my most recent visit to this branch of St O's everything in store was half price, meaning there were some real mega bargains to be found. This store has a shopper-friendly layout with goods set out by size and type, and there's always something in the window to draw me in. French Connection, Reiss and Paul Smith were all on the rails on my most recent trip here. Although this isn't a boutique store, like the Jesmond one, it does offer higher end brands without the prices to match.

Recent finds: Reiss dress - £5, Autograph @ M&S blazer - £4, Paul Smith sweater - £5.


Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct Fragrance Review

If you’ve ever visited an Abercrombie & Fitch store, tell me this: what’s the first thing you notice when you walk in the door? No, I don’t mean the half naked man strategically loitering at the entrance to entice you in. It’s the smell, isn’t it? The smell of A&F’s original men’s cologne, Fierce, which is so distinctive that I can usually tell if there’s an A&F store within 100 yards just by catching a whiff. It’s a really nice smell – like clean, fresh, manly outdoorsyness all in one. So I’ve always known that Abercrombie make delicious men’s fragrances, but I hadn’t ever tried any of their fragrances for us ladies.


First Instinct is A&F’s newest women’s scent, and it comes in a sleek, simple bottle with a rose gold lid which fits perfectly with the brand. The bottle suggests that the fragrance is subtle, fresh and playful; I think that sums it up perfectly. The scent is inspired by the first moment of attraction; that first spark you feel (like when I first saw the guy at the door in A&F Vegas, maybe?!)


I did wonder if maybe the fragrance would be too ‘young’ for me – very sweet, or fruity, maybe – but that’s not the case at all. With top notes of Magnolia, Grapefruit Zest and Passionfruit, and a sultry Amber base, First Instinct is really light to wear. I’ve been using it over the last couple of weeks and it’s perfect for sunny weekends; not overpowering, but fresh and long lasting.


In keeping with the Abercrombie and Fitch brand, I think this is a fragrance you should have fun outdoors in the sunshine in – ride a bike, cor climb a mountain, maybe? I won’t be climbing any mountains myself, but I will be wearing First Instinct this weekend whilst drinking Prosecco in a beer garden. That’s sort of outdoorsy, isn’t it?

Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct EDP, from £35 for 30ml.

* Many thanks to the lovely folk at Kenneth Green Associates who provided this fragrance in exchange for my honest review. 

IntuMetrocentre's #IntuFashion Event

Spring /Summer fashion has been creeping it’s way into the shops for a while now. Seeing all those bright colours and floral prints cheers me right up – I’m picturing sunny walks along the coast and sipping Pimms in the garden. Then I remember I live in the North East of England and it’s likely we’ll get approximately 2.5 warm, sunny days between now and October. But still, I can dream (or book a holiday somewhere far, far away). Either way, I make sure I’m prepared for the (2.5 days of) sunshine by buying lots of pretty summer clothes. This is where IntuMetrocentre gives me a hand with some fashion inspo at their #IntuFashion event this week. Running from 27th to 30th April, there’ll be catwalk shows showcasing SS17 collections from the likes of Topshop, House of Fraser, Accessorize, Coast and Primark – something for everyone, basically – with the models strutting their stuff to the latest tunes. So you can legitimately stare at good looking men in shorts and have a little boogie at the same time. Winning!


Stores will be offering discounts throughout the event, too, so you’re actually saving money. Well done, you! You should reward yourself by buying that handbag. Yes, I really should. I mean – you should. You. Yes, that’s what I meant. Seriously, though, this is a great way to save some cash on your summer wardrobe without having to wait until the sales (when summer will be a distant memory) – just pop to the customer service desk and pick up a leaflet for details.


And if you need any more convincing about getting yourself a new summer wardrobe, how about getting rid of stuff you don’t wear (to make room for the new stuff, obvs) and doing a good deed in the process? IntuMetrocentre are working closely with St Oswald’s Hospice this year, and are collecting donations of unwanted clothing. Charity bags can be obtained from the customer service desk and handed in at any St Oswald’s store.




So, seems like it’s settled. I’m ditching a load of clothing that’s cluttering my wardrobe and making way for some new summer threads. I’ve got my eye on anything embroidered, floral or blush pink – check out these picks:









IntuMetrocentre’s SS17 #IntuFashion event runs from Thurs 27th to Sunday 30th April, with catwalk shows taking place regularly in the main town square outside House of Fraser:

     Thursday 27 April: 12pm2pm4pm6pm
Friday 28 April: 12pm2pm4pm6pm
Saturday 29 April: 11am1pm3pm5pm
Sunday 30 April: 11.30am1.30pm3.30pm
Enjoy!

 *Thanks to IntuMetrocentre for inviting me to the #intufashion preview event this week. Fabulous as always! x

Andrew McCarthy - My 1980s Dream

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my unwavering affection for Andrew McCarthy. For anyone under the age of 35, Andrew (who I shall henceforth refer to as ‘A’) was quite simply the ‘80s actor everyone wanted to go to prom with. At least, he would’ve been if we’d had proms in those days, which we didn’t. But still. Michael J. Fox was too cutesy, Rob Lowe too…something I can’t put my finger on but which frankly made me a little nervy. A was…well, perfect.

If you’ve ever watched St Elmo’s Fire or Pretty in Pink, (and if you haven’t you need to. I mean it) then you’ll know A is the good guy. The dependable, calm, sweet-natured one with the nice face who you just know would never lie to you or let you down. Because even when he does something a little bit cray, it’s actually ok.


Let’s take Mannequin as a case in point (I know you’ve seen it). A, as the character Jonathan, works in a department store and has a penchant for getting off with the window display mannequins. Now, if this went on today it’d be plastered all over the Daily Mail and there’d be uproar on Facebook and the like. I’m sure that even in the ‘80s having relations with plastic dummies was frowned upon, yet, A, aka Jonathan, got away with it. In fact, he didn’t just get away with it – he had people like me wishing we were mannequins, on the off chance he came along, took a liking and whisked us off on the back of his motorbike-thingy (to the prom. This is where the prom fits in). 

And I’m obviously not the only one – read Jenny Colgan’s 2001 novel ‘Looking for Andrew McCarthy’. It was like that book was written for me.

I’d be hard pushed to think of an actor today who gives me the same feels. Often, usually on a Saturday evening whilst cradling a bottle of Prosecco, I’ll watch Mannequin with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes (particularly at the bit where Emmy, the object of Jonathan’s affections, gets rescued from the chipper at the very last second and Starship’s ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ starts playing), wondering where A is now. A quick google search confirms he is alive and well, directing (Orange is the New Black, no less) and writing and generally doing things that don’t involve mannequins, so that’s good.

Mannequin is 30 years old this year. This also brings tears to my eyes, for different reasons. But I’ll never forget A – he’ll always have a special place in my heart and every time I hear the opening bars of John Parr’s 1984 hit St Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion), I ache a little at the thought of the imaginary motorbike-thingy ride to the prom that never was.

Someone pass the Prosecco.

What's The Point Of Blogging?

Bit of a random one, but nevertheless this is a question I've asked myself a fair bit over the last five or so years since I've been writing stuff on the internet. Blogging has become a phenomenon; a way to influence, to sell, to share. It's become an aspiration, a goal, and even a career choice, for some.

When I started blogging, I knew no one was reading. Literally, no one. Except myself, obviously - and occasionally the husband, when forced. I wrote because I enjoyed it, it allowed me to be creative when my day job didn't, and I likened it to a diary; something I'd look back on with fondness in the future. I never thought about promoting my blog, or trying to gain followers. It was just a blog. My blog.

As time has gone on, I've developed my blog - no where near the level of a lot of other bloggers, but it has grown. I've made some great friends through attending events (and let me add here that I've never been a particularly sociable person, so that in itself was a big thing for me) and had some brilliant opportunities that I would never have expected. Yet I found the actual blogging part more and more difficult - the actual sitting down with my laptop and tapping out my thoughts, ideas and opinions. So what's changed?


Earlier today I went to an event called #Instasistas, organised by the very lovely Lea (@thecowbarn on instagram - go and check out her beautiful interior design skills. Errmm.. after you finish reading this). It was a very informal gathering of around 15 ladies, most of whom had never met before, with the aim of getting away from day to day life and relaxing over coffee and scones at a lovely local parlour called Wheelbirks. A few of the ladies asked about my blog and as I was talking, I mentioned I was thinking of changing the name, since telling people usually involves me repeating 'Is it Just Meme. No, IS It Just Meme. No, Meme. ME ME'...etc etc. 'Don't change it! It's great!' was the resounding response. I've been thinking about changing it for probably a year now, thinking I need to choose something more simple, more mainstream - more....plain, I suppose. After this morning, I realised that actually, I don't need to change it. I don't even really want to change it. My blog name is ME. (Ermmm....literally).

So that got me thinking about why I blog, and remembering the reasons I started. Not to write something I thought people would read, or get likes on social media, or grab the attention of PRs  - all of these things are lovely, of course they are, but they aren't necessarily a reason for me to blog. I started because I enjoyed writing, and wanted to do it, even if no one was reading.

So what have I learned? Write like nobody's reading. For me, that's it - that's how I blog. That's how I be as authentic as I can. That's how I enjoy blogging. And I'm looking forward to writing my blog again. There's a good chance there'll be swearing, and mildly inappropriate humour, but, as I said: authentic.

x

PS- You should know that I agonised over the title of this post. Those who know me well know that poor grammar is a serious pet peeve of mine, so I was unsure whether 'What's the point of blogging' was better than 'What's the point in blogging'. I thought about it for a while, then gave up and had tea and cake.

New Season Fashion Hacks

I think I've mentioned that since Christmas I've on a shopping ban  - well, less of a ban, more of a diet, let's be honest - I mean, I have still bought stuff, just....not as much as I usually would, particularly in sale season. And I'm not immune to the charms of new season wonderfulness, taunting me with it's flared sleeves, statement boots and slogan knits. I'm just trying to be good. And being good means trawling t'interweb for cheaper alternatives to the looks I lust after on instagram.


So...the aforementioned flared sleeves. I've seen loads of bloggers sporting this jumper which I love the look of, and at £35 it's not exactly breaking the bank, but unfortunately the high neck and cropped design are not my friend and seemed to make me look about 2 sizes bigger on top. Not for the busty, I'm afraid! Love the statement sleeve look, though, so I was super chuffed to find this bell sleeved v neck at George at Asda, for a particularly purse pleasing £14.


They also have this round neck bell sleeved jumper in nude and a brighter coral pink for a bargainous £12.


Or what about this cute monochrome number - love the tie sleeve detail.


Hush's lightening bolt sweat is another blogger fave...I do love it but just can't justify £50 for a casual top. I spotted a lightening bolt top in Next sale yesterday and thought for £7, it's worth a punt. (I can't post a direct link, but search lightening bolt top in clearance - lots of sizes there right now).


What do you think? xx

BareMinerals Gen Nude Collection - The Nudes You Never Knew you Needed

I've been on a bit of a beauty spending ban for the last couple of months, since I have boxes full of stuff I've bought on a whim after seeing a particularly persuasive advert/blogger/YouTuber tell me I NEED it, only to find out that not only did I not need it, but I didn't particularly want it either. This is because, as much as I love makeup and seeing the fabulous looks people create on instagram, I wear the same dozen or so products pretty much every day, since my go to look is a taupey-brown slightly smokey eye, glowy pink cheeks and a nude lip. If it ain't broke, right?

That said, I am forever having my head turned by nude lips. Well, nude lip products, anyway. If you're a nude-lip fan, you'll know how difficult it is to get the exact shade you have in mind when you picture your perfect nude lip. For me, a lot of nude shades are too brown-toned and make me look like I've been dug up. Or then there's the shimmery nudes, which, let's be honest look horrific on everyone. Or what about the flat, matte nudes that make even non-flaky lips look scaly and dry? I can't even recount the amount of cash I've wasted over the years on unsuitable nude lippies - in fact, I started just wearing lip balm instead. And then BareMinerals brought out the Gen Nude Collection and - yup, I had my head turned.


There are four products in the range: a lipstick, a matte liquid lipcolour, a gloss and a lip pencil. And there are 40 shades available across the products, ranging from super pale (I'll be steering clear of those) to darker nudes. I tried one of each product type and although the lipstick and lipgloss are nice (both have a pleasant vanilla scent, are smooth to apply and feel comfortable to wear), my favourite product by a clear mile is the Liquid Lipcolour. I have the shade Ju Ju, which is a darker nude that I probably wouldn't have chosen myself, but when I tried it I absolutely loved the fact that although it's nude, it's darker and more dramatic than my usual picks and the matte texture gives it a modern edge. I've not really been a fan of liquid lipsticks since I bought a Bourjois one once which had the most disgusting smell and stringy, sticky texture. This is nothing like that - it has the same nice vanilla scent as the other Gen Nude offerings and a smooth, velvety texture which dries but doesn't dry out the lips. I paired it with the Under Over Lipliner in Vibe which is pretty much a perfect match and neatened the edges up perfectly.


I've now got my eye on a couple of other shades of Matte Liquid Lipcolour - Swank is a deep berry-toned nude which I love the look of, and Bo$$ is described as Dirty Pink Beige, which frankly makes me want it just to I can tell people my lips are...well, Dirty Pink Beige. Despite the number of nude lip products I already own, I don't have any like these, so, obviously, I NEED them. (Heavy hint to Husband inserted here).

Any of the Gen Nude Collection catching your eye?

*thanks to BareMinerals for sending me these products to review.

Silidyn Supplement Review - UPDATE!

Let me start by saying that I'm not one for taking supplements. I have tried a few, years ago, but nothing I used seemed to have any impact and I became somewhat cynical about these types of products. Do we really need them? Is it all just a big con to get you to fork out a few quid on something which promises you'll look ten years younger after a week? So, yeah, a bit cynical.

It's been years since I've used any supplements, but back in November I was given the opportunity to try Silidyn, and I thought, heck, why not? I'm a little less cynical nowadays (I hope, anyway), so, Silidyn - what's the deal?


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