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Unexpected Arkwardness

So, this post has been a long time coming. What was going to be a one-off collaboration piece has grown; this post is the first of two.
Already you are probably thinking ” what on earth are you jabbering on about”; this is a piece on weight loss – one I never thought I’d write.
As followers of my blog will know, two quite significant things have happened to me in the past 14 months. Firstly, I gave birth to my gorgeous little girl. My second daughter and our miracle baby. Secondly, I changed the way I eat. I started to follow the principles of Paleo; now five months on I prefer to call it ‘clean eating’. These aren’t mutually exclusive; during my maternity leave I discovered a love for cooking ( I’m a baker at heart) which made my family’s transition easier.
Fast forward to May 2013; my return to work. Many colleagues hadn’t seen me in a year and their memory of me was as I was ( heavily pregnant and before that heavier that I was on my return). I’ve discovered during my journey my body didn’t like the way I was eating before; I function so much better now and my body has stabilised nearly two stone lighter than I was. Infact, the last time I was this size was my university days. My booze filled, hyper active undergraduate life which, to be blunt dear reader, was unhealthy.
So, this is were the interesting comments and questions began asI reacquainted myself with day job; how have I lost weight, what diet am I on, I’m so skinny, a shadow of what I was, I look good etc and I’m experiencing emotions that I never expected; embarrassment and awkwardness.
My clothes don’t fit like they used to, I’m angular where I wasn’t before; I want to shout to people ” I HAVEN’T TRIED TO LOOSE THIS MUCH WEIGHT!”
We are surrounded by the suggestion of weight loss and body scrutiny in the media and the assumptions that to loose a dress size will make us happier, more successful and healthier. My decade and a half psychological hangover from my university lifestyle was that to look like I do now makes me look ill; as the last time it occurred it was through economical restriction for bad food, feet as transport and liquid lunches. Where others were intrigued by my major lifestyle change and the fantastic health benefits, when ever the weight loss would be mentioned I’d cringe!
It got me thinking about other people who had gone through other body transformations and how they feel about it; I put out a request on my social media channels and got some interesting and heartfelt replies. Two of these will be on the next blog piece and hope you will find them just as insightful as I did.
I’ve come to love my new shape but more importantly the stronger, more energetic, less moody and ache free BODY that I now own. But ladies weight loss isn’t the be all; body health is the way to go!!!

Studio Shoot with ‘August Allure’ and the OM-D

A little sneak peek from my shoot on saturday; useful technical info too!

Peter Cripps | Photography

Another studio shoot this weekend with the vintage and pinup model ‘August Allure‘ at the photographic studios of Tip Top Photography in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. A bit of pre-shoot communication goes a long way so we both had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to achieve and get out of the shoot. Whilst ‘Ms August’ was getting ready I was able to get three separate lighting arrangements set up allowing us to quickly move between each thus minimizing downtime between shoots whilst I faffed around with lighting. This is something I’ve learnt the hard way having spent more time on some shoots messing around with lights than I have actually taking photographs!

Here are some images from our shoot. Head and shoulders shots were all taken with the Oly’ 60mm f/2.8 macro which doubles up as a lovely portrait lens. The rest were taken…

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A sweet moment in time

The anticipation of celebration cakes has always been a big deal in my family. Part of the fun of birthdays and Christmas was the ‘big reveal’. I have fond memories of being banned from the kitchen as my mum baked, then crafted, a cake. This tradition began with my maternal Grandma, who was a talented sugar-crafter. My one regret was I discovered my love of cake decorating too late to ask her for her tricks of the trade.
It was only when I became a mother myself that I thought more about turning my hand to the art. Those who know me well may remember the ‘interesting’ (aka sliding icing) first birthday cake I produced for my eldest. However, it was her third birthday, where I created a numerically influenced cake which styling led to a guest asking ‘ why has she put a savloy on the top?’ that I knew something had to give.
So, I started scouring books, then you tube videos, for guides. However, I quickly learnt that I needed a different type of teaching; so I signed up for a course. It was fantastic, I got to see first hand how to ice a cake, and make it smooth, how to craft a rose and to cut a cake without it falling apart. And, I was given the secret of a …. crumb layer!!! I really enjoy planning a cake, although my perfectionist streak means I’m never truly happy with the finish, I take great pride in baking and decorating a cake filled with love.
The one thing that strikes me though, is how I’ve never really considered myself creative or good with my hands. That is what other people can do; I’m the logical, practical admin bound person with not a lot of imgaination. Baking I can do; there is a formula, a science to the art that I can follow. I never imagined when I began learning these new skills that I would discover a different side to myself!
With cake decorating there is an element of spontaneity. I have to react to the texture of the cake, to the way the icing falls, to a piping bag exploding mid application! Furthermore, I have to be patient. I usually don’t do patience. I’ve learnt the hard way in the early days of exploring this pastime of the downsides of not waiting for things to dry, to cool, to mix. Finally, I have to be in the moment, to truely concentrate on the one thing I am doing; not multitask and pay just enough attention to a few things.
Psychology talks about ‘the flow’; when you are engrossed in something so that time becomes meaningless and you are absorbed. In the modern world of instant gratification, constant contact and non-stop noise it is so refreshing to switch off and be in the moment! The fact that I have a tasty, good looking treat at the end of it makes it even sweeter!

Till next time …
August xx

Quarterly Annual Objectives Review ( or how am I doing?)

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If you read my No New Years Resolutions post, you would have seen I’ve taken a sprinkling of my day job and applied it to my Annual Objectives ( yup still claiming that a a phrase). In true management speak style I’ve decided to take the opportunity provided by a sleeping, snotty ten month old to review my progress, rather than sit and watch day-time TV.

It’s now been four months since I created that targeted list, and to be honest dear reader, the list is something I have returned to on a regular basis. I have held myself accountable to the achievement of these ( maybe because I’m stubborn, maybe because they are out in the public domain?) and I’m reaping the benefits already!

So, I will now write my ‘mid-point’ evaluation ( just pretend you are my boss if you so wish) ;

1. Return to my pre-pregnancy weight by my daughters first birthday.

This was achieved approximately  three weeks ago.  You may have read in my most recent post that my family has started to eat what is known as ‘clean’ or Paleo. The results of this change in lifestyle go way beyond weight. I’ve never felt so energised, so strong. My eldest even commented yesterday that ” Mummy you are so much more active”. So, big tick there ( do I get extra credit for early achievement ? )

2. Continue to be active and make this part of every day life.

This really goes hand in hand with the above. I walk where I can, regulary ‘sling’ my 20 + pound baby and Grace and I boogie to Mummy’s songs from her youth ( much to Grace’s embarrassment)

3. Read more; electrical equipment off by 9. One book a month minimum.

OK, so, this is where my Achilles heel is. I love my social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ( I’ve also now got a modelling Purple Port account where I spent hours pouring over beautifully framed photographs) so I’ll hold my hands up whilst giving you my sweetest smile and a confession. That hasn’t been happening enough. However, on the nights where is does I sleep better and talk more to my gorgeous husband of mine so I know it needs to happen more.

However, the book a month is going extremely well. A legacy from my University days is my ability to speed read. That means as of month five I’ve maintained my book a month ( in fact I’m just about to start book six). My library card is being flexed on a 21-day cycle ( new borrowing rules grrrrr) and I’m loving the escapism!

4. Decluttering; by the middle of the year sorting out three problem areas in the house furnishing with vintage / recycled decor.

Now this is the one that has surprised me; I don’t really ‘do’ tidy; I like places to look lived in. Some may call it messy, I call it homely. Anyhow, with these objectives in mind I looked at these locations through different eyes. And low and behold, four months in, I’m nearly finished! Space has been reclaimed, assumed long lost property has been discovered and I’ve got a newly found sense of pride in my home. Maybe, just maybe, I’m a proper grown – up now?!

So, there we are. Taking the proactive approach of things I shall DO rather than things I shall give up has really made a difference to my quality of life, my health and my general well being. It’s never to late to create your own Annual Objectives; who says you can only do this in January? Unless I see a memo, I can’t see why not, can you?

Till next time xxx

P.S. I’m up for Vintage Life Pinup 2013 in The National Vintage Awards: show your support by voting here http://thenationalvintageawards.co.uk/

The Paleo Pinup: Having my cake and eating it

I have a confession to make; I love food! I don’t do self-denial; life is too short. I like baking, adore roast dinners and desire pies. Now, this has led to interesting discussions with my uber health conscious, fitness trainer brother. In true big sister style I’ve automatically rejected every piece of advice he’s given me as either a fad, pseudo-science babble or just too restrictive to be worthwhile.
Approximately two years ago he converted to a Paleo lifestyle; for those who don’t know Paleo harks back to our palaeolithic ancestors way of eating. There are many debates around the specifics of this ( for those that are interested google Paleo and Primal to see ) but for my brother it means no gluten, grains, legumes, dairy and processed sugar.
He’s been chipping away at me for years, and finally I decided to give it a go. I will be honest, I expected to find it at best, hard work and too restrictive, at worst hunger and weight inducing. I took full advantage of my sibling status to pick his brains and got him to answer my daily questions and recipe requests.
So, four weeks in and I am converted! I am officially eating clean. Yes, I’ll admit that, much to my surprise weight loss has occurred. If you read my ‘Annual Objectives’ blog one of my aims was to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. This ( and more ) has happened. However, this is nothing compared to how I feel. I’m full of energy, I feel strong and physical ailments have disappeared.
What surprised me is I still get to eat cake. Over the last month that has included vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, bananna muffins, hot-cross buns, brownies, fruit biscuits and nutty slices! I concentrate on quality, natural produce and substitute my flour and sugar for ground almonds and maple syrup.
As a family we have changed how we view food; we eat vegetables and meat in abundance and we are enjoying experimenting. Recent additions to the shopping list are kale, avocados and Pak Choi!!
Now, and this is the most important thing for me, I can continue to set a good example to my girls. Food is fuel; with Paleo its delicious, varied and exciting! Self-denial still remains a non entity in my household as that’s how it will remain!

Till next time. …… X

Hot cross buns, pancakes and nutty cereal; did someone say nom nom ?

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Bare Faced Confidence

I used to wear make-up on a daily basis; even my basic look consisted of concealer, powder, blusher and mascara. After being told, at the tender age of 16, I looked ill by a Manager when I attempted a McDonalds shift sans face-paint, it became a daily ritual. However, something monumental happened to me seven years ago that has changed all that. I became a mother to a beautiful little girl, who is now the older sister to an equally stunning baby ( mother’s bias is allowed).
Initially the reduction of makeup was a necessity; the time it took to apply was better used for cuddles, feeding or most importantly sleep. However, over time I noticed I’d be out the house and mooching around my day before I’d think I’ve got no makeup on! No-one was offering to call a Doctor
or reeling back in horror! The au naturale me can’t be as zombie looking as I’d once believed.
Six and a half years after the first ‘mini me’ made an appearance my husband and I were blessed by another bundle of joy ( and wind, poop and sick but I digress) and I now find myself reflecting on how to guide these two girls into adulthood. Doing what I do ‘ for fun ‘ involves makeup ( lots of it at times) and gorgeous up-dos and I began to wonder what message this is giving my eldest about how women are viewed. Already she was asking me “why” I wear makeup; reasons she had come up with herself included ” to make boys like you” which left me horrified. So I sought out the best way to respond.
The best way was actually sitting in my book shelf. On the recommendation of a work colleague I’d purchased “Where has my little girl gone”” and it had been collecting dust since then. The book discusses the early sexualisation of girls and how to influence our daughters against pressures that impact their self -esteem / self views starting at the pre-teen stage. This struck a chord as my eldest is entering this highly important phase. I was reassured as we are already instinctively following the ethos of the book; however I was overjoyed to see a chapter dedicated to image and makeup.
From this I decided to consciously not wear makeup every day. So as I’m going through my preparations for the day what my eldest ( and subsequently my youngest) will experience is healthy eating, care over your appearance and time to chat about your day. At night time we discuss how to look after and protect your skin as she watches me cleanse, tone and moisturise. And on those occasions where the makeup is on ( being minimum ‘fresh faced’ or full blown lips and flicks) we will discuss enhancement not cover up. I hope over time my daughters enjoy making themselves up as much as I do, but that they feel as confidence bare faced as I do now.

Till next time …..

Full Shopping Bags and an Empty Wallet

Like hundreds of other Midlanders, I ventured along to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on a bright early March Morning. Since attending the first, in early 2011, I become a regular; both as a wiggle dress wearing SugaBilly and a shopper.
I usually spend time just drinking it all in. The buzz of eager shoppers, the sights of rockabilly babes and the sounds of the entertainment. However I often leave feeling like I haven’t quite got everything I wanted. No fault of the Fair and all about my shopping approach!
So this time I went with a game plan; I had two things that were a must have. Only once they were bought could I start looking at other things. This approach was based on ‘sods law’ that always affects me when I shop. Go looking for something specific and everything else ( but the thing I want ) will be revealed to me. So, in my twisted logic, by sticking to my guns in this vintage emporium I’d find exactly what I need and a lot of what I want.
And by Jove, it worked. The following is the result of a lovely Sunday shopping in Sutton:

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