The power of Love (and excellent present buying!)

Those of you who already follow me on Instagram might have already seen my outpouring of love for the dress my wonderful husband bought me for Christmas this year!

I hadn’t even told him about a particular dress I was pining for after seeing the beautiful Sarah (Plus Size and Proud) wearing on Instagram:

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I didn’t leave subtle hints, or even unsubtle ones! I didn’t mention Interrobangart to him at all. Or that we followed eachother on Instagram!

But somehow he stumbled across her amazing collection on Etsy (we both buy a lot of presents from UK independent makers on there) and picked out The Dress! He even managed to get the right size and everything!!! He’s always managed to buy lovely, thoughtful gifts but this was almost like he’d read my mind!

The dress is already a wardrobe staple. I’ve pretty much worn this dress constantly since Christmas – as soon as it’s out of the wash! Here’s how I’ve been styling it:

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It’s really comfortable and has plenty of stretch – thanks to the elasticated ruching on the back (I’m not usually a fan of elastication but it does help to get a good, comfortable fit!). It’s the perfect length on me (I’m about 5’7″ and wearing a 22) and has held it’s colour in the wash. The bright blocky test card pattern is a perfect backdrop for funky accessories – It can be dressed up or left casual with a pair of leggings and trainers. It will effortlessly transition all seasons – I am totally in love with it!

I’m already eyeing up future designs I’d like (this one seems quite apt!) I’d absolutely recommended checking out her collection for yourself! (dresses can be found here)

So, my husband earned himself a whole heap of husband achievement points for this particular purchase! 😍 But, in the interest of balance – here’s his account of a bit of a parenting fail!!

Thank you JollyNiceSoup – you did a fab job. Xxx

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I Like to Move It Move It!

So, it’s January, which means traditionally it’s the month when everyone is supposed to resolve to exercise more in a bid to lose the Christmas pounds… Almost everyone I know has tried and failed to get into a regular exercise routine at some point or other and eventually jacked it in claiming they “failed” for whatever reason. When I went back to the gym this month it was after a break of only a week or so, rather than months or years this time around. I’m not looking for a medal or congratulations (or even an opportunity to be smug about it!) but realising that I’ve managed to establish a regular exercise routine for almost 2 years (rather than months!) got me wondering what was different for me this time around. As a fattie who exercises regularly I thought you might like an insight into how I’ve managed to keep it up this time around.

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The decision to exercise or not to exercise is up to the individual. This post is in no way advocating that you or anyone else should exercise or not. This is intended to be a little insight into my experience for those who are interested in getting their body moving, regardless of their body size or fitness.

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1. Consider your motivation
For me, this time around at least, it wasn’t about exercising to lose weight. It was to get healthier and stronger so I could comfortably chase my kids around! I also wanted to get out of the house! After trying to do the Zombie Couch to 5k I realised I also enjoyed the social aspects (as I was bored to tears going out for a run! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚). Finding an exercise class that allowed me to:
a) Get fitter and stronger, and
b) Socialise with others
was all I really needed. Without the motivation to lose ‘X’ pounds every week it was harder to feel like I was “failing”. All I had to do was show up and join in to feel a sense of achievement. I remain focused on these 2 things which helps me to keep going back, even after a break!

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Post-gym sweaty selfie!

2. Find something you enjoy!
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?! But I’m amazed at the number of people who power through classes they claim to hate because of the promise of fat burning or whatever…! I started off by going to my local church hall to do a zumba class with a couple of friends and I absolutely fell in love! I got so carried away with the dance routines and the music I left sweaty, achey and smiling every week! My friends stopped going after a while but the draw of the class (and the brilliant instructor) kept me going back. After a while, I wanted more… so I joined a leisure centre with loads of classes (where the monthly membership made it more cost effective if I went 3 times a week). Which brings me on to my next point…

3. Try something out of your comfort zone… You might surprise yourself.
After joining the gym, although I was anxious about not being able to manage a particular class and being embarrassed, I decided to try a variety of classes to find what I liked. I did a couple of regular dancey ones and tried all kinds of things to fill the 3rd weekly workout slot… Legs Bums and Tums (not for me!), Aqua Zumba (fun, but not high intensity enough), Spinning (HATE HATE HATE!!!), Street Dancersize (brilliant, but clashes with work), Body Combat (not dancey enough),Circuit Training (incredible sense of achievement – loved it!).

I was amazed that circuit training was my favourite! I can’t even remember why I tried it initially, but I love the full body workout. I like that I can feel all of my muscles working and that I can run/lift/press a little more each week. In fact I like it so much I’ve dropped one of the zumba classes in favour of doing a second circuit! πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ I urge you to try something new… If you hate it you don’t have to go back, but you might discover something you love!

4. Find a good instructor
My enjoyment of a class plummets when the regular instructors I have are replaced with someone different. I think having a rapport with them and their understanding of how to motivate you is important. If you don’t like a class or an instructor try a different one. In the past I was given a trainer at the gym (on the monotonous mind numbing equipment!) who seemed repulsed by me and my weight. Needless to say, we didn’t get on and I stopped going. (my confidence was much lower then!) I’m pleased he didn’t manage to put me off for life!

5. Get some good kit
Before you even start, invest in a supportive sports bra! If you have boobs on the larger side you’ll be very uncomfortable without a good one. My current bra is the Elomi Energise Sports Bra which is underwired and offers incredible support. I’m so happy with it I haven’t even considered any alternatives. It can withstand all of the jumping about (I wish there was a belly version to offer a similar level of support!) and can be worn as a racer back or as standard straps. I can’t imagine exercising without it!

Once you know what your exercise of choice is, buy yourself some decent, comfortable sportswear. I started off wearing whatever I had in the drawer… regular jogging bottoms and a t-shirt but the joggers were thick and kind of bunched up. I found capri length exercise leggings and a long-line t-shirt allowed me to move more freely and didn’t ride up if I was doing any floor work. I try to avoid loose fitting trousers if there’s going to be lots of jumping (star jumps etc.) as tight leggings prevent my tummy slapping my legs (sorry, not sorry!). I have baggier harem style pants for dance classes if there’s lots of hip wiggles or boots shaking – I basically feel a bit more ‘street’ in them…! My trousers are from Primark, New Look or cheapy sports shops… Nothing particularly fancy or expensive!

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Baggy pants!

I replaced my old battered (and surprisingly heavy) trainers with some lightweight trainers with cushioned insoles which have really helped to protect my knees and ankles. I went for cheap ones as I didn’t know at the time if I’d get much use out of them(!) but I’m planning to treat myself to an upgrade soon (expect a review shortly!).

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I also wear sweat bands – traditional terry-towel style wrist ones and a cotton head band. When I started exercising I was very sweaty and found being able to mop my brow on the go drew less attention than nipping off to use a towel. I don’t think anyone really pays that much attention to be honest but it has worked for me. Another important piece of kit is a water bottle – essential to replace the liquid lost from all the sweating! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜«πŸ˜…

So there you have it! This is what I think has got (and kept) me moving my body – and loving every minute of it!

Tell me about what’s worked for you?!

My Curly Girl Adventures (Part 2)

Back in August (on my old blog) I wrote about my newly discovered curly hair! I was only about 2 weeks in to the Curly Girl routine at the time… so, fast forward to now and I’m approaching 6 months as a conditioner only “no-poo” lass! It seems like it’s a good time for an update!

After bumbling away with various websites and a very useful Facebook group, I asked for the Curly Girl handbook for Christmas and Santa was happy to oblige! (I bet he co-washes that beard!)

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I’m still reading up and honing my routine to get the best out of my curls. I’ve discovered I probably have s-waves so now I’m leaving very little conditioner on my hair after co-washing (as it can be too heavy on waves) and using gel to define and encourage the curl. So this is my current step-by-step routine…
1. Wet, conditioner, scrub

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In the shower, I wet my hair and slather on a palm-full of sulfate and silicone free conditioner. I’m still trying various brands to see what works best for my hair. I like Ultimate Blends coconut (a bit of a staple product for me as it’s often on offer and is easily available), Yes To Carrots/Cucumber (bit more expensive and only sold in Boots locally but it smells lush and does wonders with my locks!) and Kind Natured (pictured above, bought from Boots) – which I used today.
I use small circular head scrub/massage to cleanse the scalp and hair. This can take a while, but as I’m washing less frequently it’s no bother. I then rinse completely.
2. Scrunch and plop
I add a small amount of conditioner (I use the same one as before) to the ends of my hair by scrunching to encourage the curl. I then wrap up my hair in a t-shirt (so I resemble Camilla Batmanghelidjh) for about an hour (still experimenting with time) to dry a little.

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This method of drying is referred to as “plopping”…
3. Gel-tastic!
Once my hair is no longer sopping wet and starting to curl, I scrunch in a small palm-full of gel to coat and define the curls.

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Then I loosely wrap my hair in a head scarf when I go to bed so my hair can dry over night.

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This usually falls off in the night… 😊
In the morning, I just scrunch out any hard bits of gel and find the best place for my parting (depending on where the curls are). Here’s the final results:

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What do you think?! Have you tried this method? Do you have any advice or tips?

Heroes and Villains – Plus Size Cosplay!

Back in the summer one of my friends invited us to her 40th birthday celebrations – a Heroes and Villains party! As her birthday is Mid-December she wanted it booked in early before everyone’s Christmas parties etc. 4 months gave us AGES to plan (and make) our outfits! Although in reality we did most of it in November/December!
I had no idea what to go as – it could literally be any hero or villain (not just super ones!). So I looked to my existing wardrobe for some inspiration… There were 2 dresses I felt had potential… Either my Lindy Bop ‘Lana’ dress (currently Β£20.99) in their January sale!) for a Poison Ivy or Tinkerbell kinda thing:

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(styled here for the Suffragette challenge I took part in on my old blog last year)
Or this Pin Up Girl harlequin print ‘Jenny’ dress (currently out of stock and in a different colour!!) for my own vintage take on a Harley Quinn kinda thing.

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(I can’t find a picture of me wearing it…! I’ll add it to the list to blog about!πŸ˜€)

The decision was basically made for me when I discovered the birthday girl was going as Harley Quinn (although on the night there were 4 of us dressed as Poison Ivy so obviously a popular choice!).

I ordered plastic ivy, fishnet tights and gloves from eBay (I figured it would be easier to thread the Ivy through the holes in the fishnet – I’m all about practicality!). I also ordered a long red wig. But as I couldn’t get my hair to stay hidden in it I went for red hair spray instead.

I painted some old boots (very old ones from TK Maxx in my pre-kids days) with Setacolor fabric paint in ‘Pearl Green’. They looked incredible! But they were a little bit sticky/tacky where the paint didn’t seem to dry completely – even though I painted them weeks beforehand.

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The red hair flower was a Secret Santa gift from one of the lovely #Psblogger ladies (I don’t know who!) and was made by Rosadior who is very talented! It was a last minute addition to the outfit – I just wanted to wear it!

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I started early with the makeup for fear of it looking shite and having to start again…but it looked pretty good on the first attempt! I guess having a green eye pencil and about 5 shades of green eyeshadow came in handy! I drew the outer leaf shapes first and then played around layering up the greens until I was happy. Then the usual flicks and layers of mascara to finish off.

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Here’s the final outfit:

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I’d planned to wear my corset underneath but changed my mind at the last minute because I couldn’t bend easily and I knew I would want to dance. I’m so pleased I did!
I also helped my husband with his outfit… We bleached and painted a charity shop suit and did a bit of liquid latex face make-up to create his Two Face outfit.

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I flipping love dressing up!! 😍😍😍

I’d love to hear what you think of our outfits. Have you made your own fancy dress outfits?

Check out these other fancy dress/Cosplayers for inspiration:
Lucy as Poison Ivy
Lucy as the White Witch from Narnia
Katt as Harley Quinn
Lolly as Jem
Hayley as a Pirate
Lisa as Ursula
George as the Bride of Frankenstein’s Monster
Sarah as Alice in Wonderland

Simply Be Christmas Shenanigans

So this is a *little* bit delayed… But back in early December there was a #Psbloggers meet up arranged by the very lovely Katt from A Curvy Cupcake where a group of us had planned to meet the flagship Simply Be store in Oxford Street, try on some fabulous clothes then go for food. Perfect!
The numbers dwindled a bit due to money and other commitments (December is a crazy time, innit?!) but on the day there was a select few of us who managed to get together… So I was very lucky to meet some of my blogger buddies:
Katt from Fat Girl for Life
Tanya from Secret Plus Size Goddess (although I think we can all agree it’s no secret – she’s blatantly a Goddess!)
Kat from Henry’s Kat
– I can admit now that I was a wee bit starstruck!
It didn’t take long until we were up to our armpits in sequins, glitter and tulle…! Here’s a selection of the stuff we tried on…

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I bought this one to wear to my cousin’s wedding in the summer… πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›

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This (wonderful!) experience has taught me a few things about photography and blogging:
1. You can’t under-estimate the value of a decent pair of heels to make you feel glam and improve your photos!! I have some black peep toes similar to these beauties at home, but with a slightly sturdier heel (I’m not very graceful in narrow high heels!!)

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2. Learning to pose is beneficial AND possible – it helps if you relax and have fun! Kat is a complete natural and is able to pose effortlessly – thanks to her for her advice and encouragement!
3. Meeting new people can be a bit intimidating (particularly when you’re a fan of their blogs) but it’s well worth biting the bullet and meeting them – especially when they’re as nice as this lot!!

In the end, we spent so much time trying on ALL the dresses and prancing about in the basement of Simply Be that we didn’t make it out for food! πŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆπŸ™ˆ So that will have to wait until next time… 😊 (I’m chomping at the bit for the next blogger meet up now!)

A special thank you to Chloe from Simply Be who did an amazing job of picking out outfits and shoes, offering advice and handing out compliments and cake like a pro! It was my first experience like this and she was fab! The bar has been set very high!!!

I’d planned to be super organised and link to all of the dresses but (as they’re all Christmassy evening dresses) I can’t find most of them on the Simply Be website – oops!!!