Saturday, 30 April 2016

How many hand creams is too many?

Hello, Dear Readers 

As I made my way to the railway station for the journey to Marie Claire Live last weekend, a sudden thought whacked me around the head and near halted my stride ‘I need hand cream’.

Perfectly  ordinary thought, and possibly not deserving of such a lightening bolt mention.

Apart from the fact I have a bunch of hand creams at home. In every room of the house.   And in my several work bags, and in Mr S15S's car (though weirdly not mine; must amend that once I’ve finished uploading my post). 

But, again, I’d forgotten to pack one, and had to buy a new one, lest my hands shrivel up and lose their function.  Rather like that side of my brain which won’t let me settle until I’ve handed over more money to a beauty sales person, for that one or two uses before the tube lingers so far at the bottom of my hand bag that it may well be one of those funky fish at the bottom of the ocean with it’s own light system.  And I still would forget to pack a tube in my bag even if they came with lights, like my daughter's fab trainers.

I really can’t abide the rough cuticles and thumb/index finger skin that comes of the gadget-era.  So much typing and swiping takes its toll on our digits.

How was I going to smooth down my panic and nails with only a Spar, Pumpkin Cafe and WH Smith for company between me and my train? Hmmm?

Well, it being almost Summer, the time of increased female traffic at airports, railway and service stations around the globe, the magazine industry is out to tempt us, isn't it?   

(Tempt me away) 

The very same Marie Claire team I was off to meet had a handy Neal’s Yard hand cream attached to their May issue - I chose the Garden Mint and Bergamot, and it smells thoroughly gorgeous. And reminds me of home-made mojitos, such is the prolific mint in our garden. (And just who wants to make mint sauce all the time?)

I tried to forget that I’d bought one only the previous week in exactly the same scenario. Except it was from a Boots in Woking, and I was on my way to see Muse.

But I do love me a hand cream, that instant sinking of cream into your parched paws, the glut of product as you over compensate for exhausted cuticles. And, as happens, that was the product the lovely Boots team chose to advertise next to my face on page 96 of their Health and Beauty Magazine (May/June issue now out on counters across the UK), for which I received a treat-tantalising ten pounds gift card.  Not quite enough to indulge in their No 7 Protect and Perfect Hand Cream, with SPF, unless I get strategic with their No 7 vouchers. A challenge I accept, such the stylist (and Hand Cream obsessive) am I. 

And, in an effort not to triplicate this pattern for the rest of Spring at least – I’m away next weekend, but we are travelling in Mr S15S’s car, with a cheeky Sephora Chocolate Hand Cream in the glove box – I was in a bit of a gathering mood last night, and fished out all hand creams from their secret locations.

So, er, just how many is too many?

I obviously have my favourites – Atrixo is the only true cream I can rely on - but I do love the squeeze of a tube, repeatedly massaging the cream into my mitts. 

I know, I know, enough with the adjectives.

I also love the fragrance opportunity afforded by applying the cream, preferably butter, so I always stock up when I hit Bath andBody Works in the States.  Course, then everyone knows you’re applying hand cream because they smell so freakin’ delicious, and the next thing you know every one wants a borrow, including the male students in my classes, who clearly aren’t put off by vanilla or strawberry scented mitts. Love 'em.

But, you know what, I do have very dry skin, and great ideas, if a bad memory, so I don't think around 20 is too excessive.

And at least now the creams are all in one place, so as long as I carry this ... 

... around in my bags I won’t need to buy any more hand creams for a while.

So, how many hand creams do you own?  Share your number in the comments box below (and on social media with #handcreams and your number!)

Disclaimer: All thoughts and products are my own; I only received a gift card from Boots for my Advantage Card thoughts, and not for this post.  Oh, and Marie Claire bundled another Neal's Yard in their goody bag, but they didn't know I was about to write this post.  So ner. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Marie Claire At Work LIve: Part 2 The Afternoon

Ahhhhh, Mini Stylist is in bed – how long she keeps her four year old self there for is anyone’s guess – and I have a lukewarm coffee by my side.  Time to continue with the reflection on the 2016 Marie Claire #AtWorkLive event.

After a lengthy lunch working our way around the sponsor’s stalls, sampling tasters of the Cointreau Fizz, and devouring gorgeous peanut butter brownies for dessert - in the ginormous lunch queue - it was back to the second breakout session to re-engage myself with business advice from insiders (Sharmadean Reid of WAH nails, Julie Deane of The Cambridge Satchel Company, Kate Unsworth of wearable, productivity-enhancing tech, in search of a tech-reliance-free-life company Vinaya and Amy Hanson of the humanitarian SmallSteps Project), chaired by the inquisitive and engaging deputy editor of MC Miranda McMinn. 

So, what were the best tips of the Starting your Own Business session?

  • You don’t need a fortune to start your own business; Deane had £600 and was motivated purely by family responsibilities.
  • You should work in phases to ensure control over your finances and your project, advised Reid.
  • Ask people to work for free and you might be pleasantly surprised (the Unsworth art of negotiation).
  • Apply transferable skills and engage with something you’re incredibly passionate about, as did Hanson.  

I was so awed by their stories that I didn’t have time to take notes, and I forgot to take photos. 

By 3 o’clock I was flagging, however; perhaps next year Marie Claire could set aside a dimly-lit retreat room with lavender scents and blanket-laden beds for 20 minute power naps?  There were so many ideas generated from the sessions, hastily tapped into phones and scribbled into notebooks, that I imagine it would be as busy as the Cointreau trolley.   

I was so was looking forward to an express manicure by a fabulous lass from the at-home beauty team, Le Salon, which was great, AND it’s still chip-free a day later! 

There was just enough time for beauty hacks from Bruce at Vidal Sasoon, which I think overran a little; essentially he advised us not to be afraid of products, and to ditch the straighteners; yeah, not gonna do that. 

SJ from Bare Minerals applied the fastest 6 looks to three models I’ve seen since Lisa Potter-Dixon at last year’s event.  SJ was a big fan of multipurpose products, using lipstick on your cheeks as well as your lips, which I’ve done for years; props for the confidence boost!  Her hair was amazing, too, and so bouncy as she flew between the models, applying, blending and highlighting the Bare Minerals goodies.

And then it was the closing Keynote speaker, Issy Suttie, before heading back to the 29th floor to unwind with a few cocktails, I was desperately trying to keep track of my bags, too (I don't travel light. At all); after one blogging event – and their amazing cocktails – last November I managed to leave a bag of presents behind in the venue, which was thankfully returned, but a tenny bit bleddy stressful that close to Christmas. 

All my bags and I made it back to Devon safely, exhausted and energised; thank you, Marie Claire team!

PS - check out my gorgeous green nails, part of the Essie spring collection. 

Time for a summary:

Fab #atworklive:
Er, the frickin’ awesome programme! Where else could you pay less than £100 to hear Stella Creasey (MP), Karen Blackett and Sophie Kinsella, not to mention Founders and CEOs of some of the brands we all adore (WAH Nails, Cambridge Satchel Company particular highlights for me this year).  Free manicure with @lesalon.

Not-so-fab #atworklive:
No chance for nipping out to the shops (last year’s Piccadilly location was great for a spot of retail relaxation).  I was also expecting a Summer date, so almost couldn’t make the event this year.

Early bird tickets £75, after that £95.  Goody bag alone is worth it; this year’s estimate is around £200.  And at London prices the Cointreau Fizz’s quaffed have likely paid for my ticket. 

Why not share the inspirational events you’ve attended, or would like to, in the comments box below, particularly if you were at the Marie Claire do, too!

Disclaimer: I wasn't paid for my thoughts for this post, nor Part 1.  So ner.

Marie Claire At Work Live: Part 1 The Morning

Hiya, how was your weekend?

I took to the trains again; Great Western Railway is doing well out of me this month!  

I closed the work bag of my full-time job on Thursday night and thought, ‘bring on the blogging this weekend -the marking can wait until Monday.’  

Marie Claire’s annual #atworklive event, held this year at the Millbank Tower overlooking the Thames, whilst not strictly a blogging event is designed to help the career-bemused, women looking for a day out (the annual cocktails are fabulous, this year hosted by Cointreau) and regular subscribers to Marie Claire who know a beauty shindig when they see one advertised. 

And, Dear Readers, the day was so stuffed with magic that this is part 1 of a 2-part post, lest your eyes start to glaze over, or Mini realises that I'm working instead of watching Frozen with her....

I packed my Inner Twirl blogging diary (a treat to myself from the fab Bloggers Planner team at Christmas) to plan content, alongside my gadgets and snacks, and caught up with a fab friend and fellow attendee on the Friday night in Kent – we take our cocktail practice very seriously, you know.
After coffee and registration on the day, the inspiration began with the Game-changers panel, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin and featuring:

Laura Bates (writer and campaigner, Everyday Sexism project)
“Learn very’s okay to ask for don’t have to answer a question, just go off in a different direction”.

Nishma Robb (Head of Marketing at Google)
“Take control...demonstrate the how...How did you overcome challenges?  Think about your you went about them, how you learned from them....present yourself as an opportunity”. 


Laverne Antrobus (Psychologist)
“What’s the worst that can happen.....really positive statement. Failure is a building block to which direction to take. Listen to the internal narrative you hear”.

Anita Rami (Broadcaster and all round challenge-seeker)
“Fumble your way through....with drive and ambition.....How? No idea....going to get there. What’s the worst that can happen? Just deal with the challenges”.

Fully invigorated and raring to go it was time to select one of three breakout options - I chose, From Blog to Business: Dream. Dare. Create, and so bloody pleased that I did.

The calm and directed MC features director, Andrea Thompson, chaired a somewhat lively debate among successful bloggers on the merits of earning money from said blogging, with the ultimate round of experience-flinging leading towards a sort of To Commercialize or Not: organic blog evolution Vs playing the system showdown.   

Had to get a Shakespeare reference in, on his 400th anniversary, didn’t I? 

From far left, the fantabulous Caroline Hirons, a beauty blogger who I’d never heard of until this weekend (but I’m going to binge on her backdated blog posts as soon as I can get over her actual age; definitely a skincare enthusiast who knows what the chuff she’s talking about: I pitched her AT LEAST 12 years younger than her declared age). 


Caroline's advice to bloggers:
“If you go into blogging just to make money you’ll fail....wait until a brand comes to need a reason to work need comments (I do, dear, gorgeous readers, I do) It’s about an engaged readership. Work your niche, even if you only write about peaches.....eventually you’ll reach everyone else who’s interested in peaches”.  
I imagine t-shirts stating I (heart) CH, you know, if it didn’t sound like a symptom of something unfortunate.

Rosie Llewellyn (A Little Lusciousness)
“Remain true to yourself, even if that means turning down a lot of paid opportunities”.  
I look forward to turning down a bunch of opportunities. 

Fritha Strickland (Tigerlilly Quinn)
“If bloggers don’t know something they’ll go out and learn it”.
 Too true; and we'll stay up tinkering with code until the wee small hours of the morning to ensure a full stop ends up in the right place. Or is that just me?

Jen Stanbrook (Love Chic Living)
“I went into blogging to make money [and began earning within 6 months) but that isn’t sustainable in today’s saturated market of blogs". 
 A bleddy good reason to hone our individual voices as this generation's writers.

An intense 45 minute Inspirations session followed, highlighting reflections from Becky Bloomwood creator, AKA Sophie Kinsella (thanks for favouriting my tweet!), Advertising guru Karen Blackett, who urged us all to find our cheerleaders to support each other and Stella Creasy (MP) with sobering realities of an increase of almost 70% in reported rapes in London, a pay gap in London that is double the national pay gap of 13% in the UK [checks we’re still in 2016, not 1916] and an encouragement for us all to become activists seeking solutions, men included.   

And then it was time for lunch, where we could take in the view and the fab artwork from the 28th floor...


As there is such a lot of inspiration to process (and Mini Stylist is after her brunch and the house is shouting for a spot of attention) I'll upload Part 2 later on today (probably tonight after Mini's bedtime, and before the six am start hits me). 

Did you go to #AtWorkLive this year? Would you book up for next year's event? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and I'll reply as soon as I can.

Disclaimer: I paid for my own tickets and thoughts/product nods are entirely my own.  So there.