Friday, 30 August 2013

When in doubt, fake it

In preparation for even thinner hair, I finally gave in and bought a 'hair piece'. I've been considering a variety of extensions for a prolonged period of time, but at the moment, the chances of me finding the time to put in and then style a 10-piece set are non-existent. What better solution, then, than a hair wrap - basically, a scrunchie with a load of synthetic hair whacked on the elastic.

I draw the line at the rat-like looking pieces in Claire's Accessories, but the reviews of the Hot Hair pieces were pretty promising, and with an offer over the Bank Holiday, I guessed there wouldn't be a better time to give one a try. 

The image of the chosen piece at Hot Hair was, I guessed, unlikely to be achieved:

but, I have to admit, when it arrived today, I was pleasantly surprised. It blends well with my own hair and is super simple to style - I put my hair in a basic folded ponytail and then wrap the scrunchie around it and, voila, double the amount of hair. 

The photo below doesn't quite do it justice; it's not as dark as it looks here, and also, I'll admit it looks a bit rat-like in the photo. I promise it looks much better in situ. It will be interesting to see how it holds up after a few wears - I'll post an update once I know. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Tied up

As the pregnancy hormones continue to disappear, I'm preparing myself for the hair loss that inevitably follows. Imagine my joy (it doesn't take much, I admit) at discovering these little beauties from Sweaty Betty: cable hair toggles.

A bargain at just £4 for five, I wasn't convinced that they'd hold my very fine hair - but they do, and they are brilliant. Coming from Sweaty Betty, they are obviously designed for exercise bunnies, so I can also feel virtuous for entering a gym shop (I didn't say I was actually exercising). 

At the time of checking, they have sold out online so head to your nearest store to grab yours while you can.  

Friday, 23 August 2013

Clinique Repairwear Serum - one week in

I've been using the new Repairwear Serum (launching in September) twice a day for the past week and I can honestly say it is making a difference. My skin definitely looks smoother and my eyes look slightly more rested. If it can work with a four week old baby, then it must be doing something right.

I've mentioned before that I'm a big Genifique fan, and that's not going to change anytime soon, but so far I do think this is a good alternative. The only thing I'd say now is that I need to use more of the Clinique serum per application compared to Genifique, but they seem to have similar results. It will be interesting to see what difference there is in three weeks' time. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Why I think it's okay not to want children

I have to admit I'm at a complete loss as to why there is a debate around whether or not women have the 'right' to decide whether or not they want children. It seems fairly straight forward to me: if you want to have children, have them and if you don't, then don't. Obviously, I understand that it's not always this simple, but the debate at the moment isn't considering physical circumstances; it seems to be saying that women should want to have children just because they are women.

I have four children, and I love having them - even if it means I don't get a lot of sleep. But I don't think it makes you less of a woman if you don't want to have children - to be honest, I can understand some people just wouldn't want to do it. I have friends and colleagues who have made the decision not to have children - their reasons are varied. 

For one, it's a lifestyle choice - she likes her life with her husband as it is, and she doesn't want to change it. Her husband is totally on board with that - and good luck to them. Another hasn't met the right guy and honestly believes that children should have a mother and father if at all possible - she doesn't think it's right to have one without a partner and therefore she has decided it would be selfish for her to have a child just because she's nearing an age where she won't be able to for much longer. Again, I think she's being completely honest with herself - and that's totally her choice.

We absolutely should not be making women feel like they've somehow failed if they opt not to have children. Quite the opposite; having children is a massive undertaking and there are enough unfit parents out there, without forcing more people into it just because society tells us it's the appropriate behaviour. 

Taking control of your future, whether that includes children or not, is your right and isn't anyone else's business. Is it possible to live a rich and fulfilled life without children? Quite honestly, I don't know because I have children and can no longer remember life without them, but I'd bet you a pound to a penny that I could find you many child-free women that will tell you it's more than possible; it's a reality. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

It's all about the serum... for the next two weeks at least

I have to admit that I haven't tried a great range of face serums; I used a sample of Lancome's Advanced Genifique and was instantly hooked. If you're interested, it's light, it is absorbed almost instantly by the skin (I've heard this is evidence that it's more effective, but I have no scientific grounding to back this up) and comes with a dropper so it's easy to get the amount I need without wastage. What's not to love? It's not cheap, but I'm increasingly of the opinion that, if I have to choose, skincare wins over make-up. 

But, when I heard that Clinique was offering a free month's worth of their new Repairwear Laser Focus Serum (worth £40), I decided to give it a try. I picked up the last sample at the Clinique counter in Bentalls - apparently there was quite the stampede after the offer appeared in Martin Lewis' money saving email - and have been using it since Friday.

To be honest, I wasn't overwhelmed by the sales assistant - there wasn't much information shared or advice given on how to use it, other than to use twice a day. She clearly had had enough of people keen to pick up on a freebie. Maybe I just caught her on a bad day. I'll see how it goes when I go back to collect my second sample. 

But, if the claims are accurate, it's worth me overcoming my initial opinion of the sales staff: according to The Telegraph, Clinique promises the serum will improve smoothness by 63 per cent, help to correct visible damage from direct UV exposure and recapture that youthful glow. (They are, of course, assuming that I had a youthful glow. I'm not sure I ever did...) Apparently, the serum has also been shown to deliver a visible reduction in lines and wrinkles and will deliver a smoother, more refined texture in just four weeks. 

So far, I like it. Obviously, it's too soon to make a visible difference, but I'm certainly not reaching for the Genifique just yet. My skin does seem slightly smoother, so I'm hopeful it can live up to at least some of these promises...

If there's any left, you can pick up samples at your local Clinique counter until 22 August. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...

It's just about as far away as you can get from the daily commute. Yesterday morning, all four Martini children, accompanied by our ever diligent nanny and my good self, piled into the car to head to Garsons Farm in Esher for some summer activities. Waiting on a train platform for a South West Trains train to arrive this is not.

We were met in the car park by several other members of Mum's Army, all parking up their impossibly large vehicles and wrestling with state of the art buggies that are as difficult to get upright as trying to figure out how you lift the bonnet of the car - although why you'd ever attempt that is beyond me. 

Multiple calls of 'Henrietta, not that way' and 'Sebastian, stay close to mummy' ring out, accompanied mainly by the sound of children demanding to get to the play area/cafe - delete as appropriate. I'm not quite sure what new world I've entered into, but I definitely don't feel at home. 

However, despite my initial hesitation, I have to admit this was great fun. Cake decorating resulted in significant mess - but ultimately some beautiful cakes (okay, I'm biased - see the one on the left - Middle Martini set herself the challenge of decorating the cake so much it wasn't actually visible any more...) and the enjoyment the kids got from it almost brought tears to my eyes. Don't worry, I haven't gone soft - I said 'almost'.

And the fruit picking - or more accurately, sweetcorn picking - was very enjoyable. The kids had almost free reign to run around the crops attempting to find the ones with 'brown beards' (Garson's description on what to look for, not mine) and they loved it. And, I'll admit it, I had good fun too. Making sweetcorn chutney, amongst other delights, is on the cards later this week. It'll have to be - we have enough sweetcorn to sink a ship. 

I may only be doing this for six months, but maternity leave is looking like it might just suit me - for a while at least. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Post-pregnancy skincare favourites

Trying to get back on track when you're sleep deprived, time deprived and generally just deprived, means products that are low on maintenance but high on impact are the order of the day. I've reverted to some old favourites and discovered some new products that (hopefully) do the job of at least suggesting I'm in control (even if that's just an act...)

Clarins Flash Balm - where would we be without this miracle wonder? If you don't have at least one tube of this, I'd highly recommend investing - it is sleep in a bottle. 

Eye creams are essential for me - genetically I may be lucky with no stretch marks, but I get terrible dark circles under my eyes, so I'm always on the look out for wonderous creams. As yet, nothing is a total miracle, but the combination of the Body Shop (who knew? I thought this company had gone out of business, but I recently rediscovered it and I'm quite the fan!) Vitamin E Eye Cream during the day and No. 7 Revitalising Eye Balm at night is working pretty well so far. I'd definitely recommend both of these. 

Nivea Rich Nourishing Body Moisturiser - I haven't used this before, but I'm loving it. I'm combining it with Cussons Mum and Me Stretch Mark Cream. I don't have any stretch marks (thanks Mum) but I'm guessing it has general firming properties - and it's seen me through this pregnancy, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. Once I stop breast feeding, I'll move on to a firming body cream (the jury's still out on which one). 

Washing my hands a million times a day means a good hand cream is a necessity too. I'm using L'Occitane's Shea Butter hand cream - it smells divine and really moisturises my hands - perfect. I'm also partial to Burts Bees Almond and Milk hand cream - it's really thick and rich, so you don't need much. 

I'm worried that, as per all my other pregnancies, hair loss is going to kick in after a couple more weeks - so I'm religiously using Aussie's 3 Minute Miracle Shine in the hope of protecting what's there at the moment. I also recently discovered This One Replenishing Treatment and I'm using that a couple of times a week. Too soon to say whether it's working, but it's worth a try - and was a bargain at just £6. Stay tuned - I'll keep you posted on progress. 

Monday, 5 August 2013


It took a while - initial contractions unbelievably started on 3 July - but we got there in the end. Finally. Mini Martini - the final installment - decided to arrive on the same day as HRH Prince George - but only just. 

I had spent most of the day watching the news green with envy that Kate Middleton had gone into labour - I was seriously starting to question whether there actually was a baby in there, or in fact, if I had just eaten too many cakes. Quite possible. We'd also just found out that anyone that gave birth on the same day as Kate would be eligible for a very exclusive coin from the Royal Mint. Naturally, I'd set my sights on that. 

Lying in bed, watching the 10 O'Clock News celebrating the birth of a boy, the third in line to the throne, Mr. Martini told me that I'd let the family down by not securing one of these coins. (He was joking, of course, but I was just miserable that it was another day closer to the dreaded induction, that I had already refused but was getting increasing pressure from the midwives to do this.) It was probably that comment that finally spurred me into action. Cue seriously painful contractions. It was half past ten. 

We called the parents (they were on standby to look after the other children). We realised we needed to leave RIGHT NOW - my parents were still a good 15 minutes away. Mr. M. knocked on the neighbours' door and asked them to come in and wait for my parents to arrive. They obliged - I dread to think what I looked like - and Mr. M. drove like a maniac to Kingston hospital. 

I went up to the maternity ward on my own while he parked the car (this story has a familiar ring to it). There was some poor other lady also in labour in the waiting room - I'm afraid that she was still waiting while I got ushered straight through into a room. 

The midwife examined me - only 5 cm dilated apparently. She left the room. Mr. M. joined me - and mentioned that I had 23 minutes to get the coin. The midwife was no where to be seen. Clearly, she didn't think it was serious. She was wrong.

Mr. M. went and found the elusive midwife - after some huffing and puffing (her not me) she came back into the room, and proceeded to sort through some paperwork. She almost missed the delivery of the child. Well done.

All done in 25 minutes. Can't say fairer than that. This will definitely be our last, so I'm making the most of every minute with the absolutely darling newborn. He is absolutely gorgeous. And yes, we'll be getting that coin. Result.