The BiG Friday Edit | 19

I’ve got that Friday feeling!

After a very busy week I’m looking forward to a relaxed weekend which includes catching up on sleep and curling up with a good book. What have I been up to that has got me craving the most Hygge weekend ever?

The Health Edit:

I’m almost done the June 1Rebel #RehabSquad and I am tiiiiiired! With lots of after work plans this week I’ve been getting up at dawn (or earlier) to hit the gym. I know it’s good for me in the long run but I am really looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow and catching up on rest…before I go back for more.

The Book Edit:

I’ve started reading By Any Means by Charley Boorman and am already more than halfway through. It’s the perfect commute book because it’s light (a key factor!) and easily digestible. I am racing through a bit as I’m so eager to get started on Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes.

The Screen Edit:

No time for TV this week! I have however, been culture-ifying myself in other ways. My friend Anne-Marie took me to see The Last of the Haussmans at Questers Theatre yesterday (it was really good and I was blown away by the acting, especially as the cast weren’t professional actors). Tonight Graham and I are going to see La Strada to support his cousin Cameron, as he was the Movement Director for the show

The Blog Edit:

This week on BlondeInGrey.com I took you out for dinner at The Ivy Chelsea Garden and shared June’s booklist. If you haven’t had a chance to catch up on all the latest yet – happy readying!

As always, thanks for stopping by. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

June’s Blonde In Grey Book List

This month’s book list is a combination of old and new – a couple of fun re-reads mixed with some exciting new acquisitions…

By Any Means by Charley Boorman

Grabbing whatever local transport he can get his hands on, Charley travels from his home town in County Wicklow all the way to Australia – a trip of over 20,000 miles through twenty-five countries. He drives a lorry through northern Iran, rides a tuk-tuk through the chaotic and colourful city of Varanasi, and becomes the first person ever to wakeboard across the Malay/Singapore border. He sets up his own bus service in Turkey, takes a slow boat down the Mekong, and a very fast one through Borneo to deliver vaccines for UNICEF. And of course he jumps on a bike whenever he can, even if there’s a monsoon on the way . . .

This is a re-read because i forgot I had it! I originally bought this book because I loved watching Charley and Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Down and Long Way Round so I was intrigued to see what happened when Charley took on an adventure on his own. Though the whole trip from Ireland to Australia was filmed for a TV series I much prefer the written version as it has all the insider bits that get skipped over when something is edited down for TV. It’s a witty, interesting travel memoir perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure and wanderlust.

Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes

Pimm’s, punting and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books – and, perhaps, an invitation to a ball. But when she discovers a ghastly crime, she is catapulted into a murder investigation.

Determined to unravel the case – and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell – Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE!! Plum Sykes is one of my all-time favourite authors and the author of my favourite book (it’s tied for first with all of the Harry Potter books except Chamber of Secrets. I’m sure you can understand why…) Bergdorf Blondes. With a background in fashion and Anna Wintour on speed dial Plum Sykes is a master storyteller who creates characters you not only love but also want to be.  It’s been more than 10 years since the release of Plum’s second book – The Debutante Divorcee (which is also amazing) – so I am SO excited to read something new from her. Then I can gush about it on Instagram. BECAUSE PLUM SYKES FOLLOWS ME! #winning

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance. So she travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds, an ashram in India, where she finds that enlightenment entails getting up in the middle of the night to scrub the temple floor, and Bali where a toothless medicine man of indeterminate age offers her a new path to peace: simply sit still and smile. And slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.

This is another re-read and it seems very appropriate as I’m searching for some enlightenment in my life at the moment. Truth be told I remember the Julia Roberts version of this story better than the actual book so I’m looking forward to diving back in and reminding myself what I loved about it in the first place.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

I’ve heard rave reviews about this one and so am eager to have a read and see what all the fuss is about. (Insider secret: I know an editor who passed on this manuscript…bet she’s regretting it now!)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

This is one I stumbled across in the ‘People who bought this book also bought…’ section of Amazon. And I’m so glad I did! The cover is gorgeous and there’s an air of The Night Circus to the cover copy which suggests I am highly likely to love it. (Have you read The Night Circus? Do it now! It’s so good!!)

In addition to the books outlined here I’m going to make an effort to get through some of the books from previous book lists which got shunted aside. My goal is to be all up to date by 1 July.

Happy reading, all!

The BiG Friday Edit | 18

Why do the short weeks always feel the longest? It’s only been four days but I am SO ready for the weekend. In the meantime, a bit of distraction for all of us counting down until the end of the day…

The Health Edit:

I’m doing it again! Yes, friends, I’ve signed up for the June 1Rebel #RehabSquad which means 10 action-packed classes in 10 days! I’m 2 days in and already sore but who cares? It’s fun, it’s good for me and it challenges me to push myself harder. It’s also a really great emotional release to spend 45 minutes a day pounding a punching bag and clearing your mind with endless rounds of squats, burpees, wall sits, sit-ups and (my least favourite) mountain climbers. Watch out, state of complete zen – I’m coming for you!

The Book Edit:

I spent last week racing through the Talon series (1/2/3) and was annoyed to find that book three wasn’t actually the final book – apparently there’s a fourth book? – especially as I’ve found the re-read a bit painful and the ‘racing’ I speak of was to just get it done. The heroine is so irritating! She has no regard for other people let alone their safety and so she is the cause of most of the problems she faces. Equally irritating is one of the males in the ‘love triangle’ (Again? Really? Come on YA authors, you’re better than this!). Why is he irritating? A) He’s hideously possessive considering he has no claim on her whatsoever, B) He calls her ‘Firebrand’ EVERY SINGLE TIME HE SPEAKS TO HER (she’s a dragon masquerading as a human so this isn’t completely nuts. Also, yes, I recognise I should never have had high hopes considering the premise of the story…). This kind of repetition is annoying but also just lazy on the part of the line editor. Take it out! I once edited a romantic thriller where the author used the hero and heroine’s full names (first and last) every time they spoke to one another. So, of course, I cut most of these – it wouldn’t have been readable otherwise! Okay, I’ve gone off piste. Basically I hope that the heroine and hero A(nnoying) end up together because they deserve each other’s awfulness. Will I be reading the final book* to see how it ends though? No.

*I’ve just checked Amazon and apparently there’s even a book 5! FFS.

I’m now reading a biography of Henry VIII (my tastes, they are diverse!) by David Starkey who is a real master at historical biography. Any of his books are good but I highly recommend Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII as it’s extremely interesting and well written.

The Screen Edit:

I’ve been catching up on the past few seasons of VEEP starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The language isn’t for the faint hearted but the comedy is top-notch. I laugh through every episode and at barely 30 mins long they’re the perfect, bite-size amount of TV after a long day. On the big screen I’m looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman this weekend! Gal Gadot is a literal goddess (on and off screen) and I’m looking forward to seeing her save the world.

The Shopping Edit:

I have tried on and rejected and bought and returned more dresses than I’d care to admit to this week. I’m in the mood to shop and this warm weather has me craving light, airy dresses in fun, floral prints but most of what I’ve tried on in stores or ordered online just hasn’t been quite right. Too heavy, ill-fitting, not like the picture…there’s always something. That’s the way it seems to go though – when you’re trying to save money you see a million things you ‘need’ and when you’re in the mood to splurge you can’t find anything.

The Beauty Edit:

I’ve got my fourth laser facial in four weeks tomorrow and I’m looking forward to seeing how my skin looks after a month of treatment. Hopefully glowy and wonderful! I’m also trying out this new serum, which my friend Ang has raved about. Can’t wait to see how it works.

The Political Edit:

I can’t even begin to express my disgust with THAT man. Here’s hoping that the golf course at Mar-A-Lago is the first thing to be swallowed by the Atlantic when the seas rise.

Despite the fact that the future of our planet hangs in the balance, I hope everyone is able to distract themselves long enough to enjoy the weekend!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by to visit 🙂

The 10-Minute Laser Facial

I know what you’re thinking.

Why on earth would you purposely put lasers in the vicinity of your face?!

Say it with me: ‘eternal youth’

As anyone who has spent any amount of time around these here Blonde In Grey parts will know, I’m a sucker for each and every skincare craze I come across. From facials to microneedling (spoiler: it really should be left to the professionals) I love to try new things, especially when they promise to leave my skin looking healthy, glowing and any amount of years younger.

It’s no surprise then that when I heard about the Skin Laundry 10-minute laser and light facial I was intrigued (yes, even though it sounds like something that was created for the Fourth of July or a KISS concert).

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Skin Laundry promises that the treatment is the perfect amount of laser power and light energy to deep clean the skin from the first treatment and that the more you go the more dramatic improvements you’ll see – acne scars will fade, the skin surface will get more smooth and even, fine lines and pores will be reduced…the list is lengthy!

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So, how does it actually work?

From the website:

Our unique method involves using a YAG laser and IPL (Intense Pulse Light). The laser actively vaporizes excess dirt, makeup and bacteria from your pores first and foremost; the long-term effects of the laser can help with pigmentation and collagen production. The IPL works with the brown and red tones of the skin to even out the skin tone as well as stimulate the natural collagen that lies down in the dermis. The combination of laser and IPL clears tones and conditions the skin. The pores are also minimized so they appear less visible.

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What is the treatment like?

The first treatment (which is always free, that’s how sure they are that you’ll love it!) is a bit nerve-racking as you’re really not sure what to expect. The Skin Laundry ladies are really lovely though and talk you through the whole thing. First they cleanse your skin to remove any makeup and put on protective goggles (very similar to what you’d wear at a tanning bed, from what I remember of my misspent youth. My poor skin!!) They warn you before they start, using this scary looking thing:

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They start at the centre of your forehead and run the laser up and down one side and then the other. The sensation is a slight tickle – nothing painful at all – and it’s warm. From the forehead they move to one cheek, across the chin, across the other cheek and then over your nose. There’s a brief pause and then they start all over again. The only disconcerting thing about the laser process is the faint smell of burning. Don’t worry – that’s just dirt and grime being blasted our of your pores! (Gross)

Once the laser is done they apply a wonderfully cool gel across your face. They then start with the light portion of the treatment, which is a series of incredibly bright (even through the protective goggles) red-looking bursts as the light is dabbed all over your face courtesy of this beast:

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Almost as soon as it starts you’re done and the gel is being wiped off your face (though this is usually done with what feels like a spatula – I can’t tell, I have goggles on! – which I don’t love as it doesn’t feel like it’s all actually come off before they put moisturiser on). You’re then good to go as there’s absolutely no down time with the procedure!

Overall thoughts

I love that they give you the first treatment free (value: £60) and I did totally cave and buy a course of treatments because you get a discount if you buy them the day you have your free treatment (so sneaky!). My reasoning is that it takes time to really see a difference so making a judgement call after one won’t give you an accurate idea of what the treatment can do.

I have my fourth treatment in four weeks this coming Saturday as they recommend you going once a week to begin with (which I do realise is a bit of a cheeky money grab…) in order to see results more quickly.

I do feel like my skin is looking brighter and I do leave the appointment with the refreshing feeling of a facial in a quarter of the time it normally takes. There’s also the fact that with a normal facial I can never see a difference and so I’ve always just enjoyed them for the ritual of being pampered. But the laser facial? My skin feels cleaner, I like the promise of improved benefits over time and it’s fab to actually feel a difference in the texture and tone of my face. I really love it.

I’m going to stick with it and see what happens…at least until the next major skincare craze 😉

For another account of the laser facial from one of my favourite beauty information sources head over to Into the Gloss to read their thoughts.

Fair warning: make sure you have a lot of time because you will find yourself getting lost in the Into the Gloss archive of articles. The first time I ventured in I blinked and suddenly three hours had passed and my online shopping cart was filled with cleansers from France, a face mask from Korea made of snail mucus (it’s actually SO good for your skin!) and more moisturiser than I could possibly use in a lifetime. Don’t worry – rationality returned before I hit ‘buy’ – I just want to properly prepare you.

The BiG Friday Edit | 17

My sister is coming to visit! She arrives tomorrow night and we’re booked in for afternoon tea on Sunday which I’m already excited about. I’ve also got brunch with friends and a laser facial (yes, really) booked in for tomorrow so this weekend promises to be a good one!

Before we all head off into the Friday sunset though…

The Health Edit: If you haven’t tried boxing yet you need to! It’s a killer workout, really therapeutic and the kind of workout that tricks you into thinking it’s fun not work.

The Book Edit: This week I’ve been reading How England made the English by Harry Mount. Though parts of it are a bit dry (turns out discussion of soil composition isn’t as interesting as you might hope!) but there’s a lot of really fascinating facts and figures about this little island I live on.

The Screen Edit: We’ve just gotten Amazon Prime so have been bingeing on Zelda (Christina Ricci is amazing as Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald!) and All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals. Turns out I’m really interested in the behind the scenes stories, even if watching sportsball (they’re all the same, right?) itself feels like never-ending agony.

The Beauty Edit: It was a lot of fun getting the full make-up treatment for the Garden Party on Tuesday and it’s made me wonder if I should add something to my usual ‘barely there’ makeup routine to mix things up. What do you guys think? Is less more? Or is more, more? Also, I’m booked in for my second laser facial at Skin Laundry tomorrow. It takes less than 15 minutes and promises (with regular usage) to fight ageing, acne scars, pigmentation and pretty much anything else that might be ailing you. I went for the first one last week and it was so different from any other facial I’ve tried. Full review coming soon!

The Blog Edit: This week was all about blooms and gardens, both in Chelsea and at Buckingham Palace!

The Life Edit: Yesterday was my parents 43rd wedding anniversary. 43 years! It’s an incredible achievement in this day and age and proof that forever love exists and should be cherished. Happy Anniversary you two crazy kids!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend 🙂

May’s Blonde In Grey Booklist

It’s official. My TBR pile is out of control and there are now books everywhere in my apartment…including filling half my (still not unpacked) suitcase from my trip to Canada a few weeks ago. When your dad offers up anything you want off the family bookshelf you don’t say no!

I now literally embody the Japanese word ‘Tsundoku’, which can be translated as ‘to buy more books than one can read’. The word can be dated back to the Meija era (1868-1912), which is considered the very beginning of Modern Japan and comes from ‘tsunde’ (meaning ‘to stack things’) and ‘oku’ (meaning ‘to leave for a while’). It makes me feel slightly better knowing that I’m clearly not the only one who finds myself in this situation!

The conclusion is that two things are clear:

1. I need to buy another bookcase because I’m out of room
2. I need to step up my reading pace!

With that in mind, here’s May’s Book List:

The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide To Paris, London, New York And Rome by Jessica Adams

Like a trusted and impossibly cool girlfriend, The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide reveals the secrets of what women really want in four fabulous cities: Paris, London, New York and Rome. Born in a handbag from scribbled tips shared between goddesses whose adventures scattered them all over the world, it will take you where few women have been before. Follow Audrey Hepburn’s footsteps in Rome, delve into the secret diaries of shopaholics in New York, learn chiconomical secrets in Paris, rock out in London, discover where to eat, love and eat some more.

I love travel guides and this one is definitely outside the box. With the possibility of a trip to New York in the not so distant future I’m intrigued to see if it will share secrets I’ve not heard before.

 

Riders by Jilly Cooper

Brooding hero Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands even the most difficult horse or woman is charmed, is driven by his loathing of the dashing darling of the show ring, Rupert Campbell-Black. Having pinched each other’s horses and drunk their way around the capitals of Europe, the feud between the two men finally erupts with devastating consequences at the Los Angeles Olympics . . .

Considering the fact that I spent years editing romantic fiction it’s more than a bit shameful that I can’t claim to have read anything by HBIC of romance, Jilly Cooper. Not anymore! I’m going back to the beginning to see what all the fuss is about. Not sure I’ll be reading it on the tube though…

 

Talon, Rogue and Soldier by Julie Kagawa

When forced to choose between the sinister Talon organisation and being hunted by her own kind, dragon-human hybrid Ember fled. Even if it meant losing Garret, the dragon-slaying soldier she shares a deep bond with. Now Garret has uncovered secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragon-slayers alike. Can the danger reunite them?

The final chapter of the Talon Saga has been in my TBR pile since November but I keep skipping past it because I can’t just read it alone – I need to read it’s predecessors to remind myself of the story. Now’s the time though – I’m diving back into this angsty teenage drama about some normal teens who just happen to be dragons on the inside (rather than the normal dragon on the outside teens we all know and tolerate) It’s a semi-ridiculous concept but you can’t say it isn’t entertaining!

 

Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey

Larger than life in every sense, Henry VIII was Britain’s most absolute monarch – but he was not born to rule. In this brilliantly readable history, David Starkey follows the promising young prince – a Renaissance man of exceptional musical and athletic talent – as he is thrust into the limelight after the death of his elder brother. His subsequent quest for fame was as obsessive as that of any modern celebrity, and his yearning for a male heir drove him into dangerous territory. The culmination of a lifetime’s research, David Starkey’s biography is an unforgettable portrait of the man behind the controversies, the prince turned tyrant who continues to tower over history.

With an MA in Early Modern History under my belt I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Tudor era. The scandals, the history-making moments, the questionnable morals – it was one of the meatiest periods of British history! I’ve read other books by David Starkey including Crown and Country and the famous Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII, so am looking forward to seeing what he has to say about Henry himself.

 

Still to read from last month’s list: Team of Rivals and How England Made the English. The best laid plans and all that – sometimes you get distracted by other books and the list gets forgotten…

Happy reading, all!

The BiG Friday Edit | 16

*Picture is from my trip last week. Love blue skies with an unexpected pop of colour!

The only thing better than a long weekend is a surprise long weekend which is what I’m about to be treated to as I hadn’t realised it was coming. Looking forward to catching up on sleep, catching the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel and maybe, possibly, potentially thinking about finishing unpacking from my trip…which I returned from more than a week ago. We’ll see how it goes…

In the meantime…

The Health Edit: Turns out that absence really does make the heart grow fonder! After a minor hiatus from 1Rebel they’re already sending me emails saying they miss me and offering discount codes. They know the way to this girl’s heart!

The Book Edit: This week I’ve had two books on the go – my ‘in transit’ read has been The Big Life by Ann Shoket and my ‘before bed’ read has been Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Starting with The Big Life (written by the former Editor in Chief of Seventeen Magazine in the US): more inspiration than strategy this book is filled with uplifting stories of fellow millennials living their ‘big life’ and realising that there’s no such thing as work life balance (who knew?) Though I would have preferred a bit more how to’s and advice there’s no denying that this is a buzzy, enjoyable read with good takeaways about focusing on your own goals, ignoring the BS and living the life you deserve. In a completely different genre is Hidden Figures. Recently made into an Oscar-nominated movie, this is the true-life story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. I’m not too far into it but I’m already completely engrossed in the behind the scenes look at what was such an interesting time period in US history on so many levels.

The Shopping Edit: I got my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets!!! After a 7-hour wait with no happy ending last time tickets were up for grabs I am so excited to be going to see the play for a second time…in July 2018. Whatever. I have tickets!!

The Screen Edit: Are any of you watching/have any of you watched 13 Reasons Why on Netflix? I started it last Saturday and finished the entire series in less than 24 hours (pesky sleep got in the way!) I was absolutely blown away by this show. The storytelling, the acting, the messaging, the learnings – this is one of the most powerful shows I’ve seen in recent memory. The themes are dark – a teenage girl commits suicide and leaves a series of cassette tapes dedicated to the ’13 reasons’ (people) why she chose to end her life – and watching main character Clay (the boy who loved her) come to terms with not only her death but also the secrets revealed after she’s gone is heartbreaking. There are a number of scenes which are not for the faint-hearted (2 rape scenes (which I fast forwarded through because I refuse to watch emotionally damaging content like that) and a graphic depiction of suicide) but I still highly recommend it and would love to hear your thoughts if you’ve seen it!

The Blog Edit: This week I (unintentionally) continued my discourse on digital, shared my review of Tata Harper skincare and indulged my love for London’s architecture.

As always, thanks for stopping by. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!