New stuff I’m loving!

I’ve been quiet for quite a long time- I’ve recently gone back to work after having my baby and had to cope with a bit of the dark monster… But things are looking up, the clouds are lifting and I’ve been picking up beauty bargains here and there… And found a few good ones!
First up is a little section for super dry, dry skin. I’ve had a touch of the cold, and my skin had responded by becoming parched, flaky and sore. It’s been very irritated and extra sensitive, so I went for a tube of Eucerin‘s Aquaphor soothing skin balm. This had quickly become one of my most relied-upon products, to the point where I actually panic if I cannot see it. It’s very thick, but with a very fine and easily absorbed texture. My skin had been sooking this up. The other good news is that it is so gentle it can be used on babies; it had been great on my skin at a time when every other product seems to sting like mad. It comes in quite a dinky tube, so I can imagine using it as a lip balm once my skin calls down.

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Next is my Garnier Rose cream wash and cleansing lotion. I needed a foaming wash that would cleanse dirty away but not sting. I had been using superdrug’s own pure range facial wash for sensitive skin which served me well when my very sore but I didn’t feel it was cleaning the dirty away, and I was starting to get spotty. I got this on offer in superdrug and I really, really sincerely hope that this is not being discontinued.because both products are excellent for sore skin; really comforting and with a lovely, very light rose scent which is not too scary for irritated faces. I use the wash in the morning and the cleanser with my hot cloth in the evening and both have been great. I can see them becoming staples.

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I recently had an accident with a pair of malfunctioning straighteners which resulted in a really damaged section of my hair. Dove damage solutions intensive repair conditioner has really helped put the life back into my hair. I’ve been really impressed with the results I have got from it, and it was only about £4.

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I’ll leave it there for now; I have a make up post to do later in the week 🙂 x

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Beauty on a budget

Times are tight for all of us-especially poor old me, as I have actual no money until December when I start back at work! Still, I like to think if this time not as a time of deprivation and looking ungroomed- instead, I’ve been nifty thrifty and I’m on a mission to find ‘drug store’ alternatives to designer beauty. I even have a few homemade beauty products! It’s all a bit retro glam here at Yumbeemum central; next I’ll be painting lines down the back of my calves with eyeliner and wearing victory rolls. Life’s hard on the home front!

Got a horrible dry, face and want a quick pick-me-up? Find a very ripe banana- that black manky one you’ve been kidding yourself on you’d eat is perfect- mash it up and apply to face. Leave for ten minutes and wash off. Your face will look brighter, feel softer, and the banana did not die in vain. Everyone’s happy.

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Vaseline is so versatile. I like the aloe vera one. Not only is it an excellent lip Balm, you can also use it as a cuticle softener, eyebrow tamer, eyelash conditioner, clear mascara, on old, dry spots… The night before a party, smear it all over your feet and pop some cotton socks on. In the morning, you will be the proud owner of velvety feet. Also….

Make your own eyeshadow primer! I use this, and it’s excellent. Take an old, empty, lip balm pot and in it, mix together with a cocktail stick equal parts foundation, creamy concealer and Vaseline. Simply pat on a smidgeon before you do your eyeshadow and it will look brighter and more vibrant and it will stay in place longer!

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This face serum is about £3.50 from Aldi and it is excellent; really smoothing and light. Salli Hughes from the guardian recommended it to my friend (not personally I don’t think) and Diane recommended it to me. All the ‘Lacura’ products at Aldi are worth a try I think as they seem good quality for the price. I will try more out-especially the makeup- and blog it up.

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NYC makeup- super cheap and with the exception of the eye/brow liner, very heavily pigmented. I particularly like the eyeshadow quad, and it was only £3.49! The liner is a double tasker, being both a brow pencil and eyeliner and the tinted balm is soft, if a little too bright for my taste, but it feels so good on your lips. The polish lasts and is quick drying. Try it out!

Anyway, I’d better go and make coffee from soil or something. Look out for my full face of makeup (including tools you need!) for under £20 coming soon…

The Hardest Job in the World?

After old Lizzy J- that well known ‘artist’- released a column full of horrible women-hating bile (what a step away from the Daily Mail’s usual offerings-NOT) last week, I was left to ponder the blogging community’s massive rebuttal, mainly featuring tired mums in sick-stained jogging bottoms wailing that motherhood is ‘the hardest job in the world!’ I started to think about my own 8-month experience with a small person…

I remember sitting on the couch, after my husband had gone back to work, and my mum had arrived at the house, having taken a week of her work to come and help me in whatever way she could- cleaning, cooking, washing. She even took my laundry on for about 6 weeks. Phoebe had been up at 2am for two hours and 5am until 7am. I was exhausted, recovering mentally and physically from a birth that had left me bitter, disappointed and physically mutilated. I struggled to get a shower, and as I was feeding her on demand, she might require me at any moment, and I could hardly leave her for a second.

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You can prepare for the birth of a baby insomuch as you can buy them little sleep suits, prepare a cot, buy some nappies and 5000 muslin cloths, but you cannot prepare for basically just how bloody hard it is in the beginning. People must think, “but you’re just sitting about with you boobs out, what’s so hard?” It is almost impossible to explain, apart from to say that the feeling that this precious little life needs you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, forever.

That feeling is good as well as horribly, horribly terrifying. Especially in the beginning when you are putting in so much hard work, and getting nothing back. They seem to just eat and sleep and scream.

Things get a little easier though.

Gradually, you feel that you can leave the house to see a friend for half an hour. Then, you are able to meet in a public place. They start to play and amuse themselves. Before too long, you can take your baby to the shops. Within a few short months, you can entertain your baby with a rice cake. They go off breast feeding. You have your body back! By then they really are their own little person with personalities, quirks, likes and dislikes. You start to think you can leave them with someone else for a few hours. The scales aren’t a mount of shame. You can get drunk again! You think about going back to work. You can hold more than one thought in your brain at once!!!

So what am I saying about my 8 months with a little ‘un? Well it has been hard work. And it will continue to be, as I go back to work next month. And she starts moving and talking and whatnot. But it is so much more rewarding. And as I got the hang of it, I felt more like myself, more like a success.

Is it the hardest job in the world? In many ways. But sometimes, when my husband comes home from work and asks, “How was your day?” and say, “Oh, I’m exhausted. We went for tea and cake with Katrina and Stephanie, then went to the shops to get teabags then went for a walk with Nyree in the afternoon” and I see his disbelieving face, I think, hmmm. Maybe my day isn’t as taxing as it could have been…

Play, Baby, Play!

I really struggled when Phoebe was first born for lots of reasons, but I was really looking forward to her being able to play, as I thought it would be really fun, kind of like having a kitten. How I laugh when I look back on this! I actually found it really difficult to know what to do, as I think I lost my ability to ‘play’ quite a few years ago. I don’t even play any computer games or anything. It brings me no joy. I just like to talk and laugh really. So having a little ‘un to entertain was a bit daunting when I realised she wouldn’t just do it on her own, she needed help from me too.

Throwing money at this problem, which retailers would love you to do, doesn’t really work I find. I have bought loads of toys- not as many as some people!- and she quickly loses interest in most things. Mums swore by jumperoos, but Phoebe is only entertained by them for very brief periods of time. She likes her walker, but can’t quite figure out how to put one foot in front of the other. What she really likes are musical/noisy toys or things that she has to figure out.

I spent quite a bit when she was born on toys that were largely redundant, and I wish I hadn’t, because it seems just as you start to have less money (SMP isn’t a heck of a lot) your baby requires more stimulation. I went to a ten-week block of baby sensory, which I am really glad I did, because it gave me loads of ideas of what to do with my little monster. At £7.50 a pop though (30 minute class), they were pricey, so I’ve taken lots of the ideas and put my own spin on them. Here are my suggestions to get yourself started.

Treasure/box/bag/basket

This is a really straight forward idea, and a great way to give new interest to old toys, or to encourage interest in toys that you baby has never been interested in. All you do is get a suitable box- I use an old nappy bin cassette box! If you are really crafty, you could cover it with shiny paper or bright wrapping paper or something. Mine is just plain. Then fill it with interesting items. Mine currently contains:

  • A velvety soft fluffy doggy
  • A deflated balloon (more on this below)
  • A Humpty Dumpty wooden toy with jangly legs
  • A Miffy rattle toy
  • A chunky beaded necklace
  • A silky scarf
  • A cupcake baking tin

Inside the box, I also have a wee mini jute bag that I got with a bunch of flowers I was sent when Phoebe was born. It will be perfect for using for playing shops when she’s older! Until then I use it as a wee discovery toy inside the box. In that I have:

  • A piece of scrunched up baking parchment
  • A mini rubber ducky
  • A pair of baby sunglasses

You could put loads of different things in. Everyday things, household items, anything that poses no danger from choking etc. Obviously this idea is for supervised play only.

Some other ideas:

  • A large, fluffy feather
  • A wooden spoon or any other robust kitchen item.
  • An artificial flower
  • Some dried out leaves/cones
  • Some faux fur/different materials- bubble wrap, brown paper, wrapping paper etc.
  • Fruit- Apples, oranges etc. You could even try a coconut!

    The best pic I could get!

Nursery Rhyms

I bought a set of three nursery rhyme CDs when Phoebe was tiny and have tried my best to learn a few. For some of them, I put them on and I just sing along animatedly, while pumping her wee legs on the change mat, for others I have made up actions that incorporate lots of tickles and ruffling and she loves that. I also have a lovely big book of nursery rhymes that I use to just sit with her and sing them and point out stuff in the pictures.

Modern Music

There is nothing nicer that just picking up your wee chunky monkey and bouncing up and down to a few ditties that you enjoy! You can only listen to “Pop Goes the Weasel” so many times before you have to be sectioned. I find dancing in front of the mirror provides entertainment for Her Majesty until I feel like my arms are going to fall off! I remember a friend posting on Facebook that her 2 year old was wandering around the house singing “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga. I hope Phoebe will be the same!!!

Home-made Toys

Rattle– Get a clean, empty, see-through bottle. Fill it with whatever you can find- lentils, peppercorns, rice, marbles, pasta, bird seed, peanuts… anything! You can also add brightly coloured things like beads, confetti etc. This is lots of babies’ favourite toy. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m thinking about using this idea to make a kind of slow globe idea with glitter and coconut!

Scarves stuffed in a tissue box– Tie the scarves together, and try to make them as different and varied as possible. You could also use old ties. Or new ones, if your husband has annoyed you.

Wooden spoons– They make brilliant teethers, and they are good for banging on things to make a loud noise!

Tupperware– Really good as well if you can get those ones that fit inside each other. You could hide bits and pieces inside them for you baby to find.

Balloon– Make balloons more baby-friendly by blowing them up nice and full and tight, then let about half of the air out of them. You could put rice or pasta etc. inside them to make a noise and then tie a soft baby bobble around the bottom and put it around their wrist. They’re very fun.

Basin of water- You can have hours of messy play with a simple bowl of water. Put some water-safe toys in, a wee flannel, and a sponge and a cup. Have a towel to hand! You could dip their wee toes in the water and experiment with showing them different temperatures of water-obviously not too hot.

Den– make a wee hidey-hole by covering a table with a blanket or sheet and play peekaboo. As the get older, they’ll enjoy crawling in and out!

Food– Get some jelly, chopped fruit, or any other baby-suitable food, put it on a large plastic-covered mat, strip your baby down to his vest, and let them get on with it. Eek!

Phew! Hopefully all this effort will make you feel less guilty about them watching Baby TV (Sky channel 623- if you’re interested) for half an hour here and there…

Some Serious Scrutiny- Max Factor Facefinity and False Lash Effect Fusion

I’ve had a few new products recently, and I’m going to write about two in particular. Sometimes when I buy a new product, I purchase impulsively (usually prompted by some kind of money off offer or a persuasive sales assistant- “I look great? Of course I’ll buy some!”) but more often I buy based on recommendation. I have also most recently started to trawl the ‘tinterwebs for some reviews. Both the products tonight are Max Factor. The make up of make up artists you say? Give me 12.

Max Factor False Lash Effect Fusion

The ‘Fusion’ going on here is between volume and length. This mascara will be perfect for you if you like a real separated look. You don’t need to comb through afterwards; it gives a really lovely ‘perfect’ lashes look. It really does lengthen, but I am not entirely satisfied by the amount of volume it gives. Predictably, it also does not give anything like a ‘false eyelash’ effect. Despite this, I don’t really think that any mascara can stand in for the amazing glamorous look you get from a pair of well-applied eyelures. Overall, this is a good everyday mascara, and with a bit of zig-zagging and a couple of coats you can build up some decent volume, but you do need to work at it a bit. On the plus size, it is a really good lengthener and not cloggy at all, for those of you that prefer a more natural look. I just like a bit of a trashier, clumpier appearance, which I feel gives more drama. I shan’t be changing from my usual Maybeline Falsies, but I am still using this, and don’t feel it was a waste of my cash. I’m glad I tried it.

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Max Factor Facefinity

You may be surprised by this, as it is well-documented how much I love Bare Essentuals. However, buffing takes time, which as a baby mama, I don’t always have if I only have ten minutes before I need to get out of the door to apply a face of make up. It takes me about ten minutes just to do my base if I use my BE. I saw this in Superdrug last week on offer with a few quid off it, so I went for it as it claims to be a long-lasting primer, concealer and foundation all in one. The consistency of this foundation is very loose and quite runny and a little goes a very, very long way. I use about three quarters of a pump for my face and and there is a little left over to use for areas that need a bit more hideage. It is very smooth and with a medium coverage, and when it is applied lightly, like a concealer on spots, dark circles and general yucky bits, it really does do the job. It gives a nice natural finish, not too matte or too dewy and leaves you with a nice glow. It is super quick to apply, and has taken residence in my make up bag with a blusher, mascara, eye liner and taupe eye shadow. I can get all this on my face within ten minutes, and I have worn make up most days this week when I haven’t had the 20 minutes or so I’ve needed when using BE. I’d recommend this if you are pushed for time and need to get your face done fast. BE will still feature in my routine when I have time to lovingly apply my make up and I believe it really is better for my skin, but Facefinity is a great multi-tasking product that saves me precious time when I need to get out fast!

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Shaving Face

Now, I like real men of the muscles and DIY variety. Given the right set of circumstances, I don’t even mind a bit of sweat and dirt. I think we can all agree, though, that grooming is not, now more than ever, a pursuit restricted to the ladies.

My husband- let’s call him Yumbeedad (YBD)- has a set of products that he has come to rely on now. After all, men need to shave and wash (hopefully)- isn’t shaving your face a hideous thought girls?!- and so using a facial wash and slapping on a bit of moisturiser is only a logical extension of this. In addition, those men with enough hair may wish to use some sort of taming product. I once went out with a boy who used hairspray and I confess this put me off him somewhat. There is something very girly about hairspray. So unless your manfriend is honing some kind of outlandish mohican, a wax or gum is good.

Men also need to smell good. And while it is OK for women to be perfume butterflies, intoxicatedly buzzing about from one fragrance to the next, men need a signature scent. A day one and a night one the very most. Incidentally, let it be known right now that I don’t believe in ‘natural musk’. That is just the beginnings of BO.

V05 Extreme Style Texturising Gum

I only have to see this pot and I think of YBD. He has been using it for years; long before we were together. I feel a bit sad to write about it now because YBD has just given into his baldness and shaved his hair, thereby removing the need to use any product on it. Anyway, he swore by this stuff for keeping his hair in style. He has a ‘very strong pull forward’ according to his barber, but this stuff would spike his hair up and keep it that way all day. He would never every even try any thing else. Even I used to use a little on Blow Dry day 2 to add a little texture and lift to my hair. It also smells amazing, sort of like tropical bananas?! You get a little smidge of it and ‘texturise’ it between you fingers then apply to your hair. A word of warning though- it’s VERY sticky. Hand wash required post use.

Chanel Allure Homme Sport

I am the sort of sad pathetic creature that goes all knock-kneed and giggly at the whiff of a nice bit of cologne. Even if the wearer is a hairy, 5’4”, socks-and-sandals-wearing, beard-sporting, balding, fat man. No joke. Anyway, this is the kind of man-smell that people respond to with a “Hmmmm… what is that?!” It’s almost like the Lynx-effect, if that actually worked. I exaggerate. But it smells really good. The Sport one is much younger and fresher than its Allure Homme parent, so more suitable for a man in his 20s/30s. The only downer is, it is really expensive; about £60 for 50ml. But Chanel fragrances are pricey. It makes you want them even more!!!

L’Oreal Men Expert Anti Perspirant 48Hr Dry Non-Stop

I do feel a bit weird writing about deodorant. I do most sincerely hope that everyone reading this uses it (if you think you don’t need it, then you have finally found out why you always get two seats to yourself on the bus) but it is a bit like writing about tampons or loo roll (this one’s super-absorbant!) Anyway, YBD likes this one because he has to use roll-on, as a spray irritates his skin, poor love. It has a nice big ball (lol) which rolls around easily, distributing the product well and he says it’s a very good anti perspirant. A few times I’ve forgotten deodorant when I’ve been in the bathroom (where I keep mine) and then notice YBD’s (he keeps his in the bedroom) when I’m moistursing, but I never have actually used it. I just think of all the awkward situations which could be created when I break into a sweat at a crucial moment and people notice I smell like a man.

Bull Dog Natural Skin Care Range (Face Wash, Shave Gel and Original Moisturiser)

This range has made a nice wee cosy place for itself amongst YBD’s few but trusted products. The range is organic, or at the very least paraben-free, which is good, and the range has a nice fresh, clean tea-tree type fragrance which really makes you feel clean. I have the advantage of having used all of these products either because I have been caught short in the shower (not in the toilet sense) or because I was just curious. The face wash is nice and lathery, although it is not foamy because of the lack of Sodium Laurel Sulphate (Parabens). It leaves your skin feeling very clean but not tight or dry. The shave gel is lovely and smooth and makes the razor glide. It is moisturising and you really don’t need much. A blob the size of half a walnut did both legs, and both my oxters too. The moisturiser is light but nourishing. It isn’t greasy and also comes in a sensitive version for the more irritable-skinned man in your life.

King of Shaves Azor

This razor is sleek and simple, and is not over packaged like lots of razors. It is well worth noting, as you may not know, that dermatologists recommend no more than two blades on your razor. Any more than two, and you risk exposing new and very delicate skin to the elements. You are getting such a close shave because you are taking layers of skin with the hair. Over time, this can even lead to scarring. Hideous. So switch to two blades tout suit. This razor molds to the shape of your chosen shaving site and it’s nice light design is a pleasure to shave with. How do I know, I hear you cry? Well, they do a lady version too which is shocking pink! His ‘n’ Hers. Gotta love it. We’ll be wearing matching Kagools next.

Lynx Rise Shower Gel

YBD isn’t a slave to this shower gel, it just happens to be the one he is currently using. It gives a good foam without having to use loads of gel and it smells nice. Could be a good one for the Christmas stocking?

Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose in it

Now YBD would never buy this for himself, as all his products have to be packaged as ‘For Men’. However, he really likes this and uses it as a scrub for himself when it is available in the shower. There are a real lack of good exfoliators on the market for men, so YBD tends to use mine. This one is good for him as it has a real lemony-limey scent (which if I’m honest, smells a bit like Jif) but the granular texture really works a treat. Like, you can feel it working. Also, if you leave it on post scrub, it acts as a face-brightening mask. Multi-tasking? What could be more masculine than that? NOT.

I genuinely thought I had dreamed this boyband up… but it seems truth really is stranger than fiction.

Boyzine - celebrating the forgotten boy bands of the 90s

I had been planning to write about Blue since their reunion is taking place as I write at the Emirates Stadium – a mere stone’s throw from Boyzine HQ – but there was another boy band crying out for inclusion on these pages. By 1998 it was no longer enough to just put together 4 fairly attractive boys and 1 unattractive or slightly overweight boy in their late teens, take them out of their old sportswear and put them in expensive sportswear and give them a cover version to sing. By 1998 boy bands needed a gimmick.

E-Male didn’t stop with one gimmick. They had two. They were advanced capitalism at work. They attempted to cash in on the internet which was inexplicably popular despite the fact social networking websites which allow people to follow in embarrassing detail the lives of people they once met at a party 4 years…

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