Monday, 17 December 2012

Tough Mudder: The Day I Conquered Everest

Apologies it has been a few weeks (again) since my last post. I'm sure you've all been fraught with concern for my well being, but I am pleased to confirm I did survive Tough Mudder.

Not only did I survive. I absolutely loved it. Never before have I felt so proud and such a sense of achievement in either my personal or professional life. And I'm already planning my next challenge.

But first, let me share with you ,my experience of the magical day I earned that coveted orange headband.

The temperature had been fairly mild (10-12C) in the weeks leading up to the 17th November, but my biggest fear had always been the potential cold, more so than any of the obstacles (ok, so the electric shock and ice bath were slightly nervewracking too). On the Saturday morning of the North-West Tough Mudder UK I woke up at 6am to a frost and an outside temperature of no more than 7C.

The first challenge I had to face was actually getting into the venue. The traffic and entrance system into Chelmondsey Hall was an absolute joke, and shattered my nerves. Yes that's my excuse for peeing in between two cars in a pub car park, but I challenge anyone to queue in traffic for an hour and a half whilst wearing compression leggings and needing the loo. I'd like to add at this point that the pub was closed. Credit where it's due though, despite missing my start time because of the queues, I was still allowed to participate - it appears the start time is merely to stagger the crowds rather than be a fixed time.

My best friend had dropped out due to injury, and her friend was stuck well behind me in traffic so I decided to get stuck in and start alone. At this point I'd like to thank the woman I spoke to in the queue for the portaloos that told me I was crazy for doing it on my own. Definitely helped the nerves.

Reality kicks in with what I'm about to do...
  So I was off. But only after having cleared a 10ft wall into the holding pen, jumped up and down and shouted a lot and realised that yes, in fact, i was the only person stupid enough to even be here on my own.

Regulars on my blog may be more used to reading about mud face masks and what I wore on a particular day, so I hope this post doesn't disappoint.

As I mentioned before, I was extremely nervous about the unknown element of the cold, so I'd frequented the TM forums to swat up on hints and tips for the obstacles as well as what kit I'd need. I didn't want to invest in a wet suit so opted for the recommendation of Under Armour clothing. I wore the compression base layer top and leggings in addition to the Cold Gear top and leggings (suitable for temperatures below 13C), so I was hopefuly the double layering would keep me warm enough. Accessories included my weight lifting gloves for the gym and a neoprene swimming headband. The clothing was all excellent quality and came with glowing reviews on every website I looked at. I also looked like a cross between a ninja and a cat burglar - what more could a girl want?

Outfit of the Day ;)

After the first mile, and upon reaching the pleasantly titled obstable "Arctic Enema", my survival instincts had kicked in and I realised I was in no way going to be physically let along mentally strong enough to make it round the course alone. A casual exchange of words with the guy behind me ("not looking forward to this one, if i get stuck, please help me out") turned out to be a master stroke and from then on I was adopted by my new Scottish team mates.

You can read Part Two of Tough Mudder: The Day I Conquered Everest to find out how I got on with the course, whether my clothing stood up to the cold, and some videos of me in action here.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Tough Mudder

Those of you that follow me on Twitter and Facebook will not that I'm a bit of an exercise freak, but my latest venture has proved that I'm perhaps a little crazy too. It seems like all I've been doing for the last few weeks and months is running, eating, training, eating, sleeping, running, repeat to fade.

Well all of this is for a good reason as this weekend I will be attempting to complete Tough Mudder. For those of you who haven't heard of the event, take a look at this video to see what its all about...

In brief, its a 12 mile obstacle course designed by the military and includes such delightful obstacles called "Arctic Enema" - an ice bath you have to jump into and once submerged,  swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before you become hypothermic, and "Electric Eel" and "Electroshock Therapy" which involve running or army crawling under dangling wires charged with 10,000 volts.

Throw in a few Berlin walls, a slippery quarter pipe and a whole load of mud and you've got yourself the Tough Mudder course. Oh and did I mention they make you sign a death waiver?

Electric shocks aside its the cold I'm really not looking forward to. I've bought myself some decent compression cold gear and waterproof socks but the nerves are really starting to kick in now there's only 5 more days to go.

I am quite a determined person anyway but I know there will be times during the course where I struggle. There are two things that will get me through. 1. The amount of curry I can order when I get home. Guiltfree. 2. The fact that I'm doing it for a great cause - I'm raising sponsorship money for Help for Heroes - a charity that works providing support for soldiers transitioning back to civilian life including stress recovery programs, adaptive sports programmes, benefits counseling and employment services.

Friends and family have been more than generous and its a massive motivation to complete the course, but I'd always like more! If you'd like to sponsor me (I know this is a big ask!) but however little it would be greatly appreciated.

If you can't stretch to a donation, your good luck messages will be welcomed! Hopefully this won't be my last blog post and I look forward to letting you know how I get on on Saturday!



Thursday, 25 October 2012

Track of the Week: Maxxi Soundsystem

Man of the moment Huxley can do no wrong and my latest track of the week that he's put his hand to with a remix is no exception.

I don't expect many of you to recognise the sample but I know it from speed garage anthem It's the Way by L.J Project. Huxley brings it right back up to date with a house crossover that retains the garage elements showcasing a style that's big right now that you can hear in stuff coming out of the likes of Disclosure and Eats Everything.

Introducing Stella's Way - Maxxi Soundsystem (Huxley Remix), released on October 25th on vinyl, with a potential digital release soon.

Hope you enjoy this one!



Thursday, 18 October 2012

Nails of the Day: Dreamy

Photos 1-3 in natural light, Photo 4 inside under spotlights
I popped into Superdrug at the weekend as I was running extremely low on my Fashionista concealer and was pleased to find they had loads of offers on. Not only did I get the concealer half price for £3 they also had nail varnish available at 2 for £6. This is a great deal when they are usually £5 each!

I'vI love my usual pinks, corals and reds but have recently been experimenting with different colours (you can check out a gorgeous turquoise Maybelline varnish review here  and I have an amazing orange from OPI coming soon!).

I picked up shade 4 Dreamy instantly - there was just something about this colour that was very different - a gorgeous creamy blue toned purple. For a value high street brand I was very pleased with the application - the brush and the varnish were easy to work with although I did find it streaked quite easily if you used too many brush strokes so it was best to apply quickly and boldly. I have three coats on in the pictures above but you could definitely just put on two.

I've worn this varnish all week at my office and had two compliments on both how nice and how different the colour is. I loved that I can still look professional in a massively corporate world but incorporate a bit of my own personality into my daily look.

I can see me wearing this colour throughout Autumn/Winter but also being perfect into Spring - definitely worth buying now if you the deal is still on,

Do you like the colour?


Saturday, 13 October 2012

OOTD: Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Coat: Joy
Beaded collar top: H&M
Cardigan: George at Asda
Jeans: Miss Selfridge
Boots: Urban Outfitters

As a complete sun-lover, I'm definitely not one to embrace the winter season - the dark mornings, freezing cold, wind and rain definitely aren't massive selling points for me. So in order to soften the blow and make the transition into winter, I have treated myself to a new coat.

When i first saw this coat I really liked it but really wasn't sure even though it looked nice on. Its definitely different with the leopard print coat and cream faux fur collar. Whilst I love Joy, the only issue I have is that they still haven't stepped into the twenty-first century with their returns policy and only offer exchange or credit note. At £120 for the coat, I had to be 100% sure I was happy before I was willing to take it home. This was one of those items that I definitely had down as a man-repeller - girls love it but blokes would hate it, however my other half said it was different and he liked it... so I took the plunge and bought it.

I'm so happy that I did as every time I've worn it I've had nothing but lovely compliments or comments - so at least its getting noticed and makes a change from the usual black or navy.

I wore this out for a walk in the park today - hope you like the photos and the coat!

Have you invested in a new coat this season?


Weekend Hot Mix: Dusky

Unfortunately I was out last night so missed the latest Radio 1 Essential Mix from two of the hottest producers out there at the moment, Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman - better known as Dusky.

The good news is, if you missed it too, its free to download on Soundcloud!

The two hour mix is packed with so many good DJs and producers including Huxley, Bicep, Midland and Kerri Chandler to name a few and showcases a current sound that I'm loving at the moment.

The mix is up-tempo deep house and I can't fault the tune selection - love their own track Numerical, and how can you resist a bit of MJ Cole - Sincere.

These guys were already building a great reputation but this Essential Mix has ensured they'll be a big thing...



Friday, 12 October 2012

Wedding #2 - The Ibiza Wedding

Back in June I was privileged enough to spend ten days out in Ibiza, enjoyed the clubs, the music and the beaches as usual. But this was no normal holiday as we were also spending time with my friends to celebrate the marriage of two of them.

After going to the most perfect marquee summer wedding I could imagine less than two weeks previous (you can see the write up and what I wore here), I was excited to be going to completely different and non-traditional nuptials.

Nick and George got married at Cap d'es Falco, a stunning beach restaurant near the southern most tip of Ibiza. Having spent time on the island nearly every year out of the last eight and recently getting engaged in Ibiza, I completely understand the magic of this place and why Nick and George chose to get married here.

The day was perfect starting with drinks - the white wine sangria was so refreshing in the heat. This was followed by a beautiful ceremony overlooking the most amazing view.

After more drinks at Cap D'es Falco, we headed to a seriously premium villa for the reception. The food quality matched the surroundings with a slap up barbeque with a little something for everyone - steak, lamb, fish - we really were spoiled for choice. And once again, all of this set on the back drop of amazing Ibiza views.

The bride and groom had chosen a simple beach theme for the finishing touches which looked great!

All that's left to show you is the outfit I wore. Mint was on-trend this summer, which was lucky given that I'd actually bought this dress the year before when I received the wedding invite - I knew it was perfect for an event in 30 degree heat and it certainly didn't let me down. I kept the outfit simple with some gold accessories and sandals, and of course the sunglasses were necessary!

Dress: Warehouse
Earrings and Ring: Topshop
Bracelet: Accesorize
Belt: H&M
Bag: New Look
Sandals: George at Asda
Sunglasses: Christian Dior

Me with the groom (left) and my groom to be! (right)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Track of the Week: Mat Joe

After two holidays in Ibiza this summer and a considerable amount of time away from this feauture I'm hoping not to disappoint you this week with my latest find on OFF Recordings - if you've not heard of the label, hopefully you've heard of German rising star Andre Crom. Was gutted to have missed him play for the Love Not Money guys in Leeds recently.

I'd like to play you my favourite track off German duo Mat Joe's latest EP, Heart to Find. Its called Safe Flight and all the remixes are wicked - my preference goes to Audiojack's Closed Eye Hallucination mix... I love the pitch bend he's thrown onto the end of the chord sequence in parts...

For those of you interested this track was released back on 22nd August and is available to download from Beatport at this link.

Its nice to be back and sharing some music with you!


Saturday, 29 September 2012

A quick hello...

I'm actually embarrassed looking at the last date that I wrote on my blog... my only excuse is that its been a ridiculously busy summer.

So what have I been up to?

I started a new role at work back in June, with the first phase of a big project going live two weeks ago, I've been to visit friends that moved out to Marbella, I'm training for a crazy event in November, I've had the pleasure of going to four weddings of great friends, oh and the small matter of getting engaged myself in Ibiza!

All in all, I have a lot to share with you - outfits, make up, products I have tried and tested, plans and my soundtrack to the summer... so bear with me (I bet you haven't even noticed I've been gone!) while I catch up and get back in the swing of this blogging malarkey as I have a lot of great posts lined up!

Hope you've all had a great summer....


Saturday, 11 August 2012

Nails of the Day: Turquoise Lagoon

I normally play it pretty safe when it comes to nail colour - reds, corals, purples, browns - I'm not sure why, I just think I avoid looking like I'm a 13 year old with badly painted nails, but there is such a great selection of more interesting varnish shades out there at the moment that when I saw this colour I thought I'd try something different.

I'd had my eye on a gorgeous light blue Deborah Lippman varnish but I'm trying to reign in the spending so had a look Superdrug and came across a little beauty by Maybelline called Turquoise Lagoon. It truly is turquoise as it really depends on the light as to how blue or green this colour looks.

This took 3 coats before I got a coverage I was happy with as it does apply fairly translucent and streaky on the first 2 coats. I found the brush good  and it felt like it was better quality than a £4.09 drug store product.

This varnish is in their Express Finish 40 second range, but I still used Sally Hansen Inst-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat. I'd been looking to buy Seche Vite as I'm usually really impatient when it comes to waiting for my nails to dry but then I saw the Sally Hansen product reduced by £1 to £3.99 and thought it was worth a try. This top coat is brilliant - dries nails in 30 seconds as it claims and kept my nails chip free for about 5 days - this could be a combination of the quick drying Maybelline formula though.

Its essential you wear a base coat with this varnish - I didn't and after having 3 coats on for a week when I removed it I have been left with a natural griege tone... nice!

I loved wearing a different colour on my nails, especially with a bright top that I wore to the Olympics last Sunday... I felt like it represented by personality better and put me in a good mood just looking at them! Ha! I'll definitely be going back to Maybelline to see what other colours I like.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Operation Nails SOS - The Results

About five months ago I started to trial a nail strengthener, nail/cuticle oil and hand cream to see if I could repair my badly damaged nails and restore them to a healthy condition. Over this time I think I've given them a fair chance to work and have really put them to the test given the previous state of my nails. You can see the original post here and an update after the first week here, but here's a reminder of what they looked like back in February...

And here are my nails now...

I will be posting this Nails of the Day shortly...

You can find the OPI Kiss Me On My Tulips post here from June
As you can see I had an issue with weak, brittle nails that easily split and peeled, and I suffered with a problem of my thumb nails breaking very far down the nail on a regular basis. It may have taken longer than I expected to get results but its been well worth it in the end.

In my quest for the perfect nail I was testing the following products; Duri Rejuvacote nail strengthener, Elemis Exotic Frangipani Moisture Melt and finally, Aveeno hand cream.

The Verdict
In short, I absolutely love all of these products. Independently they are fantastic - from smell, texture to functionality.

Aveeno hand cream - as far as hand creams go, this ticks the boxes for me. Non-greasy,  rich enough to tackle my dry skin but quickly absorbed and light feeling. It is paraben free and unscented but still manages to smell nice. This is a great drugstore product (retails for around £5 for 75ml) but there is currently an offer on at Boots for £3.40. I would definitely repurchase.

Elemis Exotic Frangipani Moisture Melt - This is a multifunctional oil that I was told was great on nails and cuticles and this really feels like an indulgent home treatment product. You need to warm the bottle (not directly) in order to melt the oil - hence the name - and I do this by standing it in a small bowl of boiling water for about 30 seconds. The result, a warm, fabulous smelling oil - think sweet almond and vanilla massage oil - that when rubbed over nails and cuticles really moisturises and softens and helps manage the hard skin (that i bite from time to time) around my nails. This is an expensive product to just use as a nail treatment - retails at £29.70 for 100ml, however as this can be used for body and hair as well it is a good investment. If the price tag still seems too high, then you could always do what I did and get a smaller bottle as part of the regular offers that Elemis run such as pick five travel size products when you buy two full size.

Duri Rejuvacote - I think the most important thing I have to say about this product is that IT ACTUALLY WORKS. My nail health as improved vastly over the course of this trial and I now experience zero splitting or peeling. Obviously I still have some breakages, but my nails are no longer dry and brittle. I went for a manicure recently and even the beautician I see regularly comented how good my nails looked! The downside to the product is that it does peel off quite easily = after applying a coat every day or most days, once it starts to peel it looks really bad, but I would say this is a small price to pay for overall improved nails. Unfortunately the nail treatment has to be applied to completely dry nails meaning that it does not bind with the nail if you use hand cream or an oil at the same time, so its best to have a morning and evening routine so you can use all the products. Also the bottle went a bit gunky before I'd completely finished it so it was too thick to apply, however I will be repurchasing this product. If you were only going to buy one product out of the three I would recommend it to be this one - I bought mine off Amazon for about £10.

I am so happy, however I do still suffer with the severe breakage of my thumb nails only. As previously mentioned, this happens very far down the nail and is very painful and has occured twice since I started using these products.

So what next?
I will be repurchasing Duri Rejuvacote to continue looking after my nails, but first I am going to try another product. The lovely team over at Mavala, a beauty company that specialises in nail care, hosted a live Q and A session on Twitter (@MavalaUK) where you could pose your nail problems to their expert team. I contacted them with a question about my thumb nail breaking issue and they explained that I may have damaged the nail matrix (where the nail cells are formed) which means it has a weak point. This damage can be permanent but they suggested I try their Nailactan product which works on the matrix to produce healthier cells. They have sent me a sample which I am going to use until it runs out and of course I will report back! In the meantime if you wish to find out more about Mavala products you can visit their website

Have you tried any of these products or which ones do you use in your nail care routine?


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Neal's Yard Remedies Organics

Many of you who are regular readers of my blog will know that one of my absolute favourite beauty brands is Neal's Yard Remedies, and I'd been thinking about signing up to be a consultant to sell through their home beauty arm NYR Organics for some time. 

When I saw the offer that came out today I knew it was the perfect opportunity as NYR have halved the usual joining fee. I get the starter kit which includes the Chamomile Cleanser, Rehydrating Rose Toner, Frankincense Hydrating Cream, Geranium and Orange Hand Cream, White Tea Toning Eye Gel and the award winning Beauty Sleep Concentrate. This meant I could get all these gorgeous products, worth £130 for just £45 - a complete bargain for anyone who loves NYR products!

Part of the reason for starting my blog was because of my love for beauty products but also to learn new skills and make myself more employable to move into a completely different industry to my current "day job". Signing up to be an NYR consultant seemed like another logical step to gain even more experience in the beauty industry as well as getting to work more closely with a great brand.

I wanted to write this post to be very transparent about the fact that I will be working as an NYR consultant however the main purpose of this blog as a fun outlet for my beauty and music passion still remains the same. I will still write reviews of some NYR products I love, buy and use, but will remain completely honest in my opinions and will disclose any free samples in each post. At the end of the day I would hate anyone to be unhappy with a purchase based on duff or dishonest reviews I'd written!

More than my opinions, I'd like to use my blog to find out what you think about NYR products - both your experiences and opinions as well as ideas you'd like to see so feel free to ask any questions or leave comments on this post as usual - I love to hear from you!

You can read my previous reviews on two great products - Wild Rose Beauty Balm and White Tea Facial Mist.

If you're interested in taking advantage of the deal above you can open an account here which will get you all the products above for £45 as well as 25% discount off all future purchases.