Terracotta & lace up shoes + spring trends

I wore this outfit for a walk around St Katharine's Dock in London and the surrounding area whilst James and I were visiting his parents. It was a rare day warm enough to go without a proper jacket, which now seems like a million years away as the spring weather has turned wintry once more.

I bought two of these vests on Yours Clothing's two for £14 offer - this terracotta one and a black one. I love this terracotta shade and it's one we'll see a lot this spring/summer. The vests have a cross back as you can see in the stock photo here which elevates it lightly from being a plain vest top. These days I look for details in my clothes and accessories - I want comfort, but I also want a little more to draw the eye. The cross back detail on the vest top and the lace up shoes add interest to an otherwise boring outfit. I'm wearing a size 30/32 in the vest as I wanted an oversized look and length in the back.  It's slightly dipped at the back, long enough to cover my bum, which James says is a bad thing as he wants to look at it. Hah! It bobbled on the first wear as it's a really thin material, so do be aware. I wanted really lightweight tops for summer so I can live with a little bobbling.

I'm wearing:
Necklace, Jewel Street
Sheer jacket, bought at UKPSFW similar here
Yours Clothing Terracotta Red V-neck Vest With Cross Back
ASOS Curve jersey peg leg trousers 
Red satchel, birthday present
Lace up shoes, Primark

I absolutely adore these lace up shoes by Primark! They needed no wearing in at all. They aren't wide fit so I'm wearing an 8 instead of my usual 7 and they fit perfectly. They also come in burgundy and I hope they'll bring out more colours. I have my eye on a couple of other pairs of similar shoes from ASOS and New Look. Those tan ones are the sex! I love lace up/ghillie shoes as they're so comfortable, they look completely sexy and they're the big thing in flats for spring and summer. If you only buy one pair of shoes this year make them lace up/ghillies to be on trend. I'm pleased terracotta is going to be big this year too, and I love it as it looks great on tanned or dark skin.

Thanks for reading,
L xoxo

British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours the Brave eyeshadow palette

Makeup Revolution is one of my favourite beauty brands. A few years ago I was cynical about cruelty free affordable makeup brands but the likes of MUA and now Makeup Revolution have proved that you don't have to spend huge amounts of money for good quality. The Fortune Favours the Brave eyeshadow palette from Makeup Revolution and designed by Jane from British Beauty Blogger is simply sublime. I haven't used any other eyeshadow palette since it arrived about a month ago.
It comes in luxe rose gold packaging and has 30 pigment-filled shades. The mattes are buttery soft and blend amazingly well and the shimmer shades are nuanced and beautiful. It has everything from neutrals to blues, greens and purples. You can tell the sheer amount of thought that went into this palette. This is the only eyeshadow palette I'll be taking on holiday with me as it covers every base from demure daytime looks to bold evening makeup.
Makeup Revolution British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours the Brave eyeshadow palette
Makeup Revolution British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours the Brave eyeshadow palette
Makeup Revolution British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours the Brave eyeshadow palette
Makeup Revolution British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours the Brave eyeshadow palette
It's £9.99 from Makeup Revolution and worth every penny. I expect I'll buy back ups as I love it so much. I hope this isn't the only BBB/Makeup Rev collab! Have you got this palette?

Thanks for reading,
L xoxo

Photo extras

I take a huge amount of photos, and most of them never see the light of day here. I'm going to start sharing some of the gazillion photos I take as it's pointless to take them otherwise. I'm not inviting anyone round for a slide slow and some wife swapping so I have to get these images out somehow. Hah!

This will be a regular thing. What to expect? Outfits that didn't make the cut, behind the scenes shots of me being a doofus, a selection of selfies, some of the man, and some scenic stuff too.
 These are January and February's extras.

My niece, the utter beauty.

In the next couple of posts there'll be lots of scenic shots as James and I have been going to lots of places now it's a bit warmer.
L xoxo

My journey into Fibromyalgia and ME

I don't talk about my chronic illness nearly enough - well, not enough to help other Spoonies out. I'm sure well people may think I bang on about Fibromyalgia and ME allll the time, but considering my health shapes everything, I should/could share a lot more.

A lot of the questions I've had over the years are about my earliest symptoms and how I got diagnosed. I'm going to talk about my initial symptoms, and I'll talk about my road to diagnosis in another post. I'm going to make all the symptoms bold so they're easy to pick out. 
It was 2007, summer leading into autumn, and at first it was little niggling things that built up week by week and gave no clue of what was to come. Recurrent headaches, dizzy spells on looking upward or turning over in bed, a sore throat all the time, motion sensitivity (a short car ride would make me feel very nauseous), being extra sensitive to strong smells, bright lights, loud noises etc. In September 2007 James and I went on holiday - we'd booked to stay in a caravan park 4 miles outside of Torquay so we could walk miles into town and back every day. I was already pretty fit, but was obsessed with being smaller back then, and wanted to do this walking holiday to shift some pounds. A couple of days into the holiday it became apparent that I couldn't walk like I had done before. I felt awful all the time, and cried with fatigue a couple of times as we walked into town as I really felt like I couldn't go on.  I thought I'd be all right after a few days if I took it easy. It got no better during the holiday, and I felt really frightened as I knew this wasn't me at all. I went back to work and things got worse and worse. I was exhausted all the time and would get home from work and crawl under the covers fully clothed and sob as I felt so helpless. I went from someone who worked 9 hour days on my feet, walked 25-30 miles a week, who had a busy social life and who would come home to cook and do housework, to a shadow of my former self. I didn't want to eat, all I wanted to do was sleep, but insomnia was my new pal. I felt absolutely wretched.

Then my brain started to be affected. I was an administrator in charge of large sums of money and I started to lose the ability to add up. I was confused all the time, where previously I'd multitasked like a mofo. A simple task took me 4 times as long as usual. I was under a huge amount of stress already as I'd been doing 2 people's job roles for 9 months, and then in November I was punched by a customer and got negligible support from my bosses. They didn't even bother to check the CCTV for 3 days to see who'd done it. In many ways this was the final straw, and just two months after the assault I'd walked out of my job, never to return. I didn't even recognise myself any more. All my sparkle had gone. I'd never walked out of a job in my life, let alone one with so much responsibility, but in my naivety I thought I just needed a couple of weeks of rest and I'd start job hunting again.

Except even rested I felt no better. By this time I'd developed IBS which went along with the daily headaches, dizzy spells, mental confusion, sensitivity to smells, light and noises, sore throat, and exhaustion.

Less than a year after my symptoms first began, in April it was my birthday and James and I went to Brighton for a day out with my ex colleagues. We had lunch, explored Brighton and in the evening saw Omid Djalili. Sounds great, right? Except it felt like my legs were being ripped off my body and I spent most of the day in tears trailing 100 yards behind everyone else. I couldn't really lift my legs up, but had to drag them along the floor slowly and very painfully. When we retired to our hotel room that night James had to lift my legs into bed for me as every tiny muscle movement made me cry out in pain. I woke up the next morning and had had a night sweat so great I'd saturated the bedding and mattress and was soaking wet. I went to the doctors the next day and to his credit he jumped to it and ordered up a bunch of blood tests and gave me a thorough physical examination. His first thought was Sarcoidosis as there were markers up in my blood which couldn't be explained, and a battery of hospital tests were undertaken. By this time I'd started having other problems like sore eyes, difficulty breathing, a nasty red rash on my shins, a red rash across my nose and cheeks, widespread pain (as well as the someone's-trying-to-rip-my-legs-out-of-my-hip-socket feeling) and more drenching sweats, even on minimal exertion. Depression and anxiety disorder soon followed as my ability to take part in my own life shrank by the day. I grew agorophobic as I was often limping with pain and felt terribly vulnerable outside the house on my own. Every day I felt like I had the symptoms of a cold. My balance was terrible.

By 2009 I was terribly allergic to hair dye (a friend had to rush me round antihistamines for hair dye allergy to halt anaphylaxis after doing an inner elbow sensitivity test as my throat was swelling shut) and my conditions affected everything from what clothes and shoes I could wear, which food and drink I could consume and which environments I could be in. Busy, noisy, bright places were hell. Falls were commonplace, and in 2010 alone I had 6 major injuries - 2 back injuries, an achilles heel injury and more. I also passed out a couple of times through sheer fatigue. The pain - so many different types of pain. Burning pains, stabbing pains, throbbing, long lancing pains, deep aches, cramps. Pain everywhere from head to foot, especially after exertion. A long walk would leave me exhausted for days. Adding stress to exertion would wipe me out for weeks. When we moved in 2008 I did the packing slowly over weeks and did barely any lifting at all on the day, but was wiped out on the sofa for 3 weeks afterwards barely able to feed or look after myself. By about 2009 I'd also developed bladder problems too - urge incontinence related to my menstrual cycle, extreme pain after eating/drinking certain things (possibly interstitial cystitis), dry skin everywhere, constant infections - styes, throat infections, chest infections, UTIs, conjunctivitis. There was no part of my body not affected, no task I might undertake not altered. My life as I knew it was over, and I was still undiagnosed and desperately needing a name to call the beasts that ailed me, but I had to wait 4 long years for that.

There are many more symptoms and I'm sure I've missed out many, as new ones come along all the time.

These are my experiences. Every person's experience with chronic illness is different. The trouble with chronic illnesses like Fibro, ME, types of arthritis, lupus, MS, Sarcoidosis etc etc is that MANY of the symptoms are shared by ALL of these conditions. It's often a long, exhausting, miserable process of elimination to be diagnosed, and that's without institutionalised bigotry as I experienced on my journey to diagnosis for existing in a fat body.

If you have any questions feel free to ask and I'll help however I can, but my advice is no substitute for a consultation with a doctor.

Thanks for reading,
L xoxo

I'll talk about my road to diagnosis in another post. 

Larimar statement jewellery

Larimar is a turquoise stone found only in the Dominican Republic, and is mined at only one site in the world. That makes it pretty special indeed! The colour of the stone reminds me of seafoam and the colour variations are such that it looks like a different ring from every angle.

It's a huge statement ring set in sterling silver yet it doesn't feel heavy or cumbersome to wear. Because it's so stunning it's the only ring I need to wear on any one hand. It was delivered via DHL, which was very swift, and was also fully tracked. It came in a good quality grey and white presentation box, ideal for gift giving.
It's barely been off my finger since it arrived, and I'll be taking it on holiday with me as well as it'll look gorgeous against a tan.
You can check the range out for yourself - https://larimar.com

Have you ever heard of Larimar?
Thanks for reading,
L xoxo
*Ring sent for review.

New Look Curves Black Floral Print Bomber Jacket

New Look Curves Black Floral Print Bomber Jacket
New Look relaunched their plus size line as New Look Curves recently and this bomber jacket was the apple of my eye. Then NL sent me a discount code for my birthday, and the stars aligned. By the time I got around to it word had got around on the fat girl grapevine and the largest size they had left was a 24, which was what I went for, and it's ample on me.
New Look Curves Black Floral Print Bomber Jacket
New Look Curves  Plus Size Black Floral Print Bomber Jacket
New Look Curves  Plus Size Black Floral Print Bomber Jacket
The fabric is a really stretchy textured polyester mix and is super light and comfortable to wear. A bomber jacket is the big thing in jackets for Spring/Summer and New Look have quite a few lovely ones.
New Look Curves  Plus Size Black Floral Print Bomber JacketThe pink and mint green shades are gorgeous and summery. I wore this outfit to my niece's 3rd birthday party and felt comfortable and stylish all day.
New Look Curves  Plus Size Black Floral Print Bomber Jacket
I'm wearing:
Black floral print bomber jacket
Velvet dress, past season Pink Clove
Leggings, Very (from twin pack, one long one 3/4 length - these are hiked up)
Block heels, Simply Be
Necklace, Jewel Street 

Have you got a bomber jacket? I've got two, the other one is a black and white checked one and you can see it here.

Thanks for reading!
L xoxo

Plus 40 Fabulous - My current skincare regime

I get a lot of comments on my skin and a couple of lovely folks on Twitter last week asked me to share what I'm using on my face right now, so here we go! I'm going to concentrate on moisturisers and exfoliants and not so much on cleansers as I use a few different cleansers and my skin remains the same regardless. For me, moisturisers and exfoliants give the most bang for my buck so that's what I'm focuisng on. **Edit, as this post coincided with this month's Plus 40 Fabulous post I'm calling this mine.**

The foundation of my skincare is the Oils of Life range from the Body Shop, and you can read my full review of these products here: The Body Shop Oils of Life.
There's an essence (think of a toner but more moisturising, used in exactly the same way, after cleansing), a facial oil and a gel moisturiser. These three items keep my skin looking well-hydrated, plump and glowing. They are undoubtedly expensive (and they're usually excluded from Body Shop deals and offers) but they really do make my skin look lit from within and feeling super soft. I've had these products for 5 months and have been using them consistently for about 3 of those months (I was testing other skin care for some of that time) and I've still got about a month of usage left.

If you don't have the time for a Korean 10 step beauty routine and want great skin without investing hours every day, these Oils of Life are the products for you.

With regards to keeping spots, redness, brown marks and my ever-present milia at bay I use 2 Paula's Choice exfoliants - the skin perfecting 8% AHA gel and skin perfecting 2% BHA gel. These are chemical exfoliants as in they don't need you to rub or scrub to remove old skin, but do it with AHA/BHA chemicals. Before using these products my milia were out of control, I had frequent spots and a big blackhead problem. At this time of year I use these exfoliants before bed (as they make your skin more susceptible to sun damage - if you use them in the day time make sure to use SPF). I'm actually being a slacker with regards to skincare at the moment as I'm prioritising decluttering my home above all else, so I'm using the AHA one about once a week before bed and the same for the BHA one. You could use one every day (if your skin can tolerate daily use, some can't) for better results. The Paula's Choice website has a wealth of skincare advice - it's well worth a look! Here's how to exfoliate skin.

Pictured below are a couple of other things I'm using on my skin currently, which I'll mention briefly, but again cleansers are interchangeable as far as I'm concerned. The Soap and Glory Peaches and Clean wash off cleanser is great as it makes my skin glow. I use it on my dry face and rub it off with a slightly rough flannel (skincare goddess Caroline Hirons recommends using all cleansers on dry skin and taking them off on a clean dry flannel for the exfoliating benefits). I use the Nivea micellar water if I'm being a lazy ho and want to take my makeup off in a hurry. It isn't as good as a proper cleanse but sometimes at bedtime I really cannot be bothered.
I wanted to talk about things other than what I put on my face.

  • Firstly, it's boring but I drink a lot of water. I have a bottle of water by my side at all times - by the side of the bed, on the sofa, when I'm out walking. 
  • I avoid caffeine. I might have 2 diet Pepsi's a week, drinking water 75% of the time and lemonade & lime for a bit of flavour, and one cup of tea a day. 
  • I don't smoke. Smoking isn't good for your skin, and neither is lots of sugar. I do have a sweet tooth but I try to deny it. I recently went from agave nectar in my tea to nothing and I survived. ;)
  • Sleep! If I have a few days of poor sleep I look awful - my eye bags are dark, lined and huge and my whole face looks dry and parched. It also looks parched if I go a couple of days without doing anything to my face, which I sometimes do. I'm not perfect. After a couple of days of neglect my wrinkles are far more pronounced, but after a good moisturise it'll look much better. 
  • Avoid the sun. The most damage our faces get over the years is due to exposure to the sun. Work out how you want to avoid it - high facial SPF, avoiding going out at midday, wearing a big hat or becoming a vampire. ;) 
  • Get some fresh air. If I look a bit grey about the gills going out for a bracing walk in the wind/rain will soon perk my face up. If you're physically able, get a sweat on, it's the perfect antidote to dull skin. 
The other participants are:

Cathy: http://www.southernyacht.blogspot.co.uk/
Christy: http://www.sprintingwithscissors.blogspot.co.uk/
Daisy: http://daisysays.co.uk
Kate: https://wearingmywardrobein2016.wordpress.com
Kath: https://fatheffalump.wordpress.com
Leah: http://www.justmeleah.co.uk
Lee: http://www.pinkybellesshed.co.uk/
Lisa: http://www.kitandkoboodle75.blogspot.co.uk/Marged: www.divadellecurve.com
Mookie: http://www.mookieslife.com/
Nikki :http://www.nattynikki.com/
Perelandra: http://www.pamperandcurves.com/
Sarah: http://www.plussizeproud.co.uk
Steph: http://www.misskittenheel.com
Vicky: http://www.therandomnessoftwee.blogspot.co.uk
Yvonne: http://woosangwashere.blogspot.com

Thanks for reading.
L xoxo

It can't rain all the time

It's a bit of a myth that bloggers are always dressed and accessorised impeccably every day of the week. Real life goes on when there aren't any cameras around! I know the illusion can be all-important for some, but I don't roll that way. If you've ever wondered what I wear on a walk in the pouring rain, wonder no longer.
This was such a wet day even the camera didn't stay dry!
Call me weird, but I haven't been able to get on with umbrellas since I've had Fibromyalgia. It's something most physically-well people won't have realised, but when you have conditions like Fibro, arthritis etc which cause muscle weakness and grip problems, holding onto a brolly against the wind is really painful! I might use one for a couple of minute walk to the post box, but for a prolonged time? Hell naw. I just wrap a scarf round my head and hope for the best.
I got quite wet and was relieved to get into the car and dry out in front of the heater, but I'd still have rather been out in the rain than sitting at home. For about the last 6 weeks I've been walking more and feeling better for it as I'm making sure to have lots of rest too. Before Fibro and ME I was always on the move, always going to visit people and places. My favourite thing on my days off would be to go to London on the train and cover 5-10 miles visiting my usual stomping grounds like Soho or Camden. Being of limited mobility has been really hard to accept, as walking was my therapy. I'd whack my iPod on loud and stamp out any thoughts bothering me, arriving at my destination rosy cheeked and happy. Too much exercise for me now can cause an ME flare up (which means weeks of being able to do virtually nothing), as well as falls, and I've even passed out a couple of times from sheer fatigue. Patience may be a virtue but it's not one of mine, but even so the long, slow and steady game is better than boom and bust. Fingers crossed I can keep up what I'm doing now, because the effect on my mental health and my pain levels is remarkable. I don't actually have active wear, so jersey tops and leggings are my thing for walks.

I'm wearing:
Scarf, charity shop
Biker, past season New Look Curves
Moira hanky hem dress, Boohoo
Leggings, past season Yours Clothing
Bag, birthday present from my brother
Bag charm, Peacocks
Sketcher Go Walk 3, QVC

Here's a photo of my makeup as I looked cute before all that rain!
What kind of thing do you wear when you're exercising or running errands? I used to be that person who'd wear a dress for absolutely every activity, but not any more. Leah 2k16 is all about the comfort! There will be a lot more casual outfits like this coming up as the chances are every time I leave the house, it'll be to go for a walk.

Thanks for reading,
L xoxo