Crack open the champagne – Muddy Stilettos is about to launch!

16 Oct

OMG! This is the last post you’ll receive before my lovely relaunch today. Hurray!!

Just for today, you’ll have to physically log on to http://www.muddystilettos.co.uk initially to see the new blogazine- there are loads of new stories on there and new features too. When I next post something new, the posts will arrive as usual into your in-box and normal service will resume.

Have a look at www.muddystilettos.co.uk towards the end of the day when all the technical stuff  will have been completed.

And please, if you love Muddy Stilettos and want to support my little business, can I ask you to send this link to one friend who isn’t already registered to Muddy Stilettos and suggest they sign up? It will take you about 10 seconds but will make a massive difference to Muddy Stilettos, my labour of love!

Thank you. I hope you enjoy the new blogazine.

Hero x

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And the winner of the Illuminated Canvas is…

14 Oct

 

I absolutely love these LED canvases from Illuminated Canvas, and since I am the only person certain of never winning a Muddy Stilettos prize (*sniff*) I have already put in my order for a the beautiful Christmas angel (see it here).

Ah, but you might not need to reach into your pockets for a canvas at all.

Did you win the competition? Well, if you’re name’s Rebecca Jones from Oxford you did!

Come and claim your prize lady! Congratulations.

The rest of you, sorry this time, but don’t despair. My new giveaway goes live along with my new blogazine (hopefully tomorrow, but it may roll over into Tuesday depending on design glitches). Trust me, you’ll LOVE my new competition, and I really hope you’ll fall head over heels for my new look blogazine too.

Watch this space…

Hero x

 

6 Things I Envy About Other Women

13 Oct

Yeah, what are you looking at….?

I came across this hilarious fashiony feature the other day from a great American blog called Narcissista.me. Something to make you chuckle on a Saturday morning! Hx

*****************

I don’t like thinking of myself as an envious person.  But it’s when I catch tiny glimpses of things I realize I will never have, that I take a deep sigh and longingly wish, even if just for a minute or two, about what life is like on the other side.

What can I say, the grass is always greener and I have desires, I am weak.  So if you’re having a bad day and find yourself with one of these qualities here, just know that if you cross my path, I’m wanting a little of that magic you’ve got.

 

1) Tiny waists that showcase the perfect belt.  Even over bulky things. I’m too short waisted for this to look good and for the love of God, can’t even think about bulky sweaters with or without the belt.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t try;  I have about twenty of them hanging in my closet – neon, animal print, sequined, gold — unused but not unloved.  Thankfully, this trend, which peaked in 2010, is waning, but it would be nice knowing I could get away with this if I wanted to.

Photo credit: AP

2) Legs that can wear shoe booties and ankle straps. Oscar de le Renta is a cruel monster for designing these shoes that I don’t understand yet desperately want but will never be able to wear.  While my legs usually work in my favor, I’ve learned after years of being 5’2’ that there just isn’t enough body real-estate to carry this off without looking like a well hoofed pony.  I will forever be serving a life sentence of leg lengthening stilettos in nude, black, metallic or leopard.

Photo Credit: Mario Testino, British Vogue 2011

3) A great back.   There is nothing sexier than restraint coupled with the element of surprise and this case that means revealing a swath of skin that no one sees coming. On a woman with a great back, people are left glancing, staring; on me they’re left with “I think you forgot to zip your dress up”.

It’s one of the most elegantly sensual looks a woman can sport, but not everyone should.  Now my back is just fine, it doesn’t hurt, it holds me up, but it’s just kind of there.  A woman with a great back has length, shape, muscle tone and great skin.   It’s actually a tough look to pull off well, but one of the most under-estimated assets a woman can have.

I actually think back is the new butt.

Photo Credit: AP

4. Naked arms.   If I had great arms, my closet would be crammed with sheath dresses in every color.  I would make full arm gestures in meetings.  Every day would be an arm party.   A great arm isn’t too skinny (looking at you Angie) it’s not too muscular (hey Madge), it’s shapely and supple like Michelle’s or Halle Berry’s.  Mine offset narrow shoulders and tend to be a fat magnet, so if I’m 5 pounds over my fighting weight or haven’t planked in a month (who am I kidding, I don’t really plank) they resemble little Jimmy Dean sausages.

The test of a really great arm?  Being able to hold your arms high and wave without having your upper arms do the same.

I dream.  Or maybe I should just plank.

5. Women who can wear creamy beige neutrals.   Colour is my prison.  While I am a huge advocate of colour and think it’s one of the easiest ways to look prettier, for me it’s my only choice, especially as I’ve got older.   Largely it’s my skin tone.  I’ve got that Irishy, freckled thing going on with yellowy undertones that drown in creams, beiges and just about any neutral.  And neutrals look so sumptuous, and rich.   Don’t even get me started on the glories of a white crisp shirt worn with nothing at all.

None of it can be mine in this lifetime, I will forever be dressed like a rainbow.

6. Women who look great in wear stripes.  There is no sign of this trend going away, especially if you’ve seen the collections from the spring 2013 NYFW.  And why should there be?  Stripes are awesome and classic.  But no matter how many interpretations of the Breton shirt I’ve tried, they just look terrible on me (see arms above).  I wrote about my stripe lust over the summer after yet another failed attempt to wear stripes.  But for you girls who look wonderful in stripes; enjoy them, love while I live my striped fantasy life through you.

Ironically, when telling my mother-in-law (she who all things South American beauty savvy) about this post, she said,

“You know what I envy?  People who really don’t care about what they look like”.

Well said MIL, well said.

WHAT’S ON: The Muddy Guide 12 – 18 October

12 Oct
‘On the Road’, general release from Friday 12 Oct

It’s taken half a century to get this film from the pages of the Jack Kerouac original onto celluloid. Directed by Walter Salles, it stars Brit coolcat Sam Riley, American newcomer Garrett Hedlund and Twilight’s Kristen Stewart as the restless trio.  My local cinema Odeon Aylesbury is predictably not showing it as it’s not an American cartoon, but the local  art-house cinemas have better taste! Here’s the trailer.

Love Art Fair (Milton Keynes); London Frieze Fair – both Thurs 11 – Sun 14 Oct

London’s Frieze Fair

Two sides of the coin here, with the zero snoot-factor Love Art Fair launching in MK:Centre. Free entry to see scores of artists selling their works from £100 into the thousands. Alternatively, head to London’s Frieze Fair, billed as the contemporary art event of the year, to see international galleries from Berlin to Tokyo exhibiting their clients, and battling it out for the most innovative stand – the winner gets £10,000 so I imagine they’ll all be putting in considerable effort. The Frieze is held at Regent’s Park and tickets cost £27 (concessions available). www.theloveartfair.com; www.friezelondon.com

Pegasus Theatre celebrity playathon, Oxford, Saturday 14 Oct

Radiohead’s Phil Selway. No drum kit to hide behind this time Phil.

Sleeping Beauty, English National Ballet, Milton Keynes, Weds 17 – Sat 20 October

A second shout out for Milton Keynes this week, with this touring production of ENB’s Sleeping Beauty. It really looks fantastic – just loving the costumes – and there are two matinee performances, one on Thursday and the other on Saturday, if you want to take younger children. £10-45. Book tickets here.

As part of its 50th year celebrations, this fundraiser for the creative powerhouse Pegagus Theatre sees the likes of Radiohead’s Philip Selway, plus Scott Maslen (Eastenders) and actress Rachel Bavidge (see her here in My Favourite Places) and others with a Pegasus or Oxford connection taking to the stage for play-readings on Saturday. The playathon goes on all weekend so if you want to get up there and have a go at ‘Out damn spot!’ or similar, I’m sure they’ll be, er, delighted!
www.pegasustheatre.org.uk

Apple Days, National Trust, ongoing


I mentioned this last week but for those of you who missed it, there are many more NT estates running apple pressing/tasting/picking days in the next week or two. Stowe (13 Oct), the lovely Snowshill Manor in the Cotswolds (Sat 13-14 Oct)  Cliveden (20-21 Oct), Waddesdon (21 Oct – as part of its Autumn Fruits Fair), Bradenham (21 Oct) and others. A great incentive to gets your kids out and about. Go to the National Trust website for more details.

Homemade in Haddenham, Haddenham Village Hall, Saturday 13 Oct

Cranberry and white chocolate blondie, from Haddenham company Made By Mums

How could I not mention my lovely local food event? Haddenham is the biggest village in England fact fans, and there’s plenty of farmland around us, so this village food fair packs a punch bigger than you’d first think. You’ll see me there too, as I’ll be propped up for a few hours in the hall meeting the producers and you lot hopefully!
10-3pm.

MY FAVOURITE PLACES: Rachel Bavidge, actress

11 Oct

Rachel Bavidge’s acting career began at Oxford’s Pegasus Theatre when she joined Oxford Youth Theatre in the Nineties. Now a successful actress, she has most recently appeared in ‘Eastenders’, ‘The Shadow Line’ and ‘Law & Order’.  This Saturday evening (13 Oct 2012) Rachel will be joining Radiohead’s Philip Selway and Eastenders director Steve Finn for a reading of Noel Coward’s ‘Private Lives’ at Pegasus.

The Ashmolean Museum

The Alfred jewel

I’ve always loved this place and got my first real job after college working here in the coin department.  My favourite object is ‘The Alfred Jewel’ which is a beautiful piece of Anglo-Saxon art.  No-one is certain what it’s for, but it’s inscribed with ‘Alfred ordered me to be made’ and was probably made on the orders of King Alfred the Great.
The Jericho Tavern, Jericho, central Oxford


I spent most of the Nineties hanging round here watching bands play, including my then boyfriend, a bass player in ‘The Bigger The God’ who played lots of gigs round Oxford. The bands around were ones like Ride, Supergrass, The Candyskins and Radiohead (On a Friday) and it was an amazing time for live music.
Oxford Playhouse , Beaumont St, central Oxford


I was a member of the Youth Theatre here and defected from the Ashmolean across the road to get a job as the Community Education worker.  It was always insanely busy but I loved going out and meeting new people and giving those who wouldn’t normally go to the theatre a taste of it.


Cowley Road
, Oxford


I spent many happy hours getting drunk in pubs along this road and having late night takeaways after dancing at the Zodiac, which is now The O2. The area has changed over the years but not too much, and it’s still a great place to hangout. Aziz Restaurant was a favourite and I think I was one of the few people to eat one of their meals on stage at Pegasus.  In the play I was in, called Steaming, the characters eat a hot curry, and the restaurant delivered this to us every night!  Cafe Coco and Uhuru Whole Foods were also big favourites.

Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry

I used to live around the corner from this church where CS Lewis is buried, and when I was having a bad time with life (as all teenagers do) I used to come and sit by his grave for some time out.  I used to love the Narnia books as a child, but also I was brought up in a big catholic family where faith and the struggle with it, was central to our home life. CS Lewis’s own story had certain resonances that made me feel a connection.

QUICK, ENTER! Last few days to win your own Illuminated Canvas

10 Oct

 

It’s the last few days to win your own LED-lit artwork from Oxfordshire-based company Illuminated Canvas. Brilliant for wedding presents, personalising bedrooms  or even – my favourite – displaying your kids favourite works of art.

There are loads of different canvases to choose from, including some gorgeous ones for Christmas that I have my beady eye on. Those lovely Illuminated Canvas people are so supernice, they’ll let you choose whichever style you like.

Just so you know what you’re getting: The images are hand stretched, over a hand assembled wooden frame, then 20 white fairy lights are popped through the canvas creating a magical 3D effect. A discreet switch hidden away in the back of the canvas means you can easily turn your canvas on and off without having to remove it from the wall. There is absolutely no fire risk.

WANT TO WIN? Alright then! To Enter:

Do any or all of the below. Don’t forget, the more ways you enter, the more chances you have of winning.

1. Register free to Muddy Stilettos by entering your email address into the ‘Register here’ tab (top right of the homepage). You’ll be entered into all Muddy Stilettos competitions, plus you will receive my electrifyingly useful posts straight to your in box. You can unsubscribe at any time.

2. Follow @muddystiletto and Retweet me please

3. ‘Like’ Muddy Stilettos on Facebook by following the link here AND ‘Like’ Illuminated Canvas by following the link here

The winner will be drawn on 14 October or thereabouts, depending on how many afternoons I lose on the G&T.

Good luck peeps!

BEAUTY: Yon-Ka anti-wrinkle cream – but does it work?

10 Oct

French skincare brand Yon-Ka’s wrinkle-blasting anti-ageing day cream launched last week but I’ve been secretly trying it out for the last month to see if it’s worth recommending.

Frankly the stats make you want to headplant your pruney old face into the stuff – testing shows that daily and nightly application can reduce the appearance of wrinikles by up to 64% over 8 weeks. By that reckoning I’d be back in my twenties (oh God, please).

I’ve always thought expensive cosmetics and beauty products a total waste of money, a marketing wheeze, but now that I have my very own darling set of wrinkles, I find myself much more willing to try anything – ANYTHING GODDAMIT! – to try and reverse the damage.

The Yon-Ka anti-wrinkle moisturisers are paraben-free and 92% natural (not sure what the other 8% is mind you), harnessing dill and boswellia in a way that’s twangs your floppy skin cells back to attention. I’ve used it religiously for four weeks and have definitely seen an improvement – worth continuing with the product, put it that way. I’m pretty good at putting my moisturiser on day and night so it’s not just that my skin is more ‘oiled’.

I like the look of these Stimulastine products – a bit Dermologica/sciency (a good thing in my book) but looks quite sleek and expensive too. And I have to say it smells totally divine in a way pricy moisturisers always do.

Whether you want to spend £70 on a pot of moisturiser or can stomach a product on your shelf that stipulates specifically ‘Age Correction: Restructuring Wrinkle Remover – Deep Wrinkles’  (*SOB*)  is down to you. Just don’t hate me when you see me strutting down the street in six months looking like a university fresher!

www.yonka.com for beauty salons using Yon-Ka products. Available to buy online here

 

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