March 27, 2015

There’s no much to say, the picture speaks for itself.

 

You need to check out Urban Outfitters now.

 

Click here to go straight to where you can grab one of these beauties.

 

 

 

Which colour is your fave? I’m loving the baby blue personally.

 

Nat x

Pilates by Elaine

March 26, 2015

Last week I wrote about pain management for my spinal arthritis. Today I’m following up and adding in Pilates.

Founded by Joseph Pilates, to treat wounded war veterans, it has become as popular as callasthenics (Hi, Jane Fonda and leg warmers) was back in the day.

As encouraged by my spinal doctor, a mixture of acupuncture and Pilates is highly recommended. The acupuncture will treat the inflammation and get the atrophied muscles back to life…the Pilates will strengthen said muscles to hold my spine correctly, thereby reducing the risk of inflaming the arthritis. God, that was almost turning into a maths problem for a moment. Deep breaths.

I’ve taken two Pilates one-on-one lessons at a new studio in the city. It’s called Kinesis and run by two phenomenal women, Alma
and Lissette. Both are gentle-natured with wicked senses of humour. Perfect. There’s even Cody, the pup that lounges about and loves everyone that comes in. The location is flooded with natural light, lovely art work lines the walls. It’s a very soothing space.

I have mild scoliosis and my spine curves inwards rather than to the side. Bottom line, I literally cannot straighten my lower spine.  It likely developed in my teens and isn’t severe at all, just an annoyance. See Mum? All the STAND UP STRAIGHT! was pointless…VALIDATION!!

It’s a relief to finally have found a Pilates instructor who doesn’t insist on me straightening my spine or else “the class is useless”. Alma is trained in the anatomy – for me, this is huge. I trust her with my back, my abs, and love that she constantly spots my positions, always reminding me it’s ok to sit “in my comfortable position” – in essence, a crunched down and inelegant position that has irked my mother for 30 years. Is there a Mother theme appearing here?!

I use a pregnancy throne to lie on. Yep, I do. It is the perfect shape for my back and allows me to do the simplest and most basic Pilates moves that have, in the past, caused immense muscle spasming and pain. I hold onto a trapeze bar which is spring loaded and off I go. Alma keeps a finger on the bar, as she has very quickly realized my genetic ability to self-injure with sports equipment. A bonus point.

I left the lessons with ZERO pain. Another milestone for me.

I’m alternating days for acupuncture and Pilates. I’m drinking my foul-smelling Chinese herbal concoction. I, for once, am taking this “exercise lark” seriously.

 

Elaine

My 5 best Denim flares!

March 24, 2015

What is there not to love about flares. I’m planning on gathering a large collection. I’m even wearing flares as I type, I posted about them just now on my instagram account, which inspired me to knock up this post.  At the moment I have 2 pairs and one on the way. They are all very different. Some flares are tight to the thigh and some flares are baggier. Some flare from the hip, knee or calf. Whatever type you like to wear (and I like them all), most have these common traits:  They tend to be high-rise so no embarrassing underwear flashing. They hug in all the right places, especially the bum, making it look as peachy as pie! You look longer and leaner and therefore they have a magical slimming effect.

 

If you have not been convinced yet to get your cheeks into a pair of these beauties from the 70’s just take a look at my top 5 best flares on the market, and embrace this spot on trend with both hands.

 

 

Flares – £40

 

Flares £185

 

Flares £58

 

Flares £255

 

Flares £35

 

Is this trend for you?

 

Which flares are you loving?

 

Nat x

 

One Day Young

March 23, 2015

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Do you remember the first day after you gave birth?

 

Did you feel love, terror, anxiousness, or all three like many of us. There is no right or wrong way to feel, it’s a bizarre time and probably like nothing you ever could have imagined.

 

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For me the day after my first was born I don’t really remember very well. I was in another world high on drugs after a mammoth journey through labour, a transfer from the birth centre to hospital, an emergency c-section, watching them give my daughter oxygen because she wasn’t breathing and then her ending up in the neonatal unit (in a nutshell), that whole period for me was more like a whirlwind than anything else.

 

 

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Skip three years and a bit after an elective c-section and a surreally calm experience, I cherished the day after and subsequent days with my new baby. I knew what I was doing, I had a strangely calm baby, and I did not want to leave the hospital because I knew just how precious this alone and bonding time was (it helped that I had my own room admittedly).

 

 

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These photos, by Jenny Lewis, conjure up the feelings I experienced with both my babies. They also remind me distinctly of being a midwife, this is how I saw women, this is what they looked like to me. No make up, tired, happy, scared, but strangely beautiful. When you see a mum with a newborn baby on her chest and the love literally pouring out of her, I defy anyone not to be affected emotionally. The beauty and rawness in that moment, those days, are something that Jenny has captured with stunning perfection.

 

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And that is why I want to get my hand on this stunning book and why I think you need to too.

 

The book is available from Hoxton Mini Press, and it’s called One Day Young, by Jenny Lewis.

 

Natalie x

 

 

Linking this post up with:

 

Mama and More

Street Style Sunday – What Mother Made

March 22, 2015

I have featured What Mother Made before on Style Me Sunday when I showed you their SS15 collection, but never before have I had the chance to actually dress my children in their wares. Now I can see firsthand what the quality of design, fabric and execution is really like. And I’m impressed. Handmade from a studio is Dalston, East London, you may have mistakenly thought the clothes would resemble something your granny could knock up for the kids. But I can reliably confirm the clothes are nothing like you or your granny could knock up (despite the name) unless that is either of you are a skilled tailor. And even then I defy you to come up with a design, using the stunning locally-sourced fabric they seem to have an expert eye for, with an attention to detail you’d expect from any good retail store. Only this time you will be safe in the knowledge that no children were harmed (or exploited) in the making of any garment you choose to buy from this label. Usually for British made and handmade clothing you expect hefty prices but this label have clearly tried very hard to make their pieces surprisingly affordable. See website for individual prices.

 

For the pictures below we pretended we were going on holiday, so we grabbed a suitcase and a hat and off we went for a mini vacation on my bed!

 

what mother made

 

what mother made

what mother made

 

 

 

The other little ragbag wasn’t playing ball with our little photo shoot game (despite my best bribing skills), but I did manage to quickly snap these to show you these lovely dungarees we were sent.

 

 

what mother made

 

what mother made

 

A couple of pieces from the SS15 collection. But go to What Mother Made website because they have so much more fabulousness for the little ones there.

 

 

Now we can’t wait to see your style too for Street Style Sunday – it can be any post related to style.

GET INVOLVED ON IG TOO– each week I will be reposting my favourite instagram style pic on my IG feed, all you have to do is tag @stylemesunday in your pic and hashtag #streetstylesunday. You can gain some new followers and it means more people can get involved with Street Style Sunday. Or just link up your IG url pictures to this link up.

To link up a blog post – Click add link.

Grab the Street Style Sunday badge (left hand column).

Comment on this post and one other post in the link up.

TWEET US , and remember to tag @stylemesunday – I will always retweet if you’ve tagged me.

I run this link up in conjunction with the lovely Laura from Side Street Style and KA from Life As Our Little Family.

Now get linking and have a look around at all the other fabulous style posts that link. It’s a great way of discovering new blogs you’ll love!

 

 


Sleep deprived daze by Gemma

March 20, 2015

 

You may or may not have noticed that over the last few weeks my posts on the super Style Me Sunday have been a little sparse. I wish I could say that I have been up to lots of wildly interesting activities but unfortunately this would be a lie. The truth is that I am tired. More tired than I ever dreamt (when sleep was a normal nightly activity) I could be. Welcome to the world of sleep deprivation.

For an alarmingly large number of my fantastic friends 2015 thus far has been unbelievably shitty. So to spend my time complaining about how tired I feel seems more than a little indulgent. But I am tired and I know I’m not the only one.

This parenting gig whilst being overwhelmingly wonderful is also tough and the arrival of my gorgeous little boy has upped the ante. As I mentioned before, Raffy has long been doing some midnight raving resulting in sometimes as many as five wake-ups per night. Since then we have discovered our five month old (going on five year old) has his molars coming through. In the same period my clever Coco has also started dropping her daytime nap meaning some long days and even longer nights with my over-tired two (three counting me!).

Whilst I love my children deeply and accept that this is all part and parcel of parenting, it doesn’t make it any easier, and I am willing to admit there are some days when I feel I can’t cope. The endless slog of tears, tantrums and housework can all become too much and more than once I have wondered what I’m doing with my life. As I turn 32 this week I am aware that the big bags under my eyes and the small crop of sprouting grey hair makes me look older than my years, and I bet my bottom dollar that sleep deprivation has something to do with it. Without stating the blinkin’ obvious, sleep allows you to hold your head up high, appreciate the wonderful moments of which there are many, and deal with the daily grind. Without it, not only can you not think clearly, but it becomes difficult to deal with anything or regulate your emotions in anyway. Life can become overwhelming and a lack of sleep can make it difficult to see through the fog.

Thankfully I have a very forgiving husband who allows me to take out my frustrations on him, and miraculously when I feel things are getting too much and my meltdowns have scaled dizzier heights than Coco’s, I somehow manage to log a little more sleep and normal service resumes. There is a pressure to just keep going no matter what because as tired mums and dads this is our “job”, but please don’t. Whilst we absolutely have to make sure the children are fed and watered, we also have to look after ourselves and getting some much-needed kip is surely the first step.

I write this post as my two deliver a very rare and brilliant pre-birthday treat by taking a daytime nap at the same time. See you again when the stars next align!

Gemma x

 

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My London look

March 19, 2015

 

 

La Redoute is well-known for offering effortless french style at affordable prices. So they thought they’d have a little comparison with London looks and Parisian style. They asked me to pick an outfit from their website that correlates to the location of Richmond. So I picked double denim of course for some effortless chic and paired it with some trainers so I could spend the whole day shopping, strolling by the Thames, and exploring the delights of Kew Gardens. Then they paired us with a Parisian postcode to see how our looks compare. London Looks vs Parisian Postcodes. 

 

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I was also asked me to name some local hidden treasures in my area. Well I’m pretty sure Victoria Park is well known amongst the locals, but I doubt it is on the radar of many tourists. As a family we love to go to Victoria Park on the weekend to feed the ducks, play in the awesome play areas for kids, and of course sample the deliciously aromatic coffees from the cafe.

 

 

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la redoute

 

 

la redoute

 

la redoute

 

 

La Redoute will be running some amazing competitions on their Facebook and Twitter, so make sure you check them out.

 

If you would like to see the Parisian bloggers hidden gem locations see the Pinterest board to find out.

 

What do you think of my double denim look here?

 

Nat x

 

 

 

My holiday edit

March 18, 2015

Here at the Style Me Sunday headquarters (ha) it’s mission holiday, in a couple of months we escape the humdrum and go to warmer climes. To say we are excited is an understatement. So the gym is getting frequented more than usual and the sugar jar is staying untouched, and of course I’m constantly scouring the internet for kaftans and what not.

 

Here’s what’s making me want to hit the gym even harder:

 

Necklace – £29.00

Swimsuit – £152

Dress – £65

 

Beach shirt – £30

Sunglasses – £12

Towel – £29.95

Romper – £98

 

Kaftan – £66

 

Swimsuit – £116

 

Top and shorts – £138

 

 

What do you think of my little holiday selection? And when and where will you be going on holiday this year?

 

Much love,

 

Nat x

Middle Age Funk by Elaine

March 17, 2015

What does one do when the middle age funk hits hard?

Not even sure if it is that but it’s pretty rubbish, regardless.

Chronic pain has been my main catalyst to exit the abovementioned “funk”, along with lack of energy, graying hair (that won’t gray in a decent pattern), deepening wrinkles and a further sagging arse. Sigh.

So. First things first. The chronic pain – in my lower back. L4 and L5 for those that are interested. It’s basically the last two large vertebrae at the base of the spine. Inbetween them lies arthritis. I swear, the fastest way to make someone feel OLD is to tell them the words arthritis and pain-management. It’s not rheumatoid, it’s osteo. Meaning my bones can’t hack whatever nonsense they’ve been put through and/or plain bad luck.

Considering I’ve not really done ANY sport for the past 20 years, it’s safe to say I suffer from the latter. It’s also hereditary. FINALLY I CAN BLAME MY PARENTS FOR SOMETHING – HURRAH!

Seriously though, I’ve had the pain for nigh on 20 years and just got to the end of my tether. Chronic pain is both physically and mentally dehabilitating. It zaps energy, causes anxiety and is an all round killjoy. So, after a billion MRIs, 6 back surgeon consultations resulting in just two options, it was time to make a serious decision.

1) Spinal fusion or 2) pain management?

Option 1: 40-60% of pain improvement.

Option 2: Who the heck knows but at least it doesn’t involve major hardware in the back and years of setting off security alarms.

So, it turns out that pain management is a whole medical field all by itself.

Radiofrequency ablation – check.
Nerve blocks – check.
Medication powerful enough to put Mother’s Little Helpers into the category of TicTacs – check.

What now?

I’ve had a physical therapist manipulate my body, gasp at my inability to walk on a stair treadmill for longer than 3 mins before the lactic acid build-up was so bad, I literally gagged. The hamstrings, people, it was the hamstrings! Apparently, when the lower back is messed up, your hamstrings can bear the brunt. She’s suggested a chiropractor so I know even she’s now stumped.

She had me do Kegel exercises. As a woman and one who’s birthed a baby, I was QUITE sure I knew how to do those, thank you very much. Well, it turns out that all that time, I’d in fact been squeezing my gluteus maximus muscles. In other words, my bum. Nice.

Next, I tried and still use a portable TENS machine. You stick the pads on your back and attach the wires first to pads then the machine. There have been a few “IF YOU PLUG THEM IN THE WRONG ONES, YOU WILL FRY YOURSELF” moments. Anyway, after I’d figured out how to use it (lost the instructions) and taught myself NOT to hold the pads between thumb and forefinger when turning it on, all has been good. Unless I count the occasion I told someone I was adjusting my Tena. Tena just happens to be the well-known brand of adult incontinence pants.

Last resort? Acupuncture and cupping, combined with muscle activation therapy (MAT) and Pilates. It’s now about the yin/yang plus reactivating muscles around the spine that have had 20 years to atrophy. OH, JOY. We all know how much I enjoy physical activity.

After 4 acu sessions totalling 56 needles and 24 cups (remember Ms Paltrow’s red circular marks on her back?), I can honestly say, no exaggeration, that my back has improved. It’s not nearly fixed, so I will start the MAT and Pilates tomorrow, and continue with the acupuncture…and we shall see. I’ll keep you posted…

Oh, I even started drinking Chinese herbal sh*t. I’m not entirely sure what it is, so there’s a chance it COULD actually be poo.

Are you proud of me yet, dad?

 

Elaine

Arthritis treatment  - style me sunday arthritis treatment arthritis treatment arthritis treatment - cupping arthritis treatment - cupping

 

Boxing in Sweaty Betty

March 12, 2015

There are so many fitness fads that come and go, and I like to have a go at most things but they don’t usually last that long with me until my latest find that is. I recently stumbled across boxing, recommended by a friend, and have found that actually I really enjoy it. It’s tough, really tough, I am bloody knackered after just one 3 minute round. Maybe it’s because I did martial arts as a kid, but I really enjoy the challenge of learning how to fight properly and I love the fact that I’m doing something that could potentially get me out of a very tricky situation at some point in the future.

 

I think the main reason though that I really love it is because the gym I went to was extremely welcoming, whilst still taking their boxing seriously. It’s not some boxing fitness class where you stand in a line and punch the air. There is a real community feeling when you walk through the doors of Fighter Fit and I wasn’t made to feel singled out because I was a beginner and a girl, which I must admit I was wary of before I came.

 

So I thought it was only right that I get some photos taken to show you lot what you’re missing, if you’re not already doing it. I asked Sweaty Betty if they would get involved which they kindly agreed to do luckily because my gym gear was seriously lacking. I also roped in my friend and photographer extraordinaire Chelone Wolf and Fighter Fit generously allowed us in when it was quiet to take the photos.

 

Whilst there I met a lovely lady called Phoebe (pictured below)  – a fitness trainer and nutritionalist. She’ll be featured on the blog another time separately because she’s got a really inspiring story to tell and I can’t wait to share it with you.

 

Usually the class starts off with a brutal warm-up, which is different every time, I like it when we do skipping as part of the warm up – it reminds me of being a kid and playing out in the street and attempting to do various tricks. Then people pair up and we do a circuit of core exercises, sparring in the ring, technique training, punching the bags, and various other exercises of 3 minutes each. After the circuit we do more exercises with an emphasis on strengthening the core and then a cool down and a stretch. Be warned there is a lot of core work!

 

Natalie Lee Sweaty Betty by Chelone Wolf-2 Natalie Lee Sweaty Betty by Chelone Wolf-8

Natalie Lee Sweaty Betty by Chelone Wolf-7

Natalie Lee Sweaty Betty by Chelone Wolf-boxing

Natalie Lee Sweaty Betty by Chelone Wolf-

All photos courtesy of:

Chelone Wolf

www.chelonewolf.co.uk You can also find him on Twitter/ Instgram/ Facebook

 

In honour of Mohammed Ali, I thought the ‘butterflies’ tee (although clearly a very different message) was just perfect for Boxing.

 

Go here to buy the “you give me butterflies” tee from Sweaty Betty.

 

I’m also really getting into my yoga as well lately, and have seen a great improvement in my ability recently which is so rewarding. I’ll no doubt be featuring that too on the blog soon.

 

I think as mum it’s really important for me to show my children that being active and healthy (the majority of the time) is just a normal part of everyday life. There’s no point in just preaching it, you have to actually show a good example to have any real long-lasting effect on the kids.

 

What type of fitness do you enjoy doing? Or are you yet to find an exercise that has inspired you to keep it up?

 

Nat x

 

Many thanks to Fighter Fit, Chelone Wolf, Sweaty Betty and Phoebe for making this post possible, I really appreciate it.

 

 

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