Living with Anxiety

The last few months have thrown my progress in handling my anxiety down a flight of stairs.  I’m not sure what the trigger was, perhaps the breakdown of a long term relationship, or increased pressure at work, or something else entirely.  But I write this after crying in the middle of Terminal 4 at Heathrow, on my way to Rome for a series of meetings for work.  As I write this, I have spent the last 2 hours panicking that I haven’t checked in correctly, despite 1) having printed out my boarding pass, and 2) gotten through security!

I have managed to convince myself that I have done this all incorrectly, and will not be allowed onto my flight.  I have in the last 2 hours – rang the airline to check (they say it is all fine!), asked the information people at the airport (they say it is all fine), found the airline information desk (they say it is all fine, and that I have picked a nice seat!) – and yet, here I am, sat waiting for the gate to be announced, panicking that they are all wrong, and I will not be allowed onto the flight.  I have been panicking to the point that I haven’t been able to stop myself from crying, my heart feels like it may stop at any moment, and I have the overwhelming urge to vomit.  I mean – I have now become *THAT* person at the airport!

I am not normally an anxious flier.  I have flown countless times, and on my own a number of time, with no problems what-so-ever.  But today has been different.  I’m not anxious about flying – I’m anxious about EVERYTHING, and this had been a catalyst.  I have noticed a huge spike in my feeling of anxiety in the last 3 months.  Sleeping is difficult, work is difficult – everything is difficult. Writing helps. Anxiety is a difficult thing to live with. But this too shall pass.



I’m a natural redhead, which is something that makes me incredibly happy!  That hasn’t always been the case, whilst at university I decided to have some fun with my hair, and dyed it all the colours I could: pillar box red, black, purple… you name it I tried it.

Over the last few years I’ve been going back to my ‘roots’.  However natural red hair does start to fade with age *sobs*.  So I’ve been looking at ways to brighten up my locks.  Usual tips to stop red hair fading are: using colour depositing shampoos, rinsing hair with cranberry juice, using sulfate free hair products etc.  None of these have really given me the result I’ve been looking for, so today I picked up a box dye and gave it a whirl!

I opted for  L’Oreal Casting Crème Gloss Hair Dye Auburn Henna 4.43.  This appears rather dark on the box but, from experience, my hair doesn’t tend to go as dark or as bright as on the boxes, and red colours do tend to fade quickly, so thought this would be a good option.

It always looks like a murder scene whilst washing out red hair dye, but that always makes me chuckle!


**I messed up and put the ‘before’ picture after the ‘after’ picture, but I’m lazy and not much in the mood to change it!  You get the gist 🙂





Favourite skincare – July

Ah, Skincare.  Must admit I’m relatively new to *actually* having a routine that extends beyond removing my makeup, washing vaguely with some soap and slapping on some moisturiser. Oh how things have changed!

Here’s a quick rundown of what I’m loving this month


Makeup remover:  Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
This stuff is AMAZING! Gets rid of all the grub on your face with just the smallest amount. Not harsh on the skin at all, and you can use it on your eye makeup and not look like you’ve gone ten rounds with Anthony Joshua. 10/10 – this will always have a place in my makeup bag

Toner: Neils Yard Rehyrdrating Rose
My mum gave me this bottle after trying it and finding it doesn’t suit her skin.  All I can say is that that was lucky for me!  Gosh this stuff smells amazing.  It’s really refreshing on the skin and acts as a great preparation for serums and moisturisers. Love that is organic.  This looks to be on it’s way to be a firm favourite.

Cleanser/Exfoliator: Nip and Fab Glycolic Fix Pads
I have been raving about these to anyone who’ll listen for at least the last year.  As someone who suffers from acne and redness these have done an amazing job of evening out my skin tone and I’ve noticed a massive difference in the texture of my skin. As with anything containing Glycolic Acid, you MUST wear a suncream after using.

Moisturiser: Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid
A CLASSIC! Gosh this stuff really punches above its weight.  This is a lightweight moisturiser that sinks into the skin in seconds.  It has a slightly old fashioned fragrance to it – I can imagine people either love it or hate it. Personally I love it.  I love the price, I love the texture, I love how well it works, and I love that it keeps my skin moisturised all day.  If you have dry skin, this probably isn’t going to be great for you – but for me, with normal/combo skin, this is perfect.  Anything heavier and I break out like no ones business.

Serum: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Everyone is talking about this brand.  So I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and am trying this stuff out.  Only a few days into using this, but so far I’m in love.  Use it just after cleansing and toning, and before applying any creams.  Comes in the cutest dropper bottle, and it has been really easy to incorporate into my routine.  So far, so good.

Direct Acids: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Another product I’m trying out from The Ordinary.  Have heard great things about Azelaic Acids, and after the success of using Nip and Fabs Glycolic Fix Pads I wanted to give this a try.  Using this in the evenings only, this applies like a dream and after 4 days I’m already noticing a brightening effect.  Its just lovely and looks on its way to become a firm favourite.

Is there anything you’re loving at the moment? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Sunday night dinners

On Sundays I try to prepare myself for the week ahead. The afternoons usually consist of a bit of life admin – a chance for me to catch up on all the things I haven’t had a moment to do in the week.

Tonight I decided to do a spot of batch cooking and, let’s be honest here, nothing really beats a homemade curry!


This recipe is originally taken from Jamie Oliver – Jools easy chicken curry – with a couple of tweaks depending on what was in my kitchen cupboard!

This serves 6 – its cheap and easy to make, and relatively healthy! You can easily add in some extra flair to the portions that you have in the fridge or freezer, if like me, you live alone and get bored of having the same thing everyday!


1 onion (I used a leek instead as I had one lying around!)
4cm piece of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil (used sunflower oil as I hate frying with olive oil)
2 tablespoons tikka masala paste
3 tablespoons natural yoghurt (used low fat natural yoghurt and about 5 tablespoons as not as set at normal natural yoghurt)
2 tablespoons tomato purée (didn’t have any! So didn’t put any in!)
8 skinless higher-welfare chicken thighs (used 6 as that’s all I had!)
1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400 g tin of green lentils
1 x 400 g tin of light coconut milk
2 handfuls of baby spinach (love spinach so used a whole bag!)
2 tablespoons mango chutney

**I also put in one small courgette, as it was looking mournfully at me from the fridge and needed using up!


1. Dice the onion (or leek in my case) and soften it in a frying pan with a splash of oil.  Finely mince the ginger and garlic and add to the softened onions.
2. Mix the masala paste, tomato puree and natural yoghurt together in a bowl and add in the chicken thighs until they are completely covered.  Pour the chicken thighs and yoghurt mix into the frying pan with the onions and brown them for 5 or so mins.
3. Add in the tinned onions, drained lentils, and coconut milk to the pan and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and leave to cook for an hour.  (If using soft veg like courgette I add this in around half way through)
4. Once thoroughly cooked, take the chicken from the sauce and shred it with a fork (this is a bit of an annoying step – but worth it!) and then add the shredded chicken back to the pan.
5. Stir in some generous spoonfuls of mango chutney, and add in as much spinach as you like! Allow the spinach to wilt into the sauce.
6. Serve with whatever takes your fancy!  Personally I love it with rice, a dollop more of natural yoghurt on top with even more chutney. With a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of coriander… delish!!!

This freezes really well, and is great on its own, or with rice and jacket potatoes etc.

Let me know if you try it out and what you think of it 🙂


Peace begins with a smile

When I was around 13 I fell off of my bike (or perhaps more accurately, catapulted off my bike) and went face first into the curb.  I came off worst!  I’d fractured the roots of one of my front teeth, and done a fair bit of damage to a few others.  After many agonising trips to the dentist to have my teeth cemented back together and effectively glued back into my mouth, I felt lucky not to have lost any of my teeth.  One of the side effects of the fractured roots was that my front tooth became unbearably sensitive to temperature. Even walking outside caused a sharp stab of pain all the way up to the top of my head. So back to the dentists I went to have a root canal to remove the nerves and stop the pain.

I would not say that I was a vain person, but I do take pride in my appearance.  About 10 years after this incident, the damage I’d done was beginning to have a visible effect.  My front tooth was becoming much darker, and was clearly dead..   I started to smile exclusively with my mouth closed and cover my mouth when talking so to hide my now very notable black tooth.

They say that one of the first things that people notice about someone is their smile – and mine was making me incredibly self conscious.  I’m not really one to go in for cosmetic treatments (I haven’t the money, nor really the inclination), but after crying my eyes out after looking in the mirror one day, I realised that I needed to do something – and so off I went to the dentist to see what could be done.

I have a fantastic dentists surgery and they talked me through the options (removal of the root canal and then internal bleaching of the tooth, crowns, dental implants etc.) and recommended the best thing.  This was to be a crown.  I was scared!  Having a metal rod drilled into my tooth, then the exterior of the tooth drilled down to nothing then something glued on top!? Eek. But you know what?  It’s the best decision I’ve made in years.  The 2 appointments to get it done were a breeze – I can tell you honestly that I didn’t feel a thing!  They just drilled my tooth down, added in the metal rod, took some rather sexy photos (n.b: worst photos ever) and fitted me with a temporary crown whilst the real one was being specially made and colour matched! I must be honest in that I did request a few other cheeky changes so to improve my smile further.. 2 birds 1 stone and that..

2 weeks passed and the final crown arrived – I’m thrilled with the results.  It’s made a huge difference to my self esteem and confidence.  I now don’t think about how I should smile or if I should cover my mouth and I can now bite into foods and not worry about my tooth crumbling away or breaking.  What I’ve learnt is that if something like this is beginning to have the effect on your day to day life, and its easy enough to change – you should go for it. You will not regret it.

Was it expensive?  Yes

Was it worth it?  Immeasurably.










The Red Shoes

The 1948 film of The Red Shoes is one of my all time favourites.  Beautiful, tragic, and wonderful.  When I discovered that my favourite choreographer was turning it into a ballet, I was thrilled, and knew I had to get tickets to see it.

Matthew Bourne has been my favourite choreographer since I first saw his rendition of ‘The Nutcracker’ on DVD in 2005.  After that I devoured as much of his work as I possibly could, and have seen his versions of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Swan Lake’ ‘Edward Scissorhands’, and ‘Cinderella’ as Saddlers Wells.  I also have the DVDs of his ballet of Carmen (The Car Man), and the Nutcracker ready for me to consume at my pleasure.

When my other half surprised me with tickets to see The Red Shoes for our anniversary he scored some serious brownie points!  He’s not interested in dance or theatre so this was a super cute gesture from him (his interests are golf and football!)


We saw this at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff which is a perfect venue.  It is iconic and a great home for theatre, dance, and music in Cardiff.

The programme, to my utmost joy, is in Welsh and English, which hopefully means I’ll be able to use it to help my learning of Welsh, but perhaps best off to start smaller!

The ballet was enthralling.  Bourne swept us away into the world Lermontov’s ballet company, and we watching in awe as the passion, hopes, and despair of Vicky Page were played out before us.  The staging was perfect – with the central piece of set being a swirling and rotating proscenium arch that sweeps up the dancers and directs our glare between the front and backstage, and forces us to recognise the struggle behind producing such art.  The music was also, perfect.  It is not the score from the film, but instead re-orchestrations of the incredible Bernard Herrmann’s early scores. This was a masterstroke, and the score swelled and ebbed with incredible beauty and carried us relentlessly through the action on stage.

Bourne’s choreography was iconic and artful, as always.  The stamina of the company must be applauded as there was never a moment of rest throughout the acts.  My one thought was that the storytelling fell down very slightly in the second act, and it seems almost rushed to get Vicky’s demise.  The other half didn’t understand much of the second act, and found it rather hard to follow.  That being said, it was still an incredibly poignant and heartbreaking moment (not ashamed to say that I cried my eyes out).

The Red Shoes exceed my hopes.  This was a truly fantastic rendition of such a treasured film.  I cannot wait to see it again.






Being a typical redhead I’ve extremely pale skin.  Trying to find a suitable foundation that doesn’t make me look like I’ve been tangoed, or like a corpse, has been a struggle. However in the last 6 months I’ve had much more luck!  After a somewhat demoralising realisation that Clinique’s palest shade ‘Alabaster’ could no longer be my match, I went on a spree to find ‘the one’.

In my teenage years and early 20’s I had some rather intense acne which has left a not insignificant amount of scars on my face.  This means when looking for a foundation I tend to look for a minimum of a medium coverage, but do one day dream that a tinted moisturiser will be sufficient for my coverage needs.

I haven’t found the one… I have found THREE foundations! Three!!


MAC Studio Fix Fluid – Shade NW13

I’ve got cool undertones in my skin making me a NW rather than NC in MAC.  This is quite a full coverage foundation and even I found this meant that the lightest shade (NW11) looked too pale on me (shock!).  I use this foundation on my bad skin days as the coverage is quite heavy.  It doesnt sit in my pores and stays put all day which is perfect. The SPF in this is pretty low at 15 so make sure to wear a sunscreen underneath.

DIORSKIN Star liquid foundation – Shade 010 Ivory

This is my everyday saviour foundation! I use the lightest shade.  This is a brightening foundation but leaves your skin looking matte, not oily.  This has a light coverage which is buildable, high SPF (30!) and blends perfectly. Will use always and forever #newbff DIOR know what they are doing on this one.


DIORSKIN Nude Air Serum – Shade 010 Ivory

Another DIOR product.. but worth it!  This was more of an impulse purchase – I was having a good skin day and wanted to look for a foundation with a very light coverage, but that would still give me some skincare benefits.  This foundation is a serum containing cranberry oil, and comes in the cutest dropper bottle!  This really is a weightless foundation, goes on very sheer, but give you that extra glow and coverage if like me, you aren’t ready for the world to see your natural skin.

Additions to the Red Library

An unsupervised trip into a bookshop this week resulted in two more additions to my ever growing pile of unread books on the bedroom carpet next to my bookcase (the poor thing is groaning under the weight of its already over filled shelves and I fear cannot support another paperback being added).


Perry and Dent

The Descent of Man – Grayson Perry

I’ve been a fan of the inimitable Grayson Perry for a number of years, I think perhaps coming most to my attention after I had seen the ‘Imagine… Grayson Perry and the Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’ episode on the BBC back in 2011.  Before that Grayson Perry has been on the fringes of my awareness from my gender studies module at University, which mentioned him in passing after which I’d made a note to look up in detail.  Since then I’ve seen a number of his programmes on TV, followed him on Twitter, and listened to as many radio shows he appears on as possible!  When I saw he had written a book examining the performance and stereotypes of masculinity, I was really excited, as the discussion of gender roles and their destructive impact has mainly been the domain of female writers and theorists examining femininity.   The lens under which we see the harmful impacts of performed and learned gender identities has only recently been applied to masculinity in the same way.  I am two pages in, and already enamoured by Perry’s clear and humours writing style. This seems to be such a necessary book, and such an important theme. I’ll be recommending this to the boyfriend once I’ve finished with it!

Dent’s Modern Tribes: The Secret Languages of Britain – Susie Dent

Susie Dent is a QUEEN.  Her  idiosyncratic phrasebook was on my Christmas list last year, and I was disappointed when Father Christmas failed to deliver this in my stocking on December 25th.  Language is such a rich fabric – it never fails to amuse and entertain me. We can be speaking the same language and still not know exactly what is being said (I recall the time a work colleague told me that my eyebrows were ‘on fleek’… I nearly dropped my coffee out of confusion and fear that I was being offended)!  This book is a true joy to read. Turning to the pages looking at the lexicography of the emergency services I am very pleased to discover that ‘Eiffel Syndrome’ is the term used to politely explain a patient with a foreign object in their rectum and that ‘UBI’ means an unexplained beer injury (perhaps the two are connected?!).  This book will be taking a pride of place on my coffee table for many years to come.

Have you added any new books to your collections in this week?  Let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments!