Stuck on Repeat… May and June 2017

These past two months have been full of music, mainly due to hours and hours of radio on an epic Californian road trip (blog to follow soon!) and it's festival season!

Here's what has been #stuckonrepeat – full playlist is here.

Slave To Love – Bryan Ferry

I'm not quite sure why but recently I've been loving the 80's classic sound of soft rock, synth and romance. This is such a sensual song, the beat could almost work for kizomba and you can't beat a classic!

Favourite lyric: We're too young to reason / Too grown up to dream

Amar Pelos Dois – Salvador Sobral

May isn't complete without The Eurovision Song Contest, one of my favourite nights of the year. Fiiiiinally, after what felt like a million years and on the day the Pope visited Fatima, Portugal won. The song deserved a win in my opinion; beautiful lyrics and a pretty melody. It's not a traditional Eurovision song (see Verka Serduchka – which I LOVE) but it felt completely different and what was needed for 2017.

Favourite lyric: Eu sei que não se ama sozinho / Talvez devagarinho possas voltar a aprender — I know that one can’t love alone / Maybe slowly you might learn again

River – Leon Bridges

I first heard this beautiful song in Big Little Lies and have been obsessed with it ever since. I sang it constantly on our road trip, following the great rivers of Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park and now I sing it when I'm in the water swimming. It calms me, it gives me a rhythm, it transports me to a different place and it talks about the cleansing power of being in water.

Favourite lyric: In my darkness I remember / Momma’s words reoccur to me /"Surrender to the good Lord / And he’ll wipe your slate clean"

Here We Go Again (I Love Lake Tahoe) – A

This song takes me back to being a teen with low slung baggy jeans and hearing about this mythical land called Tahoe in California. Fast forward twenty years and I was actually here, playing this in my head the whole time. The most beautiful place, I wish I could've explored more of it!

Favourite lyric: All is quiet on New Years day / think I'll try and impress my mates / So I jump into the lake / I won't do that again (I know why now – IT'S BLOODY FREEZING!)

Fistful Of Love – Antony & The Johnsons

A controversial song, in that it's the view of an abused lover knowing the person they love can't express their love other than by leaving bruises. Awful, but juxtapose this with the bluesy jazz and the soaring brass section and it oddly feels like a positive experience, like someone coming to terms with their situation, understanding why other people react in a way.

Favourite lyric: And I feel the whip / And I know it's out of love

Shoop – Salt n Pepa

I blame an advert for this – Three Mobile ran an ad with a Giraffamingo or some such creature and I can't help but smile with "Snap, Chat, Pose, Post" and I've had this on repeat ever since. It's so upbeat, it's an instant mood lifter!

Favourite lyric: I'm not shy so I asked for the digits / A ho? No, that don't make me / See what I want slip slide to it swifty

Can't Get You Out Of My Head – The Sweeplings

So I may have heard this version on Love Island (don't judge me) and instantly Shazam-ed it. I actually hated this song – I've heard it nonstop since 2001 but this was beautiful, haunting and ethereal. I love the harmonies and you can usually hear me caterwauling along.

Favourite lyric: Every night, oh, every day / Just to be there in your arms / Won't you stay?

The Pretender – Foo Fighters

That EPIC set at Glastonbury (which I watched from my rock n roll sofa) reignited a love of all things Foo. I had one request – that they play my three favourite songs of theirs: My Hero, Best of You and this, The Pretender, a song that is more than just an amazing rock song. The layers of riffs and chords give me shivers and it reminds me of an excellent Bond score.

Favourite lyric: We are not permanent / We're temporary

 

Let me know what your earworms are on social or in the comments below!

Cx



Beauty Favourites

In the past few years I’ve been trying to make more of an effort with my skin care, moving away from the soap-water-moisturiser routine or face wipes *hangs head in shame* I used to use. As I approach *whispers* 35, I’ve noticed a few lines appearing and my skin misbehaving more than usual (with a spell of soul crushing perioral dermatitis) so I’m on a mission to correct and prevent any further damage. Here’s my current skincare cleansing routine and favourite products to use.

CLEANSE

I love a good cleansing balm, more than a lotion or cream. There’s something about the slip of an oily cleanser that melts away make up and is easy to massage in, plus they never leave my skin feeling dry or stripped. I always massage in directly on to my face then wash off with a hot flannel.


Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm – simple, affordable and lasts for ages. Demolishes make up without stinging my eyes or irritating skin.

Tata Harper Nourishing Cleansing Oil – used when I feel like I really need to treat my skin, if only for the price tag! Smells delicious, full of good things.

SPRITZ

I’m calling this stage the Spritz stage as a) toning doesn’t sound quite right, b) spritz is a marvellous word and c) I no longer acid tone as I believe I have a sensitivity to glycolic and other AHA/BHA’s so I’m being super careful to not aggravate my skin any further. I lightly spritz and spray (read as drench) my face to add a layer of hydration. I have an arsenal of these as they are so refreshing to use and much cheaper than any other step in my routine.


Caudalie Grape Water – inexpensive which allows me to be super liberal with it. Instead of allowing precious hydration to evaporate off the skin like most mists do, this is 100% pure grape water which naturally adds moisture and soothes even the most sensitive of skins.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator – smells delicious (like minty marshmallow) and full of loveliness, another nourishing treat for the skin.

La Roche Posay Serozinc – this is my healing mist. Soothes irritated or sensitive skin so well. I’ve used it on my face – for breakouts or rashes – and on my body for prickly heat, cat scratches etc. Hubby uses it to soothe redness after shaving.

January Labs Restorative Tonic Mist – cheapish, light and refreshing with witch hazel to battle blemishes.

May Lindstrom Jasmine Garden – this is crazy expensive so I only use it sparingly but it transports me to a tropical paradise. It surrounds you in jasmine gorgeousness and I feel different after using it – centred, calm and sensual.

EYES

I can’t correct my genetic disposition for dark circles or the crow’s feet I will ultimately get, but I can try to minimise the fine lines around my orbital area with hydration – can you see a theme here?! I much prefer a cream or heavier lotion for my eyes, anything too runny just gets wasted or stings. I’ll admit that I’m less loyal to a particular product when it comes to eyes and have tried various others that I prefer to my current one, but the price is too prohibitive for me currently, so I’ll stick to a beauty hall favourite for now.

Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream  – don’t let the gimmicky plastic ball (meant to cool the eye area and de-puff apparently) put you off, it’s a lovely cream that leaves my eyes feeling brighter and nourished without puffiness.

SERUMS

Spend your money on this part of the routine. Serums are packed with good things that will help to nourish, repair and rejuvenate the skin but these are usually expensive ingredients in expensive formulas. I’d like to be using a few different serums on rotation but with my skin behaving badly, I’m playing it safe and sticking to what I know won’t cause a reaction.


Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum – light yet indulgent, I always feel glowy after using this. My skin looks visibly smoother, plumper and fresh. I am nearly running out and will end up taking scissors to the vacuum packaging!

OILS

I love an oily cleanser but I’m not keen on feeling too oily on my face, although I want the effect of a glowing complexion – I’m not asking for too much, am I?! When taking antibiotic lotion for my perioral dermatitis my skin would be so sore and dry that an oil was the only thing that truly worked. I first started with coconut oil on my hair and body but it would be far too comodegenic for my face.


The Ordinary Squalane Oil – an oxymoron of an oil – it’s light, non greasy and hydrating. It doesn’t make me breakout, you can use it all over and it’s one of the cheapest items in my routine.

MOISTURISER/SPF

If I’m staying indoors or feel like my skin is OK as it is, then I tend to skip moisturising, mainly because my moisture is already in all my previous steps, but if I’m outdoors then SPF is a must, even in cloudy London.


Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30 – this is almost like a serum/moisturiser/SPF in one, which makes life so much easier. It leaves a gorgeous finish, not at all chalky and almost like my skin is blurred.

Olay Complete Day Fluid SPF 15  – a classic that works for me, my mum and my grandmother. I’ve used it for years (as does hubby) and it’s a great, cheap basic.

EXTRAS

Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot – regular spots and pimples happen, this is the best thing I’ve used to attack them with a mix of salicylic acid to attack the spot and sodium hyaluronate to hydrate the area so as to not leave a blemish.


Nuxe Reve de Miel – this lipbalm is the best I’ve ever tried, ever. Deliciously scented, like a honey lemon cheesecake (or is it just my cravings popping up?) it’s rich and creamy and makes my lips buttery smooth.

 

This is quite a basic routine, what with my skin having a will of its own plus I’ve run out of other favourites like May Lindstrom’s The Blue Cocoon and worse of all I’m on a buy ban until I get back to City Pharma in September! I’d love to hear about your skincare routines and if you’ve tried any of the products mentioned or can recommend me some new ones, leave a comment on here or on social!

Thanks, Catherine x

What to Watch – Spring 2017

Following on from my What to Watch post late last year, here’s what I’ve been watching since then and heartily recommend:

O.J.: Made in America


Set some time aside to watch this. Seven and half hours might seem a crazy amount of time for a documentary on OJ but it’s worth it. This is NOT the David Schwimmer/Cuba Gooding Jr one (also very watchable if only for the doppelgänger-esque casting for some of the roles) but goes into the history of race relations in California and Los Angeles, OJ’s standing in the community, what happened after the “Trial of the Century” and what a thoroughly unpleasant man he was to the women he was involved with. Beware of the crime scene photos, they are horrendous but give an idea of the brutality of the attack. The whole thing cements in my mind that this killer got away with it in a criminal court. Available on BBC iPlayer.

Big Little Lies


This caught my eye with the exceptional cast, Cold Little Heart song in the titles and Monterey location (to which I’m headed soon!) and I was surprised that it held Hubby’s attention too. The female cast are everything in this. I’m a born again Reese Witherspoon fan (genuinely, her character is excellent) and even applauding Nicole Kidman for some shockingly horrifying scenes with the so pretty-he-makes-my-eyes-water Alex Skarsgard. I loved how the whodunnits story flips on its head with you knowing someone gets killed from the start, but you don’t know who or why but it could be any of the characters. Who knew parenting in beautiful Monterey was so cut-throat?! Available on Sky Atlantic.

Girlboss


I’d heard of the brand and the book by founder Sophia Amoruso but never really followed it until I’d read about the company failing – you can understand why it does from Sophia’s character. It claims it’s loosely based on reality and whilst it probably does take a huge pinch of dramatic salt to flavour things up, you get the marked impression that if this girl was your friend, you wouldn’t be friends for long. She’s rude, arrogant, narcissistic and disorganised with sparks of creative genius which of course makes her a brilliant character played by Britt Robertson. The costumes are amazing – I WANT the leather jacket – and the soundtrack is a playlist of cool, revitalising but angry rock. Plus it was so lovely to be taken back to the Noughties and reminisce my twenties! Available on Netflix.

13 Reasons Why


A girl takes her life and tells us why through recordings on a series of cassette tapes, a moment of retro-ness that comforted me as a child of the 80’s. It’s a simple premise, with a decent soundtrack and a deeply complex story. This really reminded me of the play An Inspector Calls in the sense that it is not one main cause that causes a suicide but a series of related events that leave the protagonist in such despair it becomes an option. One person after another compounds Hannah Baker’s misery until the horrifying scene in the bathroom. I actually thought they wouldn’t show it but I’m glad they do. There is nothing glamorous about Hannah’s suicide – and people who think it is, I suggest you seek counselling. It is painful, distressing, stomach churning, portrayed with care but without sheen and left me sobbing. Available on Netflix

House of Cards


I finally got round to watching this and now I see what all the fuss was about. The only problem was seeing this in a world where Trump was elected president so sometimes I didn’t know whether real life or fake life was scarier/more preposterous, or if the new administration were taking notes. Robin Wright is sensational, Kevin Spacey is tormentingly creepy and conniving. I can’t wait for the new series to air at the end of the month, lord knows it won’t be as bonkers as what’s happening in DC. Available on Netflix.

Line of Duty


I’d heard whisperings about this series and thought it might be too late to catch up, however the lovely schedulers at Netflix and iPlayer had all three series between them for me to view at leisure before waiting for the weekly installments for series four. Allow me to say this: it makes the Top 5 of greatest British crime drama series. My license fee is worth it for this quality. Excellent performances from some of the top names in Brit drama, with a special mention to Vicky McClure who is an integral part of Anti-Corruption 12. Watch this and remember “you have the right to be interviewed by someone at least one rank senior.” Available on Netflix and iPlayer. 

Party of Five

Excuse the trip down memory lane but (*puts on rose tinted glasses*) weren’t the 90’s so awesome?! Not really, but this series was my companion throughout my early teens and it was a comfort to see the Salingers, if only to half crush on Bailey again and realise that I’d go for Charlie now. I fell in love with their amazing house and now about 20 years later I actually get to see it (and San Francisco) for myself in a few weeks. Listen to the soundtrack for more retro reminiscings – Send Me On My Way and Closer To Free anyone? Available on Netflix.

S-Town


A curveball as it’s a podcast but it’s so full of descriptive commentary and the personalities within the story are so vivid it’s worth a mention. From the team at This American Life and Serial comes the tale of John B. McLemore and the eponymous Sh*t town he lives in. It’s complex and weird and wonderful and shows how fascinating people are as well as carrying a hefty warning on never mixing chemicals for gold plating in enclosed spaces. Available on iTunes/Podcast. 

Resolution Update!

I am a terrible blogger. I wrote this post about how I’m all geared up for January and F*ck Yeah! 2017 and then I don’t write a post for an entire month. Ridiculous.

So I thought I’d remonstrate myself publicly here and be accountable to make sure I don’t go another full month without posting.

I’ve listed the resolutions and how I’ve got on with them below:

  • Try a monthly exercise challenge (every other month) – I started off so well with the RG Active January challenge but then missed a few days and by the end of the month I had given up. Not good, but I did try making a start on basic fitness by getting back on my turbo trainer at least twice a week, swimming with the big boys and girls at the weekly RG Active swim sessions and joining in a weekday circuit of planks, push ups, squats and glute bridges. Hashtag buff ting.
  • Touch my toes – This fell by the wayside too, but it should be a priority especially as my hamstrings get ridiculously tight and the stretch would do me a world of good. I have added foam rolling to my routine though so I’m hoping I will be back to a looser, bendier self.
  • Drink more water when at home – I’d consider this as a semi success *glugs water* the trick is to ensure I have big bottle near me at all times.
  • Unfollow anything/anyone negative on social media – Another partial success on this and especially because I’m so much more aware of it now. Avoiding the Askholes and drama imbibers is almost a full effort job! Then the Inauguration happened and lunacy and ego entered government in America and my social feeds became despairingly awful with rumours and speculation. This too has its pitfalls of negativity and goes without saying; unless it is true and confirmed by trusted sources then don’t add to the hype/distraction.
  • …learn to be cool when someone unfollows me on social media – meh…this has actually just happened today and I still get butt hurt about it. I’m still a girl, standing in front of the world, asking everyone to love me.

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  • Stop comparing myself to people on the internet – This will be an ongoing goal of mine. There will always be beautiful people in the world, there will always be people who are more successful.
  • Learn the Five Movements from The OA – There are finally some tutorials out in the web so although I haven’t yet, I WILL!
  • Use the things I’ve kept for best – Yep, I’ve been doing this with gusto and enjoying smelling like a Jasmine Garden or wearing sunshine yellow on my legs!
  • Paint my nails at least once a month – *chortles* Major fail, I last painted them in January and have been bare nailed ever since. Let’s try this one again, shall we?
  • Blog more – Errm, well. The less said about that the better, although January did see a bunch of new posts so it’s like I preempted the lack in advance!
  • Find a job I love – *cries self to sleep* After a very positive January that saw me in my first interview in FOREVER I was pipped to the post by another candidate. On the bright side the feedback was that I interviewed really well (why wouldn’t I, I’m fabulous) but I’m still searching, still applying and either no one bothers to get back to you/the agency that were haranguing you at first suddenly fall silent or the constant searching leaves you despondent. It’s hard to feel rejected and I didn’t think I’d still be in this position at the start of March.
  • Put my phone down more – 50/50 I’m trying, I really am. I don’t need to see twenty cat videos on Instagram in a row *keep telling self that* but to be honest, it’s a companion. I spend so much time at home with the cat, I feel like at least there’s a way to communicate online with everyone as otherwise they’re at work!

On the whole I’ve seen improvements in myself; I’ve been to a barre class, watched a sunrise somewhere beautiful and added another destination to the Topless Tour. I’ve learnt not chase my tail with the laundry, increased distance in swimming, kept up on the household filing, booked a road trip of dreams to California… I just need to get the job thing sorted, get some income and settle into a place where I can be a valued member of the team.

I wonder how everyone else has got on with their resolutions?

 

What To Watch…

The nights are unbearably dark, cold and require nothing more than snuggles on the sofa under duvets and long sessions watching the telly box. With the Christmas break giving some a chance to catch up on their viewing and hibernate until the new year I thought I’d share a few of my favourite shows and films from the past few months. 

Showing On Netflix…

The OA – I am writing this having just finished watching episode eight no more than 15 minutes ago and I still have tears in my eyes. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a programme (not counting ones about sick animals) that is a tale of fiction. Brit Marling is perfection in the lead role – a blind girl who returns from a seven year disappearance with her sight intact. If you like storytelling and stories of love and loss, sci-fi and the afterlife, then this is the one for you. Even if you don’t… watch this. 


Gilmore Girls – I’m ashamed to say I completely missed this the first time it was on screens back in the late 90’s/early 00’s. Thank goodness for streaming services and my current unemployment status – I managed to watch all seven seasons in about a month and a bit. There’s laughs aplenty and tears too but the magic for me is when all three Gilmore ladies are together. Snappy dialogue, clever witticisms and a lot of heart binds this into a show that makes a mark. I finished in time to watch the special four part A Year In The Life which revisits Stars Hollow ten years later. Watch out for the bombshell last four words.


Stranger Things – Another nostalgia trip, this time to the 80’s and a terrifying reminder of the evil monsters who lurked in the shadows crossed with the buddy feel of The Goonies and Stand By Me. The young actors steal the show despite a great performance from era stalwart Winona Ryder. Feel comforted by the amazing attention to detail (the duvet covers are exact replicas of ones seen in the Argos catalogue) and string up all the fairy lights you can get your hands on.


Designated Survivor – A show about US Government, Congress and Senate being blown to smithereens by evil terrorists during a State of The Union address (hello NSA/GCHQ filters) and Jack Bauer, I mean, Kiefer Sutherland is put in charge. That’s still a better choice than what’s going in to the White House next year. It’s a decent, easy to watch, political whodunnit of our current times but frankly I’m just happy to hear Kiefer’s slightly whispered tones/angry “DAMMIT” back on a screen. 


The Crown – So Prince Phillip was a fox, who’d have thought it?! An interesting series shedding a little (fictional?) light on the early years of the Royal family as we know it today. Queenie struggles between being a wife and a monarch (mainly because of the men surrounding her and demanding she kow-tow to them and/or tradition, hashtag so much mansplaining) but she keeps on reigning strong. 

Showing on Sky… 


Westworld – The robots are ALIVE! Or are they? This show had a tonne of secrets, plot twists and theories reminiscent of that old favourite, Lost. You get over the GoT levels of nudity quickly mainly because you’re trying to keep track of who’s who and where’s where. Amazing performances from the female leads – Thandie Newton and Evan Rachel Wood. Watch it through without spoilers the first time round and then rewatch to see what clues you missed. 


Mars – A mix of 2016 science fact and 2033 science fiction, with a lot of interesting scenes featuring today’s finest minds and space explorers trying to make humans on Mars a thing. Of course nothing comes easily for the “future” crew but I really enjoyed how they focused on the human, as well as the scientific, aspect of space travel. Very interesting but never too taxing. 

Hope you find these as enjoyable as I did! I’m going to try and watch House of Cards next but feel free to recommend others in the comments or via social channels!

Nude Art Advent 2016

For the third year in a row I’ve been counting down the days until Christmas with a celebration of the nude form in art over on Instagram with the hashtag #nudeartadvent. It’s always a fantastic research project discovering artists that are new to me. Here’s the rundown from 2016 in case you missed it or check out CuriosityKilled on Instagram for more details on each piece. 

Day 1 – Natasha Brooks

Day 2 – Nude Yoga Girl

Day 3 – Eadweard Muybridge

Day 4 – Ryan McGinley

Day 5 – George Morton-Clark

Day 6 – Edvard Munch

Day 7 – James Bullough

Day 8 – Bill Bate

Day 9 – Tanya Ragir

Day 10 – Jean-Michel Bihorel

Day 11 – Rob Mulholland

Day 12 – Mihoko Ogaki

Day 13 – Dani Olivier

Day 14 – Peter Lindbergh

Day 15 – Clayton Woodley

Day 16 – Pierre Traverse

Day 17 – Erwin Blumenfeld

Day 18 – Spencer Tunick

Day 19 – Ekatarina Zakharova

Day 20 – Peyablo

Day 21 – François Henri Galland

Day 22 – Nadav Kander

Day 23 – Zenos Frudakis

Day 24 – Ryan McGinley

Reasons why I love F1…

The return of F1 this weekend heralds the return of another season filled equally with hope and despair, although technically it starts as soon as the engines are fired up for winter testing.  My social life goes into hibernation as everything gets checked against the FIA calendar and my social media goes into overdrive – you have been warned!

I’ve been a little more quiet this season as I don’t want to jinx my favourites plus there’s been so much chopping and changing with regulations and the powers-that-be seem intent on destroying the sport I love, that I’m loving it a little, teeny, tiny bit less nowadays. Like, 92% instead of my usual 100%. 

However, seeing the media circus restart down in Melbourne, plus going to a work event near Silverstone and being surrounded by F1 memorabilia has given me the tingles and I can’t wait for the madness to start again!

 

  • The ridiculously early starts for Free Practice, Qualifying and Race sessions – because waking up in the middle of the night, in the darkness and listening to cars on a track is actually brilliant and you learn how to function with broken sleep patterns for the flyaway races. 
  • The soap opera that is Formula One – complete with heroes (gentleman drivers that are funny, real and look like they’d be a great laugh on a night out) and villains (the crashers, the arrogant ones that spoil it for everyone else, those that believe their hype) and the wooden acting when discussing poor performance/rumours in the press pens!
  • The wheel to wheel racing – it’s like watching a game of chicken, approaching a turn at 250kph with just a wheel nut between them and someone has to brake first. *gasps* 
  • The fellow fanatics – I’ve been lucky to connect with some amazing people over the years. There’s something that bonds you close when you’re up in the dark hours or putting everything on hold “because quali’s on,” when you share a dislike for a particular driver or meeting up at different racing events. Only a fellow fan would be as excited as you are when you find a visor tear off on track. 
  • The history – nearly a hundred years of brave racers throwing themselves around a circuit at super fast speeds. Iconic tracks that have seen the birth and death of legends. Tradition and passion within names such as Hill, Villeneuve, Schumacher and Senna to name a few. Step on to a classic track and you will feel the magic within that Tarmac. 
  • The technology – you’ll see carbon fibre on absolutely everything nowadays but its roots are in Motorsport where strength and impact durability are paramount for driver safety. Start/Stop ignitions, flappy paddle gearboxes, wet weather tyres – the list goes on. What is first a development in F1 to create performance gains translates to the mass market making driving safer, efficient and more enjoyable. 
  •  The humour – we have a strange and ridiculous sense of humour often creating hashtags and memes. Check out those involving Pastor Maldonado or Kimi Raikkonen, or #placesalonsowouldratherbe for lols. 

      

    • The glamour – Formula One attracts big money and all the other trappings of wealth including gorgeous locations (maybe not Sochi) beautiful people (maybe not Bernie) and fast things (maybe not the back end of the grid). 
    • The underdog – there are teams and drivers that just get your support for being lovely people, or when something extraordinary happens and they beat established drivers. It upsets the apple cart in the best way because to finish first, first you must  finish!
    • The memories – the sound of the cars always reminds me of watching races in the summer with my grandfather. He would fall asleep in the middle of the race waking up just in time to see who had won. I still find the sound soothing.