Make-Up: Beauty Essential or Social Norm?

The other day, I was looking in the mirror (Husband thinks I’m vain. He’s probably right) and assessing my facial features. I’d just taken my make-up off using one of those cloths that are pre-impregnated with cleanser and I was a little bit shocked by the amount of product that was left on the cloth after. I don’t think I wear a huge amount, in comparison to a lot of other women I see, and on lazy days I forego it altogether. Not because I’m so flawless that I can go without, simply because I often can’t be bothered.

It got me to thinking about what make-up actually does. I wear foundation to even my skin-tone, mascara to enhance my eyes and a bit of bronzer on my cheeks for colour and definition. If I’m on a rare night out, I’ll go a bit heavier on the eyes with some eye shadow and eye liner, but still nothing too drastic. But the destination for my ever-roaming train of thought was this:

Does make-up genuinely enhance our features or is it just social programming that makes us think that it does?

Why do I think that my eyelashes look better with black paint on them? Why do we believe that an even skin tone is better than a natural one? Why are shiny lips so coveted?

So, I thought I’d do a comparison:

make up comparison

I definitely look more tired in the photo without glasses and make up and possibly slightly older. The make up in the photos is fairly subtle and to be fair, both were taken on days when my rosacea was very mild, so on a bad day the foundation does a lot to cover that up, although I’m still in search of the perfect product to help me in that area. I’ve been swimming today and this is what my cheeks look like after a session in the pool:

I suppose what I’m trying to get at is this: I don’t know if make-up really makes me look better or if my idea of ‘better’ is just a socially accepted norm of women sporting painted faces.

We don’t expect men to wear make up and they aren’t considered less beautiful if their eyes and cheeks aren’t defined with cosmetics (although I did recently have a rather candid conversation with my Husband about how I don’t find Jason Momoa in the least bit attractive, but I think he’s a lot better looking in costume as Khal Drogo, who wears eyeliner!).

Historically speaking, make-up was a sign of wealth and status in many cultures; women and men painted their faces white to signify that they didn’t do manual labour or work on the land and therefore weren’t coloured by the sun, and the trend obviously continued in a watered-down fashion, which is my point about social programming. Female faces now look naked to us when not made-up.

So, what do you think? Better with or without? I challenge you to post a with and without photo of your own and try to make a measured decision about whether make up makes you look better and why. I’d be genuinely interested to hear everyone’s thoughts and if you’re male I’d be especially interested to hear what you think on this topic.

Closer to Nature

Closer to Nature – Lens Flare

This week has been a bit of a washout, despite big plans and lots of Closer to Nature related opportunities. Sausage is on half-term at the moment, like most of the kids in the UK, and we had plans of mini-golf, beach combing, nature walks and lots more besides, but the weather has meant that we’ve had to be a bit more creative about what we’ve done instead, so it’s been a week of fashion shows, cake baking, painting and film afternoons.

We have had one or two days of sunshine in the last month and I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with lens-flare, so for this week’s Closer to Nature, I thought I’d show you some sunshine snaps to warm you up and remind you that we so have nice weather sometimes! I’m not sure of the exact physics of lens flare, but I know that if I stand under something, like a tree, and snap directly at the sun, I get pretty good results and these were just taken with the camera on my Nexus 4.

I also love this close-up I took of our neighbour’s wysteria plant. I was being dragged along by an impatient Chuck on our way out for a walk, so it’s not the most amazing shot, but I love it anyway!

And finally, Sausage and I went on a walk aroundthe grounds of a local church on Sunday, just to get some fresh air, and I took one of my ‘weird photos that only I like or understand’ of some yellow moss that was growing on a curbstone. I think I liked it because of the pattern and the vividness of the yellow.

Do you have any photos of anything nature-related on your blog this week? Link up below and grab the badge code from the sidebar.

Mum's the Word

Fashion and Style

Seasonal Fashion Tips from Bon Marche

Season change looks

When the seasons change lots of us just can’t wait until to ditch the winter woollies and bring out the linens. If only life was that simple though. The seasons don’t really have a defined start and finish when it comes to our unpredictable climate. We might have bright sunshine one day and then the next day the temperature drops again. In those in-between type weeks transitional clothing and layers really come into their own to make dressing easy.

Subtle colour changes

One of the first things that really signify a change of season is a colour change. In nature we start to see green leaves and flowers coming through and in our wardrobes it’s time to put less focus on the browns and blacks and start introducing some colour to your look. This spring summer pale and pretty pastels are on trend, but on the other end of the scale, neons are too so take your pick. Introduce tops in brighter colours while still pairing them with your denim or black trousers and you’ll already start to feel more summery in an instant.

Spring accessories

Accessories are always a quick transformation and in the transition between seasons there is no better time to start adding some fun, colourful jewellery. Beads are a pretty, but light way to introduce colour through jewellery and their fun touch is less heavy than solid silver or gold for example. A change of footwear could also be quite literally afoot! While the winter is a time for big boots and dark shoes, the weather warming up is a good prompt to ditch them in favour something a little lighter. Ballet pumps are a versatile and practical choice. These days they come in a whole rainbow of colours and prints so you can inject some colour into your wardrobe easily and at low cost.

Layering Up

Layering is the key to transitional dressing enabling you to add and take off layers easily to adjust to slight changes in the weather. Layering isn’t always easy without looking bulked up in places you don’t want to but a few simple rules can help.

Keep your layers to three to avoid looking both messy and overdone. This should be enough to keep you comfortably warm and still look elegant. Start with your thinnest layers and then work out to your thicker layers. Wearing a woolly jumper and then a thin blouse over the top doesn’t look good on anyone. A pretty vest top worn under a simple blouse and then a chic cardigan is a perfect combination for a relaxed day with friends. This combination looks great with cropped trousers or jeans and you can even get away with this over knee length shorts too if you’re expecting the sunshine.

Key transitional pieces

There are a few pieces that are worth their weight in gold in that tricky in-between seasons phases. Jersey dresses are great as they can work equally well with or without tights and with or without a cardigan or jacket. They’re a good choice for the workplace and they’ll certainly earn their value back no time.

Light knits are brilliant for taking you through one season to the next and they’re a good way to add colour to your look even if you are still wearing your winter blacks and greys underneath.

Cropped trousers are the seasons popular length and it’s great news as a good pair of cropped trousers are a perfect trans-seasonal piece. For cooler weather pair with a blouse and jacket and ballet pumps but when the temperature soars they’ll look just as happy with a sleeveless blouse and sandals for a smart casual look.


Driving Music #carcraftsingalongs

Ever since I got my licence waaaay back in 2002, having music to drive to has been really important to me. When my first ever car got broken into and the radio stolen, I used a battery powered radio on my passenger seat until I replaced my car stereo, which should give you a good idea of how much I like to have tunes to drive to! Throughout the course of my life, there have been various songs which have been significant, like this one, which I listened to every day for about a year whilst dropping my Mum and work and my Sister at school, and we’d giggle and sing along in German the whole way:

Then, there was the summer that my friend Sally and I spent almost every weekend together. We were 20, both usually skint, she had a baby daughter and we would drive up and down the seafront to amuse ourselves and get her daughter to have a nap. This was our song of choice, which again, we’d scream with laughter to, not hugely conducive to naptime but it brings back some hilarious memories:

More recently, I’ve used music in the car to provide comfort; Sausage had a hard time during the first couple of months of school, suffering with anxiety and separation issues and one way I was able to calm her was playing her favourite song in the car on the way everyday. Listening to this took her mind off of her worries and really helped to diffuse a potentially horrible time for her:

Personally though, I struggle to come up with an absolute, all-time favorite song to drive to as there are simply so many that I adore, but this one springs to mind as no only do I adore the song but the video is pretty appropriate too!

What’s your favourite song to drive to? Head over to the Carcraft site to find out how you can nominate your favourite driving song or tweet them using the hashtag #carcraftsingalongs

Family · Humour · Parenting · Personal

The Pitfalls of Having an Intelligent Child

Sausage is a very intelligent kid. She’s one of, if not the, youngest in her class and she reads at the top level with kids who are a full year older. Her teacher is constantly regaling us with stories of “amazing” things she’s come out with in class, like the time they were discussing The North Pole and the things you’d find there. The other kids were saying things like snow, ice etc. Sausage sat thinking for a while then shoved her hand confidently up before offering “Arctic Orcas!”. As most of my readers probably know, we’re big on Natural History lessons in this house, so that was a fairly normal thing for her to come out with by our standards, but apparently she’s not an average 4-year-old!

Now, for the most part, having a bright kid is fantastic. She has a thirst for knowledge that Husband and I love to quench and we spend a lot of family time learning together. However, at times, it can be a challenge. Here are just a few of the ways in which she keeps me on my toes.


With Sausage’s level of intelligence comes a concurrent level of confidence that, at times, can be a little maddening. Often, she’ll ask me a question only to reply to my answer with “I KNOW!” and I’ve lost count of the amount of times in her life that I’ve said the phrase “Well if you already know, why did you ask me?!”

She’s also been known to reply to my accusations of smart-assery with “Er, no Mummy, I think you’re a smarty-pants!”, the response to which is usually my head spontaneously exploding. Don’t get me wrong, she’s never naughty or obnoxious, she’s just genuinely that confident of her own brain, which is good…I guess!

She’s also started questioning my reasoning on things. She’ll often counter my answers to requests with “Why?” and on more than one occasion I’ve done that thing that I said I’d never do…”BECAUSE I SAID SO!”. Sometimes, there just is no other answer.

Spelling Test

In the past, Husband and I could do that thing where if we didn’t want Sausage to know what we’re talking about, we could spell things out. We knew it wouldn’t last forever as she’d learn to spell eventually, but we didn’t expect her to become so exceptionally good at it at such a young age. As a result, we now speak Pig-Latin when we’re being deceptive, but I’ve seen her looking at us and working out what we’re saying when we do that too, so I guarantee it won’t be long before she’s EAKING-SPAY right back at us…


Most kids, aged four, are probably happy to do one thing at a time. Sausage, however, needs a certain level of mental stimulation to stop her from being bored, which means that, and I’m not exaggerating here, she’s often doing three things at once. At this very moment, she’s watching TV, writing in her pad and playing a game on her Nexus 7. All of that is fine, I’m happy for her to entertain herself in whatever way she wants, but sometimes it can be exhausting trying to keep up with her!

Play Time

She’s very much into that girly thing at the moment of role-playing. She’ll say “Mummy, do you want to play with me?” and then bestow me with an elaborate script of things I have to say in response to what she’s going to say. And if I don’t do it right the first time, often she’ll stop and we’ll have to start all over again, complete with grand entrances on Micro Scooters and all sorts. I love that she has such a vivid imagination but it’s not always that easy to stay on top of the web of character and plot development that she weaves and I fear I’m a massive disappointment to her.

Emotions and Comprehension

Sausage is a sensitive soul and up to a point, we were able to shield her from some of the harsher realities of life. The thing is, as she gets older, it’s harder to keep things from her. We don’t always know right away when something has seeped into her big brain but sometimes, she’ll seem overly sad or emotional and it will turn out that something has upset her like a news report or something she’s heard a snippet of and she’ll have spent however long trying to process it. Emotional development isn’t always in-line with intellectual development and it can be heartbreaking to see her brain grasping a concept which she’s too young to know how to react to.

So, do you have a intelligent kid who runs rings around you too? Or am I the only one who’s being totally bested by a four-year old?!