Review: The Good Girl’s Guide to Being a Dick

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Not long after I moved back to Cardiff and into my house, the Jehovahs came knocking.  Two tiny, very sweet old ladies rang my doorbell whilst I was in the middle of emptying boxes and – caught up in the excitement of someone ringing my brand new doorbell – I rushed downstairs and opened the door.  I inwardly groaned as soon as they held out The Watchtower leaflet.  I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t have the time to discuss whether suffering is a punishment from God.  The only suffering I was interested in was the stacks of boxes upstairs that STILL needed emptying and where the hell I was going to put(/hide) Sunny’s stupid, ugly alligator head that had somehow survived the move from London.  In spite of all that, I found that I just couldn’t bring myself to slam the door in their sweet old lady faces or even gently tell them that I wasn’t interested.  I felt bad.  So instead, I stood in the doorway and decided to humour them for ten minutes.  When they handed me The Watchtower I took it and even joked that I needed something to read since all my books were in storage – even though I knew it was going to end up in the bin before they’d even made it to the end of my drive.  I didn’t want them to think I was mean.

Fast-forward three years later and those sweet old Jehovahs are still coming back.  We’ve settled into a rhythm.  They ring my doorbell once every couple of months, ask me how I’m doing, drop off their leaflet and then disappear.  They know my name.  They know my dog’s name.  The window for telling them that I’m not interested and have thrown away every single leaflet they’ve given me without reading a single word has looooooong gone.  And so here we are, all because I was too nice to tell them to go away.

This is just one example of how I’m constantly sacrificing my time and energy to spare other people’s feelings.  Social guilt all over the shop, all the time.  So, when I spotted The Good Girl’s Guide to Being a Dick in the airport bookshop, I knew I needed to pick it up.

Alexandra Reinwarth realised that her day to day behaviour was constantly being triggered by her fear of what other people thought of her.  She realised that she was spending far too much time with people she didn’t like, in places she didn’t want to be, doing things she didn’t want to do, all because she worried what people would think of her if she told the honest -often brutal -truth.  She needed to “become a bit of a dick”.  The book explores her journey in taking back control of her life (becoming more of a dick), from ditching a friend who was constantly using her as a doormat, heading into the office without a lick of makeup and dealing with difficult family members – full of funny and insightful anecdotes and advice on how to stop caring what people think.

It’s not a very long book – only six chapters – and so was an easy pool read and I pretty much swallowed the whole thing up in a couple of days (mostly because I kept getting looks around the pool on my choice of reading material and decided that I needed to wrap things up pretty quickly.  Ha!  Three chapters in and I shed that concern!).  While it’s not a traditional self help book in the fact that it doesn’t really contain any real techniques, it’s full of examples to follow and reads like a pep talk in the art of living honestly and getting what you want (without turning into an actual dick in the process!).  

I mean obviously I don’t want to become a dick.  But, reading the book has made me stop and think of all the times I’ve told little lies or put my own happiness aside because I’ve worried what people would think of me; the world won’t end if someone doesn’t like me.  I’ve started to notice whenever I’m heading down that road, and I’ve become a little bit more honest with those around me about what I care about or don’t like.  Of course, the true test will be whether I can tell the Jehovah’s to politely bugger off next time they ring the door bell.  They are due, after all…

Have a great week!  Or not, whatever. 😉

 

 

 

How I Do: My Sunday Night Soak in 10 Steps

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I don’t tend to do baths during the summer, but as soon as those nights start drawing in all I want to do is simmer in hot, soapy water until my fingers wrinkle.  Yes, it feels amazing but it’s also a really important part of my week because Monday to Friday I get a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of myself beauty-wise.  My skin routine is speedy and slim-lined, I touch my face a lot when I’m working on the computer and I scrape my hair back into a clip because I’m too lazy to curl it – so Sunday night is devoted to taking it slow and making up for all that neglect!  🙂

Preparation

1. Hair Mask Time!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey with my hair and it’s still definitely in recovery (I wrote a whole post about how I’ve been taking care of my hair here) – so I try to whack on a hair mask once a week.  Usually I’ll melt some coconut oil and slather it on under a shower cap for a couple of hours, but recently I’ve been experimenting with something new.  Because my hair’s so fine I’ve been really trying hard not to fall back into my old habit of highlights and balayage.  But I’ve been really, really tempted.  So I’ve been looking up natural dyeing methods and came across a gentle alternative using just honey and water.

Here’s the science: Honey is naturally high in peroxide, and by mixing it into water you get a very gentle solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (found in most hair dyes).  It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I’m on my seventh treatment and it’s actually working!  Of course you’re not going to get the same results as you would if you holed up in your local salon for a whole afternoon (and it definitely works best on lighter hair), but it’s a really easy (albeit very sticky!) way of gently lightening your hair and bringing out your natural highlights.

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2. Take off all my nail varnish (fresh week, fresh nails!)
3. Prepare the tub

I fill the tub with hot water, chuck in a bath bomb (Rosie from Miss Patisserie is my favourite), light some candles and prop the iPad up on the toilet (I love catching up with Youtube videos or rewatching my favourite shows while I’m soaking away).

4. Inform husband and dog that for the next hour – as far they’re concerned – I no longer exist. Bye!

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In the Bath

5. Wash hair, apply conditioner and leave it to rest.

I tried so many different expensive shampoos and conditioners when I went through all those problems with my hair – they were all a total waste of moolah.  The simple fact is you need to find a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair condition and scalp.  I’ve got fine hair and a sensitive scalp which really seems to love the Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner combo – so that’s what I’m sticking with.

6. Exfoliate.

For my face I haven’t got a bad word to say about the Kiehls Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion Cream, and for my body I recently had a little tester pot of the Nuxe Reve de Miel Body Scrub which has been a total treat!

7. Cleanse

I know most people tend to cleanse then exfolitate, but I like to do it the other way around.  Before I get out of the tub, I wash my body with the Nuxe Prodigieux Huile de Douche and a sponge.  If you love the body oil from the same range, then you’ll love this – it’s got the same subtle, nutty scent and leaves a delicate shimmer on the skin once you’re dry.  I haven’t been using Nuxe products for very long, but I’m totally and absolutely obsessed!  They’ve very quickly become one of my favourite skincare brands.

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8. Moisturise

I don’t do anything to my face just yet, instead I focus on my body.  I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop‘s Body Butters, especially the Shea scented one.  I slather that everywhere and then target the drier areas (like my knee caps and elbows) with some of the Nuxe Dry Oil.

9. Fresh Pyjamas and Face Mask time!

I mean, is there anything better?  I recently ran out of my favourite face mask (The Origins Active Charcoal Mask has rescued me from many a skin emergency, let me tell you!) but luckily, I recently got to try some Elemis goodies courtesy of their spa at The Celtic Manor and a mask was one of them.  My skin wasn’t looking its best at the end of the summer after a stressful month, but the Elemis Thousand Flower Mask – which has the weirdest mousse like texture – has really helped sort things out.  My skin’s looking much brighter and healthier and seems in pretty well prepared for those months of drying central heating ahead of us.  I also really love Simple’s Sheet Mask Range if I’m looking for a more cooling, less messy mask. 🙂


10. Once I’ve washed off my facemask, I leave my hair to air dry and finish things off by applying a face oil.

I don’t put any products in my hair on a Sunday, nor do I apply any heat to it.  It’s nice to strip all the products out and just let it dry naturally and recover ready for the week ahead.  As for my face, I’ve been a huge fan of the Kiehls Midnight Recover Oil for YEARS.  I add a couple of drops to my moisturiser (Just plain old Nivea Daily) and then press it into my skin.

How do you do your Sunday Soak?  What are your favourite products to use? 

*This post contains some affiliate links: you can find out what that means here.

The Secret to Successful Adulting

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A few months ago I got a letter from my dentist.  You know, one of those reminders that your check up is due.  Fine, except for the fact this was the third reminder.  My checkup was over due.  Waaaaay overdue.  I mean, the letter was typed up in the same tone my mum used to put on when I was a kid and still hadn’t bothered to tidy my room.  You know, “I don’t want to have to tell you again!” or “If you don’t do it, I’m going in there with a black bag!” (That one usually did the trick).  It wasn’t that I’d willfully ignored the first two letters, I’d just dropped them on the kitchen table with all my other “you need to deal with this at some point but not today” letters.  I’m not afraid of the dentist – that wasn’t the issue – I had every intention of calling up and booking an appointment, I just kept forgetting to actually do it, or brushing it off saying, “Meh, I’ll do it tomorrow”.

Did I do it?  Pfft.  Course I didn’t.  The letter got buried deeper and deeper under my pile of letters and takeaway menus until I’d completely forgotten it even existed.  And the dentist?  Well, they gave up nagging.

And then one morning I decided to make French Toast for breakfast, and as I sunk my teeth into that soft, sugary slice I felt tooth pain unlike any I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.  It was sharp, it was sudden and slow to go away.  I went white.  I had to lie down.  I cried.  Something was definitely up.

I booked in an emergency appointment and after a couple of weeks of careful chewing followed by horrible pain, I found out that I had a gaping hole in one of my wisdom teeth.  Yeouch.  And, as I lay back in the chair and endured the drill, there was only one thought rattling around in my head; WHY DIDN’T I BOOK THAT BLOODY CHECKUP?  I should have done it the minute after I ripped open that first letter.  Why didn’t I?

It’s not just dentist appointments; my everyday life is littered with these little moments of shrugging simple tasks off, kicking the can down the road to deal with later.  I put things off until I HAVE to deal with them.  I wait until the washing basket is overflowing with knickers until I put on a load.  I’ll tell myself that I’ll email back so and so or phone up to book something tomorrow, or next week.  Smear Tests (*wrist slap*), changing over ISAs, painting the skirting boards, updating personal details, registering with a new doctor, cleaning the oven (oh God no).  You know, all those “adult jobs”.  Why kick the can along?  You’re basically just sabotaging your future self.  I mean, the can is still going to be there at the end of the road – you’re still going to have to deal with it by being a responsible adult and picking it up and putting it in the bin.  But by that time, the situation might have completely changed.  The oven is going to be much, much harder to clean.  You could have earned much more interest in that time if you’d pulled your finger out and switched ISAs.  You might have a gaping hole in your wisdom tooth.  Worse, the tooth might have to come out.

I’m convinced that the secret to successful adulting is dealing with things straight away, or at least organising a time to deal with them and then actually following through.  Super-adulting is pre-empting them.  You know, putting the washing on when the basket’s only half full or writing a reminder in your diary before that check up letter ever lands on your doormat.  You’re making your life easier, that’s it.

Oh, I booked in my next check up straight after the dentist filled the hole, by the way.  January 2019, I’m in!

5 Things I’ve Been Loving This September

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Can you believe it’s going to be October next week?  Yikes!  It feels like we were in the middle of a heatwave just last week and now we’re practically staring down Christmas (sorry!).  Still, I’m really excited for the next couple of months – Autumn is my season, my favourite time of year hands down – and I love that fresh feeling that’s always in the air every September.  And with that in mind, here are a few other things I’ve been loving this month.

Killing Eve

There’s been so much incredible stuff on the box this September, we’ve been totally spoiled!  The Bodyguard, Bake Off, Vanity Fair, just to name a few.  But my favourite – without a doubt – has been Killing Eve.  Sunny and I binged it a couple of days after the series dropped on iPlayer and we absolutely loved it.  In case you’ve never heard of it, the series is based on the Villanelle books by Luke Jennings and centre around a Russian assassin – Oxana – and the British Agent – Eve – who attempts to track her down and arrest her but gradually becomes more and more drawn to her.  It’s dark and hilarious and the outfits are amazing.

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#SundaySoak

The weather got so hot this summer that I swapped my Sunday night soak in the bath for a cold shower.  But now that everything’s cooled down a bit and tepid Welsh weather has returned, I’ve been really enjoying polishing off the weekend with a good old soak in the tub.  I fill it up, throw in a bath bomb (I love Rosie from Miss Patisserie), prop the iPad up on the toilet with some Parks and Rec and then just… stew.

Early in September, the Forum Spa at the Celtic Manor sent me over some lovely Elemis goodies to take my Sunday Soak to the next level – including this Thousand Island Mask.  It’s got a really funny mousse-like texture to it, but spread over the skin like butter on toast (and my skin really has felt like toast recently – you know, dry, gaping pores…).  I’ve been applying it just before I get in the tub and then wiping it off with a damp cloth just before getting out and it’s been really brightened up my tired skin and given it a little extra pampering before seven months worth of central heating dry it out.

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Autumn Fashion

September’s a funny one for clothes, innit?  I mean, it’s officially Autumn and it’s absolutely freezing when I take Bungle out for his morning walk – but then by lunchtime, it’s baking.  Yep, Faux-tumn is in full swing – that weird month when you get all excited to haul your jumpers and scarves out of storage and end up sweating in them.  We’re not quite there yet.  Doesn’t matter, I’ve washed all my jumpers so when that cold weather finally pounces I’ll be ready.  I’ve also been picking up a few new bits and bobs when I’ve spotted them, like this stripy Beetlejuice shirt from H&M. 🙂

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Apple Pie Cake

I tend to get really into baking this time of year – I don’t know whether to blame the cold weather or the fact that Bake Off is back, but I’ve been absolutely loving get back into the kitchen and trying out some new things.  I posted the recipe for this Apple Pie Cake a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it.  It’s a bit more interesting than the bog-standard apple pie I’m used to baking this time of year and tastes even better! 🙂

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This article from The Pool about how we’re a nation of Saving For Best-ers really resonated with me; I’ve got so many dresses and outfits in my cupboard that I’m saving up for imaginary future events.  I should just wear them  to Tesco on a Monday morning, right?  What’s the point of having clothes and not enjoying wearing them?

I’ve been absolutely obsessed with the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing that’s been going on out in the States.  Just in case you’re out of the loop – Brett Kavanaugh is Trump’s pick for the empty slot in the Supreme Court (if he gets it then he’ll hold the position for life and it’ll tip the balance of power in favour of the Republicans) however, since being nominated allegations have come to light about his past sexual misconduct – most notably from Dr Blasey Ford, who claims she was assaulted by him back in the early 80s.  The fact that she’s only come forward now has raised the issue of why women don’t report sexual assault.  The #WhyIDidntReport feed on Twitter is a pretty powerful read and a reminder that for every woman who has come forward and tweeted about her own experience of assault, there are at least ten more who still feel unable to.

What have you been loving this September 🙂

4 Times my Confidence took a Hit and How I Punched Back

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Let’s be clear here; I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where my ego doesn’t take at least a little bit of a dent.  You know, those little everyday knocks to your confidence.  Bad hair days, bad skin days. Those moments when you can’t seem to get your words out straight without spitting them all over someone (“Hey, I asked for the news not the weather!”). Days when you walk down the street and end up tripping over your own shoes (come on, we’ve all done that little over the shoulder look to blame an invisible crack in the pavement – “I was framed! I’m not just a complete and utter prat!”).  Those times when you just get it wrong; whether it’s an outfit, an answer to an important question or a telephone number (oh the horror).  I mean, that’s life right?  We all need taking down a peg or two from time to time; it’s those little knocks that remind us that we’re not actually walking Gods but snorting, spitting, “whoops I slipped up!” humans.  Who knew!

But in terms of overall self esteem those are just little bumps and bruises, aren’t they? No biggie. A bit of a knock or a graze that can be sorted with a bit of Sudocrem from your emotional first aid kit by way of having a good old chuckle over the fact that we’re all capable of being a bit of an idiot from time to time.

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But then there are those times when someone or something throws your ego a suckerpunch. One you didn’t see coming. The kind that knocks you flat on your back and leaves a little bit more than just a couple of bruises.  Something breaks and you need a bit of time to recover.  Maybe you even step of the ring for a while, and when you do come back you can’t escape the fact that you’re different – altered in some way.  More skittish, more likely to duck out before you get hit or maybe you’ve learned how to punch back.  Okay, I’m going to ease up on the boxing metaphor now – I’m getting carried away!  What I guess I’m trying to say is that no matter how much it hurts at the time, it’s only through moments that shake our confidence right to the core that we find out what we’re really made of – and who we really are and want to be.  Here are four of mine. 🙂

That time a famous Children’s Author told me to “Go Away”

Yep, you read that right.  Back when I worked in a High School supporting English lessons it wasn’t that unusual for authors to come visit and read to the kids, and some pretty big names passed through.  During one of those visits the teacher I was working with asked me to do a little bit of essay marking for her during the reading; it was coming up to reports time and she was absolutely swamped.  So, “sure” I said and went to sit at the back of the crowd where I got out my green pen (apparently red’s seen as too negative these days) and started marking.  The author got maybe a paragraph into his reading when he suddenly stopped and shouted, “Uh, the woman sitting at the back with the glasses and snot-coloured top.  If you’re going to insist on scribbling through my reading, I’m going to have to ask you go away and scribble somewhere else.”

Oh man.  I’m furious just thinking about it.  If the same thing happened to me today, I’d have absolutely no problem punching back at someone like that.  In fact, I’d enjoy it.  But back then, I just couldn’t.  I felt small every single day because I hated my job, and the way he’d treated me made me feel even smaller.  Practically microscopic.  He’d humiliated me in front of the people I worked with and worse, my students – who never let me live it down.  Had it been rude of me to sit there marking while he read?  Maybe.  But was I – little old me with the messy, mousy hair, glasses and snot-coloured top – SO distracting, SO offensive that he couldn’t even concentrate on the simple task of reading a book out loud?  Would he have spoken to me like that if I was a man?  I doubt it.  The truth is that Mr Successful Children’s Author had felt the need to pump up his already bloated ego by deflating mine.  I’m sure he forgot about me the minute I walked away, but I didn’t.

That time I flunked my A-Levels

Okay, maybe flunked isn’t the right word because the truth is, I didn’t really flunk my A Levels.  I did absolutely fine, the problem was that fine wasn’t quite good enough to get me into my top choice of university… or my back up.  The day before I picked up my results the plan had been to go to Cardiff University to study History.  Well, that plan went tits up – spectacularly.  I was absolutely devastated.  I felt like I’d let everyone down, including myself.  The truth was – and I think I knew it deep down at the time – that I just hadn’t worked hard enough.  I’d gotten sloppy.  I’d overestimated myself, and it was tough coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t quite as good as I thought I was.  My confidence took a savage hit.  But hey, it all worked out in the end.  I went through clearing and got a place at Swansea University instead.  In the end it was good for me to get out of my home town and out of my comfort zone, and I had such a blast that I stayed on for another year with the guy I was really into at the time (…and still am, reader, I married him 😉 ) to study the other big love of my life; Creative Writing.

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That time my hair started falling out

I used to have really long hair.  I mean it was always quite fine, but I had a lot of it and it used to grow really fast.  I used to steer clear of the hair dressers and didn’t really need to bother caring for it.  I brushed it, I washed it and that was about it.  Then during my twenties, everything changed.  It became very dry, very brittle and even started falling out in massive chunks.  My confidence took a nosedive.  I stopped wearing my hair down and felt really bad about myself and how I looked.  In the end, I had to get it all chopped off just to take back some kind of control over it.  Nowadays I never take my hair forgranted!  I get it trimmed regularly and take care of what I’ve got.  It’s not perfect by any means, but these days I put in the work to keep it on my head!  (If you’re interested in reading more about how I got my hair back, I wrote a whole post about it here).

That time I was called a liar during an interview

Oh the shame.  This happened during one of my first interviews after graduating .  I was  so excited to have finished university and felt fairly optimistic about getting out there and finding a job I loved, although the truth was that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.  I was entertaining the idea of moving to London and was looking at jobs in marketing and publishing.  I managed to bag an interview for a job in sales with a big marketing firm in the middle of London and went in feeling super confident.  But it all went south during the interview.  I don’t know whether I was nervous or got a bit tongue tied, but the man who was interviewing me smirked the entire way through.  At the end he raised his eyebrows, scoffed and then said, “Sorry love, I don’t believe a single word of what you just said.”  I can’t remember what I did or said next – I must of repressed it – because I was absolutely mortified! I couldn’t get out of that room quick enough!  It was a good few months before I felt ready to go on another interview, and I didn’t apply for another job in sales after that.  Good thing too, I’d have been bloody awful at it!

How do you cope when your confidence takes a hit? 🙂