world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Category: BEAUTY

 Do I look 60?

A Saturday meander through Boots skincare department to look for a new face cream that would hopefully iron out some of those wrinkles …. And what an array to choose from. So when I was approached by an assistant with the offer of a sample and perhaps a test on the back of my hand I was drawn in … Like a moth to a flame (sucker!)   On closer inspection a new L’Oreal cream was being trialled with the divine and ever youthful  Helen Mirren as the figurehead. Proffering a wrinkly hand I was massaged first with a liquid serum (Glow Re-Activating Essence) followed by a calamine pink cream – L’Oreal Age Perfect Golden Age, Rose ReFortifying Day Cream. Who wouldn’t be drawn in with the promise of ‘re-cushions’ and ‘glow activating’ ? 

Ever the optimist I purchased in a frenzy,  hopeful that my next ‘new to market’ skin cream purchase would truly contain the elixir of youth. On returning home I headed straight to the L’Oreal website to check out the details … And there it was … Skincare for 60 year olds! How rude!

Anyway I have had it for a while now and have been using it diligently. The serum is cooling on the skin but does not feel particularly rich or nourishing, though it is flecked with tiny rose gold particles.  The cream is super thick and almost ‘stiff’ but moisturises well. The packaging and feel of the products are pure luxury but fortunately not the price… And like so many of these large companies nearly always on offer in some form or another at Boots. 

Results – no outbreak, moisturising and gorgeously glamorous packaging   Not sure I am a full convert and can probably be tempted by the next ‘big thing’ however having now finished the moisturising cream and being left with nearly half a bottle of the serum I will probably buy another of the moisturising day cream as I like my skincare to ‘match’ which is totally at odds with many beauty bloggers who have a plethora of products in their bathroom cabinets which they rotate throughout the week! Thinking what to wear takes long enough, introducing a choice of skincare to the fray would be a disaster!


I’ve got Specs Appeal!

  FortyTen not only saw a surfeit of new body hair but also an escalation in my loss of vision For several years I have fought the scourge of mid-life macular degeneration, resisting wearing glasses for as long as possible. I have super sized my phone, my kindle is set to a ridiculously large font AND I put my make-up on with my nose pressed to the mirror. Having seen Mr H become almost partially sighted overnight with the advent of his own spectaclage some years ago I thought my avoidance may postpone the inevitable. 
It is a cruel irony that as we reach that time of our lives, so called ‘mid-life’, to see anything we need an unforgiving and harsh retina-burning white light that catches and accentuates every wrinkle and unthreaded whisker! And further down the line when the shortness of our arms prohibits bringing menus into focus, the required  magnifying properties of glasses do just that …. Magnify those crows feet to Ostrich dimensions. 
And still the situation worsens. .. to further add to my shame at having to wear glasses, I am now so mightily hacked off at having to retrieve said specs from my bag each time I need to check the price/size of any item whilst shopping, (made all the more abhorrent as I battle with the finger-nipping case wherein they lie), I have invested in a spectacle chain. No longer am I channelling geek-chic, oh no, I am now chanelling doyenne of Radio 4, presenter and advocate of the fancy glass chain – Ms Jenni Murray. 
As I searched for something discrete and innocuous to keep my glasses near, I was surprisingly drawn to something altogether more fancy than what I had anticipated choosing. A full-blown Hinge & Brackett worthy bejewelled chain!!  I love the freedom it has afforded me, no longer am I cursing and muttering as I wend my way up and down the aisles of Waitrose, no more throwing tissues, gum and handbag detritus during a mad search for my glasses to key in my PIN  – no there they are, swinging above my ample bosom, ever present and handy, capturing any stray morsel that may drop as I am eating … Collecting crumbs, the adult version of a pelican bib … Oh how I hate getting old!! But wait …. Hot off the press from a very beautiful and hip ski seasonaire, these jewelled chains were ALL the rage in Morzine last year … I’m back to cool! 

Countdown to……FortyTen!


Those of you that know me well will know that my age is rather a fluid thing, mercurial in that few are ever able to really pin down my exact birthyear … I have been skirting the subject for at least the past decade however now that my gorgeous baby boys are hirsute young men my age manipulation makes their births a criminal offence so I must come clean ….. Yes, I am about to become FortyTen! There, I have said it (again), the first time was when I started this blog last Summer and ‘fessed up that perhaps my Facebook profile was not entirely truthful (and I have NO IDEA how to change it *she lied unashamedly). My (younger) brothers at last breathed a huge sigh of relief at no longer having to bear the burden of being the elder siblings and all the responsibilities that come with that!


But what does it mean? To most, my ‘coming of age’ will mean nothing but I must confess I am approaching the date (6/6 – I only just missed that Omen moniker!!) with a little hesitancy. For a year I have been slathering on serums with youth-giving properties beneath super rich moisturisers and of course have resisted losing too much (any) weight for fear of my face caving in on itself – nope my body is still very much Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) rather than Melissa Joan Hart (Serena Teenage Witch)!  A new beauty and health regimen has been adopted and paying closer attention to the many Ageless Beauty blogging gurus, has replaced my former monthly magazine addiction.  Tricks for concealing, contouring and correcting – these are my new “Three C’s” and can be attributed to not only anti-ageing skin unguents, my make up routine but also MY KNICKERS!

Mr H passed particular milestone birthday some considerable time ago and sadly there is not the distance between our dates of birth as I have purported in the past.  I did for some time flag him up as J Howard Marshall to my Anna Nicole Smith but alas the gap is closing and my audience less amenable to the idea that there is a huge chasm between our respective ages. To add further humiliation, he is faring so much better in the ageing stakes than me. But there were some inherent changes to him and his demeanour as he turned his half century, namely climbing up onto his own, personalized and super-sized soapbox to rage at the world …. About everything!   And what an assault on the senses that particular joy was as he dropped me to the station in the mornings, rahrahrah at 7.30am …..rahrahrah at 8pm collection time. This particular curmudgeonly affliction, according to many of my peers, seems to be  endemic amongst most male demi-centenarians. On the plus side, those sexy salt and pepper flecks at his temples became altogether more distinguished, his leather Loakes and pristinely pressed, only-ever-double-cuffed shirts looked all the more fitting for a gentleman of a certain age and there is something quite comforting going to bed with a man whose failing eyesight will mean that when he wakes in the morning he sees you in that flattering soft focus, blurred around the edges imagery normally afforded to the Hollywood starlets of a bygone era.

So what does it mean to me, this becoming 50? Will I be heading straight to a Cryogenic regeneration chamber? Taking up the 50-day burpee challenge? Rushing for Botox? Preparing a path to my door for a weekly Gin Tanker, with an artic’ full of Schweppes slimline tonic to follow behind? Donning comfy shoes and having my hair cut short as a ‘Hello Middle Age’ gesture!  No, not a chance! I have taken solace today in reading that 50 used to be thought of as the start to ‘old age’, fortunately not any more, that particular gem has been moved to 60-65 (phew!).  Besides I don’t feel middle-aged on the inside, I still want to read about the Kardashians (shallow, I know!), know the latest fashion and beauty trends, be blonde not grey, dance wildly, drink too much on occasion (though my recovery is closer to a fortnight these days), wear skirts above the knee and outrageously high heels – but not at the same time! Embrace Instagram, Twitter and the like.  And embrace totes amazeballs vocabulary too that will totally make your toes curl!  Grow old disgracefully in fact!

Come on FortyTen – bite me! (if you don’t know what that means check out your Urban dictionary chicas!)

Wake up and smell the roses ….


I have long read about and recognised the benefits of aromatherapy oils but had not realised how instantly soothing fragrances could be – until very recently, that is. Having lost my mother, feeling exhausted from grief, sleepless nights, mental note-making, eulogy writing, choosing music for the service and making sure that everything was right for the funeral, my head felt in a complete fug. Someone gifted me the most thoughtful ‘care package’ that included a delicious lavender body balm from Arbonne. Just opening the blue apothecary style jar and the waft of lavender eased my sore head and eyes. Whilst it is difficult to lift oneself from the melancholy of mourning, I was surprised at how much better I felt, instantly. The lavender really did soothe mind and soul.

Smells are evocative and can transport you to another time, delicious home-baking takes me instantly to my grandmother’s kitchen, the waft of the lightest rock cakes, sticky jam tarts with the shortest pastry cases, coconut dipped madelines and Sunday tea time.  Equally, so too  does the rather more unpleasant smell of boiled eggs! – I spent many an evening hand rolling boiled eggs in sausage-meat and then dipping them in egg and fresh breadcrumbs as part of a Scotch egg production line!  And worse still the embarrassment of carrying the sulphurous smelling eggs on the bus to my Saturday catering job in London’s Marylebone – as a teenager I lived in a permanent state of ‘blush’ and those eggs took my mortification to a whole new level.  So, the good and the bad – all from one kitchen.

Then away from the smells of home, there is fragrance, Aromatics Elixir was my mother’s signature scent and even now that heady combination of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and vetiver brings her back to me – nestled up to her while she soothed my broken heart or coached me through my next job interview; road trips with her as driver and me as navigator,belting out Brenda Lee songs; the joys of pregnancy and motherhood and all the other occasions that she would hold me close to her.  I smell Aromatics and instantly see her gorgeous red hair and her beaming smile.  Even my children, when they were very small would be out and someone would pass wearing Aromatics or we would pass the Clinique counter in a store and they would say ‘I can smell Nanna!’

Like all the women in my family,  I am a serial monogamist in my relationships with fragrance.  My very first grown up experience with perfume was Anais Anais, sweet, pretty, feminine and perfect for a teenager.  Progressing by way of Trussardi and Claude Montana to Calyx by Prescriptives in the late 80’s.   I wore this on my wedding day and still, 25 years on, it is my favourite scent.  Despite Prescriptives being no more – thank the perfume Gods, Clinique relaunched Calyx early last year. In the interim I moved between Caleche for the Winter and Prada Infusion d’Iris in the Summer, both have Iris as their heart note and the same can be said of Calyx – this is the common denominator of all three scents, although they are very different.  I have a ‘type’ of fragrance, fresh, powdery and soft but distinctive. (The Trussardi and Claude Montana were a deviation from type, powerful, cloying, sweet, nausea inducing! but I can be forgiven as I was looking for something individual)

Which brings me to fragrance layering, one of the greatest compliments I ever receive is if I am told  ‘Ooh you always smell nice‘, I inwardly do a little jig … But of course when you become accustomed to a fragrance you often can’t smell it on yourself. I do have a propensity to ‘go mad’ with my spraying, so if you meet me and I knock your socks off with too much perfume – do tell me!   It helps to create that wafting quality when you use both bath and skin products before adding a final spritz of perfume – always on the skin not on your clothes (it will go stale and may also stain your clothes!) but using a combination of bath/shower and moisturising products will definitely get your scent to linger longer.

And then there was the Virgin Vie incident. Not normally a party plan kind of girl, I offered to help out a friend. As a party hostess you were ‘gifted’ something as recompense for plying your peers with copious amounts of alcohol and an adult crisp. I was rather stuck on what to choose, so they chose for me and gave me some bath products with an Oceanic fragrance.  My youngest son who had an olfactory awareness beyond his years came into the bathroom post shower declaring ‘Ooh mummy, can you smell fish?’  Perhaps more Oceanic than I was ready for!

Ever had any scent mishaps? and what is your favourite scent ever?

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