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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A Mother's Love...

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With Mother’s Day looming it’s that time of the year where we all start reflecting. Thoughts of childhood memories, times of laughter and everything our mothers have done for us and helped us to achieve.

We often take it for granted, but on that one Sunday a year in March we stop to think a little and appreciate all that we have.

Just how far will a mothers love go?

Diane Blood sits nervously, fidgeting with her head low in front of a large group of students. “This is the first time I’ve been in front of so many people since 1999”, she says.

Twenty years ago she was used to this kind of attention, the press intrigued by her erratic life.

Diane is an ordinary but unconventional mother-of-two adolescent boys, Liam aged fifteen and Joel at the delicate age of eleven.

Their father is Stephen Blood whom she met at sixteen while at school, marrying him eight years later in 1991.

It sounds like the perfect nuclear family. It isn’t. In fact, you are to be told that Stephen died of meningitis at just thirty, before his children were even born.

The couple had been trying for a child for some time before his unexpected and immediate death.

Diane comments that he would have been thrilled to have children, although he would have liked to have been around to raise them.

She took the decision to take her husband’s sperm while he was comatose in hospital, placing it in a fertility clinic for later use.

After three months of grievance for her husband, Diane asked and was denied the usage of his sperm – there was an issue of whether Stephen had given consent and the sperm was to be destroyed.

Horrified, Diane sought the legal help of Michael Fordham, now a close family friend and godfather to her first born, resulting in a monumental legal battle.

“I played everything by the book all my life”, she says.

Although supportive, her and Stephen’s family had their concerns. Concerns for her mentality and the fear of bankruptcy, which could result in her losing both her home and life savings, everything her and Stephen had worked so hard to achieve.

“I couldn’t have walked away and spent the rest of my life not knowing, to me it just wasn’t an option”, she says.

However, pressure loomed as she lost her first legal battle. The choice was to call it a day without a financial penalty of up to £30,000 or to appeal. Determined, Diane chose the latter.

With the choice to lift her anonymity after the first case came the intrusion of the press. A choice she made in order to raise public awareness and to gain their support.

Diane reflects on her instability during this time, listening out for the persistent ringing of her phone as she sat upon the floor in her lounge rocking backwards and forwards.
“I’m less emotional now”, she says.

Diane won on appeal due to European law and admirably her case set precedent with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Act.

On reflection, Diane states it was an entirely selfish battle, she wanted children and did not think of the impact her determination would have on society, or the inspiration that she would become.

Defensively, she says: “I wanted the baby in spite of the fact he had died, not because he had”.

Her persistent and brave actions have encouraged other women to fight. Beth Warren followed in her footsteps as she got into her own and rather similar legal battle.

Diane cried at the declaration of Beth’s successful judgement. Due to her Article 8 rights (Right to respect for private and family life) in the European Convention on Human Rights Act she was now legally allowed to attempt her own family.

“We are massively privileged, there is an awful lot of people who don’t succeed”, she says.

Diane believes that her own and others cases have lessened the societal prejudice when it comes to IVF treatment. That the publicity from her case has raised awareness and changed ethical opinions.

“It’s not damaging to society”, she says.

Since the ordeal, Diane has focused wholeheartedly on her own family, raising her ambitious and vibrant sons who have desires to work in computing and science – something neither her or Stephen were particularly interested in.

The boys know everything about their father she says, told as soon as they began questioning. They still visit his grave on special occasions and the home is surrounded in pictures, his memory far from forgotten.

Diane has also continue to work extensively to raise awareness of meningitis, participating in charity events and giving public talks, her campaigns continue.

As Mother’s Day looms, the family prepare for a quiet meal this Sunday to celebrate all that they have achieved together.

As Stephen’s mother looks into her grandson Liam’s eyes and their long lashes, she sees her own boys peering back at her.

Never underestimate a mothers love or determination when it comes to her children.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Incorporating Vintage Into Your Daily Style


Incorporating Vintage Into Your Daily Style

A dedication to vintage clothing takes a considerable amount of time and effort but it’s certainly worth it.

You must prepare yourself mentally to trawl endlessly through vintage, thrift and charity shops for your prized pieces. People who snub charity shops for vintage clothing are the worst and these are often where hidden gems are to be found!

Firstly, it’s always good to have an idea of what you’re looking for before venturing out.  If new to these types of shops they can tend to be a bit overwhelming, leading to frustration and alternative purchases. Oops.

However, when you do begin rampantly purchasing be sure to not overdo it when it comes to getting dressed! It is better to incorporate these unique pieces than swamp yourself in them. Avoid copying styles, be inspired and make them ’you’. You want to compliment your own style, not try and force it upon yourself!

Always keep an eye out for classic pieces and designer brands, charity shops tend to be thwart with them so be keen and persist. If in doubt, ask the shop assistant or quickly Google the brand.

When browsing double check your items. As vintage clothing is ‘pre-loved’ there are often pieces that are slightly damaged and even those beyond your tender and loving repair, if that is the case then be strong and leave them on the hanger.

Don’t just think of clothing but also the use of accessories. If it is classic, go wild with statement pieces and if it is not, then leave your retro outfit to simply do the talking.

The best thing about vintage clothing and shopping? No one else has it and it is fun! You’ll soon collect a variety of one-of-a-kind pieces, often for a fraction of the cost of the high street!

Do you enjoy shopping for vintage items? What is your favourite piece?

Stephanie xox

The Body Shop ~ Beauty With Heart

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We believe true beauty comes from the heart. For us, beauty is much more than a pretty face. It's about feeling good and doing good, too.

Beauty With Heart is the latest celebration of the work from The Body Shop. It details their products and how they care and support those around them.

Against Animal Testing

In 1996, 4 million people had signed for The Body Shop Against Animal Testing Campaign to the European Commission. By 1998, testing of cosmetic products on animals have been banned in the United Kingdom.

By 2013, 1 million signatures had been gained for the Cruelty-Free International Pledge. This calls on governments and regulators to ban animal testing worldwide.

Support Community Fair Trade

The Body Shop continue to support 25 suppliers with their community fair trade commitment and ethos and have done since 1987. They actively seek out small-scale farmers with expertise in the field, offering them good trading practices and prices for their produce. Labeling themselves as 'the pioneers of fair trade in beauty'. 

Around £200,000 of their sales from Christmas gifts have gone on to build five schools in India, Nepal, Ghana and Honduras.

Activate Self Esteem

The Body Shop have had numerous successful ventures when it comes to raising the self esteem of people nationwide. Their work as headline sponsor with Teenage Cancer Trust in collaboration with the Royal Albert Hall Concert Series has raised over £500,000 for the charity.

They also raised £18,273 in store over three days in May 2013 with store members celebrating teen spirit by dressing up as teenagers! These are just a few of their many fun ventures to raise awareness and money for good causes.

Defend Human Rights

The Body Shop Foundation has raised £319,851 towards 39 human rights groups. These include groups such as The Big Issue Foundation which began by seed funding from the foundation in 1991, the Stop Violence in the Home global campaign of 2003 to assist and support those affected by domestic violence and the Yes Yes Yes! To Safe Sex campaign in partnership with the MTV Staying Alive Foundation which raised over two million pounds to educate people about safe sex and support those affected by HIV and aids.

Their biggest campaign to date is the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People in which 24 countries pledged and in which 7,044,278 voices were heard. These are only a selection of the campaigns started or participated by The Body Shop and they continue to work with many charities and organisations.

Protect the Planet

The Body Shop fund a variety of environmental and animal protection groups. Their efforts have raised £120,051 for 24 environmental and £142,987 for 29 animal protection groups with their Sumatra Jungle Trek raising £40,000 for the Orangutan Foundation.

This year alone, volunteers have given 3,470 hours of their time to support The Body Shop and its causes.

It appears that beauty is much more than just a pretty face!

For more information on The Body Shop and Beauty with a Heart  view the full infographic here.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Pastels for Spring

Pastels for Spring

Lent has begun and we are on the countdown to Easter. Expect brighter days, cuter fashion and lots of chocolate eggs at the end of it.

Pastel colours are creeping their way back in and can be wonderfully fun if you dress them correctly. On the high street you will see an array of cute knits, light jeans and delicate accessories.

Inspired, I decided to create a quick little Spring time look, full of cool tones and pretty colours. To start we have the Light Pink Layered Shirt (£30) from River Island, not only lovely with its layered design and structured shoulders but it is also smart and practical with cuffed sleeves and delicate button detailing.

Coloured jeans are always fun, especially if teamed with the right tops and accessories. These light Mint Green Skinny Jeans (£19.99) from New Look are a cute alternative to the dull winter of traditional blue and black denim combinations, time to bring your wardrobe back to life!

Team the blouse and jeans with the girly Pink Pastel Lace Up Boots (£32) from Dorothy Perkins, it appears even military inspired boots can be beautiful now!

Lastly, the accessories! We have the Light Green Cat Eye Sunglasses (£10)  and the Gold Tone Gem Stone Stud Earrings (£3) both from River Island. These cool glasses have warm tinted lenses, perfect for reflecting the colour of the boots while the pastel-hued gem stone embellished earrings reflect all the other colours shown in the outfit. Your Spring time look is complete!

What do you think of the pastel trend? Will you be participating this Spring? 

Stephanie xox

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Brow Arch March

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Department store Debenhams and beauty company Benefit Cosmetics have teamed together against the fight for cancer!

The support of the collaborative duo is in aid of the Brow Arch March initiative, a nationwide fundraising event for charitable organisation Look Good Feel Better.

This will be the first annual Brow Arch March and the charity have hopes to raise over £150,000 across the United Kingdom.

The event, dubbed as “the gal’s answer to Movember”, will last throughout March and is available at fifty Benefit Cosmetics Brow Bars within Debenhams stores.

For a £5 donation, beauticians will wax and shape your eyebrows, for a fraction of the normal price of £11.50.

Funds will be used to support and raise awareness to the visible side effects people face during their cancer treatment.

Actress Kara Tointon is also leading a walk on Sunday the 9th of March in London as spokesperson for the event.

“Sadly, cancer affects the lives of so many and the charity plays an important part in helping to regain a sense of control and normality”, she says.

To participate visit or ring your desired Debenhams store to book an appointment, one hundred per cent of  proceeds from the initiative will go to Look Good Feel Better.

Fashion Review: Metallic Kitty Jumper

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This Doll Collar Embroidered Kitten Jumper* is just adorable.

The animal faced and print fad appears to be making a comeback and although I have not rushed to participate I could not resist this sweet feline faced jumper from Everbuying.

Everbuying is an impressive website, offering an impressive variety of fashion, technology, beauty and home items . Not only is there a lot to choose (and trawl through) from but the site is also constantly updated with new items so be sure to not close your links when wanting to make a purchase!

Their jumper selection is massive so the search bar and an idea of what you are actually looking for comes in very handy!

This jumper features a golden metallic stitched cat face, delicate metallic stitching dotted all over and metallic cuffs. It has attached a white Peter Pan collar fastened to the back with a discrete button.

However, do be sure to undo the button carefully as my dear friend Lauren of The Original Blonde Journalist was slightly enthusiastic when taking the jumper off and managed to pop it off! Thank god for quick sewing fixes eh!

Considering the detail this jumper proves both cute and sophisticated in navy blue and not only offers a flattering fit but look!

What do you think of animal faced or print clothing? Do you like the addition of the Peter Pan collar? 

Stephanie xox

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Women of the Oscars 2014

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 (Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior, Emma Watson in Vera Wang, Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace, Lupita Nyong'o in Prada, Lady Gaga in Versace and Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé)

The Academy Awards is a renowned event and something many of us keep an eye on as it comes around each year. Be it to see our favourite actors and actresses picking  up their statuettes, to honour the hardworking directors and design teams of the film industry or to witness the beautiful display of fashionable gowns of those gracing the red carpet.

For the 2014 Oscars we saw lots of neutral and pastel colours on display, proving to be simply glamorous as spring creeps back.

Jennifer Lawrence appeared bold and beautiful in her peplum Christian Dior,  a more modern approach to the typical strapless gown. However, the elegance of the outfit did not rub off on her, taking her second tumble of the Oscars waving to the crowds upon the red carpet. In her typical and beloved Jennifer fashion she shook it off and continued in hysterics.

Emma Watson was sultry in metallic Vera Wang, teamed with red lips. However, Kate Hudson took it to the next level, stern-faced in her silky and plunging Atelier Versace dress. The delicate cape draping and striking colour make this dress simply breathtaking.

Lupita Nyong'o awed also in her pale blue custom Prada, in a gown that has been dubbed as the 'Cinderella dress'. Although I find it a bit risqué for Disney royalty myself, with its daring and plunging neckline. However, grace bites back with the delicate and lengthy flow of the gown.

Lady Gaga toned it down in metalic Versace. The pink Art Deco gown with the addition of a lengthy chiffon scarf seemed very understated and pretty for the outrageous singer. Oh wait, she teamed it with ridiculously high platformed shoes, hello Gaga...

Last, we have Cate Blanchett in her beige and (perhaps overly) embellished Armani Privé dress. Like Nyong'o gown we have a beautiful hem and flow, the ladies of the Oscars certainly wowed this year.