Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Why Cos Is My New Favourite Shop

It's taken me long enough to cotton on to the not-so-secret secret shop of the fashion elite, but I am now hook, line and sinker for Cos.

From classic Breton stripe basic tees to statement circle skirts and killer dresses, Cos is where I've been spending my hard-earned cash recently. I'm a now total Cos-head and keep telling people to shop there.

Cos to me used to be very minimalist, very monochrome and very boxy (and therefore not very me!) but now there's colour, and fitted styles and just so many covetable pieces. All of which have the edge on places like Zara and Topshop Unique as the quality and finish is just spot on while the prices are still affordable.

Dress - Cos (similar)
Bag - Market stall in Venice
Sandals - Birkenstock

This sunshine yellow dress is my current new obsession from Cos and it always makes me feel happy (and amazingly comfy) when I throw it on. It's unbelievably easy to wear AND it has pockets, what's not to love?!

Have you started a love affair with Cos yet? Try it, you might like love it.


By Carina Sullivan

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Tried & Tested: Almased Two Week Detox

Established over 25 years ago Almased is a meal replacement powder from Germnay made from fermented soya, probiotic yogurt and enzyme-rich honey. It is gluten-free, vegetarian, and contains no added sugars, preservatives, artificial, flavours, fillers or stimulants and works by the synergistic effect the ingredients have on each other, boosting metabolism and reducing fat. They contacted me and asked if I'd like to try their two week detox challenge, and I thought why the hell not?

You replace three meals a day for the first 2-3 days with a glass of water, semi skimmed, almond or soya milk mixed with five table spoons of Almased, then add a light lunch for the remainder of the 14 day detox. The system is designed to promote health and wellbeing, boost energy levels and maintain lower weight levels. I kept a diary over the two weeks and you you may be surprised with the results...

Day 1
First taste... Ok, not going to lie, it wasn't the delicious milkshake it first looks like, but it's not half bad. It's very, very malty in taste, but otherwise a pretty neutral flavour. I tried it with 1% milk and then unsweetened almond milk, of which the milk was a clear winner for me. So nothing all day but three shakes sounds terrible, but the weirdest thing about that first day? Not hungry. At all! I was full all day and even had to remind myself to have one for lunch. Although the smell of Mark's bacon sandwich for breakfast was tough.

Day 2
I woke up slightly hungry, but not as bad as I thought I would be. The only problem was late afternoon when I was running on fumes. But, I did manage to sit opposite my loving fiancé as he devoured a Five Guys burger while I sipped a diet coke and then went home to a shake. By this point I was fantasising about Monday's lunch. And chewing! Man, I miss chewing.

Day 3 
I'm now onto a new phase and get to eat one meal a day. Ideally you should eat a healthy, low carb lunch and still no snacks. Weirdly I feel ok until lunch and even avoid the dreaded tuck shop that is my work and all the Monday treats that are flying around. Lunch, glorious lunch, was sushi from Abokado. It has never tasted so good. I ate slowly and savoured every bite. The only problem was 2 hours after eating lunch I started to feel light headed and dizzy, but after having lots of water this passed pretty quickly and I felt good. 

Day 4
By this point I'm feeling bloody good and have lost 5lbs, which really spurs me on. The shakes don't really improve in taste, so I try adding cocoa powder to jazz things up, but I am still very rarely hungry. I'm actually craving healthy food for lunches, and I'm in Abokado so much I think the guy behind the till thinks I have a crush on him.

Day 7
Tonight I have a 30th birthday party to go to, but instead of having a shake for lunch I have a very light chicken salad and then have a mini pizza at the restaurant that evening and one glass of wine. It's surprisingly easy to stay on track and not carb binge. In an Italian restaurant I take this as a huge victory!

Day 10 
I've gone back to the shakes straight up, with no cocoa powder, but lots of ice. This helps me pretend it's a frapppuccino. Light lunches and no snacks are still easy to stick to. The only thing I miss is fruit, that's tough. I also still need my tea with milk and a sweetener. A girl can only give up so many vices!

Day 14
Final day of the detox and I'm feeling great. So great I may actually keep this up! While it is a bit dull having the same thing and not being able to eat dinner with Mark or go out to restaurants in the evening I think this two week detox is worth doing. Another plus is I've lost 8lbs which isn't too shabby either.

If you'd like to try the Almased two week detox for yourself you can buy the powder and find out more on their site - www.almased.co.uk

I'd like to point out that although they sent me the product to try this isn't a sponsored post and all views are my own and only represent my two week trial.


By Carina Sullivan

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Blake's back at the Cannes Film Festival 2014

Talk about coming back with a bang (and a beautiful husband)! Blake Lively has made her red carpet comeback with aplomb at the Cannes Film Festival 2014. From dreamy burgundy Gucci to sleek monochrome Gucci - we're noting the theme, Blake - she looked amazing and incredibly polished.

To start her campaign for red carpet queen at the festival, she started with a dreamy burgundy Gucci gown and accessorised with her secret weapon - her amazing hair. The slicked back yet undone plait was just right with this sleek column dress with an angular neckline and thigh-high split. A great start.

Next up was this sci-fi-tastic Chanel dress. While it is beautiful, it's not my favourite however the fact that Blake pulls it off so well and that she made it looks so effortless it's worth adding to the list. Not to mention the fact that there were probably 10+ other starlets who would have been scrambling to be seen in this dress first. So Blake wins on that fact alone.

If you have a custom made monochrome Gucci gown and Ryan Reynolds on your arm you don't need much else to make you the Queen of the Cannes red carpet. As Blake proves right here.

It seems way too early to call Blake as the best dressed of Cannes 2014 but come on, who else is in the running to take the crown? Although there are some Cannes red carpet big hitter who may still have something in the bag...Diane Kruger, Eva Longoria, Marion Cotillard...?


By Carina Sullivan

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Vasculitis Awareness Month

I'd like to move away from my usual topics today to tell you about something very close to my heart. I can guess that most of you have never even heard of Vasculitis, and those who have probably only know it from House, but my mum has been living with this incurable disease for over five years.

What is Vaculitis, who can get it and what are the warning signs?

The different types of Vasculitis are classified as to whether they mainly affect small, medium sized or large blood vessels. The main issue with this vascular disease is that it will effect and attack other parts of the body, the most serious being the heart, lungs and the kidneys, and if the Vasculitis is left undiagnosed and untreated it can lead to organ damage and even organ failure.This is sadly what happened to my mum, who now lives with kidney failure, amongst other illness caused by Vasculitis.

Typically the initial warning signs have fluctuating symptoms including tiredness, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, fevers, sweats and weight loss. Then there are features of a particular part of the body being affected. This is obvious if it is a skin rash.

Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Wegener’s) and Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Churg-Strauss) affect the nose, sinuses and ears with nasal stuffiness, bleeding, sinus pain and deafness. Lung involvement could cause cough, wheeze, coughing blood or breathlessness. Kidney damage has no obvious symptoms until the kidneys are badly damaged, but can be detected at an early stage by a simple urine 'dip stick' test.

The sad truth is anyone can have Vasculitis, it's not contagious but something in your genetics. It is usually triggered by a general virus you've had, in my mum's case it was an ear infection, and can be overlooked by patients and doctors.

Nearly 20,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with a type of Vasculitis each year and there is no cure, only ways to manage it which means a lifetime on harsh medication.

Find out more by watching this video presented by Dr. Hilary Jones.

How can you help?

The main way you can help is to raise awareness of Vasculitis and make sure you know the warning signs so maybe you could spot it early in yourself or those close to you.

The other way you can help is to donate to a Vasculitis charity, such as the Lauren Currie Twilight Foundation, which is dedicated to helping those effected and their families and to fund research into a cure.

My mum's story

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, and please spread the word and the awareness of Vasculitis this May.


By Carina Sullivan