Thursday, 27 February 2014

Why your health is never half price

This is going to be a rather more personal post than I'm used to writing. I decided if just one reader thinks twice having seen it, I can more than get over my issues with sharing...

Earlier this year, I alluded to the fact I've been undergoing cosmetic dentistry - and that it wasn't going smoothly (understatement of the year alert). My wonky teeth have always really bothered me, but having stupidly refused NHS orthodontics as a vain teen, my only option for fixing them in my 20s was to pay privately (usually in adulthood in the UK that's your only option for minor cosmetic changes). Anyway, it took me years and a cashed savings bond to be able to do it and in late 2012 I found what looked like a great offer through a London clinic who specialised in invisible braces. It was still a LOT of money, but approximately 2/3 of what other clinics had quoted me for.

My last pair of invisible braces from only halfway through the full treatment

And here's the lesson: if an offer is even verging on looking too good to be true and it involves your health in any way, shape or form, DON'T DO IT. And whatever you do don't pay up front for it. And if you do - do it on a credit card as they have more layers of protection for your money than you likely realise.

Unfortunately I did none of these things and 1.5 years later I've found myself in the unenviable position of having paid a lot of money only for the company to have gone bankrupt, stopping my treatment midway and making it incredibly difficult to get a refund. Once a company has gone into administration, they have no money left to give you back - your only option is to hope, if you paid by card, that the card issuer refunds you.

Now, you might think 'a "great offer"? Surely there were the alarm bells!' - but let me be clear on one thing. I'm not the kind of person who makes reckless or impulse decisions on things like this. I'm by no means wealthy and a spend of this size gives me a lot of anxiety (possibly an even bigger understatement than the above). I did my research, read countless reviews... But at the time I signed up, none of the problems that caused the bankruptcy of the company had occurred. I assumed the clinic was able to offer a lower price because they were taking a sausage factory approach, specialising in one form of treatment (a suspicion confirmed by some of the more disgruntled reviews). I could cope with that, I didn't need hand-holding through the process, I quite wanted to be in and out within ten minutes at each appointment. So in a nutshell: I'm not that easily duped. This in mind, it shows you why I think it's so important to share this all now. 

There is no cutting corners on costs that involve your health. If something seems too cheap, well...

And here comes a second warning about daily discount deal websites. You know the ones; they advertise daily deals on products, services, experiences etc and bombard you relentlessly with more emails than you could ever possibly read. I'm deliberately not naming names so I can't be hauled across the coals but lets just say the one I have in mind has probably emailed you a few times too! Well, this particular site advertised this offer too, although that wasn't how I came across it - but just remember: your treatment isn't with them. They aren't concerned with whether or not a service is reputable. A more recent case study is that of my sister who got a special deal on professional teeth whitening through one of these sites... Months later and her gums are STILL bleeding. Oh and her teeth are no more whiter than they were, it lasted a few days.

And like I say, if just one person reads this all the way through and thinks twice about one of those too-good-to-be-true deals - that's enough for me. Don't make my mistake...

Although my teeth are straighter than they were, there's still a lot to do...
this is probably as much as you'll ever see of them in a photo!

CiCi x

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Outfit: dogs, red shoes and a full skirt

I'm a big fan of something that I almost never mention on this blog... the clue is on today's skirt. Side note: I've bought a lovely full pleated skirt to continue on in my mission to branch out from pencil skirts. And I rather enjoy it.

retro full skirt red heels

Jumper: H&M
Skirt: Louche (from Joy)
Belt: magazine freebie years ago (!)
Shoes: Topshop

Can't quite make out what that pattern is... look a bit closer...

Dogs! I love them and I'm very happy to be wearing them. This skirt is in danger of being a bit twee but I think the classy monochrome palette and pairing with some bright red kitten heels helps grow it up a bit.

And on the theme of dogs, I'm very excited to have tickets for Crufts in a fortnight's time! When I say I'm a big fan of dogs, I mean that put in a huge event centre filled with hundreds, maybe even thousands of dogs, I might combust with happiness. But if I don't, I'll hopefully come back with lots of cute photos to share. Hope my readers are dog people...

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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Outfit: this old thing

While I was pondering the likelihood of stopping myself from expanding my pencil skirt collection (as I promised I would this year), it suddenly dawned on me that several years ago I did actually buy a basic flared skirt with the wild but misguided aim of creating a classic 50s silhouette. Unfortunately, I didn't feel comfortable in it at all - at the time, I thought wearing it made me look like an overgrown doll, whereas my wiggly pencil skirts made me feel sophisticated and shapely... and like I was older than 10.

But now, years later (and older!), perhaps it is the time for embracing the full skirt... and maybe all it needed all along was the right kind of styling to feel ladylike rather than childlike!

Cardigan: Louche
Top: H&M
Skirt: H&M (old)
Shoes: Clarks

Maybe I can get the hang of this... Although, I am not keen on plain black things, so hello, new things! (Any excuse.)

Oh and PS, for those of you who caught the mention (and fabulous photography) of my new camera in a previous post and long-term readers that have spotted the significant difference in outfit post photo quality... say hello to the new love of my life!

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Nice nails: nail art even I can do

In early January, I promised I would try to take better care of my nails. It neatly coincided with (ok, was heavily influenced by) L's acquirement of a nail art book and brush set... so not only have my nails been well looked after, they've also been a little bit exciting! So here's a quick photo post for my favourite styles from this year so far.

I've started with my favourite - wing tips! This was incredibly laborious due to the number of layers you have to wait for to dry and the precise shapes needed, but I received endless compliments on them and even though close up they were a bit messy, from a distance no one seemed to be able to tell.

The one that started it all, with tutorial 

These are intended to echo lingerie lace... I'm not sure I buy that but they are pretty/unusual

The classically vintage contrasting half-moons. I tried to do these without a stencil (after a botched attempt with little stickers) and found it quite tricky... next time, definitely with one! There's something about this one that made me want to look at them all the time.

And a guest hand - L's space nails!

I may just put up a how-to for the half moons, having now worked out how not to do it.

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Saturday, 8 February 2014

Photo diary: tracing old steps

Just over a year ago, B and I enjoyed our third date which involved a freezing cold, but very lovely, walk by the river after Sunday lunch at a nearby pub. I even posted about the outfit choice with a particular emphasis on how to look nice and like you actually have a figure and are not, in fact, a vast lump of knitwear. This is very important for a third date, I feel.

Anyway, a happy year and one sunny Sunday afternoon later, we revisited the pub and surrounding green spaces - again in the cold and crazy wind (and you'll see this year's outfit choice below) - but this time armed with my brand new SLR camera (another resolution kept!) to see what it could do. We took a few shots and I was seriously impressed with the quality - why it took me so long to invest in a decent camera I just don't know. We also had B's original Polaroid with us, but more on that to come in another post!

I like this pub a lot - it serves good food, has great big windows letting lots of light and views of the river in and is usually fairly quiet. Quite a classic Cambridge pub. It's even nicer that it has history for B and I :)

Despite the wind sending my hair in about a million different, but equally untidy, directions, I salvaged one shot where half of it wasn't sticking upright to show you this year's winter walk outfit. (But if you look closely, you can still see a few determined strands.)

And yes, it is the return of the knee-high sock layers...

Beret: Primark
Coat: ASOS (old and missing several buttons!)
Check dress: Oasis
Socks: Tesco
Boots: Clarks

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Makeup: Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square

I haven't done a make-up review for a while, largely because I've kind of plateaued with my purchases recently. But this lip pencil was a Christmas present that is still doing me proud. I had been meaning to try a red version of this Nars classic ever since purchasing this nude pink.

It's very bright and pulls ever so slightly more orange on me than these pictures are showing, but if you're after a very warm, matte red this is the lipstick for you. It's a very similar colour to Mac So Chaud, but with a nicer, less drying (although still somewhat) texture and easier application.

Nars Red Square

Nars Red Square

  • Feels lovely on - hardly notice you're wearing it
  • Incredibly easy to apply because of the pencil shape
  • Strong colour, wears pretty well
  • Expensive (£17.50)
  • Shows up lip imperfections - if you're even slightly flakey, it'll tell the whole world
  • A bit drying after a few hours - a primer is a good idea
  • Requires a sharpener when run down (and anything but a Nars one will waste too much product)

Well worth trying if you can afford it and want to expand your matte orange-red lipstick collection (what, doesn't everyone have one of these?).

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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Outfit: the Modcloth challenge

A bit of a break from the norm today... I was contacted by the good people at Modcloth and asked to put together a look based around one piece of their suggestion for their Uniquely You challenge.

I've never mentioned Modcloth on this blog before, but that's because I don't allow myself to ever think of them, much less look on their site - unfortunately they're based in the US and I love nearly everything they sell. If my spendthrift online shopping fingers had their way, they'd have racked up hundreds of £s in custom charges by now!

Anyway, finally an excuse to window shop. Their featured piece is...

Evening of Extravagance dress, Modcloth

And as I thought this dress had a touch of the 50s about it with its big full skirt, so I've styled it accordingly... mostly because once I'd seen this hat, everything else had to follow.

Uniquely You - 50s style

And now, I just have to resist buying everything I've picked here. That's the real Modcloth challenge! There are some shops selling Lime Crime in the UK though - online at least... I think it's about time I tried one of those lipsticks ;)

Also, I'd never used Polyvore before, but it's a lot of fun!

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