Turning 46

I truly embrace growing older and consider it a privilege. I’m healthier than ever and enjoying success in many areas of life. A lot has changed in this past year, most for the better. I hate to keep harping on about it but not drinking has contributed massively to lots of positive changes. I truly consider it as a better choice I’m making, not something I am depriving myself of. All the things that you imagine alcohol to alleviate – like anxiety and stress – I’ve realized were actually caused by drinking, or at least exacerbated. I feel more confident than ever, and deeply connected with my emotions and the universe. I’ve read a lot too over the summer – meditation, affirmations and universal energy are all new concepts to me – but I truly believe in their power after practicing them, being more open minded, experiencing real results and receiving the abundance I asked for. Certain people have entered my life recently who have become incredibly important – I may not even have noticed these people a year ago. It’s funny what can happen when you consciously embrace situations and opportunity, instead of relying on chance and luck.

Top – ASOS  (love it in lilac here – I’m wearing a US8 it is oversized) // JeansHudson // Shoes – Sam Edleman // Bag – Alexander McQueen

Melanoma Awareness Month

May is melanoma awareness month. I am, unfortunately, aware of melanoma every month. Around the age of 41 I noticed a new mole appear on the front of my left thigh. I had it checked at my annual skin exams and was reassured it was all normal. Last year, February 2015, my dermatologist decided to biopsy it. It came back as an in situ melanoma. I was shocked and horrified that a) my initial concerns had been ignored, and that it had taken 3 years to get a biopsy after naively believing my dermatologist that all was ok, and b) that I had cancer – a potentially lethal cancer if it had not been caught when it was.

Cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers. Melanoma accounts for only 1% of skin cancer cases but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths.

Here are the American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the United States for 2016:

  • About 76,380 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 46,870 in men and 29,510 in women).
  • About 10,130 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 6,750 men and 3,380 women).

The rates of melanoma have been rising for at least 30 years.

Rates of skin cancer in the UK have risen by 360% since the 1970s.

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Much of this increased rate can be attributed to more vacations abroad to sunnier climates since the 1970s. I remember, as a teen, baking in Portugal and Tenerife with no spf, and even using baby oil to ‘intensify’ my tan. Two weeks in the sun each year meant making the most of it, and peeling shoulders were almost a badge of honor. As a young adult in the City I would lay on the sun bed at the gym after a work out. I know when the damage was done.

I am now fastidious about spf application – nothing less than factor 50 and I still have to be careful. I still love the sun, but now spend most of my time in the shade, where it is still possible to get too much sun! I really don’t want to preach – just raise the issue – especially as the UK is enjoying glorious sunshine right now. I expect there are many red faces in the office today. Wearing a facial sunscreen on your neck and face is also the best way to prevent aging – so there is really no reason not to!

This is how my thigh looked after having a tiny mole removed. They have to take a football shaped piece of skin off to ensure the margins were clear.

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Today I still have a scar about 2 inches long that is a constant reminder to use that spf.

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I thank my lucky stars that my mole was somewhere visible, even though it had none of the attributes of a melanoma – irregular shape, color or bleeding – my gut knew it was abnormal. If it had been on my back I may never have seen it to raise concerns. I am also thankful that when I moved to Atlanta friends told me how important an annual skin check is – never something that had even occurred to me in the UK.

These days I invest in a couple of rash guards each year, and wear them over my bikini in the sun. These from Athleta are my favorite as they have a zip a the neckline – making them easier on and off and more flattering. They come in lots of great colors too – I have the black and the purple in a medium.

athleta rash guard

On a final note – my 8 year old son recently had a mole removed for biopsy. It was clear, but I now take both children for annual skin checks too. Always better to be safe…melanoma doesn’t discriminate.

 

 

 

Potatoes?

I realized that yesterday was my 4 year blogversary! I’ve picked one of my very first posts to share – and it’s not a fashion related one either! Thank you all for your continued support and here’s to another 4 years!

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One of the difficult decisions to be made when starting a blog is what to call it.  I thought I had some inspired ideas but when it came to getting the url it appeared others had had the same idea. So when I named this blog Poppy’s Style I was not only trying to make it personal to me and therefore hopefully more unique, but also ‘style’ was used to be all encompassing regarding my style of doing things as well as my fashion style. I want to take the opportunity in this blog to talk about all things I have done, dream to do and even things I have questioned doing…in addition to my passion for fashion.

After turning 40 last year I think I went through one of those ‘oh my goodness I haven’t achieved anything with my life’ moments.  Yes I know I have 2 brilliant children and a fabulous man but what about my achievements as an individual? As I looked back all the way to starting secondary school (middle school age for US readers) certain themes emerged.  I’ve always been driven to do my best, never doubting my academic abilities, but I get bored easily and need variety. In my career, before my current role, I’ve never stayed with a company for more than 2 years – my resume looks awful due to the number of companies listed on there…it took me a while to realize the grass is never greener and actually the corporate life just isn’t for me.  I tried to stick with it as I was driven to keep getting the higher salary, bigger office and better title but as often happens the added responsibility, hours etc. just didn’t make me happy especially with 2 little ones.  I wanted to be ‘SuperMom’ but my heart wasn’t in it and my enthusiasm for work was dwindling which meant I actually wasn’t doing a very good job.

Sometimes I think I ‘failed’ in the corporate world and often wonder what career would have suited me better?  I remember career counseling at school when I was in my early teens and I always dreamt of being a Doctor – a pediatrician actually, but maybe my fear of failures stopped me from pursuing it as only really smart people become Doctors no? So instead of medicine I decided to be a research scientist. In the UK it’s unfortunate that your University discipline is pretty much decided at 16 when you choose your A’level topics – or at least that’s how it was back in 1986.  I was good at science and far more interested in it than any of the humanities and I actually loved wearing a lab coat and doing practicals – I loved numbers too which helps – I still get excited creating formulas in spreadsheets:) Anyway my A’levels were Biology, Chemistry and Physics and I ended up studying Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of St. Andrews.

I had a great experience at St. Andrews and long before Will and Kate ever made headlines I met MM there working in a bar together. I was 19 and he was 24 doing his PhD in Byzantine History. Twenty years on he’s still the love of my life, my best friend and my greatest cheer leader (he was the one that suggested I start blogging), and there are many stories along the way of how we have survived through thick and thin which I will no doubt divulge in later posts. Anyway the point is HE had a PhD – therefore I must get one!!  Yes that was one of my main motivators for applying for my PhD – plus back in the early ’90s there were very few jobs to be had so being a student for another 4 years seemed like a better option than the dole.

Hence the title of this post – I studied potatoes for 4 years…the mind boggles that I managed to stick it out and complete my thesis when so many of my peers were abandoning their studies on far more interesting, relevant topics. “The Molecular Biology and Biochemistry of Bruising in Potatoes” is the title of my thesis – it was written in a tiny flat, with no central heating and various fungi growing in it (a Biochemist should be thrilled no?) on Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, on one of the first Apple Mac computers. My acknowledgments in my thesis thank my FIL who provided us with many dinners out when the bailiffs were knocking on our door. It was certainly an odd time – living in one of the most glamorous areas in London with zero money to our name.

Well I got my Doctorate and published a couple of papers but oddly enough the most important thing I learned in those 4 years was that I never wanted to see a test tube or a lab coat ever again – I was done with exploring potatoes – the only place I wanted to see them again was on a plate next to a piece of fish. An achievement of sorts but one that only led to more decisions – wrong and right – about how I should earn a living.

Photos show my thesis which sits in a display cabinet collecting dust.

The book

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Planning for my trip

My trip to England each February is now a regular occurence – I look forward to it so much, and it is perfectly timed to battle the January blues. I have 5 or 6 weeks post Christmas to look forward to seeing my family and friends, and spend the dark, cold evenings with my excel spreadsheet planning what to pack! I actually don’t do too much shopping when I am back in England, except for my pilgrimage to M&S, so it’s always quite a challenge packing lightly for the cold and inevitable rain. I need ‘going out’ clothes, cool yet comfortable footwear for tramping around London, comfy loungewear, and enough layers and good shoes for a couple of long walks with Mum and Dad.

Of course in writing my list a couple of additional ‘wants’ have arisen. The first is this spectacular coat that I spotted on The Telegraph fashion pages online. It’s so Emmanuelle Alt with the tie belt and checks. It comes in two color ways – I’ve ordered both to try but LOVE the mustard. I’m thinking about it for London. I get so hot in and out of stores but I need a coat/jacket. It would be perfect with my JBrand Selenas and TopShop sock boots.

Mustard Mango coat Checked coat

Now it’s FREEZING here today and I’ve been living in my Uggs in and around the house. Mum and Dad have been sending me images of the deep snow in Bury and to say they’ve made me shiver is an understatement. I need to take my Uggs with me – but mine are a very light sand suede. Not made for Bury mud. These however are – and I can even venture out in them – the zips make them a little edgier than regular Uggs. They’ll be perfect for the airport too…justifying purchase….I know….They must be cool as Eve and Michelle both have them too.

Uggs

Now I really don’t need another pair of jeans. At all. How I adore these though. The Diesel Krailey coated joggjeans. I still love my Fayza joggjeans – so comfortable – and the coated Krailey is a little more elevated, yet still super cool.

Diesel jeans

Finally – as an option for wandering the Big Smoke in comfort – how about these stunners? I love flatforms and have a silver lace up pair from Zara last year. This season they have introduced these gold brogue Prada tributes.

Zara gold

So there you go. My spreadsheet list, needless to say, needs some refining. Helped along hopefully as we get closer to departure date and the weather forecast becomes a little more reliable! The first year I went it snowed in London and was FREEZING, but last year I was sitting outside and it really wasn’t that cold at all!

As I mentioned it is the coldest day of winter here today. It’s also MLK day so we’ve all been home. I started the day with a cold, brisk, invigorating run! Then we headed off to watch Norm of the North and out for a late lunch. Much fun was had! I got my new glasses too – I love them – they’re so comfortable!

Here’s my outfit round up from the past few days for those of you not on Instagram.

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Winter whiteJumper – H&M // Jeans – Zara (old in sale) // Boots – Rag & Bone Newbury // Bag – Anya Hindmarch (old off TheOutnet.com)

Haff dress (1)Dress – AllSaints Haff dress // Boots – Stuart Weitzman Highland // Bag – Alexander McQueen De Manta

1_15 Poppysstyle (1)Jumper – H&M (similar here on sale) // Trousers – Zara pleather leggings // Scarf – Zara (old) // Coat – Zara (sale) // Shoes – Adidas Superstar slip ons (similar here)

MOT month

Every January I get my MOT done (for the US readers an MOT is a reference to cars that get their road worthiness checked every year – it’s called the MOT test!). This includes my dermatology skin checks, ob/gyn visit, and my annual eye test! I encourage everyone to get into the habit of it – it’s a pain to make all these appointments, but I would never have had my melanoma identified this time last year if I hadn’t had my annual skin check.

I was thrilled this morning that my blood pressure reading was just 111/69. I’m convinced this is due to my change in diet. I normally have blood pressure at the higher end of normal and it can shoot up at the doctors due to white coat hypertension. Skin check was all clear too thankfully. Now I can look forward to new glasses on Monday!

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Ok enough with the health lecture. On to some shopping. It’s brass monkeys here at them moment and I’ve been cruising the coat sections. This coat from ASOS is gorgeous, and even better it’s reduced! I’m torn between the khaki (keeps popping back into stock) or the grey.

khaki ASOS coat ASOS coat with seam

Also I must tell you about these fabulous harem joggers from H&M – new in, and I am wearing mine today. Super comfortable, great quality and just $29.99 in a variety of colors. I’m wearing a medium.

H&M harem

Perfect for on and off at the doctors!

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.51.51 AMJoggers – H&M // Jumper – Zara (sale – can’t see online) // Coat – Zara (old) // Shoes – Isabel Marant Bobby (old) // Bag – Alexander Wang Diego (off TheOutnet.com)

Finally – yes I got out there again – it was freakin’ freezing but the sleeve says it all…

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.51.39 AMShoes – New Balance Vazee (best running shoes I’ve ever worn!) // Tights – Nike (on sale) // Top – Nike

Starting 2016 the right way

I was reading Nikki over at Midlifechic.com the other day. Her Project Happier really struck a chord with me.

I am a naturally outgoing person, being a Leo, and mostly love being around other people. I would say 90% of the time I am naturally happy and I always tend to take things in my stride. Over the past couple of years though that remaining 10% has raised it’s ugly head more regularly than I’d like.

I think I’ve always felt a sense of loss since moving to Atlanta. As much as I love living here, grief at having ‘lost’ my life in the UK can occur. It’s a sense of ‘loss’ and ‘being lost’. In 2015 I think it was exacerbated by my melanoma diagnosis. As amazing as my husband and family are, it was trying going through something so traumatic away from ‘home’. I went on anti-depressants for a while which ultimately led to a 40lb weight gain in a very short period of time. At the end of the year I decided the pills weren’t really needed and that the weight gain was probably exacerbating any ‘sadness’ I was experiencing. So I am starting 2016 with my own ‘Project Happiness’. I’m going to tackle that troublesome 10% and flip it to HAPPY!

I’ve started with a clean eating program – Whole30. I’ve always exercised frequently – if you follow on Instagram myself and a few others still use #PSFitClub for motivation. It’s now time to fix my food intake. I yo-yo a lot and I LOVE food. Living in the South with fried grits, biscuits and fried chicken does not help! So instead of following a ‘diet’ I have immersed myself in what I hope will be a ‘lifestyle’ change. In fact I have just taken the kids to their favorite diner for breakfast before school resumes tomorrow, and as torturous as I knew it would be watching them consume pancakes and syrup and vanilla milkshakes, I actually really enjoyed my omelette with sliced tomato. Honest! Whole30 isn’t supposed to be about weight loss – more to do with resetting your digestive system and ridding yourself of sugar cravings, but I’m hoping with the workouts I will be on the right path to regaining my svelte figure in a healthy manner. It’s also supposed to help your mind too – it really is compelling reading. I’ll keep you posted and my Instagram will give you a glimpse of my daily eating and challenges if you are interested!

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 12.00.07 PMJumper – Everlane // Coat – Zara // Bag – Mansur Gavriel // Jeans – Zara (old) // Sneakers – Nike Air Max

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 12.00.20 PMSneakers – Nike Thea in Olive // Pants – Reebok (on sale here) // Jumper – H&M // Bag – Mansur Gavriel // Hat – Nordstrom (old but blue on sale here)

Recovery

I am so, so tired today, but I’m struggling through! The struggle is eased by the fun memories of my birthday! My family yet again went above and beyond to make it a special day. Everywhere I looked there were little stickers with my face on them, and my husband made a card with a blog photo from every month of last year!

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We dined out last night at an amazing new steak house in Atlanta – Marcel – just exquisite – certainly an indulgent treat! For the occasion I wore the AllSaints Noir dress which I purchased in the sales. It was perfect – no waist to hinder over consumption! It has a cool zipper neck line which I love – it gives a little edginess to a LBD.

AllSaints dressDress – AllSaints // Shoes – Marks and Spencer // Bag – YSL

As I was searching for the sandals online (now on sale at just £19!) I came across this flat version at M&S – be quick – you know they are bound to sell out! There is also a closed toe heeled version here.

Today and yesterday during the day were very casual. Jeans and sneakers – my favorite ensemble!

JCrew teeSneakers – Stan Smith Adidas // Jeans – J.Crew boyfriend jeans // T-shirt – J.Crew

GGJeans – J.Crew (30% off with SHOPMORE) // Top – AllSaints (old) // Sneakers – Golden Goose (on sale here reduced to $167 from $555)

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I cannot believe I contemplated not getting these Golden Goose! They still have limited sizes available on sale here. I am wearing what is marked as a US 9 online, and they fit true to a Eur 39.

Okay I’m off for a lie down before the kids get home and I have to attempt 4th grade homework again!

Back to school

So the kids headed back to school today. I now have a 4th grader and a 2nd grader! Poppy spent a few minutes last night telling me she didn’t want to grow up – poor thing – I could kind of empathize with her! I expect they will have an a amazing time today – it’s been so long since they saw their friends.

I had them both at home Monday and Tuesday – hence the lack of posts. I’ve been mainly wearing workout gear to accomplish house chores and drive them back and forth to friends and cheer practice. I have to admit I secretly LOVE hanging out in capris and sneakers – it really is super comfortable in this heat. The other added benefit is that it gives me ones less reason to avoid the gym. Heck if I’m already dressed for it I’d better workout no? I have to say I think I have found my mojo again and I’ve really enjoyed the gym this week. So much so I’ve treated myself to some new running shoes.

I’ve harped on before about my love for New Balancethis remains one of my most read posts! Well after a few months in Nikes I’ve headed back to New Balance. I read about the Vazee Pace in my Runners World and decided to try them. They are AMAZING. Not only do they look good but they feel fabulous. They have a great wide toe box so no toes get scrunched up. My arch feels well supported, and the cushioning from the REVlite sole is just as brilliant as the W890s (the Vazee Pace will replace the 890s).

I can not say enough about how much I love these – and with a price of $109.99 it will be hard to find a better option for a casual runner with dodgy knees like me!

Vazee

 

I have also ordered the Nike Flyknit Lunar to try. I love the Flyknit and the lunar sole, and with these being in the sale I thought I might use the Nikes for the gym and keep the New Balance for running outside. I’ll see how they fit – but they were hard to ignore with the current discount!

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Nike have some great items on sale right now and I dropped these in my cart too. I love the pro capris for the gym and for running – super lightweight and comfortable. The only drawback is there is no pocket for my car key but I have remedied that with one of these.

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So today I am back in the office which called for getting dressed!

AllsaintsShoes – TopShop // Dress – AllSaints // Jacket – J.Crew

On Friday I took the kids to meet my piercing guru, Richard, at PiercingExp.com. My sparkly septum ring had finally arrived and I LOVE it. It’s a Gem Oaktier in solid rose gold with genuine white sapphires.

Septum MadewellShoes – J.Crew (on sale) // Jeans – J.Crew // Top – Madewell (on sale)

On a final, sad note – an Atlanta mom of two small girls died on Sunday after a mystery illness took hold. Nothing can take away the pain for her girls, but the community here is trying to get tickets for the girls to see Taylor Swift when she tours here. T.V. stations and news stations have got hold of the story so if you feel inclined please help us and Tweet with hashtag #wishes4riley and #bigdreamslittlegirl – thank you so much.

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No more cancer

So the melanoma is gone! This morning I underwent a procedure under a local anesthetic where a large circumference of skin was removed. Pretty freakin’ freaky when you can see and hear him snipping away a massive area of skin and then the needle and thread pulling everything together again! My palms were sweaty and I kept focusing on the ceiling! I have to say my surgeon was amazing, and he reassured me that it was on the cusp i.e. just turning to Stage 0 melanoma, so my frustration over previous checks ignoring it was probably unfounded. I now have a good 4-5 inch long incision that will hopefully heal fast! Thank goodness I worked out like a banshee last week as I can’t do anything now till the stitches are removed. For updates and gory photos check me out on Instagram!

Needless to say I opted for comfy clothes today.

IMG_0463Sneakers – Nike Lunar Air Max // Pants – Nike Avant // Top – Mango // Glasses – Oliver Peoples Wacks

As I have been working out so much over the past week I have spent most days in workout gear. Saturday was one of the few days I ‘got dressed’ and we took the kids out for a ‘fancy lunch’ 🙂

mango CollageSneakers – Adidas Stan Smiths // Trousers – Mango leather (currently 50% off in sale) // Jumper – Zara (old) // Scarf – Asos

See you all soon! Off to recuperate on the sofa with a slice of pizza and Netflix!

 

NYFW trip part 1

Phew – back in Atlanta. I love going away but I love coming home even more! It was actually a fabulously indulgent weekend on my own, which involved shopping, eating and a party for good measure! I have to say, of all my visits to NYC, this was by far the hottest and most humid it has ever been – it was pretty uncomfortable – so I had to keep popping in lovely places for the air conditioning 🙂

Before I left I had my haircut – thanks to Chadd and Gina yet again for making me feel absolutely amazing – no clothes can do what a great haircut can.

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To travel in I wore my James Perse wrap dress and Golden Goose glitter sneakers – I was in such a rush for the cab I didn’t get a full length shot! Atlanta Hartsfield airport certainly got an eyeful of my cleavage though!

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Of course I had the obligatory cocktail before boarding.

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I was starving when I arrived so after dropping my bags at the InterContinental, Times Square I jumped on the Subway straight down to SoHo. My first meal had to be a Jack’s Wife Freda. I’d been fantasizing about it ever since I was there back at the end of May with Cali. It’s one of those great bar/restaurants where I could eat every meal from breakfast to dinner – and I almost did!

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I then ended up in AllSaints around the corner – how convenient! I purchased the amazing Agi dress (UK 12) and the incredible Haff sweater (Medium) – I just love a cold shoulder and it makes this chunky knit super sexy! You must visit the SoHo location when you are next there – the staff are brilliant and could not have been more helpful. Trying on knits in 90 degree heat was not my idea of fun and they were super accommodating.

Agi

Haff

To celebrate my purchases I popped into Balthazar for a margarita.

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You may notice I did also manage to find time to nip into Uniqlo for my Husband. Last year I bought their great Men’s cashmere crewnecks for myself and this year he requested the cardigans – the quality is outstanding for $99!

Uniqlo cardigan

 

That turned out to be enough excitement for Friday – and I was in bed by 8pm!! How things change!

I’ll be back with all the exciting events of Saturday soon! Now off to take my sweet fur babies out for a walk – I missed them like crazy!