Spring Break 2016 – Fort Morgan

I’m afraid the blogging isn’t going to be very prolific this week. I am currently sitting on a deck with a coffee looking out to the Gulf of Mexico. Once again we are spending Spring Break in Fort Morgan – a beautiful, quiet strip of beach just to the west of Gulf Shores. This year we have a frat house next door to us – Poppy is fascinated and has suddenly expressed a real desire to go to college!

Before I left I decided to get my hair chopped again. The reaction has been mainly ‘at last!’, ‘thank goodness for that’, ‘it’s taken years off you’, ‘Joanna is BACK!’…why on earth don’t people want to tell you these things while you struggle to grow your hair long!? The Husband is thrilled it is short again!

hair Collage

I must admit I think it’s a state of mind too. When I had my septum pierced I really thought I needed to soften my look as the piercing is quite aggressive looking to some. However, now I am so used to it myself I feel more confident about the short hair paired with it. Plus I am running a lot again and that does wonders for my outlook, and don’t give a f*ck attitude ūüôā

Before I had my hair cut I spent¬†a few days debating – going backwards and forwards – but I am thrilled with it now and looking at my photos before and after I love it. If I ever say I’m growing it again – shoot me!

gap top CollageTop РThe Gap (adore these and have all 3 colors Рget 40% off in the US with code SPRINGFUN) // Trousers РMango (old) // Bag РGivenchy Pandora // Shoes РVince

Zara topTop – Zara // Trousers – The Gap (again adore these and have all 3 colors! 40% off with code SPRINGFUN in the US) // Shoes – Soludos (most comfortable espadrilles ever – UK here, US here) // Bag – Givenchy Pandora

Otway boots collageBoots – Isabel Marant Otway (found them on eBay at the right price and right size at last!! All the way from Romania!) // Jeans – Zara (old) // Top – Mango // Jacket – J.Crew // Bag – Givenchy Pandora

For now it’s farewell from the sun and surf…

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.25.48 AMRunning top – Lululemon // Shorts – Lululemon // Sneakers – New Balance (I will never run in another brand again these are so perfect)

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A new obsession.

So I like to work out. ¬†I also like to ‘dress the part’ and ‘look cute’ while working out – if possible when sweating buckets, huffing and puffing and as red as a beetroot – I don’t do ‘low impact’. ¬†My favorite brand of work out gear for some time has been Lululemon. ¬†They do fabulous fabrics for wicking and support, great colors, cute prints, and I LOVE their skorts. ¬†Over the past few months though there has been some concern over their colors ‘bleeding’ in the wash. ¬†There have been LOTS of comments on their FB page and their CEO even addressed quality issues. ¬†I have noticed the trim on a couple of my beloved skorts that have changed color:( ¬†Now I’m not ready to abandon Lululemon, but the quality concerns and their more mainstream presence i.e. seeing everyone in the same gear, has made me question whether the extra cost is worth it at all.

So I ventured out the other day to Atlantic Station to investigate the Athleta store. ¬†I always receive their catalog and to be honest haven’t paid it much attention till now. ¬†Flicking through it, what really appeals to me is the variety of clothing they offer – not just capris and tanks for gym wear – but they also have – dare I say it – ‘lounge wear’ and ‘travel attire’. ¬†Don’t shoot me, but here is why I love it. ¬†Sometimes I do just want to hang out at home in sweats – BUT not sweats that have a brand emblazoned across my butt, or elsewhere for that matter. ¬†I still want to look cute in my, here we go again, ‘lounge wear’. ¬†As for traveling – there is nothing worse than sitting on a 9hr transatlantic flight in skinny jeans, no matter how stretchy they are. ¬†But I refuse to wear sweatpants and Uggs. ¬†Plus on my trips abroad – especially for summer vacation I love to have something easy to throw on that can be packed rolled up, and will not reach it’s destination completely creased.

They don’t have too many bricks and mortar stores right now (though owned by Gap I expect real estate will be no problem, and they seem to be popping up stores where ever there is a Lululemon close by!). ¬†The one here at Atlantic Station is HUGE. ¬†It is beautifully merchandised, has great spacious changing rooms, and the staff are fabulous. ¬†Nothing was too much trouble. ¬†No pretentious yogis here.

These Allegro pants were what I really wanted to try.  They are super light weight, have a great stretchy waistband and I walked away with a black pair.  Ideal for travel and at home.  I love them.  As a note I got in a US 4 bottoms and size small tops so I suggest they fit on the larger side!

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I also love these capri skorts – the ‘seamless skirts got legs‘ – ¬†and will be trying them as soon as they are in store.

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Their dresses are also great – especially for hot Atlanta summers and for summer vacations. ¬†I have my eye on this ‘Twist and Turn maxi‘ for Cyprus this summer.

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On another note – my paranoia about the sun is growing annually. ¬†I’ve heard too many horrifically sad stories recently and so I plan to be more guarded on the beach. ¬†I have completely fallen in love with their rashguards. ¬†Perfect protection, and also pretty darned cute too!

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As for today, well it seems a long way to go till beach weather that’s for certain. ¬†I’m wearing the Boden velvet trim blazer from 2011, Boden Must Have Jumper in blackberry layered over an H&M tank, Hudson skinnies and my Newburys. ¬†The scarf is also Boden from 2011.

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Boden are currently having a Spring Trim Р15% off selected items Рand this stacks when you use my banner ads!  Enjoy:)

 

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70 degrees Farenheit on December 4th?!

Sorry to rub it in for all you folks suffering with cold and snow – especially back in the UK – but we are having ridiculously abnormal temperatures here for the first week in December!¬† It’s in the 70s!¬† Talk about Global Warming – seriously!¬† I was out and about yesterday and saw people in shorts and t-shirts again.¬† Now I like warm weather but I like my December to feel like December – I hope it cools down soon so I can snuggle in my sweaters and knitwear again.

Daycare was closed yesterday for random reasons, so I had my son with me all day.¬† It turned into a fun day.¬† He ‘helped’ decorate the outside of the house – not National Lampoon style – but a few lights on the bushes, plus our inflatable 4ft Santa – tasteful if you ask me, with just enough festive spirit:)¬† We then headed off to the Fernbank Museum to see the dinosaurs.¬† There was also a fabulous Genghis Khan exhibit and a fun adventure area for him to burn some energy off.¬† He obviously had fun because when I asked him to tell Daddy what we had been up to he was thrilled to tell him ‘we had Chick-fil-a for lunch!’ – sod the museum.

The tree is also up and finished.¬† I had a lovely Saturday afternoon decorating with the kids, drinking Prosecco and listening to Radio 2 – it’s the little things in life:)¬† I then embraced everything Southern as I cheered on the University of Georgia in the SEC Championship Football game – fabulous game but we threw it away with 15 seconds to go, such is life.

Our salt dough decorations, as promised.¬† These were painted at 7am Saturday – we’re early crafters in this household:

The tree – no idea why we have a blue top:

So today there was a bit of a dilemma when it came to dressing.¬† It was freezing when I was out walking Tennyson at 7am but the weather man has promised it will be in the 70s again today.¬† I opted for my Hudson jeans with a long sleeved t-shirt and my lovely Zara jacket that hasn’t had too many outings (sorry I can’t find either online!).¬† The boots are the Sam Edelman Louie.

Last night I watched The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills – my favorite ‘remove brain and watch’ t.v. – and the Beverly Hills franchise is my favorite.¬† This season I am completely smitten with Yolanda and her effortless beauty.¬† Just watch and see how stylish she is in her white jeans and Hermes belt.¬† Last night she looked amazing in her Lululemon Inspire crops and she was by far the most appropriately attired for their trip away.

Yolanda:

Do you watch the Real Housewives?¬† Who’s your favorite cast member?

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Get out and run.

As you all know I love running – I haven’t been running regularly for long – only since I had the children – but it is now my means of keeping sane and trim – I love it.¬† It being the 4th July yesterday we went to watch the Peachtree Road Race – the largest 10k event in the World with 60,000 entrants from elite runners to casual joggers to walkers.¬† I have never wanted to enter mainly because of the size of the field and it isn’t run in a loop, so getting anywhere close to home after the race is a nightmare – plus because of the number of runners taking part you can be standing in starting corrals for 2 hours before you even cross the start line.¬† However, I love watching it, and this year we made it to the course in time to watch the elite runners go up the hill past Piedmont Hospital.¬† Now on television you really do not get a great sense of anyone’s speed – except their speed relative to others – but watching the leading men run up that hill made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end – my God they were fast!¬† Not surprisingly the Kenyans and Ethiopians dominated again with the Kenyans taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the men’s race – won with an amazing time of 27mins 37 secs – it doesn’t seem that long ago that running 1mile in under 5mins was a feat!¬† It makes my 10/11 min miles look like a casual walk.

Thrilled, waiting for the runners.

Flying up the hill.

Getting into the swing of things.

Now here’s where I am going to court some controversy.¬† Firstly can someone tell my why Newton think it will help their marketing to set up a tent with beer kegs and pass out beer to runners at 8am?¬† Maybe I am taking the ‘fun’ out of ‘fun run’ but I was really curious about why they did this – am I just becoming a fuddy duddy?¬† I can’t think of anything I would want less at mile 3 of a run in that heat – and it’s not really what I associate with $180 running shoes.

The Newton Beer Kegs.

Secondly, I began running to help lose some weight so I do indeed know what it is like to be overweight, but if yesterday’s race participants were a sample of the US population we are in a terrifying state of affairs.¬† I know we are facing an obesity epidemic but I would guess that almost 90% of the ‘runners’ I saw were overweight and many were walking the race.¬† Now I applaud them if they were taking part as part of their getting fit goals but I kinda think for many it’s the only exercise they will do this year.¬† I felt like holding a banner up saying ‘do this 3 days a week and get healthy!’.¬† It saddened me further that many of the spectators were sitting on lounge chairs with a box of 24 donuts.¬† Okay off my soapbox for now, and these are my own opinions that you’re welcome to disagree with.

After my hot as Hades run this morning I popped into Lululemon to treat myself to a new Swiftly short sleeve t-shirt in blush quartz which I love Рand it coordinates well with many of my pace setter skorts.  I normally buy the Swiftly tanks but I love the cap sleeves on the t-shirt Рit looks a bit more polished Рif you consider that important when sweating your t*ts of running.  Plus I got to investigate our brand new store on Howell Mill Rd РI LOVE it and they have the friendliest staff!

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And the verdict is in…

Blunderbuss is freakin’ awesome!!!!¬† Jack White is a genius – I cannot stop listening to this album.¬† It’s everything a White Stripes fan is looking for.¬† There’s a great mix of Americana, blues and funk, a great example being my favorite single on the album Trash Tongue Talker – I can’t stop watching the YouTube video – I love Jack!¬† I’m gutted that there aren’t more dates on his tour I’d do anything to be at Hammersmith Apollo, I’m even back in the UK then but it’s all sold out…

I’m praying the weather improves in the UK by June.¬† It’s atrocious there right now and I’m going to have the annual dilemma of packing for every climate.¬† Fortunately the advantage of my Boden tunics is I can wear them with skinny jeans or bare legged so all I need to do now is pick the ones to take from my copious collection!¬† I sneakily bought another the other day – a clearance bargain I say – calm down!¬† I bought the coal Everyday Jersey Tunic early in the AW 2011 season and I have to admit it took a while to grow on me but I always get great comments when I wear it.¬† Here it is with the Boden cashmere wrap and piped shoe boots – seems an eternity now since I had to wear tights!

I looked at the blue one again and again and just couldn’t convince myself I that I liked it enough, if at all, to order, especially as I tend to wear black in the winter and this just seemed too garish.¬† As spring advanced though I found myself musing over how it would look as a dress with bare legs.¬† I definitely think the colors are more summery and by pure happenstance as I was browsing one day, as I often do on the Boden site, there it was – a size 6 with my name on it for the bargain price of $30!¬† I like it a lot as a dress and it will definitely get plenty of wear…now NO MORE tunics till AW 2012!!¬† However you all are free to keep looking as items keep popping back into the clearance section.

Tuesday has recently become one of my favorite days since I discovered Lululemon release their new items every Monday night.¬† One of the first things I do sitting at the breakfast bar with my coffee is to click my bookmark for the Lululemon website and browse the fabulous new colors and prints.¬† My two favorites today are the new pace setter skirt in beachy floral white fossil/black and the swiftly racerback in porcelain – the two will look great together, hmmm I’m convincing myself more so as I write!

I also discovered there is a new Lululemon store opening close to my house – I may just have to nip by there on the way to Poppy’s ballet class today!!¬† Happy May Day!

 

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My new workout closet.

I mentioned in a previous post that I’d experienced some nasty chafing from a top during the Georgia half marathon.¬† In order to prevent it ever happening again I was motivated to explore Lululemon, the Canadian brand known for yoga and running gear.¬† They actually have all their own trademarked fabrics too and you can find descriptions here.¬† I must admit I’m still getting up to speed with all their offerings and what gear will best suit my needs.¬† I do some hot yoga and run a lot.¬† I tend to wear the same clothes for both activities – and the less coverage the better really given the heat here.

Before buying I did a bit of research using the Lululemon Facebook page and a few blogs – Lulumum, LululemonAddict and See Alli Run.¬† There are two key things to be aware of.¬† Firstly new items are uploaded to the website every Monday night.¬† Most of the bloggers will have posted reviews of these items already, based on info from Australia or elsewhere that has already received the product.¬† Secondly hot items sell out FAST.¬† If a new print or color arrives it will be gone in a couple of days.¬† Unfortunately many items find there way to eBay at inflated prices.¬† So if you are obsessing over an item buy it – don’t wait – you might be disappointed.

My first purchases were a Cool Racerback (known as a CRB), Chase me crops, and a Chase me tank.¬† I have worn both the CRB and the Chase me tank and I love them both.¬† The CRB fits great (size 8 – I’m a 36 C/D, 140lbs and 5’6″) and is lovely and soft.¬† I love the fact that it is quite long so you can wrinkle it a little over the tummy area if you need a bit of camouflage.¬† I wore it for hot yoga and it wicked well and was so comfortable, I also think it will be great for running with a good sports bra.¬† I have the aquamarine that is no longer available online – but I’ve noticed things popping back into stock occasionally probably due to returns, so stalking may benefit you.¬† The Chase me tank is really cute and demonstrates why I am now in love with Lululemon.¬† They make functional items that are cuter than your regular brands.¬† The Chase me tank has a stretch top around the bust but then is a softer, looser fabric around the midriff with a drawcord that can be tightened to not only keep the tank in place but also give it a cute ruffle effect.¬† I wore it on an 8 mile run the other day and it worked great – no chafing and again really comfortable.¬† I love both these tanks as I can wear my own favorite sports bra beneath them – I’m completely anti-shelf bra now after the chafing incident!

The Cool Racerback:

Cool Racerback

The Chase Me Tank:

Chase me tank

I love skorts.¬† I like to feel feminine when I’m working out – what I’m wearing really does psychologically impact my performance.¬† I ummed and ahhed over the blurred blossom Pace Setter skirt and learned the lesson about items selling out fast online and this print in the regular length is all sold out online.¬† Luckily we have a store here in Atlanta.¬† I nipped in there yesterday to investigate running socks – fatal error.¬† The running socks ended up costing me over $100 as I walked out with the Pace Setter skirt in blurred blossom and a Swiftly racerback in ultra violet.¬† The skirt is gorgeous and I was smitten as soon as I saw it in person.¬† It goes with every color – blues, greens, pinks, purples and greys.¬† Again it is the perfect mix of style and performance.¬† I adore the ruffles at the back for cute factor, but it also has multiple pockets and great sticky seams on the short legs so they don’t ride up.¬† I’m so in love with it I ordered the new black/blush combo as soon as I got home as it hadn’t yet hit the store.

The Pace Setter skirt in Blurred Blossom:

The Swiftly racerback is great too – very different from the CRB.¬† It is a looser, thinner fit and really light for a long run.¬† Overall I think I prefer it for running but it might be too loose for my downward dog.¬† I’m beginning to see the benefits of a diversified workout closet, for now though I’m doing my best to stay away from Lululemon.com on Tuesday mornings!

The Swiftly racerback:

 

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A new addiction?

I’ve spent most of the day at home today with my son who has pink eye, though to be honest I think daycare may have misdiagnosed it as the pollen count is so high everyone’s eyes are red and itchy.¬† Anyway it was lovely working from home again.¬† Even though I’m now in my comfy sweats nursing my still weary legs (that I’ve slathered in Bengay so I smell funny) I did begin my day in this little number.

I love these dresses and I have several from last season – they are cheap and cheerful Target numbers, even the tank underneath it is Mossimo.¬† I’ve seen the dresses in store this season too – they fit large, this is a small, and feel a tad synthetic after wearing Boden most of the time, but for dashing about town they are fine especially as I only paid about $20 for them!¬† I dressed it up with my Frye Carson pull-ons in Fawn, which also meant I was able to hide the war wounds on my feet from Sunday, and keep them lovely and comfy in a pair of socks.¬† My spot prize for tweeting my #BodenMondays outfit also arrived and I’m wearing it here – it’s a gorgeous necklace, I’m so thrilled with it – thank you again Boden!¬† I’m wearing it wrapped around double but it is a single strand that goes with everything!

Boden spot prize

Fortunately in this photo the dress also hides my awful chafing wounds.¬† They look ghastly on my collar bone.¬† In order to prevent it happening again, after collecting my son from daycare, we headed to Lululemon.¬† I had heard of the brand and seen the store but never been tempted to purchase as I wasn’t sure it was ‘performance’ or ‘lifestyle’ wear.¬† But through recommendations from many of my running blogger friends, and also the ubiquity of the brand on Sunday I decided to investigate further.¬† If you are interested in learning more there are two great blogs that both have Facebook pages too – lulumom.blogspot.com and luluaddict.blogspot.com.¬† Through a little research I learned the brand is Canadian with Canadian sizing (smaller then the equivalent U.S. sizing), every Monday night new items are uploaded to the website, and Atlanta is very lucky that we have our own store.¬† Given the new items I spotted on the website this morning I made a very impulsive order online before even trying for size in the store.¬† I couldn’t resist the cute Pace Setter skirt in heathered indigo and the Back on Track skirt in black which is already out of stock again – so glad I was impulsive!¬† After inquiring on the Lululemon Facebook page about their recommended running basics I also ordered a cool racerback in heathered aquamarine.¬† This top had been recommended along with a bra but I didn’t dare order a bra without trying first.¬† Another example by the way of great social media at work – I had a response on their page so quickly – great personal, customer service – see how easy it is to gain a brand fan?

So the search began for the bra – and that was the real reason for the visit to the store.¬† Can I first say how much I bloody love a store that accommodates Moms and kids.¬† I was thrilled that there was a larger changing room available with the capacity for a small daycare classroom, plus there was a large basket of toys in the corner and a bench with pillows – in fact the changing room was almost the size of my first living room in London.¬† Admittedly my son preferred to play Angry Birds on my iPhone but non the less the attention to detail in the room was noted by both of us.¬† Hannah, my lovely assistant, guided me through the choice of bras.¬† I decided to try the Adjust Me Bra instead of the armor plated Ta Ta Tamer and I fell in love with it instantly – so soft, so smooth and so supportive – oh and so cool looking in the aquamarine!¬† So while I was there and enjoying a practically empty store I made the fatal move of browsing.¬† I should know by now to never, never browse – once required item has been selected, just walk to the counter, pay and leave store.¬† Shoot, it didn’t quite happen that way and I walked out with the bra, another cool racerback in heathered blurred grey, a Chase me Tank in black and finally the Chase me Cops in Wee are from Space Black.¬† I know I needed tops but I couldn’t resist the crops – they are SO snug and supportive – I think they are going to be amazing to run in.¬† Again they fit small – I normally take small in Nike pants and here I had to go to an 8.¬† The last lovely surprise was the fab little reusable bag that you walk away with – what a great brand experience – I’d happily use it to carry my lunch in every day!¬† So another addiction may be starting and for now I’m very excited to have my basic Lululemon wardrobe that I can add to.¬† I promise to review the items as I put them to the test.

Chase me Crop

What are your favorite Lululemon items?

The day after…

I did it!! Not the best time ever but under 2hrs 30 which became my goal half way round as the temperatures soared and the hills of Atlanta took their toll Р2hrs 28mins was my finishing time Рa little disappointed but this is far outweighed by the elation and euphoria of finishing my second half.  I was literally in tears as I crossed the line I was so happy and excited to finish.  The crowd really carried me home for that last half mile.  It was so incredible to see the top marathon finishers finishing along side us Рit certainly puts into perspective how fast and what amazing runners they are!  Speaking of marathoners I must congratulate my blogger friend www.runninginmommyland.com who finished her first full marathon yesterday!!

The atmosphere was brilliant and the organizers did a fabulous job from start to finish.¬† My heart was pumping to the disco beats thudding from the speakers as we waited anxiously in our corrals.¬† Then at 7am we were off – of course the start is always a tad slower when there are 15,000 other runners with you.¬† I barely noticed the first 3 miles but it was strange to be running in the dark.¬† I knew I was a bit slower than normal so tried to up my pace a little.¬† I started to feel those brutal hills and at one point at about 6miles I thought I was done for as I felt my left knee start to tighten.¬† Of course in those circumstances all you start to think about is the niggle, which ultimately makes the niggle worse.¬† I pulled up momentarily to hit the ‘reset’ button and make sure I was okay to continue.¬† Once I started running again it felt fine and I found my stride again.¬† The problem is once you have stopped once, mentally the challenge is up and it’s easy to stop again.¬† Non the less once when I was running I felt fairly strong and tried to focus on my form.¬† I really believe I think too much when I’m running on my own.¬† I’m much happier when distracted by good conversation and company so I am recruiting more running buddies – look out:)

I’m now planning to try and run about 5 a year.¬† There is the ZOOMA Atlanta women’s half in April, then a welcome break over the summer before the AllState 13.1 in October, the Atlanta Thanksgiving half, the Miami half/full marathon in January, followed by the Georgia half again in March.¬† Depending on how my training goes over the course of the year and if I can correct my form to eliminate any knee problems I seriously may consider the full in January.¬† Miami would be a great place for a full – fairly flat plus plenty of opportunity to party afterward!

Before I do any more long runs I really must buy some tops that don’t chafe.¬† The chafing was exacerbated by the heat but crikey I have some nasty welts around my collar bone and chest and under my arms today from my hot, wet skin rubbing on the seams of the tank I was wearing.¬† I have trouble finding great tops that are supportive as I prefer a shelf bra – so if you have any favorites please share with me.¬† I’m looking at the Lululemon ones right now but this Back on Track tank that I like is completely sold out online.

My Finishers Medal:

Finishers medal

My Post Race Reward:

Post-race reward