My last full week in this amazing city is at a close. In my dreams, I'd be wearing a tutu, Manolo Blahnik's and running around fancy bars drinking Cosmos. In actual fact, I'm halfway through my last round of laundry, living off a mattress in an empty apartment and eating mega-size bags of mint M&M's (which I'm half relieved I've only just discovered and half devastated in equal measure). The biggest conclusion of living in New York: It's nowhere near as glamorous as you might think. Yet I fear I'm also a walking's why:

I'm sure the fact New York is known as the city that never sleeps is purely down to the amount of caffeine its inhabitants drink. Oh, and to be clear, for any New Yorkers reading this, I'm talking about "cwoffee" as you guys pronounce it. Having been a latecomer to developing the taste buds for coffee (tangent: I actually discovered it in Costa Rica two years ago when the tea I requested arrived as black coffee), I can't quite believe how much I rely on it to get through the day here. On my New York Bucket List, I had set out a search for "the best coffee of my life" and think I've settled with "the most coffee of my life". I anticipate shakes and headaches from the withdrawal - can someone remind me that's not an aversion to the UK when I'm back?

Neck Ache
The reality that I'm leaving is creeping in and I've noticed I'm looking around more as if to soak up the sights, sounds and smells (though some of which I'll be glad to leave behind, like walking through a doggy urinal twice a day...particularly a treat in the summer heat!). But with skyscrapers all around, working on the 16th floor in NoMad and living on the 23rd floor in FiDi, I can't imagine how flat the rest of the world will feel now by comparison. Having got somewhat lost in the day-to-day routine of life, I've forgotten until recently that I see the Empire State Building on the walk to work, have a view of One World Trade Center from my apartment window and walk to the gym past Lady Liberty herself. As much as I've moaned about the rental prices here, I am savouring every last glimpse out the window and commute to work to soak up that these incredible icons that I can, at one time, call 'home'.


If ever there was an appropriate need to binge watch series one through ten, it seems now is my time to pay homage to Manhattan (shot in a studio in LA, I know but shhhh). I'm echoing Chandler and Joey in Season Four when they've had all their possessions stolen from their apartment and their living room contains nothing but a canoe. Instead of said canoe, I have a mattress and I've swapped Mr A for Rachel, Monica and the gang. Adulting at its best.

Let Go
In a desperate bid to be organised and prepare for a smooth transition back to life in London, we had our belongings collected for shipping at the beginning of February. Turns out a studio apartment would have been adequate all along (damn!) and the husband is now passionate about a minimal living space (this could end badly!). But "letting go" hasn't been an issue for our American household items thanks to a little discovery. Let Go is an app that allows you to sell your items quickly, with no service charge and no interaction with the US postal system required. The rules: (i) Only speak via the app (ii) Meet in public (iii) Pay in cash (it's less dodgy that it sounds, I promise). It has literally been a dream for selling on items we aren't shipping home... as a result, my last weekend here I have no kettle, plates or TV - how will this Brit survive??!
I have no idea when I/we'll be back to this city and I'm also curious how I'll feel about New York once I've left it behind after this experience. What I do know is that I am incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity and, more than that, a husband that has come along for the ride! How lucky am I that when I was mid-brushing my teeth and he was in the shower, and I blurted out "What do you think about moving to New York?" and he said, "Errr, yeah, okay!"

New York is not for the faint-hearted and I honestly couldn't have done it without him - and luckily I have his 12,000 photographs as memories of this awesome chapter in our lives. I also have new-found respect for owning a washing machine. *Waits for elevator*

HOME TIME LOOMSIt feels like only yesterday I was writing a similar post at the end of our five-month honeymoon. Did you catch it? What a lot can happen in a year! 


Mrs A to B Review: Benefit Bad Gal Bang Mascara

A $20m influencer campaign, a gravity-defying formula and 26 hour full-blast volume - really?! How out-of-this-world can a mascara be?! Mrs A to B challenges this to infinity and beyond...or, instead puts it to the test of the working world of New York City. Same, same. First admission to make is despite a career in marketing, I was totally sucked into the hype around this product and found myself in a queue at Sephora behind a long line of women also jumping on the Bad-Gal bandwagon. With this review series, I like to delve into a little about the brand and the how the product has been marketed before getting stuck into the results - scroll down if you want to skip to the conclusion!

The Back Story
Raised 'brows everywhere thanks to Benefit, or at least that's what I know them to do best. Chuck in the Pore-fessional Primer and Hoola Matte Bronzer and you've got yourself some makeup bag heroes. A very trustworthy brand in the beauty arena with a loyal fan-base looking for something a little more premium than your Rimmel and Revlon of the world. What I hadn't known is the history of the brand until I came to writing this review...

The business was founded by twin sisters in San Francisco who flipped a coin in 1976 to let fate determine whether a beauty boutique or casserole cafe would be the girl's future empire. Lucky for us, the beauty gods were in our favour! The charm of the brand - then named 'The Face Place' - was its quick-fix solutions for beauty dilemmas. They launched with a lip and cheek stain now known as "Benetint" and remains their bestselling product, although it was first created for an exotic dancer who was in need of a nipple tint! Is that a raised eyebrow I detect?
The Promise
  • 36 hour full-blast know, for all those 36 hour benders you go on! Or maybe the idea is to last the entire weekend without reapplication? Marketing at its best peeps!
  • 90% saw dramatic volume
  • 94% said it instantly lifted lashes
  • 92% said it lengthened lashes
  • ProVitamin B5 known to fuel thickness & strength
  • Smudge-proof & flake-free
  • Water-resistant
Have I been living in a cave or does it seem that this brand has gone ALL OUT with its marketing claims? Not only have they gone to the four corners of the world with the glitterarti of influencers, they've gone beyond, quite literally into space, for the aero-particles in their formulation for some serious BANG to shout about.

The Application
For me, this is the best part. The application is fantastic - it's genuinely a great product to apply starting with the really ergonomic wand design which achieves great volume with just one coat. I have never known my lashes to look so defined! Plus, it still adds generous volume avoiding the pit-fall of clumping. The flexi brush head helps get to even the tricky corner lashes - I literally find the application mesmerising and *spoiler* that keeps me going back!
The First Impression
Wow. Are those my lashes? Love. Love. Love.

The Ongoing Impression
Now several weeks in, my previously owned and perfectly fine Lancome and Too Faced mascaras have been relegated to the bronzer-dust-covered bottom of my make-up bag and haven't seen the light of day since. However, I do have one complaint and that's the broken promise of "smudge-proof" and "flake-free" as I find myself with a five o'clock shadow under my eyes. Bearing in mind my eyes are shielded behind reading glasses, I find this rather disappointing! But come to actually wanting to remove the mascara and you'll find yourself with a 36 hour attempt to remove every trace! A dose of perseverance is required and despite my best efforts, and that of my eye-make-up remover, I still wake up looking like a panda! I'm quite certain that my first application of the week still resides on my lashes by Friday!
Would I recommend it to my best friend / sister / mother? 
I'd say try before you buy at a Benefit store to see if it's just my eyes/eyelashes that smudge.

Would I repurchase it?
I am slightly addicted so I have to say yes. Whilst my quest for utter smudge-proof daily mascara is ongoing, for definition and volume from this product is second to none. 

What product would you like me to road-test next?


How to make a big decision

Waking up to twenty WhatsApp messages from a friend in need is how I woke up this morning. Promptly followed by an emergency FaceTime session. Said friend has labelled me "the wise one" - a wholly unjustified title for being her go-to sounding board. An ear to chew off. I love that my friends come to me for advice, after all, who doesn't love to help out a loved one and, as the saying goes, two heads are better than one. 

I realise that amongst my girlfriends, we have all made rather big decisions lately; accepting proposals, moving abroad, buying a house, changing careers, going travelling - to name a few! Some decisions are instinctive and take a split second to make - like for me atop Bath Abbey when Mr A surprised the hell out of me by going down on one knee - but other times I can't for the life of me make my mind up, frequently revolving around what to have for dinner more than anything!
But if you've read my post Living in New York, you will know I* have made a rather big decision recently having been at a crossroad of whether to stay in New York for another year or move back to London. It wasn't an easy decision or one that was taken lightly so I have some recent experience of deciphering various factors, battling my head vs. my heart, and also dealing with people who like to project their opinion on you without asking for it. Always a delight.

In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, “it got me to thinking...” How do you make a big decision? 

Over the years I have come to rely on a few mechanics to help me work out what to do. I'm sure most of it should be credited to motherly advice. My Mum is the ultimate "wise one" and is there for me on a daily basis as well as setting up her own Life Coaching business to extend her talent to more than just her daughters! But here goes with my unprofessional, yet friendly, advice for helping you make that decision and being happy with the one you make.

Playing to my love of stationary, pass me a notebook and let me draw up a 'Pros' and 'Cons' list. I'm a visual person so this can really help see how both sides of the argument weigh up against each other. Getting all those whirling thoughts written down in black and white can really help un-muddle your head. But it's not just a case of the side with the most items wins. With everything in writing, you can sort through each point on the paper and tackle the negatives to determine if they are deal-breakers. To pull on a light-hearted reference, do you remember in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. when Ross is torn between Rachel and Julie and, with Chandler and Joey's [terrible judgement and] encouragment, writes a list but all he can write under Julie's column is, 'She's not Rachel' (or 'Rachem' as the true scene plays out owing to Chandler's poor typing skills).

"What would you do if you were me?" It's one thing to talk things through with a third party for an outsider's perspective but it's a very different thing to ask them to tell you what to do. That's a dangerous question to ask and usually it's never that simple for anyone to answer. Sometimes, even if opinions are given, I suggest you hunt out a mirror and ask yourself. Being honest with yourself face to face with your reflection will act as a filter for any bullsh*t - if you can't hold your own eye contact or you get a niggling feeling when you do (more on that later), you'll often find the answer staring you right in the face. It's a lesson I learnt as a teenager: if you can look yourself in the eye and know you are being honest then that's being true to yourself. Other people might not like your answer or agree with your decision, but if you can sit comfortably with the reflection in the mirror, you know you are on the right path.

We've all heard the saying, "Go with your gut" - the clue is in the title here and the answer lies in your stomach. Sometimes butterflies can flit around in there and other times it can feel like your stomach is lined with lead - these are pretty clear physical indications of how your body feels one way or the other. I've tried in the past saying out loud different answers and seeing how my body responds - is it heavy with dread or fizzing with excitement? I spoke to a friend of mine about this when she went wedding dress shopping and found herself torn between two dresses - I said put one of them on, close your eyes and see if you can envisage yourself walking down the aisle towards your Groom and wait for the feeling in the pit if your stomach. Then switch dresses and repeat. The result was a purchase and a very happy Bride.

Sometimes you can feel like you're going around in circles - some days feeling certain that Answer A is the right decision and the next day you can do a complete 180! I've even spoken to friends about doing this when they've been in an unhappy relationship; at the end of each day, reflect on whether it was a good day or a bad day. Set yourself a date in the future and keep a log of ticks and crosses, happy or sad faces, sunshine or moons, whatever the symbol you get the idea! On that future date you work out if the positive or negative results take the majority. Life is too short to be unhappy. Similarly, when making a big decision such as deciding to change careers or move away, make a note of which decision you're veering towards on a daily basis and then take a look back at the general consensus.

To put all of these into context, when we were contemplating staying in New York, between us we could only write down three reasons to stay vs. the tens of reasons to move home and none of them could stack up against the pull of friends and family. I tried talking myself into staying of an evening whilst taking off my make-up in the mirror but I couldn't believe my reflection. Plus, the prospect of moving home literally filled me with excitement. Whilst my head told me to stick it out for another year, over a three week period, there were more ❎ against life in New York than ✅ and how could I sign up to a year full of more  than ? There was no surefire way of making that decision, we were both on a roller coaster - sometimes stopping at the same destination, other times making loop-the-loops in different directions but once we had verbally said to each other the case is strong for heading home, we started to feel at peace with it and the pendulum swinging came to a halt - that was the right decision for us.

Of course, these aren't foolproof mechanics for everyone or indeed every situation, but these have worked for me over the years and recent months. If you or someone you know is currently weighing up a big decision along the lines of whether to switch careers, relocate or dust off the backpack for an adventure or two, I hope this post may be of some help. If only it was always so simple as ‘Should I buy that pair of shoes?’ - that answer then is, of course, always YES!

*Funnily enough Mr A to B also plays a part in our decision making. That's one of the fun qualities of marriage but as the blog is called Mrs A to B, I like to pretend in this little corner of the Internet that I wear the trousers and call all of the shots around here.


5 Easy Ways to Selfcare

...and how to do it without breaking the bank!

The world is a big and scary place. When you contemplate some of the issues going on in this world, it can get rather overwhelming and terrifying. That’s why I love to escape to my blog, post pretty pictures and talk about books, films, skincare, make-up, clothes, TV programmes...essentially everything I would chit-chat about with my girlfriends. Admittedly, these are largely unimportant in the grand schemes of things but they bring pleasure to my day after spreadsheets, budgets and artwork deadlines!

'Time-Out', TLC, rest & relaxation or whatever you call it, we all need it yet we rarely carve enough time for ourselves to truly recalibrate. This isn't 'new' news but the rise in the importance of selfcare and self-awareness is almost becoming another pressure or marker by which we are falling short. How we are looking after ourselves is now a whole booming industry and the reality is that investing in your wellbeing can come with a hefty price-tag. So, here are some bank-balance friendly ways to reinstate a little balance to your life.
My impression of meditation is solely based upon Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. A racing mind from one thought to the next, panicking about the incomplete to-do list and inevitably being annoyed by the buzzing sound from the light/coffee machine/fly in the room. Rather than sitting cross-legged in a retreat in India, try Headspace at home. You can sign up for a *free* 10-day trial to see if it’s your cup of tea. Plus, Headspace explain meditation in layman's terms so it quickly feels accessible and achievable. After I completed the ten days, I was by no means 'hooked' but I had felt the benefit of time away from multi-screening and focusing on my breath. I found it the perfect substitute for nighttime TV and sooooooooo relaxing that my sleep quality improved. FYI - Best not to try this in a public place as I couldn't help but fall asleep the first couple of times I tried it!

My most recent discovery that I LOVE is Madeleine Shaw's meditation programme - a 10-part series available on download for the very reasonable price of £9.99. My two favourite episodes, so far, are 'Sleep' and 'Anxiety' - the latter literally gave me a hug in audio form last night when I was feeling super anxious!

[Side note: I'm living my best single gal in New York life featuring just a mattress on my floor thanks to this announcement - have you seen it?]
Finding time to read is rare and I envy those who can tear through a book in a day or a weekend. My friend being one of those people and her steady stream of reading material is impossible to keep up with! My best reading time is on a holiday, pool included and a sunlounger with my name on it. Then, and only then, can I fly through 3 or 4 books in a week. My favourite way to buy books (and it helps to afford said holidays) is from charity shops; I know the money is going to a good cause and a much loved book is going to a new home. The second way - and more convenient I have to add - is via the Amazon Kindle app. Millions of books at your fingertips and so many only $0.99. It only need take a few clicks or swipes before you can escape into another world. If you like that, check out Kindle Unlimited which works in the same way as Netflix with a monthly subscription and unlimited books at the touch of button!

My top picks:
  • Giovanna Fletcher ‘Billy and Me’
  • Jojo Moyes ‘The Girl You Left Behind’
  • Clodagh Murphy ‘Some Girls Do’
Next on my list:
  • Mhairi McFarlane ‘Who’s That Girl’
  • Shari Low ‘One Day in September’
  • Katie Khan ‘Hold Back The Stars’
  • Cassie Rocca ‘A New York Love Story’

Mrs A to B: Reading List & Book Haul

I was pretty determined to find an apartment in New York with a bath. As a teenager, I got into a habit of running a bubble bath every Sunday; lighting candles and taking a magazine into the tub for a good old soak. Funnily enough, despite having a bath in our New York apartment, I haven’t got around to it, but it creates the perfect STOP moment in your day or week to breathe and let your body unwind from all the tension it’s holding onto.

Favourite bath time treats whether you want bubbles or bombs, milks or salts:
Force yourself into a new habit and reflect upon each day with the things you are grateful for, things that made you happy and things to get excited about for tomorrow. Encouraging living in the moment and to help frame a positive outlook, The Happiness Planner has all the notebooks to help you become a happier version of yourself. It might seem impossible at first - what’s there to be grateful for in a mundane day at the office? Perhaps you got a seat on your commute, or had an especially delicious coffee or got some positive feedback from a colleague? Or simply you had an evening on the sofa watching back-to-back episodes of The Crown. Once you start to realise what little things you can find happiness in, your outlook will change.

As much as I’m a sucker for stationary and love my Happiness Planner, you can do this without it costing a penny; of an evening, simply grab a pen and paper or open Notes on your iPhone and write 3 positive things about your day. Soon, you’ll be coming up with more than three every time! Today my positive thoughts are:

#1 Getting out of the office at lunchtime = sunshine + fresh air!
#2 Laughing to my parents' sledging videos
#3 A productive evening work on my blog.
How many times have you heard... Where does the time go? If only there were more hours in the day! Time doesn’t always seem on our side and we are rushing around like blue arsed flies, so carving a little time out is actually a massive luxury! I found setting my alarm clock an hour earlier meant I got to have some 'me-time' before the day runs away from me. This way I get to enjoy my morning beauty routine, make a cup of coffee that I have time to drink and actually eat some breakfast. To have such a calm in the morning is rather rewarding ahead of an 8-hour stint in the office. This way you know you’ve done something for yourself before you even get to work and that's a great start to the day.

Best morning treats:
  • Tepid tap water + a slice of lemon to kick-start the digestive system
  • Hot mug of Earl Grey tea
  • Vitamins washed down with a Berocca to keep the bugs at bay
The best thing about these five #selfcare tips? They can all be done with a face mask on so can feel doubly as efficient!

Mrs A to B: How To De-Stress From Work

What do you do to take care of yourself?


Living in New York

Time for champagne indeed as today marks the one year anniversary of us moving to New York! Wow, what a crazy year it has been. They say ('they' being the seasoned expats I've met this past year) that the first six months are the hardest and it really takes two years for the place to feel like home. Now four seasons down, I have had a great taste of the highs and lows (aka real life) of living in the Big Apple. 

As my favourite city in the world, the opportunity to move here was a dream come true. The timing wasn't bad either, as we were just home from our crazy-long honeymoon (although this would later make homesickness more of an issue...) but an opportunity that we certainly couldn't say 'no' to. It was only a couple of years after Ryan and I had been strolling down the Thames riverpath on a Sunday, post-pub session (our favourite past-time in our old West London life) and asking each other the question of 'Would you ever want to live abroad?' We both did. If you're a fan of the Secret you might agree, and as my life-coach friend pointed out, we put the message out to the universe and the universe responded. If you're not inclined to that way of thinking, then we're just bloody lucky!
After 365 days living in New York, only two trips back to London and one trip outside of the state, we've thrown everything into living the Manhattan-life. Our apartment and its view is easily one of the best aspects of living here and this President's Day Weekend is also the anniversary of us finding Apartment 23M and making it home. We've come a full 360 as the apartment is, frankly, almost as bare as the day we first saw it owing to the fact that we have decided that a year has been quite incredible enough and the heartstrings of family, friends and a more settled life is beckoning us back to Blighty.

Whilst we have been ferociously ticking off the bucket lists that both Ryan and I set ourselves (separate ones I might clarify... funnily enough Ryan wasn't too bothered about sitting on Carrie's stoop), these photographs are from our toast at The Plaza celebrating the risk we took, the challenges we overcame and the fact we have this incredible adventure under our belts (with all that pizza too!)

Cheers to the next adventure...


2017: The Highlights

Given the political climate, stress and struggles we will have all felt at points last year, I think it's important to have these STOP moments to celebrate and appreciate the amazing moments from the past 365 days (I also like the idea of winning against my awful memory and reminding myself of what I've achieved in the years to come!). Although 2017 will certainly be hard to forget!

I have absolutely loved seeing everyone post their 2017 #bestnine photographs and year-in-highlights on Instagram stories so I wanted to get in on the action. My favourite style of 'highlights' blog has been a Q&A so I’ve had fun picking a few questions to pull together for this post. 
New York.

Ten years ago, when I first visited and fell further* in love with New York, I could never have imagined that a decade later I would be offered a job that would move us to my favourite city in the world. 'Moving' is, for anyone, a big deal and up until that point, I'd only known moving to involve my parent's car and a few journeys back and forth down the A4. The Atlantic made it logistically all the more challenging but it was certainly fun for Ryan and I to set-up home in downtown Manhattan and create a whole new lives for ourselves from scratch. It was big, scary and, at times, felt like downright madness, but it's my biggest excuse to pop the Champagne and celebrate making it a year to remember.

*Naturally I was already in love with New York thanks to FRIENDS and Sex and the City.
You might feel like a nomad right now...[this time last January we were technically homeless and very grateful to your friends who let us house-sit their townhouse a stone's throw from Harrods.] The move to New York will be harder than you imagine. You might think you're moving to a country where you speak the same language but that will bite you on the a**e and your new boss will create a glossary of all your "Britishisms". But don't change who you are, English Rose, just laugh at it. You will survive the tough adjustment period and despite it being a long six months at first, you have your favourite person by your side...who will still be your favourite person by the end of it. Remember you're living out a dream of your eighteen-year-old-self and savour those weekends for exploring!

In August, I flew home for my lovely friends' Lou and Jamie's wedding. It was the first time I headed home since moving so I was beyond excited and ready for it! The wedding day started with a stroll around Greenwich Park walking my friend's dog, shouting "I'm back, baby!" to the London skyline before picking up sausage sandwiches and having a tour of central London by car. The wedding itself was utterly glorious - the most idyllic setting on the river in Marlow. My favourite moments were eating the homemade ice-cream on the riverbank before it melted in the summer heat, drinking games (and even a mention) during the speeches and dancing the night away with my girls on the dancefloor!

When your best friend sends you a picture on Christmas Eve with an accompanying message 'Does this ring make me look engaged?' I literally screamed, burst into tears, then panicked I may have jumped the gun, called her, confirmed it wasn't a joke. Then cried again. All in front of a full audience of Ryan's immediate family. Megs & Chris' engagement on Christmas Eve literally made my year! Roll on the Hen Do!

My husband.
Closely followed by Netflix.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - read in a warm summer's weekend down by the marina.

At Home With…’ featured my two fave bloggers (#win) and indulged my nosiness by taking me behind the front door of some truly inspirational women - Jo Elvin, Alexia Inge (founder of Cult Beauty), Lisa Eldridge, to name a few. I picked up SOOOOO many lifestyle, wellness and beauty tips from listening and I became seriously obsessed with Kombucha over the summer as a result.

Stranger Things - so not 'me' as genres go but I LOVED IT!

Largely influenced by our new location and my sports-aholic husband, I was initiated into the New York sports scene with baseball at Yankee Stadium, New York Rangers ice hockey and, my personal fave, watching the Knicks shoot hoops at Madison Square Gardens. Also, in lieu of Wimbledon, we popped to the Arthur Ashe court to watch Nadal in the US Open. Talking of stadiums, watching Coldplay at the Met Life Stadium in New Jersey was OUT OF THIS WORLD.
Oh YouTube, you have a lot to answer for. These babes have kept me company on many a morning, evening and weekend. Totally inspiring with their Grade A content, all should be held responsible for my credit card balance and a great fix of British accents when I need it.
  • Lily Pebbles
  • The Anna Edit
  • Fleur De Force
  • In The Frow
  • Fashion Mumblr
  • Lydia Elise Millen
BEST DAY OF THE YEAR? 2017 was the year we celebrated our first wedding anniversary in July and honouring the traditional 'paper' gifts, we wrote secret clues to each other to make up an entire day of activities around midtown and downtown Manhattan (*passes the sick bucket*). The day before - and our actual wedding anniversary - it pissed itself with rain all day long so post-gym, we did naff all BUT we did get dressed up in the evening for an incredible sky-high meal at Asiate overlooking Central Park. Steak. Red wine. Sunset. Skyline. Incredible.

Honourable mention: 4th July is kinda a big deal out here and a rooftop BBQ with work friends overlooking the Empire State and fireworks on East River was pretty awesome.

Mrs A to B: New York Bucket List > The absolute foundation of my year has been ticking off this list!
Mrs A to B: How to De-Stress From Work > Absolutely essential for every working girl, especially this working girl.
Mrs A to B: My Autumn Skincare Routine > My absolute FAVOURITE photography. Credit to Fall and Central Park.
Mrs A to B: It Cosmetics / A to B Review > Launching a new blog series - A to B Review - is a product detailed account of my first and ongoing impressions. Still love the two products I have first featured!


Best of Beauty 2017 (+ Beauty Wishlist)

By the start of February, 80% of people have already broken or abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. Shocking, isn’t it? Or factually correct if I’m anything to go by. If you successfully endured Blue Monday without chocolate or wine, I salute you. That really was a tough, gloomy day. I posted a picture on Instagram on Blue Monday calling out my personal approach to the most depressing day of the year (coffee and fresh air) and feelings about the Christmas decks being packed away for another year. Putting the spring back in my step has been all the virtual beauty shopping I’m undertaking from the comfort of my own sofa via YouTube. Now, thank the Lord Pay Day has arrived, it's time to treat ourselves and ensure we're putting the #self into #SelfcareSundays with these new buys. Here is what's in my online shopping basket...

It made me reflect on my most treasured beauty products from 2017 and I’ve short-listed to my top 5 in case they wind their way onto your shopping list!
Marc Jacobs Limited Edition O!mega Bronze Coconut Perfect Tan (Similar: here)
Biggest Sephora splurge moment of 2017, too! Luckily, the investment has paid off as I’ve barely brushed the surface of this one despite daily use over several months now. Any product with ‘coconut’ in the title and it piques my interest but this purchase had been raved about by many including InTheFrow and The Anna Edit. It's the perfect shade for an English rose (read: pale) and has a mahoosive mirror for on-the-go application. I’m one to steer away from any kind of glitter or shimmer and I’m hoping it lasts me throughout the majority of 2018 too.
This is the cheapest item on my list and one I’ve been reliant upon to cover those pesky blemishes! With only three shades in the range, it’s rather limited in that sense but luckily for me, the ‘Fair’ shade works perfectly for under my eyes to hide the late nights, redness around my nose and hormonal breakouts. The consistency is creamy which makes it feel really hydrating in all those vulnerable areas and it has great medium to high coverage. I literally have one in my handbag, gym bag and make-up cabinet.  
Professing ‘a new way to blush’ and, boy, was this a revelation! I had never been within touching distance of a liquid blush before these, despite my sister being a big advocate for cream-blushes, the thought drained the colour from my very cheeks. You might have similar preconceptions of ruining your base or over-applying to look like Rosie Posie! I overcame my scepticism firstly, with thanks to Alix from I Covet Thee who was the perfect model and truly raving about the product which counts for a lot given how many this beauty maverick has tried! Secondly, I visited the Glossier Showroom in Soho, New York, and test-drove the product myself. That’s when it confirmed that what I had seen on Alix’s cheeks wasn’t just fancy lighting, it was this product! The colour pay-off is really impressive so a little goes a long way and if, like me, you’re more on the inexperienced end of the spectrum, it’s so workable that over-zealous application can be easily blended by hand, beauty blender or brush. Seriously, a game-changing product in my make-up routine. Looking super healthy and flush, I’ve tried Puff (bubblegum pink), Dusk (bronzed rose) but my favourite is Beam (coral pink) which, on my pale complexion, brings rosyness and vibrancy to my cheeks. Literally LOVE THEM! 
Without a doubt this is ‘my nude’. I know everyone is on the hunt for their perfect shade and when it comes to it, brands like Tom Ford and Charlotte Tilbury are hot on the lips of many. I, however, have stumbled upon a far more purse-friendly find which is great when I’ve already repurchased twice this year! The formula is nourishing without leaving a sticky or drying feeling and it has just the right kind of sheen to make my lips look fuller. I’m secretly fearing my perfectly toned pink may soon be on the discontinued list as it's part of quite an old collection now, so I’m scouring the shelves of every US and UK store to accumulate a lifetime’s supply. 
I’ve spoken a lot about this CC cream in my Mrs A to B review series and after using this daily for a few months now, I’m still a big fan! It was one of the industry’s wonder products of 2017 and topped many blogger’s ‘Best of…’ reviews of late. Perfect medium-to-heavy coverage which you can build to tailor your look which I adapt between my work-ready face and laid-back weekend look.

I would love to know the beauty products that had your back in 2017? After all, shopping with friends is always more fun!


January Blues



That sums up how I feel about dreary January - how about you? Gone is my motivated glow from January 1st and the intent to start afresh and honour those new goals I've set. The reality is it’s cold, dark and I’m working long hours. All I can focus upon is the upcoming weekend when I can roll up in a duvet and watch Peaky Blinders (totally hooked and already on series two btw).
How can I feel this exhausted only two weeks back into the daily grind? I’m a textbook case of the January-blues and mourning the end of Christmas festivities, that's why. I basically reserve the entire series of Strictly Come Dancing to build up to Christmas which, ultimately, is three months of setting myself up for the biggest come down. Not even Call The Midwife's new season can ease these symptoms. Side effects include deafness to alarm clock, excessive sighing and caffeine-dependency. 

Case in Point.
Snow in December? Utterly romantic and festive. Life is like living in a giant snow globe!
Snow in January? Pain in the arse. Could. Not. Be. More. Annoying.

It was quite funny that I should stumble upon a note I had written exactly this time last year, two weeks back into the working world after the most incredible six months travelling the Americas with my new husband...

[ 2017 ] Two weeks after...

The Christmas decks are down, the empty Champagne bottles in the recycling, the tan is disappearing quicker than the pine needles are dropping and the Oyster card has been dusted off for my first week back at work. Wow, that’s a shock to the system! What's terrifying is how quickly I’m remembering what life used to be like before our trip and I can feel myself slipping back into old habits. Working late, grabbing a sandwich on the run, excuses for not going to the gym; just a few of the minor lifestyle adjustments I had vowed to correct. Life on the big open road gives you the luxury of time and wishful thinking fuelled by some new-found perspective. So, whilst I'm secretly craving to jet off again (don't worry, Boss, I won't), it's time to refill the coffers and reinstate some routine into our lives (also a luxury). I just have to remember the calming influence of knowing that I've spread my wings and now it's time to return to the nest. 

Bad habits creeping back in and that rose-tinted perspective ebbing away - sound familiar? The irony of talking about life calming down is that I was technically homeless at the time of writing this last year and days away from a job offer that would move us to New York! No wonder I've added "settling down" to my 2018 Life Goals!

A saying comes to mind, ‘What a difference a day makes...’ (or maybe it’s a song lyric...?). Either way, whilst I’m sipping on my Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Latte (a new substitute for the Chestnut Praline Latte I had come to adore), I’m thinking what a difference a year makes too. It’s comforting, in a way, that I felt this way last year and then went on to have an incredible year, one I'll never forget. 

The moral of the story? 

If you’re feeling downbeat today, it doesn’t dictate that your tomorrow will be the same. Maybe 'Blue Monday' is more of a 'Blue Week' for some of us. While we might all have down days, my 2017 turned out pretty incredible. Totally unexpected and different in every way possible but full, exciting and happy. Who’s to say 2018 won’t be just as fabulous? Roll on February I say!  

My favourite blogger's posts on the theme of the New Year...

In The Frow - How I Keep The New Year Blues At Bay
Lily Pebbles - New Year, Same Me
What Olivia Did - Looking Ahead in 2018


2018: Life Goals

For the last few years, my friend Lizzie and I have always met up around December or January to sit on our sofa (nothing unusual there), eat crisps (again, nothing unusual) and look over the lists we had written the year before of our personal goals. We 'cheers' everything we have achieved and drink... you can probably guess how this kind of gathering concludes? Yep, a nap.

What started as a short list of under ten things we wanted to achieve in 2014, evolved into a categorised list over the following years, including:
  • Career
  • Hobbies
  • Exercise
  • Financial
  • Personal/Other
It's thanks to this little activity I first gave blood, joined ClassPass, ran a 10k and learnt to contour (not well, I might add). Now, living 3500 miles apart, WhatsApp has been our forum for discussion and the bubbles remain on ice for our mid-year check-in. Unlike the other years when the lists have got uncontrollably long, we're taking a new approach. Whilst I love a to-do list which I can satisfyingly tick off, it's also kind of unhealthy to set that much expectation upon yourself. To avoid setting ourselves up to fail and remembering that the premise of this exercise is to grow, experience and enjoy new things, this list is limited to just five.

So, here are my goals for 2018...

  • Settling Down. There is something really negative attached to this phrase and no, I'm not talking about starting a family. Life has been a little hectic of late and we've gone from the intensity of wedding planning to living out of a backpack and then, without much chance to catch our breath, we moved across the Atlantic to New York. You could say we don't do things by half and we are incredibly lucky for all the adventures and opportunities we have had, but now we are looking at 2018 for a little bit of stability.
  • Bullet Journal. I have loved building momentum with my blog in the latter half of the year and establishing some semi-regularity to posting and more importantly, ENJOYING IT! To help keep focused, I'm drawing up my first ever Bullet Journal to help with prepping and planning my content. This will also help keep track of my progress and hopefully see those stats growing.
  • A Year of Beautiful Eating. For the last few years I've always had something on my list about learning to cook or eating healthier. Whilst I only achieved 'making guacamole from scratch' as my 2017 food-related goal, I'll take that because I've wanted to do it for years (and now I can!). For 2018, I want to bake a Christmas Cake, roast a rack of lamb, and try my hand at Nigella's 'mer-cookies' (sticky meringue and chocolate chips, hence the 'mer-cookies') culminating in hosting a dinner party. I've also bought Madeleine Shaw's 'A Year of Beautiful Eating' and I really want to get well acquainted with her recipes to balance out all the above naughty treats with healthy soups, salads (that aren't bought from Pret or Sweet Greens) and balanced dinners.
  • Self-Care Sundays. (This is more of an umbrella term and not restricted just to Sundays but I'm a sucker for alliteration.) I've loved embracing this hashtag on and offline - an excuse for regular face masks, trying my hand at meditation and making time to sit in a quiet room and read. As I approach the final year of my twenties, it's time to really make sure I'm looking after my body and it's so easy to let stress take over. I've seen it etched in my face this year leading to disrupted sleep and a poor 'on-the-run' diet. One saving grace has been Physique 57 and I'm currently sat in my gym gear having obliterated my abs at 11am on a Sunday - it's that good I got out of my warm bed and braved -17 degrees to get there! For 2018, this means exercising regularly (I'm aiming for 3-4 hours a week), getting a good night's sleep, reading one book per month and enjoying some down-time on the sofa with Game of Thrones or Peaky Blinders (can you believe I haven't watched either of these?)
  • Detox Mind & Body. One of my most popular blog posts of all time is my Digital Detox post from Costa Rica. I think everyone craves a break from social media but isn't disciplined enough to do it. That's why I'm pledging to you I will do a city-life version of a Digital Detox and also throw in my long-term goal to try a Juice Detox. Again, lack of discipline and fear of the headaches has put me off this one but I think the benefits will definitely out-weigh. It's about making the time and short-term sacrifice for long-term gain.
That's all - keeping it really simple this year. What's on your list for 2018?
© Mrs A to B

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