This Month’s Preoccupation…

house renovations

This month’s preoccupation is “interior design”. Despite the fact that my house currently has no interior walls and only half of the outside ones (and groundworks on the new part of the house have yet to even begin), I am sat (often for great lengths of time) studying wallpaper samples and dreaming about the day I’ll be able to move back in. I’ll admit that I’m starting to feel a little bit angsty about the whole thing; the timing is, to put things mildly, unfortunate. It’s debatable whether we’ll be back in the house for my baby due date and so I’ve been Googling the birth centres that are near to my parents’ house in Worcestershire, just in case we end up having to relocate! (We get kicked out of our lovely temporary barn accommodation in mid-May and there is nothing – nothing, I tell you – available for short-let.)

house renovations

So. Not ideal. And I’m taking my mind off it all by putting carpet samples on the floor and testing the softness (!) and looking at ridiculously-priced wallpaper. (élitis, anyone? Dear God. Extra mortgage.) I will be back to full-throttle beauty testing and makeup-filming next week, once I’ve purged myself of the whole Interior Design Bug. I keep meaning to do a little video about my house project, but so far every time I’ve been back the builders have been there and I am not parading about talking to a camera like a complete tool.

Oh, by the way; the paint swatches on the wall in the top photograph are from 1969 when the house was built. Look at those amazing colours! No “Magnolia” or “Mole’s Whisper” for those crazy sixties kids!

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Christmas SOS: Gifts for Men

present ideas for men

I felt quite bad about leaving you all in the lurch when it came to ideas for men’s Christmas presents; I said in my previous gift guides that I found shopping for men really dull and frustrating and that I wouldn’t be going there this year. But then I sat and thought about it, and realised that if find shopping for men’s stuff dull, and I’m a shopaholic, what must it be like for people who hate shopping? It dawned on me that actually, the men’s part of the gift guide is possibly the most useful and most-needed section. So here we are – a few ideas. Gifts for men. I’ve tried to straddle (oooh!) a number of different price ranges so there should be something for everyone – and if all else fails, you simply can’t go wrong with a Storm Trooper lego clock. Enjoy – you’re in good time to order most of these things and get them for early next week.

storm trooper lego clock

1) Yes, it’s an alarm clock and yes, it’s a “lego” Storm Trooper. But Mr AMR gave it a thumbs up and so in it went to the photoshoot. I bought this for my nephew, who is six, but it has met with grunts of approval from a whole bunch of different adult men and so it’s a bit of a crowd-pleaser, if only a novelty one. It’s £17.99 from

dior homme face

2) If you have to buy him skincare then make it something that at least looks the part. Dior’s Homme Dermo System looks half-retro, half-space-age and is suitably posh if you have a discerning gentleman to buy for. Mr AMR assures me that this is a really nice moisturiser – “very light and makes your skin feel silky. It slides on easily and doesn’t leave any weird residue.” (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the most feedback I have ever been able to squeeze out of Mr AMR!) Dior’s Repairing Moisturizing Emulsion is £37 with delivery from

3) Just peeking out cheekily in the background is Atkinson’s brilliant Oud Save The Queen aftershave. It comes in a gold bottle shaped a little like a hipflask (the pictures further up show the whole thing) and the scent is woody and manly without being too obvious. It’s a great one if you want something a little more quirky and different. It’s £140 at

rose shaving cream

4) I now buy my Dad a pot of Rose Shaving Cream every Christmas – he loves it. It’s a proper treat and makes for a professional, smooth shave and it smells gorgeous too. Taylors of Old Bond Street do a number of different scents, Sandalwood is also beautiful. I get mine from – it’s £8.95, which, when you think about it, isn’t too much more than some of those awful ones you get in the tacky gift sets!

fornasetti camdle

5) These are no ordinary candles: Fornasetti (shown front) and Cire Trudon (peeking in at the back there) make some of the finest candles in the world. And the reason I’ve featured them here is not that they look particularly “masculine” but because the fragrances are always so dark and sexy and spicy. Men, in my experience, don’t tend to comment on candles but whenever I have one from either of these brands burning in my house it always draws a little compliment… The Fornasetti Malachite candle is exclusive to and costs £110 but is a bit of a showpiece in terms of the packaging and presentation – Cire Trudon’s Gabriel is the most beautiful, woody, musky candle and costs £65 at The annual candle video will be up early next week, but if you want something really special to kick off your festivities then grab a Cire Trudon, I promise you won’t regret it!

l'occitane cade shaving

6) l’Occitane have a lovely and very smart shaving range. I like the Cade shaving cream which is rich and sumptuous and the Plisson shaving brush, which comes boxed and looking nice and classy. You can find the whole range online here.

tom ford oud wood

7) Sorry, back to the pricier stuff, but this is a bit of a winner. Tom Ford’s Oud Wood has earned itself a bit of a cult status and its spiciness and woodiness is quite universally appealing. Though it is expensive, so always good to try and get a sniff in before you buy! If you feel like a bit of a risk then you can order online at House of Fraser – it’s £142 for 50ml.

sonicare toothbrush

8) The absolute King of Toothbrushes – if ever a toothbrush could be sexy, then this is it. It also happens to be incredibly good. It comes with a glass mug that charges the unit, a carry case and spare head and also (if I remember rightly?) some kind of USB charging cable. Mr AMR literally raves about this and I think that it’s a top gadget recommendation. It used to be about £250, but it seems to be a lot more affordable this year. I’ve found it at John Lewis for £99.99 and on Amazon it is £94.99 with free delivery here.

miller harris wood

9) Finally, a very sweet little collection of three scents from Miller Harris called Wood. A nice way to try some new fragrances and I like each and every one of these – really quite delicate for men’s scents and unusual enough to keep you coming back for more. If you’re trying to steer clear of the “mainstream” aftershaves then – again – these are something just a bit interesting and quirky. The set costs £60 – I bought mine from and have yet to decide who the lucky recipient will be…

Hope that helped – do take a look at the other Gift Guides for more inspiration!

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Post-Baby Fitness: The Consultation

fitness post new mums

Things that told me I desperately needed to start thinking about my post-partum health and fitness (10 months down the line, so about time):

  1. I ate so many Magnums, and banged on about my Magnum-eating so much on Twitter, Magnum actually sent me a whole box filled with loyal-Magnum-eater chocolate stuff
  2. I almost had a heart attack running to catch my train when pre-baby I would have sprinted up the escalator without even flinching
  3. the baby had started to bury her little hand inside the fat roll at my waist when I was breastfeeding her. An odd sensation, especially when the burrowing goes on for quite a few seconds, as though to say, “hold on, I’m almost there…still going…ok I’m there.”

Very kindly, Graham from Pura Vida Fitness, who is the brother of a good friend of mine, got in touch to say he’d love to help me to get me back on track with regards to fitness and health. I thought that it might interest you all to follow my progress right from the start – and I mean right from the start, because as I write this I am yet to do any proper exercise. I’m building up to it. As soon as I’ve finished this Mint Choc Magnum.


Before starting any kind of fitness regime, Graham was very adamant that we have a full consultation. Now I have to admit that I did something of an internal eye-roll at this (sorry Graham!) because every single time I’ve joined a new gym (many times) or done any kind of fitness trial or journalist event I’ve had to have a consultation. And they’ve all gone pretty much the same way – height, weight, some kind of heart monitoring, a chat about lifestyle… What I didn’t think about, this time, was the fact that a consultation was actually really important; my body has gone through the most monumental change, and not only are my fitness levels rock-bottom, the very structure of my body has altered. Bones have shifted and perhaps not really gone back (I could swear that my pelvis is bigger from knobbly bit to knobbly bit and my ribcage is most definitely wider), muscles in the pelvic floor have been weakened and – most disturbingly – I have a big split down the centre of my abs, something called Rectus Abdominis. *UPDATE: as many have pointed out (thank you!) it’s called Diastasis Recti and not Rectus Abdominis.

Apparently this splitting of the tummy muscles (vertically, by the way, not horizontally) is very common and happens when your muscles are overstretched during pregnancy. I had no idea that I had it until we checked (you can check yourself – see link below, but back it up with a doctor’s check if you’re not sure) and it wasn’t something that the GP even mentioned when I had my six week post-partum appointment. Which is odd, really, because you can make the split so much worse if you don’t do things properly (lifting, sitting up, even rolling out of bed) and you’d think it would be on their checklist…

If you want to find out more about Diastasis Recti there’s an NHS online pamphlet – it tells you how to check and what to do if you can feel a split. For some reason I can only find the one from NHS Wales online, but it’s the same as my printed one: here it is.

So yes: unbelievably fortunate outcome of the consultation number one, discovering split muscles. Had I not discovered these, I probably would have gone full-pelt into some crazy boxercise-rapid-toning-regime and done myself damage. Fortunate outcome of the consultation number two was that Graham kept stressing the utmost importance of taking my return to fitness really slowly. And I mean really, really, r-e-a-l-l-y slowly. Like, my first two weeks exercises consisting of just very gentle core exercises – no cardio. This is not an approach I’ve experienced before and – again – I wouldn’t have ever thought of taking things slowly and building up core strength before starting anything more strenuous. But it makes sense. Pre-Graham I was all prepped and ready to go jogging or do my 30 Day Shred DVD and get “back in shape” for the summer, but working up slowly seems like a much better idea, not least because I’m incredibly lazy and I like the idea of doing things with a normal heart rate for just a while longer…

Graham set me a list of short exercises to repeat for two weeks – three rounds of each exercise, increasing the duration every day. When I saw the durations I did another internal eye-roll – fifteen seconds? What the hell can you do in fifteen seconds? But here I am, about to embark on my first set of gentle mini-crunches and actually, fifteen seconds suddenly seems like quite a long time…

I shall let you know how I’m getting on after I’ve done my first week. Once I’ve conquered my moves, I’ll post the routine so that you can do them along with me if you fancy. I’ve posted the results of my consultation below just in case you want to have a nose – I’ve just seen that I have a terrible waist-to-hip ratio! I think that’s the first time ever that I’ve been told that. Must be all the Magnums.

Ruth’s Health MOT:

health mot

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 20.40.46

You can find Graham at Pura Vida Fitness here – he offers personal coaching with 4, 8 and 12 week programmes and has one of the most sensible and balanced approaches to fitness I think I’ve ever come across!

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Sparkling Summer Skincare Treats

Sparkling Summer Skincare Treats

Some lovely, summery skincare bits and pieces that I’ve been trying. I’ve probably harped on about the MD Formulations Moisture Defense (right of photo) quite enough by now, but just to recap: weightless skin hydration with a load of antioxidants packed in. Perfect for popping on beneath your sunscreen – it has been formulated for oily skin, so bear that in mind! The only absolute pain-in-the-arse about this is that MD Formulations seem to have ceased trading in Europe. I’m very upset about this, they are a great brand and their Antioxidant Spray is one of the only “toners” that I use regularly. I’ll try and find out a bit more, but in the meantime I have found the Antioxidant Gel as part of a travel kit here.

Sunscreen recommendations here…

skinceuticals ce ferulic

If you want the antioxidant boost for daytime but want something you can use on all skin types, before you moisture, then one of the undisputed best is SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. It’s pricey, (bit cheaper on Amazon here) but you need just a few drops at a time and if you’re looking to really supercharge your daylight protection then this is an excellent choice.

face exfoliating powders

Gentle, low-abrasion exfoliation from Givenchy with their Hydra Sparkling One-Minute Glow Powder. You will perhaps be familiar with these powder exfoliants; they look like flour when you tip them out and seem to have no real grit or texture to them, but when you massage them over the skin they very gently slough away dead skin cells. Givenchy’s version is lovely and does have a slight grittiness – it’s £29.50 here – but if you’re on a tighter budget, Indeed Labs have one at that’s very good. Very good – wait for it – Indeed.

More skincare reviews here…

bleu paradis terry de gunzburg

You may have spotted the perfume in the first picture and wondered, what does the scent have to do with sparkling summer skincare treats? Absolutely nothing is the answer, it was just blue and I needed another blue thing to make it all look nice. But this is a gorgeous fragrance for summer; Bleu Paradis is fresh and cool but has a musky, woody undertone that makes it almost masculine. It’s perfect evening-after-the-beach stuff, this. At £105 it’s a whopper of an investment, but that’s for 100ml – compare it, price per ml, to most luxury perfumes and it’s about the same. It’s actually far less, price-per-ml, than Coco Mademoiselle* and less than half the price of Tom Ford’s Santal Blush. Who knew? Well done Terry du Gunzberg, maker of my favourite foundation which also happens to be (unfortunately) the most expensive foundation in the universe. Almost.

*based on price of 50ml Parfum at Debenhams, £68.

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SkinOwl x Beauty Heroes.

How has it been a full month since my last Beauty Heroes post? Time sure is flying by and spring is almost here! When I heard that the March Beauty Heroes box was going to include SkinOwl I was over. the. moon. Having used both the Lavender and Geranium Beauty Drops in the past I knew I was going to love the new Beauty Drops PM Mangosteen too. I’m always itching with excitement to receive my box and the two week wait from the announcement at the first of the month to me actually receiving my box is a rollercoaster of emotions.

Inside this months box ($39) you will receive a full size Beauty Drops PM Mangosteen 60ml, worth $85 / £68 and a sweet sidekick exclusive to Beauty Heroes; a single use Beauty Steam named Heroic Helichrysum, worth $9.

Heroic Helichrysum Beauty Steam.

all-organic dried yarrow, helichrysum, cornflower, calendula petals, rose petals + buds, french lavender and chamomile.

It’s been so long since I last indulged in a facial steam and I can’t wait to find a peaceful moment to get my R&R on. This smells predominantly of lavender and oh so calming, I can’t imagine how delicious it’s going to smell when the hot water releases all of that herbal goodness. Make sure to soak a flannel (or cotton pad) in the water after your steam is complete and press against skin for more skin benefits, too.
I wonder if you can save the water to use as a facial mist afterward? If stored in the fridge for a week or two (strained) it should last, right?… I may give that a go!

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