The dip in temperature over the last week has left me in little doubt that autumn is upon us. But I love autumn. I always have done. I’ve mentioned before that my birthday’s in October and for me that signifies the start of the sparkliest time of year. Not only that, I adore the textures and rich colours that go hand in hand with the clothing of the season. With crisp, bright mornings and cosy evenings, this all serves to appeal to my sensuous nature. Certain colours such as khaki and plum typify the season. I can’t imagine wearing them in high summer for example, because that’s when whites, brights and pastels come into play. Metallics, navy, black and greys are the mainstays of my winter wardrobe. Autumnal colours are mellow, warm and subtle. They’re the calm before the storm of fireworks and fairy lights and we all need a little calm sometimes.

Ian and I had a night away in Worcester last weekend, a short break that included a treatment at the hotel’s spa. It was a much-appreciated chance to spend some time alone and to relax. (It didn’t quite turn out as we’d hoped, but more of that in the next post). The hotel grounds were beautiful though and is where we took these photographs.

A Khaki Tunic Dress with Chelsea Boots

I love dresses as you know. I wear them as much during the cooler months as I do throughout spring and summer. Transitional dressing can be tricky though, so I find an easily removable layer works in most instances. Ankle boots or brogues are my autumn staples and both work well with sheer tights. Later in the season, knee-high boots and thicker tights can take their place. Tunic dresses like these are easy to wear due to the unstructured shape, yet they still fall into the smart casual category. They’re ideal for travelling in too. The journey to Worcester took over three hours. I was driving, so wanted to be comfortable, unrestricted and smart enough to head straight for lunch on arrival.

This tunic dress ticked all of those boxes. It has a contrast jersey lining and simply slips on, so there are no zips or buttons to contend with. And it has pockets and we all love pockets. It’s from Tulchan, a brand I go to for smart casual clothes that are as happy in town as they are the country. (You might remember the blue cable sweater I wore last spring which is perfect for Sunday brunch, and the pink striped breton that I wore for a weekend away in the Yorkshire Dales).

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The Perfect Khaki Leather Bag

My camera’s never very far from reach, so I like a handbag large enough to accommodate it. I’d been looking for a khaki bag for a while, because it’s a colour that works with a lot of others. I’m not really a fan of brown handbags and I wanted something to work with those softer colours in my autumn wardrobe, so I was delighted when I discovered this one. It’s the Jax metal bar leather bowler, by Label Lab at House of Fraser. It was £95 but it’s now £55 (also available in black). The price point is excellent because it’s very well-made from the most beautiful leather. It has a zip closure as well as a side pocket which has a magnetic fastening. It’s large enough to fit all of the essentials and then some, but not so capacious that they get lost. This is the perfect khaki bag

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A Useful Extra Layer

Now you might have noticed that mohair serapes have featured in quite a few of my recent outfits. (With jeans and short wellies, with a smart dress and with coated skinnies on date night). This is because of an ongoing collaboration with the manufacturer, Samuel Tweed. I’ll be writing more about it soon because it’s a local (Yorkshire) brand. Anyway, this serape is the perfect plum shade to pick out the same-colour detail in the dress.

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what lizzy loves khaki dress mohair serape

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The Perfect Finishing Touches

This longline dragonfly pendant is one of my favourite pieces of daytime jewellery. It’s pretty and delicate but has enough about it to get noticed and it draws compliments whenever I wear it.

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what lizzy loves danon jewellery silver long dragonfly pendant

The double stars ring is also a great favourite of mine and is available in gold too. Both have matching items too. The dragonfly pendant is £39.95 and the ring is £25. Both of them are by Danon, a brand which hand-crafts jewellery in Israel and which I sell in my online accessories boutique, Lizzy O. and like everything else on my website, has free UK delivery.

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The wrap bracelets are also from my boutique. They’re only £12.50 each and I love mixing and matching the different colours. They fasten with a sparkly magnetic clasp and they’re ideal for both day and night.

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I can’t tell you how grateful I am when you support not only my own business, but those that support my blog too. My dress is a gift from Tulchan and my bag is a gift from House of Fraser. The serape is on loan but I might pretend I’ve lost it so I don’t need to return it 😉 Everything I write is always completely honest and the content is always my own. I wouldn’t wear anything I don’t love, or wouldn’t choose myself. And as I said earlier in the post, make sure you come back on Tuesday to read my very honest review of the hotel in which we stayed. It’s the first time I’ve ever written anything negative in a hotel or restaurant review!

If you’d have asked me six months ago whether I’d like to see a Makeup Doctor, I’d have replied with a bemused, yet polite “no thank you”. I was happy with my makeup routine. Other than wanting to be a little more adventurous with my eye makeup, there was nothing more I wanted to know. That was until I met Makeup Doctor, Rita Palmer.

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The Makeup Doctor

Rita is a makeup coach who I met through my work at Aspire Magazine. I had the pleasure of editing a guest column she’d written and I was impressed with her refreshingly honest, no nonsense approach to makeup and the cosmetics industry. Rita offers coaching and advice and invited me to go for a course of two sessions. The first was about face makeup, the second about eyes and lips. In this post, I’m going to talk about what I learned in the first session. The post about eyes and lips will follow next month sometime.

Session One: Makeup Routine For The Face

For the first session, Rita asked me to wear my usual everyday makeup and to take my products along. My daily face makeup routine is very simple: moisturiser, foundation, powder, blush. I apply moisturiser and foundation with my fingers, compact powder with a large brush and blush with a smaller brush.

Like all good practitioners, the Makeup Doctor asked questions which enabled her to suggest a few simple changes that would add very little time to my makeup routine, but that would make a noticeable difference

1. Use an Oil-Free Moisturiser

I don’t have a habitual daily moisturiser because I get sent a lot to try and I use them in turn. Many moisturisers formulated for the over 40 woman are waxy or oily to counteract the dryness associated with ageing skin. This can make it difficult for makeup to stay put, so Makeup Doctor advised using an oil-free formulation and reserving the others for night time. She recommended the Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion. This has the added benefits of SPF 15 and a lot of shelf appeal. It has a pump action dispenser which reduces the chances of getting too much out, which surely most make it more hygienic too.

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I expected an oil-free formulation would make my skin feel dry and tight, especially because my skin errs on the side of dryness. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as Rita applied it, my skin felt comfortable and just as moisturised as it would be with a more oily formulation. I bought it straight after our session in mid-July and have used it daily since then and can confirm it has made a noticeable difference to the longevity of my makeup and there is noticeably less shine later in the day.

2. Use a Primer

Now I know we’re meant to use primer and I’d tried several in the past, but I found that they made my skin feel tight and uncomfortable. To me, it felt like it was just another over-hyped product for the sake of it. I was very dubious when Rita suggested using one and almost reluctant to try. Well, what a revelation! Rita used the Nyx Pore Filler and I liked it so much, I bought one for myself immediately after the session (£11 from Boots).

Use a pea-sized amount. Start down the nose and work out towards the cheeks, jaw, lip, chin and forehead. A primer acts like a base coat and provides a smoother base on which to then put the concealer and foundation. It gives a beautiful subtle blur too. I can’t tell you what a difference this has made. I’m a convert.

I was sent the Miracle base Primer from Proto-col recently which I have tried as well. It’s different to the NYX, more like a thick gel than the Nyx one which is drier. It’s currently on special offer for £10, usually £14. Both are excellent.

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3. Use A Lighter Than Expected Shade Of Concealer

Although I had a concealer, I rarely used it because it didn’t seem to make much difference. Not only that, it settled into the lines around my eyes. The Makeup Doctor advises choosing a concealer one shade lighter than the foundation, (which ideally, should match the skin exactly).

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Mine is the Clarins instant concealer. She said that it’s a little too dark (it’s almost identical in colour to my foundation), but it’s good enough to use. What I love about Rita is her honesty. She doesn’t suggest replacing anything that isn’t ideal. Instead, she advises what to get once the existing product has been used up.  She used Mac Pro Longwear Concealer in shade NW15 on me which disguised my under-eye shadows and which I’ll buy next time.

To apply concealer, place three small dots under the bottom lashline with a concealer brush or with the middle finger. Pat gently out towards the temple and then use the reminder on any red areas. Again, she was honest and said that it is inevitable that concealer will settle into lines and wrinkles. When it does, just pat it gently.

4. Use a Stipple Brush To Apply Foundation

I have always applied my foundation with my fingers because it seemed to be the quickest method. Not only that, it allowed me to control how much I applied. Makeup Doctor Rita showed me how to apply the base with a stipple brush and again, I honestly can’t believe what a difference it makes. It’s quicker than using my fingers and gives a much more even finish.

Start by putting foundation on the back of the hand. Distribute it evenly on the stipple brush. Start down the centre of the nose and move with long, even strokes down the cheeks to the ear, lip and chin. Stipple under the eyes. To do the forehead, start at the bridge of the nose and sweep up and out in short strokes across the forehead (like you’re drawing a palm tree!)

The foundation I currently use is the Lancome Teint Miracle in shade 010, the correct shade for my very fair skin. I have just been sent the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear to try so I shall report back on that if I prefer it. It provides greater coverage and is longer-wearing than my current one, so we shall see. Both have SPF 15, something I always look for. I’ve used Lancome foundation for as long as I can remember.

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5. Don’t Use Powder

Really?

Yes, really. There is no need for powder if you follow rules number one and number two. Since using the oil-free moisturiser and a primer, I haven’t needed to use powder to “set” my makeup.

6. Contour

I’m no stranger to contouring because Poppy, my sixteen year old is a whizz at it on herself. I’d never tried it on myself though and I couldn’t wait to find out how to do it because it seems to make such a big difference. To contour, use a bronzer and apply with a fantail brush. Make three “tickly” strokes from the tragus bone of the ear, half way towards the corner of the mouth. Blend into the hairline and jaw. The Boomerang video below shows how.

I use Master Sculpt by Maybelline in light medium. It has a highlighter with it too, which we’ll look at in step 8.

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7. Use An Angled Blusher Brush

This is another instance where using a brush, or on this case, the correct brush has made an enormous difference. I used to use quite a full, fluffy brush to apply blush to the apples of my cheeks while I smiled. The Makeup Doctor showed me how to use an angled brush for a more accurate application.

To apply correctly, smile and place the pointed part of the brush on to the low apple of the cheek, then sweep up into the hollow. This alone had the effect of lifting my entire face and making me look younger. Hurray!

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Proto-col sent a selection of mineral shimmers for me to try and they’re all gorgeous. So pretty. I’m currently using the single-coloured one which is Baked Mineral Shimmer in Apricot Swirl. It blends beautifully and gives a natural but noticeable flush of colour.

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Mineral Shimmers, available from Proto-col

8. Highlight

The final touch is to highlight. Ideally, the colour of the highlighter should tone in with the natural skintone. In my case, Rita advised me to use a warm champagne shade rather than a cool cream or white and recommended Mac Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle for when the one above has run out.

Use a highlighting brush and start on top of the cheekbone, beneath the outer corner of the eye. Sweep upwards and outwards along the cheekbone into the temple. Next, go from the browbone and sweep down to the same point of the temple. It’s like making a v shape, the point of which is at the temple and which goes up towards the brow and down towards the top of the cheek.

Brilliant Brushes

Below are the makeup products I’ve mentioned alongside the appropriate brushes. Rita has drawn upon her years of experience as a makeup coach and her work alongside makeup artists and has designed a set of brushes. She is currently building a brand new website which will sell Makeup Must Haves including these brushes, so although they aren’t yet available online, they are available directly from Rita. (Please email her at mail@makeupdr.co.uk and say I sent you. The set costs £65, a very special rate). I was so impressed with them at my session, that I bought a set for myself. This isn’t a sponsored post, although my sessions with the Makeup Doctor were complimentary, I just really believe in the brushes and can vouch for their quality and for the difference they have made to my own makeup routine. The set includes brushes for eyes, lips and brows too so I’ll cover those in the second part of this series.

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what lizzy loves makeup routine over 40 brushes

from top to bottom: concealer, foundation, contour, blush, highlight.

Before And After My New Makeup Routine

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As I said at the beginning, I was asked to go to my appointment with the Makeup Doctor wearing my usual makeup. This is the photograph on the left. On the right is the result after doing my face makeup under Rita’s supervision and guidance. You can see that my face looks narrower. My cheeks look higher and tauter. In general, I look fresher and less tired and a more enhanced version of myself.

Just what the doctor ordered!

Visit Makeup Doctor online for details of Rita’s coaching packages and services. And stay tuned for the second installment featuring brows, eyes and lips.

You might have seen on my Instagram Stories earlier this week that I was at River Cottage. I was part of a small group of journalists and bloggers on a press trip organised by Muck Boots to celebrate the launch of the new collections. We met in London and took the train to Axminster, the home of River Cottage HQ. There, a tractor and trailer took us down a long and rather steep track to the cottage.

We were taken into the dining room and each given a pair of Muck Boots. Look how beautiful the table looked.

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Wellingtons by Muck Boots

The style of Muck Boots I received is the RHS Tremont Wellie in the navy passiflora design.

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It’s a 100% waterproof neat fitting style with a neoprene lining. I wore them for almost eight hours and found them to be incredibly comfortable. That didn’t come as a surprise though, because I’m a long-term fan of Muck Boots. I have a pair in plain navy which I wear over and over as well as the ankle-length pair I featured in a recent post. As you know, I spend a lot of hours out in cold, wet and muddy conditions watching my son play football. I need my wellies to be functional, comfortable and reliable and I want them to be stylish too. Muck Boots fulfill all of those criteria.

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The Farm at River Cottage

Almost all of the produce used in the catering at River Cottage is grown or reared on the farm. If not, it is sourced locally. One of the farmers took us round so we could pick berries and sorrel which we later used in creating our dinner.

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what lizzy loves foraging River cottage pears

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Lunch at River Cottage

The itinerary said that after foraging, we’d be served a light lunch of sharing platters. That was such an understatement! My goodness, it was the most amazing lunch. Local mussels (River Cottage is very close to the coast at Lyme Regis), roasted aubergines, slaw, beetroots, freshly baked bread and more. White wine, made just a few miles away made for the perfect accompaniment. It was divine from start to finish.

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Our Cookery Lesson at River Cottage

The main part of the day was a cookery class in one of the adjacent buildings. Here we learned some simple knife skills and made carrot hummus, flatbread and panna cotta. We also prepared polenta from a fresh corn on the cob and watched chef prepare some crispy kale.

I can’t tell you how good it was. The chef was very engaging and he made everything look and seem very straight-forward. Every single thing we made was not only delicious, but easy to recreate too. I hope this will help me to rediscover my cooking mojo.

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What Lizzy Loves River Cottage roast carrots hummus

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Photo c/o Chase PR

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Dinner at River Cottage

By the time our lesson was over, it was almost dark, the wind was whipping and it was raining. We headed back into the dining room. The roaring fire in the stove gave the room a completely different ambience to that at lunchtime.

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The individually hand-painted placecards were so cute and we each got a thank you card painted by the same artist. You can see the carrot hummus and flatbreads I made too.

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We sat down to enjoy a delicious selection of canapes.

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To start, we had pancetta and roasted tomatoes with polenta, (that we helped to prepare) and crispy kale. The mix of textures, flavours and colours was a treat for the senses.

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For our main course, we had lamb with celeraic mash and salsa verde.

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Now dessert was the panna cotta that we made during the lesson. We could choose from a selection of ingredients to flavour them and I chose fresh lemon verbena leaves and added a few blackberry leaves. The chef showed us how to turn the puddings out of their moulds and to plate them up. He’d made a raspberry coulis from the red and yellow raspberries we’d picked and he used it along with blackberries and sorrel leaves we’d foraged earlier in the day.

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Photo c/o Chase PR

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Although mine wasn’t quite as delicately garnished or as aesthetically pleasing as chef’s, it tasted beautiful. I can’t wait to make it at home.

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The meal ended with after dinner mints and coffe do then the tractor took us back up to the main road from where taxis took us to the hotel.

 

 

Dower House Hotel, Lyme Regis

Dower House is a beautiful small family-run hotel. It was around 10pm when we got there and we were all ready to retire for the night. The rooms are all individually designed and although mine was one of the smaller ones, it was absolutely perfect. Comfortable, stylish and well-equipped.

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Following breakfast, we were collected and taken back to the station. It was raining heavily a day dark when we’d arrived at the hotel, so it was lovely to see it in bright sunshine as we left.

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Truly, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I would absolutely love to return to River Cottage and do more cookery classes. Everyone there is so friendly and knowledgeable and it was a privilege to go there. Not only that, I have made some new friends and learned a few new recipes.

Thank you to the team at Chase Pr and at Muck Boots and to everyone at River Cottage. And remember that I genuinely love Muck Boots and I highly recommend them.