For regular readers, you’ll have noticed the change in my blog and social media channels. I have gone from being ‘Californian Mum in London’ to ‘Elfa in London’ (although my website address has remained the same). Although my blog content will continue to be as before, I thought a name change was needed. So I thought I would share the reasons why.
I can barely believe it, but I have lived in the UK for 16 1/2 years. How can this be?! I remember arriving here on a two-year visa, ready to embark on a relationship with the loveliest British man in the world. I had never lived with a boy before, let alone moving thousands of miles to live with one. I was so nervous when I left California and arrived in London. But as you know, the risk was worth it. And so far, so god.
I have been blogging for five years now. One year into the blog, I registered as self-employed and turned my hobby into a part-time job. And for the most part, I enjoy working from home. There is a flexibility which means that I can work while the kids are at school, or in the evenings on busy days. It also means I can take a week off here and there when life gets overwhelming. But for all the benefits, it can be lonely.
I sometimes miss being in an office full of people. I miss chats while the kettle is boiling, jokes over lunch and after-work drinks. And it turns out that I’m not alone. In September, Epson held a briefing at their EcoTank Pop-up shop in Covent Garden. Vicki Psarias, from Honest Mum, was there talking about homeworking. She noted that 48% of freelancers felt lonely, blaming a lack of social life as one of the main reasons. Epson put on their pop-up during September and October to give freelancers a place to go and work.
First of all, plus-size is such an annoying term. But I don’t want to say that I’m a ‘bigger gal’ or that I’m ‘chunky’. I’m just not thin. And I’m not saying that in a woeful sad way. Nor am I thrilled with my body. Like many mothers, I just never lost the baby weight. I’m not happy about this, but I can’t live my life beating myself up about the size of my thighs.
For a few years, after I had my son, I would mainly wear black and navy. I would hide behind/in dark colours, as I thought that they disguised the excess weight. But the thing is, wearing all black doesn’t make you look 30 pounds lighter. And it doesn’t make you invisible. But when you’re overweight, you often don’t want anyone to look at you. You don’t want to stand out in a crowd.
Do you ever get a new pair of shoes that fill you with utter happiness? Well, this happened last week when my new leopard sandals arrived. I had been eyeing them up on the Hotter website for over a month. Umming and ahhing. Do I really need new sandals? It turns out that I really did. After all, my wardrobe was severely lacking in leopard ones (meaning I had none).
I almost never wear heels, so I try and find flat shoes that look stylish and not frumpy. And for summer, these leopard sandals are ideal. They ooze elegance but never make you feel like a nana (sorry nana). But it’s true, I love being comfortable and refuse to suffer for style. Yes, I would love to wear some three-inch heels, but I know it would kill my back and give me a leg ache.
When you’re chubby and in your 40s, you can feel like there’s no place for you in the fashion industry. There are all these gorgeous, skinny women in magazines and on Instagram. And sometimes you can’t help but feel inferior. But recently, I have started following more women over 40. More women of different shapes. And it has re-ignited my love of fashion.
Did I ever mention that I was an introvert? It’s probably partly genetic, but I think it’s mostly to do with the way I grew up. I was the youngest but was raised as an only child. I never lived with any of my siblings. And while part of me was lonely, part of me enjoyed the solitude. Or maybe I just grew accustomed to spending a lot of time on my own. Regardless, it has shaped me into an adult who needs a certain amount of alone time.
Over Christmas, I spent a wonderful two weeks in Florida with my family. And though we had a lovely time, I was excited at the end of the trip for some time to myself. While I love spending time with Husband, Moozles and Dubz, my sense of well-being requires alone time. I need to have quiet so I can think and read and write. And even when watching television, I don’t like people talking to me or walking near me.
I can’t believe that four years ago I threw caution to the wind and started a blog. I actually spent a few days deciding upon a name, but on the 20th October 2013, I published my first post. I wasn’t sure how to introduce myself or my blog, so I just rambled on as per usual. Not much has changed.
I remember being equally scared that no one would read the blog and that people would actually read it. It’s a funny thing, putting your heart and mind out into the world. In one way, you want to share your thoughts. Perhaps someone, somewhere, feels alone. Perhaps someone needs a laugh. Maybe you want to share your adventures. Perhaps someone wants ideas for a fun outing or a family-friendly restaurant.
Recently, I have had a few people make really kind comments about my skin. I have always had problem skin – breakouts, oiliness and large pores. But at 42, my skin is actually better than it has ever been. So I thought I would share the items that I use everyday. Some are from the drug store, and some are higher-end. And no, I don’t use night or eye cream, and I understand that’s terrible. I will one day, I promise.
First of all, I wash my face with Simple Oil Balancing Exfoliating Wash. I have combination skin and this is the best thing I’ve ever used for washing my face. It has witch hazel, which is a natural anibacterial. My skin is sensitive, and this has never irritated my face. And it costs less than £5. Such a bargain.
Last week was my 42nd birthday. And while it is not traditionally thought of as a significant birthday – I think all birthdays are special. So we packed the kids off to their grandparents for a few days, and Husband and I enjoyed the sites and restaurants of London. Regular readers may remember that we spent my birthday in York last year. We had so much fun, but this year we thought we’d enjoy the capital city.
On Friday, my actual birthday, Husband booked us a table at Bob Bob Ricard. It is a Russian restaurant, elegantly decorated. Rather than normal tables, they have booths, and each booth comes with a ‘Press for Champagne’ button. As you can imagine, it is a popular place for Champagne-lovers. As the restaurant is quite over-the-top, I wanted some dramatic make-up. One of my nieces works at Laura Mercier at the Bentall Centre in Kingston and she booked me in for a makeover.
Four months ago, one of my mummy friends emailed me to ask if I’d like to join her on the Moonwalk London. She suggested that we walk 26 miles in the middle of the night, in our bras. I don’t know if I was more horrified at the prospect of wearing a bra in public, or walking 26 consecutive miles. Before I could reply back (telling her that she had probably emailed the wrong friend), she emailed to say that perhaps we could do the half marathon instead. Upon reflection, and after looking at the Moonwalk website, I hesitantly agreed.
If you’re not familiar with Moonwalk London, it is a nightime walk to raise money for breast cancer. Wearing the bras is a way to show solidarity as well as to raise awareness and to just have some fun. Walk the Walk organise the Moonwalk challenges (in the UK and abroad) and this year was the 20th anniversary of Moonwalk London.