Happy Friday everyone – yes it is Friday if you’ve lost track of the days. Actually I’ve had a really busy week this week, things suddenly seem to have taken off again although I don’t know for how long and I’m not complaining – but actually I am a bit, I’d got used to having an empty Inbox! While we’re on the subject of complaining I’m just going to do the thing I keep telling my boys not to by dwelling on the things I’m missing out on. Today would have been the start of the weekend festival we always go to – remember my joy last year when Sister Sledge were my absolute highlight? It’s a time when Mr MC and I let our hair down and dance with wild abandon. To our alarm not one but all three of the boys had bought tickets to go with their friends this year too. We’ll now never know if they’d have cramped our style or joined us in our ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ moments.

It comes on top of last weekend’s disappointment when we were due to be in the Isles of Scilly. My very best Christmas present was an invitation from the tourist board there to go and spend a few days that included the low tide experience – for a few hours a sand bar that is usually five metres underwater appears and they put on a mini festival. It’s something I’ve always wanted to visit and with the weather as it was it would have been wonderful. Ah well… we all have these sadnesses about times missed at the moment and we just have to swallow them. Let’s move on.

I don’t have anything in particular to talk about today so I thought I’d do a cornucopia – beauty, books and weekend ideas. Here’s a collection of all kinds of things that I’ve been meaning to tell you about.

Cornucopia – beauty, books and weekend ideas

What I’ve been buying – clothing

Well not very much. I’ve really enjoyed sorting my summer at home wardrobe out because it isn’t something I usually pay much attention to. However, it’s pretty much completed now so unless really exciting pieces appear in the brands’ final drops of the season at the end of May, I’m done. The final item that I’ve been looking for is reasonably priced, tapered drawstring linen trousers. I have a navy pair from an early IdLF at Uniqlo collection and I wear them a lot on warm but cloudy summer days at home so I wanted a couple of alternative colours. It seems lots of people have had the same idea because the first ones I found had gone like hot cakes and were sold out in my size but I’m going to include them because there might be some left for you.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Tapered linen joggers – available in khaki, natural, navy, black, chambray, white and striped

And it was the same story everywhere I looked – I guess people are getting used to the relaxed waist this year. However in the end I found some. I’d usually wait until they were delivered so that I could show you how they look but they’re selling so quickly that I thought I’d point them out now. I won’t be wearing them with a crop top I should add, it’ll be a t-shirt on a warm day or a light jumper on a cooler one. I’ve ordered this sage colour and the natural.

drawstring linen trousers

Linen blend trousers (also available in natural, navy, pink, grey, and striped)

By the way a couple of people have noticed that I haven’t had my usual focus on M&S and asked if there’s a reason. There is – because of the way they’re managing their warehousing and distribution, bloggers have been asked not to feature them since lockdown began. I know they cancelled a lot of orders at the beginning of the outbreak but I do wonder just how much overstock they’re going to have at the end of this.

What I’ve been buying – Beauty

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been giving my nails a bit of a break from polish but now that new season’s here, I feel like painting them again. I’ve had a couple of requests from people who usually rely on salon gel manicures to cover how I look after my nails. I’ll start by saying I’m not an expert at this, the only reason that I do my own nails is because I don’t have the patience to spend that kind of time in a salon. Plus I like knowing that my nails are healthy underneath the polish and I hate the way they feel after gel is removed. So, I’ll run through what I do but please take it as advice from a low maintenance friend, not a pro beauty blogger.

Super simple manicure

On my desk I have a pot of this and when I’m sitting back and thinking something over, I rub it into my cuticles to keep them soft. It’s become a kind of meditation that I do for a couple of minutes every day.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Cuticle cream

I use this to remove any polish because it takes seconds and cuts down on cotton wool pads. You simply put your finger into the pot and swirl it round the sponge which removes the polish and you’re done. Bear in mind that you’ll get through it more quickly if you wear a lot of red or dark polish. I tend to replace mine about every four months.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Express nail polish remover

I then file using standard emery boards and I’ve just discovered that they seem to be out of stock everywhere at the moment, a sign that everyone’s doing their own nails I guess! Anyway I managed to find these and they have good reviews.

emery boards in stock

Dual sided cushioned nail files

Now if you’re not used to doing your own nails, the next step is the most important in my view and again I’ve really struggled to find the right items in stock but here you are, one that is well reviewed. I don’t use the first side because I prefer a normal emery board but the second one removes discolouration and ridges, the third smooths the surface ready for polish and the fourth buffs it to a shine if you want to have natural nails.

good quality nail buffers

Nail smoother and buffer

And then finally it’s time to polish. I’ve been using this base coat for a while because it has a little extra protection which means I can easily switch to natural nails if I want to.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Rejuvenation basecoat for dry nails

Then I move on to a colour. I’ve always used OPI’s Infinite Shine range because it has the same high lacquer effect as a gel manicure. My favourite colours are Big Apple Red and Dulce De Leche. However, given the condition of my nails recently I’ve just bought two new polishes from Nailberry which is breathable, oxygenated and water permeable. If the colour performs well I’ll probably move on to using all of their products. The trend for nail colours this summer is chalky sherbets so I’m starting with Lilac Fairy and a Touch of Powder.

Here’s Lilac Fairy on me today.

Nailberry lilac fairy review

I finish off with Leighton Denny’s top coat which again is sold out everywhere except M&S(!) It’s brilliant, it dries fast and gives nails a high gloss finish. And that’s it – not rocket science but so easy, preferably done in 20 minutes on a Sunday night while you watch something soothing like Antiques Roadshow which is much nicer than sitting in a nail bar.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Leighton Denny Top Coat

Body Serum

I’m not very high maintenance when it comes to beauty but as our horizons narrow under lockdown, there are things that I’ve become more aware of. One of those is the skin on my legs. Over the last few years I’ve been aware that the skin on my shins has become really dry and so it makes my legs look old. I always exfoliate in the shower and a couple of years ago I discovered this fantastic body lotion which makes a big difference everywhere else, especially your arms…

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Matrixyl body lotion


… but even that doesn’t help my shins which can just look lizardy. I saw a few beauty bloggers that I trust raving about this new AHA body serum so I thought I’d buy some and try it – and it’s making a difference. It’s pricey but you only need to use the size of a 20p coin so it will last.

REN smart body renewal serum review

REN smart renewal body serum (free delivery and save 10% with 10BEAUTY)

Incidentally I ordered this night cream at the same time which is supposed to help with age spots and pigmentation but I haven’t seen any results at all so far which is disappointing because the whole range is usually brilliant. I’ll let you know if it gets better with long term use.

ren overnight glow review

Overnight Glow

What I’ve been buying – Recent Reads

I’m on a winning streak with gripping books and have really enjoyed these over the last couple of weeks:

A brilliant book about a midlifer who embarks on a new path. I felt quite breathless as I was reading it and it didn’t end as I thought it would at all.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas


And then there’s Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan (author of Anatomy of a Scandal) which takes you straight back into the intensity of early motherhood and reminds you of the darker side of those years.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Little Disasters

New wine discovery

I usually buy our wine through a wine club but it’s only taking orders for pre-selected boxes at the moment which I’m not so keen on. I threw this into my shopping basket last week and if you’re a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc fan, it’s all dry gooseberries, just how NZ SB used to be before everyone started drinking it and it became mass produced and sickly sweet. Plus it’s on offer at the moment…

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Coolwater Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Listening to…

A reader sent me a link to an Ibiza Soundtrack compiled by her friend Jacky and I’ve been really enjoying it as I sit in the garden with a newspaper. It’s free to listen to, here’s the Spotify link and if you don’t have Spotify you can find it on YouTube here.

Cornucopia - beauty, books and weekend ideas

Feel Good Friday

I caught up with my friends at John Lewis & Partners this week which was so good – I feel more like myself when I connect back into the world of retail and hear what’s going on. Anyway, there are a few gems that I wanted to share with you. First of all they’re dedicating a section of their website to Feel Good Friday which is all about learning a new skill. They say that from “fitness to mindfulness, baking and arts and crafts we’ll be working with our Partners, celebrity experts and a range of charities and the NHS to ensure we all come out the other side having helped each other through it all.” There’s a different theme every week and you never know what will pop up. Today they’re talking about tapping into nature with gardening ideas for small spaces inside and out such as how to make a herb pot tower.

small herb garden ideas

There are also things like tips on working pattern into your interiors with 5 pattern rules you need to know and a JL&P Feel Good Friday playlist with lots of uplifting pop classics mixed in with some discovery tracks.

Please help judge a competition to support the NHS

They also asked me if Midlifechic readers would help to choose the winner of a children’s design competition that they’ve been running. Entrants have been invited to create a superhero bear and the winning design will be made into a cuddly toy to be sold at JL&P at Christmas with all profits going to the NHS. Hopefully this will all be over when we see the finished product but we’ll have a little smile knowing that we played a small part in Christmas at John Lewis & Partners this year – so please pop over and cast your vote. Voting closes tomorrow (Saturday 16th May) and you can find them if you scroll down here.

JL&P superhero bear competition

Did you know?

As you know I love retail insights so I found some of the updates that the team shared with me fascinating and I thought you might too so I asked them if they’d mind if I selected a few. Bear in mind that they cover both JL&P and Waitrose:

What’s topped customers’ shopping lists each week?

  • Toilet roll, rice, landline phones and freezers in week one,
  • Pasta machines and wine in week three
  • Gardening tools in week four

How shopping habits have changed

  • Basket sizes doubled in week two when Waitrose brought social distancing measures into place in its shops, while total customer numbers and shopping frequency fell
  • By week three, JohnLewis.com shopping patterns changed as the lack of a commute saw purchases spread throughout the day, although with a slight dip at 5pm as people tuned in for the Government briefing
  • By week four, searches for toys and books on JohnLewis.com started to spike at 8:30pm as parents looked for ways to keep children entertained
  • In week five, full trolley shops were up 56% at Waitrose compared to the same week last year. Single, meal-focused shops were down over 70%. JohnLewis.com saw customers putting more items in their shopping baskets per shop to streamline deliveries
  • By week six, the average weight of a Waitrose.com order was 30% higher than usual, and included 49% more items
  • Tequila sales have soared 175% as people look to create a party atmosphere, and liqueurs are up 78% as people try new cocktails and drinks at home

And I’ll leave you with those thoughts to tickle your brain for the weekend, don’t they give you an interesting insight into how we’re all coping? Oh and by the way Mr MC did a surprisingly good job with the back of my hair and the mullet has gone so I encourage you all to let your other halves loose with the scissors. He’s feeling very pleased with himself and his advice to any other haircutting conscripts is to go a millimetre at a time – it certainly did take him a while.

I’ll be back on Tuesday, the sunshine seems to be on its way back so have a happy weekend.

Disclosure: ‘Cornucopia – beauty, books and weekend ideas’ has been partly supported by John Lewis & Partners although I was, as always, free to choose what to write about. Thank you for supporting the brands who are helping to keep this blog going through these difficult times.

Retail offers

The White Company – 20% off everything here this weekend (ends Sunday use code TREAT20)

Hobbs – 25% off everything here

Whistles – 25% off all new season here

Jigsaw – 25% off everything here with code TREAT25

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