The Jones Wedding Update – June 2019

Oh wow…how has THIS much time passed since my last update on our wedding plans?

I remember thinking that May 2020 was AGES away when we first got engaged. Now, we’re six months to Christmas (!) and I feel like we’re running out of time – we’re 100% not, though.

We’ve now been engaged for almost six months. I’m still really enjoying it and still haven’t got over it. I really can’t wait to marry William in May next year BUT I definitely think I’m going to miss being engaged. It’s so fun and exciting.

Here is what we’ve been up to over the last three months…

Had an engagement party

In the end, I had nothing to worry about and the party was fab. So many people turned up and we were just overwhelmed with all the love. I felt amazing and Will looked so handsome. My only regret is that I didn’t take any photos at ALL – I’ve got a few from other people but no group shots.

Couple at engagement party in Ealing

Met with the venue

We met with the venue last week, armed with about 100 questions that had been rattling around in our heads. We came out feeling much more chilled and with a better idea of how our day is going to be and what it’s going to look like. Our wedding planner Michelle is amazing – she knows everything and there are no silly questions!

Gave our notice of marriage

This was CRAAAAZY. This is where you go to the actual registry office to give your actual intention of actually getting married. It felt so grown up and formal (which I suppose it is). This is where you confirm the venue and time of the ceremony and they ask you a heap of questions to make sure your marriage isn’t forced, or that you could potentially be related!? We headed to brunch afterwards to celebrate and it was just the perfect Saturday morning.

Arranged our wedding party

I asked Lucy to be a Bridesmaid like one week into the engagement as it was such an easy decision for me. We then confirmed one witness. More recently, Will asked some of his closest friends to be Groomsmen. We still need to confirm the Best Man and one other witness, but it’s something we want to do face-to-face so I’ll hold off saying anymore until the next update.

Gypsophilia flower or Baby's Breath in differet colours including pink, blue, yellow and green

Tried on more wedding dresses

I know the exact style of dress I want and can see it in my mind – I just haven’t found it yet. I’m also really concerned I’m going to buy one then regret it. I do need to get a move on though, as I want to leave enough time for adjustments. I just want it to be RIGHT.

We’ve been doing a great job of working as a team whilst planning and still haven’t found anything we really disagree on (except perhaps Will’s choice of First Dance song – Jurassic Park? No). I’ve been practising my second name and have booked a few restaurants under the name ‘Jones’ – it’s SO strange but I’m loving it.

We desperately want to go on holiday as we’ve both been working really hard and planning for a wedding can be stresssssssful, but we’re also aware of money so need to have a break on as much of a budget as possible. Again, we’re doing great as a team for saving so hopefully we’re on the right track.

There’s still so much to look forward to and we can’t wait!

 

Femme Luxe Haul Review

– This post contains gifted products –

I made a few resolutions at the start of the new year. I’d had a crazy, stressful 2018 and had been on a jouuuuuurNEY with my mental health and anxiety. Luckily, I was finally coming out the other side and had amazingly just become ENGAGED.

Quite frankly, I was sick of feeling sick in myself. I don’t want to say all of my resolutions – although I might further down the line – as it’s all still a work in progress. However, one of them was to begin dressing more adventurously and trying to accept my body and face for how they are.

My general uniform is black jeans, heeled boots or AirMax, with a variety of different ‘nice tops’. I admire fashion from afar, often jumping on trends too late, usually at the tail-end of the item’s popularity. Part of this is confidence, but part of it is definitely because I just don’t have the ‘eye’ for fashion. A few of my friends throw outfits together without even blinking and look incredible, it’s a skill. I just either stick to what I know or half-heartedly copy my pals.

I digress. I wanted to start wearing things that I wasn’t used to and start loving myself more. I’m approaching 30 (shut up) and I won’t have this body forever; it needs to be enjoyed instead of covered up! In the age of fast fashion, things are becoming easier for Fashion Losers like me. Returns are super easy, so I can buy a heap of stuff and only keep what I enjoy wearing and the CHOICE of items is just incredible.

Femme Luxe black and white logo

Bold choices

I was approached by Femme Luxe to try out some of their new clothing range. I was delighted, of course, but found myself adding things to the basket that were things I was used to. I had to stop and make myself choose some items that I would have once admired from a distance. These clothes are likely to be standard for everyone else but I was super pleased with my choices.

The ordering process was easy and the items were dispatched quite quickly. However, when I checked the dispatch notice, I saw that a couple of items including a great pair of jeans were not on there. I double checked and I’d definitely ordered them. When I contacted customer service, I was told that the items probably weren’t in stock. That was confusing to me as usually the website is updated if something is out of stock. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was a little disappointing that this wasn’t communicated to me.

Blonde girl wearing Femme Luxe khaki lounge set

Lounge sets for life

The first outfit I chose was a khaki lounge set. I’ve majorly relaxed my style since meeting Will. I used to wear heels everywhere and have a FULL face of makeup morning, noon and night. I didn’t even own a pair of trainers. He has taught me that I can be loved and be a great person to be around without all that. With that revelation came the age of Ella In Athleisure. God I love a lounge set with trainers.

This one was different though. It’s cropped. I’ve hated my stomach for as long as I can remember and often get caught in a little bubble of feeling gross about it. It’s not until I am shown a picture of myself that I can actually see that I’m not fat. Like, at all. N.B. This is a story for another day.

The set is really up my street – it’s not the most quality of fabrics but it definitely does the job. I’d say that the sizing is good – I chose a 10. The top was fine but the bottoms were a little loose on my legs. I’d probably size down next time. Although the top is cropped, the trousers come up high, so I actually felt much more comfortable than I thought I would.

This set was £31 but there are often great deals and discounts on Femme Luxe so keep an eye out.

Blonde girl wearing Femme Luxe khaki lounge set crouched on decking

Free the nipple

I have absolutely no problem getting the girls out and this black bodysuit was a winner when I first saw it. I think I’m going to wear it to Wireless with some coloured nipple pasties underneath. I like the backless look, too. It’s true to size, the size 10 was fine for me.

Girl wearing black lace bodysuit and zip leggings from Femme Luxe

I paired the bodysuit with the Femme Luxe zippered high-waist leggings. Unfortunately, the material is quite thin so you could see the body suit seams, which isn’t a good look. Again, I’d ordered size 10 which was a little on the big size for my legs, but fit nicely on the waist. I’d probably size down next time!

Blonde girl facing away from the camera wearing Femme Luxe bodysuit and zippered leggings

Femme Luxe verdict?

Femme Luxe has so much choice across the site and is definitely going to help me in making bolder fashion choices. Although there were a couple of issues with my items, the ones they did send arrived really quickly. The materials used are obviously not the best BUT, at these amazing fast-fashion prices, what would you expect?

I’m impressed enough to want to work with Femme Luxe again, so I hope I’ll be sharing a few more outfits over the coming months. Maybe I’ll get better at posing in my garden. Who knows?

INTERVIEW: Yoni femcare launches in the UK – what are you putting between your legs?

Yoni branded tampons on pink background– this post contains gifted products –

Yoooo…it’s your girl Ella, talking about her fanny on the internet again!

Are you surprised? Probably not.

When news of an organic cotton femcare company dropped into my inbox, I couldn’t resist having a look.

Yoni has now launched in the UK and is standing up to break the taboo around periods and asking women to question what products they are using each month.

Yoni was born when its CEO entrepreneur and co-founder Mariah Mansvelt Beck saw a specialist after going through a cervical cancer scare, who advised her to use cotton products. This led her to question, for the first time, her sanitary product choices.

Yoni’s tampons and pads are made from 100% organic cotton, with no chemicals, pesticides, or other synthetic materials added (which sets them apart from the majority of available supermarket brands.) In addition, it’s all recyclable and compostable packaging.

Have you tried the products?

Yes! On first sight, the packaging was lovely. On using the products, although they weren’t worlds away from what I’ve been used to in the past, I did have a sense of clarity that I knew exactly what they were made from and absolutely no guilt, knowing that I wasn’t contributing to plastic waste. I found them to be super absorbent and as good, if not better, than any supermarket brand.

I caught up with Yoni’s CEO entrepreneur and co-founder Mariah to ask some important questions.

How did you come to question the materials that make up our standard menstrual products and set up Yoni?

The seed for Yoni was planted in a personal experience. When I turned 30 in the Netherlands, you’re always asked to come in for a health check-up. I did so and found out a few weeks later that I was developing cervical cancer.

Luckily, I was in the early stages but I had to go in and out of hospital for the next 6 months and have a couple of procedures and operations. I kept asking my doctors, what can I do to further support my health?

One of my doctors advised me to stop using normal tampons and pads and start using organic cotton tampons and pads to prevent further irritation. Immediately, that was enough for me to want to make a change. So I started to look for the products and I couldn’t find them in my normal supermarket, so I had to go to special organic-minded stores.  But sometimes, I couldn’t find these products and was faced with having to use products I no longer wanted to use.

So, one rainy Sunday in Amsterdam, I went and had tea with one of my best friends from university, Wendelien, and we started talking about this and she asked me, well what are my normal products actually made from, aren’t they just made from cotton? So we got out the boxes of products that she had and we looked at the box and that’s really when the lightbulb moment happened. We thought, there’s nothing, there’s no ingredients listed on these products. For such an intimate product, that came as a surprise. I think for any hand soap, detergent, food product, all of these things, cosmetic products, you’ll find the composition of the product on the packaging. But for these products there was nothing.

A couple of months later, we gave up our jobs and set up a tampon company! We took a few months to research what these products are made from, but we had immediately had quite a strong vision of what the brand should be. 

For those who don’t know, what do the word yoni mean?

Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina. I knew the word and I needed to spend a weekend thinking about whether I was going to call my company Yoni. But it makes sense, it’s what we want to do.

Do you believe there is a stigma around menstruation – and why has it taken so long to tackle it?

If you look back in history, menstruation has always been a taboo. The word taboo is actually derived from the Polynesian language I believe and means “alongside menstruation” itself.

In all of the religions menstruation was in some way a taboo. I believe that’s because the female body and the female cycle was not understood. Something that is not understood could be seen as great and powerful but could also be potentially very dangerous. Something that is potentially dangerous needs to be kind of kerbed in. So you’ve got these rules or rituals that women needed to stick to or weren’t allowed to participate fully in.

It’s not even that long ago that even in Western culture there was the idea that if you were menstruating that butter wouldn’t churn, or if you touched the flowers that they would wilt!

How eco-friendly are Yoni products? Will they contribute to the one-use plastic problem?

We’ve always said with Yoni, if you really want to have the most, best environmental option that you can use in terms of your femcare products, then I would definitely say, use a reusable product.

However, we’re saying that we’re taking you on a step in the right direction using organic cotton, having cardboard applicators, and packaging that is biodegradable, or at least as much as is possible for right now.

Our products are made from organic cotton, which is an important choice because it’s hypo-allergenic, it breathes, which is what you do not have with a pad that has a plastic layer over the top. All of our products are all certified by the Soil Association. The backing of our pads and panty liners are made from a corn starch, which is biodegradable.

Have you always been so open about female sexuality and menstruation?

No, I don’t feel like I was in particular. I don’t feel like I was overtly private about these issues, but I definitely wasn’t the friend who always wanted to talk about my menstruation, not at all.

We came to this business from a very personal story and at the start I don’t think we were necessarily aware how taboo it was, what we were actually getting ourselves into, so I’ve grown into it.

For me, not everyone has to go on stage and talk about menstruation. Not everyone needs to parade their tampons in the office, but if you’re holding it with real shame and you feel it’s in some way limiting yourself, then that’s something we need to work on.

Yoni promotional image of tampon

Which taboos are you trying to break?

Yoni is looking to break the taboos around menstruation. My whole story of how the femcare industry up until now has really built themselves upon the taboo. It’s a problem, menstruation is a hygienic problem, it needs to be secretive. We have the solution, these are our products.

What we’re doing, using the word period and to have the word vagina on the packaging. To me, these are products for your vagina and therefore your period, so it’s nothing revolutionary. But, to have that on-pack is revolutionary. For some people this may be surprising and off-putting. But the intention is to actually start speaking about something that hasn’t been spoken about. 

Yoni products are available at Sainsbury’s, Planet Organic and the Yoni store – are you hoping to expand the availability of the products across the UK?

Yes, definitely. My aim and my belief is that organic cotton products should be made available on every shelf basically where you find femcare products. At this point in time we intend to get into more pharmacies and into other supermarkets and build it up from there.

What, in your opinion, is the future for femcare and the narrative on menstruation?

There are a number of things I’d like to see change about the femcare industry.

I’d like to see that every product that goes on the shelf should be transparent about the ingredients in the products. That’s something that I think the whole industry should be moving towards and that regulators and policy makers should be also helping the industry to move that way.

I’d like to change the whole narrative of the taboo around menstruation and so that you can have the conversation with your daughters, with your sons, your friends, with your healthcare providers and don’t feel limited in their being because of something that is part of them. 

St Moriz Express Mousse Tan Review and Bridal Prep

– this post contains gifted products –

Stop the actual press, could I have found the tan of my dreams?

I was recently sent the new St Moriz Express Mousse Tan to try. It’s a new water-to-mousse formula and I was excited to try out a water product from such a budget-friendly brand.

Here’s what the brand has to say about the product:

“This moisturising formula has been created to provide you with the perfect tan. The Express Tanning Mousse starts to develop after just one hour and can be left on the skin until you have

reached your desired shade. Once rinsed off, the product will continue to develop, leaving behind a gorgeous glow. With fragrance technology, this mood boosting mousse will leave you feeling tan-tastic!”

Well, I have to say – it’s a yes from me.

Application

I first used the tan on Friday night, ahead of a girly brunch. Fully prepped and primed, I applied the tan using the new St Moriz tanning mitt. I think a lot of brands are really beginning to realise that the tools to apply tan as just as important as the formula itself, and I was suitably impressed by this mitt – it felt thicker and smoother than ones I’ve used before.

Because the water turns to mousse, for me it took the guesswork out of where you’re applying product, as with Tanologist which dries super quickly and doesn’t give you much ‘play time’. The mousse was really, really smooth, with a scent I haven’t encountered with any tan so far. It was clean-smelling, pleasant. The mark of this is that William didn’t call me ‘biscuit tin’ once whilst using this tan. Bonus – the sheets didn’t smell either!

Once applied, the tan is slightly tacky, but I was able to put clothes on about 5-10 minutes later. I also washed my hands an hour in (cos sis, I have learnt my lesson).

Development

I wasn’t blown away by the development of this in the first few hours, but I think it’s because I’ve been used to tanning behemoths such as Skinny Tan’s Pro-Tan Moisture Mousse which you really need to be SO CAREFUL with. However, in the morning, my tan had become this beautiful golden brown colour, which really complimented my hair and eyes – no orange streaks either.

I’d say it’s definitely a tan you need time for, i.e. I’d recommend planning ahead and leaving it overnight. If you needed a quicker result, use St Moriz Insta-Grad Tanning Mousse.

Aftermath

As it’s not a very, very dark tan, the patchiness wasn’t as dramatic, which is a dream when you’re busy in the week. I got a good few days out of the initial Friday tan application and only scrubbed and started again on Wednesday – which is true to the brand claims that the tan give you five days of good colour.

I was so impressed, I used the tan again when we all went to Rugby Sevens the following week, and was complimented on my tan several times. I’d also applied some St Moriz Body Bronzer and Highlighter to add some extra glow.

The downside to this tan? I’m going to run out soon.

Not sure it comes out very well in the pictures, but have some stupid neon ones of us at R7s anyway.

 

What else have I been trying?

Finding the perfect tan has been part of my (very early, I know) bridal prep. In addition to the tan quest, I’ve been using a few other things.

Money is pinched at the moment due to the wedding, and who can honestly be bothered to pay a solid £75 to the hygienist? We’ve been taking care of our teeth with our amazing Oral B electric toothbrushes. We’ve gone the extra mile though with Dentek Easy Brushes and Floss Picks. For me, it just feels extra, extra clean and so much easier than traditional flossing. Visit the website to see the full range.

We’re also being really healthy at the moment. I’m being a whiz in the kitchen and making so many healthier choices. Can’t beat some extra vitamins though, right? We’ve been using Wiley’s Finest Wild Alaskan Fish Oil. We have both capsule and liquid form and you’re supposed to have a capsule or 15ml with food – to be honest it’s become part of our routine in the evenings. The liquid is lime flavoured and is nice on its own or can be added to food so it makes things very flexible. The capsules have Vitamin K2 MenaQ7 in which is good for your heart – perfect for any pre-wedding stresses!

We double and triple checked whether Will could have this supplement with his epilepsy. It’s a bugger like that, for example, he suffers from hayfever and isn’t allowed antihistamines! Funnily enough, we found LOADS of research and anecdotal evidence that fish oil can be beneficial for epileptics, reducing seizures because it contains docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. Although these claims aren’t 100% substantiated as fact, we’re taking it and running. Available from wileysfinest.co.uk.

We went to Chernobyl and Pripyat…because of course we did

Couple standing in front of the abandoned ferris wheel in the town of Pripyat

Back in February, Will and I headed to Ukraine to visit Chernobyl and Pripyat.

This was 100% not a surprise to our close friends, as it’s just the type of place we’d go. However, we had so many shocked reactions from people who know us less well, wondering why we’d ever go to a place like that.

Well, this is why. It’s different, it’s interesting, it’s an experience and crucially – it’s IMPORTANT.

A major historic event took place in Chernobyl on 26th April 1986, and it needs to be remembered.

31 people died as a direct result of the Chernobyl blast, not including the fireman who gave their lives helping to contain the radiation.  In addition, untold numbers were affected following the settling of radioactive dust afterwards, its effects still undefined.

I won’t go into the finer details, but you should watch ‘Surviving Disaster‘ on YouTube – it explains everything well without losing the human element. It also stars Ade Edmondson and you can’t go wrong there, really. There is a new series on HBO called Chernobyl too, which people are enjoying – it’s great that more people know about it.

We filmed a fair amount of content whilst we were there, but not everything. Chernobyl and the ghost town Pripyat is a place that needs to be fully appreciated for what it is, rather than filmed non-stop. I’m glad we got some footage, but I’m even more glad we experienced it.

We’ve another video coming up, which includes our time staying in Ukraine and some questionable local spirits…stay tuned!