Month: June 2017


I need to talk about beauty products again. As you may remember from my recent post concerning luxury soap, I’ve been working on commercial projects that involved gourmet soap and premium shower gel, body lotion, body butter and related categories such as shampoo. This has caused a lot of these products to cross my path. As a result of this, I have a new favourite brand. I am genuinely so excited about this brand, as you can tell by the fact that I hardly ever promote brands and products on The Life You Want. The fact that it’s making TLYW news lets you know it is something special.

ShimmerLuxe is a new British business based in Darlington, in the north of England. The woman behind the business is Victoria McKone and she makes products by hand and retails them via Etsy.

shimmerluxe 1

I tried Victoria’s Whipped Soap in two flavours: Clementine Jelly and Chocolate Truffle. It thoroughly delighted me and then I discovered the Body Butter in flavours Cafe Caramel and Sugared Almond.

When I opened these jars of product, three things made me fall in love immediately. Firstly, the smell is divine. This stuff smells like real, fresh food. The clementine and chocolate smell fresh and delicious, good enough to eat right out of the jar. The caramel is rich and satisfying. The sugared almond is a heavy scent while still in the jar but lasts on the skin with a subtle, light, powdery, sugary fragrance.

The second thing that appealed to me was the look of the product. Both soap and butter look like ready-to-eat desserts. This is neither a heavy, solid block of soap nor a bottle of runny lotion. The products look like whipped cream or butter, ready to eat.

shimmerluxe 4

The third thing was the texture, wow. These are very dense, rich products. You push your finger into the virgin swirls of creamy soap and scoop out a little to use. They are both firm, the body butter a little firmer than the soap. An incredibly satisfying consistency; heavy, slightly resistant, the butter is almost slightly crumbly under pressure and when kept cool. I love to keep body butters in the fridge, especially in hot summer weather. Cooling them to a firm consistency also makes them last longer, because I don’t scoop so much out of the jar. ShimmerLuxe butter seems to respond better to being cooled in the fridge than any other brand that I’ve tried. In a moment of unusual lucidity, I installed a fridge in the bedroom. A small one, a bar fridge. For San Pellegrino and body butter. That’s all it stocks. I am so impressed with myself sometimes.

bedroom fridge

I road-tested the ShimmerLuxe products. I’ve been using them anyway but I’ve just taken a shower with Chocolate Truffle soap and Cafe Caramel body butter for the purposes of this review.

Whipped Soap. The chocolate smell is gorgeous. The key thing with this product is the silky smooth way it is going to slide on to your skin, so don’t use one of those nylon shower puffs. Use your hands or smear a dollop on to a sponge and don’t let it absorb into the sponge too much before applying. Feels like silk. Silk and chocolate in the shower, what could be more indulgent.

Body Butter. My skin cannot get enough of this stuff. It comes out of the jar so heavy and rich, more solid than liquid, but my skin drinks it up. After use, my skin is moist, soft and smells like caramel.

Victoria, please make face masks and hair masks!

I was so excited about ShimmerLuxe that I contacted Victoria to ask her some questions about the products and brand.

Victoria, what inspired you to start your own brand of body care products?

I’ve always loved being in the water – bath times especially. Having dry skin and bouts of eczema however, meant that bath times were full of depressing prescription products. A few years ago I narrowed my problem dry skin down to SLS, a particularly harsh foaming agent, so it goes without saying it’s not in any of my products! As I got older I decided I was going to go into the beauty industry and run my own little business; with a passion for natural nails in particular. I’ve always enjoyed making a mess really – whether its baking, going a bit mad with the glitter on a client’s nails, or tinkering about making lotions and potions.
I already have one job that I love that’s pretty flexible, so being able to create and sell something else that I’m passionate about is fabulous.

Which are your best selling items and what do customers like about them?

So far customer favourites seem to be the Whipped Body Butters. A little goes a long way, they are super nourishing for the skin & they smell delicious! The body butters are closely followed by Bath products. My personal favourite products are the Buttercream Bath Truffles, which are a mildly fizzy nourishing bath bomb. They are intended to be chopped in half so you get 2 uses from them but sometimes I’m a bit greedy and pop a whole one in the bath when I’m in a bit of a rush, I don’t feel I need to moisturise afterwards that way.

What do you wish people knew about ShimmerLuxe products? What would you like to tell them?

All our products are handmade by me to strict EU regulations and assessed by a cosmetic chemist, Products are tested, tweaked and tested again by myself and some very willing victims. And (Most importantly to me) all our products are SLS free!

Do you have any new products in the pipeline that we should look forward to?

Definitely more bath products, they are my favourite to use and my favourite to make, it’s really messy and you get the chance to be a bit more creative with shapes and colours. I’m also going to be bringing out a couple of body oils – I have a beautiful tuberose fragrance that would be just perfect in something like that.

You’re a woman who is running her own business and actively making the life she wants – what would you say to other women who are wondering if they can start small businesses or make other positive changes in their lives?

On building a business I think it’s so important to have done the right research, in the products themselves, the legal requirements, etc. You don’t have to start big but I feel it’s so important for everything to be cohesive. I think you can build a better brand if everything matches to an extent; it’s all in the details!. Life is hectic and can carry you away sometimes, so I think its vital to take time to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Having a bath is a chance to peel off your old skin and start afresh. Very important for body and mind.

ShimmerLuxe is at Bar fridge not included.


Days Gone: new gameplay video from Sony

Sony’s upcoming zombie game, Days Gone, promises to be utter mayhem and I cannot recall when I’ve awaited a game with more excitement. There is still no release date and I heard a rumour that it might be delayed until 2019, but I can wait patiently if it means they want to take time to get it right. A late game is only bad while it is late, until it is good enough for release; a game that is released in a bad condition stays bad for ever.

Anyway, Sony just published a new video to keep everyone’s excitement up. It shows actual gameplay, survival elements and story and I am surprised how involved it is. Someone said it was like the result of Horizon Zero Dawn and The Last of Us getting into bed with each other. In that case, we are in for an unholy treat. Here it is, 7 minutes of gameplay.

Everything is going just beautifully with Harry and I am loving it. He takes all our dates very seriously, so we go out and do things around London. It’s such early days, we only had our first date a month ago, but it feels like something. It feels like dating in a way that is more than just a euphemism for casual sex.

I think we are officially dating.

Harry came to tea. He stayed for dinner. Then he stayed the night. It was our fourth date.

I think we have a relationship up and running. It is so nice and easy so far. No disconnects. N’est pas un problème.

He proved to be quite assertive over the course of the evening and I let him have the upper hand, within the mitigating and constraining circumstances of the upper hand actually being mine.

And now for a tune. Shut up.

Sin With Sebastian: Shut up And Sleep With Me (1995)


Clean as Christmas 

A rare photo of my house looking clean and tidy and it’s not even Xmas. Look at the shine on that floor.

Still to do:

  • clean the small bathroom, replace bath mat
  • wash dishes
  • clean kitchen floor (no time to repaint)
  • swish and swipe larger bathroom
  • clean the visible bits of the fridge
  • mop hall floor
  • remaining dusting as necessary
  • clean marks off walls and woodwork that I missed last night
  • hoover floors that haven’t been done yet
  • take rubbish out
  • put towels in bathrooms
  • go to supermarket and buy a Victoria sponge
  • shower, wash hair
  • nails
  • bleach teeth
  • allow plenty of time for make-up
  • try to find a dress that is flattering and doesn’t need ironing

I hope he doesn’t want to come over too early. I’d better get on.

Tea Set

I can’t believe I was foolhardy enough to invite Harry over when I was right in the middle of de-cluttering the spare room. I had already pulled all the junk out of that room and it was all over the floor in the living room and hall. It was well past the stage where I could just shove the junk back where it came from. The only way out was through. That’s why I’ve been doing housework for 24 hours now and yet I’ve only just arrived at the stage where I can vacuum the floors.

Anyway, he is coming to tea tomorrow and I am looking forward to it. My house will be as clean as it ever gets by then and we will be able to use my Portmeirion tea set, which I have been looking forward to. I do love a nice tea set. This one even has matching spoons. You can get yours here.

Portmeirion is a pottery and also a highly unusual village and resort in North Wales. I remember my grandparents taking me when I was a kid. I’d like to return. Maybe I’ll go with Harry if we keep seeing each other.

portmeirion aerialviewofvillage


Starry Skies, Chapter 9: Slices of Pie

I had to tell Chockney that we are done with each other. I was trying my best but it could have taken years for him to break through the iron fortress that appeared around me whenever I was in proximity with him and he started talking about commitment. I was going to let him come over and do some building work at my flat but then I had a magical third date with Harry which made me want to save my free time for him, so that meant Chockney had to be dismissed. I tried to be nice about it. I let him go.

Harry. We looked at paintings, then we had lunch, then we sat on a sofa in the book shop and looked at books about paintings. I could say a lot of things about how I felt and what I thought. Let me try instead to recall what he was saying and doing.

  • We were sleepy after lunch and when I tired of looking at books, he put his arm around me so I could rest my head on his chest.
  • If I offer him my hand, he holds it and strokes it.
  • He put his hand on my waist when we were kissing. He’s not aggressive at all. He’s very delicate and he moves slowly.
  • He made some reference to Our First Date, like it was a thing, which it was. He said happily of our three dates so far (dinner, opera, paintings) that they were all really nice days. I’m glad he’s enjoying himself, I certainly am. I would look at paintings anyway but it is so nice when you have a young companion who kisses you and says intelligent things.
  • He said that I am the first person who has had anything positive to say about his work. Everyone else he has tried to date disapproves. But it is his job. It’s a lot easier sustaining or even starting a dating relationship when the other person isn’t dead set against your job. In subsequent text messages, he was quite chatty on the subject.
  • I invited him over to my place, he is coming on Sunday. He said ‘afternoon or evening?’ and I said ‘afternoon, but don’t book anything for the evening, we’ll go out and have dinner locally’. This reply made him look happy.

When I see him, it will be our fourth date. And that’s why Chockney had to go.

We went to see Wayne Thiebaud at White Cube in Piccadilly. I absolutely love WT, he is one of my favourite artists. American post-war painting of cakes, slices of pie, sweets, lollipops, ice creams, bubble gum machines. Brush strokes are thick. Shadows are heavy and long. Lollipops lie slain. Donuts are kept in isolation. Quite often, pairs of things appear but are not allowed to have any contact. It criticises mass-produced, synthetic, post-war, commercial food at the same time as participating in it. The items are both grotesque and strangely delicious looking. I think so, anyway. I would eat most of the things painted by Wayne Thiebaud. Harry didn’t agree on this point and I expect that’s why he’s thinner than I am. The White Cube exhibition is on until 2 July. If you can’t make it to the exhibition, I might point out that there are numerous lovely books about Thiebaud here and you should probably have one for your art library.

Starry Skies, Chapter 8: Ice

I was in the London Bridge area last night because I was on a second date with Chockney, who you may remember from Chapter 6.

In theory, Chockney is perfect. He is very attractive, despite his advanced years. He is sensitive and artistic, yet solvent (makes a nice change, usually if the people I date have any money it’s because they are still living off their parents). He is clever. He’s transparent and not secretive. He’s quite engaging and he’s a nice person. He’s sincere. He really likes me. He is my age. He is available for a relationship.

As you know, dear readers, I fall in love about twice a week, but as for being in a relationship, I would have to cast my mind all the way back to 2010, by which time that relationship was in a terrible state and had been for a couple of years, which is why I ended it and started this blog. The last seven years have been the happiest years of my life. I’m so glad I captured it all here.

Chockney talks about being in a relationship like it’s perfectly normal, which I don’t think it is. I don’t think it is normal. It’s common but not normal. He uses phrases like “being on my own” which make absolutely no sense to me, I have no idea at all what it means and I’m not very sympathetic to it. We’re all alone, all the time, from birth until death, and anything else is an illusion.

I can no longer remember what being in a relationship is like. The aspects I can remember aren’t very valuable to me. Honestly, I think I just hated the drudgery of parenting and being in a relationship made it slightly more bearable. But the parenting is over now, he’s grown up and gone to live in another city. There isn’t anything in my life that I don’t like except for doing my tax return and having to think about things like mortgages and pensions. In every other respect, my life is sweet and a work of art.

I don’t even know what I am doing with this guy. The last time I had real feelings for someone, it was the Person Who I Wasn’t Supposed To Be In Love With in 2015 and 2016. That was sincere love. I miss it a lot, I miss him a lot. I wish I could have that again but now I’ve found someone who basically ticks all the boxes and is offering a Real Relationship, I am horrified. I am a block of ice. I don’t mind having dinner and listening to myself make conversation, I am very engaging company. But I don’t want to be kissed and sex could not be any further from my mind. He takes for granted that I’m not seeing anyone else, because he’s not concentrating hard enough to ask the right questions. Am I ‘in a relationship’ with anyone else, definitely not, and have not been for 7 years. Are there people in my life who I am in some way involved with, yes, obviously, there always those people. All the time. Even if we don’t count Harry, there are two people in France who are excitedly waiting for me to come out there and join them in August. I’m spending a week in the south of France with the rich American lawyer and then I’m going straight from him to a games designer who I’ve known for a number of years who lives in the part of France that borders Switzerland. None of these things could correctly be described as ‘being in a relationship’ but they are very much real people and they are alive. They are what I have instead of a partner.

Chockney assumes that if we begin A Relationship (in fact, I think he thinks it has already begun), it will be monogamous. Again, because he thinks monogamy is normal and not merely common, he doesn’t ask me. He just assumes that monogamy is what people do, probably because he is old. If he asked me, he would discover that I haven’t been in a monogamous relationship since I was 16. That was the 1980s. That’s how long ago it was. If I tried something once in the 1980s and haven’t done it again since, that’s a reliable sign that I don’t want it and I am not interested.

I am a block of ice. I am a nuclear winter in a pretty frock and meticulous make-up. Don’t even try to hold my hand, I have never liked holding hands, I find it embarrassing, it makes me feel like I’m five. You can walk along next to me and that’s all you’re getting.

Why am I even seeing him, you may ask? Good question. I can identify two reasons.

(1) I have certain household repairs that need doing that are beyond the abilities of the 24-year-olds that I usually date. I could pay someone, but I don’t want to.

(2) More seriously, everything was changed by The Person Who I Wasn’t Supposed To Be In Love With, who haunted my life like a beautiful, insubstantial ghost in 2015 and 2016. I loved the Person with all my heart. I was swept away. I would have spent the rest of my life trying to make him happy. I haven’t seen him in six months and I still miss him so much. It makes me teary if I think about how much I loved him and how we used to romantically gaze at each other. I miss that. I would love to have that again. But apparently I can only love ghosts. I can’t deal with it in real life. Real-life chances of love, like this one, turn me into stone. I am the Ice Queen. I will break his heart.

He needs to go. Right after he’s mended a few things around my house.

Let’s have a tune. Church.

M.O.P. – Cold As Ice