About Me

My Secret Cafe...
is a place where I share the things that make me smile, things that inspire me, are useful to know or are just simply beautiful and amazingly brilliant or stylish.

I love discovering new things and talking about them. It might be a new fashion or beauty product, a must-have plant for my secret garden, or healthy food ideas that are simple, tasty and good. It could be a stunning new photo, piece of art or decor or really anything that gets me excited enough to share with others, who knows!!

I hope you stop by again and enjoy discovering some of my secrets too!


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Le Orange...

Ooh la la...I treated myself to this gorgeous lipstick from YSL last weekend and I adore the colour, texture etc. The shade in 'Le Orange', I would describe as a rich orange red in 'Rouge Pur Couture' is one of those amazingly versatile colours that illuminates your face. You need to go minimal on eye make-up and blusher to balance the look. It seems to be a colour to suit blondes and brunettes alike providing you don't have a pink tone to your complexion. Would look great with a light golden tan...Of course the packaging is pretty elegant also...Why not treat yourself too!!

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Yes, that's the name of this beautiful rose...Available from Crocus at http://crocus.co.uk from November onwards.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Stress Factor...

Stress is something we all have to deal with from time to time and for many of us it is just part of today's ever demanding lifestyle. I personally have suffered form stress to a point where it was affecting my physical health not just being able to cope mentally and it reared it's ugly head in the form of 'Panic Attacks'. Many people today suffer from panic attacks with symptoms varying from heart palpitations, increased heart rate, dizziness, aching in the limbs, extreme tiredness, skin rashes, sweating, to physically shaking and emotional distress. The scary and worst part is that you have no control over them as your body takes over and produces adrenaline which gives you all of those nasty physical symptoms. It basically means the body is on constant 'high-alert' or you may have heard of the 'fight or flight reaction'. The hard part is getting the body to calm down and bring it's adrenaline levels back to normal again so the symptoms subside. For anyone who has not suffered from them before this can be a very frightening experience and many people fear they are going to die or they are going crazy hence the panic sets in and so there is a an unfortunate 'vicious circle of events' that make it an all-consuming terror for sufferers. There is also the feeling of embarrassment as people fear no one will understand or take them seriously.

I wanted to share my experience with people because I think support is vital. Sharing and knowing that you are not alone, not going crazy and that it is just a build up of stress for whatever reason that has caused your body to react this way, not your mental stability, gives reassurance and comfort. Your body can only handle so much stress on a n ongoing basis and though you may not have realised it, your body could have been taking this on over a period of time and dealing with it just fine.

Most of my stress came from my job and over a period of 18 months it took it's toll on me. I work in a secondary school as a Cover Supervisor, supervising work set by subject teachers in their absence, with 11-16 yr olds. Cover Supervisors have replaced supply teachers as permanent members of staff within schools as they cost a lot less. So, yes I get paid, I think very little, for the job I do. The biggest part of my job is behaviour management and explaining the set work to the students. Although teaching the subject is not part of my remit, more often than not the expectation is to help answer students questions, so a very good all-round academic knowledge is really important in core subjects. I am also highly creative, so this means I can be more involved and helpful in creative subjects too. So you could say I am pretty much a 'Jack-of-all-Trades' when it comes to my role.

Everyday I go in to work, no idea what subjects I might be covering, what year groups or students I might have... in fact it is a bit like a lottery! Sometimes I don't mind the variety that gives, but sometimes I long for some predictability in my day and not having to think on my feet constantly! I can't plan anything for a lesson or rarely have any prior knowledge of the work set. Therefore, I am at the mercy of whatever work has been set by that subject teacher! It is literally a matter of 'think on your feet' in every aspect of classroom management!

As you can imagine it is demanding and mentally draining at times! So here is where the stress initiates for me. Of course, then I have my own family to go home and deal with at the end of the day. there are parts of my job I enjoy. There are some nice kids who you get to know and have positive, productive school relationships with. Showing an interest in them and sometimes helping them with there issues at school and then go to achieve great things can be highly rewarding and for me is the reason in stay in my job.The school I work at is a very good school but unfortunately, as everywhere kids today are brought up differently, have different attitudes and the power to manage behaviour in schools is limited with ever-changing policy and quite often no support from parents/carers...so a challenging task!! The downside is I can't get to know the kids the way their subject teachers do, so my involvement is therefore limited and the satisfaction and reward minimal. I digress, my 'panic attacks' as |I mentioned earlier started after 18 months into my job. I saw my doctor, tried various medications to help with sleep and calm me down but nothing really dealt with the problem because the problem wasn't going to go away.

So, through Occupational Therapy at work, I was given a week off. I decided that I would take time just to focus on coping with my panic attacks. I found the following techniques helped me tremendously at the time:

* Slowing down my breathing by focusing on the rythmn and depth. This consequently then had an effect   on reducing my heart rate and that horrible panic 'fight or flight' feeling. It takes at least 5-10 minutes for this to take effect but it does work. Apparently, the way it works is that although you cannot slow your heart rate down yourself you can physically control or slow your breathing and this in turn has the effect of slowing your heart.

* The other thing I did in conjunction with the breathing technique was to think of something soothing and calming eg. I thought of the calming image of the Agean Sea and it's beautiful crystal turquoise colour waters, and floating in it. The two hand-in-hand work really well and I recommend trying. Don't expect instant results, as I said it can take anything from 5 to 10 minutes to take effect but persevere, it can really make a difference and can be used anytime you feel an attack coming on.

* Make a concerted effort to focus on the positive and precious things in your life and value them. It is all to easy to get caught up in negativity and Pa's have a disastrous effect of making you feel you are no longer in control, but believe me you can regain that control and when you eventually do come out the other side you can feel proud that you did deal with it, and stronger too. Although initially you still feel drained from the whole ordeal you will get there. Just don't be too hard on yourself, congratulate yourself when you make small positive steps and gradually you will see that the PA's are no longer part of your life. I remember suddenly realising that I hadn't had one for over a week!! They can go away just as quickly as they appeared.

* Find a focus, a new hobby, interest or activity that takes your mind off the negative effect of PA's. Many people find that a physical activity, and that can be even just walking or gardening but something physically active can burn off the excessive adrenaline in your body which in turn stops it giving you those horrible panic symptoms.

* Finally, remember...small steps...talk to someone about how you're feeling don't keep it bottled up. You are NOT ALONE. Sharing it with someone else can really lift a huge weight and you'll be surprised how many other people you know actually have been through exactly the same thing.

I hope my experiences and technique's might help others. Please, let me know if they do or if you have anything that has helped you to deal with PAs and you'd like to share here.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Purity of a White Rose...

I found this classic rose at Chelsea. A rambler 'City of York' which I am going to have growing through a dead tree. Should look stunning once established and ramblers get going fast!! It's pure cream white with a lemon centre with defined stamens...gorgeous don't you think?!

Monday, 6 June 2011


As promised another beauty from Chelsea...a peony, 'Golden Thunder'. Just imagine this planted with Iris 'Mysterieux' (see previous blog) or another rich purple tall-bearded iris!! 'Golden Thunder' has a bronzy, smokiness quality to the flowers as they age. 

I was not a peony fan until 2 years ago when I planted Peony 'Buckeye Belle' and it hasn't stopped delighting me since. Peonies may not flower for long but when they do they are 'show-stoppers' and the foliage is big, interesting and quite tropical, lasting until autumn so they don't disappoint even when the flowers are long gone! These plants really do make an excellent long-term investment! Peony 'Golden Thunder' is available from Kelways.

The Ultimate Body Lotion...

Yes, it's here...the ultimate body lotion that has an ongoing moisturising effect! 

I have tried so many and thought OK so let's try another new one thinking it would be OK but just another body lotion. But guys, honestly I have to say I am so impressed with Garnier's New Intensive 7 Days Body Lotion...from the rich but easily absorbed texture to how long it leaves a wonderful luxurious silky feeling that lasts like no other!! My skin felt soft, smooth and totally hydrated the following day and the next...Try it and you'll see. I have not found this level of long-term hydration except from the more expensive brands until now. It comes in Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Mango and Cocoa Butter depending on how dry your skin is and is available in leading stores.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Chelsea 2011...

 Digitalis 'Saltwood Summer'...a foxglove but not like a foxglove more like an orchid.
Sorry Guys...I know I haven't posted for a week but it's been a hectic week, down at Chelsea Flower Show then half-term break!! Anyway, I'm back with lots of goodies. Found some stunning new (some not so new, but I have only just discovered them) plants to add to your collection and mine of course. Here is one beauty...I will share a new one or two with you each day this week!

Here's another...Anemone 'Wild Swan'...this won 'Plant of the Year' for 2011. It is a very elegant, beautiful plant and worthy of it's title...It has delicate white petals with a soft blue on the reverse...you'll love it.