Is it necessary to know our roots for a sense of belonging? We're here already, whatever our ancestral origins are, life goes on and we're part of it! Of course, I'm proud to be British born and bred, and despite living in America and loving it here, I feel my roots lie in the mother land of England. If any other heritage exists besides my obvious British genes, then hopefully the addition of some good old "Heinz 57" variety has benefited me in some way.
Personally I have mixed feelings about ancestry, more specifically blood ties. My mother was adopted back in 1942 when adoption wasn't a trendy thing, so, to say she struggled with it (once she found out) is an understatement! I on the other hand, know who both my parents are, and the weird thing is that I find it difficult to comprehend that my mother's adoptive parents were not my maternal grandparents. It doesn't compute. They couldn't have been more real if indeed they were my maternal grandparents, having provided a long term positive influence in my life. I consider myself extremely fortunate that it was they who adopted my mother!
My mother was adopted in England during World War II, at a time when adoption wasn't discussed and kept a secret for the most part, so I know next to nothing about 50% of my ancestry! Have I ever been concerned about this? Absolutely not! But when Ancestry contacted me for a collaboration, curiosity got the better of me! Am I as British as I think I am?
The Ancestry DNA test is super simple and very quick, involving a few spits of saliva into a tube. It comes with complete step by step instructions, return packaging for the DNA to be sent back for processing where it takes between four to six weeks for the results. In the meantime, the occasional text message updates how far along the process they are.
Whilst waiting for the results, you can go online to www.ancestry.com to begin building your family tree and start tracking your family lineage. There is a free two-week trial to utilize all the records and resources available either in the US or internationally to research data and find your true family ancestors.
The possibility of finding relatives matching your DNA with others who have taken the Ancestry DNA test is very likely. Once you get started, it becomes addictive, it really gets the juices flowing when you think you've found someone that you're related to, plus Ancestry gives you hints along the way as to who may be a close match.
The search functions on Ancestry reveal interesting records associated with the names you are looking for. Some are hand written on old and gnarly papers dating back eons, but still available to view with just one click! It's completely fascinating and intriguing. The time flies by once you start searching, so make sure you have a cosy spot and a cup of tea readily available!
So, no real surprises here! What's amazing is how they can pin-point your DNA to a specific area especially in such a small (but mighty) country like England. When you send in your DNA, they know nothing about you, it's like a crystal ball that eerily tells the truth! Yes, I am from the north of England, so are my parents, grandparents and all that I know of.
It doesn't surprise me that there is some German ancestry, I was always mistaken for a German when on holiday in Spain, or was that because I secured my sun lounger by laying out a towel with a book at 6 am! And, as for the French genes, mais oui, I do have a disdain for ill-fitting clothes and frumpy shoes, and probably have half my money invested in wine and brie!
Other fun facts regarding these foreign revelations - my first proper kiss at fifteen years old was with a French lad (on the tennis court, in the rain), and I didn't like it, the kiss that is... ugh! The tennis court and the rain was très bon!
My first car was a British mini cooper, my second a French Peugeot 205, my third a Volkswagen Beetle and most of my subsequent cars up until age 40 were German!
My first long term boyfriend was German, named Klaus. If you're out there Klaus I just want to remind you of the time my Grandpa called you Jaws, only because to him Klaus was Claws, as in Santa Klaus and it rhymed with jaws! LOL... you had to be there!
Shortly after my Ancestry DNA was revealed, I received an email from a gentleman who was tracing his family ancestors, and through our DNA it appears that his wife and I may be related via great grandparents. It was a very close match, and we are likely 2nd cousins!
It appears I'm also closely related to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates... just kidding, ha ha!!!
If you want to find your origins, search for your ancestors and have your DNA tested, you can click here to go to Ancestry or click on any of the links in this article.
This article was in collaboration with Ancestry and includes affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of sales. The opinions stated are my own and formed from my own experience.
When you've been waiting for the perfect dress to come along in one of your favorite prints that just happens to be so "of the moment", well leopard always was, it's totally worth swinging from the chandelier and spreading the word, it would be rude not to! Here's to the ultimate leopard print dress, and the desire to swing from a chandelier!
What makes this dress so perfect?
Firstly, it's the ideal print, not too small, not too big and not orangey (an orange hue can make leopard look cheap in my humble opinion). The long sleeves make it the ultimate fall and winter dress. Any animal print seems much more fitting for the seductive long winter nights than for whimsical summer evenings.
The length just above the knee offers more versatility than a maxi or a mini, more choices to play with. It can be left as it is for a dinner date with heels, belted and worn with over-the-knee boots or worn even shorter as a tunic over leggings. In any of these capacities it serves as a very forgiving illusion to a jolly good holiday meal which also makes it the perfect disguise for our midlife midsections!
The fabric is light but drapes well which lends the dress an easy convert to a shirt. Worn with jeans or leggings you can sport a half tuck at the front to permit as much coverage as you require at the derriere!
So, if I haven't convinced you yet, let's take a look at some of these style ways.
All dressed up wearing the dress just as it comes. The addition of vintage long tassel earrings, killer heels and my grandma's sequin evening purse create an easy glamour.
With the addition of some sassy over the knee boots (linked HERE) and a vintage belt I purchased in the 80's from a boutique on Sloane Street in London (I'm impressed it still fits me), the dress takes on a whole new look. The belt brings the dress up just enough to show a little bit of thigh so nobody mistakes my boots for long johns!
I added the smirk for extra mood ambiance!
The fabulous drape of the fabric combined with it's light weight texture makes it simple to tuck into jeans or trousers without causing bulk. Here I've paired it with jeans and heels, perfect for a gathering with girlfriends.
Worn as a shirt, half-tucked into jeans paired with pom pom flats and over-sized tote gives the outfit a casual vibe, an easy shopping day outfit.
Depending on how much you tuck in at the front, you can control the amount of fabric that drapes at the back, especially good if you want to create this look with leggings and have a little more coverage.
Using a belt you can bring the dress up a little higher to create the perfect tunic. It works beautifully over these mixed media pleather leggings for a night out. Change out the heels for biker boots or tall boots and you create another look altogether.
This dress is the princely sum of $49.90 from Zara. If we assume these outfits are the limit to it's versatility (which I don't believe for one minute) then we have an average price of less than $10 per look.
Also good to know, as with many items from Zara, you can machine wash this dress on a warm hand-wash cycle, it hang drys in no time, and barely needs ironing!
At the time of writing this article there are only XL available, but you can click HERE to view the item and request an email notification when your size comes back in stock! I've also linked below some of the other items I'm wearing in these pictures or similar finds.
It seems being married brings on additional symptoms of midlife, in that husbands become less adventurous. Wives on the other hand tend to kick things up a notch during their midlife, am I right?
As was the case this particular Sunday for us three girl friends. A spur of the moment idea, a day trip to Flagstaff for a hike, a brewery tour and a visit to Camp Verde. Granted, my first reaction was "What time are you setting off?", and my second reaction, irrespective of the early start time, a resounding "Yes!"
My husband didn't want to get up early and had a ton of work to do, another wanted to stay home and watch the baseball and the third wanted to take his new car for a spin... yawn! Midlife man symptoms, this is why you need girl friends ladies!
From Scottsdale, Flagstaff is just a two-hour drive along a mostly scenic route across the desert. Climbing in altitude along the way it starts out with the cactus-loving rugged terrain of the low desert and eases up into the lush green conifers and evergreen foliage, of which the ponderosa pines are among the most common. There is also a drop of 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so it's a great place to escape the summer heat of the Phoenix valley!
In Flagstaff we met Austin, our friend's son who was to be our guide. A young man still far from the symptoms that our midlife husbands display, so he was up for the adventure along with his adorable girlfriend and Luna the dog. I mentioned none of these midlife concerns to his sweetheart, besides, the fact that we three showed up husband-less may have been a red flag!
We hiked the Lockett Meadow on the Inner Basin Trail, about 12 miles north of Flagstaff on US 89. Warning, it's at 8000 ft elevation and the single carriage dirt road up to the trail head is long and winding with no barrier guard. I didn't fare well, intermittent screaming, lots of hyper ventilating made worse by the thin air, and almost on my friends lap much of the way. Nothing like a day out full of exhilarating excitement!
The hike was totally worth the aggravation of getting there. The aspen trees, which I had never seen before, grow abundantly along this trail and in October their leaves turn yellow and it will be a sight to behold.
The hike is steep but not rugged, so if you have good lungs and are reasonably fit, it's not too difficult. Scottsdale and the Phoenix valley is at about 1000 ft above sea level, and this hike starts out at about 8000 ft... just saying!
Next stop, a trip to the Historic Brewing Company in Flagstaff. Some of our other tennis friends were in Flagstaff that day, so we were able to coordinate a beer fest! A first for me, since I didn't drink beer but was easily persuaded after the adventures of the day thus far.
The brewery is in an industrial area on the outskirts of Flagstaff. Our hiking guide happens to work there, so we were rewarded with a tour and a peek into the art of beer making. I think he does this often, if you happen to stop by, tell him I sent you, it'll make up for the earlier screaming in his ear!
Even though this is where they make the beer, they have a bar set up among the fermenting equipment and have 15 of their regular, seasonal and limited release beers on tap as well as a taco themed food truck open Wednesday through Sunday. You can sample any of the beers before you order and it's $5 a pint.
Onward to Camp Verde, about an hour from Flagstaff and an hour from Scottsdale, located in central Arizona, sitting on the bank of the Verde River. This place is lush, green and peaceful, picket fences and horses give it an English country vibe. Camp Verde is the gateway to the Verde Valley wine region with vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms spread across the area, now we're in Karen land! It's also the home of the 104-acre Out of Africa wildlife park.
It was a short visit to say hello to friends. The locusts were busy in the trees singing their sunset songs whilst the neighbor's horses chomped on their supper. The mosquitoes munched at my dusty tired legs and I drank another beer and didn't care. It had been a grand day out!
I recently wrote a blog (linked HERE) about my menopause journey, which thanks to SottoPelle® was a short story!
There was a tremendous response from women suffering the effects of menopause, many of whom have not found a solution or are suffering with ineffective solutions. Thank you to all the ladies who contacted me with questions and to share their stories.
Today, I invite you to come along and experience one of my appointments with SottoPelle®. A commitment I have been making every four months for six years without hesitation, because, it enables me to live my best life, no hormone surges, none of the symptoms of menopause, no side effects, just a normal well-balanced human being. Well, hormonally well balanced that is, ha ha!
Animal prints have long been the back bone of the fashion industry when it comes to pattern, and rightly so, it's instinctive one might say. Caveman was wearing animal prints before he even knew it was fashionable, albeit in the form of real skins and fur! So, it makes sense that animal print has largely dominated the style arena - the foundation was set in history, relegating the reptiles to shoes and handbags. After all, how many snakes would it take to make a loin cloth, or more importantly a dress? With the invention of textile printing and the social lean toward "fashionable faux" this or that, it matters not in this era. Now we can have endless lengths of Boa Constrictor or friendly Python wrapped about our person having materialized from a 100 yard by 54-inch bolt!
If you're looking to ramp up your metabolism, torch a bunch of calories, improve your strength, endurance, and define your muscles, then the Tabata fitness routine may just be the answer to your prayers. Tabata costs nothing and doesn't require you to consume any expensive questionable supplements or concoctions. It's quick, best done in the privacy of your own home, and in my experience it really works.
You may have noticed that this has been the year of the one piece swimsuit. Step aside itsy-bitsy bikini, there is a not-so-new player taking center stage and it's redefining sexy swimwear!
Menopause hit me like a freight train at 50 years old!
It was as though my body had taken on a whole new set of rules that I wasn’t privy to, except to see and feel the miserable effects that resulted. I wanted me back, the version that ran smoothly like a well-oiled engine, not this one that kept back-firing and faltering daily.
There are many jewels to be found in the state of Arizona, but some are well hidden, like the Hermosa Inn tucked away in Paradise Valley. It's the last place you'd expect to find a hotel, situated alongside multi million-dollar resort homes in one of the wealthiest property zip codes in the country. But that's part of the charm, it's not like staying in a hotel, more like house sitting for your affluent relatives with full access to enjoy their spectacular southwestern style home whilst the staff take care of your every need. The only difference is, you pay for the privilege!
The recent frenzy toward the smartwatch in the western world has reached epidemic proportions. Most adults don about their wrist a watch with a blacked-out face or a rubber tube with seemingly no face. We're walking around as though in a science fiction movie under surveillance by this tracking and communication device. The problem is, the average smartwatch is anything but smart! It lacks style and is far from down to earth, looking somewhat sinister by it's dark secrecy and monitoring of our every waking and sleeping moment!
Never fear, there is a hybrid here! Say hello to the Misfit Path, a smartwatch with more style than a rubber wrist tube can only dream about.
Once I left the corporate world of employment many moons ago, I said goodbye to the uniform. It’s not that I’m opposed to uniforms, especially when they come in the form of Firemen or Naval Officers! But having worn a uniform from Infant School to High School, throughout an extensive hotel career and then the corporate world of “wear what you like if it follows these guidelines”, I laid to rest my power suit, pantyhose and ever so prim shoes!
It's been eight weeks since I started using the Trophy Skin MicrodermMD which is an at-home microdermabrasion machine. Here is my complete review with before and after pictures, plus an ingenious experiment to treat the back of my left hand only!
Always on the hunt for the perfect piece that will cross the boundaries of casual to chic with just a change of bottoms or shoes! Here it is, a pretty floral pull over top with delightful balloon tie-sleeves from Anthropologie!
Every now and then I have a moment of madness! One of these days that moment may be considered pure genius, but for now they've mostly been considered worthy dinner party stories! My last moment of madness was just that, with a bonus... a return letter from Kensington Palace!
With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start planning for your vacation—and for many, that means getting that winter body in summer shape. More often than not, our desire to lose weight and tone up before an upcoming vacation becomes a last-minute sprint. But if you start now, you'll increase your odds of success. Here are a few simple tips for converting to a healthier lifestyle.
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50