Midweek Meal Inspiration with Capsicana

Last week I was lucky enough to be sent some new cooking sauces to try out by Latin food experts Capsicana as part of their #CapsiCarnival event. Capsicana is an authentic Latin American cooking sauce range, inspired by real Latin American dishes such as Mojo sauce from Cuba, Aji Verde sauce from Peru and Moqueca from Brazil. Bursting with real authentic ingredients from the region they also contain no artificial colourings or flavourings, are suitable for vegetarians, gluten free and only use non GM ingredients too.


For our first use we went for the Mexican Chilli & Honey sauce. This is a sauce based on ‘Puerco al horno con salsa de chile ancho y miel’, a classic Mexican dish. To recreate it, Capsicana use Mexican-grown chipotle & ancho poblano chilli peppers as well as honey, which has featured in the country’s food since Mayan times. The Mayans believed that a native stingless bee had been given to them by one of their gods and that it was a link to the spirit world – honey has been integral to Mexican cooking ever since. Its a medium level heat so I thought was a good place to start!

Following the receipe on the packet (I love a bit of receipe inspiration) we needed fresh chicken breasts, some peppers and an onion to create our feast. Its a lovely thick sauce which smells delicious the minute you open it and theres lots in a pack. One pack = two servings and its definitely enough for two hungry people.  

Once the chicken was done, we chose to serve it with sautéd potatoes and a fresh salad and I have to say it was delicious! The sauce has a deep, rich flavour and a good heat to it without being too overwhelming. It is measured as medium heat which I’d say is about right. The sweetness of the honey isnt sickly, in fact it balances out the chillis really well and I found it a really delicious and easy to use cooking sauce.

Capsicana latin cooking sauce review Mexican Chilli and Honey - Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Capsicana latin cooking sauce review Mexican Chilli and Honey - Always a Blue Sky Girl blog
Capsicana latin cooking sauce review Mexican Chilli and Honey - Always a Blue Sky Girl blog

Overall, I really liked this sauce, its consistency, pack size and flavour and it created a quick and easy dinner for two which as a busy person, I liked even more. 

But best of all? I’ve still got three more sauces to try yet…

Capiscana quick cook sauces are available in Sainsburys and Waitrose priced at £1.99 each. 

For more information and recipe ideas visit http://www.capsicana.co.uk

*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

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July Favourites

July has now come to an end…want to know what I fell in love with, bought and found so far this summer?

Of course you do!!!

Jumpsuits
I have worn a lot of jumpsuits so far this summer. Being 5’2″ I often have to have them shortened but its definitely worth it. I find them really flattering for my curvy figure and like dresses they are simple – they are all you need for a complete outfit.

Tassel earrings
Tassel earrings have been everywhere this summer and they are a great statement piece. I have bought them from all kinds of places the cheapest being shipped from China via ebay for less than £2.50. My favourites have to be the now iconic H&M ones – I have them in a few colours and they make any outfit feel special. They are just £8.99 a pair so if you see them in store grab a pair!

Coconut hair products
I love the smell & taste of coconut and have fallen in love with these hair products. The Inecto Naturals range is a low price but extremely good organic coconut oil based range and if you have hair that needs taming it is AMAZING! I also struggle with shampoos making my thick, wavy hair fluffy and unmanageable but since moving on to a low shampoo (find the review here) have found my hair much better. The new Garnier Ultimate Blends are silicon and paraben free and although don’t foam up as much as some shampoos (don’t be fooled, the foaming does little to actually clean your hair) have made my hair feel soft, managable and smelling great. They will now be a regulars on my bathroom shelf.

Basket bags
Summer means the beach and hopefully a holiday and I always find I start to use different bags day to day once the sun comes out as well as packing one for my holiday. These type of bags make you feel so summery, don’t cost that much and I managed to buy 3 this month!

HEMA
HEMA is a company I have only just discovered. Originally from the Netherlands, its a Tiger/Ikea/Paperchase hybrid and as well as all the cute homewares, stationery and food it has a really amazing make-up range! I bought a fab orange/red lipstick and lipliner for under £6 for the 2 and I havent stopped wearing them! The beauty range is huge, is great quality and very well priced. Currently mainly located in London main train stations go check them out if you’re travelling anywhere.

Primark £4 cross-over sandal
Sometimes you find something simple yet stylish that you just love. My advice? If it comes in other colours buy them…you’ll regret it later if you dont. These sandals by Primark have been a fabulous find for this summer and now I have them in 4 colours – and at just £4 a pair you can afford to buy multiple pairs.

Pineapples
OK its bordering on an obsession, but theres just something about a pineapple design that makes me so happy. I love to eat them, look at them, wear them and have them around me!  The homewates were bargains from Asda and Aldi, the necklace was from Peacocks and the shirt was from one of my favourite stores, Zara.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
This stuff is the bomb! You can cleanse your face plus remove any make-up (inc eye make-up) and it softens your skin too. Micellar water is made up of micelles (tiny balls of cleansing oil molecules) suspended in soft water. The idea is that micelles are attracted to dirt and oil, so they are able to draw out impurities without drying out the skin, therefore, it can be used as a facial wash, makeup remover and moisturiser all in one. It looks like water but when you put it on your finger and feel, it has a different texture than water – I just love it!


Slogans
I do love a cheeky slogan and couldn’t resist this sun hat from Tu at Sainsburys and these adorable pumps from H&M. Both were under £10 too…

I’m off on my holidays now and I’m sure you’ll see a few of these pieces popping up in my Instagram photos.  Finding things you love brings you joy…simple as!  

Enjoy the rest of the summer xx

Skin Chemists Aqua Repair Facial Serum

Does your skin ever feel like it needs a long drink of water? For me, particularly in the summer months, I find my skin feeling drier and ‘thirstier’ than normal and usually begin moisturising more trying to refresh and feed my sun and heat damaged skin.

Skin Chemists 24hr Aqua Repair Facial Serum via Always a Blue Sky girl beauty fashion blog

This serum from Skin Chemists is a little saviour in a tube! Its 30ml size seems small yet because you only need a little of the serum each day it definitely lasts for well over a month of use. It also fits nicely into your bag and I also used it as a cheeky skin ‘pick me up’ in the afternoon when my skin was really feeling tired.

The main active ingredients in the serum are:
1) Rose Water to calm and soothe the skin 
2) Allantoin to moisturise and soothe thanks to its healing and anti-inflammatory properties
3) Aloe Vera to stimulate the healing process of the skin, its anti-inflammatory properties enable gentle soothing of the skin

Its feels cool and refreshing when you put it on and even though it seemed to refresh my skin totally, it dried really quickly to a matt base. I really liked this as it meant you could easily apply make-up over it without your skin feeling sticky if you wanted.Another lovely thing about this serum is its smell. It has a strong, sweet, fresh smell that lingers on the skin beautifully and makes you want to use it again and again. I love a nice smelling product and find it really makes a difference to my mood.I loved the refreshed feeling it gave my skin and although I didnt see much difference in my skins quality as a whole it definitely made my face feel calm, refreshed and hydrated. I’m off on holiday soon and it will definitely be coming with me to keep my skin feeling refreshed in the holiday heat.

Buy Skin Chemists 24hour Aqua Repair Facial serum here.

*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

Epibrow Brow Design & Ultimate Lash Serums

I was recently sent two really interesting products from beauty experts Epibrow International to try. They are products that aim to make your brows and lashes fuller and thicker using some advanced professional beauty science rather than be a cosmetic fix. 



So what were my brows and lashes like before? 

Well the quick answer is, not good. My eyebrows are sparse due to over plucking (Thanks to Madonna’s Erotica look in the early ninenties mainly) and my eye-lashes are dark but short and dont really show unless I wear mascara, which I dont like to wear apart from on full make-up days. So basically anything that might help them I am interested in.


The products themselves – at £55 each these products arent cheap. So what do you get for your money?

Epibrow Brow Design Serum – what does the packing say? 

THE ULTIMATE EYEBROW SERUM FROM THE EPIBROW EXPERTS – Get the beautiful, bold brows of your favourite supermodels with this eyebrow enhancing serum.

  • ADVANCED FORMULA – The fast-working formula contains ingredients such as iron and vitamin B, which are essential nutrients for hair growth.
  • NATURALLY THICKER & FULLER EYEBROWS – Key ingredients help speed up the natural growth process and give your brows a thicker, fuller shape.
  • EASY TO USE – For best results that can also make your brows look darker, use this advanced serum treatment once a day on clean, dry skin while massaging the area to boost blood circulation.
  • EXTENDS THE ANAGEN STAGE – Keeps the hair in its growing ‘anagen stage’ for a longer period of time, so you get full and maximum growth

Buy it here.

Epibrow Ultimate Lash – what does the packaging say?

DREAM LASHES – Wake up to lashes of your dreams with this overnight treatment.

  • ADVANCED GROWTH INGREDIENTS – Formulated with essential minerals and polypeptides, this easy to use serum is applied along the base of the lash line (upper and/or lower lash line) before bed.
  • SIMPLE TO USE – Repeat every night for 4 weeks and over this time the nourishing formula gets to work, feeding the hair follicles and leaving you with thicker, fuller, longer and stronger lashes.
  • EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO EXTENSIONS – For long term results that offer a highly-effective alternative to extensions, wait 4 weeks between treatments then repeat.
  • EXTENDS THE ANAGEN STAGE – Keeps the hair in its growing ‘anagen stage’ for a longer period of time, so you get full and maximum growth.


Buy it here

Ok, sounds interesting! But does it work?

I used both serums regularly each evening for about a month. I found both easy to apply and neither irritated my skin or eyes. The brow serum has a very distinct and strong smell to it (a kind of menthol aroma) so I would suggest only using it once you’re sure your going to sleep as it is VERY noticable.

I first noticed my eyebrows thickening by the amount of make-up I was using.  Instead of filling in my brows quite considerably with eyebrow pencil I was just having to add a few strokes.  Small but noticeable new hairs had started to appear too and by week 3 I has having to neaten up my brows with tweezers.

(I obviously have make-up on in these 2 photos but I can still see a real difference)

My eyelashes looked longer and when I put mascara on, my bottom lashes in particular looked a lot longer. I also noticed less eyelashes ‘shed’ during the period I was using the serum.

At the end of a month using these products I can definitely confirm they make a difference. My lashes are thicker and particularly my lower lashes are longer.  My brows have thickened up, some new hairs have grown and I am using a lot less eyebrow pencil on them.

These products are not cheap but used regularly definitely can make a real difference and a little goes a long way.  I am definitely going to continue to use them and look forward to seeing continued results.

Ultimate Lash / £55*, Brow Design Serum / £55* – Epibrow International via Amazon

*I was gifted these products but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

Getting Ready for Holiday

I have less than a month before I go on holiday and I think its fair to say I’m starting to get excited. This is our first family holiday abroad as a blended family, and my first resort holiday in quite a few years – we are staying in an all inclusive family friendly resort in Majorca.

Holidays are great but you know what I like as well? Holiday shopping!!! Have a look at what I’ve been buying for the beach/by the pool…and you know me, they are all bargains!!!

Bikini top – £10/George at Asda
Bikini bottoms – £6/George at Asda

Swimsuit – £12/George at Asda



Sunglasses – £3/Primark
Sunglasses case – £2/Primark
Hard Sunglasses case – £3/Primark
Earrings – £8.99/H&M


Sun hat – £8/TU at Sainsburys

Earrings – £3, Necklace – £4/Peacocks

Playsuit – £7/Primark


Leather sandals – £20/Peacocks
Straw bag – £32/Bohemia Design
Sunglasses – £9.99/New Look
Hard Sunglasses case – £3/Primark
Beads – £1 (vintage)/Cancer Research UK
Lipstick/lip pencil – from £1.50/Hema 
Hair products – from £1/Tresemme 


Sandals – £4 a pair/Primark

Bikini bag – £1.50 / Primark

Straw bag – £9 / Primark

Bodysculpt control swimsuit – £12 / George at Asda

And of course a load of dresses etc for the evening but we’ll leave that for a different post!

Are you going on holiday this year? Have you bought some perfect pieces that you cant wait to wear in the sun? I’d love to know…

Missguided Bluewater grand opening

I attended the grand opening of the new Missguided store in Bluewater a few weeks back. I may be over 40 but the lure of a 25% blogger discount, free ice cream, a DJ and ‘mocktails’ made me brave Bluewater on a Saturday. The store itself is amazing – described as ‘Missguided in real life’ it is in the old Forever 21 site and I really wanted to share its look with you because it really is worth a visit…

The visual merchandising and displays of the store are fantastic with life-like mannequins of all different skin tones accessorised with crazy props such as this giant banana!


As ever with Missguided there is lots of positive affirmation for its ‘babes’ and cheeky slogans such as ‘Send Nudes’ or ‘Get Naked’ written in neon on the walls…


Love shoes? Youre going to be in heaven! The store houses a good accessory range – mainly shoes with a small section of bags and then stands of affordable jewellery and sunglasses near the tills.

There’s a great lingerie and nightwear range…

…and of course swimwear – it is the season!


And if all that shopping has exhausted you and you fancy a drink of water (or in this case ‘Mermaid Tears’) – they’ve got it covered! £1 a can…

Of course the real lure of this second Missguided store (the first is in Westfield Stratford) is that you can see and try on the usually online products in a traditional store environment.  Theres tons of staff and a whole community vibe going on with lots of interaction.

And what did I buy with that discount? I bought a few bits but my favourite has to be this denim jacket… cute huh? I have had so many compliments about it.


Jacket £40 – available in regular and petite ranges Missguided

Find the full Missguided range here – or visit the store on the lower level of Rose Gallery in Bluewater.

Palm Power

As it is now summer (hoorah!) its time to embrace all those colours and prints you wouldn’t normally wear any other time of the year.  There’s something about a tropical print that always feels really summery and I am quite the slave to the palm print in both fashion and home.  

So when this little gem caught my eye in the TU clothing department in Sainburys for just £20 I thought it was a really wearable summer staple and snapped one up.  

It is described as a jumpsuit but I would describe it more as a culotte dress. I’m 5’2″ and its length sits like a midi dress on me. It is a fitted shape with square neckline and short sleeves and zips up the back and for those who hate summer and the nightmare that is thigh rub this is the perfect solution!  Overall the shape is very retro and flattering and the wide cullottes balance out the fitted top perfectly.

Sainsburys TU palm tropical print jumpsuit culotte dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl Sarah Gorlov
I co-ordinated my new buy with some amazing OTT palm leaf acrylic earrings I got from New Look many years ago because, well, I love a Palm! I always wear these earrings in the summer and they have been a great buy.Sainsburys TU palm tropical print jumpsuit culotte dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl Sarah GorlovThe tie waist adds an extra flattering element meaning you can pull the waist in if you wanted a looser fit (I chose to wear mine quite fitted) and the fabric has some stretch to it as well as being a vibrant mix of greens, black and beige highlights.  I feel really great wearing this, have so far worn it to the office and can’t wait to wear it on holiday too.

Sainsburys TU palm tropical print jumpsuit culotte dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl Sarah Gorlov
Its available in store now but will sell out fast so grab one while you can!

Culotte Jumpsuit / TU at Sainsburys
Sandals / Primark (past season)
Earrings / New Look (past season)

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz range

Pink. You’ve gotta love it. And when I see a pink product my eyes go all 😍.  A little while back I tried out Skin Chemists Rose Quartz facial oil (find the review here) and really liked it. When the team sent me four more products from the range for Rose Quartz month I couldnt wait to try them out.

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz range via beauty blog Always a Blue Sky Girl blogger blueskygirlie
So what is Rose Quartz?  Used holistically for hundreds of years, Rose Quartz is revered for its healing and comforting properties. The stone of unconditional love, it aims to prevent impurities and dead skin cells settling on the skin, to reveal soft, fresh and youthful skin.

Todays blog is a review of the Hydrating & Illuminating Day Moisturiser, which for me is probably the easiest way to start using the range…

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz Hydrating & Illuminating Day Moisturiser via beauty blog Always a Blue Sky Girl blogger blueskygirlie
According to Skin Chemists, the Rose Quartz Hydrating & Illuminating day moisturiser is formulated with nourishing and hydrating actives, to smooth, illuminate and refine the skin while protecting against daily environmental damage.

A product to be used first thing in the morning as part of your skincare routine, I found it to be very easy to use, easily absorbed into the skin and with a really lovely fresh floral fragrance…it really does make you feel all rosy!  As with all the Rose Quartz range it quickly made my skin feel very soft and smooth to the touch and definitely plumped and nourished the drier areas of my skin.

The main active ingredients in the formulation are:

1) Alpine Rose Stem Cells – 
to repair the skin after daily exposure to harsh environmental aggressors and boost skin regeneration,

2) Vitamin E – to work as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory to soothe and repair the skin,

3) Rose Otto Oil – to restore moisture balance in the skin. Its anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties aim to repair and protect the skin, whilst firming and toning.

As ever with the Skin Chemists range I found the packaging visually appealing (its that love of pink thing again!) and the pump-action dispenser very efficient to use. The main things I liked about the product was its lovely fragrance as well the very soft feeling it gave my skin.  Did it make my fine lines disappear? A little maybe, but it definitely gave me a lovely illuminated glow and really softened my skin and I think that is due to the formulas promise of removing dead skin cells and as a beauty product fan I’m happy with that.

Skin Chemists have been incredibly generous in giving readers of my blog the code SARAH1 for an amazing discount of over £50 off the RRP of £74.90 plus free shipping throughout June – at that price you can’t go wrong! Buy Rose Quartz Hydrating & Illuminating Day Moisturiser here.

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz range via beauty blog Always a Blue Sky Girl blogger blueskygirlie

I have also been testing the Age Defense Night Moisturiser, the Radiance Enhancing Eye Serum and the Youth Defence Lip Plump. Want to know what I thought?

Age Defence Night Moisturiser – this ultra-smooth moisturiser is designed to give the skin an extra boost while you sleep, resulting in a vibrant and healthy looking glow. My verdict: I found this a great feed for my face plus I found the scent very relaxing and helped me drift off to sleep.

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz Age Defence Night Moisturiser via beauty blog Always a Blue Sky Girl blogger blueskygirlie

Radiance Enhancing Eye Serum –
this light serum is designed to visibly lift tired skin and brighten dark under eye circles. An irridescent pink formulation, light-reflective crystals work to illuminate the skin, boosting radiance and softening the appearance of blemishes and flaws. My verdict: I loved this sparkly serum and its light reflecting glow…

Youth Defence Lip Plump – bursting with active ingredients, the formula aims to plump and nourish lips, resulting in a more supple and hydrated appearance. It aims to visibly improve the shape, texture and volume of your lips. My verdict: after getting used to the minty cold feeling I liked this as an occasional use product to create a more pouty lip look. 

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz Age Defence Night Moisturiser via beauty blog Always a Blue Sky Girl blogger blueskygirlie
Find the full Skin Chemist range here.

Remember if you want to try anything reviewed in this blog, use the code SARAH1 to purchase it for 60-70% off the RRP throughout June. Give it a go…what have you got to lose?

*I was gifted these products but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

So I was in a TV advert…

In February I started appearing in a national TV advert for Garnier alongside Fearne Cotton. As a working mum who just blogs part-time as a hobby this was quite a change in direction for me. I’m not one of those bloggers who gets sent lots of free stuff, in fact I dont attend press days or often get featured by brands but now I can say I’ve acheived a bit of a dream…I’ve been part of a huge advertising campaign. 

But how did this happen? Gosh, where should I start…

So this is me – Sarah face of shade 6.60. I am here representing the 40plus woman and anyone who fancies going a vivid red colour plus hopefully providing a relatable female image in a beauty advert – something that is sometimes lacking in beauty advertising.

I was first approached by Garnier after blogging about trying the dye for the first time as part of the Fearne Cotton fronted #TheOliaEffect campaign where you could enter a photo of your newly coloured hair to win a spending spree.  

This was my photo (find my blog on the home dye here) I shared. I thought the product was good and was pleased with the way my hair had turned out so thought, why not?!?


Needless to say I didnt win. But a month or so later I got an email asking if I would be interested in talking to them about my experiences with the brand. Ah, the power of an Instagram hashtag!!!

Long story short, after a few meetings (which I thought were for market research) then a Skype interview with the ads director in LA (get me!) I was asked if I wanted to take part in a campaign featuring ‘real women’ talking about their own experiences with their hair and using a home dye.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I love being the centre of attention (I’m always up first for Karaoke and love doing shows, presentations and interviews) so I couldn’t say YES fast enough!!!

Getting ready – lets just say making an advert is hard work! There was wardrobe fittings (you have get used to standing there in your underwear really quickly!), having my hair cut (always nerve wracking…what if they want to do a pixie cut?) and then a day of filming. Filming the advert was a really long day in London but I did have a chaffeur driven car pick me up and drop me home which felt pretty special. I had a call sheet and a look book but the rest was going to have to be all me. No script, no prepping or rehearsing – the idea was to capture real thoughts and feelings…quite daunting when you know its going to be used for a national TV campaign.

For those wondering, YES I dye my own hair at home with Olia but I was lucky enough to get it cut and styled for the ad by celebrity hairdresser Michael Douglas. He is just like he is on the TV – great fun, really down to earth and an absolute genius with hair!  My hair will probably never look this good again but at least I have the photos for evidence!!!

Shooting – nothing prepares you for walking on to film set knowing you are about to get filmed for national TV and knowing you have one chance to get it right. Its sounds silly but you really dont realise how many people it takes to make an advert. You are surrounded by people fussing over you, noise, distractions and lots of crew doing technical stuff – but ultimately once they shout “rolling” its just you and the camera. But I loved my time in the spotlight and would love to do more of it….and judging by how much I’m in the full advert I think I did pretty well!

And then theres the official ‘Sarah’ shot – this was my press shot and the one that is currently EVERYWHERE! Its so strange looking at is as I know its me but its the Garnier version of me…but what a hair colour, I really dont think I will ever change from this colour now. I was made to feel really special on the day, styled and pampered which is a wonderful feeling.  

Meeting Fearne – As you probably know Fearne is the Garnier Olia ambassador and is central to the advert. What you might not know, is as part of the advert they filmed a whole surprise section with her and me! I’m not sure if they will use the interview but it was great fun and although I was a bit shocked it was lovely chatting to her and talking hair, families and about the day.  Much of the prep for this can be seen in the Estee Lalonde behind the scenes film (find the link at the bottom of this blog) if you want to see me getting surprised by the person that inspired me to use Olia in the first place.

With the rest of the Garnier Olia ladies – obviously this is my account of making the advert but the campaign features quite a few different women aged from their 20’s to their 60’s. Some are in the TV advert and some are in the online campaign but here we all are post filming with all our fabulous coloured hair. It will always be a very special memory for me.

Filming with Estee Lalonde – Estee filmed a behind the scenes vlog and captured loads of what was going on. She also filmed Fearnes surprise meeting with me which is lovely as I was so full of adrenaline I can hardly remember it! I have Estee’s book, ‘Bloom’ so it was lovely to meet her and chat, be interviewed and generally hang out with such a successful style blogger.

The final Ad: online and television – and then theres the finished product.  I didnt know how much I’d be in the final advert but was thrilled with how much they used me…in fact I’m in it almost as much as Fearne. Plus I now have a catchphrase for life – “Look at my hair everyone!”


See the full ad here
See my film here
See Estees behind the scenes video here

I’m so proud to be representing the 40 plus woman in these ads. Not as a model, not as an actress, just as me! It would be great to see more ‘real women’ (and men) in ads and I hope other brands follow Garniers lead…