Planning my next adventure with Cabin Zero

What do you dream of? I dream of travelling – seeing new places, experiencing new things and creating amazing memories.  So when the guys at Cabin Zero asked me if I wanted to test out one of their innovative travel bags I jumped at the chance!

Myself and my partner travel to a new place on a ‘us time’ mini-break every year, as well as taking a family holiday and for me travel really does feed my soul.  Travel for us isnt just about seeing a new place. Its about taking the time to be a couple, not just mum and dad, and its something we promised each other we’d always do when we first got together and after 5 years together we’re 5 trips down…

Now, the dream of travelling is a great one but what about the practicalities? What do you pack? And more importantly, what do you pack it in?

Cabin Zero flags bag luggage packing flatlay via Always a Blue Sky Girl style travel fashion lifestyle blog

Jumper/boots/wallet/make up/hat – all Primark
Cat collar – ebay
Socks – New Look
Eye mask – Bedtime Bliss*
Watch – Marc Jacobs via PlusWatches*
Toiletries – Soap & Glory/ Baptise/ Sure/ Garnier/ Burts Bees
Books – Amazon
Straightening Comb – Poundland

I chose the Classic Flags ultra light cabin bag in orange chill. Its a limited edition design in the larger 44L size.  I love the look of this bag in its bright, but not garish burnt orange colourway and its retro applique flag patches over it.


Its size is perfect as carry on luggage (it measures the regulation 55cm x 40cm x 20cm), it is really lightweight (760grams) and holds so much. I don’t like to travel light (hey, you know I love fashion!) so all this is important to me, but the best part of Cabin Zero’s innovative design is rather than wheel it along, you carry it, either by its handle or using the two padded back straps like a rucksack. This leaves you free to carry another bag or just move around really easily…now that is brilliant!


Inside it has a zipped pocket and mesh compartment, perfect for smaller items.

And to keep all those bulky contents as small as possible, side compression straps.


Theres also a built-in global luggage tracker powered by OkobanN that you register your details on and a 10 years warranty (upgradable to 25 years free of charge if you ‘like’ them on Facebook).

This is a fantastic travel bag both in its styling and its innovation. I can fit everything I need into it and because you carry it like a rucksack, any weight is easy to carry. I will definitely be swapping it for my usual wheelie case as it is so much easier to use. I can’t wait to use mine on my next adventure. Now, the only other question is – where to go…?

Cabin zero flags 44l cabin bag hand luggage via Always a Blue Sky Girl blog blogger style fashion blog

Classic Flags cabin bag – £65 / via Cabin Zero*

For 10% off all orders use the code CZBLUESKYGIRLIE (valid until 20/12/17)

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

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10 things that have made me happy this month

Its October, theres a chill in the air, the leaves are on the ground and Halloween is nearly upon us.  I love this time of year and this month has been filled with some lovely stuff.  Want to know whats been making me smile this October?

Starting Weightwatchers (again)
OK, so starting a diet isnt making me smile but getting back in control of my eating is. I had a few months (well about 6 🙈) of no calorie counting and although I kept up my running some weight crept back on. I’m not happy bigger and I knew I needed to get my eating back on track.  I lost the bulk of my weight about 6 years ago with Weightwatchers (probably 3 stone) then went in to lose another 2 on my own so it felt right to re-join for 3 months to get back to a weight I’m happy at.

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Getting organised on Etsy
My ‘Always a Blue Sky Girl’ Etsy shop is my business baby. I favour it over other selling areas I have (sorry Ebay) but when I’m busy it seems to fall by the wayside.  This month I’ve made a conscious effort to get my best vintage stock listed, add some great photos and curate a really stylish selection of items.  

If you want to check it out click here

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Park running
As I mentioned I’ve still been running my 5k three times a week, every week. I pretty much never miss a run and this time of year is perfect for it. If you’re thinking of starting a fitness regime don’t wait for New Year, start now!  The scenery is stunning, its not too hot and you can wrap up if its chilly.  When I need to de-compress I pop in my headphones, zip up my jacket and take a route through my local parks and it totally de-stresses me…

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Reuben’s 11th birthday…in fact just Reuben generally!
My son Reuben turned 11 on the 11th and it really was a fantastic couple of days. After asking for some totally random presents – a 1990’s Gordon the Gopher puppet and a pie in the face (not a game or anything, the actual action) for example, we all had fun as a family and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself.  He’s growing up so fast and this month has been filled with secondary school open days as secondary school places have to be applied for by the end of the month. He, as ever has been a total star and we also got the news he passed the 11+ too (the banding test to determine the 20% of children who can apply to a Grammar school). He had to work very hard for the last 12 months and I am incredibly proud of him.

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Ebay China
I do love a bargain and we all know the real bargains lie many 100’s of miles away in that far off country…China.  I dont often buy from China due to the long delivery times and the hit and miss quality but this month I took a few chances buying accessories and the results were amazing.   This Vivetta inspired cat design false collar? Yours for about £4 including shipping!

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Creating wish lists
I’m a pretty organised fashion lover. When I see something I love, either in an ad, featured in a magazine or on a blogger, I save a photo of it for later. On Instagram you can save any image to your own personal area and create different areas for them to be put in. The rest I save on my phone to look out for when I’m shopping…and as we get nearer to Christmas? Well a traditional gift wish list is perfect. Always wonder why some people get EXACTLY what they want each year? Yep…Amazon have a great one and you can add items to it from any website and then email it out or go old school and print one out like the example below..

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Decluttering

Now, its OK writing wishlists for new season products but you’ve got to fit it all in. I try and follow a strict ‘1 in 1 out’ system so if I want new things other stuff has got to go!

I sell many of my unwanted items on Depop cheaply to get rid of them quickly as I hate having piles of stuff around I dont want anymore. For those not familar with the site, Depop is a great app for buying and selling, is safe and money changes hands via PayPal.  Alot of bloggers sell through there so you can often end up buying stuff from peoples whose style you love which is great. The rest I bag up and take to the charity shop…where I usually end up buying more stuff! Ah well, baby steps…

If you want to check out my Depop shop click here.

 

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Halloween
I’ve always enjoyed Halloween and was having parties way back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when Halloween wasn’t really a thing yet in the UK.  A few days ago we went back to Fright Night at Thorpe Park with our older boys and enjoyed getting scared to (almost) death by zombies via the AMC Walking Dead experiences.  We went last year and its now become a date in our diaries we will keep repeating.  Halloween is something you can dip in and out of depending on your life stage but for me now its a chance to dress up, watch horror movies and of course eat the sweets the trick and treat’ers don’t take!  This is me last year…


Sale shopping
I love a bargain, and this month I have found some brilliant ones…all at 70% off (or free – the shoes were a buy 2 items get the 3rd free!). Look for transitional pieces you can layer up for winter and you can wear them straight away.

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Netflix

Netflix makes me happy every month to be honest, but this month?  Stranger Things is back, their ‘made for Netflix’ films continue go from strength to strength and are as good as anything in the cinema (check out Stephen Kings ‘Geralds Game’) and their documentaries are amazing. If you havent watched ‘Five Foot Two’ on Lady Gaga do – its beautifully made, honest and very interesting.

All that and then I watched the first episode of the reboot of Dynasty.  I’m obsessed!!!

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Whats made you happy this month?  Take time to think about it and enjoy the little things – I know I do!

Getting back into watch wearing

I used to wear a watch.  In fact I wore a few.  I had Swatch watches in the 80’s and 90’s, a G-Shock in the 00’s and by my thirties I had worked up to designer brands.

And then I got a smart phone. 

Technology is great, and yep, your phone tells the time but its usually in your bag, or the batteries dead or (worst thing ever) you’ve left it at home. I am forever asking my boyfriend (who sensibly wears a watch) what the time is and I realised that smart or not, my iphone was really not doing it for me anymore.

Step in Plus Watches.  After a quick look round their website I fell in love with a gorgeous, classic watch which I thought had a timeless style and would go with anything. It was from the Marc Jacobs section, a brand I have always loved and thought suited my style (which has evolved slightly since wearing a Casio G-Shock back in the day, thankfully).

It was gold with a off-white dial, a real leather strap and said ‘designer’ without screaming it. Understated style with a luxury feel – thats what I wanted in a watch so I picked this Marc by Marc Jacobs beauty…

Find it here

It was a bargain too – reduced to £112.99 from £199.00 which I thought was a really good price for a watch of this quality.



Delivered really quickly and securely (and for free – I do love free delivery!) it arrived in a lovely gift box which would make it perfect as a gift too. It has a Quartz movement and is water resistant to 5ATM (50m), but the thing I liked the most about it is its tan pigskin leather strap.  I have really small wrists and most watches swamp them or if they have link straps have to have links taken out. With this being a traditional style strap, it fitted my wrist perfectly…and didnt look out of proportion either.  Its perfect.


With it being quite neutral in its colour mix, it goes with so many of my other accessories particularly things I like wearing in the Autumn. I will layer gold coloured jewellery with it to create a strong Autumn/Winter look.  By Christmas I will add brooches too all with the same golden theme.


I have hardly took this watch off since I received it.  I have worn it most days and it really has gone with everything I’ve worn. 

I guess I’m back in love with wearing watches!

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Marc by Marc Jacobs watch / via Plus Watches.

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

The Power of Flowers

Theres nothing quite like a delivery of fresh flowers to lift your spirits.  I’ve got to be honest I’ve not been having the best time recently for a few various annoying reasons and have been feeling a bit down which isnt like me.  Things can get on top of you and sometimes you just need a little ‘pick me up’ to remind yourself that life is good.

When the doorbell rang and this beautiful luxury bouquet was waiting from Prestige Flowers my heart soared. The gift of flowers is something I love but very rarely receive (probably like a lot of women) and boy, does it fill me with joy!

I immediately put mine on display and its look and smell has been making me smile every day since…they are just beautiful.

This is the ‘Exquisite’ bouquet that starts at £34.99.  

If you havent used Prestige Flowers before let me give you a review of their service.

Their website is really easy to use and their prices are very competitive. Its hard sometimes to know who to use for flowers as its crowded market but I was very impressed with their service and quality.

My flowers were delivered in a lovely decorative box which felt really ‘gifty’ and you could smell the freshness of the flowers straight away.

On opening, the bouguet was presented tied and wrapped – all you had to do was lift it out of the box.


Also included was a glass vase (very carefully wrapped and boxed), care leaflet and a black paper gift bag.  

Upon unwrapping you could see why the flowers were so fresh. The ends were wrapped together in a clever wrapper which was providing them with water and although sodden with water for the flowers did not leak or spill any water on the outside.  The stems were all cut to length – all you had to do was place it in the vase provided – no arranging required!

You could then display (or gift it) in its gift bag or just in its vase…the choice was yours.

I’d definitely send a bouquet like this for a birthday or other special ocassion, plus Christmas isnt far away and they have some beautiful bouquets specially selected as Christmas gifts – find them here –https://www.prestigeflowers.co.uk/christmas-flowers. I’ve never thought of sending flowers for Christmas but I think that would work well as a really nice present for someone special, but one which I didnt have to shop for. Easy AND thoughtful…works for me! 

I’d definitely recommend the Prestige Flowers service and a week later my flowers are still looking great – the lillies are opening up and the fragrance has become even stronger. Its amazing how something like receiving flowers can lift your mood so greatly and this beautiful bouquet definitely does that!
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*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

10 days, 10 outfits: what I wore on my summer holiday

For me a summer holiday is an excuse to dress up. As a working mum I dont get a lot of nights out and my summer holiday gives me 10 in a row! Fashion is ‘my thing’ so a trip away is perfect to have some fun, style wise.

I thought I’d round up some of the looks I wore with some details of where the items came from. Want to take a look…?

Look 1: Baby steps with swimwear – I wasnt hugely body confident on this trip. I’m a bit heavier than I was last year and was a little self conscious of my figure. I took lots of cover-ups and soon all that fear slipped away….I found George at Asda great for swimwear with secret support and stuck mainly to one pieces apart from a few days where I braved wearing a bikini!


Bikini top / George at Asda, cover up / ASOS 

Look 2: the off the shoulder maxi dress – I found this dress in Primark for £5 in the sale and then paid to have it altered. Getting a dress that fits you perfectly is worth every penny and I found this was an easy dress to wear both daytime & evening.


Dress / Primark, sandals / Peacocks

Look 3: a slogan sun hat – if you didnt do a photo like this only holiday can you even call yourself a fashion blogger?!? Joking aside, hats saved my life on holiday and this £8 TU one actually fits my enormous head/thick hair!


Sun hat / TU at Sainsburys, Swimsuit / George at Asda

Look 4: the bargain daytime outfit – This dress was £12, the bag £9, sunglasses £3 and sandals £4. I just wore my swimsuit underneath.  Primark, you are a fashion loving holiday makers dream…


Sunglasses/dress/sandals/beach bag – all Primark

Look 5: Saturday Night – I didnt bring a lot of really dressy clothes and I’m glad as it was far too hot to get really dressed up, but this embroidered dress is one of my favourites and worn over a slip was perfect for a night when I wanted a bit of extra glamour.


Dress / Zara, Slip / M&S, sandals / Very.co.uk

Look 6: covering up as I mentioned before, in the day I wanted a stay a bit covered up when moving around and I found a playsuit was perfect for that. This £7 Primark bargain had the cutest tie front and frilled shorts and made me feel very feminine.


Playsuit / Primark, Sunglasses / Esprit, Hat / George at Asda (menswear)

Look 7: Retro vibes – when I saw these retro telephone booths in our hotel I knew I had to pose in them wearing this dress! Its not my normal style but holidays give you the chance to be someone else for a while and I decided to channel my inner Mad Men character. This dress was a ‘new to me’ charity shop buy so a real bargain too.


Dress / Oxfam, sandals / Primark, Bag / Next 

Look 8: Palm print lover – I wore this culotte jumpsuit ALOT while away as it was so comfortable and light. Apart from one night when someone else was wearing the exact same thing (the horror!) it was the perfect evening holiday piece…and I picked it up in the sale!


Jumpsuit / New Look, bag / Next, sandals / Primark

Look 9: boat trip chic – I bought quite a few pieces from Primark for this trip and this dress was one of them. I had been a bit afraid to wearing off the shoulder items as I do like to keep my ample bosum tightly contained (!) but a strapless bodysuit worked really well…I just couldnt do any trampolining!!!

Dress / Primark, bag / Bohema Design, sunglasses / New Look, Sandals / Peacocks

Look 10: Feeling tropical – I do love wearing print and leopard print seemed apt in the hot weather. All over print is too much for curvy, petite me, so a cute black one shouldered top from New Look toned it down.

Top / New Look, skirt / Primark, bag / Next

So what do you think? If you like my style make sure you follow my Instagram here for daily inspiration.

25 things you learn when you are on an all-inclusive family beach holiday

I havent been on a package/beach holiday for some time and this year was our first ever resort holiday abroad as a blended family and the first time we had visited an all-inclusive resort. Holidays abroad are expensive (stop hiking up the price in the school holidays holiday companies, its so unfair) and can be stressful but its also a unique time where you dont have to ‘do’ anything if you dont want to and the usual chains of being an adult are removed. 

So what did I learn during 11days of resort living?

1) Yes, it can be expensive but once you’re there that wont bother you – in fact you’ll probably start planning your trip for next year. I’ve got to be honest, paying for this trip hurt a bit (I’m notoriously stingy LOL) but once we were there and I saw how happy everyone was, all I could think about was how it was SO worth it and I wanted every summer to be like this from now on.

2) Before you leave you will probably worry a bit about wearing swimwear but after a few days of seeing real people, rather than airbrushed magazine shots or Facetuned Instagrams you will not give a damn! Embrace that body – its the only one you have and its beautiful because it’s unique and it’s yours!

3) Your holiday doesnt start till someone gets stung by a wasp (me, day 5)

4) As Baz Luhrmann famously said – use sunscreen. Take loads – you always use more than you think you will. We were doing really well, had one off day when it was cloudy and then really had to pay for it via copious applications of after-sun and anti-hystermine. Slight parenting fail! Its also worth considering using rash vests/sun suits – I bought some cheap ones for our 3 boys from Sports Direct and they were brilliant – especially for our sun-adverse red-head.

5) It might come as a surprise but a £10 pool inflatable can make a child more happy than a £400 games console ever will…

6) All-inclusive food and drink brings out the gluttony in human beings – be better than that. Anyone that goes up for thirds at dinner with 3 bread rolls under their arm and their eye in the dessert bar needs to have a word with themselves!!! I will miss that choice of every breakfast food imaginable each day though…

7) By halfway through the holiday you’ll know all the words & dance movements to the resorts chosen theme song with your kids begging for the resorts overpriced disco CD (just say no – if they are really desperate for a song, Shazam it and then buy it as a download when you get home – they’ll of forgotten by then anyway)

8) Pool sliders may look ugly but they will save your life (and soles of your feet) 

9) Foreign crisps are better than UK crisps. End of. And in HUGE bags!

10) Palm trees are the best trees

11) Bring at least of 2 of everything for your kids that goes near water. Swimshorts, towels, caps etc. – that way you have time every day to dry or wash through the day befores clothing.

12) If you want to dress up, do it. If you want to relax and dress down, do that. This is your holiday. I love to dress up and use Instagram, so was never gonna miss the chance of creating fashion looks using some fab backgrounds…

(look out for a separate blog featuring what I wore)

13) Exercising on holiday is fun! Yes – we are that couple…We always fit in some form of exercise while away, and found that because we had more time for it, it felt easier and less of a chore. Running is easy to fit into a day and needed minimal extra stuff packed.  An added bonus – it takes a long time to form a habit, especially if that habit is regular exercise – so if you can keep up some of the momentum while you are away, it’s much easier to get into it again when you get back.

14) As a mum in particular, it can be hard to give yourself permission to relax – but you need to do it.  I’d say it took me 3-4 days to properly relax…Use whatever you need to – a good book, headphones playing your favourite music, romantic walks or a nice cocktail. No guilt allowed – youre on holiday!

15) Holidays have the ability to bring siblings together in a way that nothing else can. You will get those ‘melt your heart’ moments when you least expect it…cherish them.

16) A kids disco at any other time might seem like hell but seeing your child experience entertainment purely for them, and seeing them dancing/singing/playing games on stage (if your child is anything like mine) is just the most wonderful thing.

17) In an all-inclusive resort, order the maximum amount of drinks allowed each time you visit the bar that you can. This is not being greedy, it just means you won’t have to keep queueing up (and those queues can be LONG!)

18) Reading an actual book is wonderful. I read two that I had been meaning to read for ages and just hadnt had the time and felt so satisfied.

19) Entertainment staff are all the most beautiful people on the planet and will make you feel totally ugly in comparison but remember the rest of the guests in the complex will remind you that people come in all shapes and sizes!

20) A great view can lift your soul

21) If youve got kids under 12 bring a bottle of Capol or Inbruprofen plus some anti-hystermine. We needed medicine for 2 out of our 3 children during our 11 days away.

22) Beaches look great in an Instagram shot but are really hard work especially with kids coming back with sand in areas you didnt even know they had.  However theres just something about them that makes it worthwhile – for our boys it was when they found out there was free wifi (we banned them for going online at out hotel) and for me nothing beats the sound of the waves lapping. Talc helps remove the sand and make sure you utilise the beach showers.

23) If youre anything like me and spend all your time checking everyone has remembered everything, you will probably end up losing your own stuff, most likely your sunglasses. Pack a few pairs of cheap ones – I kept mine safe till the last day and was feeling smug and then lost them going through Spainish security on the way home. Primark is great for cheap but stylish pairs.

24) Dont forget those chargers and travel plugs. We didnt allow much screen time but trying to keep our own phones, plus ipods, cameras, portable chargers and tablets charged was quite a challenge.

25) Travelling abroad with young children can have its stressful moments but the joy it brings both them and you makes the best memories, ones that will stay with them forever.  Giving yourself permission to relax is a huge step in self love and the moments it creates are priceless.  There really is nothing like it.  

So kiss your kids, snog your partner and most importantly, love yourself xx

I’ve set up a direct debit and am ready to start saving for next year – after all, taking holidays are one of the reasons we work so hard the rest of the year! Its only money, right?!?

We travelled to the island of Majorca in the Spainish Baleric Islands with LoveHolidays.com.

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.

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

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…