Skin Chemists Pure Collagen 5% Biphase Serum

Pure Collagen 5% Biphase Serum – not the catchiest name but Skin Chemists create products that aren’t created to just be pretty on the surface, they are products that work…and they work really well.

I use a lot of Skin Chemists products and picked this one as it is aimed at more mature skin…plus its pink – and who doesn’t want more pink in their lives? Collagen is a big deal in skincare and I wanted to see if it could make a difference to my 40 plus skin which is now starting to show its age.

The product itself is contained in a 30ml size glass bottle with pipette top for easy dispensing. It is pink in colour, almost glittery when you mix it and has no smell. A water based product I found it was easier to dispense it on a pad to apply it to my skin. You shake the serum for a few seconds to activate it and then apply 2-3 drops to cleansed skin before using any other creams or moisturisers. Its absorbs really quickly, doesn’t feel greasy and a little goes a long way.

This version of Skin Chemists Biphase serum comprises of two layers (the Bi, in the Biphase) which work in unison – the anti-ageing powerhouse that is Collagen with the freshness and versatility of water.

According to Skin Chemists, with its ability to promote skin cell renewal, Collagen is able to give a smooth effect on the skin’s surface to reveal a glowing complexion. Retaining a healthy skin barrier is essential in achieving a supple complexion, and Collagen has a high capacity for water retention, so helps to protect and maintain this for more youthful looking skin.

What the product claims to do:

  • Promotes glowing, vibrant skin to keep youthful appearance
  • Smooths fine lines and wrinkles to restore skin’s elasticity
  • Minimises and eliminates scarring

What Skin Chemists say are its key benefits:

  • Collagen in the skin is the key to building block to regain the structural integrity of a young face
  • Protecting and maintaining the skin’s natural oil barrier to achieve a supple, moisturised complexion

If you are concerned about fine lines or dryness, or want to improve the appearance of your skin’s texture, elasticity and firmness then this might be a product you want to add in to your skin care routine. I think this is definitely a product that works best for slightly more mature skins – on a more mature skin (I am 46) you can feel the difference within days.

The lightweight formulation means that is easily absorbed into clean skin and makes it feel smooth to the touch straight away. I could feel the wider effects quite quickly and after a week or so of using it, started to look forward to applying it each night!

So, is Collagen the miracle ingredient we have been led to believe it is?

I’d say its not far off – and this serum is an affordable way to start discovering its benefits. After using it for a week or so, the difference in my skins texture was clearly visible and made my face feel more supple and dare I say, slightly more youthful! I love the simple and effective vibe of this product – it doesn’t need gimmicks, flash packaging or advertising, it just works!!!

This clever little product costs £29.90 and is available here.

Find the full Biphase range here – I’m interested to see if the other two products in the range, Caviar and Hyaluronic Acid work as well as this one does.

I’m going to bet they do…

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

Love your Face & the Planet: I&G Eco Natural Make Up Remover Kit

Do you worry about the amount of waste you are creating? I definitely do, particularly within my beauty regime, from the amount of single use plastics in my products packaging, to using baby wipes that I know go in to landfill, to the minuscule plastic beads found in body scrubs. Like most women, I cleanse my face each night using cotton wool pads and throw them straight in the bin sometimes using two or three at a time.

Cotton wool is not recyclable and the disposable nature of it makes it not only wasteful but also harmful to the environment. Harmful pesticides are used in the farming of cotton and the cotton farming industry is a major source of environmental pollution using almost one quarter of all the world’s insecticides and 10% of all pesticides. During the production of cotton cleansing pads, chemicals are used that will eventually leach into the sea, rivers and soil when the pad is disposed of. The argument to not use cotton wool is a powerful one but for most of us with busy lives (oh hello full time job, blended family, part time business) it’s often hard to not take the easiest option.

Enter I&G Eco… A fantastic small brand aiming to do big things. They say – “We believe, looking after our planet is the responsibility of all of us and small acts multiplied by millions of people can transform the world. Join in and make a difference!”

The I&G Eco natural make-up remover kit is a great little set comprising of 16 x bamboo makeup remover pads, 2 x sisal soap bags and a cotton mesh wash bag all packaged in recyclable packaging.

So, what do you get in the box?

You get 16 super soft bamboo makeup pads. These are made of 100% bamboo fabric, great quality, biodegradable and according to the packaging, BPA and polyester free so it doesn’t impact the environment like ordinary single-use cotton wool pads. They are machine washable and can be washed up to 1000 times each.   

Also included are 2 sisal soap pouches meaning you can use your favourite soap and stop using single plastic use shower gel bottles. You simply put a bar of soap inside the pouch and gently massage your body to exfoliate dead skin. You can also use smaller bits of soap together as the bag holds them all together, making your soaps go much further.

The final piece of the set is a cotton mesh wash bag which you can place your used pads in as you use them ready for washing. I washed my pads weekly in the mesh bag and they washed very well. The bag also doubles as a storage or travel bag keeping everything neat and tidy.

There is a lot to like about this set – it is obviously a great idea and eco friendly but it also is a really nice beauty product too. The pads themselves are so soft, very easy to use and wash really well. I was concerned after using and washing them a few times they would start to feel a bit ‘scraggy’ and not fresh like a new cotton wool pad but I can honestly say they feel lovely every time I have used them. They are a larger size than I expected too and have 2 layers meaning you can use both sides during make-up removal and the pad still feels clean, soft and fresh.

After going cotton wool free for a few weeks now, I am really feeling the love with this set, the brand and its ideals. We have developed into a throw-away society, filling up our environment with rubbish that we cannot dispose of and something has to change. Doing my bit for the planet without comprising on everyday time-savers is what I strive for and by simply swapping to clever eco friendly and sustainable products like this can really help the environment, as well as saving a bit of money in the long run too.

This set is ideal for all types of skin, plus can be used on adults, children and even babies. The bamboo pads can be used for applying beauty products, such as toners and serums as well as the removal of all types of make-up, even really heavy applications.

I really liked the feeling of the pads on my skin and found they removed all my make-up while absorbing the Micellar water I use each night. They all washed really well and the additional soap bags made me consider my other toiletry usage and look at where I could be more eco friendly.

So, will I go back to good old cotton wool?

Its a 100% no from me!!! Using bamboo pads is definitely the way forward – they work great and fit in to my busy life really well.  And best of all – no waste and no guilt!

Want to try this fab kit for yourself?  The I&G Eco natural make up remover kit costs £12.99 and can be bought from Amazon here or directly via the I&G Eco website.

It’s time to start making a difference…

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

Weekend Project: Upcycling a 1960’s Bar Cart

I have wanted to buy a bar cart for our lounge for some time but was put off by the prices. Even a basic one from somewhere like West Elm or Oliver Bonas was over £150 and I just couldn’t justify that kind of cost for what is really quite a frivolous item. I should also add I am 100% teetotal and have been for many years but that still doesn’t stop me wanting to make cocktails. It does however make me want to find a cost effective way to have a drink trolley in the house…

I couldn’t believe it when I was pottering in our local Emmaus charity furniture store and lent up against the wall I saw a 1960’s drinks trolley. It was a bit dirty and had onyx effect shelves which wouldn’t go with anything I own but it was a great size and had a fantastic gold coloured frame.

And the best bit? The man there sold it to me for just £5!!!

Once I got it home I started planning how I would upcycle it and decided a black version of the onyx effect shelves it had been designed with would look the best. The iconic Blue Peter staple – sticky back plastic (now rebranded as self adhesive film) – is an amazing way to change things as it is cheap, easy to use and comes in a huge variety of colours, patterns and sizes.

So, how did I do it?

What you’ll need:

Getting Started:

Firstly I cleaned the entire trolley making sure it was clear of dust or anything that would stop the film sticking. I then measured the surfaces I wanted to cover, loosely cut out the film I was going to use and then in stages adhered it to the flat surface working slowly and methodically. Every couple of inches I would use the scraper to make sure there were no air bubbles and the film was nice and flat.

Once the whole surface was covered I used a Stanley knife to cut into the carts metal edges and carefully removed the excess film. Top Tip: If you do get the odd air bubble take a pin and make a tiny hole in it. Then go over it again with the scraper. It will then disappear.

Once the top was done I repeated the process all over again to cover the bottom section.

A quick wipe down and a final hard scrape of the film to make sure it was well and truly stuck and I had finished my weekend project! And here is the finished item – I have styled it with a mix of 1960’s vintage and some new items and with the stylised mid century trolley design it makes for a great retro vibe…

Cocktail shaker/Dunelm Mill, bar tool set/Sainburys Home, smoked glass items/vintage, swizzle sticks/eBay

Fluted 1960’s glasses/Vintage, clear hi balls & tumblers/Amazon

Cocktail shaker/Dunelm Mill, bar tool set/Sainburys Home, smoked glass items/vintage

I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. What do you think?

The best bit is I have a real 1960’s version of what I wanted which fits in to my home perfectly and have also upcycled a piece of unwanted furniture which might of ended up at the dump otherwise.

I can’t wait for it to take pride of place in our lounge when it is redecorated. Now, who wants a drink?

Skin Chemists Caviar skin range

Over the last 6 weeks I have been trying out a new luxury range from fantastic skincare experts Skin Chemists.  I have tried quite a few products from this brand over the years and am always impressed with the results.  As a brand their products are priced in line with many high end beauty ranges but with Skin Chemists you also get a mix of unconventional ideas developed via the company’s research centres in the UK and US that go beyond ordinary skincare to combat and control skin ageing.

This range is all based around one of the most luxurious things you can think of…caviar!  Now, like many of the Skin Chemist ranges Caviar isn’t the first thing I think of when you say ‘great skin’ but over the years I have tried their snail serum and bee venom ranges so Caviar feels positively normal to put on my skin!

The Caviar skincare range is made of a large range of different items all working together.  I used the anti-aging day moisturiser, facial serum and eye serum together as a trio morning and night as part of my normal routine.  I used the facial serum, day moisturiser and eye serum in the morning and facial and eye serum before bed each day.

As always the range is presented in a set of lovely stylish packaging, both the boxes (so great to give as a gift) and the product containers – I do like them to look nice on my bathroom shelf!  These three items are currently on offer for £19.99 each making them really affordable too.

Caviar extract is a highly nutritious marine extract, which aims to improve the appearance of the firmness of the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines when mixed with other key ingredients this creates a range that aims to plump up the skin to smooth the look of fine lines and wrinkles and to make it look brighter, healthier and more radiant. BUT the real question is – does it actually work?

First up is the Anti-Ageing Caviar Facial Serum which aims to hydrate, balance and improve overall skin’s complexion. Because Caviar contains a large mix of vitamins and minerals it is an exceptional moisturiser – you massage it onto the skin twice a day after cleansing and toning and then finish off with a moisturiser (I used the Caviar day moisturiser) .  Like many Skin Chemists products the serum has a slightly medicinal smell to it but goes on very smoothly and a little goes a long way.  I noticed quite quickly my skin looked healthier and more radiant and after about a month plumper too.  Some fine lines around my eyes appeared to fade slightly and its velvety texture left a very nice feeling on my skin.

Next I used the Anti-Ageing Caviar Day Moisturiser which aims to mattify, smooth and brighten your skin and also protects from free radical damage (when Oxygen atoms in the body try and pair causing damage to cells, protein and DNA causing premature aging).  A lightweight day moisturiser, I liked it didn’t make my skin feel sticky and after two weeks or so I saw a definite balancing of my uneven skin tone on my cheeks. I would then add my foundation on top to create a slightly dewy finish.

The final step to my routine was a small dab of the Anti-Ageing Caviar Eye Serum under my eyes concentrating in the small feathery lines at my eye edge.  A great little product, this felt really hydrating and after 6 weeks of use I felt it had lifted and brightened the skin around my eyes.  Its consistency is jelly-like and it absorbs into your skin without any residue – it really works and is a great finisher to this three step routine.

The ranges key active ingredients are –
1) Caviar Extract: A highly nutritious marine extract, its aim to improve the appearance of the firmness of the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
2) Aloe Vera: which works to soothe and moisturise the skin.
3) Seaweed Extract: which aims to deeply hydrate the skin as well as having anti-oxidising properties.

Obviously this is something to bear in mind for any allergies but there were no issues of any kind for me.  I really liked these products and they definitely made a difference to my skin over a 6 week period.  They felt luxurious but still effective and at 46 I need products that are more than just pretty packaging – that is one of the things I really love about Skin Chemists.  I will definitely continue to use them as part of my skincare routine.

Creating globally celebrated formulations that go beyond ordinary skincare to combat and control skin ageing at its source is key to Skin Chemists success.  These products work, make you feel good and last a long time – all key for me as a consumer.

Want to try them yourself?  All three items featured in this blog as currently on offer for just £19.99 each.  Find the full caviar range here.

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

What happened to Valentines Day?

Ok, lets get this out the way…I HATE the modern day version of Valentines Day.

I bet you’re thinking – well I guess she’s some super grumpy, unromantic person who hates all this love and fuss stuff? Ironically that couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me explain…

In an age before the internet, social media, Tinder, non stop advertising and the media trying to convince us we should all live/look/spend like the rich and famous whatever our income; a pretty paper card sent anonymously to a loved one was an adorable way to show that you loved/liked/wanted to court them. It was personal and coy and sweet and seemingly now something of a time gone by…Let me tell you a bit about me – I would describe myself as a very romantic person. I tell my fiancé lots of times through the day I love him (as he does to me), send romantic messages and notes, go on date nights, take time to look after myself and look nice/wear pretty lingerie etc (because it makes me feel good – making my boyfriend smile is an added bonus), spend time cuddled upon the sofa in the evenings and generally make time to do things that will make him feel loved, appreciated and wanted. I love being in love and couldn’t imagine living any other way. I don’t dislike the idea of Valentines Day…I hate what marketing and the media has made the day become.

I think because I am a romantic person who loves to make a fuss of the people I care for, it makes me hate the whole concept of the modern day Valentines Day even more. Let me tell you why…

Its fake – So who was St Valentine? The saint of Beekeepers and Epilepsy amongst other things. Why do we celebrate Valentines Day? Well that one is full of debate. One thing is for sure – the whole thing is a mix of other celebrations and twisted to fit in with a modern day event created to sell stuff.

It encourages people to spend money have on things they don’t need – Valentines Day is a marketing dream (I should know, its what I do!). Adverts begin weeks ahead, stores replace their Christmas stock with Valentines stock, magazines tell us instead of a £5 box of chocolates and a card, we should buy the person we love a £200 designer watch because bigger is better and we start to get brainwashed by it all.

A whole industry has emerged created fun ‘novelty’ gifts no-one in their right mind would want – Everyone loves a teddy with a heart on, pair of fluffy handcuffs or fabric rose don’t they? Oh right, they don’t. And don’t get me started on things like chocolate body paint…

There’s some women who use it to make other women feel like lesser beings – There’s always those people who want to show you their huge bouquet of roses, heart shaped balloons, diamond earrings etc. Good for them…but show offs are never fun to be around and there’s a competitive, nasty side to it that I just don’t like. Ladies we don’t need to be like this!

Men generally don’t like it – You know when another ‘special’ day exactly a month later is created (it involves steak and other things men love – see the cheeky details here) by men for men, that Valentines Day is not a thing men on the whole want to be forced to do. There is of course, lots of romantic men out there but who wants to be told when and how you should be romantic?

Its creates ‘the pressure’ – The pressure to buy gifts, the pressure to book an expensive restaurant, the pressure to send flowers, the pressure to have sex that night whether you want to really or not, the pressure to out-do your friends. If you’re single there’s pressure to be in a relationship as that’s what society tells us will make us happy…well, I know quite a few people in relationships who seem utterly miserable. Anything to do with love should feel free, not forced.Whether you are single or in a relationship we all know the truth – we are being manipulated. Don’t be told when to be romantic – in fact if you’re anything like me make an effort of be romantic EVERY day…and don’t expect a present because of it. Do it because you want to. Do it because being in love compels you to do so. For me that’s what true love should do…and the rewards are much better than getting a gift you’ve guilted your other half into buying you.

Personally this Valentines Day, I will choose a card, write a heartfelt message and that night have dinner, watch TV, kiss and cuddle and then go to bed with the man I love just like I would any other night.And you know what? Life is about freedom of choice – if you truly love the whole idea of Valentines Day then go for it – the candlelit dinner, expensive gifts, rose petals on the bed, slow-mo sex; whatever says ‘love’ to you!

But do it because you want to…and don’t share it all over your social media for the attention and likes – the odd pic might be cute but your whole evening?  Intimate moments of love should be for 2 not 200. True love is the most precious thing we can have in our lives – lets not cheapen it – its worth far more than that.All photos via my Instagram – to follow me (its not all romance I promise!) click here.

Hello 2019 – pleased to meet you!

So you’ve probably noticed – it’s a new year! Now, I am not a believer in the whole ‘new year/new me’ stuff but I do like to have goals, I like to constantly try to do better and I thrive on the feeling of being proud of myself and my achievements.

So I decided to use the rolling over of ’18 to ’19 to come up with 10 manageable (and that’s the key word here) things to keep me on the right track for moving onwards and generally achieving my goals over the next 12 months.

Lets be clear though, these are NOT resolutions. I am not a believer in New Years Resolutions. Over many years I have set myself ridiculous goals – started strict diets, tried to force myself to do things I didn’t really want to do and unsurprisingly I failed. And then the excuses would start, the guilt would come, which was often followed by some self loathing. And then usually I would forget all about it all and not really achieve anything over the next 12 months!

But what are my 2019 aims?

Face the fear (and maybe do it anyway)

My biggest enemy is anxiety. For as long as I can remember I have been a worrier and at times I have suffered with panic attacks and illness due to anxiety. I have worked very hard to control my demons and during 2019 I want to make sure I am as self-aware as possible remember to always put my mental health first. One of the biggest challenges for me is telling people when I feel anxious but I know if I share my worries and seek support the easier it is. Part of this is also looking after myself physically, so I need to get enough sleep, keep away from alcohol, exercise regularly and not eat too much junk food as I find if my weight goes up so does my anxiety. I will not allow my worries steal my happiness.

Stay ‘present’

One of my worst traits is being easily distracted. I have a very busy mind and often find it hard to focus on just one task as I am always thinking ahead. This year I am going to work really hard to stay in the present particularly with my loved ones and put that phone away and keep my focus where it needs to be. I want my children to feel they are the centre of my world not Facebook or Instagram. Plus I am going to try ‘seize the day’ where I can (someone often harder for anxious people) and be more spontaneous and hopefully have more fun!

Be the star of my own story…

Family first

Start a new (mini) business

Last year I had the idea to launch a new Etsy business. I already have an Etsy shop selling vintage items (find it here) but I wanted another a business that was a bit more creative. I did quite a lot of work on it but life got in the way and I never got to launch it. This year I want to bring that business alive so watch this space!

Be real (aka don’t just ‘do it for the gram)

This year I am going to work hard to remember social media is definitely NOT real life. Working as a social media manager for a large retail company, I really should know to not judge myself against the 1000’s of curated, photoshopped or stylised images out there but I still do. This Christmas I realised I had hardly taken any photos but had a lovely time which was a real eye-opener for me. Everything doesn’t need to be recorded digitally and immediately shared…memories are really all you need.

This year I am going to work hard to not believe everything everyone else is doing/living/sharing is perfect and that sometimes an outtake photo is a better representation of the moment than a stylised Instagram worthy shot as seen below…

Silly faces – thought = I dont look pretty enough

New Years Eve – thought = laughing and bent over is unflattering

Bonfire night – thought = no make up and too dark

Re-do our lounge

Last year we made some real progress doing up our house. This year I want to tackle my favourite room – the lounge – and create a really lovely space to relax in. Theres a lot to do as everything needs changing but I can’t wait! Look out for updates as we progress…

Continue to run

I’ve now been running regularly for over 4 years and last year I ran 750km in total. I run every week, 2-3 times a week and it has really changed my life. I ran over Christmas, on holiday, in the cold and rain and when injured or unwell. I don’t always want to run but I always am glad I did. In 2019 I don’t want to run further or faster, I just want to keep making myself proud every week about the level of exercise I do because it is really hard to run every other day, EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Thinking of adding regular exercise in your life? Why not have a read of the blogs I have written about it – find them here and here I cannot recommend it enough.

2-3 5km runs EVERY week

Karrimors on…

Read more

I buy a lot of books but they just mount up by the side of my bed! I read on holiday but that’s about it, so this year I am going to try to read a book a month. I am going to read them at night and allow myself the time to do so. I also think it will help me wind down before sleeping which can sometimes be hard for me.

Keep on exploring

I love to travel particularly with my fiancé Russ. Last year we visited Venice as a couple and Majorca as a family as well as taking some great days out in the UK and I want to make sure we achieve that again this year as it makes us so happy. I’d better start saving again as we all know sadly holidays aren’t cheap!

Venice

Copenhagen

Budapest

Be kinder to myself

Now this one is hard. I am my own biggest critic and this year I want to try to be kinder to myself. Self care will be key to this – I need to give myself permission to relax and spoil myself whether it is a pamper session, allowing myself some chocolate or just having a lazy Sunday.

Work hard, Play Hard, Love hard

I am very lucky. I have a partner I adore (and he feels the same thankfully), a beautiful family of loving, healthy, beautiful boys, a nice home and most recently, a job I love. In 2019 I am going to make sure I remember to be thankful for all these things and never take them for granted, as well as working hard to make sure things stays that way. I want to excel at work, be the best girlfriend and mum I can and have fun as I go along.

My soulmate xxx

My beautiful boys

What are your plans for 2019? Are you going to push yourself harder or just enjoy the ride? Whatever you choose enjoy and be part of 2019 – we are never going to get this year again!!!

10 ways to make your gift wrapping stand out this Christmas

So, who has bought all their Christmas presents? Not me obviously as I am always a last minute kinda gal, but I’m sure all my sensible followers have bought at least some, if not all, of their Christmas gifts. I do love a nicely wrapped present and think it really adds to the whole gift giving experience so always try and make my presents look nice.

I was actually taught to gift wrap at Harrods when I was a junior window dresser so know a few tricks too to make them stand out from the crowd. I’ve created 10 looks to make your wrapping look amazing this year…plus none of it requires much outlay and much of it you probably already have. Oh yes, we are going to be eco-friendly too and do a bit of recycling! Lets get inspired…

Idea 1:Use fresh foliage –

Theres always so much stuff to use for free – you just have to look for it. Head to your local park for Holly, Ivy, Fir and berries. You’ll only need a few small bits, which you can leave in a small amount of water or damp oasis and then add them a few days before you gift your presents so they don’t dry out.

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogPillow pack / Wilkinsons

Idea 2: Get personal with personalised paper* –

For paper that really grabs peoples attention why not create something truly unique? Pretty Gifted is a fantastic online seller of personalised gift wrap – you pick your paper colour, your print foil, your font and your message and they do the rest. For £7.95 you get a large sheet of fantastic quality wrap, a gift tag and a metallic pen. I went for a little message to my boyfriend to wrap one of his presents in – ‘gifts are nice, but our love is everything!’ Lets get this whole season of buying stuff in proportion, eh?!?

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogGift wrap sheet, tag & metallic pen / Pretty Gifted*
Curling ribbon / The Works
Wooden decoration / Demelza Hospice shop

Idea 3: Map it out –

Know a person who loves to travel? Maps are something of a blast from the past these days but whenever I see old ones I want to make use of them. Dig out your old ones from the back of the cupboard or source vintage maps from charity shops and second hand stores and you will have some ready-made and totally personal, wrap. Just add ribbon…

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogVintage maps / various charity shops
Ribbon / Tiger Stores

Idea 4: Make part of the present the wrapping –

Giving a gift of a scarf or similar? Why not use it as the gift wrap? Theres nothing like getting two presents for the price of one! If you can’t use the gift itself you could use a beautiful off-cut of fabric – just wrap it around the gift, add a satin ribbon to fasten, and you are done!

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogVintage scarf / my own
Satin ribbon / John Lewis
Gift tag / Clintons

Idea 5: When theres not much time but you still want to be individual –

We’ve all seen all the gift boxes you can get in the card shops – they are easy to use, but usually not that exciting. However, life gets busy so for a short cut use pre-made gift boxes, but do it your way. Change the ribbon and the tags and add some personal touches such a giant bows and christmas decorations – now your box is totally unique.

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogGift boxes / The Works (striped), Card Factory (glitter), Sainsburys (gift card)
Curling ribbon / The Works
Tree decoration / Demelza Hospice shop

Idea 6: Christmas decorations –

This time of year its easy to find a different decoration to suit every type of person, so why not add it your parcel as a personalised gift tag? The person can keep it afterwards and add it to their tree as a keepsake. For a special gift, look for collectable decorations and for a more budget friendly version check out the supermarkets, Wilkinsons or charity shops – many charity shops have ranges of new decorations for sale and you can help a worthy cause at the same time.

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogChristmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blog25th Dec wrapping paper / Clintons
Wood & raffia decoration / Demelza Hospice shops
Set of 3 porcelain decorations / Georg Jenson at John Lewis
Ribbon / Tiger Stores

Idea 7: Recycle that newspaper –

Boring old newspaper can look amazing as a present wrapping. Use an unfamiliar paper such as one from a foreign country or as I have here, the Financial Times. Look out for vintage newspapers and comics – for a really individual touch you could use one from the year that person was born.

Christmas gift wrap wrapping Newspaper style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogChristmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogFinancial Times / selected newsagents
Ribbon / The Works

Idea 8: Doilies –

Paper doilies have gone out of fashion in recent years but they are easy to track down in the party and disposable plates section of many stores. They make a fabulous addition to gift wrap particularly with a simple paper underneath. Want a truly unique gift wrap? Then this look is for you.

Christmas Paper Doilies gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blog

Brown paper / Poundland
Decorative string / The Works
Paper Doilies / Tesco

Idea 9: Tins –

Tins, both vintage and Christmas themed are really a gift in themselves for wrapping smaller presents. Look out for unusual ones throughout the year and then add your smaller gifts into them. Finally just add a bow and boom – done!

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blog

Tins / charity shops, Poundland, Ikea
Ribbon / Tiger Stores, M&S

Idea 10: Tinsel is not just for the tree –

For a fun look tinsel can work perfectly as an alternative to ribbon. Look for rolls of mini tinsel which is usually used as a garland or for smaller trees and wrap it around your wrapped gifts. Cut smaller sections and tie together to make a starburst bow and your gift will look amazing!

Christmas gift wrap wrapping style guide via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie style blogMini tinsel garland / John Lewis
Gift tag / John Lewis
Wrapping paper / Poundland

And finally, some tips to make your wrapping look great. Remember with gift wrapping, the basics matter –

  • Measure out how much paper to cut by rolling out your wrapping paper and then placing the item (ideally a box) in the centre of the paper, upside down, so the seams of the paper will end up on the bottom of the package. Bring the paper up one side and over the top of the box, all the way to the opposite edge estimating how much additional paper you’ll need to cover the side of the box that’s not yet covered and then cut the paper.
  • Bring one side of the paper up the side and halfway across the top, affixing it to the box with a piece of tape.
  • Before bringing the second side of paper up and over the first, create a clean seam by folding over the last half-inch or so of the paper, using your fingers to create a tight crease. Now bring this side up so it just overlaps the first one and affix with tape – double-sided tape can be used for an even neater look. Position the fold on an edge for a seamless look, making sure you line up any patterns.
  • Fold the paper on each side of the present and starting on one end, fold down the top flap onto the side of the box, creating two little wings at the side. Flatten those in against the box, then fold the remaining triangle of paper up against the box. Fasten it in place with a small piece of tape.
  • Add your bows and tags as required. Curl ribbon with the underside of a sharp pair of scissors and cut ribbon ends into forks or angles.

Enjoy getting ready for the holiday season! If you use any of these ideas I would love to see! Tag me on Instagram – @blueskygirlie.

.

*items marked with an asterisk denotes a gifted item but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

All photos are my own and cannot be used without permission.

Black Friday – Hints and Tips

As you all know I LOVE shopping and this week all our inboxes are being bombarded with Black Friday sales and offer deals, desperately trying to get our cash. But how do you know whats a great offer and whats a dud? I’ve pulled together a few tips below to help you get the best bargains this Black Friday.

But first – what is Black Friday?

Black Friday is an annual discount shopping event held the day after Thanksgiving (which is always on a Thursday), first starting in America as a way to ‘cheer people up’ from the comedown of Thanksgiving as most people would have that day off work also. Originally a one-day event, many retailers now offer sales and deals in the week leading up to it thanks to its huge success (and the fact it caused riots when it was just the one day!). You may of seen footage of people fighting over TV’s and the like…yep, that was during Black Friday. This year Black Friday falls on Friday 23rd November.

How to get the best deals this year –

Sign up for newsletters and keep your eyes on each brands social media

Yes, lots of spammy emails can be annoying but if there are brands you love or items you want to save on, sign up/follow their social media. It will be through these all their deals, codes and offers will be revealed. You can always unsubscribe afterwards.

Plan your attack

Write a list and stick to it. Double check all prices to make sure they are actually the cheapest and utilise ‘price matching’ if you want to buy from a particular retailer. Look at reviews – it might be cheap but is it any good?

Dont pay delivery costs if you can help it

It can be worth finding a cheap filler item to get free delivery to take your basket value up to the stores free delivery amount or use their collect at store option if there is a store near to you. If you buy from Amazon, opting into Prime for free 1 day delivery is definitely worth it, plus you get a great TV/movie/streaming service too!

Can you use a cashback website to cut the cost even more? 

Once you know where’s cheapest, check Quidco or TopCashBack for further savings – buying via their links can often save you up to 20% or gain you a single one-off payment (although you will have to wait for this – sometimes up to 12 weeks).

Need a code? Theres an app for that…

Check websites such as HotUKdeals.com, VoucherCodes.co.uk or VoucherCloud.co.uk where people share discount codes they receive as well as great bargains they have found. Some of these codes will work on top of Black Friday offers so its always worth trying them.

Be careful of scams

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. In the week of Black Friday and Cyber Monday the following week scams, phishing emails and credit card fraud increase dramatically. Be careful using your mobile phone to place orders and only buy through sites you know are real and have a secure ‘https’ connection (look for the padlock in your url bar). Use a credit card if in doubt as this gives you extra protection (but pay it off afterwards!)

Don’t wait for Friday

Many retailers will start their offers early and on Friday stock will sell out and websites often crash. Miss all the mayhem by buying on the days before or if the offers are only on Black Friday shop early in the morning or late at night when website traffic is reduced.

You can always change your mind

If you get carried away, remember most of the time you can always return your items. Check out each companies return policy and make sure they accept unwanted items as well as faulty ones and keep your receipts. Don’t delay though, the sooner you process your return the better!

And finally remember the money mantra always given by Martin Lewis, financial expert at MoneySavingExpert.com – before you buy anything, ask yourself: ‘Do I need it, is it worth it, have I checked whether it’s cheaper elsewhere?’ If the answer to any of those is no, don’t buy it. And even if it’s yes, ensure you can afford it.

Remember no ‘bargain’ is ever worth getting into financial difficulties for.

There will be some great offers around this week – so are you ready to spend or do you think its a complete waste of time? I’d love to know…

No Tricks only Treats this Halloween

Halloween these days is a time for treats and this Halloween I treated Reuben to a very special afternoon tea…

This treat tea is a mix of savoury and sweet and is filling enough to be served as a meal. I added some Halloween decorations and confetti to create a really spooky look.

decorations from Poundland

As well as a sandwich (a gingerbread man cutter was used to make it body shaped), a selection of fruit and carrot/celery sticks and hummus, a selection of sweet treats was served too.

An oreo topped spider cupcake….

Spiderweb cupcake wrap from eBay

A lime jelly in a jar…

Mini jars from Wilkinsons

Homemade lemonade (coloured with natural orange colouring)…

Mason jar glass from Wilkinsons

A vampire chocolate chip cookie…

A chocolate brownie severed finger…

If you wanted to re-create this tea, much of it can be created with existing items. If you’re not much of a baker, an iced cupcake can have an Oreo cookie added to the top with legs make from chilled piped chocolate, Matchmakers or coloured icing. The Vampire cookie can be created with a shop bought white chocolate cookie, some pink icing, mini marshmallows and a jelly strawberry or icing tongue. The lime jelly can be made spooky with some cake decoration eyes (available from the baking aisle – these ones are from Cake Decor) which are also used on the spider cupcake. The brownie finger is the most complicated, made from a stick of chocolate sponge or brownie covered in royal icing and coloured with some natural food colouring.

As you can see, it all went down rather well!

With my son just turned 12, I know my time of being able to have this kind of fun is running out but I’m loving still being able to share these moments with him. Now anyone got any ideas for teenagers at Halloween? Now that IS scary!!!!

.

.

With thanks to Clarrys Restaurant.