aka the adventures of blueskygirlie: I'm a part-time marketing consultant/social media content creator, a part-time style blogger and a full-time fashion obsessive! I am also a seller of fabulous vintage treasures via Etsy, a mum to a blended family & here to help to prove you can be over 40 & still look great! I dropped 5 dress sizes between my 30's and my 40's and now run 5k 3 times a week. I changed my life and this blog helps me to share what I'm discovering along the way…
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.
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…
I love Easter. Whether or not you celebrate it from a religious perspective (I don’t) or as the start of Spring (Easter with its eggs, flowers and rabbits has its roots from Pagan celebrations—particularly thepagan goddess Eostre – the ancient Germanic goddess of spring, just saying), just enjoy the bank holidays and love it as some special extra family time or just use it as an excuse to have a few chocolate treats, there is so much to enjoy about it.
This year I decided to make an Easter decoration display which I could place on our Easter dinner table and have displayed throughout Easter holding chocolate eggs.
I’m really pleased with how it turned out…
What you’ll need –
All these items were from Poundland and cost me £5.
Artificial grass runner/nest set/ceramic bunnies – all Poundland
The flowers cost me £2 a stem and the Easter decorations £1 each so in total I spent £12 on this project – plus the cost of some chocolate of course!
Once you have all your parts (feel free to tweak to your own taste) you will also need a glue gun and scissors.
How to make your centrepiece-
Detach all the flowers from their stems and discard the green parts. Trim them tight to the flower part so they lay completely flat. Remove the pre-stuck polystyrene eggs from the small nest from the Poundland nest set and also discard – something much cuter is going in that!
Stick the two nests down in the centre of the artificial grass runner in a slight staggered design then add a mixture of cut artificial daisies to your grass runner and secure using a glue gun (you could use super glue if you don’t have a glue gun). I mixed the sizes to create a stylised effect and concentrated on the corners of the ‘grass’.
Once everything is dry, place your other decorations. With the nests in the centre, I added the larger wooden plaques with a ceramic bunny to one end and the 2 other ceramic bunnies to the other end.
Then place the chick decoration in the smaller nest. How cute is he?!?
To finish it all off, fill the large nest with chocolate eggs. I chose Cadburys Mini eggs but any easter treats will work! I also added a couple more daisies to the centrepiece.
And your Easter centrepiece is complete! Including the chocolate this project cost less than £15 and can be packed away and used next year. I love the idea of making traditions for our children and they love it and I’m sure will want to use it year after year!
All you have to do now is not eat all of the eggs at once! Happy Easter and enjoy!!!
Ever dreamed of being recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D.? We visited the Avengers exhibition at The Excel centre in London and tbh its probably the closest you’ll get! Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network), is an immersive and interactive experience that explores the science behind the Avengers and tests whether or not you yourself have what it takes to be an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D...
We visited with 4 12year old boys and its fair to say they loved it!!!
Located at the back of Londons Excel centre, in its own purpose built building, you travel through various themed rooms until you reach a 4D Interactive game at the end.
Although reviews were mixed we booked tickets for six of us (using a voucher website to receive a slight discount on the ticket prices). You can book a time-slot so waiting time is reduced and the nearby Excel centre has food and toilets.
The props and tech used in this exhibition are really good. The most famous Avengers have their own rooms and interactive games, and the lesser known ones are grouped together with lots of on screen information, costume displays and other interesting titbits!
Amongst other exhibits, you can hold Hulks hand, ride Captain Americas bike or hold his shield, Follow Antmans ants or try and lift Thors hammer! I failed 😦
One of the things I liked best about it was the level of detailed information. As a fan you can read the ‘science’ behind all the characters and their stories as if they were real, studied phenomenons. What to know how the Rainbow Bridge forms? How Wakandas communication devises operate? What each Infinity stone does? How Captain America went from skinny boy to super-soldier? Its all here waiting to be discovered!
The whole thing is immersive and everything presented as it it is real. The team working the event are there as SHIELD operatives and you are kept in this bubble the whole way round. You wont find any mention of comic books or actors names here!
We didn’t queue very long for anything apart from the interactive games in Tony Starks lab (which our 12yo’s loved) and photography is allowed and easy to do as there aren’t crowds as only so many people are let in per time-slot.
After slowly making our way through the exhibition (I’d give yourself at least an hour if you want to enjoy the interactive parts) you then get ushered into a final room, split into teams and all given ipods to play an interactive Avengers game. This is great fun and a really good way to end the experience.
There is also a large gift shop (no cash, card only) and an opportunity have have a souvenir photo done, digitally posing with the Avengers.
Me, my sons and their friends really enjoyed this experience and I’m really glad we went. I would say its best added to doing something else in London if you were coming for a day out as it doesn’t last that long but for any Marvel fan it is a must see!!!
Due to extra demand this experience is now running till the 28th of April. Book your tickets here. Able to be flexible? Find selected Groupon offers here.
Sometimes theres just a coming together of two favourite brands that you cannot ignore. This happened recently when Uniqlo announced that their next designer collaboration would be with Finnish design house Marimekko.
For those not familiar with Finnish design house Marimekko, their style is bright, fun and vibrant and having started in the 1950’s has a very retro feel. They create fashion and homewares and their fabrics are often used within interior and retail design projects.
The collaboration itself is a range of 6 different prints repeated into dresses, tops, trousers, bags and shoes with all the price points sitting within Uniqlo’s affordable set pricing structure.
After visiting the store and trying on a few pieces (being a Japanese brand I find Uniqlo clothing can come up a little on the small side) I settled on two t-shirts and a dress. I could of bought lot more but was strict on myself as my wardrobe is already bulging at the seams.
This is what I bought…
Dress – £19.90
The print itself is named Polle (Horse) and is based on an image the Marimekko design team took of what they describe as the “round hoof prints left by a plump small pony.” so I’m already in love this print! This is a comfortable slightly A-line fit, t-shirt dress and I went for a small which would fit a 10-12 fine. Its sizes run XS – L, is 100% cotton and costs just £19.90. Oh and did I mention it has pockets!!!
T-shirt – £12.90
A boxy shape, I went for a size medium for a slightly roomy fit. It has all its print to the front, is available in sizes XXS – XL, is 100% cotton and costs just £12.90. The Pompula (pompom) pattern depicts flowerpots. According to Marimekko, its been used as flowers are a warm way to remember friends, family and loved ones on different occasions.
T-shirt – £12.90
Again a boxy shape, I went for a size medium for a slightly roomy fit. It is white with just the print on an oversized chest patch pocket featuring that aforementioned plump pony print! It is available in sizes XXS – XL, is 100% cotton and costs just £12.90. Perfect with jeans and trainers I loved the cute simplicity of this tee.
All the items are all beautifully made and fantastic quality for the price. Sizing can be a little confusing and I’d recommend a try on session but as ever Uniqlo has come up trumps. It even comes in its own lovely paper carrier bag…
The range is available now in selected Uniqlo stores now and online here.
My fiancé and I recently returned from the most lovely trip to Venice and I wanted to tell you about it! Venice had been on my bucket list for a while (I had visited for a day as a teenager on a school trip to Italy many moons ago but that was it) and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.
It is definitely the most unique place I have visited on my travels so far and the no roads/all boats took a bit of getting used to. It’s so iconic you spend a lot of time gasping and ahhing at all the sights you’ve seen in images over the years – its really quite surreal. After landing, we took a pre-booked bus transfer from the airport and then walked into Venice from the mainland via the main drag.
We stayed in a lovely hotel in walking distance to all the sights – the beautiful, opulent and very romantic Hotel Ai Mori D’Oriente and found the cost per night for 4 star hotel quite affordable. Venice is pretty small so you really can cover a lot of it on foot and by water bus but its always good to have a central base I find. The hotel and its rooms are beautiful and the staff couldn’t do enough for us so I would definitely recommend it.
So Venice…where to begin?
I always think theres two parts to a mini break – the sights and the experiences so lets starts with the sights we visited…
Places to visit
Piazzo San Marco (St Marks Square), St Marks Basilica, Doges Palace and the Campanile Bell Tower
It is said that Napoleon called San Marco “the drawing room of Europe” and it is a breathtakingly beautiful place. Busy and filled with tourists it is one of the main areas to visit in Venice – probably number 1 on most peoples lists. There are queues for both the Basilica and the bell tower, expensive restaurants with musicians playing on the square, streets of designer stores and LOTS of pigeons. The stunning, multi domed Basilica is free to enter and is dark, dramatic and rather solemn with no talking (and some shushing!), but you do need to pay to see the Pala d’Oro – a magnificent golden Byzantine icon of 4,240 square meters of gold mosaic. The Bell Tower is a must – take a lift (there no access via stairs – my boyfriend was furious!) and admire the views of Venice – your wont find a better place to view the city or in our case, share a kiss.
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal. Connecting the Sestieri districts of San Marco and San Polo, it has been rebuilt several times since its first construction in the 12th century, and is now a significant tourist attraction. It is huge – breath-takingly so, with shops running down the centre of it, it is so wide. Again it is VERY busy with tourists so it is easier to see from a boat than on the actual bridge. As well as walking it, we went underneath it in a gondola and it was really something – definitely recommended.
Bridge of Sighs
This enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars and passes over the Rio di Palazzo, connecting the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment and the bridge’s name, given by Lord Byron comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.
Island of Murano
This was a lovely treat – a free trip provided by our hotel which we travelled to by water taxi (more of that later). A 15 minute speedboat ride takes you out of Venice and on to one of the various islands – Murano, famous for its glass production. Anyone that knows me, will tell you I LOVE glass and collect vintage Murano pieces mainly from the 1950’s and 60’s. The island of Murano is renowned for its long tradition of glass-making and visitors come to explore the Museo del Vetro, which tells the story of glass through the centuries, and to shop for locally crafted souvenirs. We were lucky enough to visit one of the main glass producers and see how the glass is made which really was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far. There is a bit of hard sell to encourage you to shop but we politely excused ourselves as bespoke pieces cost up to 100,000 euros!
There are a lot of glass shops in Venice. Image the weirdest thing you can…they will have it made of glass. Prices start at a euro so anyone can treat themselves though.
Things to do
Take a Gondola ride
We couldn’t of visited Venice without doing this – yes its expensive but totally worth it. Gondola fares are set officially, these are the minimum fares for a standard gondola ride but rates can go higher (most fares are higher at night). During the day it is 80 euros which is what we paid. Gondolas hold six people and can be shared without affecting the fee so you can save money by sharing a tariff with other people if you want to – personally though I wanted the love seat (the main decorative seat) and it feel romantic so there was no sharing for us. I didn’t get to eat a Walls Cornetto on one, but this was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.
Take a water taxi
Want to feel like Sophia Loren in the 1950’s? Beautiful speed boats with leather and walnut interiors are the taxis of Venice. Fantastic fun but not the most affordable way to travel so we also made good use of the water buses which you can ride all over Venice for 24 hours on the same ticket for 20 euros. But for glamour? The taxis (and their drivers who seemed to want to go as fast as possible) had it all!
Eat and drink…alot!
Pasta, Pizza, Gelato, wine, butter biscuits… Italy is the home of great food and drink. Alongside the usual Italian fare, Tramezzini, also called Venetian tea sandwich was a must for me. These triangular sandwiches (starting 1.50 euro per piece) come with many different filling. My favourite? A whole boiled egg surrounded by tuna – utterly delicious.
Buy a mask
There are mask shops everywhere in Venice with lots of street sellers selling cheap Chinese version from market stalls and discount tourist shops. Visit one of the traditional artisan shops where you can see the masks made by amazing craftsmen and women. It really is amazing watching the creations be made and discovering the many different types of masks many that have been used in film and TV. As well as the traditional masks you can now pink SteakPunk versions, ones inspired by 50 shades of Grey and fashion pieces intricately cut out of metal and leather. My boyfriend fell in love with them and we ended up bring one home with us which now has pride of place in our bedroom.
Look at Art
There’s a lot of art in Venice. As my taste is more contemporary, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection of 20th-century masters was my dream visit, with art by Jackson Pollock, Picasso, Magritte, Max Ernst, Andy Warhol and an amazing outdoor collection of sculpture and experiences. It was founded by one of Venice’s most colourful expat residents, Peggy Guggenheim, whose father went down in the Titanic, leaving her a fortune. Admission is 15 euros a person and well worth it.
Visit a supermarket
We always like to find a nearby supermarket whenever we travel (who wants to pay mini bar prices, right?) and Venice did not disappoint. Want the most dramatic, glamorous SPAR ever? That’s Venice…
Add a love lock
A tradition for us, Russ engraved a padlock before we left. In our usual way, we added it to one of the many bridges in the city (there were quite a few locks there already) and threw the keys in the canal. Another Sarah & Russ love lock left in Europe xxx.
Do some exercise
OK, OK I know we are annoying. Another ‘me and Russ’ tradition achieved though as we ran a 5k route round the city. We had eaten a lot of pasta and pizza by this point so it was probably needed!
All in all Venice was an odd, amazing, tiring and slight surreal trip. It is small enough to do via a mini break and can be done on a variety of budgets. It definitely is the strangest place I’ve been so far and loved seeing views and sights I’d seen in photos for so many years. Yes it’s busy. Yes its touristy. Yes you have to pay for every toilet. But overall? It is just amazing. Oh and I got that Cornetto at the airport before we left!!!
Made to measure blinds are one of those things that sometimes can seem a bit stressful to buy. Because they are designed to fit a specific space and room they might look fabulous but the idea of the measuring, the ordering and then the installation can be a bit daunting for most of us.
The large window in our kitchen was looking pretty uninspired. An area of our home that doesn’t get much light, we inherited a wooden venetian blind when we moved in and had just stuck with it. The wooden slats were dust catchers and showed every splash of water from the sink, and the dark wood finish made it that even less light got through into the kitchen.
I wanted something that was both effective and stylish yet still subtle. Theres so many different colours and patterns available on the website and I was tempted by a bright orange which I think would of looked really great but decided on something a bit more neutral. In the Essentials range I went for the beige Electric Wire Free Blackout Roller Blind* as I thought it would be the best match to the paint colour in the kitchen. If you are in any doubt about choosing a colour, Order Electric Blinds can send you colour swatches so you can get the perfect shade for your room which I think is a great way to take some of the stress out of the made-to-measure process.
The Essential collection of electric roller blinds are a simple and effective way to dress your windows – included in the price is a power source, single channel handset and the made to measure blind. This collection of blinds is available up to a maximum size of 200cm wide by 170cm drop and all of the fabrics they use offer thermal insulation as well as blackout making them great for bedrooms and children’s rooms too.
Theres lots of information on their website from how to measure your windows to how to install your blind once you receive it, plus tons of youtube tutorial videos to help too. I’m a real worrier and found the whole thing really easy and stress-free.
The blind arrived really quickly and came with all the fixings required, a motor, controller and in our case a plug too. These blinds run off of amazing battery operated motors but can be plugged into a power source too if theres one nearby.
Order Electric Blinds only use Somfy motors in their blinds – Somfy are the market leaders in window blind motorisation. Every motor operates on RTS technology which means you can use the same handsets and timers to control a variety of products within your home including roller blinds, wood venetian blinds and roman blinds. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Now I’m no motor expert but my partner is an engineer so pretty discerning when it comes to these things. He was very impressed with the quality, the ease of fitting, set up and use (he fitted and programmed it) and the motorisation. Me? I liked the motor is very quiet, unobtrusive and makes me feel like I’m living in a boutique hotel!!!
And here it is! I am thrilled with the look but mostly its the quality and the ease of use that has really blown me away. We have set it to three heights (completely open, dropped slightly to stop the sun, closed) and each setting looks great. We’ve also wall mounted the controller nearby for ease of use.
Overall I couldn’t be happier with this blind. The quality is great, it works brilliantly and looks so contemporary and stylish. Not having rods or chains makes the whole look so much cleaner and the automation via the remote controller feels so luxe. Any decent DIY’er could put it up especially using the battery motor option and the website has so much information any question you could have can be easily answered. Prices start at £90.00 – and find the rest of the Order Electric Blinds roller blind range (including an amazing Orla Kiely range) here.
*this was a gifted item but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.
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?
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…?
Classic Flags cabin bag – £65 / via Cabin Zero*
For 10% off all orders use the code CZBLUESKYGIRLIE (valid until 20/12/17)
*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.
My fiancé and I are currently in the process of doing up our home but one area that is done is the kitchen/diner. Whenever I share images of it on Instagram it always gets a great reaction and in todays blog I show some of the styling in more detail.
Two rooms have been knocked through and the diner part of the kitchen is all about curves. An original 1960’s Arkana tulip table and chair set takes pride of place (I had the seat pads reupholstered into a more child friendly brown vinyl) and a curved statement lamp provides focused light with inset ceiling spotlights providing the general room lighting. Many of my favourite posessions sit in this space together including a lot of pieces by the designer Piero Fornasetti which I collect…Table & chairs / eBay, Side table / eBay, Lamp / Marks & Spencer, Gazelle head / Marks & SpencerLarge artwork & frame / IKEA, Black & white canvas artwork / Primark Home, Vintage robots / eBayFornasetti upholstered chair / eBay,Fornasetti cushion / eBay, Black & white cushion / Primark HomeVintage vases & bowls / eBayFornasetti ‘Themes and Variations’ plates / Selfridges, Liberty, eBaySet of drawers / Matalan, Balloon dog / The Range, ‘Endless Style’ trinket box / Wilkinsons
Looking back from the diner into the kitchen the main focal point is our orange Smeg fridge/freezer. This is a strong design statement but luckily the kitchen itself is all simple white gloss with no visible handles which the previous owner had installed and I, miraculously, liked! (the worktops, like the cupboards, were here when we moved in and not my ideal worktop choice but until I can afford granite they will have to stay…)Fridge / Smeg, Toaster / Dualit, Kitchen roll holder / Alessi, Canvas art / WilkinsonsDish rack / House of FraserStorage jars / Alessi, Spoon rest / IKEA, Utensil pot / Homebase, Utensils / Dunelm Mill, TK Maxx, SainburysJuicer / Alessi, Salt Mill / Matalan, Pepper Mill / SainburysHello sign / Primark
We are working through the house one room at a time but this area is one that I just love to be in. And the next area of attack? We have the finishing touches to add to the master bedroom and then a big project – to create a utility room, cloakroom and study in a space that is currently derelict!!! Watch this space…
Find my previous blog on what we did to the hall, stairs and landing here.
I first saw this rug on Erica Davis’ (the-edited.com) Instagram feed and immediately loved it. I love her style and I assumed it was a £300+ Morrocan number which would be way out of my budget. When she blogged about where it was from and now much it was retailing for I couldn’t believe it! We had just finished decorating our bedroom in a rather dark and dramatic teal colour and were looking for light accessories to add to the room and it was absolutely perfect.The quality of the rug is really good. Its is a shaggy Berber style rug and looks much more expensive than it was.Its really soft too and makes the perfect little chill out spot… This is the smaller size at 120cm x 170cm (its in a bedroom) but they have 2 other larger sizes and the same design in an inverted colour scheme – a black base with white pattern and also a cream and brown. Photo – La Redoute
Find it here – be quick though it is 40% off in the sale and La Redoute sale pieces sell out fast! For the full range of clothing and home check out the website – www.laredoute.co.uk – its definitely one of my new favourites.