Doing Valentines Day your way…

Now lets start with a disclaimer…I am no fan of Valentines day. In fact I wrote a whole blog about it being a marketing ploy that we should not get caught up in (read my thoughts here). I personally don’t like being guilted in to acting a certain way and all these ‘holidays’ do seem to do that.

Instead lets talk about things I do love…

  • Fashion
  • Hearts
  • Vintage
  • Personalisation
  • Cute design
  • Being romantic

Regardless of the date, let me share some lovely ways to be cute around Valentines Day or Galantines Day or just a random day in February depending on your view, using things I love.

Dress the part –

Don’t worry, I’m not talking sexy underwear (although most men would agree its never a bad idea, I’m sure!). I’m talking a cute reference to the season without looking like you tried too hard. This cropped jumper looks great and I co-ordinated it with a leather skirt for a low key sexy look. It has a sense of humour (a key part of fashion for me), is a great price and best of all you can wear it any day of the year! After all, who doesn’t love LOVE!

Jumper / Divided at H&M, Skirt / Very.co.uk

Get retro –

As you may know I love vintage (I run a vintage shop full of curated pieces on Etsy – take a look) and buying vintage items is a cheap and cheerful way to add a unique touch to proceedings. I discovered these 1960’s glasses in a local secondhand shop and just had to have them.

…and they came in a pair so are perfect for a glass of bubbly with a loved one during a cheeky romantic meal – or how about using them for a yummy dessert?

Smell great –

They say our sense of smell plays a huge part in arousal and smelling good makes you feel confident which in turn makes you sexy. So add a few sprays of a great scent onto your skin and see what happens! Lately theres been some fantastic perfumes launch that don’t break the bank, in fact my two favourites at the moment are actually budget buys from Missguided and Primark.

Pink Candy fragrance / Primark, Babe Power fragrance / Missguided

Wrap a gift but make it personal* –

I discovered Pretty Gifted just before Christmas. They are 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. This time I chose the new rainbow foil effect and went for a cute little message to my boyfriend to wrap a token gift in – ‘can I borrow a kiss? I promise to give it back…’ I’m smooth right!?!

Wrapping paper / Pretty Gifted, Ribbon / Wilkinsons

I have kindly been given a code for my followers to receive an exclusive 10% off all orders – bluesky18val . It is valid until their Valentines cut off (midday on Friday 9th Feb)

Have a nibble –

My local independent baker makes the cutest cookies and cakes for Valentines (and lots of other seasonal events) and I bet yours does too. For just a £1.50 or so you can pick a super cute treat for a favourite person to have with their coffee which is guaranteed to make them smile and remind them how much you care…oh and you get to support a small independent business too!

Be cute not crass –

One of the reasons I’m not a fan of V-day is the pressure it creates. It encourages us to spend money we often cant afford on booking restaurants or spending £50 on roses that will be dead in a week, feel we must be waiting in red underwear ready to ‘perform’ as if we were in a XXX movie and the fake world of social media has just made it even worse. Thanks Facebook/Snapchat/Insta but I don’t need to see 37 photos of *insert name here*s Valentines day…no one does!

Often a token gift can mean much more than something expensive but with no thought behind it. A pretty pair of earrings because he knows you love to dress up, a lip balm because he loves to kiss your lips, a Lego mini figure of a favourite comic book character, a book mark because he knows you love reading…These type of things mean much more to me and are the things I have come to cherish particularly as I get older…

Heart Peg / The Works (pack of 10), Earrings / F&F, Trinket dish / Clintons, Lip balm / Beauty Base , Silver Love Heart / Suck UK , Love potion bottle / East of India, Harley Quinn figure / Lego.

So for a simpler way to celebrate, put your phone away, don’t broadcast what you’re doing or not doing and just do something that makes the person you love (whether its a lover, a friend or yourself – self love counts too remember) happy. Write a note, share a memory, make a favourite meal or just sit on the sofa watching a favourite film. Obviously feel free to do any of the other ‘Valentiney’ things if thats your bag, but do them because you want to and can afford to, not because you’re trying to out-do the rest of Facebook, impress your friends or feel pressured to by others.

Celebrate or don’t celebrate, but do it you way!

…And most importantly, none of the ideas shown in this blog cost a lot… because I truly believe love shouldn’t come with a price tag! xx

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

Hankies at the Ready…

I do like to find a piece of clothing that has something about it thats a bit different – a detail, a print or a cut. Style is about finding your voice and the clothes you pick are a great way to do that.

I found this dress by chance when popping into the George clothing section in Asda a few weeks ago. It was crammed on the sale area, all on its own between jumpers and jeans just asking to be looked at. It didn’t look that much in the hanger but I loved its hemline – it was so unusual with it handkerchief hem I just had to try it on. It was a size bigger than I usually buy but I often size up with George and wanted a kind of boho looser fit which when I tried it on it was. And the price? Just £10!

George at Asda snakeprint handkerchief hem dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl aka blueskygirlie fashion style blog

George at Asda snakeprint handkerchief hem dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl aka blueskygirlie fashion style blog

George at Asda snakeprint handkerchief hem dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl aka blueskygirlie fashion style blog

It had a matching tie belt but to make it look more premium I replaced that with a dark silver belt and matching ankle boots. And due to always feeling cold I added a roll neck bodysuit (great if you want to layer without lumps and bumps under your clothes)

George at Asda snakeprint handkerchief hem dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl aka blueskygirlie fashion style blog

Its the hem that makes this dress though. Unusual without being too quirky its one of those items you can dress up or down, layer up in cold weather. Plus for women over 40 like me – it has long sleeves – always a winner.

I absolutely love this item and am so glad I found it…isn’t it funny that sometimes the random things you chance upon become favourites? I probably wouldn’t of looked twice at this if I’d of seen it in a magazine. Its sold out online but have a look in your nearest store – I’ve seen them in a few stores since and it been reduced to £7 – thats practically a steal!

George at Asda snakeprint handkerchief hem dress via Always a Blue Sky Girl aka blueskygirlie fashion style blog

Dress / George at Asda
Roll neck bodysuit / New Look
Belt / Dorothy Perkins
Boots / Primark

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.

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*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.

Prince of Wales check – vintage style

Sometimes a fashion item is just EVERYWHERE. Now, I love to update my wardrobe but I also love a bargain. When everyone started wearing Prince of Wales check blazers I wanted one too. I tried on the £17 one in Primark but it looked terrible on me, I tried on the £65 Topshop one but couldn’t justify the money. So what is a girl to do?

Well in the case of an item which is a re-do of a style from the past you choose vintage!

This whole trend is a re-hash of an 1980’s look so I set my sights on sourcing a vintage 80’s ladies suit jacket and after about a month of searching I found one! Often true vintage will need a little updating and in this case it was a case of removing a set of shoulder pads but then it was ready to go.

This is the result – for a £3 spend I think it works pretty well. £3 – can you believe it? Another reason I love to look for vintage items…

Vintage prince of wales check jacket blazer via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie fashion style 40plus blog

Vintage prince of wales check jacket blazer via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie fashion style 40plus blog

Styling-wise I went for a smart casual look, wearing a slim fitting roll neck underneath then rolling up the sleeves. Jeans made the whole look more modern, as did a pair of silver boots.

Vintage prince of wales check jacket blazer via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie fashion style 40plus blog


I love the more relaxed look of boyfriend jeans and western boots. These silver boots are currently in the Primark sale at just £3 too! They are really comfortable too so definitely worth grabbing if you see them.

Vintage prince of wales check jacket blazer via Always a Blue Sky Girl blueskygirlie fashion style 40plus blog

Jacket / Cancer Research UK
Roll neck / M&Co.
Jeans / TU at Sainsburys
Boots / Primark

So would you rummage through a charity shop or two to save yourself some money? Eco friendly, charitable and gives you more money to spend on other things…I think its always worth a look!

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!

#AD 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.

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.

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