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!!!

The short of it

Another title for this blog post could of been – Body Image: Current status ‘its complicated’. Let me explain…

I’m just about to go away on holiday and for the past 11 weeks I have been religiously following the Weightwatchers Flex plan my aim to lose a stone before my holiday as well as running my usual 15km a week. As ever my commitment was unwavering and I exceeded my goal losing 17.5lb and over 10% of my body weight.

In a way that was the easy part. It has been an extremely hard journey to lose the weight this time round (I am now 45 and losing weight is getting harder and harder) but more importantly during this journey I have noticed some other significant changes happening to me. One of the biggest things that has happened is I have started to wear shorts!!!

Now thats probably not a big deal to most people but it is a huge deal for me…

Obviously a trivial thing like wearing shorts is the visible change but something much more significant has changed in me. Even though I have lost a lot of weight over the last 5+years (I was at my heaviest a size 20/22 and am now a size 10/12) I find it very hard to see myself and my body as ‘ok or even *gasp* quite good. These insecurities would mean I would wear leggings under dresses and go running in capri running tights even on the hottest of days.

Body image is a strange thing and however much other people tell you your body is ok unless you believe it yourself, it means nothing.

During the last 3 months I’m not sure why I started to feel different but I realised I was feeling angry. Angry mainly at myself for limiting my choices. Why shouldn’t I wear what I wanted? Why should I be hot and uncomfortable because I was worried someone might judge me? Was I really this stupid? Was I really this vain?

So, I bought some running shorts and I ran. And bought some summer shorts and I wore them. And you know what? The world didn’t end!!! No-one mentioned my admittedly wobbly thighs and even better I didn’t feel bad. I actually felt great. I felt free…and most importantly proud of myself.

Learning to love yourself is a journey thats for sure. But here I am, standing smiling in the sun wearing the kind of ‘short’ shorts I used to fear and a vest, embracing my new body, faults and all. I have bought a white bikini and will wear it by the pool and those running shorts are packed. My body is not perfect, but its better than it was. Its healthy and strong, my boyfriend thinks its sexy, it made a beautiful child and most importantly its the only one I’m getting!

More reading:

Find previous blogs about my weight loss journey here and here.

Find previous blogs about my fitness and running here, here and here.

Nanoblading Review – going under the mini knife!

I have been unhappy about my eyebrows for some time. After over-plucking them in the 90’s (thanks Madonna in your Erotica period) they had been left sparse and gappy and did not really ‘fit’ my face anymore. I had tried different topical beauty treatments and make-up products and had got to the point where I would want to pencil them in even if I wasn’t wearing make-up that day.

I knew a bit about Microblading but also was fearful of how ‘permanent’ it was. I didn’t like my brows but also didn’t want two thick caterpillars tattooed on me!!!

After hearing great things and seeing examples of her work, I went and visited Sophia Coomber from Beauty and Bloom, a beautician service local to where I live where she told me to forget about Microblading – the future is Nanoblading!

Nanoblading is a new brow treatment that uses ultra-sharp nano needles that can actually mimic the diameter and dimension of a real hair in the skin, It is a form of cosmetic tattooing but it’s not as deep as a conventional tattoo, as you are only going through the top layer of the skin into the upper dermis.  Put simply, it’s Microblading but with super fine, flexible needles.   The technique means you can create a more natural looking brow shape because the beautician can apply more accurate pressure and the pigment that is used is finer too.

First session – consultation and patch test 

After a patch test to ensure you aren’t allergic to the pigment or the numbing cream, you have a consultation to discuss the perfect eyebrow shape and colour for you. Sophia is absolutely lovely and immediately put me at my ease. She explained the procedure and well as how she was trained and the attention to detail she has. She warned me it would hurt a bit and as she had to do a tiny test cut to check I wasn’t allergic to the pigment I discovered she is truthful too! It does indeed hurt!

Second session – Nanoblading procedure

A week later I was back and ready to go for it! I was a little nervous but Sophia made sure I felt very comfortable and assured me we could take breaks if it got too uncomfortable. After applying some numbing cream, your chosen eyebrow shape is drawn on top of your brows so you can check it, before the treatment starts.

I’ve got to be honest the numbing cream doesn’t really make that much difference – Nanoblading hurts! Obviously this is the case wherever you go as tiny, light cuts are being made that feel like deep scratches but hey, no pain no gain! Sophia has a lovely calm and comfortable treatment room and you can have music playing which is a nice distraction. Oh and chatting, that helps too! The procedure itself takes between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on the amount of brow you need creating and at points I found it quite hard and my eyes did water quite a bit but overall it was manageable. You know you are going to get something you really want and I would say just be brave and focus on the end result.

Before and after – 

After the procedure you can see the effect is quite significant but also very natural. The colour looks a little dark at first but Sophia assured me it would fade over the next two weeks, which it did.

The aftercare is much like a tattoo – you clean the area morning and night with cooled boiled water and add a skin healing cream straight after. Sophia provided everything I needed right down to the cotton wool pads for the aftercare which I thought was a lovely touch.

I didn’t feel any real pain or discomfort afterwards and by about day 10 they only felt a little itchy as they were still healing but that didn’t last long. You are also advised to keep out of the sun, to not use certain beauty products and not get your face too wet for the first week or so. The better you look after them the longer they will last before needing retouching.

You’ll need two sessions, the second about four to six weeks after the first, to achieve the finished look, but you’ll still be able to leave the first appointment with beautifully shaped brows that don’t look half-done.

Third session – perfecting treatment – 

So five weeks later I was back! Having lived with my new brows for well over a month I felt they could be a little bit thicker and longer. Sophia added some tiny drawn hairs to the arch and ends and this procedure was much easier. I think its definitely best to err on the side of caution during your first session though as you can always add a little more but you cant remove any!

Straight afterwards  – 

This is just after my perfecting treatment. Again my brows are quite dark but slightly stronger looking which is what I wanted. And no thick caterpillars in sight!!!

2 weeks later…

A few weeks later I have stopped cleaning them and they have faded slightly as expected. I am so pleased – I am not wearing any eyebrow make-up in this photo of any kind and now I don’t need too. Even close up you cannot tell they are not real hairs – it really is amazing!

Overall progress – before, after first procedure and after perfecting treatment –

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I think this series of close-ups speaks for itself. The initial treatment takes about two hours, followed up with a perfecting session that lasts about an hour.  Everyone’s skin is different, but generally the pigment lasts in the skin for 12-18 months without retouches.

Sophia’s treatment costs £250 for the three sessions. She covers the East Kent and Redhill, Surrey area and can be booked here. I thoroughly recommend her.

For those in other areas, to find a qualified Nanoblading beautician look for one certified by a recognised training provider and one that is fully insured.  Plus request to see pictures of other work that they have done or look on their social media before booking in for the treatment. Make sure they are only using their own original photos and look for reviews and testimonials.

I am so glad I finally plucked up the courage to get this procedure done. I feel so much more confident and attractive. Yes, it hurt a bit being done but that feeling of confidence is just priceless!

Oh hello again weight loss journey…

For the last 3 months I have been signed up to Weightwatchers and following their new Flex program to lose weight.

I had put on a bit of weight this year (about 2 stone) due to too much snacking and too many treats as well as an issue with my contraception which meant I had to go on the pill for 6 months which changed my body shape/weight completely. I was unhappy with how I looked, was struggling more and more while running and knew my issues with food were rearing their ugly head again, so in September signed up with Weightwatchers for 3 months.

My start was a little slow but after 4 weeks I had lost 7lb and got my first ‘silver 7’ sticker. It took me a while to get used to points rather than calories but I soon adjusted and was tracking my food every day.

While I was on my 3 month subscription, the Flex program was launched – this is where my weight-loss really sped up. This new system builds on the existing SmartPoints system, but has expanded the zero point foods to include more than 200 different foods. You do get a lot less points per day though – mine dropped to just 23 but I have to say it worked for me. According to Weightwatchers in a six-month clinical trial, WW Flex produced better weight loss results among participants than in clinical trials of previous Weight Watchers programmes.

As always with Weightwatchers, no food or drink is off limits and now members have the freedom to eat many more foods without tracking or measuring, including eggs, all fresh fish and seafood, skinless chicken and turkey breast, fat free plain yogurt, beans, peas, sweetcorn, lentils and tofu. For even more flexibility up to four unused SmartPoints each day can be rolled over into your weekly points to use however you wish (for me usually on something sweet!).

Find out more about Flex here – I definitely recommend it.

My next milestone was losing a stone…and you get a little certificate! They say a stone is a dress size and my this point my clothes were definitely starting to feel loose on me plus some bits that had got too tight now fitted again.

Once you achieve a loss of 10% body weight it is also marked with a certificate as its an important milestone in health. According to Weightwatchers losing just 10% of your body weight is scientifically proven to lower your cholesterol and reduce your blood pressure, and high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are two major risk factors for heart disease. Also if you’re overweight, you’re at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which means your body can’t make enough, or properly use, insulin, a hormone that helps convert food to usable energy. By losing just 10 percent of your body weight, you’ll improve your body’s ability to use the insulin it makes, possibly preventing the onset of the disease. My blood pressure and cholesterol were already fine but its still great to be keeping an eye on these things particularly as I am now in my forties.

Exercise was a key part of this process for me – I ran in the snow…

I ran at night…

I just basically ran a lot!!! I have been exercising regularly the whole year anyway, running 5km three times a week, every week currently adding up to about 725km/450 miles in total – but weight loss is 30% exercise/70% diet so sadly the weight still crept on. If you’re interested in starting running but don’t know how to start, I’ve written some blogs about running as it has been a lifesaver for me – find links to them at the bottom of this post.

My last weigh-in was this week and I lost another 2lb taking me to 1lb over my goal of losing 1.5 stone by Christmas. I am so proud of myself as it has been really hard particularly as it got closer to Christmas.

So what have I learnt? After losing over 6 stone about 5 years ago I really thought my struggles with my weight were over…sadly I was wrong. I realise now this is something I am going to have to manage my entire life and must always be aware of.

So at the end of 2017 I am 22lb lighter, off the pill, my running has improved again and I am back to a size 10-12. For my work Christmas party I wore a heavily sequinned top which I would never of worn 20lb heavier…and I felt fantastic!

Always a blue sky girl 40 plus fashion blog blogger Sarah Gorlov blueskygirlie very sequin party christmas top

Always a blue sky girl 40 plus fashion blog blogger Sarah Gorlov blueskygirlie very sequin party christmas top

Losing weight has not been easy, but it definitely has been worth it. I realise not everyone wants to lose weight but for me the bigger I am, the more unhappy I am.

I enter 2018 much more aware of how easy it is to put weight on and feel I am back in control of my body and mind again. I feel healthy and strong but most importantly, I feel the best version of me again. I still have about 7-10lb to lose but for now I’m going to enjoy Christmas (although not go mad, I’ve worked too hard for that!) and then continue my weight loss journey in the new year, knowing I only have a few pounds to lose. Most importantly I am going to do what I have always done for the last 3 years – keep my running up (3 x 5k a week), walk as much as I can and generally be as active as possible…it really makes such a difference.

This is going to be a life-long struggle for me, but I am never going to give up. People throw around the phrase ‘lifestyle change’ but thats sadly what it has to be. This change has to be for life…of course every day cant be perfect, but as long as theres more healthy days than unhealthy ones, thats what matters.

Find previous blogs on my weight-loss journey here and here.

Find previous blogs on my running here and here.

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!

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.

#AD Midweek Meal Inspiration with Capsicana

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#AD Skin Chemists Advanced Snail Duo Moisturiser

As you may know I am a Skin Chemists ambassador and I love to try their new (and always innovative) products. The first product I ever tried from their brand was their Advanced Snail Eye Serum (find the original blog here) and although initially I was a little squeamish about using a beauty product with snail secretions in it, I was really impressed with its effects.

This month I am trying another product from the snail range – Advanced Snail Duo Moisturiser.

Skin Chemists says Snail Duo Moisturiser is formulated using a range of regenerating and nourishing actives to help repair the skin from daily damage, whilst protecting against future environmental stress and leaving a mattified finish.  The main active ingredients include:

Snail Secretion – derived from the natural defensive liquid secreted by snails aims to delay premature ageing of the skin, whilst reducing visible age spots and providing protection from free radical damage.

Tiare Flower Extract is combined with light and silky coconut oil, working to hydrate, repair, soothe and purify the skin.

Vitamin E Acetate aims to leave the skin moisturised, whilst providing further protection against skin damage from environmental aggressors.

Creatine works to imitate an amino acid found naturally within the skin, it aims to revitalise cell energy metabolism, whilst hydrating and protecting the skin.

It’s worth doing a patch test if youre concerned you might be allergic to any of these ingredients. I did notice a very slight tingling feeling when I first started using it and although I didn’t have any type of reaction, I feel if someone had more sensitive skin it might be worth it.

Also if youre a bit worried about the whole ‘how do you get this from a snail’ part (which is quite understandable) be assured Skin Chemists are a cruelty free company and only use sustainable methods to extract snail secretion at no harm to the snail. Afterwards the snail is returned healthy to its breeding place – yay!


This product is easy to use in its pump action dispenser and smooths over the skin effortlessly, leaving a slight tackiness that sets quickly – you can even put make-up on over the top too if you use it in the morning which is great. On first use, what I noticed most was how a small amount plumped my skin almost immediately with a slight tingling feeling and after a few weeks of use my skin feels firmer, fine lines seem less and my skins imperfections have been reduced without making my skin greasy.  

Marble effect trays / H&M Home
Sunglasses / Depop
Sunglasses case /Primark
Earrings /Dorothy Perkins
Brooch / New Look
Eye Shadow / L’oreal

All in all this is another great product from Skin Chemists – I will be using the Duo Moisturiser with the Advanced Snail Eye Serum for a maximised effect and hope the reducing of my fine lines will continue! Oh and for anyone worrying it smells lovely too… 

Buy Advanced Snail Duo Moisturiser here.

Truly innovative products are rarely cheap, with this product retailing at £99.90, but Skin Chemists have been incredibly generous in giving readers of my blog the code SARAH1 for a whopping 80% off (making it just £19.99) throughout May.   Give it a go…what have you got to lose?

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

Me, my mental health and I…

Ostensibly this is a style blog – something to help you look and feel good, but in my experience neither is possible if you are not mentally healthy.  This week is Mental Health week, an awareness week supporting people to open up about mental health, fight some of the stigmas associated with talking about mental health problems and to seek help if it is required. This years theme is to ask ourselves if we are ‘Surviving or Thriving?’ and seeing that a mental health problem will affect 1 in 5 of us in our lifetime, this week seemed a good week to share a personal essay about my own journey with my mental health…

I was always a happy child but an anxious one – I was the oldest and an overachiever from the minute I could talk. I think anxiety is born into you – maybe even an inherited trait, as I remember worrying about lots of things as a child and already having a sense of wanting to be perfect. Nowadays theres is lots of talk about safeguarding children’s mental health but in the 70’s and 80’s that kind of thing was practically non-existent, however there was also not as much pressure on kids at an early age like there is now. For some reason though I put pressure on myself. I remember getting ‘nerves’ and being ill when worried (about a big event or test for example), getting headaches, being sick or having stomach problems – all classic signs of an anxiety disorder. By the time I was a teenager and was at a high pressure girls-only grammar school, this anxiety was exhibiting almost every day. Did I get help? God no, I just hid it…I hid it really, really well and so began a pattern of behavior that I followed for most of the rest of my adult life.

Hiding a mental illness is not uncommon. Why do we do it? Well mainly its the stigma of saying you are ill, but not properly ill, just ill in the head. This is a totally ridiculous view of course but this is how you feel – people tell you to ‘pull yourself together’ or imply you’re making a fuss about nothing. Feelings of shame overwhelmed me and I became very good at hiding my issues. By the time I was 16 eating disorders were common at my all girls school and something that the girls there encouraged each other to have. Having already developed an unhealthy relationship with food I was overweight so opted for Bulimia – it really was that simple.  I first foray into a proper mental illness – I crashed dieted then binged and purged… I lost weight and everyone praised me and told me how good I looked. It was a strange irony, I was ill on the inside but deemed as looking great on the outside. My periods stopped, the enamel started to come off my back teeth, I had a scar in my hand from making myself sick and when my parents at their wit’s end called out the doctor and I started to realise I couldn’t live like this – I was eating ice cream for breakfast and then not drinking a Diet Tango because it had 3kcals in it rather than Diet Cokes 1kcal.  Ultimately as a form of self-preservation I came to my senses and stopped the purging…it really is the most awful, destructive, disgusting illness but my issues with not feeling good enough, being anxious and my warped self-image never really went away.

After I left school I started working as a window dresser in London in a creative whirlwind of fun, partying and no real responsibilities. It was the early 90’s and we were fuelled by alcohol, ecstasy and the energy of youth. Ironically even with all this hedonism they were some of the happiest and least anxious years of my life – but then earning decent money and living at home, real life hadn’t really begun for me yet…its like I was playing at being a grown-up, but we all know those days cannot last. And they didn’t – by the time I was 21 life suddenly got very dark.

When I had my first panic attack I honestly thought I was dying. I had experienced the sudden death of someone very close to me and was deep in the confusion of grief, loss and utter devastation. There was help around me – my worried parents paid for private counselling, my GP offered me Prozac and Valium and friends rallied round me but I just wasnt ready to help myself. As I limped out of this terrible experience my anxiety gripped hold of me as it did again 3 years later when my father died suddenly and I headed through my 20’s and then into my 30’s suffering from different types of anxiety disorders. My reliance on food as a comfort continued too and my weight ballooned leaving me morbidly obese by the time I was 30. My mental health was all over the place – I gained and lost the same 3 stone at least 3 times each time not being able to keep myself on a steady path. I also became better and better at hiding the cracks in my mental health – I was always bubbly and confident, well presented, I held down a good job, was in a long-term relationship and created a beautiful home but on the inside I was fighting myself…and my panic all the time.

At 33 I had my son.  I desperately wanted a child and when he was born he was just perfect and I instantly fell in love. I was lucky, unlike many other mothers I didn’t suffer from post natal depression and recovered quickly from the birth. Having my son made me, probably for the first time in my life, put someone else first. He changed everything, because although I still worried (mainly about him) I couldn’t focus on myself all the time, over-thinking and obsessing, and slowly my anxiety started to dissipate. Back at work full-time with my husband staying home to look after our son I decided I wanted to start to take the control back in my life. Within a year or so, I had achieved everything I set out to do but something didn’t feel right and my old enemy, anxiety started to rear its ugly head again. Migraines, sudden sickness and panic attacks become a regular occurrence but you would never of known it. I knew in the back of my mind what was wrong but decided it was better to ignore it. It’s amazing how long you can ignore your own problems but ultimately in the end you realise it is killing you slowly and by the end of my thirties I realised I was wasting my life – I felt like a zombie. After much soul-searching, in quick succession I left my husband (it had been an unhappy and unhealthy relationship for some time), I took redundancy from my senior creative role and sold my house, downsizing my lifestyle considerably. I totally changed my life.


As I entered the most stressful stage of my life I had experienced so far, at the beginning panic gripped me everyday but I fought it and the mere fact I was creating positive change made it easier and easier to control. I removed toxic people from my life, simplified how I lived and I started exercising at the age of 40. Exercising has completely changed my mental health. Gone are the panic attacks, I still get anxious about things, sure, but exercising seems to quell my demons, helps me think and fills me with endorphins. After building up my fitness using the app C25K I now run 5k three times a week every week. I have a very loving, supportive new partner, a great work/life balance and finally the understanding that I must be proactive and responsible for my own mental health. No-one else can do this for me – I wanted to change my life so I did. It wasnt easy but it was worth it. 

I now know the warning signs when things are getting too much and I speak freely to the people around me about how I am feeling. If I’m getting stressed I tell my loved ones and seek their support. I refuse to be ashamed anymore – my anxiety disorder is just as much part of me as my green eyes are, but I will not let it own me. I control my life, I control my health and I control my happiness. I have made a conscious choice to be happy and I can say I am happy in my life now – truly happy.  However there is no real end to this story – I will live with my anxieties in some shape or form for the rest of my life but I will not be beaten by them.

Find more about Mental Health week here and find links to my other blogs on my mental health below, I hope you find some things in them that are useful –

My weight
My self esteem
Exercise
Being called ‘fat’

If you need help speak to someone – a friend, family member, your doctor or call one of the many helplines available. You are not alone.