Friday, 27 February 2015

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday peeps!
What a week it has been... I'm gonna do my highlights in the order they happened
because so much has happened this week...

1 | Saturday I met up with my bestie; we did a spot of shopping and went for lunch at a new restaurant, called Bills. It was delicious and was followed by Krispy Kremes
I also got to witness my bestie's boyf buy her a Mulberry handbag for her 30th, which is on Monday! #luckybitch

2 | Sunday, Hubs and I headed to the new housing development that we want to buy a home on to get the ball rolling...
And boy did it start to roll...

3 | On Monday, we got two phone calls from local estate agents to book appointments to come and look at, value and take photos of our current home - cue panic stations to get our home photo ready. I took Wednesday afternoon off work and roped in my wonderful mother to help me do my 'spring clean' in one afternoon, which spilled into an evening, but we got there. It may have taken me, mum and Tom Monday and Tuesday evening, plus most of the day on Wednesday, to get it ready, but it now looks immaculate...
4 | Last night, as a reward for all my hard work in the house, I had the night off and, along with a friend and my cousin, we headed to Showcase Cinema to watch the Backstreet Boys Movie (Show 'Em What Your Made Of), which was followed by a special link-up to London where they performed a short acoustic set - it was amazing but it has made me desperate for another BSB concert!
5 | I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend and a trip to Ikea!

Have a great one! 
Hopefully I'll be around a little more next week!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

dSLR dump (1)

This is my first photo dump of photos taken with my new 50mm lens...

I have to say it took a bit of getting used to this lens, especially not being able to zoom out, and
I've not made as much time as usual to practice with it, but I am thrilled with the photos I have taken :)

Friday, 20 February 2015

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday, peeps!
What a week; I'm glad it's almost over! How's your week been? I've not been around these parts much lately, I'm sorry; I've been pinning away on Pinterest due to the potential house move, which brings me to...

1 | The most exciting news of the week is that the figures add up, so we will be pursuing the new build house, so cross everything for us please! #excitedbutscared #adulthood

2 | Talking of moving house, we did some more on the hallway ceiling last weekend...
It looks great but it does need another coat of paint so once we've done that this weekend, then we'll be cracking on with painting the walls. We're hoping to paint them a slightly lighter grey than they currently are, just to freshen things up a bit.

3 | Last Saturday night, I went out with my family to celebrate my youngest cousin's 21st birthday; it was a great night and we enjoyed some fantastic food at Red Hot World Buffet in Leicester!

4 | Last Sunday I painted my nails for only the second time this year and I loved it...
I dunno why I've not made the time to paint them and pamper myself a bit but I've definitely missed it, so I'm going
to try to do it more!

5 | I'm looking forward to the weekend; tonight I'm catching up with some friends I used to work with, then tomorrow I'm catching up with my bestie, who I've not seen since Christmas (she moved down south so we don't see one another as
much as we used to)!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tea Talk v.1

If you came round to my house today, I would offer you a cuppa tea, coffee or a hot chocolate to warm your chilly bones;
I'd ask you about how your life and listen intently as you told me everything that's happening with you and when
you asked me about mine, I'd tell you...
  • Hubs and I have decided to go new; we've found a development of homes we like close to where his family live and we're looking into the figures, to see if we can really turn this dream into a reality. We decided on new over old because we want children, not necessarily soon, but within the next five years, and we agreed that we don't want to be doing up a home with a newborn around, nor do we want demolition work with toddlers. So, for us, it makes sense to buy new. The house and everything inside will be guaranteed for the next ten years, giving us time to have children and get through the terrible twos and tantrum threes and beyond before lifting a finger - well, that's the hope anyway! 

  • Because homes and moving house are on my mind, I'm scouring Pinterest like a fiend, looking for ideas and inspiration for our new home. I can't help it; hubby has asked me to 'not move in', seeing as we don't yet own said new home, but I'm trying to picture us living there to see if it really is our future.

  • I feel like all the signs are telling us that now is the time to move and that this housing development is where we should be. When we got home from work last night, there were three letters bills for me and two business cards on the door mat. One business card was for a taxi company and the other was from a local estate agent 'Thinking of selling? Demand in this area is high. Call us today.' #fate

  • Before we can put our current home on the market and sell up, we need to de-clutter and de-personalise. We're cracking on with the DIY (I'll share a photo of the ceiling on Friday), but there are still areas that need clearing. It's amazing to me that two people can over fill a three bedroomed home in just seven years!

  • Because we're planning to move house this year, we're not planning a holiday :( Are you headed anywhere nice this summer? Tell me so I can live vicariously through you!

  • Have you got any good 30th birthday present ideas you can share with me? My bestie turns 30 two weeks today and I have no clue what to get her :( #help She is a reformed shopaholic, so she could buy anything she really wanted, so I have no idea where to start to look for ideas!

  • It's pancake day today but due to my February Focus goals I won't be indulging, which makes me a bit sad!

So, what's been happening with you lately? Let's chat!

Friday, 13 February 2015

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday dudes!
I'm so happy that it's Friday; it's been a long and busy week, so on with business...
Cup of Tea

1 | We actually started our DIY project last weekend :) 
Obviously it is not finished just yet - that'll be happening this weekend - but it has already made our small hallway
much lighter and brighter, so I can't wait to see the finished results, although I'm not looking forward to painting it!

2 | I bought two new books last Friday night and a book I reserved at the library finally became available this week, so
I have three more books to my never-ending 'to-read' pile

3 | I love Arrow and after waxing lyrical about it on Twitter this week, one of the actors favourited my tweets :)

4 | Although it didn't feel like a week highlight at the time, I finally returned to the gym this week after three months off.
It was brutal but it was good for me in the long run :)

5 | I'm looking forward to the weekend; not only will we hopefully finished the hallway ceiling, we're also off out on Saturday night, no not to celebrate the card company holiday known as Valentine's Day, but to celebrate my youngest cousin turning 21! Then on Sunday. we're going to look at some houses we like the look of to see if we can afford to buy one!

Have a great weekend guys & gals!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Think Thrifty

As you know from Monday's post, Hubby and I wanna move house this year, so we're saving our pennies and paying off our debt as best we can. There are countless articles and blog posts online about saving money and thinking thrifty,
and this is just one more to add to the pile...

1. Proper Planning = Delicious Meals All Week Long
Did you know that UK households throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food each year? This costs the average family £680 per year, £680 that could be put to much better use. Ever since I moved out of home seven years ago, I've made meal plans. At the beginning of each month, I draw up a menu and list down the ingredients I need. I then do an online shop from Asda, which is topped up with weekly visits to Aldi.

I've found some great yet cheap meals, including southwest pasta, burrito bowls, vegetable omlette, and veggie-friendly spaghetti bolognese, all of which appear on my menu plan at least once a fortnight. Love Food Hate Waste is a great resource for finding recipes that'll use up anything that's going out of date or needs using up.

2. Make Do & Mend
Originally launched in June 1940 as part of the British war effort, ‘Make Do & Mend’ is making a comeback. During World War II, clothes were in short supply, with adults given just 36 ration coupons to spend on clothes per year; but with a man’s suit costing up to 22 coupons and a ladies raincoat 16 coupons, high fashion was an unknown commodity, so recycling and mending were the orders of the day. Issued by the government, ‘Make Do & Mend’ leaflets offered advice on using all valuable resources, including making dresses from old curtains and underwear from old sheets!

Although these days we won’t need to go to these extremes, I still heed the thrifty message – make do with what you have so you don’t have to buy new clothes unnecessarily. Although I'm trying not to buy new clothes unless old ones don't fit or are beyond my repairing skills, the more creative amongst you can give old tops a new lease of life by adding new buttons or by turning old jeans into denim shorts (Hubby did this just last week)! 

3. A Domestic Goddess… On A Budget
Our supermarket shelves are lined with an array of cleaning products, but did you know there are natural, cheaper alternatives that can do the same job, sometimes a better job? I regularly use bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar in particular. Bicarbonate of soda can remove any manner of sins and stains (a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth works just as well as expensive cleaners) and is pretty cheap, costing just a couple of quid for a 1kg bag. White vinegar lifts limescale from stainless steel sinks and plugs better than anything you can buy from the cleaning aisles. 

Don’t just tackle the cleaning with DIY gusto – those odd jobs around the house are usually a lot simpler than you think, so don’t call someone out to look at them until you’ve had a go yourself. Professional handymen can cost £70 per hour, so why not invest in a ‘how to’ book or search YouTube and learn how to fix those odd jobs around the house that you can easily take care of yourself. 

4. That’s En-ter-tain-ment
All work and no play makes Laura a dull girl – it’s all well and good saving for a rainy day but if you never socialise, with friends or family, you’ll soon lose touch with people you love. Anyone on a budget can still socialise – look out for deals at local cinemas, such as Cineworld’s Unlimited Card which is just £11.99 a month and you can see as many films as you like at any time of the day, or (until the end of this month) take advantage of Orange Wednesdays! If you’re prepared to put some time and effort in, why not register at where you have the opportunity to see most new movies before they’re released, legally and for free.

If you enjoy a nice meal, why not swap restaurants for meals at home. The success of the Channel 4 show ‘Come Dine With Me’ has encouraged more and more of us to invite the ones we love round to our home for a dinner date, rather than go out and pay over the odds for something you can recreate at home for a fraction of the price. You could even organise a 'bring-and-share' evening and ask everyone to bring a different dish; although I've only done this once, it was a huge success, which actually makes me wonder why we haven't done it since?!

Early morning takeaway coffees, bought from the cafĂ© two doors down from work might do wonders for our mood, picking us up and getting us ready for the day ahead, but this early-morning pick me up can make a huge dent in your purse. Instead of taking the easy route and buying a takeaway beverage, pick up an electric filter coffee-maker (for as little as £20) and packets of ground coffee (which can be purchased for under £2 from all major supermarkets) and make your own; if you usually buy a coffee every day of the working week, you’ll be saving money within two weeks! If everyone in your office also indulges in a takeaway coffee, why not suggest splitting the cost with them so everyone saves. I have a stash of tea bags and milk at work so I can have as many brews as I like during the working day for about the same price of one takeaway cuppa!

5. Priceless Playtime
Although I don't have children, I do have a Pinterest board ready for the day that I do, so I know there are a heap of tips and tricks out there to entertain kids on a budget. For example, homemade playdough, which is quick and easy to make, can keep children amused for hours. All you need is: two cups of plain flour, one cup of salt, two cups of water, two tablespoons of cooking oil, four teaspoons of cream of tartar and a few drops of food colouring. The classic method involves mixing all the ingredients together and stirring over a low heat on the hob. Once the dough looks like mashed potatoes and pulls away from the sides and clumps in the centre of the pan, remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Knead vigorously until silky-smooth then divide the dough into balls. To colour, make a divot in the centre and drop some food colouring into it then fold the dough over, working the colouring through the dough. That’s it, it’s now ready to give to your child. Store in an air-tight container.

Other great ways to amuse the kids for next-to-nothing is by making castles, cars and anything else you can think of from cardboard boxes, take them to a garden centre or pet shop to look at the animals instead of paying to visit a wildlife park or even join a toy library.

What do you do to keep an eye on the pennies so the pounds take care of themselves?

Monday, 9 February 2015

Old vs. New

Tom and I want to move house this year. 
Sounds like a simple dream, but it's not. 

We live in Leicester, which, as cities go, is pretty historic. I love old buildings, especially old houses; they have so much charm and character, and heaps more space than their newer counterparts. However, our budget won't enable us to buy one of those historic but already renovated houses that grace the pages of Beautiful Homes or Ideal Home magazine. If I'm honest, as much as I dream of living in an old house with its period features and large rooms, I don't want to spend the next 10 years of our lives doing up an old run-down house. I want to get on with living my life and one day raising babies in a home that's safe for their tiny toes and curious hands. So now we're faced with a dilemma many of you have already faced... do we buy old or do we buy new?

On New Year's Eve, we had a house viewing on what is my dream home; a massive three-bed, double fronted property built circa 1910. However, it needed £10k spending on it before we could move in and, as it was at the top of our budget, we wouldn't have that kind of money to spend before moving in. It took me a long time to grieve for that house, and if I'm honest I think I'll be dreaming of it for many more months to come - it has since sold - but I was intimidated by all the work that needed doing. If we bought new, nothing would need doing for years.

This weekend coming, we're heading to a new housing development to check out some houses we really like the look of. Last summer we also considered buying a property in a new development. 

It seems that we're flitting between buying old and buying new...

Pros of buying new:
  • A blank canvas
  • Energy efficient/cheaper to run
  • No work to do 
  • 10-year guarantee
  • Secure & safe
  • Get in early and you can customise aspects of the design
  • Already open-plan
  • Manageable garden size

  • Soulless & lacking character
  • Smaller in size in comparison to similar older house
  • Estate living
  • Un-established community
  • Snags
  • Lack of storage
  • Allocated parking/no driveway
  • No room to extend

Pros of buying old:
  • Loads of space/large rooms
  • Character in abundance
  • Loads of storage
  • Cheaper to buy
  • Established neighbourhood & community
  • Individuality 

  • Loads of work to do
  • Not energy efficient/can be expensive to run
  • Ongoing maintenance 
  • Hidden defects, like damp or woodworm
  • Large garden

Have you had experience with buying a new build home? How was it? Would you do it again? 
Any tips on things I should look for or questions I should ask the saleswoman?

Friday, 6 February 2015

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday, bitches!
How's your week been? Mine's gone by pretty fast despite the fact I've had a rotten cold for most of the week :( Thankfully, I seem to be over the worst of it so here's hoping for a productive weekend!

Here are my highlights from the past week...

1 | We had fun last weekend celebrating Hubby's sister's 30th birthday and spending Sunday at my parents house with gorgeous Izzy...

2 | Amazingly it was announced on Tuesday that after 55 years, Harper Lee is publishing a second novel and not just any novel, but a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird that she actually wrote before To Kill. I've pre-ordered Go Set A Watchman and can't wait to get my hands on a copy in July!

3 | I tried a new recipe on Monday - one pot south west pasta and it was freakin' delicious and SUPER easy to make, so that'll definitely be added to my repertoire!

4 | I know it's super sad, but I'm looking forward to the Celebrity Big Brother finale tonight!!

5 | Seeing as we were both ill last weekend, Hubs and I didn't get any DIY started so, despite the fact that he's working overtime tomorrow morning, we WILL get the DIY started this weekend!!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

February Focus

On Monday, I recapped how I got on with my goal for January, but now that it's 4th February,
I thought it was time I shared with you my goal for the shortest month of the year...

Eat Better

Sounds simple, right. Hopefully it will be. Since Christmas, I've been eating whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like and instead of stopping once Christmas was over, I continued and it's not doing me any good. So, from Monday I've been making a conscious effort to choose healthier options. I've always made pretty good choices when it comes to dinners, but there were a couple of instances in January when I couldn't be bothered to cook, so we got a takeaway.

Takeaways are now banned, until at least the end of March.

Lunches, too, haven't been the best. I usually make my own lunch and take it in to work because it saves a fortune and is generally healthier. Like with dinners, I found myself buying more than my fair share of lunches and that has to stop, so again, lunchtime purchases are banned. I'd love to get to the end of March, but I think it's more realistic to ban them until the end of February. 

As well as banning bought-lunches and takeaways, I'm also going to try to cut down on my sugar and fat intake; this means more fruit and vegetables, less cheese, more wholemeal, less chocolate, and more unprocessed foods, less cheese (I eat too much cheese)!

In order to find some delicious but healthy/clean recipes, I've been scouring Pinterest the internet and have come across these great recipes that I'm going to try...

As well as eating better, I've started taking two supplements: multivitamins with iron and (gelatine-free) cod liver oil. It's only been three days so I can't say if it's made a difference yet but I'll be sure to update you at the end of the month.

Do you have any favourite healthy recipes or blogs?
Got any other tips for me and my new healthy eating plan?