Low spend trip to London :)

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Long time, no post dear readers! That’s because Elliot and I have been very busy bees recently with starting our own allotment, going away for a city break in London, rekindling old hobbies and just plain old chilling out. Never fear, our lives still as cheap as ever!

So, the topic of todays post is how we kept down the cost of a 4 day trip to London.

First and foremost is the travel expenses. We live in Leeds which gives us three options for travel: Train, Car or Coach. We explored every option and found that we could get the two of us to London and back to Leeds for just £19.50 on the MegaBus. Absolute bargain. Yes, it is five hours each way on this service, but we just made it part of the relaxation time of the trip. Plus they have free wifi– result!

Secondly, where did we stay? Well the accommodation cost is usually the killer of a city break so we phoned in a favour from a friend who recently moved to London, who very kindly let us stay with her free of charge! Yes, kipping at a friends house isn’t the most glamorous option but we decided we’d rather save money and spend it on all the activities to do while we were there. The bonus of course is getting lots of time with a best friend we rarely see, thanks by the way Daisy!

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Thirdly, we found a package deal for some of the attractions we wanted to visit. As Madame Toussauds, the London Eye and the SeaLife Aquarium are all owned by the Merlin company, we got all three attractions for £55 each. As we had never been to any of these we thought it was a good offer, particularly taking into account the price of each attraction individually. Of course we did visit free touristy places including The National Portrait Gallery, Camden Market (No purchases made), Covent Garden, Nelson’s column and all that jazz. We could easily have spent nothing on entertainment though theres soon much free shizz to do in London!

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If you’re wondering, we travelled mainly by tube using Oyster cards, for which I was very excited to be an owner of, as they remind me of the scene in Harry Potter where Mr Weasley tries to copy the muggles on the tube who slap their Oyster cards on the scanner, by smacking it and trying to walk through the closed barrier. Hilarious.

Other than that, of course we bought meals out and even had a few not-really-necessary coffees but come on fellow money savers, it was a holiday!

Happy Holidaying !

Low spend weekend- valentines edition!

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For those unfamiliar, my partner and I have set ourselves the challenge of having low-spend or preferably NO SPEND weekends as much as we can this year to help save the precious pennies. After many weeks of very un-blog-worthy weekends, basically revolving around lie ins and Netflix, heres a slightly more exciting little round up what we got up to this valentines weekend.

Saturday AM

Exchange of cards. We had agreed not to buy presents but Elliot cheekily broke that rule and got me Fleur de Forces new book, a single rose and my favourite treat; Malteasers. I did feel mildly guilty for not getting him a present but it was only his birthday last week in my defence!

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Next on the agenda, filter coffee and a homemade breakfast of toast and eggs. We did attempt a pinterest-like heart shape in the middle of the toast, with the idea that the egg filled in the gap, however it was a total disaster. It was still edible though so of course we did gobble it up.

My parents were popping round for lunch, so we quickly spring cleaned the flat and I made homemade breaded chicken burgers and sweet potato wedges. I’d been inspired by the BBC’s programme ‘Eat well for less’ (side track: this show makes me want to throttle everyone on it for their stupidity with money but thats a different story). It’s a simple case of dipping chicken in some egg, rolling in breadcrumbs and herbs and bunging in the oven for half an hour. Job done.

Saturday PM 

Parents came. THEY BROUGHT CREAM BUNS! also a bottle of wine. We felt very spoilt. Their visit took up several hours of the afternoon and it was really lovely to see them as usual.

Later, we got into our PJ’s and dragged the duvet into the living room for our Saturday night ritual of The Voice drinking game. To play: drink every time Tom Jones name drops or says YEAH, Rita Ora hugs someone who cries, Will.I.Am makes a metaphor or Ricky says something northern.

For snacks I made us homemade tortilla chips (cut up tortilla wrap, fry it and add salt) with peri peri drizzled hummus I made using some nando’s drizzle. For those who order the hummus at Nandos, we took home the tiny little bottle of drizzle you get on the side when we went last week as we only had half, and used the other half last night. 

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Sunday AM

Lovely coffee in bed made by Elliot’s fair hands, followed by dippy egg and soldiers! We realised we don’t own egg cups so we had to chop up the egg box and make do!

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Next stop, The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds (we literally live round the corner so its criminal not to have visited!). Admission is totally free (bonus) but the parking did cost £3.50 (our first actual spend of the weekend)

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The museum was great, my favourite thing was the elephant armour you can see pictured. On the way home we did stop for a cheeky coffee out costing us £.5.49.

Sunday PM

Played on the wii for half an hour. Elliot won as usual. Arsehole. JUST KIDDING 🙂

We’ve been meaning to cover a canvas we had for our bedroom so we decided to crack on with that. What actually happened was Elliot cracked on with it, while I started knitting with some spare wool I found. I managed to quickly knock up this cute little mug cosy! Not so bad if I do say so myself.

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As I type, it is Sunday 6pm and Elliot is currently sewing felt butterflies onto the canvas. I will insert a photo here later when it is done!

When I’m finished here, I’m going to make a “Fake-away” curry and poppadum for our dinner, and we are going to don PJ’s and watch ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘The Casual Vacancy’ on BBC.

Total spend for the weekend: £8.99. Not bad at all 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IKEA Haul

Myself and my partner share a dream that one day we will live in a cute country cottage, much like the one Kate Winslet’s character lives in in ‘The Holiday’, filled with homemade decor or one-of-a-kind pieces which add a unique feel to our home. At the moment we pretty much live in the exact opposite of that, in a teeny eco-flat which might as well be sponsored by IKEA and The Range (Sadly it is not or we would have saved a lot of money).

Despite our dream, I don’t dislike ikea decor in the slightest, in fact I think ikea have totally genius ideas for storage and lots of great home decor ideas. So, yes, Elliot and I are the stereotypical twenty-something couple in their first home, surrounded by everything IKEA and loving every minute of it.

The other day we snuck a few hours away from uni and work to go play in what Meg from Megsboutique recently named ‘Adult disneyland’ and, as I personally love getting home decor ideas, I thought you might like to see what we bought !

1- GODMORGAN Make up storage £15: Previously, my make up lived all sad and jumbled in my bedside drawer, making getting ready in the morning somewhat of a lucky dip. Now as you can see from the pictures below it is super organised and ready to grab! It also supposedly has a ten year guarantee? Big claim IKEA, I’ll keep you posted in ten years. (Side note: Most of my make up brushes needed a wash so they are currently drying and will be filling the remaining slots later)
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Although I didn’t measure (rookie error *slaps wrist*), thankfully it fitted perfectly back in the drawer. It’s easy to access the palettes under the brushes as that section can be swung forward.

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  2. IMMELN shower basket £6.50: Another bit of beauty organisation! We have a large, gorgeous glass unit with a metal frame which houses all of our bathroom products, but since we moved in the ‘in use’ products lived on the floor. We thought this little basket would be fab to help stop faffing in a morning, and bonus points for the sucker pads which stick to the glass so we don’t have to ‘damage’ anything in the rented flat. 
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3. Spritta apple slicer £1.50: Fairly self explanatory, but Elliot also had the idea of using it to make potato wedges. These literally make up about 1/5 of our diet so we got very excited in the ikea hype and got it. It was only a £1.50 anyway. IMG_3991What is it about sliced apple that makes it taste better than a normal apple? 
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4. SKUBB set of 3 black boxes £10: We wanted something to sort out the messiness of the top of our wardrobe, which could only be described as looking like TK Maxx if they had a 90% off sale. We were also in the market for getting a new box for our KALLAX unit (see below), which separates our kitchen and living room. I’d seen these online and thought they’d be a good solution, 2 in the wardrobe, 1 in the KALLAX.

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Please excuse the messiness in this picture, also the other SKUBB box is the black area of the photo! 

5. A big plant £8 and a plant pot £7.50 because A) We were very excited on an IKEA high and B) we love a bit of greenery in the house, and this obnoxiously large plant in the corner of our pokey flat can only be a good thing.

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6. GLIMMA tealights £1.75 and a SINNLIG vanilla candle 99p. Standard IKEA purchase. We got the tealights for both atmosphere on an evening and to go in our wax melt burner, and we had previously bought and loved the vanilla candles in the tealight version and loved the smell so we got a big one. IMG_3994

Last but not least, MEATBALLS, pudding and a free coffee with our family card. mmmm. 
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IKEA shopping top tips

  • Go when it’s quiet- first thing on a weekday is the best time for ours, my parents say later on a Friday night is good for theirs. We’ve had too many stressful trips with being unable to park, looking at a room in their showroom like sardines in a can and getting really stressed. The more relaxed you are the more you’ll enjoy it and the less you will shove in your big yellow bag without thinking first.
  • Make a list and stick to it. You know why.
  • Don’t forget to take your own bags or risk having to get another big blue one!
  • Either plan a mid-shop meatball feast or eat before you go. Shopping at IKEA is a full on workout and you will need the energy.
  • Try to pronounce all the names of the products you like. Hilarity will ensue.
  • Go to the food shop. Buy the little chocolates that come in a clear orange bag. You won’t regret it, those things are addictive.

#100happydays

It’s hard for anyone who uses Instagram to have escaped the #100happydays infiltrating your newsfeed over the last year. For those who have the challenge is to take a photo of something that made you happy for 100 days, with the hope that you will see the joy in everyday life throughout the challenge and beyond.

A few months ago I was having a spot of the blues. Although I’ve always tried to appreciate the little things in life, a combination of my reduced income and adjusting to life in a new city and a different university left me feeling a little overwhelmed and a bit ‘meh’ about life. So one boredom filled evening came and I thought ‘why the hell not?’

Now the challenge is over I really feel like I’ve benefitted from it in a number of ways. What I found most challenging was submitting on days when I had a truly miserable day. One day in particular something awful happened at work and I came home in tears. When I remembered I had to submit something it forced me to evaluate the whole day and think: yes today on the whole has been inexplicably awful, but this hoody I’m wearing is jolly comfy and this cup of tea is working wonders. Therefore I’ve definitely learnt to stop writing off the whole day as a bad job.

As silly as it sounds I’m also proud of myself for actually committing to something for 100 days without giving up. I can’t think of a time I’ve ever committed to a project for that long. Its shown me that I’m capable of seeing through a personal goal, even when no one was asking me to or checking up on me. I can’t wait to use that new found skill to carry on with this blog! It’s become part of my routine so much I’ve thought about it every day since like, what would I have submitted today?

Below are most of my submissions sans the captions which explained most of them, sorry!– mixed with other instagram photos I took over the last 100 or so days. Enjoy.

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Now I challenge you !

DIY: Birdcage Decoration

This birdcage started out life in the ASDA living store, dreaming of becoming a light-shade, when it was discovered by Elliot and I. We instantly fell in love, took it home to our apartment and I watched on as Elliot bravely stood upon a chair to adorn our living room light. Unfortunately it didn’t fit our unknown-to-us massive light fitting. Add the disappointment of that the fact we had foolishly cut the tag off in all our excitement. Not one to see it go to waste, I kept it aside for a fateful night of boredom, which struck me last night.

Bits and bobs you might need 
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An ornamental bird cage (Obvs)

Scissors

String

Scrapbook paper

A needle with a large eye

How it was made  

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Step 1: Choose your paper. If you don’t have scrapbook paper, you could use newspaper, magazines or old book pages.

Step 2: Choose your design. I went for butterfly shapes, mixed with cut outs of vintage typewriters from my scrapbook paper.

Step 3: Cut them out, and use string to sew them together in a line. If you want it to be permanent you could glue them directly to the cage but I wanted to be able to change the design if I felt like it and eventually use the light-shade for its actual purpose!

Step 4: Wrap it around however you like!

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I went super simple with this design but you could go mad! Add flowers, fairy lights, whatever you fancy.

I chose to put a simple tea light holder inside for now, but I think when I have a bit more disposable cash I will invest in some teeny tiny fairy lights to wrap around the cage instead. 
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Hope you enjoyed this DIY!

The Free-kend (1)

In our quest to save money, Elliot and I identified that the weekends are biggest money spending days. This makes sense because we both work/ go to uni during the week, as many people do. As its the only time we really spend together, we tend to go out and treat ourselves to whatever we want to do before the Monday blues kick in.

Its not JUST the fact we’re spending most on the weekends, its also the unfortunate fact we live in a city. This makes it hard to park wherever we go, and because everyone has the same idea, the places we go are usually jam packed with stressed out, occasionally rude people. This can really dampen down the fun, especially for me because I’m a self confessed home-bird and introvert and that noisy, busy atmosphere can be really draining.

So, Elliot and I have decided to rebrand our weekends as “Free-kends” and try and spend as close to zero as we can, while still enjoying ourselves 🙂 ***Note: anything in our apartment, or petrol in our car that we use counts as no spend as long as physical cash or debit card transactions don’t happen !***

What did we do last weekend? 

Saturday AM 

On Saturday we got up bright and early to drive to my parents house and pick up a computer we bought last year for our christmas present to each other. (We had it delivered to their house for security reasons, posting something like that to our block of flats can be a bit risky). As my parents are super generous, so we had coffee, biscuits and lunch at their house. Unexpectedly, my two little nieces were also there so we got to play with them for an hour too! We had more fun with the toys than they did

Saturday PM

Got back to our house and set up the wonderful computer! Ta-da !

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We are in love!

Naturally, there were a good few hours spent playing with the belated christmas present, it felt like a second christmas day! Elliot nipped out to see some friends in the evening, while I wrote a blog post, played on the iMac again and then spent the rest of the evening watching The Voice and Gossip Girl! I also had a great shower using all my lotions and potions so it felt a bit more like a pamper!

Sunday AM

Woke up to Elliot making me coffee using our coffee machine. Yum yum.

Elliot spent some time with the iMac, writing on his blog, while I did a bit of hilarious cross stitch using my craft supplies.

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Next, we did a whip-around clean up of the flat. As we went to take the rubbish out we noticed that someone had donated an ikea folding chair to the Freecycle room in our building. We had been to ikea a few weeks ago to pick up a similar chair, but they were out of stock so we jumped at the chance of a freebie! One problem though: it was red and didn’t match our colour scheme (mostly white, black and grey).

That’s when we had a brain wave and remembered we owned a can of grey spray paint that we hadn’t yet found a use for ( it was previously bought for a project we never got round to). So Elliot got on with spraying the chair in the car park, while I “helped” (drank a cup of tea and took this photo).

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The finished product!

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Next, we cooked a yummy dinner. As this was cooking, I upcycled some old yankee candle jars into cute storage containers! Read how here 

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Elliot then kindly used our LUSH massage bar (The Snow Fairy one if you’re interested) and massaged my back and feet! He’s such a keeper.

We then finished off the evening how most Sunday nights end for us: snuggled up with a cuppa watching Netflix!

We will update you next time we manage a free (ish) weekend!

How to upcycle your old candle jars

If there is one thing I buy which is a totally unnecessary luxury, it’s candles. Theres nothing that can set a relaxing ambience to me, than a tiny bouncing flame. I try my best to stick to the cheaper end of things with Ikea tea-lights or cheapy supermarket scented candles, but I have to admit I’m a sucker for yankee candles, especially in the winter.

The problem with these candles from a money saving perspective is that no matter how carefully I burn them, I always end up with a bit of wax left in the bottom. So this time I decided to make the effort to retrieve the wax to use in my ceramic wax melter, and begin to save the jars for homey storage! This way I’m getting a sort of 3-in-1 deal!

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How do you do it?

So its super easy to get the leftover wax out, all you have to do is pop the jars in the freezer for at least an hour. When you take it out, the wax will have begun to come away from the edge, meaning you can carefully slip a butter knife around the edge to pop it out of the jar. If its a large lump it might need slicing up. (Got the freezer tip from reading many websites online, not thought of by me! 🙂 wouldn’t know who to credit for the original idea as there were so many!)

Next, fill a washing up bowl or sink with water as hot as you can stand. Let the jars sit for a few minutes, and carefully peel off the labels. If any sticky residue it left on the jar, rub in Fairy liquid (other brands of dish soap would probably work just as well, use what you have) and scrub with a washing up scourer. Note: any soot around the edge of the jar will come off easily with soapy water too ! 

Finally, fill the jar however you like! I chose to put my tea-lights in it for a cute place to store them but for a few ideas you could store sweets, nail varnishes, tea and coffee, make up brushes, cotton pads… anything you like !

I had a second jar which I used to store the scraps of wax for use in the ceramic wax melter later on.

This method could be easily applied to any other types of candle jars you have too! Hope you enjoyed this thrifty little tip 🙂