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 🙂 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Low cost health and fitness for newbies

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Along with all the other resolutioner’s, January was the start of a new health and fitness regime. The thing is, the last thing I wanted to do after Decembers festive spend-a-thon was go out and spend money on it. So I did what any wobbly woman would do and raided my existing stash, did some googling and planned.

To give you a bit of background, around 5 years ago I was slightly overweight but otherwise very active. I joined weight watchers and lost around 21 pounds, and was working out every night. Its probably the best I’ve ever felt in my life, both within myself and about myself. Then came my first three years of university life, which saw me sitting at a desk most of the time, and drinking and eating takeaways the rest. Of course, I gained back my weight and then some.

In my third year (2014) I decided I wanted to do something about my weight re-gain so I joined Slimming World online, absolutely loved the plan and lost about a stone before I went through a really tough time in my personal life. At this point I focused all my energy on my mental wellbeing and put my wibbly wobble to the back of my mind for pretty much the rest of 2014.

I’ve come to a point now where I’m feeling positive about life again and I’m ready to enjoy whatever life throws at me next, so the following is what I’ve started doing to edge my way back into a healthier lifestyle.


1. Going it alone with Slimming World – I no longer have the online account, but I do know exactly how to do the diet so as of a week ago today I am fully in control of whats going in my body! As I rarely see my partner on weekdays due to his job, I’ve decided to be 100% committed during the week and indulge slightly on a weekend, so he doesn’t miss out on his weekend treats and I have something to keep me motivated.

2. Using herbal teas for their true benefits- Black tea for antioxidants and a caffeine kick. Green for kicking my metabolism up the backside. Peppermint for a digestion aid (and to relieve trapped wind sorry tmi). I’m not sure if this is just me but I find teas quite filling, peppermint is especially good because to be honest it makes me feel a bit blergh after a bit and totally turns me off snacking for half an hour or so which can be good when I know I’m not actually hungry just bored.

3. Free fitness- Although using gyms has been valuable to me in the past, I am in no position to pay for one at the moment. I do however already own the Just dance game on the wii and have access to youtube, both of which I’ve been testing the waters of in january. Youtube is one of the best resources for free exercise videos, and best of all you can choose the length to suit you. My favourites are Blogilates and Yoga with Adrienne.

For those brave enough to take their wobble into the outside world theres nothing like a jolly good walk and even a run if you’re really energetic.

4. Sourcing cheap equipment/fashion- At first I began my exercise in devours using the rug in my living room as a yoga mat. I’ve since upgraded to a black yoga mat from Primark for £5. When not in use its kept in the corner of the living room, making Elliot and I look super sporty.

As for weights, long ago I used to use bottled water or tins of food while I did my work out vids, but last year I picked up the ones pictured above in TK Max. They tend to do cheap sports equipment around January, as most stores do. Damn you shops for cashing in on our January jiggle.

Stuck for what to wear? I have a huge stack of highly attractive old pairs of leggings, baggy (mostly stained) tops and one good pair of trainers. Although the psychology of buying nice work out clothes to motivate you will work for a few days, if you don’t have true motivation for working out it won’t stick and you’ll end up with a drawer full of lycra reminding you of failure. Save your money until you get to your healthiest body and treat yourself then.

5. Inner me Energise Me vitamins. Click here to view them. I cannot thank this company enough for existing. I bought this course of vitamins on a total whim (hence the slightly pricey-ness) because I’ve been so fatigued for months and I was completely desperate to try anything that might work. I was totally sceptical and expected a trip to the doctors to get some tests done after these vitamins failed, but they have totally surprised me. I am overjoyed with how much better I feel after 2 weeks on these. I am aiming to get a full review of them done soon when I am closer to finishing the 28 day pack, but I can already promise you a positive one. If your interested, check back on this blog soon!

6. Write it down. Find a notebook, or a section in your diary, to use as a tracker. Writing down everything you eat and what exercise you do helps you to see what you’re doing well and how you might improve.


An Ideal day on my new plan

7am- wake up, take vitamin tablet, make slimming world breakfast

(Example: Omelette, made using low calorie cooking spray)

8am- commute to Uni or work

 Lecture/ Work SIP LOTS OF WATER!

Break- snack on fruit or veg sticks with hummus. Green or black tea.

Uni/work 

Lunch- packed lunch, usually a salad, pasta salad or sandwich. Another good thing to include is a  Muller light yoghurt. (Or often lidl or aldi’s versions!). Water, green or black tea.

More Uni /Work

Home- If its still early I might grab a snack like fruit or a >1% mugshot pasta. Otherwise I might cook my dinner at this point. Again sticking to the slimming world theme!

Down time- catching up on internet goings on/ blogs/ youtube/ homework. Probably another tea (sorry, I am British after all)

Exercise- I prefer evening exercise because I’m busy during the day and quite honestly too lazy to get up early!

Shower and do my skincare routine 

Get everything I need ready for the next day

Watch some Netflix or read with a peppermint tea

Go to bed! 


Have you any cheap health and fitness advice to share ?

#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 !

Eyeshadow Nail Art

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Here’s a creative way to make your eyeshadow work harder. YES, EYESHADOW ON YOUR NAILS ! This look is super quick,and can be done with any colour combination of nail polish and eyeshadow that you like.

Step 1: Remove any old nail polish you have on.

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Step 2: Gather supplies, decide your preferred colour combination. I’m using Barry M’s Gelly nail polish in the shade ‘Cardamom’, and a gold coloured eyeshadow from the ‘Girlson Film’ palette by Revolution (which is only £6 from Superdrug if you’re interested which is a total bargain for 18 good quality eyeshadows!)  IMG_3834

Step 3: Apply hand cream if you have one and file your nails into your preferred shape.

Step 4:  Apply a base coat (I’m using OPI start to finish which is both a base and top coat but use whatever you have!), wait for it to dry and apply your colour polish.

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Sorry about my very imperfect nails, it comes with working in healthcare and not being allowed nail polish at work!

Step 5: The most important step. Wait until your nails have become just tacky and no longer wet. To test this press two nails very lightly together (for example, the thumb nail of each hand), if they very gently stick together but come apart without a mess then your ready. Lightly apply eyeshadow to the top 3/4 of the nail using either your finger or an old eyeshadow brush you no longer use on your face. Pat on more colour on the top 1/2, and very densely on the top 1/4. This will create a gradient effect.

Step 6: Seal with a top coat and leave to dry!

Ta Da !

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 🙂