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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#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 !

Why I, an adult, have a colouring book

In light of my New Years Resolutions to save more money and do more arts and crafts I got thinking about what sort of things I could do to meet them. Now, my reasons for saving money are fairly obvious (I’m skint) but the reason I wanted to get back into arts and crafts is because I spent all of my free time as a child drawing, painting, colouring and generally making things. I found that when I did tasks like this I was always engrossed on the project alone, and the days seemed to last a little longer, whereas now I can’t even watch TV without checking Facebook-twitter-instagram at the same time. My mind buzzes along all day like a little bee, time whizzes by and I can’t deny this is the reason for a lot of my stress. Therefore I resolve to include more mind-quieting activities into my daily routine.

When wandering around Waterstone’s (A bookstore for any lovely readers not familiar) and happened upon this adult colouring book (pictured above) and thought this fit the bill perfectly. As a student, who also spends a lot of time on placements I don’t have the time or money to spend on fancy art supplies and creating something to rival Van Gogh on a daily basis. How simple (and mess free) is it to sit with a colouring book and just mindlessly colour ready-made gorgeous artwork? You can even leave off wherever and come back to it whenever you’re ready, without the hassle of cleaning up one day and setting back up again the next.

Below is an example of a page I’ve been working on this week. I’m not even thinking too much about making it match-matchy with the colours because I just want the book to feel free, no wrong or right.
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It’s already making a difference to my days in the short time I’ve had it and I recommend anyone doing the same!

TIP: For an even more frugal way to do this you could google free colouring pages and print them off! This would be good also to test whether you enjoy it before you dedicate spending money on a book. For me though, I think the price of the book is cheap in art-supplies terms and it will probably take me most of the year to fill up at the rate I’m going!

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 🙂

How to study more effectively (and maybe enjoy it a bit)

*** DISCLAIMER: Please bear in mind these are tips I have personally used with success, they definitely won’t work for every one, you will need to test out what works best for you, whether that includes these tips or not, and use those methods for YOUR best success***

For a bit of background, I’ve been a university student for four years so far. I recently graduated my first degree in Human Biology, and I’ve just embarked on my second in a healthcare profession (keeping the subject secret for now as it will be my career and I would prefer to keep my hobby and job separate… and I fancy being a woman of mystery :P). Due to my age now, I’m now classed as a mature student – clearly whoever decided that didn’t factor in mental age! What I’m trying to say is I’m  a bit of an old timer when it comes to exams and much dreaded revision period, so I’m going to share a few of the tips that work for me personally in the hope it may help some of you!

My guess is if you’ve searched for study tips online, your exam isn’t that far away and you probably should have been revising for weeks now, you haven’t, you’re panicking, you swear to god you were never taught this stuff in lectures… I could go on. If this is you, don’t worry I’ll spare you the pointless “prepare months in advance” speech.

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  1. Its easy to revise stuff you already know, it doesn’t even feel that much like hard work. Thats because it isn’t and revising this way isn’t helpful. List all the topics on the exam, then order them by things you hate and don’t understand to the content you know or could answer without much revision. This way if you run out of revision time part way down your list you could probably have a jolly good try at answering any question, maybe not with total precision but at least to a pass level.
  2. The risky method. If your exam papers require you to answer only a few questions of your choice out of a selection of topics, and you really have left everything until the last minute, you don’t really have to learn every topic. For example if your course has 8 topics, your exam has 8 questions corresponding to the topics and you only have to answer 3 questions, then why learn all 8 topics? Protect yourself and learn 3 very well, and  maybe 2 or so more if you have time for a fall back. This will only work if your exams are set in this way (many of mine and my friends were), and you are prepared to take a slight risk (or don’t have any other choice).
  3. If your exams require you to reference literature you’ve read (usually including the author and date) try to learn references that suit any topic in your module. For example, I had a module about cancer biology so I learnt the author and date for our core text book which included biological information about all the topics in the exam. This way if I forgot an author of a specific paper I’d read about that topic, I could at least reference some of the biology back to that book. Of course, only reference what would actually be in the book (in this example biological explanations and concepts NOT specific studies). Putting references in your answer will always boost marks as it shows extra reading, which is often a major point in the marking criteria.
  4. If appropriate, watch reliable youtube videos to grasp the gist of certain concepts before diving into a book for the more in depth version. If you don’t understand a simplified version on youtube, you might not understand the technical text book version, so start simple then build on your knowledge. Most of the time, going straight for the nitty gritty and not understanding it will lead to frustration and then procrastination because you feel negatively about the subject.
  5. Work smart not hard. This is similar to the point above. Don’t rewrite your powerpoint slides word for word and expect to be able to apply those words to answering an exam question. For example, theres no point knowing the names of every different bone in the body, if you don’t understand what function and role the skeleton plays in the body. Learn to the overall concept, and add in fine details later. You will demonstrate understanding far better this way than just repeating a lecturers powerpoint back to them.
  6. Probably one of the most important things PAST PAPERS, PAST PAPERS, PAST PAPERS. Ideally you should have looked at previous exam papers before you started working, otherwise you set yourself up for a failure. 9 times out of 10 your lecturers will use some form of predictable pattern over several years, which might give you clues as to whats on the exam this year. Remember, lecturers are human and they are as lazy as we are.
  7. Make your study space a nice place whatever that means to you. If you’re into heavy metal and survive on cans of monster energy drinks, me telling you to put on classical fm and drink tea isn’t going to help you. For me personally, I ALWAYS, since writing my dissertation in third year of degree number 1, have a candle burning next to me because I like watching the flame flicker when I get stressed as it calms me back down again. I have a constant mug of tea on the go, which is great for the added bonus of needing to get up and make more tea and go to the loo so you get regular breaks! I also wear my comfiest clothes or pyjamas no matter what time of day, and wrap up in a blanket if its cold. I’ve been known to stay in my bed all day and revise there because I knew it just wasn’t going to get done anywhere else. Whatever works.
  8. Know when enough is enough. This is so difficult to recognise sometimes, but if you tell yourself you’re going to revise for 12 hours straight, you will either give up and feel worthless, or sit there for twelve hours with not much going in. Work hard, take regular breaks, and when you start to zone out and honestly aren’t taking it in, stop for now. Its not giving up, its recognising that you’re wasting time and undoing the hard work you did do. Come back later when you feel fresh.
  9. Be wary of revising with friends, if you have success this way and you motivate each other then great but most of the time I found we would spend 70% of the time having a competition about who was less prepared for the exam and how much we hated revision, 20% eating snacks or having a coffee break and 10% of the time actually doing anything productive. Be selfish occasionally , trust me your friends will definitely understand.

Really hope you enjoyed this post, and it helped in some way! Good luck with your exams!

(totally going to go do some work now because I should be studying too!)