Five ways I'm trying to cut down on food waste


1. Freeze vegetables/fruit in portions
I have every intention of using up my vegetable box but things get in the way and it turns out I'm only home twice that week. As a result my vegetables are left languishing in the back of the fridge. I have now gotten into the habit once a week to look through my fridge and decide which veg is looking a bit sad. I make sure to chop them up and freeze them in useable bags to be used at a later date. I always bag them up in portions so I can use them in one go.  Root vegetables tend to go a bit watery but they last longer in the fridge so I don't tend to freeze these. I always freeze slices of lemons and limes as they work great for G&T's when you have guests over. Butter, milk and bread are always great to be frozen and I do this regularly.

2. Make stale bread into breadcrumbs
We tend to treat ourselves a nice loaf of bread for the weekend as our go-to breakfast is poached eggs on toast. But as we never eat bread during the week it starts to go mouldy. Now I either freeze it in slicers or I pop it in the food processor to make it into breadcrumbs. I freeze these and use them as toppings for various things such as gratins and cauliflower cheese. My New Years resolution next year is to start getting into making my own bread so I never have to buy a loaf from the supermarket again.

3. Freeze sauces in ice cube trays
We always have a jar of pesto or curry paste in the larder but it doesn't always get used up in time before it went off. In a household of two, unless you use it everyday you're never going to use up a whole jar within three days. So I started freezing it in ice cube trays as soon as I opened it. I find three cubes of each tends to be enough when I am using them for dinner. This also works well with fresh herbs - just make sure you add some water. If you freeze rosemary this makes a good gin garnish.


4. Don't follow best before dates
Before I moved out from home I was a stickler for best before dates. I would throw something away on the day it had printed because I didn't think it could be consumed anymore. Not only is this incredibly wasteful but also very expensive! Now I go by looks and smell. Most food have at least a couple more days left on them past the best-before-date. You just have to use your common sense. Most veg which looks a little sorry for itself perks up in a soup or roasted.

5. Batch cook for the week and freeze
If I know I'm going to have a busy week but got a full fridge, I make sure I cook up quite a few different meals to use up all the food when I have the time. Mostly on a Sunday afternoon. I either pop them in the fridge for lunches throughout the week or freeze them for dinner for the rest of the week.

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Can you ever get rid of imposter syndrome?





Outfit:
Yellow polka dot dress: Zara
Black faux leather jacket: New Look (similar)
White plimsols: Converse

I've been working at my current job for over three years now and yet I'm still waiting for the day to be pulled into a separate office and be told that they've made a terrible mistake employing me. And it's not just me that has these irrational thoughts. Nearly all my friends agree with me. Despite being well established in our careers, we still have a massive fear that someone will find out that we've been winging it all this time and we're not qualified at all. It's all complete rubbish of course, as if we honestly couldn't do our jobs then we would be long gone and replaced with someone who could.

Imposter syndrome is very real and it can be very difficult to get the invasive thoughts out of your head. If you let it, it will continue to fester. I've had it ever since I've started Uni if I'm honest and I'm not sure it'll ever go away. But you can learn to bat it away.

Remember it's natural to do things wrong at work. The only way we learn is if we make mistakes. Use those mistakes to try and make yourself better, learn from them, adjust the way you work and then lock the thought of them away. Talking things through with friends always helps. As I've found, they often feel the same themselves and friends make a great sounding board. They'll often tell you what a Queen you are and trust me, that's a surefire way to make you realised that actually you do know what you're doing after all. Finally, sit down and think. Think about everything you've achieved at work. Did you manage to pull off a successful project? Did you kill a presentation when you were nervous as hell? Did you do a piece of work and get praised for it? The chances are you've definitely pulled something off that you were worried about. And if that doesn't prove you don't deserve your position in the company, then what will?

How do you deal with imposter syndrome? Tell me I'm not alone in having these thoughts!


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The power of an accent




Outfit:
Faux leather jacket with fur collar: New Look (similar)
Polka dot midi dress: Zara (similar)
Black leather ankle boots: ASOS (similar)
Teal mini rucksack: Mulberry (similar)

I read something - don't ask me where as I never remember - that in the UK you can tell a lot about someone by the way they speak. You can tell their education, upbringing, region and class. You can pinpoint what region they're from just by the way they pronounce their words. How you're judged by peers can depend on your accent. This particular article by Faiza Shaheen after TV presenter Adam Boulton mocked her east London twang struck a cord with me. How dare he mock her for the way she speaks?

I was born and bred in Essex  - and I sound like it. When I'm around family and friends, I get lazy and drop my Ts, use shortened words and slang that sometimes doesn't sound like it comes from the English Language. When I meet someone new, I start talking like someone I don't even recognise. I pronounce my words more clearly and speak 'proper' because god forbid someone tells me that I sound like I'm from Essex. I have a completely different accent at work then I do at home. My dad once phoned me up at work and asked me 'why was I speaking like that? It didn't even sound like me...'

But why is this? I'm not ashamed of where I come from, I'm fiercely proud my working class roots and being an Essex girl. My parents have grafted over the years and taught me to never be afraid of a bit of hard work in order to achieve what you want. But yet I change my accent depending on who I am with. I hate the thought that someone will automatically judge the type of person I am. I've heard the sneers and jokes when I mention where I'm from more times than I can count. It's got to the point of almost reversed snobbery as when I'm introduced to someone with a cut glass accent, I sound almost like a parody of myself, almost daring them to judge me. We can have all the intelligence in the world and the best education yet we will always be judged on our accents.

It's odd isn't it? The power of an accent? We are all quite attached to how we speak, believing it to help keep a tie to where we're from. When I'm abroad my accent is even stronger as if I'm self-consciously trying to hang onto my Essex roots despite the fact I'm thousands of miles away from home. Shouldn't we be proud of the multiple regional accents we have all over the U.K? An accent should be a celebration of our roots, not used as a weapon to make us feel small and unworthy.


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Mother's Day with Moonpig

Moonpig is famous for it's thousands of personalised cards but that's not all they have to offer. The brand invited* my mum and I to their head office for an afternoon of crafting activities and a yummy afternoon tea. We tried our hands at flower arranging, making cocktails and posed up a storm in a Photo Booth to create our own cards. We both had such a lovely Sunday afternoon, we don't very often get to spend much time together anymore so we made the most of it.



One thing we found out during the soirée was the large array of products that Moonpig sells as Mother's Day gifts. Not only personalised cards, but beautiful flowers, yummy chocolates, thoughtful hampers and all sorts of personalised gifts. Call me lazy but there's nothing I like more than one website where you can buy absolutely everything from. You don't have to shop around, simply buy a card and present all from one place. After taking part in flower arranging, I was really impressed by the quality of the blooms for such reasonable prices. We were kindly gifted a bunch last Sunday and they're still going strong in my living room. Did you realise you're suppose to change the water every few days? I had no idea and have really noticed the difference.

Thank you so much for such a lovely afternoon Moonpig!

Pictures are a selection of my own and Elouisa Georgiou.




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Nine years of blogging


Nine years ago this month I sat at my boyfriend's dads house bored as he watched Man Utd on the telly. I'd been reading blogs for a few months after a lecturer on my journalism course encouraged us to read them and perhaps start one of our own. I was trawling though my favourite ones on my laptop and just decided there and then to bite to bullet. I clicked on Blogger, created one and wrote my first post. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I was going to still be writing on this little piece of the internet nine years later.

Blogging has evolved into a monster and it's something I hardly recognise now. It's been a wild ride for everyone involved. I never quite kept up to speed with my peers and got left behind in the blogging world. But my passion for it has never diminished. I may not wrote as many posts as I used to and I may not read that many blogs at all but there's something quite special and therapeutic about writing down your thoughts. I love having a visual diary I access at any time. I love having something that is all mine. I don't have to follow any rules and I don't have to please anyone. This URL is mine to do what I want with.

I have made some of my best friends because of this blog. I speak to them every day and feel like I can tell them absolutely anything without any judgement. I have been able to do some incredible opportunities that even now I still have to pinch myself. My life certainly would have been a lot duller! I have been very kindly been gifted some amazing products over the years and it's been amazing to be able to take my loved ones to events, to show them how the 'other half' live.

If I'm honest I can't quite imagine my life without this blog. As life gets busier my blog suffers. I don't have the time to invest in my blog anymore and it does make me sad. Gone are the days of writing 15-20 posts a month. Now I'm lucky if I manage one a week. But even though I neglect this space sometimes, I don't think I'll ever be able to pull the plug on it. It's become part of me as cheesy as it sounds. It's probably one of the things I'm most proud of in my life.

Thank you all so much for reading. It wouldn't be what it is without you! Here's to the next nine years.
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Five things I want to be better at in my fourth decade


So that's it. I'm 30! I feel like I've been waiting forever to reach it and am really excited to see what the next decade brings. I have a feeling it's going to be a corker! There's a few things I'd like to improve on to make myself a better person and nicer to those around me. Work on a better, improved me I suppose!

1. Educate myself more
I want to read and read and read. I want become better at knowing what is going on in the world around me. I want to learn more about Britain's dark history that we don't for some reason learn about in school. I want to understand politics more. I want to understand my white privilege better. I hope this will make me more compassionate, more understanding and more knowledgeable. I'd like to get out of the very lucky bubble I live in.

2. Make more time for those around me
Over the last year I've been really thinking about friendship, about the type of people I want to surround myself with. Turning 30 has made me feel so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful friends and family who went out of their way to make me feel loved. I want to make more time for them and be just as kind. I'm going to try and say yes to a lot more gatherings, have more evenings full of good wine and food and make more of an effort to keep in touch.

3. Be more present
It's so easy to be caught up in things when you lead a busy life and get distracted. I want to try and reduce my social media presence - although I'll never be able to give up Instagram! I'd like to be more reflective on things that go well in my life rather than dwell on the negative. Life is full of little joys so I'd like to spend more time finding these and appreciating them for what they are. It's not always about the big gestures!

4. Look after my body
I'm fully aware that I will never be as young as this again. It's about time I start looking after my body more. I'm a huge lover of junk food and a very lazy person. A combination which isn't the best! I want to be more mindful of the type of food I put into my body, I want to eat more vegetable and I want to move more. I don't think I'll ever be a slave to the gym but I do need to find something that keeps my heart rate up.

5. Listen more
I suppose this one also ties in with educating myself more. I want to listen to people more and truly understand the way they think, even if it's something that I don't agree with. I have the memory of a sieve which I think is down to me living too busy a life. So I want to take a step back and and really make an effort to engage with friends and family. Be the person who is always there to listen to them.
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30 things to do in my 30th year


Now I totally stole this from my BFF but I thought it was such a good idea! It can be little things you've always wanted to do but never got round to or it can be something big that you finally want to tick off your list. Connor and I both turn 30 in the same year so we decided to put our heads together and come up with a joint list with some things we can also do together. I've cheated on a few things as I have already booked them so I know I'm going to definitely tick them off but they've been on my bucket list for years.

1. Learn how to cook 52 new recipes.
This is my New Years resolution and I'm already three new recipes down so it is going well so far!

2. See the sun rise over the Grand Canyon.
We head out to Vegas in April and have booked an overnight trip at the Grand Canyon, where our lodge is only a ten minute walk away. You can bet I'll be waking everyone up at 4.30am to see the sun rise!

3.  Try Guinness in Ireland
We're heading over to Dublin to celebrate Connor's birthday in the summer. I've had Guinness in Belfast and Derry and much preferred it to drinking it here in England. But I've heard it's even better in Dublin!

4. Go to the cinema at least twice a month
We both have unlimited Cineworld cards but have neglected them recently as we've become a bit lazy. We only need to go twice a month to make them worthwhile. We both really enjoy the cinema but have just fallen out of the habit recently.

5. See the seals in Norfolk
For the last two years I've wanted to head up to Horsey to see the seal pups at Christmas time. But time always runs away with me and we never quite make it. But this year I want to tick it off the list!

6.  Go see a Shakespeare at The Globe theatre
I've been wanting to see a play the the Globe for years. They do £10 ticket deals so I've decided that this is the year I'm finally going to do it.

7. Cook a three course meal for each other
I want to challenge myself in the kitchen this year and my boyfriend rather enjoys cooking too  so I'd love to go all out on two evenings and create a three course meal.

8. Go for a picnic in Epping Forest
We live 10-15 away from Epping Forest, an absolutely huge forest straddling the border between Essex and London. I remember spending a lot of time riding bikes here and wandering as a kid but I very rarely make it back as an adult. I'd love to take more advantage of it as its right on my doorstep.

9. Have a gin cocktail evening
Last year I was lucky enough to be gifted a Sipsmith Sipping Society membership. Every few months I got two exclusive flavoured bottles of gin with information on what to use them in. I haven't used them yet as I wanted to have the right ingredients to enjoy the cocktails. This year I want to finally taste them!

10. Visit a new country together
We're actually heading over to Malaysia in a few weeks to visit friends. We haven't made it to south-east Asia yet so very excited to tick it off our list!

11. Visit more of Essex
We're both Essex born and bred but we have hardly seen anything of the country. Being so close to London we always tend to head into town if we fancy a little adventure, but this year I want to explore someone closer to home.

12. Spend the day at the seaside
I have such a special spot for the British seaside and don't get down to the coast enough. I'd like to do it more this year!

13.  Do a UK road trip
We're always heading off on a plan and kinda forget what is on our doorstep. We have a wedding in the Cotswolds in June so looking forward to a little road trip in England.

14. Climb Monument
Monument is dedicated to the Great Fire of London and it's a landmark I've walked past more times than I can count. But I've never ventured to the top of it. This year I finally want to!

15. Have a trip away just us two
We spend a lot of time visiting friends or going away with friends that we very rarely just have a trip away with us two. It'll be nice just to have a few days enjoying each other's company!

16.  Go camping
We have a massive soft spot for camping and often try to go to Epping Forest. I'd love to get a couple of camping trips squeezed in this year.

17. Host a wine and cheese evening
Need I say more?

18. Read five books
I'd love to read more on my commute but more often than not sleep often takes priority. But this year I really want to start getting into the habit of picking up a book.

19. Have a drink at the top of the Shard
We've yet to make it to the top of the Shard as I really don't want to pay £25 for the privilege. But I would be more than willing to pay for an overpriced drink at the top. Go figure!

20.  Stay in a fancy hotel
Because we enjoy visiting lots of places, we always tend to stay in budget hotels or Airbnb's. I don't mind that at all as how often do you spend in a hotel room anyway? But I'd love to stay somewhere a little fancy this year. Luckily we have a pretty swish hotel planned for when we're in Langkawi.

21. Go to a football match
I love going to football matches and have grown up a West Ham fan. Although my boyfriend is a Man Utd fan, Manchester is a bit far to go for a match. So we're keen to see some football matches a bit closer to home.

22. Try a cuisine we've never tried before
We both love stuffing our faces and really enjoy trying food from all over the world. There's still quite a lot of cuisines we haven't tried yet.

23. Experience a sunset from somewhere new
Nothing quite makes you feel in awe of the world around us than watching the sun go down somewhere beautiful right?

24. Go on a bottomless boozy brunch together
We've been on numerous bottomless brushes but never just one with the two of us.

25. Visit a vineyard
I've never been to a vineyard before and it's been on my list forever. We're lucky to have a few within about a 90 minute drive from us. So I'd love to go for a weekend away and visit one.

26. Binge watch a TV show over a weekend
It's very rare that we have a whole weekend indoors with just ourselves. We either have people round or we have jobs to do. I want to spend one weekend binge watching something in our PJs with pizza!

27. Cook more vegetarian dishes
We love meat but we - or rather I -  want to try and cut down the amount of meat we eat. I would say I would love to help in environment but really I think it's because it will be cheaper. and I find once you take meat out of the equation that it really tests your cooking skills.

28.  See more live music
Back in our youth (ha!) we were obsessed with going to gigs. Throughout out late teens and early twenties we used to spend all our money on gigs and went all over London. When we first starting saving for a house around 3-4 years ago we stopped and have kinda fell out of the habit. This year we want to find that passion again! We've got Catfish and the Bottleman and Gerry Cinnamon booked so far.

29. Explore the different neighbourhoods of London
In my opinion, the best parts of London aren't the sights, although they're pretty special, it's the neighbourhoods that make up the capital. Each one is so different and we'd like to make more of an effort to visit them.

30. Send a postcard from every place I visit overseas
I read this on a travel blog recently and thought it was such a good idea. A fun way to have a souvenir from every place you visit.

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Thoughts on 2018


So that's it. Nearly another year over and I'm sure I'll speak for everyone when I say, didn't it just fly?! 2018 has been a funny old year. Politically it has been utter mayhem. It's made me feel frustrated, helpless, ashamed and angry. It's been heartbreaking to watch my country descend into something I don't quite understand or recognise. I'm more than a little terrified to see what it is going to be like in March. But as the U.K goes up in flames, what has it been like for me personally?

This year I've been given a lifeline and been able to work every other Friday from home. It's no lie to say that it has completely transformed my life. I have a three hour round trip commute everyday and it was starting to get me down. Even just working from home twice a month has meant that I have gotten my work/life balance back. I'm able to do more things with friends from home on Friday nights. I can spend more time getting ready for the weekend as I no longer have to rush home. I switch off around 6pm and am already in my house! I can have friends round for dinner and have time to cook a proper meal rather than getting a takeaway.

I've spent more time than ever in my house. 2018 marks a full year in which we have been paying a mortgage and living together. I've really cut down on going out and if I do, it's very much a local affair rather than trekking into London. We've hosted a whirlwind of BBQs, cheese and wine nights, World Cup parties and impromptu weekend drinks. Its become the home that I've always wanted to live in. It feels full of life and laughter, I love the fact that it's become a place where people feel at home. I secretly love coming home to full house. In fact it makes me feel a bit emotional thinking about all the happy memories we've already created over the past 12 months. I can't wait to create some more.

I've been on some incredible trips away with friends and feel like I've really cemented my friendships this year. A friend once said that friendships are like ATMs. You can keep drawing money out but at some point you have to replenish otherwise you're not going to get anything else out. Wise words! I've tried really hard to try and be a good friend this year. Sometimes I have fallen short and flaked out. But it's so true, the more you put into your friendships, the more you get out of them. They really do go both ways. They should never just be a one-way street. I feel so lucky to have such a great, tight knit group of friends. Especially here at home, where I've been friends with them for 12 years. I'm so excited to see our friendships go from strength to strength. Now they're all buying houses, it means we can pass the entertaining baton around! They just get me, I can totally be my awkward, opinionated, slightly hot-headed self and they just get it. I don't have to try to be someone I'm not.

It's not been a monumental year for achievements (unless you count not having our house reposessed) but it's has been a content year. Nothing extraordinary has happened but I have ended it feeling like it's been a good one. There's a lot to be said about being content with your lot. To not always think about if the grass is greener on the other side. I'm saying goodbye to my twenties in two weeks and I'm happy with how the last year of my 20s has ended. And I'm looking forward to the next decade.
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A Christmas treat with Jet2 Holidays


A email popped into my inbox a week or so ago asking if I fancied a hamper from Jet2 to help celebrate the festive season. Well after a long week at work, it was such a treat to come home too! Using the theme of European Christmas markets, it was full of goodies to help get me in the mood. I can't wait to make that Yule log in time for Christmas Day and have already used those gorgeous milled wine mugs! Those chocolate coins went down faster than you can say Merry Christmas...




Coincidentally when I went to Magaluf back in May I actually used Jet2 Holidays and can't rave about them enough. We ended up delayed because of an awful storm but were kept well informed and given frequent cups of water to keep us hydrated. It doesn't sound too much but it's a lifesaver when you're stuck on the tarmac inside a stuffy plane. Inside the hamper was also a £60 voucher to go towards a trip. I'm hoping to take advantage of their Jet2 holiday city breaks if our funds allow us next year!

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Buying a house 101: the truth about how we saved for a house


There are many reasons how people get on the property ladder. In a day and age where owning a house seems to be impossible, it is so handy to know how people get on the ladder. I think it's so important to talk about things like this. As how do you know if you're able to do it unless you know how others have managed to do it? It shouldn't be a taboo subject. It took us just over a year to save £14k for our house deposit. That was for a 5% deposit for a two-bedroom terrace doer-upper house valued at £240,000. Here is how we did it.

We wasn't given a lump sum of money by our parents but we did receive some help in lots of ways. We were lucky to both live at home paying minimal rent to allow us to plough most of our money into savings. That helped us immensely and was the main reason why we were able to save such a huge amount of money in just a year.

I was given some money when I passed my driving test which my parents had saved in a life insurance scheme from the day I was born. I wrote my car off after five weeks when I was about 22, long story, so I got a a sizeable lump sum back of around £2,000. I haven't driven since so put the money away into a savings account. This helped towards my half of the house deposit. I was also made redundant from my job around four years ago, so this went into my savings too. This was around £1500 as I dipped into for a cheeky holiday at the time.  Both these things really helped me get a start on my savings. I saved up £3,500 myself to help bring my hotel half of the deposit to £7k.

My boyfriend had some shares that his great uncle left him in his will when he was a teenager. He cashed these when we started to start seriously save for a house. He got a couple of grand and then saved the rest himself.

So that's how we did it! It was thanks to cheap rent living at home that we were able to do it in a short amount of time. Although rent is a lot cheaper in Essex than in London, it would have taken us a lot longer to save if we were paying rent.
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Buying a house 101: why you should opt for a house survey


Buying a house is a minefield and it can be hard to navigate through. There's a hell of a lot of things to tick off the list as you're going through the process. One of those things is to decide if you would like a house-buyer's survey.

There are three different surveys to choose from and you will be able to arrange them through your bank with whom you have you mortgage with. The three include:

1. Condition report
This is the most basic and cheapest survey you can have. It won't provide you with too much detail but it will let you know a summery of the property's defects and possible risks that may occur in the future. It usually costs around £300.

2. Home buyers report
This is the one which we opted for. It will immediately let you know of any obvious major problems such as rot, subsidence and structural damage. Keep in mind the surveyor will not investigate too deeply so they won't lift up floor boards or move furniture top get a closer look. This option usually costs around £450.

3. Building Survey
Priced from £500, this is the most expensive one out of the three. It is the most extensive and will provide you with a detailed report once they have completed it. the surveyor will go into the loft, check behind walls, check above ceilings and look between floors. They will also include the best advice on repairs and provide estimated timings and costs.

I couldn't recommend having a survey done enough. When you go to a house viewing it can be very overwhelming especially if you're being shown around by the vendors. You don't want to appear rude so you don't really investigate, instead taking the house at face value. Even when you go view it a second or third time you never really take it all in. And unless you're a tradesman, how on earth are you suppose to know about the roof? Or the wiring? Or the boiler? The survey investigates all of this and can really help you when you start budgeting. You will know exactly what you will have to replace and what can wait a few more years. The information will be invaluable.

I hope you're enjoying this house buying series! Is there anything else you would like to know?

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Is travel burnout actually a thing?




Outfit:
Black skinny jeans: Matalan (similar)
Black tunic: ASOS (Similar)
Checked blazer: Miss Pap*
Adidas trainers: JD Williams*
Red leather backpack: Michael Kors (similar)

Even just writing the title of this blog post has made me cringe a little bit. It's a bit of a tragic first world problem isn't it? I realise how incredibly lucky I am to have had the opportunity to see much of the world that I ever thought was possible whilst I growing up. Not every one can have the privilege of travelling and I completely understand that. It took me to about the age of 24 when I went to Berlin to realise that people like me could travel and see anywhere in they world they wanted too. No where was really out of bounds, I just had to save up and work hard to make it a reality. Since then I feel like I'm been eager to squeeze in any many countries, cities and towns as I possible can just in case I can't manage to see everything I want to.

This year I will have taken seven flights by the time 2019 rolls around. I never thought I'd say this but I feel like it was too much. I feel like I've hardly spent any time at home and my year has been spent living out of a suitcase. Seeing the world is such a beautiful thing but it can be exhausting. Constantly getting used to new cities, never really having a base for more than a few days, unable to settle into a routine and constantly feeling like you have to be 'on form' to make sure you make the most of your surroundings. I feel like I'm neither coming and going. I've been so incredibly busy that I feel like I'm on the verge of a burn out. It's no longer enjoyable.

Admittedly next year I do have two big trips to take and I'm so excited to tick Malaysia and Las Vegas off my bucket list. I still can't quite believe I'm going! But after April I'm going to take a step back. Take things a bit slowly and enjoy my home I've made with my boyfriend. I want to spend a lot more time within these four walls and spend my weekends in my home town. Not words I ever imagined I would ever say! I've always been so keen to leave it behind... Here's too having friends round for wine and cheese, spending evenings wrapped up in a blanket watching Netflix on the sofa and experimenting in the kitchen with my collection of cookbooks.


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Why it's ok to put your own happiness first





Outfit:
Adidas trainers: J D Williams*
Star print Bardot dress: Topshop (similar)
Light wash denim jacket: Primark (similar)

We're always told we should put other people first in order to be a kind and thoughtful person. That not thinking of other people's feelings and needs is selfish. Whilst we should always be kind and thoughtful to other people, this shouldn't be at the expense of our own happiness. I don't know about you but sometimes I try so hard to make the other person happy that I completely forget about myself and end up feeling miserable. It could be something so simple as agreeing to go out because you know how happy it make the other person feel yet feeling so down in the dumps yourself the entire time.

You are just as important as the people you surround yourself with. It isn't selfish to refrain from doing things if they don't make you happy. Happiness is something that is so precious and you really don't realise just how much it helps your mental health. It really isn't that simple to find either. It takes a lot of work on your behalf. It's ironic that I've started feeling the most content and happy I've ever felt since becoming much more of selfish person. I've started saying no because I know deep down I don't actually want to do it. I'm only doing it because because I feel it is 'expected' of me and I don't want people to talk about me behind my back. But I'm a much better person to be around if I put my own needs and wants first. Being unhappy invites resentment and spitefulness and these are traits that no one wants.

You are always worth prioritising over everything else.


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Buying a house 101: the pros and cons of choosing a 5% deposit mortgage


We ended up opting for a 5% deposit to secure our mortgage. It was essential for us to get on the property ladder. We saved £12,000 in order to buy a £240,000 two-bedroom 1950's terraced house in Essex. Keep in mind not all banks or building societies offer this so it really does depend on if you'll be eligible. This was the perfect scenario for us at the time and I don't regret it one bit. As with all things there are pros and cons with it. Here are just a few pearls of my wisdom of what I found out. I really hope this new house buying series is helpful!

Pros
You can get on the property ladder a lot quicker as you don't have to save as much. At the time we bought, the house prices were going up so quickly that we could barely keep up. If we had stuck it out to save a 10% deposit there was a chance we would have been priced out. We just knew we had to take the plunge while we could.

By saving less for a house deposit, you have more of a chance to save extra to spend on doing the house up. Our house look quite a while to go through so we had four months between having our offer accepted and getting the keys. In those four months we were able to save some money to help with the renovations.

There are quite a few Government Help to Buy Schemes to choose from so there is great variety to find one that works for you. Some are only suitable for new homes. Sometimes we all need a little helping hand!

Cons
Your mortgage repayments will be higher each month as you are borrowing more so you need to really think about how this will effect you. Buying a house is a massive financial strain and it can be very hard to adjust. I still think you need enough money to be able to venture out  for a social life a few times each month.

The main Government's Help To Buy scheme only applies to new builds. Which is great if you're after a new build! But we wanted to avoid a brand new house. My dad and boyfriend both work in the construction trade and were adamant an older house is always best.

You can only use certain lenders as not all banks and building societies offer the opportunities. This can quite limited who you use.


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Five ways to make time for each other when you live together


It's funny isn't it that when you move in with a partner you never really see them despite living with them? Although I see Connor every day, I don't really spend much time with him. We both work long hours, come in from work and have dinner, chat for about an hour then go about our business that we need to do in order to get ready for the next day and off to bed we go, ready to do it all again the next day. It's very rare that we spend quality time together, we're usually rushing around. My cousin's girlfriend once said to me that you need to schedule in time with each other when you live together. At the time I thought it was the most absurd thing but it is so true. You need to otherwise you're very much in danger in becoming ships that pass in the night. Here are five ways to make time for each other when you live together.

Sunday night film club
This was actually Connor's idea but we haven't quite it into practise yet as we've been out every Sunday since he suggested it. But it is a brilliant idea! Each week have an early dinner, choose a film from Amazon or Netflix and settle down to watch it. I know you don't talk during films but it encourages you to leave your phone upstairs and spend some time together on the sofa.

Go for a walk after dinner
We're lucky enough to live right on the common and it's a great place to have a stroll. There's even a cracking pub about a ten minute walk away which is a great incentive! We really do need to make more of an effort to visit it. Make the most of the warmer evenings and lighter nights by taking a little walk after you've eaten.


Have a gin tasting evening indoors
Or vodka. Or whiskey. Or whatever spirit tickles your fancy. I'm lucky enough to be part of the Sipsmith Sipping Society* which means I get sent two special edition bottles of gin every other month. They come with cocktail recipes and recommendations of what to pair them with.

Eat dinner at the table
This might sound like a silly one but I mean really eat at the table. We eat every night at the table but as soon as we scoff our food, we pop the plates in the dishwasher and go turn separate ways in the house. On a weekend make it into more of a big deal. Use your nicest crockery, pop a bunch of flowers or candles on the table, open a bottle of wine and really sit there and talk. Treat it as if you're in a restaurant if you will. Pout your phones away and really sit and chat away until your hearts content.

Go for a drive
Sometimes you just need to get out of the four walls. We used to do the a lot and it seems to have fallen by the wayside at the minute but I'm keen to get it back started again. If we had a spare afternoon at the weekend, we'd jump in the car and go for a drive around our county of Essex. It could be somewhere we've been before or somewhere we've heard someone mention. It usually consists of a nice pub trip for lunch and a wander around the town or village. You can make it as cheap or as expensive as you like.
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Dealing with travel anxiety




Outfit:
Nude flat sandals: Matalan (similar)
Blue striped cotton sun dress: Zara (similar)
Red tassel earrings: H&M
Gold boyfriend watch: Michael Kors (similar)

I don't really have a list of places I want to visit in the world because I want to see every single place that I possibly can. I've been lucky enough to visit some amazing places but have yet to venture anywhere that is too out of my comfort zone. Probably the only place that comes close is Budapest. We stayed in Pest which is traditionally the 'working class' district and I came across some sights down the side streets that really threw me a bit. I've visited quite a few cities in the States and whilst it's a place that has a few culture shocks, it's a country that English is the main language so it feels slightly familiar to home. I've managed to muddle around every place I've been too so far because they've spoken a decent amount of English. So although I've been able to jump in feet first into all these incredible cultures, its always been done with a bit of confidence.

I've been dying to spread my wings and visit Asia but there's always been something holding me back. If I'm honest with myself I think it's because I've been too scared. Scared to go somewhere that is completely different to what I'm used too. I just know it will be so far out of my comfort zone that I'm frightened to take the plunge. Last year one of our good friends moved to Malaysia to teach for a couple of years. I've never had such a great opportunity to finally tick south-east Asia off my list so we booked flights to visit next February for a couple of weeks. We're staying with him for a week during his school holidays then Connor and I are heading north for a week to explore on our own. I am so excited yet feel absolutely petrified.

I know as soon as I get there I'll have a whale of a time and won't want to come home. I've been dying to visit south-east Asia since I was 16. But there's just little niggle at the back of my wine that wonders what on earth I'm doing. I'm worried that I'm going to be on edge in a country so vastly different to my own that I'm not going to be able to enjoy it. Which is absolute absurd as I love nothing more than discovering new places. I'll be a bundle of nerves on the 13 hour flight over there but we've got to keep pushing ourself out of our comfort zones otherwise we'll never grow right?

Do you suffer with travel anxiety too? If so, how do you deal with it?


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Learning to pick your battles





Outfit:
Silky black wrap top: H&M (similar)
Skinny black leggings: Matalan (similar)
Red pointed shoes: Next (similar)
Gold tassel statement earrings: H&M

I'm very highly strung. A trait I have inherited from my dad. And probably my mum too. We are a family of quick tempers which causes for some lovely explosive arguments. Something that first freaked out my boyfriend when we first started going out! I'm not one who is afraid to voice my displeasure and often lash out. Part of me thinks this is great as people will always know exactly how I feel. I don't have a poker face and I know personally, I like to know where I stand and know how other people feel. But the other part? The other part thinks this is tiring. It is tiring to always be fighting. It consumes so much energy and if I'm honest, I really can't be bothered anymore. I increasingly just want an easy life.

Learning when to stay quiet isn't about 'losing' or appearing 'weak'. If anything it means you're being the bigger person. It's so liberating to take a step back and and admit that this is one battle that really isn't worth losing the energy over. By picking to fight every single battle doesn't get you anywhere. You reach a stalemate and if the two of you are as stubborn as each other then that stalemate will last for a long time. All that negative energy doesn't do anyone any good.

Next time someone really gets under your skin, take a step back and really think. Wonder if it is really worth it going in all guns blazing and try not to act immediately. Arguments always have consequences and sometimes they're not consequences you always want to deal with. So make sure that the issue you're fighting over is truly worth it. Ask yourself if the battle will matter to you as much tomorrow or next week as it does currently. Chances are emotions are just running high and it's not actually that important. It's amazing how much better you will feel after opting for the quiet life!


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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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sophie.warner89@yahoo.co.uk.

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