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. Spent 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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It's ok to let go of your dreams





Outfit:
Red midi dress: Primark (similar)
Light wash denim jacket: Primark (similar)
White espadrille sandals: Next (similar)
Red leather backpack: Michael Kors (similar)

I'm a dreamer. A girl that always has her heads in the clouds. A girl who always has 101 dreams she wants to fulfil. Ask my boyfriend about all my big ideas and he'll tell you he's the one who has to be my anchor to make sure I live in the real world. My main dream in life were to work for a newspaper. There were times when I never thought this would happen. Namely when I was interning for free for a whole year gaining job rejection after job rejection. And when I was made redundant from my first magazine job and making no waves in the freelance world. But finally it happened. Finally I was able to say that I did in fact work for a newspaper. Dream ticked off. But alongside that main dreams were little ones. I've always wanted to live in London. But now I've bought a house on the outskirts in Essex. I've always wanted to travel the world. But I've only actually been outside Europe twice, both to the States. I've always wanted a Chanel handbag. But realistically could never justify spending a couple of grand on a bag when I have a lemonade purse.

You put hours upon hours of time and energy trying to make your dreams come true. Everything you work towards in life has an end goal of making that dream come true. We're taught that if we work hard enough then our dreams do come true. So it can be so soul-destroying when you feel like you're not getting anywhere. They start to consume every hour of your waking day and you feel like a failure because it's just not working out how you imagine. As you get older, those dreams seem to get further and further away. Real life gets in the way and before you know it you're tied down with a mortgage and suddenly hit the grand old age of 29. Buying this house felt so final. In a way, it felt like I was giving up on the dreams I had yet to fulfil. I think that was why it took me a good few months to get my head around it. I was mourning the loss of my dreams. Owning a house is such a big commitment and one that we would be tied into for the next 35 years.

As we got our offer accepted on the house, I realised that I probably wasn't going to live in London. We bought a doer-upper home in Essex as house prices were cheaper. It's a huge project and thanks to lack of funds, one that will probably take about five years to complete. We did have high hopes of buying and renting it out then renting in London. But that's looking unlikely as who will want to rent a building site and after all this hard work, I'll be damned if someone else gets to live in here! I've also had to accept that I might not have a year travelling the world. I'm going to have my travel fix through weekends away and a two weeks trip. Those dreams that 16-year-old Sophie had are put on the back burner and I'm unsure if they'll ever come true.

It's ok to finally put a dream in a box and accept that it's never going to fulfilled. Some dreams just aren't meant to be, no matter how much you wish they are. Instead concentrate on what you have achieved, not what you haven't. Think about everything else you've done, maybe even things that didn't even figure on your list. Sometimes we achieve dreams without ever realising they were dreams in the first place. And sometimes those are the best ones.


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Living with a boy: (almost) six months on





Outfit:
White longline shirt: H&M (similar)
Pink blazer: ASOS (similar)
Blue denim skinny jeans: George at ASDA (similar)
Silver pointed loafers: Next (similar)

It's been nearly six months since I took the plunge and moved out of my parents home and into a house with my boyfriend. Honestly? I was dreading it a bit and I wasn't quite ready to leave home. I wasn't ready to take on the responsibly and cried in the first few weeks every time I went back to my parents.

Living with someone else is hard. We've bickered about who cleans the bathroom, gone to bed angry after falling out over a stain on the sofa and got far too angry with each other over how we both choose to stack the dishwasher. We have credit card debt more than out house deposit thanks to buying a doer-upper and money has been the tightest it has ever been. Our bathroom currently looks like squatters have been residing in it for months and we have a massive hole in the plaster by the front door. Looking back I think we bought a house together with rose-tinted glasses on and didn't quite realise just how bloody difficult it would be.

Despite having been going out with each other for a decade, we learnt so much more about each other during these last six months then we have in ten years. He annoys me when he puts the glasses in the cupboard and doesn't shut the door. His laid back nature now frustrates me when he doesn't spend the whole weekend doing jobs around the house and instead chooses to 'chill out'. I've been asking to have my fireplace tiled since January... Sometimes when I'm in bed and hear him playing Call of Duty downstairs, I want to march downstairs and throw things at him. I hear that theme tune in my head.

Equally I annoy him when I take to the kitchen and use every single pan in the house. When he braves it and wanders in, he's greeted with flour on the cabinets, oil all over the cooker and chocolate on the tiles. I think he's struggling to cope with my floordrobe all over my side of the bed. In fact I know he's struggling with all my messy ways. I seem to be allergic to putting things away until it becomes an absolute joke.

Yet despite all that, its been the best decision I've ever made. I've stopped calling my parents house 'home' and when I visit over the weekend, after a few hours I'm itching to come back to my house. My own home where I can get my PJs on, leave my shoes on the stairs without being told off and raid the fridge to eat whatever I want without permission.  It's funny how sometimes I can barely remember life without living with Connor. It feels like we've always co-exisiting together in this little house. As I sit on the tube on my commute home, I feel excited when I'm two stops from home as I know I'm going to see my very own house. I relish sitting down for dinner, chatting for a while about our day and then going about our business - him on his xbox and me on my laptop. I feel so content and happy knowing he is there in the house even if we sit in different rooms or barely talk for hours.

Turns out living with a boy is pretty good indeed.


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When your friends have babies - and you don't want one





Outfit:
Burgundy polka dot shirt: ASOS
Distressed skinny jeans: George at ASDA (similar)
White plimsol trainers: Converse
Red leather backpack: Michael Kors (similar)

When one of my closest friends announced she was pregnant I cried. Part of me cried because I was in shock and about five gins down, another part she looked so excited at her news and the final part cried because I was upset that the dynamics in our 13 year friendship was about to change and I wasn't ready for that happen. Selfish eh? I honestly though I had at least another five years before any babies made an appearance.

It's no surprise that I'm not a very maternal person. I can't pretend I am and I'm so awkward when I'm around babies. I'm just not interested in having any of my own at this moment in time. I'm not sure if I will ever be interested in having my own.

As my friend's pregnancy went on it slightly freaked me out. She was the first one and I was beyond happy for her because you know she was going to be a mum. But all I kept thinking about was how there was just going to be a baby. Just there. For the rest of time. Things would never be as carefree again. Are you getting the picture that I'm not that keen on change? There when we had our summer BBQs, there when we met up for brunch and there when we all got together around each other's houses. Then as her due date drew closer, I found myself on the edge of my seat every time my phone pinged. When baby 'I' finally arrived, I thought she was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Even now six months down the line, I find myself in Primark picking up things that I think she'll look cute in. I've surprised myself with just how much I'm taken with her and really didn't expect to be this involved. Sorry 'S'! We have a group Whatapp group and I get weekly pictures of what 'I' is doing and those messages make my day. I'm still fairly awkward around her and still find myself petrified that I'm going to drop her on her head six months down the line. But it feels like she's always been here.

Even though I love her, I don't want her to always be there. I can't tell you how selfish that makes me feel. Seeing her little face makes me smile but sometimes I just want things to go back to being how they were when we were sixteen and I relish spending time with her mum on her own, without any distractions. I didn't sign up for having a baby in my life all the time. If I did I'd have my own sprog at my side. I feel there is a time and a place and I want to spend time with my friends, with who they were BB (before baby). For me that's the mindset I'm in. My world at the minute isn't about nipple cream or breast pads. It's about going out on a Saturday night to try out the local gin bar that's just opened or booking a weekend away even though I really can't afford it.

If I don't ask about your baby or don't make a fuss, it's because for me babies just aren't my world. I don't think it's fair to force any baby on someone or make anyone feel guilty as people are at such different times in their lives. We all move at different paces. Myself? I'm moving at a snail pace when it comes to accepting I'm a fully fledged adult! It took me ten years to take the plunge to move in with my boyfriend... I can completely understand that they are your world - as they should be if you ever have a baby. It's not that I'm not interested, it's that I have other things on my mind that I'm dealing with. Other things that I want to do that at this moment in time are more important to me that babies. But I am so happy for my friends because they themselves are happy. That's all I want. I just want my friends to be happy in whatever they do. They're absolutely bossing it and it makes me proud that I know such kick-ass women.

The one main thing friends having babies has taught me though? My BFF definitely can't have a baby without me being pregnant at the same time because this needy girl will not one able to cope with the lack of attention if she has a baby and I don't!

How do you feel about your friends starting to have babies?


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A catch up: March 2018


Learning to budget
Since February I've been on a strict £40 a week as we try to pay off our insane credit cards bills. It's been difficult, especially as I'm someone who loves spending my hard earned cash. But it has made me really think about everything I'm buying. I've realised I really don't need to buy my lunch from Pret twice a week as it means I can then go out for dinner with friends at the weekend. I paid a good amount off my credit card last month and put aside half of what is needed to pay for my accommodation in NYC - and my account still looks pretty healthy. Usually by 11 days before payday I'm in single figures. So I'm feeling pretty smug but I am having daily browses on ASOS wishing I could splurge on all the pretty dresses for my summer holiday. That it killing me but yet I can't seem to bring myself away from my screen! Do you have any tips on how to make saving money seem fun?!


Going to NYC
I can't believe it's been a whole year ago since we booked our flights to NYC. It's gone so fast! We flight out on 16th March for a week in the second greatest city in the world. I've made our itinerary and am really excited to tick things off that I didn't manage to do in 2014. But if you have any suggests for restaurants and bars then I'd love to hear them. You can never have too many on your list!


Mother's Day gifting
Biscuiteers got in touch to see if they could send my mum a special gift for Mother's Day. Who says no to a box of delicious biscuits? Especially when they look as delicious as this! I've been lucky enough to nibble of a fair few of their biscuits so knew my mum was in for a treat. I went for the 'Time for Tea' gift box as we are both huge fans of going to afternoon tea together and I thought it was very apt. Presented in a pretty tin, you'll receive up to 12 biscuits with the option to have one on the top layer personalised, helping to add a lovely touch. I know my mum will be thrilled to receive them!
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Welcome to my new kitchen


It's official. We finally have one room completely finished in the house. The kitchen was the most important thing to me in the house. I love to cook and wanted a space I could really lose myself in and one that became the hub of the house. You can often find me on a Sunday with flour in my hair and every utensil filthy as I spend the day working through my never ending supply of cookbooks. Thanks to my dad who did a spectacular job fitting it, a family friend who look time out to do our work tops and thanks to Connor who planned every last detail, I got the kitchen I always dreamed of. Scroll down to the bottom to see where everything is from. So what did it look like before?

The layout was the first thing that struck me. It's pretty small but it didn't seem like they were making the most of the space. I also didn't like the fact you had to go through the living in order to get into the kitchen. It was pretty bland and painted this awful yellow colour which gave me a headache. It looked like hadn't been updated quite a few years, the flimsy cupboards had seen better days and the cooker was disgusting. That was the first thing we threw out.




I've always wanted a red and grey kitchen. It's one of my favourite colour combinations. I'd been collected small red appliances for a few years and we decided to go for the full statement of investing in a matching fridge and dishwasher. Best decision ever! Once we had our colour scheme confirmed, we drew up some plans to decide the layout. Like I mentioned earlier, the space wasn't utilised very well so we decided to block up the existing door and reopen the door in the dining room (the kitchen is originally an extension.) After it was plastered and our spotlights were fitted, it was time to tile the floor.

I wanted a white tiled floor to help brighten it up as I was afraid to many dark colours could make it seem smaller than it was. We opted for grey grout as we didn't want to spend all our time scrubbing the floor. I'm a very messy cook so it really would be very time consuming. For the wall tiles, I wanted a lighter grey and fell in love with these flecked hexagon tiles from Topps Tiles*. After seeing a honeycomb pattern on Pinterest, I immediately knew I wanted to recreate this at home. We used white grout to help make the grey stand out. They create a great contrast with the charcoal grey units and I couldn't be happier with the end result.

Despite knowing they would be a nightmare too keep looking spick and span, I had my heart set on light oak worktops. We bought our from DIY Kitchens and oiled them three times before we used them. I feel they create a 'country' style kitchen but yet still help it feel modern. We live in a 1950's house and I didn't want to go too traditional. The Belfast sink has been my dream and is a great talking point. Every one always comments on it when they walk through the door. I was adamant I didn't want traditional kitchen door handles so spent a good few weeks scouring the internet. The octagonal handles caught my eye and I love them so much. I feel they really help jazz the kitchen up.




Thanks to the size, we are pretty limited on cupboard space. I have a lot of crockery and a lot of cookbooks. This is where shelves came in handy! I've always loved the idea of having crockery on display as I feel it helps to make a kitchen feel homely. I've got my favourite cookbooks on the top shelf and will rotate them. After all I do have 156 books to thumb through! We ordered some brackets from Ebay and my dad made us some shelves from an old scaffolding board - which will match our dining room table eventually.

I love an accessory but didn't want to make the worktops seem to cluttered. Believe it or not, this is me being a minimalist! I love anything Orla Kiely as you can tell by my cake tins and utensil pot*. I've tried to pick patterns with a hint of red or grey in them to help them tie into the kitchen.

Finally, I once again always knew I wanted to have a range cooker but we wasn't sure if it would look a bit too large for the space. In the end I managed to get my way and we went for black. I felt that stainless steel just looked to industrial and black was going to age a lot better than any other colour. I didn't anticipate how much of an effort it is to keep black cookers looking spotless!

Let me know if you have any questions - would be more than glad to answer it. Renovating a house is tough business!



Grey kitchen units:  DIY Kitchens
Belfast sink: DIY Kitchens
Solid oak work tops: DIY Kitchens
Silver octagonal door handles: Bombay Duck
Solid oak draining board: Amazon
Utensil pot: Orla Kiely via Hurn and Hurn*
Copper jars: H&M and Homesense
DIY shelves: Brackets from eBay/ shelf made from scaffolding boards
Silver taps: Victoria Plumbing
Grey hexagon wall tiles: Topps Tiles*
Grey wall radiator: Soak
Red fridge: Swan
Red dishwasher: Swan
Red microwave: Swan
Black range cooker: Leisure
Red kettle: Kitchenaid
Red stand mixer: Kitchenaid
Red blender: Kitchenaid
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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

Get in touch at
sophie.warner89@yahoo.co.uk.

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