Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The ballet flats that dreams are made of

I first started taking ballet lessons when I was knee high. I quickly discovered that it wasn't for me (I have about as much grace and poise as a tea spoon). Although ballet never worked out for me, I have always respected the discipline required and the sheer amount of hard work it takes to train.

Fast forward some years to the here and now, when one day I came across a pair of soft pink ballet pumps. It brought back all the memories and I couldn't not pick them up could I??

I find that some pointed courts can pinch and destroy your feet over time, but no word of a lie, these are an absolute joy to wear thanks to the padded, cushioned built-in insoles which I can only describe as like WALKING ON A CLOUD.


The ties are as buttery soft as the shoe itself, so feel suitably nice whether you wrap the ties around your ankles or higher up your leg. Whilst I don't have the grace or poise to be a ballerina in this lifetime, they do lend a grace to any outfit. They come into their own when paired with a long pleated skirt 

Polka dot long pleated skirt

They also work a treat in a more casual context with a silk camisole and chunky knit cardigan

Vila camisole
Primark cardigan

Some may call them pink. Some may call them nude. All I know is that they blend in with my skin tone like state of art invisi-shoes. They are so lightweight I sometimes forget I even have shoes on (a far cry from my ballet days where the ballet pumps used to HURT LIKE HELL). 


The downside? I'm sooo paranoid about destroying them so wear them sparingly so as not to dirty them or wear them out. But everyone has a pair of shoes like this in their wardrobe, right??

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Money diary // curry night, sales and savvy substitutions

Admission time: this week's money diary is from two weeks back (oops) but as it was already written #WasteNot


MONDAY

Remember how in my previous money diaries I talked about my weekly chocolate expenditure? Instead of spending £3-something on a Central London hot chocolate (crazy), I would instead buy a big bar of chocolate for a third of the price and suck on a couple of squares of chocolate to get that sugar fix. I believed the 'couple of squares' lie for a while (and it worked temporarily) but then the chocolate consumption escalated (mostly in correlation with busy days at work). So it was then that I put my foot down and was determined to find a cheaper and healthier snack alternative.

I discover I can buy a big 1kg bag of carrots from Aldi for just 59p which are great for snacking but at the same time, gives me lots of spare carrots for soups, katsu curries and etc during the week. I eat one or two carrots a day and occasionally mix it up with some cucumber to keep things interesting. Switching out sugar has already made such a huge difference. I snack less at work now as I'm avoiding the addictive quality of sugar and I have lost weight since doing so (not my aim here, but not something to complain about!).

Since making this switch a month ago I have spent about £2.36 on fresh veg for snacks. Compared to my previous chocolate spend (anywhere between £6.80-£13.60 a month), this is an incredible saving (and sooo much healthier). If you look at the bigger picture, this equates to £81.60 MINIMUM on chocolate A YEAR whereas the veg option? Less than £30 a year. It's a no brainer and a food swap I intend to stick to.
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Weekly snacks - 59p
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TOTAL
£0.59
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TUESDAY

One of my constant Tuesday outgoings used to be my weekly Tesco home delivery, however I've not ordered from Tesco for the last 3 weeks. Why? I'm finding lots of my items cheaper elsewhere and I'm finding it harder and harder to fulfill the £40 minimum spend at Tesco with just the two of us.

Admittedly our fridge and freezer are looking a little bare, but we have more than enough food to get us by until the weekend when we will hit up Aldi and Iceland (we found some great Linda McCartney mozzarella burgers for just 50p each last weekend!)
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TOTAL
£0.00
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WEDNESDAY

Another no spend day! No bad thing as tomorrow is potentially going to be a spendy one...

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TOTAL
£0.00
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THURSDAY

We have a African & Caribbean cook off at work today which means only one thing: FREE LUNCH. Mine isn't quite free as I volunteer to cook a dish to bring in (a vegetarian Moroccan dish). I buy the veg for it from our local food market so I am able to get massive bowls of veg at just £1 at a time. The harissa spice mix is only £1.20 and I only use 50% of the jar. My total spend is still a lot less than most lunch options in Central London and the recipe makes enough for a small army! The cook off is a success. I enjoy a large plate of jerk chicken, rice and peas, stuffed peppers and various curries (chicken and pumpkin for the win) followed by a slice of sticky ginger cake.


After work a trip to the hairdressers is in order. I only ever go when I have a 50% off voucher because it's not my favourite place to go, it's just near work and convenient.

Mr Curiouser ad Curiouser meets me after work for dinner but there's nowhere in Central London that takes our fancy. Plus spending over £10 on a pizza each irritates the hell out of me which you can buy supermarket pizzas (or make them yourself!) for a fraction of the cost.

Instead we head home and go to our local pub who frequently send out vouchers to locals. We claim one of our buy one get one free vouchers and enjoy a beef and Doom Bar pie each plus drinks for just £16.70 in total (gotta love those out of London prices!). Service is slow that night as only one chef has turned up (!), however the wait is worth it and we don't have far to travel back afterwards #win

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Ingredients for cook off - £3.60
Hair cut - £21.00
Pub dinner  - £16.70
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TOTAL
£41.30
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FRIDAY

The unthinkable happens - my train gets into London is EARLY. I wander around for a bit (which is always dangerous). True to form, I stop in Oliver Bonas and notice two things I've had my eye on for the longest time but have resisted in case they ever came into the sale. And as luck may have it, they are both on sale. I pick up a white broderie dress (£75 £25) and a pair of soft grey espadrilles (£55 £30). I am charged an extra 50p for a bag (kicking myself as I usually always have one with me) and instead of their usual plastic bag, I am given a recyclable paper one, which I'm pretty chuffed with until it pours down with rain on the way home and my bag very nearly splits apart.

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Oliver Bonas - £55.50
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TOTAL
£55.50
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SATURDAY

We head out early to go to Aldi and end up spending a grand total of £28.00. As well as typical top up shop items, this also includes dinner, wine and beers for our evening entertaining that night.

My sister comes over for lunch and we enjoy toasted cheese sandwiches followed by cookies (cheese, bread and cookies bought in today's shop) with a film. Later the rest of the family joins and we work through the vat of aubergine and paneer curry I've planned. Once everyone is done, there are still x5 portions left which are boxed up ready for lunches for the following week.

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Aldi - £28.00
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TOTAL
£28.00
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SUNDAY

After a late night on Saturday, we have a relaxed day in with films and blankets and finish up the rest of the passion fruit cheesecake (another Aldi buy) from the night before. A zero spend day.

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TOTAL
£0.00
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TOTAL FOR THE WEEK
£125.39
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Highlights this week included:

  • Having three (almost four) zero spend days 
  • substituting weekly snacks for cheaper and healthier alternatives
  • seeking out entertainment and food away from London's premium prices 
  • Continuously hunting down vouchers and discount codes to make my money stretch further
  • practicing patience to then find wish list items in the sale for a fraction of the cost 
  • bulk buying ingredients and cooking in bulk to spread the cost and cater for extra meals

The truth of the matter is that this week's spend would have been well below £100 had I not made an Oliver Bonas pit-stop. Saying that, I'm a serial returner and still need to try my new items on... so watch this space!

Writing it all out like this does make the little things hit home. If you decide to give this money diary a go yourself - or have any money saving tips - do let me know in the comments below!

MY PREVIOUS MONEY SAVING DIARIES

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

INTERIORS // A sneak peek inside The Circle apartments

The Circle is back! Ever the interiors enthusiast, I wrote about last year's interior decor (and how the TV game show works) here but this year the interiors are quirkier than ever. Each apartment has its own theme and they are all so different (admittedly with varying levels of success). Are you ready?

I LOVE GOLD


The epitome of luxury with the gold shelving, gold kitchen units and marble worktops. 
Looks like somewhere Goldmember would hole up.

PRETTY IN PINK


Never before have I wanted a pink kitchen (nor did I ever expect to) BUT I DO NOW

BOHEMIAN


I'm not one for white walls (I find them really cold and uninviting) but this interiors scheme has plenty of warmth to it with its use of materials and patterns.

ECCENTRIC / QUIRKY


The most fun out of all the apartments, and it suits its 18 year old tenant to a tee. 
At the start I felt like I needed sunglasses constantly(!), but it's really grown on me

DARK INTERIORS


If I was ever on The Circle, this is the sort of apartment I'd live to be in (or LUXURY below). 
The dark walls are so cocooning and I love the pops of colour with all the pink.

BESIDE THE SEA

There is something quite coastal about this apartment with its white-washed wood, natural materials and touches of blue. I'm not as sold on the ornamental pigeons(!), but other than that, it's a lovely serene feeling apartment.

GLAM


I didn't know how else to describe this apartment. Sort of glam (like its first tenant) and sort of loud and in your face (like its last tenant!). I find that white kitchen units can be quite bland and boring, but backing them against a statement colour like this really makes them pop and gives added interest.

JUNGLE THEME


THAT WALLPAPER THOUGH. Designer wallpaper can be expensive. Sometimes all you need is one statement wall (both cheaper and makes a room look less 'busy'). I love the complimentary other walls painted in a similar shade and the touches of gold for added luxury. And speaking of luxury...

LUXURY


What makes this room 'luxury', you ask? It's the cocooning effect of a darker interiors scheme paired with gold accents and the clever use of designer wallpaper. Statement wallpaper can look a little 'busy' when used in excess i.e. covering an entire wall, or on all walls. By starting the wallpaper only midway up the wall, the dark wall paneling helps balance it, as well as making the yellow accents of the wallpaper really pop.

INDUSTRIAL


Or maybe that should be "industrial?" The kitchen, shelving and bar stools stick to the brief, but the rest of the apartment is veering on bohemian / worldly. The whole thing is a little muddled and the plain white walls just look a little soul less (exposed brick walls would work so much better here). My least favourite of the apartments

Which apartment is your favourite?

And if you are as in love with the statement wallpapers as I am, you can find similar sorts of designs here (they supplied the wallpapers for last year's show!)

All images from the @c4thecircle Instagram account

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

A few days away // a UK staycation

I wouldn't recommend planning a wedding in 6 months or less to anyone, but after a jam-packed few months and the craziness that comes with the Big Day itself, we needed a few days away to unwind (and good job we did, because our honeymoon was delayed to a year and a half later!)

Having just paid for a wedding entirely ourselves, we didn't want to venture too far or spend too much (particularly as we still needed to think about / book a honeymoon), so a UK staycation was on the cards.

WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed somewhere that holds very special memories for the both of us. For me, because of family holidays I had there when I was younger. I later introduced Mr Curiouser and Curiouser one year for a mini break and it's become somewhat of a tradition.

What I love most about the area is the surrounding woodland and the treetop hotel / treehouse hotel feel to it. You walk through floor-to-ceiling glass walkways in amongst the trees and it doesn't matter whether it's raining, snowing or sunny outside, there is always this incredible sense of peace.

The hotel had asked for the nature of our stay and as we were newly weds, they very kindly gave us a complimentary upgrade. And oh my, the room was beautiful.


Purple accents added a touch of luxury to the room, as did the silver dressing table, dresser and side tables. I adored the window seat and looking out in the mornings.


WHAT WE DID

Understandably it was pretty hard to tear ourselves away from our room a) because it was interiors perfection and b) because newly weds(!) We took things at our own pace, enjoying woodland walks by day....


With a stop off at the local zoo


.....and enjoyed the hotel's incredible bar and restaurant as evening fell.

WHAT WE ATE

The hotel is always big on local produce and sources a lot of its meat from Hampshire. This time around we enjoyed a mini farmhouse loaf with groundnut butter, followed by a complimentary carrot gazpacho amuse-bouche, which had the heat of ginger and chilli despite being a cold dish. Bread course and amuse-bouche aside, we had scallops to start (standard) followed by venison with savoy cabbage, parsnip puree, parsnip crisps and spiced figs. For dessert I had pears poached in mulled wine. DELICIOUS.

On this particular visit the hotel surprised us with complimentary champagne to congratulate us on our getting hitched, which we enjoyed in the bar afterwards, taking the rest with us up to our room.

WHAT I WORE

At the time I was going through a floral wrap-around skirt phase and the soft waves and curls in my hair were the product of being caught in the rain a fair bit (who needs straightners?!) <3

White tee (similar here and in petite here) // Floral skirt here

Same skirt as before with the addition of this black knitwear // Grey shoes here

Fluffy white knit here // Same shoes as before // Yet another floral skirt here

We've actually booked our next visit already because autumn is the best time of the year to visit (not too hot, cheaper rates, and excellent seasonal food in the restaurant). EXCITED

What travels do you have lined up next?

Our room upgrade was complimentary as was champagne at dinner, but the rest of the hotel costs, our food and days out were all paid for by ourselves