Lifestyle: “How To Live”

There’s a few quotes that really stick in my head, and they are ones I always try and think of when making big decisions, or even smaller ones. In a way they help me live the kind of life I want to live!
 photo How to Live_zpszjf0fnyd.png
 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.32_zpsxxmjiox9.jpg

“A Little Bit of What You Fancy Does You Good”

This has basically been my mantra throughout my losing weight period as I really didn’t want to deprive myself. As part of my diet was increasing the amount of fat I ate (I was advised by a gastro consultant my diet lacked it) I found it quite easy to allow myself a small portion of what I wanted – generally this involved an indulgent salad dressing, cheese and a bit of nutella in my morning porridge.

It’s also a great thought to bear in mind when you are budgeting – I feel you are more likely to blow your budget if you deprive yourself all the time. Whilst I’ve been out on placement my aim has been to save as much as possible (I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve done!) but I’ve still allowed myself a few small treats each month.

“Be Silly, Be Honest, Be Kind”

It’s a quote I originally came across through Little Miss Katy, and rather embarrassingly I didn’t realise it was a quote until last week – I just thought it was a delightful phrase she came up with! It’s such a lovely idea, a simple phrase which is perfect to live by.

Small decisions, big decisions, even just thinking about it improves my mood. It makes me appreciate simple things, makes me realise I don’t need to be too serious, and the kindness bit speaks for itself.

Katy has actually penned the quote onto a t-shirt as part of a competition – there’s some fab entries and entering automatically enters you into a prize draw for some vouchers so you have nothing to lose!
 photo 2015-03-07 14.43.08_zpsirkkpfgs.jpg

“Friends Are Like Flowers, They Need Love to Grow”

I think this was on the wallpaper in my sister’s nursery – as she’s sixteen this year it’s an awful long time for me to have remembered this quote but it’s stuck with me.

I have a fear of always being the one making the effort with friendships, and a flight-not-fight mentality. If me and a friend have a slight falling out I always take it as the end – and I’m stubborn so unless something is genuinely my fault I won’t make the first move back. This quote is lovely as it reminds me that friendship is a two way thing and needs work to happen. Since I’ve been at university I’ve made close friends which have stuck (and I can’t imagine my life without them).

This quote also works in the other way – I found having left my secondary school I was always the one arranging things with my friends (I was the only one to leave), always the one texting first, and it just starting getting more and more awkward. Friendship isn’t just one sided, and this quote made me realise that if they weren’t willing to make it work, it probably wasn’t worth it. In the end I was all the more happier for letting them go and concentrating on friends who were there for me.
 photo 2015-01-11 12.42.14_zpsiaefeywo.jpg

“Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do”

Such a good one currently, as I approach the time when I’ll be frantically searching for a graduate job. I have the long-term dream of becoming an actuary, but I know that will take patience to get the job, then hell of a lot of dedication whilst working towards qualification.

I know I’ll never, ever get there without putting the work in, and that’s the same with most things in life. Relationships are never just ‘perfect’, they take work. Dream jobs don’t just appear. Opportunities don’t always present themselves – you need to get out there and work for success.

What quotes/sayings do you live by?

Beauty: SPF 50 BB Cream from Garnier

This has got to be one of the most hushed-up released this year. I have always loved Garnier skincare, and ironically their sun cream is the only one that doesn’t give me an itchy, blotchy rash. At £9 ON OFFER (usually overpriced at £16, though currently at 2 for £13) this was expensive, especially considering it was scarily orange toned, but I just had to try it.

Garnier BB Cream SPF 50 photo 415f1d60-dde6-4c9b-ab76-cb79ed0529b6_zpsaa3gr7mt.jpgTurns out that was a good decision.

This is light in terms of coverage, offers the same glow as my holy-grail moisturiser, and manages to smooth out all of my redness and counteracts the sallowness that comes with less than six hours sleep for several nights.

Garnier BB Cream Review photo fa899b4f-2286-48b9-9612-7d4793d51a06_zps1hgq1dvt.jpgYes, it is orange. But somehow it blends in relatively well. It is still dark on my currently ghost-like skin, I admit this. But I’m ridiculously pale, I only just manage to get Rimmel’s Light Porcelain to blend in. Give me a few more weeks of lunchtimes in the park and I’m pretty sure this will be fine.

Garnier BB Cream photo e9960753-d4db-47a7-b01f-d8eec385784c_zpsguhffqhf.jpgI can’t wait to try this out in full sunlight. My face burns quite easily (dammit), and I get annoyingly freckly (W says it’s cute…). Hopefully this will stop me adding to the freckle collection. But even if it doesn’t, it gives me the healthy skin I so desperately crave, without any fuss. It will be a staple in my holiday makeup routine, that’s for sure!

Do you have any recommendations for facial SPF or BB creams?

University: Getting your Deposit Back

When we left our second year house, we had a long list of what we ‘should’ do to ensure we got our deposit back. I say ‘should’ as sarcastically as possible – because who has the time or the inclination to wipe down skirting boards?!

 photo 72c042eb_original_zpstyxwkerj.jpgIn all seriousness, being generally clean and tidy throughout the year is probably enough to get your deposit back. But there are a few little extras that don’t take too long to do, will make the house seem extra-sparkly and probably improve a future tenant reference. This year I’ve rented a room in a private house and this is what I’ll be doing to make sure I get my deposit back – it’s probably a bit more than I’d do for a student house, but I have lived in a room 10 steps away from my landlady’s since last July.

As a side-note, I’ve realised I’ve lived in this room longer than anywhere since I started university in 2012 – it’s been an odd experience, but I’m going to be rather sad to leave!

Take Photographs Before and After

In my university halls I was threatened with a fine when I moved out due to the state of the shared areas (see my post about nightmare housemates!) – it always pays to argue if you feel this is unfair. I did, and didn’t pay a penny. I’d advise taking detailed photos when you move in and out, just in case.
 photo c5e9230e-a4ab-4caa-857a-787c8c1e33ec_zpsonk0buzv.jpg

Wash Provided Fabrics

I was provided with bed linen and lots of cushions this year, and all will be bunged in the washing machine (most machines have a gentle or hand-wash setting that’s perfect for cushion covers). A sprinkle of Vanish pre-wash on any suspicious looking marks and after a spin they’ll be like brand new.

Trust me, this stuff works. I’ve had a worrying stain on a cushion from a pair of boots – the boots were clean, but brand new and the rubber sole left black marks. I’ve since treated it with Vanish and yep, stain has vanished.
 photo 5245c24f-8431-4692-8c44-f4bb202e08f1_zpsqdrgmal2.jpg

Have an Extra Long Hoover

This is going to be a tough one for me to stomach – I live with three dogs and despite hoovering a couple of times a week I feel my carpet is always hairy. And that’s with the dogs not entering the room. Before I leave I plan on sprinkling the carpet with Bicarbonate of Soda, then hoovering for a good three times longer than I would normally. The bicarb freshens everything up and absorbs odours – I love it as a natural way to clean.
 photo 55c51049_original_zpsdbsw9ead.jpg

Empty Kitchen Areas

Make sure you take or throw away any unwanted spices, plates, etc. Once the cupboards and fridge are empty, clean them. Wiping down a fridge always makes it smell and look so much better – and it doesn’t need to take long. I always use a half a fresh lemon first to cut through any grease and add a nice odour, then just some warm water.

Dust Everywhere

It’s amazing how much dust gathers on areas you don’t see. I’m not tall enough to see my top shelf, yet when I wear heeled boots I can – and I always realise that it needs dusting. When you move out stand on a chair and dust everywhere. I’d suggest wafting a duster around ceilings too to remove.
 photo b2a47c3a-454a-4a9d-889d-8223ad64275e_zpsrakg0rzl.jpg

Clean Carpets

This doesn’t need to involve one of those expensive hired machines, just a bit of Vanish spray and a cloth. I always have a cup of tea in bed each morning and quite often drip a little onto the carpet (clearly not awake enough!). A spray of Vanish, a quick wipe and it looks like new.

Check Tenants Responsibilities

It could be that you are responsible for bits that you would otherwise forget. My friends are preparing to move out of their current student house and realised they had full responsibility to get the garden in a suitable state – without having been supplied with even a lawn mower. It costs around £20 to have a simple garden tidied up – and if that gets you back a deposit worth several hundred each that’s money well spent.
 photo 2014-08-30 14.35.07_zpsjoxdhdke.jpg

Be a Good Tenant

Being a good tenant throughout your agreement is a surefire way of getting your deposit back. Be polite, agreeable and easy to deal with. Offer to make small improvements yourself – our second year hob was cleaner when we moved out than when we got there thanks to some elbow grease. By keeping things clean and tidy for mid-tennancy inspections you will definitely improve chances of getting your deposit back.

Do you have any tips for getting a rental deposit back? Have you ever NOT got your deposit back?

University: When Gaming Can Be A Good Thing

I’m sure every girl has evenings where their boyfriend is distracted by his playstation/Xbox/computer…though having said that I quite like joining in! Gaming has built up a bad reputation over the years, what with the “detrimental impact” it has on younger children and any resulting lack in physical activity.

I do recognise the importance of exercise but active gaming is an area which is growing rapidly. I was sent over this infographic by HomeLeisureDirect who are passionate about health and gaming. They also run school campaigns, which I think is a fab idea!
The Health Benefits of Gaming
Infographic created by Home Leisure Direct

Sponsored post, though all opinions are my own as always.

What do you think about gaming and active gaming?

Food: Stepping Into the Industry

The food industry is always something I’ve felt rather passionate about. I’ve preferred to buy from smaller, more independent brands who genuinely care about the ingredients and (most importantly) the final product.

 photo 15c16f2b-b748-45f9-bc38-f7a96dde8243_zps62fd85a6.jpgOne of my dreams is to set up a small company selling frozen pastes in individual portions. Curry paste, pesto, even pasta sauces – they’re great timesavers for busy people yet all too often I can never finish a jar. Homemade is far better and I’ve been making and freezing these things for a while now – and I’d love to share. This pipeline dream is likely to take a backseat for a while as my chosen career is far too time-consuming, but who knows where the future will take it?

 photo Young Entrepreneur Scheme Logo_zpsv655vgfl.jpgAnd if I do decide to go for it, I’ll definitely remember Cotswold Fayre and their Young Entrepreneur award. They are offering £1,000 in funding and on-going mentoring from company Founder, Paul Hargreaves to help progress the chosen business.  An amazing opportunity, not just for the funding but the knowledge you would gain.

 photo Chris Overly_zpsgvzp6din.jpgLast year’s winner, Chris Hannaway, co-founder of Overly said: “Winning this award has been great. As a business, we’ve managed to get a listing with Cotswold Fayre, the UK’s best wholesaler for farm shops and delicatessens. They really are a great team that are so helpful and supportive to new suppliers. On an individual note Paul’s advice has been great. He’s helped me to develop the way  think about the industry and has given me some great ideas as to how we can take the business forward.”

Applications are open until the end of June for 16-25 year olds, so if you have a dream to get a food or drink business off the ground its worth having a go – I think if I had more time I would be applying!

*Sponsored post, as always all opinions are my own.

Would you like to see recipes for some of the freezable sauces I make? What kind of food & drink company would you love to set up?

Fashion: Finding Your Style

It’s taken me a long time to feel completely almost comfortable in my own skin. A big part of that was losing weight, but the fact that I’ve finally identified my style isn’t insignificant either.

Bodycon will never be something I will feel myself in, neither will something that is high-necked. Much as I love classic cream coats, I know the colour washes me out. Midi skirts might look fab on most people, but unless they’re from the petite range they just look like I’ve shrunk something floor-length.

 photo 63091836-865e-415f-a535-2c2679bceb38_zpsvrqmroub.jpgBut there are things I’ve found that do suit me, some surprisingly so. Playsuits have become one of my favourite things. Pretty and (more often than not) floral, yet without the worry of flashing my knickers on a windy day. Shorter skirts – the legs that I’ve spent years hiding are getting flashed a bit more, and not just in (several pairs of) thick black tights. Sandals don’t make my legs look short and fat. And I’ve found jeans that fit and look half-decent – as long as they are properly skinny and high-waisted. Pencil skirts for work are great, once I safety-pin the waist in. Black needs to be balanced out with colour. Pastels don’t work for me, but brights do. Surprisingly red doesn’t clash with my slightly ginger hair.

 photo 2015-04-12 12.30.18_zpsodmj76f7.jpgSo, how do I reckon you should go about finding your personal style?

Ditch the fashion magazines for a bit.

Use them as inspiration of course, but don’t slavishly follow trends. I know damn well ripped jeans are ‘in’ right now, but I’m not buying a pair.

Take your mum shopping.

Or a close friend, just someone who’s style you admire, who is completely honest, and who you won’t to kill halfway through the day.

Identify your favourite bits.

I have a dress which I have owned for seven years (it was the first bit of clothing I chose myself on a shopping-with-friends trip at 14). It has set my style in my wardrobe, I know the shape suits me, as do the colours and the pattern style (and, W take not, it’s not floral!).

Pick your favourite part of your body and highlight it.

For me, I always want to highlight my waist as I have a true hourglass shape. I have a lot of belts, thick and thin, and I wear one with most dresses – it’s especially useful having lost weight as I can bring in clothes that are too big!

Buy several.

If you find something you like, buy several and in all colours. I have five of the New Look shirred waist dresses in various patterns, and two pairs of their high waisted jeans. I do the same with H&M lace tops (praying for them to come in this year as I need to go a size down) and Primark cardigans.

 photo 7f392a89-4388-4d33-9dea-c604034ed455_zpstgpgorg8.jpgInvest wisely.

Don’t spend a fortune on one dress, but instead buy several cheap ones and splurge on a good coat or pair of boots. I always find that spending a bit more on belts mean they don’t look beaten up after a few months. I’ve got a huge amount of satchels – a decent bag would always been on the top of my splurge list!

Stock up on basics.

For me this is white shirts, black tights, and lace tops (see above point regarding H&M). I’ll always have an abundance of these in my wardrobe, but they will go with anything else I buy. And throwing on a pair of skinnies and white shirt is an effortless way to look presentable when I really can’t be bothered!

But above all, have fun with it. Experiment. Try on bits you love but wouldn’t normally dare to wear – you might be surprised. Don’t buy things just because it looks cute on your friend, don’t feel pressured to follow trends. Wear what you want, what you feel comfortable in, and I guarantee you’ll look great.
 photo 2015-02-08 16.01.57_zps7y4ylsav.jpg

I’ve really enjoyed finding my own style over the last few months – though my bank balance hasn’t been impressed. Let me know if you want a haul post at some point! What’s your day-to-day style?