Lifestyle: All The Black Things

I always thought Black Friday was a big thing in America, but it seems to have taken the UK by storm over the last couple of years. Not that I’m complaining – any excuse to save a few pennies on my shopping is fine by me! Having it just before Christmas makes it an ideal time to pick up presents too (though luckily I’m almost done with all of that – plus the six birthdays in the surrounding fortnight too!).

 photo Black Friday 3_zpsegjdikrw.jpg photo Black Friday 4_zpswgbrbwcz.jpgTNT Direct have put together a #LittleBlackBox in celebration of Black Friday – an imaginative and far more exciting alternative to the little black dress of the party season. The contents of the box was pretty exciting – some super-dark 100% chocolate, black lipstick and nail varnish (if only it had arrived in time for Halloween!), and some lovely vanilla scent candles. It got me thinking, though, about all the black things I love. I’m very much a colour person, I rarely wear black outfits (bar a pair of jeans), but it turns out I own a lot of black bits and pieces!


I always think black tech pieces look so much more ‘techy’ than other colours, even if white looks a lot more sophisticated. I’m torn between loving my white tablet, but preferring the sleekness of my black phone. And my laptop doesn’t help matters, being brown (not quite sure what I was thinking!).
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Not quite black, but still quite dark for a candle, this just happens to be one of my most favourite scents ever. I’ve had a couple of these candles and whilst the scent payoff isn’t the best, it gives change from just a handful of coins and a lovely jar after burning. Cheers Primark!
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I’m a huge fan of proper chocolate (post coming up soon, and it will explain that delicious brownie!), and do love a bit of dark chocolate. A square or two of dark chocolate satisfies any sweet craving without me raiding the biscuit tin – I’m determined to keep the weight I lost off so this is definitely helping!
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I just adore black and white photographs! There’s just something so elegant and timeless about them – they look impossibly romantic. This photo was taken nearly four years ago and I love it, every time I catch a glimpse of it I smile. I’d love some more professional photos of the two of us in the next couple of months as we’ve both changed a LOT since we were sixteen/seventeen.
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I said I don’t wear a lot of black outfits, the exception being black jeans and shoes. I do love a chic pair of black boots, and probably have around five pairs lying between a few houses (is it only me who keeps a few options at her boyfriends – 150+ miles away?!). These boots from LIDL have been an absolute bargain, and I’ve recently picked up some black patent ankle wellies. I can see them becoming a staple if the last week’s weather is anything to go by!

So a surprising amount of love for black things things from me! Are you a fan of black, or are you a more colourful person?


University: Reducing Bills

Bills are becoming such a bugbear of mine. I’ve previously lived in rented accommodation inclusive of bills so never really had to worry about accidentally leaving a light on, or the costs of having weekly baths (with several top ups of course!).

 photo Reducing Bills_zpscfoitbiy.jpgThis year we’re paying our bills separately so I’m more conscious of the energy I’m using. It’s only been a few weeks but I’ve already started picking up a few times that might just help save a few pennies.

Keep The Heating On

Might sounds strange, but I really do advise against turning the heating off completely! It takes more energy to turn the entire system on that it does just to up the thermostat if it gets chilly. Plus it prevents pipes freezing in the holidays. I always keep the heating on and have never received an overly expensive bill!
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Wrap Up

Rather than turning the heating up, I’d always put a few extra layers on first. Do this before you get too cold and you’ll find that you’ll notice the benefit more than heating up the whole house. I personally have to constantly make sure my feet are warm – with our kitchen tiles slippers are a must or I’ll never get warm!

Find Alternative Heating Sources

Our house this year has a lovely conservatory, perfect for studying in. Only problem is it gets bloody cold! Rather than upping the heating up to try and warm it up, we’ve gotten hold of a little electric radiator. While electricity is more expensive per unit than gas at the moment, it certainly is cheaper than (over)heating the whole house! Turning it on for five minutes every hour or so keeps it cosy enough – though I’m beginning to like studying with a blanket over my lap!
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Warm Lunches

I find that if I’m at home all day, eating a warm lunch keeps me a lot warmer – saving me upping the heating! Making a batch of soup to blast in the microwave is my favourite, with this lentil one being super-cheap anyway. And I’m loving a good egg and soldiers too (and turning the hob on warms the kitchen up nicely)!

Use A Slow Cooker

Some of my favourite winter-y meals are stews and casseroles, but it can get expensive to have the oven on for four hours at a time. A slow cooker makes it possible to cook up these meals whilst using less electricity, and it also means I can leave things cooking whilst I head off to lectures. There’s nothing better than coming in to the smell of dinner already ready to be eaten!

 photo Report Done_zpsftdrj8vk.jpgFollowing these tips has already begun to save a few pennies – fingers crossed it continues as the lure of Christmas party dresses is starting to take it’s toll…

Do you have any tips for saving money on bills?

University: Making Extra Money as a Student

As a cash-strapped student, I know just how tough it can me to scrape up enough pennies to join your housemates when they’re heading out. There are few worse feelings than being skint and unable to join in with the fun, so it’s worth considering ways to make some money on the side to help pay bills and fund your social life. Newcastle-based letting agent Letslivehere have put together some great tips on making extra money as a student.
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Starting with the most obvious method to readers of the site, blogging can be a good way to build a future portfolio for those who want to work in marketing, communications, journalism or anything writing-related. It can also be lucrative if you start attracting good viewership, as you can monetise your blog with advertising and PR requests. I will say however that it takes a lot of time and dedication – it’s not an easy option, and ‘making money’ is not a good reason to start a blog!

eBay Selling

Anything you have that you don’t use can be sold on eBay. Whether it’s for a few pounds or gadgetry that fetches more, it’s all profit from items you no longer touch – so get them listed and pocket a few extra pennies a month.
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If you’re a strong writer with a severe case of grammar-fever, you can land a role as an editor for self-published writers. Besides setting up your own blog, you can advertise your services on freelancing websites like PeoplePerHour and Fiverr.


Whether you’ve got some skill with graphic design, writing or photography you can turn your talent into a money-making venture while you’re at uni. Getting started can be tough, but once you have your name out there you’ll see more offers coming in.
To begin with, register a website and try to get some examples of your work on it – if this means working for free it’s a small sacrifice at first. However, you should never agree to work for free once you have a portfolio – it undervalues the creative sector.
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Depending on your subject of choice, there are plenty of tutoring opportunities that are available to students. You can either independently get CRB-checked and then head out advertising your services by knocking on doors or posting leaflets, or you can use a website such as First Tutors, which is an open marketplace that you can advertise your services on.


We’ve all seen people stood on the high street getting drenched by rain as they hand out leaflets that you don’t really want to take. You can be one of those, if you can stomach the experience. It’s a paid job and doesn’t take much effort. Done in pairs, it can even be fun. Ring up your local nightclubs and ask if they have any promotional jobs.

Alternatively, you can promote a brand by becoming a brand ambassador. Brands like Red Bull and Smirnoff have representatives who help promote and sell their product in bars and clubs and accept students for roles. If you’ve got charisma, you’ve got a good chance.

*Disclaimer: post in collaboration with, all opinions are my own!

I never knew just how many options there were for making a few extra pennies – I wish I’d had this information sooner!

What are your top tips for making a bit of extra cash?

Recipe: Banana Nutella Mug Cake

There are few better combinations than banana and nutella – agreed? There have been occasions where my evening treat has simply been a slice of banana, which I have sat spreading with nutella… #sorrynotsorry

 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake 2_zpsf6bn5wsg.jpgThis is the slightly more sophisticated version.

I say slightly; there’s not a huge amount of sophistication to be got from eating microwave cake out of a mug. This is the kind of recipe that you make and take straight to the sofa, curl up under a blanket and eat whilst reading a good book. And that, my friends, is my ideal student lifestyle right there…

I’ve played about with the recipe to make it not-taste of egg, not be too sweet, not too cakey (it’s very close to traditional banana bread in texture). It’s pretty much ideal for me, but for a less gooey cake just add a little more flour. The sponge is light but still gooey, sweet with banana but not so sweet that you don’t get the hit of nutella. Because nutella.

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 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake 3_zpsvw5djzfu.jpgIngredients

  • 1 small banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 tablespoon flour (self raising – or use plain and add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or any other oil – don’t use a strongly flavoured cooking oil!), melted if solid
  • 1-2 teaspoons of nutella

Mash up your banana, then add to a big mug. Beat in the egg and the milk. Stir in the rest of the rest of the ingredients (except the nutella) until it is all combined.

Take your nutella and try and spoon it into the centre of the mix – if it stays on the top it might burn. Microwave on medium powder for around 1 minute – until risen and gooey. Make sure you put a plate underneath as it will probably overflow!

 photo Banana Nutella Mug Cake 1_zpsyxq5pjv3.jpgCook for a few minutes before enjoying. Adding extra nutella if you are greedy like me…

Have you ever made a mug cake before?

PS: I’m working on a recipe for microwave mug Mac’n’Cheese. Watch this space! 

Fashion: Favourite New Boots

When I fall in love with a pair of shoes, I wear them to death. I buy several pairs in all the colours and wear them to death too. I only wish I could get hold of a few more pairs of these boots!

 photo 2015-11-12 09.52.11_zpsmrz953xf.jpgAt £10 a pair from Lidl I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting cheap looking shoes, blisters, the, to fall apart quickly. Turns out I was completely and utterly wrong.

They look much more expensive than their cost. They are well made, the soles are thick, the heels substantial. They are nicely lined inside, with the only blister being caused by a three-hour wear with no socks.

 photo 2015-11-12 09.53.33_zpsfcdasrxk.jpgAnd they’ve lasted well too. I’ve worn them to university pretty much every day, with a country-lane walk to boot. I’ve wandered about town for hours in them, travelled on trains in them, really put them through their paces – and they still look great. This is all the more surprising if you consider my very dodgy gait. I roll my soles as I walk. I’ve destroyed a pair of shoes in a single school day before, I’ve cracked the wooden sole of a (£80) pair of boots in a fortnight. So for these to look virtually as good as new, with very little erosion to the soles and heels, is pretty damn good.

 photo 2015-11-12 09.54.10_zpscmqml3wj.jpgPerfect thrown on with jeans and a jumper for lectures, equally as good with a dress and tights. I love that the brown ones match my satchel too!

Do you have a favourite pair of winter boots this year?

University: The Effect of Social Media

As someone who is currently looking for a graduate job, I’m interested in anything and everything job-search related right now. Whether it’s a CV Writing Guide or How To Ace Interview Questions, I’m taking all the help I can get.

 photo Social Media amp Careers_zpspp7s6bze.jpgBut no matter how good your CV is, how flawless your interview technique is, there could be one thing stopping you from getting a job. Bray & Bray have put together this infographic on social media and the workplace – and it’s a really interesting read.

Bray and Bray - Social Media In The Workplace (1)I personally have (I hope!) a really clean online presence. My Facebook is private bar a few posts I’ve deliberately set as public, there’s no drunken photos (a benefit to hardly drinking!), and my blog shows me in a good light. Whilst my blog doesn’t necessarily list my (rather unique) name, it is relatively accessible thanks to a few campaigns – so I make doubly sure my posts aren’t overly controversial. I know from experience that employers will and do have a google of names, so it’s really best to have a clean up every now and again to make sure you’re not sharing something that could damage your career…

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own as always!

Have you altered the way you appear on social media due to employment prospects?