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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?

Beauty: From Trainers to Sandals (+ Giveaway)

Having grown up with a running dad (Saturdays were spent at races up and down the country) I’m all too aware the damage running can do to your feet. Blisters, dodgy toe nails, all very attractive things. Coupled with having flat feet I’ve been keen to take extra special care of my tootsies having started exercising more…and now I can safely say my feet are ready to make the switch from trainers to sandals!

 photo a34a7c4f-88f0-4c7c-abe6-c408e2e6084c_zpsyuflhvew.jpgA good foot file is essential. Manual ones are all very well and good, but I received an electric one for Christmas – and love it. A strange thing to love perhaps, but it’s halved my footcare routine. A quick go with it and I have soft-as-a-baby’s-bottom feet. Well almost. This one* from Scholl has been gifted to my dad (because who needs two foot files), and whilst it’s getting the ultimate test it has got the thumbs up so far!

I’ve found I have to follow filing with a good moisturiser, and I’ve been using this one* lately. It’s hydrating and easily absorbed, though not quite as moisturising as I’d like. It’s a great option for after work, with a richer one used before before.

 photo 68dde417-c478-4697-94cb-6739de9c18b5_zpsdb6gctxg.jpgHaving flat feet makes running slightly painful at times, but it also means wearing heels can be agony. For anything longer than a meal out, anything that involves being on my feet, I simply had to use some form of gel cushions. My best heels have had leather padding added, but for my cheaper heels I’ve relied on Party Feet gel pads for years. The texture makes me wince a bit, but they work and stop me limping around.

 photo 1dbb3472-c59f-40f3-a89b-4985aaa59143_zpsklrcasjl.jpgNow for the icky bit. Running makes me sweat, sweaty feet just ain’t nice. A good foot spray is essential if I’m going out following a run – lunchtime jogs mean this is a necessity. No substitute for a good shower of course, but a good option to freshen up!

Of course, no feet can be sandal ready without a slick of nail polish (I HATE seeing unpolished toes). I love a coral colour as it goes with most things, though I’ve used a bright orange recently and surprisingly loved it.

Now, Scholl have kindly offered one of my readers the opportunity to try some of their foot-saving products for themselves – and they come highly recommended from me. Simply enter using the widget below – though be warned that I will validate entries! UK entries only I’m afraid, sorry about that!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Slathering on moisturiser and keeping my nails pretty are absolute essentials when it gets to sandal time, but for me they are staples in my routine all year round. Like with moisturising my face, I’ll hopefully thank myself in years to come!
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Do you have a footcare routine?

University: Making Bill Sharing Easier with Payfriendz

Settling up bills payments, even if just a meal out, can be painful. I’ve been there before, a friend forgetting to pay me back and me feeling awkward and more than a little mean chasing it up.

 photo fee35fc4-5e96-4a30-965a-ad928785e071_zpsgrazna2c.jpgPayfriendz is a new app that (slightly annoying name aside) takes out some of the pain of sharing bills. It allows you to both send and request transfers as long as you have your ‘friendz’ mobile number, and they need to be registered on the app too.

The transferring is more social than a standard bank app, and slightly easier to use (my own bank limits saved people on the app to five, which makes it remarkably difficult with rent, housemates, boyfriends etc). You use it a little like Whatsapp, asking for specific money and specifying why you’re sending money. It even lets you use smilies if that’s your thing.

 photo 588add16-3769-4ae7-b77b-2c2ea8f208d6_zps1dxqbfsm.jpgI’ve always been slightly wary of paying using phone numbers, but this is more secure – you load up your account with ‘credit’ and then pay using that. There’s limitation to the damage should it go wrong!

I’ve been trialing it out whilst sorting out holiday bits and pieces with W (just over a month to go!) and we’ve found it really useful. What’s even more ‘exciting’ is that it can also deal with cross-currency transfers, a feature that attracts a small fee (using the app is free in just one currency). You can tell I work in a remotely ‘financial’ job, yes?

I think this is a fab app, and a great idea. I admit the idea of paying via mobile number doesn’t sit fully right with me, though I like that it’s not just opening up your entire bank account. And being password protected makes me feel a whole lot better about this version.
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*Sponsored post with Payfriendz

What do you think about mobile payment apps? Do you think this would make your life easier?