Would someone like to inform the sun that it is now June, and an appearance would be most appreciated?
Since I came back from France, I’ve seen the sun for a total of two hours at the very most. I’ve gotten soaked in the pouring rain. Dug out my cosiest winter pyjamas. Even turned the heating on for a cheeky hour. Whilst it’s lovely to snuggle up with a warm drink and a good book (oh, how I’m loving reading for pleasure instead of studying!), I’m now positively aching for a bit of sunshine, a hint of warmth. I have new clothes to wear, and so far every time I’ve tried I’ve ended up scampering back upstairs to throw on something slightly warmer…
Despite the not-so-nice weather, I simply couldn’t resist sharing my newest dress*.
Made of the floatiest material (i.e. one that makes me feel rather feminine and pretty, but that shows my knickers with the slightest breeze), cut to gentle pleats, and with just enough dark to toughen up the soft pastel floral pattern, this is my new favourite summer dress. Or it would be, if it was warm enough to wear it!
Whilst the vast majority of my wardrobe is floral dresses and skirts, this is still very different to my usual style. It’s high-necked, with a collar and slightly ruffled detailed along the bust – both things I ordinarily avoid. It’s yellow, again something I’m not overly keen on. But for some reason, I fell in love with it. The length sits perfectly just a couple of inches above my knee, the waistline pulls me in.
A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on
Still unable to buy myself the correct size after loosing several dress sizes last year, I took a chance and used the House of Fraser “how will this fit you personally” guide – and it worked! I popped in my favourite dress manufacturer and size, and a few other measurements, and out popped my size. Despite my sceptism, it really is the perfect fit. And surprisingly, so is the other dress I also bought using the guide – a tighter, figure-hugging showstopper for graduation.
Until the sun comes out, I’ve been pairing this with skin-coloured tights, navy flats and a navy cardigan, grabbing a brown or tan satchel for good measure. However I’m looking forward to wearing the dress bare-legged, with some delicate sandals, for a good ol’British picnic. Now I just need the weather to play along…
What have you been wearing lately? Are you struggling with the British weather at the moment?
I’ll do an updated “what to buy for university” post ASAP, but for now I’ve got a handy guide of where to shop. I have no doubts that most of you heading off to university in the next couple of weeks are on a tight budget, and I’d like to think that myself heading into final year (gulp) means I’m reasonably well-qualified to help out.
I’ve just sorted through all my university stuff (virtually a whole garage worth!) and that’s part of the reason I wanted to write this post – it turns out that pretty much all my stuff has survived throughout the years, and is fine to use for my fourth and final year. I did splurge on a few items, I did spend a little more than others (though thanks for Tesco vouchers it didn’t cost a huge amount of money), but I can honestly say I’ve spent less over the years than a lot of my friends. I haven’t had to buy new pans, my knives are still sharp, my towels are still soft. The only reason I’ve bought new bedding this year is because I fancied a change!
The majority of my bits were from Aldi (I wish my dad had waited until I was there to pick them up though, I would SO prefer matching colours…). At only £X per item, it’s cheap and cheerful, but not particularly bad quality. I would, however, avoid the potato mashed and can opener. The can opener blade blunted very quickly. And the potato masher? Well…let’s just say it bent and became unusable at first mash. (Sidenote: best potato masher I’ve fund so far has been from Matalan!).
As an added disclaimer, I was gifted some bits from Aldi for the purpose of this post, however the kitchen utensils are all my own, bought pre-university in 2012. Their one-egg frying pan* is seriously the cutest, I can’t wait to make some perfectly round pancakes! I am also super impressed with their tea towels* too – soft but still able to actually dry (anyone else find cheap tea towels just spread wet around plates/dishes?!
But saucepans, I went a little more spendy and I really don’t regret it. They’ve all had heavy use for the last three years and yes, they are a little scratched, but they are still non-stick, still perfectly useable. I actually went to Home Sense for mine, a home-only version of TK Maxx, and I think we paid around £20 for three pans and a wok. My roasting tins I’ve picked up from Wilkos, no complaints there. Likewise with my plates, bowls etc – mainly from Wilkos, though I have a few of those ‘free’ Mexican bowls through McCain Wedges! My mugs were all gifts, but I do adore Cath Kidston ones!
I also have some expensive baking dishes, all from Le Creuset. So yes, pricey, and I wouldn’t say they are worth the money for students. However I picked up my first for around £5 in Homesense and it started an obsession – so there’s always a few bits on my birthday/Christmas lists! It’s just so non-stick, so easy to clean, and prettyyyy….
Finally, knives. Again, it’s really, really not worth buying the cheapest possible. I picked mine up in Switzerland, the exchange rate was good but I think they are around £5-£9 each in the Victorinox shop in London. I’ve heard good things about the knives in Wilkos too.
I’ve tried bedding from budget stores, splurged on more expensive sheets, and in all honesty there’s not much difference.
I would avoid Primark at all costs, after having an allergic reaction to their sheets (I still have marks on my legs 23 months on), but I’ve really enjoyed using bedding from both Tesco and ASDA. I’ve recently been trialing some from Aldi* too, which I’ve also got no complaints about!
I’ve used cushions and blankets from Homesense, BHS and Tesco, all of which have been fine. My splurge bedding has been from H&M, at £35 for a double bedding set it’s more than I’ve ever spent before, but it is excellent quality and has lasted well. It also has handy little ‘holes’ at the top to enable you to pull the duvet through nicely!
An interesting one this. My boyfriend bought his from Jown Lewis, I got mine from Tesco. Three years on, his are slightly softer, but equally have had less ‘student’ use as he has lived at home for two years (student laundrettes aren’t the nicest on clothes!). As long as you buy relatively soft towels to begin with, washing with plenty of fabric conditioner will keep them soft.
That said, the flat we are currently in has provided towels. The labels imply a rather expensive brand, and they are glorious. SO unbelievably soft…
I would always recommend having a stock of cleaning products and, a word of warning, supermarket basics brands aren’t that great. I’m a bit funny about cleaning products, I don’t believe that bleach is necessary to use in a home, and I prefer gentler, more natural solutions. That said I’ve recently been trialing some cleaning products from Astonish*. They aren’t natural, but they are gentler than bleach and cruelty-free. I’ve been particularly impressed with their grease lifter tablets – perfect for cleaning up roasting tins!
Not entirely necessary, but nice to have around. I’ve picked up a nice clock from Tesco, and photoframes are always easy to find cheaply. I love Wilko’s home range, though it has increased in price over the years, and larger Primark stores also have a good selection.
I do love a bit of stationery. I’m far more of a practical user though, you’ll never find me picking up a pretty notebook in Paperchase. I recommend waiting until you start university before deciding on a note-taking system, but good places to shop are Wilkos (I promise they have had nothing to do with this post!), Rymans and Home Bargains.
I actually got sent a few bits from Home Bargains and loved the quality of it all – definitely worth having a browse in! I really like the academic diary* (£0.49 – amazing value!) and the calculator* (£0.79) – though do consider that if you are doing a mathematical degree you might be restricted to the types of calculator allowed!
So, definitely check out discount stores rather than the usual supermarkets, but don’t always rush to buy the cheapest bits – the cost of replacing them soon adds up! And remember to check out Aldi’s student special buys on Thurs 27th – they’ve even got a bit of a techy bargain for those looking for a mini laptop…
Where did you shop for your uni stuff? Where would you recommend and where would you avoid? I hope this has been helpful if you are off to university this year!
Is it just me, or does everyone have a relative that insists on getting you a voucher from some obscure shop? Up until a few years ago I could GUARANTEE I would receive a Next voucher every birthday/Christmas which as a teenager I really wasn’t impressed with. Now, however, I’d love one! Imagine all the homewear splurges…
But now there’s a solution to this in the form of Zeek. Zeek is an app (and quite a well designed one too, considering it’s entirely app-based!) which allows you to sell unwanted vouchers. Obviously you’re rather unlikely to get their face value back, but it’s better than the voucher sitting unused in your purse until expiry.
And there’s an even better side to this – you can buy other people’s unwanted vouchers at a discount! If you were planning on buying a few bits from a specific store it makes sense to check the app as these vouchers are independent of any other discount you have. The majority seem to be web-based vouchers too so can be used directly from your phone immediately after purchase.
I was gifted a little Zeek credit to buy myself a voucher and head out and treat myself. I put some money in, and ended up with £65 to spend in New Look for just £55. I’ve not spent much of it yet (just picking up the jeans I cried over) but I find New Look clothes always fit well – I’m just waiting for my weight to stabilize and then I’ll be hitting the shops!
To make buying vouchers even better, if you use code 2vcbyd you’ll get £5 off your first voucher – making even more savings. I’ll gain a little bit too, however this isn’t a perk just for me – the share code comes with every account so you’ll have a chance to refer friends too.
Disclaimer: I was gifted an amount of credit to try out the app, but all opinions are my own – I’ll definitely be using Zeek to pick up John Lewis vouchers when I’m setting up home next year!
Have you used Zeek before? Do you often get gift vouchers you really don’t want?
At the beginning of the month it worked out that, between boyfriend visits, I had a whole two weekends to myself. Considering the last weekend I had to myself was in mid-November it was absolute bliss to completely relax. I love that despite being in a long distance relationship me and W can still see plenty of each other (we’re making the most of it until September!), but it was so lovely to have time to myself. Time where I’m not stressing about work, getting dinner etc, time just to sit and do as I pleased.
I took some time to sit and read cookbooks. Not make anything from them, just read them. It might seem strange to some, but it’s a pastime I’ve always loved. Both of these books are from GBBO contestants, and both are favourites on my shelf. Simple recipes, amazing photographs, and a chatty style. I also made time to sit and reflect on the last few days in my One Line A Day journal. I’ve been loving doing this, and having time to myself meant I could read back on the previous weeks. It’s clear I’m becoming more positive whilst using it!
And of course, no relaxing read would be complete without cookies*. These are made with fair-trade products, but whatever they are made from they are damn delicious! My favourite were the stem ginger, perfect with a hot chocolate.
A pamper session was also on the cards, including one of my favourite new products. The B Glycolic Acid Peel Cleanser is more of a mask treatment, and it sloughs away dead skin to reveal a wonderful glow. I find it makes my skin a little sensitive, so it’s reserved for once a week only, but it’s definitely made a drastic improvement on how my foundation applies.
I also went on a little browse round the shops, proving to be a fatal mistake. I discovered Topshop now make bras in my size, and pretty ones at that. I could have bought the whole range…it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so enamoured with my underwear drawer!
And that’s my relaxing weekend, though it maybe didn’t leave me as relaxed as this guy was clearly feeling…
How do you make sure your weekends are relaxing? What are you up to this weekend?
I love charity shops. One of my favourite things to do on a solo weekend is to take £10 and have a good browse. More than often it’s just books and nick-nacks I come away with (I bought a vintage shortbread dish a few months ago – it’s so cute!) but I’ve gotten some pretty fabulous fashion bargains too. I’m quite picky with the clothes I pick up from a charity shop, only ensuring I come away with real gems, so here’s the questions you should be asking yourself before parting with your cash…
1. Do you really need it? Will you wear it?
If you’ve got a wardrobe rammed with clothes you don’t wear already, it’s probably wise not to add to it. There’s also the big question of whether it will actually get worn. You may love the statement skirt, but if you know you aren’t brave enough to wear it it’s best to leave it.
2. Is it actually a bargain?
I’ve noticed recently that you can pick up a lot of lower-priced brands in charity shops – I’m talking Primark, New Look, Peacocks etc. I have no problem with this, but I do take a bit of exception to the price being charged. Most charities have a set price for items, which is fair enough. But I’m not paying £2.50 for a second hand Primark t-shirt that’s seen better days when they are £3 new in-store. I try to go for high-end brand, or at least the more pricey end of the high-street!
3. Does it fit?
If it doesn’t fit, the likelihood is you won’t wear it. And then it’s not a bargain. Having said that…
4. Could you alter it?
Complete contradicting my last point! But there are occasions where you find something so exciting, so should-be-expensive that even if it doesn’t fit, it needs to be purchased. Most clothes can be taken in by up to two sizes, bottoms can be added if missing, hems can be taken up or let down. If the changes seem feasible, go for it! Just remember to factor in the cost of alteration when considering the price.
5. Is the condition good?
Yes, most charities check items but things still filter through. Check there’s no damage that can’t be fixed, no dodgy stain and (most importantly for me) no odour. Gross but true.
Having said all of this, thrifting clothes is great for switching up your style and experiment – you can test out if you feel comfortable in something completely different without spending a fortune.
Pick and choose your area – charity shops in a more affluent area tend to stock better quality brands, simply by default through donations.
Learn when stock rotates – pop in regularly and chat to staff, or even volunteer yourself.
Take cash – most have a card spending limit.
Try not to be too specific – don’t go in think ‘I want some Topshop Joni jeans’ but instead ‘I’d like some nice fitting jeans.’ You are more likely to find great bits if you aren’t searching for a particular item.
I love having a sift through and seeing what I can find…I harbor a (rather unrealistic) dream that I’ll find my wedding dress in a charity shop too!
Do you buy from charity shops? What’s your best bargain?
I was sent this press release absolutely agessss ago; it’s been sitting in my inbox filed under the heading of “Read At Some Point, Un-Urgent” since then. Tell me I’m not the only person who does this?!
A sick day a few weeks ago finally cleared this folder down. I was at the point of feeling well enough not to lie at the ceiling, but still bad enough to know what anything beyond sitting in bed would be a bad plan. My Kindle was out of battery, I’d caught up with Broadchurch, and I don’t have Netflix (bummer!). Emails it was, and this amused me greatly;
Living up to the student stereotype, many budding academics choose to drink away their loan in pubs and clubs. Booze hounds can be seen stacking up on the two for one six pack deals at supermarkets for pre-drinks or getting the pints in on a night out. As they are often inebriated, these students are surprisingly generous when it comes to sharing their cash to buy some booze – which they never remember in the morning.
The Foodie lover
On the other end of the spectrum, some students prefer to fry away their loan on expensive dinners and cooking ventures. The foodie lover relishes a hearty meal and on a Friday night is more likely to be found steaming at the stove rather than the pub. These student-chef wannabes will also be obsessed with any TV programme mildly related to cooking and want to replicate all the dishes, no matter how expensive the ingredients are.
Thrilled by the new four-figure balance in their account, some students choose to splash their cash on a whole new wardrobe. With many high-street stores pulling in students with tempting discounts, it is easy to see how quickly money can go on clothes and shoes. The shop-o-holic will always find an excuse to buy a new outfit, claiming they just have to have the latest handbag trend. Whilst they will look flawless in lectures, their diet may be reduced to beans on toast every night.
For those students who haven’t quite got the gap year out of their system, their money goes on travelling. The wanderluster will constantly tell you about their “amazing” ski season or “life-affirming” trip to Asia. They will spend most of their spare time working part-time in a restaurant to fund this expensive hobby and reminiscing over their holiday snaps on Instagram.
The Gym Bunny
With many students joining sports teams and societies, keeping fit is a top priority. For some, this means coughing up for an expensive gym membership that can cost up £250 per year. Protein shake in hand, gym bunnies consider exercise as a great “stress-buster” when actually it’s just another method of procrastination.
The Social Butterfly
University is a great time for making new friends, but at a price. The social butterfly never wants to miss out on an event and will say yes to anything. Gigs, cinema tickets and socials eat away slowly into their loan yet somehow they ALWAYS manage to make it.
Believe it or not, some students do actually spend their money on their studies. The bookworm will happily splash their cash on brand new volumes and novels, insisting that they are “investments”. Along with the library fines they tot up, the bookworm will also buy lots of stylish stationery along with numerous notepads that even they know they will never use.
As I was reading this I was constantly trying to fit myself into one of the categories. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m mainly a Foodie Lover, but there’s elements of Shopoholic and Bookworm in there! And I don’t think this is relevant to just students either, I reckon most people could identify to one or two of these types! So ‘fess up, what type of spender are you?
Two high-end purchases in a row (my last beauty post featured the Hourglass Ambient Light Palette), I feel this is quite poor for what is essentially a student blog! I do have some budget beauty posts up my sleeve though…
In my defence, this purchase cost me nothing. Not a single penny. Technically. You see, I have what amounts to an obsession about building up Boots Points. I collect through everyday purchases, using all the vouchers (and now the app – though for some reason it is convinced my name is Debbie…), and I use Treat Street wherever I can. I scored Advantage Points on holidays, on laptops, and numerous amounts of clothes. All this meant that after just 18 months, I had a nice little amount to splurge.
The decision was overwelming, and I’d been putting it off. I was going to go for a foundation, but (1) my Rimmel ones are working perfectly, and (2) I’d be pretty damn pissed if it broke me out. Then I looked at Channel lipsticks. But even with my points, I couldn’t justify it. I’m perfectly happy with MAC, and there was no shade that jumped out at me. Benefit was a possibility, but I hate the packaging. Onto eyeshadows. Clinque was tempting, the assistant in the store rude. I decided I didn’t want to give her a sale. Then I walked by the Smashbox stand. It’s not a brand I’ve even looked at before. I saw the flurry of posts on the first Exposure palette, but it didn’t really appeal. But I spotted this. The variety of colours. The matte shades. The massive mirror. One swatch of the matte cream and I was sold. A quick google for reviews wasn’t conclusive – it’s hardly been reviewed, and what is out there isn’t appealing (the colours seem a bit washed-out – these photos are unedited in the hope they reflect the true colours!). I slept on it. I discussed it’s pros and cons (sorry Will!). And the next day I picked it up.
Two weeks on and I’m besotted. It’s different enough from both Naked 2 and Naked 3 that I don’t feel like I have any palette I don’t need. The colours are all fabulous.
I admit I don’t get much wear out of the blues, but the rest?! LOVE. I’m especially loved a purple smokey eye, which somehow suits me really well. I never thought it would, especially with pale skin, blue eyes, and almost-ginger hair.
The quality is definitely on a par with the Naked Palettes, with even the matte sades being creamy (although slightly less so than the others). I’ve had zero fall out, and they are ridiculously easy to blend. Nice and long lasting too, no need to re-apply if I’m going out after work…I find with the lighter shades of Naked 3, I need to add a little more after about 8 hours.
I really think this palette deserves more hype than it’s getting. It’s the perfect palette for a trip away as it covers everything you will need. Neutrals, greys, purples, blues, even a pink tone. I have no doubt it will suit most skin tones, and the quality is fantastic. This is definitely a palette worth the splurge and, if you are put off by a completely neutral palette, I’d highly recommend this.
Have you tried anything from Smashbox? Do you save up your Boots Points to treat yourself?
I love giving presents. I love to put thought and effort into the gift, wrap it nicely (though it still looks horrific), present it with a smile. I feel so happy when someone loves what I’ve bought them. But that often makes the process of actually buying the present horrendous for me. I constantly stress over choices, obsess about what they might already have, and generally just freak out. Buying for my boyfriend is the worst, and I am sure he’d possibly say the same about me!
Small gifts often go down really well, especially alongside something more sentimental, something homemade. I was trying to knit him a scarf this year. As in, I have been trying since January. It’s not gone well, and if he can wrap two rows of hole-y thread around his neck, I’m sure he’d be grateful. But anyway, he’s some ideas for stocking fillers for you man, or bigger gifts for any other guys in your life.
Technology is always a good bet for a boy! Something different also goes down well too – and I reckon those who “have everything” will love a living room keyboard (Logitech*). Connecting with your TV, it really enhances viewing experiences. More practical and not as exciting, I’ve also included an external hardrive. I wasn’t going to include this, it’s actually part of an insurance post coming in the New Year, but my boyfriend got hold of this one* when I received it and I think he would rather like one himself! Though perhaps with 2TB we can share…
Going different, and this water bottle with in built filter is a great little stocking filler. I have a bug bear with tap water, as I know I actually get physically ill in different parts of the country due to water. I have one of these which I use for work, and it really does seem to make a difference. Mine’s from Water To Go*, and I highly recommend it!
Now for toiletries. Christmas is the time of year where you fill your bathroom cupboards for the next few months! I’m quite picky on guys scents (Paul Smith is my favourite!), and was worried this Ted Baker Gift Tin* wouldn’t be too my taste – but I actually really like it. Nice and fresh, and not too masculine that I can’t borrow it (ahem). They have some great sets with wallets in too, and they’re damn good value. Far nicer smelling than the female version I remember of my teenage years…
So there’s guys stocking fillers…and that’s perhaps not the best way of putting it! Now I better get cracking as he unhelpfully has a birthday right at the beginning of January, and all my ideas have proved impossible.
Do you hate shopping for presents? What have you got your man this Christmas? Any clues for a twenty-first present?!
I’m not a huge jumper fan. I rarely wear jeans, I live in floral dresses and skirts (and pyjamas…) and cosy cardigans are my go-to cover ups. But there’s something about a festive jumper that screams Christmas, and for a few weeks I’ll happily live in one. I tend not to go too festive, and I still tend to accessorise with tartan scarves, but these are my wardrobes concession to festiveness. Excuse the slightly yellow light – the new lightshade in my room might look pretty, but isn’t helpful for blog photos!
Not strictly a Christmassy jumper, but I’m so glad I splurged on this Terrier number from Joules (one of my favourite shops!) last year. Not only does it match my fur-baby, the cashmere makes it feel wonderfully soft and luxurious – as it should for the price I paid (especially considering the assistant neglected to give my three-year NUS card back, and I never saw it again). The colours make it suitable to wear whatever time of year, and it looks great dressed with with smart trousers as well as thrown over jeans.
Sorry to say, but I failed at taking a photo of my real dog against my jumper-dog! Real dog just wouldn’t sit still for the camera, so his feet are the best I have! See here for the likness!
Next up and I couldn’t resist included my boyfriend in his festive jumper. A classic reindeer in a lovely berry shade, this was a bargain from New Look. I think men’s jumpers are so much nicer than womens – especially this year as there’s far too many pastel colours around! M&S have some lovely ones this year, there’s one I’m desperate to get him but being short on funds makes this unlikely…sorry my love!
Now for my favourite festive item – not a jumper, but a ridiculously oversized cardigan. It’s unbelievably a Size 8, and from Warehouse, but I’m afraid you’ll only pick this one up by rifling through attics as it’s actually older than me! This was one of my mum’s 18th presents many years ago, so many that it is officially a vintage piece. I’ve loved this for years, and I finally bagged it two years ago. Perfect with skinny jeans, and it acts as a festive dressing gown on Christmas morning too. Oh, and its warm enough to wear without a coat. I love it!
Are you a fan of Christmas jumpers? What one are you wearing this year?
It’s coming up to the time of year where deals and sales are everywhere. Black Friday deals might be an American thing, but I’m more than happy to see pre-Christmas sales. Not only is it a chance to stock up on Christmas presents cheap, there’s often more electrical items on sale making it the perfect time to invest in anything you need. I’m keeping my eyes out for a new mini-chopper, though I’m desperate for an air-fryer too!
House of Fraser have kindly offered to give one of my lucky readers a £30 voucher to spend online with House of Fraser. Just enter using the giveaway app below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now for a few general nit-picking rules. I will be verifying entries, so please be honest. Also please not serial competition entries, this is for genuine readers and I will be checking. The winner will be notified on Thursday and will need to respond ASAP as the voucher will be sent on Thursday evening. I will make all reasonable attempts to contact you, but no response will mean me picking another winner. And UK entries only please – sorry!
Now back to the fun…what are you hoping to pick up in the sales? How’s your Christmas shopping going – I’m hoping to really kick start mine this weekend!