Budget Beauty: Spring Nails

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In the past week the weather has been beautiful, all I have wanted to do is go on walks in fields or by the sea (Whitstable is calling my name right now!). But unfortunately for this student I’ve hit my busy period and it feels like I won’t see the light of day until the end of May at the very least…

To make up for the fact I can’t go and wallow in the sun I’ve been splitting my time between staring out of the window, working out premiums using empirical bayesian credibility theory models (don’t ask!) and trying to get as much spring-like things into my life in possible. This includes switching my dark nail colours for lighter, prettier colours. Here are some of my favourites! (no idea why this photo is appearing darker than the others – they all look pretty similar until I transport to WordPress!)

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All of these products are pretty cheap (I picked up the Revlon one on a market stall last summer!), with the pink MUA (Ameretto Crush) being my favourite. This surprised me actually as I’m usually a fan of muted colours and this is very vivid! Topped with Barry M’s clear coat this stayed chip-free for 5 days (a record for me!) and had a very high-shine finish -impressed with this budget offering!

The Revlon (Sheer Peach) is my current favourite, and is my go-to colour for interviews and assessment centres – its so sophisticated, looks so more ‘done’ that a clear coat yet still doesn’t really show chips (and it lasts ages too!).

I bought the other MUA shade (Mud Pie) over the Christmas holidays and I’m undecided whether I like it – it is a very brown shade. I purchased Collection’s Milkshake over the weekend in the hope that it’s a pinkier-toned nude colour! If you have any other nude shade suggestions I’d be happy to hear them – everything seems too cream/brown/grey for my skin tone!

Another purchase over the weekend was Rimmel’s Nail White Pencil, and I have to say I am in love. My nails are in quite good condition and I have to confess 50% of the time I can’t be bothered to paint them. However I hate how the tips can occasionally look a little yellow (I’ve been experimenting with a lot of curry recipes recently!) and this rectifies it immediately. Obviously not as great as a proper French manicure, but they help my nails look lovely, healthy and well-groomed when in reality it takes about a minute to do. Coupled with the Revlon polish I can have a pretty well done ‘manicure’ in about five minutes, and this is fast becoming my favourite look.

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What’s your favourite spring manicure?

Blogging: Liebster Award Nomination

I was nominated for this award by Katie Ann ages ago, way before I moved my hosting. Then my drafts got lost in transit, and due to a silly error I started scheduling posts for 2015 so my apologies to Katie Ann for it only going live now!

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This award is designed for newer bloggers (ideally those with less than 200 followers), you have to nominate others when you are awarded, and give them questions to answer or facts to write.

She’s given me 11 questions to answer, so I will do those now. Then I’m going to nominate a couple of blogs I think are deserving of this award. It turns out I follow over 800 blogs on Bloglovin’, so sorry if I nominate ones with ‘too many’ followers, and I would also like you to take part and answer my ‘question’ if you want – just tag me in it in the comments, as I’d love to read it!

1)    How many languages do you speak?

Quite embarrassingly I only speak English. I did French GCSE (and am very proud of the B I got – I really struggled!) but really can’t remember much at all, definitely not enough for a conversation. I would love to learn German though.

2)    What’s your Holy Grail product?

I’m not sure I really have one! I’d probably go for coconut oil – its natural, a great hair treatment and body moisturiser, and I always like to use it. Other than that I’d say Umberto Giannini’s Curl Jelly, which I’ve used for about three years.

3)    Can you play any instruments?

Again I’m embarrassed to say no! I did used to play Clarinet and loved it, but had to give up due to medical reasons. I’m definitely not a musical type though – I’m always asked to stop singing as I’m never in tune!

4)    What’s your favourite destination?

A few years ago I’d have said Turkey – I loved nothing more than heading to Side with my family and lazing about the pool/beach for a fortnight. Lately though I’ve been keen on short European and British breaks – my must-do list at the moment includes York, Bruges, Paris and Rome. I desperately want to go back to Edinburgh/North Berwick too!

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5)    How long have you been blogging?

I actually started blogging about two years ago, but only really ‘properly’ with regular posts, promoting myself and thinking a bit more last May/June time.

6)    And how and why did you get started?

I wanted an online diary to come back to in a few years, but most importantly I wanted any readers I had to learn from my experiences – be it not to make my budgeting mistakes, or how to make a good Toad in the Hole!

7)    How old are you?

I’m 20 – that feels old, and every time I answer that question I feel a little sad that I’m not a teenager any more!

8)    Who’s your favourite blogger?

Oh, I don’t know! Can I choose two? I love Thoroughly English by Bess- it’s the kind of blog I feel like reading on a miserable day, and it feeling like chatting to a close friend. I also love the Inelegant Wench, partly because of the fab name, and again I love the chatty style. And another one! A more student-y one is Handbags and Cupcakes. I’ve loved reading about Rachel’s year abroad, and I also love her handbags! She’s made up a pretty good brownie recipe too!

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9)    And what about YouTuber?

I’ll confess – I don’t watch any YouTubers at all! However Lottie’s Little Kitchen has just started vlogging, so I might need to have a watch sometime!

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10)    Do you see yourself blogging for the long term?

I hope I will stay blogging, however I don’t know if I’ll keep my current name – I hope to be a ‘ninegrandgraduate’ by the summer of 2016, so I’m not sure what I’ll do then!

11)    What’s your favourite colour?

I love a deep red/pink berry colour – a nice raspberry tone!

 

Now for my questions – I can’t think of anything specific, so I’d love my nominees to write down 15 random facts about themselves. These can be anything and everything, I’d just love to read them!

My nominees are:

Looking forward to reading your random facts! I would love it if you could add the link to your post in the comments below, so I know I definitely won’t miss it!

What’s your favourite blog? I love finding new ones to read, so would greatly appreciate any recommendations!

Giveaway: 150 Followers

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A few days ago I got a rather welcome email – I’d finally hit 150 followers on Bloglovin’. This was shortly followed by hitting a rather larger milestone in terms on email subscribers (which then disappeared when I moved my hosting, though I am assured WordPress are in the process of moving this over!), so I thought I’d treat my readers to a little giveaway.

Its not a huge giveaway unfortunately, as I am restricted on budget, but it does contain some products that I absolutely love, and things that I would genuinely want for myself. The ‘prizes’ are:

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This includes some majorly cute ‘list books’ which I think would be perfect for shopping lists, jotting down blog ideas, or to-do lists for all those important student deadlines. There’s some matching giant paperclips (I just liked them, and they would be great for organisation!), then continuing the shopping theme a shopper key-ring with a coin for the trolley. I always find these useful as then it means I can store my pounds securely in a piggy bank rather than risk spending them! On the beauty side there’s a thin nail file, which I find great for slipping into plastic wallets for work/uni in case of breakages.

Finally there’s some great bits from my favourite budget brand MUA – a power pout in a gorgeous nude shade, that has a hint of coral about it. I love these lip products, and this colour is definitely my favourite! Finally there’s two eyeshadows. I find these pans aren’t too chalky (there’s only a bit of glitter fallout) and stay on surprisingly well.

Oh, and there’s also a lip-balm from the Bodyshop (I completely forgot to photograph it with the rest of the stuff!) and a few other little bits and pieces if I can get hold of them!

I’m sorry this probably isn’t as great as some giveaways (trust me, I’d like to be able to afford high-end products for me, let alone to giveaway!) but I really wanted to thank my readers. All you need to do to enter is use the Rafflecopter widget:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Looking forward to reading the comment everyone – and thank-you for letting me reach all of these milestones. I never dreamt when I started blogging that anyone would read my posts, and now being included in round-ups and even nominated for awards is just so amazing – I’m totally grateful to you all!

Welcome To The New Site!

Hello everyone – I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought my own domain. In addition I have moved to a self-hosted WordPress blog which is giving me a lot more freedom. Currently having mild technical difficulties, so bear with me if anything isn’t quite right (though if you notice something out of place, please let me know!).

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Anyway, I’m still over at Bloglovin’ for an easy way to follow, and you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram!

Restaurant Review: The Red Lion, East Haddon

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A few weeks ago I visited this lovely country pub for my boyfriend (and his dad’s – December/January is an expensive time for me!) birthday. We ate over a Sunday lunchtime, although didn’t go for the ‘Sunday Lunch’ option as a full menu is always available as well as one roast joint.

For clarification – I was not invited to dine by the establishment, and have received no compensation for this review. All opinions are entirely my own and that of my dining companions. Images are from the restaurant’s website, as I didn’t want to use my camera at a birthday dinner. I did email asking for some photos, but the restaurant is understandably busy so I’ve just taken what I could find (after asking for permission of course!).

I was impressed immediately by the very warm welcome. We rang ahead to warn them of my tomato allergy, and on arrival I was given an annotated menu, with things I definitely couldn’t have crossed off, things that were definitely safe ticked, and items which could be altered also marked. This was definitely THE best allergy response I’ve had, so hats off to them! I was also seriously impressed by the use of local ingredients – they even just locally grown/made Northamptonshire oil for frying.

The restaurant/pub itself is very cosy. Smallish rooms (around 5-7 tables), with a lovely gas stove which I was lucky enough to sit directly in front of. I loved that the tables were big though – our table for four was large enough to spread out, which we were thankful for. I hate places where you are all crammed on a teeny table!

We were allowed plenty of time to make our choices, lingering over the bottle of red we ordered. No idea what it was (whilst I enjoy a glass, I’m not a wine expert at all) but it was rather good.

To start, others ordered the Battered Tempura Prawns, and the Scotch Egg. I went for a Duck Leg Hash.

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My hash was delicious. The idea of gravy and egg together isn’t one I’d have thought of, and to be honest even having eaten it the thought makes me want to vomit slightly. But it was delicious, and something I’d order again if I felt brave enough. If I was to be critical, it did lack duck – I’d have liked a little more for texture. Everything was perfectly cooked, with a wonderfully runny egg, and properly thick and meaty gravy. It was a massive portion though!

The verdict on the prawns was high praise – crispy and airy batter, a nice spicy and tangy sauce, and a good crunchy salad.

However the biggest case of food envy for the whole table was the scotch eggs. Perfectly crisp and perched on a punch mayonnaise dressing, they looked amazing. They looked even better when cut into, vivid yolk (the sign of good quality eggs) bursting out. I’d never had a proper Scotch Egg before, but I’ll look out for them from now on. I only had a bite, but I’m already craving another…

Onto mains, and the other three in the party all ordered the Slow Cooked Red Wine Beef, whilst I went for the Confit Pork Belly.

I didn’t try the Beef (it being one of the firmly crossed out items on the menu) but it was highly praised. According to others it was rich and melting tender, although one did comment it could have done with a kick or tang to the sauce. We were so impressed with this dish we are preparing to buy Ox Cheeks (the cut used) to make our own version.

My pork was, unfortunately, a rather mixed plate. The pork itself was delicious, and one of the best flavoured and textured bits of belly I’d eaten. The crackling wasn’t so good, and was in fact chewy to the point I was worried my mouth would stick together. Bacon-y vegetables were perfectly cooked and tasted delicious, once I picked out the burnt onions. Not sure if the burn was deliberate or not, but I’d prefer my veg without it. Having said all of that, I really did enjoy the dish – I think the quality of the rest of the meal may have made me slightly picky! And I was suffering food envy as I spotted the Roast Sirloin and Homemade Yorkshires over the other side of the room…

Despite already being full, we finished the meal properly with desert. I went for the Bailey’s Creme Brulee, and other choices were the Ginger Cake and the Doughnuts.

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I didn’t hear much about the Ginger cake, but it was devoured and seemed to go down well.

My creme brulee had the perfect crunchy topping, and was creamy and light. The Baileys was only a light hint, for which I was thankful as it wasn’t as sickly as I had feared. The shortbread served alongside was excellent – really good, short and buttery. I could’ve taken a tin of this stuff home!

The star of the show was the Doughnuts. Served in a brown paper bag, searing hot and with a pot of runny jam, they were amazing. Very obviously freshly cooked (and in fresh oil too!), I can honestly say this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever sampled. Again I suffered from food envy.

I can’t comment on the price of the meal as a whole as I didn’t see the bill, however I felt menu prices were reasonable for the quality – you can view the full menu on their website.

All the way through service remained friendly, and I left unwillingly (though partly because it was cold and wet outside, and I’d fallen in love with the stove). I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at The Red Lion, and wouldn’t complain if I got the chance to visit again. I’m currently working out how to get to one of their Sunday breakfasts (a full fry up, papers, tea/coffee and Radio 2 for £7 – my idea of a perfect weekend morning!), something I definitely want to experience, so I hope it won’t be too long before I return. Until then, I highly recommend this restaurant (and their Valentine’s menu also looks amazingly good, with plenty of dishes I’d love to sample!).  They also have wonderful looking hotel rooms, the kind I’d love to stay in for a romantic short break, and run a cookery school which comes highly recommend to me. So much to try! Let me know if you do visit this wonderful place – a hidden gem in Northamptonshire!

Have you visited a nice restaurant lately?

Square Meal

Valentine’s Special: Relationships

I still remember the first time I was “in love.” I was between the ages of 3 and 5, and he was called Tom. Tom lived up the road from me, and was probably about 16. I adored him. I’d watch at the  window and wave as he went to/from school, and I’d jump at any chance to visit him. It wasn’t exactly unrequited love; he used to indulge me and wave back, come over to play with whatever toddler toy craze was about and was always friendly. My love affair ended  when he found someone else. I’d come home  one day and found him walking hand-in-hand with a beautiful brunette. I remember feeling actual physical pain, and ended up vomiting my spaghetti bolognese everywhere. He actually came round to apologise to my parents and to say he hoped he hadn’t upset me too much. Years later I found out that he didn’t let his girlfriend near his house for 3 months to prevent upsetting me (he was such a nice boy).

Now I’ve told you that embarrassing little story about my childhood, I’ll add another embarrassment of my teenage years. I didn’t really talk to boys. I went to a girls secondary school, but even before that I’ll admit I was terrified of them. I have no idea why, but I got tongue-tied, red-faced, even a little (ew) sweaty palmed and so nothing went beyond a facebook add or a number request. I will also say, however, that I was happy with the way things were. So for my younger readers – boys don’t necessarily make you happy, and if you want my advice I’d steer clear of them til at least mid-to-late teens! I had my dog and that’s all that I needed!

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To top it all off, I ended up some an over-persistent rather old male friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, which definitely didn’t help my boy-phobia. As far as I can remember (15 suddenly seems a long way off!) it took a threatening message and a change-of-number to get rid of him.

My boy-phobia had to change though, and it had to change quickly, when shy-timid me decided to go be part of a small select group of females at the local Boy’s School. I was 16, quickly growing into myself, and more comfortable in my own skin than I had ever been before. And that’s when I met my boyfriend.

Electrons

I very quickly began to fail AS chemistry, and was introduced to a tall, geeky guy who offered to help. Over a lunch-time tutoring session (where he demonstrated electron shells with marshmallows and skittles) I began to think this geek was actually rather cute, and so we began texting. Two weeks later and we ended up in town during some afternoon frees, in the pouring rain. Ever the gentleman he offered me his umbrella. The problem was he was just too enthusiastic…I can’t say a soaking wet umbrella to the face is the best chat-up act in the world!

He must have been pretty good at apologising, because the next week I accepted his invitation to dinner at his house. We chilled on the sofa, watched the ever-so romantic film Hot Fuzz followed by a couple of episodes of Top Gear, moving closer to each other as the hours passed. Somehow the awkward first kiss happened and the rest, they say, is history.

More than three years on, we’ve finished sixth form and are currently living two-hundred miles apart. Despite time-consuming and demanding university courses and jobs, we make the effort to see each other as often as possible, planning cheap-as-possible dates and scheduling in Skype dinners. Old fashioned letters dropping through the postbox is probably the highlight of our weeks, and despite some days wishing I could have a boyfriend-cuddle whenever I wanted, I know that even if we’re apart I wouldn’t change our relationship for the world. And I get to be surprised on train journeys with flowers!

I’m not sure when we’ll close the distance between us, I’m not sure when we’ll be able to live together, but I do know that those lunchtime Chemistry lessons produced much more than some vaguely remembered facts. They gained me person who knows me better than myself, the person who still can’t be trusted to hold an umbrella safely, and the person who I know I’ll end up spending the rest of my life with.

Now, sorry for the spectacularly gushy and lovey-dovey post today. It wasn’t really what I was aiming for, but its what got written.  I had originally wanted to do a post on surviving long distance in a relationship (and let me know if you do want to read it as its in my drafts!) but it didn’t quite work out. I certainly hope this wasn’t too personal a post !

Now a final plea – please let the trains be running this Valentine’s, cos otherwise it’ll be a date between me and my laptop! And because we all know this is the most important part of my story, I actually ended up with an A in Chemistry…

What’s your relationship story, or your first experience of love? I’d love to read them!

Weekend Wishlist (#1)

This isn’t going to be a regular series (you all know from my Fortnightly Finds that I can’t keep that up!) but I thought it would be nice to do. I like to map how my tastes change over time, but I also like to keep a note of things I really like just in case I win the lottery. So here goes with my first wishlist!

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I’ve become a massive fan of Revlon’s lip products by reading various blogs, and I want their new stains/balms in pretty much all colours. I’m trying to resist the temptation but one has already accidentally made its way home with me! I’m going to have to resist though as I had some large and unexpected expenditure to deal with this week – so no pennies left for treats!

As you know from this post a few weeks ago, I love Massaman curry. I’m craving it again, but I can’t afford the paste, fish sauce and tamarind that I know it needs…I’m going to start picking up ingredients gradually over the next few weeks to spread out the cost!

It’s getting very cold at night, and rather than turn the heating up (and raise the bills!) I’ve been relying on blankets to keep cosy. I love this one from Muji (which happens to be one of my favourite shops at the moment!).

Valentine’s is coming up, and everything seems to be turning red/pink and heart-covered. I’m normally not a fan of this, but I’ve taken a shine to this notebook from Paperchase. I really am a stationary lover, though already have far too many notebooks!

Since receiving Naked 3 for Christmas I’ve been on the lookout for a good eye-primer to really enhance the shadows. The Artdeco one is something I really want to try at some point.

You probably all know that I’m a fan of Filofaxes – whilst I love mine I think this Osterley would be the perfect compliment to it. Having said that, the new release Filofaxes should be published around now, so I’m looking forward to seeing what will be available to buy this year.

Finally, I really fell in love with this shirt dress in Dorothy Perkins today. I love shirt dresses as they tend to fit me perfectly, and I love the pattern and colours of this. So pretty!

Have you fallen in love with anything recently?

Fun (Fortnightly) Finds #3

Maybe this shouldn’t be called ‘fortnightly’ because I clearly haven’t managed to keep that up! However now I’m back in a new university term I should have more structure, and so should be able to do this a little more regularly. Here goes! 

Introduction to a New Term & Finishing Coursework

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I love the start of term – new modules to get your teeth stuck into! I’ve started some (so far) really interesting modules, and virtually everything I do within university is showing my degree was right for me. Having said that, I know very well that university isn’t for everyone, and deciding to go is a big thing, so make doubly sure it’s what you want before you go!

On a related note, today was the deadline for possibly one of the hardest bits of work I’ve ever had to do. It’s so nice to be able to sit down and relax without that hanging over me!

Spicy Vegetarian Food

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I’ve really enjoyed cooking spicy food lately, and introducing a lot more vegetables into my meals. My spicy pea fried sandwich (a recipe scheduled to come live in the next few days) has become a lunchtime favourite, and I made a Thai Green curry the other night with added mushrooms, carrots and spinach in addition to the usual pepper and onion – it was so good it definitely didn’t need the half chicken breast I threw in there!

Baking

No picture of this (the cakes are still cooling as we type) but me and Libby decided to make cake pops today. We kinda forget it would be a long process, so instead just made the cakes tonight. We’re going for a chocolate and orange type, and they smell amazing!

And now to the blogs! 

I’ve really struggled recently in cutting down to posts that I REALLY like to post on here – I don’t want to be giving you a hugely long list! After much deliberation, these are what I’ve come up with!

Miss Budget Beauty wrote a great post on the Return of the Filofax. This was something I could really identify with me, as I know mine is a huge part of my life and I would be lost without mine. If you find yourself struggling with anything, be it studying, work schedules, or even blog schedules, I highly recommend trying a Filofax as they are just so customisable. I’ll be sharing my set-up soon!

I’ve fallen in love with Revlon’s Colourburst Matte Balms – I’ve already bought one shade, and I’m trying desperately not to be tempted by another. Let me know if you want a review by the way! I think the best post to show off their true colours is on Katie’s Beauty Blog.

This White Pizza with Spinach and Bacon had me drooling at the thought of it. As someone with a bad allergy to tomatoes, I’m really loving the craze for white pizzas which seems to be taking the blogging world by storm lately! Thank you How Sweet It Is for this post!

How was your week? 

Year 2 Term 2: Aims & Ideals

Today marks the beginning of the Spring term of my second year at university, so today I thought I’d go with a more studenty post – what do I want to achieve this term, and how am I going to go about achieving it?

 

First, I want to improve on last term’s results. I finished my first year with a high 1st and I definitely want to continue with that this year. I felt my first term went okay (although with much room for improvement!) – we covered a lot of completely new and more applied material than before, so I have a lot of revising to do to make sure it’s up to scratch to prevent falling behind!

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I also want to work on my study skills, or at least at not wasting time! I really struggle to work at university when I have a single hour’s break and last term those hour’s turned into a little bit of a gossip session. This term I really want to make the time a little more productive! The type of work I generally have to do isn’t really suitable for an hour’s work (short of reading over notes, I find an hour is too little for settling down and getting a really good grip on a maths problem of this level!) so instead of studying I’m thinking of making those hours into time for me to work on this blog. I even bought a mini keyboard for my tablet, which is an old one of my boyfriend’s kindly gifted to me over the holidays, which will make this a whole lot easier. Does anyone have an recommendation of blogging-related apps which could be useful?

Also in terms of study skills, I want to continue to improve on my technique when I’m actually studying. I want to share some of these tips with you guys, if its something you’d be interested in reading about?

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In terms of my cooking and diet I want to become a little more adventurous. I really enjoyed experimenting with some new ingredients when making my Chicken Massaman Curry, and I want that to continue. Following on from reader feedback (I love getting it, so please get in touch if you have a suggestion!) I want to work on more vegetarian/meat-free recipes so will be doing that!

Looking at my timetable, I’m due to be doing a lot more full days at university this term (I had a strange timetable last term – full on mornings, but finished by 1 three days a week, which was lovely as I got a decent lunch at home!) so I really need to work on making up a decent packed lunch. Currently toying between salad filled wraps, or rice/pasta combinations, but I’m sure I’ll rotate these ideas over the term!

2013-11-20 15.58.25Budgeting wise – I need to, and I need to save money! I may need to shell out for a deposit on a new rented place in a few months, and invest in some workwear so the pennies need to be saved. I managed to save a huge amount of money using a ‘piggy bank’ last term, and I’m hoping this method along with experimenting with cheaper ingredients will help my savings mount up.

And whilst I am budgeting, I’m also experimenting with my make-up and beauty regime. In the spirit of things, however, I’m trying to keep everything as low cost as possible. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming ‘budget buys’ post as I’ve nabbed some great sale bargains (including the aforementioned workwear!)

So that’s a broad outline of what I want to achieve over the next term. Now for the important bit! What do you want to see on my blog over the next twelve weeks? All and any suggestions are welcome!

100 Happy Days

Something a little bit different from me today! I don’t know about you, but I always feel a little down at this time of the year. My birthday and Christmas are both over, summer seems a long way off, days tend to be dark and dismal, and there seems to be a fair few nasty deadlines looming. It’s just not the most wonderful of times, and I often find myself thinking that everything is a lot worse than it really is. But this year I’ve found a way to hopefully change that!

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100 Happy Days is all about appreciation. Appreciation of just about anything and everything. Apparently this can lead towards long term happiness which just sounds like a bonus for me! Anyway, the website does a much better job of explaining it than I ever can, so give it a visit here.

This little thing isn’t about sharing with your friends or having a ‘happiest photo’ competition, it’s a personal journey. I thought long and hard about whether I should blog about this, and whether it goes against the feel of the whole thing, but at the end of the day I think its a really good idea that could just lift any of your spirits if you’ve been feeling a little down lately. I’ve also really enjoyed watching other people post their photos, and seeing their Happy Days made me feel happier already! So with that I’ll let you into a teeny secret; my Happy Days are being recorded on my brand new and so far very empty Instagram feed starting from tomorrow.

Are you doing “100 Happy Days?” What do you think of the idea?