My August budget – dresses, tops and shoes galore!

How on earth am I doing another budgeting bloggers post already? I swear it’s only August 10th, there’s no way it can be the end of the month. How on earth has August gone by so quickly?! Anyway, I really should spend less time freaking out about the speed that this month has gone past in and more time talking about what I actually bought, hooray! Well I’ve bought lots of lovely things and most excitingly I’ve been gifted lots of lovely things too. Aren’t friends just the best?! So I had been doing really well this month and up until a week ago I had only spent half of my budget and then the bank holiday weekend happened and I went a little bit crazy, oops. But I purchased lots of things on my list this month, so I shouldn’t be too upset with the amount I’ve bought.

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1) Floral top, Dorothy Perkins, £26 – Top of my current list at the moment are tops that are smarter than my usual array of T-shirts as I want to make my work wardrobe a little smarter. I think if I have a number of smarter tops that I can pair with jeans it’ll make the usual early morning panic a lot less stressful. So when I saw this floral top I couldn’t say no. It fits perfectly, although I might have to remove the big bow, I’m not sure it’s quite necessary and is a tad fussy for my liking.

2) Burgundy leather pocket top, Primark, £4 – I love this top, not only is the colour gorgeous (and great for the autumn) but it’s also got lovely (fake) leather detail on the pocket which makes it a bit more interesting. So far I’ve worn this with my jeans – see above – but I think it’ll work just as well with a black tube skirt for work.

3) Black Camisole, Dorothy Perkins, £14 – I’ve been searching for a simple black vest for a while now as I have a couple of really clingy skirts that really need one to make them more work appropriate. Plus I’ve got my eye on this skirt…! I also like the idea of pairing this with a bright necklace, cardi and skinny jeans – the perfect outfit for a meal or evening out I think.

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4) Brown bag, Zara, £19.99 – I’ve been searching for a brown leather-esque bag for quite a while now and I’ve not had any luck, that is until I came across this one in Zara. It’s perfect! It’s big enough for all my random crap, has two strap options (I’ve gone for the short ones) and goes with anything and everything. Plus it was so cheap and I know that it’s good quality as it’s from Zara. I’m so excited about this item.

5) Dotty Pumps, ASDA, £8 – I’m a sucker for cheap pumps and when i spotted the pattern, price and rounded toe on these I had to buy them. There was really no question about this!

6) Neon Pink Pumps, Gap, £15 – I first see these about two months ago but I couldn’t justify for £30 for a pair of shoes. BUT when I saw these in the sale I had to get them, it was clearly meant to be! Sadly though they absolutely kill so I had to stop wearing them after just an hour, but hopefully if I eBay these I should get back some of the money that I spent on them. They are gorgeous after all.

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7) Navy striped dress and 9) Pink and white chiffon dress – My lovely friend was clearing out her wardrobe when I was staying with her and she ended up giving them to me – how lucky am I! They both fit perfectly and are absolutely ideal for work so they are definitely great additions to my wardrobe. Thanks lovely Mara.

8) Black and white striped dress, Dorothy Perkins, £15 – I know I bought a striped dress last month, but I maintain that this dress serves a totally different purpose (sort of). Either way I fell in love with it when I saw it and it was in the sale, so it had to be done. To be honest anything that has sleeves like that is certainly a must!

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10) Navy Blazer –  This is another item that my friend gave to me during her cupboard sort out and it fills  another hole in my wardrobe, as clearly a navy blazer is one of the great wardrobe essentials! I’ve not worn it yet but it’ll be perfect for those days at work when I need to be a little smarter, plus it’ll be the perfect jacket as we head into Autumn.

11) Bikini, ASDA, £10 – I’m off to Portugal in just over a week and really want to sort out the hideous strap marks I currently have so a bikini seemed like an essential. I’ve not owned one since I was about eight, so this is a big departure for me, but at only £10 it doesn’t matter if I only wear it a couple of times and who knows I might get over my total phobia of bikinis!

12) Green skirt, Primark, £8 – I love this skirt as it’s got a really lovely flowery pattern and is a nice fabric. I’ve not work it yet, but as soon as the weather is perfect for black tights this will become a wardrobe staple.

So there we have it, lots of lovely things, lucky me! In total I’ve spent £119.99 this month, which is actually £10.01 under budget. I’m really surprised about this if I’m honest. I was definitely expecting to be over this month as I got so much! Although I do fear that the September budget might be in a bit of trouble as there are a lot of autumnal items that are coming into the shops that  just look so warm and cosy. There’s no way I’ll be able to stop myself from buying at least some of the things I’ve seen…

Three things currently revolutionising my life!

I don’t know about you but I happen to love it when you discover something that makes your entire life so much easier. It could be anything, from the perfect hair band (I don’t know what I’ll do when my current one dies, as it has the perfect amount of stretch!) to a cheap car hire place – I’m looking at you ZitAuto, but whatever it is, it leaves you wondering how did I cope before. Or is that just me?

So with this thought in mind I wanted to share three things that I’m finding particularly wonderful and revolutionary right this moment. I’m sure you lovely people will find them just as helpful in your respective lifes. I honestly think these three things have made a big difference in my life the past few weeks – I swear I’ve gained minutes hours back thanks to these three inventions!

First up is the brilliant Buffer app, which I’ve not only got on my iPhone but also on both my personal laptop and my work PC and it’s so useful. Basically you can schedule tweets through it, but the key thing is that when you’re on a webpage that you want to share you simply click the Buffer icon and it’ll automatically shorten the url and leave space for you to write your text. So unbelievably simple, but so wonderfully helpful for two reasons. Firstly because in the past I would send a gazillion tweets all at once as I’d tend to see interesting stuff on my way home from work or whilst browsing the interweb at night and just want to share them all. This is, I imagine for the few followers I have, a little bit tedious! But now with the Buffer app I can still share them, but schedule them and therefore offend fewer people! The second reason why discovering this app is amazing is that it means I can promote my blog posts much easier – in the past I wouldn’t really share stuff on Twitter as I’d simply forget to do it. But now I can pop the url in as soon as the post is written and I can get sharing. Definitely a revolutionary discovery.

Pocket is the second thing making my life better and better. It now means that instead of sending myself 20 emails a day full of links, articles, interesting blog posts and stories I can simply add each one to pocket with one click of the mouse (or my finger on my phone). Then later in the day: on the bus, during lunch or when watching TV I can peruse them all at my leisure. It’s really quite genius! In the past I’ve definitely wasted a lot of time clicking links when I’m meant to be doing something else, so to be able to see them all later (without sending myself millions of emails) is brilliant. Plus I no longer lose or forget the links, as they are all in one handy place. I really do heartily recommend it. Just some of the things I’ve pocketed recently are This brilliant ‘you can’t write proper english under pressure’ game and this delicious looking pinata cake – imagine if I’d lost these links. It’s be an absolute travesty!

I mentioned my new blog planner a while back in this post and I can honestly say my love for it hasn’t waned at all. It’s so useful having one place to keep track of ideas, upcoming posts and (most rewardingly) to tick posts off when they’re written. Since I’ve started to think more about my posts and popped them in this planner I’ve had gazillions of new ideas. Also what’s great is that there’s enough space to scribble things out and write new ideas on the relevant day. And if the worse happens and I’ve made a huge mess, no problem at all, I just tear the page off and start again: genius I tell you.
Hooray for my blog planner

What about you, what revolutionary items are you currently using, in either your blogging or everyday life? Please share, I’m always excited about new and exciting things to make my life easier!

Awesome recipes: Oreo Brownies

As I mentioned last week I had a bit of a baking session on Wednesday when I discovered a recipe for Oreo Brownies, they sounded so good to be true I really had to give them a whirl. For any of those interested, below is the recipe. It’s a recipe from Lorraine Pascal’s Baking Made Easy recipe book, which is fast becoming one of my favourites. I can honestly say that these are not only super easy to make, but they also taste absolutely scrumptious. I was initially concerned that the brownies were too sloppy once they came out of the oven, but after popping them in the fridge overnight they were a lot more stable and more brownie-like. It’s not surprising they were quite squidgy as you don’t add massive amounts of flour to the mixture, so it is quite runny when you pop it in the tin.

You will need:

  • 165g butter
  • 200g dark chocolate – finely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 165g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 154g Oreo biscuits – broken into quarters

And all you do is:

  • Melt the butter and chocolate together
  • Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla essence in a large bowl until they are light and fluffy
  • Add the sugar a bit at a time, whisking after each addition (make sure you pour the sugar round the side of the bowl so as not to knock out the air you’ve whisked in)
  • Once the mixture has stiffened pour in the chocolate mixture (pour round the sides again)
  • Next add the flour, cocoa powder and a third of the Oreos and stir until combined
  • Pour into a greased and lined tin (21cm square)
  • Sprinkle the rest of the Oreos over the top and press them into the mixture slightly
  • Bake at 180⁰C for 25-30 minutes until the middle is gooey.
  • Leave to cool in the tin before removing, cutting up and scoffing them all!

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See I told you they were simple to make and to be honest the very small effort is totally worth it as they are scrumptious, with just the perfect brownie texture – I promise you’ll love them! Let me know if you make them, I’d love to hear how they turned out!

Travel Tuesday: A family trip to Portugal

I’m lucky enough to have visited lots of lovely places in my 28 years on this planet – I’ve enjoyed everything from city breaks and beach resorts to road trips and glorious scenery. Weirdly I haven’t reminisced about one of those trips for a while as I tend to go on them, enjoy a wonderful time, snap lots of pictures and then jump straight back into everyday life. I think this needs to change, so I thought I’d take part in the Travel Tuesday link up that Bonnie and Belinda organise. I love reading their weekly posts, so why not share my own? I’m off to Portugal soon, so I thought whaat better place to start? Read on for some Portugal love about the last time I was out there back in September 2012.

I went out for a week to Vale do Lobo in the Algarve to spend some lovely family time with my parents, sisters and Greg, the littlest sister’s boyfriend. It was so chilled out and relaxed, it was one of the best weeks I’ve had in Portugal, and considering I’ve been about twenty times that’s saying a lot. The great thing about Portugal is that as I go fairly regularly and have done since I was about five, it means that I know the area like the back of my hand.  I always feel settled and in holiday mode as soon as I arrive, which I think we can all agree makes a big difference when the point of your trip is to relax thoroughly. In terms of what we got up to on or holiday; it was all about the eating, the exploring, the card games, the running, the go karting, visiting a nature reserve and the sunbathing. The perfect sunny holiday really! I won’t go in to masses of detail on the whole week, as I will find it hard to keep this post short(!), instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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Setting the world to rights over the BBQ

The Mothership and me with drinks and cards

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Go karting fun

This was the first time we’d been go karting in Portugal and it was so much fun! I was perhaps a little more restrained than others, but I still enjoyed it. Lets be fair I can’t help it if I’m a little bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to things like speed.

Late night cocktails

Late night cocktails

A glorious view

A glorious view

Gorgeous weather

Gorgeous weather

I love the colours in this picture – the bright blues, deep greens and creamy buildings. So beautiful.

More Uno!

More Uno!

All dressed up for dinner

All dressed up for dinner

Me and Lau

Me and Lau

and relax...

and relax…

Chilling by the pool

Chilling by the pool

Sun shade

Sun shade

Hello!

Hello!

It's all about the sunglasses

It’s all about the sunglasses!

An amble through the nature reserve

An amble through the nature reserve

Smiley sisters

Smiley sisters

The local nature reserve

The local nature reserve

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery

More cocktails

More cocktails

Lots of cocktails

Lots of cocktails

I can’t wait to go back to Portugal soon, it’s going to be brilliant to have a chilled out few days in the sun (hopefully) and not have to do anything but relax. Let the countdown begin, only thirteen more sleeps to go…

A Compass Rose

Eating, shopping and friendly shenanigans

This week has been a brilliant one. I’ve loved every minute of it, which has been topped off nicely by a three-day weekend – bliss! So what have I been up to? Well I…

  • tried to wean myself off of store-bought coffees. that didn’t really work, I gave in after just one Nescafe sachet on Monday morning. I just couldn’t do it, the sachet just had me craving other coffee beverages by 11am. What a fail I am.
  • started two new books and I’ve already discarded both as I couldn’t get in to them, argh my reading challenge isn’t going to well at the moment. How annoying, Hopefully the book I start next will have me excited about reading again.
  • had a Newsroom extravaganza which is almost as fab as The West Wing. It was accompanied by scrumptious food, good company and mochas, so it was a good night. I had forgotten how brilliant the entire cast of the show are though. I can’t wait for the next installment of our Newsroom extravaganza and for the brand new series to start in just over a week.
  • had a great time sending off a colleague to her new exciting job. It involved a mammoth shopping trip for a brill present – check out that watch! – lovely cakes and finally a gossipy (and enlightening) night of strawberries and drinks in Covent Garden. A brilliant way to celebrate a sad occasion 😦
  • tried one of Pret’s new hazelnut lattes. I can confirm they are delicious and really wake you up on after a night of gossipy fun with friends!
  • discovered (and baked) some scrumptious Oreo brownies. I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that the recipe for these was sat in one of my cookbooks, what a travesty that is! They were so delicious that I’ll most definitely be making them on a regular basis!
  • had a low point during a late night at my desk which saw me tucking into a pack of dry cereal as I was so hungry! Wow London life is sometimes all about the thrills.
  • Moved desks at work. I know it’s only a small thing but I’m not sure I’m convinced on this new spot yet…
  • visited the gym for the first time in a long time and enjoyed a brilliant spin class and a less brilliant run. The spin class involved doing routes through Utah, the rockies and the Grand Canyon. It was quite cool to look at that beautiful scenery when sat in a dark room on a static bike!
  • Lunch at Wagamama’s and brunch at Del Aziz. Both were scrumptious and both need to be revisited.
  • Shopping, where I wasn’t the most restrained! I got lots of lovely clothes, which I’ll share with you very soon in my next budget bloggers post and the sign shown below. Isn’t it cute? It fits perfectly with my seaside themed room and it was only £6.60 in the Debenhams sales. WIN!
  • did some DIY (correction got Dad up with his tools) and put up a new bathroom shelf and my cute jewellery holder. Totally in love with how organised my jewellery now looks!
  • discovered the new orange chocolate eclairs from Cadbury’s – absolutely delicious I tell you. Everyone should get on those asap!

I think I might be addicted

Do you ever go through a period of time where you just seem fixated on two or three things (outside of work and normal life) or is that just me? I seem to go through stages where I get wrapped up in certain things. Often I then do them to death and get bored and move to something else, hence why I have a jumble of wool I’ve not knitted with for about six months and a stupid number of cookbooks, that I got out sporadically and document over here. So my current addiction appears to be Netflix, which we recently downloaded. I love having hundreds of programmes and films at my finger tips – it’s really quite brilliant. I sort of want an excuse to not leave my sofa for a week so I can properly get stuck into it. I’ve been watching all sorts on there at all times – first thing in the morning, of an afternoon and most recently long in to the night.

So far I’ve rediscovered Christopher Eccleston as Doctor Who and Gossip Girl – the latter of which is a very underrated show if you ask me. I’ve also been watching Modern Family, I can’t believe I never saw the first episode of the show, it’s actually genius and they are all so so funny! Although it’s maybe not ideal to watch it last thing at night as my laugh can be a tad too loud at times. I also watched a really good film with Chris Pine (he’s a little bit of a crush of mine) which I’d whole-heartedly recommend, it’s a good easy watch film called People Like Us. We’re also making our way through House of Cards, I’m not as into it as I assumed I would be yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time. I mean with Kevin Spacey in it, surely it has to be freaking brilliant, yes?

So yes I think I might soon need Netflix Anonymous, but for now I think I’ll make the most of it – after all the newness will wear off soon right?! Until it does I’m totally up for a load of suggestions as to what I should be watching – anything you would suggest as a must-watch on Netflix?

Chocolate, Tesco and books for company – this weeks marketing loves

Today I thought I’d share some more marketing stuff that I’ve seen bandying around the interweb thingamajig and also out on the streets of London. I really enjoy collating this stuff and find it super useful for work purposes to have it all saved in one place – so I hope you all do too!

I can’t really remember if I’ve mentioned my lack of enthusiasm for the royal baby furore on this blog or not, but I really wasn’t as fussed as most other people seem to have been about it all. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against the birth of a baby, I just don’t understand how it was the centre of the world for a good couple of weeks, craziness! There were a lot of dreadful adverts around at this time, but I absolutely adored this Carling video, which they released to celebrate the birth of Prince George. I love the humour in it and that it sticks to there usually messaging of Refreshingly Perfect (or not as the case may be). Brilliant!

Have you noticed the new Tesco adverts? Aren’t they just so NOT Tesco? I got almost to the end of the TV version of the advert before I realised that it was actually Tesco, when normally I don’t like any Tesco ads! But these ones are different and really good – I like the colours, the syle and the sentiment behind them all and I think it’s a great way for them to try and steal some of the customers from Sainsbury’s and even Waitrose. Very clever.


I’m super excited that Cadbury’s will be focusing on Christmas for a big marketing campaign – I agree with their marketing guy who says that it’s ‘sinful’ that they’ve not done more to celebrate this time of year, especially considering how much effort they put into Easter and also how much Cadbury’s chocolate is consumed at this time of year in the form of Roses and Selection boxes. Also how awesome is the design – I love the knitting/fairisle concept. Also, why am I surprised they’ve not used real people in their ads in the past – weird!

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Being in book marketing means I’m always on the look out for awesome book ads, and these ones are brilliant! I love the concept so much (mainly because it’s how I feel about books!). Make sure you check out the link as there are some other great images of Sherlock Holmes and Gandalf, it’s actually quite tricky to choose a favourite if you ask me!

What about you, what awesome ads and brilliant marketing gubbins have you noticed recently – I’d love to see some more brilliant suggestions!

A Wednesday night treat

Morning my little porcupines, how the devil are you?!  Sorry for interrupting your Thursday morning, but I just wanted to share one small thing. Last night this happened…oops!

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Yep that’s right brownies that contain Oreo biscuits. Bloody genius if you ask me! Plus they taste absolutely sensational too. The recipe will be on this here blog soonish, I promise! Have a fabulous Thursday peeps. xx

Pinterest Corner #30 – a shiny glittery dish

So here we are, at the beginning of the first of my new-look Pinterest Corner posts. Anyone else excited, or is that just me…!

For my first improved crafty Pinterest Corner post I’ve chosen something I’ve been meaning to make for ages, ever since I saw the original blog post about it on A Beautiful Mess back in February! I saw it, pinned it to Pinterest and then promptly forgot about it! However, when I was perusing my Pinterest boards a few weeks ago I saw the original pin and it made me smile thanks to all it’s lovely glittery goldness and I knew that would be the first thing I made. I didn’t just choose it because it looked nice, but also because I really need a place to keep my jewelrey every night. At the moment it sits on my chest of drawers and I’m always losing bits when I knock them on the floor. So this sparkly dish would be awesome.

I obviously didn’t create this idea from scratch, I totally followed the method from the original blog post here, so  I can’t take any of the credit for this genius idea. But I’m so glad that they came up with this idea, as it’s such a simple and easy way of updating something that’s really plain. And I’m glad I’ve given it a go, it looks so so pretty! So look below for my pictorial (is that a word?!?!) step-by-step guide to creating this crafty gold dish.

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1 – I found this awesome pink plastic soap dish in the B&Q sale

2 - I got some PVA glue and gold glitter, courtesy of Hobbycraft

2 – I got some PVA glue and gold glitter, courtesy of Hobbycraft

3 - Spread the dish with PVA glue and sprinkle on the gold glitter. Leave to dry.

3 – Spread the dish with PVA glue and sprinkle on the gold glitter. Leave to dry.

4 - Repeat the glue/glitter combo until the pink is fully covered.

4 – Repeat the glue/glitter combo until the pink is fully covered.

5 - Spray with hairspray and get using it!

5 – Spray with hairspray and get using it!

Ideal presents for little people…

Rather excitingly we now have a new addition to our family, in the form of a little baby girl born to my cousin and his wife over the weekend!! I’m so excited by this(and for them) and can’t wait to see pictures of the new addition. It’s their first baby girl and they already have two gorgeous boys so I know she’ll be one very spoilt little girl. As they are Australia based I’m not sure when I’ll get to meet her, so I’ve been consoling myself with some window shopping. As she’s going to need some super cute treats right!?!

Bunny hat and mittens – £8 – Next: no words to describe these, they are just so cute and I like that they’re very girly!

Bunny toy – £24 – notonthehighstreet.com: Spots and pastels, what’s not to love! Plus you can personalise them. Cuteness in toy form!

Giraffe comforter – £9 – Jojo Maman Bebe: Um this is gorgeous – I want it! Surely it would comfort me as much as a newborn baby?

Denim and mint dress – £13 – Next: Oh how I wish they did this in a big persons size! The mint and denim are a brilliant combination and the addition of the little girl embroidery is very cute.

Alphabet sleepsuit – £19.50 – Oliver Bonas: Simple, classy and sophisticated, what’s not to love!

Rabbit rattle – £6 – johnlewis.com: Look at these floppy ears, so sweet. It makes a nice change to the bright primary colour versions you normally see.

Name puzzle – £17.50 – notonthehighstreet.com: I’m not sure how useful these are but I can’t not love them, especially in the pink hues.

‘Welcome to the World’ print – £30 – hunkydoryhome.co.uk: Now this is probably more of something that the parents would appreciate than the new baby, but I think it makes an unusual addition to a baby’s room. Plus I love the colour.

Jellycat cat cuddly toy – £16 – Johnlewis.com: I’m a huge fan of jellycat toys, they’re so soft and cuddly. This cat one does not disappoint in the slightest!

Personalised Bib – £14 – notonthehighstreet.com: Surely every child needs a personalised bib, especially one featuring a giraffe!

Cow Bibs – £4.55 (sale price) – johnlewis.com: My cousins life on a farm and breed cows, therefore this set of bibs is surely an essential. So cute and not to farmy. Plus they’re in the sale!

Frankie the dog – £7 – Paperchase: Um, this was a late addition and I’m not sure how baby proof it is, but I saw it and had to include it. It’s just so sweet with all its stripyness. I want it!

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