When I decided to quit my day job I had to make sacrifices where pampering was concerned. I’ve learnt that you don’t need to break the bank to feel pampered!
One thing I realised early on was that buying in bulk can save you SO much money!
I always try and use a quality shampoo and conditioner, that means salon quality (actual salon quality, not that tresemme shit). Unfortunately salon quality comes at a price, but shop around and you can find some amazing savings.
Before I moved on to mane’n'tail shampoo, I was using Tigi tweens which you can find at bargainous prices over on the old Ebay. Mane’n'tail is my new favourite budget buy, and I’ve picked it up for a reasonable price on Amazon and Ebay. When you buy both of these in their larger sizes you’ll find they work out around the same price as a decent ‘everyday’ shampoo/conditioner, but the quality is much better.
I no longer trust anyone else with my eyebrows. Nope.
I started waxing and tinting my own brows when I quit my day job, and doing quite a good job of it! I didn’t have to spend £10+ a month on getting someone else to do them in a salon, and I had complete control. A few months ago I went to a benefit brow bar where they BUTCHERED my beloved thick brows, I looked like a shocked Liverpudlian. Woe.
Take care of your own brows using the veet facial hair waxing kit (this lasts forever), a pair of tweezerman tweezers for the stragglers and eyelure dye kit for tinting (about 12 applications here).
Making your own sugar scrub is awesome, seriously… so pamper-some. In an old bathroom container of some kind, or even just a tupperware, combine brown sugar with olive oil and stir together. Use it in the shower to scrub the day away, it’s such a treat! You can even add essential oils and scents, many available on ebay. Swap out the brown sugar for seasalt if you feel like it, too.
One sure fire way of feeling pampered is to treat yourself, and that doesn’t need to cost any more than a couple of quid. For me, that means a bunch of flowers (£2 from the super market), an ikea cinnamon and apple candle, and reading my book in a quiet room for a few hours. Deliciously cheap luxury!
I’m trying really hard to keep up with my ‘blog every day in May’ challenge, but I sort of forgot to queue up posts for this week while I’m up in Scotland with very limited internet! We’re staying in a log cabin where I can barely get 3G, let alone wifi. This post was due to be posted on Wednesday, but I’ve shifted it to Thursday instead and will combine the weekend posts on Sunday.
The theme for today’s Blog Every Day in May post is ‘Life is a Lesson’. I post a lot about the things I’ve learnt through running a business, hoping that by sharing my experiences it might help other people a bit.
One of the most important posts I’ve ever written is about how to deal with failure, and on the back of that I want to reiterate how persevering is the most important lesson you can ever learn.
If you persevere, wade through the shit, and work your arse off… you’ll succeed. And if you go through all that and still haven’t got there, keep going. You. Will. Succeed.
Whereas if you come up against a wall and figure “I’ve failed”, then yes, you’ve failed.
Jump over the fucking wall. Hell, scramble over it and fall on the ground at the other side.
Keep on track and aim straight at your goals. You’ll get there someday.
Photo from my instagram, where all good food goes to gloat.
One of my favourite mid-week lunches is my super easy, amazingly tastey, so fucking good for you udon noodle soup. Working from home means I get to enjoy this all the time, and I’m pretty much okay with that.
The beauty of this soup is in its simplicity. I make it in around 20 minutes, and never weigh anything out. It’s gone few a few variations in the past few years, but I think I’ve got it perfected now.
1 litre of so of stock made with a stock cube (vegetable, and I never measure it out) + a splash of light soy sauce
1 fresh red chili
1 block of frozen grated ginger, or about a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
Healthy squeeze of ready grated lemongrass (comes in a tube), if you don’t have this then just omit it
1 grated clove of garlic
1 star anise (this is important, it adds a whole new dimension to the soup)
2-3 Green cabbage leaves
2-3 chunks of frozen spinach
Small handful of frozen sweetcorn/peas/whatever other frozen vegetables you have.
1 pack of udon noodles (I use Sharwoods straight to wok udon noodles)
Massive handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 chopped spring onion (scallion)
The method is sooooo simple. Sooooooooooooo simple.
Add your stock to a pan and heat it up, add a splash of soy sauce and the chili, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, star anise. Simmer it for a few minutes until it’s bubbling away nicely. In the mean time, rinse your cabbage leaves and roll them up like a cigar. Slice the cigar cabbage up so that you get long noodle like strands. Add this to the stock with the frozen spinach. Keep it simmering for a few minutes. Add your sweetcorn and udon noodles. Simmer it until the sweetcorn’s cooked. Remove from the heat, add your fresh coriander and top with the chopped up spring onion.
Eat. Enjoy. Fight crime.
To feel even more amazing: eat this after working out. You’ll be the smuggest bastard in town.
We’re sort of lucky where we live in that we have a green recycling bin to put out cardboard and various other recyclable rubbish, we used to have a glass bin that was collected each month too… but the council scrapped that. We try and recycle as much as possible: take re-usable bags to the super market, keep our thermostat down, use energy saving lightbulbs… but there are SO many other things we could be doing.
In an effort to be greener, these are some of the things I’m going to try to do…
- Take shorter showers – I’m terrible for long showers.
- Get a water butt for the garden to collect rain water.
- Take less short trips in the car. I’m totally guilty of taking walkable journeys in the car, all for the sake of saving time.
- Eat more locally grown/reared produce.
- Eat more seasonal produce.
- Check that all unused electronics are turned off at the plug. Lamps, chargers etc. I’ve heard that even if they’re not being used, if the plug is switched on then some energy is being wasted…
- On that note, charge my phone during the day rather than leaving it plugged in over night.
I think one of the best motivations is that most of the things listed above will also save money, win-win! Do you have any other tips for how to be greener?
Do you have a collection? I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t think I’ve currently got an active collection of anything.
I used to collect blythe & pulip dolls, but they’re currently all in storage and I haven’t added to that collection in over 5 years. I guess I sort of collect dinosaur things, too, but I don’t have a shelf full of vintage hair driers or radios. Nothing like that.
I’d love to start a collection, something I could continue to add to without having to spend loads of money. Something I could have on display at all times, or actually make use of. So instead of showing you my non-existent collection, here are some ideas for collections…
Matchbooks - these would look awesome framed, don’t you think?
Vintage water colour tins - I already have a vintage dinosaur water colour tin, perhaps I should find some more!
Rolling pins - perfect to fill an empty wall in the kitchen!
Plates - We have a few plates on our walls already, but I love that this collection is all state plates.
Vintage tins - I’ve never seen tins displayed like this, it’s a great way of showing them off!
With lots of debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that American Gods by Neil Gaiman is my favourite book. I have lots of favourite books, though, so it was hard to put that stamp on just one. I could’ve easily picked the Harry Potter series, or His Dark Materials. But no. American Gods.
I first read American Gods 11 years ago. Adam and I had just started going out, and he introduced me to his favourite graphic novel author – Neil Gaiman. Turned out I’d already read something by him that I loved, his collaboration with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens.
Adam bought this copy when he was in Canada for a family holiday, and gave it to me to read while I went on a family holiday to Florida. Any boy that could lend me my favourite book was surely a keeper!
Since then we’ve both read and re-read this particular copy of American Gods, for a paperback it’s held up pretty well. I have another copy, a recently released “Author’s preferred text” version. However, when it came to meeting Neil Gaiman at a signing in Manchester a few years ago there was only one book that I wanted signing.
American Gods intertwines folklore, mythology, faith and the human condition into one gloriously epic tale that sticks with you for years. I never tire of it, and still read it ever couple of years. There’s going to be a TV adaptation soon which makes me nervous and excited. I’m confident it won’t be a fuck up, Neil Gaiman is heavily involved with the screenplay.
Travelling is one of my loves. I have serious wanderlust and have been lucky enough to visit some amazing places over the past few years, including:
- Driving through the Canadian Rockies
- A road trip around the west coast of the USA
- Taking the train & greyhound all around the USA for 6 weeks
- Flying to Sydney on my own to meet Adam, and heading up to the Blue Mountains
- Visiting Hong Kong for a couple of weeks
- Being in Venice for the carnival
- Driving from Orlando to Key West down the Tamiami trail
- A couple of European trips (Munich, Paris)
I was hoping to be able to get over to Bologna in Italy at the end of this month, but plane prices and times are conspiring against me so I’ve had to cancel those plans. On Sunday we’re heading up to the top end of Scotland for a whisky trip with my parents, we did the same thing last year and it’s a nice little holiday.
My travel wishlist is huge and ever expanding, but it’s likely that we won’t get to take any larger trips for a while, at least while our new pooch is small (hopefully when it’s bigger it can go on its own holiday while we leave the country). Luckily, a couple of my current wanderlusts are places easily visitable from the UK for a weekend.
I’ve been lusting over Stockholm for a while now. I love Scandi style, and have a little Dala horse on my desk. I’m a little bit of a Viking nerd, so visiting some of the historical artefacts they have in Stockholm would be really interesting! Stockholm looks to have an interesting mix of new and old buildings, perfect for a walking tour. Maybe a trip to the world’s largest Ikea might be in order, too?
Another cold place I’d love to visit is Iceland. The scenery there looks absolutely stunning, I still love to look at the photos Kris took when she visited. A trip to the blue lagoon and a drive through the country to see the landscape would be definite musts.
Other places high up on my travel wishlist include India, Nepal, Mexico and Borneo. I’m not sure we’ll make it to any of those places in the next year or so, but hopefully at some point in the future!
Part of my job as a web designer means I have to keep up to date with social media. If clients come to me wanting something integrating with their websites, I need to have at least a base understanding of what they need!
My two current favourite social networks are twitter and pinterest. I’ve been using twitter for a good few years now, and have ‘met’ so many great people (and clients!) through there. I use it to keep in touch with friends, keep up to date with news (you heard it on twitter first!) and make connections with my clients.
Twitter can be so great for your business, but that’s another post in itself! It’s opened so many doors for me, if you’re not tweeting and you run a business, then you’re really missing out.
It took me a while to get into pinterest, and I still think that it can be quite a time suck so I try and limit my time on there. I love to collect inspiration for things that I’m working on, discover new brands, get insanely jealous over other people’s homes…
I recently wrote a blog post over on Kim Lawler Creative about how you can use pinterest for your business!
I’m also massively addicted to instagram, but thought adding another social media thing would make it seem like that’s all I do. Uh.
What about you, what’s your favourite social media network?
I had my first ‘real’ job when I was doing my art foundation course, a year long course in between sixth form and university. Before then I’d had a couple of Saturday jobs in call centres. I worked for the furniture store Courts (it went into administration a year after I left) on Monday nights, Friday nights, and all weekend. It was pretty soul destroying, I’m not gonna lie.
I was working right up on the shop floor, selling furniture to the general public, plumping cushions and hiding from bosses. I had to wear a stupid uniform and take out all my piercings while I worked. Selling stuff came pretty easy to me, although I was never that pushy sales type that hounded you around the store. A few of the other people who worked there were, though.
Most of the time the work was pretty easy, especially on the evening shifts — not many people come shopping for furniture between 5.30-9pm! But the days when it was busy? Sheesh, they were hell. I’m pretty sure some people take their kids to furniture stores just to let them run around!
Luckily, we worked on commission along with an hourly wage, so the harder you worked the more you earned. Some months I was earning the equivalent of an £18k salary!
I was glad to leave in the end, the manager was a total fucker and made me cry a few times. For a first job it was pretty eye opening, I learnt a lot about customer service and how to diffuse sticky situations (like that time I ordered someone the wrong colour sofa, with a 6 week wait, and only realised on delivery…).
What was your first job? Was it something you wouldn’t dream of doing now?
Today’s post is all about pets! If you know me at all, you’ll know about my feline pals Pumpkin & Bramble. They came to live with us in June 2009, they’re sisters and half norwegian forest cat/half random-cat.
This is Bramble! Her hobbies include distracting me from work, chewing everything, sleeping in her radiator bed, stretching in the sun and meowing. Favourite snack: dreamies.
This is Pumpkin! Her hobbies include chewing toilet rolls, playing fetch, eating plants, and playing with toys at 2am. Favourite snack: malt flavour treats.
They’re both indoor cats, but we sometimes let them roll around just outside the back door. We live really near a road which gets busy during the school run, so I feel much happier that they’re safely inside. Due to their indoor-ness, we make sure they get lots of exercise by having them run around the house and play on their cat tree. Pumpkin has issues with hairballs because of her long hair so she gets regular brushing with the furminator, and special malt treats (they’re supposed to help with hairballs).
This year we’re going to be growing our animal family with a fluffy golden retriever, due to come home at the end of June. More on that nearer the time!