Tuesday, 28 February 2012


In January I blogged about February having to be a month of super-scrimping, and it was, we made it through the month, by the skin of our teeth, but still. We had a near meltdown when Hubby didn't get paid on Friday like he was supposed to, and were forced to re-enter credit card debt temporary (which we'd just got out of), but that's only until I get paid tomorrow. Knowing our mortgage would be going out of an almost empty bank account at any moment caused a few grey hairs to appear, but it all got sorted out yesterday, and accounting screw-ups aside, it's been a pretty good month. I asked for your help at the start of the month, but now we're at the end I thought I'd share what tips and tricks have worked for us this month.

Bonus points schemes

Now, this can cover a multitude of things. I recently realised I've not been getting any clubcard vouchers from Tesco because my address was wrong, so have been quietly accruing quite a gold mine there, which is going to be shameless splurged on dinner & movie date nights when they arrive. Nectar points have gone on Sainsbury's vouchers and so has the money I've earnt by doing online surveys at Valued Opinions, which have both gone towards the cost of petrol & food. Boots advantage cards points covered the cost of medicine when I got sick, points from the BARB panel we're on (they record what you watch of television and you get paid for it, it's awesome) went on birthday presents and treats... The list goes on. It's really worth signing up for anything you can, because this 'free' money has helped stretch our income SO far this month. 

Homemade presents

As well as using the vouchers we got from these schemes to put towards some presents for birthdays this month, I've also carried on making homemade presents from Christmas. I plan on blogging more about this at a later date, but it's a cheap, thoughtful way of giving presents to your friends and family that doesn't involve compromising your ethics on fast fashion or plastic toys either. And who doesn't love receiving presents they can eat or drink? 

Selling on unused items

I know this in an obvious one, but we've sold a load of our 'tat' on eBay this month - stuff that has been lying around, cluttering up the house for months, and made a tidy little profit from that too. Not everything always sells, but it's free and really very easy to just keep re-listing things like CDs and clothes until they do. And if they haven't after numerous attempts, then I just take them to the charity shop. Another similar thing is to take old CDs, DVDs or computer games (which don't sell as well on eBay) to CEX for trade-in. You don't get much money for that either, but we ended up with lots of duplicates when we merged our CD collections - we passed some on to family, and sold the rest. Alternatively, just have a car boot sale!

Obviously there is more too it than that, but these things have really helped us save money this month. Hopefully next month will be a little less bleak!

Do you do any of these things already? Do you know of any other bonus point schemes that I didn't mention or have any good homemade present ideas you'd like to share?

P.S. Fun fact: I collect pressed pennies. I'm not sure why. I just always get one when I see a machine, so I was devastated to be confronted with this when I visited the Wensleydale Cheese Factory in Hawes...

Monday, 27 February 2012

Scotland's for me.

T-Shirt: Tourist Shop in Edinburgh £10, Cardigan: New Look, £old, Skirt: H&M, £15, Belt & Tights: Primark, £2/3, 
Shoes: Urban Outfitters, £6

I think it's safe to say that Scotland is my spiritual home, and one day in the not so incredibly distant future, I'd love to make it my physical home too. Living somewhere around Livingston would be a dream, a fairly decent sized town surrounded by tiny little villages, I'm not really cut out for city living - a country girl at heart - but it's close enough to Glasgow and Edinburgh (possibly the most glorious place on Earth) for frequent trips in. The only trouble is the house prices kind of match the awesomeness of the area... Sigh. Maybe a few years off yet. I just want my kids to grow up with Scottish accents, is that so much to ask?!

Where would you move to if you won the lottery tomorrow?

P.S. I've just signed up to Bloglovin, so you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin, as well as RSS feeds and via Google Friend Connect - all the widgets are in my sidebar -->
Am I missing anything?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Friday Fiction 7/52

Today's Friday Fiction is guest written by my good friend & fellow book-clubber Rory, since he chose this book for us to read. As well as being an avid reader and all round cool dude, he also makes music under the name What Luck!, which I happen to think is kind of awesome. Check out his stuff over here.

Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Hey there, Rory here, writing a review because Rosie's too lazy to do it.

Let The Right One In is a novel with a human/vampire romance in it, which you'll all know hasn't exactly made for wonderful reading in recent years. But as one reviewer on goodreads has put it: "John Ajvide Lindqvist has looked at Stephenie Meyer's book and said "Hmm, that's not quite right, is it?", and he's somehow rearranged it's elements into a bloody masterpiece", which I'm more than happy to agree with. In fact, this book is more like Twilight than you'd think, it even has the unlikeable characters. But it succeeds where Meyer's books fail because it has an interesting and original take on the vampire story. 

I mean, there were bits of it that I didn't like. There are a few sections that are genuinely gag-inducingly graphic in their description of violence, which I didn't particularly care for. And the fact that the characters aren't very likeable means you're never really rooting for anyone, although I guess Oskar gets slightly nicer throughout. But for the most part, it's a really enjoyable and compelling read, twisting and turning in unexpected directions. 

It's basically a really beautifully sad novel which is just downright creepy at times, but in a good way. I really loved the sections about the drunks, particularly the way they started off as being a seemingly unrelated annoyance, but ended in a really moving and poignant way. I imagine the film is mostly set on overcast days, that's the sort of mood this book pervades; one of depression and detachment.

Rosie compared it to Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, which I really don't see at all, other than the fact that they're both Swedish authors, and there are elements of crime fiction in both. But while that one ended with a lot of discussion about the secret police and a wonderful trial scene, this one strays away from that sort of thing for the most part, choosing to focus on the supernatural/horror elements, as well as the development of the characters.


A pretty comprehensive review, thanks Rore! I agree with a lot of the above points, but overall I found the horror/crime/fantasy elements of the book too hard to get past, so I think I enjoyed it a lot less for that. But if you like that kind of thing, then I definitely agree that it is beautifully written. I gave it 6.5/10.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Take up, don't give up (for Lent)

Top 100 things Twitter users gave up for Lent in 2009 - Source

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day to normal people), and the beginning of the Christian 'holiday' (?) of Lent. It's not really a holiday, but you know what I mean. Traditionally people give things up for Lent, to commune with Jesus or whatever, like facebook or chocolate or something. Now, as you might have noticed, I'm not big of these public holidays (I do tend to go on about it a lot), and I didn't have Pancakes yesterday, and I'm not giving anything up for Lent, because, sorry if this upsets anyone, not really that big on Jesus in my house either. More of a Science-y gal myself, but each to their own, I'm not judging you for having that belief.

But what I do really like is the re-marketing of Lent in recent years as a time to take up a positive practice, rather than give up a negative one. So rather than try to abstain from something you enjoy, have you considered trying to achieve 40 small acts of kindness instead?

Googling 'things to take up for lent' is a nightmare, so I wouldn't suggest that, but there is a website who will email you prompts and thoughts (yes, it's probably heavily Christian, but you can ignore those bits) - sign up at http://www.40acts.org.uk/ - or you could just use your common sense. Call a family member you don't speak to that often, or someone who is sick, write a letter, share your bag of crisps, donate time or money to a good cause, only buy fair trade chocolate, make an effort to include shy people in conversations, it could be absolutely anything really.

If Lent were more about being a better person and less about starving yourself, then I might be able to get a lot more on board with it, but as that righteous old dude Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world" so maybe I should put my money where my mouth is (figuratively, of course).

What do you think - do you actively participate in Lent? What are you planning to give up this year, and could you take something up instead, or even as well?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Currently obsessed with...

Keri Smith's 100 ideas project, as brought to my attention by Goodnight Little Spoon.

Keri's list is a sort of 100-ideas-for-something-you-could-do-that's-not-just-sitting-on-your-butt-all-day, but Bianca at GLS is picking and choosing her favourites to draw/graph/list/craft (go and check them out because they're boss), and I've been thinking it'd be the perfect craft journalling project following my completion of the 30 day journal challenge, but as usual, haven't got around to it yet. The thing that pushed me over the edge for how awesome an idea this is was when Bianca posted this picture of how she's set out her version of the project.

Post-its on the wall! One for every 'idea' and then she takes it off when she's completed it. I'm so in love with this organisation idea, and it would be great for me since I have such an absent mind when it comes to these things. A huge visual reminder like this would be perfection. I'm working a lot in the upcoming weeks, but I hope to get my teeth into this project ASAP.

Have you ever done any of Keri's projects before? I think she's the woman responsible for the Wreck This Journal line of products as well. Don't you think this particular project is awesome?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

My Week In Lists

So I actually got up to loads this week, holidaying in the Yorkshire Dales. It was lovely to spend some time with family and have some time off work (god bless half term).


  • Visited the Wensleydale Cheese Factory and picked up some Wensleydale with Pineapple (heavenly) for us, and some oak smoked Wensleydale for our friends as a thank-you for cat-sitting.
  • Did a tiny little bit of walking, but no fell climbing since I was getting over a horrible chest cold.
  • Went to a lot of Booths supermarkets - they're a kind of northern Waitrose if you've never heard of them, and frankly, a bit dreamy. They had FIVE different flavours of vegan ice cream in stock. Five! I picked up some Blueberry Swedish Glace and it was delightful.
  • Tried to make the most of my new camera with the beautiful surroundings but mostly just took pictures of my nephew, who I spent most of the week making eyes at and cooing over. How could I not with a face like this?

He was particularly attached to Hubby's glasses...

It was lovely to be able to spend so much time with him, since we don't get to see him or his parents (my eldest brother and his wife) that much as we live at opposite ends of the country. It makes me super excited for when the time comes for us to have our own, I can't wait! Two of my very good friends have recently given birth to lovely healthy babies (Congratulations!), so I'm hoping it's my turn next :)

P.S. Just thought I should add the disclaimer that you're not advised to use the baby seats like the one shown on tables or high surfaces, in case they tip over and fall, but in this instance, he was fully supervised and perfectly safe the whole time, promise!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Friday Fiction 6/52

Reviewed: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

A non-fiction (as far as I'm aware) account of Orwell's time fighting in the Spanish Civil War, why he joined the socialist militia is never really explained, just that he was in Spain at the time and a general 'Fascism is bad' kind of message. It covers his time at the front, and his experiences of trench warfare, as well as during a (the?) siege in Barcelona, and his not very dramatic injuries and escape from Spain.

Essentially, it was pretty boring. I found the lack of explanation behind his motivations to join the militia pretty bewildering, given that it wasn't his homeland or a country he appeared to have much connection with, so I would have been interested to read more about the reasoning behind his 'obligation' to fight fascism. It was interesting from a historic perspective - I didn't know anything about the Spanish Civil War prior to reading this - but other than the anecdote about teasing the enemy with talk of fictitious buttered toast, which really made me laugh, it was exceptionally dry. It became rather tedious after a while, dragging on to the point where I almost gave up with it I was so uninterested. Too factually detailed for only a passing interest in the topic, but could be great if that's your cup of tea. Definitely not for me though 3/10.

P.S. I realise it's not strictly Friday anymore, erm, anywhere, but I was still in holiday mode yesterday and the day just got away from me. Keep thinking it's Sunday today as well! So glad it's not. Hope you're having a lovely weekend x

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Alternative Valentine's

Even though I'm part of a self confessed sickeningly cute couple, I still just can not get on board with this holiday. I hate being told when to do anything, be that give thanks on Thanksgiving, profess love on Valentine's, or even give gifts at Christmas (this I still do, but shhh...). I like to do these things all year round! And I definitely don't appreciate being told that I simply MUST spend lots of money on a cheezey card and present to prove I love my SO, so you can just get stuffed capitalism. A quiet moment and a tender kiss are all we need to feel our love with every fiber of our being thank you very much.

Obviously, I'm still a big old softie really, so for those of you that do celebrate, I thought I'd share a few of the more original/funny Valentine's I'd found on the net, on this supposed day of love.

Tea, maps and naps are 3 of my very favourite things, punctuation (when used correctly) is also pretty high on the list, but I think we (us cat lovers anyway) can all agree the best kind of love is...

Happy Valentine's Day!

P.S. All the credits for these images can be found on my Pinterest page.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Pre-Baby Bucket List

One of the things I like to read a lot about on the internet is babies.  I love reading baby/pregnancy blogs, looking at baby pictures and reading all sorts of pre-pregnancy lists (at least until we actually get pregnant), what to eat and how to prepare etc. But something I've come across recently is the 'baby bucket list', so since you all know I love a good list, I thought I'd make one of my own, to tell you why we feel ready, and what little things we hope to achieve before our little family grows to 3.

Don't get me wrong, this list is not for everyone, it is totally specific to me. People have children at all ages, in all kinds of relationships, and they find a way to make it work whatever their situations, so please don't think I'm judging anyone.

We've already made a commitment to being a loving, stable family by getting married, and we've bought a house and a car, and we've even got a pretty fancy camera now. We're almost there financially, so the majority of these things are purely pre-baby luxuries - making the most of not being restricted by naptimes or having to find a babysitter or having to plan things a month in advance.

So with that in mind, some things we hope to do in the next few months are:
  • Get completely out of debt (apart from student loans)
  • Build up some emergency savings
  • Finish buying furniture for our house
  • Sleep a lot more!
  • Have lots of date nights
  • Make a few more spontaneous decisions.
  • Take a little trip somewhere
  • Go to Indietracks festival again this summer and dance like crazy, even if I am preggo.
  • Buy lots of cute baby clothes like the CM punk onesie above
  • Cut alcohol completely out of our diet, and cut down on the amount of caffeine and junk food we eat
And just generally enjoy each others company whilst it's just the two of us. Try and appreciate what we have a little more (something I'm terrible at) - lots of love and uninterrupted sleep!

What would you put on your baby bucket list? Do you want to see the world first before you settle down?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Weekend Wishlist

All I want in life at the moment is this jumpsuit.

Well that's not strictly true, but owning it would make me very, very happy. The Florence Leopard Print All In One from boohoo.com is exceptionally ridiculous and exceptionally beautiful. I would wear it with everything, to everything, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Absolute bargain too, but trying to justify the price of postage which is almost as much as the item itself when I have absolutely zero dollar is hard. Of course it's worth it, but that's not the point. Does anyone fancy treating me to an early birthday present?? Just kidding, I'll find a way to make it mine even if I do have to sell one of my kidneys...

Have a great weekend!

Friday Fiction 5/52

Reviewed: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Everything I knew about this book prior to reading it came from my repeat viewings of Easy A, which follows (very roughly), the basic plot, but without all the religious doctrines being shoved down your throat. Not to beat up on the book, but if religion isn't your thing, or ye olde language for that matter, just watch the film. It's a lot more fun, and Emma Stone really is rather pretty in it.

For those of you who haven't seen the film (I really would recommend it) which nicely summerises the book as well as being a modern interpretation of the story in it's own right, here's the breakdown: Hester Prynne gets knocked up out of wedlock and is shunned by the manically puritanical New England society she lives in. They think it's a terrible punishment to make her wear a red 'A' on her clothes, so that everyone knows she's an adulterer, which seems pretty weak to me, given that her alternative punishment was death, but it torments her a lot so maybe it was harsh enough for the times. She refuses to say who the baby daddy is, and bears her punishment silently, devoting her life to redemption through charity and chasteness and eventually wins everyone around so that when it's finally revealed who the father is, everyone thinks she's great. Basically, NOTHING HAPPENS.

I found it really difficult to connect to a story that was so overtly about religious fundamentalism, even if the point of it was that religion is flawed and the puritans took it too far, and it was so needlessly descriptive. It's not a particularly long book but I still managed to end up skim reading large chunks out of sheer boredom - particularly the first 50 or so pages. I enjoyed how Hester's character was portrayed, and thought that once the story got going, I would begin to enjoy it, but it never really got going, it was very arduously drawn out and then everything was very suddenly concluded at the end, in a rushed and anti-climatic way.

Very disappointing for such a lauded classic, 3.5/10

Have you read it, what did you think? Is my review too harsh or did you find it as dull and hard to get your teeth in to as I did? How do you think Easy A compares in terms on story lines?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A pocketful of sunshine.

Dress: vintage, eBay, Cardigan: Fat Face, Tights: Primark, Boots: Shoe Zone, Necklace: gift

These pictures feel like they were taking a million years ago, back in the land before snow, when sunlight still existed... Excuse the dramatics, just getting a little fed up of it now! We had about 5 inches over the weekend and it is refusing to budge, just icing up a little more every night and making my walk to work particularly perilous. I did have a sudden urge to throw a snowball on the first day, but that passed pretty quickly. As romantic and fun as it can be, it does get to be a bit of a nuisance after a while doesn't it?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Vegan Treats

I know I've talked before about why it is that I eat a semi-vegan diet (here if you're interested), but I thought it might be interesting to share with you what I eat that is vegan, and oh so tasty. It's true that vegan food can be horrible, and terribly boring, if you don't do it right. And seriously, don't even look at tofu if you don't know what you're doing with it, because it will taste disgusting, and put you off it for a long time, like I did when I first tried it and didn't season it with anything - yuck.

Pro tip one: season your tofu.

The simple answer to "well, what do you eat then?" is fruit, veggies, beans, pulses, nuts and some grains. I've recently tried to really cut down on my dairy intake, as well as my 'white' carbs - bread and pasta and rice - because they just leave me feeling horrible. Which isn't to say I don't eat anything bad at all. I've recently discovered Asda's dark chocolate spread which is like fudge cake icing, totally vegan, totally still bad for you, and I eat it by the jarful...

Pro tip two: vegan does not equal healthy.

I'm terrible at photographing my food, because I'm always so eager to eat it! But I'm going to try and get better so I can share some of my tasty, but mostly vegan, meals and treats. Maybe even the odd recipe. Here are some pictures I've taken in the past of my delicious eats. Hopefully it'll inspire you!

Vegan ice cream sundae with banana, chopped nuts & golden syrup.

Chickpea terryaki with kale, rice and naan.

Chocolate spread and pink milk.

 Mixed salad w/ avacado, houmous, marinated tofu, rice cakes and strawberries.

Oatmeal and raisin cookies, dusted with icing sugar.

Mmm, tasty. Next week: scrambled tofu. Yum!
Do you ever eat any vegan food? I'm always looking for new recipes or cookbook recommendations, so if you have any to share, I'd love that :)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

My Week In Lists - Girl Power

I've been in Somerset this weekend, seeing Hubby's family, so excuse the short/late post today. I haven't really discussed my passion for music that much on the blog yet, so this week my list is of my top 10 female artists, in the name of girl power and all that. They might not be the greatest vocalists ever, but they're special to me :)

10. Taylor Swift
9. Regina Spektor
8. Hannah Clark/Arthur/FOE
7. Joanna Newsom
6. Courtney Love/Hole
5. Dusty Springfield
4. Nicola Roberts/Girls Aloud
3. Beyonce/Destiny's Child
2. Robyn

and at number 1, it is of course, The Legendary Miss herself

Britney Spears!

The reason Miss Spears is my number one gal pal for a number of reasons, even though she's totally crazy, because she's totally crazy. I've loved her since I was a wee lass when I used to dance around my bedroom with my 'Oops I Did It Again' album on repeat and I've adored her ever since. I love her constant reinvention, her voice and, well, pretty much everything about her. I had the pleasure of seeing her live a few years ago, and yes, it was ridiculously expensive and yes, she did mime for most of it, but even so, I still got to see Britney Spears - that was enough for me!

Have you ever been to a concert where you almost didn't care how the performance was, you were just so excited to be there? I think maybe it's maybe more of a pop music phenomenon than anything else, and I'm ok with it being a little bit ridiculous. Who have I missed off my list that you think is the bee's knees? Leave me a comment and I'll check them out.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Friday Fiction 4/52

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

This was my first Auster read, even though it's his 16th written, and I was definitely left wanting to read more - it was so good!

The story is told from multiple perspectives, but is centered around Miles, a man wandering around the country, trying to come to terms with having caused his brother's death, and knowledge that he may or may not have done it on purpose. He left behind his wealthy family and we find him living in Florida with his brilliant, but high school aged girlfriend, clearing repossessed houses for a living. He is forced to leave, so as not to be arrested, when her family turn against him and ends up in a squat in New York with a idiosyncratic band of characters, with the emotional and financial constraints of the 2008 economic crisis as a back drop.

It's not an action packed novel, but I relished the delightfully slow pace and the beautifully written characters. The changing narrative of the chapters allowed them each to become fully formed and come alive in a wonderfully rounded way. I did find some chapters weaker than others - the Miles section griped me and pulled me in right from the beginning, but the Morris one left me a little cold - and I've read that some people were disappointed with the ending, which yes, for me it lacked a little conclusion, but this in no way spoiled the book for me.

As soon as I'd finished I was raving about it to my friends, and immediately went out and got my hands on another Auster  - The Brooklyn Follies. His writing style consumed me and I am so very excited to read more. It really was a joy to read, and apart from a few niggles, a truly wonderful book, 9/10.

P.S. I'm not sure if this review reflects quite how much I loved it, but trust me, I did. Go and read it for yourself!
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