Money vs. Happiness…or Both?

From what I have learned of the world since I graduated 3.5 years ago, most people seem to exist with a permanent question mark over their heads. Do I get a job that pays me really well which I might not like or do I get one I know I will like but which will never earn me great money?

Most people don’t know the answer so they choose one side of the fence and then continually wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Don’t get me wrong though, there are a lucky few who get it just right (my sister is one) and they do something they enjoy which actually has pretty good earning potential as well. Some of us however, veer way off course and end up in a job which we only partially enjoy and which pays ok…total indecisive middle ground! This is me!

To my mind, the middle ground is the safe bet, the place you go when you are too scared to leap over the fence so you sit on it. But, my question is, how do you know which way to leap? Will you really be happier if you constantly have no money but do a job you enjoy or will you actually be happier if you dislike your work but earn loads so therefore do everything you could ever dream of outside of work?

I’m not sure I will ever find the answer to this question but I sure would like to. I guess at some point I’m just going to have to take a leap of faith one way or the other. What do you guys think and which side of the fence do you sit on?

My Boyfriend’s Sandy Balls

Last Wednesday my bf tipped the scales to the wrong side of 25…he turned the grand old age of 26 just a month and a bit before it’s going to happen to me!

Anyhow, age aside, I wanted to take him somewhere as we hadn’t yet had a proper holiday together and he really wanted to visit a Centerparcs. However, that is EXPENSIVE for 2 people and the next best thing I could find was a lodge for 2 people at Sandy Balls in the New Forest. So we went and stayed Mon-Fri last week and had ourselves a lovely, relaxing time.

In terms of actual activities, Sandy Balls is pretty limited at this time of year, things like the clay pigeon shooting aren’t on out of season whereas my sister was at Centerparcs at the same time where much more was going on. Lucky for us, we were in the New Forest so there was plenty of natural beauty nearby to explore in between a couple of spa treatments :-)

One of my favourite moments of the break was whilst we were out cycling and we found a few donkeys trotting up the road together. I love donkeys, they are just awesome so this made my day and my super talented bf even managed to capture a bit of this whilst cycling. If this has worked then his masterpiece should follow:

Oh, and here’s the evidence that I really was cycling and did it the safe way:

I don’t think you need 3 guesses to work out which of us is the most athletic! I tried really hard with the cycling but have to admit I did walk the bike up a couple of hills…I got part way there but they were massive and super steep!

Across the week we took in some gorgeous views but my favourite was when we went for a long walk through the trees, off the beaten track. We even found the carcass of a horse on the ground! It was like walking through an enchanted forest with the leaves on the ground, I kept expecting to see all sorts of animals come bounding out from the trees and gather in the middle of the forest floor to speak to each other. A couple of my faves from the bf’s photos are here: (check out the horse in the second one)

It was a fab. week and great to not be swamped with mobile phones and the internet all week, instead getting out there in the fresh air. It was a much simpler life and one which I enjoyed, though I am glad to be back with my laptop!

Whilst we were there we also had some delicious food which I will come onto in my next post as the places we visited I really recommend and want to share with you all :-) x

The Best of The Rest Part 2

Wowsers, it feels like forever since I wrote the post about Promod last week. The reason its taken me so long to follow up is that I have been away in the New Forest for the bf’s birthday…but more about that tomorrow.

Today, I am going to introduce you to the other little gems I found when I was mooching around online last week. I’m going to start with this absolutely bargainous little playsuit I found on the Miss Rebel website.  I found it in their clearance sale, reduced from £19.99 to just £9.99 and I’m thinking it will look great this winter with some tights, biker boots (perhaps the Tesco ones) and a leather jacket. It’s still available, along with some other great finds as well :-)

If you’re on quite a tight budget like many of us are, then you might not be able to afford a real leather jacket to go with this look. My suggestions are: a.) try eBay, you’d be surprised what bargains you can find if you look hard enough and b.) try a faux leather little number such as this one:

This little beaut has just the right attitude and all for only £19.49 from Pink Heart. 

If you do get on the leather (or faux leather) bandwagon, a multitude of awesome dress / jacket combinations will open up to you for this autumn / winter fun time. You’ll probably have loads already in your wardrobe that can be re-vamped this way but if you’re still looking for something new, check out this maxi dress from Miss Lure:

I love it, although it’s just £24.00, I think it has a real All Saints look to it and we all know All Saints dresses cost a lot more than £24.00!

So for now, that is the best of the rest from me but I will continue my hunt. What I really want to find is any independent stores (physical or virtual) and fresh designers. I’ll get back to you on this as and when I find them. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know and I’ll check them out :-)

Happy Sunday!

The Best of The Rest

Yesterday I had some spare time as part of my lazy Sunday so I decided to mooch around the internet a bit and look at some of the results Google throws up beyond the first couple of pages. Specifically what I was looking for was online fashion stores that I didn’t previously know were there. It can be so easy to go to the same old sites…ASOS, Very, etc. but that can often mean you end up in the same get-up as your friends and tonnes of other people out there too!

There’s a fair bit of mooching still to go in order to find the real gems I know are out there but I have found some initial goodies. The first site I found which I hadn’t known was there is Promod. Promod is a French brand and when I was in Lille last year I found some funky t-shirts in their store, sadly the one I bought died in the first wash as it went in with a brand new duster! So now I am super excited to find them online and I found some good looking bargains too. Here are my faves:

I love this 60s inspired dress, the design is simple yet striking and the choice of colours is right up my alley! You can add this little beauty to your wardrobe for just £39.00.

Continuing with the 60s theme is this fab orange swing coat. Orange is such a big colour right now and it’s so good for autumn. Try it and you might just like it!

The coat is £95.00 but if you like it, it’ll be an investment piece you’ll be wearing almost non stop for months, if not years on end. Grab it now here.

Stepping aside from the 60s colour pop trend, I have also found some great British inspired treasures with much more traditional colour ways for winter in the UK.

I love this jacket so much! I would however, try it out with a dress and some biker boots for a more edgy look than they have here. It’s £47.00 but I think it’s one of those you could put with anything and definitely clash it with other colourways. If you were, however feeling a bit more conservative, perhaps on a work day, I think these shoes would look just fab with this jacket:

These are a total bargain at just £36.00 and would look totally hot with dresses as well.

In my next post I will tell you about the other sites I found but I just had to go first with Promod as there were so many tasty items :-)

As an FYI, I am not being paid by Promod, I just love their stuff!!!

Anyone else got any good “secret” online stores they have found? x

Mascara Review – L’Oreal vs. Clinique

My eyes are my favourite part of me – for all the things I hate, they are the one thing I am pleased turned out just the way they are. As such, I like to be able to show my eyes off to their best advantage at all times and an important part of that is getting my mascara right.

A few years ago my step-mum turned me into a big Clinique fan and since then I have refused to use any foundation that is not made by them and until recently I had been the same with mascara. However, I have gone a bit mad with my spending so I thought that I would try an alternative in the interests of frugality!

My usual mascara of choice is Clinique’s High Impact Curling mascara in black (£15.00) – check it out here. It is brilliant! I find the wand really easy to use, I can put on a couple of coats for great oomph and it stays put forever! None melts onto my face and when I take it off I have to use warm water and it comes off in clumps rather than a black mess all over my fingers.

As you can imagine, it was scary moving away from that but I decided I would check out the L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes mascara in Extra Black as it was on offer in Tesco so I got it for £9.22. (Here is the product)

The verdict is mixed – the brush is great at separating my lashes and it really does add volume but I find the brush way too cumbersome for the lower lashes. However once on, my lashes look amazing – better than with my Clinique! BUT…by the end of a day at work, I look a bit like a raccoon with very dark circles under my eyes as my mascara has started to melt. Also, the sheer volume of mascara I have to apply means that getting it off is a messy is business and I tend to have black streaks all over my fingers and face!

So for me, my Clinique is the way forward as it works – day in, day out and I know I can guarantee it will always be on my lashes, rather than under my eyes. However, if you want a fairly cheap mascara to use for occasions only and also want the fake lash effect, you should give the L’Oreal a go.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has any winning tips on how to achieve lasting “wow” eyes :-) x

My New Crush… F&F at Tesco Boots!

Last year I bought a pair of grey biker style ankle boots from Tesco which were so super comfy that when the chain on them broke I bought a second pair. (Benefits of bargain fashion right there!) An additional bonus for big foot me was that I needed the 6 as well so I felt like my feet were smaller than they actually are! However this year, the chain has broken on the second pair so I was left with a bit of a dilemma. Back to Tesco I went.

And the trip was rewarded, I found an awesome pair of ankle boots and an awesome pair of long boots – biker rather than riding style. Riding boots are a bit too dull for my liking.

Here are my ankle boots:

They are a bargain at only £19.50 and I wore mine all day last week walking around London when we went to the London Dungeons. They’re still for sale online: F&F Ankle Boots.

And here are my long boots, yet to be worn but that is purely due to the weather being unusually warm. This week is meant to be a lot colder so look out for some pics of them as part of an outfit. These are only £28.00 and also still available online: F&F Long Boots.

Anyone else got any bargainous boots yet this year? I’m so fickle that I’m always after a bargain as I know I’ll probably change my mind about what I want a couple of months later! Until next time x

Blink and you miss it…a year that is!

I was looking back over this blog the other day and realised that I started it up a little over a year ago. A whole year has passed and I hadn’t even noticed – in my mind it was more like 6 months.

On the plus side, for the most part I liked what I read – I’ve had a fair few fun experiences and the blog has documented them nicely for me. For someone who was previously in several consecutive wrong relationships which really lacked fun, it was very much reassuring to see I have broken that mould.

It did however, get me to wondering why I still write the blog. When I started I was miserable and I wanted to use it as way to take control of my life and force myself to be the person I want to be. To a certain extent I still use it for that purpose, though more as a comfort blanket. I think what it represents now is reassurance that I can achieve things – no matter how small they are.

So why do other people write blogs? Many of them seem to be like mine, random ramblings of individuals with nothing more to talk about than their every day lives so are we all depressed or are we all in control?

It’s something I could go on thinking about forever but for now, that’s all I’ll say. I just wanted to make you guys think about it too and maybe share what you use as your control mechanisms and comfort blankets. x

New Shoes…With a Time Delay

Whilst in London on the weekend, the bf and I made the obligatory trip into Topshop, Oxford Circus. We had to really given that the bf needed to go to Niketown! As I was mooching around in the shoe department I accidentally stumbled upon a super fit pair of Dune shoes – and they happened to only have 1 pair left in my big foot size (7) so it seemed a bit like fate. The most fate-like part was that when I put them on they actually fit – no insoles, no heel guards to make the heel narrower, no gaping around the toes – they fit like a glove :-) In fact, I don’t think normal people will be able to get their feet in them!

Here they are looking amazing:

The thing is, these shoes were £95, which is approximately £94.99 more than I have available to spend on shoes right now. However, with my feet, I couldn’t miss this opportunity so I added them to the ever increasing credit card balance. But… I have been trying really hard not to overspend and use my credit card over the last few months following a huge spending spree over the previous few months. So, knowing that I am getting a bonus in my next pay cheque, I have bought them on the card and given them to the bf with the strict instructions that I cannot have them back to wear until he sees me pay £95 off my credit card. This means I have to wait nearly a month to wear them but I will appreciate them so much more and the bf is great with money so he is a valuable resource to help me sort out my poor, poor finances. (Think a Carrie / Mr. Big type situation here.)

Although the day to day enjoyment is slightly delayed, please join me in my general excitement at owning these shoe-shaped pieces of art – I can literally see them matching EVERYTHING I own!

Love, love, love! So super happy! What shoes have you guys been buying recently? I’d love to have a look :-)

Rant-a-thon…and snow!

Yesterday the bf and I went to London and had an awesome day out, visiting the London Dungeons, having our photo taken by Aviva on the South Bank and even fitting in a spot of shopping. Not only that, but I had been super proactive and had the bf take photos of my outfit before we left so that I could write about it on here as it was super fit, bargainous and ideal for a day on my feet. However, Nokia got in my way. 

Today I decided to run the software updates my phone has been asking me to run so I updated my version of Nokia Ovi Suite on my laptop, restarted and then plugged the phone in to update that…easy! Or so I thought until the phone backup crashed the update and broke my phone. I now have a phone that won’t even turn on all because I tried to improve some things I no doubt would not have even noticed! ARGH!!!

It then gets better. I rang O2 to ask what I should do and the guy on the other end of the phone was super helpful. He told me it sounded like something had gone wrong and that it was probably to do with the software. Thanks a bunch genius!!! He didn’t get it when I said it didn’t sound like he knew what he was doing – he asked me what I would like him to say. How about anything that makes it sound like you know more than me! You are meant to be the expert! Nokia and O2 – you both fail, though to be fair, Nokia, you have been failing the whole year I have had my phone so it’s no change for you.

Phew! Rant done! Now on to more fun things like Christmas! Yes I said Christmas, I love it and I don’t care when you think Christmas starts, for me, some of the prep is being put in now!

Yesterday in Selfridges a demo lady presented with what I can only describe as a little bit of heaven…snow!!! This awesome snow is a powder which you add water to and it turns into fake snow. It feels really realistic and is a must for us here in the UK as we so cannot guarantee snow at Christmas. For just £15.00 ish I bought myself a box of snow powder ready to be put under the tree at Christmas so the bf and I can settle our presents in snow. Check out a link to it here: http://www.smartoys.co.uk/Instant_Snow.php - it’s literally the best thing I have seen in years and it got me so excited for Christmas.

My next mission will be working on some gluten free puff pastry to make sausage rolls with – this might take me a few goes so best to start now and there is a lot going on between now and Christmas.

Don’t worry, not all instalments between now and Christmas will be about Christmas, but you can expect it to crop up a few times :-)

Did Someone Say Comfy Sofas…???

The day has finally arrived! It feels like I’ve been waiting an eternity when actually it’s been a mere 2 months out of an anticipated 3. MY SOFAS ARE HERE!

A few months ago the bf and I trawled all of the local furniture shops looking for something that was both sexy and comfy but nada. Then I saw that CSL were opening in Brent Cross and my dreams came true. The selection they had put smelly old DFS to shame! So we sat through multiple credit checks as they got our details wrong time and again and eventually, we ordered a sexual black leather 2 and 3 seater Bergamo sofa…FIT! The bf even let me go for the more expensive leather just because I thought it looked a bit more funky – job done.

All we had to do then was wait…and wait…and curse our stinky old broken sofa bed until I got The Call. “Your sofas are ready for delivery, please ring to arrange a time”. I’ve never dialled a number so fast as I did that day and here is the result:

 It’s not the best picture in the world but I wanted to get them both in and show how well they go with Zebedee (the real zebra skin lying on the floor). Finally, my house is looking snuggly and gorgeous, just in time for us to start putting up Xmas decs. Yes I said Xmas decs and I don’t feel any shame in that even if it is only October!

Big love from a happy Sam! x