Monday, 14 October 2019

3 Things that are worth investing in for your first house


There's no escaping the fact that buying your first house is an expensive time in life, not only have you got the price of the actual house plus solicitors fees to think about but you've then got to fill it with furniture, electricals and other bits and bobs... believe me it all adds up! But I think it's well worth knowing what's worth investing in to last you a while:

Pans and Cookware - Trust me, decent pans are well worth investing in. You need to looking for non-stick ones with a non-metallic handle (because the handle gets unbearably hot if it's metal!!). Prestige sent me one of their new Thermo Smart frying pans* and I'm so impressed with it. Their Thermo Smart pans are diamond infused to give them the perfect non-stick surface and they come with a 5 year guarantee.

I can confirm that it's perfectly non stick, sturdy and is just big enough for everything I need. The first time I used it was when I was cooking a Gousto recipe and looking at the ingredients my main fear was that it was going to be such a pain to clean up but actually it was amazingly easy to clean; nothing stuck on it whatsoever and the green indicator on the handle was a great tool for knowing when the pan was ready to cook on. I made the mistake of buying my other pans without giving it much thought and they've got metal handles and have started to lose their non-stick coating I think so I really need to invest in some new ones - Prestige is definitely somewhere I would look and would recommend to anyone!

Sofas - realistically, you're probably going to be spending a lot of your spare time on your sofas so you obviously want them to be a) comfortable, b) attractive and c) fairly hard wearing. Which believe me is a difficult trio to find. Mine is the Next Stamford Sofa and in all honesty, as much as I love the look of it and it is comfortable; it's not hard wearing at all even though I've rotated cushions, plumped cushions etc. so I'm afraid this one isn't necessarily one I would recommend purely for the fact that it hasn't worn well but this is kind of a word of 'warning' if you will - that sofas really are something you need to shop around for and do your market research.

A good TV - again, the functional stuff is important but let's face it your TV is something you'll probably spend a fair bit of time in front of. I went for an LG 4K smart TV because I think their TVs are good quality and I like how user-friendly they are. Now I'm not saying that you need to invest in the latest 3D TV, but a 4K TV with smart capabilities is a good place to start - it means you don't have to mess around with any additional boxes to or plug ins to watch things like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

What would be your priorities in your first house?

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Wednesday, 9 October 2019

How to get your home ready for an easy sale

collaborative post

There are many things that can impact upon how easy the sale of your house is, but the actual aesthetics really do play a massive part. Even if your home is on the market without furnishings, the way that you present the space will give potential buyers an inspiring vision of what they could achieve in each room. Getting the place ready for hopeful investors to come sweeping through doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think, as there are some simple and handy hacks that can make the process a breeze. Are you looking to sell your house and want to know more about what you can do to bag a quick sale? Then read on to uncover the best top tips that you can implement today!

Create A More Minimalistic Canvas

Though you may be an eccentric and individual character, the patterns and colours that you adore so much may be another person's absolute worst nightmare. To suit every kind of buyer, the best thing that you can do is create a more minimalistic canvas that provides no glaring designs or standout crazy features, with soft vanilla or ivory white toned walls and a complete lack of clutter. You can retain aspects like sofas, beds, and other accessories even if they are potentially a little different, but allow the viewer to imagine themselves within the space with their own belongings. You can make your mark in your new home, just as they can make their own mark in your old property if they choose to make a purchase. 

Don’t Forget About Kerb Appeal

The way your home looks from the outside has a huge impact upon the likelihood of a sale, as it is essentially the first impression that buyers get of the property and this can immediately influence whether they want to invest. Allowing your home to become overrun with tall grass and wild weeds will make it look run down and unkempt, instantly putting even the most positive of buyers off entering. Give walls a fresh lick of paint (or power wash over bricks) to make it look fresh and inviting rather than old and drab, and add a few homely accessories or decorations such as a ‘welcome’ mat and pot of beautiful flowers at the door. 

Take The Advice Of Your Estate Agent

If you have done your research and found a trustworthy business like Movv estate agency to handle your sale, then take their advice no matter what. Estate agents operate with the main goal of selling your property as quickly as possible for as much money as possible, and with their masses of previous experience they truly know what steps to take to make it all happen smoothly. Ask them to visit your property and listen to all of the comments they have to say, as these will help you to grab a super quick and hassle free sale. 

Getting your home aesthetically ready needn’t be a chore!

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Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Gousto Box Review

I'm not usually a fan of anything that requires a subscription other than Netflix; I've tried Birchbox before and I totally agree that they're nice as a luxury but it's not something I feel I could sustain or justify for a long period of time. So when some of my work friends mentioned that they were using (and loving) the Gousto Recipe Box, naturally I was a bit sceptical. After digging a little further I found out exactly how it works (because I don't know about you, but I like to know all the facts before I commit my money!)

So, firstly you can choose whether you're catering for 2 or 4 people, you can order 2, 3 or 4 meals per box and you can also set the frequency of deliveries to either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Then there's the fun part... choosing from over 40 different recipes!

They have 40 different recipes to choose from with new ones every week so if you're a longer term subscriber, you're not going to get bored quickly. You can also filter according to dietary requirements, speed of cooking or healthy choices which makes selecting appropriate recipes so easy if you do have specific needs where food is concerned - they do vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free options and there's plenty of choice in each category.

This week I chose our menu so I went for creamy haddock linguine with tomatoes and chilli, cheesy pepperoni pasta bake, extra special bangers 'n' mash and creamy chicken potato topped pie... next week it'll be Kev's turn so we'll see what he goes for!

You can arrange delivery for a day that suits you which is free if you agree to have it delivered anytime (you can pick a time but you pay extra) they are willing to leave it in a safe place which is ideal and there's no need to worry because the food is well packed and all the chilled food is kept cool with a huge ice pack.

I'll be honest and say that I was worried that the food would come and it'd be battered and just at its best because let's face it that's one of the drawbacks of ordering your groceries online; it's picked out by someone else and ultimately it's not always what you would have picked yourself.

However, I'm pleased to report that everything was perfectly packed and in great condition when I eventually opened it up at 6pm. The fresh veg was still fresh and the ice pack still had hours left in it by the looks of it. You could say the packaging is a bit over the top but I genuinely think that if any less was used, this could compromise the quality of the products when it reached the customer.

What I love about Gousto is that they send exactly what you need for those particular recipes which means that you can try new things without having an oversupply of whatever tiny bit of seasoning it required. The first meal I cooked was the haddock linguine and this is what we had to make it with:

I'd be lying if I said that this was a super-easy meal to make, because it wasn't but what I can say is that all the instructions on the recipe card are really clear and the fact that you don't have to measure anything out also takes off some of the time it would normally take. Obviously if you don't want to spend as little time as possible then you'd filter for the 10 minute meals when you're choosing your recipes.
After nearly choking myself and Kev with chilli flakes, the meal was complete. The portion sizes are slightly smaller than what we are used to but I honestly think that it's me that usually over-does it rather than these actually being small portions.

It was so tasty and really great to have something different. We tend to get stuck in a rut of eating the same things on repeat every single week and don't even get me started on how much I hate shopping and then planning and deciding what to eat. Gousto box takes those steps away and means that midweek meals are so much easier.

The usual price is £34.99 which is expensive and I will question my subscription when the price goes back up but my first one had 60% off it and I'll get 30% off for the rest of the month so I'm happy with that. Follow my link If you'd like to try a box with 60% off (cancel the subscription at any time) if you do buy a box through my link I get £15 so if you'd prefer not to use that link then this is the affiliate-free link to the Gousto website.

Please let me know via Instagram if you do decide to try - let me know what you think!

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Monday, 30 September 2019


Ever wondered where the audiences come from when you see them on TV? Would it surprise you if I told you that these people probably haven't paid a penny to be there?

If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen that last weekend I went to see Jack and Michael Whitehall film their Christmas special 'Christmas with my Father' for Netflix at The London Palladium. The tickets we got were absolutely free of charge from Applause Store. You can pay a subscription fee to get 'priority tickets' but I honestly wouldn't bother with it unless you plan to attend lots of shows because priority tickets still are not guaranteed seats. 

I wanted to write this blog post to explain the process a little bit more clearly as it is quite vague on the Applause Store website (and to be honest, even on the day there was a fair bit of uncertainty for us) so I wanted to take you through it step-by-step. 

I've been registered with Applause Store since 2014 but I have never actually applied for any tickets up until now because as with many things, most TV recordings happen somewhere in the London area so it's not the quickest of places for me to travel to. However, they do have tickets to most of the big TV shows such as Britain's Got Talent, Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Michael Mcintyre's Big Show, Celebrity Juice, X Factor, The Grand Tour and absolutely loads more (see here for other TV audience tickets. Once you've registered your details you're good to go in terms of either registering your interest for tickets that aren't available just yet or for putting your name in the hat for tickets that are available.

Once you request tickets they will email you at least 48 hours before the event if you have been successful which again, if you live miles away from London, isn't ideal but I figure that if you're down there for one reason or another anyway it might be worth seeing what's on around that time and you can just chance it - if you get tickets, bonus, if not, you've not spent a fortune planning a trip down there for nothing. 

But here's the important thing to remember: e-tickets do not guarantee entry.

Because there are a lot of 'no shows' to each recording, they have to oversubscribe on tickets to account for this (which is fair enough, after all; their job is to populate an audience not leave empty seats!). So this is where it gets a bit uncertain and it means that you could be in for a long wait depending on the show you're wanting to see. 

If you have got a ticket there will be an 'arrive by' time. Plan to arrive well before this time. As an example: our tickets said 'arrive by 5pm' - we arrived at 12pm and apparently people had been queuing since 10am that morning. (The Palladium is slightly different as they offer a 'ticket exchange' which was where we had to wait in the queue for them to exchange our paper e-tickets for a seat number but from what I understand, most other shows are a case of waiting and then being admitted into the studio.) Admission/tickets are all given on a 'first come, first served' basis and there really is no way of knowing whether you will be given a ticket. There were people who were left disappointed when they got to the venue 10-15 minutes before the 'arrive by' time but it does clearly state on the ticket that everything is first come, first served. So my advice to you is to get there as early as you are prepared to wait. You do receive 'priority tickets' for another Applause Store show of your choice if you have to be turned away. 

We were actually really lucky in that we only queued for about 30-45 minutes and our e-ticket was exchanged for real seat tickets in the Royal Circle (seats which would have cost £100 if we were seeing a West End show!!). Once we had our tickets we could leave the area to do as we wanted as long as we arrived back for 6.30pm but I think for most other studio recordings there isn't an exchange you just go in and it's recorded pretty much immediately. What you also must keep in mind is that not all seats will be the most amazing view, remember that these are totally free tickets and you really aren't in a position to argue about where you're sat - you get what you're given basically.

Moral of the story for any experience with Applause Store - keep in mind that nothing is guaranteed and have a plan B if you're travelling a distance, also, be prepared to wait and dress accordingly. But I can assure you that if you manage to bag a seat in the audience for free it's an amazing experience!

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