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Friday, 21 July 2017

Renting - My Experience, My Tips & Pros & Cons...

I first moved out of my family home when I was 18 and I'm now 22. I first moved into a student flat with George for a year and it was basically a living room, kitchen and bedroom all rolled into one. We then moved into a 2 bedroom flat around December 2014 and have been here ever since. I wanted to talk about my experience with renting and have done for a while but have never been sure how to go about it. I thought instead of going right back to the beginning I'm going to just talk about the flat we're in now, how it's been for us renting, my tips to help you if you're wanting to move out and also the pros and cons. I'm not sure if this is something many people will be particuarly interested in but I know I would have loved a post like this a few years ago when we were looking for somewhere to live, so I hope it maybe helps one person. It might be a bit of a long post so you might want to grab a cup of tea first 😂
My Experience:
So this flat we're in now wasn't the place we originally went for. We were always keen on going straight in for a house, renting that for a while and then hopefully saving for a mortgage. Unfortunately things don't always go to plan and the house we first went for, fell through. It took me quite a long time to get over that house as it really was such a lovely home but we soon found the flat we're in now. I'm not going to lie, I really struggled when I first moved here. It was a mixture of things I think. Moving back from Leicester, not having a job at the time, all sorts of family issues, money issues and having to basically settle in by myself as George couldn't get much time off work. For days I remember crying wanting to look for somewhere else straight away but obviously we couldn't really do that. I just had to look at the positives. Since then I've been doing everything I can to make it more of a proper home. Over the last few years we've added things in slowly and now some rooms are perfect and just so cosy. I really will be sad to leave this place when we do eventually move out as now it does feel like ours. In terms of the actual renting which is the whole point of this post, again we don't have the best estate agents, they were extremely slow throughout the whole process, from viewing the property, passing on information regarding moving in dates, getting the keys etc. And even now if we need to get in touch with them, it can take days and days for us to get hold of someone. Regardless of that though, we do have a really good landlord. He just leaves us to it which makes this place feel like more of a home. He's not checking on us all the time, inspecting it and he's never made me feel like he could kick us out at a moments notice (one of my biggest concerns with renting). He's quick to come round and help if there are any issues and has always been fast to fix anything and find solutions. To be honest he's a pretty brilliant landlord and I know some people don't always get that lucky when renting. I definitely have days where I wish we had a bigger place and I long for the days we finally have a garden but for now, it's really alright. We're quite lucky in terms of rent and our landlord has always been laidback about us putting our on stamp on the place. I do think everything worked out okay in the end for us with this place.

My Tips:
Don't Rush Into Anything - As much as you might be desperate to move out of your parents or wherever it is you are currently, don't rush it! We were really keen to find something asap and as I mentioned we did and it fell through. It was the first place we viewed and it all went wrong. Obviously if you do find somewhere you love, by all means go for it, but just be prepared that it's not always as straight forward as it seems and it's definitely worth looking around for a bit first and being 100% sure.

Communicate with your Landlord - As I said our landlord basically leaves us to it most of the time but it's really important if you do have any questions or worries, to let them know. If something has broken, get in touch. It's much better they know and can do something about it rather than finding out at the end of your tenancy and needing to fix it then. Things happen and as long as you're honest and tell them when there is an issue, they really won't mind you getting in touch. At the end of the day it is their property and they'll want to know how you're getting on there and if there are any problems. I also wanted to mention that when we first moved in we were told to never get in contact with the landlord and do everything through the estate agents. Once we met him, he said the opposite. If your landlord is okay with you contacting them first, then go for it.

Ask Permission - I suppose this sort of comes under the communicating one but anyway. If you're wanting to make some big changes to place, it really is much better to ask the landlord first. You don't want to be adding new things, changing carpets, painting walls etc for them to not know and not be happy about it. As much as you want to make it your own, you have to respect it isn't your property and it's so much easier to just ask first. Most landlords won't have an issue. A lot of the time you can find these sorts of things out when first viewing a place. That is one of the questions we asked during our viewing, are we allowed to decorate? and we were told there should be no problem. And so far there hasn't been. He's been fine with us putting stuff on the walls, replacing furniture that was here when we moved in etc. It just saves a lot of hassle if you ask first, get permission and then go ahead.

Renewing/Ending Your Tenancy - This is probably common sense really but when deciding you want to end your contract you have to give notice, and most of the time it's about 4 weeks. We've not had to do that yet but we know the amount of time we need to give, and it's the same as what our landlord would give us if he decided to sell. When it comes to renewing your tenancy agreement, get in touch in plenty of time, a good few months before it's due to end, that way you will know in plenty of time if you're landlord is okay with you staying on. You can then discuss how much longer you want to stay etc. We were in this situation last year and after discussing it with our landlord it worked out easier for everyone if we went onto a rolling monthly contract rather than another fixed one. That discussion also gave us some reassurance that he had no intentions of selling the flat and so we're safe here for quite a while yet. 

PROS OF RENTING:

More Flexibility - If you're someone who gets bored after a while in one place, renting gives you the opportunity to move about. You can easily move away when you're contract is up and discover somewhere new and you're not held down with a mortgage. It also means if you or maybe your partner wants to move away for work or gets an opportunity to relocate, you don't have to worry about selling.

May Be Able To Save Money - Depending on the sort of place you rent and the area, you could find yourself not paying a massive amount of rent and being able to put that towards other things. If your rent isn't bad which luckily ours isn't, money could be put towards a holiday, a deposit for a mortgage, etc.

Your Landlord Is There To Help - If you have a broken boiler or washing machine for example, that is something the landlord can deal with. Our washing machine unexpectedly broke a few months ago and within a few days he had arranged a new one for us. He's also always been quick to fix anything that may have broken in the flat or if something has needed doing he's always been happy to do it. There are a lot of things that aren't actually your responsibility when you rent and it's nice to have someone else to come over and sort them for you whereas if it's your home, it's all yours to deal with and pay for.

CONS OF RENTING:

 It's Not Really Your Home - When it comes down to it, it's not your that has bought the flat/house and there is always a possibility that the landlord will want to sell. With renting there is always a little bit of doubt that maybe one day you'll get given your 4 weeks notice and you'll have to quickly find somewhere else to live and also find the money for it. At least with buying a house, once it's yours, it's yours and there is no need for worrying about getting kicked out.

You Can't Always Do What You Want With It - As I mentioned earlier in this post, if you're wanting to make changes to the place it's best to ask permission. Even though most landlords don't have an issue with this, it can be annoying not being able to do what you want do it without having to ask first. It can make you limited in terms of decorating and adding things because really it's not your property to do that.

It Can Feel Like You've Wasted Money - With buying a house, you know each month when you pay your mortage it's yours. With renting, you're essentially paying off someone elses mortgage and at the end of it you don't really get anything from it. A lot of people think it's just a waste as in the end it's unlikely to be where you stay forever and it's never officially going to be your home. A lot of people now choose to stay at parents as long as possible, save for a mortgage and skip the whole renting part.

There are both pros and cons to renting, and really whether you choose to do it or not is down to you and your circumstances. Some people don't have much of a choice, others prefer renting, and some would much prefer to just save and buy a house. For us, we've had a pretty good experience with renting so far and hopefully that will continue. I'm not sure when the day will come for us to buy a house, we're not even close to being in the position to save for a deposit so for now renting is our only option, as it is for a lot of young people. I hope this post has given you a bit of information about renting if you were unsure, and I hope my tips were useful. I've just tried my best and even though this post is extremely long, I hope it makes sense and maybe helps someone!

What's your experience with renting? Would you prefer to save and buy or are you happy to rent?

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

Chorizo and Butterbean Stew Recipe...

I recently decided to make something I'd never tried before, a chorizo and butterbean stew and oh how I wish I'd made it so much sooner! I had got a bit sick of repeating the same meals so I was on the lookout for a few new things that were easy to make, included delicious ingredients and really didn't require much effort. I found a few different recipes for stews like this so I followed those and added in a few extra bits that I had in. Literally as soon as I tasted it I knew I wanted to do a blog post on it.
Ingredients: For 2 people
100g of chorizo
1 onion, finely diced
1 crushed garlic or a bit of garlic powder
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of butterbeans, drained
1 tbsp of tomato puree
400ml of beef stock
1 tsp of herbs
1 tsp of chilli powder
Rice or pasta, whichever you prefer

Method:
1. Chop chorizo into small pieces, I did 100g for 2 of us which was a perfect amount, then add to a frying pan
2. After about 5 minutes of frying the chorizo, add in the chopped onion, leave to soften for around 10 minutes
3. Add in 1 crushed garlic or a bit of garlic powder, I only had powder so used that, now also add in the tsp of herbs and tsp of chilli powder
4. Pour in chopped tomatoes, the drained tin of butterbeans and 1 tbsp of tomato puree
5. Add in around 400ml of beef stock, stir and leave to simmer for around 15/20 minutes
6. I was doing ours with rice so I started this while the stew was simmering. By the time the rice had cooked, the stew was also done, the butterbeans were nice and soft and the sauce was quite thick

As I said we had ours with rice but if you didn't want to serve with rice you could also try it with pasta which I think would be nice, or maybe a jacket potato!
I couldn't recommend this meal enough, I was so happy with how it turned out, it went so much better than I expected! It was just delicious and I can't wait to make it again.

If you make this let me know, it was so easy to do!

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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Face Masks I've Been Loving Recently...

I never really understood the face mask hype until recently. I'd see people every weekend on Instagram or Twitter saying they're doing a facemask and I'd just never really understood what was so nice about it but I've actually tried quite a few out over the last few months and I have to say I now love them and just keep wanting to buy more! I mentioned 3 face masks in my Anatomicals review and it was then that I realised how enjoyable it actually is, and since then I received one in one giveaway and 4 in another, so I've had plenty to keep me going. I thought because I now kind of love a face mask I'd show you the ones I've been using and why I've enjoyed them!

Superdrug - I'm going to start with the Superdrug face masks, there is the Cucumber Cooling Clay Mask, Argan Oil Clay Mask, Fruit Sorbet Antioxidant Peel-Off Mask and the Superfruits Exfoliating Mask. First of all these are super cheap so perfect if your new to face masks and don't want to spend a lot, and also just perfect to keep in your cupboard for when you need a bit of a pamper. The first one I tried was the Fruit Sorbet one, it had such a nice scent. Really fruity and zingy and it was really nice to apply. It was quite sticky and it did feel weird when it was drying but I suppose all face masks do! My skin felt so soft after using this and I'm definitely going to pick another up soon. The one out of all of these that I was really excited to try was the Argan Oil Clay Mask. Everyone loves something with Argan Oil in and this one is supposed to soften the skin while deeply cleansing pores for smooth complexion. I absolutely loved it! It was one of those that you can almost see drying and it ends up a different colour to what you put on. It was quite tight when it was drying and it was a little hard to wash off, but overall it smelled absolutely amazing and made a noticeable difference to my skin. I'll definitely be getting another of these soon. I've still got the Cucumber Mask and the Superfruits one to use so I can't comment on those but so far I'm loving Superdrugs own masks so I'm sure the other two will be just as impressive!
Garnier - I hadn't actually ever seen this face mask until I received my giveaway prize a few months ago, and the first thing I noticed was that its actually two masks which I think is brilliant. With face masks I sometimes find there is more left for another use but then because I've opened the pack I don't know what to do with it or I find I use it all because I never know how much is enough! With this I knew I could use it more than once so I just applied half all over my face and left for 3 minutes. As it's a self heating mask as you massage it in your face really warms up, it was such a strange feeling! I don't think I'd ever used a mask like this before so it was definitely different! When I rinsed it off though my skin did feel amazing. It was so so soft and I'm not sure what it did to my skin but it worked. It felt so nice and smooth for days which really impressed me! I'm definitely going to get another one of these soon, I've seen them in supermarkets for about £1.10 which I think is a really decent price.
Anatomicals - If you've read my blog over the last few months I'm sure you'll have already seen this picture in my Anatomicals review but as this is a post all about face masks I had to include these 3. These were the ones that really converted me into a lover of face masks and I think my favourite was the Hawaii Five Glow as it had a scent of pineapple so was super refreshing and fruity and it also just made my skin feel amazing. I loved the Anti - Blemish one aswell though because it did seem to actually help get rid of a few spots I had. I'm definitely going to be purchasing some more Anatomicals products soon, they are just a fab brand.
I'm just loving face masks at the moment and definitely want to stock up on a few more! They are all so affordable and always make me feel like I'm having a little pamper which is nice.

I'd love to know if you've tried any of these and what you think of them or what other brands you recommend! I'm just obsessed with them all at the moment.

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Current Homeware Wishlist - July 2017...

It's been quite a while since I last did a homeware wishlist and as I am always wanting to buy new things for our flat, I thought now was the time to do another. I do love doing wishlists, I don't know why I don't do them more as if it's not homeware, there is always other stuff I'm thinking of buying! 

So this wishlist is probably going to be mainly office based, because to be honest I am sick to death of the spare room and it needs turning into something good! We have lived in this flat since the end of 2014 and at the time we thought within a few months we'd have the spare room done and since then it's just been the place all the crap goes that has nowhere else to go. With me spending a lot of time on blogging now, and with hoping to do open university next year, it's got the point where I need a proper work space so I just need to buy stuff for it and do the best I can with that room. The amount of times I walk in there to take blog pictures and walk straight back out is ridiculous. 

So I'm going to start with the more boring stuff and then get onto the more pretty home bits. The first thing we need to get is a desk. I've seen a few recently but I think my favourite is the MICKE Workstation Desk from Ikea, and it's £90 which to be honest I think is quite reasonable. I just love that this has different compartments to it and places for me to store paperwork and stationery, and also there is a room for lots of pretty decorations on the top. I think this would go perfectly in the corner of the spare room next to the window. Next to the desk I want to get a big bookcase as we no longer have space in the living room for more books and dvds so I'm thinking a nice white bookcase like the BILLY one from Ikea for £25 would be good and we can use that for all the extra books that are just laid in a basket somewhere in the spare room wardrobe. It will also be good for storing any books I might need to get if I go back to uni and at least then if they are next to the desk I can just grab them when I need them. To go on the desk I really want to get some sort of office lamp and at the moment I'm really liking the TERTIAL Work Lamp in Pink, again from Ikea for only £9. This sort of hooks onto the desk too so won't take up much room and what I like about these is that they can be moved about and shouldn't really get in the way.
So now onto the more fun side of this wishlist. I really want to get some more homey bits that can be used as props in my blog photos and also things that I could put on the desk I mentioned. The rest of the spare room might not be perfect and how I want it but I at least want a cosy little corner that's neat and tidy and actually good for me to work in. New Look have been killing it with their homeware stuff over the last few months and at the moment I'm obsessed with their little fake plants which I think would look so good either in the little compartments to the left side of the desk or on top. I have also been after a cute little trinket dish for a while and I love this Gold Pineapple one. Not only would it be good for photos, it would also be nice to just keep next to my laptop to store any bits of jewellery or bits like that. I had a little look on the Next side as their homeware is always fab and I spotted two candles which I just have to get my hands on. As I have candles in literally every other room there has to be some in the office aswell. Both the Prosecco one and the Mint Lemonade are £8 each and they just both sound amazing! I got a Strawberry and Prosecco candle last year which I was actually a little bit addicted to, so I definitely need to try and get this one, and doesn't the Mint Lemonade one just sound so summery?
Now onto the last few bits. The globe from John Lewis probably looks extremely random but I've wanted one for so long! I think they are such a unique thing to have in your home and there are so many different coloured ones now you can get, from all sorts of shops. If I couldn't get one for the living room then I'd love one in the office. I've got so many photos I want to frame so I definitely need to pick up a few new photo frames. I love this gold one from Paperchase, I don't really have one like it and I think it would look perfect on top of the desk. Also from Paperchase I'd really love the London frame. I'm not sure if I'd even add a photo to it or just keep it as it is but it's me so I've got to have something London related in there. I've seen this a few times and I'm still yet to pick it up. The last two bits are a print from Next and an Apricot Blossom Reed Diffuser from Matalan. As I'm sure you know I'm obsessed with prints but I'm not sure if there is room for another big photo wall in the flat so I'm thinking just one or two prints somewhere would look nice in the office. I also just love this one because I get stressed easily especially when it comes to taking blog photos and I know for fact I will if I start open uni so I think this would be a good one to have to remind me to keep calm and breathe! The reed diffuser I picked because I just love having them around the flat. They always make each room smell amazing and I loved the sound of the apricot scent. This is another thing which would look so good on the desk.

So that's everything on my current homeware wishlist, quite a lot, most of which I won't even end up with! I just need to get that room sorted and putting things down like this that I'd want for it and imagining what it could look like, makes me so much more excited to get started on it! Hopefully one day it will be done and exactly how I want.

Do you like anything on this wishlist? Whats your go to shop for homeware?

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