Saturday, 28 January 2012

Plan Your Holiday

  • A big holiday takes a lot of time and money. This year I plan to go to LA with my boyfriend, Edinburgh for a hen weekend, and a big trip to Oktoberfest in Munich for a friend’s 30th. Affording this is no easy task, it involves a lot of planning ahead. I always follow these simple rules:
  •   Buy flights really early. If you book with budget airlines such as Easyjet, generally the earlier you book, the better the deal. Last year I flew to Malaga in peak season for £80 return and Croatia for £75 return.

·         Each payday leading up to the trip, I purchase another stage of the trip, maybe it’s a hotel for a few nights or a train between cities. This payday, I'm booking a hotel for 2 nights in Vegas!

·         One month before the trip, I do a big carboot sale to raise cash for spending money on holiday, this way I don’t eat into my wages on holiday and have to scrimp when I return.

· – this website has saved me so many times. I always look up B+Bs on here that are too small to have their own websites, I mainly look for “best value” yet close to the centre of town. Always check the distance in km/miles as well - sometimes website say '10 minutes from town' and they really mean '10 minutes by bus' I hate spending all my money on taxis to and from dinner.
  • Before I go, I ask friends for recommendations and google recommended restaurants. This way, you never spend an evening in the equivalent of an 'Angus Steakhouse' abroad.

Illustrations by

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

My World Part 2: Kitchen

Our kitchen, luckily, was in really good condition when we moved in - high shine white cabinets and grey floor tiles. Easy.
This is the first kitchen we've had that has had enough space for a kitchen table and it has made such a difference - we always eat breakfast together on a weekend here, and my partner often sits here to do his work (until our study is finished, anyway!).

This table is my 'dream' table. I had it in my head that I wanted a zinc top table....but then couldn't actually find it anywhere! When I did they were £1000+.....I finally found this online at and had it made to order for £400. The bottom is made from old fruit crates, and it's something I'll have for years.

The canvas is an original work of art from our friend, David Northedge (, given to us as a moving in present.

The chairs are not original Eames DSW chairs. At this stage in my life, I cannot afford £370 per chair. Especially when eventually, I'd like at least 4. These chairs are from Dennis & Macgregor and £71.50 - and none of my friends have noticed the difference.

Chairs, £71.50, Dennis & Macgregor

 We have added splashes of red to the grey and white colour palette...
Unframed print, now £30 (was £40), Dandy Star
Scales, £19.50, Marks & Spencer, Breadbin, £10, Wilkinson

Utensils bowl, £20, Red Direct

I did say my partner likes The Beatles!

I love cookbooks, I received these new ones at Christmas:

Cook's measure, £7.99, Lakeland
My fridge is the one 'messy' area. I use it as a canvas for memories, To Do lists, photos, tickets etc

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Re-use upcycle recycle

Make recycling work for you.

The good thing about my work is that I have access to the fashion cupboard. I use this to my advantage and recycle bags from the cupboard to carry my lunches in. I also keep hold of any coloured tissue and ribbon that comes attached to bags and re-use these for wrapping birthday presents. One of my friends was telling me how she cuts up all her old Christmas cards and uses them as gift tags the following year - now that's savvy.

This present has totally been wrapped by leftover paper/ribbon/coloured paper from other presents or found unwanted in my office:

I love this neon ribbon. I bought this for work for a photoshoot but didn't end up using it all - so am using it for presents - it also looks fab with brown paper.

I used some of the neon ribbon this weekend to customise this plain raffia hat for a photo shoot - I think the neon trim brings it up to date. I was inspired by this hat on the Matches website:
Sensi Studio hat, £88, Matches
 Fashion Maths:

This trilby is for a photoshoot and is from Paul Smith, but you can buy an easily adaptable one from the High Street.....
£18, Accessorize

£4.99, New Look
Both John Lewis and VV Rouleaux have a great selection of ribbon in tons of colours, textures and widths - or try online
Now this is not stingy, it’s sensible! Any stamp that has been missed by a franking machine can be re-used. I am an old-fashioned letter writer and first class stamps are now 46 pence each, this habit – especially at Christmas- saves me a small fortune (plus time as I never remember to buy stamps).
Also, any stamps that have been franked can be used by charities to raise funds. I started an office scheme to save all used stamps to help save an albatross, which are almost extinct. You can recycle both UK stamps as well as overseas stamps (which are actually worth more). In 2010, the RSPB raised £15,000 from old stamps.
More information is available here:

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Welcome to my world.....

Last year, I bought my first flat in London. After 4 years of renting, I took the plunge. It has been, and still is, a slow process.
We moved in with only one piece of furniture: a mattress. Since then we have bought a few necessities (washing machine, fridge etc) and very little else.
Like most people, my flat is a constant work in progress. I will not settle for anything less than what I want, and am constantly on the lookout for 1950s/60s furniture at carboots, Ercol and G-plan tables on ebay and the perfect prints for my bare walls.


The room with all the books is Karl Lagerfeld's (amazing, I know). I find pictures on blogs ( websites (, magazines (Red, ELLE Decoration) and in books. These are my two main literary sources:

So my style is New York loft apartment/industria/grey Scandinavian/minimalist........and of course, I move into a flat with cream carpets. Here are a few snippets into the place that I call home:


Karlstad sofa, Ikea, middle cushion Red Direct (my BF is a Beatles fan)

Ikea 'Stockholm' cushion, £15.99

This is my favourite feature in the flat. At night I always light tea lights in the fireplace

Letters, a gift from a friend from

I love these cardboard coasters from Fishs Eddy in NYC

The chair on the left we picked up for free via We are hoping(!) to transform it into something like the one on the right......

Well, that's it for now - hopefully I'll take you through the rest of the flat sometime....

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

DAY TRIP: The Old Cinema, Chiswick

I am always looking for retro furniture, especially with a Scandinavian aesthetic. Whilst on a recent appointment at Danish PR Agency Varg, Tove the Fashion Account Director had filled her office with some great second-hand furniture, all bought from this store. 
I planned a Sunday trip with my sister and found plenty of inspiration. I didn’t expect it to be so big – almost a department store of vintage finds!

If you’re looking for bargains, this probably isn’t the place. But we did get plenty of ideas to find similar on ebay/gumtree. The best value, most stylish item we found was this G-Plan 1960s coffee table (above), priced at £210. And they do deliver, which is a bonus if, like me, you do not drive. But I think we’ll still keep scouring the internet to find a cheaper one.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Rules To Live By...

This is not about being cheap. There is, I believe, a severe difference between being frugal and being stingy.  Neither is it about shopping in Primark or living off toast every night.
I believe there are people out there like me. I live off every penny I earn, my wage goes towards my mortgage, bills, travel, food and credit card bill.
But I don’t set my sights low, I still want Eames chairs for my flat and the Mulberry Tilly handbag (in midnight, if anyone is interested). I’m just sensible with money where I can be to afford the luxuries. This is an insight into my world. Enjoy.

Drawings by the uber talented Ruth Lewis

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