How I Managed to Spend No Money for Seven Days

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As I’m preparing to go into July’s no-spend week, I thought it might be interesting to some people to get a little insight into how I make it work! These weeks, as well as stretching my money a little further, have really opened my eyes about my relationship with money (namely the number of times a week I think about spending it on things I really don’t need).

So, if you’d like to get some similar insights or make similar savings, but don’t know where to start, keep on reading.

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18 in 2018 June Review

July is here, and we are in the middle of The Worst Heatwave here in the UK. I am beyond fed up with it at this point. But I’m trying to push that all aside and get some more progress towards my goals under my belt!
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Full disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you make a purchase on Amazon after using the links in this post, Roxy and I get a little kickback, helping us keep the website running

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18 in 2018 February – April Review

I blinked, and suddenly both February and March have been and gone, and it’s nearly the end of April! Things have been insanely busy over here, with lots going on at work and at home. I’m now in the middle of a week off work and just looking around like ‘when did all this happen?’. I know that I haven’t made as much progress on my goals as I would like, but there’s still time to turn this year around. Read more about what I have managed to do below!
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Roxy’s Romance Tips

If you haven’t noticed, it’s Valentine’s Day! Over on Twitter, Roxy has been sharing her best romance advice, to help you with your relationships – whether it’s Valentine’s Day, your Anniversary, or just because! To make it a little easier for you, she has insisted that I immortalised the advice here on this blog – so without further ado, here we go!

Tip One

If you like someone, just lick them. All over their face is a particularly good spot, especially if they haven’t woken up yet.

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Tip Two

If your other half is on the phone to someone else, show your displeasure by trying to get between them and the phone. Bonus points if you ‘accidentally’ press the end call button. All the attention, back to you.

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Tip Three

Lavish your loved one with gifts. Dirty socks, lost hair ties, even dead rodents really say ‘I love you’.

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Tip Four

Don’t subscribe to this ‘my side of the bed’ nonsense. Live a little. The best place on the bed is always where your co-inhabitor wants to sleep.tenor.gif

Tip Five

Stop worrying about morning breath. Expose your other half to it as much as possible, until they have no choice but to embrace it.giphy (7).gif

Tip Six

Want a manicure, but your subtle hints aren’t working? Dig your claws right into your loved one’s skin. The nail clippers will be out before you know it.

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And that’s it! Roxy hopes these tips help you out with your future better halves – whether they’re feline or human!

A Story and a Grovel

The past year hasn’t been the easiest for my family. In the winter of 2016, I was on the phone with my parents, when they first mentioned something might be wrong with my sister Jessie’s eyesight. My phone signal was bad, and I was on a break at work, so I didn’t really get the full message. I guessed she probably just needed glasses – most of us in my family do. 

It was only a few weeks later when I found out she had a referral to Moorfields Eye Hospital, that I really realised the severity of what was happening. By that time, her identical twin had also been to the optician’s and they had found similar symptoms with her – an unusual area on the back of her eye. It was the first of many appointments at Moorfields, one of the leading providers of eye health services in the UK. Each time, there was a little bit of hope that maybe it might not be that bad after all.  

I remember the day of their final appointment pretty well. This was the one where we would be getting a definitive diagnosis, as well as an idea of how severe it would be. I was meant to be in lectures for my Master’s, but I didn’t feel I could sit through it without panicking. As a distraction, I ended up heading to the cinema to watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – but when I left and headed to meet up with them post-appointment, the dread had set in again. 

When I got to their hotel, they gave me the news. They were both given a diagnosis of Stargardt’s Disease – something that we had suspected for some time. 

What is Stargardt’s Disease? 

Stargardt’s Disease is a recessive, genetic disorder, that causes fat to collect on the back of your eye – specifically, the central part of your retina, called the macula. It’s the most common form of inherited, juvenile macular degeneration, and symptoms commonly appear in childhood or during your teenage years but can go unnoticed until later in life. In the beginning, central vision becomes blurry and loses colour, before losing sight in that area completely. It is rare for those with Stargardt’s to become completely blind, but many are left with only peripheral vision. It typically starts slowly, before becoming more rapid and then tapering off in later years. 

 

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This is a picture of the back of Amy’s eye – the dark spot in the middle is a sign of macular degeneration.

 

The news broke our hearts, but obviously, the primary impact was felt by Amy and Jessica. They are both currently in their final year of university, and both previously took time out of their degrees because of poor mental health. The news came just as Amy was returning to her second year at Cambridge University to study Veterinary Science. Jessie was starting her year out from the University of Exeter, where she is studying Animal Behaviour. Both of their plans have had to drastically change following the news – Amy will not be able to practice as a vet (unlike doctors, vets must be able to conduct surgery, which you cannot do if you are visually impaired.) Jessie has always wanted to work with big cats but now has to decide what she can do with impaired vision. She recently had the opportunity to go to Africa with her university, which we made sure she could undertake – because we didn’t know if she’d be able to see them again. 

Doing things because we don’t know if Amy and Jessie will be able to see them again is a common thing at the moment. And not something we ever thought we would have to consider in our family. At the end of the day, we are glad that we are in a position as a family that we can make these things happen – we know some other people aren’t fortunate enough to have these opportunities. We’re a strong family unit, that can support them, and each other, through the uncertainty ahead. 

We will be taking part, as a family, in ‘Eye to Eye’, a sponsored walk raising money for the Moorfields Eye Charity. They support many individuals and families going through a similar experience, as well as funding new research that aims to make blindness a thing of the past. We are proud that as a family we can participate in an event like this to not only raise money for a worthy cause but raise awareness of sight problems like Stargardt’s.  

I understand that money is tight right now – no one has as much of it as they would like! But even a couple of pounds thrown in our direction can make a difference towards our goal of £600. So please, if you can, make a donation. We would really appreciate it – and it would make walking for nearly four hours (with my family) seem worth it! 

You can make a donation by clicking here. 

January 2018 Goals Review

Full disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Gousto, a recipe box service here in the UK. When you sign up through this link, you get two boxes for half price – and I get a little kickback! 

Can you believe January is over already? The only silver lining is that it’s nearly February – which means my birthday, and I’m off to see to see Hamilton on the West End! But before that, let’s have a look at how I’ve been getting on with my goals so far!

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Wishlist Wednesday: And a Crafty New Year

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Full disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you make a purchase on Amazon after using the links in this post, Roxy and I get a little kickback, helping us keep the website running.
So, Christmas has been and gone for another year. I hope you got lucky and found everything under your tree that you asked for! Maybe you got a little money for Christmas but you’re not sure what to spend it on? Don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas for the crafters out there to lighten your purse – whether you’re looking for a big budget item or just a little treat! Just read on below.

1. Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine (Affiliate)

I’ve talked about my desire for a Cricut before, and that desire hasn’t waned. If anything, when I spotted the new colours it’s available in, my need for it has grown. I have a huge thing for mint green, so I really had to restrain myself when this beauty popped up in my Black Friday deals.
Beyond appearance, this equipment is a workhorse. Gone are the days when your cutting is restricted to how well you can hand cut or which die-cuts you own. With a Cricut Explore Air 2, your imagination is very much your limit. It’s not just for cutting either – attachments mean you can also get it to draw or write for you. Just think about it – calligraphy style writing without the hand cramp? That’s the dream! The only thing that’s holding me back is that price tag – I feel like I’d need to be doing a lot more papercraft than I currently do, but fingers crossed for the future!

2. Big Shot Plus Starter Kit (Affiliate)

A Big Shot Plus was my first die-cutter, and honestly, I would still be using if it wasn’t so big! When I moved into my tiny studio, the Big Shot went to my sister and I took my Cut’n’Boss. But the Big Shot, in my view, was a much more reliable piece of kit. At most, I would put things through twice to get a clean cut. The system is simple, with pictures on the plates to help if you forget the order. The larger size (compared to the original) means you can cut bigger dies (duh!), but it also copes well with smaller more intricate dies.
The only drawback is that it is hand operated (an electronic version is available), so this needs to be considered for those with bad wrists like me! However, I only found it to be a big problem with high GSM Card. All in all, it’s perfect for a die cutting starter, especially if you go for the starter kit. When I first bought it, I used the starter kit contents to make a series of Easter boxes for my family, which out having to use anything else from my stash.

3.KnitPro Symdonie Rose Interchangeable Needle Set (Affiliate)

This set of circular needles was top of my Christmas list a couple of years ago, and since receiving it I haven’t used anything else (even for non-circular projects!) The needles themselves are a gorgeous mahogany colour, with rose gold-coloured metal for the attachments.  The kit comes with a needle gauge (for when the numbers inevitably rub off) and a range of needles and connecting cables. They are the perfect size to sit in your hands, and I’ve found using circular needles like these for all my knitting helps support the weight on my wrists better, leading to less pain. Like other wooden needles, I’ve found them easy to knit with, not too slippy and not too sticky for most yarns. The ends are sharp and stay sharp.
 There are a couple of things to be aware of before purchasing. The connections may gradually unscrew as you are knitting, but as long as you keep an eye on them and screw them back up as you go, you shouldn’t have many problems. I have also had one needle break at the part where the wood connects to the metal. However, I had no problem purchasing needles to replace it, and it was one that I had used a lot! Overall, I would absolutely recommend these to any knitters out there!
When I first saw gold plated needles recommended for cross stitch, I brushed it off as just silly. How much difference could a bit of gold plating really make?
The answer is a lot. I picked some up on a whim a year ago and haven’t looked back since. It glides through the material, making even the little movement of making a stitch feel seamless. They also feel a lot easier to thread than the standard needles you get.
They also look really fancy.
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Experience it for yourself and pick up a pack today. You honestly won’t regret it.
And that’s it for the last Wishlist Wednesday of 2017! Be sure to check back in 2018 for more recommendations and to find out what else is on my wishlist – this is just the start! And in the meantime, comment below with what’s on your list!

Project Monday: Crochet Shrug

Full Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links. When purchasing on Amazon after clicking the link, I get a little kick-back to keep the site going!

I love crafting (obviously) but there is one craft that has eluded me. I have tried for a long time to be able to crochet, but anything beyond a granny square was something that I just couldn’t get my head around.

I hate not being able to do something. My long-term anxiety has turned into a perfectionist trait, that I’ve never been able to get through. So I’ve been determined to get my head around crochet for a long time. I had numerous books and magazines with instructions, but after a while, I realised I was possibly starting off a bit too ambitious. Knowing that I could make a semi-decent granny square, I searched for a clothing pattern that made use of this skill, along with using up some of my yarn stash.

After a little bit of digging, I found this pattern posted by Lara on her blog, Thornberry, (Originally posted on a no longer available blog). It looked perfect – nice and simple, but still something I would wear often. I dug out my crochet hooks and some t-shirt yarn I’d been hoarding for a while and got to work.

It was great to feel like I was producing something, and the speed of crochet over knitting definitely makes it feel more rewarding! I did hit a couple of speed bumps. I was aiming to make it all purple, but underestimated how much yarn I would need! It’s been in my stash so long the manufacturer has long since disappeared, and I couldn’t find a close enough match elsewhere. So instead I went with grey, which will match most of my current wardrobe. The two colours seem to compliment each other well.

However, different manufacturer means a different feel to the yarn. The purple was quite stretchy, whereas the grey isn’t. In comparison, it’s rather stiff. The difference isn’t hugely noticeable when wearing it, but it did take some getting used to!

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Wearing my new crochet shrug – perfect for this cold weather!

The finished item isn’t perfect – it’s a little bit heavy and feels a bit stiff under the arms – but I’m so pleased with myself for finishing it! It’s great for the current cold spell hitting the UK, and it’s been making my gloomy evenings feel a bit cosier! With the practice creating it gave me, I’m feeling a little more confident going into future crochet projects.

If you’d like to make one of your own, follow this link to buy the yarn that I used. (This is an affiliate link, so when you buy anything on Amazon after using it, I get a little kickback to keep the site going!)

What projects have you undertaken to challenge yourself? How great did you feel when you finished it? Let me know in the comments or over on social media!