4 Shops for First Time Buyers – That Aren’t IKEA

Whether you’re buying your first home, or just moving/re-decorating, its no secret that it ain’t cheap. I mean, its a big enough purchase as it is, but all of a sudden you’ve gone from buying one thing to having a shopping list longer than your arm and a bank account that’s crying just a little bit.

For this, the world has learned to love the wonder that is IKEA. Its the answer to a whole bunch of your home needs and is pretty friendly to any budget, but despite my love for the big blue stores, there are a couple of things that you either can’t get, or I wouldn’t get there, and now I’m actually in the process of becoming a home-owner, I’ve suddenly realised that there’s a world of other stores out there that can also save me a pretty penny.

Home Sense

Sure, it can be hit and miss, but Home Sense is an absolute gem if you’re prepared to do a bit of digging. Stock is completely random, but its big brands for low prices, and you can grab yourself a real bargain – Matthew and I really wanted the pastel blue Smeg toaster and kettle for our kitchen, and would you believe that we randomly came across one tucked on a bottom shelf in our local store for £40 off the RRP! You can also find a lot of brands that are known to be a little pricey, such as Joseph Joseph and Le Crueset, for crazy good prices and there’s always a good range of Pyrex and Tefal. We’ve also picked up some amazing throw blankets and cushions for prices you won’t find in the likes of John Lewis or Next.

TK Maxx

TK Maxx actually own Home Sense, so a lot of the stock can be found in the home section of your local TK Maxx if you don’t have a Home Sense nearby, and unlike Home Sense, TK Maxx have an online store, so you can shop the deals without even leaving the house!

Supermarkets

Do not underestimate the home section of your local supermarket. Both George by Asda and Sainsbury’s home have some really nice ranges of kitchenware, bedding and soft furnishings, and even if their styles don’t take your fancy, they’re also a great place to pick up your basics – white plates, drinking glasses etc – for a good price.

Home Bargains

So the actual home decor stuff can vary from super tacky to actually pretty good – we’ve just bought some decent nest tables for £20 – but even if the home stuff doesn’t take your fancy, Home Bargains is an amazing place to buy a bunch of the things that you probably buy from the supermarket all the time for even cheaper than your rolled-back, price-matched prices; cereal, biscuits, chocolate, ketchup, all branded stuff for lower than your own brand equivalents, so its a great place to do your shopping once you’ve spent all your money on furniture!

Do you have any favourite places to nab a good deal?

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My January Sale Buys

January sales are a weird concept. We’ve just spent all our money showering our friends and relatives with gifts, and have been showered in return, yet the second we see a sale poster in a shop window, or a promotional email slides into our inbox, we suddenly forget our credit card bills and piles or presents and shop til we drop. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a bargain.

As you can see, the majority of my steals were homeware – including the gorgeous throw blanket that I’ve doubled as a backdrop here! Its the prettiest creamy-blush colour, not to mention being crazy supersoft, and d’you know where I got it from? Homesense, £16.99, boom. I’m also completely obsessed with this yellow neon ‘hello’ sign by Talking Tables which I got on ASOS. I had my eye on it before it went on sale, but as soon as I saw it was less than half price, it was in the bag!

Also from ASOS, I picked up two of these amazing pastel furry throw cushions for only £8.50 each, and also this Skinnydip ‘Time to Get Ship-Faced’ bag for future Disney cruises, which was also half price. This little plant pot is one of two which I got from Homesense for just £2 too!

Lastly, Matthew and I picked up some tealights and diffuser oil in Passionflower and Mango, which smells amazing! Both were half price and under £2 from Sainsbury’s of all places.

Have you managed to resist the sales?

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Things I’ve Learnt Since Becoming a Cat Owner

Its been almost 4 months since our furry companions came home with us, and quite frankly life hasn’t been the same since.

Now our kitten experience hasn’t been an entirely normal one given the circumstances. Ozzy and Ronnie are rescue kittens that were found, along with their 2 siblings, at 4 weeks old in an abandoned shed, and we don’t know if their mother was ever around in the first few weeks of their lives, but Cats Protection did a great job in looking after them until they could come home to us at 8 weeks. They were tiny and very timid, once upon a time, that is..

Now we have two fledgling little cats, and as the first cats that this household has seen, its safe to say we’ve learnt a lot in these last 4 months. Wanna know what?

No level is safe

Within the first few weeks of being home, these two little monsters had learned to shimmy up the curtains, and while they couldn’t really do much damage up there, they’re now perfectly capable, should they wish, to get up onto the kitchen worktop, dining table, banisters, and even now they’re trying to find out how to get on top of the fridge!

Cats can be needy as hell

I think this is just a kitten thing that they’ll grow out of, but Ronnie especially has to be wherever you are, even if this means squeezing his way onto the same chair that you’re sitting on..

They also want their space

It takes a cat about half a second to change their mind from wanting your attention to not wanting it. You’ll know.

You cannot eat anything in their presence

That is, unless you want company; open a packet of crisps and its like turning on a cat magnet. Even Ozzy, who is still timid at the best of times, will practically be on your lap if you have food out.

They sleep in the craziest positions

Stretched out like a sausage, belly in the air, spooning each other, sitting on each other’s heads..

Cats really do love boxes

It must just be in their DNA. The first box we ever left out for the boys they were in instantly. They simultaneously loved sitting in it but also destroying it. Cos, y’know, cats..

They also love keyboards

I get no peace if I’m sat with my laptop on the sofa, but they’ll even climb up onto a desk to walk across the keys if it takes their fancy. Spoiler alert, it always does.

You start to ignore bumps, bangs and crashes

At first, every little noise will have you running to see what’s been knocked over this time, but eventually it just becomes so common that you know you’ll find it inevitably. In any case if the cat comes running from the sound, you know they’re not hurt.

You’ll call them by a lot more than just their name

Ozzy, Oz, Oswald, Oz Monster, Dolphin Boy, Fluff, Little Fluff, Squish. Ronnie, Ron, Ronald, Baby Ron, Baby Ronald, Trouble, Silly Cat, Furry One, the list goes on..

Off-limits means nothing to a cat

Even if you shut a door to a cat, it doesn’t mean they’re not gonna find some way to get in there. Ozzy and Ronnie’s particular favourite is waiting until you have a basket of laundry in your hands and using that opportunity to sneak into the garage when you open the door..

And that’s just the start of it! Who knows what I’ll learn next..

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A Kitty Update

Its now been six weeks since our little rescue kittens came home, and its been six weeks of craziness and fluffiness! Read my first post here!

So what’s been going on?

Well the biggest change in our kitties is definitely in their size – they’re practically double the size they were when they came home! They’ll eat practically anything you put in front of them, and we’re giving them more than double the amount of food they used to eat. We give them both wet and dry food, and we’ve been using as many different brands of cat food so they don’t get too picky!

The other main change is that while previously we kept them in just one room, they now have total freedom within the house, which just means more space to cause trouble – they’ve already learnt to climb onto as many surfaces as possible, and very much enjoy knocking things off my dad’s desk, plus Ronnie can scale the curtains.. They’re still too small to go outside, and they also haven’t had all their vet visits yet so they’re just indoor cats for the time being!

Both kittens have learned their names, and will generally come when called, although not when they’re busy playing, and as well as being referred to by their actual names, they can also be Oz and Ron for short or Oswald and Ronald if we’re feeling fancy.

Ozzy is still very shy but he is coming out of his shell. He never used to let us even stroke him, but now he’s happy to curl up on the sofa with us, and he loves tickles under his chin, plus if he’s nice and relaxed he will let us pick him for a cuddle. Rather than a proper meow, he tends to squeak and make noises a bit like a dolphin, and when he can’t find Ronnie he makes a little crying sound and Ron will come running for his brother! He absolutely loves sitting in the window sill and watching the world outside, but I think when the time comes he’ll be too nervous to venture outside without the protection of his brother.

Ronnie on the other hand is very comfortable with everything. He’s definitely taken on the role of big brother, despite once being the smallest of the litter, and at their last vet visit he actually weighed in heavier than Oz, despite Oz’s fluff giving the impression that he’s bigger – this is due to his ability to eat a lot faster than Ozzy! Ron can be picked up and carried around with no issues at all, although if he’s in stalking mode he’s much more interested in chasing his own tale. Ronnie is desperate to go outside, and makes every attempt to sneak out of the front door if given the chance..

They both still suckle on anything fluffy due to their lack of a mother – including my sister’s rabbits – and this is something that they will probably never grow out of, but other than that they seem to have adapted to normal life really well, even if Ozzy is still getting there..

We’ve well and truly become cat people!

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Welcome to Our Loft

Last month I made the big announcement that Matthew and I were finally moving in together, and that we’d be turning the loft into my family home into our own little space. Well I have no idea where the last month has gone, but I’m so happy with our loft and just couldn’t wait to share it with everyone!

The loft was converted into a room for me and my sister to use when we were teenagers, but over the last few years became somewhat overlooked and needed a good old clear out and a little bit of TLC. Matthew and I spent a good few days sorting out all the accumulated rubbish, donating furniture to charity shops and taking anything that couldn’t be salvaged to the tip, and then started the mammoth job of repainting, which we still haven’t actually finished completely, but our main priority was making the room ready for us to move in, and we can patch up the paint over the coming weeks.

When you come up the stairs, first thing on the right is the window bay, which Matthew has turned into his desk area, but I also have my sewing machine set up as well as a few bits and pieces for my businesses, but I’m not much of a desk person so its really his space.

We used the sofa as a sort-of room divider, which created a bit of storage space. I’m still keeping my clothes and bits in my bedroom, so again this space is really for Matthew’s clothes – hence the little clothes rail! – but its also created a nice little display space for some of our photos and my Lego Disney castle.

While the sideboard, cupboards and TV stand were new from IKEA, we managed to save on buying a new bed and sofa as Matthew already had those so he just brought them down from Manchester, along with his TV and bedside tables.

Our bed area is probably my favourite part of the whole room. At the end of the bed we have a huge beanbag, adding to the seating around the TV, and I love that it also matched the colour scheme of our bedding – in fact the whole room is generally themed yellow, blue and grey, or Donald Duck style, as I like to call it. Our amazing bedside lamps are also IKEA, and they create so much light alone that we rarely have the main lights on in the evening.

Moving into the loft also gave us the opportunity to set up the Nanoleaf Aurora that I got Matthew for our anniversary earlier this year, and I just love it!

I’m so happy with our little space, and I’m so happy that we’re finally passed the long distance part of our relationship, and the future is looking exciting!

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Affordable Acrylic Storage with Songmics* – GIVEAWAY!

I recently announced that Matthew has just moved in with me at my parent’s house, and that over the next few months we’ll be starting to look at buying a house and moving out, and with all this in mind, I’m not only having to think about keeping my stuff neat and tidy to make space for him, but also about how I’ll want our house to look, whenever it is that we get one.

I’m not gonna lie to you, I have a lot of makeup. Sure, its probably less than some, but its in no way a small collection, and up until recently, it lives for the majority of the time on my bedroom floor in front of my wardrobe mirror, and anything that’s not been on the floor has been in a box file on a shelf. Not stylish, and not practical at all, so when I was recently contacted by the lovely guys from Songmics and asked if I’d like to receive some acrylic makeup storage, I couldn’t say no! Songmics are a German brand that specialise in practical and stylish home storage and organisation, and their products are available in the UK and worldwide via Amazon.

I’ve eyed up various acrylic storage solutions before, such as Muji and even Ikea, but have always been put off by the price tag, but the two tier organiser that Songmics sent me is only £15.99, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, hello free next day delivery! But let’s talk about the product..

My first impressions were that it was a lot sturdier than I had thought, which was great as I was worried that it might be thin and cheap feeling – definitely not the case! My second worry was that I didn’t think that one organiser was going to fit much of my makeup in, and while it doesn’t fit everything, I did manage to fit a LOT more than I thought I would – in fact, I managed to fit all of my day to day essentials and then some!

This organiser is actually comprised of two sections, with the top lifting off of the drawers, and the components are all designed to be stackable, so I can buy an extra set of drawers which I can fit into the mix, should I want to expand!

I’ve used the top section for all of my most used products – foundation, mascara, brow palette, favourite lipsticks etc – then organised the drawers into eyes and face, with the two smaller top drawers being my eyeliners and eyeshadows, then the larger bottom drawers are blushers/bronzers in one, and highlighers in the other.

If I’m being a little picky, I wish there was more room for palettes, as I’ve only been able to fit two in the slots at the back, but I’m definitely a convert to the acrylic storage club, and I’m already thinking about what else I can get to add to my setup to get the rest of my stuff in!

Want to win your own? The guys over at Songmics have got another two tier organiser with one of your names on it, just enter below and the winner will be announced on October 4th! (Widget isn’t supported on all browsers, so if you have any issues just click the link below!)

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*I was sent this product to review, but all views are my own

Things That Happen When You Start to Think About Moving Out

So I’ve hinted a lot recently about big changes coming up in my life, and undeniably the biggest of these changes is that very soon I will be flying the nest, and Matthew and I will be moving in together.

While this might not seem like a big deal to some, it will be the first time I’ve ever left home; I didn’t go to university, and places in my town are so expensive even to rent that I was much happier living at home and saving up for when this time came. With that in mind, now we are in the process of not only trying to find our own place, but also brace for all the adult stuff that comes along with it – mortgages, show home visits and what not – a few more things start to happen..

You sign up for an Ikea Family card, and any other loyalty schemes you can find

The B&Q Club, Tesco Clubcards, you name it – anything that could either get you some money off or earn a few reward points suddenly seems like the best idea in the world.

Pinterest boards appear

Rather than spending evenings scrolling for holiday destinations or beauty tips, suddenly its all about decor, furniture and kitchens, plus any home DIY pins you think you’ll actually be able to accomplish successfully.

You start to evaluate your DIY skills

Suddenly thoughts like ‘how do you even put up a shelf?’ and ‘can I be trusted with power tools?’ pop into your head at random times and you fear that everything might just have to be held together by duck tape..

Important discussions occur

If you’ve never permanently lived with your soon-to-be new housemate, you’ll end up having long conversations about whether you’ll be a ‘shoes off at the door’ kinda house, or if you keep ketchup in the fridge or in the cupboard.

You start to panic over hosting people

Having your own place means that inevitably people will visit from time to time, and in these times its always vital that tea and coffee is stocked and there’s milk in the fridge, and does this mean you should always have biscuits in too? Is it rude to not have biscuits?!

Cashback websites become everything

Now that you actually have to worry about your own bills, when weighing up which companies to go to for things like power, broadband and insurance, its all about who works out as the best deal when it comes to that all important cashback.

You realise how many things at home you take for granted

Sure, you’ve thought about what furniture you’re gonna need, and you’ve basically decided on your dream home’s decor in your head already, but did you think about the fact you’ll have to remember to buy an ironing board, a dustpan and brush, batteries and ziploc bags?

If you’ve recently moved out and have any tips, please drop me a comment!

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