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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July Favourites

It feels a bit strange writing a monthly favourites post, when I’ve actually spent the majority of the month out of the country, but actually there have been some things that have really stood out as superstars this month, both on my travels and at home!

July Favourites

Sweaty Betty New Balance Vazees

When I saw that two of my favourite fitness brands, Sweaty Betty and New Balance were collaborating on a trainer, I instantly fell in love with their creation. I talked myself out of buying them for a while, but when raiding the SB sale I decided that I would bite the bullet and buy them, and THEY ARE SO COMFORTABLE! I’d never run in them because I’m quite picky about my running shoes, but they’re great for the gym and I wore them for the majority of my trip to China because they are so lightweight and beautiful. Definitely worth the purchase!

Mitchum deodorant

So I fell pray to TV advertising.. I wanted to know if it was as good as the advert made it sound, and while I don’t want to be crude, we all sweat guys and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you don’t need to smell. It claims 48 hour protection, and I was so impressed finding that even after 24 hours solid travelling (I’m talking stuffy planes, trains etc) I didn’t feel at all sticky or smell of anything. Also the fragrances are great and not overwhelming like some deodorants can be!

Feel Unique Pick’n’mix

Um, did you know you can try 5 products a month FOR FREE from Feel Unique?! Well, you pay £3.95 for postage, but that comes back to you in the form of a voucher to redeem against a future purchase if you fall in love with the products. I got my hands on a sample of Benefit’s Ka Brow! and a few other cool bits that looked worth a try – I can’t wait to do it again!

Primark scented candles

I went into Primark to pick up some last minute holiday bits, and saw these pink grapefruit tealights on the checkout for something crazy like £1! They smell great and last a good long while; you can’t really go too wrong with tealights but these were better than I thought they would be.

Nyx Euro Trash lipstick

I’m obsessed with this shade! Its perfect for everyday wear and there’s just nothing like a matte lipstick in my opinion, plus its cruelty free!

What have you been loving this month?

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Beach Days Wishlist

Beach Day Ready Wishlist

 

I dunno about anyone else, but I am so ready for summer to properly start!

I mean, I know that strictly speaking we are officially in summer now, but no one seems to have CC’ed the weather in on that information and I just want the sun to come out to play, especially with one of the UK’s best beaches just a short walk from my house!

If you read my Summer Bucket List, you’ll have seen the first point was getting my girls down to Bournemouth for a good old fashioned day at the beach, fish and chips and ice-cream not optional, and my desperation for this to happen has inspired a classic Wednesday wishlist of fun beachy bits and bobs!

First up is a bit of a cheat because I’ve bought it second hand from a friend of mine, but seriously how cute is this Hello Kitty Instax?! I’ve been going back and forth a bit with the idea of getting a little one, and I couldn’t resist this for beach days as well as my trip to China next month! And along the tech lines, I think this beach radio from Sunnylife is amazing, and I love that you can connect your phone or mp3 player and use it as speakers.

Next up: beach activities! A donut frisbee? Yes please! I mean, I’ve got no hand/eye coordination for throwing and catching, but I think a donut would motivate me to try at least! Once you’re exhausted from all the throwing and running around, food is next on the agenda, kept cool in this multicoloured beauty of a cool bag from Bando.

Now I already have too many swimsuits, but that doesn’t stop me from checking the Asos sale every now and then anyway.. I’m a sucker for an usual design, and this v-shaped ombre beauty is gorgeous! I’m also absolutely obsessed with Spectrum brushes right now, and I’ve got my eye on two different sets: the 10 piece essentials and Siren Smoke eye brushes; I mean, they’re basically meant for mermaids right?!

What are your beach trip essentials?

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Mini Primark Haul

Call me crazy, but I’m not a huge fan of high street shopping. I like to shop from the comfort of my sofa in my pyjamas and avoid the public as much as possible. I think that’s reasonable, right?

There are a few exceptions to this rule: H&M, because I can always find so many more amazing things in store than I can online, and Primark, because they aren’t online, but because I never seem to find the time for regular trips, I tend to do big shops whenever I do make it into town. I’m also always seeing amazing Primark finds posted on Twitter and Instagram so I normally have a little shopping list ready, which is what today’s haul is primarily composed of!

Primark homeware bedding

First up, a little bedding haul! I have a slight addiction to bedding, which can be really pricey at times so I always love when Primark have cute stuff in because its always so much cheaper than elsewhere! The donut duvet set was £11 for a double, then I got the prettiest pastel throw for £5 (its SO SOFT), a double fitted sheet for £6.50 and pillowcases for £2.30; a total steal if you ask me, especially when even IKEA bedding can be £30 for a duvet set at times!

Primark Mickey Mouse shorts

Primark sports bra

Next up, my two £4 bargains! The Mickey Mouse shorts are a little thin in terms of fabric quality, but for wearing round the house in the summer they’ll be perfect, and for the price I really didn’t mind. I’m also totally loving the criss-cross back of this sports bra and the pretty blue band. I don’t imagine its supportive enough for running, but the quality feels good and it’ll be perfect for the gym or beach yoga.

Primark unicorn pyjamas

Lastly, a little bit of unicorn love with this cutesy PJ set – just look at the little sprinkle shorts! – and a three pack of unicorn socks, because if you go to Primark without buying socks, did you really go?

Have you found anything good in Primark recently?

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January Sale Homeware Haul

Being away for the first half of January, I was a little late to the sale shopping game but totally ready to make up for lost time!

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The first bargains I stumbled upon were these amazing cushion covers from h&m, which I’d actually been eyeing up back in December when they were full price. Yes, ok, the text ones are Christmas themed, but I just love white and gold and they were £2(!!!) and the star print was £4, plus isn’t the point of January sales to buy cheap Christmas stuff?!

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I totally blame Kayleigh for my next set of purchases. I am a self-confessed stationery addict, so when she posted her pretty new planner on Instagram, I figured it was time for me to make a purchase. I looked around and decided on Kikki-K, a company I’ve been a little bit obsessed with for a while now, and guess what – they were having a sale! While I can be a sucker for pastels at times, yellow is my one true love, so of course seeing that most of the sale items were yellow just proved it was meant to be! As well as a planner, I got a set of 3 A5 notebooks, some of the cutest little notepads and – non-sale – a happy healthy habits box, which I’ll be reviewing separately once I’ve given it a go! Its all just too cute, I can’t wait to use it!

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Last, but definitely by no means least, on Friday 29th I set my alarm for 6.45am in order to be awake for the elusive Nikki McWilliams biscuit sale. Psst.. go look at Nikki McWilliams and you’ll fall in love! In the biscuit sale, products with minor defects are sold off at low, low prices, along with discontinued bits and bobs, and stock flies out in minutes! For example, in the time it took me to add everything I wanted to my basket, three things had already sold out, waa! I did, however, still get some great bargains (and the two cushions I bought haven’t arrived yet) and I look forward to the next!

Did you hit the sales in January?

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Tokyo Disney Haul

For me, the only thing that was going to be more exciting than my Tokyo trip, was all the wonderful goodies I knew I would find in Japan. I packed the bare minimum (which by my standards is still probably more than anyone else) so I could fill my case to bursting with amazing ‘stuff’ to bring home, and I think I did a pretty good job..

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This isn’t even all of it! BUT a fair few of these goodies are for giveaways, so its not all mine, but I’m going to share what I did buy just for me!

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Nanoblocks have a small following here in the UK, but they were everywhere in Tokyo Disneyland; every character you could imagine in teeny tiny Lego-like building blocks. I was going to resist, but when I saw the castle I couldn’t help myself, and because the Tokyo Monorail was just so darn cute, I ended up getting that one too, and I’m really excited to give building them a go!

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Next, the wearable goodies! The Japanese really go all out when they dress for Disney, and the range was endless! From the parks, I got myself a pair of sparkly Minnie ears, a Minnie scrunchie, the amazing LGM ears, monorail socks, and Winnie the Pooh clip-on ears. A lot of people in the parks choose to wear clip-on ears, and they came in a pretty impressive range from Minnie to Pooh to Stitch. I picked up some Tsum Tsum hairbands from the Disney Store just outside the parks, and the Tsum Tsum socks came from some crazy shops we found in a Tokyo shopping centre.

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As we all know I’m a total homeware nut, and I honestly expected more of it in the parks but the range didn’t span much more than mugs and chopsticks in most places, but I did manage to get some cute lunchboxes, a large rice bowl and a plastic cup, as well as a Tokyo Disney mug and a Tokyo Disneyland hotel mug to add to my collection, as well as some Winnie the Pooh nail clippers – random, I know – and The Queen of Hearts plate came with one of our desserts in the Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall. From another store in Tokyo I also got some cool Pooh and Mickey sushi mould sets, as well as my favourite buy of the holiday: a Toy Story Little Green Men tea set! I had really hoped to get a tea set while in Japan, and this little guy stole my heart. As you can see in the top picture, the cups all stack up into a tower, and the head lifts off the teapot to act as another cup/sugar bowl, while the body is the pot; I’m in love!

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I also picked up a few crafty bits from various stores around Japan: a Minnie Mouse tape measure, some Disney washi tape, sew on Tsum Tsum appliques and a tin of little paper tsum tsum cards!

As well as all these wonderful goodies, there is one more beautiful buy, which I’ve snuck a picture of as its going to be my birthday present, so I can’t have it until October (waa!), but I have to share..

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We came across a Samantha Thavasa store in a shopping centre and I just wanted to have a quick look until I found this beautiful Dumbo purse – the picture doesn’t do justice to just how gorgeous it is!

I’m a pretty happy girly!

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