The Landing: Baby Steps

Well it’s only taken 17 months but we’ve finally added something to the landing.

Or the hallway I should say. Last you saw the landing it looked like this. I’d painted it white and put a few frames up. And then it stayed like that. For a long time. I stated in my home decor plans for 2018 that I had some prints and frames standing by to put up and I finally got around to it this week. It also helped that Topher and I finally spent the Debenhams vouchers we got for our wedding and got this frame.* Big thanks for our photographer Nikki Cooper for sending us some actual prints along with our wedding photo filled USB stick. That really got our bums in gear as that prompted us to go and find a frame to put them in.

landing - gallery wall

So we finally have photos of ourselves in the house. Yay! I love the way this frame looks.

Then I finally got up some more prints we had as well as one of the wedding photographs that we loved but was in portrait so it wouldn’t fit in the main frame.

landing - frames

I like how it’s growing but I feel like we definitely need a better balance of prints and photographs. I may also swap out the gold and silver frames for black and white ones. I like the idea of having nice bright prints that have a more muted frame. I just used those ones because I had them on hand. And they definitely don’t fit the prints they have inside them!

landing - wedding pic

We also received this awesome key holder from Topher’s auntie and uncle as a wedding present so I finally got that up too. How awesome does it look?

landing - keyholder

I guess the next step is to get some more photos printed. We’ve got loads to choose from since next year it will be a decade that Topher and I have been together. Fingers crossed it won’t take 17 months this time!

Check out what the landing originally looked like when we moved in.

Are you slow to make changes like this too?

Items marked with * are affiliate links – this means if you purchase anything from the site then I get a small commission with no extra cost to you!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Continue Reading

Big Apple, Small Budget: Planning An Affordable Trip To New York

New York, New York. Who hasn’t dreamed of exploring the streets of Manhattan and soaking up one of the greatest cities in the world? While you might think that dream will stay a dream because of the cost involved, the truth is that it’s now cheaper than ever to visit New York for a short break.

New York

Source

Interested in discovering the dazzling lights of the Big Apple? Take a look at this useful guide for planning a trip to New York on a budget.

Get clever with flights

If you play your cards right, you could fly to New York for less than £300 return – that’s crazy compared to what a transatlantic flight would have cost you years ago! Using Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights, you could plan your trip around the cheapest flight times and have a blast.

Stay on the outskirts

Like most major cities, it’s cheaper to stay in hotels outside of Manhattan than within it. You could stay at the Melville Marriott Long Island and take the short trip into the city to explore. New York is the city that never sleeps after all, so if you like your rest – a stay on the outskirts might be just what you need to recover after a day of sightseeing.

Enjoy top attractions for less

You’re sure to have a long list of things that you want to see in New York, although they can cost a lot of money when you add everything up. Fortunately, there are some great ways to save money on top New York attractions, which will make it easier to fit everything in on your budget. Keep an eye out for theatre deals and last-minute ticket options for sports events – there are some amazing deals to be found if you can be flexible with your time.

Eat out for less

Just as you would at home, you can find some incredible eating out bargains for top restaurants in New York City. Websites such as Groupon have some fantastic promotions if you know what you’re looking for, while it doesn’t hurt to search online for the best deals. Meanwhile, if you want to enjoy some of New York’s most upmarket restaurants, why not book a table for brunch or breakfast? As two of the cheapest meals of the day, you can enjoy some of New York’s finest dining for much less than an evening meal.

 

New York is an incredible city to visit, with so many exciting things to take in. It’s easy to plan a trip on a budget, and with the money leftover, you could consider planning a multi-destination trip to another city like Washington DC or Las Vegas. Domestic flights are affordable in America, and with a selection of airports, New York is the perfect destination to begin your trip. A trip to New York will be a memorable experience, so plan your trip wisely to ensure you get to take it all in.

*This is a collaborative post

SaveSave

Continue Reading

World Stationery Day with Old English Company – Competition

*This post is in collaboration with Old English Company

As you may or may not know, it’s World Stationery Day on the 25th April.

I’ve always been a huge fan of stationery, ever since I was a child. Every day is World Stationery Day for me! So when Old English Company contacted me about their competition to celebrate the day, I had to share it with you.

Old English Company’s range of planners are minimalistic and gorgeous. Perfect for work, blogging or any project you have going on. I especially love that they don’t contain dates so you can fill them in yourself. Ideal for people like me who have a habit of picking up and putting down planners so before I know it, the year is gone and I’ve wasted half of it. Every damn year!

World Stationery Day - inside planner

The planners come in blush pink/gold, charcoal grey/gold, off white/copper and black/pearlescent. I can’t decide which one’s my favourite…

This competition allows you to win not just one but all four planners in the range! You can use them for different projects or even give them to your friends if you’re feeling generous. Click on this link to enter the competition. All you have to do to enter is pick your favourite item of stationery from the site and email them. It’s that simple. The competition closes at the end of 25th April and a winner will be chosen on the 26th.

World Stationery Day - planner range

Take a look around while you’re there too, Old English Company don’t just do stationery. I’ve personally fallen in love with all of their prints. And they make pins too as well as homewares, cards and other accessories. Perfect for gifts and for yourself. Because we all need a treat, right?

Do you love stationery as much as I do? 

SaveSave

Continue Reading

March in Photos – Family, Friends and Food

Hello April and hello Spring.

I thought since I’ve been a bit MIA recently, especially with the “My Week” posts that I’d do a little catchup. I only posted six times during March and they were mainly travel posts so here are all the in between bits.

March in Photos - blue sky

Mental Health

It’s been all over the place this month. One minute I’m feeling fine and getting stuff done and the next I can’t get out of bed. The clocks changed which I’m hoping is going to improve my mood generally and those down points will get fewer and far between. I’ve been beating myself up less about not being active though so that’s a positive.

Friends & Family

We saw our friends a few times this month which was nice – a board game night at Claire and Steve’s, a birthday party for Topher’s mum and a leaving party for our other friends who are off to live in Japan for a year. Topher and I also babysat our friend’s 7 month old baby for a few hours which was a learning experience! Big respect to all the parents. The most I’d come into contact with a small human prior to this was holding one for about 30 seconds so it was interesting.

March in Photos - articulate

My parents came to stay with us too which saw the usual flurry of activity of food and doing bits around the house. Which brings me to…

Home

We have a new bed in the guest room. The king size one we had in there before was uncomfortable and was probably about as old as I am. I always felt bad for our guests having to sleep on it but now I don’t have to. My parents gave us their old guest room bed which is only a double so there is SO much more space in the room now. You can actually walk around the bed. Of course this meant new bedding was needed. This Mexican inspired rainbow cat bedding is from Asda a few months ago. How cute is it?! Sombrero kitties for the win.

March in Photos - new bed

March in Photos -rainbow bedding

We also finally replaced our old cat tree which has been on it’s last legs for a long time now. This new one is amazing. It’s from Amazon* and is super tall. Perfect for our big cats. I actually adapted it slightly by not putting on the hammocks as Pickles especially is far too big for them and they’ll just break! Plus it just means more uninterrupted climbing for them both.

March in Photos - cat tree

Car fun

And speaking of new things I got a new car. Well, new to me anyway. It’s an automatic and has a few more bells and whistles than my old car so I’m pretty excited about it. I’m going to be selling my Clio this month once it’s finished being fixed after it got rear ended in February so hopefully I can rest easy with car stuff for awhile. Now please can all the bad drivers stay away from my new car so I can drive in peace?

Films

Topher and I really need to get to the cinema more this month as we only went once during March. We saw Game Night which I really enjoyed. It’s been so long since I saw a comedy at the cinema where I was laughing out loud the whole way through. Definitely recommend.

Food

I didn’t cook anything new this month as I wasn’t up to it but we did go out for two meals. The first was Bem Brasil with my parents which was nice. I didn’t take any photos as a) I was too busy eating meat and b) who wants to look at pictures of slivers of meat on a plate? The second place we went was just Topher and I to Wasabi in Chinatown. We’ve been before but we were really craving Japanese food so we nipped in before the leaving party at the weekend.

I bloody love ramen.

March in Photos - ramen

Easter came and went

Topher and I had only planned on having one egg each but we ended up with 2 each as his family got us some. Oh well, more chocolate for us. Now that that’s all over, I’m going to try and get back to my healthy eating. I’m not feeling particularly comfortable at the moment with my weight as it’s close to my heaviest so that’s gotta go. Back to the happy weight please.

March in Photos - easter

And finally, the cats

They’ve been their usual adorable selves. Pickles is being better at night as there was a point where he would keep us up for half of it. I put it down to the clocks changing. Luna has been extra cuddly recently – climbing on both our chests and attacking our faces with head bops – especially to Topher. She purrs super loud and is so intense it’s funny. Pickles has also found some toys to play with on his own which is great. Half of them were under the bed when we got the new one! We play with them both but it’s nice that they can amuse themselves too when we’re busy. Luna has always been fine with that but Pickles used to be extra work. So yay for that.

March in Photos - Pickles

As for April, I hope to get out to a car boot if it ever stops raining, get my decluttering on and get this blog back up to regular scheduling amongst other goals. Wish me luck!

How was your March?

Items marked with * are affiliate links. This basically means that if you click through and buy anything, I get a small commission with no extra cost to you!

Continue Reading

How I Plan a Multi-Destination Holiday

Topher & I’s honeymoon was a whirlwind of a two-week adventure that we spent in three American cities. There were four flights, six hotels and a two-day road trip in the middle. We travelled with hand luggage only and we were on a budget. That holiday was planned right down to the last detail.

I have a bit of anxiety with trips like this where I don’t like to be unsure. I don’t want to be wandering round for hours trying to find somewhere decent to eat, I don’t want to be getting lost and I certainly don’t want to miss out on really seeing a city.

Topher said this was the best trip he’d ever been on and I agree. We saw so much in so little time, we didn’t have a single bad meal, and we kept to our budget; even going home with money in our pockets and extra souvenirs.

We had a plan in place and adjusted it whenever we needed to.

 

This blog post is how I planned it and tips on how you can plan your own multi-destination holiday.

Put the kettle on because this is going to be a long one!

So a quick disclaimer when I say multi-destination; I mean multi city (usually in the same country) where there is so much to do and very little time. Not one of those relaxing beach holidays. Because with those, it’s super easy to go with the flow and relaxing is in the title for a reason.

Also, this is just what I do. This isn’t for everyone. It can seem quite restricting to some people but I think it can be quite useful. Particularly for fellow anxious people who want to go on a holiday like this but are put off by all the uncertainty of being in a completely different country and not knowing what to do.

Hell, I got freaked out by having to use the New York subway for the first time so I looked on Youtube beforehand to see how it was done. It definitely saved me from holding up all the locals when I went through the barriers for the first time. Research is my friend. It gives me confidence.

Anyway, enough rambling, let’s dive in.

 

Set the dates

bullet journal setup - calendar & japan savings

Back in the days where my husband didn’t work in a school – I’d just pick these randomly. Decide on a month and then go with what’s the cheapest. Tuesdays are usually good days to fly but not everyone has that option. We certainly don’t anymore! You do you. Fit your dates into your schedule.

Remember to consider things like time of year and weather depending on the country you’re going to. Because who wants to mess that up? I certainly did when I booked Disneyland Paris in February on a whim. And then forgot my hat and gloves. So fricken cold! Will definitely be picking a milder time of year next time.

Also remember that weather is not always the same between the different cities you’ll be visiting too. I picked September for our honeymoon as I discovered that San Francisco is actually pretty cold in the summer months.

 

Get a spreadsheet

Or a notebook or bullet journal but trust me spreadsheets are awesome for this kind of planning as they are so easy to edit and they will be edited a lot!

I usually start with a spreadsheet early on where I dump all the information I find during my research so that everything is in one place.

 

Do a lot of research 

Activities

San Francisco - segway

I start by looking up what kind of things we want to do in each location. What are the major sites and do not miss experiences? Use travel guides, books, blogs, Google, Pinterest and also ask people who have been.

Make a list and then you’ll be able to see approximately how much time you need in each location. Decide on what your priorities are. What do you want to see on your holiday?

Do you love shopping? Museums? Sight-seeing? Food? Do your research and find cannot miss locations. I personally can’t recommend blogs enough for this. I spent some time making a list of activities that kept popping up on people’s recommendations along with stuff that Topher and I would be interested in. This led me to amazing things like The Color Factory in San Francisco. Thanks Instagram!

 

Food

This is the same technique I used for activities. Good food on a budget is very important to Topher and I did all the research for this too. I used Pinterest and blogs and took note of the same places that kept coming up.

It’s especially handy to get recommendations from locals (I bloody love the internet). Though Trip Advisor is great for reviews of hotels and activities, I’ve heard that using them for restaurants tend to lead you to places that are just full of fellow tourists. Not always bad, but it’s nice to get a mix of famous places and stuff the locals love.

 

Google Maps are a saviour

Google Maps allow you to save locations on your smart phone and it’s a great tool for holiday planning. So all the activities and food locations I’ve dumped into a spreadsheet, I save in Google Maps. It allows me to see where everything is and if we’ll be able to get there.

There was plenty of food places that I wouldn’t have minded visiting on our honeymoon but there were just too far out of the way. And I wouldn’t have realised if I hadn’t have used this tool.

Plus it saves so much time when you’re actually there. If you’re in a country where you have access to wifi or you’re on a “feel at home” type plan like I am then use it. It’s ideal for getting to places quickly and reducing your chances of getting lost.

 

Hotels

Los Angeles - hotel room
I tend to save hotels until after I know vaguely where we’re going to be going. Using Google maps, take a look at everything you’ve saved and where would be the best place for you to stay. Because as nice as that hotel you’ve found is, who wants to be schlepping back and forth to something that’s no where near anything you want to do?

Don’t forget to look into what kind of areas are good for staying in too otherwise you could end up somewhere that’s good logistically, but not so much in terms of atmosphere!

And of course, check the reviews. I actually forgot to do this for the last hotel of our honeymoon and it wasn’t the nicest. It’s something that we laugh about now but I’ve certainly learned my lesson. Trip Advisor is your destination for this, though take some reviews with a pinch of salt as some people just can’t be pleased.

 

Allow for travel time

It’s highly unlikely that the cities you’ll be visiting will be right next door to each other so allow for travel time. And how will you be traveling? For our USA adventure, Topher and I mainly had to rely on planes (NYC to California) but we also hired a car and drove between San Francisco and LA. That drive can be done in a day but we decided to stretch it out over two in order to pace ourselves and get an extra morning in at San Francisco.

Figure out what the best transportation option is for you. Next year when we visit Japan, we’ll be using trains. But people on a tighter budget may consider buses and people who have a much bigger budget can just fly between cities. It all depends on you.

And then make sure to factor in how long your chosen transport will take. Will this eat into some of the activities you planned on doing? This is where the spreadsheet can really come in handy because you can lay it all out.

Madonna Inn - rental car

Flights

I leave this until last to plan as you might have dates set in stone or you might just see what kind of deal you get when you book. But it’s usually one of the first things I book. Since I plan big holidays more than a year in advance, it’s too early for flights. Plus you can’t know what flights you need until you know how long you’re staying in each place.

So once it’s less than a year, I tend to use Skyscanner to search for flights. Use an incognito window to search each time as not doing so can affect prices. Damn cookies. Anyway, I also set up an email alert, check back often and when the price is right – jump!

Another tip, if you’re ok flying indirect do it, as it’s usually cheaper.

 

Set the itinerary

Once you know everywhere you want to go, eat and where you’re staying. It’s time to slot everything into place.

Remember to be realistic. Set one activity for each portion of the day – figure out how long things will take including travel time. Don’t book yourselves a lunch reservation across town when you’re doing something that takes all day.

Also find out things like opening times. Sometimes tourist attractions are closed on random days of the week and it’s so disappointing to find out when you arrive. And some things you need to book in advance. For example, if you want to go up the Statue of Liberty you need to book at least a month in advance. Sometimes more depending on the season. Otherwise you can only go to the island and look at it from the outside.

But then I’ve also messed this up as we tried to visit a specific food market and I got the day wrong. Oops! It would have been funny if we hadn’t walked miles to get there. Don’t do this.

Once again, this is where your saved locations in Google maps is super useful. Link up things that are close to each other to do and eat on the same day so that you’re not zigzagging across the city. A waste of time, money on travel and on your energy.

 

Budget Baby

Budgets are sexy!….but they really aren’t. Still, I always set the budget after I’ve done my research. Definitely before I book anything though. As our household doesn’t have a lot of disposable income, I like to make sure we can book the holiday far enough in advance that we’re able to save up for it.

This is where the spreadsheet gets edited a lot. Hotels are switched out for cheaper alternatives and I keep a note of everything that will cost money including travel and activities.

To make a food budget I had a quick look at my chosen restaurant’s menus online for prices so I could gage how much we would spend. In every instance I would over budget so we would never be short on cash. And it definitely worked! This was the main reason why we ended up coming home with spare money. Also you find out things like portion sizes. But remember that you can’t know everything before you go. If I’d known how big these pancakes in LA were going to be then Topher and I would definitely saved money and shared a stack.Spoiler alert – I didn’t finish mine. Neither did Topher.

Los Angeles Food - diane vs pancakes

Know what you can afford and plan your holiday accordingly. Because who wants to be stuck with a load of credit card debt, right? And please don’t try the YOLO argument with me because my credit score is flawless baby.

 

Adjust the plan

Plans are there to be adjusted on the fly. I’m not saying that you must stick rigidly to your plan. It’s just there so you can have an understanding of what you’re doing and not waste your time on getting lost. Shit happens and that’s ok.

For example, when Topher and I were exhausted in San Francisco (and kinda sunburnt), we changed our plan. We’d hiked to this amazing pie shop to find that they didn’t have any air-conditioning and it was hotter than hell inside. We skipped it. I love pie, but not that much.

In fact, we were so tired that we skipped our stroll through the Mission District afterwards and headed back to our hotel. We bought snacks along the way and stayed in bed the rest of the afternoon watching Family Fortunes and Princess and the Frog. Perfect!

If you’re tired and want a break, you just have to ask yourself – will I be sorry I missed this? We’d already been on a bus through Mission District earlier that day so we kinda saw it anyway. It was definitely worth the break for us.

So if you need to adjust the plan, just adjust it. The world won’t end.

 

Extra crazy planning steps

For our honeymoon I looked up directions to everywhere ahead of time and wrote them in a little notebook. Right down to bus numbers and walking paths. Very weird but in my defense we never got lost and I didn’t have to think about anything because it was already sorted out. This may be a step too far for some people but it really helped me out and made me feel calm.

I actually see myself doing this for Japan too as we don’t speak the language and apparently not all the streets have names. Can someone confirm this for me?

I also kept track of what we spent each day while we were there. Some days we went over, some under. This helped a lot as we knew that we had extra money we could spend. Hello Yoda backpack for Topher.

disneyland californai - yoda bag

 

How do you plan a multi-destination holiday? Let me know your tips in the comments.

And please tell me if you’re as much of a planning freak as I am. Let me know I’m not alone! But it’s ok if I am – I’m happy in my weird planning bubble. 

Continue Reading