Monday, October 21, 2013

My Money-Saving Challenge!

Hello. toasters!
It's safe to say that my wallet is more than a little empty, what with student finance messing me around (I STILL don't have anything!) and me having to shell out for a new railcard and train tickets.
So, I have set my self the challenge of spending absolutely nothing for an entire week.
That's right... I will try my utmost to spend nothing at all, not on food, bus fares, or any cute vintage items that catch my eye on Ebay
(Yes, even if they are such a bargain)
I share my house with 5 other students and we split everything evenly, so of course bills and money for toilet roll etc. don't count for this challenge, so I definitely wont be the annoying 'can I owe it to you?' friend.
But aside from that, I will basically see what its like to run on empty for a week.
Hopefully I have enough pasta in the cupboard to last me...
I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Adjusting to life as a student

Hello, toasters!

I'm about a month deep into my second year of uni.
Especially since moving back into my family home for 4 months over summer, I have realised some of the things that make student life... well, studenty.

One thing you never have to think about when merrily living at home is doing the shopping.
I never realised how expensive cheese was!
And yes, you can get the £1 'cheese' from Iceland, but its so rubbery that if you drop it, it will bounce back up and punch you in the face.

Never before have I been quite so precious about nectar points.
So what if I only spent £1.27?
I need those points!
It's seriously becoming a problem- like as if I'm addicted to drugs.
The other day I spent £2.50 in Sainsbury's, walked halfway home before I realised I hadn't collected my points, and went back to get them!
What is my life turning into?!?!
And then, when you get home, you have to try and fit everything into your one little freezer drawer.
I can definitely say, that I have become a master of this.
It's like an expert game of Tetris in my freezer drawer.
Life Skill = Gained. Thanks, University.

Whilst I love my house, you do have to get used to some really odd combinations of mis-matched furniture.
In my living room for example, we have two sofas- one a forest green and one a brilliant red that makes your eyes hurt if you look at it in daylight.
I know that's not really a huge sticking point, but it does make you appreciate the purposefully styled rooms at your family home when you go back.

One thing I have learnt about myself is that I'm actually a pretty good cook!
(See a recent post here that has one of my recipes)
This came as a huge shock to everyone, as before my Dad used to joke that I could burn water.
But no, I actually buy fresh ingredients, combine them in interesting ways and I have never, ever eaten a pot noodle.
The worst thing that happened to me kitchen-wise was my very first attempt to cook when I first moved in as a fresher.
I was cooking a pizza (very simple, I know) and so I just put it in the oven and waited.
There were only two problems to this plan...
1. Our oven has no temperature markings. You turn the dial, but the markings have long since rubbed off. So, to start with, it was like a fun game. I think I must have turned it around to what I believe is about 300 degrees that night.
2. After I put the pizza into what must have been a furnace, I became distracted. I can't remember what I was distracted by, but as I am an art student, it was probably something like a butterfly or my own boobs.
So when I eventually remembered I was cooking something (probably about 40 minutes later) it came out looking pretty burnt.
And by pretty burnt, I mean 100x more burnt than the stereotypical English guy who falls asleep on holiday in Spain in the sun all day and has to go around looking like a tomato for 3 months after.
So if having a pizza that was blacker than a politicians heart wasn't bad enough, I only went and dropped it on the floor!
I think I may have cried at this point. Or again, became distracted by my own boobs.
I just know that I definitely missed the 3-second-rule time limit.
But still, I was just so hungry, I picked it up and ate the bits that were still recognisable as a pizza.
This, dear toasters, is a fact I am not proud of, so please don't judge me!

Doing the washing is also something that gets me.
Because my laundry basket is only being filled by me, it takes a long time to get full.
And even when it is full, you do the same thing you do with the bins and squash it all down so it will last a little longer.
So I'd say that wash day only comes up every 2 weeks.
But when it does come up, I do 5 washes (1 white, 2 colours, 2 black washes) in a row and EVERYTHING is hung out to dry in my room.
So for about 2 or 3 days, I cant move in my own room, it becomes a rainforest of clothing.
Sometimes, its kinda cool.
I can make a slightly-damp blanket fort out of the set of sheets I've washed and hide away from the outside world and the concept of 'doing work'.

I will leave you on this note- Internet shopping is your best friend and your worst enemy rolled into one!
Yes, you can get some amazing deals that make your life (and bank balance) so much better.
But, be warned.
The other day, I went through my Ebay purchase history and realised quite how much stuff I had bought.
And by stuff, I mean things that I love, but if I'm being very honest with myself, it could be classed as 'crap I don't need'.
For example, today my Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends DVD came in the post!
Now don't get me wrong- I loved this show!
But if I'm honest, the £3 I paid for this could have been spent on something a little more nessecary. Like stationary. Or a subway.

Oooooh, I want a subway now!

So my question to you all is this: What have you found to be the hardest thing about adjusting to student life? Let me know in the comments!
And don't forget to subscribe if you like my content, so you'll be notified when I post more :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why men have it easier than women every single day

Hello, toasters!
So yes, I am discussing a topic older than Bruce Forsyth himself, the age-old battle of the sexes.
Now, I may be a little biased in this argument, as I am, in fact, a girl.
Yes, I have boobs that jiggle and I can occasionally push small human beings out of a certain orifice. Not that that's happened to me in particular, but I do enjoy watching and laughing at the rednecks on 16 & Pregnant, so I know roughly how it works.
But I'm not going to write a classic 'we have to go through cramp and childbirth' post just to win by default.
Nope, I'm going to be talking about all those little things that happen every single day, that make a guys life so much easier than a girls.

First up- Guys don't have to shell out money for feminine hygiene products despite the hideous adverts that make you go into a cringe coma for three days solid.
We all know the ones I mean... I don't think I've ever seen one that makes me actually want to buy the product. And the worst thing is, I know that my purchase is going towards their profit, which will be spent on more horrific adverts.
No, please don't make a tampon fly through the sky, that doesn't actually prove anything.
And for crying out loud, don't give it a face and make it sing.
Now I'm not saying that they should change their tune completely and start making Sensodyne-esqe commercials. That would manage to be even worse.
My suggestion is to just stop the adverts completely.
We're going to buy the product anyway. We don't really have a choice.
So why do these companies need to spend loads on advertising where they turn a pad into a flower?

Secondly, men can fart in public and not have to automatically blame it on a squeaky chair.
Girls are just expected to be beautiful, mystical creatures all the time.
But come on, even a unicorn has to let one out at some point, right?
Now I don't know about you, but I didn't sign up for this debutante stuff. I don't particularly care which hand I hold my knife and fork in, or if my posture is bolt upright at all times.
Do you know how painful it is to hold in a fart?!
It kills!
But I'd definitely say I've mastered the art. I've been with Dan 8 months now and I've only ever let one out about 3 or 4 times. I'm pretty proud of that.
(Apparently you fart loads in your sleep, but I can't say about that)
When I was younger, I used to think that farting was brilliant. We'd used to have competitions and everything.
Where did that go? I miss sitting in a bath with your friend and making it a Jacuzzi.

Number three- men's clothing is far better suited to rolling-out-of-bed-and-heading-out days. Which I have often.
On the whole, I think women's clothing is far more interesting than mens.
Everything is less blocky, and more fluid.
But for dressing down, you cannot argue that guys have it easier.
Bra's are fiddly, tights have a tendency to shred to pieces as soon as you touch them, and don't even get me started on accessories.
They can just throw on some trousers, a top, and a hoodie, and it nearly always matches.
(There are exceptions, of course)
They also don't have to bother with hair and make up like we do... they're allowed to have a 'natural, rugged look'.
If I had a natural, rugged look, people would start offering me their change as I walked down the street.

Last, but not least- when it comes to romantic language, men are far easier to interpret.
I mean, come on, guys can do the extremely-old yet extremely-effective 'Gentleman' routine.
Namely- be polite, compliment us, and don't be a tool.
It really is that simple!
And this courtship technique has been around for years, meaning guys have had decades to get familiar with it.
With girls, we can't use the same flirting techniques our ancestors had.
Oh, excuse me whilst I drop my handkerchief daintily and cheekily flash my ankles.
We have to find new, innovative ways of communicating our interest, and most of them don't even work.
I mean, there's a reason why the stereotypical girl is hard to understand.
Maybe I need to stock up on handkerchiefs after all...

So those are some things that I believe make a guy's day a little easier than mine.
Of course, there is a flip side to this....
  • We're not expected to be good drivers- in fact, it's the opposite
  • We can chat to small children and be 'caring', where most guys in the same situation would look somewhat in need of psychoanalysing
  • We don't have to pay on the first date (it goes downhill from there though...)
  • We can follow fashion without having our motives questioned
  • On girls... bunny slippers are always appropriate

I know there's probably a huuuuuge amount of feminist writings on this subject, but I thought I'd offer up my own humble opinion.
See you soon,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Boscombe Vintage Fair

Hello, toasters!
So yesterday, my housemates and I went to Boscombe Vintage Market!

My housemate looking around the Market...
Not sure that E.T. plushie is technically 'vintage'
but oh well...
It was actually recommended to us by our tutors, as for our homework task we needed to find vintage items from different decades- best homework ever, right?!

Despite the annoying bus schedule- there was only one every hour- we made it there in reasonable time and had a good look around.
It wasn't a massive market- probably about 20 stalls in all- but in true Vintage style, every surface was crammed with beautiful wares.
Now when going to a vintage fair, I feel the best way to approach it is similar to how the majority of us approach Primark- the trick is to sort through the crap.
Yes, that blotchy shirt may be from the 1970s, but there's a reason the guy is so desperately trying to sell it to you.
Just because it's old doesn't mean it's fantastic.
However, once you sort through the stuff that was definitely never in fashion, you get some pretty amazing finds.
For example, my housemate found an amazing dress that was an 80s reproduction of a 1950s evening dress- she has no idea where she'll actually be able to wear it, but it still doesn't detract from the fact that it's beautiful and only cost her £35!

My new baby! From now on, EVERYTHING will be
typed, even my shopping list for Lidl.
And I found a beautiful 1950s Princess 300 typewriter in fabulous condition! It came in its original case, which I can lock with a small key (to stop those oh-so-common typewriter thieves we hear about all the time) and it came with a typing course instruction manual which was published in 1963.
I had a quick look through the booklet when I got home, and as well as words that have fallen out of use- such as 'ist'- I found random derogatory racist terms scattered casually through the typing exercises... I just found it funny to imagine a man from 1963 tapping out the N word 10 times over to practice his typing and him not thinking anything of it! Definitely a sign of how the times have changed...
I need to buy some new ribbon, and oil the moving parts, but I am so happy with my find.
When I was little, I used to have a plastic toy typewriter, and I've wanted a proper one for years. I think the lady knew that it would be going to a good home, which also helped me get the price down from £45 to £35!
(The use of the 'I'm a poor student' plea worked wonders too)

The problem is, coming home from the vintage market, I now want to re-style my whole room to have a vintage feel.
The problem is, most of my room uses bright blues and reds, so it would take a little more than my student budget to cover it. (To the left is a scale model version of my student room to give you an idea of how it currently looks)
Also, I don't really dress in a vintage style, so I'd probably feel a little out of place.
So now my problem is this- how can I combine my existing room with new, inexpensive finds to give it an old-fashioned feel?!
I'll have to get back to you on that one...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Back to School... (and my new favourite easy-peasy recipe)

Hello, toasters!
This past week has been pretty intense, as I've moved back down to Bournemouth and had my first week of second year classes!
But although I'm a second year, I feel more lost than I ever did as a fresher because our classes have now moved to random rooms around the campus.
(I'm sure it's some kind of disorientation power play trick the teachers are using against us to stop us from getting too cocky)

These are the clothes I have bought with me
 for JUST the Winter Term...
One problem with moving back into a student house is the unpacking.
Now we all know how much I love to procrastinate, but I still have loads of  random stuff on the floor that needs to be tidied, and next to the ever-growing stack of pizza boxes, my room is starting to turn into a weird, studenty undergrowth.
Another problem with moving, is the fact I have to share a car with my mum for an extended amount of time.
Don't get me wrong- I love my mum to bits.
It's just always strange to be in what is essentially a travelling metal box for several hours together, especially when you need to choose music.
At home we're okay, because we both like the same local station, but when we get out of range, we're in trouble.
I prefer to put my iPod on, because then there's no adverts, but once we get through all of my Phil Collins stuff, that is when the true test begins.
The problem is not that my mum only likes pre-millennium music and thinks that new music isn't what it used to be.
Oh no, it's the opposite.
She seems to love Pink, Jessie J and other people like that.
The real issue is that I haven't been able to update my iPod in over 4 years.
So every time we go on an extended journey together, I spend the entire time trying to play songs that feel more up-to-date than they really are.
And I think she's starting to realise that songs like 'Meet Me Halfway' have long gone.

Another problem is deciding how to decorate the room!
Although I love my little house, the tidal wave of cream walls is really starting to get to me.
So this year, I thought I'd add a splash of colour with fabric hangings I've got from different countries... what do you guys think?
I'm planning on doing a whole Uni room decoration post soon, so keep a look out for it :)

The most stereotypical issue with student living (aside from arguments over the washing up) is cooking.
It really does get difficult to cook anything too complicated, as 1. you probably won't be able to afford too many ingredients and 2. you could be sharing the kitchen with up to 6 people at the same time!
But this week I got really lucky and had the kitchen to myself for a while, so I made homemade burgers with sweet potato wedges!
And it was really easy to make...
  1. Buy some fresh beef mince. (NOT the frozen pellets which look suspiciously like rabbit food)
  2. Finely chop an onion and a clove of garlic, and mix with the mince. Don't worry if there's loads of onions left over, you can fry them alongside the burger itself and have with the burger.
  3. Peel a sweet potato and chop it into 1cm thick circular pieces.
  4. Place them onto a baking tray, put a little oil on them and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Put into the oven at 200 C for 25 minutes or so.
  6. When the potatoes have about 8 or 10 minutes left, start frying the burger in a frying pan over high heat with a tiny bit of oil.
  7. Serve when everything looks about right (I'm not exactly a Michelin star cook, so I don't know a fancier way to put it)
Om nom nom.
And the best bit? Minimal washing up!

Talking about food, I'd better go and see what I can whip up tonight.
Although, if I'm honest, it looks like a night of re-heated pizza....