Sunday, 25 May 2014

Statement wall feature on a shoe string

Hello! It has been a while! We've been very busy doing quite a fair bit of DIY in and outside the house. It's starting to really feel like our home after all these months. We're not quite there yet - we still have the mammoth task of painting all our hallways, and we still have one more bedroom to freshen up, but we've got so much done. The garden has been the main focus and we couldn't have picked a better time as the weather has (on the whole) been lovely this last few weeks!
We finished our living room a few weeks ago with the budget mirror from the dump taking pride of place on one wall. The opposite end of the room needed some kind of feature on it to even things up. I've been busily squirreling away as many photo frames as I can in all different sizes, designs, materials and widths and transforming them to make my random photo collage for the wall.

I still have a few frames to fill with prints that fit, but I love the effect. I picked up the frames from anywhere that were giving them away: bootsales are a good place to start as usually people will give you more than one for a job-lot price. I don't think I paid anymore than £4 or £5 for those ones. The others were bought at Aston Clinton recycling centre, where again they have so many to get rid of they are practically giving them away! I used Wilkinson's own brand of gloss spray paint and still have some left over in the can to use for similar projects. Just make sure you let them dry before putting the photos in!!

I may still add more to it, to really fill the wall space. I'm not sure what else would go on there... Any suggestions?? Please let me know!

Hoping that you're all enjoying the last Bank Holiday weekend in a while!! Make the most of it!!

BB xxx

Monday, 28 April 2014

More Bargains From The Bins!

I said I have an imminent post... TA DA!
For those that will read this, if you were one of the guests at the wedding who very generously gave us Homebase and other home store vouchers, THANK YOU!!! We were reeeeally busy this weekend making use of some of them, spurred onwards by the equally generous and beautiful photo frames and other gifts that deserve to be shown, not hidden away.

To make our money go further, we took another trip to Aston Clinton's home recycling centre... which caused this face:
I'm not ashamed to say it... I peed myself with excitement when Tom suggested we go and look for stuff there to furnish the house with. The last time we went, I found my now very well used vanity stool which I upcycled the cushion of for £3. We had nothing specific in mind to buy, but just thought we'd try our luck.
And we were lucky!!
We took a lot of rubbish out our garage to actually throw into the dump, but Tom needed something to put his tools away in to completely tidy it up. This 3-draw filing cabinet, which has nice deep draws, cost us £5.
I bought eight small photo frames, altogether costing me £1, which I have spray painted black and will then arrange on the wall in a sort of mismatch collage of pictures. But here's my absolute pride and joy of the day...
This mirror, which is 2ft by 3ft in size and really nice and heavy, cost me £4!! I took the glass and back panel off as soon as we got home and again spray painted the frame. It's really simple - sand it down roughly, wipe with a wet cloth and dry with a tea towel, then two coats of spray paint and leave to dry.
Here I buggered up a little bit... Stood back to admire my handy work, and accidentally stepped on the mirror itself, cracking the glass in two. G-U-T-T-E-D. I sadly ended up paying out an additional £30 for a replacement mirror, so it wasn't such a bargain after all maybe... Lesson learned!! What a rookie mistake! However, once put altogether, it was absolutely worth it!
We've hung it on one of the feature walls, which is purple, and it stands out beautifully! We also bought this lamp, which was a last minute purchase at the till. It is PAC tested and working, and once it was wiped down it looked as good as new. Think it might be from Next or somewhere like that. Anyway, it sets off the whole room in the evenings when the curtains are drawn.

So £15 in all (£45 if you include my stupid mistake) for lots of things that I know would have cost us even more of our vouchers had we gone to the shops themselves. Already planning on convincing Tom to take me back there next weekend...!!

What's been your recent bargain??? Tell me all about it and where you found it!!

BB xx

Button BRIDE!!

Hello hello!! I've been away, so sorry! But to be fair, I was away getting MARRIED!!

On Friday 11th April I married my best friend, surrounded by all our closest friends and family, in my hometown on a perfect sunny spring day! We literally had the most incredible day and night of our lives! I could go on and on about it, but I would definitely begin to bore you to tears!!
The nicest compliments were those that recognised the amount of work that had gone into the day, particularly all the handmade, personalised touches. The pick and mix sweet jars all got eaten! Our 'message quilt' was a novel way of gathering messages of good luck, but everyone had a go. I have enough quilt squares to make a pretty large quilt, which I will start to assemble later in the year.

It all just went so well... So well that I deliberately avoided coming to write here until now, nearly 3 weeks later. The problem with planning your wedding is that you spend so long planning it, stressing over EVERY SINGLE DETAIL and executing ideas, that you actually forget what else you did with your life before it happened!! I was so depressed afterwards, Tom must have wondered what on earth he'd gotten himself into!! But now it's been a while, I can look back on the day and be so thankful for how wonderful it was, in every way. I can look at the presents, the cards, momentos from the day without crying anymore! We have loads of pictures too which are being printed off to adorn our house with.

I have another post in the immediate pipeline but I wanted to share this little one with you first... I'm a very happy girl, to say the least :)

BB xxxx

Friday, 4 April 2014

Buttons And Bows

I don't usually do promos for people, but in this instance I am so more than willing to make an exception. A couple of months ago a friend at uni and I were talking about what I still had left to do for the wedding, and mentioned bridesmaid's accessories. He told me his girlfriend might be able to help me out.
Today I received a bag via him, from her, with all the complete items inside, and I'm SO CHUFFED!
Jemma ( has a day job but makes jewellery and other pretty things for fun on the side. Apart from executing the items beautifully, she was in touch regularly checking what I'd like and suggesting ideas for beads, feathers, fixtures and so on. 
She also included a little gift just for me too... how adorable is this!? Felt is one of my favourite fabrics to work with, so she got this spot on!! If you would like to discuss with her any things you would like made, get in touch via email and let her know!
I'm nearly sorted now for next Friday. A WEEK TODAY. Oh my goodness... Just a few last bits to organise and buy and then hopefully by Wednesday all I'll have to worry about is my toenails and relaxing!

BB xx

Saturday, 29 March 2014

THUD... and back to reality...


Truth be told, this wedding and this house has absolutely rinsed me. It's not helping that I'm not earning a Social Worker wage yet and that I'm living off a student loan once again (albeit one I thankfully don't have to pay back.) Before we got the mortgage, we were able to pay for our flat with just £400 a month including all bills, and able therefore to save quite a bit every month in our savings. Now we're struggling... well, we're not. But I'm struggling. And I really, really, really need to write this to remind myself of how shitty I feel right now, having finally admitted that I have lost control and need to regain it somehow.

I have just sat here, fighting back tears, and written out my budget sheet for the next 3 months, as we get our student loan quarterly. I have already paid my bills in advance, so that money is no longer available to me. Not that I ever get behind on bills - I can prioritise, at least.
Once everything comes out that has to be paid, I have the grand sum of £250 a month to pay for food and anything else. Yup, that's it. And I have been refusing to admit this fact for 4 months now, and look at the state I have gotten myself into.


Action HAS to be taken from now:

  1. Next month my phone contract of 2 years finally runs out. The plan is to go for a phone that costs me no more than £20 a month, or less if I can stomach it. I admit I would struggle now without a Smart phone, but I need to do some research as I'm banking on the fact that the phones available to me in the shops will be nothing less than 'Smart' now. So I plan to, a) research phone tariffs, b) research phones and their internet usage, c) not get talked into signing into another 24 month contract for a phone that costs me too much.
  2. Start meal planning again and make more of an effort to go that bit further afield when we do our food shop. For god's sake, we have an Aldi in town which has already proven to me on numerous occasions that it's cheaper to get our food there. But when you have a Morrison's 1 mile from your house, we often cave and avoid the town traffic. No excuses anymore.
  3. We also have a bloody market in town on a Saturday!! WHY AREN'T WE USING IT?!? I don't know. But we will start.
  4. Absolutely no more takeaways or meals out for the next three months. Why? It's expensive, it's not usually that great, and the cost leaves a nasty taste in your mouth anyway. My dinner last night (see previous post) proves that homemade is better for you and costs less.
  5. The wedding is 13 days away now. After it's over, I'm banning myself from my eBay account and other online stores, because I have been on them weekly since we started all this. We may have saved money on the wedding by getting stuff from such places, but I bought an awful lot of crap along the way too.
  6. Charity Shops are also out of bounds for the next three months. The majority of the ones that have good stuff in are increasingly more and more expensive. It is thankfully Boot Sale season now though, so any clothing I desire will be gotten from there. I also plan to find local Swap Shop Parties, and scrounge donations from friends who happen to be clearing out their wardrobes. On the plus side, this will also encourage me to get better at upcycling clothing to my own personal taste.
  7. Look into Car Sharing and hiring out our driveway and garage - we don't use it during the day, and the garage has sod all in it. I have heard of several sites that do this now, so that's my tasks for tomorrow. I will blog about it if it all looks legit.
  8. Continue making my own lunches for college, and have 'No-Spend' days as regularly as possible.
  9. £2 A Day again over May... why not?? It worked for us 2 years ago. There's no reason why this can't happen again, especially as it'll be post-wedding.
I think that will do for now. PLEASE COMMENT if you have any tips or advice on where to read for more tips!! I feel better for coming out and opening up about this, but I don't feel particularly proud of myself either. I believe that some of my readers will feel betrayed to be reading this, but sometimes you lose track of things and it's better to try and regain some control now instead of continuing to pretend everything is OK.

That's all for now... *EXHALE*. See y'all soon.

Button xx

Friday, 28 March 2014

Piggy-Bank Friendly, Pig-Out Friday Meal

Sod it - it's FRIDAY! Let's indulge... but on a tiny, teeny, weeny budget! Seriously though, we went to the gym before cooking all of this, and Tom challenged me to do 2000 metres instead of my usual 1000 on the rowing machine. If I hadn't eaten all this once we got home, I'd be wasting away by now!!
With all this time off I've had this week I've been in the rather luxurious position of being able to try out some new recipes and hopefully expand on our weekly dinner repertoire. I am pleased to say I have succeeded on tonight's recipes alone!

Button Brown's "Piggy Bank Friendly, 
Pig Out Friday" Menu:
Starter: Scallops! (6 of them in half shells from the reduced isle in Tescos, £2... a treat for sure, but a bargain when it comes to fresh seafood like that)

Main Course: LoveFoodHateWaste's Posh Fish Fingers, and homemade chips

The super-dooper easy recipe can be found HERE on their website. Ideally, if you can, have a look at the other cool things they have there. It's all about waste not want not! Yesterday I made a plum tray bake using up the plums slowly disintegrating in my fruit bowl, which again was a very easy recipe to whip up before serving tea.
The best part of making the fish fingers today was all the leftover breadcrumbs I had, which are now snuggled up in the freezer to be used another day. The fish was lovely - we used pollock fillets that we already had in which work just as well as cod or another cheap white fish. I also seasoned the breadcrumbs with some dried herbs and garlic salt, which tasted great once they had browned up whilst cooking. The homemade chips are also a staple in our house - McCain's ain't a patch on them! Cut up white potatoes, par boil and then spray with cooking oil. So tasty, and a fraction of the calories!

Dessert: Skint Dad's Apple, Ginger and Cinnamon Dim Sum
with Greek yogurt

Ricky's recipe can be found on his blog page HERE. This recipe was so unusual that I just HAD to make it, and especially because the ingredient list is so minimal; the dim sum parcels are made of just flour and hot water. Imagine the endless sweet and savoury possibilities with a recipe like that! I am so excited to use it again soon but with a prawn or vegetable filling. Anyway, the results? Absolutely blinding. We loved them!
On the same page he also gives a fantastic Katsu curry recipe too, which sadly I didn't have the ingredients for on this occasion. He is also planning a wedding on a budget among other things he's posting on there. Definitely worth a good nose around!

I am now SO STUFFED... It's difficult to keep from rolling off this chair while I'm typing this. I can't remember the last time we cooked ourselves a 3 course meal on a week night, so it was nice to do it without breaking the bank, which both of these bloggers mentioned are very good at advising us on how to do it. I really hope you all give them a go - at the very least, head over there and say Hi!

I'm going to go and lie down... Love to you all, dear readers! Have a deliciously decadent weekend!

Button xxx

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Stamp Duty #3: All in the Details...

This is, probably, the third and final installment in my little Stamp Duty series about rubber stamping. In case you haven't read them, the links to the 1st and 2nd blog posts about these and to see other ideas are HERE and HERE.
The stamps really have been a majorly awesome investment when you think that, not only have they provided us with an entire wedding stationary range which can usually take up a large chunk of a wedding budget, but they have enabled me to create a solid theme throughout the wedding. This has been really important as otherwise I have a tendency to include too many creative ideas, and our wedding might have seemed a bit confused if I'd done that.
I bought these picture frames at the Aston Clinton recycling centre a little while back. Tom's Dad has helped me a bit here, and removed the glass and the back board, painted the board with blackboard paint and replaced. I thought I might chalk on it, but decided to be a bit more creative.

I could do a whole other post about how useful manilla, or luggage, tags have been as part of our decor theme. I ordered three different sizes from various eBay sellers at a reasonable price. They've manifested as place settings, present tags, cheese labels (wait and see on that one...) and more. The large tags here have simply been pritstik'd to the board and the names and other bits stuck on with glue. So simple, but I love the effect against the black in the distressed frame.
No stamps used in this board, but just so you can see what we did with the other frame :) This will let people know that, instead of a guest book, we want them to sign a patchwork square so we can make it into a quilt after the wedding. That project will certainly get a whole post dedicated to it!

What else, what else... Oh yeah - here are our gorgeous Order of Services!
Massive thank you goes to my future Mother in Law, Liz, for printing all of these. Afterwards I stamped the large peacock feather stamp in black ink to give it a personal touch but without cheapening it.
Finally, because I'll need lots of them once it's all over, thank you cards! 
I bought one last little stamp for this, but it's quite generic so I can use it over and over again to make more thank you notes and cards in future. It's two weeks tomorrow until the Big Day... still have quite a lot to organise, but most of it is under control and I'm trying to enjoy the ride!

Til' later...

BB xx