I MADE A GIANT JAFFA CAKE.

I’ve conjured up a sure fire way to put end to the age old debate as to whether the humble Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake, by making my own version larger than my own blimmin’ face! No seriously this is huge and delicious. Just like me amirite? I found this recipe through UniLad would you actually believe it. No offence you absolute lads buuuuut I never had this site synonymous with baking cakes especially chuffing good caked bakes at that! Not only is a gigantic Jaffa Cake totally heavenly to gorge on but it’s also super pretty to look at too PLUS the recipe and method is really easy to follow too! win win eh!

I haven’t done any fun bakes in a while and as soon as I found this I couldn’t wait to put it into practice and share it with you all! I’ve tweaked it a little bit here and there to make it more suitable for how I wanted it but as you can see on the link above you can follow that straight through to the UniLad version.

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So, before I get too into this recipe post, a word to the wise this cake can take a little while to fully create so if you’re hoping for a quick and easy bake to show off to your friends, frenemies and exes on IG maybe give yourself a a good few hours!

You will need:

  • A frying pan lined with baking paper.
  • A round cake tin smaller than your saucepan lined with cling film.
  • 135g packet of orange jelly cubes.
  • 250ml boiling water.
  • 200g unsalted butter.
  • 200g caster sugar.
  • 3 medium eggs.
  • 200g self raising flour.
  • 1 tsp baking powder.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Zest and juice of half an orange.
  • 200g dark chocolate.

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

To give the sponge that bouncy, half spherical shape a lot of websites/recipes suggest baking the cake itself in a frying pan. Sounds weird I know but it works so go with me on that.  I covered the base of the pan with a circle of baking parchment and sprayed the sides with some coconut oil frylite spray to make it easier to get out of the pan.

Cutting the jelly into cubes (who else used to just eat the cubes as a kid??No me neither that would be weird…) I line a round cake tin with some cling film at the same time putting the kettle on to boil. Multitasking check me out eh!? Pouring the boiling water over the top of the jelly cubes and stirring til all the jelly lumps have melted away. I add the zest and the juice of half an orange into the jelly giving it a super orangey kick. One of your five a day right??? I then pour into the cake tin to set up and chill in the fridge for a few hours.

THE SPONGE

This recipe was a standard sponge. Cream the butter and the sugar together til light and smooth. Slowly add the eggs and the vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder and once its all delightfully mixed to perfection pour into the frying pan. Sounds proper mental and to be honest I was a bit nervous I was going to catch fire to my Mum’s fancy pants frying pan but all is well in team What Abbie Says camp. They recommended the baking time of about 30-40 minutes. I’d keep checking on it from that time onwards, as mine actually took somewhere up to 45 minutes altogether as it was still uncooked in the centre.

Once done, transfer the cake on to a wire, cooling rack and leave til its cooled completely. Making sure the jelly is chilled like Snoop Dogg on a day between the 19th and 21st April I melted the dark chocolate over a pan of water. Also known as a bain marie if you will. Wait til the chocolate has fully melted and leave to cool; if it’s too warm it’ll melt the jelly when you pour it over and you’ll either have to eat it on your own VERY QUICKLY or serve a sad jaffa pud. Placing the jelly circle in the middle on top of the cake I poured the melted chocolate over the top, making sure the entirety of the top was covered and that it didn’t drip down onto the edge. Dipping the knife into the top  drawing lines both horizontally and vertically. Quickly putting back into the fridge to set up for the fiiiiiinal time and once it’s cool you can serve it. YOU’RE WELCOME. Jaffa cakes are fab, bigger jaffa cakes are extra fabulous.

If you fancy making this recipe, I would totally recommend. It was super fun, totally easy to do and looks really impressive as well. To give this recipe a little twist how about using a dark chocolate and lime jelly or even raspberry. Equally you could use something like a tropical or pineapple flavour jelly with a white chocolate coating and coconut sponge like a pina colada without the hangover!

 

Lunch at The Ritz, London.

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Your birthday is the one day of the year for the good majority of people when you will be completely and utterly doted on and treated like an absolute QUEEN. So imagine my joy when I was lucky enough to be able to spend my birthday this year in London having a lavish three course lunch date with my family in the very beautiful and the very palatial The Ritz, London. I can only imagine I’d never been before and was so excited at just the sheer thought. The grandeur building standing as elegant and tall as ever, peering over the rest of Mayfair is an iconic London landmark. It opened in 1906 and was known as the ultimate stay for opulence and luxury. The whole experience was utterly divine and completely faultless. From the outside every doorway is adorned with one of their impeccably dressed doormen greeting you on arrival, holding the door or hailing a taxi to help you on your journey. I wish I took more pictures of decor inside but believe me when I say it is all absolutely stunning. With the smell of gorgeous fresh flowers, the sound of beautiful harp music and chatter filling the air, The Ritz has such a decadent feel and ambience to the whole place.

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Having placed our coats in their cloakroom we made our way to their dining room to be seated.  The waiters, just like every other employee couldn’t be faulted and waited on you hand and foot. The attention to detail was incredulous. My sister and Mum were given their usual menu whereas I had a seperate, vegetarian one. The menu wasn’t extensive offering three choices for all three courses with every single option sounding as luxurious and decadent as the next. The ever attentive waiting team came to our table and treated us like royalty, pouring glasses of water, wine, homemade breads, melba toast and a selection of canapes.  Savoury macarons filled with cream cheese and smoked salmon, chicken cigarellos and a gorgeous creamed goats cheese biscuit sandwich.

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As I said the attention to detail was absolutely stunning, the food was just as beautiful to look at as it was to taste. For my starter as seen above I opted for the artichoke royale. It was crowned with coils of carrots, truffle and pear nibs and then adorned with edible flower petals. The artichoke royale was so smooth and creamy accompanied with the tang of the pear it really went down a treat.

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For my main course I chose the cauliflower dish. With the menu they didn’t really give a lot away about what was what. The other options were a pasta dish and another one with wild mushrooms and as a self confessed mushroom hater that one didn’t appeal to me at all. Plus as I was dining in one of the finest restaurants in the country with a Michelin star I wanted to try something a little bit different. My main dish was a slice of cauliflower steak, with seperate cauliflower florets. Romanesco florets dotted around the plate like little trees, toasted hazelnuts and toasted yeast with a mini potato croquette and then finished off in a rich white sauce. Divine.

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For dessert, already feeling pleasantly sated I chose the blueberry souffle with a tart buttermilk sorbet. The souffle was light, fluffy and flavourful. It was so beautifully rich in colour; perfectly purple inside. The sharp, piquant flavours of the sorbet cut through the sweetness of the sorbet. It was blimmin’ well glorious. Can I eat you again please Mr Souffle?

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Finishing off the meal was some petit fours from top to bottom they consisted of, some creme anglaise filled macaroons with a slight coconut flavour. Orange and passionfruit jellies, a brown sugar biscuit topped with a citrus and mango cream finished with some gold leaf and finally a handmade chocolate filled with salted caramel. Careful I might get used to this extravagant lifestyle!

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As this very luxurious and special occasion was to celebrate mine and my Mum’s birthday we had a fancy Ritz birthday cake of a genoise sponge, filled with fresh cream and raspberries.

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Considering I can barely write in a straight line with a pen I was completely blown away how anyone can do this in chocolate. Perfect!

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I had such a tremendous time and feel well and truly spoilt rotten by it all. The whole experience simply cannot be faulted and was absolutely perfect from start to finish.

23 things I’ve learnt by the age of 23

Today is my 23rd birthday (happy birthday Me!!) A little random fact about me is that I actually share my birthday with my Mumma, so sorry about that Mum 23 years ago today on your birthday I’m sure the last thing you wanted to be doing was in immense pain in a hospital in not so sunny Salisbury. So also Happy Birthday Madre if you’re reading this…and well if you’re not, awks.  I started writing this particular post back in October 2017 because I have seen these types of things floating around the interweb and I wanted to put my little spin on it and also because it takes me either an hour tops to write a hearts and feelsy post or I need a solid year of my life to actually sit down and  think about it all. So this is a totally awesome scheduled post, because ya gurl abfab has got to grips with technology and figured how to actually do this, and boy is it helpful. Anyway, back to the actual post eh?

 

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The last year has been pretty big for me in so many ways and I really wanted to share my little journey with you and everything I have learned.

  • Friends don’t always last forever and that’s okay.

I always struggle keeping and hanging onto friends to the point where I used to disregard some of my feelings and do what makes them happy to just hang onto them. I had a bit of a rough time in my job which I quit in July 2017 and after that I felt like a gigantic weight had been lifted. Shortly after I did stop making the effort with people that didn’t bring me any happiness and I have felt exponentially happier.

  • Your happiness is the most important thing.

Following on from what I just said. If it doesn’t make you happy then really in the words of Elsa LET IT GO.  I have struggled massively over the years of being happy in myself, comfortable in myself and for the first time in a very long time I feel very content being Abbie.

  • A job isn’t the be all and end all.

OK so some people are naturally ambitious when it comes to their job or their careers and THAT IS FINE I am definitely not disputing that. I hope that I eventually get myself a job that drives me crazy for it in all the good ways. The type of job which I love. But there is an immense pressure in schools I’ve found to have a career that you want set in stone and decided, or your uni application and personal statement printed off and bound in Italian leather for Christ’s sake. It is fine to not know. I still don’t know. I don’t even know what I want for lunch let alone my job?!

  • Your family love you unconditionally.

I am incredibly lucky that I have a very loving (albeit sometimes slightly overbearing jus saying) family that would indefinitely do anything for me. I haven’t been the best daughter/sister but I made some promise books for their Christmas presents which I hope we can upkeep.

  • And if other people do, don’t let them go.

Literally I wanna scream this from the rooftops. Honeeeyyyyy if they give you nothing but happiness LET EM GO. I know it’s a lot easier said than done sometimes and it can take a lot of actual guts to just distance yourself from people if you don’t have anyone else; and trust me I’m speaking from experience. It will be hard but it’ll be so much more worth it when you are with the right people who treat you like the royalty you are.

  • Toxic friendships.

I am in the midst of writing something about toxic friendships. But it’s taken me a long time, nearly most of my life, to realise what a toxic friend or a toxic friendship really is. The difficulty being is that you might not even notice it at first and it’ll slowly, slowly creep in. Maybe all of a sudden you’re only ever seeing them on their terms, or they’re a bit offhand or make a few icy comments here or there. Friendships or relationships are a two way thing and if you feel you can’t bring it up to the said friend and sort it out and carry on, distancing yourself until you’ve both resolved your issues or distancing yourselves in general is no bad thing.

  • Trust your gut.

If something doesn’t sit right with you or it doesn’t feel *quite* ok with you it probably isn’t. I’ve grown up with my parents always saying to me to trust my gut which doesn’t always bode well for me as I do bloat and get IBS so I can’t trust every belly rumble.

  • Learn to love your body shape.

I saw a nice thing online recently about how would your seven year old self feel if someone said to them all the words you’d use to describe yourself? They’d probably be sobbing their little seven year old heart out amirite?? Learning to love the skin you’re in and the body shape you are can be more of a challenge in recent years with mounting pressure from the media or social pressures on how to eat, how to dress or what size to be. As long as you’re happy that’s the main thing. It’s taken me a long time to like parts about myself for instance I really like my eyes, they’re light blue and I have them from my granddad and my mum and it reminds me of them. I like that I am speckled with freckles and I am learning to love the imperfections. I’m not the size I’d like to be but I’m getting there and I’m happy.

  • Join in with something new. 

I’m really considering joining the gym which would usually fill me with a sickening dread but my local one has some great exercise classes from spinning, clubbercise to boxercise and self defence lessons which is something I think would be just good to know.

  • Try something new as often as you can.

I want to be as adventurous and as courageous (well within reason you won’t see me somersaulting into the grand canyon for the bantz) but I want to do more out of my comfort zone and actually live a little more.

  • It’s ok to not know  what you’re doing or where you’re at.

I know when I was at school there was a lot of pressure to sort of know what you wanted to do for a career, what uni you were going to, your future husbands blood type and what Volvo you’ll drive (I went to a stuck up countryside school) truth be told I’ve never really known what I want to do but I’ve known what I don’t want to do which is something.

  • You’re amazing and you need to give yourself more credit.

I am always quite hard on myself more often than not focusing on the negatives, the things I’d change about myself or what I haven’t done over the positives, the wonderful things i’ve achieved or the great friends and family I have. It can be quite hard to change yourself out of lifelong mindset and to become more positive and happy go lucky but this year, in 2018, that’s something I’m going to try.

  • take in the small things.

I want to be able to appreciate the little things a lot more. Mindfulness and the little things that make me tick whether that be facing the correct way on a train, getting a double yolked egg or hitting every single set of traffic lights on my journey on green lights. OR that extra vanilla-ry latte in a exuberant coffee chain.

  • Spend time with your family. they were people, they were young and had a life before they became names like mum or dad or taxi, get to know them.

I think this one is super important to be honest I feel a bit silly and naive to even have to do it. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that those closest to you in life like your parents or grandparents have a lot of love to give and probably have some pretty damn cool stories to tell and all. They are human and have lived life and experienced things. One day they may not be around to teach you how to make that family recipe victoria sponge or to take you on a trip down their memory lane. Cherish them whilst you can.

  • Doing things for me is good.

In fear of looking selfish or knowing it’s a lot easier to say yes to people I can often miss out on things I actually really want to do just because I’m feeling anxious or don’t want to go it alone. My aim for 2018 is to step outside of my comfort zone and make number one happy.

  • Doing stuff on your own is fine. Be your own best friend. 

Following on from my previous point, going solo on something can be weird and scary at first but I’m hoping slowly and surely I’ll get more comfortable in my own company. I’ve always been a little bit jealous of those types of people that don’t care what anyone else thinks when they take themselves for a nice lunch out for one or a solo cinema trip. Small examples I know.

  • Quality is better than quantity, I have one or two friends outside of my family that I can totally rely on and I am really OK with that.

Now if you said that to me a few years ago I would have totally freaked out at the thought at not having a whole handful of friends, pinging group chats and enough Snapchat besties to shake a stick at. My circle has got a lot smaller but a lot closer and tighter. I can rely on these people for anything, we get each other and more importantly one of them just came round with a big box filled with my favourite CHOCOLATE BISCUITS.

  • See the world.

I really want to travel a lot more this year. Something of a cliche as I seem to say that every year but I really mean it this time I promise. Whether that be a few weekends away here and there with my sister and my best pals or travelling to far away lands or a few weeks.

  • Have a makeover.

I’ve dyed my hair practically every colour in the last year from brown, to blonde, pink, purple, silver, peach, red, ginger and back to blonde again. I’ve fallen in love with the feeling of reinventing myself with new ‘do or trying a new lipstick colour. Go figure. I know that sounds quite vain and vapid but it’s mad how different you look and feel with platinum blonde locks and dodgy bangs.

  • Treat yourself.

If you want that fancy Nancy dress that’s a little bit pricier than you’d usually spend, treat yo self. If you really want to splurge on a boujee lunch rather than a sad soggy sandwich I say do it gurl and Instagram the heck out of it. That car you’ve been dreaming and lusting over for years, save up and see what you can do. I go through waves when I love how materialistic I am and then other times I wish I was a lot more like a spiritual goddess who lived off the earth and didn’t have any worldly possessions. HOWEVER that’s not really real for me. I like having the nice things, the pretty things, the things I really want.

  • Learn to adult a little bit.

Whether that be I’m able to cook a little better, take care of myself a little more aka booking my own doctors appointments rather than depending on my mam or figuring out what all the little signs mean on my car. Turns out it’s not a good flashing exclamation mark when it appears.

  • How to take a good pic. 

I have mastered the selfie face. After years of hating the way I look and physically cringing when a camera was brought out, I am comfortable knowing if I pout a little and tilt my head to the right all is good and I won’t need to untag myself from said picture and block the said ‘friend’ on every social platform.

  • Follow your own path. don’t feel like you need to keep up with Jones’ you do you. do what makes you happy.

When I quit my job I was actually terrified about what everyone else would say, what they would think and how they would be talking about me or treating me afterwards. It’s taken a longer time than I expected but now I really, wholeheartedly do not care what they think. I know I am exponentially happier than I would have been if I had stayed put and also if I carried on caring about what they all think too.

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend whatever you’re all up to, celebrate with me from a distance if you can!

How do you like your eggs in the morning? I like mine in a cake.

Now if you didn’t read that or sing it in the exact same way and tune as Dean Martin then maybe that joke was a wee bit lost on you. Poached, scrambled, fried or delicately placed ontop of some fancy avo I love eggs in any which, way, shape or form. However my all time favourite type would probably be, beaten with some sugar and made into a cake. Juuuuust saying! Cake is great. Cheesecake, carrot cake, birthday cake, maaaaybe even Christmas cake at a push but I loooove them all so, so much. Which probably explains why i’m a bit of a chubby funster these days.

I am collaborating with a very wonderful company called bakerdays with this post as they’ve sent me an early birthday cake (my birthday is on the 27th January so only 10 days time, eeeek!) I’ve seen them all over social media before, they’re really popular amongst other fellow bloggers on Twitter and i’ve always wanted to give them a try. In this day and age I love how accessible presents, gifts and food items like this are. If you want to send your pal a foodie present it has become so much easier. Or even if you just want to treat yourself or even a loved one than why the heck not send yourself a handmade and designed cake.

I was really blown away with how many different types and designs you can get, from standard celebration cakes, ones with celebrities on, ones you can get a picture printed on, literally the list could go on and on. AND if you’re a relatively fussy Gus a little like me there’s a list of different cake flavours as well to suit whomever. Vanilla sponge, which is what I opted for, comes  sandwiched with buttercream between the cake and the icing layer keeping the cake nice and moist on the inside still. You can get fruit cake accompanied with a jam layer, chocolate cake laden with chocolate chips, a gluten and wheat free sponge with jam and buttercream. You can get a half traditional sponge and half chocolate sponge with chocolate chip cake. So in the words of Hannah Montana you really would get The Best of Both Worlds. Blonde wig not included. A dairy free cake is available, a vanilla and chocolate marble cake as well as seasonal options like the lemon drizzle and gorgeous red velvet. The list doesn’t end there, you can also get cupcakes and balloons alongside it too!

After chatting back and forth with the lovely Anna I was left to choose which type of cake I wanted and what I wanted on it. I didn’t think it would take me nearly as long as it did but I eventually decided on the Pink Princess Upload cake and sent one of my fave selfies to make myself A REAL LIFE ROYAL. Well not really, but if you can’t pretend to be a Princess on your birthday when can you!?

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Seeing as I spoke with bakerdays only on Monday, it went into the design studio and got dispatched on Tuesday and arrived mid morning today (Wednesday) I couldn’t have asked for better speed of service. They are really efficient and I felt like there would be no problem too big or too small that they couldn’t accommodate too. They made my dreams come true of being a pretty in pink princess soooooo?

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The cake itself is really light and fluffy. In my eyes a dry cake is up there with Instagram going down and your phone dying at 20% battery life for first world annoyances. I have a major sweet tooth so loved the personalised fondant icing topping.

I opted for the letterbox cake which comes in a tin inside a letterbox sized package. It wasn’t damaged or broken on delivery at all if anything it looked pretty damn perfect to be quite honest! The cake has 3-4 serving sizes so you could share it with others or have a gorge on it all on your own! Your secret is safe with me if you do. The tin is a lovely added extra especially as I’m feeling particularly thrifty at the moment and am already thinking how I could reuse it. It also came with some candles, some balloons and a paper party blower. I’d definitely like to order from bakerdays again. I found the website was really easy to navigate around. You can have as much creative input into what flavour or picture you want on the cake, whether you want any added text on there too. The team are all really kind and nothing seemed too much trouble. I know a lot of people who have food intolerances or have speciality diets so the fact they have a wheat/gluten free cake and a dairy free one too is really special. Myself having recently undertaken a vegetarian diet and lifestyle I am more often now on the lookout for things like this or even seeing if  they offer anything vegan. Whether that’s something that bakerdays would have in the pipelines at the moment or at some point in the distant future would be great as vegan snacks can sometimes be quite difficult to come by. Especially ones that taste this good and can get delivered to your door!

ON TO THE MORE EXCITING PART OF THIS POST. Having teamed up with bakerdays and them sending me a birthday cake, means only one thing. My birthday is only round the corner. YAY. I share my birthday with my beautiful Mum and for the first time in a few years I am not rushing round, going here, there and everywhere partying. I’ve made no secret of the fact a lot of my friends I’ve formed with you wonderful people online and after speaking to bakerdays they’ve kindly offered a free letterbox cake of choice for me to giveaway on my twitter page (Whatabbiesays_) to one of my UK tweetie pals. The competition is running from Thursday 18th January to Wednesday 24th January at 12pm. We decided to finish it then so the lucky winner will receive their cake on the same day as my birthday and will be able to celebrate with me, but not technically with me if that makes sense? I’m super excited to be doing this and so happy to be working alongside bakerdays. I want to thank them so, so much for all the help and support with this and also for making damn good cake!

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Even though bakerdays sent me a cake and are helping with the giveaway I was 100% myself and honest with my thoughts and opinions in this post.

How to cope when you are LITERALLY skint.

 

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Photo above is courtesy of Sandbanks, Poole,Dorset. UK. Super pretty and super expensive.

I have been rich, I have had a disposable income and thought nothing of grabbing a Costa every morning before work and going to Pret* (insert any other over priced chain here) everyday for lunch. See I was THAT bad with money. I would think nothing of doing an online clothes shop several times a week and I’ve been known to have actually forgotten about the things I’ve ordered and later on found still unopened in their original packaging at the bottom of my wardrobe from days gone by. I’ve frittered away small fortunes and what do I have to show for it other than my illustrious albeit pretentious Instagram feed.

On the other hand, I have also been poor. Poor indeed. Poor enough where I took on a godawful job just to see me through. Waking up at 4:30am to clean an office block toilets. THE GLAMOUR. I’ve been poor enough that I had to consider whether to buy petrol to get me back and forth to work everyday until my next payslip comes through or to have food to eat for the rest of the week instead. So very poor that Gwen Stefani’s Rich Girl is basically my anthem and haunts me a little at the accuracy of it all to be quite honest. For a lot of people things like money and personal finances are still quite a taboo subject, it takes a lot of guts and a lot of pride bashing for a number of people to admit what situation they are in. To have to ask people for cash and feel guilt sink to the pit of their stomach at having to even ask as well. I hate having to rely on other people for those reasons, I’ve been fairly independent and have earned my own dollar since the age of sixteen so having a significantly decreased income was something that took a little while to actually get my head around. Sadly it took a little too long for me to work out that life balance and had to sort my act out quiiiiickkk. After speaking out a little bit about it on my Twitter page (shameless plug seen herrrrrreeee) I’ve noticed a few people have actually gone through or are going through the same situation. It’s not an easy situation and can be incredibly difficult.

Money quite literally makes the world go round and as much as I’d like to believe it isn’t a necessity; it also completely ruddy is all at the same time. I’m not totally, 100% materialistic but having said that it is very nice having the nice, pretty, lusted after things. These are the types of things that no one teaches you in school, ask me anything you want about the Tudor period or how King Henry VIII killed his fourth wife but when it comes to real life adulty things and problems…well they didn’t have a special, very damp Portakabin classroom for that one did they?! I’ve compiled a list of things that I’ve found helpful that either I’ve figured out for myself or I’ve had the help and support of some special people with their invaluable input. Please note I am no expert I am merely just sharing with you my tips on how I haven’t staged a heist/military coup/ full scale toddler style tantrum.

Budgeting.

I am the world’s most unorganised person, possibly ever. So when I had to actually, plan and budget my life it didn’t come about naturally. I had to plan what I was doing month by month, payday to payday. Working on a literal four weekly rota for both my working life and my social life. I learnt how to budget how much petrol my car needs to get me to and from work and to have enough in case of emergencies (emergency trips to McDonalds and the chinese are included). Splurging on food has become a thing of the past and spending out only when I deserve and or need a treat.

Making your own lunches for work. 

To be honest, with this one I’m a little embarrassed at how long it’s taken me to actually do. It’s easier to buy a lunch meal deal than it is to make the exact same sarnie at home that morning. But the money I’ve saved can speak for itself. When it comes to little treats like the odd skinny vanilla latte (not that I’m pretentious and fussy or anything…*ahem*) I used to have several a week and not only is that really unhealthy but they are hella expensive when you add them all up. If you think I’d get a double espresso which would be about £2 or a skinny vanilla latte which would be anywhere between £3-£4 I was probably spending the best part of £15 a week just on coffee. If I kept that up over a year I would have quite literally pee’d away roughly £780+. Considering I want a new laptop I could have bought one with that figurative money there.

Cutting down on non-essential expenses. 

Even if I was just meeting friends for dinner or a few drinks at our local I’d always want to look nice and make an effort whether that meant popping into New Look on my lunch break or making a last minute Missguided order the night before with next day delivery. Looking back my spending habits were poor and a wee bit ridiculous. I’m sure my friends wouldn’t have thrown a drink in my face at the sheer audacity of me rocking up to our local boozer in the same Primark shift dress I also wore a month before. I haven’t made an online order for myself in a long time, I do feel slight pangs of jealousy when I see friends showing off their online deliveries on social media, or when I get the usual 38,519 emails a day about last minute sales they have on. Even to cutting down on buying my usual glossies. Gone are the days of my stack of Cosmopolitans or Heat’s on my bedside table. I am quite happy browsing through Pinterest, BlogLovin’ or on WordPress finding some written word and inspiration to lose myself in, FOR FREE. Well apart from the WiFi if you want to dissect this with a fine tooth comb!

Lift sharing.

To save yourself a few pennies, car sharing is such a simple and easy way to split costs and also save yourself the dreaded commute on your own.

Asking for an advance or raise at work.

There is no harm in asking, I know several people who argued a fair and strong case in my old job and did actually get the results they wanted. One of them told their boss they were thinking of leaving to go somewhere that’d pay more and they got a pay increase. Another mentioned their struggle of how they were just scraping by considering they have a longer than normal commute to work.

Using a cash converters/ exchange shop. 

There are loads of different types of retailers both on the High Street and online if you have a load of stuff around the house you want to get rid of. From Music Magpie, to Cash Converters to popping into your local CeX. You can flog nearly anything these days from books, dvds, consoles, old tech and cds. It may take a bit longer if you do it yourself at home as you’ll have to type in every barcode and waiting for it to register. I took all the cd’s and dvd’s I wanted to get rid of into CeX and they took care of it all and said to come back in about 45 minutes and it’ll be all sorted and I walked out with a pocketful of cash. Banging!

Depop/ebay.

Another good option if you are a complete clothes hoarder like myself is to take a quick pic of the items you want to get rid of and have a go at selling them online.

Car boot sales.

I don’t think it’s really the season for it at the moment as it’s still freezing and you don’t really want to be hanging about in a muddy field in your mum’s hatchback trying to do a Del Boy with all your Monopoly games and vintage Jane Norman. Spring time is a popular time for people to quite literally spring clean and get rid of items so keep an ear and an eye out for any local boot sales in your area.

Thrift shopping.

Macklemore made it more popular but I blimmin’ love scouring the charity shops on my high street, or any high street really seeing what I could find. Even if it works out as a cheaper way of getting new clobber or as an investment going on the hunt for higher priced goods to upcycle and then proceed to sell on for a higher price. My mum snapped up a Mulberry and Louis Vuitton bags just last week! Bargain!

Socialising. 

If you were quite a social butterfly and are finding it hard to accustom, becoming the designated driver and getting your pals to fling some cash your way is always a winner. You’ll be doing them a favour and you can put it towards the soft drinks you’ll be sipping on all night too.

Comping.

This one is probably my not so secret favourite. If you have the time and or patience you could quite easily spend a whole day entering various competitions online or as it’s so delightfully coined as ‘Comping’. So far by doing this I’ve won a beautiful Chanel handbag, tickets to London Fashion Week Festival, a Love 2 Shop voucher and an Amazon giftcard. I’ve made a separate Twitter account so I don’t spam my poor friends with my boring RT to win tweets. A good way I’ve found to keep up to date with lots of comps going on is checking the Money Saving Expert forum seen here. It’s really easy to navigate around and the other users are all really friendly and helpful.

Voucher hunting.

If you’re thinking of going out for dinner or ordering something online from a takeaway to an ASOS haul I always check on Voucher Codes website in case there are any extra offers to be had or monies to be saved.

 

Online Surveys.

Similar to comping, if you have the time and patience you could quite easily earn a few hundred pounds extra every month by answering questions in surveys. How easy does that sound?! There are quite a lot out there on the internet and it can be hard to know which ones are legit, are they too good to be true and do the people actually doing the surveys ever get the money. In short, yes. My internet pal Harley, reached out to me about these and linked me to SwagBucks. He earned some extra pocket money and has cashed it in through PayPal. Snaps for Harley!

Matched betting. 

A fellow blogger mentioned this one to me and my first thought was Oh My Gawwwwd I don’t know the first thing about football. BUT apparently it is so much more than that. Sites like Profit Accumulator  offer a free trial which is known as risk free, completely legal and tax free!

Part time work. 

I don’t know about you but part time work is very few and far between in my area. So in order to earn a crust I’ve taken on an extra part time cleaning job first thing in the morning. The early starts are a little bit brutal but it’s extra pennies and I know it’s not a forever role. Even if you nip round your local cafes, bars and pubs seeing if they need any waiting staff or pot washers.

Seeking work through an recruitment agency.

I can’t speak for every single recruitment agency but the one nearest to me I went to for an interview and got offered nearly all the dud, dead end jobs within a 28 mile radius. As much as I mock the dud jobs of actually putting a chocolate curl on top of a profiterole all day errday the pay came in at around £100 a day and you get paid weekly. If you were in need of some quick cash or wanted to save up for something huge this would be a quick way to go. Plus one of the benefits of seeking employment this way is that once you’re on their books they can look out for anything that might be more suited for you.

Applying for Government credit. 

If you are earning under a certain amount or out of work would mean you would be entitled to applying for Universal Credit. It’s relatively straight forward to do and you can find the application process just here. To finish your application you do have to have a short interview at your local job centre and you have to agree to look for more full time work in between or at least scrub up your CV.

Learning to live frugally. 

Adjusting the life you lead can be something that can be the hardest and I’ve found quite difficult. Adapting to the life of Fagin and Oliver can be quite hard. Searching for good offers or even free things to do in your local area so you don’t feel too downbeat or like a complete hermit. Getting out and about more even just going for a walk or taking the dog out, the light exercise will release endorphins giving you happier feels and happier thoughts.

Learning to sell your skills.

I am 189% certain you, yes YOU reading this right here, right now are something very special and I’m more than certain you’ll have invaluable skills you could pass on to someone else for a price (or for all the warm gooey feels you’d get by doing something good and altruistic y’know whatever you’re into…) Whether you were particularly gifted at History at GCSE you could offer to do some tutoring or selling off your old revision notes. OR if you happen to be a computer whizzkid how about put a flyer in your local newsagents offering to teach basic PC skillz.

Maximising the use out of loyalty cards.

Other than taking up precious space in your ultra fancy nancy purse, loyalty cards do actually have some uses and can be quite handy depending you’ve acquired the ones you want and need and not just every single one a la Moi just cos you wanted to look boujee with a River Island purse full of M&S Sparks cards. Loyalty cards such as Boots and Tesco’s Clubcard have always rated quite highly in my eyes. Whether that’s just because I’ve secured nearly £100 on my Boots card over the years so if I’m feeling the purse strings tighten it’s like I’ve got a hidden stash of cash. Places like Paperchase if you sign up for a card with that transaction it will give you a percentage off of your end bill. Aaaaand I’m not gonna tell anyone and will keep it a secret if you sign up for a new card every single shop. Your secret is safe with me.

Selling unwanted giftcards on Zeek.

I didn’t hear about Zeek until very recently but I’m sure we’ve all received a gift card at Christmas or for birthdays we didn’t *reaaaaaally* want and didn’t know what to do with a B&Q gift voucher when you don’t even know the difference between a Phillips and a Flathead screwdriver. Zeek offers to buy the voucher off of you for a lower price but you get it as a cash payment and it’s off of your hands rather than taking up space in your wall unit.

Utilising your spare time. 

Please do not worry or panic or feel alone. Because you are far from alone in situations like this. Money at the end of the day is also just waxy paper we put a price and a meaning to. There are ways and means around everything and people to support you and care for you more than you probably even realise. Even if you have to have a bit of a pride bruising and reach out to a friend or a relative for a bit of help and support.

It can be hard to try and not fall into a trap of getting money from places that offer you short term loans. It can seem like a quick fix to get you out of hole but sites like Wonga offer an annual interest rate of anywhere up to 1509% on top of that. Once in these types of cycles it can be seen as harder to break out of.

Lowering bills where you can. 

If your outgoings are becoming slowly higher than what’s coming in, it could encourage you to take some time to evaluate the costs of say your phone bill or that ever so necessary Netflix account.

Saving where you can.

Even if you just open a bank account and put a pound in one week and a couple of pounds the next, over the space of a year it’ll all add up. Or if you get an old coffee jar and fill it with 50p pieces before you know it the jar will be bustling full.

These are my ideas and tips on how to get through a rough financial patch, I am lucky that my outgoings aren’t as high as others might be,  seeing as I still live at home but these are just my ideas and tricks on how to save a little extra where necessary. If you have any please do let me know!

What I have planned for 2018.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas time and banging New Year celebrations whatever you all got up too! I am not usually the type of person to make New Years Resolutions, simply because I tend to completely forget all about them and then I end up feeling bad about those people who have a long old memory that may remember the silly little idea or ditty I may have had about losing weight or learning another language or skill and me giving up 2 weeks into January with the fat tummy podge still very much there and very much comfy.  But for the first time in a long time I’ve decided I want to set myself a few of my own little personal goals, nothing major and nothing huge but to add to my year ahead and make me feel like the best me I can be. These are all things that I actually really want to do and achieve so I’m feeling like they’ll be a lot more attainable right? Plus I’m thinking if I share it with you all i’ll be more likely to keep up with it all cos you lovely lot can pester me if they aren’t being completed!?

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Shape up.

I want or need to lose a few extra pounds here and there. I am not completely happy in the way I look at all and want to be able to exercise more, eat healthier and be happier with the Abbie I see looking back in the mirror.

Improve my blogging life.

I am terrible for being organised with my blog. I’m terrible at being organised in general if I’m completely honest. I’m always at least ten minutes late for everything. But I want to be able to post a lot more consistently on here whether that be every week on a set day or the same time on a set day. I would also really love to be able to grow my blog a lot more this year with a wider readership and improve my content and photography.

Job life. 

I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I struggled in my last job role and my goal for the end of 2018 is that i’d have either found or be in a job that I really enjoy. It can be a bit of a challenge where I live (the backend of the middle of nowhere, if you know it???) opportunities aren’t exactly rife in the countryside.

Become a better cook.

I turned vegetarian in November which was actually a lot easier than I would have first anticipated. I love animals and my dog is my best friend and one day it really hurt me in the feels the thought of someone harming him that it dawned on me there isn’t any difference between him, a cow, or a pig. They are all animals and have feelings and from that day forward I haven’t eaten any meat. I chose to give it up so I don’t lecture those that still eat meat. But this year I want to be able to cook more vegetarian dishes as they are just as wholesome and delicious as any others. Plus I’m not the world’s best chef by any stretch so if I hope to move out of my parent’s home I’ve kinda got to be able to fend for myself and not just live off of Linda McCartney sausages. Even though they are incredible.

Read more. 

Social media is taking over my brain ever so slowly and surely. If I like what someone says or what they’re wearing I don’t tell them I just shout FAVOURITED in their face and I’ve started actually following people in real life too to see what they’re ordering in Starbucks or Pret. HA ok i’m totally kidding please don’t arrest me but you get my drift! Social media can be a very negative environment at times and I want to be able to be able to switch off quite literally and read the fifty ish books I’ve got stacked up in my room.

Do more charity work.

I want to be able to do a lot more this year. Whether that be actually working for a charity, donating a lot more to good causes or doing a charitable event of any sort. I want to be able to do more good things this year that’ll make feel good and that I’m proud of.

Live more positively.

I feel this one maybe slightly more self explanatory buuuuut I want to live more for me this year, do things that make me happy or do things outside of my comfort zone. Life is life and should be the best thing you do. For instance I’ve been thinking for ages about trying to work on my funnybone and get into stand up and even my sister said she’d help me or support me if I tried out a comedy gig.

Experiment with my looks more.

I’ve dyed my hair a lot the last 12 months from brown to pink to red to blonde again and I really fancy getting a tattoo or my nose pierced too. I fancy doing a Sinead O’Connor (the singer not the roughen from Hollyoaks a few years back) and shaving my head and starting again. Cos Nothing Compares to U or a brand new ‘do?!

BE THE COOLEST ABFAB EVER.

2018 will no doubt be better than 2017 mainly because 2017 was pure poop. So I’m planning on making this year as jam packed as a double stuffed Oreo would be if they were filled with jam (???) and make it the coolest time for me yet. I am really hoping this will be my year. I will no doubt keep you all updated as well. Much loves as always pups x

 

Why quitting my job was the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now and actually put the thoughts and feelings that are sitting pretty in my head and heart into words for a long time. I was umming and ahhing about whether to write this for a lot of reasons; some of which you may not quite understand some of which may seem silly.  I didn’t want to be seen as ‘dragging’ or ‘slaying’ my previous employer and workplace for everything they failed to do for me, I also didn’t want to give the people who made my life a living nightmare a platform to make them seem like they’ve won when they really, really haven’t whatsoever. Moreover I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t over it and that I was stuck in the past. Because I’ve got to the point by myself where I can reflect on it all and see it for what it was. A learning curve. And also I might be able to share and bond with those of you who may have or had similar experiences.

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I was in my old role from the age of 17 to 22. Those five years can be quite crucial in a young person’s life. That’s the time when you may typically go to university or go travelling and find yourself on a moonlight beach party on the shores of Thailand (cliche I know but ya get my drift!) I’ve always been one of those people that have constantly gone through life flitting from one idea to the other. When I was a child; I wanted to be a banker when I grew up. When other little girls were dreaming of being a ballet dancer or a fairy I had high hopes of working in Barclays. It was like I had the Clarks shoes equivalent of job aspirations. Sturdy, reliable albeit rigid and a wee bit BORING. I’d like to inject some excitement and adventure and claim the only reason I dreamt this was it would be a surefire and easy way to steal money and screw over the general public (can you tell I’ve been petty since birth) but in reality it was probably just that I was a big fan of their endless ballpoint pen collection and fine examples of neckerchiefs.

I mean, I’m sure if you took five seconds out of your day right now as you’re reading this to think back to seventeen year old you, compared to you  right now you’d certainly be a lot different, no? It’s only a natural part of life for you to change and flow freely with the direction life takes you. I am a strong believer, over the last few years in particular,  that life is fluid and everything that happens to you, that you go through or the people you surround yourself with shape you. I’ve never been the type of person to plan anything for a number of reasons. I love spontaneity and the actual thought of setting dates and goals for things leads to my very quick attention span getting bored; very quickly. Without going too hippy and quotesy on your butts but I like to think everything happens for a reason, sometimes I’m dumb and make bad decisions but it’ll still lead to something awesome…maybe. Hopefully.

In my full time role I quit in July I was a manager of a shop which was seen as quite an accomplishment aged 21/22. A lot of my friends, family and even strangers would comment on how great it was to get to that position at my age. I never really saw it as that brilliant if I’m completely honest, as it was merely I was in the right place in the right time and my boss wanted the position filled and I was happy to say yes to whatever was needed. A lot of the people I worked with weren’t really qualified to be in their positions they were in either. Nothing against them or the jobs they do because in my role it was more if you had more than one brain cell and could pressure sell you were basically ‘in’ with the in crowd. It was a role I never really aspired and dreamed of in the first place, it felt somewhat grown up, gave me a full time job that had a salary yet still paid peanuts compared to other positions in store management in other places. I didn’t want to go to university simply for the reasons I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all and I couldn’t stand sixth form so what hope would I have at getting through uni?! I was never truly happy in this role and it was something that I never felt that I excelled at in my heart more so something to help pass the time and to help fund my ASOS addiction too.

The decision that led to me leaving without a clear plan with what to do next started off as quite a difficult. I didn’t want to end up jumping from fat to frying pan as my dear parents would say and as I mentioned previously I was never truly happy in this role. For months and months I was constantly looking for something better to turn up or hoping a winning lottery ticket would fly into my hand on a rather blustery day.  I had bosses making my working life a misery, day in and day out, denying me annual leave, time off in lieu I was owed and throwing any obstacle in the way they possibly could. One of them infamously saying I couldn’t cope because I was a woman and had too many emotions. No hun, I worked three solid weeks without a single day off. You should have tried it some time? And another one saying he would never give any praise for anything as it is simply not his style. Misogyny and pigheadedness was though huh? I had a problems with my team members and not enough support where it was needed. So one fateful  day in May  a friend and I decided to go and see a psychic and she even said I wouldn’t be in the job I’m in for much longer. Little did she know I went back to work and a few days later my boss berated me for about 2 hours so I just decided enough was enough and handed in my four week notice without a care in the world.

This decision has taught me a lot of things and I can use this all as life experience to reflect on and learn from (God how annoying does this all make me sound)

To stand up for myself:

I was the youngest on my area and I didn’t have anyone ever stood with me when the going got tough, no support and no help. The way I would get spoken to sometimes by fellow employees, bosses and even the customers would often be completely unacceptable. I could laugh at it all at the time but the way retail workers get spoken to sometimes is completely shocking.

I grew guts:

Often I felt too scared to say anything other than yes to my boss in a weird innate sense to always look like a good employee and to please him (goodness knows why really) but now if anyone from work colleagues or even friends do something that I am not ok with I will be the first one to voice my concerns. So much so I went to a handful of interviews and even started a job and felt it feeling like my old position I knew I had to get away from.

I cut off toxic friends:

Similar to the above two points, I got treated badly by a workplace I am no longer accepting it in my life. It may seem fickle and fierce but I would much rather have one or two friends I could totally rely on that treat me with kindness and respect than a larger amount that follow the same values.

How to handle criticism:

I got a lot of stick from a lot of people I didn’t even think would judge me or care about my life decisions. A lot of people I thought I was close to spread it like wildfire and that really offended me as I didn’t want something that had really affected me mentally to be treated like playground chitter chatter. A lot of people felt like I needed an intervention for quitting my day job but to be honest I didn’t care about them and still don’t anymore to this day. They weren’t aware of the ins and outs of it all and the decision I made I don’t regret and still stand by.

I’ve learnt to accept the way it all affected me:

I didn’t realise how much it all had affected me mentally and emotionally working in such a nonsensically highly strung environment. Going from working 40+ hours a week to suddenly having all the time in the world on my hands took some getting used to. I felt very mentally bruised, paranoid and bitter and still do a little bit to this day but I have a new job now and I am feeling exponentially happier than I did ever.

I’ve learnt how to handle money better: 

Going from a full time job to nothing has the obvious concern of OMG HOW ON EARTH AM I GOING TO SURVIVE which is often what puts a lot of people off. I think it’s the main thing that puts a lot of people off. If it wasn’t for money and paying the bills would you be in the job you are in today? Luckily for me I had a good last payslip, got an amount of the holiday pay I was owed, have savings and still live at home with my parents to rely on as much as I like to be independent. I was adamant I wasn’t going to race back into a job and wanted to have some time to breath and actually enjoy my summer for once. I wanted to get back into the proper working environment at my own pace and into something I thrive in and makes my heart and soul happy.

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I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy in myself as I have done at this present moment (maybe because i’m chilling at home in my comfies eating the remainder of the Christmas food) but I have a really positive and cheshire cat style smile on my face at the thought of a New Year and a new and improved Abbie for 2018.