37 Things I hated about working in retail.

If I was Prime Minister or Queen or Emperor of the World or whatever I shall be called, one of the first things I’d do is banish those ridiculous false eyelashes people stick on their headlights on cars. In what world is that a good look? I’d also add in way, waaaaay more bank holidays and maybe have one bank holiday Friday cos that sounds like a treat and a half. But more importantly, I would make sure everyone would work in retail or the service industry or just maybe deal with the general public for a couple weeks at least. It would be like jury service except that I’d just stick you on a till in Boots for a fortnight. I’ve worked in retail since the age of 16 and good God does it make you lose complete faith in humanity. You can always tell who’s worked in an industry like that and who hasn’t in the way in which they treat those that do.

1.With customers you can get The Good, The bad and The rude. With less cowboys and more buttheads than you can shake a stick at. Some people you can just tell have never been the other side of the counter before so think nothing of speaking to you like you’re an actual sewer rat. You notice that people will complain about just about anything, making you want to take a step back and actually reevaulate all the actual problems in the world because Steve wants to return his Pick N Mix because it didn’t have a very good mix of things in it. ERM. I have no words for this Steve. You picked it N you mixed it so don’t blame me for you being a dummyhead. Also totally a true story. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had customers speak down to me or snap at me or shout. For instance one man told me I had single handedly ruined his Christmas because we didn’t sell gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Good job I’m not bitter about it and moaning still 2 years on…👀.

2. We don’t often get that Friday Feeling you humble braggers post all over your Insta Story. Cos We have to work weekends. But we do often get the joy of a midweek day off which is just great. Unless you want to see your friends who are busy. Working their 9-5 jobs and are free at the weekend. When you’re back at work. K Den.

3. When people assume that you, the 10 hour weekend sales assistant frankly give a toss about the store pricings or the layout or the fact that Susan can’t find the jumpers which were right by the door last time she came in but now there are flip flops and kaftans there yet we only had a 36 hour heatwave in the UK?!?!

4. Promo Change. URGH. 2 words that will fill a retail worker with utter contempt. I used to hate doing promotion changeovers in my store. Baring in mind, I was a manager of a store that has almost as many different sales, promotions and in store events as it had staff coming and going. I would have rather covered my face in honey and stuck it in a bees nest.

5. Actually scrap that. There’s so many different jargon phrases and words that are often flung about; that outside of the retail world I don’t think actually means anything. Promo change, audits, blipbays, planograms, SKUs, ASMs, RSMs, ACT, IPB. It sounds like I’m singing the lyrics to ABC by the Jackson 5 really badly.

6. Working with people who use way too much corporate slang. I worked with a guy who basically developed his own I-only-speak-business-speak-cos-I’m-a-massive-bumhole language. Rather than telling the rest of his team something he would “cascade that information down to his field management team”. Or he’d call you boss or champ. He’d act like he was the wolf of wall street trying to pump you up by screaming down the phone buzzwords at quarter to 8 on a Tuesday morning. Basically he belongs in middle of the sea. On his own. For a very long time.

7. Working weekends or bank holidays. Like I get that this is kinda part and parcel of working within this sector but one Christmas time the only day I had off was Christmas Day and that was just because my shop was closed.

8. It felt like a slow torture method how many times over Christmas I heard Mariah Carey.

9. My store had an instore music system that would play the same songs, the same adverts at the same time everyday. I was in a real life Groundhog day but with more Sugababes.

10. Although one of my secret joys was seeing people, usually blokes, panic on Christmas Eve. I feel sorry for whoever had to open a jar of Cod Liver Oil as a christmas present from their terrible husband one year. I did try and suggest the hand and nail cream set instead, honest!

11. Wearing full uniform and customers still ask if you work here. Nah I’m just a huge fan of this place love! Just like football fans dress up as their fav players I’ve come into town dressed as my favourite shop assistant today. GO TEAM.

12. When you ask a customer if they’d like a bag and they point to their wife saying she’s over there.

13. Serving customers and they’re on the phone is a controversial one. I’ve been in a cafe where I put my phone on mute and to the side of the counter and the woman still refused to serve me until my conversation was officially over. SHOUTOUT TO PUMPKIN RAILWAY CAFE’S. I swear they’re all a load of poop. But I’m not overly bothered or I wouldn’t kick off if someone used their mobile really quick, I don’t really want to make small talk with you anyway but pls just pay with your card and go and don’t make me wait til you’ve finished chatting with your pal to acknowledge me, cos that’s just rude.

14. Customers who want to complain to the manager and PLOT TWIST it’s you. I went from sales advisor to manager in the store I’d been working in for two years previous in the space of about a month. So I could kinda understand how some shoppers got confused how the shop assistant overnight became a manager but y’know I was just as confused. Oh and at the age of 20 or 21 I was the youngest on my region just for my own humble brag there. I know I may have youth on my side Janice but I’m the captain of this ship. Sadly that ship was the titanic BUT I WAS STILL THE CAPTAIN.

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15. Y’know when it’s unbearably hot and stuffy in a shop, there’s no air conditioning and you customers sweat and moan about the rising heat so leave after about 23 seconds? Think Primark in the late 90s early noughties when it was always unbearably hot inside, clothes were strewn everywhere and it looked like you just walked onto the set of Earth Song. Yah someone has to work in that fiery heat. I was that person once upon a time. When I was a manager we had a spare temperature probe for the fridges and I left it on the shop floor just to see how hot it actually was in there. It would get up to the high 20s or 30. Which is lovely if you’re sipping pina coladas on a beach in the Bahamas in that temperature; not so much when you’re working. My area manager said it wasn’t that hot or I should buy a fan. So my training coordinator suggested I dip the end of the thermometer in some boiling hot water so it looks much hotter than it really is, so they’ll have no choice but to buy us top of the range air conditioning. Shortly after he did a surprise visit to come see me and needless to say, he was a bit shocked/surprised/concerned to see we’d been working in 68 degree heat and none of us had combusted.

16. One thing that used to really irritate me, maybe that’s just because I’m easily irritated was that a customer would come in every week and ask for the same thing but pronounce it wrong everytime. Quinoa being pronounced keen wah is a prime example.

17. I don’t know if anyone else suffered this but I used to get people mistaking me and my shop as the tourist information desk ALL. THE. TIME. Baring in mind I still have to double check my left and right with my hands I don’t think I’m the best person to ask for directions to Stonehenge by electric bike, Sir. When I worked in Bath a lady grabbed me by my elbow (I thought it was an odd way to get someone’s attention too but it actually worked) and simply asked me to tell her if she was going the wrong way. She gave no more information. She just said that…Depends, if you’re trying to get to the Roman Baths, no you’re not. Take a left by the man painted silver covered in pigeons if you’re trying to get to Mozambique…then yes ma’am you’re going the wrong way.

18. Customers who try and tell you how to do your job. Urgh get on tills if you really want to help me out Karen.

19. People who make that joke like you’ve never heard it before “hehehehe if it’s not scanning it must be free right???? Hehhehe”. Get in the bin.

20. PEOPLE WHO COME IN TO BROWSE JUST AS THE PLACE IS ABOUT TO CLOSE. I understand you may have been working all day too but we don’t often get paid if we have to stay later. I like you but I like earning money for being in work more.

21. People who complain once they’ve consumed nearly all of their food/drink/whatever. The fact you ate all your food apart from one spoonful even though it was too garlicky??? Your case is now invalid. Go home. Have a lovely life. Goodbye.

22. Whoever made the phrase the customer is always right was wrong.

23. People who complain about pretty much anything they can in general can be so taxing and sometimes they take it way too far. I was in the Lush store near Christmas time in Bath and a couple went IN on the girl serving them both. They were screaming, shouting and the poor girl cried. Looking back I actually kinda regret standing by and doing nothing as I have also been on the receiving end of sociopaths like that. But me and my friend did stick around to see if she was ok and luckily all of her team and her manager basically told the customers to do one. In much more eloquent terms obvs.

24. Having to face up shelves, so they look dead neat and tidy and then someone has the nerve and audacity to BUY something from said bay. You wouldn’t cut a slice out of Mary Berry’s cake before she finished icing it would you?! Also I used to call facing up pulling forward but apparently that sounded dead raunchy for the shopfloor.

25. Loyalty cards. Ok I could literally write a whole dissertation on the drama these things cause. Same with the products we try and sell you on the till or even the 30 billion receipts that seem to come flying out the till at the end with your shopping. I just wanna say as a retail worker and also a customer in shops I totally get how annoying it is to be practically interrogated when you just want to buy some pants. But we HAVE to ask you that or we get shouted it at. It becomes a part of a salespersons routine and script. Where I used to work they wanted at least 75% of all customers to be signed up onto their loyalty scheme and you’d be heavily pressured to ask every single person who walked through their door. If you didn’t or you didn’t get the amount of sign ups your boss would want you’d face a grilling. We are human and know that you get asked that in every shop so please just be polite and say no thanks. Same with getting an email or receipt asking about your service instore that day.Like we get it, it’s annoying we care about whether you have a loyalty card just as much as you do. Believe me, probably even less. A lot of shops and restaurants have taken away the monthly mystery shopper element so the general public can scrutinise your performance instead and mark you down if you didn’t ask them open questions or greet them within the first 15 seconds of them coming into a store. :))))))))))))). That often gives us a commission based bonus which makes up our full salary. Is it any different to tipping a waitress for good service in a cafe?

26. Same thing with coupons that have expired. Most of them have a barcode which literally will not work once scanned past the expiration date so pls don’t shout at me because it’s been a matter of hours since it ran out.

27. I don’t really understand why name badges are a necessity to be honest. Some may say it gives a more personal shopping experience but this isn’t Harrods and you’re not my Mum so you don’t need to beckon me over by my full name like I’m a naughty child.

28. Unruly kids that run around like the place is a playground. Sometimes breaking stuff and the parents just sort of give you that awkward laugh/don’t blame me look.

29. People who think you have any control in this company. I used to get customers asking me to send letters of complaint to head office like I was going to boardroom meetings every Friday. You wouldn’t pop into Currys with a problem with your laptop and ask them to dial through to Bill Gates to see if he knew a solution.

30. Partners that bicker at the till. Pls no. I served a couple that had a full on domestic at the till over whether they wanted a second one for half price. She walked out of the shop in the end. Would loved to have been a fly on the wall in their house later. If she ever returned home that is.

31. When customers cards get declined it actually gives me mad anxiety. I always used to make a joke and blame it on the card machine saying it’s playing up a bit but some people would straight up, look them in the eye and scream their card got declined. AGAIN.

32. Customers to demand you check in the stockroom for a product you don’t even sell. I spend more time in this place than I do at home nothing comes through these doors without me knowing sis. Guilty of walking in there, staring at the empty room, waiting a good amount of time and then coming back out and telling you there’s none in stock.

33. Customers who don’t take off their sunglasses inside. It wasn’t cool when Kanye did it, it’s not cool when you do it in a service station Starbucks.

34. Work colleagues are your fam. Like love ’em or hate ’em they’re there for you. Unless you need them to cover your shifts over a Bank Holiday Weekend.

35. You kinda realise how dumb some people are. Not just some people you work with but the general public. There was one guy I worked with who may possibly be the dumbest/most fascinating person I’ve ever met. He could have a feature length series on either the Discovery Channel or You’ve Been Framed. He never had a dull weekend and would always come in on Monday with a great albeit odd story to tell. Whether that was how he fell OFF a bus and bruised his entire face (it was awful but he looked just like Freddy Kreuger) Or how he was texting a girl he was seeing, tried to type ‘Hello’ but his phone autocorrected it to HELP all in caps lock and then his phone died. He got home and charged his phone to see about 17 missed calls, 20 messages and several v angry voicemails.

36. When a customer tries to give you change after you’ve put through the amount on the till. Like I’m sorry hun I’m not rainman how am I supposed to work out your change now you’ve given me MORE money?! I know you think you’re trying to help but maybe I’m just a bit thick.

37. Customers that don’t clean up after themselves and expect you to *just* do it because you’re paid to. Please ctrl alt delete yourself. Like I know I work here but you don’t need to make my job even more difficult or annoying.

All I ask is that if you read this and you aren’t already, please be more kind, forgiving and mindful of retail staff or service staff. OR just people in general y’know. It’s nice being nice 🙂

BE KIND ALWAYS. X

Working with Petshop.co.uk

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Up until the humble age of 19 I never owned a pet. Unless you count the goldfish me and my sister either won at the fair or got from the local pet shop. Fish as pets for me weren’t very exciting or very fun, I’m not expecting them to my little best friend that I can share all my innermost thoughts with or to jump through fiery hoops, as ridic and impressive as that would be. They were just kinda there, taking up space in their big ol’ tank on the side. Voohran was our oldest goldfish lived for what seemed like 450 years in goldfish time but in reality I think it was about 3 years in human time, which isn’t bad going for a fairground fishy. Also don’t judge the name, me and my sis were and still are weird little beings. And you try and think of a better name for a fish that refused stinky fish flakes than Voohran. What a guy. What a maverick. What a weird name thinking about it?

Other than that little guy, I never had a pet so I never really understood the love and affection you really feelI cried at Marley and Me when it first came out but watching it again being a dog owner I’m not ashamed to admit I cry Kim K style ugly tears. Or I stop the film just as they move into the last big house so the doggo has a lovely happy ending woofing and Wow’ing with Owen Wilson forevz. Don’t even get me started on A Dog’s Purpose I’m not even going to attempt that one. My parents both had pets growing up and remember them talking about them as if they were a member of the family, one you actually love and like I should add, and my sister and I always felt like we were missing out on that. So when I was 19, 4 years ago now, our lives all changed when a little ball of fluff came into our lives in the shape of Charlie, or Lord Charles or Chatsworth the Schnoodle. He is a miniature schnauzer cross toy poodle and is a little joy.

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JUST LOOK AT MY LITTLE BEAR CUB HERE!! He is ever so adorable, clever and knows so many tricks. Such a little cutie and brings so much joy. Continue reading “Working with Petshop.co.uk”

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 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.

My Prestige Christmas Hamper!!

Hello! Recently the very kind people at Prestige Hampers sent me a luxury Christmas food hamper to review,  how cool and more importantly kind is that?! Even though it is the middle of November and some people may deem it too early still, I am very much in the Christmas spirit already. Whether that might be because this is my first year out of many I won’t be working in retail and I won’t have the pleasures of irate Christmas customers during the most wonderful time of the year or just because I am a great, big kid when it comes to this time of year.

I love everything from hunting for the right present for a loved one, going to Christmas markets munching on sweet, roasted chestnuts and daydrinking mulled ciders and wines. The dark winter nights aglow with fairy lights and candle lights too, and snuggling by the fire with a hot chocolate in hand watching some feelgood Christmassy films. In my household Christmas has always been such a lovely time of year and I am eternally grateful to my parents for raising me with some cherished memories over the festive period. We always have a lot of family time and enough food and drink to make a King jealous as do a lot of families all around the world I’m sure so with that in mind that’s why I think a food hamper would make an excellent gift at Christmas. Well at anytime of year really but Prestige Hampers do an amazing selection perfect for any occasion and also would suit anyone from your parents, your tricky in laws, that friend that already has one of everything to the colleague who has gone above and beyond for you. You don’t need me to recommend who to give it to, you get the gist!

hamper Continue reading “My Prestige Christmas Hamper!!”

I made homemade body scrubs.

I probably spent FAR too much time and money on my skincare and beauty regimes. I’m thoroughly getting into the crafting mood thinking about what I can make or bake next and after an afternoon out shopping and spending a ridiculous amount at Lush I tried my hand at making my own body scrubs. For some reason I thought it would be really quite difficult but I honestly couldn’t be farther from the truth with that. I was so, so shocked at how easy it was and also how much money I’ll be saving from now on. If Lush go into administration you can entirely blame me for no longer buying their Rub, Rub, Rub salt scrub. All you need to create your own concoctions are:

  • A sugar or salt. You could you any kind depending on what you want so you could really personalise it to you or even someone you’re gifting it too. Fine, course, maybe even himalayan pink sea salt if you want to make it look nice and pretty. Brown sugar, caster sugar, demerara, once again it’s all completely down to you and your preference.
  • A base oil. Coconut,vitamin E oil, olive oil, jojoba, sweet almond oil, wheatgerm, avocado oil are all really good options. They are all really nourishing for the skin, available in most health food shops or online too and all have a neutral scent so wouldn’t overpower your scrub with a strong smell.
  • An essential oil or something similar to add some scents or even colour to your scrub. Things like herbs might make for an interesting addition, freshly chopped mint, lavender or even rose petals. Rose would look lovely with a pink himalayan salt. I used coffee grounds to make a lovely coffee scrub. It helps reduce the appearance of cellulite so I think I might start bulk making it and selling it off!

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I had these four mini mason jars I originally bought from Ikea with good intentions to do something creative with but they were unused and I filled them instead. You could use kilner jars you can buy pretty much anywhere, bargain shops do them for a relatively cheap price. Old jam jars that have been washed out would look really cool and kitsch.

I made four different flavours or scents if you will. As tasty as these smell, I’d probably recommend against eating them!

I made a coffee scrub. Filling half the jar with brown sugar and the remaining half of coffee grounds I then poured that into a bowl. I did it like that so I knew it would definitely all fit in rather than making waaaaay too much. I poured the coffee/sugar mix into a bowl and then added a tablespoon of coconut oil until I got the consistency I wanted.

I also made a gingerbread scrub. Inkeeping with the christmas theme on my blog at the moment this would also make the perfect gift at christmas for those also keen on clean beauty and skincare. I used the same principal as with the coffee scrub but I filled the little jar up full of brown sugar. Pouring it into bowl with some ginger essential oil, cinnamon essential oil and a dash of star anise. mixing that altogether I poured it back into the jar and screwed the lid on tight.

Switching it up a bit I thought for my next two I would use a course sea salt base instead. Sea salt can be a bit more vigorous so using that in a body scrub would help with shifting dead skin cells and also helping to shift toxins from the body. Rubbing it in, in a slow circular motion helps to get the blood flowing reducing the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite as well as removing the toxins from the body.

I used sea salt with some coconut oil, a few dashes of some spearmint essential oil and some finely diced mint leaves from the garden.

For my last and final scrub, I added some lavender essential oil to sea salt and coconut oil. I wanted a runnier consistency for this one as I love applying it to my hair. It helps with repairing the hair shaft and it leaves it feeling so silky, smooth. It sounds mad I know, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

 

 If I knew just how easy it was to make these beforehand I would have been wailing it from the rooftops. Scrubs like this are usually fiendishly and wrapped with a nice bow and a tag would make a lovely present for a friend for Christmas. Or even yourself, I’m sure you deserve it a whole heap more!

Working with Branded 3.

I was approached by the ever so lovely Carrie who is one of the PR gurus and all round wonderwoman working at a company called Branded 3 towards the end of September about working alongside themselves on sharing my handy hints, tips and tricks on homemade crafts to make the Christmas period that little bit easier. They even sent me this lovely Christmassy care package as a kind gesture and their way of saying thank you (and also getting me straight into the Christmas spirit in October. Apparently it’s still not socially acceptable to be singing christmas tunes then? I heart Boney M what can I say? Plus I’m dying for a white fur coat they all wore in the Mary’s Boy Child music vid…Just me?

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This was the very kind parcel of joy they sent me one dreary friday afternoon. A biscuit that made me feel like a sheriff saying ‘thank you Abbie’ on it. A hexagonal marble white coaster with an A for Abbie inscribed onto it. A very delicious smelling Yankee Candle perfect for christmas in a fruity, cranberry spice scent. And a tesco voucher to help with the planning and preparations for what I’ve planned with them.

Christmas is very often a stressful time of year for a lot of people, whether you’ll be overworked and underpaid over the festive period, catering for your whole entire family even that cousin of yours who has a new intolerance and allergy every family occasion picking something else for you to cook off of your not so secret A La Carte menu but of course. Shopping for loved ones, well Christmas shopping is an experience in itself, leaving it til last minute and buying everyone random giftsets from the local health food shop because THERE IS LITERALLY NOTHING LEFT IN BOOTS and hoping they appreciate the random purchases and have perfected their I-didn’t-want-this-gift-but-am-going-to-give-it-the-once-over-say-oooooh-i’ve-always-wanted-this face. Or being that annoying smart arse who takes great pleasure that they have already bought and wrapped their gifts for everyone this year in July 2010.

So i’ve compiled a few different posts that’ll be appearing on here today on simple ways in which you can craft your own Christmas. I’ve made a homemade Christmas chocolate cake that would make the perfect centrepiece, easy homemade chocolate bark which you could customise as personalised gifts or even just to treat yourself. And homemade body scrubs, which could also make a lovely gift or an even lovelier treat for yourself.

There’s something quite nice about receiving a present that is homemade and crafted. Knowing that person went to the time and effort to make you something possibly a little bit different and not something you’d see everyday or even get as a present. More and more people I know are opting to making someone something over buying this year and I’d like to think I’ll be able to show you just how easy it is and how impressive it is too!

I made a sticky toffee pudding!

Tell me one thing better than slobbing out in bed on a Sunday morning eating lots of warm, buttery toast and drinking copious amounts of tea? Maybe add in some easy watching E4 american tv show is on in the background, the sun is shining through your bedroom window and Tom Hardy is on his way back up the stairs with another round of breakfasty carbs.Sadly the last part for me didn’t come true, I can’t help but feel Mr Hardy keeps going to the wrong address for some reason? The main feeling that I get from that analogy is comfort. Sometimes that is all you need and it just does the trick. After a horribly long day, getting soaked in the rain on the way home and all you really want is deep fried carbs and chocolate coated errthang.

Creeping into the Autumn and Winter months and all I want to eat is sweet, carb laden foods. To be fair I feel like eating sweet, carb laden foods all year round but more specifically in the colder months. Comfort foods like jacket potatoes, mash potato covered in a thick gravy, pies and any of the types of foods you see on pub food menus that are hearty, wholesome and leave you feeling all warm and gooey on the inside. The more I’ve been trying to get better at cooking and baking the more I’ve realised how I find it so relaxing and therapeutic. It’s a good way for me to escape for a little bit and make a delicious little something to cheer me up, feed the family and also show off on instagram and twitter with a smug little ‘oooooh look what I made, and it was so simple and I made zero mess everyone’.

I decided to bake a sticky toffee pudding one afternoon basically because I really wanted to eat some. I always think of it as a typical pub grub pud  and one that would involve so many technical bits and foods it’s easier to bang a microwave one in your basket than make it yourself. But BOY was I wrong. I went online and had a scout for some simple recipes. I’m a simple type of girl I really can’t be bothered to flambe a fruit or what have you. Trust me when I say how easy this recipe is though and if I can do it I like to think anybody can!

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So I actually used a recipe from the Sainsburys Magazine website and you can use the same recipe found here. It’s a super simple recipe to follow I found and there were a few bits I either tweaked or skipped on.

For this super yummy slice of goodness you will need:

  • 250g of dried dates that have been stoned.
  • 75g softened butter.
  • 175g dark muscovado sugar. The recipe calls for light but I accidentally picked up the dark one whilst I was in Asda. It gave it a richer, more treacle like taste which I like anyway so win, win!
  • 2 medium eggs.
  • Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed spice.
  • Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

That’s all the ingredients for the cake for the sauce you will need:

  • 100g dark muscovado sugar.
  • 100g butter.
  • 150ml double cream.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  1. Start off by turning your oven to 180c and lightly greasing a 20cm by 20cm tin. I love a thiiiiick slice of cake so I used a slightly smaller one than the recipe required. And also because I’m not a chef that doesn’t have ENDLESS supplies of different shapes and sizes in tins. That might have accidentally come across a wee bit passive aggressive but sometimes when you’re watching a cookery show (Love you Nigella but you’re the worst for this) they act like getting things like samphire, tagine pots and himalayan rock salt whilst living in deepest, darkest Dorset to be an easy; and cheap feat. It is not.
  2. Next take your dates and chop them up to smaller pieces. It’ll make it a lot easier on yourself when you come to mashing them later on. Once they are all finely chopped put them in a saucepan and submerge them in water and then bring it to the boil. Let the water boil for a few minutes. Then drain it and mash it until its a mushier consistency. I used a potato masher because I found that a lot easier, less messier and a lot less of a workout than using a fork.
  3. Whilst the dates were boiling I put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat it until creamed together. I had left the butter out for about half an hour so it was softened a little which helps it bind together a lot quicker.
  4. Add the eggs to the sugar and butter and beat until smooth.
  5. To the dates add the bicarb, it will foam up a little bit and then add straight into the batter mix. Following this add in the flour, spice and vanilla extract and gently fold in until it’s all mixed nicely.
  6. Pour this into your tin and then bake for about 25 minutes. Or until the cake feels firm to the touch.
  7. Leaving the cake to cool, I made a start on making the sticky toffee sauce. Putting the butter, sugar, cream and vanilla extract into a pan and bringing to a boil. Making sure all the sugar crystals have melted I poured it into a jug and left it for serving later.

I was super impressed with this AND myself for managing not to set anything on fire nor kill anyone. It was so yummy, food for the heart and food for the soul. I would totally recommend you trying this, I know a lot of people don’t like the taste of dates but they give it a fudgier, treacle like taste and you wouldn’t even know it’s there.

Sticky toffee pudding is one of my fav comfort eats what’s your favourite winter warmer?