Burn Black

That ain't a vulture, that's a fucking pigeon…

Operation Frugality: Week 3.

I was determined to make this week a week of low spendage, especially after last week but I didn’t manage, far from it in fact.  Firstly my mobile phone stopped letting me make or receive phone calls unless I had the speaker on and there’s some conversations you just don’t want the world to hear when you’re in the middle of Tesco’s.  Therefore I had to get an upgrade, it seems that current events have gotten the best of me as of late too…

Monday 13th January – Nothing.

Tuesday 14th January – I’ve had a lot of things going on and as a result my plate has had lots on it.  As a result the emotional crutch that I’ve tried so hard to avoid has once again stuck it’s nicotine stained claws into me and I bought a packet of cigarettes which cost £7.70.  I also needed a lighter 90p.  Great eh?

Wednesday 15th January – Nothing.

Thursday 16th January – This is the day I finally had enough with regards to my mobile.  A short trip to the phone shop and I had a brand new iPhone 5s and had to pay £49.99 upfront.  I also needed a new screen protector and cover as my one from my iPhone 4 are too fat now.  I bought this bling one from eBay for £5.99.  Since I’m running out of ideas as to what I can make in the house and emotional drainage making me unmotivated to do pretty much nothing at home I ended up buying lunch too £4.10.  A bad day really.

Friday 17th January – It’s my birthday next week and since the Kurt Geiger shoes from last week were far too high for me (I gave them to a friend who I’ll know will make them her bitch) I ended up buying a dress (£25.44) and a replacement pair of heels (£54.94 – In fairness I have wanted these FOR YEARS) for when I go out in a fortnights time.  I think totally unnecessary but these are staple items that I’ll get lots of wear out of therefore feel semi-justified.  Plus did I mention it was my birthday soon???

Saturday 18th January –  I bought V and I a meal from M&S after work (£15.61) and some fags (£7.70).  I could have probably done without but my nerves are still shot and after all the shit I’ve had to pick the scab from and go through this week I felt we both needed a treat, especially since V has proven himself a rock as of late.  Plus I figured it would be cheaper than a takeaway.

Sunday 19th January – Nothing.

So yeah.  Out of all the above I pretty much feel justified in buying the phone, the dress and the shoes.  The fags would probably come next.  I am pretty much livid with myself for letting things get to me that much but I’m sure once it’s all over as will my useage of them also.  All in all a really bad week.  Total Spends:  £172.37.  It would appear that when depressed I’m not only an emotional smoker but a shopper too. :0/

 

Operation Frugality: Week 2.

So far this year I have to admit that I’m rather liking this challenge in a masochistic kind of way.  If anything I am noticing spending patterns and am acting upon them which is the whole point in this exercise after all..  A perfect example of this is my tendency to hoard stuff that I buy from work.

Anyone who’s ever been in my bathroom will testify to the amount of Lush products in it.  At this moment in time I have the equivalent of over 6 litres of shower gel, a shoebox filled with soap and at least 2 carrier bags worth of bath bombs and various other bath treats in there as well as various lotions, potions, shampoo and massage bars.  Safe to say I don’t think I’m going to need any of those this year.  Same goes for perfume which has actually proven difficult thanks to Illamasqua who currently have a sale on.  I’ve wanted a bottle of Freak for ages and it’s currently reduced.  I’ve had to be a big girl and say no however because a) I must already own something like 20+ bottles of fragrance so I know I won’t need anymore for a very long time and b) V bought me a bottle of the Tom Ford perfume I’ve been lusting over for a very long time as a late Christmas/early Birthday present which to be honest is literally the best aroma that’s ever filled my nostrils and I’m really grateful for him to have spent so much money on something so decadent.   Recognising what I already have/how often I use things is going to be key to this challenge I feel.  So here’s a daily breakdown of expenditure for week 2.

Monday 6th January:  It’s marmalade season and I need some Seville Oranges so I went to the local greengrocers to see if there were any.  There wasn’t but I did need some fresh garlic so bought a bulb of that (in the past I would have bought about 3), some fresh coriander which I now regret as I already have some in the freezer from the last time I bought some  (at least I can freeze this if I don’t use it however and I now know for next time) and 4 Persimmons for £1 which is a bargain and I love them.  That lot came to £2.99.  None too shabby but I still need those oranges.

Tuesday 7th January:  I spent 87p on a load of carrots.  What with the coriander I’d bought the day before I made soup which sorted me out for a few meals.  I also spent £4.99 on dried dates and some dried apricots in Holland & Barrett.  Not necessarily needed but I want to try and make my own version of these for after exercise etc. which I’m sure will work out cheaper in the long run.  After work I went to the gym.  I walked there and got the bus back which cost me £1.85.  This brings the days total to £7.71

Wednesday 8th January:  I admit now that the money I spent today was not due to necessity.  Firstly I got my nails “did” (acrylic infills) which cost £11.25.  I like getting my nails done.  They’re less hassle than my real ones as they’re really low maintenance, and it’s a treat and a bit of me time at the end of the day which is always well received by myself whenever the time comes around.  I work hard so why not?  I then bought a lipstick (£3.01) and a new gel nail varnish on eBay for £3.99.  I have the UV kit to do my own gel manicure and doing my nails myself saves me around £15 a pop so I find it well worth it in the long run.  May as well be hung for a sheep than a lamb I guess.  Bit of a bad day really.  Total spends = £18.25

Thursday 8th January:  On this day I went a bit mental.  However I did buy things I actually needed as opposed to things I wanted which is always  a plus.  What with my going back to the gym I’ve discovered that I a) hate wearing baggy jogging bottoms as I don’t like how they flap about when I’m on the treadmill and with me wanting to start running I figured I needed some new gym clothes and £44 later I had some.  Later on that day I made the mistake of going onto ASOS and ended up purchasing a pair of £140 Kurt Geiger heels for a bargalicious £13.50.  I’m sorry I know it was completely unjustified but I did spend a few minutes gingerly thinking about pressing the checkout button, and well…

Friday – Nothing

Saturday – Nothing

Sunday – Nothing

So this week I’m quite please that I didn’t spend any money on lunches, or coffee for that matter whilst at work which was rather ace.  The shoes and lipstick? well did I need them?  Not at all but I did actually want that lipstick for ages so it wasn’t an impulse buy, the shoes? a totally different matter.   The gym wear was a must however as I normally look like a tramp when I’m there and getting new gym wear has been on my “to do” list for a while.  I also know that I don’t *need* the acrylic nails but I do enjoy wearing them.  They make me happy and dare I say *ladylike*  and so for now they stay.  I may review it when they need to come off but I’ll review it then.  The food items I obviously need and when the weather improves I’ll cycle to the gym and back.  Total spends this week:  £86.45 (eek).

Music Mondays – Pentagram Documentary “Last Days Here”.

This film was recommended to me the other week so I watched it and bloody hell!!!  I spent the majority of the film on the edge of my seat exhibiting so many different emotions along the way.  I don’t want to let on which ones in case it ruins the film for you.  I was left with mixed feelings towards Bobby Liebling but ones of utter awe and amazement towards both his parents and manager.   I can’t say I’ve gave Pentagram much of a chance in the past but still, it was a pretty interesting watch.

Plans for 2014…

In my last entry I mentioned that I’d made plans for this year so I figured I would post them on here, if anything to act as a reminder.  In 2014 I would really like to try and do the following:
  • As Le Tigre would say “GET OFF THE INTERNET – I’m not planning on doing a Neil Gaiman  but I do spend a lot of time on social media.  V thinks that he does too.  We’ve since tried to improve this by having phones/laptops/iPads put away on our evenings together with great success.  I also feel like a crap friend at times.  The time I spend online catching up with people I could be doing in person, the fact my best friend lives about a 10 minute walk away from me, yet I see her rarely is testament to this.  I’m therefore going to try and limit my time online to just one day a week.  I was/am quite addicted to a few games on Facebook.  I’ve deleted them all bar one, however I feel playing it just once a week will become frustrating and I’ll probably give that up too in future.  Hopefully this will mean I’ll have more time to read more books/crochet/knit etc. as well as blog more, which is another factor I’d like to improve upon.
  • Operation Frugality – Although compared to others I am already a frugal person, I still find I waste money on absolute shit, this was confirmed during the great uncluttering of 2013.  Therefore rules are simple and the plastic has been destroyed/hidden.  I’m only allowed to buy things if I absolutely need them and even then if I can save money by being more savvy with my hard earned cash then to obviously do so.  I’m thinking of doing a weekly breakdown blog post of what I’ve spent that week to keep my motivation levels high with regards to this.  I personally think it’ll be interesting so we’ll see how it goes.
  • Continue the great uncluttering/life laundry that I started in 2013 –  Already I have a huge box of gear to give to charity and one huge box to list on eBay as and when inclination allows.  I hate listing things on eBay so so much.  Needs must however.  Alongside this as mentioned before, I’m going to try and do at least one 20:10 of my home each day in attempts to ward off my flat becoming messy and disorganised but no more than 3.
  • Diet and Fitness – I’m signing up to do a 5km run in the summer, something I’ve never done before but at least it will get me running (I have the couch to 5km app downloaded and ready).  I’ve had a review at the gym this week and am hoping I can go back to kickboxing at some point in the near future.  All in all I’m feeling quite positive with regards to my fitness this year.  I also have the Insanity Workout (yes it is as horrible as what everyone makes out but it does get results) to attempt when I can’t do any of the above.  I’m going to try and aim to do at least some form of exercise at least 5 days a week.  Something is better than nothing.  On top of this I will of course be trying to eat as healthy as possible as well.  No more buying lunch at work (Operation Frugality denies it anyway) so no excuses.
  • Get up to speed with my skills as a designer – I’ve done nothing with regards to my degree since I left uni and is something I constantly feel bad about.  I have opportunities at my feet that I feel I cannot take advantage of due to this and the lack of confidence that goes with it.  Therefore this year I’m going to try and master at least the aspects of print based design that I feel I need to work on so any resources for this would be appreciated.  Same goes for photography too.  I used to do a lot of it and then I stopped which is a shame as I did enjoy it.
  • Vanity – I need to seriously up my dental hygiene and get my other sleeve started.  I need to floss, my dentist has said so on many occasssions but I hate it.  I try hard for a week or so and then give up.  Now I’m a non smoker there isn’t any excuses.  To be honest I haven’t even seen my dentist in about 2 years because I just know I’ll get another bollocking from her.  Booking an appointment with her is on the “to do” list.  Getting my other sleeve started is probably going to be the only indulgence of this year as and when Operation Frugality will allow.  It needs doing.  It’s been lasered as much as I can handle now so I need to look into my options when I have enough money saved up for my first appointment.  Cheaper goals include mastering the art of good eyebrows and contouring.  Ru Paul’s Drag Race can only educate so much.

I am aware that this list does seem like a lot but at the end of the day they’re just goals that I would like to at least try and do during the year.  A year is a long period of time and if I don’t get to do them all then there’s always next year isn’t there. *wink*.

A Recap on 2013…

Ahhh New Years.  Where optimism and positivity probably run the highest in comparison to the rest of the year.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Positive changes can happen whenever, you really don’t have to wait until NYE to start.  Saying that however I’m as guilty as the next person but I did actually make some positive changes last year and I have ones I want to do this year too.  So here’s a recap on 2013:

I did struggle a lot in 2013.  Both in my personal and working life.  I quit smoking which I’m still doing pretty well at despite being rather naughty over Christmas.  I am firmly back on the wagon now and haven’t had any since NYE and plan on keeping it that way.

I also started (and stopped) going to the gym more regularly.  The fact V enrolled as well kept both our motivations in this respect quite high, that was until he damaged his shoulder and therefore couldn’t go for a while and I in turn, then made excuses along the lines of “not wanting to go on my own” and alongside doing extra shifts at work meant that this once enjoyable and great habit slipped into a distant memory for both of us.  I didn’t start running and didn’t go back to kickboxing either which quite frankly sucked.

I did try Veganism though, and lasted just over 4 months.  I wish I could fully commit to this lifestyle but I  just can’t.  Instead I’m quite happy to remain a Vegetarian who tries her best which means although I will eat a lot of vegan friendly food at home with exception to the occasional tray of eggs (which I get from my Mum’s friend who keeps ducks/hens) and the odd indulgent cheese board, Outside of home however it’s a free for all.  Non animal friendly cosmetics and clothing etc. will still be avoided as much as possible.

I did declutter a lot in 2013 as well.  With eBay, Amazon and local charity shops all helping me dispose of items I no longer wanted.  I still have a large cardboard box full of stuff to go but its getting there.  I’m actually quite pleased with what I did actually accomplish in this aspect.

My finances are somewhat healthier now too.  Not immaculate but definitely better.  Already in 2014 I’ve started saving small amounts of money each month and have joined the pension scheme at work.  Both little jobs that I’ve been putting off for ages but will be well worth it in future.  Still in a little bit of debt but I’m going to really try and tackle that this year.

On top of this my working life has resembled somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster too.  I hammered the final coffin nail into DJ’ing due to various reasons which I’ll probably go into in a future post if I ever feel the need to let off some steam.  That and certain aspects at my day job meant that my ego came out of 2013 feeling rather bruised and battered.  Trying to turn to the positive however I have learnt a lot of lessons too so it’s not all bad and I quote:

“Your heart is the only beating you will survive and though it may take some time to trust it, it has never let you down.”

How was 2013 for you?

Music Mondays: Siouxsie & The Banshees – Cities In Dust.

I swear this song has been stuck in my head for at least a week now.  Siouxsie & The Banshees has a habit of doing that to me.  Total earworms.  It totally reminds me of this illustration that was doing the pinterest/tumblr rounds not that long back too.  Happy Monday everyone.

Banishing The Evil Weed…

fagsGlamour Massacre by Silvio Giordano

It’s took some doing but I’m now officially a non smoker.  I decided back in June that, as a woman nearing her mid 30’s that enough was enough and I set July 1st as my quit date.  I had an arsenal of patches, gum and inhalers at my disposal from previous attempts to quit along with an electronic cigarette I’d bought “just to try” so figured I had all the tools I needed and then some and that there were no excuses.

In July I mostly used the patches, the gum and the e-cig and in honesty I found it a doddle.  No cravings, nothing.  I do know some people don’t like the patches for whatever reasons but for me they were a God send.  I had no cravings nor thought about smoking whilst wearing them.  Once I had ran out of the patches (I had a month or so’s worth) I then just relied on good old will power and the e-cig as and when I needed it which was around once a week (usually around alcohol and friends who smoke).  Nowadays I carry the electronic cigarette around with me but bar the odd social event involving alcohol I never seem to use it and in honesty I’m comfortable with this.  Eventually I will quit that too but in the grand scheme of things I rarely go out drinking so this isn’t too much of an issue.  Truth is I can’t really be bothered with drinking excessive amounts these days either.  My alcohol tolerance has practically flatlined and I’m finding that after 2 drinks I’ve pretty much had my fill.  I’ve been out clubbing maybe 4 times this year in comparison to the 1-2 times a week I used to and I never go to the pub “for just the one” after work etc. that I practiced on a nearby daily basis.

Reading all the above makes out that I was the very picture of perfection however which isn’t true.  I did slip up twice but the important thing is that I got back on the wagon and I learnt from my mistakes.  The benefits of quitting so far?  cardio at the gym is easier and I’m saving around £70+ a month which quite frankly is not to be sniffed at.

Today marks the 97th day since I quit.

July Empties…

There isn’t a lot this month to be honest.  Still it makes a change from previous entries and yep.  It’s all Lush stuff again. 😛

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Grass Shower Gel – In my opinion the best shower gel Lush sell all year round and in store.  It’s became somewhat of an essential product for mornings and the dark and cold winter months.  It reminds me of summer, of sun warmed skin and of chilling with my pals in a beer garden/music festival.  It smells just like cut grass and I hope it never get’s retired.  I’ll be buying a new bottle as soon as I’ve used up some of my other shower gels/jellies. £16.75

Twilight Shower Gel – Smells exactly the same as the bath bomb and is just beautiful.  Also if the glitter in the ballistic puts you off (I’m not much of a glitter fan either) this doubles as a bubble bath too.  It was a limited edition product last Christmas and I have a litre of the stuff left.  I hope another opportunity to buy it comes along at some point in the future.

Calacas Shower Jelly – I love love love the smell of this (actually as a general rule if it has Lime in it then I’ll like it).  I also love the fact that it’s neon green and shaped like a sugar skull.  I have one more pot of this in my freezer.  I’m scared to use it hah.

Happy Happy Joy Joy Hair Perfume – A lovely light hair conditioner with a main (mane – grrrooaaannn) purpose of fragrancing your barnet.  If you like the smell of Orange Blossom perfume then I guarantee that  you’ll love the smell of this.  It’s vegan friendly too which is never a bad thing.  I do like HHJJ and it does make my hair smell amazing but to be honest the price does put me off from rebuying it and so in future I’ll probably just stick with Veganese as it’s like half the price. £30.25

 

Productivity Vs Procrastination…

We all do it, some more so than others.  My Achilles heel seems to be housework.  I find it boring but unfortunately it needs to be done and what with living on my own it’s up to me to make sure that my crib doesn’t resemble something from “How Clean Is Your House” (Kim and Aggie deserve medals).  On the other hand after being on my feet at work all day the very last thing I want to do when I do get home is to spend even more time on my feet cleaning, likewise on my days off.  I want to spend them having fun.  If this sounds familiar then I’m about to blow your minds with (what I feel) is one of the best apps out there for iPhones.

Introducing UfYH (Un-Fuck Your Habitat, or Un-Filth Your Habitat if swearing offends you/you are iTunes).  The lady responsible for said app has a blog which, quite frankly is a fountain of knowledge and a source of inspiration for the lazy, those who hoard and the sheer overwhelmed.  People are encouraged to post “before” and “after” photos along with accounts of their progress, ask questions and every now and again the app price will be reduced for those still sitting on the fence about buying it.

From personal experience I just love it for the 20/10 timer.  The theory is for every 20 minutes of work you do, once completed you get a 10 minute break.  It cuts down any task into easily managed chunks (not just housework) so really it’s up to you as to what you do.  Be it one 20/10 or two or maybe even a whole days worth.  I’ve seriously lost count of the about of times I really couldn’t be arsed with doing something and thought “oh I’ll just do one 20/10” and before I’ve realised, I’ve done quite a few.  It’s magic I tell ya and tonight was a prime example.

The usual scenario was thus.  Came home from work, really couldn’t be bothered but realised that the mountain of clean laundry was *still* sitting on my bedroom floor days/weeks after I’d washed and dried it (seriously I hate doing laundry) so figured I’d do at least one 20/10 to reduce it a bit.  In two sessions not only had I tackled it but I’d also loaded the dishwasher (best invention ever) and washing machine, hung the load of washing out to dry, dried and put the dishwasher contents away, cleaned the cat’s litter trays out, cleaned inside my microwave and wiped my kitchen benches down.  Pretty productive considering my lack of motivation.  If I do one 20/10 a day it pretty much tackles my flat and then some.  Easy peasy.  Give it a try and let me know how you get on.  Sorry this isn’t the most exciting of entries but like I say, the app has helped me loads and I really hope by reading this entry it inspires others.

June Empties…

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Dirty Body Spray – A definite top 10 Lush product for me.  I love this stuff.  I spray it about with wanton abandon.  The spearmint in it cools you down and it’s basically Febreeze for humans.  It’s normally the first thing I pack for music festivals and any other occasions where I may be without shower/bath facilities for a few days.  At last year’s Bloodstock festival I was camped with a load of lads.  They were all borrowing this by the Saturday.  I’ve already bought a new bottle too. £14.00

Veganese Hair Conditioner  – I first tried this about a year ago when my hair was becoming healthier after starting to look after it through using henna and getting regular trims instead of bleaching it to high heaven and dying it every colour under the sun.  Other conditioners were becoming too heavy so I switched to this and have never gone back.  A big bottle lasts me about 4-5 months which is awesome value for money.  This is another top ten Lush product as far as I’m concerned and I have bought another bottle already. £13.15

M.A.C. Mineralize Satin Finish SPF 15 Foundation – I’ve gone from being a die hard M.A.C. fan to these days not really giving two shits about them.  It’s pretty sad that the main reasons I spent so much money on M.A.C. in the first place, along with the quality of the products (which I’m sure is still awesome) are no longer the case.  I’m still using up what M.A.C. make up I have but I haven’t bought any in a long long time and I can’t see this changing anytime soon.  This foundation was pretty nice to use.  Good value for money, despite it’s £24 price tag as it lasted me about 2 years.  I used it on it’s own as well as mixed with moisturiser and I would have bought it again but I’ve since switched to E.L.F. and this.

Avon Purifying Pore Strips – I’m not gonna lie.  I’ve had these for years.  I’d hate to hazard a guess but if I had to I’d say they were at least 8 years old.  They were individually wrapped however so I wasn’t so bothered with regards to hygiene so I recently used them up.  They were pretty good to use after a good face mask and I may be tempted to buy something similar in the future but I think that’ll be only on a whim.  I don’t even think Avon sell these anymore they’re that old.  I know some people who use PVA glue to do the same thing on their face but I don’t think I’ll go down that route if I’m honest.

Cosmetic Warrior – Sometimes my skin just can’t decide on what it’s doing.  Some days it feels tight and dry, other days it’s spotty, either way this mask is awesome.  The ingredients include garlic and honey which are anti-bacterial and the honey along with the eggs are really moisturising.  Truly a life saver of a mask  £5.95

Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner – This stuff can be used in so many ways.  I use it as a shaving lotion when doing my legs, as a body lotion, and also as a body conditioner too.  In the past I’ve used it as a hair mask   It’s super rich and therefore super hydrating so is perfect for older/dry skin.  It smells the same as the Rose Jam bubbleroon and therefore amazing. £15.50

Ultrabland Cleanser – Hands down the best ever commercial make up remover I’ve ever used.  I can’t see me using anything else EVER and I really don’t know how I managed beforehand and this is from the same girl who used to buy this by the gallon (well maybe…).  I tend to wear a lot of eye make up and this baby removes it all, without making my skin feel tight afterwards.   I used to do something called the Oil Cleansing Method years ago and I noticed a lot of similarities when I first started using Ultrabland in terms of ingredients (oil) and how you use it (identical), nowadays it just means a lot less faffing on with oil ratios etc. if I can buy something ready made.  Buying Ultrabland works out cheaper than buying all of the oils separately for the OCM and it’s also cheaper than the Clinique make up remover I used to buy too.  Double whammy.  As usual with all of my favourite products I already have bought a replacement.  £10.75