Five things that bloggers no longer do

Today marks five years since I decided to start (and stick to writing) my blog. Five years of making friends, challenging myself to be creative with style and discovering lots of different things. Five whole years!!

To make this milestone there’s no giveaway (sorry) no cute photo shoot with a cake or balloons (not that I didn’t want to, I just wasn’t organised enough) and no imparting of wisdom of how to do anything amazing in the blogging world (how I wish I had this wisdom to use). Nope. Instead, I’ve written five differences I’ve noticed since I first streaked claim on a little patch of the internet. I wonder who else remembers and has noticed some of these… (I’ve also peppered a few more throwback blog post pics throughout, enjoy)

1. Bloggers no longer….simply write about an outfit – why they like it, how they styled it , what it’s like to wear etc

My first ever blog post was literally me sharing 2 very ad-hoc photos of what I’d worn the weekend before. It certainly wouldn’t cut the mustard now!

Even with a lot of fashion bloggers and featuring styled outfits, the content of the post is usually something that feels a bit profound, imparting wisdom or an opinion on a key topic. The fashion is just kind of there to break up that chat a bit. That’s probably ended up being so due to the rise of the micro influencers in Instagram (not to mention Instagram Stories and IGTV) and YouTubers, which are much easier outlets to share this kinda stuff on, but I sometimes worry that I don’t have the opinions or the wisdom to keep up with this developing trend.

2. Bloggers no longer…title their posts with something profound or cute

I’ll give you examples using some of my previous post titles – Mono-magic, Peachy, Hot weather cold shoulder, summertime sadness, snug as a fashionista in a blanket cape.

As a marketeer, I’m a huge advocate of something quirky and maybe verging on a bit click-baity, so I still think there’s a place to do something along these lines. However, if you’re calling a spade a spade then people will come and read because they have a more explicit idea of what to expect.

3. Bloggers no longer…have whimsical blog names

I include myself in this one! My blog was called ‘Curious Alice Loves…’ for the first three years, I changed its for a few reasons but the main was because PR messages kept coming to me starting “Hey Alice, how are you?” (That’s very sloppy on the PR’s part for not ready the bio, or e-mail address correctly). I know quite a few people who gave their blog a more quirky name when they first started but then evolved/re-branded down the line to being ‘just them’ (does anyone remember Sarah Ashcroft’s That Pommie Girl?. I admire those who have kept hold of their original name and have a kind of ‘gal behind the blog’ approach as that’s the identity they’ve built, like the fabulous Dorkface.

4. Bloggers no longer…write “PR friendly” in their bio

Never understood this one, never did it myself. I mean, what blogger isn’t?!?

5. Bloggers no longer…engage with each other’s posts in the comments section

This one is the key – everyone used to leave comments directly on a blog post, but I honestly can’t recall the last time I had any of mine. I don’t know whether this just means that people are reading things quickly and can’t be bothered to log in to leave one, whether they’re just looking at pictures or whether they don’t feel they have anything of value to say, but I do find this a real shame. Let’s all make sure we encourage and engage with each other, the hustle is hard!

So, for this post and any others you’ve read over the years, thanks for joining me. I really appreciate it.

J xx

“I liked it before it was cool” – 3 things from my repping past that are now ridiculously on trend

Over the almost 5 years I’ve been rambling away on the internet, I’ve dropped in to the conversation once or twice that I used to be a holiday rep. For 3 years of late teens/early twenties I called the Balearic Islands home and made some insane memories – most of them good, a few of them sober, all of them I was reminded of this week when I was added in to a closed Facebook group ‘Stories of a Holiday Rep’. Insert horrifically cringe pics of me back in the day, taken on a disposable camera

It was this part of my past that inspired this post – things I took for granted and felt a bit naff back then appear to be all the rage right now. On one hand I’m like “WTF?” On the other, I feel like I can totally own the fact that I discovered all of these things in their more underground cult status before they blew up. I hope you enjoy this throwback journey with me!

1. Gin

As the UK’s love for gin has increased I have been adamant that I’m not a fan, but then I remembered the Xoriguer (pronounced zor-rig-er) gin distillery.

You see; for the first year of my repping career it was my job to take holidaymakers here every week and help them to sample about 32 different flavours of the stuff as well as a local gin cocktail (the recipe for which I will be sharing in a future blog post). Yup, that’s right; back in the summer of 2003 I was well up in this trend before it was a twinkle in the hipster’s eyes!

Annoyingly, this brand is nigh on impossible to get hold of in the UK and outside of the Balearic Islands, to be honest there are barely any Spanish guns that are widely available, however if you do happen to hit this part of the world for a holiday I would encourage you to pay the distillery a visit…and maybe bring me back a sample or two.

2. Avarcas (Menorcan sandals)

Of all the items I may have predicted would become a high street trend for summer footwear, this would soooo not have been it! Back in the day myself and ,t repping buddies used to mercilessly mock these babies, and all of the locals (men, women and children) wore them so they were around all the time.

By the end of our first season, a couple of us had bought a pair (usually under the influence) to wear ironically, and over the years we grew quite fond of these funny lil’ sandals.

If you’re going to invest in a pair of these, my tip would be to spend a teeny bit ore and get a real deal version made in Menorca as they’re going to last you for years and years – they upper section is made of leather which is super comfy and the soles are fashioned out of car tires which give amazing grip and mean you can walk for miles without them wearing out.

If you’re holidaying in mainland Spain or the Balearic Islands you can pick these up in a local shoe shop and get the real experience, if not you can buy them online easily from the official Avarca stores here or here.

3. Aioli (garlic mayonnaise)

Often listed as a side sauce in gastropubs and Uber cool restaurants these days, I remember this delicious condiment as part of a grab and go lunch from the local supermercado.

You may be like “garlic mayo, and…?” BUT – Menorca was its birthplace. Mayonnaise is pronounced mar-hon-ays-ah in Spanish, because in originated from the capital Mahon. In Menoquian (a version of Catalan, the proper traditional Spanish language) they even call Mahon Maò, pronounced Mayo, so it’s pretty entrenched in the local culture!

The Aioli pictured is the traditional version sold in Menorca – its best served alongside a lovely crusty baguette; rip of a junk of bread and dunk gratuitously in to the tub! It’s extremely strong tasting but soooooo damn good.

One more thing that almost made the list…canary yellow leather jackets. This one is more of an I joke with my fellow rep friends but, if anyone reading this does happen to have visited a a leather company called Modas in Menorca, then you may get why this one will forever remain funny to me.

That’s pretty much it – having a little trip down memory lane whilst proving that I was some kind of cool visionary (or at least let me feel like I was for five minutes)

Thanks for reading,

J xx

LIFESTYLE / 5 Things for 2019, update #1

As this update is coming about 6 weeks later than I had planned, I should probably address the fact that it’s also my first blog post in about 2 months. The reason? Simply, I had a major content block – I wasn’t sure what I wanted to create/write about, I didn’t want to half arse by putting posts out I wasn’t into (as I’ve done in the last during these lulls) so thought it was better to just not bother. I’m now feeling more ready, prepared and excited to get back on it, so I’m starting by sharing my first update on my goals for 2019

1. Shop in my own closet 75% of the time

So far, so good. I’ve found this one a bit easier than I thought I would. Whenever I’ve been getting dressed in the morning or planning to go somewhere I’ve made sure I have a good hard look through my wardrobe…and my ironing basket (because we all know that’s where most of the clothes live) aaaaaaaannnnnd what I’ve come to fondly refer to as my ‘bed-drobe’ (double bed in the spare room, surely the perks of being a home owner) to see what I realistically had to wear. Once I got over the whole “it’s ok to be seen re-wearing outfits in current society” and “I don’t go out lots and lots, so I really don’t need to buy something new every time” I realised I have perfectly nice clothes and I just need to put them on.

I will say that over the last few weeks whilst being in my funk I have ‘tried’ to do some clothes and beauty shopping but it’s been a bit of a fail and most of the stuff has ended up going back.

The biggest test for me was the launch of the Urban Decay Naked Reloaded palette – with the last few drops I’ve literally grabbed them as soon as they’ve gone on sale, but I’m holding strong on this as I just don’t need it…well, at the moment.

2. Get a home bar

Almost done can you believe! There’s a bar option within our actual house (a full blog post coming about this as soon as I can) and we have a physical bar top in one of our outhouses but haven’t stocked or styled it yet. So it’s definitely going, but not quite there.

3. Un-join the gym and get outside

I can definitely put a big fat tick against this one too, ya girl is on a roll here!

I’ve been going for long walks at least once per week and shorter walks another once or twice, and it’s been great for so many reasons. My physical and mental health have both improved from getting fresh air, and it’s been a great opportunity to catch up with friends and be a bit more sociable. I would NEVER have been that sociable in a gym scenario, even if I’ve gone to a class with someone.

So far I’m feeling that this was the best goal I set for myself for the year.

4. Get out of the house more

Yes, weeeeelllllll… I can’t say for definite that I’m fully on with this, however I’ve made steps from where I was before so things are happening but perhaps slower than I would have liked then to. What can I say; the temptation of a Saturday afternoon nap sometimes has more of a pull for me! Haha. I have been doing at least a little something each weekend towards this overall goal – going out for walks with friends and adding in a coffee stop has been one, making an effort to go and see family, popping to look round the shops, go see a film or out for lunch have been others. I’ll be honest and say some of those times I’ve found it quite hard to get going as I just haven’t wanted to move from the couch, but once momentum is going I’ve felt better for it which is making things a bit easier each time.

5. Drinks out, drinks in

I think this one is OK? My only aim was to not drink aimlessly and think about things a bit more, which I think I’ve been achieving.

I’ve only had 3 real points where I’ve had alcohol so far this year – 1 for Valentines day which was unexpected, another on a nice day in March when I suggested to the Mr that we head out for some laid back day drinks (bloody love chilled afternoons like that) and we shared a bottle of prosecco and mojitos. That’s the sort of thing I wanted to avoid doing on the regular however I’m not being hard on myself for it as Im not likely to be doing it all the time and it went a long way to having quality time and relaxation which is important to me.

The final time was on holiday; again another key test as everybody else was very much in ‘I’m on holiday, let’s drink from lunchtime’ mode, but I simply just had two or 3 when I felt like it, only had something I really wanted and mixed plenty of water breaks in for good measure.

So, what else has been happening in my life since we last spoke?

I’ve been holiday

Last week I got back from a family holiday to Lanzarote. It was a week long break (booked by my in-laws to end at the start of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, extra 4 days off for me) that turned out to be very relaxing and exactly what was called for. I had a great mix of sightseeing, sunbathing, swimming, eating and sleeping (the Mr would probably argue I did too much of the latter!) but I don’t think I’ll be doing any dedicated blog posts about the trip as I haven’t found a content angle that I feel would well. Instead, here are a few pics:

Not gonna lie, I’m petty darn pleased with this update overall! I’m doing well, I’m being realistic and I still have 7 and a bit more months to make a solid difference.

For general day to day updates and more holiday spam, make sure you check in on my social media channels in between blog posts.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

BEAUTY / How I…get high end makeup palette looks for less

So after a brief hiatus (can 3 weeks be classed as brief? The only acceptable answer here is yes btw) I’m back with the next instalment of my little beauty post series. For my first one I focussed on lip products and next up is eyes.

There are so many amazing eyeshadow palettes out there, but for most of the more expensive ones (which I would argue are the ones £40 upwards) there’s more than likely a pretty decent dip that will be significantly cheaper but work pretty much as well.

I’ve picked three high end palettes I’ve lusted after in the past year and have found a drug store alternative for. One thing to remember though – with high end palettes comes more glamorous packaging, you’re very rarely going to get a dupe that comes anywhere close. But, if you can get over that then you could be in for a right treat.

Swap: Huda Beauty Rose Gold Remastered for I Heart Revolution Rose Gold Chocolate saving £47.01

I’ll admit I was OBSESSED with the look of the Huda palette when I first saw it, but no matter how pretty it looks there was no way in heeeeellllll I was going to fork out FIFTY SIX BLEEDING QUID to have it in my life!

I haven’t fully used both palettes but I have swatched both, own the Rose Gold Chocolate palette and have watched a fair amount of YouTube tutorials using the former to know that what I’d call the ‘stand out’ shades (pinks and shimmers) look pretty darn close to me. For those that don’t match up, like the matte black, it’d be a safe bet to presume you’re likely to have this is a palette you already own so won’t be missing it.

As the shimmers are the star shades here I know this is not a palette I would reach for on the daily (I work in an office attached to a factory, so there’s no need for me to be this extra) it would only be now and again, so I felt that a more modest nine pounds was far more justifiable.

Swap: ABH Norvina for I Heart Revolution Violet Chocolate saving £34.01

The YouTube unboxings of Norvina were just so pretty, the purple shades seemed just a little bit unique and really special. But, was I going to spend forty three pounds to enjoy just a couple of shades? Er, no.

Unlike the above that was recommended to me, I proactively sought this dupe out on the Revolution website being pretty certain it would exist. Again I don’t own Norvina but I have swatched the shades I was most excited by (I have plenty of neutral shades already so it was less important to me how these ones looked) and there is some difference, but not so much that means the same kinds of looks can’t be created. There are an extra couple of purple shades in the dupe palette too, so with a bit of mixing I’m willing to bet you’d be closer to more exactly matching the higher end shades.

Swap: Urban Decay Naked Cherry for Collection Eyes Uncovered in Nude Rose and Matte Nude Rose saving £29.52

This is the only one of the three that I’ve done a personal comparison of, and lemme tell ya that these palettes may be small and light but they be mighty!

For a very long time I used the original Nude Rose palette (the one with shimmers in it) which I mentioned in my everyday makeup post last year. I adored these colours for making my eyes pop every, but I’m a sucker for a good gimmick and Naked Cherry looked sooooo appealing and too good to pass up when it dropped towards the end of last year (I already had Urban Decay Backtalk so I really didn’t need it).

Do I like the high end version? Yes. Is it vastly better than the two cheaper versions? Not at all. Will I continue to use the high end version because I paid a lot of money for it to not just sit on my dressing table? You bet your ass I will!

If you have any other new-ish dupes to recommend please do shout them out.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

Buying a house – what to ask/ do during the viewing process

Quick note: this is not my furniture or how my lounge looks. Not that it matters, just wanted to point it out.

So, you’ve done you research (see the first post of this mini-series to find out more about that side of things) you’ve seen some places you like and you’re ready to go out and see them in person. But…what are you supposed to do when you’re there besides look?

Buying property is a huge commitment, so you want to make sure you get it right, and that’s where I can help. I’ve viewed so many houses over my adult life, more than half of them within the last couple of years so my experiences are pretty current as well as long standing. Learning from my family, friends and a few industry professionals I believe I’ve honed my line of questioning, so now I’m sharing what I’ve learned below.

This post will take a little while to read, but if you’re thinking of buying a property soon it’s totally worth it!

Before you view

When you call (if this is not an online agency) to book a viewing, ask:

– For an idea of the seller’s situation (i.e. Have they found a new house, are they in a hurry to sell, is the house vacant) and clearly communicate yours to them.

If you’re a first time buyer with a decision/agreement in principle or have sold your house and are in strong position to move make sure this is known, as the agent will communicate this to the seller which lets them know you’re a reliable and serious viewer.

– Who is showing you the house and their name

It’s good to have a name so you can start off by building a good rapport (this can be useful as if you end up in any kind of bidding war, the fact that they warm to you *may* help sway things in your favour). It will also give you an idea of whether it’s the homeowner or a representative of the agent showing you around; if it’s the latter you will need to ask the next question.

– If they can answer all questions you may have about the property themselves

If it’s not people who live in the property showing you round (they may have passed away, or simply have asked the agents to help because they’re at work) then it’s likely that whoever is present at the viewing will just be letting you in the house to look around and won’t have a great deal of knowledge to answer questions on the spot. If they’re a good agency they will have prepared some of the key points but other things they will probably have to ask and get back to you about. If you know this in advance, you may be able to have the agency get some of the information from the seller before your viewing which will save time later.

During the viewing

First things first – get your game faces on. Be prepared to be pleasant but try to keep a poker face – you don’t want to appear too keen if you love the house as this will leave you with no bargaining power if you make an offer later, however you don’t want to appear rude as this is somebody’s home and very important to them.

These are what I would deem are the core questions you should ask as you move throughout the home, just ask as part of a natural conversation. The person showing you around will be expecting you to ask a lot of questions so don’t hold back!

– How long have you lived here?

If it’s a long time, good sign. If it’s not, that’s not the worst, but it makes the following question more important.

– Why are you wanting to move?

If the agency have given any indication already this will help confirm this. Usually it’s a very legitimate reason e.g. To be closer to work, need a bigger/smaller house, and you can usually tell if they’re not being honest with you. If you don’t feel they are you’re definitely entitled to press a little, but don’t push too hard.

– What’s is the average cost of utilities/bills?

As well as your mortgage payments, this gives you an idea of how much your total outlay may be. I’ve quite often phrased this as “apart from the mortgage, how much does the house usually cost to run every month?”

– What council tax band is the house in?

I would follow this up with how much does that cost every month if they don’t tell you. If the house is occupied by 1 adult and you’re buying as a couple yours will cost 25% more per month than this, or 25% less if a couple is currently living there and you’ll be living alone. A lot of people also don’t know that you have the option to pay your council tax bill over 12 months (the traditional amount is 10) so there are opportunities to save a bit on the monthly outlay of this one.

– What is the broadband signal like in the house?

VERY important – one of the houses we previously owned was in a “blackspot” and the connection was terrible and patchy (yet we had to pay the same amount, ugh.) which then also affected our satellite TV as that also relied on this.

– What is mobile phone reception like in the house?

Again, VERY important – the house we live in now is a bit of dodgy area for the EE network which led to us changing to O2. You can easily see on your own phone what the reception/connectivity is like, and ask the sellers what network they’re on or if there are any areas on their property that aren’t as good for signal.

– The age of windows/doors/ conservatory/flat roof – how long ago where they fitted?

I’ve come to notice that the ‘general’ age for big items like this to perform well before they require repair or replacement is about 10-15 years. This isn’t an exact science but double glazing usually has a 10yr guarantee against it which is a fair indication. If the weather is bad (wet, windy, snowy) when you view you’ll probably be able to see/feel any droughts or leaks. Some of these problems can be put right for a few hundred pounds, others can be a few thousand, butnif you know what you’re dealing with you can decide if you feel the house is worth it.

– Where is the boiler, how old is it and when was it last serviced? How regularly has been serviced whilst you’ve lived here?

An old boiler isn’t necessarily a bad thing (in my last house it was about 30yrs old) if you’re also told it’s been serviced at least once per year whilst the seller has lived there. If it’s fairly new and has been serviced every year, even better. If you wanted to go one further you could ask the make of the boiler (you may have a savvy relative or want to google the company afterwards) if the seller currently has a boiler cover and the cost to allow for this in your monthly bills.

– Do you have solar panels or loft/cavity wall insulation – when were they fitted and how effective are they now?

The second part of the question could probably only be answered if the sellers had these things installed whilst they lived in the property, if not they will probably only be able to comment on how effective they find them in general (i.e. Does the house get and stay warm)

– What can you tell me about the neighbours?

Much better than “are the neighbour’s nice?” In this day and age people may not know the neighbours more than to say hello to, but if there’s been any kind of acrimony or negativity you are giving them the opportunity to tell you (there’s potential legal recourse if they fail to disclose a serious problem, as it may affect whether you choose to buy the house or not). You’ll generally find most people will be quite vague “we don’t see them much but everyone seems nice” which is the answer you should hope for.

– What’s parking like down the street?

This is becoming such a hot button issue as many houses have at least 2 cars, sometimes more if older children live at home or visit often. Not everyone likes to park in garages or on drives as they’re lazy, but this obviously takes up valuable space and determines how easy the area is to drive and manoeuvre around. If the property has a shared Drive, ask what kind of arrangement are currently in place between the seller and neighbour for right of way etc.

Top tip: whatever answers you’re given, do a couple of drive-bys at different times/days in the week so you can see for yourself (evenings, weekends and early mornings are key times)

– What are local transport links like?

Also see if they can tell you the name/number of the local services so you can look the timetables up afterwards, how far away the nearest bus/tram stop or station are, and if they know how reliable these are.

– Is there anything else we haven’t asked that you feel would be useful to mention?

If you’ve asked all of the above and anything else that’s popped into your head as you’ve walked around, there probably isn’t, but it may trigger a memory of questions that other potential buyers have asked the seller.

– What is your favourite thing about living here, and what do you like the least about living here?

This one is a curve ball and generally not a regular thing most people would ask, however the hubby and I viewed so many properties this time around that we added it in to wring every last bit of honesty out of the seller. They won’t be expecting the question so won’t have had any time to pre-prepare an answer, meaning you’ll get a response that’s more honest or more telling. We found this very useful indeed.

After viewing

As you’re leaving a viewing, thank the seller for showing you their home and tell them at you will be in touch with your feedback shortly. This doesn’t indicate you love or hate it, but simply that you’ll let the agent know either way what you thought and how you’d like to move forward.

If the agent is getting information about the property from the sellers, be sure to chase this up after a couple of days if you haven’t heard anything.

A good agency will call or e-mail a day or two after your viewing to ask what you thought of the property, if you have any questions and if you would like them to book a second viewing or pass along an offer on your behalf. With these conversations I find it best to be honest and clear – if you didn’t like the house, say this and explain the reasons why if possible as this will help the agency manage things and stop them chasing you about it. If you’re genuinely in the fence, tell them this as well and they may be able to help with this, either by booking a follow up viewing for you to have another look and make up your mind or trying to find out why to see if they help you work through this.

And that is basically it in a nutshell – it’s a pretty large nutshell but it’s all here!

If you’re able to ask all of these questions during a viewing you’ll get a pretty complete picture of the property you’re interested in. It’s not an exhaustive list; every property is different and some may require a bit more fact finding than others, but it’ll put you more in control of the process and let the seller know this.

I’m planning one more post as part of this series that covers the last part of the process (the part people usually get the most stressed over) from offer to completion.

Happy house hunting!

J xx

LIFESTYLE / Buying a house – getting started

Welcome to my new mini series!

I’m going to start by saying this post is going to be long and definitely more on ‘functional’ side of things you’re likely to read in the blogosphere, however it may also help you immensely when taking those first tentative steps in to a house that you’re considering turning in to your home. It’s a huge commitment!

I decided to write this for a couple of reasons – firstly, because I’ve seen more than a few posts on social media lately from people looking to get their foot on the property ladder and buy their first home, secondly because searching for a new property consumed a large chunk of my life for a good 18 months between last year and the year before sorts something I feel equipped to talk to people about.

I’m by no means a property expert – I’ve bought and sold three houses over the past 13 years and viewed legit close to 100 properties of varying size/price point/ seller in a variety of different financial markets so I’m comfortable in saying I believe I have a good deal of experience. I also spent three years working as a mortgage and insurance adviser, so I have experience from a slightly alternative prospective there too.

Before you start to look

First things first: you need to know how much you’ll be able to borrow. There’s no point in looking for houses you can afford, right?

You’ve got a couple of different options for doing this – speak to a mortgage advisor (face to face or on the phone) or do some research online. Even though I used to work in the business and done this both ways in the past, I’d probably lean towards going, at least in the first instance.

Mortgage calculator tools have significantly developed to provide more and more accurate information, and many times mortgage advisors will use something similar to provide the information you’re looking for.

Internet research can be done at any time of day so you can fit it around work/family/social life easily, and you can look up as much as you want for as long as you want without being constrained to a set appointment time.

I’d suggest starting with your own bank/building society’s website first; they may be able to offer a better deal to you as an existing customer (for example, I get cashback into my current account every month at a higher rate because I have my mortgage there too). Comparison sites are also a really good resource as they have access to a large portion of mortgage providers in the UK, including special deals for first time buyers or larger deposits etc.

One key document you should look to get at the end of this process is an Agreement in Principle (sometimes called a Decision in Principle). This is official confirmation from a mortgage provider that they would be happy to lend you the funds you need, subject to supporting documentation (e.g. Payslips) and valuation of the property. When you starting making appointments to viewing houses, saying you have an AIP shows you’re a serious buyer who can afford the property you’re like to look at. Most of the time now you can get an AIP without having to go through a credit check; this is better as too many credit checks in a short space of time can actually lower your overall borrowing limits when you’re ready to go ahead. For this reason it’s better to do just one before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage, even if you decide not to use this company to go ahead.

Key piece of boring adult advice here: tell the truth and MENTION EVERY SINGLE THING – if you have credit card balances, loans or bad credit these could affect what kind of amount you can borrow, it’s better to know exactly where you stand from the jump than waste time on a situation that end up not being able to move forward.

Let the house hunt begin…

Now you know what you can afford, you can start looking for your dream home, eek! There are three main ways to do this:

– Online

Back online you go, same reasons as before – you can look whenever you want and for as long as you want and change parameters of your search. Sites like Rightmove or Zoopla are good because they have almost all estate agencies registered with them and can show all of the houses for sale within your price range (with possibly the odd exception).

Some sites have a function that shows you average house prices in a certain postcode area/street too, so you can get an idea of property prices for the areas your interested in living in.

When clicking on individual property information, pay close attention to two areas:

1. Listing history. This tells you the date the property was put up for sale, if you can see how long it’s been on the market for you’ll be able to get some idea of the level of interest other buyers have shown and therefore what room there is for negotiating on the asking price. If a house has been on the market for a while the sellers may be more open to a deal, if it’s new to market that’s when they usually attract the most attention and sellers aren’t usually as open to this.

2. Properties sold nearby. This tells you the date and value houses on the same street have sold for. This gives you an exact picture of what properties down the street are selling for and therefore what you’ll need to pay to live there. Remember though; some streets have several different style of house, so try and check that the property is similar before comparing.

– Drive bys

You probably have an idea of the area/s or event streets you’re interested in living in, so simply jumping in the car or taking a walk there and looking out for ‘For Sale’ signs could narrow the search pretty easily. Plus, you get to see the area as people are living in it – types of people, parking, local amenities – which will help confirm that it feels like it could make a nice place to live.

– Register with estate agencies

Estate agents typically have mailing lists that will send out an e-mail every time they list a new property that matches your basic criteria (usually area and price) which are worth signing up to alongside the above two options. Some of the more attentive / organised agencies are also happy to give you a call with this information as soon as they take on a new property if you ask them to.

In the next instalment of my ‘Buying a House’ series, I’ll be talking about the next stage of the process – viewing houses. This will include valuable questions to ask and why, as well as things to think about whilst you’re viewing.

Thanks for reading,

J xx

BEAUTY / How I make make my lips…

Since I have made a commitment this year to be more thoughtful about my fashion and beauty spending, I thought I would do a series sharing the beauty items I reach for most for each part of the face and body.

I’m kicking things off lips – I like to chat so, ya know, makes sense!

…look nicer for everyday: Urban Decay Vice Cream lipstick in Naked.

I’m stopping short of saying this is “my lips but better” as this shade is a bit more pinky than my lips are, but I’d say it definitely helps them a bit more alive and healthy if that’s even a thing?

The formula is really comfortable but a little bit sheer so it kind of mixes with the natural colour and generally makes them look a bit more appealing.

…feel sultry.

I have a couple of different options for this, depending on whether I’m feeling a goody vibe or some colour (which usually depends on what I’m wearing.

Option 1: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow.

This stuff is Gloss to the next level, definitely worth the money if you were just buying one to use all the time. The shimmery particles reflect the light so nicely and make lips look fuller and poutier yet still fairly natural as there’s not a lot of colour.

Option 2: MAC Lip Duo in Chilli/Chicory

This is a fairly new discovery of mine and I’d probably say this is the perfect red for me. It has a slight brown undertone and is just a little bit deeper which seems to work really well.

I’ve tried the infamous Ruby Woo previous which I really like but can sometimes feel a bit too bright and orange toned for my skin.

…red for days: NYX Liquid Suede in Kitten Heels

Step aside Snow White; if I want a true red that has immense staying power, this is the one I have reached for most over the past few years. I know I’ve just named my perfect red above, but this one is for when you’re not coming to play! Controversial opinion – I much prefer the formula of the Liquid Suede to the soft matte lip cream by NYX, it’s applies easier due to the thinner consistency and you can always get it out of the tube, occasionally with the cream you’re having to kind of scrape around to pick it up not applicator.

I hope this has given you inspiration to dive back in to your own beauty collection and re-discover some faves, or some recommendations to test this year.

Thanks for reading,

J xx