My Top Ten Tips For Moving House

Some of the lovely 'new home' cards we received!
After all my bluster about getting back into blogging, unfortunately it's gone on the back burner because our life has been slightly taken over by our house move. We finally moved in on Friday and so far it has been a blur of unpacking, building IKEA flat packs and trying not to notice all the little things that were covered up by furniture at viewings (thankfully all cosmetic though!). So, as a stopgap post before I can upload pictures again, here are my top tips for anyone who's moving imminently...

1. Start packing as early as possible
The packing will take longer than you think, as every cupboard turns up new things you want to take and you wonder just how you've accumulated all this stuff. For that reason, start as soon as you can so it doesn't end with you sitting in a mountain of stuff at midnight the day before you move. Also think about what you've got that you won't need right away, as these can be packed first; out-of-season clothes are an easy win, so pack your heavy winter coats if you're moving in July or your floaty summer dresses in January.

2. Pack little and often.
That said, the overwhelming feeling of having so much stuff to pack can be knocked on the head if you do a bit of packing as and when you can. In the run-up to the move, my husband and I would pack for an hour each every night - usually with an episode of a TV programme we liked on in the background - whilst the other cooked or did jobs around the house. That made it feel slightly less like a huuuuge task and helped us get the job done a lot quicker by focusing on a smaller area.

3. Declutter as you go.
There's no point in wasting valuable removal van space and money on stuff you're not even going to keep when you get there. So use the move as an opportunity to get rid of all the bits and pieces you've been meaning to clear out. Take advantage of sites like MusicMagpie for old CDs and DVDs, give books and clothes to friends or the charity shop, and send any unwanted toiletries to Give and Make Up.

4. Make up meals for the freezer (if you have one).
After long days of lugging boxes around and putting furniture together, it's very easy to fall back on takeaways or ready meals when you're too tired to cook. We did that, and consequently my skin went to pot and I felt incredibly lethargic for the first few days. Instead, take a weekend to make up a couple of batches of meals - curries, stew and a Bolognese sauce (which can become the basis for chilli con carne or lasagne) all work well. I'd also recommend doing a big online supermarket order of supplies such as herbs and spices, tinned goods, staples like pasta and rice, cleaning products and washing powder to arrive shortly after you move in.

5. Pack a 'first night' box.
This should contain: bed linen, pyjamas (if you sleep in them), clean clothes and underwear for the next day, toiletries (shower gel, deodorant and face wipes as a minimum), contact lenses if you wear them, any medication, chargers for gadgets, kettle, mugs, tea bags, coffee, milk, a healthy pre-made meal (see point 5) or the number of a takeaway, and supplies for breakfast. It might seem like a faff now but you'll be grateful when you're not scrabbling round in bin bags at 6AM looking for shoes or getting lost en route to the nearest supermarket.

6. Take some time off (if you can).
We moved at a time when for various reasons we couldn't take time off work, and in hindsight I wish we had - even just a couple of days would have been hugely helpful rather than doing a full day at work and then coming home to unpack yet more boxes. Even if you aren't taking that much stuff with you or the house/flat doesn't need anything doing to it, it's nice just being able to explore your new area and get settled into your new home. This is the one thing I'd do differently if we were planning the move again.

7. Assess what needs doing vs what you want to do.
Maybe more one for anyone who is buying rather than renting (depending on what your landlord/landlady will let you do), but I'd advise making a list of any DIY that needs doing in your house. If you've bought, some of this should be obvious from the survey; other things will only turn up once you've seen the place when it's empty. Then write down which tasks need to be prioritised and start looking for quotes from professionals or buying tools/equipment to fix it yourself, before you focus on the decorative side. This also applies to furniture; a sofa is more likely to be urgently required than, say, a dressing table. That said...

8. When you move in, put some of your own things on display.
When we completed on our house, it looked very different to when we viewed it because it was completely empty. However, once we'd put up a few pictures and filled the shelves with our books and DVDs, it felt much more welcoming. So keep some of your favourite knick-knacks aside to add a few personal touches to your new place, or go shopping to find a few items that show your personality - Tiger, H&M, Zara and Primark all have great affordable bits and pieces.

9. Accept it won't be perfect right away.
This is particularly true if you're buying all-new furniture or moving to somewhere that needs a lot of work, but even if you're not, accept that things will be messy initially. Yes you will be living out of boxes (I recommend making up boxes of tops, bottoms and socks/underwear so you can easily find stuff to wear) but try not to look at the house and be disappointed. OK, so it won't exactly look quite how you remember it, and the work might not be done as quickly as you want, but think about how great it will be when it's done and it's exactly how you want it. If it helps, try to do as much as you can before you move, or alternatively space out work (depending how urgent it is) so you don't feel overwhelmed by it all.

10. (Try to) Enjoy it!
I'm not going to lie: moving house is a stressful experience. You will probably cry, shout, swear and just want it all to go away at some point. But equally, it's brilliant; it represents a great opportunity for a new start, to put your stamp on somewhere, to create a home that fits you perfectly. So try not to stress out too much and instead take the time to step back and enjoy an exciting new time in your life!

I hope that was a helpful post for anyone who is moving soon or has moved recently - let me know if you liked it in the comments. Do you have any tips for moving house?

Day Tripper: Brighton (and meeting Cherry Dollface!)

I've been to Brighton on passing visits a few times, but have never actually been to look around properly as a tourist. However, a few months ago I found out that Cherry Dollface (pin-up model, vintage beauty vlogger and all-around awesome person) was coming over to the UK, I decided to combine booking one of her one-on-one sessions with a day trip down there. So a few weeks ago, I set off on the train to the South Coast for a day at the seaside.


In hindsight, I ended up not picking a brilliant day for my visit - it was a combination of fine drizzly rain and gale-force winds all day! - which unfortunately meant that a lot of the stuff I wanted to do was closed. Oh well, I suppose it means I might have to come back soon...

I got the train down from London which took about an hour and a half, then walked from the train station through the North Laine area, I've never really come this way before so took advantage of the opportunity to wander down and exploring a different area - including randomly finding the Banksy graffiti of the two policemen kissing on the side of a pub!


I really wanted to visit Sydney Street in the North Laine as that's where a lot of Brighton's vintage shops are (and they have some brilliant stuff by the way - I ended up snagging a sweet little blue and white check skirt for a bargain price). In keeping with Brighton's tradition as a street art hub, lots of the shops and houses are decorated with brightly coloured paint or artwork, like this picture of Jimi Hendrix.





Street view of Kensington Gardens in the North Laine - I love the cheery bunting brightening up the grey sky.



Eventually I hit the main street in Brighton and decided to wander down to the Pavilion and then the seafront. Unfortunately time and money didn't allow me to go into the Pavilion but even on a dreary day it looked lovely from the outside - very reminiscent of the Taj Mahal.



On the way to the pier I stopped off by the Sea Life Centre; I used to go to the one in Blackpool with my dad when I was a kid so wanted to investigate the original one. As it was packed (and expensive!) I didn't manage to go in but did get a couple of photos:





Doughnut Groyne. Chuckle. (And yes, I do have the sense of humour of a teenage boy.)




Look at the size of the waves on the pier!



The Brighton Wheel - sadly closed due to the high winds.



Soon it was getting close to lunchtime so I decided to venture in search of food, specifically Burger Brothers as I'd heard so many good things about it. Unfortunately as it's tiny inside and I foolishly didn't bag a seat I had to try and find somewhere to sit and eat the burger. In the drizzle. I'm pretty sure that's why I had a cold for a week afterwards...


I got the Simple Jack burger (Monterey Jack cheese, mayo and ketchup) and it was goood. Properly meaty, not too overcooked or too raw, enough sauce to add flavour but not to make it soggy, and held together well - is it just me who hates burgers that fall apart whilst you're eating them leaving a pile of bread and salad? And all for a bargainous £4.50.

If Burger Brothers was worth sitting out in the rain for, nearby Small Batch Coffee was worth getting out of it. Nestled under Brighton's Jubilee Library, it's a wood-and-neon cavern of awesomeness. Their flat white was perfect - lovely and silky, with plenty of kick but no bitterness. And, as a sucker for circus-type design, I love the inside of the coffee cups!



I then ventured off round the Lanes, which are filled with little independent shops including the amazing Choccywoccydoodah - how cool are those window displays?






By this point it was almost time for my appointment with Cherry so I pottered off up to Collectif (where she was hosting her sessions). I didn't manage to take many photos during the session but we had a great time chatting about everything from tattoos to the importance of getting a good leather jacket. She did however give me the most amazing Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything-esque curly volumised 60s do, paired with flicky eyeliner and a nude lip, as you can see below (please excuse my ridiculous grin!):


Overall I really enjoyed exploring Brighton, and getting to meet Cherry was amazing - she is so lovely and did a brilliant job on my hair and make-up. Now I just need to make plans for a return visit!

Empties: June 2015

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A new month means a new empties post! June was pretty productive on the empties front; with the house move imminent I'm trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible and toiletries seem to be an easy hit (although I probably still have enough to stock a small branch of Boots). So here's what I managed to use up this month...

Skincare


La Roche Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel
I'm always on the hunt for the perfect cleanser - not too heavy for mornings but thorough enough to take off a full face of make-up, and ideally with spot-fighting properties too. (I'd also like the moon on a stick and a pet unicorn, but you can't have everything.) Effaclar, I'm pleased to say, ticked nearly all the boxes. It's not drying or harsh on the skin, made my spots clear up a lot quicker than other products - especially when used alongside the matching moisturiser - and removes everyday make-up really well. However, I did feel it irritated my eyes so had to use a separate eye make-up remover, and I wasn't enormously keen on the foaming texture. That said, if you are and are in need of an affordable cleanser for oily yet sensitive skin, I'd definitely suggest trying this out - you can find out more here.

Pharmagel Pharma-C Vitamin C Anti-Wrinkle Collagen Serum
At 28 (practically a grandma in blogging terms), I'm starting to notice the first signs of ageing, so when I won this serum a few months ago I decided to give it a whirl. Whilst it is incredibly effective due to its high vitamin C and collagen content - I have a very deep wrinkle on my forehead and this has reduced it down considerably with twice-daily use - I wasn't entirely wowed by the texture as it was quite difficult to move around my face. It's also not the cheapest at £48 a pop. So overall, not necessarily one I'd purchase but worth a go if you want to tackle signs of ageing.

Hair products


Schwarzkopf Got2b Crazy Sleek 4 Days Heat-Activated Straightening Spray
I've reviewed this in more depth elsewhere on the blog, but suffice to say it's not my favourite product; it doesn't seem to do a massive amount for straightening my hair and definitely doesn't last the alleged four days (though it does work better when you leave it on your hair for a bit before straightening). That said, for blow-drying it works OK in terms of giving quite a sleek look - almost too sleek on occasion for my liking though - plus it's a fairly reasonable price and I like the bright packaging. So not something I'd personally buy again or recommend unless you tend to blow dry more than straighten.

Makeup



Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara
I wrote about this in a previous post and gave it a mixed review. Whilst I liked the fact that it makes my lashes look fuller and it lasts for ever (I have gone to sleep with this on - yes I know - after a full day at work and it was still there the next morning), I do find that it makes my lashes clump quite a bit. Also as this has been around for a few years now I think mascara technology has moved on and there are newer formulas out there (such as Benefit Roller Lash) that give a much better effect for a similar price, so I'm not sure I'll be repurchasing this one. Not the worst mascara I've ever used but others have stolen its crown for me.

Rimmel Stay Matte Long Lasting Pressed Powder in Translucent
Budget powders are one of the hardest products to get right - so often they end up oxidising or looking chalky or cakey. However, this one from Rimmel actually works really well; it gives a nice level of coverage and a natural finish without being shiny. My one gripe is that you do need to touch up at lunchtime or if you're going out after work, but as it's cheap as chips I can live with that. So definitely worth giving this a whirl if you need a cheap face powder, though I think next time I'd go for a specific shade rather than the translucent one. By the way, the reason the pan looks slightly horrible is because I tried to fix this by mixing it with toner when it smashed and I think the toner has caused the pan to go rusty...

Samples



Marc Jacobs Dot Eau De Parfum
This has been my go-to weekend perfume for a while now as I really like the mix of the berry notes and the jasmine - it's not overly sweet or floral but instead is a nice, easy-going, fun scent (if you can describe perfume in such a way). This is a fragrance that I feel I can just throw on, dash out the door and have a really relaxed chilled-out time. Plus I am a sucker for red and black polka dots so the full-size bottle will definitely be making its way into my collection soon!

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Eau Fraiche
I wrote about Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire EDT in a previous empties post and this one is fairly similar - it still has those floral notes but the sweetness has been replaced by a 'green' scent (which I think comes from the pistachio). This adds a fresh feel to the perfume which I quite like in the spring and it's also been nice as the weather's warmed up because it's not sweet in the same way as the EDT. I'm not sure I'd buy again but it's been a nice one to try out.

Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne
This was a sample I got when I bought my Jo Malone Birch & Black Pepper (which I wrote about here) and has been perfect for the burst of hot weather we've had lately. The citrus notes are sharp and refreshing without going into toilet-cleaner territory and the basil adds a nice note that keeps it down-to-earth. I was also really impressed by how long it lasted; colognes often don't hold up that well but I could still smell this on me well into the workday. My one gripe is that the sample pump had a tendency to leak so I found I got through it quite quickly, but other than that this is a lovely happy fragrance that I'd suggest checking out if you like citrus scents.

So I'm making a dent in my stash (albeit slowly!). Am slightly dreading how much we'll still have to move though...

What have you used up this month?

June Favourites

Hello lovely people! I'm sorry I've been incredibly slack on the blogging front lately, but it's because life has been taken over a bit by some exciting news (more about that further down this post). However, as things are calming down now I've got some time to focus on my blog, so I'm starting as I mean to go on with this month's favourites!


Favourite item of clothing: Seasalt dress
I was down in Whitstable last weekend (more on that coming soon!) and, whilst passing one of the many little independent clothes shop, I spotted this dress hanging on the door. After much persuasion I ended up buying it and can instantly tell it's one of those pieces I'll have for years. As well as the fun and cheery striped print and the thick-but-not-too heavy fabric, it also transfers really nicely to different events - I wore it with a navy blazer and tan ballet pumps on the hottest day of the year (and was lovely and cool), but equally would look nice with a denim jacket and sandals for a relaxed daytime event, or a colourful cardigan and heels for something a bit dressier. Plus it has pockets, which are always a huge bonus!

Favourite beauty product: Benefit Hoola
Bronzer has always been one of those products that scares me a bit; as someone who's naturally milk-bottle pale, I've often thought it would just make me look like I hadn't washed. However, I decided to experiment with Hoola (from a Benefit powder box I got a little while back) and have actually grown to really like it. It's given me a nice sunkissed look without being overly shimmery or oxidising too much on the skin - perfect to add a bit of colour for the warmer months. A late discovery and maybe not one I'll continue using year-round, but a very pleasant one to see me through the summer.

Favourite book: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Fantasy and historical fiction are two of my favourite genres, so Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was right up my street. I'd read it years ago but the recent TV adaptation made me come back to it. (For those who didn't watch, it's about two rival magicians in an alternate history of eighteenth-century England - think Jane Austen meets Harry Potter.) And thankfully it was just as good as I remembered it being - so much richer than the TV version with all the additional footnotes and asides. The descriptions are lovely too, particularly the passage about the 'little box, the colour of heartache'; you really feel like you've stepped into an alternate world, until the all-too abrupt ending comes out of nowhere and snatches you away. It's a wrench to leave it all behind as you get to know the characters (all rounded, all flawed, even the gentleman with the thistle-down hair) so well, but equally it's all done so well and fits the tone of the novel so perfectly. A wonderful, wonderful book.

Favourite TV programme: RuPaul's Drag Race
Another rediscovery! I worked my way steadily through all six seasons of Drag Race on Netflix but, in need of something to fill the gap before season 7 starts, I started watching season 4 on TruTV. And even though I know how it turns out, it's still brilliant to watch, from the amazing outfits and make-up skills on show to the guilty pleasure of watching the queens throw shade at each other. I won't spoil it for anyone watching for the first time but I am loving Sharon Needles - doing it for all those of us who were 'the weird one' at school - and Latrice Royale, who strikes me as someone who'd give very good hugs. Can I get an amen up in here?

Favourite music: James Bay - Chaos and the Calm
This is a relatively new discovery for me; whilst I was aware of James Bay, particularly Hold Back The River which was everywhere earlier this year, it was only watching his Glastonbury performance that got me fully into his music. From the pounding beat of opening track Craving to the dying notes of Stealing Cars, the album is packed with stick-in-your-head melodies and choruses that demand to be sung along to, balanced perfectly by James's soulful voice which rings with emotion on every word. Along with last month's pick, Florence + the Machine's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, this will be the soundtrack to my summer.

Favourite thing to do: Completing on our house!
Yes, after months and months of me boring you with our house-buying saga, we have finally completed! The house still needs a little work (replastering some ceilings) so we're not actually moving for a couple of weeks yet, but it is immensely exciting to finally be homeowners. I'm so looking forward to being properly settled in and showing you all the new flat - expect quite a few room tour videos over the next few months...

What have been your favourite things in June?