Monday, 6 February 2017

Buying Your First House - Advice From First Time Buyers!

I've been planning this post for a while, we moved into our house in May 2015, so a little while ago now, but that time has given me the chance to re-read and re-consider and re-write this advice - and now I feel i've got it down.

1) I advise to get an adviser

We were very lucky when buying our first home together that a family friend who is a great financial adviser offered us her help, she was patient at explaining things we just didn't understand, sorted out all the red tape and paperwork for us and helped us plan and budget properly - I realise we were very lucky in this and most first time buyers may not have the luxury of hiring a mortgage or financial adviser but if you get a chance or you can set some of your budget aside I would highly highly recommend having that professional help!

2) Pre-Plan

When you are applying for a mortgage you will have to be so open and honest about all of your finances, incomings and outgoings, little sneaky shopping sprees and exactly how much you spend at Starbucks - I knew this would happen, but I was still shocked when it did. I love to shop, I don't earn much, I LOVE clothes and good food, I'm crap at saving - these things do not a pretty bank statement make!

When you decide to start looking for a house, remember that most mortgage lenders will want to see at least your last three months bank statements - so try and be careful! Check your credit score and try and improve it if you can. If you've never had a credit card or any credit to speak of  - get some! This might seem counter-intuitive but taking out credit and paying it back is exactly what improves your credit score and what lenders will want to see!

Try and spend as little as possible for at least three months on silly things, you don't want your statements to show payday then a whole list of bars and clubs - lenders want to see where your money goes and if you are likely to be able to afford mortgage payments - show them you can!

3) Don't Settle Petal!

This is likely one of the biggest, scariest decisions/ commitments you'll ever make, but don't let that make you try to 'get it out of the way'. If you know what you want, or better yet what you don't want then don't settle for something that doesn't match up, unless the compromise is really worth it.

For example, I knew I wanted a house; not a bungalow, not an apartment and not a cottage. Two floors for me please. I knew I wanted it to be in Bangor, but was open to compromise if the house was bigger but further from the town centre - and that's what we ended up with! I can't walk into town, we are really on the town limits, but that means it a fairly quiet area, a new house and HORSES IN THE FIELDS AROUND US.

We also decided to spend extra to get the 'end' house. There were three of our house types available, one mid-terrace, and two end terrace, and I think we picked the perfect one.

The mid-terrace house would have meant a few grand less but I am SO GLAD we went for the end one, don't get me wrong, the mid house is the same size and quality and still a lovely house, plus there is basically no 'neighbor-noise' in these new builds, but as an 'end' we have wide open space at one side of the house, slightly bigger gardens, a window in the downstairs loo and the upstairs landing and easier access to the back garden - plus ... did I mention the horses?! We didn't see upstairs in our house until it was completed, but as soon as I went up and looked out the front windows I realised we were looking between the houses across the road and straight into the big field of the stables beside the development! #WIN 

4) Don't Bite Off (Too Much) More Than You Can Chew

Think about what renovations you can afford and when you might be able to afford them, we knew that cash and free time wise we were poor, it would take us a looooong time (longer than I would have liked) to 'do up' a house. We didn't plan on a new build, but it made sense for us at this stage of our lives.

I've had friends who've bought 'do-er uppers' and have 'done them up' beautifully, but with all the stress, mess, money and time that goes with it. 

If you use a financial adviser (which I seriously recommend) they will help you figure out a budget and what you can actually realistically afford. You can't depend on that possible promotion or pay bump. Don't assume you'll 'make it work'. Make sure you can commit to the cost before you take the plunge!

That's it!

Hopefully this advice is helpful to those of you who were in the same position we were 2 years ago... like wtf where do we even start? Are we doing the right thing??! - All you can do is what feels right for you.

If you're looking for your first home now - I wish you all the luck in the world, and hope you are so happy in your new home!

If you're not - then hopefully you can either heed my advice for the future! or...

If you've already taken the plunge and are home owners then hopefully you agree with some of my advice, and perhaps have some of your own to share? Feel free to add your advice in the comments!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

London Getaway

Ross and I booked tickets to Jurassic Park in Concert waaaaayyy back in early spring when they were first released, and planned a short break to London thinking it would be this years holiday for us. We were very fortunate this year and Ross started a great new job and so we were actually able to fulfil our dream of visiting Barcelona over our wedding anniversary in August, but it was great to have a little winter break planned to look forward to too!

The concert was incredible, it was packed and all people around our age who were just as excited as we were to see this childhood favourite brought to life by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was an emotional experience!

You know I love baking, and you know I love instagram, and so I planned to visit some of my favourite bakeries, patisseries and food places while we were in London, and we managed to get to most of them!

I had a very detailed (but not strict) itinerary made up in excel (I know... I'm a loser) to make sure we could fit in all the places we wanted to go, leave ourselves time to enjoy and not get lost! Of course it didn't work haha. We ended up rushing about, walking the feet off ourselves and being generally simultaneously stuffed and exhausted from exercise! 

But we managed to visit;


Liberty - for everything patterned and beautiful - wait til you see the hanky I bought!

Broadway Market - for the Meringue Girls stand! (more below)

Mac in Heathrow Term. 5 - Twig for less than £12? YES PLEASE!

The gorgeous Christmas decorations on the main Fortnum Staircase
My new Liberty hanky!
Look at all those bits and bobs! I love it!!
Books in Portobello Road Market
We stumbled across The House of MinaLima by accident, when we were looking for Barrafina on Thursday night, and I'm so glad we did! A wonky, bright, fascinating place tucked away on Greek Street, filled with incredible artwork and Harry Potter paraphernalia. It's only open until February, so check it out if you get a chance!!

Renegade Craft Fair, The Old Truman Brewery, Brick lane - to meet the lovely Ella Masters and have our portrait painted! - I wish I'd planned more time here, it looked like a great fair with loads of amazing artists!

Food & Drinks

Selfridges food hall - for Angés du Sucre, Meringue Girls and more

Sketch - for a look about, but we didn't book a table and didn't fancy a cocktail - slightly regretting that now! I'd read online that you could just drop in for a cocktail or coffee in the Gallery but apparently its bookings only! #gutted

Barrafina - We visited the Frith Street Barrafina on Thursday evening, and from reviews, we knew we would have to wait for a seat, as it's a first come - first served tapas place. We waited for over an hour, but there was a bar along the wall and the waiting staff were lovely and we were able to order drinks and olives while we waited. Plus it built up our appetite!
I have to say, the food way totally worth the wait. We ordered several dishes to share and a couple for ourselves, the one which I loved the most was the Jamon And Spinach Tortilla - this is honestly one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten! I would definitely recommend a visit to Barrafina!

Zebrano Soho - Happy Hour! I looked up the best happy hours/ cocktail offers in Soho before we went, and Zebrano was top of the list. They have half price cocktails Monday - Wednesday 5pm -10pm
Thursday - Saturday 5pm - 9pm, and bear in mind that for London, the cocktails are already fairly priced! We ended up having quite a few!! See the menu for yourself here, we tried and would recommend; The Kiwi Cooler, Lynchburg honey, Jaffa cake martini, Lychee martini. Great drinks, good atmosphere and really lovely staff!

Granger & Co. - OMG guys, if you get the chance, and can be bothered queuing, get to granger & 
Co! I had googled 'Best brunch near portobello' and Granger & Co. Notting Hill featured highly on many lists and for good reason. Timeout also mentioned how popular it is with Notting Hill natives and to expect to wait for a table, so when we walked up the road to see a long queue of gorgeously dressed people with enviable bone structure outside a canopied building, I knew we'd arrived!

I had the Poached Eggs and Sourdough with added avocado and rose harissa - which was delish, Ross had the Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb Butter which was DELISH! (no pics- he ate them to quickly!)
10/10 would recommend - just take a brolly and comfy shoes!

Maître Choux - I'd followed Maitre Choux on instagram for quite some time and drooled over the pictures of their sparkly, sumptuous eclairs. As it seemed within walking distance of The Royal Albert hall (if you don't mind walking!) we decided to head there before the show on friday after an early dinner. It was nice. Yep, nice. I wasn't mind blown by the experience, the shop/cafe only had two small tables and the counters were empty (although they didn't close until 8pm, some time later) and the eclairs were much smaller than I expected. We paid £17 for two eclairs and an americano and I savoured every morsel. Tasty but perhaps more beautiful to look at through the window than to actually experience! Maybe I'd built them up too much in my mind!!

Meringue Girls stand Broadway Market - This was something I'd looked forward to for a long time and after frantically running up and down all the market stalls looking for the signature WOW of the rainbow kisses and not seeing it, i called the number on the Meringue Girls site and Alex (possibly the Alex Meringue Girl??!) gave us directions.

We found it and it was b-e-a-utiful. I bought a mixed box of 9 for us and a box for Ella Masters.


Ross and I have both spent a fair bit of time in London for both work and leisure before, and we've visited most popular areas, Portobello, Camden, oxfor Street etc but neithe of us had been to brick lane before, or Hackney and this happened to be where Ella masters and the Meringue Girls stand were on the Saturday we were there, so suitcases in hand we went exploring!

I love street art generally, and always try to snap pictures of pieces I really like because of course, who knows how long it will be there for!

Below are some snapshots from around Bricklane, Portobello Road and Notting Hill, and a few colourful snaps of other things that caught my eye!

Where are your favourite London spots? Let me know any suggestions you have for our next trip!

Lindzi x

Thursday, 27 October 2016

DIY Halloween Decor - Faux Insect Taxidermy Plaques

If you know me, you know I love bugs. Entomology fascinates me, I have a few pieces of antique and vintage insect taxidermy and quite a lot of insect themed homeware! I also spent several hours this past summer studying pictures of interesting beetles and painting them in watercolour, which I found so soothing and I love my mini canvas now!

Annnnway, if you know me you'll also know I LOVE Halloween, I mean, I love ll seasons and events, but Halloween is GREAT! and I've gone all out this year with nice, somewhat grown-up Halloween decorations that I will hopefully keep and reuse for years (vs the normal poundshop/ dollarstore tacky stuff - which I also love!)

One of the things I made this year were these faux insect taxidermy plaques, which are seriously simple to make and I think look so cool!

Here's what you'll need;

  • Wooden plaques in your chosen size - I used these which I got on eBay (I chose 3 diff shapes)
  • Black/ dark gray chalk paint - I used one I had which has great coverage and dries quickly
  • Plastic insects in your chosen size - again I got these on eBay
  • Gold spray paint - I used this Rustoleum one because i'd bought it for another project, but cheap spray paint will work as well!
  • All purpose glue or glue dots
  • String/ ribbon (depending on the plaques you have and how you want to hang them!)

Feel free to use whatever paints you already have too to keep costs down!

All in all this project will cost around £6 -£20 (depending on the paint you choose) as I already had the paints, it cost me £5.93!

 Step one - Paint your plaques

If you are using chalk paint like me, you won't need to prime your plaques at all (whoohoo!) just slap the paint on there, I made mine a bit patchy and textured on purpose to make it seem old and spooky. I also mixed more or less water with the paint and did a few coats in areas to get this effect, but feel free to be a neaty-pants if that how you are!

Step two - Spray those bugs!

If your insects have removable wings or other parts that you don't want to spray, remove them first, set your insects on an old piece of cardboard and spray away! Make sure to get the underneath of the insects too!

Allow to dry and stick any wings etc back on.

Step three - Arrange your insects

Figure out how you want to arrange the insects, play around with different shapes and sizes until you get a mix you like, then stick on! I used glue dots to start with but once I hung up the plaques the insects fell off. (Que me jumping at the giant gold spider suddenly hitting the floor :') )

Step four

Hang those bad boys up and admire your creepy crawly creation!

So simple and really cool huh? I just love them, and they aren't too 'out there' so really I could have them out all year round! But I think I'll keep them special for Halloween :)

If you make these for yourself please tag me on Instagram ( @lindzibun)  or feel free to comment and tell me how it went on this post!