I am not entirely sure if being a home owner, I notice things in the news a lot more regarding house prices and the struggles of getting yourself onto the house ladder or if it is just a coincidence. Not going to lie, I’m constantly on Zoopla to see if my house has gone up in valuation, always sad when it has gone down in price – not that I am moving on anytime soon, it is just addictive.

It has been two years since we picked up the keys and took that first step through the front door of our own house. I still have to pinch myself that I am a home owner, I am aware that it isn’t that easy and not everyone is as fortunate which is so sad!

I am extremely fortunate that I was able to buy my first home at the age of 23, me and my other half worked our backsides off and missed out on a lot of socialising with loved ones to save. It was a huge learning curve but I believe this is where I got my first grey hair from as the process was far from easy, if things could go wrong then they did.

Being a young home owner, I wanted to do a series of blog posts that gives you an insight into how we managed to own our home but also the difficulties we found and top tips to help you along the way. You could be bored and just not read on but if I help just one person out there then I will be happy.

Here goes...

We knew that we couldn’t afford to purchase a house the “normal” way but after visiting a new build estate in our local area we discovered that there were two other routes we could take when buying a house.

Shared Ownership
This is something we were already familiar with due to family members previously taking this route. There were a set number of houses on the estate we fell in love with that were given to our local council to sell. Now the Shared Ownership scheme is great for first time buyers, you have a choice of different percent of your mortgage to own. We had the choice of owning 50% of the mortgage or 75% of the mortgage and then your deposit will vary and the amount of mortgage you are paying out on. The council will own the rest which can be bought back from the homeowner or you may decided that you will never buy back the rest.

There are downsides to this, if you want to move on then you will need to buy back the rest of the mortgage which is pretty pricey, so keep that in mind. Also if you wanted to do work on the building like taking out a wall, adding a garage or extension, you would need permission from the council.
We didn’t take this route in the end purely because we couldn’t save the right amount of deposit we needed which was a shame.

Help To Buy
This scheme is much more popular and is more well known. With not being able to go through the Shared Ownership’ route we were relieved that there was another way more suited to our financial situation where we could still afford the house we fell in love with, which at that point was a show home and our house was technically rubble at that point.

Help to Buy is fantastic, it is a scheme run by the government to help first time buyers get onto the property ladder, without this we would not be in our house today we would probably still be renting.
All we needed to do was to put down a 5% deposit and the government would put down the rest which is bloody amazing but there is a catch which I will discuss a little later. For us, it wasn’t the monthly mortgage payments we would need to fork out on as we were used to paying rent on our flat, it was in fact finding that huge lump sum to pay out the deposit!

Now, because we put down a small deposit (which did turn out to be quite a bit more than everyone anticipated in the end due to cock ups by the bank society we have our mortgage through) it meant that our monthly payments would in fact be slightly lower. We were in fact only paying out an extra £50 a month more on the mortgage for a three bed terraced house with two car park spots and a lovely garden than what we did the two bed flat. I know we had extra bills on top but it was a no brainer for us.

Here is where I talk about that catch ... after paying off your mortgage for four years, on the fifth year, the monthly payments will increase as you need to pay back a percentage to the government for what they leant you with the deposit.

This is the daunting part and the part you wave all your money goodbye. In reality, it isn’t so scary looking back. For me I always wanted to own a home, someone once said to me ‘always own a home, never own a car’ and that really stuck with me. There’s a lot of value and money in property but with cars, they lose valuation as soon as you take your brand new car off the forecourt of the garage.
Our life changed quite quickly after both securing full time jobs and it was clear that we would be moving out of our parents a lot earlier than expected. More because Martyn lived an hour and 20 minutes away from me, with the way jobs worked out he ended up moving and it was only fair we both had our own space so we started to rent.

Because of this, we had a short space of time to start saving for a deposit. Now we always knew we wanted to buy a house together but we didn’t realise it would happen as soon as it did. This meant buying a house the “normal” way was out of the window, so going down the Help to Buy route was the only way.

We moved back in with my dad which meant we were saving £400 a month on rent and the extra on bills to put straight into our savings. However, this only happened once we knew we had a mortgage in principle (more on that later).

Martyn’s mum had then discovered Martin Lewis the Money Saving Expert and he was discussing the help to buy ISA. From doing our research we took the plunge and each opened up an account with a local building society. You must put in £1200 for the initial payment to set it up and then each month you will need to transfer up to £200 a month, for every £200 you put in the government will give you a bonus of £50. It is quite complex and you will need to research this more yourself as the amounts you put into the account has changed since we did this.

If you cannot afford to do this just by yourself, set the one account up and both put money into it. You must have a sum of £1,600 in the ISA before you can claim the bonus from the government. This is automatically done and the money can only be used for the funds consolidated at the completion of the property transaction.

Do not confuse the ISA with the scheme; they are two completely different things. If you choose to buy a house without taking on any of the above schemes, you can still do the Help to Buy ISA – AMAZING!

I’m going to sign off the first instalment here as I am about to go onto mortgages and this is quite a lengthy process, so I don’t think it would be right to bore you any longer.

Alice xx

Skirt: Primark (similar), Shirt: Asos, Boots: Zara, Bag: Topshop (old), Jacket: H&M

Well hello, long time no see! This girl has ventured out of her shell and back into the big open world!
Ok, Ok, let’s not be so dramatic but I have finally decided it is time to get my head back into the blogging world after having a seven month hiatus. If you follow me on my social media channels, you will know that I haven’t been completely away from the internet, I am still very vocal on there but my creativity levels have shifted into the direction of my YouTube channel – here is something I never thought I would say!

Ever since I was a little girl, my love for writing was off the scale. I would be constantly sitting there with a notebook and pen in my hand jotting down notes, writing songs and stories; hence why I ventured into Journalism and my blog evolved back in 2013 after a trip to the Christmas markets in Manchester during my final year of University.

Fast forward almost five years and here I am age 25, a fully fledged adult who would like to rewind back to those Uni days where I could lay in my bed all day going through countless episodes of TV Series’ and a million films.

Let’s scroll back to a post I shared on Instagram  on the 29th December 2017; everyone always talks about new year, new me blah blah blah... don’t get me wrong this is great, if that is what gets them through the year then amazing; but if you know me, you will know that I struggle to stick to things. Who knows where my life is going to take me in a month never mind a year on. I decided to write eight things that I wanted to strive for in 2018; I am not going to share these things with you as some are quite personal and some could be laughable as they might not seem important.

Well one of those things has certainly happened, we booked our wedding date for next year and have already forked out on a number of substantial deposits (why are weddings so bloody expensive?) and we have the most beautiful venue ever and a bride and groom squad that have had a phenomenal part in our lives.

Other than this, 2018 hasn’t been so great. We were only discussing this year that my quote on the light box ‘2018 is the best year yet’ should probably be replaced with something more relevant to my/our life.

A lot of personal things have happened and my emotions have been a complete roller-coaster mainly on the downward spiral rather than looking up. My mental health has been questionable and I have kind of lost who I am, this may sound completely over the top but I don’t recognise myself anymore! I touched upon this in a recent video on my YouTube channel about why I seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth; little did I know when filming that video, more negativity would enter my life.
For me, my creativity levels just shifted and words would only come out through speech rather than written down, hence the lack of blog posts.

It is a bit frustrating when I finally felt like I had found my feet in the blogging world. I found my niche, my photography was reaching a level it hadn’t been before and I had been to a number of events that left me so inspired. My little blog and channel was finally growing, suddenly everything halted.

There are still another two months of this year to go and I am determined to make them ones to remember. I’ve taken a number of steps these past couple of weeks to get me to the point I am at now and I couldn’t be any more grateful for the support I have had.

Talking about your emotions can be so hard, it is not a failure, in fact turn it into a positive and know that when you come out the other side you are a much stronger and powerful individual!

Don’t be afraid to take a break, I am not talking about having a brew and kitkat. Take time out, look at what you need to work on whether it be mentally or those superficial things in life and work on them. Nothing is silly, it might not make sense to others but it does to you!

Phew, if you are reading this then you got through my ramblings. Thank you for your continued support and I cannot wait to be back creating new posts for you.

Alice xxx

I have seen so many people on my social media channels that are struggling with self esteem and confidence recently, it is not just with influencers who put themselves on the internet, but people in general and I can 100% relate to them.

I for one am conscious about a lot of things in my life and it’s not just every once in a while, it is all the time. We live in a world that sometimes feels like there is a lot of judgement, maybe hate, bitchiness and constant guides on how we should live, from what is healthy to eat, new ways to exercise and there seems to be a lot of skinny and fat shaming.

It’s very hard but I try not to get sucked into these things but with it being on the internet and plastered all over magazines and newspapers, it can be difficult to escape and does have an impact on my life and mood. I am constantly comparing myself to others and always doubting myself in every aspect of my life which again is so wrong and unhealthy. 

At the end of the day all you need to do is live a life that is suitable for yourself, if you are happy then that is the main thing. Do not live your life for other people, do what you want to do!!

As I’m extremely close to turning 25, I wanted to take a look back and see where my lack of confidence and self esteem started. 

It all stems back to high school, don’t get me wrong I enjoyed my time at school, had a fantastic support network and group of friends all of which I am still close to nine years on. But there were certain aspects of my time which I would love to have changed at the time; I was always the geeky quiet one who kept herself to herself, didn’t wear make up and was once of the tallest in my group for a long time which did make me feel like a beast. I hated it so, so much, why did I have to have an early growth spurt?

One of the earliest memories for me where I had “inspiration” in changing myself and that was when I watched Gossip Girl. I desperately wanted to be like them, live their life without all those scandals, craziness and dramas but have their fashion, beauty and general lifestyle. I loved the edgier vibes from Serena and Jenny and I always took pictures to the hairdresser so I could have the exact same style as them, I felt that I could be a little accepted more and felt so grown up even though I was only around 14/15.

Then make-up happened, very little I may add, but a bit of concealer, pink blush from Natural Cosmetics and a lot of black eye liner and mascara. How I got away with my eyes like that at school is beyond me but somehow I did.

Did I need to change myself to try and fit in, no not at all! It didn’t change my group of friends at school; it made very little impact on my life apart from making me feel a tiny bit happier in myself.
I truly felt more comfortable in my skin around three years later when I went to university, I’d lost a little bit of weight and that was purely for health reasons (my time at college was spent eating my weight in cookies and doughnuts) and found my own sense of style which I didn’t feel the need to worry about, I never compared myself to others or worried about what they thought of me, after all a big chunk was spent in pjs or on a lecture full of guys. 

Towards the back end of second year I started to feel self conscious again, maybe because I had started a new relationship and I wanted to show off my best self all the time which isn’t natural. I also got caught up in the world of watching reality TV, one show in particular; Made in Chelsea! Again the naivety got the better of me, I remember sitting there in my pjs, hair scraped back eating chocolate whilst having a glass of wine and sobbing to my boyfriend because I didn’t have that flawless look or impeccable fashion sense. Or in reality, I didn’t have a filter constantly on a lense following me around everywhere, a make up artist and hair stylist sorting me out every hour of the day.  

Now we move onto where I got into blogging, as you will discover I started Little Talks to get myself out of a bit of a rut but unfortunately we have had a vicious circle and blogging has started to affect my self esteem.

Third year was hell, absolute torture and I struggled so much in writing my dissertation. I must have rung my mum crying every single day, she used to set me around two or three tasks to do and then I would ring her back to go through it all before being set more tasks.  She had a patience of a saint back then!! My boyfriend had left uni and got himself a full time job as he was in the year above me and I was an hour away from all my friends and family. Plus I worked behind the SU Bar on all the big nights to fund my shopping habits so I missed out on the social life- on the up side, never had to deal with a hangover, instead I had to wipe up everyone’s puke around 3/4am. Oh the joys!

I started to blog to clear my head space and give me a bit of a hobby; I loved going to take a camera and tripod out of the media department for the weekend to take pictures of lots of different looks and beauty products. I loved it, I never felt judged, I could be so creative and feel free blogging was not as big of a community as it was now so everything was drama free! 

Coat: Primark (similar), Jeans: River Island, Shirt: H&M, Top: Primark (similar), Boots: Zara (similar), Headband: Accessorize (similar)

Fast forward four years and I’m still in love with blogging as I was when I first started, the community has grown and despite the drama, 99% of the blogosphere are lovely and so supportive. But now I suffer with low self esteem after comparing myself constantly to others; this goes from style to their relationship amongst one another and brands to the look of their blog and YouTube channel.

It isn’t a case of feeling threatened at all, I love to see everyone doing so well and at times I feel very inspired but I always feel like I am one step behind. I create a piece of content that I am so proud of and then maybe a couple of days later or even a few hours and I see another wonderful blogger putting out their latest post or video and I always feel a little crappy as it’s so much more creative than mine.

 Does anyone else ever feel like this? Deep down I know I am being ridiculous, everyone is different the world would not be the same if everyone lived their life the exact same way! How do people snap out of this or will it constantly be there?

Alice xxx

Let’s just sit down and give Benefit marketing team a huge bow, I mean what a launch that was! I know they say that their latest release is out of this world but to take a large amount of influencers across the other side of the world speaks volumes.

For me no matter what feedback they received on this whether positive or negatives, they did their job by getting all eyes on them, their product and people are still talking about it whether they are into beauty or not.

Now let’s get down to business; what do I actually think of the mascara? I guess who have to be brutally honest and there is no point beating around the bush here, I have mixed feelings on the product itself; I’m just a tough cookie to crack when it comes to my lashes in general!

Their marketing/advertising worked a treat and I was so excited to go out and buy the mascara, I’m not one to normally jump straight onto the bandwagon, I prefer to sit back read a few reviews and see if it is worth the hype, after all I am living on quite a tight budget. But for me being an avid fan of Benefit for years, they were actually the first higher end brand that I discovered and my love for their blushes in those beautiful little boxes drew me in and I just had to get my hands on the mascara. 

There are two things I look for in a mascara; it has to create a lot of volume whilst adding thickness without create that spidery look and let me tell you now, there are not that many that live up to their expectations – well for me anyway! Straight away, Benefit’s main selling point on the Badgal Bang mascara was that it ‘full blast volumising mascara that creates volume without weighing down the lashes’. Their tests came back with 90% of women saw dramatic volume, 94% said it instantly lifted lashes and 92% said it lengthened lashes whilst the ProVitamin B5 is known to fuel thickness and strength.

So does it create dramatic volume? Yes I would definitely say this is a true statement, if you have read previous blog posts of mine or watched any of my videos you will know that my lashes are pretty much non-existent and not many mascaras actually lift them without using eye lash curlers. Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara does within the first application, and I am talking a light application! It also creates a natural curl in your lashes which for me definitely makes them feel lengthened, there’s certainly no natural curl in my lashes on a regular basis.

This leaves me to the final bullet point on their website, the ProVitamin B5 is known to fuel thickness and strength.

Well ... there’s a lot of strength in my lashes, there is no way they are budging throughout the day and this links wonderfully into the discussion that the Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara is smudge proof and waterproof. Seriously, no matter what skincare products I use this mascara is not budging which is a huge bug bearer of mine, if it takes a lot of effort and scrubbing to remove a particular product, is it worth the application? 

Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara, Top: Primark

Personally I feel that some of the thickness is coming from a spidery aspect of the overall application of the mascara. My lashes, especially in the middle section clump together with a lot of product and no matter how hard I try, there’s no separating them without having to use about three skincare products and starting all over again. However, I have still been wearing it every single day but I am tempted to try using Vaseline on the lashes first using a clean mascara brush before using the mascara to see if this stops the spidery look!

Let’s quickly discuss the applicator; it is so small and delicate but what fascinates me the most is that the bristle part is rather flexible which links back to their description of it being a 360* reach. As the bristles are so small and the applicator to the Badgal Bang Mascara is flexible it catches all lashes super easy and you can really create that lift.

I was worried at first with the bristles being rubber, purely because previous experiences have resulted in the applicators to scratch my waterline causing a ridiculous amount of irritation and drying of the lashes which really isn’t pretty. However, the Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara is wonderful and doesn’t cause any irritation which I am putting down to the fact that the bristles are so tiny. 

Overall, I’d say that the positives certainly outweigh the negatives and would recommend people to try the Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara. I’m not sure I could put it onto my own list of being one of my absolute favourites purely because of the spidery effect it does have, however, it is close!

What did you think of the Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara? 

Alice xxx

Happy Valentine's Day folks!

Ok, ok, this particular celebration seems to have the nation split in two and I hear both sides; this day is more for those pesky businesses to cash in on us poor souls and everything seems to be cliché BUT why not step back and take February 14 in a different light.

As I get older, I favour the day more and more, purely because I understand different meanings behind the celebration. When you are younger, its more about having that “love of your life” who buys you the biggest bunch of flowers (yeah still makes my day if that ever happens), or the gossip in the school corridor to see if you were going to receive a card from a secret admirer – does this still happen?

Even when I was a single pringle and not interested in having a boyfriend, I was always happy to buy the cute chocolates after all I aren’t a chunk for nothing; team them with a good bottle of wine and a chick flick and your night is sorted.

In all seriousness, I have learnt from past experiences that the day can mean a whole number of different things. It’s true when they say that everyday should be Valentine's Day with sharing the love, but you could do the same with Mother's Day and Father's Day but let’s not get into that discussion as I am here to spread the love, I mean I’m not cupid but there’s nothing wrong with being cheerful.

If you are anything like me, then as soon as the festive period is over you do go into a bit of a slump, you miss your family, friends and major January blues kick in. For me, January felt like there was 365 days, it dragged so much, I lost all motivation and was genuinely unhappy. As soon as we hit February, the gorgeous roses hit the shelves, shops were filled with the cutest decorations I genuinely got a spring in my step and I felt happy.

I just love the positivity that is spread amongst everyone, we may all be strangers but days like Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas, I feel like there is togetherness and everyone has this hope and it makes me have all the warm and cosy feels.

There are a number of happy memories that sticks into my head from February 14, my earliest one was when my grandparents picked me up from school, I’d had a pretty tough day and they took me to the local supermarket and bought me the biggest teddy bear you ever did see (it had gone down to half price too (kerching!)) I will never forget that moment as instantly I had forgotten about whatever happened earlier on in the day because I was surrounded by the people I loved.

Another thing I loved about Valentines was when I used to wake up in the morning and run downstairs to see a red envelope by the front door addressed to me. I know it was only my grandparents wanting to put a smile on my face by pretending I had a secret admirer, but the realisation of how much effort they put into it was the most special feeling.

Coat: New Look (similar), Jeans: Topshop, T Shirt: Primark (similar), Boots: Dorothy Perkins (similar)

It is the days where your kids come home from nursery and they have hand made their own Valentines card along with the first time they have ever written their name. These memories are to be cherished and are what makes the day that extra special.

For me, it is a cliché and cashing in on us but it creates the most wonderful memories from those least romantic moments.

Alice xxx

Whether you are new to blogging or have been in the industry for years, I honestly believe that there is that constant pressure to look good, feel good and to always include new products in your images and blog posts from beauty right through to clothing.

I’d say that around 50% of bloggers actually earn money from blogging and the other 50% are just starting out or have the platform as a hobby which is the category that I fall right into. Creating new content week in week out can add a lot of pressure never mind constantly feeling the need to buy new things. 

There is nothing worse than the feeling of outfit repeating, something that I am a huge fan of seen as I cannot exactly being going out and splashing the cash even if we do have stores such as Primark and H&M. I actually wrote a blog post towards the back end of last season on the positives of being a ‘serial outfit repeater’, after all if Kate Middleton can wear the same dress three times in the spaces of a few years then I do think it is acceptable for us to wear the same pair of jeans or ankle boots in a number of blog posts.

For me, I cannot justify wearing an item of clothing the once and then throwing it to the back of my wardrobe ready for something new to land on the rails. We live in the era of fast fashion and trends are constantly changing as we go through each season; I do love to see what is new with the colours, textures and prints but unfortunately I can only really pick up a couple of key pieces and mix them up with my current wardrobe. 

I make zero money from my blog, it is a hobby after all and with what I do earn from my day job pays off my mortgage, bills and food before I can even contemplate going shopping for clothes or the latest skincare and beauty products (I may fall into the craze on the odd occasions, yes Benefit Bad Gal Bang I am hinting at you). Therefore the odd item I do purchase has to be paired with what I already own which does result in repetitive outfit photos and therefore I feel like I am a bad blogger because I cannot keep up with fresh content.

It is like a vicious cycle, for me, blogging is always going to be a hobby and does take a backseat when it comes to my day job which always results in the same wages coming in and the exact same bills if not more that need paying off.

Now, if we go back a couple of years to the earlyish days of blogging then I feel there was a lot less pressure in having to fork out to create exciting new content. For me, your own little space on the internet did not need to fall under the high quality editorial that gives magazines a run for their money but it was them cute outfit shots in your bedroom or back garden wearing a top you have owned for a year or two styled with skinny jeans and then a couple of months down the line you find a way to pair it with a cute skirt. 

Top: Zara (old), Denim Shirt: Topshop, Coat: New Look (similar at Topshop), Bag: (similar) Topshop, Boots: Zara (old), Sunglasses: Dorothy Perkins (similar at Topshop)

I personally don’t feel like we need to stray too far away from this. Yes at some point you might have to get rid of that beloved tatty knit that for the life of you cannot seem to part with even though the colour has drastically faded and it is full of holes but why not style up a completely different outfit than this time last year with the same pair of ankle boots?

I’ve actually got to take my hat off to Victoria from In TheFrow, she has recently made a video on her channel; January Style Remix. Within this she has styled up different looks with recently purchased items alongside what she already owns, it is just so fresh to watch, if she didn’t inform you that this particular item was previously in the bottom of her wardrobe, you wouldn’t have a clue as you can still pick up similar styles in store!!

It isn’t only with fashion and beauty products but also with blogging equipment, for me to push myself as a more “established blogger” I need to up my game by getting proper lighting equipment and a new vlogging camera but again it’s down to being able to afford it all. My savings is for my wedding fund and my house not splurging it on these things listed above! We all have phones right? Well these are just as good, with a little edit on the lighting and colour which can be done on the cheapest of apps from the app store

So after all my ramblings, I guess what I am trying to get at is, don’t let the pressure get to you! So what if you have already featured that item a couple of months ago on your blog, for me I want to see something that feels relevant to me and how you can re style an item! I cannot afford to splash the cash and there are a lot of people in the same boat as you!

Alice xxx

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