I have to say, this is one of my most requested posts! I suppose the Apps on someone’s iPhone say a lot, my phone is packed with silly things that I occasionally use, and I have over 3500 photos. Ouch. Let me talk you through the best apps I use…
I have two ‘folders’ of apps (what’s the proper word for them?) that can be filed under Work for me, since social media takes up a lot of what I do – so I have ‘Productivity’ and ‘Social’. Apart from the obvious, the main ones I use are Pages for my Facebook Page and Hootsuite for scheduling my tweets in the morning – very important as a blogger. I actually don’t do much work on my phone because I have a work computer and then also a laptop if I’m being really lazy – although we usually only use it to watch Everybody Loves Raymond. Continuously. Every day.
For notes I have Evernote, this is amazing for writing down little ideas and things. I make so, so many notes so it’s crucial I have something like this on hand! I also have just about every social media account going, as well as What’s App, Messenger (for Facebook), FaceTime and the rest. Oh, and some banking apps – exciting. PayPal too, this really is getting thrilling.
Photography & Editing
As you’re probably aware, I’m addicted to Instagram – I have a number of apps for editing photos. I told you all about Afterlight a little while back, this is great for editing everything – from brightness to exposure to adding light filters and textures. I also have Mextures, which adds lovely light filters to photos, and PicFX for bokeh effects. I think this is really all you need to take smashing photos really.
Gosh, I have so, so many little apps that can be filed under lifestyle. I love the Kindle app, I read so many books so this is really handy to have on your phone as it syncs with other devices. It’s great for long train journeys or appointments with late friends! I also have the Trainline app for train tickets, Airbnb for pretending I’m booking a holiday and also the Jet2 app because they do great cheap flights. I also use MyFitnessPal to keep up with all the rubbish I’m eating and of course, the Egg Timer app. This thing is amazing, you can choose how you like your eggs and then it times it perfectly. Wouldn’t be without it.
I also have the eBay app for finding random items, and Pinterest for my relentless pinning! I’m addicted.
Oh, I have the Nike Running app too. Maybe just for Ellie Goulding giving the congratulatory message.
First up, Shazam. You know when you’re in a shop and you CANNOT remember who sings this song, or you just need to know the name and artist so you can download immediately? Shazam listens to the track and tells you who it’s by, and it only needs about 10 seconds of the song to work it out. That’s why sometimes you see people in bars up on chairs with their phone next to the speaker. Not me though… well, maybe once.
I also have the Gumtree app, as well as Rightmove and Zoopla – we’re flathunting at the moment and I spend around 3 hours a day on these last two. Gah! I’m actually worried what I’ll do with myself when I don’t need to look for a flat anymore.
I don’t often play games on my phone, I usually read my Kindle or go on Twitter or something, but recently Jordan and I started playing this game called FourInARow, it’s just Connect4 but wow, so addictive! Sometimes I play it on my own against the computer – how tragic. That’s really all there is under Fun, obviously too busy with my terrible life eh.
I decided to do another round of healthy meals as you guys seem to like these food inspiration posts, and I have to admit that I am always on the hunt for easy recipes. Following on from my first healthy food post, here’s a couple more staple eats for me…
Egg White Omelette
I usually have a cooked breakfast in the morning because it means I avoid bread (doesn’t agree with me much) and cereal (laced with sugar, again doesn’t agree with me). I have to admit that I do eat some weird things for breakfast in an attempt to keep my rubbish eating to a minimum.
I usually start the day with an egg white omelette – I use the whites of two eggs and then pad it out with a full egg. I start by frying up just about anything I have in my fridge and cupboards – usually onion, ham, cherry tomatoes and spinach. Once they’re starting to look golden, I throw in my beaten eggs and sprinkle on a tiny bit of strong cheese (it means I eat less!) and a bit of seasoning. Then I fold it (okay, Jordan does because I can’t cook omelettes) and usually serve it up with some chopped Brussels sprouts fried in butter. A good mix of protein and fats so it keeps me full for SO long – I also have a pint of water with a slice of lemon too.
Sweet Potato Hash
This is a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I start by frying up chopped onions in a pan, then I peel and grate a couple of sweet potato and add this in. I cook it all until it’s golden and then add a good amount of kale and a couple of eggs. I usually beat the eggs and add them in and then sort of scramble it up, or just pour the eggs over the top and allow it to cook.
This is also amazing if you sprinkle cheese over the top and grill it for a minute or two. Sweet potatoes are so much better for you than regular potatoes and I think they keep you fuller for longer too.
I try to avoid eating white flour where possible, so one of my favourite meals is gluten-free pizza made using cauliflower. Yep, you heard. I just make up the recipe (see here for it in full) and add on some toppings such as salami, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, red onion. The recipe is gluten-free, and it never leaves me feeling bloated or guilty afterwards. I highly recommend!
Shredded Beef Chilli Bowl
We have a slow cooker – best purchase ever – so I usually put something on in the morning while I wait for the kettle to boil and leave it to slowly cook during the day. Mostly I make shredded beef chili, using diced beef which is super cheap.
I throw in a can or two of chopped tomatoes, the beef, an onion or two, garlic, stock, some cumin, a bit of cocoa powder, chilli powder and some herbs and leave it to cook. The beef becomes all shredded and fally-apart come dinner time – incredible!
I serve it up in a big bowl with half an avocado and a big helping of sour cream. It’s AMAZING.
Apples & Halloumi
I got this recipe out of the I Quit Sugar book by Sarah Wilson – it’s so odd but so good at the same time. All you do is fry up slices of halloumi and apple in the same pan, and then sprinkle with a little cinnamon. The sweet caramelised apples against the salty halloumi and warm cinnamon is just amazing. I will sometimes have this on the side of soup so pad out my lunch or as an afternoon snack if I can’t get through until dinner.
I thought it was time I did an updated look around my flat, since I am always reorganising things. Probably not much has changed since my very first one, but it feels like it has! It’s posts like this that make me realise that Jordan and I have so much stuff! I’ve had a few clearouts recently, after this post on Nouvelle, and you definitely can’t tell at all. Well, I tried.
As much as I love this flat, I can’t wait until we find a new place. Things are getting a bit cluttered here because my working area just ain’t big enough and we don’t have a proper storage cupboard which is annoying. Most of the Glasgow flats are pretty similar so I know we’ll definitely get one with huuuuge windows again, although I’ll miss my view over Glasgow.
Feel free to ask questions in the comments, I’m not too sure where to start with where things are from so I guess you can google it or I’ll keep an eye on the comments – if anyone is bothered! Hope you enjoyed this little peek, no doubt I’ll switch it all up again in a week or two!
I’m definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s flat-hunting. I like to think I’m quite wise now because I’ve lived in my own place since I was 16 (seven years – sob!) which has spanned four cities and two countries now I believe. In that time there has been a crazy amount of flats, and flat-hunting. It’s truly obscene. But, I know what to look for when it comes to the dreaded flat-hunt and I often get asked for tips are as our current (rented) flat is so nice.
In truth, we were really lucky with this flat as it was just one of those things that was meant to be. A lot of people like to think my parents pay my rent (must be the Porsche I don’t drive or all those holiday’s in the Maldives I’ve never had) but tragically, Jordan and I pay it all. I’ve always paid my own rent (except when I was studying at uni, but even then I worked 25 hours a week because I didn’t have a loan or bursary) and I know how much of a bummer it is, so I know it’s not worth it to go for a really expensive, modern flat because it will just eat your salary. There’s also things like bills and council tax to cough up so keep this in mind.
Consider Going Private
I never, ever go with letting agents when looking for flats. They’re a waste of money with their “admin fees” before you even get near the apartment and the deposit which you will NEVER get back. When I’m looking for flats, I do keep an eye on rightmove etc. but usually I go through Gumtree or word of mouth. I know a lot of people think Gumtree is a scam when it comes to flats, but obviously if you are safe and tell someone where you’re going, take a boyfriend or flatmate or whatever, how can it be? Don’t sign anything or hand over any money until YOU ARE IN THE FLAT ON THE DAY OF THE MOVE. I remember a girl I used to follow on Twitter got scammed out of something like £500 because she met a potential flatmate in the street to hand over money – ridiculous. Use your common sense, if you’re moving in to a flatshare, go for coffee with your new flatmates and make sure they’re reasonably normal. If it’s a brand new flat, use your initiative and make sure everything checks out.
Our current flat had one small photo on the Gumtree ad – I would never usually go for this but it was of the window seat and the view over Glasgow from the kitchen, something made me want to go with it and it worked out.
If you are going to go for an agency flat, take pictures of any damage and things that are already there when you move in and upload to a private Facebook album as evidence incase they try to do you for it later.
Take In All Costs
While our rent here is pretty cheap, we live in the centre of town, the ‘up and coming’ area (lots of rainbow flags) so council tax is a bit of a bummer. Any flats I look at, I make sure to find out their post code (a simple google search of the street name and house number usually does it) and then check out the council tax band and also what kind of broadband services you can get. Yup, I’m crazy but it’s worth it. We’re still band C I think so not too bad, but if it was band E we just wouldn’t be able to afford it. Also, make sure you’re both ready to pay council tax – not that you have a choice, but remember if you’re not a student anymore then you’ll have to so keep this in mind if you’re getting a flat now but finish uni this summer! Also, if you’re about to live with a student, be warned – you only get a 25% discount as far as I know so be prepared to pay a good chunk of it on your own.
It’s worth mentioning that you should sign up for council tax as soon as you get in the property, this is your responsibility and there’s no way of not paying it. If you put it off for six months and they catch up with you, you usually have to pay a fairly big amount in one. Not worth it.
This also goes for bills – always check for central heating and double glazing. Admittedly our flat doesn’t have either which means it can get quite cold and it’s also very pricey – we always knew we were only going to be here on a temporary basis so it doesn’t bother us too much but it’s definitely worth making sure you have these! Ask about the boiler too, you will want hot water.
The best thing to do is to make a list of your monthly allowance, your outgoings (rent, council tax, bills, food, travel) and really see how much you can afford for the month. You will need some for going out and having a life so don’t pick the most expensive flat going, be realistic and stick to a budget when flat-hunting. Also, make sure to go over costs with the landlord – confirm the rent, how it will be paid, how much bills are, the council tax band, whether or not there’s a phone line etc. There’s also the deposit to keep in mind, usually a months rent but sometimes more.
Think About What You Need
I usually make a checklist before I go view a flat – it sounds completely unhinged but it’s a must. By now I know exactly what to look for, but if you’re new to this whole thing you’re likely to forget things. I usually want the following: double glazing, parking, central heating, a bath, pets allowed because we have a cat, any floor but the ground floor, a good shower (test it, no one wants a pathetic shower that feels like someone’s having a pee on your head), neutral colours, semi-furnished (we own most of our furniture by now so make sure to get furnished if you own almost nothing), a good-sized fridge, at least one storage cupboard and kitchen appliances.
There’s other things like, no nightclubs nearby and a secure entrance to look out for too. Always make sure the flat looks safe.
Take Photos When Viewing
Usually with a nice rented flat you have to be really quick, as they go that day. What I usually do, as I know to be quick by now, is take a lot of photos of the place and then tell the landlord or whatever that I’ll let him know as soon as. Express an interest, so he or she knows you’re keen but give yourself a moment to gather your thoughts and talk it over with your other half. Go to a nearby cafe, make sure it has everything on your checklist, you can afford it, look through the photos to confirm and then if you’re both agreed, call the landlord or whatever and let them know you’re interested. Hopefully it will work out! It’s a good time to start praying.
Other Things To Remember
Make sure there’s a set move in day – ideally you will sign the lease and hand over the deposit on this day. Also, make sure your new landlord isn’t a shady looking character, our landlord is pretty easy going and comes to collect the rent every month just so he can touch base with us. He’s a big fan of Mouse (who isn’t) and when our bathroom flooded because of a leak upstairs, he got it fixed quickly. These things matter!
Also, you can ask to sign a six month lease at first – we did this. This means if the flat really doesn’t work out, you only have to live there for six months. You can also ask for a rolling month contract after this, which means you give a month’s notice if you want to move. Otherwise they will probably keep your deposit (usually a month’s rent) so keep this in mind.
Keep the flat in good condition and remember your deposit when you consider throwing a party!
Remember, you’re probably not going to find an amazing flat on your budget unless you’re already in a really great job or whatever. We weren’t even sure about this flat when we moved in, but we quickly made it our own by buying a few nice things – I always think as long as the colours are quite neutral and you have enough space, you can do anything. Painting is a bit far and you will probably have to check with your landlord so avoid this if you can.
Hopefully this helps you to find your own perfect flat! I wanted to write this now as we’re currently looking to get our own place so this is what I’m thinking about every waking minute of the day!