Saturday, 28 February 2015

Travel Tips - Xi'an (China part 2)

This is the second part to my China travel tips, you can find the first part here for Beijing.
We only spend one day in Xi'an but I feel like we did quite a lot! It wasn't my favorite place in China but it does have some great tourist sites that anyone visiting China should see at some point.

Expect to come across any of these in China:

- People can spit a lot, especially the older generations.
- Don't expect many western toilets in public areas, most will be squatting loos.
- Remember to take toilet paper in your bag everywhere, a lot of public toilets don't have them.
- They won't smile back at you, it's nothing to do with you, but the Chinese don't smile at strangers.
- A lot of your normal sites will be blocked in China, for example Facebook and Google.
Don't be afraid to haggle, it's amazing how much they are willing to reduce the price by. I was told that you find on average they double the price of things for foreigners.

Xi'an Specifically:

- You have the famous Terracotta Army in Xi'an which is one of the main reasons I wanted to visit this part of China and it really is an amazing site although sad that so many of them were damaged.

- And if you're interested in the Terracotta Army I'd recommend going to the Terracotta Army workshop for a quick tour and introduction on how they are traditionally made. You also get the opportunity to buy mini Terracotta soldiers (or life sized ones if you have the money and space) and it's cheaper than if you buy them at the Terracotta Army site.

- We also visited the Grand Mosque which is a beautiful ancient mosque that even today is still in use as far as I know. And the surrounding bustling Muslim Quarter which is another great place to walk around and experience the culture and maybe do a bit of shopping.

- Luckily enough our hotel also hosted the 'Tang Dynasty' music and dance show which we booked to have the dumpling feast dinner before the show started which really was a feast. I wouldn't recommend to come to Xi'an for the show but if you're close by and have a free evening it's a nice way to end the day and you will be stuffed with the dumpling feast which is about 10 courses of different types/flavours of dumplings.

 (Terracotta Army)

(Terracotta Army workshop)

(Muslim Quarter)

('Tang Dynasty' music and dance show)

(Just 1 course of the Dumpling Feast)

(The cutest duck dumpling)

Have you visited Xi'an before? Would you recommend any other places to visit? Any questions about my experience in Xi'an?
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Second Hand Furniture

As promised, heres my second hand furniture post featuring all the great bargains I got for my new place!

I've noticed there's quite a stigma around second hand furniture which I find really odd. Everytime I mention to someone that I have second hand furniture I can just see it on their faces and I don't get what the problem is? Maybe it's the term 'second hand', i'm sure if I said 'vintage' or 'retro' they would be all over it but without using those words it suddenly becomes cheap in most peoples eyes. But I think it's great when we live in a world where there is so much waste - why not reuse perfectly good things!

You don't have to travel into London to find great second hand gems

Just head down to your local charity shops and second hand shops and you'll find loads to choose from. All I did was a quick search for second hand / clearance furniture shops near me and I found two that seemed good. Dropped them a quick text to ask if they deliver and what time they closed (I would recommend calling before you go to any second hand shop because many don't stick to their opening hours). Then me and Alex measured up all the areas we wanted to put furniture and jotted it all down, this is really important because you can get really carried away in second hand shops because you feel like everything is so cheap but you can easily leave spending far more than you wanted to. I would also recommend taking the tape measure with you so you can double check any furniture you want to buy will fit because you can't just return it and get your money back.

Large solid wood sideboard - around £70

Solid wood shelved unit (had doors but we took them off) - around £50-60 

It's all about value for money and getting something exclusive

Once we got to the shop me and Alex were really lucky to find a perfect unit straight away and it was the perfect size! But don't show that it's perfect and get excited, this is your opportunity to haggle a little on the price. Don't be scared to do this either, these guys are used to it and do it themselves when they buy the furniture off people to put in the shop. But if you are a little shy about negotiating the price go for something simple and ask if the delivery could be reduced or chucked in for free - why not! Me and Alex ended up getting quite a few pieces and the owner was really lovely and gave us a discount as well as free delivery and a cheeky lift home in the van!

When looking for good value pieces always go for solid wood or as near as you can get. Think about it, you buy a solid wood side board for around £400-600 new but you can get it second hand (all intact and may just need a quick wipe over) for around £70-80 - you can't beat those prices!

Your also going to find some unique bits as well which are great for statement pieces and to jazz up a room. We found this cute little filing cabinet which needed a bit of a scrub when we first got it but it was fine after a bit of soapy water. It works so well as a bedside unit and the draws actually hold quite a lot which I didn't expect. I love that it's a bit worn but in a funky red and blue, bagged it for around £30-40 I think and it's unique!

Metal filing cabinet - around £30-40

Don't expect to find something amazing first time

Every shop you go into will be different depending on the area and what the owner looks for so don't give up on the first shop! Second hand shops are fast paced and are always getting new pieces in, some days they will be packed and other they will be a bit sparse. Don't be shy asking the owner what days are the busiest and what times they normally get the new pieces. They want you to be interested and to come back!

Hope this has helped and I would love to see what your great second hand shop finds are :)
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


Monday, 23 February 2015

Our first place

Hi everyone!

So you may have seen on Twitter over the past few weeks about me banging on about me and Alex moving out together into our first place. It all a bit weird (but amazing) because this is the first time i've moved out because I didn't go to university so i've never had that experience until now. And i'll be honest, I love Alex to bits but I was so worried I was going to kill him if we was living in the same house and around each other all the time. But you will be happy to know he is alive and well and I don't have to worry about prison.

It definitely hasn't been perfect or something I would want to do on a regular basis - moving is bloody stressful! And other people that are involved (ie the landlord and estate agents) don't make the situation any easier. Initially it was annoying things like the landlord taking ages to get back to the agent with replies and then promises that were never kept (like cleaning the house). But once we got our stuff in the place and managed to unpack everything, which took about a week, the excitement of our first place took over and we forgot about all the annoying things...for a while.

We got a bit stumped at one point though. I got to a stage of unpacking when I realised I desperately needed furniture to put my stuff in! So for a few days we couldn't go any further because we had nowhere to put all our crap. But I researched some local second hand furniture shops and we managed to get some fantastic bargains...but I will go into that in more detail in my second hand furniture post coming very soon!

After just over three weeks I feel like we've finally settled into our new home. The reason it's taken so long is after being in our new place for just over a week a random man came along and put a rock through our front window! To make things worse it took 7 phone calls and 2 emails before the police finally came around. I was fuming at how they treated the incident and the only reason anything was eventually done was because I sent an email of complaint to the chief of police at the local station. And to make things even worse the landlord had the cheek to refuse to put the criminal damage on his insurance and wants us to pay for the damage! Not the best start really.

But were trying to look past it now and get on with enjoying our first place together!

What have your experiences of renting been? Any advice for dealing with bad landlords/estate agents?
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Office Wish List


Assembly Home metal lamp, £13 / Ivory shag rug, £1,205 / Linea drinkware / Wall art, £10 / Internoitaliano round clock, £93 / Woven shades, £33 / 2015 A5 buffalo dtp, £13 / Round plate, £11 / H M candles candleholder / Diamond chair

Recently I've really been swept into the whole bronze love fest with homeware. Especially as I was planning for my office to have very clean and simple theme I think the bronze goes really well to give a white room a bit of a pop.

The main part of my office of course is my desk and work area which is white so I wanted everything else to compliment it and to be able to inspire my work as well. The slight mixture of textures would give the room a bit of detail without being too overpowering and some small touches of miniature plants give a soft organic twist.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Winter Favourites

Knits on Knits

Let's start off with the most obvious. I've been loving my knitwear the last few months, digging out all my winter clothes and layering up like crazy. I love winter for all the chunky jumpers and especially the roll necks this year which are great when it's really bitter cold and windy. 

The jumpers above are a mixture of Primark (fluffy jumper and dark grey jumper), River Island (purple jumper), H&M (patterned jumper), Topshop (light grey knit) and a random vintage shop in Nottingham (cream chunky knit). 

Loose Leaf Tea 

I started drinking loose leaf tea after coming back from China in October. I got so used to the fresh taste after drinking every day for almost 2 weeks and you really can tell the difference between it and tea bags. And in the winter tea is a standard right? I mean I could drink it everyday forever but in winter it just feels right. 

So far i've tried the Jasmine Green Tea, Cherry Rose Tea and the Vanilla Rooibos Tea. I personally prefer the Jasmine Green Tea and the Cherry Rose Tea, there very fragrant and have a sweeter taste? The Vanilla Rooibos Tea is still nice but the leaves are far smaller so you get some in your mouth when you drink it and it has more of an earthy taste to it? It's just different I guess. 

If you want to know more about loose leaf tea take a look at my Chinese/Herbal Tea post. You can find links to the tea I mentioned in this post if you fancy ordering some to try!

Comfort Food

I'm sure everyone's feeling a bit like this at the moment but I really am putting on my winter weight! At this time of year when it cold and dark a salad just doesn't cut it for me. All I keep craving it warm curries, stews and pies - proper homey food. And it's not the best food for your waistline but luckily where it's cold most of the time you're covering yourself up in layers or jumpers so I guess I can get away with it for the moment but i'm going to seriously need to go on a diet soon. But until then one of my all time favorite comfort food snacks is cheese, I honestly think I could live on cheese! A quick and easy snack for those cold winter nights has to be baked camembert, you can check out my post about it here.

What are your winter favorites?
Let me know in the comment box below, i'd love to hear from you!


Thursday, 12 February 2015

Monthly Artwork #3 - Valentine's Day

It's a bit delayed due to a few life problems and the internet still not being up in our new place but here it is, my 3rd piece in my monthly artwork feature!

For all of you that are like me and always forget about cards until the night before you need them I have created a Valentine's card template for you. Simply print it onto normal A4 paper and fold in half and then half again and voilà! Your own printable Valentine's Day card.

You can download the printable Valentine's card here

I've also made this illustration into background for your desktop or laptop and a printable print for you that is a standard A4 size that can be framed easily - enjoy!



> (NOT for commercial use) <


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Monthly roundup #2

Hi everyone! Sorry for the lack of content for the past week, I feel like it's been ages since i've written any posts when it's only been about a week. I moved out at the end of January and everything has been crazy since then and we have only just got the internet in our new place and now were having problems with that as well. But anyway, here is a late monthly roundup!

So a lot feels like it's happened this month when actually it's probably the last week or two. So me and Alex got our first place together and moved out into a quirky cottage style house and it feels like that has consumed the past 2 weeks of my life. 
There was some trouble with the landlord taking ages to get back to the agents and it took me ages to sort 21 years of my crap into boxes and I had no idea where to even start. Once that part was out of the way I got really excited and just wanted to get in there and start making it my own! I went crazy with Pinterest boards and wish lists full of cute decorative pieces and statement furniture...then when we got everything moved in the stress came flooding back. 
There were so many boxes everywhere and I had no idea where anything was and I just wanted to chuck it all into the spare room and forget about it. Eventually Alex convinced me to get it all done in one weekend and i'm so glad I because it made it feel way more homey and comfortable. The only problem is I feel so disorganised with my blog and work now because I haven't had a chance to do anything for the past week or two!

I'm just hoping everything settles and goes back to normal soon so I can get back into the swing of life *fingers crossed*

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