Brand focus: Nobody’s Child

As a finance and fashion blogger, it’s my responsibility *pulls serious face* to keep you informed of great buys, super deals and worthwhile wardrobe investments.  I want you to know when to splash out, how to save (in order to splash out) and when to buy a bargain because the deal is so good that you’d be crayyy to miss it.

So, when a brand comes along which sells gorgeous bang-on trend clothing, that feels high quality, AND is incredibly good value for money, it is my job, nay my DUTY to tell you about it.

Nobody’s Child is a London based fashion brand with high ethical standards. Launched in October last year, the company designs and makes all of its clothing in-house, which means no sweat shops.  So you can shop with a clear conscience.

I was introduced to the brand by fellow blogger Robyn Taylor (at Phases of Robyn) on Twitter when she shared a link to the top below. I immediately went online and bought it. For £16!!

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Pink Stripe Tie Sleeve Bardot, £16

But then….. I kept shopping and I bought this:

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Black Scoop Back High Neck Body Suit, £10

And this:

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Cream Cold Shoulder Woven Top, £16

And this (eeek!):

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Grey Marl Racer Rib Bodycon Dress, £15

And finally this:

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Peach Popcorn Chiffon Pleat Midi, £30

I guess that because lovely retailers have made shopping online and returning items so so simple, there is a tendancy to overorder to qualify for cheaper delivery (come on, we’ve all done it once or twice) and then return the items that just aren’t right for us.

Well, my order from Nobody’s Child arrived – I’ll come back to that process in a mo – and I tried it all on and decided to keep not one item, or two, but THE WHOLE LOT. Never has that happened to me before.

Ok well, that’s not strictly true.  I’m exchanging the chiffon skirt for a smaller size and the first top – the pink bardot – isn’t quite the right colour for me but as soon as the lovely people at Nobody’s Child release a version in a different colour, I’ll be ordering it like a shot! (Are you listening Nobody’s Child?)

Why am I keeping it all (mostly)?

  • The chiffon skirt sits so beautifully that it’s very elegant and looks like it could have cost 3 times what it did. It can also be worn with heels or with white trainers as in the picture above.  NOTE – if you’re around 5ft 4, this will skim your ankles but for me that’s a good thing!
  • The bodycon dress is sooooo flattering. The material seems to elongate my body and even after a large-ish meal you don’t have to worry about a wobbly belly. Worn with a long baggy cardigan or jumper and ankle boots, or a simple chain and sandals, this looks AWESOME.
  • The cream off the shoulder top is probably not something I really needed. I already have a lot of white and cream tops in my wardrobe. But, it’s so so comfy and looks great with either my girlfriend jeans or my skinnies.
  • The black high neck bodysuit was a must for me as I have a narrow waist and wide-ish hips so all my jeans tend to gape a bit at the back when I crouch down. Very unclassy! This top avoids that and because it’s practically backless it’ll be great for getting some rays this summer.
  • Finally, the pink bardot.  This looked great tucked into a skirt or jeans and the vertical stripes worked to elongate my top half. The only problem, as I said before, was the colour. But as soon as a blue or green one is made (hint hint), I’ll be in there.

And I must tell you about the delivery process. Firstly, Nobody’s Child shelled out on a top quality courier service for customers. This means you are given advanced warning of delivery and if you’re not in, a range of alternative options and then when it has been delivered in your absence, you receive a text AND an email confirming its location.

What you get when it’s delivered is actually the main reason I decided to write this post. With a typical online order, you get each item packaged in a flimsy plastic bag and some paperwork. Nobody’s Child clearly decided that they wanted to give customers a slightly better service. It’s as if they were saying “We don’t have stores but if we did, they’d be pretty and smell nice and a playlist of your favourite songs would be on repeat. Our staff would give you hugs and you’d feel special.” Actually, on reflection that might be a bit much.

Anyway, my point is that Nobody’s Child wants you to receive your order and feel good. So, inside the plastic postage bag, my items were packaged in lovely brown envelope things and more substantial plastic wrapping which I’m sure was better for the clothing. They also gave me a free bracelet! Finally, and maybe this is just me, but the fact that my paperwork told me my order had been checked by ‘Zoe’ was just a lovely touch because it made the whole thing seem more personal. Hello Zoe, whoever you are!

As I’m exchanging the chiffon skirt, I can also confirm the return process is very straightforward with two free options: the post office and Collect+.

I truly believe this is a brand that’s going to continue to thrive. Please please check it out (particularly as pay day has just been). You won’t be disappointed.

Shortbread

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Every night after dinner, I get cravings for something sweet.  BUT, because I don’t like sweeties and I try not to buy too much chocolate so I don’t eat it ALL, I rarely have any puddings or treats in the house.

chocolate shortbread and espresso

But sometimes I just want SOMETHING.  Well here is a recipe for shortbread – buttery biscuits that are easy to make and consist of three ingredients that you’re bound to have already.  Easy. (And not just because I’m Scottish.)

To make about 35 little shortbread biscuits, you will need:

4.5 oz butter (softened)

2 oz caster sugar

6 oz plain flour

A little icing sugar for dusting.

THAT’S IT.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan.  Then mix together the butter and the caster sugar until smooth and add the flour.

shortbread mixture

It should form large breadcrumbs and then, if you continue mixing it, stick together like one big lump of dough.

shortbread dough

Dust a clean surface with flour and lay out your lump of dough. Next, cover a rolling pin in flour and gently roll out the dough until it’s 0.5-1 cm thick.  Then use a pastry cutter or the open end of a glass to cut out circles.

cutting shortbread

Place your circles on to a lightly greased baking tray, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar and then put in the fridge for 10 minutes.

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Once chilled, they can then go into the oven to bake for 12 minutes. When ready, the shortbread will have turned golden brown.

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Lift them off the tray and place on a wire rack to cool.

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Once cooled, they’re ready to be eaten, shared or decorated.  Melted chocolate is always good….

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Enjoy!

Save a fortune on your food bills in 7 simple steps

After rent or the mortgage, food shopping is often the biggest piece of expenditure each month with the average family spending £83.60 per week at the supermarket, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Perhaps that figure shocks you. You can’t possibly spend anywhere near that on your food, right? Well, if you were to check your bank statements, you might be in for a shock.

The good news is that it’s really simple to cut your food bills.  And by a significant amount too.

Here’s my guide to the steps you can take to reduce your spending on food. So get yourself a cup of tea/glass of wine, and let’s do this.

1. Impulse buying or same online order every week? Stop!

First of all, you need to look at how much you are spending per month and where you’re buying your food from. Do you do a big weekly shop and then top up at smaller branches as and when you need something? Do you have an online delivery service already in place, where you order the same things every week? Perhaps you live in a city centre, don’t have a car, and just do all your shopping at a metro supermarket each day on your way home from work. Impulse food shopping is often very expensive so a move to planning in advance will make the biggest difference to your spending. If you order the same thing every week online, it’s likely you’re missing out on special offers and food is going to waste if you have plans that mean you won’t be around every night.

2. Do a stock check so you don’t buy what you don’t need

Before you do another food shop, take a stock check.

Go through everything in your freezer and write down what you have. Then do the same with your fridge and your cupboards. In the freezer, you may find you already have some sausages, or chicken breasts or even a ready meal which will save you buying more protein on your next shop. In the fridge, you might find some ready meals, jars of sauce or other things that will last a few weeks and can be used in a dish or two. If there are any items like meat or veg that are reaching their use by date, cook them and freeze them so they last longer. Finally, in the cupboards, you should make a list of portions of pasta, rice, potatoes, sauces and other seasonings.

Do you know I found 4 jars of paprika in the cupboard the other day?! When you don’t know what you have, you can end up buying duplicates of things. This will very easily help to cut your food bills.

3. Plan, plan, plan

Open a word document or Notes on your computer or phone and write down the days of the week with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Next to each of the 21 entries, write a meal or mark OUT if you have plans and won’t be eating in. Breakfasts are probably very easy – for me, I just write ‘toast’ and I buy a loaf of bread which I keep in the freezer so it lasts the week. Lunches and dinners will be more difficult but the web is FULL of inspiration. Here are just some of the sites that I get dinner ideas from:

Ocado
Waitrose
Sainsburys
Tesco
Morrisons
BBC Good Food

You can also pick some dishes which allow you to cook batches of food to have on other dates, such as bolognese which (with a few tweaks) can become the base of many, many other meals.

When planning, try to work in a few of the things you have in the freezer to your first or second weeks’ plans as you’ll need the freezer space for other things! Supercook is great at working out meals with what you already have in your cupboard.

4. Go frozen

Replace fresh with frozen. As you’re going to be buying a week’s worth of shopping, you need the sell by dates to last longer than a few days. If, like me, you need a portion of veg with every meal, then go frozen! It’s just as fresh as the unfrozen stuff (if not fresher because it’s frozen as soon as it’s picked) and it’s much cheaper. I would recommend bags of cauliflower, broccoli, peas and sweetcorn. However, if you have limited freezer space, you can buy frozen bags of mixed vegetables and they cost about £1!

The same applies for herbs. You can buy little bags of most seasonings and herbs including coriander, basil, chopped chilies, garlic, chopped shallots and ginger for about £1.20 each and they’ll last in the freezer for ages, unlike fresh herbs which go off in the fridge very quickly.

Just by swapping from fresh to frozen should significantly cut your food bills (as many of the items will last a few weeks) and you’ll be wasting a lot less food too.

5. Shop around for the best deals

Yup, now we shop! Each supermarket has its own pricing plan so it’s important to use a comparison tool to ensure you’re getting the best deals. Go to mysupermarket.co.uk and add all the items you’ll need for the week to your shopping basket. Remember to refer back to your kitchen stock so you don’t buy anything you already have. Once you’ve added everything, check the Switch and Save option on the right hand side of the webpage. This will show you how much your basket will cost you at each supermarket.

On my first visit to the site, I saved 25 quid doing this!

Select the cheapest option and then book a delivery slot. For this new way of food shopping to work, I’d recommend picking a day and time that will work for you every week so that you’re always planning ahead one week at a time. The delivery costs should be under £5 for any of the supermarkets so factor that price in when you order.

6. Don’t waste anything

Save leftovers and freeze them. They can be used for other meals i.e roast chicken can go into risotto, bolognese can be used in lasagne or cottage pie.

7. Repeat

Keep redo-ing the planner each week and using mysupermarket.co.uk to find the cheapest retailer. It will allow you to save some items as favourites which is really valuable for the items you may need every week like milk (or nappies!)

Of course, you will need to pop to the shops occasionally during the week for items you’ve forgotten or if your plans change but as long as you avoid buying too many impulse items, it won’t cause too much damage!

How to save a fortune on your food bills

What are your naughty habits when incomes to food shopping?

Beef stroganoff

As it’s a food and finance (and fashion) blog, it’s important that I show you how to make the most of the food you buy. For example, making meals from spare batches of bolognese or roast beef.  If you saw my post on roast beef, you may have noticed that the joint was MASSIVE – far too big for two people.  This meant that we had enough left over the next night (and some left to put in the freezer) to make beef stroganoff.

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This is such a simple dish as most of the ingredients can already be found in your cupboard and the others – creme fraiche and parsley – can be used up easily in lots of other meals.

To make this, you will need:

2 beef steaks – fillet is best OR 350g roast beef, thinly sliced to the size of half of your pinky finger

Some oil – vegetable or olive is fine

1 white onion, half sliced and half diced

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

A tub of chestnut mushrooms, washed and sliced

200ml creme fraiche

150ml chicken stock

Half a teaspoon of paprika

Lots of salt and pepper

A small bunch of parsley, chopped

Basmati rice

If using beef fillet, get a frying pan very very hot, pour in some oil and cook the steaks according the packet’s instructions. You want them to be browned on the outside but they don’t need to be cooked through as they will cook a little more later on with the rest of the ingredients.

Start cooking the rice. This is such a quick meal to make that the rice will be the thing that slows you down!

Heat a large deep frying pan with some oil and slowly cook the onions and garlic to soften them. Keep stirring to ensure they’re not cooking too fast and burning.  Once they’ve softened, add the mushrooms and allow them to soften too.  This should take 3-4 minutes. Add the paprika and stir well.

Add the beef to the pan along with the creme fraiche and the chicken stock and turn up the heat so the contents of the pan come to the boil. Then, reduce the heat, give it all a big stir and allow it to simmer for a few minutes.

beef stroganoff

Then serve with rice and topped with parsley.

Hope you try it!

How to make a great bolognese

 

This is my favourite recipe of all time and all entirely my own.  *PROUD FACE*  And, it’s brilliant because it forms the base of so many great meals: spaghetti bolognese, chilli, cottage pie, lasagne….   By making a big batch of it, you can store several dishes in the freezer, saving yourself a small fortune on last minute supermarket trips and ready meals.  This bolognese is also good defrosted as a post drinking meal when you don’t want to binge on bread or chips.

Here is how you make it.  This makes two large portions but if you double the quantities you can end up with dinner for two and 3 meals to whack in the freezer.

Ingredients

You will need:

A glug of oil

1 onion

1 large carrot

2 cloves of garlic

2 sticks of celery

6 small mushrooms

1 x 400g pack of mince

1 beef oxo cube

Tin of chopped tomatoes

About 50g tomato puree

Some dried basil and oregano

Balsamic vinegar

Worcestershire sauce

Chilli flakes, if you wish

Salt and pepper

Method

Pour a generous glug  of oil in to a big deep frying pan on a medium heat.  Dice the onion, carrot and celery, and crush the garlic and add to the pan to sweat (not fry) for at least 10 minutes until soft.

Next turn up the heat and add this mince. Once browned, add the mushrooms (which should be diced).

Crumble the beef oxo cube into the mixture and stir well so that it is spread evenly through the mixture. Then mix in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.  At this stage, give it a generous shake of salt and pepper and a little seasoning of the herbs.

Pour in 1 dessertspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 2 dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar and mix.

Turn the heat up and leave it to bubble for 20 minutes.  You will find that over time the liquid will evaporate, and at this point you can add about 150 ml of water to loosen it up. Should you wish to give it a kick, add a teaspoon of chilli flakes and season to taste.

As I said, this can do two people with pasta, or in lasagne, but if you leave to cool you can get 5 portions to freeze for another day.

To modify it for chilli, add kidney beans, a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of cumin and additional chilli flakes.