Restaurant style pan fried sea bass

As the About page explains, this blog is about how you can save money to enjoy the finer things in life, such as eating out. By this, I don’t mean eating out at a chain restaurant every week; I mean eating out at really really good restaurants every month or two. A simple way to save for these really really good restaurants is to cut back on the takeaways and the bog standard meals out but that’s a challenge when we’re uninspired by what we can cook at home.

Well, part of this blog is on feasts and that includes cooking your own grub. If what you cook is more appealing, and of restaurant standard, (and you have a bottle of wine ready), who needs to go out?

So, here’s my recipe for pan fried sea bass – a staple menu item for any good restaurant.

pan fried sea bassYou will need:

2 fillets of sea bass

Plain flour

Oil

Salt and pepper

Start by covering a large plate with a layer of plain flour. Add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.

Put the fillets on to the plate, and cover both sides with the flour.

floured sea bass

Add 2 tbsp of oil to a large frying pan on a medium heat. Once hot, add the fillets, skin side down.  Cook for 4 minutes.

Turn over when crispy brown and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes until cooked.

crispy sea bass

Then put on a plate and garnish  with some lemon juice or warmed basil pesto.

Yum. x

What the budget means for you the consumer

This wouldn’t be a finance blog if I didn’t mention this week’s Budget. If you tried to follow it on TV or on twitter, you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused about what the overall outcome was for you.  Will you be better off or not? Well, in this short post, I’ll explain what the budget means for the consumer.

Press Association
Press Association

Savings: GOOD NEWS. The Government wants us to save, save, save for our future and is helping us do that by:

  • increasing the limit we can input into an ISA (tax-free savings account) each year to £20,000, up from £15,240.
  • introducing lifetime ISAs for people under 40, to save up to £4,000 a year. The Government will also top up the amount we input by 25% i.e. for every £4 you save, they will add £1.

Income tax: GOOD NEWS for low and high income rate payers here, as well as the self-employed as:

  • the tax-free personal allowance (the amount of earnings that you do not pay tax on) is being raised from £10,600 to £11,500. This will mean some people will no longer pay any income tax.
  • The 40% tax rate threshold is rising to include only those earning £45,000 and above.
  • Self-employed workers will no longer need to pay Class 2 National Insurance. This amounts to an annual tax cut of over £130.
  • E-bay-ers and AirBnB-ers (or micro-entrepreneurs) no longer need to file tax returns for this income if they earn less than £1,000 a year.

Insurance: BAD NEWS for all. Because we ALL need insurance.

  • The insurance premium tax (a tax on general insurance premiums, such as home insurance, car insurance and travel insurance) will increase by 0.5% to 10%.

Fun: GOOD NEWS for drivers and beer/spirit drinkers, BAD NEWS for sugar lovers, wine drinkers and smokers. No increases in the tax paid on:

  • Fuel
  • Beer, cider, and spirits (not wine boo – the tax will rise in line with inflation)
  • BUT tobacco duty will rise by 2 per cent above inflation
  • ALSO a tax will be applied to sugary drinks companies which could mean the increase in costs will be passed onto consumers as a price rise. Stock up on your coca cola now!
 And that’s it.  Overall, if you ask me what the budget means for the consumer, I think it’s a positive outcome.  What do you think?

Get your own personalised designer handbag

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Longchamp has always been a favourite brand of mine. Its Le Pliage Nylon range in particular.  Not only are the bags classic and sleek and come in a variety of beautiful colours but they’re also incredibly practical.

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Available in 6 sizes, from overnight bags down to the carrier of your bare essentials, you’re covered for any occasion, and they’re light and fold down to the size of a notebook.  Perfect if you’re on holiday or a shopping spree, and expect the need for an extra bag on your way back. You know it happens.

I have a large tote bag which I use for overnight stays and as hand luggage when flying, and a medium tote which serves as a great bag if I’m travelling into London and need to carry more than the basics such as an umbrella, spare flats, my kindle etc….

As I said, the range comes in a variety of colours BUT what is really exciting is that Longchamp also lets you go further and design your bag. Yup, it lets you create a personalised designer handbag.  This means that you can do far more than pick a main colour; you can also determine the other colours of the bag, strap length and even branding, if you wish.

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This is my very own personalised designer handbag that I created for myself:

design your own handbag
I selected:

Bag size 3 (so that it will hold a book/shoes as well as all of my usual day-to-day musts)

Long handles (so I can wear it on my shoulder)

Main colour: Black

Stripe colour: Pearl

branded handbagHardware (zip and button colour): Golden

Branding: My initials embossed

 

 

I must warn you that there will be a huge temptation to go for bright colours but try to avoid this.  While it will look ‘fun’ when it first arrives, it’ll likely clash with most of your things and be relegated to a beach bag for the remainder of its days.

That’s why I went for classic colours.  By doing so, I have created a bag which works in any season and matches most of my wardrobe.

Personalised handbag

Price: £98. Cheap to become the creator and owner of your very own personalised designer handbag.

Kinky boots or spring trends

In my last post on hen dos in London, I mentioned that I LOVED some of the outfits the performers wore at Madame JoJo’s. So I’ve pulled together some fashion pieces that allow me to channel those looks (and most of them are spring trends!)

Aren’t they FAAAAABULOUS DARRRLING…..!

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This gorgeous coat is currently ON SALE at ASOS for £48 reduced from £80.  I know spring is coming but yikes it’s cold right now.

Lace is one of many spring trends this year so you tick that box if you buy this.  It’s £60 from ASOS.

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Who can’t resist some tassels? Detail, layering and embroidery are key this season (yep, another one of those spring trends) so why not start with your feet? These fringe sandals are £65 from Topshop.

Finally, it’s now cool to go out in your underwear/night slip so the burlesque girls are stylish ladies!

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This is so beautiful and incredibly sexy. With a midi skirt or black jeans, a tailored jacket over the shoulders and heels, this would look fantastic.   Available also in white, this Tibi cami is £368 at net-a-porter.

Did I just write a post on how to dress like a drag queen?!  Surely not. Oh these tricky spring trends……

Hen do ideas – London

I posted a few days ago about a great hen do I went to in Lisbon in Portugal but you don’t need to travel that far to have a great time.

I’ve been on loads of hen dos and they’ve all been completely different.  I’ve had booze and fine dining in London, the city weekend in Lisbon, fancy dress and fun in Brighton and a weekend seeing parts of London I had never seen before.  Having lived in the city for years I was shocked!

You may be organising a hen do soon so hopefully these appeal to you…..

Chocolate making

chocolate making

Off Leather Lane, down an alleyway, there stands a Business Centre.  A GREAT place to start off a surprise hen do because the bride to be will have NO IDEA what you’re doing there.  Inside, and down several flights of stairs is My Chocolate, a 90 minute workshop in which you taste different qualities of chocolate, and make various treats using vats of melted chocolate, ganache and fudge.

melted chocolate

It’s soooooo good.  And very messy.

chocolate tasting

Drunken pingpong

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I love a new bar. Cocktails, a buzzing atmosphere, and lots of your best friends and you know you have a good evening ahead.  Well add to that the hilarious activity of playing ping pong (badly) with a glass of wine in your hand. Try Bounce, located in Chancery Lane and Shoreditch. And for my American readers – if you’re in Chicago, there’s one opening there in June.

bounce bar 2

Burlesque and drag

madame jojos

One of the most memorable events of the whole weekend happened at Madame JoJo’s when a male singer in a gorgeously sexy outfit stripped down to reveal barely covered but PERFECT boobs.  He/she looked AMAZING and also had legs to die for!  All of the performers were gorgeous and made the evening highly entertaining.  (Update May 2016: Madame Jojo’s has now closed. If you are aware of any great alternatives, be sure to comment below and let us know!)

Courtesy of Londontown
Courtesy of Londontown

Afternoon tea and cake

tea party

Finally, the next day, with sore heads, we gathered in North London for a tea party.  Beautifully laid out for the ten of us were scones and clotted cream, dozens of lovely sandwiches, chocolate dipped strawberries and cupcakes topped with sugar bras!  We also enjoyed tea and freshly homemade lemonade.  Lovely!

I hope this helps! And hey, if no one you know is getting married soon, so what?  Try these things anyway!!