Thursday, 22 September 2016

5 things we waste our money on...

Ok- so it's quite apparent since my last post and my current Mortgage Diaries coverage on Twitter (follow me @ yasmina aniss) that I'm quite budget focused at the moment. Hey healthy obsession right?! And well I was looking at how fricken empty my purse was yet all I seem to be doing is working! It's the little things that eat away all your hard earned dosh and here are mine:

1. Food shopping. Ok I know we have to eat to survive. I always buy treats when I feel like I deserve it- and I could persuade myself that I deserve treats daily- lol! Everyone impulse buys and the amount of wastage that's committed is frankly quite disgusting. I try to make myself feel better by being an avid compost engager, but who are we kidding. We always put too much in our basket. We always order too much at the table, and most of us (go away health freaks!) definitely over consume in calories daily. It should be all about food prep and negotiating and getting rid of that idea that we deserve to fill the trolley up with 1/5 of treats (crisps, popcorn, biscuits, chocolate, wine, beer etc!) especially if we have had a bad day. We all do it and it's just emptying out pockets...most lunches cost around the seven euro mark (sambo/crisps/drink) and if you spend that 5 days a week and 48 weeks of the year- your looking at least €1600. The last time I checked that's a Celine phantom?!

2. Bottled water. It's only when I am emptying my car, that I do a head tilt, total up in my head what I have spent on water bottles that month and go...crap! I have even bought re-usable bottles in the past- BPA free of course! But I have lost lids, they have shattered, I didn't bother buying a new filter...blah blah blah. I might let's say buy three bottles a week- 1 litre ones, I also (naughtily!) maybe use the same bottle for a day or two. Most bottles are around the €1.50 mark, thats €4.50 a week and a whopper €234 a year, which ok...isn't huge. But over a year, it could be  3 Aveo water bottle (reviews of this non-leaking bottle are brilliant!) and over two hundread squid to spend on a facial or two.

3. Pennys. I think writing this means that any chance of ever having a collab with Primark/Pennys will indefinitely be thrown out the window lol- but seriously! What's with the Pennys effect? You pop in to get ankle socks and you can come out with another set of fleecy pjs, boob tape, make-up remover and a new make-up bag.  Sure it's only a few euro right?! I love the shop for seriously providing value for money products, but it's never good going. Same can be said for my Aldi/Lidl shop- new containers, himalayan salt and a spice blender have graced my basket recently. Lesson learned- leave the visa debit at home and only bring the cash that you ACTUALLY need.

4. Coffees. I love caffeine and I am actually quite good in that I may only ever have one coffee a day. I generally drink a lot of green tea (I bulk bought this fantastic bundle deal from Amazon here). Two cups in the morning and one in the evening. But coffee tends to be bought out and is usually consumed when I have a big drive to classes across the country. Coffee prices keep creeping up...and while I have my favourite places to have a sip of a brew and people watch on a Sunday (Kaph, Slice and 3FE are my favourite places in Dublin!), most of the coffee I buy in petrol stations is absolute mush, yet I still drink it all while my euro's are disappearing! Four take-away coffees a week in petrol stations (that being the cheapest place to get a coffee- I still see so many places charging over three euro for a cap!) is over four hundred euro a year- which is a pair of these Gucci Princetown leather slippers that I have been eyeing up for ages.

5. Subscriptions. Netflix. Amazon Prime, Look fantastic beauty box. Spotify. Glamour magazine. All really un-necessary expenditures but so necessary at the same time. Every little subscription adds up and when you see whats debiting out of the account every's scary stuff. When I did my accounts this year- I think I totalled it up to night in the Marker (this hotel is my fave place to stay in Dublin) and a very very fancy meal...Boo you debit card! I'm down to just my Netflix (can I just leave this at NARCOS?!) and have phased out my beauty subscription. Real Adult stuff going on here. Tear drops.

What do you waste your dollar dollar bills on? 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

10 things I would tell myself 10 years ago...

I'm in the process of making big A.D.U.L.T decisions. I write that in caps and with singular letters because that it literally how detailed investing in your future is. I'm hitting 28 in a few months and I really feel like my 20's have flashed past my eyes and I have this gnawing feeling of just not wanting to grow up quite yet. Is it the fear? God I have no idea. I don't really get the fear. I just worry that I have not made enough mistakes or been ballsy enough. I don't mind regrets. I feel like they are life lessons, but if I was 18 again, there are a few things I would like to tell myself in advance. Maybe my life would have panned totally different. Maybe not...

1. Start a savings account. Way sooner. Even if it's €20 a month in a deposit account. Make it an automatic debit transaction (I always find you brush of physically having to deposit money!). It's a healthy habit, and one that you'll appreciate in years to come...! If I had realised how difficult it would be in my late 20's as a self-employed woman to get mortgage approval- I am not sure I would have gone down the path that I have. 

2. Say no! I've always said yes. Since day 1. Yes to extra work. Yes to more responsibilities. Yes to anything anyone has ever asked me to do. It's ok to say no (add a little thank-you!). And no, your not being selfish!

3. Regularly re-evaluate your vision board. I've always associated a vision board with something that you might do in a group work in school/college- however I have found mine (only done one in Jan 2016!)  super motivating when I take the time to look at it (place it somewhere you will always see it!). I'd have loved to have done one of these years ago. I might have thrown down things in my late teens that I would never dare write down now. We are more naive when we are younger and there is nothing wrong with that!

4. Don't buy so many shoes. God I bought so many shoes. SOOO many shoes. I could have had my own shoe shop. Be realistic. Fashion constantly changes. Buy a few staples and 2-3  fashion pieces that you can rotate. My bank manager has warned me about my purchasing patterns. I am now paying the price for having a colourful wardrobe...Boo!

5. Keep in touch. Social media doesn't actually count! When I turned 18, I started dance college and most of my school friends went on to do various things and then a good lot moved abroad. I got so caught up with my training and travelling, I didn't go out as much and lost a huge amount of contact with the company of people I really enjoyed. It's so much harder when you get older to make friends. The awkwardness. Our busy lives. We always say in passing that we should meet up and we never do...

6. Avoid M & S like the plague. It's made me develop a very unhealthy relationship in justifying spending hard end money on items like mojito flavoured popcorn and mixed seafood risotto. I think if I didn't have such a fruitful palette from a young age, I'd be a lot richer and probably a size 8!

7. Have my eyebrows threaded and tinted from a pro. Religiously. What was I thinking going around with upside-down Nike ticks above my eye I'll never know. I shudder when I see photos of me from the past...

8. Breathe more and learn to relax. Any body that really knows me will know that I am the most tense, up tight, obsessive, over-thinking headless chicken. I'm a busy fool. And it's not healthy. I've been like this for at least the last 10 years. Had I spent time in my late teens pausing and breathing, I'd probably be more rational and calmer.

9. Work abroad before opening up a business. I love going abroad and I wish I hadn't rushed into opening my schools so soon. I'm limited that anything international now is purely as a holiday...I wish someone had said hold off on opening up your school and go work somewhere for a year.

10. Start a coding course. Because let's face's all the tech geeks out there that have really been the most successful!

Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Side notes, Taste in Dublin + Balfes and Dilllingers...

*Side note* 

It's been a while right since I have blogged....and I did think I was going to do more writing once my teaching work died down, but I think I have just been enjoying my time off. Doing absolutely nothing. Serious slothness. But again my laziness didn't last for long, as I usually get itchy feet and urge to do something with my 'me' time (we have a love/hate relationship!- I love the idea of relaxing but then feel totally guilty when I engage in it!), and was blessed with four weeks of camps that will keep me going till my Summer holidays in Morocco in August.  Yippee!


Myself and Ev did a whole vlog of our weekend- so if your more of a visual person then see our youtube video here (click please!). 

Taste of Dublin (located in the Iveagh Gardens- see here)

What a load of horse sh***e! I've been wanting to do it for years- it was my idea of heaven. Trying out tapas style meals from places all around Dublin in one venue. Drool! We received complimentary tickets (I think the value of them was €15!) so saw this as a saving and it meant more money towards buying food.... but the weekend's weather (it's currently Summer in Ireland!) was possibly the worst it could be for an outdoor venue situation- and this definitely affected the experience. We were advised to buy florins (a booklet of tickets that you exchange for food at each vendor so there is a cashless environment!). We bought a booklet worth €50. An amount we would usually spend on a brunch sitting. Excuse my french- but we literally pissed through the booklet, I was still starving and that was without having drinks. And I wanted alcohol. We spent another €20 on three drinks with about €3 left over and you couldn't really buy much for €3. Most of the vendor stalls we had tried were places we had yet to go to eat in Dublin- Pichet, Klaw, Amuse to name a few...and we were so excited about the idea of a new place- but what they served didn't necessarily entice me to go book a meal there.  Wouldn't that be the whole purpose? There was a lot of dishes that were served purely for convenience- I swear i'd seen brisket about five times over! Boo! The concept is a great idea- but it just cements rip off Ireland and it could be so much more.

Balfes (located just off Grafton Street- see here)

Balfes actually happened on the same day as Taste in Dublin...purely because we were still so hungry and I was dying to try out the Instagram-worthy eatery I heard so much about. Balfes is located just under the Westbury. Think marble tables, chic Parisienne style outdoor tables and a simple (and health conscious too!) menu. We had oysters on the brain, so went for a plate of Carlingford Oysters, the Tuna Tartare and bread basket with dips. Desserts were a parmesan and fig cheesecake (yes you read that right and it was so good!) and a pepper grilled pineapple with vanilla ice-cream. Now that's food. And good food too! We will be back. 



Dillingers (located on the main street in Ranelagh- see here

It's become a tradition within my family that we all go out once my stage schools conclude. I decided to try Dillingers. It was my first time going- well it actually should have been my second (I won their #Brunchtastic competition which was a free meal including drinks for two- but was busy so I gave it to my parents instead and they didn't stop raving about it...kudos to a brilliant twitter competition!). The food and drinks were amazing- we went for steak and eggs, the nachos, the Scandinavian, the chicken and waffles, a cheeseburger and brioche soft roll filled with Shrimp. All mains came with a generous side of fries, potatoes or greens. The drinks were good and strong too- check out the breakfast stick on the Bloody Mary. We shared dessert amongst the seven of us- creme brulee with clementines, a chocolate mousse with almond ice cream and a baked New York cheesecake. Special highlights were the steak (smokey and juicy!), my Mimosa (I love bubbles obviously!), the Nachos and the chocolate mousse. If I was to be a bit picky, I'd stay away from the  chicken + waffles- the southern fried chicken was quite dry- purely because I think they chose fillet pieces as oppose to a piece on a bone (maybe to cater for the majority of people, I'm not too sure!). We will be back- if not for their brunch, then for their steak Wednesday's which sound super. Ps- Ranelagh is one of my favourite places in Dublin- maybe because my mum's childhood home is there, or I love...ok, dream about owning a terrace house there one day!



Wednesday, 8 June 2016

24 in Dublin: Union 8, 50 Shades of Gay and Slice

Yesterday was my first day off in a while, because of my job in the arts- this time of the year tends to be quite hectic until the the lazy Summer hits. I like to plan something on my day off otherwise I'll end up procrastinating and wasting the day away on meaningless activities. One of my good friends from the arts world had landed a solo gig and dying to see him in it, I booked 2 tickets to see him perform in the Smock Alley Theatre. Sticking to our plan of eating our way around Dublin- we booked Union 8, in Kilmainham for pre-theatre dinner and planned brunch for the following day in a little restaurant- Slice in Stoneybatter, that we had walked past a few weeks ago and that was buzzing and we were dying to try.


Union 8- self-labled as your neighbourhood eatery has been busy every time we passed it. Ev had heard great things about it, but we always booked something else in the past and so only got round to trying it out on the Monday. It was 5.30 on a bank holiday so we were offered the Early Bird Menu @ €23.50 for two course + tea/coffee. I went for the Seared scallops with Mc Carthy’s black pudding, Spring onion, Ponzu and Chicory for my starters and the special of Pan fried hake on a bed of tomatoes and squid. And Ev went for Wild garlic and nettle soup with Créme fraiche and Nduja  and for mains went for the Roast Duck breast, Blood orange, Potato rosti, Carrot and anise. To drink I chose a Passion fruit Margarita and Ev went for a Coconut Mojito. 

To be blunt- it was poor and we expected so much more. I don't know if we expected more because of the reviews, because it always looked busy or because we liked the idea of having a restaurant a stone's throw away from Ev's childhood neighbourhood. But it was so poor. Drinks were good, and so were my scallops. But everything else was just very mediocre. The soup had a domineering pea smell from it- even though peas weren't advertised in the title. My hake (which is a fish that I love!!!) was overcooked and also burnt on the outside and the bed of tomatoes ended up being a tomato cut in half with a few lack lustre pieces of squid. Nothing that made it a special. Ev's duck was cooked well- except that it was luke warm and the rosti seemed to miss seasoning. Don't get me started on the half piece of carrot on the plate. This wasn't a tasting menu, so don't serve food that way. 23.50 is fine for a two course, but our waiter seemed brand new, didn't know the menu and we waited 20 minutes for our drinks to come out. I hate not giving something another try but but I really don't think I would visit Union8 again. The brunch I'd try- but other restaurants nearby offer a far more attractive meal. Highly disappointed. 

50 Shades of Gay- on at the Smock Alley Theatre till Saturday 11th June

This is not a bias review simply because I know Rob Murphy personally. I've seen other friends in performances before and not necessarily blogged about it. I'm more writing a review because it actually far exceeded my expectations. It's a fantastic bit of theatre that everyone can relate too- gay or not! When I told Rob last week that I'd bought tickets for me and Ev- he rather politely went crazy and suggested that I should be going with a group of girls or some gay friends. Utter nonsense. While it is a rather overly stereotyped play on a gay men and his sexual conquests- Aiden (played by Rob Murphy) speaks about some of his 69 past boyfriends and we can't help but grasp on to a few familiar situations and just as we start to well up and reminisce, Aidan snaps us back to laughter with references on grocery items that will never set foot in my trolley again; sweetcorn and jelly tots are over for me!

The Smock Alley is a fantastically intimate theatre, just rather disappointingly, ticket sales were quiet (hey it was a bank holiday Monday and a lot of people had work the next day!) and I knew that it mean't Rob had to work ten times harder to get any audience interaction. So on that alone- I was blown away. His effort and passion for performing in a one-man show was brave and inspiring and  I highly recommend you visit this week before the run ends this Saturday. Hey, the weather is so beautiful in Ireland at the moment, it's perfectly acceptable to go for a drink or dinner, take a walk up the quays and stop for a bit of theater- c'est la vie non?! Tickets can be booked here.


Tuesday's brunch was at Slice. I walked past it a few weeks back and it looked charming. There was people sitting on the makeshift bench, it's located in the uber cool Stoneybatter area and I made mental note to come back and try it out in the future. We arrived around 11.30, so breakfast was still being served. And the lunch menu started at 12 which suited me fine. 

I went for the scrambled eggs on sourdough with avocado and chorizo and Ev went for the home made beans and sausages on Sourdough with Gubbeen cheese. He went for one of their teas, I went for their juice of the day- watermelon and apple and we got two coconut milk cappuccinos and a slice of coconut cake that was filled with the oozing jam. As far as breakfast goes- mine was lovely- decent portions, but most importantly good tastes. Loads of coriander + meaty chorizo in mine and simple homemade beans in Ev's were the highlights. And we really enjoyed the bread. I loved the juice so much- we stopped of in the supermarket on the way home and bought watermelon to use in Ev's juicer. And my coffee was good. Like real good. Cappuccinos made with coconut and almond milk are my new go too's. I'm really obsessed with them. I got chatting to who I think was the owner- and just the overall vibe of the place was my cup of tea. Me and Ev love Stoneybatter- just one of the terrace houses from the mortgage gods down the road and I'd be sorted. can dream right!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

VISITING NEW YORK; Where we stayed, Eating in NYC, Things to do and my Top Tips

Part 3 of my Visiting New York post is Things to do and my Top Tips. If you have some tips of your own that aren't here, pop them on the comments page- hey, sharing is caring...

Things to do;

-Highline (free)- this was my Little Sister's suggestion, and what a fantastic place for being snap happy. The highline is an old railway line that has been refurbished into a safe walkway (totally kid friendly too- there is things for little ones to do whilst taking the route!) and you have several exits on the way where you can pop into neighbouring areas for a bite!

- One World Observatory (around $30 admission but they do family deals too!)- While my myself and my Mum visited the 9/11 memorial site + museum, my sister Grace and my Dad visited the world observatory. I was pretty jealous when she came back with these photos....

 - Street art- your spoiled for choice in New York with some of the most creative and interesting pieces around the city. Street art fanatics would have a field day- and I say you could base your entire stay around certain tags around the city. We just got snap happy when there was something we liked...

-2 day ticket for the Hop On Hop Off bus tour ($55)- I totally recommend it, it was the best way to get all the hotspots over and done with in one day. Tour guides obviously vary- the chap + lady we had on the first day was brilliant, super cool and gave you a heap of knowledge. The next days tour guide wasn't so much into it...but hey it's hit and miss! We got off at the main attractions- Grand Central station, Times Square, all the bridges linking to Manhattan, Fifth Avenue, Central Park etc in New York on each route and hopped back on when we were tired from walking.


-Broadway show (price range from anything like $40-$200+). We chose premium seats to see Matilda, but even at $135 each, we were three rows from the stage! The cast came up all around our seats and there was a really cool stunt scene with 'Lavender' literally a breathe away from me that I am still trying to work out. We spent the next few days belting our 'Revolting Children'...But if Matilda is not your cup of tea- there are soooo many Broadway shows, dance performances, operas, jazz shows really is a city of performance and your spoilt for choice.


- Central Park (free) We spent half a day strolling around the park. Blessed with such good weather, we were able to take in several of the street performers and have a mooch around a quarter of the park. Plan your trip there, there are so many entrances and scenic spots from movies/tv shows that you will want to see so plan plan plan. If I was back in the late spring/summer, I'd take a boat trip and pack a picnic! Also make sure to check out the loos (we had such much fun in them lol!)


-MOMA- an absolutely un-real museum with pieces I only dreamed of seeing. Some of my favourites were pieces by Andy Warhol, Helen Frankenthaler, Chagall, Umberto Boccioni, Picasso, Roy Litchenstein and Jackson Pollock. An adult ticket with MOMA costs $23 but you could easily spend the whole day there. I only managed to get through 2.5 floors and definitely missed out on some work that I regret. Download the app (they have free wifi in the museum and avail of the audio options!). The museum, the pieces and the supporting material are so educating- I felt like I was back taking an art history lesson!


-Brooklyn- we actually used one of the tour buses to take a trip to Brooklyn and I wanted to see how the neighbourhood varies from the concrete jungle of Manhattan. It does and it's still quite cool looking. Cue 'Jigga what...Jigga who' through the whole trip there! My parents previously took in a game in the Barclays Centre and they highly recommended it. Tickets were pricey- but it was a derby- Nets v Knicks and they said the atmosphere was priceless. For my trip- it was either a musical or a sports game. And I went for the musical.

- 9/11 Memorial site- We visited the memorial site and museum on our last day in New York. It was right in front of our Hotel so we didn't have far to travel, but queuing happens from early on, so get there first if you don't want to be waiting. Strict security measures in place, so be sensible too! The museum itself is tastefully done- we all remember where we were the day the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened, I was in London on my way to a ballet class, when my friend shouted from her flat for us to run up and look at the news. We stood transfixed on the terrifying images that flood the screens. The museum paints a picture of being there in that moment. The lives that changed. The lives lost. I highly recommend the site- even just for reflection.

- What I would like to do should I get the opportunity to visit New York again- Metropolitan Museum of Art (met museum!), take in a game/concert at either Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Centre and Brunch on one of the rooftops during the Summer- our hotel rooftop only opened up in the warm season- but check out the Loopy Doopy rooftop bar and it's insane cocktail menu here!

Top Tips;

- Comfortable shoes- I'm a trainers type of lady anyway, but my Air Max Flyknits were my saviour. You want to look stylish but also be able to belt down the subway stairs...If AM's aren't your cup of tea; these Nikes, these Reeboks or these Adidas bad boys will always pair well with your exploring outfit.

- Subway pass is $32 for a 7 day pass- it's the cheapest city I have been to for a while with regards to public transport. Working out at just over $4 a day for unlimited metro travel- it's by far cheaper then travelling in London (which I have found to be way too expensive now!) and the subway system is so simple to use. It would be nearly impossible to get lost!

- Walk! The layout of Manhattan all together is so well designed, streets are perpendicular to avenues, and we saved so many locations on google maps so that it was simply easy to get from place to place by foot! If you are a geographical nightmare though- so many subway stations have wifi hotspots, so simply nip down, load your maps feed and then set back on foot again.

- Haggle for tour buses- we got ours cheaper then advertised. What's the worst that could happen? They just say no!

- Plan. Plan and Plan. Everyone I have talked to about New York says it! You can get lost in the all hype and spend your entire time walking around places like the M and M factory in Times Square- which might be appealing to some people but isn't really my cup of tea.

- Research;

Research your shopping- The exchange rate is so poor at the minute for the dollar that you don't necessarily save big. I instead bought items I couldn't get back at home (my April bill from Sephora was not pleasant!) or that were cheaper- I teach 6/7 days a week so bought new work gear from Nike that costs me a fortune back home.

Research your eating places- if your a fussy eater and fast food is your cup of tea your fine- NYC is full of junk food! But if not, and you like expanding the palette- research Yelp reviews, ask friends who have similar tastes and experiment. It's such an international city!

Research you sightseeing places- we tried to match our sightseeing places with where we were going to eat- sort of like killing two birds with one stone. Ok, so I know people will be like hey your on a holiday, so quit planning and go with the flow, and sometimes that happened- we stumbled upon streets we liked and places that looked interesting and got off stops earlier then we were supposed to but New York has so much to do, and it's not cheap to fly to or stay at. It's certainly not a 48hr trip to a European city with Ryanair so the way I see it- you want to make the most of every part of it.

- Take some 'me' time. Every day spent in New York, we would give an hour or so to chill back in the hotel rom before changing and getting ready for dinner that night. Whether it was having a Nespresso and something sweet you had picked up that day, or sprawling on the bed and reading- 'Me' time abroad is so important for you mentally and also who is travelling with you.

What would you recommend to do in New York? What are your top tips?