Sunday, 9 September 2018

Monzo: The Bank of the Future!

Hey everyone :)

I imagine when someone mentions "change banks" - you cringe - because there is so much work involved ... moving direct debits, transferring the remaining balance or telling your work your new account number and sort code.

I've was with my old bank about 12+ years and I was bored. I was paying around £12.50 a month (started off as £3.50) just to have an overdraft, warranty guarantee, card protection and mobile phone cover. I rarely used the overdraft (it was just there for emergencies), I didn't use the warranty guarantee or the card protection and from what I heard the mobile phone cover was the worst and getting them to do anything when your phone broke was next to impossible. So I asked myself - "why am I paying £12.50?".

I found Monzo in an unusual way - in that I happened to come across them in one of their new employee's YouTube videos "My first day at Monzo". I was intrigued and started googling them and checking out the reviews on the app store and was really impressed. I found it odd you could open an actual bank account on an iPhone app as I'd never heard of such a thing!!

What drew me to Monzo was the sleek, cool looking app. It's available on iPhone or Android!. I love that it pulls the logos from companies and shows them next to the transactions. Whenever you buy anything you get a notification instantly (signal permitting) to tell you and it also puts it in a certain category to help you track spending. It also lists your direct debits and shows when they come off and shows these in a "committed spending" category. You can also help with testing on Monzo Labs for anything they are doing - I'm currently using the "bill splitting" feature which is really good and lets you split transactions and request the other half from other people.

I applied for the account while sitting on my bed. Entered the usual sign up stuff (name, date of birth, address etc). Took a picture of my passport and then recorded myself saying "Hi, my name is John and I want a Monzo account"... then three days later I had a lovely hot coral card in the post :)

Some people might be a but dubious and worried about an online/app based bank however it is covered with the FSCS up to £85,000 for current accounts and £170,000 for join accounts. Being online/app based they do not have physical branches so you can't visit. They do have online chat and can call them if you have issues.

They do also have their own forum/community where you can chat and talk about Monzo-related issues (and some non-Monzo related issues). I just joined a few days ago and I've learnt a lot more about banking and Monzo than I did before.

Overall I am really impressed and happy with the bank and I'm glad I switched over. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new bank. They do offer the current account switch service or if you like to do things yourself - you can do it yourself at your own pace.

Let me know in the comments below if you have switched or use Monzo.


Thursday, 16 August 2018

Cupcake Jemma 'Red Velvet Cupcakes'

Hi everyone :)

These cupcakes are one of my all-time favourite to make and to eat of course! The original recipe makes 24 so I have halved everything to make about 12 (depending on how much you fill the cases you might only get 11).

The recipe also uses the cream cheese icing for the topping but I find you need to keep that refrigerated or it goes off quicker so I used Jemma's normal vanilla buttercream icing for the topping - of course this option is up to you - both work really well with the cupcake.

Ingredients (for cupcakes):
118g self-raising flour
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
125g caster sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
135f unsalted butter, softened
2 large free-range eggs
1 1/2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp red food-colouring paste
3/4 tsp cider vinegar

Ingredients (for the cream cheese icing):
125g unsalted butter, softened
120g cream cheese
420g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170
2. Sift the dry cupcake ingredients (apart from the bicarbonate of soda) and 3/4 of a teaspoon of fine sea salt into a large bowl, add the butter and eggs and beat for 60 seconds with an electric mixer (I prefer the free-standing type).
3. Mix the buttermilk, vanilla extract and colouring paste in a small jug, then add to the mixture and beat for another 20 seconds, or until well combined.
4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then give the mix a final blast for a few seconds to make sure it's all incorporated.
5. In a cup, mix the bicarbonate of soda with the vinegar - as soon as you do this, it'll start to fizz. Working quickly, pour the bubbling mixture into the cake mix and whisk very briefly to incorporate.
6. Give the batter a final mix and whisk very briefly to incorporate thirds full with mixture, but don't bother to smooth it out.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until they spring back when touched. Leave to cool, transferring to a wire cooling rack after 5 minutes.

1. Beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale and smooth.
2. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add to the butter mixture in two stages, beating well between each until beautifully smooth - if the mix seems to loose, add a little more icing sugar until the consistency is just right.
3. Once the cupcakes are cool, decorate them with the icing and a few of your favourite sprinkles and enjoy.

Let me know in the comments below if you've made these amazing cupcakes!?


Saturday, 4 August 2018

Stardew Valley

Hey everyone :)

I originally bought this game on a whim for my PS4 when I was in my "recording gaming videos" phase - started recording videos and realised it was going to take forever so I decided to give it a miss - I think I then recorded and did Ori and the Blind Forest (a much better choice).

The game then came out on the Switch which I have and so I bought it on that - and I haven't stopped playing it since - I highly recommend getting it - it's currently on sale (or was depending on when your reading this post).

The game is a farming simulation role-playing video game where you take control of a tired office worker who wants a change - and guess what ... you just inherited your Grampa's farm in Stardew Valley.

There is plenty to do in Stardew Valley and I've been kept very busy the last couple of months - you can clear rocks and trees, plant, tend and harvest crops, buy buildings such as coops, barns, silos, stable etc, speak and build up relationships with the villagers, get a boyfriend/girlfriend and get married, have kids too - the game really does have everything.

It's also LGBT+ friendly - you can be gay and instead of "making a baby" you can adopt one instead.

You can also do little daily quests, longer quests and there is the community centre bundles that need you to collect certain items and this in turn unlocks bigger things on the map - like the bridge being rebuild or your greenhouse being rebuilt.

It is such a good game and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys simulation games.

Let me know in the comments below if you are playing/have played it?!


Saturday, 30 June 2018

Taylor Swift Reputation Tour - Wembley, London - Saturday 23rd June 2018

Hey everyone :)

I've only ever been to one concert back in 2000 when Britney Spears had her Circus Tour so I was not sure what to expect when I attended Taylor Swift's Reputation Tour in Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

I'm struggling right now to find the words to describe it - I'm still playing the experience over and over in my head and trying to figure out if I had enough money to fly to another country to see her again - it was amazing! The music, the lights, the wristbands that glowed different colours, the other fans, the supporting acts, the dancers, the band - all AMAZING!

I went with someone I used to work with in Coventry - Sarah who loves Taylor Swift just as much as me :) Taylor also mentioned in the concert that this was her 13th concert of her career and we all know she has an obsession with all things 13.

She played all her songs from Reputation and also a mashup of a couple of songs from other albums which was really cool - I really enjoyed the mash up of Bad Blood and Should've Said No!

She also treated us to Fifteen (from her Fearless album) the reason for this was because it was her 15th night of her tour and so that made it special.

We didn't realise how close we were to the stage. We both thought we were up on the nosebleeds but actually we were technically on the pitch only about 20 rows from the front I think.

We had such a good time and I can't wait for her next tour!!

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