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Last minute alternative Valentine’s Day gifts

Happy Valentine's Day
Image credit: Codecards on Etsy

What’s a blog without a mention of Valentine’s Day…?

Have you forgotten to get your special someone a gift? Strapped for cash? 0r perhaps you’re just not a fan of the commercial craziness that comes around every 14th February and want to do something more meaningful than just a teddy from Clinton’s…? Either way, here are some ideas for alternative gifts – all of which can be arranged at the last minute.

1. Cook a special meal

If you’re anything like me (a total cooking novice with a chef for a husband) actually cooking any meal is a special event in itself! But seriously. If you’ve already got food in, this need not cost a fortune. Check out some of the great food blogs knocking around including A Girl Called Jack and The Skint Foodie for recipes on a budget. If it’s the actual cooking you’re worried about, all of the supermarkets do meal deals for any budget: for example, Tesco Finest‘s is £10 for 3 courses plus wine; or for a less fancy option, they have curry, pizza and oriental options for £6 (two sides and two mains). If you want to push the boat out a little, M&S‘s special Valentine’s Menu is £20 for a 3 course meal plus wine and chocolates.

2. Love cheques

You can find examples of these all over the place, for example at MSE or on the Tatertots and Jello blog, or you can just make your own! basically a set of IOUs for anything you like, romantic or other-wise.

3. Donate to charity on their behalf

Do they have a charity close to their heart? perhaps one that has helped them or someone they love? Not only are you helping others by sharing the love, but it will show how much you listen…

4. Married? Print and frame your wedding vows

This will earn some serious brownie points and can be done quite simply and quickly. Lots of companies can provide a design, print and frame service (you’ll find lots on Etsy or but why not do it yourself using Word, or Photoshop (if you have access)? You could probably repurpose a frame you already have.

5. Start a new habit

Sorry for being soppy! But sometimes in relationships you can take love for granted. My husband and I take the time to tell each other every day, sometimes a few times a day, how much we love each other. If you’ve got out of the habit, maybe it’s time to start?


Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!


The Wedding Series: Part 1 – Setting the Scene

This is the first post in a series based on my experience of planning our wedding last year.

In the series I will go through the planning process with you: How to begin planning, and tools that I found useful; how to budget; saving money through DIY; the big purchases – the dress, the photography, the venue; and finally, lessons that I’ve learnt; among other things.

The first full installment (Planning) will come in the next few days. Let me know in the meantime if there’s any aspect in particular you’d like me to cover and I’ll make sure I include it in a future post!

Bride and Groom

 Now, let me set the scene…

I was never that interested in weddings when I was younger; I’m not religious, so never really saw in my head how it would pan out. So even when I got engaged at the rather early age of 23 (5 years into our relationship), being ever-practical, I decided we should actually get on the property ladder first. Skip forward 2 years and we had bought our first flat – a few months later we decided that maybe we should start thinking about setting a date.

I began investigating and realised something: I do want a white wedding. I want it to be beautiful. What I want is likely to be expensive.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fritter money away. I am a serious saver. We paid for our flat deposit by ourselves, no help from parents; even if I wanted to have the wedding of my dreams, then the way I would do it was to be no different. That meant planning, spreadsheets, and saving money wherever possible – mostly through doing things ourselves.

“It’s just one day after all” was something I heard A LOT in the months before the wedding. It was just one day; but it was an amazing day, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It set our marriage off on the best start possible – surrounded by people that love us, with memories and photographs we will cherish for a lifetime.

So no matter your budget or the dream in your head, I hope that something in this series will be useful to you!

Our wedding, 23rd August 2013
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Lust List: IKEA – Feb 14

The new Spring collection has just launched at IKEA, and after receiving a newsletter about it, I immediately went to the site to check it out. It made me realise just how long it’s been since I last went to IKEA (maybe two or three Christmases ago?!)

Since then, there’s some lovely things that suit the look we’re going to be going for with our home. I’m coveting all sorts of things from the new stock as well as the old, and when the budget allows, may have to take a trip down to Croydon…

IKEA Lust List – Feb 14:

RÖDBINKA - IKEA duvet set
RÖDBINKA Quilt cover and 4 pillowcases, white, floral patterned – £45
SKÄRBLAD Cushion cover
SKÄRBLAD – IKEA Cushion cover, £4
Stockholm Rug
STOCKHOLM Rug, flatwoven, net pattern, yellow – £160
FOTO Pendant Lamp
FOTO Green Pendant Lamp – £12
HENNY RAND Curtains, 1 pair, white/brown, grey – £30
HJÄLMAREN Laundry bag
HJÄLMAREN Laundry bag with stand, white – £35
STORJORM Mirror cabinet
STORJORM Mirror cabinet 2 door/built-in lighting, white – £150
LYCKAD Oven/serving dish set
LYCKAD Oven/serving dish set of 2, green – £8
STRANDMON Wing chair
STRANDMON Wing chair, Svanby grey – £195

The grey winged armchair would be a perfect piece of furniture for our living room!

What are your favourite pieces from the IKEA range?

*All images copyright IKEA



I’m Jen, a 26 year old digital marketing manager and wife, living in London. Welcome to fifty1degreesnorth, my lifestyle blog.

I’ve defined it as “lifestyle” because it’s not likely to be about one particular subject – or at least not to begin with, until I find my feet! This is a whole new world for me… I used to have a blog years back on Deadjournal (forget Livejournal, I was a sulky teenager) and I wrote about all sorts, but mostly love (I was sulky, but romantically minded teenager).

I’ve found my true love though, so rather than dating, this will be about things and places that I love – or don’t, for that matter!

So bear with me! I’m making plans for the blog as I type, and over the next week or two I will have a beauty product review for you, the first of many Lust Lists, and also the first installment of what is floating around in my head as “The Wedding Series”, with my advice on planning your wedding.

I would appreciate any comments or advice from other bloggers – get in touch below! 🙂

First post coming soon…


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