Category Archives: Life

Crafting with Carpetright

I would love to craft more, but the practical side of me hates the idea of crafting things for the sake of it. The perfectionist in me wants my crafts to look perfect, and the minimalist wants less stuff cluttering up the house. This usually results in crippling indecision, where I bookmark 19 craft projects a day and fill my online hobbycraft basket to the brim, but don’t actually make anything.

When Carpetright got in touch to invite me to a blogger crafting event at Chirpy, one of my favourite spots in Leeds, I thought it would be a good opportunity for a crafting kickstart to force me into action. Also cake was mentioned.

Artist Miriam Laville was leading the session, and she greeted us with some examples of items that could be crafted with leftover carpet offcuts – doormats, mirrors, planter pots and so on. Fully aware that my craft enthusiasm massively outweighs my craft ability, and hoping that I would manage to cobble together something I would actually want to display in my house, I decided to go low key.

I spotted a wide round tin and I thought it would be perfect as a little trinket display tray. I lined both sides with carpet so that both the surface and the contents would be protected from damage, then….that was it. I could have embellished with some bling or added more colour (and actually a lot of people seemed to think I should do so!) but I’m glad I resisted I finished pretty early but that just left me extra time to sample the goodies from Sunshine Bakery and check what everyone else was making!

I couldn’t believe my luck when we were all given gift bags containing extra goodies! The highlight was definitely a £10 Chirpy voucher, which I couldn’t wait to spend. On the way out I had a good poke around and left with a gorgeous Fawn & Rose necklace and a pretty glass candle holder – both pictured below!

In my old flat, I damaged a couple of window ledges by putting plant pots and vases on them that ruined the paintwork. I never would have thought of experimenting with carpet as a practical way to stop this from happening as well as a way to add an unusual texture or a flash of colour. Thanks Carpetright!

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Silliest paint names

We’ve been decorating our bathroom (slowly but surely) over the last couple of week, and by far my favourite part of the process has been laughing at some of the pretentious, undescriptive paint names that I’ve come across when deciding what colours to go with. (Farrow and Ball are, unsurprisingly, by far the most hilarious culprits.)Here are some of my favourites!

Lauren

Who?

Colours One Coat Lauren Matt Emulsion Paint 2.5L: Image 1

Almost Oyster

Almost?? I want Oyster or nothing

Dulux Neutrals Almost Oyster Matt Emulsion Paint 50ml Tester Pot: Image 1

Clunch

I might start using this word to mean lunch + cocktails.

Clunch - Paint Colours - Farrow & Ball

Cat’s Paw

Nothing about my cat is this colour. Oh, wait…there is one thing.

Cat's Paw - Paint Colours - Farrow & Ball

Mole’s Breath

Is this mole seriously ill?

Mole's Breath - Paint Colours - Farrow & Ball

Dead Salmon

Yeah, like salmon…but if it was DEAD.

Dead Salmon - Paint Colours - Farrow & Ball

Nancy’s Blushes

Steady on, Nancy.

Nancy's Blushes - Paint Colours - Farrow & Ball

Etiquette

Crown have nailed it – this is by far the politest colour.

Banana Dream 2

Do bananas dream of yellow sheep?

And I saved my favourite until last:

Silver Fox

Named after Richard Gere? George Clooney? Pierce Brosnan? No, I think that’s the exact shade of Philip Schofield’s hair.

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30by30: Walt Disney World, Florida

Maybe it was a bit of a cheat, putting this on my 30by30 list, because it was already fully booked (although not quite paid for!) when I wrote my list. But I had a little feeling it might be a highlight of my pre-30 years, and I was right!

Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much might have been because Ant and I were in serious need of some time together. Ant had had some big work projects on and my nights off had been few and far between – in fact, I was working right up until midnight the night before our  5.45 am start to the airport. This meant it wasn’t until I cracked open my first G&T on the train (yes, at 7am – I’m a NERVOUS FLIER, okay?) that the holiday feeling really kicked in.

That feeling didn’t leave me once for the entire two weeks. I’ve never had a holiday where I felt so completely cut off from home, from household bills and work worries and changing the cat litter and putting out the bins on a Thursday night and remembering to lock the side door before we go to bed.

The whole entire stay was just magical. I knew I would love it, but honestly, you should have seen me grinning like an idiot and waving at the characters in the parades. You know, the underpaid actors in well-used Mickey Mouse costumes? Yeah, those guys took me right back to being six years old.

We just had the best time. We held hands at the fireworks, we talked for hours over amazing food, we giggled at Mr Incredible’s dance moves, we screamed on Expedition Everest, we made plans under a sky full of stars and we promised ourselves we’d come back some day.

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BurgerSearch 2: Get Baked

BurgerSearch posts document my search to find the best burger in Leeds, as part of my 30by30 goals. I’ve got plenty of places on my list, but I’m very open to suggestions, too! Where was your best ever Leeds burger from?

My latest burger venture came about after a long day of blogging in my pyjamas and not going out to fetch any food. I thought I might as well make it a full day of luxury and order in, because why the hell not?

Venue: Get Baked, Stainbeck Avenue, Meanwood
Burger: the Nice, £6.95

Burger Patty 15/25

Juicy, slightly pink and really tender. It seemed slightly peppery, not in an unpleasant way but it was a bit weird. It smelled amazing! My cats thought so too – you might be able to spot them in the pictures trying to get a piece of the action…

Bun, toppings and fries 18/25

The brioche bun was good and sturdy and the toppings were generous. You choose your own sauces and salad, which is always a bonus – picking out bits of onion is never fun. The fries, on the other hand, didn’t seem to travel well and were quite cold and chewy by the time they reached me. They were quite bland, too.

Service and atmosphere 19/25

I’m a homegirl at heart, so the atmosphere of ‘on my couch watching crap nineties box sets’ gets full marks from me. The food took absolutely ages to arrive – well over ninety minutes – but they’re very upfront about this on their website, saying they get very busy and cook everything to order. Plus, just as I was starting to wonder where my food might be, I got a call letting me know it was on the grill. Not bad.

Value for Money 20/25

At £6.95, I thought the burger was great value, but if I was ordering again I wouldn’t bother paying for the chips. The huge range of dessert options was a bit too much for me to resist, so the Kinder Bueno cheesecake (amazing) and delivery charge brought the bill up to £13.45.

Total 72/100

As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the better delivery options around. (I’m a big fan of The Sunshine Takeaway, who I’m sure will make an appearance here soon, but they don’t deliver.) I won’t bother with fries again, and it’s worth ordering a good hour before you start to even think about feeling hungry, but it’s a great burger for the price, especially considering you barely have to leave your couch.

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Spot my little helpers…

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Whoops! How did that get in there? (Delicious)

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On driving home from work with the traffic lights against me

Sometimes I treat each red light as an invitation
to think about something uncomfortable like a decision I’ve been avoiding
or a socially awkward exchange at work
or the linear nature of time

Other times I speed up when I see a yellow light, and gasp across the line
at the last possible second
or maybe even a bit after that
because what if I got home at 1.08am?
or 1.09am?
when I could have made it by 1.07am?

When I’m in a bad mood
I seethe and rage at a higher power

When I’m in a good mood
I skip the CD back to a big ballad and I belt it out
occasionally causing alarm to adjacent drivers

But no matter what my mood
or what time I get home
my little white socked cat is watching me from an upstairs window
not just looking out of the window
but really watching me
and I can’t help but think
that she knows much more
than she lets on

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BurgerSearch begins: Byron Burger

It’s been a great week for my 30by30 challenge! As well as collecting Christmas craft ideas, I’ve made a start on one of my other goals: find the best burger in Leeds. Most of the delay in this has been down to fine tuning the scoring system, trying to decide whether toppings are worth as many points as the bun, or how much the service should count for. Obviously, it doesn’t really matter, but tasks like this with numbers and neatness are right up my street- they appeal to my perfectionist side!

I’d also been wondering where to try first. I didn’t want to set the bar too high or have a disappointing first burger, so in the end it was a good thing the decision was taken out of my hands. We were in town at a loose end, and Ant picked Byron Burger for dinner. We had a lot of fun critiquing the burgers and tweaking the scoring system even more – sadly, I think we enjoyed this bit more than we enjoyed eating the burgers!

Venue: Byron Burger, Lands Lane, Leeds
Burger: The Byron, £9.50

Burger Patty 15/25

The burger was cooked medium and was perfectly pink in the middle. It was obviously good quality meat and was a really nice texture. However, I thought it could have had a bit more taste to it, honestly. I’d have liked it to be a bit more seasoned and a bit juicier. It was good, but not amazing.

Bun, toppings and fries 20/25

We opted for thick cut chips rather than fries, and they really were good. Hot, with fluffy insides, and with the crispy skin still on. The cheese was a really good mature Cheddar, and the bacon was salty and not too crispy. I know a lot of people like really crispy bacon, but I like it quite chewy and this was just right. There was also tons of iceberg lettuce which added a nice cool crunch. The bun (brioche OF COURSE) held together nicely, but because the burger wasn’t that juicy, it wasn’t much of a challenge.

Service and atmosphere 16/25

The atmosphere at Byron Burger was quite nice. It’s got a distinctive industrial, exposed brick sort of style, and the warm lighting and low level music was a refreshing change from some of the dark, noisy, nightclub style eateries that festoon the city centre. Service was fine, not especially friendly but efficient, which for me is more important.

Value for Money 10/25

Two burgers, the chips, aioli and two soft drinks came to £29.05. This is probably quite standard pricing for this style of burger joint – a sit down place that positions itself as a quality burger provider that’s all about the taste. Unfortunately, I just didn’t think the burgers were amazing and shelling out £15 each (bearing in mind we’d shared a side) felt a bit much.

Total 61/100

Not a bad score, but not great, and I think it reflects quite well on the experience. Not bad burgers, but with room for improvement, and not, I felt, at quite the right price point. If I’m paying £9.50 for a burger, and extra for a side, I want to feel really positive about it, instead of just okay. Not, for my money, the best burger in Leeds.

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8 Blogger Christmas DIYs

You might remember that one of my 30by30 goals is to have a homemade Christmas, where I make as many of the decorations and gifts as possible. My plan is to do this properly next year, and use this Christmas as a sort of practice, to get an idea of what sort of time I’ll need to dedicate to this, and to build up some of the skills I’ll need. I’ll be baking to see which treats last the best,  trying to get my knitting speed up beyond ‘slow motion’ and getting a little head start on the crafty decorations.

I would apologise for the insanely early Christmas post, but since my craft experience level is essentially, like, minus 1, I feel like this might be it for me for the next little while. Just crafting and, probably, crying, when it all goes wrong.

My usual tactic when I’m a bit nervous about starting something new is to throw myself into the research phase of things and massively overdo it in an attempt to put off actually having a go at it. I know, could my fear of failure manifest itself in an any more obvious way? I’ve been trawling the blogs for weeks, and here are the results of my extensive research: the eight projects I’m most looking forward to crying over this winter!

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Anna’s DIY Christmas gift tags

angel in the north

These gift tags are simple and stylish. They look really professional, despite being super easy to make, which is kind of exactly what I’m looking for here.

DIY Deer Glitter Canvas 5

DIY glitter deer canvas

Tales of the Scotts

I love, love, love this glitter deer silhouette. It’s such a simple idea and so easy to adapt that you could quite easily make a whole set of different silhouettes or even make Christmas cards in this style. (I’m looking forward to having this ambition bashed out of me.)

yarn star ornament_finished product

Yarn wrapped star ornament

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Just cardboard, yarn and glue, and the finished result is super cute. I’d want to experiment a bit with yarn colours and maybe some metallic spray paint, I think. (A lot of the tutorials I’m finding are American so I’m saying things like ‘yarn’ and ‘holidays’ a lot at the moment?!)

christmas doily light garland craft

Paper light garland

Chasing the pretty light

This blog hasn’t been updated in over a year and there’s absolutely no guidance on how to create this gorgeous fairy light/doily combination, but I love it so much that I think I might give it a go anyway!

rustic christmas candle diy crafts

Rustic Christmas Candle

Vanessa’s Values

Twigs, a rubber band and a red ribbon give a standard candle a rustic, Christmassy twist in a particularly thrifty craft that I don’t think even I could mess up. I’ve seen it done with cinnamon sticks but this feels a lot more affordable…

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DIY Glitter Bow Tie Garland

For Chic Sake

This bow tie pasta garland is perfect for a mini Christmas tree or around a mirror. What is it about gold glitter that makes anything a bit more Christmassy?

DIY rosemary christmas wreath DIY Cranberry Christmas Wreath

Rosemary Wreath and Cranberry Christmas Wreath

Hi Sugarplum

Cassie is on another level, craft and DIY-wise, and some of her tutorials are absolutely baffling to a novice like me! But these wreaths are simple enough. I chose the cranberry one because it’s beautiful, and the rosemary one because of the massive rosemary bush in my back garden.

frosty pinecones diy

Frosty pinecones

Elizabeth & Co.

Bowls of frosty pinecones everywhere, please! I love the look and the smell, and if there’s one thing my Christmas decorations have been missing for a while, it’s a bit of the outdoors coming in.

I think that’s just about enough to keep me busy for now, but what are your favourite Christmas crafts? Is there a blogger I need to know about? I’m particularly interested in hearing about crafty Yorkshire people – share away!

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30by30: The Goals

straight branches with bark on laid to from a wood fence

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Here are my 30 goals to complete by my 30th birthday. They’re varied, challenging, fun, exciting, and – hopefully – achievable over the next two years. Goals in bold have been completed…

Travel:
Paris with Ant
DisneyWorld Florida
See the Northern Lights
Take an overnight trip alone
Be a home tourist for a week

Books:
Read War and Peace
Finish my World Book Night challenge
Read ten non-fiction books
Take part in a readathon

Health and Fitness:
Run 5k without stopping
Give blood successfully
Go to ten yoga classes
Learn to meditate
Have ten personal trainer sessions

Food and Drink:
Bake perfect macarons
Learn to perfectly poach an egg
Find the best burger in Leeds
Have a champagne afternoon tea in Leeds
Go to the Cadbury’s Factory

New experiences:
Knit a piece of clothing
Join a choir
Learn the ukulele
DIY Christmas using blogs
See the English National Ballet
Win a pub quiz
Have a big 30th birthday party
Explore my square mile
Blog every day for a month
Make 100 hats for The Big Knit
Shop local for one month

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Presenting… 30by30

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Lately, I’m becoming more of a goal-oriented sort of person. I’ve always struggled to stick to things, to accomplish the tasks I set myself, to see things through and maintain motivation on my own.

But that seems to be changing. I’m still plodding through my World Book Night Challenge, I just completed my #100happydays challenge, and I’m starting to realise that when I put my mind to it, I can get really get stuff done. That balance is important. That it’s the small things that make me happy. That I need to challenge myself. That I like ticking things off lists.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the big 3-0. I turn 28 this month, and I’m ready to mix things up a little bit. I love trying new things, but more often find myself watching Frasier reruns on the couch. I want to travel more, but my physical and mental energy gets sucked up in choosing paint colours and assembling furniture and running errands.

So, you probably know where this is going. That’s right – a massive blogging cliche!

30 goals, to hopefully complete by my 30th birthday, to wake me up a bit, get me outside and make life even better.

I’ll post the goals in a separate post tomorrow, and then I’m looking forward to cracking on with them. No doubt I’ll be in need of endless help and advice so please be kind!

 

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Three Good Things 3

My Three Good Things posts can only be described as painfully sporadic, but I love them as a way of sharing the happy in my life without seeming like I’m bragging too much. Sneaky, I know.

(Of course, Three Good Things was begun by Liz at Margot and Barbara.)

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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I know this is majorly retro, but over the last couple of months or so Ant and I have been devouring the whole Buffy boxset. I saw a lot of it back in the 90s, but this is my first time watching the whole thing from start to finish and I’m flipping LOVING it. Yeah, series 4 was a bit of a battle and series 1 has more bad episodes than good, but series 3 is a corker and we’re well into series 5 now, eagerly waiting for Riley to bore off and Glory to glam things up a bit.

2. Spring is here

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I know it’s technically been spring for a while, but the daffodils, sunshine and breezy days have all conspired to give me itchy feet. I want to start new projects, christen new notebooks and clean everything. Maybe the spring in the air is what’s helped us finally get started on the garden, and choose a colour to paint the bedroom, and encouraged me to change things up a bit at work. The spring pervades everything, and this year I’m not just embracing it but grabbing it with two hands and putting it to work.

3. My library

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By far my favourite Christmas gift this year was membership to The Leeds Library, a private library in the centre of town. I love swiping my card at the unobtrusive door next to Paperchase, I love climbing the stone spiral staircase, I love being surrounded by twenty foot high bookshelves, I love settling down in a quiet corner by a window and watching the world go by as I flick through a magazine or check my emails or read a great new book that I wouldn’t have splashed out on a hardback copy of and I love choosing a stack of books to take home and linger over. The picture above is the books I brought home on Friday, and I’ve spent a few selfish hours since then racing through them, so that I’ve almost finished the lot. Isn’t reading on a blanket in the garden one of the most luxurious things?

Well, I think so.

 

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