Monday, 29 December 2014

85 and still fabulous

29 DECEMBER 2014

After a whirlwind Christmas visiting friends and family and indulging rather too much, my family on mum's side gathered once more for the annual celebration of my Grandma's birthday. It has become a bit of a tradition that each year on the 28th December we go out for a family meal. But this year was a bit special - after all, it's not every day that you turn 85! 

To mark the occasion, my mum and aunt worked tirelessly to put together a photo book showing the landmarks my Grandma's life. When looking through it myself, it made me realise what a wonderfully rich and full life she's had. Every memory depicted with a smile, all surrounded by family or friends or both. It solidified for me what really matters in life, not fame and fortune, but happiness. 

If I can make it to 85 with even half as many happy memories as my beautiful Grandma, I will consider myself a very lucky lady. Happy birthday Grandma, and here's to many, many more! Love you always.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

10 days to go...

14 DECEMBER 2014

I've been so quiet lately everyone, that you could have been forgiven in thinking that I'd abandoned this blog! Well, I haven't - which should hopefully please some of you?? It's no excuse, but I've been so very busy letting life get in the way of what I love doing. It's funny, you'd think a break from blogging would fill me with inspiration for new posts, but in fact I find the opposite - the longer I leave it the harder I find it to think of something new and interesting to write...

Anyway, I've left it so long to post something new that Christmas has crept into view. T and I have been getting steadily more festive, buying and decorating our first Christmas tree, making mince pies, drinking hot chocolate, and we're looking forward to our first Christmas in our first home. It will also be the first time that we've ever spent the whole of Christmas day together in five years which is really exciting! 

To top it all, this week is my last one at work before T and I have a whole 2 weeks off together. We're looking forward to recharging our batteries, spending lots of lovely time with family, and reflecting on all the amazing things that have happened to us in 2014. We're feeling very lucky and very thankful.

So, to spread a little of the festive spirit I'm feeling, here's a few of the Christmassy things that are making me smile right now...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

DIY Copper Hanging Planters


I love plants. They can bring a room to life, making them feel so much more homely. After moving in to our new house, I didn't really feel at home until our very first plant - a peace lily donated by my lovely mum - was nestled safely on our dining room table. It sounds silly, but that little bit of fresh green brings a smile to my face whenever I see it.

I've had this idea in my head for ages, but bringing it together has taken me a little longer than I thought it would. Those of you who know me will know about my obsession with copper. Well, guess what? This little project hasn't escaped that obsession.

I was desperate to find copper bowls to hang some little succulents in for our living room, but after hours of fruitless internet searching, I had to come up with something else to satisfy my want for copper. I found these stainless steel hemisphere snack bowls on a trip to Ikea (what can't you find in that place?!) I sprayed them with Rust-Oleum metallic spray paint to create a mock copper effect - not bad as a substitute to the real thing! If you want to find out how I made the woven hangers for these little planters, scroll down to the method below...


For each hanger you want to make cut 4 lengths of twine approximately 1.5 metres long. Knot together a small hoop roughly an inch in diameter to support planter and form the base of your woven hangers. 

To weave the hangers, double over each 1.5 metre length of twine, looping 4 of these lengths around each central hoop. This should leave 8 strands of twine, in 4 pairs, coming off each central hoop as shown below.

Take one strand in each hand from two neighbouring pairs, and tie a standard knot roughly 10cm from the central hoop. Do this 4 times to use up all 8 strands. Repeat this process twice more and trim the edges to complete the hangers. 

Choose a plant for each of your planters. Gather all four loops together around one of your planters and hang somewhere pretty. I chose to hang mine on my bookshelves to bring some green to my living room, but you can hang the anywhere as long as it provides the right conditions for your chosen plant. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Things I've Learnt Since Graduating: Indulge Your Passions

28 OCTOBER 2014

There are only a handful of things I miss about school, but one of those things is art lessons. I went to a very academically-focused school where Maths, Science and English were considered paramount, but by far my favourite classes always involved holding a paintbrush, pencil or smudgy stick of charcoal. 

By age 17 I succumbed to the pressure from my teachers and dropped art as one of my subjects to pursue the academic path to adulthood and a career in the law. Now, on the other side of university, and working in a job that has little to do with my degree, I can honestly say that I regret giving up the subject that gave me so much pleasure. 

I always justified it in my mind that I could continue art as a hobby, but it's only now that I have a full time job, my own house and my own space that I have time to dabble in a little creativity, whether that's simply through this blog, by baking something delicious, or by painting a design on a cake for a pagan wedding ceremony as I did last Friday. As indulgent and rewarding as these moments are, even now, they are fewer than I would like them to be.

My advice to anyone who has a true passion for something would be to indulge it, don't push it to one side. That's why I started this blog; to channel the creative element of my personality into something productive. I don't necessarily mean that you should choose creativity over academia - you should always do what you feel is the right thing to do when making decisions about something as important as education - but find a way to express your skills and talents, don't waste them.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


26 OCTOBER 2014

I've been feeling a little uninspired lately, particularly in the kitchen. I have a few good recipes in my arsenal, but still always seem to be eating the same things. I think we're all a bit guilty of that sometimes - after a long day at work, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking something extravagant from scratch. The problem is, it ends up getting boring, especially when you're trying to keep things relatively healthy as well. 

When I fancy trying a new recipe, my first port of call is usually the internet. As good as online recipes can be, I fancied buying myself a recipe book that I can keep and refer to to time and time again. So, I perused the listings on Amazon and Polpo came up.

Not only did its exposed spine and unusual typographical style stand out to me as unique, but this book received excellent reviews from the public and focuses on my favourite cuisine: Italian, or Venetian to be precise. Polpo follows the journey of restaurant owner and chef, Russell Norman, as he explores the recipes that have inspired him during his travels to travels to the beautiful city of Venice. 

So far we have only tried a couple of recipes, but they have both been amazing and I can't wait to try more. The recipes are easy to follow and are beautifully written with a friendly, humourous commentary. Immaculately styled, this book is a true pleasure to read, and looks great on my bookshelf too! 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


14 OCTOBER 2014

The kitchen is one of the only rooms in our house that we've decided not to re-decorate.  Crisply decorated rooms are gradually emerging as we tackle our renovation project, yet our little kitchen remains untouched (and a little outdated) with its olive green tiles and farmhouse wallpaper. I was desperate to add a little something to it to make it feel like ours. I saw lots of sets of tea, coffee and sugar canisters in the various homeware stores around where we live, but nothing that I truly loved and seemed to be a reasonable price. And then I went into Liv's...

If any of you have been to Solihull, you might have had the pleasure of this Aladdin's cave of beautifully unique homeware. Founded by Liv, this gorgeous store just oozes style inspired by her Scandinavian roots. The stock changes constantly, so that every time I go in there's something new and beautiful tempting me to part with my pennies. This stainless steel set of tea, coffee and sugar canisters caught my eye, and at only £12.50 for the three I just couldn't say no! And now our kitchen looks a little more homely too!

Friday, 10 October 2014


10 OCTOBER 2014

Long time no post again, I'm sorry everyone! We've been super busy trying to rescue our bathroom, which now only consists of a toilet, a wash basin, and 4 very bare, very uneven walls. I'll save the detail for another post but, in short, we've had rather stressful couple of weeks with very little time to stop and reflect on the positives. So, now that I've got 5 minutes, I thought I'd share my three reasons to feel happy this week...

1. It was my birthday on Saturday! Whoop! So I was treated to a fun-filled weekend starting with a trip to the Monkey Forest in Staffordshire, followed by dinner and gin cocktails at the Jekyll and Hyde, and ending with a spa day and delicious meal at the Elms Hotel & Spa in Worcestershire. Lucky girl!

2. My Dad's shoulder surgery went well on Tuesday :) He'll have to use his other arm to write me notes like this one for the next few months!

3. My Mum makes the best fruit cake ever! We even managed to marzipan and royal ice it successfully - not bad for a first attempt!

Sunday, 28 September 2014



Now that we live together and we have to do our own shopping, I never seem to know how much fruit to buy each week. I hate waste, so if we have any leftovers I try to use them at the weekend. This week we had two overripe bananas left so I thought I'd use them up by making some banana pancakes this morning. A naughty start to the day, but who cares - it's Sunday!


150g plain flour
100ml milk
2 ripe bananas
1 egg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp runny honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Butter for frying


Mash the bananas with a fork and combine in a mixing bowl with the flour, milk, egg, honey, bicarb and cinnamon. Mix together until you have a lumpy batter.

Melt a knob of butter in your frying pan and spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter into the centre (if your pan is big enough you can do two at a time). Cook on one side until golden brown and then flip onto the other side, again cooking until golden brown. Repeat until all your batter is used up - this should make 6 - 8 pancakes.

When cooked serve warm and drizzle with maple syrup.

Sunday, 21 September 2014



Ok, I'm not just weird and taking photos of ladders for no reason. This month's photo challenge from my photography group was to take pictures of shadows and/or holidays. Since I haven't been anywhere, shadows it is! Hope you like them!

Sunday, 14 September 2014



There's so many things going on in my life at the moment. We're still settling into our first home, getting used to our new routine, cleaning and cooking for ourselves everyday rather than being looked after at home; Tom has just started a new job and my job is getting more and more demanding, and we're having to manage everything whilst trying to renovate. Luckily I have two amazing parents who are on hand to help uproot rhododendrons from our front garden! Despite all the business, here's three reasons why I've been smiling this week...

1. I had absolutely nothing to do today so I baked these tasty little morsels - apple, blackberry and banana spelt muffins!

2. We finally made it to the street food event, Digbeth Dining Club, on Friday night. We've been thinking of going for ages, but you know, life gets in the way. Anyway, this burrito and chocolate orange waffle were incredible - oh and we got a little discount with our Independent Birmingham cards #winners :)

3. As you may already know, I suffer from Crohn's disease. Recently I've joined the Crohn's and Colitis UK Forum on Facebook and it has been truly eye-opening. There are so many lovely people going through what I have been through, and worse, and it has been wonderful getting to know some of them. Sometimes it's just nice to know you're not the only one and that there's a community of people out there who know exactly how you feel.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


31 AUGUST 2014

I. Love. Carrot. Cake. It's always my cake of choice when out for coffee, so its a bit weird that I've never made one. Maybe I've been afraid that my own attempt just won't live up to my expectations of carrot cake. That it would be dry and disappointing and leave me questioning my baking abilities...

Well, I decided to bite the bullet this weekend and give it a try - how bad could it really be? As it turns out, not that bad at all! I adapted one of Mary Berry's recipes by adding a handful of sultanas, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a splash of dark rum to the cake mixture before baking. I also replaced one teaspoon of vanilla essence with dark rum in the cream cheese frosting. The absence of butter in this recipe and the use of bananas make this cake deliciously moist and naturally sweet - one slice just isn't enough!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


26 AUGUST 2014

Nobody likes the Tuesday after a bank holiday. Especially when it was also the wettest, most miserable bank holiday on record and your boiler decided to break down too. However, thinking of these three little things helped me combat my back-to-work-rainy-day-no-heating blues today and put a smile on my face. Life's not so bad after all...

1. I had two slices of this bad boy on Sunday - thanks Mum, you'll be making that one again please :)

2. My boyfriend bought me surprise lilies

3. Our new house is starting to feel and look like a home!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


19 AUGUST 2013

Continuing the interior design theme from my last post I thought I would share my DIY cushion covers with you. This fabulous printed navy and white fabric is just £4 a metre from Ikea, and is the perfect match for our new midnight blue sofa, from Welsh-based company, Couch.

I'm sure you've made cushion covers before, but if you haven't I urge you to try it! They really are super easy, and buying your own fabric makes them a bargain as well.

MATERIALS (for 2 medium-sized cushion covers):

1 metre of 150cm wide fabric
Cotton thread
Sewing machine
Dressmaking scissors
2 square cushion inners


Fold the fabric in half so that it now measures 100 x 75cm. Smooth it out flat and, along the long, folded edge of your fabric, measure a distance twice the width of your cushion plus 5cm for hemming. Mark with a row of pins towards the opposing long edge. Down the shorter edge, measure a distance that equals the width of your cushion plus 5cm to allow your edges to overlap later. Cut out using your dressmaking scissors, using the lines of pins as a guideline.

You should now have a folded piece of fabric that is open at one end. Fold and pin a hem at each open end approximately 1.5cm wide, ensuring the wrong sides of the fabric are pressed together.

Using a sewing machine, stitch each hem and remove the pins. You should now have a long piece of fabric that is hemmed at both ends. Fold it, keeping right sides together, so that the hemmed edges overlap slightly in the centre of the square. Adjust so that the distance perpendicular to the hems measures the width of your cushion.

Pin the sides together that are perpendicular to the overlapped hems, and stitch roughly 1.5cm from the edges sing the markings on your sewing machine as a guide. Remove any remaining pins and turn your cushion cover inside out.

Repeat the above for cushion number two, stuff your cushions inside, et voila! Get comfy.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


13 AUGUST 2014

Now that I have rooms to decorate, I've developed a teeny bit of an obsession with copper furnishings. Everything copper that I see, I want - it just looks so damn beautiful! We've gone for a dark wood and grey colour scheme in our living room, so copper just adds that little bit of warmth to calm the coolness of the grey.

I had my eye on this gorgeous Luxe Tray from Marks & Spencer for ages, but at £49.50, I felt I couldn't really justify it with a mortgage to pay and loads of other rooms to decorate.

So, I embraced the scrimper in me and headed to eBay with crossed fingers that the perfect table centrepiece would be out there waiting for me - as luck would have it, it was! For only £9.99 plus £4 postage, I bought this beautiful vintage, handmade copper bowl. I just love its hammered texture and quirky unevenness. Oh, and, it's perfect for storing my pinecones!