New handbag alert!

28.11.12

I forgot all about showing you my new handbag. Life has been running away with itself lately but let's get our priorities straight and talk about handbags for a minute. 

I ordered a Mellow Yellow bag called Margot recently with one of my ambassador vouchers (c/o Sarenza) which is half taupe and half black with a pop of colour in the shape of a yellow pom pom. It instantly caught my eye and is very "me" as far as bags go.

I tend to be an all or nothing girl when it comes to bags so once I get a new one I use it day in, day out until it starts to look tired. If I swapped handbags all the time I'd no doubt end up leaving something important behind in the old one!

Margot handbag by Mellow Yellow c/o Sarenza

I have used it every day since it arrived a few weeks ago and as each day has gone by it has swallowed up yet another item I probably don't need to carry round with me (hello bad back!) I do love it though. It is so roomy with plenty of room for the essentials (and the rest!) plus the material is really soft and feels very luxurious. I'm not normally one for fancy bags but this one is a nice halfway point between casual and fancy.

It goes with everything; my work clothes which usually consists of a dress and cardigan or black trousers and a blouse with my smart coat but it's also perfect for my more casual weekend outfits.

Do you carry everything but the kitchen sink round with you? I am terrible for it!

ghd Style & Protect gift set.

26.11.12

ghd have recently launched a new section of their website called ghd Hairstyles which features videos and images of how to create different celebrity looks, on-trend styles and styles for special occasions. It's a really useful reference guide especially if you're looking to colour or re-style your hair and would like to take some pictures to the hairdressers with you. You can search for short, mid length or long hairstyles as well as wedding hair, prom hair, celebrity hair and different hair colours.

I always take photos with me to the hairdressers and I have found this section of their website really really useful. It saves scouring Google images that's for sure!

To launch the new section of their site I have been sent a gift set to review which I have been testing out with my haircare routine. The Style & Protect gift set is the one in question which is priced at £39 (with free UK P&P) and is housed in a luxurious black gift box. The box is comprised of a paddle brush, sectioning clips, Straight & Smooth spray (120ml) and Final Shine Spray (100ml) and gives a good saving compared to buying the items seperately.

ghd Style & Protect gift set c/o ghd

I have given everything a good go and my overall view is a really positive one, but I'll go into more detail about each item below. As someone who doesn't visit the hairdresser very often (*ahem, twice a year*) my ends can often look split and with my hair being so long and straight it is prone to getting knotted and tangled really easily. Using all of the items in this gift set not only make my hair easier to style but really soft, silky and shiny looking. Not only that but I have found that the shine lasts overnight to the following day and I have been skipping hair washes more and more. This can only be a good thing!

The paddle brush is brilliant and as hairbrushes go, it is one of the best ones I've tried for my hair. My long hair gets very knotty especially after being washed and I usually have to use a Tangle Teezer before I can start blow drying, but I have found this brush detangles and smooths out knots really well. My hair is naturally poker straight anyway but the brush helps me to get smoothness on the ends. The paddle brush retails at £20 if bought on its own.


I have been using the Straight & Smooth spray on my towel dried hair, usually spritzing about 6-8 sprays all over before using my hairdryer to dry my hair in sections. The spray can also be used on dry hair before using straighteners or styling tongs which I haven't tried yet but I will. The spray has a really nice fragrance and doesn't leave any sticky or greasy residue behind which I have experienced with other products like this. The spray is £12.95.

Once dry I run the straighteners over my hair (I've had the same Cloud Nine pair for years - I blogged about them here back in 2010!) As I said my hair is very straight but I find that a quick use of the straighteners on a low heat over the ends gives them a sleeker finish.


Finally I have been using the Final Shine Spray to, you guessed it, spray over my hair after it has been straightened to finish the look off. This spray can be sprayed onto your hands to smooth over your hair, or to mist over your hair from about 30cm away.

I really like ghd as a brand and have been familiar with their hair straighteners for a really long time. When my friends and I were younger we all had a pair, from the super thin ones to the the really wide pair for my friends who were blessed with thicker locks. The items are reasonably priced for their quality considering that the straighteners last such a long time.

I will definitely use up all of the products I have received and I would definitely repurchase or put ghd styling products on future Christmas/birthday lists.


P.S. Has anyone tried their hairdryer? I didn't realise they did hairdryers too but this one looks and sounds amazing!

Lily loves Lola friendship bracelets & jewellery: early bird discount code.

24.11.12

15% off your entire order until the end of November: EARLYBIRD15

If you're anything like me you like to start your Christmas shopping as early as possible. I much prefer the organised, spreading the cost approach than rushing round Meadowhall on Christmas Eve trying to find suitable gifts. I started my shopping a good few weeks ago and only have my Sister and a couple of Aunties and Uncles to buy for, then I'm done! Although my bank balance looks a little bit bashed this month at least it means I can treat myself in December ;)

I'm also really into giving handmade gifts and scouring Etsy to find items from small, local sellers as you usually get better quality for your money and everyone appreciates gifts with lots of thought put into them.


Last year lots of lovely people purchased my bracelets as "stocking fillers" for family and friends and I'm hoping you will keep me in mind this year too. Prices are still low, as is the price of P&P. All orders will be wrapped in my favourite style of packaging; brown paper tied up with string, or bakers twine, or ribbon, depending on what I reach for first.

If you order multiple items they will all be wrapped together but if they are presents and you let me know in advance, I can wrap each one individually.

As an extra treat for my fellow organised folk, here's a little 15% off discount code which will be valid for the rest of December: EARLYBIRD15

The code is valid in my Etsy shop and my Bigcartel shop!

Happy shopping!

Christmas gift ideas: the one who likes drinking tea.

21.11.12

As a tea lover myself I found it ever so easy to find gift ideas for tea lovers/drinkers/enthusiasts, so this can be the perfect start to my series of blog posts featuring gift ideas for Christmas.

A few of the items below have been bookmarked on my computer for a while and would be gratefully received in our household so I hope they give you some fun ideas for potential Christmas presents.

pint of tea mug - MrTeacup via Etsy / Monkey mug warmer - KnottyMonkey via Etsy /
"time for tea" engraved spoon - jessicaNdesigns via Etsy /
chocolate chip cookie coasters - sabahnur via Etsy / "tea for one" teapot and mug set - Whittard /
toast and tea print - stephsayshello via Etsy /
tea selection box - Whittard / mug and biscuit tray - Emma Bridgewater

I immediately think of Whittard when I think of tea and their website didn't fail to meet the mark. Full of "tea for one" sets, posh teabag selection boxes and fun tins, there is certainly something suitable on there for the tea drinker in your life (or indeed coffee or hot chocolate drinker). Their "Hangover Teabags" would be a brilliant addition to a festive hamper or a great stocking filler for anyone who likes a Christmas tipple or three.

The adorable crochet coasters from Etsy seller Sabahnur are, well, adorable! The seller makes other designs too, all of which are really fun and quirky and make me wish I could crochet. The chocolate chip design are inexpensive for a set of 4 so they would make a great present teamed with a mug perhaps.


hangover teabags - Whittard / "tea is the answer to most problems" print - GemmaRobinsonDesign via Etsy / Matthew Rice tea tin - Emma Bridgewater /
Lionel Richie mug - LennyMud via Etsy / Pug mug - Emma Bridgewater /
"Fairytale Tea" - wildroot via Etsy / teapot embroidery in hoop - ThreeRedApples via Etsy / "hippy tea" teabag tin - Really Good

The Lionel Richie mug cracks me up every time I see it. If only the seller was UK based then I would buy them for everyone I know (oh and one for me too).

Don't get me started on the Pug mug. I need one in my life! I saw one in a shop last year, picked it up, put it down, picked it back up again then decided I'd put one on my Christmas list then promptly forgot so if anyone from the Jackson family is reading this.... "hi!"

I'll leave you with these wise, and very true, words...tea is the answer to most problems! Indeed.

Christmas decorations: my top picks.

18.11.12

We're well into November so I'm allowed to talk about Christmas decorations now, right? I have been itching to talk about Christmas on here since the beginning of October!

Last year Jonathan and I moved into our new home at the beginning of November so by the time we had unpacked and settled down Christmas was almost upon us and buying decorations meant a quick trip to B&Q to see what they had left (not much!)


This year I'm taking a bit more time to buy and make things that I really like to make our house look extra festive. It's quite a big house, set over 3 floors, so I plan on having a decoration shopping spree soon to add to the things we bought last year and to the bits I have been making over the last few weeks.

I definitely favour the red and white Scandinavian Christmas colour scheme as it's festive but simple and not too over the top, which means I can get away with sneaking decorations up as early as possible. It also makes things really easy when it comes to sewing and cross stitching as you only need 2 colours of thread (I'm lazy like that).


There are so many other things I have seen that haven't quite made it onto this post due to lack of space, but I hope the items I have included give you some good ideas.

I've tried to include a mixture of UK high street (from cheap and cheerful to slightly more extravagant purchases), online stores such as Dot Com Gift Shop, and items on Etsy from both UK and International sellers. I love Etsy for browsing for just about anything as there's so much to choose from and you can filter the search results to suit what you need price wise or location wise.


Lily Flame candles get a huge thumbs up from me in terms of the cute tins, quirky names and the strong scents which really fill up the room quickly. I prefer them to Yankee Candles as they're much cheaper and I find the scents much stronger, although saying that I do want to get a Yankee Candle "Christmas Cookie" candle at some point.

I have tried the Lily Flame "Just Vanilla" and "Crushed Almonds" candles and will be buying a few more soon, perhaps a couple of the festive ones but if anyone can recommend any other nice ones that would be great!


My plan for next year, as I have run out of time this year I think, is to make an epic advent calendar using felt and cross stitched windows. I also want to experiment with making my own felt ornaments as I have accumulated a large stash of felt odds and ends which I'm sure could make some really great decorations.

I'll be back shortly to share what I have bought so far this year... :)

Operation finish what you started: robin tree decoration.

16.11.12

This is another project I started and forgot all about, being distracted by shiny new things. It was a free gift with Cross Stitcher magazine the issue before last and it's so adorable. 

I love the felt frame and wish I had made a template to make a few more. It was dead easy to make: stitch the pattern, back the aida onto white card/fabric, sew the ribbon onto the back piece and finally use fabric glue to secure everything in place. I left mine under a heavy book overnight just to make sure the glue had set.

If only I wasn't finishing it off at gone midnight I might have got the robin a bit more central! Ah well, who wants to be perfect... ;)


Operation finish what you started: hot air balloon framed cross stitch (Emily Peacock design).

12.11.12

I am the WORST at starting something, leaving it half finished and getting distracted by something else shiny and new before ending up with a pile of half finished projects which then makes me anxious. So, I vowed not to start anything new until I finished my other projects and I've stuck to it (kind of).

First on my list was to frame and hang my balloon cross stitch which I finished quite a while ago but left to gather dust in a corner. It feels so nice to have this finally hanging up in our bedroom, as it took me so long to stitch it. I feel quite proud that I made this, with my own fair hands.

It was a pattern from Cross Stitcher magazine a good few months ago (issue 254). It has been the best issue of the magazine this year in my opinion. I think I wanted to make every single design in there, so if you're looking to pick up back issues I can really recommend this one.

What do you think? I hope you like it as much as I do!

Whiston, Rotherham.

10.11.12

Last Sunday we went for a stroll in Whiston, a village not too far from where we live in Rotherham, before our Sunday lunch. We went to the St Mary Magdalene Church and had a walk round the grounds. It was extremely cold, but we were wrapped up as warm as we could, and very quiet, minus one old lady walking her dog.


The oldest dated gravestone in the grounds dates back to 1696 and the Lychgate in front of the church dates back to 1919 when it was built as a war memorial. We also spotted the stocks which are dated 1786 and are located just next to the Lychgate.

I do love a little bit of exploring on a weekend.


An empty hand I wave goodbye, I feel a tickle in my eye.

8.11.12

You know when you hear a song and instantly love it, then listen to it over and over again? That's what happened when I heard this song on a video on Charlotte's blog. Now I can spread the love and let you listen to it while you read this blog post. It's rare for me to find music that I like so I shall be following Liz Lawrence with great interest.

Talking of spreading the love, since I vowed to comment on every blog post I read in November (it's time consuming but I'm still going with it!) I've noticed that I'm receiving more comments which is really, really nice. I also have a few newbies here too so "hello!"

I suppose these Instagram collages sums up what I've been up to recently quite nicely:
 

1) A little bit of shopping and browsing for Christmas gifts (I'd love to buy that mens tee for Jonathan but I don't think he would wear it... maybe round the house?!)

2) I ordered a kit from Cross Stitcher magazine of the latest Belle & Boo design which I think is so beautiful. I won't have it stitched up for a while as I'm mainly making Christmas presents and decorations at the moment but I'll definitely show you it when it's done.

3) 4) Marzipan Fruits, self explanatory. Searched high and low for them last year. Jonathan went on a mission round multiple shops to find some. They were like hen's teeth! Morrisons have come up trumps this year and I've already worked my way through one box so I'll have to go back for more at some point. They're SO good. I have also been eating far too much chocolate recently (and I don't even like it that much!)

5) 6) Lily and Lola aren't really into playing with balls and toys. They just want to eat and sleep. That's it. But I was determined to find something they would play with. Enter a teeny little football. They ignore it 99% of the time but then every now and again they go mad with it for a few minutes, followed shortly by Lily sitting with it while Lola stares longingly. They are funny little things.
 

1) As well as eating marzipan and chocolate I'm also consuming far too much cake. Must work on that!

2) 3) A quick snap of my favourite things in our hallway. Buy your own "emergency" box here!

4) 5) Wine o clock on Saturday evening. It's not often I have a glass of wine, unless I'm out for dinner or on a night out, but there was a mini bottle of rose calling my name at the weekend. I had a glass or two and cuddled up to my favourites.

6) We went for a walk on Sunday and this is one of the photos I took. More to follow soon. It was a bit spooky, very cold but visually very nice indeed.

7) Okay, this is where I realise my photos are out of order but it's too late to do anything about it. These are the tea bags I picked up this afternoon as I thought they sounded incredibly tasty and my poorly throat is crying out for hot drinks of the tasty variety.

8) 9) I had to go to Manchester for work yesterday but only for a few hours in the morning, so when my Manager and I had finished we went to Jamie's Italian for some lunch and lucky us, they had just changed the menu so we had a whole heap of new things to choose from since the last time we went. I had the pumpkin and squash gnudi and it was very, very good. Of course the main reason we went was to have another brownie which we did (one each) and I can quite easily say I could eat one every day for the rest of my life. Delish!

Hope you're all having a good week so far. The weekend is in sight - hope you've got some lovely things planned.

P.S. I just want to use my space of the Internet to say RIP to my lovely Nanny who passed away this week. I wish we could have seen more of each other like we did when I was little. Lots of love to everybody on my Dad's side of the family, especially my wonderful Dad Keith. Love you xxx

Whoopie pies and waterproof coats.

5.11.12

It is so.bloody.cold outside now! We went for a short stroll yesterday sans gloves and I couldn't grip the steering wheel properly on the way back. Lesson learned. Gloves are now required at all times when leaving the house.


Any fellow Pug owners will know they're not so good in extreme temperatures so I kind of dread this time of year a) because I'm not a fan of the cold/snow/sludge/rain myself and b) because it makes my little ones shivery and cold. I've started to dig out their jumpers and waterproofs ready for the cold months ahead.

Lily volunteered to model one of Lola's waterproof jackets yesterday which is a bit too long for her. Damn Pugs and their awkward body shapes! :)


After our morning out on Saturday and a play in the garden with L&L we had a cup of tea and half a whoopie pie each before relaxing indoors for the afternoon. In the evening we made an incredible tea inspired by a recipe I had seen on this blog earlier in the day. We had fresh pasta with roasted veg (butternut squash, peppers, onion, etc) with creme fraiche and all sorts of other things (I say this in a vague manner as Jonathan made it, not me). It was so tasty but our portions were HUGE so it was a case of death by pasta, made worse by the garlic bread we had with it ;)


The cupcake we bought for after tea was a distant memory as we were too full to move but it was polished off yesterday instead. Anything with copious amounts of peanut butter on top and inside can only ever be a good thing...

Enjoy the rest of your Monday!

Sharrowvale Road, Sheffield.

4.11.12

We had a free day yesterday so I suggested a trip to Sharrowvale Road in Sheffield to get a cupcake (or two) and to have a look in some of the shops for potential Christmas present ideas.

There are some great independent shops selling things for the home and framed prints, not to mention the shops that I'd love to receive something from like the vintage shop which sells everything you can imagine from the 20s - 50s. Amongst the treasures I spotted and loved were some 50s aprons, beautiful tablecloths and some old photos/postcards which would look great in a frame.


Jonathan tried on some of the vintage blazers and looked rather dashing, and I spotted the most FABULOUS pink quilted dressing gown amongst an array of vintage dresses and jackets. The prices were really reasonable for such treasures and I could have easily filled my car up to the brim with them.


One of the gift shops came up trumps as Jonathan found something great for his Dad as a Christmas gift. Christmas shopping aside we were also keeping our eyes peeled for things to buy us!

We picked up a framed print by an artist we haven't heard of before, Jim Connolly. We picked a print from his range based on Sheffield which are all brilliant. It took us a while to choose but the one we decided on is very funny. I'll share it on here very soon once it's up on the wall.


They also stocked prints by Jonathan Wilkinson who is one of our favourites (we have one of his pieces hanging up in our kitchen).

As it was lunchtime we were keeping our eyes peeled for somewhere to grab some lunch. We walked past Thelma's Cafe and had a peek through the window only to be enticed by an array of sandwiches and cakes. This was to be our lunch pit stop on our way back to the car.

I had enough stuck in my teeth for another meal!

We got a couple of sandwiches to take away; a New York Deli for Jonathan and a pesto/roasted veg for me (toasted). It was SO good. I could eat it again right now, twice. We will definitely go back next time we're in the area, maybe to eat in and have a cheeky slice of cake too.

Gilbert & Sons is a great place for furniture and pieces for the home. I always walk round with my "shabby chic" head on thinking of what I could do the dressing tables and dining tables. We're on the hunt for a coffee table for our living room but couldn't see anything suitable on this trip.


They had a couple of fabulous typewriters which I stopped to stroke and cabinets stuffed full of everything you could imagine.

After winding our way round the showroom which is situated on a few different floors we stopped off at Fancie to get a cupcake and a whoopie pie to take home, and off home we went feeling a little colder but much fuller than we had done an hour or two earlier.

November goals.

1.11.12

- comment on every blog post I read
- pick up my knitting needles again
- finish Christmas shopping for at least one person
- finish making my Christmas cards
- come up with an idea for my Christmas wrapping
- get to grips with a fishtail braid
- bake something new
-  find a dog toy that Lily and Lola will actually play with
- organise my financial documents, bills, things to do with my car, etc so that I can actually find things when I need them (!) *having a car tax issue as we speak

Feel free to share your own goals!

via weheartit or google images