Yorkshire Meatball Company

As well as learning a new skill at the wreath-making workshop, it was lovely – as always – to meet and get to know better some other Yorkshire bloggers.

Emma and Amy I’d met just a few days earlier at Roast + Conch, Lil I hadn’t met before but I read her blog and have followed her on Twitter for a while, and Kathryn is one of my favourite bloggers – we met briefly at Home Is In The North – but it was great to have a bit more time to talk.

It’s funny, walking into a room on my own, not sure if I’ll know anyone, isn’t something I find daunting now – not when it’s a blogger event. It’s always good to talk through #bloggerproblems but you soon find the chat moves on. With this group for example we covered everything from the merits of a private education to feminism and our favourite TV programmes.

With all that concentration and crafting at the workshop, we’d worked up an appetite so we carried our conversation over through lunch at The Yorkshire Meatball Company.

This place came highly recommended by the Harrogate dwellers among us, and after just a glance at the menu I understood why.

Apart from their clever use of everyday utensils as cool décor and the fact a huge Yorkshire flag adorned a wall, their way of presenting their dishes impressed me. It’s no fuss food, but at the same time you can choose exactly what you want.

You pick a ball (there are fish and chickpea options, as well as meat), a bed (like mash, veg or pasta) and a blanket (the sauce). Simple, and so good. And it made an alliteration-loving girl like me very happy.

The Yorkshire Meatball Company, Harrogate, North Yorkshire The Yorkshire Meatball Company, Harrogate, North Yorkshire The Yorkshire Meatball Company, Harrogate, North Yorkshire The Yorkshire Meatball Company, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

I went for the original Yorkshire balls with Granny’s gravy, Yorkshire pudding (well, it was Sunday) and mash. The balls were seasoned to perfection, the potato smooth and creamy and the gravy was just the right thickness – and, importantly, there was plenty of it (I’m rather a gravy fan you see).

The only slightly tricky thing was eating it. The balls in gravy were served on a hot skillet, with the pudding and mash alongside on a separate, rectangular plate. First, I took some advice from the others then after I took my first bite I realised it didn’t really matter how I ate it all, I just had to make sure I did.

Do you like the look of The Yorkshire Meatball Company?

Need to know: The Yorkshire Meatball Company is at 7 Station Bridge, Harrogate, HG1 1SS. Phone 01423 566645.

Making a Christmas wreath

A couple of weeks ago, Emma invited me with some other bloggers to a festive wreath-making workshop in Harrogate led by Katie.

It was a sunny Sunday morning, and I drove north listening to some radio cheese (Sunday love songs on Radio 2 if you must know). I stepped into Katie’s loft-like studio and was hit by the scent of fresh greenery. A cup of tea and a couple of mince pies followed, and I knew it was going to be a good day.

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

October is early, you may think, for wreath-making. You’re right, of course – normally I don’t acknowledge the ‘C’ word until at least my birthday (this week!) has passed. But I love the look of a wreath hanging on a front door and there’s no reason why a more autumnal version shouldn’t be shown off before advent.

Plus, wreath-making is a technique I’ve long wanted to learn, and a class in October gives me the chance to perfect my skills before Christmas.

Anyway, on with the show.

What we used:

 metal wreath frame – Katie prefers to use a wire rather than foam base for wreaths because they are lighter – better for hanging, and you can keeping adding bits to them

♥ floristry wire

♥ a selection of greenery: we used leaves, spruce, rosemary, rose hip, skimmia, statice, dried hydrangea, succulents and others

A couple of things to point out. First – and this doesn’t come easily to some, including me – while rough symmetry is good, it’s actually better with this type of wreath if it’s not super neat. Second, you want your wreath to be nice and full with no wire showing, and to achieve this look you will need more sprigs than you think. You want your greenery to cover all of the wire frame and fan into the middle and out from the edges.

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

I was really happy with my wreath as a first ever attempt and it now hangs proudly on my front door. I feel like a couple more tries and I’ll have a wreath looking just right. (I can’t see me ever being as good as Katie though, who has magic plant hands that can work really fast and make everything look instantly brilliant).

The great thing about these wreaths is that a lot of the leaves, buds and flowers we used can be found in your garden or foraged. I’m finding I’m looking at the bushes I pass on my evening walks in a whole new light. (Is it bad form to clip off a neighbour’s plump, red berries if they’re hanging over onto the pavement?)

The other brilliant thing – especially if you mix dried and fresh as we did – is that a lot of this will still look good when it’s dried. My wreath – two weeks on – is starting to look a little droopy but still very much going strong. You can hang it indoors too, just mist it regularly.

See how pleased we all look with ourselves and our creations? Afterwards we went for a Sunday lunch of champions: meatballs. More on that to come later in the week.

Christmas festive wreath-making workshop with Katie Laura Flowers Harrogate

If you fancy learning how to make a wreath yourself, Katie runs regular workshops and is offering my readers 10% off. You could go for the full wreath-making workshop – which I heartily recommend as having a go yourself is simply the best way to learn and you’ll get to take your masterpiece home with you afterwards. They’re on 29 November and 7 December, last three hours, include refreshments and cost £55 (so that’s £49.50 with your discount). If you’d prefer just a step-by-step demo, this costs £20 and these classes are on 18 and 30 November and 2 December.

What do you think to my wreath? Do you make your own?

If this has got you in the spirit of Christmas craft, remember this DIY garland I shared last year? How about my indoor ribbon wreath or my metallic hessian bunting?

George at Asda wish list

Like I said earlier in the week, as we near the end of renovating the kitchen our thoughts are starting to turn to the living room – but I’m running a little short on inspiration.

I guess it’s normal, when you’re renovating room after room, to become more stumped for ideas or get a bit tired of interior design.

But the living room is going to be one of the most used and seen rooms in the house, so it’s important to me that I like it. It might be one of those places that we develop then add to as we go along. Another restricting factor is that we can’t really afford or justify replacing our two three seater sofas, so the décor has to fit in with their brown leather.

So a textured, neutral base is likely to be the way forward for us, perhaps with added splashes of colour later on.

Recently George at Asda asked me to pick out a few favourites from their current collection. As I was making my choices, it struck me that autumn is a great time to be focusing on the lounge. It’s just the best place in the house to get wrapped up as the nights draw in and temperature drops, and maybe even (*whisper it*) start to feel a little festive. So I went for cosy greys and browns, and lighting that gives off a warm glow.

Kitchens don’t come cheap, so if we can save a bit of cash kitting out the living room, all the better. And my George wish list starts at just £4! Not much more than a couple of bags of apples.

Asda George autumn winter 2014 home living room wish list

// beige knitted throw, £25 / glass star pendant light, £25 / stag cushion, £7  / 4 bottle table lamp, £30 / charcoal knitted pouffe, £39 / grey zig zag cushion, £4 / glass bell jar, £9 / rope and glass hurricane vase, £12 / 9 gold ‘A’ table lamp, £30 / 10 nest of two tall tables, £149 // 

What do you think to my choices? Anything here you’ve picked up with your groceries recently?

Do you change up your décor as you move into a new season?

*sponsored post

Thoughts: living room storage

Guys, the kitchen is so nearly done. The end of a project always seems to take forever but the room is looking great, I just want it to be perfect before showing it off.

It’s still only semi-usable – we have a functioning fridge, washing machine, sink, dishwasher (ahhhh!) and oven and hob and for the first time in a long time these are all in the same room. But we still need tiles on the walls, a few shelves putting up (that’ll probably have to wait a while) and a few more finishing touches. We can’t really eat in it yet, unless standing up, because the dining area still needs decorating, but after starting in May we are so near completion and that feels so gooood.

So proud are we of the transformation we’re giving our tired little semi that we’re doing Christmas Day dinner for 10 this year. I wonder how many times I will regret that decision before the 25th?

The kitchen has been pretty all-consuming for several weeks but now the end is in sight we’re beginning to turn our attention to the living room. For a while, I’ve had quite a clear vision of how I want the kitchen to look, but with the living room I’ve been struggling a bit for inspiration.

One thing I do want to make sure we have is a place to put things. One of the hardest things about renovating is that a lot of the time at least half your stuff is inaccessible. Just before we started renovating the downstairs we boarded out the loft so we could store all the unnecessaries up there for a while. The trouble is, you never know exactly what you’re going to need over the next months and even if you don’t need things, you miss them. (Just a few of the things that’ve had me rummaging in the loft recently: vases, DVDs, books, ink cartridges, wrapping paper, winter coats).

Although we’ll probably leave some things up there, because it’s not a huge house, I’m looking forward to gradually getting things down and having somewhere for them to go again.

So, living room storage. Here are some of the images I’ve seen around and kept as inspiration. As you can see, I’m in total denial about not having high ceilings and a real fire sitting in a chimney breast between two alcoves perfectly suited to built-in cupboards and shelving.

Living room storage built in shelves in alcove Read More →

Hotel Chocolat Roast + Conch

From the moment it arrived on Leeds’ streets, Hotel Chocolat’s Roast + Conch restaurant and bar always held intrigue for me.

Through the window, you can see its deep brown banquette seating and a warm orange glow of light and you know that inside they are cooking up food and drink in honour of the beloved cocoa bean. My first visit and taste – a nightcap of salted caramel hot chocolate – gave me goosebumps and lived up to all expectations.

So imagine how quickly I said ‘yes’ when invited to a blogger evening to try out the new menu.

Roast + Conch serves up Anglo-West Indian food, inspired by the 1745 ‘Rabot’ cacao estate in the Caribbean, which Hotel Chocolat bought 10 years ago. Their menu, first seen in the open-air cocoa estate kitchen of Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan restaurant in St Lucia, brings back the cocoa bean as a subtle savoury spice and garnish.

Not only that, cacao enhances their cocktails, and if you just want a bar of the good stuff you can see chocolate being freshly made from beans roasted and conched by chocolatiers right in the restaurant, and buy it at the Hotel Chocolat shop at the front of the house.

Hotel Chocolat Roast + Conch Leeds Read More →

Blogger walk around Bingley

I’ll be honest, I have a tendency to regard Bradford and its surrounds as a rather inconvenient obstacle to my getting from my side of West Yorkshire to the Yorkshire Dales.

So Bingley is not the first location that springs to mind when I think of going walking. But this town just outside Bradford, famous for its five locks, was the meeting place for a really enjoyable early autumn day spent walking through woods and parkland with a gang of fellow bloggers.

Not your usual blog event, I grant you – although it did end with a delicious and photogenic lunch – but who wants to do the same thing all of the time?

The walk took us around the St Ives estate, taking in Myrtle Park, the old pack horse bridge, Coppice Pond and Lady Blantyre’s rock. We went on a short detour to feel on top of the world (or at least the valley) at Druid’s Altar before descending for a delicious lunch at the Brown Cow pub. For the route in more detail take a look at Walk In Yorkshire, a blog written by Cedric, our ‘guide’ for the day.

Walk around Bingley West Yorkshire Read More →

When life gets stressful

My life’s suddenly got quite stressful and I’m not sure I like it.

I remember feeling distinctly carefree, blessed and happy pretty much all the time only a few years ago. In fact, I defined myself as laid back – frankly, horizontal at times – and not one for feeling any pressure unnecessarily.

I maintained this through getting a degree, doing a Masters while working full-time, past house renovations, a big relationship breakdown and planning a wedding.

I still have some (blissful) moments of feeling like that, but more and more I’ve got this constant, nagging, tingling tension at the top of my head. As much as I try to relax in the hope the feeling will evaporate – not least because I swear I can physically detect the grey hairs pushing through my scalp – it’s hard to make it let go.

What’s causing this? Well, work has suddenly become a worry (not a welcome development, thank you very much, life Gods), I’m still dealing with a big personal thing, the house renovation has left us without a kitchen – let alone a living room – for the last five months and keeping this blog brings its own additional pressures – the constant need to keep on top of emails and social media, not to mention making time to create and write posts.

So it’s not a surprise, really, that I’m finding life a little tougher and I’m not giving myself a hard time about it. I just want to make sure I know where the stress is coming from, that I’m not making more than there is and that I’m dealing with it as best I can. Read More →

Double Merrick giveaway

It’s no secret that I dream of living in France one day. Today’s post is not helping my impatience to be living that phase of my life now, rather than in a couple of decades.

This is the home and work of Merrick Angle, a designer originally from East Yorkshire but now living in Limousin, France who runs the online shop Double Merrick. They specialise in prints and homewares and supply the likes of Liberty, Selfridges, Pedlars and Culturelabel.

Merrick has kindly offered my readers the chance to win a screenprint of your choice – worth €60 – inspired by the ephemera he sees in his remote corner of France.

I’ll pick out some of my favourite prints later but first, let’s take a tour of their 215-year-old home.

Featured on Design*Sponge a couple of years ago, it was built in 1799 and when Merrick and Alice bought it was covered in vines and hadn’t been lived in for 40 years. They took on the challenge and worked through the project slowly, Merrick doing most of the work himself and Alice sourcing a lot of the furniture at France’s famous brocantes.

Merrick says: “Our tastes in interiors can be different, but our home is a collaboration, and I am always amazed by the ideas she comes up with and the things she finds.”

Merrick Angle of Double Merrick's 215-year-old home in Limousin, France Read More →

Handmade Huddersfield home

How many of us have been in this situation: you’re home from travelling, you’re working low paid jobs, you’re back living with mum and dad and you can’t afford to rent your own place let alone buy.

Well I’m about to tell you about one Yorkshire woman’s ingenious solution.

Stephanie Bertenshaw took three garages next to her parents’ house and with £12,000, help from family and friends and a whole lot of imagination and creativity, transformed them into a villa-style home now valued at £150,000.

Felt Mountain Studios handmade home in Marsden Huddersfield Yorkshire Read More →

Top 10 DIYs and a blog award

You might have noticed a little addition to my sidebar recently.

That’s right, a couple of weeks ago I was hit with the brilliant news that I’ve been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards.

Nominee Badge

I’m in the ‘best DIY blog‘ category and you will notice that I have some mega competition, so I only have an outside chance of walking away with the title, but nonetheless it feels brilliant to be a nominee along with some of my favourite and most inspiring bloggers.

The good news is that you can help me get onto the shortlist by voting for me here. All you have to do is put in your name and email address and I’m assured you won’t get spammed. Thanks so much! Voting closes on October 3.

In honour of my nomination and to prove my credentials for you clicking through and voting I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best home DIY projects I’ve shared on the blog so far. Read More →

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