At home: 3 favourite things

I’m lucky I know to live in a home that I love, and where I feel safe and secure.

We’ve lived in quite a few different houses, and never regarded any of them as somewhere we’d stay for a long time. But your home isn’t really about the bricks and mortar, it’s about the things inside. The things that make you happy and make the house yours, that reflect your personality and hold your memories.

Insurers More Than asked me to think about the three favourite things in my home and after a little thought, here’s what I chose and why.

My jewellery box

My dad is a craftsman, brilliant with wood. For my birthday a few years ago, he gave me this beautiful oak and rosewood jewellery box. I’m so proud he can create things like this, and is thoughtful enough to do it. I know how long he will have spent sanding, joining, varnishing, until it was perfect.

Three favourite things at home

I intend for it to stay in our family for generations. I wonder if my descendants will love and collect jewellery as much as I do? Can you imagine them 100 years from now storing their trinkets in it, talking about me and my dad and wondering at our lives? What will life be like for them then? It’s important to me that I have things in my home that belonged to my grandparents, so I love the idea that we may be creating things with future sentimental value.

But it’s what’s inside the box too. It holds my favourite pieces of jewellery and the things I wear most, including touching gifts from friends and family.

My phone

Three favourite things at home

Bear with me.

I know some people view phones as a negative influence and I understand why. We’re too often absorbed in them, rather than the real world and people around us. I think we should all practice putting down our phones more often and for longer. But that said, what about the positive things that we can do now we have smartphones?

My phone makes sure I am always ready to capture, keep and share precious moments.

It lets me keep an eye on my blog (my baby), and keep in touch with loved ones. It means I can see my brother and baby niece whenever I want, even though they are 200 miles away.

I scroll through social media on it, so often my source of relaxation and inspiration. When inspiration hits me, I can make notes on it to remind me of my thoughts.

It organises me, making sure I pay my bills and fit in plans for fun things.

It stops me from getting lost. It brings me music and news. It helps me exercise, meditate, get up in the morning and decide what to wear.

For those of us that have them, smartphones have changed so many aspects of our lives. Now I’ve lived with my iPhone for a few years, I can’t imagine going back to living without it.

My wedding album

My wedding day was easily the most brilliant day of my life, and I love flicking through the pages of our photo album and looking at our and our loved ones’ smiling faces.

Not everything has worked out as we hoped on that day. We’ve had some tough times since then, but I love this wonderful, funny, caring man and I don’t know where or who I’d be without him.

Three favourite things at home

Actually, though I’ve picked out my wedding album as one of my favourite things I really mean all of the things I have around me that bring back memories. That includes love letters between my husband and me from early in the last decade and photos of our dog who left a big hole in our lives seven years ago that has never really been filled.

Like I said at the beginning, we’ve lived in a few houses together – five in fact. I have a much stronger tendency to hoard than he does. I keep old photos I never really look at, books I’ve read and probably never will again, notes from studying for my degree and Masters.

Every time we move I stare and sigh at the number of boxes that have to be shifted and I think I should throw some of these things out. But I know I won’t, because it all being there – my life story in paper form – somehow helps make me feel whole.

What are the things in your home most special to you?

*written in collaboration with More Than, but all content my own

Styling jam jars for spring

I had a slight moment of realisation while doing this: that I was essentially ‘flower arranging’ and because I used to take my grandma to ‘flower arranging’ classes ergo at 36 I am officially old.

But I’d had a tiring week at work and whatever my age – with the music on, windows open, sun streaming in and scent of lemon filling the kitchen – this was a bloody enjoyable way to kick off the weekend.

I’m taking part in a project with other bloggers where we’re all styling up three jam jars from online interiors shop Rose and Grey. I win a voucher if my style is chosen as the best. But, frankly, this is one of those times when the old adage ‘it’s the taking part that matters’ is true.

I’m so happy to see the arrival of spring and sunny days and in honour of this I wanted to give my jam jars the freshest, brightest look I could muster.

Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle

With one of the jars I made a spring floating candle, with sprigs of rosemary and slices of lemon and lime. I found the white floating candles in Asda, £2 for 10.

Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle

I used the other two jam jars as vases, for yellow and white freesia. These jars are great for holding flowers because of the wire screw-on lids which keep the stems nicely spaced. Garden-picked blooms would be perfect but I had to go for shop-bought, because there’s nothing in my garden but weeds at the moment!

I decorated one of the vases with lemon. Want to know the secret to keeping the slices around the edge? Drop a couple of limes in the middle.

Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle Vintage jam jars styled with lemon, lime, rosemary, yellow and white freesia and a floating candle

The jars look so pretty lined up together, but just as good when they’re spread around a room.

What do you think?

Element Jewellery exhibition

My friends at Element Jewellery have been in touch to let me know about their designer jewellery exhibition, taking place on Saturday.

This independent shop in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, has an event like this every spring when they launch several new collections.

Cool Brighton jewellers Alex Goodman and Nicky Morris – who make gemstone jewellery and contemporary wedding rings, and drive a red London cab – will be up in Yorkshire for the event. (Psst: mention this blog for £50 off a pair of Goodman and Morris wedding rings).

Element Jewellery owner Caroline Kindy told me she feels the bohemian south coast town has a lot in common with Hebden Bridge: their creativity, tolerance and appreciation of design.

Element Jewellery spring 2015 designer jewellery exhibition

On Saturday there will also be 10% off everything, prosecco and pink lemonade on tap and a chance to win an aquamarine dress ring worth £220. Read More →

How to vote and why you should

Voting has always been really important to me.

I can’t explain why, because it wasn’t something drilled into me as a duty by my parents.

Maybe it’s because the bungalow across the road from our house was a polling station. I remember the excitement of crossing the street to complete my ballot paper for the first time in 1997.

Recently I’ve had a few conversations with friends where it’s been clear they often struggle to see how politics is relevant to their lives, and they don’t know how to work out who to vote for.

Because I work for an MP they’ve wanted me to explain it all to them, but where to start?

'Vote as you please but please vote.' Why young women should vote and how to choose.

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What I wore: a perfect jumpsuit

I wore this perfect jumpsuit for a day out in Leeds with the girls on Saturday.

I felt pretty great wearing it to be honest and it drew immediate compliments from my friends. I reckon you’re onto a winner when someone says you’re reminiscent of Sandy from Grease, am I right? (These girls are the best confidence boosters).

Warehouse black off-shoulder jumpsuit

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5 uses for a storage room

I’m always wishing I had more space in my house.

If you had a spare room inside your house or a space elsewhere, what would you use it for?

Here are five ways I might put extra storage space to great use.

Blogging and writing

I love writing. It’s the reason I started this blog. If I’m in the right mood, there’s nothing I enjoy more or find more relaxing. But I do need peace and quiet for it – I can’t do it when people are around or the TV or radio are on. I usually have the house to myself at weekends, so I’ll happily sit tapping away at my laptop for a couple of hours.

Otherwise, somewhere away from the house to be completely on my own would be bliss. No sounds, people or distractions. I’d go for a specific purpose, so it’d help stop my procrastinating.

They say everyone has a book in them and I’m sure I must have. I started writing one a few years ago, then stopped when I realised it was a bit rubbish. If I ever feel my book bubbling to the surface again and if I decide I need to complete it, I’d need a place of my own to lose myself for a few hours in my literary world.

Garden studio workspace

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Cloudberry Living: £100 giveaway

Over the last couple of years I’ve found myself more and more drawn to Scandinavian home style.

I know I’m not alone and it’s not hard to see why. Scandi-homes are light, clean, modern and flexible. Walls tend to be white, and paired with wood, but this neutral backdrop means rooms can get away with colourful additions and a mixture of styles and eras.

There’s also a certain ethos about Scandinavian design: functionality, simplicity, beauty, quality, sustainability, embracing nature.

Norwegian brand Ekornes recently invited me to the Ideal Home Show and allowed me to choose a couple of pieces from Scandi design shop Cloudberry Living. They’re also giving me a £100 voucher for one of my lovely readers – read on :)

Cloudberry’s products capture the Scandinavian ethos, though they come from around the world and the company is based in London. Their stock combines iconic brands like Ferm Living, Marimekko and Arne Jacobsen with emerging new designers.

I chose a Ferm Living round jute triangle rug and a Klippan lambs wool throw. I love the rug because I’m a sucker for geometric patterns and the throw is really cosy and a lovely combination of natural colours.

Have a nosey at them in my bedroom, perhaps the most Scandi room in my house, with its white walls and oak floor, not to mention all the Ikea furniture.

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a £100 Cloudberry Living voucher. Good luck!

Cloudberry Living Ferm Living round triangle jute rug

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Ideal Home Show 2015, London

I’ve not been that impressed, to be honest, by the two home shows I’ve been to so far, Interiors UK and Grand Designs Live. However (third time lucky?) this one was better.

The Ideal Home Show has just finished a two-week stint at Olympia London, and we went along one rainy weekend.

Two things have disappointed me about the big shows I’ve been to before. First, they were largely about selling when I wanted to be inspired, and second, there was very little there that was new to me, or unique.

Ideal Home Show Olympia London 2015

Ideal Home Show Olympia LondonThe Ideal Home Show improved on that because amid all the usual stalls it had show homes, rooms and gardens set up to give you ideas for looks you could take back to your own four walls. Read More →

What I wore: spring accessories

A few days ago I was invited by McArthur Glen Designer Outlets to go along to their York outlet and pick out some key spring accessories.

If you’re not familiar, McArthur Glen is a brilliant invention for mere mortals like me who have a normal-sized budget. I can’t justify splashing out hundreds of pounds on labelled gear but it doesn’t mean that I don’t yearn for the quality of something designer-made and that special feeling when you wear it.

At the York outlet there are some of the world’s top brands like Boss, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren alongside high-end high street names like French Connection, The Kooples, Jaeger and LK Bennett.

Outlet prices are up to 60% lower year-round, which means big savings when ticket prices can be in the hundreds. And if you call in to the customer service centre when you arrive, you can get a privilege card that entitles you to a further 10% of most full-price items on the day of your visit.

If you feel like taking your wardrobe more upmarket with a designer label, accessories often give better cost-per-wear and they’re also a really good way of giving a nod to a new season trend without diving in head first and wearing it head to toe.

What I wore in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. Spring accessories with McArthur Glen. Blue jeans, leatherr biker jacket, baby pink leather Ted Baker bag, Osprey seventies paisley patterned scarf, grey T-shirt, lace-up flat shoes

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Rad Studio, Saltaire

Just before Christmas I went to a fab little workshop where I made these origami diamond decorations.

The workshop was the first held at Rad Studio in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, and it was perfect – we learned a unique crafty project, beer and buns were served and it cost just £8.

Also perfect is this shop’s stock. I’m pretty tired of all the things I see on the high street and Rad Studio is jam packed full of stuff you just don’t see around these parts.

After my visit I was dying to pick the brains of its owner Alexandra (Ali) Radcliffe. I wanted to know about her inspiration, what shapes her tastes and how she had grown the courage to set up shop on her own before she hit 30.

Rad Studio shop, Saltaire, West Yorkshire

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