Summer is…

I’m in the middle of two weeks off from work – and I hear I may have dropped on a mini heatwave.

My phone weather forecast is predicting the temperature here will hit a slightly scary 30°C during next week!

We’ve already had a couple of days away camping in Wales, when we walked, watched dolphins from the harbour and I actually had a day of sitting around doing very little (for the first time in months) other than reading and listening to the sea.

I’ll share more on that little trip, but here’s a rather pretty taster.

Ceredigion coastal path

We came home with lots to do: the charity ball I’m helping to plan in honour of my godson Freddie is fast approaching (and looking awesome) and we wanted to get started on taking our outside space from its current jungle state to something resembling a garden.

But we’re hoping to be back off in the tent next week so, one way or another, when the sun really hits we’re likely to be outdoors.

This week I wasn’t really ready for the heat, and even got a little sun burned, so I’ll be keeping sun lotion on hand and well applied over the next few days.

I’m also dreaming of the things I want to buy should the hot weather stick around!

Summer wish list - colourful hanging chair, Bonjour jute bag, Joules Seaside grey T-shirt, blue Moroccan tile shorts, cream peasant top// 1 Lucia hanging chair, £95, Oliver Bonas / Bonjour jute bag, £55, The Jacksons / 3 ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ T-shirt, £24.95, Joules / gypsy top, £40, Warehouse / blue tile print shorts, £12.99, New Look //

I’m stocking up on books, because when the sun comes out you’re allowed to drop everything you should be doing and sit outside reading. Do you have any recommendations for great summer reads?

And I’m getting my skin ready. I was slightly shocked this week when the weather got hot enough to force my legs to face the world. They were definitely underprepared! Cue: a few extra lunges, exfoliation, some generous applications of gradual tan and keeping them smooth. Hair removal specialists Nair have introduced a new Argan Oil product range that they say keeps skin softer and smoother, and they’re raising awareness of the positive feeling and effect smooth skin has on comfort and body confidence. Learn more on their website and by following the hashtag #SkinByNair.

How are you gearing up for the hot weather?

*this post has been sponsored by Nair, but content and opinions all my own

Introducing: Object Style

I first met Rachael Adams when she organised Home is in the North in Manchester. I made no secret of how much I enjoyed that event and approved of the friendly, interactive vibe and the brands chosen to be part of it.

A few months ago, Rachael began to post on Twitter and Instagram under a new name. The things she shared were simplistic and beautiful; I often felt like she’d read my mind and interpreted my desires in imagery.

I was intrigued about where it was heading, and finally last month Rachael launched Object Style.

She describes it as a luxury concept store fusing minimalism with femininity. It’s designed by and for creative women; a collective of independent female-led brands that create one-off wares for the home, wardrobe and wedding.

Object Style look book Object Style look book Object Style look book Object Style look book Object Style look book Object Style look book Object Style look book Object Style look book (1) Object Style look book

Object Style wooden shelves with leather straps Object Style Maryanne Moodie textile hanging Object Style copper wire magazine rack

// images by Lucy Sugden Smith //

Alongside the online store is a blog and newsletter which has already featured a serious of interesting posts, written by a batch of talented women (Rachael is looking for writers too, if you like scribbling). My favourite posts have been about the writers’ recent travels and secret spots in their home cities, like New York, London and Istanbul. But you’ll also find musings on feminism and flower-planting, and an insight into makers’ lives.

Object stocks both established and emerging designers, and is the first UK stockist for several labels, including award-winning Brooklyn-based textile weaver Maryanne Moodie, Texan handbag brand Finell and Hungarian fashion house Aeron. Some items have been created especially and are exclusive to Object.

Here are some of my favourites from Object’s range.

Object Style favourites

// 1 blush tie die cushion, £47 / 2 white punch hole leather bomber, £310 / 3 rose gold necklace, £175 / 4 marble and wood chopping board, £45 / 5 marble and gold table lamp, £90 / 6 marble and wood serving dish duo, £45 / 7 copper candle stick holder, £15 / 8 rose gold bangle, £115 / 9 textured weave, £440 / 10 black leather sliders, £130 //

I really wish Rachael the very best with this venture. I certainly think she has the vision and style to make it a success.

If you fancy seeing some of Object’s items in the flesh, Rachael will have a pop-up store at The Weekender this weekend (20 and 21 June 2015) at Manchester’s Old Granada Studios.

DIY painted sputnik pendant

While our living room has taken shape nicely after the renovation, until recently the ceiling has been quite bare.

That was until a couple of weeks ago, when we added this striking pendant light.

DIY spray painted Wayfair sputnik pendant light

I’ve admired these striking sputnik-style light fittings for some time. They’re easier to find in the US than in the UK, and are usually pretty expensive (starting at a few hundred and going up to a few thousand pounds). I wasn’t sure I could justify the outlay, or that my humble home was fit for a mid-century icon.

But when do-it-yourself-décor guru Kimberley made over an £80 B&Q light fitting with gold spray paint, she planted a seed in my head that has been growing roots for the best part of a year.

So when Wayfair invited me to choose some items that I could give my own DIY touch to, I knew what my first project would be.

This pendant (£84) comes in chrome, and I decided to paint it metallic black. Although I was initially a tad nervous about ruining a perfectly good light, the new colour fits in far better with the rest of our room and I love the finished look. I often just stare at it, admiring it from different angles.

Hop on over to the Wayfair blog for the full, step-by-step DIY, and look out for my other projects coming soon.

What do you think?

Are you a fan of sputnik lights?

Elderflower foraging and meal at Crafthouse Leeds

In all my visits to the bars and eateries of Trinity Leeds, I hadn’t until recently made it to Crafthouse.

I’m pleased that my first visit was such a great one, at the fine dining restaurant’s first elderflower foraging event.

At Crafthouse and its upstairs sister Angelica, elderflower and gooseberry form a large part of the menu in the summer. We were to be served a three course meal inspired by the two, after learning from head pastry chef Stefan Rose how to find, pick and use elderflower.

Elderflower foraging event and meal at Crafthouse Leeds

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Life lately and finding space

My blog has been neglected of late.

Letting go and accepting I wouldn’t update for a few weeks – that I couldn’t – wasn’t easy. I haven’t really had a dry spell since I started blogging more than three years ago.

The first five months of this year have been demanding and non-stop at work, but now the pressure has eased slightly it’s made room in my mind for thoughts like whether I should expect more of myself, in terms of what I do for a living.

I enjoy my job a great deal, most of the time, and it’s often challenging and rewarding. Even so, I’ve been wondering whether there might be something more fulfilling elsewhere, and whether – settled and content as I am – I’m giving my job my all.

Am I being ambitious enough? Would taking a leap be worth the risk? Is it always worth taking a chance, even if it doesn’t work out – because at least you know and you’ve tried?

As some sort of work normality resumed, I’ve had the chance to take some time out and I’ve forced my conscientious little self to take it: hence, the brief blog break.

I love my blog, I love what it brings, and I love that I have a place where I can put my thoughts into some kind of order.

But it will never be my living: I don’t expect it to ever cover my mortgage, and I wouldn’t want it to. So is it right to invest so much time and energy in it, often at the expense of other things that are more important? To give myself additional tasks, pressure, deadlines, responsibilities even after the end of a demanding working week?

Of course, the answer is: everything in moderation. My blog is more than a hobby, but it can never come before my career, my relationships, or my well-being and peace of mind.

I’m pleased to be back here, but I’ve needed the space.

Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire


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The City Girls, Sheffield

I am so late posting about The City Girls‘ first event that they are well on their way with organising the second. Apologies.

It was at the end of April when Holly-Lucy and Lorna finally saw the fruits of their labour, as their first blog event came to life at Bloo 88 in Sheffield.

It turned out to be one of the nicest blog events I’ve been to. It was great catching up with Emma again (over afternoon cocktails), there were lots of things to do and try, the girls even laid on pizzas and we raised money for charity.

The City Girls event Sheffield


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Budget balcony makeover

As some of you will know, our next big job on the house renovation is to fix up the outside.

In fact, as I write, my dear husband is digging and hammering outside. (Shortly I’ll have to withdraw to provide due admiration for the drains he’s fitting).

Knowing how quickly design decisions can creep up on you, I’ve now begun to think about how we might like the garden to look. So taking part in this project was fitting.

I was asked by Leeds letting agents Morgans to help them show tenants how they can give an apartment balcony a stylish makeover to make it a summer sanctuary.

Our task was to choose 10 high street items within a £150 budget.

There are two other lovely bloggers taking part – Kay and Simone – with vouchers to be won for the maker of the mood board with the most votes.

Hop on over to the website to have a look at all our choices – and please vote for my selection if you like it!

Competition with Morgans Leeds to makeover a balcony on a £150 budget

Bearing in mind balconies are usually fairly small, I chose items that I felt would make the most of the area by using all sides of the space – like the Ikea wall panel that plants could hang from, and the festoon lights for stringing overhead.

I also injected colour: we have this barbecue for camping which works a treat and it’s a perfect match for the pink plant bags (which are total bargains by the way).

Just because you only have a small space, it doesn’t mean you can’t try growing a few vegetables or encourage wildlife. What would be more soothing than watching butterflies come and go in this wall-mounted ‘hotel’ as you and the city wind down after work?

I hope you like my selection, and that it might have given you one or two ideas for your own outside space.

Don’t forget to have a look at the Morgans website for full details and links, and to vote for your favourite.

Kitchen renovation on Bob Vila

Just popping up a quick post to let you see our kitchen renovation featured on American home and DIY blog Bob Vila.

The site editor asked me a few questions by email a few weeks ago, and the feature went live this week.

Bob Vila screen shot

Thanks and hello to the hundreds of Bob Vila readers who have popped over to my blog in the last few days!

I’m sorry that blog updates will be scarce throughout May. I’m having to put all my energies into my day job just at the moment. Thanks for bearing with me :)

Hallway inspiration

We’re still on a bit of a go slow with the house renovation. My husband’s been suffering with a bad back these last few weeks which is painful for him and frustrating for us both.

There’s not much still to do inside, but we expect the outside to be a monster of a job. We thought we might make a big dent in the work this year but, depending on his fitness, it might work out that we end up doing most next year.

Inside, all that’s left is the hall, stairs and landing, and we’re thinking of building a porch. As in: I want one, and I’m gradually persuading him to want to build me one :)

Either way, this lull between being able to do any real renovation is giving me time to think about how I’d like our entry way to look.

Porch or no porch, it will be a fairly small, square space – probably about 1.5 metres each way. Here’s how I’m thinking it might look.

Hallway inspiration with patchwork tiles, wire shoe rack, wood bench

// ‘Welcome home’ framed print, £25, BHS / porthole mirrors, from £59, Graham and Green / Paola pendant light, £50, BHS / Twiggy oak coat stand, £150, Habitat / ‘Lulworth blue’ estate emulsion, £38 for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball / oak bench, £129, John Lewis / Maffens basket, £18, Ikea / Mardi Gras Morrocan patterned tile vinyl, £9.74 per sq m, Carpetright* / wire floor unit, £125, Graham and Green //

I think an entry way needs to have stuff that is tough enough to withstand the traffic, which is why I went for the industrial-style wire shoe rack and metal pendant light.

But it should also be warm and welcoming, which is where the wood bench and coat stand come in.

I absolutely love the look of a patchwork floor and thought the black and white ‘welcome home’ print was a bargain that ties in well with the light, mirror and basket.

What do you think? Would you warm to a house that looked like this when you walked in?

Bloggers lunch in Todmorden

I’d not managed to make the last #YorkshireBloggers meet so I was keen to make this one to catch up with the group.

Plus, we were set to explore Todmorden, a place that was new to me.

Todmorden is less developed and polished than its Calder Valley neighbour Hebden Bridge – but it’s on the up. Like Hebden, it’s set in wild yet pretty countryside and it’s full of interesting, creative places and people.

One such person put up a Hollywood-style ‘kindness’ sign on the hill above the town’s supermarket one night. No one seems to know who did it, or why. Isn’t the human spirit wonderful?

There were just four of us at this meet, but that meant I could have a good natter with Natalie, Fran and Adelle.

We started with lunch at Site Pizzeria, which won its name because the owners spent so long renovating the semi-derelict building. As much as I can sympathise with the way that renovating often forces you to take one step forward before two steps back, they’ve overcome more than us and more than most in their 3+ years of making the building habitable.

But now, the restaurant is a triumph. As is the food it serves.

Site Pizzeria, Todmorden, Yorkshire

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