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.

The exhibition will see the launch of a new range of contemporary pearl jewellery by Eva Strepp, and new work from Stilnest, Leen Heyne, Stephen Roper, Mounir, Franziska Rappold, Heather O’Connor and Lesley Strickland.

Here’s a taster of some of the designers’ work, but you can read Caroline’s blog for more interesting background on their careers and designs.

Goodman and Morris

Goodman and Morris gemstone jewellery and contemporary wedding rings at Element Jewellery, Hebden Bridge Goodman and Morris gemstone jewellery and contemporary wedding rings at Element Jewellery, Hebden Bridge

Eva Strepp

Eva Strepp at Element Jewellery, Hebden Bridge

Leen Heyne

Leen Heyne at Element Jewellery, Hebden Bridge

Stephen Roper

Stephen Roper at Element Jewellery, Hebden Bridge

 Lesley Strickland

Lesley Strickland at Element Jewellery, Hebden Bridge

Stilnest

Stilnest at Element Jewellery, Hebden BridgeI love these new collections, especially those by Goodman and Morris, Leen Heyne and Stephen Roper. Stilnest’s jewellery is made through 3D printing – isn’t that amazing?

Do you remember me writing about Element Jewellery’s diamond event and recovery from the terrible floods of 2012, and their 10th birthday celebrations?

Need to know: Element Jewellery is at 25 Market Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 6EU. Visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

(image)

Register

You can’t do anything if you’re not registered to vote. Do it here. The deadline is 20 April.

Be realistic

A lot of people are frustrated by politics. I get that.

But politics cannot change anything overnight, and it probably can’t make the world exactly how you want it. Because there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect society'; everyone has a different vision of perfection. In many ways, that we live in a society where all these different views are allowed – that is already perfection.

Politics is often about compromise and finding a solution that most people can get on board with. I understand that Prime Minister’s Questions and those debates you see on TV – with all their traditions and heckling – turn some people off. But when you strip away the playground antics, it’s just about people saying, ‘this is what I think, and this is why I think it’s right’, then someone putting over an alternative view, then either reaching a compromise or agreeing to disagree.

Ignore the media

Well, don’t ignore it, but take what they say with a pinch of salt. They’re usually in the business of getting you to watch their shows or buy their papers, not ensuring there is a well-rounded and well-balanced political debate going on. Broadcasters have some obligation to be balanced in their reporting, newspapers don’t. For example, most newspapers tend to support the Conservative party.

Understand ideology, not policies

You often hear people saying of the main political parties, ‘they’re all the same’. They’re not, of course, but because of our voting system, they’re competing for the votes of a lot of the same people, so sometimes they can seem to be singing from a similar hymn sheet. So how do you make up your mind?

Understanding how each party fundamentally sees the world will help you work out which one you’re most aligned to. At the moment, we’re being pretty much bombarded with policy announcements: things each party promises to do if they’re elected and form the government. Most of these policies are the icing on the cake. They’re not the most important thing about the cake. What the cake is made of, that’s the most important thing. Understand the ideology – values and outlook – each party is built on, then you know the kind of policies they’re likely to implement and the people they’re likely to look after.

What is important to you?

That said, there might be a particular policy that is really important to you. You might want to vote for whoever is going to help small businesses, or care for the environment the most. If so, great! You’ll probably find deciding who to vote for much easier.

Personally, I vote for the party I think will build the kind of society I think is right, rather than the one that I think will most benefit me or our household.

I’ve seen a few people are taking this Vote for Policies survey. It lets you choose which policies you support, without seeing which political party they belong to. (Although if you follow politics even a little bit you’ll recognise the language and probably quickly identify who has said they want to do what).

Likewise, you can take a short quiz on Vote Match and it will tell you which party’s policies you’re most aligned to.

This BBC guide gives quite a good explanation of the background to each party and summary of their 2015 promises.

Get to know your MP

In a general election, you’re voting to elect a government but you’re also voting to elect your local MP. Because of our first-past-the-post system, some constituencies always tend to elect a politician of the same party. These are called ‘safe’ seats, or ‘marginal’ seats if they’re more unpredictable.

This person who you’re voting for will be representing your area for the next five years, so it’s worth getting to know a bit about them. You might decide to vote for someone because you like the sound of them as a person, rather than the colour of the rosette they’re wearing.

Most MPs have advice surgeries every couple of weeks. You can make an appointment and go and speak to him or her about something you feel strongly about, or just write to them if you’d prefer. Read their website, see what they say on Facebook or Twitter. All the candidates will be delivering leaflets through your door, which will have their contact details on.

Speaking from experience, being an MP is definitely not cushy. It is a 24-7 job, you work damn hard, you struggle to see your family and friends, your every word is scrutinised and then most people are cynical, sceptical and derogatory about what you do.

Despite what we can be led to believe, politicians are not a corrupt, self-serving species. We are all human. We are capable of good and bad, but most people simply want to do a good job at what they’ve chosen to spend their life doing.

I’ve recently watched the filmed about Mandela’s life. He was a politician, and a human (albeit an incredible one). The film ends with this amazing Mandela quote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin. People learn to hate. They can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”

Which brings me neatly onto…

Be positive

When we think negatively, when we blame others, that is dangerous. When pessimism thrives, that is when parties that blame all our ills on a certain section of society become the answer. We are all in charge of our own lives. If something’s not going right, it’s usually our own or nobody’s fault. I’m 99.9% sure it’s not the fault of that bloke and his family who live round the corner. I’m sure you know what I’m getting at.

For me politics should be positive, because moving forward is better than back. Back never works, when most of the rest of the world is going forward. It’s like trying to walk the wrong way down a busy street.

Take a minute to think about the positive progress politics has made in just our lifetime: maternity leave, civil partnerships, people staying in education, steps toward equal pay for women.

This is what we’ve got

Russell Brand has been really annoying me of late. He says he favours a revolution, but he doesn’t seem to have any answers about his supposed alternative. I’m not inclined to take lessons from a millionaire who lives in LA-LA-land! If you think MPs don’t live in the real world, celebrities live on Mars, surely? If you get to know our democracy, and the people involved in it, you might realise it’s not so bad.

Your voice does count

In 2010, 80% of over-65s voted but but only 47% of 18-24 year olds. The result was protected pensions but tripled tuition fees. I really want younger people to vote. Let’s all do it and see what happens.

I hope this doesn’t sound preachy because that’s not my intention! This is just my opinion and I realise opinions vary.  Like I said in the beginning, we’re lucky to live in a country where that’s OK. We’re also lucky to live in a country and a time where every adult gets to have their say on how things are run.

How do you feel about the election?

Do you always vote or do you usually not bother?

Have you already decided who you’re going to vote for?

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

// jumpsuit, c/o Warehouse / cuff, Accessorize / bag, Lamb 1887 / shoes, Zara //

To celebrate the launch of their SS15 occasionwear, Warehouse are having an Urban Garden Party, transforming their stores into urban jungles with specially designed windows, greenery, illustrations, flower gifts for customers and hair styling tips from Toni & Guy.

The next event is at their Trinity Leeds store on Saturday 25 April, 12-6pm. Sign up here and you can get 20% off occasionwear on the day, as well as other goodies.

I sometimes struggle with getting dressed up or choosing an outfit for an ‘occasion’. I am certainly not one to wear a floral frock and fascinator combo, and my basic belief is that skinny jeans can be worn under any circumstances.

But this black off-shoulder jumpsuit is perfect for me: it’s smart but sexy, and I felt both feminine and fierce. It’s really comfy – and there are pockets. My love for it grows the more I look at it.

Speaking of Trinity Leeds, just outside the shopping centre is a new tapas kitchen and bar, which is where we went on Saturday. Pintura has been open about a month, and although we had a few problems with the service, the manager was quick to apologise and offer redress.

I like tapas for the variety of tastes you get in one sitting, and the food here was good and plentiful.

If industrial chic decor is your thing (and if it isn’t, why not?) you will love Pintura. My pictures aren’t great, taken on my iPhone, but you get the idea. Retro cupboards, herringbone wall tiles, copper fittings, filament bulbs, geometric floor tiles – it’s here in spades.

Pintura tapas kitchen and bar, Leeds Pintura tapas kitchen and bar, LeedsPintura tapas kitchen and bar, Leeds

Do you struggle a bit with ‘dressing up’, or is it just me?!

Have you been to Pintura yet?

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

/ from Homes & Gardens /

Crafting

I have an ever-increasing collection of crafting equipment, fabrics, bits and pieces for making jewellery. Most are thrown in a chest of drawers, and some are in the loft. I usually forget what I have and when I have a particular project in mind I never seem to be able to find something I need and know I have. I’m so envious of these craft rooms I see on Pinterest, wonderfully organised and colour co-ordinated, with labelled draws and a large table for making your creations.

Pegboard and office desk in home of Mandy Pellegrin via A Beautiful Mess

/ from A Beautiful Mess /

Exercising

Our spare bedroom is something like a gym at the moment: we have an exercise bike, mat and a couple of weights. But it’s not ideal because being house temperature (and the location of the boiler) it’s usually too warm for a proper workout. Plus it’s above the kitchen, and if my husband’s started cooking and I get a whiff of food ready for eating, the exercise usually goes straight out of the window. Our exercise equipment is also fighting for space with a sofa, wardrobe and chest of drawers. A dedicated space would be much better used.

Industrial chic home gym

/ from Decoist /

Playing a musical instrument

I played the piano as a teen but since I’ve had my own houses I’ve never had room to bring the instrument with me. It’s always stayed at my parents’ and lately I’ve really begun to miss it, especially since my mum has started tinkling at the ivories. When I got in from school, when no one was around, I used to love winding down by playing Mozart’s Moonlight Sonata. Then I’d usually watch Grease, because variety is the spice of life. I’d love to have space to sit on my own and play music again. There are few things more uplifting.

mint painted piano

/ from Your Home Based Mom /

Storing the camping kit 

Our camping kit gets bigger every year. We got two tables for Christmas! There’s no room for it in the garage – that’s full of tools and DIY equipment – so it stays in the loft during the winter, but we could free room up there by storing it elsewhere, because it doesn’t need to be close at hand.

Hawes 001

/ from our camping trip to Hawes /

What would you like to use extra storage for?

This post is written in collaboration with Yorkshire-based removals and storage company McCarthys, who have recently opened a store in Wakefield. To find out more visit storage in Wakefield from McCarthys.

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

Read More →

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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My top 10 DIY blogs

I love a DIY project, as most of you will know by now.

It’s the thing that got me into blogs, and blogging, in the first place. The brilliant, crafty people out there, who regularly show the world how to make something that looks like it cost more than £100 with nothing more than a free afternoon and a trip to their local DIY store or haberdashery shop.

My DIY tutorials are some of my favourite things to write and post, and though I haven’t had as much time for crafting recently because of the house renovation, it doesn’t mean I’m not collecting ideas on ‘projects to do one day’. And that list just keeps on growing.

Here are my top sources of inspiration – my 10 favourite DIY bloggers.

The Lovely Drawer

It was probably the beautiful photography and impeccable interior tastes of Teri from the The Lovely Drawer that drew me in. She’s one of my favourite DIYers because her projects are simple, affordable and effective.

Best recent project: no sew geometric cushion

The Lovely Drawer no sew geometric cushion

Read More →

New kitchen shelves

After our hectic year last year, we’re still on a bit of a go slow with the house renovation and seem to have little motivation for doing any DIY.

But that doesn’t mean there’s been no progress, because the other day my lovely dad came round to fit some new shelves in the kitchen :)

Because of awkward slopes and corners, we had a bit of empty space between wall cabinets. These gaps are now filled with oak open shelves for cookbooks and pretty accessories.

Ikea Veddinge grey kitchen with oak worktop and open shelves

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