10 things to do this week

1. Work out how you can get to Manchester on 15 November for Home Is In The North. You may recall I was pretty taken with the first such event, hosting independent northern interior designers, in April. I’d be going again but it’s my husband’s birthday and we’re off on a relaxing lakeside getaway. The theme of the show this time is ‘make a house a home’, with the focus on traditional crafts and the use of unusual materials – hence this design by cardboard artist Lottie Smith. If you fancy going along, just email me (hello@angelinthenorth.com) – I have five pairs of tickets to give away.

Home Is In The North, Manchester

2. Plan to be at Leeds Dock on 6/7 December for the Christmas market. You’ve just missed (last weekend) the first ever Leeds Dock Market. Think stalls, street food, mulled wine, cocktails, live music – and a free water taxi running from Granary Wharf. Getting wrapped up and strolling round markets, stopping every now and again for a warm drink or bite – that for me is one of the best things about this time of year.

3. Think of doing some of your Christmas shopping at the Etsy sellers pop-up shop in Queen’s Arcade, Leeds. It’s a bit of a coup for Leeds: earlier this year, Etsy invited local teams from across the country to apply for sponsorship to open a pop-up shop. Team Leeds, which has more than 200 members, won! The ‘One of a Kind’ store will showcase 26 Yorkshire-based independent makers and sellers. It opens at 9.30am on Saturday 15 November and closes on Tuesday 23 December. Follow on Twitter at @EtsyTeamLeedsRead More →

Grand Designs Live

As serial renovators we dream of building our own house one day.

It’s the next logical step for two people who rarely see a house that is already in perfect shape – inside or out – to be our ideal home (or at least one that’s in budget).

I’m constantly frustrated by the parodies of past architecture that pass as ‘new builds’. I think people of the future will find it impossible to define our style when they look back at the buildings put up in the last 20 or 30 years.

Our generation makes great leaps forward and pushes boundaries in science and design every day – but when it comes to housing we seem to have little imagination and willingness to innovate. Or at least, those that do have ideas worthy of 21st century living spaces – I’ve been impressed with what Hemingway Design are trying to do, for example – don’t seem to make it through to the mainstream.

Of course, there are individuals who are the exception and Grand Designs is great programme for showcasing their ambitious projects (even though I wish they’d feature more people with more realistic budgets). I love watching the show for inspiration and although my husband tends not to – he calls it ‘homework’, a chore not escapism, because we’re renovating – he was up for coming with me to Grand Designs Live at Birmingham NEC recently.

Although building our own home is not round the corner for us, more in our 10-year fantasy plan, we were excited at the thought of seeing some innovative design on show that could give us ideas for the future, or even some things we could implement now, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Grand Designs Live 2014 Read More →

What I wore: pink cashmere

Recently my ‘go-to’ outfit has mostly been my DIY and decorating clothes. But I felt my first cashmere jumper warranted documenting.

Does the fact I’ve bought something that’s made it to nearly every list of ‘wardrobe staples’ I’ve ever seen mean I’ve officially grown up, that my fashion tastes are fully mature?

Not necessarily: I wore it with trainers and a slightly-too-short skirt.

What I wore, pink cashmere jumper, black and white check skirt, New Balance trainers Read More →

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 Read More →

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. Read More →

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 →

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