What makes a comfy bed?

Last weekend, I threw a sort-of afternoon tea for some of my best friends, a chance to show off them the kitchen and living room now the rooms are pretty much finished.

It was also the beginning of my payback for all the times I’ve missed hosting a gathering due to the state of my living space.

I’ve been friends with these lovely ladies for ages – one of them for my whole life – and none of us could help but notice how our topics of conversation have changed over the last few years.

The subject for most of the afternoon? Bed. And not the activity that might go on there (as it would once have been) but getting the best rest in one.

There was talk of mattress types, thread count, how often you change and clean your duvet and pillows (made me feel very dirty, that one).

There’s no doubting that as you get older your bed becomes somewhere you relish retreating to, as opposed to (as it would also once have been) partying all the way through to breakfast.

It is now the place you necessarily replenish your batteries after a long and often taxing day. (By the way, did you see my post last week on tips for getting better sleep? I promise I’m not going to talk sleep-related subjects throughout the year, it’s just because it’s hibernation season).

We’ve had our bed and mattress for a long time, and it’s one of the things I’m really looking forward to replacing when the time is right (probably after the next house move, unfortunately). You can see it in this post about our bedroom renovation. It does the job, but it’s not one of those beds that instantly rejuvenates you. You know like when you’re at a posh hotel, and you elicit an involuntary ‘aaahhhh’ as you stretch your limbs through the crisp white linen?

With a metal frame, our bed sometimes feels quite cold, so I’d quite like the next one to be upholstered, with perhaps a studded or even tufted headboard.

Blue tufted headboard and grey campaign chest Read More →

New! DIY word art prints

Amid all the renovating and decorating – probably around the time husband had several solid days of sanding and I pleaded helplessness in the face of such an unpleasant task – I found a few spare days for making some word art prints.

You may have read this post (from nearly two years ago now – yikes!) about the first few I made, starting with this destination print charting my brother and his wife’s journey. It was my gift to them when they first became homeowners.

DIY word art black and white destination print new home gift

Fittingly then, this is what I made for their first born, a beautiful daughter Elsie, my niece and goddaughter. Just before Christmas we all went across to Belfast for her christening.

DIY word print wall art gift (1) Read More →

10 secrets of better sleep

I am, frankly – like most people – awful without enough sleep. As my husband will testify, I am most definitely not a morning person.

Luckily I don’t usually have a problem getting shut-eye but I have noticed that as I’ve got older my sleep can be more disturbed and I tend to wake up earlier.

Once insomnia takes hold, you can be in a vicious circle. You know how it goes: you’re awake, you need to be asleep, then you’re kept awake because of the knowledge that there’s only three or four hours until your alarm goes off and you have to get up and deal with the day.

So it got me thinking about whether I’m doing enough to guard against sleeplessness, and how to create the kind of pre-sleep environment that will help ensure I get the eight hours (give or take) a night I function best on.

I did a bit of research, and here are what I thought were the 10 most sensible tips for better sleep. Read More →

Goals for 2015

If 2014 was the year of getting things done, 2015 is the year I want to do more.

Let me make sense of that. There’s no doubt that in the last 12 months we’ve achieved a lot on the house renovation. In doing so, we’ve worked hard, committed a lot of time, energy and money and inevitably sacrificed other things.

We had to do it, to be able to enjoy the rewards. 2015 will be far more enjoyable because of all we did last year. Away for a day or weekend, I’ve no doubt we’ll feel far more content knowing the home we have made to come back to.

Our personal circumstances left us a little uncertain about the future and more cautious with money last year. In 2015 that may still be the case but this year I want to not put things on hold so much – I want to see and experience more.

I had too much of a tendency to say I’d do something when X has happened or after Y. Well, maybe I can’t do that particular thing right now. But is there something else I can do instead? Something that might end up being just as fulfilling, albeit in a different way?

In 2015 I want to do, instead of not do or make do.

Enjoy it because it's happening quote

// image from Pinterest / print by Petersen / quote from ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’ by Steven Chbosky //

1. Do more reading

2. Do the garden and the outside of the house

3. Do more travelling, exploring, seeing and road tripping

4. Do less buying, and more making and experiencing

5. Do more being thankful

6. Do more thinking about my career

7. Do more exercise

8. Do more believing

9. Do more being patient

10. Do more saying yes

What are your goals for 2015?

Are they anything like mine?

10 most popular posts of 2014

I know pretty much every blogger in the world does it, but it’s a good and interesting end-of-year exercise to see which have been the most read posts.

It usually throws up a few surprises, and several oldies-and-goodies. I wonder if this year’s list will raise your eyebrows?

These are the posts written in 2014 that have been the most popular in the last 12 months.

1. How to decorate a 1960s house

In January I took you on a tour of Cat‘s gorgeous Leeds home, which helped me a great deal in thinking about how to decorate my 1970s semi. It’s an design era I don’t particularly like, but this house from the 1960s shows how to create the perfect balance: you can bring in features from the building’s period but you don’t have to deck it out like it’s stuck a time warp.

How-to-decorate-a-1960s-house.-1960s-detached-house-in-Leeds-from-House-to-Home.-Kitchen-diner Read More →

What I got for Christmas

I’m a pretty lucky girl. I know it.

I struggle to think of things I want for Christmas.

One explanation is because, well, this.

As you get older the things you want for Christmas can't be bought.

Another is that I don’t have particularly expensive tastes, and a decent income, so I tend to buy the things I want throughout the year.

But I always look forward to opening my presents for those surprises I love and may not have treated myself to.

Here are a few of my favourite gifts from this Christmas.

Christmas presents (2) Read More →

Christmas, and thoughts on 2014

On Christmas Day there were 10 at our house for dinner.

As I’ve said, getting the house to a state where people could actually visit safely, sit comfortably and eat round a table has been a long, hard slog and there have been times I didn’t think we’d pull it off.

But even my modest self can’t deny that C Day was a success.

Christmas (2) Read More →

Getting ready for Christmas

A few weeks ago, I imagined – fuelled by dreamworld telly and Pinterest – the run up to Christmas would be a few days of casually draping decorations around while sipping wine and listening to festive music.

Our reality has been fraught: him DIYing before and after work and me painting the living room until late. (It wasn’t anything in particular, just that everything taking longer than you think thing). It’s now the 23rd of December and there are still tools lying around everywhere and barely a bauble to be seen. In 48 hours we’ll be feeding 10 and there’s hardly any food in the house.

But, believe it or not, all is in hand.

Matthew Hilton for Case Ballet Sideboard at John Lewis. Getting home and living room ready for Christmas Read More →

DIY origami diamond

Because we’re still decorating our house, it means the Christmas decorating will probably get done on Christmas Eve.

But there are two festive decorations already up. They’re these gold paper origami diamonds I made a few days ago at a workshop at Saltaire design shop Rad Studio.

DIY origami diamond paper Christmas decoration

Rad Studio is a fab little shop that I’ll be sharing more about soon. When I was there, I took the opportunity to take some snaps of their lovely products and I’ll be chatting with owner Ali (whose taste is bang-on-the-money in my opinion).

The origami diamond workshop was the first class they’ve put on and it was perfectly judged – we were taught something unique, we were served beer, buns and chocolates and for all this and materials we paid just £8.

If you fancy learning a new skill this week, you can learn how to make and take home a Christmas wreath at Rad Studio on Wednesday – for only 20 quid.

Anyway, back to the diamonds. Read More →

Cabana Brasilian Barbecue, Leeds

After our evening with Jamie, we headed to one of Leeds’ newest restaurants.

It was opening night at Cabana Brasilian Barbecue and while I’d not been able to make the launch the night before, they’d kindly offered to shout me and a friend a meal some other time. So, perfect.

Cabana Brasilian Barbecue, Leeds

As most people round here know, Leeds already has a Brazilian barbecue restaurant, and Fazenda has a good reputation. I went as part of a group a few weeks ago. Now the meat was varied, plentiful, cooked to perfection and served with aplomb, carved straight from the skewer onto your plate. I could have happily eaten from the salad bar alone for a week without getting bored. Read More →

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