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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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

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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

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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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