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My Cancer treatment

House Update: The Guest Room revamp

We recently had the hallway replastered and whilst we had people in doing that we figured we might as well get another room done – you know, because it seemed good economy whilst the plasterers were here - but which room to do was the big decision?  The dining room was out because we've not decided if we're knocking through to the kitchen yet, and our bedroom needs to be rid of some hideous built-in wardrobes before we can tackle it, the shower room needs loads ripping out and the top floor is being left until last, so the room  that won was the guest room. 

It wasn’t in THAT bad a state. I mean the carpet was the colour of runny poop and the wallpaper looked like something an 11 year old might have picked, but it's a huge room, and once we'd we filled it with a bed, a wardrobe and added some curtains and we had a spare room that was usable. It wasn't pretty, but it was usable. See - how awful was that carpet! 
Because getting the room plastered was a bit of a last minute decision, it meant that earlier this summer we spent a frantic 2 days de-wallpapering the room to get the walls clear to be plastered and then a few weeks later we spent another frantic few days finishing the painting before a new carpet went it.

My plan for the room was to create a calming space for guests to relax. I want people to come and feel welcome in the house but we also didn’t want to spend too much on a room that will, for most of the year, essentially be a giant clothes drying room (if you tell me your spare room is anything but a space to dry clothes, I will tell you you’re lying!) In my mind the colours were going to be something like this, and my carpet was picked to go with this vision, but when I started painting the wall, the colour I had chosen started coming out far more blue than I had envisaged. Not in a bad way, but I was thinking more cream, but clearly my paint picking brain was routing me to cooler shades over cosy shades!  
Now, to make this post worth while we probably should have bought all new furniture for the room, but we haven’t. We've made the most of what we already had - we already had a king sized bed in there and the wardrobe too, so we’ve kept those big pieces and just added to the room, where we felt necessary and hey, guests get a king sized bed rather than a blow up mattress, so they can keep their complaints about the mismatching furniture to themselves! 
Once I'd realised that the walls were changing my colour vision for the room, my colour scheme changed a bit and I went from wanting browns and beige's to thinking greys and whites would be better. I shopped the house for some of the other accessories including the curtains, which were from our old house's bedroom, the chest or drawers were also in our old house, as was the bucket chair and the mirror. And although maybe they aren't what I'd have had if we'd been buying from new, they work for now I think.

One of the pieces that IS new and it might be the item in the room that I am most happy with, is the lamp shade. It makes me so happy every time I look at it and it's one of the first things that people notice when they come into the room.

I love how intricate and delicate and well, girlie it is and I adore the shadows that it casts when the light is on, but it's also cool enough to not make it look twee - that might be the metal that the pattern is punched out of. Honestly, I just adore how pretty it is and we get so many compliments. I picked up one of those fancy looking bulbs too, so whether you look right up at it, or from the side it's beautiful.
The room isn't quite finished yet, but I wanted to share it with you now. The plan is to add an original Victorian fireplace to the chimney breast as there is a hole for one behind the chest of drawers, but I can't find one that is small enough and is within my budget so I'll keep scouring Ebay for now. I'd also like to grab a dressing table for the alcove so that guests have somewhere to get ready, but that'll be something we'll pick up next time we're near an ikea, I guess. I've also got a lot of artwork from our travels that I am hoping will bring out the blue in the walls, it's ready to be printed but we need frames for them all, so we're probably going to have to wait until said Ikea trip to do that!
One of the advantages of Jim staying in so many hotels is that we have an abundance of hotel toiletries, which means guests get mini's like they would in a hotel - the jar is filled with berocca, cosmetics samples and painkillers for the inevitable hangovers. The top drawer of the dresser is full of hair dryers and an old pair of straighteners and some PJ's that I've never worn. Things guests might not have brought with them. 
Now all we need is an abundance of guests to come along and stay in the room - who wants to come? 

Shopping List

Walls – Snowflake by Valspar in a matt finish / Main light shade c/o First Choice Lighting / Bedding – Matalan / Carpet – Mintons, Sheffield / Chest of drawers - Ikea but painted / Wardrobe - on loan from friends / Candle - Sainsbury's / Chair - Ikea / 
Curtains - mirror - throws - bedside lamps - from the house.


My guilty pleasures play list!

Having just spent a fair wack of a recent weekend driving the 6hrs to Ilfracome and back with one of my friends, Beth, in the passenger seat and in-charge of the stereo, I've realised just how massively un-cool my music collection is. A couple of hours into the journey, we decided to abandon the radio and turn to my car CD collection which was probably last updated in about 2009 (we forgot both our ipods!).

Given that Beth has always been the friend who introduced me to cool new bands, her mocking of my CD collections was pretty just - I mean, I didn't even know I had 2 Justin Timberlake CD's - but it didn't stop us from finding a couple of massive guilty pleasures in there. And the dance party we had in the car had me thinking about what would be on my guilty pleasures playlist if I was given with free reign beyond my current collection of CD's. I mean it's not like it'll be much different to what's actually in my CD case but you know, I'm a creature of musical habits and maybe there are a few other singles I can pick up?

I mean no playlist, guilty pleasures or otherwise, would be complete without The Beach Boys, they've been my favourite since I was a kid, like a little kid, 10 years old and singing along to Little Deuce Coupe, but there havebeen times when liking them was so not cool and they will always feel like a guilty pleasure! And I just don't trust you if you don't sing at the top of your voice to Livin' on a Prayer when you're in your car. But in my list there are a few other sing along classics, some late night party memories, some cheesey numbers and a couple of indie essentials.

I mean this isn't the playlist I'd publish to impress the super cool amongst you, this is the playlist I'd put on to speak to the me's throughout the years, the me who wants to sing along and the me who wants to remember some awesome memories. 

And now I want to know what would be on your guilty pleasures playlist - not the cool songs remember, the ones you'd listen to when you're not trying to impress anyone. Go on, hit me with them!

*This is a collaborative post with HMV but all the view are my own* 

An Autumn Lust List

1. I have one of these Hush dresses in blue and white  (nautical, obvz, did you imagine anything else from me?) and it was an summer essential that I wore all the time so the fact I can get it in a long sleeved winter style makes me happy. It covers all my lumps and bumps so wonderfully (and I have many of them) and looks great too! 
2. Melle managed to get his teeth into my favourite casual winter boots over the summer. When I say he got his teeth into them I mean he ate one of the heels, leather, wooden heel bit, everything. Gone. Little monster. So I'm on a mission to replace them. They need to be low heeled and easy to wear with jeans or a skirt and these boots look like they'd fit the bill! 
3. It's been the longest time since I had a nice checked shirt and then this one popped up and I think I might have fallen in love. I had one pretty similar in about 2006, i wore it to death and 
4. With all the changes that are coming in my life keeping healthy is going to be high on my list of priorities. I've been thinking of replacing my fitbit for a while and this Bella Beat fitness tracker includes more than just your activity, it includes a wellbeing function that includes mindfulness and meditation.
5. I'm kind of obsessed with Cliniques Chubby Sticks, I've had one of their eye sticks and it's so easy to use for someone as challenged at doing make-up as I am (God help me if I ever have to start drawing my eye brows on or doing anything more complicated than my usual routine though!) I think this brown, Fuller Fudge, would be perfect for winter though.

What are your essentials for the Autumn? 

Cast. Sheffield - An unmissable jewellery making night.

Ever since I was little I’ve loved making jewellery. It started with Fimo beads and friendship bracelets as a child, it went retro as a teenager obsessed with Indie and 70’s clothing, it got expensive when I first discovered you could order exciting cabochons and beading shells from America, and then when we moved I realised I might have a few too many jewellery making bits and pieces.
But this week it all got a bit more sophisticated when my friend Lizzie and I went to Cast. A silver jewellery making evening held at the wonderfully cool 99 Mary Street.  Lizzie, bless her, treated me to the event as a pick me up before all my treatment starts (I have to find a way of paying her back. I’m not sure a bottle of Prosecco is quite going to cut it after last night’s fun.)

So what is Cast? Their website tells you ‘CAST. is a unique craft night that allows you to create one off jewellery pieces at inspired venues across the city.’ And it most certainly didn’t disappoint. The team at Cast, James and Joe are seasoned Silversmiths who have branched out from making bespoke, high-end silver items to bring ring making to the masses and from a small piece of blue wax the most wonderful bits of jewellery are created. Now for those of you outside of Sheffield (or inside maybe) you probably won’t have heard of Cast but you really need to keep reading as you’ll be demanding they come to your city soon and there are rumblings of an upcoming London event . (And no, I’m not being paid for this – I just really love the concept!)
Along with about 12 other bespoke jewellery makers, we were all seated with our craft knives and blue wax ring templates, our drinks and our menus for the night (at our event it was moules frites, which might be my all-time favourite meal!) The night started with a ring fitting, followed by a short lesson in how to start shaping the wax template. We were told to shape the wax with the knife as if we were peeling fruit, and use the sand paper to minimise the width of the wax, or to smooth areas out. I found that the sandpaper was my favourite way to change the shape of the wax, where as Lizzie carved at it with the craft knife. 
I'd decided I wanted to make a mountain inspired ring and I’d created a pin board of beautiful rings that I had it in my head I could create, but the reality turned out to be somewhat different mostly due to my ambiton out weighing my skill. I started by halving the depth of the ring on the sandpaper, then drawing a mountain range onto the flat, top  portion of the ring. The peaks I carved were far too angular and looked like a child’s drawing of a mountain range, but I’d got my heart set on making a mountainous ring so I popped it to one side and started on a second ring template. Eventually when I came back to it I decided to chip away at the ‘mountains’ to make them less structured and more like rocks might be, which made me feel much more comfortable with the shape of the ring and I really started to love what I’d made. I maybe ought to have made something a bit daintier, but lets me honest, that’s not really me!
Before I started on the second ring we were served with a beautiful bowl of moules marinières, with chips, bread and prosecco. It was so interesting to look down the table and see how people were so engrossed in the making of their rings that they were still carving and sanding as they ate. I however was fully committed to eating the mussels, which gave me time to think about the ring I was making.

My second ring was inspired a little by the one that Lizzie was making, a ring she described as rustic! This one I shaped more round, getting rid of the tall flat bit of the ring template, and then once I was happy with the shape I cut little angular bits of wax off the shape, creating something that will hopefully be multifaceted and reflect the light in all different directions. It might be a little more lady like but it’s still a little chunky and, in wax at least, it looked pretty cool sitting next to the mountains ring. And so I talked myself into getting both rings. Ooooooops. 
After much deliberation and some intense crossing out of my decisions on the order form, I decided that I’d get one ring, the second more rounded ring, in a high shine polished silver and the mountains in a brushed silver so that when they are sitting together they have some contrast. I know I could have had a gold or rose gold finish to it, but I never wear anything but silver so those options weren’t ever considered.
I didn’t quite get to the bottom of how they turn the wax into rings, in my head there are moulds made of the wax and then the rings are made from that but I’ll be honest I have no real clue, I’m just super excited to see what comes back from the team at Cast. Keep an eye out for me sharing the results in a couple of weeks, but check out their Instagram for examples of what other people have made!
And if you think this sounds like a super cool idea but you’re not based in Sheffield, they have just started selling kits at £90 each. We had a peek at a kit and you get 3 wax ring templates, carving tools and instructions on how to get started, and then when you’re happy with your wax template you post it back to them to make into a ring and posted back to you. Which if I was a bit richer (or loved my friends more) would be the gift I’d give out for every up-coming birthday. Alas, I am not this rich, but I do think it’s a fabulous idea. 

Dust Busting

I'm not sure about you, but I am not a fan of cleaning. And when I say I am not a fan, that's a bit of an under-statement. I hate cleaning. I like a clean house but it's just so boring! But unfortunately, not having the money for a maid, ignoring the cleaning is not a luxury that I have. I've also got a boyfriend who cooks a lot and likes to create mess, and two dogs who like to create mess more than the aforementioned boyfriend. Honestly, it baffles me how they make such a mess between them. 

If it's not mud from the garden, it's bit of sticks that have been chewed up, bits of carrots that have been discarded and little blonde strands of fur everywhere. And don't get me started on the mess Jim makes with those black bits that come out of his football boots and socks! And my hatred of cleaning means I really don't want to be dragging the big  out every vacuum time Melle decides to destroy a stick! 

We've been talking about getting a smaller, lighter weight vacuum, mostly because Jim thinks they look cool, but I hoped that having one might make him pick it up a bit more than he does. 
So when we were offered the 360⁰ Reach Stick Vacuum Cleaner to try i thought that it might be the answer to my  cleaning prayers! 
And we've had it for over a month now, so I think we've had fair chance to test it out and let you know how it holds up to a 2 dog household. 

So, first off - what you get. The 360 Reach is a small, compact vacuum body that then has a a couple of attachments. You get a long stick with a traditional vacuum end on it, a flat tool for upholstery and a small stick for corners. It comes on a 8.5m cord. 

And we've been busting (forgive the pun) this little bad boy out far more than the big vacuum recently. For one, it appears that Flash isn't terrified of this machine as he is the big vacuum. he'll happily let me use it without trying to kill it - maybe it's because it's little, or maybe the noise is different. 

But the main reason is that it's so easy to just pull out, use and pop away. It's never going to be big enough to use on our entire house but it's great for those inbetween big clean moments. 

It has 3 different strengths, although I've only really ever used the most powerful one as a floor vacuum (I'm usually trying to get something dog related out of the carpets so it seems necessary). I've gone with lower strength power (II) for the cobwebs that seem to appear over night in our old house. 

The dust tank does from the outside seem quite small, but I've easily done a couple of rooms (full of rogue dog hairs and other crap that the dogs have left behind) without emptying it, and when I do, because it's small it's easier to cart to the bin, it's simple to do. 
One thing we noticed was that the body is quite heavy, which was a surprise for something so small. Not too heavy to use one handed but in my head because of the size, it was going to be uber light, although in fairness, I've not held any others of these types of vacuums so they might all be the same weight. 

The other was the fact that when we'd been looking at handheld machines, we had initially been considering the cordless ones, because we thought that made them seem more mobile and portable, but the cord is 8ms long which is, if you've not ever considered how long 8m's is, is long. I plugged it in and tried to see how far I could walk with it and I was pretty surprised with how far I got round the house, and our house is pretty roomy! One of the problems we've really found with the cord is that as we don't have a driveway, and have to park on the street, we can't just pop out with it to get rid of all the hair that the dog shed all over the car!

Over all, we're really impressed with how easy the Dust Buster 360⁰ Reach Stick Vacuum Cleaner has made quickly cleaning up after the dogs (and Jim) and as I said, in a house our size, it'll never replace the main vacuum but its perfect for whipping out when you just need to clean up a small mess! 

*I was sent the Dust Buster for free, but all views are my own*

A look back at August and some September goals

August wasn't the month we quite planned. It started with a cancer diagnosis and was followed up by an operation, a stint of recovery at my parents and some rearranged plans for a holiday. But it also involved visits from old friends, perfect brunches, days spent having fun with pals, trips to the lakes and a few too many cocktails. 

And then we celebrated the weddings of the most wonderful people with some awesome friends. Checkout the mini movie I made of the day 

And now on to Septembers plans

We have a trip to a beer festival in Amsterdam to look forwards to. I've never been to Amsterdam either so I am excited to see the city, the foodhallen, and just have a little break. I'm also popping to Devon for a friends birthday and to see the coffee shop she's opened in Ilfracombe. I've been doing some research into diets for my upcoming treatment and the internet seems to suggest i ought to go vegan, but I'll be honest, that's not about to happen (because, well, cheese) so the plan is to make my diet more alkaline in a way that keeps me happy! Because being positive for the start of chemo can only be a good way to start it. We had to cancel a little trip away with the dogs because of my lumpectomy so I'll be keeping my hopes up and planning a break somewhere with the fur faces, because they deserve a holiday too don't they! 

And I know I've been a terrible blogger of late. The thing is my brain is full of things to say but my ability to get them out here has been diminished of late - but the plan is to try and get back to blogging regularly and to have fun doing it.