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Lust list - Some local Sheffield must haves!

Sometimes I forget how spoilt we are in Sheffield for awesome little independent shops and makers. There is currently a bit of a situation in the city where there is a planning application to knock down a stretch of shops near my work that houses some of these greats independents, which would just be a complete travesty for the area  as it really is the independent that make it so great here, (but even with the threat of eviction facing them it must be great for the couple of shops involved as they've got some national coverage.)

With all the focus on Sheffield's indies, I thought it might be nice to showcase some of the other local businesses that I'm loving at the moment! 

1. I've been on the look out for a simple necklace I can wear all the time and this Tar and Fether braille necklace fits the bill. 2. You know my love of gin and this Sheffield made gin is meant to be delicious Loxley distillery gin, 3. How cool are these Skull candles from Moonko - I love 99% of the stuff they sell and these are no exception. 4. This cute mountain brooch from Snowbird Artworks has stolen my heart! What round up of Sheffield products would be complete without a nod to Hendersons Relish? 5. This Jo Peel Print forgoes the usual bottle image for the building. 6. And this Mellorware apron is firmly on my Christmas list - Lianne is a member of the same WI as me and is a superstar - also watch out for some Flash related stuff from her in the new year too!

What do you think of what the city has to offer? Who is your favourite local retailer or maker? 

Cable and Cotton lights

One more about the living room and then I will shut up. Promise. (Mostly because I'll be onto another room then! This house is never ending). But I want to draw your attention to the gorgeous Cable and Cotton lights we have strung over the fireplace.

I've loved Cable and Cotton lights for such a long time so I was over the moon when they got in touch and asked if I'd like a set of lights for the new house. The hardest part, having said yes was picking the colours of the lights but eventually I settled on the Sea Salt set (that shouldn't be a surprise to people who know me well) to go with the natural colours of the dining room but when they arrived I'd changed my mind and wanted them in the living room so I ordered an add on of red and purple balls to match the new decor in there! But I've saved the blue balls I replaced with red and purple so when I switch rooms again they match (or I might just buy another set for that room!)
They were so easy to set up - you just take them out of the box and pop the balls over the lights, switch them on and go. As for installing them, I just used a couple of the clips they sell on the website to string them from, then another few to keep the wires tidy!
As you might know if you've read my other living room posts I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the fireplace yet, but having these lights strung across it, strangely, makes it less conspicuous. They look beautiful and fun in the day time, but give a lovely, cosy, glow at night, especially when I have my candles lit too. I'm just debating whether to go for one of the 'Big Lamps' for the main light fitting too now!
So, give me your thoughts on the lights - did I do right stringing them in here rather then the dining room? Do you like my colour choices? Which colours would you go for? Ones to match your decor or just something fun? 

*The lights were given to me by Cable and Cotton but I wasn't paid for this review. 

DIY Geometric Canvas

If you've seen my last post about our living room, you might have noticed we have a big, bold, canvas hanging above the fireplace. Well, I've had quite a few comments about it since it went on the wall and as it's homemade I thought I'd post the 'how to' in case you fancy something like it in your house too. 

I can't take any credit for this idea as I totally ripped it off from one of my loveliest friends, Liz, at Stitches and Lace. But as she doesn't have a blog, I'm pretty sure she won't mind me showing you what we did.

Liz sent me a photo of her canvas about 6 months ago when they overhauled their entire house (think knocking down walls, converting lofts, painting everything awesome colours, upcycling furniture!) She wanted a piece of art for her walls, couldn't find one, so made one. I fell in love with the idea and vowed to make one when we had our house sorted. I couldn't wait for the house to be sorted, but once we'd ordered the sofa and I had an idea of the colour scheme, I went ahead and did it!

What you'll need;
  • Large canvas - I got this 90x90cm one from Home Bargains for just £5.99. I know it won't be the highest quality but it's worked fine for me.
  • Tester paint pots in the colours of your choice. I chose our colours to match the cushions on the sofa, and used some of the leftovers from picking wall colours! 
  • Frog tape - or a tape with paint sealed edges. 
  • Paint brushes. 
What to do;

I started with by laying the canvas on the floor and taping out the shapes. I'll be honest. I wasn't sure what I was aiming for and just started throwing lines across each other. Liz's tip was to use Frog Tape rather than masking tape and I'd suggest you do too as it doesn't bleed.

Once I was happy with all the lines, (and I'd corrected the ones that had somehow curved) I started planning out the colours in my head. I probably should have thought ahead more and re-drawn the pattern on paper, but as my main plan was to make sure that none of the colours 'touched', and that giant triangle was always going to be the only red space, I thought I'd got it sorted.

The Crown paint I bought came in tubes with foam applicators, which made it super easy to apply, just squeeze and rub. The other testers I bought were Homebase own brand and didn't come with the paint brushes in the lid like I expected, so I had to go and dig out paint brushes. For reference, B&Q own brand testers do!

I then painted my colours in the spaces between the tapes. This is where the plan would have been helpful as I kept forgetting what went where. I also made sure to paint right over the sides and to the edges so that it would be finished - I bought a canvas that didn't do this and it's pissed me off ever since. The most difficult bit of this stage was keeping Flash from walking over the canvas......he's not that into crafting.

Once the paint was dried (I waited overnight as I really didn't want to have messed up) I carefully peeled the painters tape away and marvelled in the frog tapes abilities to not let the paint bleed!

Then I waited 6 weeks for the living room to be plastered, painted and re-carpeted, to be able to hang it.

And you know what? I love it. It ties together the red and purple of the sofa (which I'll be honest, I wasn't sure about - it's a far cry from the yellow and blue I wanted) with the rest of the room, and as it's so big, it doesn't make the fireplace look all massive in the room which I feared it might.

And because I found the canvas in Home Bargains so cheap, it was all for under £15. What do you think? Love it or hate it?

House Tour - The Living Room

God, this room feels like it's been going on forever. I guess that's the perils of trying to decorate in the weekends and evenings when you have loads of evening and weekend plans that don't include decorating. We started work on the living room at the start of August and finished it mid September. Oooops.
Before the transformation it looked a bit like this; 
 That's right, The walls were a pale yellow with old picture marks on the wallpaper and holes everywhere, the carpet was mucky and the curtains were interesting. Our furniture consisted of items that will be in Jim's attic man cave - a futon and two lounge chairs that will sit up there for computer game playing, as well as a TV stand. We didn't bring our old sofa's so everything was makeshift (although those chairs are so comfy I'm be sad to see them go upstairs!)
Now, four and a half months after moving in, and following nearly six weeks of scraping wallpaper, waiting for the room to be plastered, staring at swatches of grey paint for weeks whilst we decided what to do, some painting, painting and even more painting, some polyfillering, then some waiting for carpets and the sofa's to be delivered and a little last minute zhuzhing from me, we finally have a living room that we like. 
More importantly we have one fully decorated, and almost finished room (just don't tell Jim I said that - he thinks we're done with it).
I have to say that the built in bookcases are maybe the biggest impact, after the walls of course. Painting them white from the cream that they were, painting the back of them dark grey and changing out the handles for the crystal ones I found in TK Maxx has done wonders. I love the dark grey - it seems to balance the dark fireplace. I'm still not entirely happy with the fireplace, what you might not be able to tell is that it's a sort of questionable black, cream and red marble effect. I'm just not sure how to fix it at the moment.  

We also still need to fill the shelves above the TV, but there are boxes upon boxes of books of mine at my parents though so I think we'll be ok. Originally we'd planned to have the sky box, computer consoles and games and things up there but they are all in the cupboard below the TV so the shelves can be used for something else, more interesting!
I'm a bit in love with these little stack of Habitat side tables - It's so nice to have more than one surface to use as I'm not confident putting wine glasses on the floor with our crazy dog! And those brown cushions you can just see there - they are Habitat too, My dad bought them in 1974 instead of chairs for his flat whilst doing his PHD. They've sat in the loft since - but we get them now. They are so comfy, and pretty awesome too!
One of my favourite bits of the room are these Cable and Cotton lights, they look great in the day, but stunning at night! But more to come about those another time. 
One of the big challenges we faced was getting the curtain poles to fit the bay window. The pole we bought from Ikea came with pieces that meant to would have been too big, so I called in DIY Dad and we had a little Ikea hack to do. First we had to cut the poles down, luckily my dad has a pipe cutter so it was easy! Then, the bits that go round the corners are a spring in a rubber case, so we sliced some of the rubber off and carefully sandwiched the curtain pole under the rubber and around the spring so they fit the window! I also go him to put up the picture shelves too. He's pretty useful like that!
Flash seems to have made himself at home, but what do you think?

What we've used - the walls below the picture rail are B&Q colours - Grey Hints. Above the picture rail and on the ceiling we used crown white. In the bookcases we used Homebase Colours - Slate. The picture ledge is from Ikea - the frames are a mix of art we already had and stuff we've bought for the room. The giant canvas above the fireplace is a DIY project. The sofa from Harvey's. The big lamp in the corner is one we inherited from my brothers bar years ago, but you can find something similar here. The small lamp is from Litecraft. The 3 nesting side tables are from Habitat. And the magazine box is Ikea. The grey herringbone curtains are from Very. Curtain rail for bay windows is Ikea with a bit of a dad hack and dunelm curtain pole ends. The voiles are also Dunlem. 

Travel: Are you Airbnb-ing it?

I kind of thought everyone knew about the wonder that is Airbnb, but speaking to some friends recently, apparently not. Maybe it's just because it's been something in our minds for such a long time now I thought it was perfectly normal, until one of the ladies at work looked at me like I was crackers when I suggested it to her! 

Airbnb first came to our attention when a friend of ours came back from a trip to Austin a few years ago and told us about some of the awesome places she'd stayed in on the trip - converted barns with fully stocked kitchens, hosts who gave them guided tours of the town, swanky apartments - all peoples homes that they rented out and all cheaper than the motel options available to them! I remember we immediately googled it and Jim set up an account. And we've found some beauties since. Last year when Jim needed a place for him and 10 friends to stay in Amsterdam, he turned to the site and found a super swanky pad that meant all of them had a bed, they were close to the city centre and importantly, as it was football time, didn't break the bank. His mum has been using it all over the place too, they just got back from a trip to Alaska where they stayed in a spare room in the flat and had dinner cooked for them by their hosts, and is currently in Australia as we speak staying in another!

When we took our holiday at the end of August, we needed a place to stay near Bournemouth that would let us stay with the dog. We'd hoped that we'd be able to find something through Pets Pajamas but they didn't have anything close and as we arranged it quite late a lot of the hotel local to where we wanted to stay were fully booked. The few that weren't and would allow dogs, wanted to charge an extra £40-60 a night to have a little pup like Flash in the room, which, when you're looking at a £120 room to start with is pretty crazy! I'm just not sure why is costs so much to stay places with a dog. 

So we turned to Airbnb. And we found a really cute little flat full of vintage features, records rather than a tv,  a comfy bed and a lovely host who even suggested places to dog walk to us. All for less than half the price the hotel would have cost us. Crazy! We've even thought about offering our spare room out on the site once we have the house a bit more sorted!

Currently we're searching for the perfect apartment to stay in when we go to Whistler next year - I'm swaying towards an awesome place with a staircase made of skateboards, but one of the others we've found has a hot tub and my knees would love that after a day on the mountains! 

The things we've found most useful is the fact you get to fully investigate the property before you commit. We love that users leave reviews (very important in my eyes), that you get to see so many pictures of the property (how else would I check out the skateboard stairs?) and also that you get to have a chat with the people you are renting from. Not only do you get to know a bit about them, especially if you're just renting a room, but you get to find out an insiders view on the place too! 

So, are you an Aibnb user? (If so, I don't suppose you have any Whistler recommendations do you? Or Vancouver? Or Seattle?) Or do you rent your home/spare room out through it? Is it worth it? 

(Just so you know I'll get £15 credit too!)

A September round up and October's goals

September was a bit of an expensive, lavish, indulgent month. There were trips to London for a friends birthday which involved a night out with cocktails and too much food and  another night with 4pm jager bombs and said birthday girl being pushed round Muswell Hill in a shopping trolley. There were 5, 6, well, maybe 7, too many nights out, so the cutting down on my drinking I'd promised myself fell by the wayside. There were even more meals out, meals that I really shouldn't have eaten. We opened a new venue at work which meant my brain imploded. I had DIY dad come round and help put up curtains and picture shelves and the likes. The living room is almost, very, nearly, finished - just a few little bits left to do. I went to 'Go Ape' with work and seemed to have found muscles I never knew I had but just on the left had side of my body - also I now know I hate cargo nets. Flash and I had some lovely autumny walks - and some lovely summery walks. I got addicted to biscuit spread! Then I joined a gym! 

So, on to October

What have you got planned for the month?