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A House Update: Progress?

Well, here's a post I have been dreading committing to the blog. Mostly because I'll have to admit to myself that the house isn't any where as nearly 'done' as I'd have liked it to be. This last year has been a whole big learning curve about matching my ambitions and my skills to reality! 

So I should start by telling you that all but one of the rooms are furnished and use-able which has to be a plus right? They all serve their purpose - they just don't all look like I want them to. And why is this? Well, it's three fold really. 
  1. Money. As in we don't have copious amounts of it. We have some. But not nearly enough to do everything in the house we want and have, say, the holidays we want and some things, like snowboarding, have to take priority. 
  2. Time. It's tough to get a house finished when you're not home all that much (I would kill for a free weekend at home right now!) and when you are there are more pressing things to do - like cuddle poopzilla or catch up on GOT or something. 
  3. Skill. Neither of us are particularly skilled at DIY. Whilst we'll try anything - I'm happy to wield a drill and paintbrush any time of day - we don't know how to do more technical stuff like say plumbing. Or Plastering. Or anything to do with the electrics. And calling in help to do these things costs money. Which goes back to that first issue up there!  
So in an attempt to make me feel like we've achieved something since we moved in, here's what we've done*;
  • The living room is my little bit of finished heaven. It's done and we love it. 
  • The dining room was pink. Two tones of pink to be precise - it has been painted white until we decide if we're knocking it through into the kitchen. 
  • We've replaced the boiler - that was a fun thing to spend a fortune on but we have a 21st century one now!
  • And lopped back a giant tree in the garden that has given us so much more light it's unbelievable (and will hopefully mean less leaves to clear up in the autumn) 
  • Talking of the garden - it was an overgrown mess but most of the shrubs have been chopped back and it's loads bigger now. 
  • The hallway is no longer covered in orange woodchip - it's now bare, peeling, plaster waiting to be skimmed. But the plastered is booked for the end of August! Now I just have to decide how we're going to paint it! Is greige still 'in'?
  • The bedroom has had a mini makeover. The built-in wardrobes have had a bit of a facelift, the walls have been decorated with pictures and there are rugs on the floor! It's now colour coordinated. 
  • The bathroom has been plastered, painted, wallpapered and has a new bath/shower and Jim has tiled it like a star on his first ever tiling attempt. We just need to get someone to fix the lights now (and for me to gloss the window frame. I hate glossing!) 
But that doesn't look much for a year's worth of work. Does it? Do making plans count as work? Because I have a crap load of plans in the works; 
  • In the newly cleared space in the garden, we're preparing the ground to be grassed over to extend the lawn and there are plans to replace the fence when my dad and his friend finishes their seemingly never ending holidays! 
  • Whilst a new kitchen would be the dream - it's just not going to happen any time soon unless we win the lottery so I've got plans to paint the kitchen walls - probably the same sort of colours but it'll tidy it all up and make it all not so old looking. And maybe new counter tops. But they are pretty costly alone. 
  • Once the hallway is plastered, we'll need to figure out painting it (it's 3 floors of walls and ceilings so that will be fun. And we're talking about putting an internal door in after the front door to stop Flash getting straight at the post! 
  • Our bedroom will eventually have a big change - this will include ripping out the current built in wardrobes and replacing them with new ones, and mostly ridding the room of the many shades of green that currently furnish it! 
  • In our heads we're trying to decide whether knocking the dining room through to the kitchen would work but the kitchen is an off-shot so it might mean knocking through some of the hallway too - I am sure this is the sort of thing a builder ought to be consulted on! 
  • Create a guest haven in the spare room - I would love for it to be a really calming space for guests to stay in. For the last few months it's been housing a bathroom suite but now that's in the bathroom we can get started on it. And it will also mean that we can switch into that room and it be nice, when we do ours in the future.  
  • Dig out the weedlike plants in the front garden and install some easy to care for plants and figure out how to hide the wheely bins. They're so unsightly.  
Fingers crossed once the bathroom is fully finished and the hallway plastered we'll feel like we've actually achieved something. But we've made progress right? Please say we have!

*Some of this 'we' is the royal (parental) 'we' - but they are retired so it just makes sense for them to do it doesn't it. 

The Epic Roadtrips of America Map

I've had a thing for great american roadtrip for a while. Well, the longest time really. I was given a copy of 'On the Road' on my first snow season when I was 19 and fell in love with the world of the great American Roadtrip. Since then I've been reading all I can. The romance of the open road and the adventure has me hooked. And have you read/seen Wild? All that freedom and the open road? terrifying and awe inspiring at the same time! 

On my second season in California we drove our cheap ass car  across  the backroads from Mammoth to Vegas, through Death Valley and around all the small towns of that area of Cali. The small towns and the open roads were just perfect. If only I could find the cd of the pictures.......

So when I stumbled across this map that details the stops of Americas most epic roadtrips I thought I'd hit the jack pot. It's been painstakingly mapped out taking in all the stops on the journeys and even explains how the choices of which journeys to include was reached.

Now the only thing to decide is where do we start and who's joining me on the open road? 

Lust List - Summer Brights

The sun might have disappeared for a while here in Sheffield but that doesn't mean I have stopped dreaming of bright sunshiny things. 
Here are just a few of the things I am lusting over at the moment! 
Lust List - summer brights

1. Have you tried the Clinique Chubby Sticks yet - I am in love with the Whooping Watermelon colour. Or maybe it's just the name I love? Either way - isn't it just glorious? 
2. Have you tried the Haribo Frenzy flavours yet? If not - try them now (the cola bottle is watermelon flavoured)! 
3. With no laptop in my life at the moment I am dreaming big and the Surface Pro 3 is that dream. I'm just working out which organ to sell to afford one though. And when said organ is sold - do I go bright blue keyboard or sensible purple? Decisions, decisions! p.s If anyone fancies sending me one, to you know, pose with or anything I'm open to offers ;) 
4. The lovely Lemon Freckles turned up to WI the other month with this Puptart bag. Now I want it! And pretty much every other thing in the shop too - those dog teepees. Swoon! (Also do you notice a theme building here?) 
5. And who doesn't want NEED a Bow and Drape sequin number in their life? This is my choice, or maybe 'Sorry I am late' - but what would yours say?  

(Also, sorry for the colour assault on your senses up there!)

Why I WI!

You may, if you've ever read my twitter profile or blog bio, know that I am in the WI. I'm a member, and the president of, Hallam Roses WI here in Sheffield, and as it's the WI's centenary year I wanted to take the time to write about why I am a member of the WI, and what it means to me. I get asked so many questions about being a member of the WI, I thought the best way would be to start with those, but if you'd like to know anything shout up.......

How did I get into the WI?
I went along to a lot of WI meetings when I lived in Leeds because it seemed like a fun thing to do. I was starting to get more and more into making things but the people in my friendship groups thought it was nerdy, so I looked for something else that would satisfy my crafting needs and Buns and Roses WI popped up. I mainly attended the crafty meetings they ran that didn't require you to be a member as they were full, but it sowed the seed for me to love the WI.

When I moved to Sheffield it was one of the things that I was really adamant about doing again. I figured the WI would be a great way to meet people in a city I had just moved to. I joined a big established group in the city and then, when some ladies I knew from a book club told me they were setting a new group up, I jumped at the chance of getting involved with it from the start. So now I'm a member of Hallam Roses WI.
Isn't it just for old ladies?
That depends what you think of as old - I'm getting a bit past it now you see ;) But some of the 'older' ladies I have met through the WI with are pretty amazing. They are some of the most spirited and passionate people I've had the joy of interacting with. And I certainly wouldn't like to get on their bad side.
But we're one of the younger WI's in Sheffield and our group has members aged early 20's upwards (I wouldn't like to speculate the top end!).

Is it all Jam and Jerusalem? 
Not at all. Being on the committee we try and make sure we get a wide range of events happening for our members. We try to have a mix of speaker events and hands on events but it seems the hands on, learn something events are the ones that people like the best. We've had sessions on foraging, bee keeping, scrapbooking, homebrewing, flower decorating, we've had chats from charities helping women who've been trafficked, we've had gin tasting sessions, and much more but we've not yet made jam (mostly because we don't have a kitchen) and we don't sing Jerusalem (would you think less of me if I said I didn't know the words).

What's the best thing about being a member of the WI? 
This is where I get all girl power I'm afraid. There are so many good things about being a member of the WI for me. Yes, it's a long standing institution with a history of helping shape and change the country. Yes, it's stood up for women's rights for the last 100 years. Yes, I got to help work a stall at Glastonbury. And Yes, It's a great excuse to have a mid-week cider on meeting nights......

But for me, the best thing about being a member of the WI is that I am surrounded by so many amazing, creative, supportive women on a monthly basis. I've met some wonderful friends and learnt so much not only from the sessions, but also from the other members. Yes, running a group takes up a lot of time that many of us don't have but I'm 100% sure that what I get back is worth more than my time (god, I sound like I am trying to induct you into the fold. Sorry about that - maybe I am.)

If joining a WI is something that you've thought about then I'd highly recommend finding your nearest group and going along to see what it's all about. Most WI's have guest membership so you can see what you think before joining up - and there is a list of all the WI's in the country here.  

A Food Photography Class.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Food Photography course at the beautiful School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate. The course was a gift from my parents who are obsessed with buying people courses there, but as I'm not the cook in the house they thought I might enjoy photographing the food more. They were right. 

The course was taught by Joan Ransley, who is a food writer and photographer. She's super lovely and ran through a lot of hints and tips for food photography as well as food styling with us before sending us off on our own to do some shots. 
I was paired up with the lovely Anna from Tea With Miss Beatrix, who randomly had booked on to the same day too. We chose to grab some of the breads that the students in the week had baked and took them off a cosy corner of the old abattoir to set up a little studio. 
I think my favourite part of the process was thinking about the styling, especially as we had the beautiful grounds of the school to pinch herbs from and a whole load of cute bits from the school to use too - like the cute butter paddles below. It's really started me thinking about props, the placement of props especially for different types of shots and how less is more sometimes.......we certainly took out a lot of little bits as we started photographing it. 
Now I have the basics of food photography in my head, I just need to start getting Jim to cook more pretty food so that I have something to snap!

A look back at June and some July Goals

I must start by apologising for being a bit awol in June. Work decided to kick my ass into oblivion at the same time my laptop died a horrible nasty death. It's been on it's last legs for a while but its not even switching on now. Weeping. And I've ruined all other laptops for myself by setting my sights on a Surface Pro 3 that I can't justify buying. But it meant that the posts in my head never happened. They probably won't ever surface again as they've been replaced by other thoughts and ideas but right now I am just thankful that my brain is still working.......

Right now I am blogging from my phone. Have you ever tried to use Blogger on a phone? It's no fun at all. 

But onto June - I walked the dog a lot - our evenings out have been my saviour of late. I did a great photography class (more on that later this week). I ate more Gin brownies than a girl probably should - thanks Boxed Brownies for that one. I dug up a LOT of plants and literally watched grass grow - it was not as magic as the tub promised. We had a photoshoot for a classical musical poster. I rejoiced in the cuteness of Toni's house at her birthday party!  I went to a dog swimathon and watched as Flash swam his little legs off and raised £150 for charity. I then left my poor little pooch to fend for himself amongst the four crazy dogs at my brothers and I went to Glastonbury. For 5 days I ate like a queen, danced, drank rum and had a great time which was much needed after a month of meh!

So onto July. I have high hopes for July. 

So, what do you have planned for July? Tell me all your fun plans please. And if anyone fancies sending me a working laptop I will love you forever! And send you brownies - did I ever tell you I make a mean chocolate brownie? 

How not to be a festival cliché

Being as its festival season and I've just returned from Glasto, I felt like I ought to write a festival post.

I thought about writing one of those 'must pack' lists but quite frankly it's just like packing to go camping but with more booze! So I thought I'd write an even more valuable post for any of you planning to festival this summer......what to leave at home - besides your dignity! 

This is useful information because there are people - bad, horrible, judgemental people out there in the fields, people like my friends and I, awarding each other points for the best festival cliché action. Please don't give us ammo.

Here goes - a few tips to avoid being a festival cliché;
  • If it's not raining or muddy, your hunters aren't required, especially not with your shorts. Desert boots, trainers or you know, walking boots are a much better choice! And trust me when I say you REALLY don't need to be wearing them at the services on the M5 (But if it is raining, legs dry faster than clothes - so shorts are best! Take notice all you maxi dresses in the mud people!)
  • Leave the flower headbands at home. Please. 
  • Same for the all-in-one lycra suit guys! We don't need to see that much of you!
  • Just FYI - A see through mac really doesn't cover any sins. Or hide the fact you and your mates are doing drugs beneath it.........
  • I know Topshop might be full of it, but you dont have to make sure every outfit contains some fringing and crochet. Well. Not unless you're seeing Bon Jovi and it's a fringed leather jacket! 
  • Save your cash and put that belly dancer skirt back on the festival stall! Now. You'll regret buying it before the weekend is even over. 
  • Don't drink everything you have on the first day and be 'that' friend. Trust me. I've been that friend. It only results in a 9pm hangover you can't shake and a 'I know I went to see Frank Turner but I can't remember' story no-one cares about. Recent years have taught me a festival is an endurance event not a sprint to drunkenness.
  • Take off your wrist band when you get home. Everyone will know you've been to a festival because you won't be able to help talking about it. This isn't a bad thing it's just a fact of life and will stop you looking a nob 5 months later. 
Just as a guide, if you wouldn't wear it/do it at home, you probably shouldn't in a field.......this is for your own good. Cameras still exist at festivals & you'll only be horrified when you see the results on Facebook! Oh and yes, there are pictures of me wearing gold sequin leggings but I wore them to my local pub on New Year's so I'm allowed!