Hank Meets World.

I've heard people remark in the past that they are wearing 'two hats' or have 'two heads' when they have a lot on their plates and have to try and keep some perspective. I've never really understood that. Until now.

During the day I am a fashion sales account manager. In the evenings I am a house renovator and in between that I'm a wedding planner. To say this is a little overwhelming is an understatement. But so far I'm managing to keep my head. Ask me again in 5 months when I have a hallway to paint, a wedding in 4 weeks and 2 collection deadlines looming. You may not get the same even-headed response.

As a result of this my diary is a precise animal. I know my movements more than 4 weeks ahead, I can tell you the dates of the next 12 Saturdays off the top of my head and I stick to my plans. If only to keep some sanity.

Last weekend was a good example of 'The Heads' at work. On Friday I had some major meetings in the London office so had to focus entirely on them. Once they were wrapped up I hopped on a train back to Manchester upon which I looked at marquees for 2 hours on my iPad (I know, crazy and exciting times *ahem*), then on Saturday morning we had to get up at the crack of dawn and get over to where we're getting married (about an hour from us) to meet the vicar who will be officiating, then to meet one of my bridesmaids for a dress fitting, then back home to a dinner party. But not straight back home. Oh no - of course there was a renovation associated pitstop at a B&Q megastore sort of on our route home.

So within the space of 36 hours I'd been 'work-Sarah', 'wedding-Sarah' and 'what-the-heck-are-you-doing-that's-an-awful-lampshade-Sarah'. These things combined do not make an easy Dry January. If B&Q sold gin I'd have been off the wagon!

But what had started as a foot-dragging (yes, like a moody toddler) trip for me soon became quite exciting. You see, our local B&Q is a small store - good for paints, plugs, power sockets and the like. But this was a 'megastore' and I think I could have actually set up home there.

So off we set careering about the aisles with our trolley and laughing that'd we'd become 'that couple' Oh dear.

I don't know what's happened to B&Q but they have really upped their game.
Look what we came away with...

These have REALLY pleased me. We are so far over-budget on the renovation that the budget is now a tiny dot on the horizon. As a result this means some of the details have had to take a hit for now. I have been pining for Tom Dixon shades since I can remember (by the way, am I the only one who gets annoyed when a designer they have loved for ages suddenly seems to be everywhere?! Hmf.) but they are almost £100 a pop and when you need three this isn't really ideal. But B&Q have definitely not disappointed; at £29 each these were a no-brainer. We'll be changing the cord, length and rose at some point very soon but we were both too excited to get them up asap.

Then there's this beauty...

Our house was built in 1907 and while the majority of the original features remain downstairs some of the more beautiful ones, like ceiling roses, have long since been torn out. Well I am here to put them back in. And with the help of my now firm favourite B&Q I can do this for such a reasonable amount. I think this was around £35 and I know it will look amazing with the lighting I am planning for it. Ooo I can hardly wait!

Definitely the most 'boring' of the lot (but still thrilling to me) was this new mat for the front door. It ticks all the boxes, great design, strong colours and actually cleans shoes. Marvelous all round.

Now...the next one we did NOT buy in B&Q. We acquired him some years ago and he is probably one of my most prized possessions. For a while he was re-located to a bar in Farringdon but I was heartbroken when he went and OH spent weeks negotiating his safe return to surprise me. Last week I came downstairs to find him hanging in his new home. Ladies and gentlemen - meet Hank.

He lives in the back fireplace space where we keep the wood for the wood-burner. He (literally and figuratively) lights up my life. When I found out OH had squirreled him back up North for me I almost cried. His lights are a little tricksy and are special order from a company in America who still make these lights for circuses. No biggy. I have 100 on order! Now, I know his name shouldn't really be Hank. I know he is in fact a she - she is Laika. The first dog ever to enter space. But she died up there and that is just too sad for me to think about every day so she is now a he and Hank it is.

So we're getting there - the fact I am begining to start to nudge in the direction of actually dressing the house is very exciting but we still have a long way to go. Namely burning lead paint off original mouldings verrrry carefully ready for some fresh new shades. This is back-breaking stuff and takes hours upon hours. But when it is done I know it will all be worth it and I'll be so pleased I took the time to do it. More updates in the very near future. OH also built a man-cave this weekend...

Juicing in January (and beyond...)

January's a funny month - it sort of begins in December when you start promising yourself all the things you are definitely going to do in the New Year that will make you almost the perfect human - join the gym, actually go to the gym, take up charity work, lose 2 stone, read a book a week, etc etc.

And I am amongst those people. The last week of December usually sees my mental power switch to thoughts of a newer, leaner me but by the 3rd (ok, 2nd) of January my good intentions are long forgotten and you're most likely to find me nestled under a blanket, on the sofa, watching a film and eating a chocolate orange. Not my own, you understand, that's usually devoured when I receive it on Christmas Day - no, the one I will be scoffing belongs to whichever fool made the short-sighted decision to leave theirs unattended on the kitchen side. And that has been my New Year routine for as long as I can remember.

But not this year. After a - quite frankly - excessive festive period I have set myself the challenge of Dry January for the first time ever. And, on January 12th, I am happy to report that I am still going strong. Not because I am avoiding social situations - I'm still joining friends at the pub, at dinner, for Sunday lunch and so on - but I am facing these situations with resolve and standing, stoically, with tonic water in hand and only grimacing ever so slightly.
There is a method to my madness though. For this is the year I'm going to be wifed. And there is no stronger motivation than knowing 100+ eyes are going to be directed at you for the majority of an entire day. So apart from 'drying out' this month I have also taken up running again (the renovation had made that almost impossible but now we have some of our time back I can re-calibrate myself) along with kettle bells and juicing.

I could practically feel you rolling your eyes at that last one but trust me. It's actually working. I'm about a week and a half in to replacing solid breakfasts with pulverised fruit and vegetables and I can already feel my jeans fitting better and see my face toning up.

I am not one for a fad diet or exercise regime so this really is a lifestyle change that I'm making and I think that's the only way to approach something like this. You need to realign your habits and commit to them.

People seem to think that juicing is expensive - and it can be if you buy them fresh every day from a shop, or order those enormous online kits - but for me it hasn't been. Last Saturday (so, 9 days ago) I did a fruit and veg shop at my local greengrocers. It cost me £9.16. I haven't run out yet and I've had 8 morning juices from it. So that means my morning juices are costing me £1.15 per one. And that's so far; like I said - I haven't run out of ingredients yet. (That isn't taking into account the couple of banana milkshakes OH has enjoyed out of my ingredients!)

I've posted a few pictures of them on Instagram and have been asked what I put in mine so I thought I would share a few recipes here. I went online and got a gist of what sort of went together flavour wise and then went from there. I'm not one for strict measurements - I just put in what I think will be a good combo, blitz it and then off I go. So here are a few I've done with some approximate quantities - feel free to manipulate any of them to suit your taste buds.

1/2 avocado
1/2 banana

2 or 3 handfuls of spinach
2 or 3 handfuls of curly kale
10 green grapes

10 red grapes
5 pieces of ice
Glug of fresh fruit juice (this just aids the belnder a bit - you don't need much - use water if you'd prefer)


1 banana
1/2 a punnet of raspberries

1/2 a punnet of blueberries
Handful of oats
3 table spoons 0% fat greek yoghurt
Glug of almond milk


2 handfuls of spinach
2 handfuls of curly kale
1/2 avocado
chunk of ginger
1 carrot
1 apple
1 small satsuma

5 ice cubes
Glug of fruit juice


1 banana,
1 kiwi,
3 handfuls of spinach,
3 handfuls of curly kale,
10 green grapes,

1 carrot,
chunk of ginger

Glug of fruit juice
3 ice cubes

Those are just examples of the sorts of combos I've been making  - there are a plethora of recipes online all over the place.

TIP: If you, like me, love to organise do what I did. Chop all ingredients for all juices you need for the week ahead. Put each combo in a freezer bag and write on the bag what's in the mix already and what needs to be added. Get the one you want out and into the fridge to defrost the night before you want it. This saves HUGE amounts of time in the mornings and means your breakfast is always ready so it stops you running too late to make it fresh and grabbing something less healthy as an alternative on the way into the office.

I know some of them look gross but I'm yet to make a combo that tastes as bad as it looks. They all taste fantastic so I've been pleased so far. My blender was an absolute BARGAIN on Amazon - £29.00 including 4 bottles - 2 large, 2 small. And it's almost entirely dishwasher safe - the only bit that isn't, of course, is the main part that but that doesn't get dirty anyway so it's all good. It's not on offer any more but it is on for £24.00 with 2 bottles so still an absolute steal. Get yours here. foray into a healthier lifestyle continues. Here's hoping I can keep it up beyond Dry January!


My Guest Post For Agape Bridal Boutique: Wedding Post.

So I have something a bit exciting to share. I was asked to co-write a post on a stunning bridal boutique's blog and, of course, I jumped at the chance. It was to share tips on organisation during wedding planning for those who are getting married this year - like me (eek!)

It went live last night and it was a real buzz to see my words featured on another site. The site is and is full of gorgeous bridal bits - their blog is fantastic for anything from hen-do tips to features on their now legendary window displays.

I'm also being a bit naughty and, with their permission, am going to print the post below for those of you who would like to see it.

Here goes...

"Happy New Year Brideys!

I wonder how many of you woke up on New Year's Day and thought "WEEEEEEEE! I'M GETTING MARRIED THIS YEAR!!!", swiftly followed by "ARGH! SO MUCH TO DO!"

Suddenly, it all becomes very real when you realise that you will be saying ‘I do’ in a matter of months, and those months are going to whizz right by, I tell you now!

Some brides are super organised and have spreadsheets with a million different pages, listing every last detail from placenames to order of service and everything in between. I live in awe of these people. If you are one of these brides I applaud you and your colour-coded file full of to-do lists, booking confirmations and balance sheets!

You might have guessed that I wasn’t one of these brides. I work better under pressure and although I like to be organised at work, I was most definitely a last minute lady whilst planning our nuptials.  Take the day before the wedding, for example. I had visualised fluffy robes, pampering and girly time in the day, followed by a relaxed and nostalgic family meal, a glass or two of champagne and then early to bed for some beauty sleep. In reality we were dressing our venue, arranging flowers and hand-writing out place names late into the eve of our wedding. Although this was not the nice chilled way I planned to spend the day before, in hindsight I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This eleventh hour habit is something I share with all my family, so it was only fitting that we celebrated my last day as an unmarried sister and daughter working as a team in this crazy chaos: the storm before the calm.
After divulging the above information, I cannot expect you to take advice from myself on wedmin related organisation, so I am now happy to pass you on to my beautiful friend, fashion and lifestyle blogger and Agapé Bride-to-be Sarah, whose organisation skills I have admired since playgroup when all her ducks were-quite literally- in a row...

Well, what an intro. It’s true. I am a bit of a nut when it comes to organisation – so much so that I earned myself the nick-name of ‘Monica’ at school after the beloved Friends character with a penchant for alphabetising her entire life. I’m not *that* bad but I have been known to embark on holidays with a plastic folder of everyone’s tickets, itineraries and plans. It’s just something I do. I organise. It doesn’t mean I’m a fun free-zone – it means I’m mostly a stress-free one and believe me, when you’re organising your wedding that is what you need; to be as kind to yourself as possible. It is a magical time but it is also a very highly-pressured one and who wants rogue grey-hairs from strain on their wedding day? Certainly not I!

I got engaged in November and I’m getting married in July. Yes – that will be a 9 month engagement. I’m not entirely sure how the date kept creeping further and further forward but it has and I am nothing if not an embracer of challenges.

Over the coming, crucial weeks I am going to have to have my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed so here are a few things I’m doing to try and keep on top of it all – and I highly recommend them:
1)        GET A WEDDING PLANNING JOURNAL – If, like me, you’re not one of those lucky brides who can afford to employ someone to plan The Big Day for you then a wedding planning journal is a must. There are tons available online; some go down to fine details like, “How many doves to be released,” (I kid you not) and others, like the one I opted for, cover all the bases you need, keep a running tally of expenses and inject some fun into the situation so you don’t lose sight of the end goal – marrying the person you love.
Mine is cheerful and to the point and available

2)       PRIORITISE PROPERLY – I know it’s so much more interesting to think about table decorations, guest favours and hen- do activities but these can all be dealt with later. What needs to be nailed down first is the church/venue you want to be married in, the reception venue, your finalised guest list(s) and any accommodation required.  Trust me – once those are defined you will enjoy the other details so much more.

3)       GET THE GUESTS SORTED – I mentioned the guest list in point 2 but it’s obviously a huge factor. My mum said something really interesting to me when I told her about our day/evening lists and it made a huge difference. She said, “Make sure you have those important to you there so you have a full dance floor and a good party on your hands.” And she’s right – I *know* you may feel that you should invite second-cousin Shirley’s boyfriend’s son; but at the cost of an active member of your life who you want there to toast you? No. I can’t go for that.

4)       COMMUNICATE – I am a control freak. I accept this. I like to do things on my own and I struggle with delegation but this is one task where I’ve had to admit partial defeat. I need my fiancĂ©, not only to calm me when I can’t find the perfect shade of ribbon for invitations, but actually to organise with me. I think too many brides-to-be take this enormous assignment on alone and it’s simply impossible. You need your partner, your mum, your sister, your best-friend etc. to help you with it.
Admit it.
It’s so much nicer to discuss flower arrangements with someone than to be standing on your own in the florist cursing yourself for refusing to let those who love you help. And it heightens the excitement to be able to natter away about things that to most people sound dull but to you, and those who are important to you, are thrilling.

5)       DRINK BUBBLES – Maybe not just bubbles but certainly remember to relax a bit along the way. My lovely other half has, in recent weeks, been known to recognise when I am on the cusp of a meltdown. He simply hand me a glass of bubbles (prosecco is always, always chilled in our house) and tells me to go and take a long bath with my book. It’s amazing what a break can do to clear the mind and re-focus you on what’s important.


And that's it - are you getting married this year? Do you have any organisational tips? I need as many as I can get!


Planning Permission.

One of the most frustrating things about renovating the house is that I am just so desperate to be at a stage where I can start dressing the rooms. I regularly see beautiful things I would love to adorn my living room/dining room/kitchen and so on...and I can't buy them because, as yet, there is absolutely nowhere to put them so it would be a waste.

All this, however, has done little to stem the flow of ideas coursing through my mind. I love hunting for inspiring images of similar properties to ours and getting ideas in motion for what I might do when I (finally!) can.

I'm a very visual person and I feel that if I can't get the ideas out of my head and into a format I can physically look at then I'll forget them and they'll disappear back into the abyss of my mind only to rear their fabulous heads approximately one week after I've finished the room they concerned. Not ideal.

At the moment the room I am most mentally focused on is the front room/living room/sitting room - whatever you may call it. This is probably because we are living on loose floorboards balanced over exposed beams and sitting on cane garden furniture with only the poor wood-burner to heat the entire, open-plan, downstairs area. It's a frustrating format to be living in and has led to my obsession with the room and how it will look once I can get my teeth into it.

I've found the below images (and a ton more) to help me in my quest for the pefect design plan.

Although I keep quite detailed online visual idea boards via the medium of Pinterest I like to actually try and delve a little deeper into the planning of it all so I decided to try and create some more fluid visuals of how I think the room *could* look from a variety of angles.

We have (on loan) an incredible racing-green chesterfield sofa that I adore. I want to make sure the colours of the room revolve around, and highlight, this design classic. So, with this in mind, when we were in Rome we picked up a Monet print of blossom on a blue background. I think the colour palette of the room will be jewel tones in green, blue and yellow with possible splashed of purples, reds and pinks. But this is, of course, a work in progress.

Next is the window angle.

The wood-burner angle.
And the doors into the dining room.
Of course these are very crudely translated ideas but it helps remind me to do things like place a large mirror over the wood-burner. This will, in theory, reflect the beautiful Monet print we picked up in Rome when we got engaged. And that's what's important to me really. I want a very stylish home but I want it to be our home filled with happy memories and splashes of our personality throughout it.
I completely recommend doing this to anyone who wants to get a better grasp on their ideas. There are a plethora of sites that offer the ability to do this - some more in depth than others - for free.
Have you got any interior ideas you need to scribble down? Or is it just me? Should I call the Dr.?!


Out On The Tiles.

Ok. I'm sorry - I know I've received emails asking for house progress and I've not, as yet, fulfilled your requests but that's mainly because I don't feel like there's been much to report. We're still in the stages of bare plaster and just about laying floor (it has become the norm to expect to balance on exposed floor beams to get around the downstairs of our house - nothing so luxurious as solid floors for us, oh no!) so it's not seemed interesting enough to share.

But one little thing I can report is that our wood-burner is in - those of you who follow me on instagram (2dyefor_) will know this since I post too many pictures of it whenever I get to take a break from renovations and just marvel at it's heat. And when it's minus 4 outside we need that heat.

It's a traditional looking one as we wanted to stay in keeping with elements of the history of the house and not modernise everything and I really love the style we chose.

Here's a little mash-up of pictures of our life with the 'burner so far.
As you can see life around the wood-burner is pretty basic. We're still on garden furniture in place of our beautiful sofa and armchair which are in storage, and there's still alot of dirty work to be done but we are getting there. At least I have to keep telling myself that or I think I'd just give up.

But last weekend OH started laying the final parts of the downsairs oak flooring and with this came an exciting decision. (There aren't a huge amount of those at this stage so I take them where I can find them.) And this was a goody - floor tiles for under the wood-burner. Yippee!

The originals are still there at the moment and we've fought to keep as many intact as possible but unfortunately they're so old and brittle they've almost all smashed, splintered or powdered away as we've tried to extract them so we've had to make our peace with the fact we are going new in this element.

I began my search using my old faithful - Pinterest.

And my personal favourite in the search...

I love the idea of doing the surround in the same tile but with the interior plans I have for the room it would end up being a sensory overload in there so I decided to stick with the hearth area only and began looking at specific tile designs.

While I do love the impact of a feature tile I was worried that it would be too much with what I already have planned so I opted for a box of mixed tiles (16 tiles - each tile a different design) in muted grey/off white tones. I feel more confident that this then doesn't dictate the tone of the surrounding area and will be able to hold its own against an array of decorative choices. And we all know I'll not be able to settle with one style of room for long.

They aren't in situ yet but they should be this coming weekend (fingers crossed) so I'll take a snap for you and post it up to show the finished look. I'm really excited about these tiles - which worries me - I'm now actually at an age where tiles thrill me.
I'd say 'pass me a G&T' but I'm doing Dry January so I'll just have to push through. Wish me luck!