Goonies never say die!

29.8.12

Another day, another finished cross stitch piece. This time it's something we have kept for ourselves as we think it's brilliant! 

Remember I told you about weelittlestitches on Etsy? I purchased their Justice League of America pattern and stitched Superman and Wonder Woman as a wedding present for some friends who got married recently (I blogged about it here). Well, I also purchased another couple of patterns at the same time and I couldn't wait to get started on The Goonies! If it's not one of your favourite films of all time what the hell is wrong with you?! ;)


Luckily a lot of the thread colours from the Justice League pattern came in handy for The Goonies, and for the colours that I didn't have I picked the closest match from my thread collection, so it cost peanuts to make as I didn't have to buy any new colours.

That's the great thing about being subscribed to magazines like Cross Stitcher - you get a lot of great thread colours with their free gifts so I save them all for a rainy day. I also have a big bumper pack of thread that Jonathan's Sister bought me for my last birthday which has pretty much every colour you could need, so that has been a lifesaver for patterns like this where you may only do a handful of x's in one colour.


It has been one of those projects that I've been doing inbetween other things but had I stitched it continuously it wouldn't have taken long at all. There is a fair bit of swapping colours and checking back to the pattern which takes up a fair chunk (< ha geddit?) of time.

It now hangs with pride of place on our picture wall in our computer room ready to be joined by the next set of pixel people that I'm working on. I've also got my eye on another pattern I'd like to buy. I need more hours in the day!

Gap basics & my Bank Holiday weekend.

27.8.12

I'll never be a proper clothes/fashion blogger and that's because my main aim in life is to be comfortable. Not very glamorous I know but when it comes to clothes I get rather excited about a good white t shirt (and if I'm honest, pyjamas and a hoody!)

I've tried a few places over the years and struggled to find the right one, until GAP came along. GAP isn't somewhere I shop at regularly as I think the prices are a tad too expensive for casual clothing but their sales are fantastic.

Last time I popped in they had a million and one t shirts in the sale for around £5 - £10 each so I picked up this v-neck white number which has become a firm favourite ever since.

I can also use this opportunity to show off my beautiful Anniel pumps (c/o Sarenza) which I managed to wear in between the horrendous weather we've been having. I love the pink detail and the pretty bow. This pair are called Irise and there are a few pairs left if you like them.

I have a couple of pairs of Anniel pumps now and can confirm they're so comfortable and well made. I like pumps in neutral colours as they're easy to throw on with any kind of outfit.

Lily seemed pretty keen on them too...

Irise pumps by Anniel c/o Sarenza

I hope you've all been having a good Bank Holiday weekend so far? Well, for those of you who haven't had to work? I've had a lazy one which has been nice after a busy few weeks. On Saturday morning we headed to the cinema early to watch The Dark Knight Rises on the IMAX screen which was fan-bloody-tastic. We both really enjoyed it even if it was a little long. I had to make a mad dash to the loo half way through as I feared I may not make it to the end!

After the cinema we went for lunch and, as it was my choice, I picked the Blue Moon Cafe in the centre of Sheffield as I'm a vegetarian (as of a few months ago) and thought it would be nice to have more than a choice of 3 things from a menu like I usually do.

We shared homity pie and a quesidilla, followed by a huge slab of vegan chocolate cake. I washed mine down with a pot of elderflower tea and Jonathan stuck to water. It was really tasty so I'm sure we will head back there again soon.

Aside from the cinema and lunch I've been catching up on a few jobs around the house and doing a bit of cross stitching in front of the telly which isn't something I find time to do normally. I also had a sneaky watch of The Vow while Jonathan was out yesterday and blubbed my little eyes out.

As for today, while Jonathan and his Dad lay some new tiles on our bathroom floor I shall be stepping up to head cup-of-tea-maker and watching 500 Days of Summer a little bit later on. Bliss!

Butterflies and hurricanes.

21.8.12

After a hectic month in July I was hoping August would quieten down a little for us and give me some much needed time to relax. Unfortunately this hasn't happened due to one thing or another, most recently that our bathroom flooded a little and soaked the carpets in the surrounding rooms and the floor below. So after a mad dash to hire a Rug Doctor device yesterday we have been tirelessly trying to extract the water and this afternoon, after work, I will be shampooing the carpets through the whole house. If you live in Rotherham and you see a Rug Doctor machine hurling out of a window then you know that's me...

Aside from this little drama though, we do have a few things coming up to look forward to. In a few weeks time Jonathan will be best man and I will be bridesmaid at our best friends wedding, then the following weekend we are going on holiday for a week in the sun. So it looks like September is going to be our month.


I wanted to share a few photos that I took yesterday. I got home from work and went out into the garden with the dogs and found the most surreal sight. Dozens and dozens of butterflies and bees were all buzzing around one of our plants, flying around my head and landing on the side of our house. 

The butterflies were so beautiful and colourful. It was very calming to watch them and rather funny to see Lola taking a dislike to them and trying to jump up to get them. If only she knew with her little legs and the height of the plant she had no chance!

It was just what I needed, taking a time out for 10 minutes and just watching the world go by...

Etsy treasury: Don't be cross. Stitch!

17.8.12

I am often asked where I find cross stitch patterns to make my crafty projects. The answer is very simple as I mainly use Cross Stitcher magazine (which is brilliant) and Etsy. You can find a pattern for pretty much any type of cross stitch project on there, from the sublime to the ridiculous and everything inbetween. A quick search for "cross stitch patterns" will give you thousands to scroll through, although don't blame me if you spend far too much time trying to look at them all!

I tend to steer towards silly patterns, my favourite being by weelittlestitches, as they're so much fun to make and everyone seems to love them, but I also like to make more sensible and/or traditional stitched things too as gifts.

Top: 1 / 2 / 3
Bottom: 1 / 2 / 3

I thought I'd share some of my favourite patterns with you and link to the different sellers. Hopefully you will be inspired to pick up a needle and thread and stitch something. The best thing about buying a pattern online is that they're only a few pounds each and you can keep the PDF to stitch the design over and over again.

I hope you see something you like. There's a little bit of everything here, from simple beginner patterns to slightly bigger and more intricate designs, so I hope they will give you a few ideas for your future projects.

Happy stitching!

Top: 1 / 2 / 3
Middle: 1 / 2 / 3
Bottom: 1 / 2 / 3

I don't need your moneybox. 'Cause I got lots and lots. Of what I need right here. Right here with you, my dear.

15.8.12

Today is my day off. I use the term day off lightly as since I got up at 6.55am I've done nothing but housework, washing, painting, running errands, and popping to the Post Office and the supermarket. Still beats a day at work though, and my "to do" list on the chalkboard has reduced greatly!

Some new supplies arrived in the post today which I'm very excited to have a play around with this evening. I'm working on some new designs for my shop using wire and beads (like I used to do) as they're much more versatile and my mahoosive bead collection is crying out to be used.

I hate to talk about the weather but this time yesterday I was sunbathing in the garden and now it is absolutely peeing it down. Lily and Lola don't know what to do with themselves. They hate the rain!

Anyway, I thought you might like to see some photos of the little ones (and me!) out in the garden on a slightly sunnier day than today.


I'm officially in love with my new Converse (c/o Sarenza) and as they had their first proper outing at the weekend to a BBQ I thought I'd share some snaps. I threw them on at the last minute with my sausage dog dress which tends to be my standard way to get ready: throw on whatever is closest! They probably don't go together but I don't mind too much. I love the light blue colour with the white detail. I can tell they're going to get a lot of wear so I shall make the most of them while they're still light blue!

They started to rub a little bit today when I wore them to run a few errands (just with jeans and a t shirt) but I'm sure my feet will get used to them. As I mentioned in a previous post they are a tad snug but the next size up would be too big. Who needs room for their toes anyway?!


In other news I have a million (exaggeration) blog posts lined up in my draft folder waiting to be finished off and published. My blogging bug is well and truly back!

Hope you're all having a nice week. It's halfway through which means the weekend is almost in sight! What are your plans? I think we are making a rare trip to the cinema to see the new Batman film and finishing off the tiling in our main bathroom. It's all rock n roll!

Have a good Wednesday :)

We are all made of air. There's stars in my eyes and there's sun in my hair.

12.8.12

It has been a bit of a funny week this past week, full of change and nerves and catching up on jobs around the house. Oh, and watching the Olympics rather a lot! 

I started my new job on Monday which has all been going well. It's such a contrast compared to my old routine where I was in the car commuting for at least 2 hours a day. Now I can hop in the car and be there in 15 - 20 minutes and as I'm doing fewer hours I've had so much more free time (filled with doing loads of washing and hoovering, but hey it's still free time).

I added a couple of new bracelets to my shops yesterday (Etsy here / Bigcartel here). I'll be adding lots more over the next few weeks now that I have more time to work on designs but in the meantime you can have a nosy at these two bracelets: a super tiny gold skull charm on red silk thread, with a gold lobster clasp fastening, and a "lucky star" bracelet which is already available in red but now comes on gold/yellow silk thread too.


I love working with this silk thread. It's very delicate but as I have quite small wrists I'm a big fan of delicate jewellery. I hope you like them. Please pop over to my shops to have a look if you get a spare minute, I'd really appreciate it.
I've been meaning to share a new recipe with you, as last weekend Jonathan and I tried moussaka which I can't recall ever eating before. I think I used to be a bit scared of aubergines, but seemingly not anymore! I made the topping and Jonathan made everything else and it was incredible! It wouldn't all fit in our dish so we made another mini moussaka which I had for lunch the next day. Score! Here's the recipe if you're interested. 
Since I became a vegetarian it has been nice to have the odd vegetarian meal that we can both eat, as opposed to cooking things seperately so that Jonathan can have meat in his. Extra washing up is never a good thing!

Before the topping went on. I suppose you could just eat it like this if you wanted to!


We have been absolutely HOOKED on the Olympics in our house over the past 2 weeks, and there was little old me before it started saying I probably wouldn't watch too much of it as I'm not really a fan of watching sports. 
Next thing I know I'm staying up until 1am to watch the opening ceremony, jumping up and down cheering on Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and the rest of Team GB, and well and truly getting into the Olympic spirit!

I'm determined to get me some Jessica Ennis abs. I just need to put the biscuit tin down for long enough...

I think the coverage has been fantastic and we have loved watching. It only comes around every 4 years so we have made the most of watching and will be sad when it is all over (although the Paralympics are still to come!)
We're already talking about a trip to Rio in 2016... ;)

Pug FAQ.

8.8.12

One of the things I am contacted about the most is Pugs! I am often asked questions about how I found Lily and Lola and what they're like as pets so I thought that a blog post FAQ could be useful to those of you thinking about adopting/buying a Pug (from the perspective of someone who has owned 2 for the past 3 1/2 years).

I hope I have covered the main type of questions below but if you want to know anything else please leave a comment or send me an email and I'd be happy to answer.


Where did you get Lily and Lola from? Do you know any Pug breeders? Where should I get my Pug from?

I get asked these questions the most and I can't help too much unfortunately. I did a blog post a while ago explaining that I found Lily and Lola at the Dogs Trust in Leeds (click here to have a read).

If you're looking for a dog I would strongly recommend trying the Dogs Trust or your local animal rescue centre first as the dogs in there are truly in need of a good home, however you have to be on the ball. L&L had been living at the Dogs Trust for just 3 days when I went to visit, and shortly after I arrived a queue of other people turned up wanting to adopt them.

Animal rescue centres often have puppies and smaller dogs as well as larger breeds so it really is worth having a look to see if there's a pet that would suit your lifestyle/circumstances. I personally found it very rewarding adopting as opposed to buying but of course it's a very personal decision to make.

Alternatively you could register with a Pug rescue society and get on the waiting list for any that may need rehoming in the future.

If you do want to buy from a breeder I would recommend reading this.


How did Lily and Lola end up at the Dogs Trust?

The story goes that one day a woman turned up at the Dogs Trust with a car full of small dogs saying that her Mum had died and she wasn't able to look after them. A few days later the same woman brought in some more small dogs to be rehomed (including Lily, Lola and their fellow Pug friend Lulu - who was adopted in less than 24 hours!)

Obviously there is something not quite right about this story which makes me think L&L had been at some sort of puppy mill. They are very small for the breed and, at 18 months old, hadn't been toilet trained or trained to walk on a lead. Also Lily is mostly blind in one eye due to an eye infection which had not been treated. I also think Lily is slightly brain damaged as she can be quite slow and confused at times. Taking this into account, the Dogs Trust insisted that L&L should be adopted together and, although many people had asked, they would not seperate them.

How much did it cost you to buy everything you needed for Lily and Lola? What other costs are there?

Before Lily and Lola came home with me I paid a visit to a pet shop and spent around £90-£100 on a dog bed, bedding, 2 collars, 2 harnesses, 2 leads, 2 tags and toys. In hindsight I should have gone easy on the toys as L&L aren't really that interested and don't tend to play with toys or balls (they can't fit them in their mouths!) They do however like small teddies so if I do buy them new toys I tend to go for those.

The Dogs Trust ensure dogs are spayed/neutered, microchipped, up to date with vaccinations and have any outstanding medication before you adopt them, but obviously if you go via a breeder you would need to factor in these costs which your vet would be able to advise about.

Monthly costs are mainly food and treats, then on top of that there is regular flea/worm treatment and yearly 'booster' vaccinations at the vets. The annual vaccinations cost me approximately £30 per dog.

 
What is their temperament? Do they make good pets?

Yes, they make great pets! The personality of a Pug is rather special indeed. They are cheeky, greedy, loveable little things and love nothing more than being near people, and if possible sat right on top of them.

Lily and Lola have huge personalities for such small dogs, but they're both very different. Lily is gentle, loving and a little bit needy. Lola is confident, independent, naughty and protective of her Sister. She is also extremely greedy and goes absolutely mad at dinner time.

L&L follow me around everywhere I go, and yes, that means on trips to the toilet. It was strange at first but now it just seems normal to have 2 shadows following me round no matter where I go.

Pugs sleep on average 14 hours a day and L&L produce a rather loud volume of snoring for 2 small things. 

Do they need a lot of grooming/looking after?

Pugs shed a lot of hair due to their double coat. Jonathan and I have learnt to accept that our house is always going to be full of Pug hairs and that our black clothes will never be the same again. Regular brushing and using a "furminator" type comb can help but I haven't managed to find a solution as yet.

Pugs have bulbous eyes (as if you hadn't noticed) and folds/wrinkles which need to be kept clean to avoid infection. I use cotton wool pads or a clean cloth with warm water to carefully wipe inside the wrinkles, and then I dry them thoroughly. I try to do this every day if I can or at the very least every other day. Failure to do so can result in infection and a very smelly Pug! I also try to clean the inside of their ears as often as I can to avoid any waxy build up.

Pug nails grow rather quickly so regular nail cutting is a must. Walking on the pavement can help to keep them filed down, however Lily has flat feet so her nails don't touch the ground when she walks so the only option for her is taking her to a groomers on a regular basis to have her nails trimmed.



Do they need a lot of exercise?

From my experience my 2 are happy with walking little and often. Lily gets out of breath very quickly so I try to avoid really long walks, especially in extreme hot or cold weather as they don't cope well with it. If you want a dog you can take running, jogging or hiking then Pugs are not for you.

Can Pugs develop lots of health problems?

Unfortunately there are a few health conditions that Pugs can develop. An internet search will highlight various different problems that they can face, but I think it's important to say that of course all Pugs are going to be different. Therefore I wanted to just tell you about the problems L&L have faced.

As I mentioned earlier, when Lily arrived at the Dogs Trust she was half blind in one eye due to an eye infection which had not been treated. This left her eye scarred and her vision blurred. Thankfully she has one eye which works perfectly well, however a couple of weeks after I adopted her she developed an ingrowing eyelash in her good eye. This was causing ulcers to form on the eye and it was really uncomfortable for her. Lily had a series of eye drops before she was referred to see an eye specialist where a 15 minute appointment cost around £120, followed by an operation to remove the hair which cost just under £700. Therefore I would strongly recommend taking out pet insurance as I was able to claim this back minus the excess.

Apart from that (*touches wood*) Lily and Lola haven't experienced too many problems with the exception of some reverse sneezing which lasts for a few seconds at a time and causes them a bit of discomfort.

I hope reading this hasn't scared you off too much! I think as well as telling you how brilliant, funny and loving Pugs are, and how much I love Lily and Lola to bits, it is important to be honest about what it's like looking after Pugs, and any kind of pet come to that!

As I said at the beginning, if you would like to ask me anything else do feel free to leave a comment or contact me via email/Twitter and I'll get back to you straight away.

Cocktails & Cupcakes.

2.8.12

Last Saturday saw the arrival of my best friend's hen do, and as chief bridesmaid it was up to me to organise the proceedings. After a bit of brainstorming a few months ago the idea of cupcake decorating was thrown out there, and Katy and I instantly thought of Fancie - a Sheffield bakery (you may have spotted them at Meadowhall but they are also based on Sharrowvale Road and the Winter Gardens).

As it turned out Fancie do offer various kinds of cupcake decorating parties but the one that caught our eye, and the one Katy thought would be fun for her hen do, was "Cocktails & Cupcakes" because, let's face it, if there's anything better than cupcakes it's throwing in a few cocktails as well!

"Cocktails & Cupcakes" made up the afternoon section of the hen party with 11 of us in attendance. Our party was held at Vodka Revolution in the centre of Sheffield in the 'hidden bar' which was a great location. We were completely seperate from the main bar area so it felt very special and private, and we had plenty of room to spread out and chat.

Upon arrival we were greeted by our barman, Mike, and a friendly Fancie cupcake extroadinaire (whose name escapes my mind, sorry!) We had a welcome drink and a chat before splitting into two groups to get started.


The cupcake decorating part was lots of fun with us having 4 blank cupcake canvasses and a big table full of glitter, sprinkles, fondant, frosting and fillings! I didn't quite get the hang of the piping bag but it was great fun trying (apart from when I dropped a large dollop on my sandals. Oh and then I got nutella basically all over my face, hands and the tablecloth).

The lady from Fancie who was running the cupcake side of things was so friendly and helpful, and really got us into the spirit of things. She was very patient even after I had ruined her tablecloth and used half a pack of her wet wipes. Oops!

When our group had finished our masterpieces we played a couple of cupcake-based games before packing up our creations into Fancie boxes to take home with us.

I can't take credit for these beauties - I think our friend Amy has found a new talent!


After some canapes the groups swapped over and our cocktail masterclass with Mike commenced (after a shot - at 4 in the afternoon *jeez I'm getting too old for this!*). In pairs we were shown how to make 3 different cocktails before having a go at making our own; a Strawberry woo-woo, a Mojito and a Long Island Iced Tea. We also got some interesting snippets of history on cocktails including why a Long Island Iced Tea got its name when it has no tea in it!


It was great fun having a go at making cocktails especially when we got to pick something from the menu to make at the end. Katy and I opted for the Jammy B*stard, being the immature pair that we are and intrigued by the tagline that it tastes just like jam.

As it turns out Jammy B*stards are incredible and probably one of the best cocktails I've ever had. Needless to say we went back later to have another, although the barman didn't make it as well as we did!


A good few hours after "Cocktails & Cupcakes" started we regrouped, a little more light headed than when we had arrived, to find out who had won the best decorated cupcake (alas, it was not me) and to grab our boxes ready to take home. We also got some certificates and the chance to have a chat and finish our yummy cocktails before leaving.

Mike had reserved a couple of tables for us all in the main bar which is where we moved on to, before heading home to change into our party frocks and to sober up *hic!*

After speaking to everybody afterwards I would definitely recommend an event like this for a hen party or a special occasion as everybody said how much fun they had. It is sometimes difficult for a large group when most people don't know many other people, but this kind of event gets everybody chatting and mingling which was a great start to Katy's day.

Thank you Fancie and thank you Vodka Revolution for a brilliant afternoon! I'll leave you with my fondant creation which didn't win a prize, but it's clearly a Pug... no...?