(One year on) Our Wedding: Part Two

DIY tin can name tea lights for wedding decor

Hi! How has your Bank Holiday weekend been? Ours has been pretty busy, not least because yesterday, Adam and I celebrated our *other* first wedding anniversary! As you may have already read, we separated our actual wedding ceremony (a.k.a. ‘the legal bit’ or ‘part one’!) and our wedding reception (a.k.a. ‘the party’ or ‘part two’!) by a few weeks. We couldn’t have done as much as we did otherwise, and it was great to make the most of the whole event….and of course it’s been rather nice to stretch out our celebrations, one year on!

We went for an amazing meal last night to celebrate, at the Burlington at The Devonshire Arms, in nearby Bolton Abbey. It’s a beautifully luxurious restaurant with a Michelin Star and four AA rosettes, and is just as impressive as any Michelin Star restaurant we’ve been to in London, but with the added benefit of incredible Yorkshire ingredients and a stunning location. We went for the tasting menu, yumming up ten courses in total. I’ll be sure to write about it in more detail soon, but for now, back to wedding stuff!

As I warned, I thought I’d take the opportunity of our anniversary to finally share some of our wedding photos and details of what we got up to…..

Bokeh effect double exposure wedding portrait, Sharon Cooper Photography

Once we’d decided to do our reception separately from our ceremony, and knowing that we wanted to do something a bit different, and totally ‘us’, we began by looking for a venue that was a little out of the ordinary. And whilst it wasn’t the first thing we actually booked, from early on the strongest contender was the British Schools Museum in Hitchin. Before it became a museum, Adam had actually attended nursery there, before that his Mum was there as a pupil, and before *that* his Grandfather was a teacher there! As well as the close family connection, it also had the benefit of being right opposite where we lived at the time (invaluable when it came to the logistics)! That said, it isn’t actually a wedding or party venue, it has no kitchen and there were several other challenges that meant it wasn’t an easy choice. We knew though that it would be worth the effort, and would make for a truly unique event.

DIY wedding 'welcome' chalk board

Having finally plucked up courage to book the place, we set about finding a caterer who would work there in a make-shift kitchen (actually a sort of ante-room / classroom that is mostly used for visiting schools’ lunch breaks), as well as all the other things that would turn it into a wedding venue. We worked closely with the museum’s Manager, the ever-patient Andy, to figure out ways to adapt what was there to our needs. There were some elements in the space that didn’t really work for us, but we couldn’t just plough in and do whatever we wanted, so we had to come up with some clever work-arounds to make it work. We also had some help from our dear friend Hannah, who helped to get some funding to spruce up the decorating where damp had affected the main room.

Pastel umbrellas and coat hooks for wedding guests

DIY wedding, vintage dressing table to make the bathrooms more homey

The room is mostly painted white, which made for a pretty good blank canvas, but there are wooden slats running round the walls to display educational boards and history presentations. We were able to have the boards taken down, but the wooden slats remained, so we made tens of metres of ribbon garland to hang from these, covering up the slats and adding some colour. The room is also pretty tall in the centre, so to make it a little cosier we created a sort of false ceiling….I always dreamed about having a confetti cannon at the party, but we couldn’t really decide when we’d use it, so we made a sort of permanent confetti burst by stitching up hundreds of pieces of coloured paper, which we then suspended across the width of the room.

The British Schools Museum, Hitchin, wedding venue decor

DIY ribbon garland and fairy lights, wedding decor

DIY ribbon garland and fairy lights, wedding decor

DIY wedding decor confetti ceiling

Adam always wanted lots of warm white fairy lights as part of the decor, and had the idea to spiral them around all the columns, as well as wrap them into the ribbon garland around the walls. We went for a white LED dance floor which twinkled to match, and also draped lots of lights behind the bar where we hung our home made sign with our wedding slogan ‘an adventure begins’ made in maps and coloured paper. Along with the light-up bar, it all looked suitably shiny and sparkly!

"An Adventure Begins" map themed wedding backdrop

We’d also made a bit of an emblem of a hot air balloon, using a drawing featuring one on our invitations, almost like a logo for us with a banner saying ‘an adventure begins across it’. So we decided to make some to decorate the room too, creating them from paper lanterns filled with fairy lights, pastel coloured ribbons and little baskets. We strung these up using fishing wire so that they looked like they were floating around the bar!

Adventure themed pastel wedding decor DIY

Having used lots of maps throughout, in line with our ‘adventure’ theme (on our invitations, Adam’s bow tie, the button holes etc.) we decorated lots of bit of furniture we collected with vintage maps. We didn’t want to use hired furniture (I have an unnatural hatred of hired banqueting chairs!), preferring things to be individual and to allow for lots of moving around, rather than a more traditional, formal sit-down affair. Most of the prettiest maps featured pastel colours, so this became our palette throughout, and I made pastel coloured pom-poms on sticks and paper windmill centre pieces in lieu of flowers (although I did pick a few from our garden and dotted them around in vintage vases).

DIY map furniture for adventure themed wedding

DIY table centres, pastel pom poms and paper windmills instead of flowers

DIY hand picked wild flowers for wedding

DIY wedding centre pieces, pastel pom poms and paper windmills

DIY wedding decor, hand picked wild flowers

DIY wedding decor paper windmills

We wanted to maintain a party atmosphere throughout our reception, with everyone included in everything. We have lots of friends who live far away, so it was important to us to see them all, and to give everyone a good chance to catch up with each other. Having a mostly-standing reception meant people weren’t restricted to one table, and could move about as they liked. We also planned lots of things to be going on around the room throughout the evening to keep everyone entertained….

We hired a juke box so that people could choose what they wanted to hear for the first half of the party. It looks just like a retro Wurlwitzer, but is fully electronic and holds thousands of songs, including every top ten single since the fifties! We had to have a few rules (mostly due to my dislike of Morrissey) but there was no squabbling, and it was a good talking point for our guests.

DIY wedding, juke box

Wedding juke box

Wedding jukebox

Wedding juke box

Wedding jukebox rule book on music paper

We also booked a great photo booth that I’d used lots before. Unfortunately it got held up in traffic, so arrived at the same time as our guests ( I was *not* a happy bunny that a supplier’s van was in view and they had to set up with our guests there!), but, the image quality is great, they put our logo on the prints (one for everyone in the photo, not just one per photo) there’s loads of room in there, AND there’s a disco ball and light up dance floor in it! The company brought along lots of props, and we made some of our own (the chalk board speech bubbles were very popular) and everyone had a great time messing around dressing up and posing like sillies!

Dressing up for the wedding photo booth

Disco floor in wedding photo booth

 

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip 127806-shinko single strip

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip

Adventure theme wedding photo booth,  customised graphic strip

I’ve always been a bit crazy for crazy golf, and knowing we’d like a bit of an outdoor activity for our guests, we thought that would be fun. We looked into hiring a set, but there wasn’t anything out there quite right for us, so we decided to make it ourselves to our own theme! We stretched green felt over wooden boards and made a simple skirting with wooden slats around the edges. Then we crafted our obstacles, which included a hot air balloon, ice cream cones and of course, the traditional windmill! I cut some laminated vintage maps into pennants and attached them to cane to make the flags, and a friend arranged for us to borrow putters from her husband who is a pro at the local golf course! We had some rain earlier in the day, so took the precaution of putting up some gazebos over it all, so we could still enjoy it…it all got a little grubby during the downpour, but it was still great fun (even though I was rather rubbish at it)….and a couple of our guests got VERY into it, refusing to settle for anything less than a hole in one!

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

DIY wedding crazy golf with an adventure theme

I’ve always loved the tradition of having a box of cigars at a wedding, and whilst I enjoyed the thought of me in all my bridal togs puffing on a big cuban, it’s not really Adam’s bag, and we managed to come up with an alternative. We created a snuff bar (something you used to be able to hire until smoking laws changed) by buying up a load of tins of different flavoured snuff from the internet. We customised an old wooden cutlery canteen to house the tins, pulling out the sections and velvet lining, and re-lining it with vintage cigarette cards I’d collected. This we sat on top of a lovely old wooden trolley we found at Hitchin market, and added a vintage hand held mirror (for people to check they’ve not got snuff on their face!), a box of tissues which I covered in vintage maps, and a little sign to say how to use it all. It was a real lark watching people try the different flavours, and our snuff bar made for some of our favourite photos of the night!

DIY snuff bar for wedding

DIY snuff bar for wedding reception

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

DIY snuff bar for wedding reception

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

Wedding reception DIY snuff bar

DIY Snuff bar for wedding guests

We also swapped out a regular gift list for something different. We were conscious that it’s expensive enough to come to a wedding, with travel and accommodation to pay for, and there’s nothing we really *need*. We know though that people like to bring something, so we had the idea to ask for recipes in lieu of gifts…this was something that didn’t need to cost anything, but we knew we’d treasure. We plan to make up a book of all the recipes we received (lots of our guests put a load of thought and effort into them!), once we’re settled into our new house.

Vintage suitcase with map lettering for wedding cards

We skipped things like speeches (again with the not wanting to speak in front of a whole load of people, and because we didn’t personally feel the need) and formally cutting the cake, but we did give our guests a few little traditions….. Having robbed our friends of getting to see us formally hitched, and really getting into our ballroom and latin dance classes whilst we lived in Hitchin, we decided to do a proper ‘first dance’. We still didn’t want it to be too long though, and weren’t really comfortable with a slow dance, as is traditional. Instead we decided to use a very up-beat piece of music we both love, from an anime show we watched together called Cowboy Bebop. We had six private lessons with the wonderful couple who also taught our weekly class, and they choreographed a routine for us, using Modern Jive, foxtrot and samba moves. It was a great fun thing to do in the run up to the wedding reception, and I think we surprised people that we did a first dance at all, and that it was pretty fast and not typically romantic!

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

DIY adventure themed wedding, modern jive first dance

We also thought it would be nice to share some of the photos from the ceremony with our reception guests, and so had some printed and framed to decorate the piano at the venue. We also got a load made up into a retro view finder, which was good fun too!

Wedding ceremony photos to decorate wedding reception

Vintage view finder to show wedding ceremony photos at wedding reception

Retro view finders with wedding photos

I’ve always personally loved the tradition of throwing the bouquet…I’m not sure why…but I caught one a few years ago at a friend’s wedding and so it seemed only fair that I throw mine. However, mine was really a bit too dangerous to throw, as I’d made it from dozens of bone china floral brooches and it weighed a tonne! So, I made a ‘stunt’ bouquet from pastel coloured pompoms instead, and threw that in the safety of the playground outside the venue.

My DIY china flower brooch wedding bouquet

Throwing the bouquet

Catching the bouquet

We also wanted to have a guest book to record messages from all our guests, but again wanting to do something different, we decided not to go with an actual book. We toyed with several ideas (signing a globe for example seemed a good idea because of our theme, and we had lots around, but in practise we thought this would be tricky!) but in the end Adam came up with a belter of an idea when we were out at the antiques market near our house….we spotted an old key cabinet from a hotel (which again, went rather well with our adventure theme) and Adam had the idea to hang lots of vintage keys inside, the labels to which could be used to write messages on! We spent ages collecting all the keys, and then cleaning them up and adding ribbon and labels, but it made for something a bit different and is also going to be a great reminder of the day when we hang it up on display in our new home!

DIY wedding, vintage hotel key cabinet for guest book

DIY wedding guest book hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book in hotel key cabinet

DIY wedding guest book in hotel key cabinet

Another tradition I personally love is the favours. I think it’s nice to give a small token of thanks to guests, and also offer them something to remember the day by. We wanted to have something in-keeping with our theme, and so made everyone a wooden and leather luggage tag decorated with a map of somewhere special to them. It was a lengthy process, but well worth the effort as they’re something people can use on their own adventures and think of our party at the same time!

Polka dot party bags tombola for wedding favours

We didn’t want to stop there though….I am a huge lover of party bags, and Adam is a mega tombola fan, so we decided to incorporate these too! We made up party bags in pastel colours, filled with the luggage tags, as well as old favourites like Rainbow Drops, popping candy, blowing bubbles, fortune telling fish and party poppers which we decorated with our logo. We also covered boxes of matches with our logo and the slogan ‘the perfect match’ as I’ve always had a thing for collecting branded match books wherever I go! We then attached a tombola ticket to each guest’s personalised party bag, including the counterpart ticket in with their invitation….they then had to match up their tickets with their ‘prize’ on the day to get their own party bag! It was just a bit of silly fun really, but we enjoyed making them and the contents seemed to go down well!

DIY adventure themed wedding reception

And that was the order of the day, really….lots of silliness and fun, catching up with people and enjoying their company. We felt fairly brave doing things that weren’t really traditional, but everything worked well for us and we felt that our guests enjoyed it just the same! We couldn’t have done it without lots of help from our family and friends, and we are forever grateful to our amazing photographer, Sharon, who was very much involved in the planning and also provided us with a great set of photos (including all those shown here) to remember it all by!

Crazy panda wedding photos

Crazy panda wedding photos

Now I just need to find an excuse to do it all again……!

Ems x

DIY wedding decor, tin can tea lights with names

Gifts I made for my husband on our first anniversary

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

As you may well have already read on my earlier post, it was my first wedding anniversary on Sunday. I often make gifts for people on birthdays and at Christmas, and this special occasion seemed like a good excuse to get crafting too.

First of all I decided to make a little book for him, a sort of collecting book for anniversaries. I drew a little picture to represent the traditional gift given on all the key anniversaries, then bound them into a little map covered book (maps being a favourite of ours and a theme at our wedding). I was rather pleased with the result, and I look forward to Adam ‘collecting’ anniversaries for a long time to come!

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

DIY first wedding anniversary paper gifts

We’ve been having a bit of a copper obsession lately (long before it became so trendy, I might add!) and I actually tried to find some copper julep cans for Adam’s Christmas gift. I couldn’t manage to find any that were quite right at the time though, but I persisted and found a great set of quite old ones that needed a spruce up. Several hours of boiling in sea salt and vinegar, and yet more hours scrubbing them with citrus fruits later, and they’re almost perfect! I’m looking forward to tasting cocktails in them soon!

DIY papercut, wedding anniversary book, Moomin card and copper julep cans

Last of all I decided to attempt a paper cut for Adam. Because the traditional first anniversary gift is paper (I opted to go mostly with the US list as it makes more sense than the UK one!) I thought this would be a nice thing to keep, and also to frame in our new home.

I first drew a design on grid paper in pencil (using a hot hair balloon and a Winnie the Pooh quote, both of which were inspirations for our wedding), then transferred it in reverse onto the back of my heavy paper using carbon paper. Then it was a case of carefully cutting out the negative space with a scalpel (I swear by the Swann Norton handle with AA blade)….I found it best to start in the middle and work outwards so that I wasn’t pulling on any of the supporting pieces excessively. I also (despite my preference!) decided it best to cut out the really tricky and small fiddly bits first, as the larger and simpler ones required less effort.

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Once I’d finished cutting, I created my backing paper by painting another sheet of heavy paper using gouache, starting with a blue at the top and fading into a green at the bottom. Then it was just a case of framing the paper cut and backing together…and I’m ever so pleased with how it turned out! In fact, Adam loved it so much we got quite emotional (perhaps also because he had an idea of how many hours I’d spent on it!).

DIY paper cut quote from Winnie the Pooh

Perhaps best of all though was Adam’s gift to me….another project to work on together! Rather fittingly, he had found and had sent from the US for me a copy of  ‘Our Adventure Book’ from the Pixar film ‘Up!’. It was made by the people who first made the album for the production team on the movie, and has our little tagline ‘An Adventure Begins’ on the spine.

First wedding anniversary gift: paper 'Our Adventure Book' from Up!

It’s full of gorgeous paper pages for us to fill with photos, notes, sketches and other bits and bobs from our wedding…..I can’t wait to fill it up together and make a real project of it! This may have to wait until after we’ve moved though, as most of our wedding stuff is still boxed up in various places!

Ems x

 

Wednesday Wants: Donkey Week!

Happy International Donkey Week!

As if we needed an excuse to admire these wonderful creatures, this week has been established by The Donkey Sanctuary to help show us how important donkeys (and mules!) are, and how very special they are too! If you follow my Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram accounts, you may have noticed a flurry of donkey-related activity lately, and that’s because I recently began to volunteer for the charity as a fundraiser. It’s such a wonderful charity to support….they operate all over the world, rescuing donkeys in need, educating communities who rely on donkeys for their livelihoods, giving donkey-assisted-therapy to children with additional needs, and providing outreach work in the community to care homes and hospices.

Last week I helped out at the fabulous new “For the Love of….” Donkey Sanctuary cafe and charity shop in Otley, and on Saturday it was officially opened! This week I’ll be baking some treats to sell there on Saturday, as part of the charity’s first ever mass participation event, “Bake it for Donkeys“!

Perhaps most challenging of all, I’ve volunteered to co-ordinate this year’s fundraising gala, “The Pumpkin Ball“, which will take place in Leeds this October. The event promises to be a wonderful night of fun, with a yummy three course dinner, live band, DJ, auctions, raffles and some other fun besides! Do let me know if you’re interested in coming, and I can let you know more about tickets!

Later this month (Friday 22nd May in Otley, to be precise!) I’m helping host a Pamper Party to launch ticket sales of the ball, so if you’re in the area, do let me know and I can reserve some tickets for you. There’ll be wine, treatments, pamper products and give aways, as well as special access to the new shop and some of the gorgeous ball gowns donated to the shop for you to buy and wear to the ball!

Anyways, back to my weekly list of wants….. I thought that in honour of Donkey Week, I’d pick out some of my favourites from the Donkey Sanctuary shop. You can also buy all these things online, and delivery is even free in the UK!

I love the brightly coloured ‘designer ears’ range of products at the shop…they’re so fun and vibrant! These cards are great to keep in to use for any occasion, and come in a set of six.

On Saturday a friend of the new shop’s manager baked 200 donkey biscuits for the opening….and they were delicious! Make your own at home with this super cute little biscuit cutter!

And to go with your biscuits, a cup of tea from this brilliant mug! I love the ‘antics’ range, which features lots of cheeky donkeys in cleverly drawn shenanigans.

Washing up isn’t such a chore with donkeys there to cheer the proceedings….I love these two and the enormous mountain of cups (it feels like that sometimes when it comes to washing up!).

The best thing by far in the shop though is the amazing collection of hand knitted donkeys for sale. Each one is made with love by a Donkey Sanctuary supporter, and is totally unique! There are donkeys with eye lashes, donkeys with glittery silver shoes, donkeys with big pink bonnets, and lots besides. If you’re a keen knitter and would like to help out by making a donkey, you can get hold of a pattern here.….there’s also a crochet pattern if that’s more your thing!

Ems x

 

(One year on) Our Wedding: Part One

We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary! As of Sunday, we’ve been married one whole year! We started celebrations on Friday with a gin tasting, then exchanged gifts, and had a few adventures over the rest of the bank holiday weekend….we’re celebrating for a few weeks still to come with some other things planned too!

I can’t believe it’s gone by so fast….it certainly doesn’t feel like a year ago that we were in Greenwich saying our vows (not least because it was warm enough to spend much of the day outside with bare arms and legs, and now it’s rather grey and chill outside!). It’s been the most fun year ever, and I’m loving being a Mrs.

This also means it’s almost a year since I blogged a few photos from the wedding and promised to share more later….so I thought I’d take the opportunity to finally do so! I always wanted to post some of what we did, as much as to remind us in future years as to share some of our ideas in the hope of encouraging others to be bold and not worry about bucking the trends and doing things differently. So, as we celebrate over the next few weeks (whilst we were actually married on the 3rd of May, we didn’t have our reception until the 24th, so technically we get two anniversaries!) I thought I’d write about some of the things we did. Apologies if wedding chat isn’t really your thing….I’m afraid I just can’t get enough of weddings myself and am always delighted to talk about them!

We opted to have a very small, personal ceremony in Greenwich on the first May bank holiday, with just our family present (and our photographer of course!). Neither Adam nor I much liked the idea of having lots of people watching us as we said our vows, and it felt really special to do so with a more intimate audience. Having the ceremony on a separate day to our reception was vital too, as we did so much for the latter ourselves and couldn’t have done so much if we had to worry about doing it all on the same day. We chose Greenwich because I’d lived around there for many years, and we would often go there when we first started seeing each other….we also have some of our most treasured memories from times there, and it is just a stunning place. Being at the home of time also fitted well with our theme of adventure, and it felt pretty special to tie the knot there.

My Mum drove us down from Hitchin on the Friday afternoon, and we checked into our hotel, Devenport House, before meeting up with my brother for a few drinks at the pub and a lovely Italian meal. Then it was an early night to get our beauty sleep! Adam and I bucked tradition and shared a room, which meant we saw each other on the morning of the wedding (it didn’t seem to bring us any bad luck!). I awoke early to begin primping and couldn’t believe our luck with the weather….it was blue skies as far as the eye could see!

We met my brother for a full English breakfast together (Mum was too busy doing her hair!) and then after getting our glad rags on, set off in a taxi together to the registry office in The Royal Borough of Greenwich Town Hall. Adam’s family met us there and we had some photos outside and in the lobby as we actually arrived before the bride to the wedding before ours! Then, after a few formalities Adam and I walked down the aisle together and said our vows (with a little giggling and just a little crying). The whole thing only took about twenty minutes, which gave us time to chat with everyone (it was the first time Adam and I met our niece, and the first time my brother had met Adam’s family) and then have some family photos around the Royal Naval College, the Queen’s House and Greenwich Park. The glorious weather, and our amazing photographer Sharon, (not to mention my wonderful new husband!) made all this just beautiful….a perfectly happy, relaxed and special day!

We had a great pub lunch together afterwards with our families, then wandered through sunny Greenwich with ice creams before Mum drove Adam and I back to Hitchin. She’d secretly decorated her car in cahoots with my Brother, with ribbons and a little sign, so we got lots of waves and beeps from cars we passed all the way home! In the evening, Adam’s Mum put on a yummy buffet for us all, then on Sunday we all went out for a delicious Sunday roast lunch.

It really was all we’d hoped for, and more….I’m so glad we did it this way!

And so….to the photos (all courtesy of Sharon Cooper)!…..

 

Our wedding: the rings, rose gold and rosewood (via Under a Glass Sky)

We couldn’t have agreed on matching rings if we’d tried, but we still co-ordinated….I’m crazy for rose gold, so went for a simple double court band, whilst Adam had a beautiful rosewood band made for him with a copper band running through it.

Our wedding: the rings inside one of our customised match boxes (via Under a Glass Sky)

We re-decorated lots of match boxes to have at the reception, and this one worked rather well to pop the rings in!

Our wedding: my hand made pink silk teardrop birdcage veil with vintage marcasite and pearl  Lily of the Valley brooch

I hand-made my own birdcage veil to match my dress (which I also made!), using offcuts of silk and a vintage marcasite and pearl brooch….Lily of the Valley are my favourite flower so I was delighted to find this to wear on my wedding day!

Our wedding: the Groom's hand made vintage map bow tie and rosewood ring

I made Adam’s bow tie from a wonderful vintage map print fabric we bought together in London to go with our adventure theme….

Our wedding: vintage map bow tie and button hole boutonniere

….and to match, I used old maps to make his button hole!

Hand made vintage map button holes / boutonnieres

In fact, everyone got a button hole…even our photographer and our baby niece!

Hand made DIY china flower brooch bouquet

I made my own bouquet using antique fine china floral brooches….I wanted to use it at both the ceremony and reception so it had to last, plus the brooches were a nod to my Potteries roots! It was great to collect them with my Mum’s help and slowly piece it together in the run up to the wedding….although LOTS of work!

Fine china floral hair decorations for the Bride

With the smaller brooches I made lots of little hair adornments to match my bouquet

Our wedding: the Bride's shoes by Christian Louboutin

Having made my own dress, I decided to indulge myself in a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes to go with it….and going with pink meant that I can wear them again!

Our wedding: Lulu Guinness 'Don't Forget Your Lipstick' handbag

I decided on a pink and red theme for my outfit, and used a large red vintage vanity case on the day as well as this little Lulu Guinness ‘Don’t Forget Your Lipstick’ handbag which I’ve had for ages….my Brother kindly carried the vanity for most of the day though!

Our wedding: the Bride in pink with a London Bus

My DIY veil in action, as well as the red and pink theme in full swing with a London bus!

Our wedding: Bride and Groom on the checkered floor of Greenwich Town Hall

I was just crazy about the black and white checkered floor in the Town Hall lobby

Our wedding: goofing around in the lobby at Greenwich Town Hall

Goofing around in the stunning lobby as we waited!

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

He calls this the ‘hero’ pose!

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

Adam’s eldest brother, our sister-in-law, and our (then!) baby niece!

Exchanging rings

Exchanging rings

Checking out the rings afterwards

Checking out the rings afterwards

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

The lot of us!

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

Me and him

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

My wonderful Mummy passing on her good luck trinkets from her own wedding

Our wedding: Greenwich Town Hall

Confetti!

Love Lane, Royal Borough of Greenwich

Love Lane, Royal Borough of Greenwich

We love this spot...the building features in lots of costume dramas we've seen together, especially lots of Dickens adaptations!

We love this spot…the building features in lots of costume dramas we’ve seen together, especially lots of Dickens adaptations!

My wonderful Mummy had her outfit made for her, based on one Kim Novak wore in 1957 film Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra

My wonderful Mummy had her outfit made for her, based on one Kim Novak wore in 1957 film Pal Joey with Frank Sinatra….it went so beautifully with all the colours on the day

A little cheeky shot of my red petticoats....who said you can't wear pink with red?!

A little cheeky shot of my red petticoats….who said you can’t wear pink with red?! I swapped into flats for a while too….a gorgeous pair of pink glimmer jazz flats from French Sole.

In the beautiful dappled sunlight

In the beautiful dappled sunlight

I still can't believe how lucky with the weather we were....it was so warm!

I still can’t believe how lucky with the weather we were….it was so warm!

One of our favourite shots...sitting in an anchor outside The National Maritime Museum (surrounded by tourists!)

One of our favourite shots…sitting in an anchor outside The National Maritime Museum (surrounded by tourists!)

Can you believe that blue sky?!

Can you believe that blue sky?!

Which way?! This vintage map is from where we took our first ever holiday together.

Which way?! This vintage map is from where we took our first ever holiday together…..far from the Royal Observatory as shown in the background!

A kiss.....

A kiss…..

That’s all for now!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: It’s National Stationery Week!

Did you know it’s National Stationery Week?! Now I don’t need any excuse to get excited about stationery, but this seemed like a good reason to feature what is certainly one of my favourite things on this week’s ‘Wants’ list. And what better way to indulge in some of my other favourite things….robots, neons, dinosaurs, mythical creatures…..stationery does it all!

It’s glossy, it’s blue, it’s covered in robots. Oh, and you can fill it with cool pens. What’s not to like?!

How adorable is this illustrated notebook by the talented Emma Randall? I love the blue unicorn, and that cheeky octopus!

I’ve been ever so slightly obsessed with neons for over a year now. Fluorescent stuff reminds me of my childhood, especially when that stuff is stationery. It puts me in mind of staking out Woolworths in the school holidays, plotting how best to spend my pocket money. So of course, I’m crazy about these super cute bear highlighters with their sweet expressions.

Just think of the things I could neon-ify with these babies…..

Fluoro meets Egyptology. Way cool. I’d stencil hieroglyphs onto everything with this. Probably with my neon pens.

And when I have to be a little more grown up, these lush Liberty prints will help soften the blow. I love adding pretty stickers to parcels when I send out my orders, and these would make packing even more satisfying.

Dinosaurs on parcels, on envelopes, on notebooks, on little notes, on the back of my hand, and probably all over the walls if I had my way….all possible with these bad boys.

And what could be more of a productivity boost than a bright yellow notebook telling you to ‘Make if Happen’? For lists, doodlings and planning great adventures….I’m pretty sure this notebook could help me make it happen. (Also, these Panama notebooks have proven to be super practical for me….they’re a great size for carrying around, and the supple cover holds its own even at the bottom of my junk filled handbags!)

Happy National Stationery Week everyone! Go forth and treat yourself to a fancy new pen or something!

Ems x

 

Wednesday Wants: More for the garden

Whilst I was looking for garden tools for last week’s Wednesday Wants post, I came across so many other lovely gardeny things that I just had to write another post about some of the things I’ve found! As I mentioned, we’ll soon be moving to a new home, and as we’re finally buying (yippee!) we can really make it our own and invest some real effort into the garden. There’ll be lots of planting and re-arranging I’m sure, but I’d also love some pretty furniture and other things to go out there….hence this list!…..

I just adore festoon lights, and I’d love to drape them all across the garden for evenings outside.

I can’t wait to get back into composting again….and this composter has to be the cutest out there. I’d love to have bees too, so I’d have to be careful not to confuse the two!

I am *always* losing track of time in the garden, so I very much need a big clock out there to remind me!

I love to watch the birds and plan to have lots of places for them to nest and feed. I love the copper roof on this feeder, which is nice and open so I can see what they’re doing, but they also feel safe out of sight of bigger birds above!

I’ve always wanted a cast iron garden furniture set and I think it will work perfectly in our new garden (and look stunning sitting on the Yorkstone terrace!). This set features a lovely long table, perfect for barbecues and garden parties, as well as a parasol for those of us who burn easily! The chairs come complete with super comfy pads, and are even stackable!

I’m just imagining sitting there, gin in hand, with the smell of the wisteria in the air…..I cant WAIT!

Ems x

Foodie Friday: Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of the big benefits of our recent move has been our proximity to Costco. I know. What a loser. But I’m totally in love with the place. I love wandering around seeing what totally random things they’re selling (a hot tub, a wooden castle, multi packs of Sharpies, TVs bigger than a car….) and honing in on the bargains on offer. Their own-brand stuff is just wonderful….the Kirkland maple syrup is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their vodka is terrific!

They also have some really great organic and whole-food offerings now too, and we’re now getting all our pasta there as well as buying organic virgin coconut oil in bulk. Whilst wandering the aisles there recently we came across a bumper pack of organic coconut flour. Noticing that it’s gluten free and you can use it as a substitute for regular flour, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Apparently, coconut flour is one of the healthiest available…. because it’s not grain-based like most flour, it is non-inflammatory like those which contain gluten, and is also very low in carbs. The fats are of the more healthy kind (as with coconut oil they are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids or ‘MCTs’) and have been shown to improve metabolism, being used up for energy, not stored in fatty tissue. It is also high in fibre, which helps fill you up!

Whilst looking up what we could do with our coconut flour, we found that a little goes a long way….you can’t use it as a straight substitute for regular flour for this reason, and it also requires more liquid. There are however lots of great recipes out there, especially for cakes and breads….and why not use it to make a more-healthy-than-usual treat?!

As we were off to a friend’s birthday party around the time we bought the flour, and especially as that friend is wheat intolerant, we decided to bake her a birthday chocolate cake! We scoped out some recipes, and actually baked the cake a second time to perfect this recipe. I’m pretty pleased with it now though, and as it’s made up of ingredients we tend to always have in, I know that it will be a bit of a staple when a baking session is in order!

The texture of the cake is very even….nicely moist but also solid enough to comfortably eat a slice without necessarily needing a plate and fork. Initially it wasn’t sweet enough for me, which is why I tweaked the recipe….now though it is wonderfully velvety and chocolatey, not too sickly but also very satisfying. Especially when you consider it’s so quick and easy to make, plus low in carbs and naughty sugars!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

Ingredients:

30g good quality cocoa
35g coconut flour (ours is made by Nutiva)
7g baking powder (gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
4  free range eggs
3 tablespoons organic honey
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml melted virgin coconut oil

For the icing:

approx. 5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil
approx. 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
approx. 2 tablespoons organic honey
approx. 2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

 How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 c and grease and line a 15cm diameter baking tin
  2. Mix together the cocoa (which you may need to sift), coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
  3. Fold in the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil
  4. Mix well until smooth….you will find it takes on an almost mousse-like texture
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing
  7. Combine the oil, cocoa, honey and maple syrup using a metal spoon
  8. Depending on the temperature (coconut oil has a very high melting temperature) you may find you want to add more oil or cocoa, and you can also add more honey or syrup to taste, depending on how sweet a tooth you have
  9. You can pop the icing in the fridge to cool it down if it’s too runny, or warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too hard….then once you have it to a nice soft fudgey consistency, cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together the two parts with icing
  10. Then just use the rest of the icing to coat the assembled cake (it’s so quick and easy to make that you can always make a bit more if you run out), slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

I bet this cake would work wonderfully with some raspberries and creme fraiche or yoghurt, although we very much enjoyed it on its own. The icing is pretty handy to make a nice chocolate fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever too, as you can make it all runny and gooey by heating it up.

Next I plan to try a banana bread with the coconut flour….I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants: tools for my new garden

Well I think most of us enjoyed a rather nice show of sun last week. And whilst it’s not quite as exquisite as it was, the rumours of a coming heatwave and the recent memory of blue skies and warmth have me thinking of being outdoors.

There’s the added factor that with our impending house move, I’m starting to think about our lovely new garden. I got really into my gardening when we had a rather large outdoor space to tend to in Hitchin, but knowing we wouldn’t be in this house for long I’ve not really invested any time in the garden here. I can’t wait to get my hands on my very own, ‘forever’ garden though, and that’s got me thinking (as I do) about shopping for exciting things to help me make it beautiful…..

OK, so I already have a little Haws watering can (in a pretty powder blue), but I think this copper one is rather special. It is said that you can improve the quality of water by bringing it into contact with copper, so this can is sure to help my plants along. Plus it’s really shiny and pretty. Just because it’s for the garden, it doesn’t mean I have to be *completely* practical!

And because I’m aiming for some pretty impressive boarders as well as smaller pots, I’m going to need something a little heftier to help me water in bulk. This nine litre galvanised can with copper trim has a top and a back handle, to help feeble little me pick it up and dispense the water more easily.

And keeping with the copper theme….The PKS bronze (aka copper and tin) tools are made to last a lifetime. The Castor trowel has a smooth beech handle and pointed, heart-shaped blade. The sharp edge and scoop shape make it a most practical trowel for general weeding and planting. And yes, again, isn’t it pretty?!

I’ve never really gone in for more specialised tools before, but I have to say that something to help me with those tricky bits of stray grass and weeds would be a God-send. The PKS Tabit weeding tool is specifically designed for lifting perennial weeds such as creeping buttercup and small clumps of grass without disturbing the surrounding plants. The pronged point gets underneath the roots, then using the rounded underside you can lever the interloper out!

Er, yeah, so I’m really into copper right now. Anyway, I love to label pretty much anything that stands still long enough. I’m the proud owner of not one, but four label makers, and so it only seems fitting that I get to label the garden too. These copper ‘Tee’ labels by Burgon and Ball are easy to engrave using a ball point pen, plus the copper helps to repel pests such as slugs. Bonus!

I’ve always bought cheap secateurs in the past, which is a total false economy as they don’t last long at all. There’s also the issue of my feeble little hands, which really struggle with pruning, but I’ve found that a pair of ratchet pruners could help me immensely. These ones by Darlac have a slim profile, perfect for my small hands, and the squeeze/release action reduces effort by up to a third. And they’re gold. Gold.

Not all pruning requires such hard-core toolage though, and for the more delicate plants, dead-heading and flower arranging, these mini snips look great. They work like embroidery snips and come in a handy pocket size, perfect for well, keeping in your pocket!

I bought a kneeler to use in our last garden, and used it precisely once.  The problem is that you have to move it around with you, and I’m so forgetful I just ended up leaving it behind each time I moved. Plus I usually have my hands full whilst gardening, so something that’s actually attached to me sounds like a much better idea! These leather knee pads are made in Shropshire from carefully selected British leather, and feature a soft lining to cushion your knees as you work. They are attached to an elasticated velcro band to make them easy to get on and off, as well as fit anyone (even me with my chubby knees), and are built to last a lifetime.

And on the subject of forgetfulness, if I got a penny for every time I lost my tools in the garden, I’d be able to afford to pay Monty Don to come and work for me full time. Enter this tool pouch, which you wear as a belt around the waist so you always have your most-used tools with you. I’d keep my nice bronze trowel in the main back pocket and my secatuers in that handy pointed pocket at the front.

 

Whilst shopping I also came across lots of wonderful non-tool things for the garden too….so perhaps I’ll share those next week!

 

Do you have a garden? Do you have any tips or recommendations?

 

Ems x

 

 

Tuesday Tutorial: Glitter Name Bunting

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

Yes, you’re right, my last tutorial was about glitter too. But then glitter is worthy of repetition.

A trend has been emerging with my recent crafting projects….glitter. And why the heck not? After all, glitter is the quintessential crafting supply, and everything is better with a good sprinkle of the stuff.

I bought a stash of glitter card ages ago, and did the usual thing of ‘saving it for something special’. And what could be more special than my niece’s first birthday?! Having decided I wanted to make something glittery for her, I thought about what a one year old could best make use of…..she’s mostly pointing at me and laughing right now though, and doesn’t seem to be in need of anything other than whatever food is out of her reach, so I opted for for something to decorate her bedroom. And because (I think it’s fair to say) I’m pretty bunting obsessed, that’s what my first thought ran to!

You don’t need any crazy equipment or mad skills for this DIY, but it does take some precision and patience. The result is pretty rewarding though I think!

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

What you will need:

  • Glitter card
  • Wooden pennants with pre-drilled holes (enough for each letter of the name)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Ribbon (enough to go across the width of each pennant, plus about 30cm extra)
  • A plastic spatula
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Metal rule
  • A pencil
  • Small scissors

How to make it:

  • Place your first pennant on the back of a piece of glitter card and trace around it with a pencil as close as you can get
  • Cut the glitter card with scalpel and ruler or scissors if you prefer, and check it up against the pennant to see that it fits
  • Now give the pennant a good generous coat of glue….it’s better to have too much on there than too little
  • Carefully place the glitter card onto the pennant, squaring it up quickly before the glue dries to ensure all the edges are aligned
  • Press firmly down on the card so that any excess glue comes out at the sides
  • Use the spatula to remove this excess by sliding the flat edge along the side of the pennant….this will also help to nicely seal the edges
  • Repeat this for all your pennants and then set them aside to dry for a couple of hours
  • Whilst you wait, cut out your letters from the glitter card…..I used the pencil to draw onto the back of the card then cut around that, but remember to draw in reverse
  • Once the newly glittered pennants are dry, arrange them in the order you’d like them and offer up each letter to check that the colours contrast well enough to see them
  • Apply glue to the back of your first letter, again using plenty as you’ll need a good coat to get in between the bumpy glittery surface
  • Carefully place the letter on the pennant, check you’re happy with the positioning, and press down firmly
  • Again, use the spatula to remove any excess, although don’t worry too much as the glue will dry clear
  • Repeat for each pennant and allow to dry well, preferably over night
  • Now you just need to thread the pennants together by cutting through the glitter card to reveal the hole in the wood with the scalpel, and posting the ribbon through each hole of each pennant, then moving on to the next
  • Finally, tie a knot in each end to stop the pennants moving about, and you’re done!

If you find it tricky to get hold of some wooden pennants (I got mine from an online craft shop who sell lots of laser cut MDF shapes) you could always cut them yourself from foamex.

I also made a single pennant with a star shape on it for a friend’s birthday, and of course you could apply any pattern to your bunting, or even just leave it plain in all its glittery glory!

Happy glittering!

Ems x

 

Something from the weekend, and my “Not Cross Bun” recipe

Did you have a lovely Easter break? I certainly did! It was just wonderful to have a four day weekend, especially with the gorgeous weather.

We spent Good Friday baking…..a coconut flour chocolate cake which I’ll share with you later in the week, and also some yummy ‘Not Cross Buns’ (my version of Hot Cross Buns!). I was rather pleased with them and thought I’d share the recipe with you, as they’re too delicious just to have around Easter!

Not Cross Buns (Hot Cross Bun) recipe by Under a Glass Sky

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 250g plain white flour (we used gluten free)
  • 125ml warm water
  • 125ml warm organic semi-skimmed milk
  • 5g powdered dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 medium free-range egg
  • 50g organic butter
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur (or orange juice for a non-alcoholic version)
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • Syrup for glazing (we used the syrup from a jar of stem ginger, but golden, maple syrup or even honey are fine too)

To Make:

  1. The night before you want to bake, pop the fruit in a shallow bowl with the orange liqueur or juice and soak overnight
  2. Ideally in a food mixer, combine the flour, water, milk, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl and fit the dough hook. Add the egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough. You can of course do this by hand, although it will be a bit more work!
  3. Add the dried fruit and spice, then knead on low speed until well mixed. Again, you can do this by hand, but flour your hands as the mixture will be sticky!
  4. Now cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  5. Next, ‘knock back’ the risen dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour, placing on a floured baking tray before covering again with cling film and leave to prove for about half an hour. You can now pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 so it’s ready when your buns need to go in.
  6. Once ready, bake the buns in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool. You can brush them as they cool with the syrup to create a nice golden-glazed finish.
  7. Serve them warm if you like, or split and toast before smothering in butter!

Not Cross Buns (Hot Cross Bun) recipe by Under a Glass Sky

 

On Saturday we took the short trip into Harrogate with some dear friends. We first visited Baltzersen’s cafe which is on Oxford Street. It prides itself in its offering the best Yorkshire-sourced ingredients prepared with Scandinavian inspiration. The space itself is charmingly Scandic, with simple furnishings and quirky trimmings. I ordered the Lapskaus, a Norwegian lentil and root vegetable stew, which was super. Adam went for the soup of the day, and our friends chose from the sandwich menu, all of it looking yummy.

After that we explored the wonderful Royal Pump Room Museum which exhibits the history of the spa town, as well as some other interesting bits and pieces….there’s currently a small collection of small temporary exhibitions, including ‘The Clothes We Wore’, ‘Inside the Victorian Jewellery Box’, and ‘A Town At War’. It’s well worth a visit (only £4 entry for adults) although you can sadly no longer taste the healing waters that made the town what it is, due to health and safety precautions!

Finally we made the necessary pilgrimage to Betty’s Tea Rooms for coffee and cake. Well, in my case Champagne and cake! We took a lovely table in the Montpelier Bar (which I love as it reminds me of the cafes in Vienna, and you don’t have to queue so long as for the afternoon tea rooms!) and I decided to make the most of it by ordering a Moutard Rose (one of my all time favourite Champagnes) as well as the miniature patisserie selection. It was all delicious as usual and our friends enjoyed their first visit there too!

That evening we all ordered a take out back at our place and Adam made us a few cocktails whilst we watched a Liam Neeson action/thriller film I forget the name of!

Harrogate: Betty's, The Royal Pump Room, Baltzersen's, by Under a Glass Sky

On Sunday we had a leisurely breakfast with our house guests, then went for a lovely walk up on Baildon Moor, which overlooks the village we’re moving to in the next few months. It was such a glorious day and we became even more excited about the impending move….not least on Adam’s part because there are ice cream vans stationed at the car parks there!

Baildon Moor, by Under a Glass Sky

On Monday we drove up into North Yorkshire to meet more dear friends in the pretty village of Leyburn. We had a very nice pub lunch then went on a charming five mile walk to a nearby waterfall. We couldn’t believe the weather (I had taken my big insulated coat, which got left behind in the car!) and were all very eager to get a cup of tea and some cake back in the village at the end!

Leyburn, by Under a Glass Sky

On the way home we stopped off at Brymor, which is a wonderful dairy and ice cream cafe not far from Middleham. I opted for a sugar cone filled with raspberry and pineapple ice creams, which were just divine! Adam chose the elderflower and St Clements flavours which were delicious too. The perfect way to end a splendid weekend!

Ems x