Sugar Sweet Kitschy Christmas Tree Ornaments

Soooooo….I’ve made it this long, but I just can’t wait any longer to get excited about Christmas! I’m really looking forward to starting to decorate our new home for our first Christmas here next week and have all sorts of ideas in my head!

There’ll be some crafting, arranging, foraging and re-arranging I’m sure, but right now I’m thinking about new decorations to buy! There have been a few in the shops I’ve had my eye on, and of course I’ve been spotting things online too.

I have my very own kitsch Christmas tree on account of Adam preferring the more traditional stuff….we have a ‘proper’ tree too but I do adore my white mini tree complete with colourful lights! It’s covered in crazy decorations and I got all excited to find a whole stash of new decorations on the wonderful Oh Deer online store that would make perfect additions (free shipping over £40 also ups the ante!). I just love all the sugar sweet colours, glitter and shininess…you may remember I pinned a whole bunch of such treasures on Pinterest, to which I’ll be adding these.

Here’s my round up of favourites that I’d love to add to my very special tree!



What glittery plans do you have for the Festive period?!

Ems x



Foodie Friday: Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Muffins

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it loads, but for a while now we’ve been getting an organic vegetable box delivered fortnightly. It’s a great way to eat seasonally, support local farmers and force yourself to make different things all the time. The only downside is that you can end up with too much of one thing….we’ve recently had a spate of cucumbers and we always seem to have too many carrots!

My husband’s mum and brother also have a glut of cooking apples this year, so I set out to find a recipe to use up a whole load of carrots and apples! As usual, I couldn’t find *quite* what I was looking for, so ended up adapting a few recipes into my own. For a first go, I’m pretty impressed too! I usually have to tweak a recipe a few times, but these came out really well on the first attempt. My only goal now is to replace the caster sugar with unrefined sugar, but that’s a challenge for another day!

These make excellent breakfast treats, and you could easily make them the day prior to serve to overnight guests. They’re also pretty healthy (*I* think!) and are a great gluten free, low fat treat.

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe

Ingredients (makes about 12 large and 12 mini muffins):

  • 240g organic oats (buy carefully if you are gluten intolerant!)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 60g organic coconut flour
  • 200g fair trade golden caster sugar
  • 4 tspn baking soda
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1 tspn all spice
  • 1/2 tspn ground ginger
  • 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg
  • 6 organic eggs
  • 100ml organic coconut oil
  • 100ml water
  • 340ml organic milk
  • 200g grated organic carrot (about four)
  • 125g grated cooking apple (one medium)
  • 120g sultanas
  • 120g chopped mixed nuts (optional)
  • extra nutmeg and nuts, plus some demerara sugar for topping

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe

How to make them:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C /gas mark 4.
  2. Pop your sultanas in a bowl and cover with hot water to soften them…you can leave them like this until they need to go into the mixture later
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients (oats, almonds, flour, sugar, baking soda and spices)
  4. Beat your eggs and melt the coconut oil, then mix those together with the water and milk
  5. Add the fruit to this, then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients
  6. Combine until you have a nicely mixed battery-dough, and mix the nuts in if you’re using them
  7. Grease your muffin tins and line with cases if you like, then pour in the mixture level with the top
  8. Sprinkle some extra nuts, demerara sugar and / or grated nutmeg on top, then pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean
  9. Once baked, remove and cool a little before removing the muffins from the tins
  10. Serve warm and with a little creme fraiche or yoghurt if you like!

Do you have a veggie box delivered? What recipes do you use to finish up those gluts of courgettes etc.?

Ems x

Organic Beauty Week….and my vow to go Cruelty Free


For the longest time I’ve been planning to write about this. Early last year I made a vow to go ‘cruelty free’ with all the cosmetics and cleaning products I buy, in-line with my rules on the animal products I will and won’t eat. It’s taken me until now to really feel like I’ve got the hang of it though, because of the ridiculous rules on labelling (or lack thereof!), misleading claims, and generally struggling to decide what my absolute rules were. But because I feel I’m finally in a position to share my thoughts on this, AND because it’s Organic Beauty Week, I thought I’d get down to writing up some of my experiences.

As I’ve tried SO many products, I figure I’m best writing about each ‘category’ separately, so that I can share a more comprehensive review for the things I would (and wouldn’t!) recommend. For now though, I thought I’d share the basic principals of what I decided to do.


My reasons for going cruelty free were nearly completely to do with animal welfare. It’s true that there are personal, human gains to be made by choosing better products of course, and there are certainly environmental benefits….but we have to pick our battles, and for me it’s all about the animals. As far as I’m concerned, there is no excuse for mistreating animals. We’re not more important than them, and even if treating them cruelly is the ONLY way to get that amazing lipstick, I just can’t see how that can be a fair trade off. Besides, many companies use human testers to check the safety and quality of their products, instead of animals….and certain products don’t even need testing because they’re created from all natural ingredients. So why should we support companies who needlessly torture our defenceless, animal friends?

In short, I strongly feel that animals are not ours to treat however we like for our own gain.

In Europe, as of March 2013, a new law was implemented that made it illegal to sell animal-tested cosmetics in Europe, even if the testing was done outside Europe. The result has been a boom in investment in non-animal testing methods, with many major companies turning their backs completely on animal testing. A number of animal tests have even been completely replaced with superior, cheaper and more effective non-animal methods.

This is of course great news, but it’s not all that simple and rosy….in fact, in some ways, it makes it even trickier for us consumers!


Although companies are no longer allowed to sell animal-tested cosmetics here in Europe, they *can* continue to test cosmetics on animals outside Europe and sell them in other markets. This means a company that sells here can still profit from cruelty to animals…just not in Europe. The problem is exasperated because many large emerging markets, actually have laws that say cosmetics *must* be tested on animals before they can be sold there. So, you could be buying a mascara that isn’t itself tested on animals, but from a company that *does* test on animals….and therefore supporting their cruel practises and adding to their profit.

And as if that doesn’t make things tricky enough, some companies who label themselves as ‘cruelty free’ have sold out to larger companies who certainly are not….which I personally think is even worse! I like to write positive things, and certainly don’t want to advertise any companies who I believe are bad (*cough*), but you can find lists online to help you avoid them (more on that later).

There is also the matter of animal *products* in cosmetics. Again, this is not essential, and so I would largely argue that all cosmetics ought to be vegan. The exception (as far as I’m concerned at least) are products that support the environment and the protection of certain creatures… Neal’s Yard for example have an organic honey-based collection and campaign called ‘Bee Lovely‘ which raise funds and awareness to help save our declining bee population.

So… with that in mind, here are my own *personal* rules. They’re by no means permanently set, and in fact have been slowly evolving since I decided to do this…..

  1. First and foremost, I don’t want the cosmetics and household products I buy to be tested on animals.
  2. Secondly, I don’t want to buy anything which contains any ingredients that are tested on animals. This includes make up, beauty products, laundry products, household cleaners and gardening products.
  3. Ideally, I want to buy things which have *never* been tested on animals, however in certain circumstances I will buy products that contain ingredients with a ‘Fixed Cut Off Date’ as I feel that this can send a message to companies that I want them to make a move towards non-animal testing.
  4. I will not buy cosmetics or household products from companies who are owned by a company that tests on animals, even if they do not test their products or ingredients themselves. As far as I see it, I’d be helping the parent company to make a profit and therefore supporting their cruel practises.
  5. Mostly I’d prefer to buy vegan products (ie. that contain no ingredients derived from animal products), but I will make exceptions for ingredients that have been responsibly sourced, especially if they promote the safe and cruelty free increase of declining populations.
  6. I’d prefer to buy from cosmetic companies that only sell vegan products, and I will definitely not buy from a company who sells animal-tested products, even if the product I’d like to buy hasn’t been tested itself.
  7. I will vote with my feet….supporting brands that I feel are making a concerted effort and ditching those that I think are not.
  8. But I won’t waste and throw away any unfinished products that I bought before setting these rules, or that I purchased in good faith according to these rules (and subsequently found that I’d been mislead!)….I see this as a terrible waste of resources and having to replace all my makeup, beauty and laundry products and household cleaners all in one go would have been impossible!

That’s my list for now, but I’m sure it will continue to develop as I learn more and more. It can be really hard to find out whether a product meets these criteria, so I try not to beat myself up about making mistakes along the way….things change rapidly, companies are sold off, others change policy or start to sell in different countries…it’s a minefield, but I’m trying my darnedest and that’s all I can do!

If you feel you’d like to make a similar vow, I would advise you to check your products thoroughly before going shopping. It’s time consuming and infuriating, and sometimes you just want to buy on a whim, but largely it’s the only way to be sure what you’re buying really is cruelty free. The Soil Association’s Campaign for Clarity highlights just how ambiguous labelling has become, and it really is important to use several tools to check before you buy. Here are some resources I’ve found good to use holistically:


The ‘Leaping Bunny‘ is probably the label you’re going to see most in your quest to find cruelty free products, and you’ll find it on cosmetics as well as household products. The label is issued by Cruelty Free International, and you can read their criteria on their website. Basically though, companies displaying this logo must guarantee that no animal testing takes place on their products or the ingredients these products are made up of, after a fixed cut-off date. They must also actively monitor their supply chains, obtaining yearly assurances that no animal testing has been conducted after this fixed cut-off date, and agree to an independent audit of their supplier monitoring system.

They have a helpful product search on their website too, as well as PDF lists which I like to save in my phone so that I can check on some things on the go.


PETA also issue their own ‘cruelty free’ bunny logo. Their website offers a search facility too, and you can also view lists of companies who *do* test as well as ones that don’t, which I find useful (although depressing at times!). All companies that are included on PETA’s cruelty-free list have signed PETA’s statement of assurance or submitted a statement verifying that neither they nor their ingredient suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products. Companies must pay a license fee to use the bunny logo though, in addition to meeting these criteria. Oh, and there’s an additional logo in the same style which also states if a product is vegan too.

Unlike the Leaping Bunny, PETA does not conduct audits of company facilities, instead relying on the fact that companies are putting their integrity on the line.


The International Vegan Trademark can be seen on all sorts of products, and is well regarded as a pretty stringent benchmark. In order to use the logo a company and its products must not involve, or have involved, the use of any animal product, by-product or derivative. Furthermore, the development and/or manufacture of the product, as well as its ingredients, must not involve, or have involved, “testing of any sort on animals conducted at the initiative of the manufacturer or on its behalf, or by parties over whom the manufacturer has effective control”.

Other logos can be helpful, such as the Soil Association’s organic logo (because their criteria also include animal welfare) but do be careful as there are a myriad of misleading labels out there. There is no international regulation to rely on and many companies will make claims such as ‘Not Tested on Animals’ on their packaging, when in fact they do. I’ve taken to typing the name of a brand into a search engine along with the words “animal testing” to throw up useful information, and have also found this helpful guide to reading packaging, and avoiding being mislead. Another good thing to do is to write to any company you’re unsure about….this will help put your mind at rest and sends a message to them that animal welfare is something they ought to think about.

As I say though, you have to do a lot of sleuthing as things change so rapidly and many companies will make claims that are heavily misleading. I’ve found a load of useful posts on personal blogs though, often by people like me who share information they’ve found and review products that are worth trying. You simply can’t take for granted that the products you use every day are not tested on animals though, sadly, and in my opinion we consumers have a responsibility to think about what we’re buying and send a clear message to companies that animal testing is not acceptable.

I hope this has all been helpful, and has encouraged you to think about going cruelty free. It’s good to remember that it takes time to get things right, and that there is a steep learning curve to follow, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it all figured out right away. Decide on your own personal standards, work on one product at a time, and enjoy trying new things. And as a reward for making it through this rather lengthy post, here’s a baby rat picture for your enjoyment….

Ems x



N.B. My posts always reflect my own, personal views. All information here is written to the best of my knowledge, but is certainly not exhaustive. I’m always delighted to hear the views of others, and to continue learning, so please let me know if you have anything to add!

Wednesday Wants: Back to School

OK, so I’m not *actually* going back to school. BUT, I do have a shiny new studio in our shiny new house to set up and fill with shiny things!

Most things are still in boxes after the move, although my desk is up at least! I have a load of amazing second hand white metal peg boards to put up before I do any serious unpacking though….can’t wait to fill them with stuff!

Anyways, I get all excited at this time of year with all the “back to school” things around… you’ll probably already know, I’m pretty stationery obsessed anyway, so this is a super tempting time for me!

Here are my current lust-after picks…..

I’m super into rose gold, copper and brass at the moment….it’s featuring heavily in our new home decor for sure. And how classy would these babies look on my lush new desk, huh?

Brass Scissors by HAY via Really Well Made, £9.00

Brass Scissors by HAY via Really Well Made, £9.00

I’ve also been crazy about neons for a while now, and well, I’m in love with this clever case by Undercover on Not on the High Street. I’m CONSTANTLY losing all those important strings and things that you need to connect all the gadgets, and I HATE them not having a real home. So, against all the odds, I’ve actually chosen a really *sensible* something for once!

Cables and Wires tidy case by Undercover via Not on the High Street, £34.95

Cables and Wires tidy case by Undercover via Not on the High Street, £34.95

So the third and final thing on the list is basically EVERYTHING at Paperchase. They do it to me every time… collections FILLED with shiny new things I WANT WANT WANT. Here are a few of my particular favourites though…..

Pony Party List Clip Board, £6.00

Pony Party List Clip Board, £6.00

Monster Mashup Stickers, £1.50

Monster Mashup Stickers, £1.50

Pony Party Sticky Tabs, £2.50

Pony Party Sticky Tabs, £2.50

Chips Lunch Bag, £12.00

Chips Lunch Bag, £12.00

Unicorn Pencil Case, £6.00

Unicorn Pencil Case, £6.00

What are your favourites? Do you get to shop for a bunch of “back to school” stuff?
Ems x

Foodie Friday: The Wedding Edition

Well, you were warned. As I’m celebrating our anniversary month, I thought I’d share some of the details from our wedding last year. And as Fridays are usually all about food here on Under A Glass Sky, I thought I’d tell you all about the yummy food and drinks we had at our reception.

Food and drink, as you’ve probably surmised, is a big deal for me, and my husband too. So when it came to planning our wedding festivities, these two tasks were top of the list. Whilst I totally agree that it’s all about what you want on your wedding day, I also think (having seen hundreds of weddings through my job!) that there is a duty of care to your guests at a wedding too. Adam and I love to host, and really wanted to ensure that all our guests had an amazing time with as little effort and expense on their part as possible.

We knew from early on that we didn’t want a very formal reception with a sit down meal and table plans etc. I had actually planned a wedding years ago where the Bride and Groom had chosen to serve canapés and bowl food so that their guests could circulate and catch up with everyone there, rather than mostly just the people at their table, and it was honestly one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever experienced. This really appealed to us, as we weren’t starting until four o’clock, and with only the reception happening on that day. It also gave us the opportunity to choose LOTS of different dishes (I love having a little bit of lots of things!) and also ensure there was something everyone liked. Ever concerned though about making sure that everyone had enough to eat, we opted to have a few extras too, so that there was basically food on the go for the whole event!

Starting things at four o’clock felt like a great excuse to serve a bit of afternoon tea. It’s often tricky at weddings when people have been travelling all morning to get there…they often don’t get chance to have all their usual meals, so we wanted people to have something right away to line their stomachs! So, first up we circulated finger sandwiches with different traditional fillings, followed by plain and fruit scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream (we had to request they go on in that order, as at our tasting the caterers did it the other way round….Adam looking at me nervously as they served them in the way I don’t like!). We had collected lots of vintage tea stands to serve the tea on, the caterers also using some of their nice slate flats.

Our Wedding: The Menu

To accompany the tea, we decided to serve an arrival cocktail we called ‘Hitchin Lavender G and Tea’….Hitchin (where we held our reception and lived at the time) is famous for its lavender growing, and our amazing mixologist devised this lovely cocktail for us to feature it. They served the ‘tea’ from glass tea pots using dry ice to create a steam effect, then poured the cocktail into mis-matched vintage tea cups that we’d collected from flea markets. It was a lovely alternative start and went beautifully with the food.

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

Shortly after tea was served, our gorgeous little vintage ice cream van arrived to the playground (our venue used to be a school and is now a museum) for everyone to enjoy a sweet treat. Adam is crazy for ice cream, and someone I worked with told me about the adorable little van local to us. Ice Baby was actually the first thing we booked (yes, even before the venue!) and it was lovely seeing her wonderful owner, Tasha, around town often in the run up to the party.

We chose all our favourite flavours (after much careful taste testing!) including coconut for me, as well as frozen yoghurt which I love too. We were very lucky that the sun shone at the right time so people got to enjoy their ice creams outside whilst playing on the little crazy golf we’d made, and luckily not needing the umbrellas we kept on hand!

Our Wedding: Ice Baby vintage ice cream van Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_422 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_424 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_425 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_428  Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_442 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_447 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_450 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_451

Back inside and we’d set up our Welsh dresser as a sweet shop, filled with naughty things we love (I am a real sweet fiend) such as flying saucers, strawberry laces and sherbet straws. We bought pretty striped bags for people to fill and take away with them, as well as some cute stripey paper cups for people to fill and eat around the room.

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

Then it wasn’t long before the main meal! We began with bite sized canapés, circulated on lovely olive boards and slate flats….we chose sweet pepper and goats cheese tarts, and minted pea blinis for our veggie options, then fish and mushy pea rosti for our fish choice, with miniature burgers and tadpole in the whole (tiny toad in the holes with gravy!) as our meat options. Although bite sized (necessary for chatting and not getting gravy all over your face!) these were pretty filling!

Then for ‘mains’ we served what I call ‘passing plates’….again, we collected LOTS of vintage side plates to serve small, sort of tapas size portions of main dishes. These were designed to be easily eaten with just an oyster fork whilst people were standing, and meant that people could choose the sort of thing they fancied (or, like me and a good few others, have some of everything!). Our vegetarian dishes were vegetable tempura served on jasmine rice, and a pea and ricotta gnocchi. We went for poached salmon tagliatelle as our fish option, and (my favourite) rump steak with chips and bearnaise sauce for our meat dish. After one of each of those I was totally stuffed….although I believe some people (who had probably eaten fewer sweets than me!) managed several more!

Alongside supper, our bar served some amazing wines that a friend of Adam’s family had collected from Germany for us. For white we chose an incredible Bacchus, Spatgurgunder for our red, and a lovely rose Portugieser. Adam also brought across some Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot for those who prefer something bigger too, plus we bought in a couple of mini kegs of some of my favourite ales, and a keg of Adam’s favourite cider!

Then (after we were sure everyone had eaten something!) we opened a full cocktail bar, featuring a short list carefully chosen by us at a lengthy tasting! These went down very well indeed, and many of our guests made it a mission to try each one! We made sure the non-drinkers were well catered for by asking our bar staff to serve all the cocktails as ‘virgin’ on request, and also had a good stock of teas available too.

DIY Wedding Hand Typed Menu displayed in vintage typewriter

DIY Wedding Cocktail Bar

Next up, was the cake. Neither of us were fond of the idea of one big cake, as we like lots of different types, and didn’t really want to go in for the formal cutting bit either. Instead we asked a bunch of friends to make some little individual cakes and sweets for us, so that people could help themselves to as much or as little as they liked, and had a choice of different kinds too. The wonderful Brigitte (who, luckily for us happens to be a pastry chef!) made us a whole host of miniature cakes, including some seriously yummy tiny blueberry muffins. Then Hannah P made her famous chocolate covered cinder toffee, which was very popular! Adam’s Mum made a load of her lovely meringues for us, and we also bought some of the incredible chocolate brownies from our local artisan baker, Quotidian. And last, but perhaps my favourite, were Hannah G’s macaroons….she made lots of different flavours for us, in pretty pastel colours to match our decor, and they were divine!

Being fervently British when it comes to the cheese course, I insisted our cheese ‘cake’ was brought out after puddings, although our guests were able to enjoy them alongside each other as they were all set out at the sweet station. We ordered six tiers of cheese from the wonderful people at Liverpool Cheese Company as I’d heard they were pretty good. Their advice and service was impeccable actually, and the cheese itself (including carefully sourced decorations according to our guidelines) was amazing. From bottom (largest) to top (smallest) we chose Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, Snowdonia Extra Mature Cheddar, Delice Cremiers, Cashel Blue, Somerset Camembert and Capricorn Goat’s cheese. Half of these were regular favourites of mine, but it was lovely to have some that were new to me too, especially as the lovely cheese people sent us samples before hand so we could be sure!

DIY Wedding, tiered cheese course cheese cake with flowers and fruit

DIY Wedding, tiered cheese course cheese cake with flowers and fruit

For alongside the cheese, we made a huge batch of sloe port. We’ve been making sloe gin for a few years now, and after the success of the first batch, started to branch out into port, brandy and even chocolate to use up the gin-soaked berries. This was a great accompaniment, as well as the huge stack of bread we also bought in from Quotidian….although disaster nearly struck when we forgot to collect it all earlier in the day! The shop has usually sold out of bread and so closes by noon, but at 5pm Adam realised we’d forgotten to pop round there, and so we panicked! He decided to try our luck by running round there though (all in his wedding suit finery!) and the lovely owners had left a note on their door to tell us they’d left our order with the bike shop next door! We couldn’t believe our luck, although poor Adam then had a huge, heavy box of baked goods to carry back to the venue! Thankfully Hitchin is pretty small though, and so nobody had to go without bread to put their cheese on!

We sent our guests home with party bags filled with sweets too, and so all in all I think everyone was pretty well fed! We had LOTS of cake and cheese, and even a little bread left over (as well as a huge amount of booze!), but we made a good dent in that on the following day when we had a bunch of friends who’d stayed over nearby round in the afternoon. It was lovely to extend the celebrations, and we didn’t really mind having to eat a lot of cheese and cake for several days after!

We really lucked out on all our suppliers…..we took a LONG time to choose our caterers, How Can We Help You, as before Adam found them we’d really struggled to find a company who could offer what we wanted. The format of the menu was really important to us, and many companies didn’t really understand the concept, then we had to insist that all the meat and dairy were organic too, because of our feelings about animal welfare. They really did do everything that we asked though, and nothing was too much trouble…even when I was being picky about the size of forks, the texture of the sugar snap peas and the order things appeared on the plate…I for one was a very tough client, but they really did meet all our expectations.

Our bar team and mixologists, Liquid Chefs, I’d actually worked with before, so I knew how great they are. It was great to be the end client though this time, rather than hiring them on my client’s behalf, so we very much enjoyed choosing what *we* wanted (not to mention trying out all manner of different options first!).

Thinking about it all is making me rather hungry and thirsty….and keen to do it all again, actually! I’ll have to make do with a sandwich though, so off to the kitchen I go!

Ems x

(One year on) Our Wedding: The Music

DIY Wedding, hired jukebox instead of PA or DJ

I think it’s fair to say that most of us are pretty keen on music. And for all the weddings I’ve been involved in, music has played an important role in some way, shape or form. I’ve seen brides walk down the aisle to Bjork, “Daisy, Daisy” and even “Eye of the Tiger”; and seen all manner of first dances, from carefully choreographed waltzes and tangoes, to fun freestyle boogies.

In fact, some of my clearest memories of the weddings I’ve planned are music related…..the beautifully touching first dance of Emily and Mike to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” at the first reception I ever planned….rushing around a venue trying to find anyone who had a certain version of a certain song on their MP3 player, because the CD the groom had given me didn’t work (crisis averted, thanks to a very helpful bar manager!)…..the amazing string quartet who played a couple down the aisle to their own version of “Whole Lotta Love”…..and that moment when a groom tested his iPod ahead of a ceremony, and my shock as I realised that the track they’d chosen was full of swear words (luckily they only wanted to use the intro, so I was saved from that discussion!).

So, as fairly avid music fans ourselves, music was something that featured heavily in our own wedding planning. It’s one of the simplest ways to personalise an event, and to evoke the kind of atmosphere you want to achieve. And, forgiving the odd difference of opinion, we thoroughly enjoyed putting together all the music we needed for both “Part One” (our ceremony) and “Part Two” (the reception).

For the ceremony we only needed a couple of pieces of music as we’d decided to keep things pretty short and simple…..but of course that can often make things even trickier as our choices would count for even more! Both of the tracks we went with were pretty obvious choices though, because they mean such a lot to us, and remind us of moments we’ve shared.

From early on after our engagement (and perhaps even before if I’m honest!) I had thought of the perfect piece of music to walk down the aisle to…..when we lived in London together for the first time, we watched Battlestar Galactica together, and absolutely loved everything about it, including its amazing soundtrack by Bear McCreary. To me, the piece entitled “The Shape of Things To Come” made for a perfect aisle track, and when I suggested it to Adam, he fast agreed that it should be first on our list of definites. I still go all goose-pimply when I hear it, and it will forever remind me of the anticipation of our ‘legal bit’.

For walking out together, we both had a few ideas of up-beat, celebratory tunes we loved. It wasn’t long before we worked out which one it should be though…..I’ve always loved Mama Cass Elliot’s “It’s Getting Better“, and as we’d regularly hear it on the radio, Adam grew very fond of it too. When we sat and read the lyrics together (Adam is more of a melody person, whilst I like to analyse every word!) we decided that it was the perfect track, happy and positive, and very *us*. We typed out the lyrics to show on our notice board at the party too, and played it again during the reception play list.

DIY Wedding, music menu notice board

Our next choice came to be for our first dance. We’d not initially planned to do one at all, but we’d been taking ballroom and latin beginners classes, as well as a couple of modern jive workshops and really loved it… when I came up with an idea for a track, Adam found he couldn’t say no! Another show we’d loved watching together was the anime series Cowboy Bebop, and we were always both crazy about the awesome jazz title track, which is called “Tank“.

Now it doesn’t sound like an obvious first dance track I’ll grant you, but to us it just seemed the perfect choice. We didn’t want a really long drawn out slow track, as we didn’t feel comfortable being ‘on show’ for any great length of time, and the short version of Tank being only a minute and a half long (and very fast!) made us much more comfortable! We also loved the big band, jazzy feel to it, and knew it would work well with the style of dance we wanted to go for….our amazing teachers, Lee and Dawn (modern jive world champions in point of fact!) choreographed it for us with modern jive, foxtrot and samba moves (a nice change for them, apparently!) and we had six private lessons with them to learn it all.

Some bits were trickier than others to master (the glider lift in particular!) but we thoroughly enjoyed our classes and although a bit nervous on the night (resulting only in a couple of footwork mistakes!), really loved dancing it to officially open the dance floor. Our friend Holly was kind enough to take a little video, which she shared with us afterwards….I love our friend Rachel’s sort of commentary! It looks waaaay slower than it felt to dance, and you get a bit of an up-skirt shot at the end, but it’s a lovely reminder for us!

For the rest of the party music, we split the evening into three sections…. for the first two hours we made a playlist of background music for the time people were arriving and saying their hellos etc….then for the next few hours everyone got to choose what they wanted to hear from the jukebox we hired, which featured every top ten song since the fifties, as well as lots of other favourites besides…..and finally, after our first dance, we created a playlist of floor fillers to dance the night away to.

For our joint hen and stag do, we’d organised a modern jive workshop with Lee and Dawn (followed by a meal and cocktails, obviously!) and so we decided to start the dancing with some of the tracks we’d used at that, to encourage people to join us on the dance floor and help jog their memory of the routine we’d all learned together. After that, we ordered the songs (more or less) chronologically, as that helped them flow from one to another….Adam actually learned to mix and edit them so that we could cut short any that were too long (meaning we could include more songs!) and omit any weird bits or long pauses between tracks. It took him aaaaages, but was well worth it, as it was like having a DJ play everything we wanted, and in the order we wanted it!

DIY Wedding, hired jukebox instead of PA or DJ

We most carefully chose the last few songs, as we were keen to finish the night on a high note….after a few of our favourite more current tracks, we played Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now“, leaving in a pause at the end so that everyone would think it was the last song (it does make a great last song in my opinion!). Then to *really* finish, we chose AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long“, which we both love, and seemed rather apt! I have wonderful memories of a whole load of us doing a sort of ‘Hokey Cokey’ to it, all singing along and having a great time.

Planning it all out like that helped us to keep track of time on the night, and give a little structure to the eight hours we had. We’d toyed with the idea of getting in one of the amazing bands or brilliant DJs I’ve worked with before, but it was a (budget enforced) choice between those and having a full, open cocktail bar, plus there’d have been set-up and time restrictions too. All in all, we wouldn’t change the way we did it at all, and doing it this way was really cost effective….the jukebox we hired came with additional speakers and lighting, so we didn’t have to hire in a PA system, plus we could very easily plug in an iPod (we had three in total, just in case one failed, plus a CD!) for our own playlists. I’d really recommend going this way to anyone who wants full control of their music and doesn’t have an endless budget….the editing and mixing is well worth doing though so that it’s all seamless!

I won’t bore you with a full list of what we included in our playlists, but here are some of my highlights……

From the reception:

As the Days Go By / Talking Heads
Everlasting Love / Love Affair
Go Your Own Way / Fleetwood Mac
Rebel Rebel / David Bowie
One, two, three, four / Feist
Teenage Dream / Katy Perry
Walking After You / Foo Fighters
Daydream Believer / The Monkees
Born to Run / Bruce Springstein
At Last / Etta James
One Track Lover / Matt Berry
Walk Idiot Walk / The Hives

From the dancing:

Get Lucky / Daft Punk
Forget You / Cee lo Green
Mr Blue Sky / ELO
Let Her Dance / The Bobby Fuller Four
Tiger Feet / Mud
Superstition / Stevie Wonder
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough / Michael Jackson
Jump / The Pointer Sisteres
Roll To Me / Del Amitri
I Wanna Dance With Somebody / Whitney Houston
Everybody Dance Now / CandC Music Factory
Return of the Mack / Mark Morrison
Don’t Stop Movin’ / S Club 7
Take Back the Night / Justin Timberlake
We Found Love / Rihanna
Sex on Fire / Kings of Leon


What was your first dance to? Or do you have a song you dream of walking down the aisle to? I’d LOVE to hear about it!

Ems x

DIY Wedding, hired jukebox instead of PA or DJ

(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


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 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