Thursday, 30 April 2015

Curvety Dress


Dress: IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel Penny Dress  c/o Curvety - Shoes: George - Bag: Zatchels






Things have been a bit quiet here recently because not only have I hurt my foot (banged it on a chair, it ballooned up and couldn't walk on it) I've now tripped and have five stitches in my knee. I'm such a klutz! I've been trying to cover up my various bumps and bruises with thick tights and long dresses and the Curvety dress I'm wearing in this post has been a life saver.

I didn't know much about the brand before and in case you're new to them too I'll tell you a bit about them. Curvety are UK based company delivering fashion in sizes 16-36 straight to your door. Curvety was conceived in 2004 because they were fed up of searching for trendy plus size clothes and being left disappointed by the lack of choice. They think every woman deserves to have her perfect wardrobe.
Curvety works hard to offer a sassy collection of clothing, from glam evening wear, to smart work wear. Curvety has its own line but also stocks popular designer brands, Igigi and Kiyonna.

The dress I'm wearing is a IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel Penny Dress and I'm very fond of it. It is the perfect length for work (and for covering stitches) sitting just on the knee, has a really luxury and heavy feel to it because it's lined and it uses lots of lovely bold colours. The dress isn't priced like something from Boohoo+ or Yours so it is at the top end of my dress buying budget but it has a wonderful feel, hangs really well and I can see myself wearing a lot and it could even be worn to a wedding or fancy event.

I hope you're having a better week than I am, stitches aren't fun at all.

Gemma
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Making the most out of your guest bedroom

If you’re like me, your guest room will all too often merely be a storage area with a bed in it! This is a real shame as the guest bedroom should be a place where you get to show off the best of your home to your visiting family and friends.

With that in mind, I’ve made an effort to come up with a few ideas about how to spruce up the guest bedroom ready for when some friends visit later this summer.


Clear out

Before you start redesigning the room, make sure that you have a good clear out. Get rid of all of those tacky souvenirs from past holidays, banish any old clothes that may have found their way into the wardrobe, and most importantly, give everything a good cleaning down. The last thing that your guests will want to see is a layer of dust everywhere!


Neutral space

I really enjoy going to town with my interior design schemes. It’s a great way to express yourself through fun colour schemes and elaborate designs. However, the guest room should probably be a place where you don’t want to necessarily overpower your guests with your more outlandish design ideas!
So if you’re feeling energetic, then give the walls a fresh coat of paint in some subdued, neutral colours that will provide your guests with a haven of peace and tranquillity after their journey. The popular interiors site House To Home has a selection of great ideas for giving the guest room a light and airy feel and of course Pinterest is full of inspiring interior inspiration.



A place to rest

Most important of all has to be the quality of the guests’ bed. All of your design efforts can be in vain if the bed isn’t up to scratch. So I’ve found that it’s a good idea to give your guest bed a test run to see if it might be time for an upgrade.
And if you’re thinking of getting a new bed, then divan beds with a bonus storage space for bedding and towels are a great idea for overcoming any space limitations. It’s an effortless way to really make your guests feel at home.


Extra touches

Of course, it’s also important to make sure that you’re providing your guests with a personal touch too – after all, they won’t want to feel like they’re staying in a nameless hotel chain.

So dotting the room with sparse but welcoming personal effects in the form of family photographs and artwork is always a good idea. If you’re looking for some shabby-chic stylings that won’t overpower the room, the highly stylish sfgirlbybay blog has some great ideas that are contemporary and fun, and they will give your guests all they need for a relaxing yet charming stay in your home!

Gemma
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Monday, 27 April 2015

Spring Clearing Hacks Project with Space Station‏ - Shed Makeover

I (me and my family) renovated our home and I practically lived on a building site for a year. It was a big job and as soon as it was over and I lived in a nice house I ended up moving out to my boyfriends house and needed to do work there. It's never ending! I've posted some before and after photos on the blog before and the transformation is pretty amazing if I say so myself. The final challenge at my mums house once the interior was finished was to make a little outdoor space and transform the shed. I had £50 to spend and I wanted to do something ambitious.

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First up was the slightly onerous task of clearing the shed. We have a huge garage at the back of the garden that's only half full and much more secure than this shed so it seemed sensible to relocate the contents of the shed up there.

I cleaned the shed, mopping the floors and clearing away all the cobwebs and years of dirt so we had a nice clean base to paint on. This is what I had to work with:



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I liked the shed as it was, a bit shabby and run down and it reminded me of a beach hut or the Dylan Thomas Boat House but the wood hadn't been treated for years and needed some attention before the wood deteriorated and I suppose it was a little grubby.
Before painting the cupboard and walls we made sure we did the following:

  • Removed flaking or defective paint and sanded down the surface to remove any sheen.
  • Made sure the surface was clean (no dirt or grease) and dry. 
  • Removed any rusty nails with a claw hammer
     
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To use the surface preparation paint I stirred thoroughly before use to ensure completely mixed, oil settles at the top.

I applied 1 coat with a brush/roller to previously coated surfaces or 2 coats to bare surfaces. I left 2 hours to dry between coats. 


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After leaving the paint to dry over night I applied a top coat of white gloss suitable for wood to the wall and ceiling. Such a messy job, I still have some in my hair that just wont come out!

Next came the fun part of dressing my lovely new 'Summer house', I already had a lot of decorative items like the cushions and the table cloth so I only really needed to get some bunting to add colour.


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My bargain Ikea lamp was £6 and I know this will get lots of use in the evening when I'm in here reading. I might pop back to Ikea and get some of those fairy lights that you pop batteries in to make it extra cosy.


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I picked up this bit of lace in a charity shop for 20p to use as a table runner but it's never been used. I used little pins and a hammer to secure it to the wooden window frame to dress the window. Not entirely functional but the window is facing a wall so I'm not being overlooked in the shed.


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The gorgeous Hydrangea came from my front garden, I love my free supply of flowers in the summer.

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Another charity shop find coming in at just £1.50, such a pretty print.

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Sookie loves the make over too.
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I'm not going to lie, this took a fair amount of hard work but I'm really happy with what I achieved with my £50 budget. Emptying the shed, sanding and painting took up a whole weekend. I've got a whole new room that I can enjoy and I love to relax in here with a cup of tea and a good book. I manged to pick up some

Total Cost: £48.68
Dulux Multi Surface Primer & Under Coat Paint 250ml - £8.98
Ikea chair: £11

Lace: £0.20 (charity shop)
Ikea lantern: £6
Bunting: £6 (eBay)
Floral print: £1.50 (charity shop)
White gloss top coat: £12
Paint roller: £3 

So there you have it, with a lot of effort and a small budget you can make a huge difference.
I originally posted this makeover in 2013 but I'm sharing it again as part of the Spring Clearing Hacks Project with Space Station.


Gemma
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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Walking in Wales Wishlist

It’s no secret that Martyn and I get up to some adventures together. From upcoming road trips to long walks in Wales, we love to get out there, taking advantage of gorgeous (and not so gorgeous) days by experiencing the beauty of nature. As I’m healing up, I thought it might be fun to take a look around and see what kind of items we would need to take a hike - literally. I blogged about my holiday in West Wales a few weeks ago, and I definitely think I could have been a bit more prepared for the journey, starting with better support on my feet!

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At the top of Pen y Fan on a very windy day.

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Brecon Beacons
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Tresaith beach - West Wales

I made up a little list of things I need and things I’d love to have, if either we ever returned, or if we do something similar on one of our upcoming holidays. I tried to not get too crazy with the online window shopping, while also taking reviews to heart. Here’s what I came up with for at least one hiking outfit, taking care to pick things that could be easily layered, would keep the sweat at bay, but also keep me looking fab!


What are your essentials for a walk in the great British countryside?

Gemma
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Monday, 20 April 2015

Spring in Cardiff - Outfit Post

Boden dress

Dress: Boden - Shoes: Mel heart shoes - Bag: Zatchels
Tights: c/o MyTights - Necklace: Pandora - Jacket: George

I wore lots of my favourite things on Sunday for a stroll around Cardiff with Martyn. This seaside print Boden dress was my go-to summer outfit of choice last year and I saw a little bit of sun peeking out behind the clouds so I decided to dig it out of the back of my wardrobe and give it its first 2015 outing. The jacket cost all of £4 on eBay and has been worn hundreds of times and my gold Zatchels bag has seen better days but I won't ever part with it. My fun Mel jelly shoes make a nice change from the boots and black pumps I've been wearing all winter. My outfit was definitely spring appropriate I think and a departure from my normal black ensembles and opaque tights. 


Cathays Park Cardiff

Cathays Park Cardiff

Cathays Park was in full bloom and looked magnificent. I work in Cathays so I often spend lunch time here and I'm very lucky to be able to spend time here whenever I like. Cathays Park is home of Cardiff University (where I studied and now work) City Hall and lots of other lovely civic buildings. It's only a five minute walk from the high street so well worth a visit if you come to Cardiff this summer. 


uk blogger outfit post Cathays Park Cardiff Boden

I was feeling very spring-like decided to ditch the black tights for a day and wore some Shelina tights from Falke instead. They are made from a fine 12 denier fabric but with an 8 denier appearance, are super soft to the touch and feel breathable and light. I don’t think anyone would know I wasn’t bare legged. They are very fine but are strong enough for every day wear and they were designed to fit longer legs so I didn’t need to keep on yanking up my tights. I struggle to find tights pale enough for my blue/white legs but these were the perfect match.
flowers in Cathays Park Cardiff

Cathays Park Cardiff City Hall trees

Are you embracing lighter colours for spring or are you still head-to-toe in black?

Gemma
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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Things that make me happy



1. Longer days -  More hours of daylight and sunshine means I can get out on my bike after work.

2. Martyn - I can't wait for our Austria road-trip and weekend in York. I love sharing experiences with him. 

3. Wales - I love living and working here, to me there isn't a more beautiful place in the world.

4. Blogger friends - My blogger girl gang rocks, I love spending time with like minded ladies

5. My record collection - Whenever I'm low I just pop a record on and 60s girl bands perk me up. 

6. Baking - I love seeing friends and colleagues faces when I share my latest cake triumph. And eating it.

7. GoT & Mad Men - I'm loving having new episodes of my favourite shows to look forward to.

8. Trains - I do love a good train related day out, trains helped shape modern Britain don't you know?

9. Sookie - I don't see her as much as I should now that I've moved out but she will always be my baby.

10. A good book - I'm currently reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

I’d love it if you link up your own posts about things that make you happy in the comments, or just write out your own 10 happy things below. Let’s all be happy!

Gemma
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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Outfit post featuring JewelStreet


This week has flown by, all working weeks should be four days long right? I've been in work, hosting a tea party, out shopping, tried out the new Five Guys in Cardiff and during all of those things I've been wearing my new necklace. In fact, I've not taken it of since it arrived a few weeks ago.  It's a pretty heart key pendant in sterling silver by StyleRocks via JewelStreet

The heart measure 6mm wide by 18mm long and comes with a 50cm chain. It's long enough not to keep on getting tucked underneath my top like most of my chains do and the pendant is large enough to stand out against a pattern but isn't too busy. I'm really liking the simple design, it goes with pretty much everything. I've worn this necklace with lower cut tops and wrap over dress and it suits any neckline. 


Me in my Saturday afternoon 'I'm going shopping' getup. 



Top: ASOS Curve - Skirt: New Look - Shoes: Topshop - Necklace: c/o JewelStreet

I'll tell you a little bit more about JewelStreet in case you're new to the site. JewelStreet is a global marketplace of professional jewellery. You can buy designer jewellery direct from independent, quality-assured jewellery designers and brands. Until now, wholesalers and retailers took 65% of the retail price, while the people who actually design and make the jewellery get just 35% but at JewelStreet the designers get what they deserve for their craft and get paid a fair price. They host over 250 brands with designers from all over the word. Prices start at under £20 too so there's something for everyones budget. 


My necklace came from an Australian brand called StyleRocks. They offer free shipping and my necklace arrived inn under three weeks from the other side of the world which is pretty impressive and each piece is made by master craftsmen in Sydney.


JewelStreet is a great site for magpies and I'm sure I'll be browsing their vast collection again when I'm looking for some special jewellery.

Gemma
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Monday, 6 April 2015

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle Wales

On my recent holiday in West Wales I spent a lot of time exploring the coastline, heading to towns with pretty piers and discovering waterfalls at Tresaith but I also turned my gaze away from the coast and headed inland to visit Cilgerran Castle. 

Cilgerran is located three miles south of Cardigan and stands high over the river Teifi. Cilgerran was first mentioned by name in 1164, when Lord Rhys captured the castle here. It was retaken by William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, in 1204, only to be taken again by the Welsh during Llywelyn the Great's campaigns in 1215. However, eight years later, William's son, another William, regained control, and he probably built the imposing stone castle we see today. 

Cilgerran Castle two towers Wales

Medieval castles were normally designed with a keep or strong tower in the middle but Cilgerran Castle is a little different because it has two round towers which still stand today. We visited out of season so it was free to take a look around the castle and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was pretty special and haunting to wander around and climb the towers with only the sound of the crows to keep us company. 

If you visit after April 1st I think it costs about £3.50 to visit and £10 for a family. If you've driving you can't park outside the castle but there's some parking in the town and you can take a short stroll down to the castle. 

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle


I studied History at university so visiting castles is definitely my thing. I did specialise more in Medieval Church history and modern foreign policy though but nobody can fail to be impressed by a castle.

Cilgerran Castle graffiti

Some 19th Century graffiti 


Cilgerran Castle

If you want to visit Cilgerran or any other castle (plus some chapels and churches) in Wales take a look at the CADW website for all the information you need.

Gemma
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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Life Lately - cake, cake and more cake

I haven't really been up to much since returning from my West Wales holiday. I took a bit of a tumble in work, my foot was swollen and blue and now it has cellulitus. Having a blue foot isn't much fun AT ALL and I want it to return to normal so I can go to yoga and get out on my bike now that the days are a bit longer. Silly blue foot stopping my fun.

I have tried to keep busy around the house and have taken a chair in the kitchen to kneel on so I can bake and not be stood up for a long time. (I can stand up again now, the swelling has gone down a lot). I always drool over Claire's fabulous cake creations but she is based in Northern Ireland which is a bit far to go and get a cake if you live in Wales so I tried to make one of my own inspired by hers and this is what I came up with:


Not bad ey? It's a classic sponge cake with blue cream cheese frosting and meringues (meringue recipe here) and edible glitter on top. If you want something amazing you should really hire a professional like Claire. They have all the skills, flair and right equipment. No matter how hard I try my cakes always look a bit shoddy.

I made some lemon curd with all the leftover egg yolks I had after making meringues and slathered that in the middle of a sponge cake, yum! I like the recipe over on Good Food, classic equal quantity recipe and easy to follow. It looks a bit messy but I'm impatient and assembled the cake before it cooled properly so the curd spread everywhere.


The chocolate marble cake is a Mary Berry recipe and looks like something my nan would have made in the 70s. The cake turned out really well and only lasted a couple of days in my house so I'll be adding this one to me repertoire. I like that you don't really need anything fancy to make this cake, just a loaf tin and basic store cupboard ingredients. 


I don't really need any more books because my 'to read' pile is huge but it rarely walk past a bookshop without buying something. I've got a four day weekend over Easter so I'm going to try and relax, get my foot elevated so it will heal up nicely and read these two new books I bought. I don't really know much about either of the books which I prefer before I start reading something. If it's got a lot of hype and I already know half the plot it kind of spoils it for me. I've read a few of Owen's columns before and seen him on Question Time and he speaks a lot of sense so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the book.


I've been trying to hobble about and deliver some leaflets in my local area in time for the General Election. You can see the party I'm a member of and support below. I'm not going to lecture you or try and persuade you to vote for them but please do vote for someone you believe in.
I'm pretty annoyed about zero hour contracts, rising bills for gas and electricity, the Bedroom Tax and tax avoidance so I've been trying to speak to as many people as I can before the election to get them registered to vote and to use it in an informed way.


If you want to vote in the General Election on the 7th of May you only have until the 20th April to make sure you're registered. Head over here if you want to do that. If you're a student please check that you're registered and have your polling card. Voting switched from household to individual voter registration. Previously universities put students living in halls of residence on the electoral roll but you have to sign up individually now.

I've been lucky enough to see two of my favourite acts live recently. I promised my mum I would get her Paloma Faith tickets for Christmas and they sold out so I begged for tickets on twitter for weeks and managed to get some at face value in the end. The stage was beautiful, I loved her band and the arrangement's on the songs and her backing singers had amazing soul voices. Paloma was funny and as playful as always. She puts on a great show and has more hits that you realise so I would highly recommend seeing her if she's touring in your area or at a festival you're going to this summer. 



I had been looking forward to seeing Morrissey for ages, I hadn't seen him since 2008 in the Roundhouse and I wanted to share one of my musical heroes with Martyn. Unfortunately I saw Morrissey on the day I fell over and hurt my foot and spent most of the show sitting down at the back crying because it hurt so badly. Foot pain was temporarily forgotten when he sang Suedehead and Every Day Is Like Sunday.

What have you been up to recently? Send me your blog links if you've shared something I should be reading, listening to or visiting over Easter. Hope you all have a lovely long weekend!

Gemma
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