Friday, 28 August 2015

B3 CHARITY REVAMP @ JUST GRAND, LEEDS //


Recently, I received an invite to a charity revamp. If you're thinking 'what the hell is that?' then be assured, this was also my initial reaction. The idea was for bloggers to bring along any clothing they no longer wanted and delve into everybody else's for new items - essentially a huge clothes swap and wardrobe revamp. All proceeds would also be going to Martin House Children's Hospice so I headed out armed with an ikea bag full of clothing.

The event was held at Just Grand! Vintage Tearoom in Leeds. Inside the pretty, quaint teashop which is arguably a blogger's heaven, we were provided with all the prosecco we could dream of and later with afternoon tea!




Branded3 had arranged a few activities for us, the first being a style challenge. We were all given a really ugly questionable item of clothing that had been donated by Martin House and had to put together an outfit using the rails of clothes that the bloggers had brought along.

The second was a style quiz which miraculously, we won! There were some amazing prizes that had been gifted for the winners, followed by even more lovely prizes in the final auction.

There was serious discussion about the way to eat a scone. I ALWAYS have jam on top & I don't know what this means or says about me.


I finally got to put some faces to Twitter handles and met a lot of lovely lasses who were as much on the prosecco bandwagon as I was. Amazingly, we managed to raise over £300 on the night as well as donating whole wardrobes full of clothes. My only regret is not having more money for the auction at the end!


Martin House help children with life-limiting illnesses and give their families the support they need. If you could check out their website here and how you can help - including fundraising, donating or even just spreading the word about their work. 

Picture: Branded3

We were given goody bags as we left, personalised with our favourite book quotes by Snapdragon and full of exciting goodies for us to try when we got home which was lovely! I can guarantee there'll be some goodies featured on Instagram in the future.

Huge thanks to Branded3 for the invitation and for hosting such a lovely event and thanks to Just Grand! for their hospitality, tea and top notch scones.

leanne

x

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

BERRY PICKING //


One of the smallest things on my bucket list is to go berry picking. It's just one of those things that I've never got around to and being a city girl, it had always seemed easier to head into town for a shop, a coffee and grab a pack of mixed fruit from the local supermarket on the way home instead.

As it's a fair bit easier than ticking off 'travelling Australia' on my bucket list at this moment in time, we headed out to Horsforth's Pick Your Own site a couple of weekends ago.


It's nearing the very end of strawberry season in the UK so we had our work cut out, delving and rummaging for some sizeable berries. If this is something you want to do this year, do it before they're all gone!



polo jumper - missguided // dungarees - asos // nails - 'apple' crabtree & evelyn
 It was pretty busy and it's a surprisingly fun way to spend a lazy Saturday morning. We were given a couple of empty punnets on entrance and the rule was 'pay for what you pick'. This meant there was no need to pay a silly amount to fill an entire carton if we didn't need to.
1 - PYO, 0 - Supermarkets

We then headed across to pick my favourite: raspberries. At this time of year when they're perfectly ripe and sweet, I knew I wanted to leave with plenty! 



From David's wise, country bumpkin days, his main tip was: If the berry doesn't come away easily, it is not ready to be picked. So there you go, bear that one in mind.

If you want to see what I did with the fruit we picked, head over to my Instagram for some fruity cake snaps ;)


Hope you've enjoyed my tiny life experience with me. I just thought it'd be a nice Summer activity as we're nearing the season's end and it was an opportunity to take some fruity photos!

Have you been berry picking before?

leanne

x

Sunday, 23 August 2015

LIFE EPIPHANY #1


I'm aware that I've numbered this post as the first in a series, as if there are going to be more epiphanies in my life because y'know, I'm optimistic like that.

So far in my 23 years, I've sat down and chatted through life issues with people, I've sat and cried about where my life is headed and I've spent plenty of time looking forward to new challenges and opportunities heading my way. However, up until now I don't remember having ever had such a strong, clear image come to me out of the blue of where I want my life to go.

Last week, whilst having a fairly nondescript day, I had a sudden change in perception of myself and where I am in life in the form of a statement that threw itself at me:

'I am not career-driven.'

From the moment we start school, we're asked 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' Now unless you had particularly realistic parents, the answer could span between ballerina, astronaut or dinosaur, without even being questioned. Then we start exams with the intention of succeeding in education to get the attainable job we dream of.

I am going to be honest and state that, as a rule, I've been completely winging it.

I sort of enjoyed computing, art and design so in high school, college and university I followed this notion. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely enjoyed it, I'm extremely glad I did it and I'm happy where I am right now as a designer. But getting the job I've worked hard for actually isn't hugely important to me. I don't want to be on the career ladder yet, if ever, and I certainly don't want to put the rest of my life on hold because being successful in a career is apparently the done thing to do.

This isn't to say I'm having a huge upheaval in my job right now, I do really like where I am. What I think I realised was, no matter what job I'm in, it's everything else in my life I actually care about more. As long as I'm happy in whatever that may be, the job doesn't matter.

leanne

x


Friday, 21 August 2015

WISHWANT.CO.UK //


Gifting sites are aplenty and it's only to be expected when we rely so much on technology.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of putting some effort into a birthday gift, so buying vouchers is not my deal (receiving them, however...!) Having said that, it's sometimes pretty difficult to find the perfect gift for a loved one and I think it's great that the internet has broadened our spectrum of the 'personalised present'.

I was contacted by Wishwant.co.uk to review their website by ordering a present for somebody and it definitely puts the effort back into online gifting. 

The idea is:
- Select your budget
- Pick between 4-12 gifts the recipient may like from those featured on WishWant
- Fill in the lovely card with personalised deets

and
whoosh, the options are on their way to the lucky soul for them to pick their own present from your thoughtful selection - and you've not had any sort of headache!

As a small 'welcome to our new home' present, I decided to send a gift to David. I selected a few things he might like (and a few that I could also appreciate, ahem) and he could take his pick from the list. Including shaving kits, shot glass sets, notebooks and vintage pencils, it allowed me to create a list that was perfectly suited to him and I think he would have been happy with any of them!

NOTE: Gifts may be subject to change, these were all available at my time of visit to WishWant. I have noticed too however, lots of new items have also been added since this was written!


With a small nudge from me (and a cheeky smile) he opted for the His & Hers beauty box and we unveiled our items together excitedly, like a very early Christmas present had arrived.

I'll may write a little more about the box itself in another post but I will just mention that this is typically girl orientated. To say it was suggested as a gift for a male, it was a little disappointing on his side. The bits I received in the box were amazing on the other hand, so if you're looking for something for a girlfriend and boyfriend (but you like her much more) then you're onto a winner.


Overall, I enjoyed my experience with the website itself and think WishWant is a great idea for buying gifts for loved ones. Although the beauty box was a little disappointing for a male gift, the other gifts I selected on his list looked fantastic. My advice? Spend some time finding that perfect list of presents and read the descriptions more fully than I did.

Let's be honest, all the choice lies with them in the end anyway!


What do you think of the idea of WishWant?
Would you find it useful?

leanne

x



This post features products that were bought using a discount or gift voucher.
All opinions are my own and obviously unbiased, otherwise it would be completely positive now wouldn't it?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

GBBO IS BACK // BAKING HAUL

So, The Great British Bake Off is back and I could not be more excited about it. If you're in the GBBO club too then hey, it's lovely to meet you and let's watch people crying over cake batter together. If you've never seen it before, then please do yourselves a favour and just google Paul Hollywood's face and watch an episode.

As always, at this time of year the amateur bakers around the UK (e.g. me) get overexcited and try to keep up with those considerably more experienced inside the BBC tent.

To participate this year - and to fill my empty kitchen in my new flat - I headed to George at Home at  my local ASDA for some beautiful baking bits.

NOTE: Bear with me even if you're not a fan of haul posts. You might get some cake.


Mixing Bowl

Yep, it's pink.

Before you ask, no, I'm not that sort of girly girl. This mixing bowl was on sale and I'm THAT sort of girl - the thrifty type. Joking aside though, it is really pretty and I love the vintage style. For £4 you just can't go wrong and it's going to stay in a much better state than a cheap, plastic alternative.



Measuring Scales

Another sale bargain and I can only assume it being because of the colour. If nobody else fancies a barbie inspired kitchen, I'm more than willing to volunteer if it means I save a few quid. I find scales are a necessity when cooking. Again, I really like the retro look for kitchenware and this does the job just fine. I think these were £6



Measuring cups

These are my favourite purchase. I've noticed since looking up more recipes and seeing what food bloggers have been making recently, there's a fair few that use cups as a measurement. I've never used cups before and much prefer the standard grams/pounds (hence the scale) however, they're useful to have instead of converting recipes every time. 

They also come in super handy for separating and storing ingredients like berries and chocolate chips etc. until you need to use them whilst baking. At £5 I think they're well worth the purchase and I can feel that little bit closer to Mary Berry.



Ozeri Digital Kitchen Scales

A really handy alternative to the measuring cups are digital scales. I was kindly sent this perfectly sized black unit to try and it makes baking a whole lot easier. The size is ideal for the food you want to weigh but small enough to pop in the cupboard when it's not being used.

I went for the glossy black design which matches all the other appliances in my kitchen and is a stark contrast to pretty, vintage mixing bowls. It brings modern element to the kitchen and now all I'm missing is a food mixer! The display is clear and the controls are very easy to use, using just two buttons to turn on/off and adjust measurements.

It will definitely feature in future baking endeavours!


Pretty, retro inspired kitchenware is huge at the minute and it's great to know you don't have to spend a fortune on pieces to participate in the trend. Take a look at the rest of the George at Home range here.

Oh and I told you there'd be cake. Smirk emoji.

What do you think of this budget-friendly range?

leanne

x

Friday, 14 August 2015

GLASTONBURY 2015 // MUSIC

So, I covered the general 'oh, look how cool this festival is' in my last photo post here.

Glastonbury has over 100 stages and for that reason alone, if you're a music festival fan, this is a must-see at least once in your lifetime. I've put together a few of my favourite music performances over the entire weekend.

Let's be honest, if we were counting any live performance, the Dalai Lama would be atop this list.

Seven Little Sisters

A few of us saw these last year and had such great fun, we brought the rest of the group back to visit this time round. They're a folk rock country (add a smidgeon of every other genre in there too) band from Nottingham who I would imagine have never failed to get everyone in a room to dance.

Seven Little Sisters are a failsafe for a catchy tune and an enjoyable evening.

And afterwards? They even handed out their latest album and I've had it on repeat since.


Bastille

YES for unexpected announcements at festivals and an even bigger YES to Twitter for being available to tell us all when and where these not-so-secret performances are. Bastille were announced one morning so I crossed everything off my stage list and headed to William's Green for a sample of their upcoming album.

The atmosphere was fantastic and their tent performance meant a huge overspill and many fans left outside in the cold. I not being one of them however, had an amazing time. Opening with 'Things we Lost in the Fire', Dan's beautiful voice recapped all the old favourites and treated us to a few newbies. They played almost back-to-back music to make the most of their short set and to be honest, I'm a big fan of a 'talk less, sing more' live performance.

I can't wait for their new album and I'll be booking a ticket for their next tour, that's for certain.


Catfish and the Bottlemen

Having seen this band before in Leeds we knew it would be a good gig. They've leapt and bounded from 'unheard of' to 'band of the minute' and they could not deserve it more. Every song from their album is a karaoke competition within the crowd and similar to The Vaccines, it's definitely my kinda crowd.

Even in the pouring rain and with a puddle on the stage that was at risk of causing Glastonbury's first stage electrocution, they managed to make it a good show.


The Vaccines

I have to be honest, I hadn't put my heart and soul into listening to their latest album 'English Graffiti' because nothing has empowered me quite as much as their debut. I'm wholeheartedly still trying to live my life as if 'All in White' and 'Wetsuit' were written for me and as they still play the favourites for the first album, I'm happy with that.

The reason this was a memorable show from Glastonbury is because the crowd are just bloody brilliant. It's just the right amount of lairy and we love it. 


Florence and the Machine

Florence Welch is a star. I'm not saying I'm a particular fan of her 'away with the fairies' sort of speeches she gave throughout the show but no one can deny her performance was amazing. It was ethereal, dynamic and 'Ship to Wreck' brought the house (or in this case, a glass topped pyramid stage) down.

As a Foo Fighters fan of course I was disappointed when they cancelled this gig and of course I cried for a few hours about it. However, Florence's rendition of 'Times Like These' was the perfect tribute to a maimed Dave Grohl and obviously, it was a huge crowd pleaser.

As a final farewell, she whipped off her clothes after closing the performance with 'Dog Days Are Over'. To those of you who claimed she wouldn't impress as a headliner of the largest greenfield festival in the world, you were proved utterly and miserably incorrect.


Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Aside from the fact I've a bit of a thing for Tarrant (bassist), a show by these guys is always a highlight. Nobody does down to earth like Frank Turner and very few people have the power to write lyrics that everyone in a crowd will sing back to them without fail.

Knowing it was so close (yet it felt so far) to the release of his new album, this was a chance to recap all the old favourites before 'Positive Songs For Negative People' came and stole the show. Emotional rollercoaster as always and I can't wait to see them again at Leeds.



Other notable performances were Jamie T, George Ezra, Alt J and Coco and the Butterfields but I was too drunk busy having a whale of a time to get any pictures.

Did you go to or watch Glastonbury this year?
Who were your favourites?

leanne

x

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

BIRRA MORETTI GRAN TOUR // LEEDS


As if Leeds Town Hall isn't a grand enough place already, Birra Moretti created an Italian experience inside it last month experience for their Gran Tour. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the launch night and I can definitely say it was one of the best foodie events this year. After leaving our work stuff at 'luggage reclaim' a.k.a the cloakroom, we headed straight for the bar. Obviously.




Having also invited David (boyfriend slash in-house blog photographer) his eyes lit up at the food tokens we were given to sample some fine Italian food. We were also given wristbands for unlimited beer at the bar and it's safe to say, we're the sort of people who can be relied on to make the most of this.

I apologise in advance for how mouth-watering you may find the following images, I can't even write about them without snacking on something.

The food vendors were fantastic and we headed straight to the Arancini Brothers stall and their handmade risotto balls - what a way to kick start the event. Other vendors included Pizza Fella, Pasta E Basta, Tigellae and my absolute favourite of the night Ipsum Vinoteca. I'll definitely be making the visit to their restaurant in Leeds after the amazing kebab.





Of course, all this fine dining was accompanied with a ridiculous amount of couple more beers. Although I'm not normally a huge fan of beer, this is absolutely one of the lightest I've tried. I will definitely be returning to this in the future, particularly as it comes without the strong aftertaste you often get with a pint of lager.

Side note: If you want to try it out, Viva Italia in Leeds have Birra Moretti on draught and it is delightful.




The evening was fantastic overall, with great music from Ryan Paul and although I didn't get chance to book in with a ravioli masterclass hosted by Cin Cin UK (we got lost in the sea of beer) it looked like a lot of fun. The event ran from Thursday 30th July till Sunday 2nd August and Leeds seemed to buzz about the weekend on social media. Everyone I spoke to on the launch night had a great time and here's hoping to more events like it up North.

Huge thanks to Chris for the invite and Lloyd for some riveting conversation, I hope you both enjoyed your stay in Leeds. Grazie mille lads!

leanne

x

Sunday, 9 August 2015

10 BOOK CHALLENGE // TAG


I was nominated by the wonderful Maggie May for her new 10 Book Challenge tag. The idea is to write your top 10 books of all time (if you can narrow it down to 10!) and nominate three other bloggers to do the same. I wanted to share mine with you today due to it being Book Lovers Day, how very apt.

Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie

This is one of the most magical books you could ever read, surely? Mermaids, pirates and a Wendy who I pictured to be much more badass than she is portrayed in any of the film/stage adaptations. I remember this being one of the first books that made the phrase 'rollercoaster of emotions' seem well suited.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

We studied this in English Lit. and although it was initially 'just another classic' it really had us interested in the story, more so than to just pick apart the characters, plot and the language. The difference between Gatsby's life and his acquaintances really captures the idea of wealth and I was intrigued by him. Fantastic story and, I even loved the film version - Leo for an Oscar.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky

My best friend gave me his copy and although this is a nice gesture, it's even nicer if you've read the book and understand the meaning behind it. It's simply a coming-of-age story but with much more than a first kiss or spotty face. It's compelling, there'll be at least one character your teenage self can relate to and it has a few unexpected turns. I couldn't recommend this book enough to any adult, young or old.

Where Rainbows End - Cecelia Ahern

I wrote a little more about this book when comparing it to the film version 'Love, Rosie' here. I could read this book over and over again and always cry at certain points. It's romance and chick lit at it's finest but please read the book first.

The Velveteen Rabbit - Marjory Williams

I had a copy of this when I was really young and it was personalised, so the girl in the story was named Leanne, it mentioned the area I grew up in and a few of my friends' names. When you're 5/6 years old and you have your own Velveteen Rabbit toy, this seems fascinating and you feel quite strongly towards it. I won't ruin the story for you and the ending isn't particularly sad (it being y'know, a story for children) but it did make me cry. Every single time. It probably still would.

A Long Way Down - Nick Hornby

The film version was announced and as it was written by the same author as 'About A Boy' I thought it would be a good shout. I really like the blunt way that death is approached in this as it's something of a taboo in real life. The characters and their situations are so well thought out and perfectly written and it really struck a chord with me. It's not so much a light hearted read but it will definitely leave you feeling more positive when you've finished.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling

Of course the Harry Potter series was going to feature in this list. If this isn't in most of my generation's lists then I would be shocked. It's difficult to pick my favourite but the Half Blood Prince is the first time I think we see Harry Potter as an adult rather than a bit of a wet blanket with friends and family much more adept at magic than he is. And of course, there's the most profound death of all.

Looking For Alaska - John Green

I, like many other young adults (how old is a 'young' adult anyway?!) love John Green's work. I think his books are written so well and it's easy to get fully immersed in his characters' lives. Looking for Alaska is my ultimate favourite because Alaska begins with an air of everything I wanted to be when I read it. The run up to the pivotal moment intrigues the reader and by the time it comes around, you're fully invested in Alaska and Miles as characters and it hits hard.

The Magician's Nephew - C.S. Lewis

I had the entire 'The Chronicles of Narnia' set when I was young and of all the books, this was is the one that stuck with me. I've not read it since I was a child but as I remember, it's a little creepy but full of magic. As a pre-cursor to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it's the first time we venture into Narnia and in my opinion, it's a much more interesting story.

The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry - Edited by Brian Patten

This one is a little different from the rest of my list. My english teacher in primary school set us all the task of buying some of Spike Milligan's poetry that we'd be learning throughout the lessons. I was bought this compilation, featuring poetry by Spike, Michael Rosen, Kit Wright and many others and I absolutely loved it. I can still remember some of my favourites word for word and it'll definitely be a book I pass down to my kids too.


I nominate Jenny, Bethan and Karen to join in this tag if they would so like. Regardless, check out their blogs because they have some of the best book shelves.

Image Source: Flickr

THEDRESSDIARIES.CO.UK IS LIVE


Just a quick note to say I've finally gotten round to swapping from my subdomain blogspot address to:

www.thedressdiaries.co.uk

This has been something I've wanted to do for a while, not only to now have an official piece of the internet named solely by me but because it now allows me to work on my own page rankings and stats.

Let me know if there are any issues if you encounter them and thanks for helping me along the way!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

THE PERFECT FESTIVAL COAT // Ft. TRESPASS


If you follow me on Twitter or read The Dress Diaries, it's probably nothing new to you that I LOVE a good music festival. So you can imagine how excited I was to have the opportunity to work with Trespass, a UK based store who provide anything and everything a festival goer would need for camping.

My mum being a Guide leader, she's no stranger to camping equipment and we've grown up with Trespass tents, sleeping bags and outdoor clothing for many ventures. It's always great quality and good value so naturally, I expected great things. They kindly sent me something I've been in need of for a long time - the perfect festival coat.

It's all well and good wanting to look like Alexa Chung fashionable but let's be honest, if you're heading to a UK festival the chances are the weather is going to be temperamental and that cool denim jacket just won't cut it. Trespass have a huge range of waterproof jackets you can take a look at here.

I've had a parka style coat from ASOS I've worn before but sadly, a few years down the line it's a looking a little weathered. Oh, and it wasn't completely waterproof so it had to be accompanied by an emergency poncho. Very cool.



Trespass sent me this wonderful number. Not only is the style to die for but it's actually super practical. The outer layer is completely waterproof and taped seams make sure no water gets through - trust me, I have tested this in a downpour!

The Tres-Tex membrane allows up to 3 metres (!!) of water to be held by the fabric before it would leak. That's pretty impressive and although I'm not planning on being submerged at Leeds Festival, I guess you can never be too careful...

I did read the reviews about this on the website and a couple of people said it was too slim and to order a size bigger. I went for a Small (size 10) as I'm normally a size 8/10 and it was a perfect fit. I love that it's a slim fit style, all too often a parka can drown a person in material and fur trim.



As I sometimes have the pleasure of working a night shift at festivals (joy) it's a necessity to have something that will keep me cosy. Trespass have coat options that are '3-in-1'. Other than being waterproof, it comes with an extra fluffy, removable fleece jacket inside which you can opt to wear or not, depending on the weather. It will be perfect for when I need it at 3am in the middle of a field and it's also going to make a toasty layer to sleep in.

This particular coat comes in two colours, khaki (as seen pictured) or a beautiful sandy colour. I was torn between the two but practically, I'd struggle to keep the other pristine in the inevitable mud!

One final thing, this coat has so many pockets that I'm not even going to have to wear a trusty bumbag. It's handy to be able to store your money/phone/camera/whatever safely at a festival and the inner fleece has zip pockets to keep it secure. Although the external pockets may be velcro, they're huge and definitely come in handy when storing your snacks, glow sticks and the cheeky can of whatever drink you enjoy - you know exactly what I mean.



If you're searching for a festival coat or something in preparation for Autumn/Winter this year, take a look at this particular coat here. Whilst you're at it, check out their camping gear and alternative waterproof jackets because they've got some brilliant stuff AND a lot of it is on sale - what more could you ask for?

Check out the Trespass website here.

Do you own Trespass gear already, or want to try it out?

leanne

x



This post features products sent to me for review.
All opinions are unbiased and my own and I'm hugely appreciative to get to work with a brand I've used before and genuinely rate highly.
Bring on the field!