Posts tagged ‘Three Good Things’

March 25, 2014

My blog is moving!

Hello everyone.

After far too much deliberation, this week I am starting the process of converting my blog to a self-hosted WordPress.org site.

The new site will still be Margot & Barbara and you’ll still be able to find it at http://www.margot-and-barbara.com but there will be a few changes.

A new logo, for one. After realising that getting professional help in logo design and website building was going to cost me a month’s salary, I’ve opted for a DIY approach, with MASSES of help from Stephen without whom none of this would be happening. So my site will be ace, my logo will be hand-watercoloured and therefore terribly imperfect and wonky, but it’ll be all mine. As someone told me on Instagram the other day ‘integrity is magnetic’ so I’m hoping that people will appreciate the home-made quality of it! I’ll admit, I’m finding the whole thing one giant learning curve and I’m pretty terrified that I’m going to be writing into the wind with no audience at all. But I want to see if I can make this blog everything it could be and that requires change and a big old pile of bravery, so I’m going for it. Stephen did ask me how I’d feel about losing three years’ worth of writing and that made me gulp a bit, so lets hope it all goes according to plan!

The all new Margot & Barbara will be a bit more focused. I’ll have to get used to not writing about every little thought that pops into my head! I’m not going to be writing any more restaurant reviews, or Leeds event reviews, unless they’re about something I’m especially interested in. I shall leave that to the many talented Leeds-based bloggers out there.  I’m also dropping my blog-every-day plan. Let’s face it, it was never going to last, was it? So, three or four times a week will do nicely.

I’m keeping Three Good Things book reviews, and the occasional personal challenge/scanner-type post (because they’ve got fab feedback, and I enjoy writing them) and I will be doing more writing on gardens, flowers, grow-your-own and all things plant and food based and also travel and adventure posts. This shift is because of the feedback I’ve got from readers in the survey but also it ties in nicely with my own personal plans for the future.

The overall ‘green’ feel of Margot & Barbara (with the occasional glittery post for balance!) will stay and I and will be experimenting soon with making natural beauty products so I’m sure they’ll find their way into a post or two as well.  If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, you’ll find much of the same in its new home.

Later in the spring/summer will see the launch of the next phase of my changes and I’m SO excited to be getting things under way after a year of procrastination.

I really, really hope that you’ll come across and see me at my new site! Bye for now…

March 19, 2014

Three Good Things.

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Three Good Things! It’s been a few weeks since I did my regular round-up of the small things in my life that have brought happiness to my days. Not because there isn’t any happiness going on, actually I’ve just been really busy enjoying life…

Anyway, without further ado, here we go.

One: Avoca socks

Avoca socks

I know, socks are not exactly the most thrilling of subjects. But when you’re trying to live a more minimalist lifestyle, a new pair of socks is a big deal! I only have five pairs of socks (two pairs of walking socks, one gym, two everyday) so I’ve taken my time to choose a new pair. I first saw these Avoca ones (which are designed in Ireland and made in Italy) a few months ago on a trip away to the Lake District and when the time came to buy new socks, decided to track them down, finding them in a little store in Harrogate, where I spent the day last week. More on the Harrogate trip later. Suffice to say, I love my new socks.

Two: The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

We paid our first visit to the Everyman cinema in Leeds on the opening night of Wes Anderson’s new film (which has its fabulous own website here) and it was such a great night. I loved this film so much. Aesthetically perfect, multi-layered (including being shot in three different formats to distinguish between periods), laugh-out-loud funny and overwhelmingly poignant, this is a triumphal return. As always, the whole film looks like it’s been shot through an Instagram filter, living in that parallel universe where all of Anderson’s films live. Which brings me neatly to number three…

Three: Pink.

I blame Wes Anderson for this. Ever since watching the above film, I’ve been obsessed with the colour pink. Not since Kay Thompson*  sang ‘Think Pink’ in Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Funny Face’ has the colour worked its magic through a film so much. The Grand Budapst Hotel in its heyday is a giant, frothy, towering fondant fancy of a hotel, and it is now all I can do not to paint my whole flat pink. Add to that the blossom trees near our flat that are teetering on the brink of exploding into confetti petals, and I’m totally sold that pink is my colour of spring.

So, those are my Three Good Things this week, what are yours? Do share…

*PS Kay Thompson is probably more famous for writing the ‘Eloise’ illustrated books about a small girl living in the Plaza in New York. They are all utterly fabulous and charming and you should read them. 

February 19, 2014

Three Good Things: learning something new.

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Three Good Things!

Sweaty Betty

One.

I’ve wanted to try a yoga class for such a long time but never plucked up the courage to take myself to a class, until I discovered Yoga Kula, a yoga centre really close to home. They offer a free trial class, which seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. I joined a level one Hatha class and I loved it. I’ve since returned for a second class and I’m doing a workshop on Friday night. So it’s safe to say that I’m hooked on yoga. The lovely folk at Sweaty Betty were handing out goodies at my first class, which is where the products in the photo above comes from. I’m going to put the water bottle on my bike–the colour ensures it’ll be seen when I’m on the road!

Watercolour box

Two.

I’ve not done any watercolour painting since I was at school, but I really love the time I spend doing art and craft activities with the kids and I’ve had a real yearning to try some more myself. Thanks to my boyfriend for the watercolour set above, I now have the chance to try! I’ll try to pluck up the courage to share some of my work over on Instagram.

Flow International

Three.

I finally got my hands on Flow InternationalHurray! Although it’s described as a magazine for paper lovers—and indeed it is — I was really drawn to the strap line at the top: Simplify your life, Feel Connected, Life Mindfully, Spoil Yourself. That sounds like my kind of life…

What are the little things that have been making you smile this week? Do share your Three Good Things with me…

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Margot and Barbara is changing! I’d really appreciate your feedback. Click HERE to take part. Thank you 🙂

February 5, 2014

Three Good Things: another paper-based edition!

Quite by accident, this week’s Three Good Things has a paper-based theme again. I think it’s because I seem to spend so much of the winter huddled inside, awaiting Spring! Here are the things that have been making me smile this week…

One: Frankie magazine

Thanks to my lovely friend Kay, I have issue 56 of Frankie to read. Even though it’s their December edition, they’re Antipodean, so there’s plenty of sunshine between the pages, as well as beautiful arts, crafts, photography. There is also a iguana, which I initially thought it was a pet. Until half of  it appeared, cooked and nestled on a plate between rice and beans. But I have decided to gloss over that page, with a shudder…

20140202-085634.jpg

Two: The Night Circus

I’ve just finished this novel by Erin Morgenstern and so I’m officially in mourning; a slightly empty ‘what will I do with my life now?’ feeling that appears at the end of a great book. Unfortunately, I passed it along to a friend before I remembered to photograph it for the blog.  Highly recommended.

Three: Zebra Notepaper from Rifle Paper Co. 

Because no matter how many productivity apps I have on my iPhone, I’ll always turn to pen and paper. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as crossing things off a To-Do list, and this pretty note paper from Rifle Paper Co. (bought in Waterstone’s) actually makes me want to get organised!

What are your Three Good Things this week? I’d love you to share them with me!  I will link to any Three Good Things posts you write, in next week’s edition of this series. 

January 15, 2014

Three Good Things: get well soon edition.

I’ve been ill all week with a chest infection and feeling pretty sorry for myself. Thankfully, I have been taken care of very well by my lovely boyfriend and now I’m back on my feet and, a week late,  ready to crack on with 2014!

So, this week’s Three Good Things is the Get Well Soon edition…

One: Flapjack from Millies

When I’m feeling poorly, I tend to indulge myself in whatever food I fancy. My opinion is that it’s a good way of making myself feel better, or at least forget that I’m ill for a while anyway.  I discovered these flapjacks a couple of weeks ago, and OH MY GOODNESS, they are amazing. And, they have lots of healthy seeds and goji berries in them, which totally offsets all the sugar, right? (In my head, yes.) If you ever find yourself in Leeds, then I completely recommend you get along to Millies Local and Organic Store and buy yourself one. Or a bundle. You’ll find them near the cash tills, assuming I’ve left any…

Flapjack from Millie's Organic

Two: Planning travel

Lying in bed feeling sorry for myself has been rubbish. I get to the point where I’m just cross and bored with my own illness. Taking myself out of the situation by planning future travel is an excellent way to cheer myself up. As a result of this, and thanks to my back issues of Lonely Planet magazine, current plans for the year include Paris, Amsterdam, a bit of Scandinavia and Oxford. I plan to travel alone, with friends, with my beloved children and with my equally beloved boyfriend. I’m very excited about these plans. Now I just need to pay for them!

Lonely Planet magazine

Three: Long baths.

Long, warm baths are just the thing for helping to soothe away the soreness that comes from being ill. A favourite bath oil, a fragrant candle, and a good book complete the picture. Heaven.

Bathroom

What have your Three Good Things been this week? I’d love to hear from you.

Let me know if you write a Three Good Things post, and I’ll link back to it in next week’s edition.

December 4, 2013

Three Good Things:Country Living Christmas Fair edition

It’s been a while since I did a Three Good Things post, and I’ve decided to resurrect the series for Wednesdays, whenever I’ve got enough good things to share! I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair in Harrogate last weekend and had a lovely day buying gifts for people, a few decorations for our new home and a couple of treats for myself! For me, this Fair marks the real start of Christmas, and now it’s finally December, I am starting to feel festive…

One:

Quernus Reindeer

First up is my reindeer from Quernus Crafts. He’s about an inch tall. Kirsten, the creator of these wee creatures, is a lovely friend and her amazing creations never fail to raise a smile. I have several now, including ‘Margot and Barbara’ mice and ‘Coco Chanel’ cat, that I had commissioned. I’m also really looking forward to bringing my Quernus mouse ballet (The Nutcracker, obviously!) back out of storage for Christmas and this little chap is the first decoration I’ve bought for my tree. As we’re three floors up, we’re going for a small, potted tree which will hopefully survive for next Christmas too!

Two. 

Malinka's fairy

The next decoration I bought is this fabulous tiny Christmas fairy from Halinka’s Fairies. Again, this is entirely hand-made and it’s just beautiful. I can see a collection of these in my Christmas future – the beauty of a small tree is that you need fewer decorations and so each one can be special.

My children are going to be so excited to see both of these new decorations!

Three.

IMG_9340

I have been wanting a pair of wrist warmers for ever, and these cashmere ones were a bit of a bargain, so I indulged. Sometimes I get really cold even when I’m inside and these really do make me feel better. And they’re super-soft too. Lovely. Pilling already, typically, but lovely nonetheless.

What are your Three Good Things this week? Have you bought any new decorations? Feeling festive? 

November 30, 2013

The End: #BEDN 30

Well, it’s the last day of ‘Blog Every Day in November’ and time for a few reflections. Clearly I’ve not blogged every day – it’s a real struggle for me to manage that – but I’ve written slightly more frequently than usual. And that’s been reflected in my statistics, which has been a really pleasant result.

Overwhelmingly, BEDN has been a blogging learning curve for me. I’ve really enjoyed writing a post from a prompt, meeting new bloggers and reading new blogs and trying to find the time to write more often. I’ve realised that I really need to make an editorial calendar (as recommended by Elizabeth at Rosalilium, founder of BEDN) in order to keep on track.

The first time I missed a day, I was quite anxious, thinking that I’d somehow ‘failed’ the challenge, but I came to realise that I should just be enjoying the process when I could. One of my favourite mantras comes from my lovely friend Jo – ‘Don’t use your plans as a stick to beat yourself with’ – and, remembering this helped when I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. And then came my usual up and down feeling about my blog anyway; the feelings that make me question the future of my blog. They’re usually enough for me to go quiet for a few days, before making the inevitable decision to stick with it!

Having spent a bit of time thinking about an editorial calendar, I’ve then spent some time thinking about content. As ‘Margot & Barbara’ has such a variety of content, it can often feel a bit disjointed, and I was wondering if a regular schedule of content might help that. One thing I’ve decided to do is bring back my ‘Three Good Things’ post for Wednesdays and then find a regular time for blogging each week, which should help me to balance that and the rest of my life.

I’m also going to tidy up my categories, so I have fewer, more coherent categories that should hopefully clearly show both the ‘Margot’ and ‘Barbara’ sides of the blog, and perhaps try my hand at a few more fashion and beauty posts, as I’ve enjoyed the few that I’ve done previously. I especially like the challenge of writing fashion and beauty posts that are both luxe and green at the same time, which is a win-win for this blog!

So, lots to do, changes to make, and hopefully a fresher, new and improved Margot & Barbara. Huge thanks to the inspiring Elizabeth at Rosalilium for creating ‘Blog Every Day in November’, it’s been a really fun challenge. I’d definitely try it again.

September 11, 2013

Three Good Things: Week 8

Hello and welcome to week 8 of Three Good Things! Can’t quite believe I’ve been doing this series of posts for two months already. It’s a very enjoyable process though, and is definitely helping me to appreciate all the little things in my life that add up to happiness.

The most important good thing to happen this week was my children happily going back to school. In the case of my little boy, for the very first time. Although I had a bit of a weep because it only seems like yesterday that he was born, he was very excited to be joining his big sister and so, instead of bemoaning the fact that he’s not a baby any more, I am celebrating the next chapter in our life. After all, they’ll always be my babies really…

However, Three Good Things is about the little things in life, and so here’s this weeks edition.

One: Letter Twenty.

First in my list this week is Letter Twenty, a new blog about tea that I’m writing in collaboration with the wonderful Dave Graham. I’m starting a weekly recipe post there after this week, so please do go and have a read. Now that I’ve worked out how to incorporate this into my weekly schedule, it’s feeling like a very optimistic addition to my world and I have great hopes for it. After all, tea is one of my life-long good things!

Tea. Vital to my existence and now a new blog!

Tea. Vital to my existence and now a new blog!

Two: ‘About Time’ at the Tyneside Cinema.

I’ve been going to the cinema a lot more recently ( thanks to my film-loving boyfriend), in particular to the lovely Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle, which, in a very civilised fashion, serves beer as well as popcorn in rather more stylish surroundings than the local multiplex. This week I saw the new Richard Curtis film ‘About Time’ and I loved it. Yes, the sci-fi is wonky and won’t stand up to any real scrutiny, but then science fiction always seems able to explain away any questions you ask of it anyway, and in this case it really doesn’t matter.

What you’re looking for with a Richard Curtis film is rather posh, upper-middle-class people in a bit of a relationship tangle, some laughter and a few bitter-sweet or weepy moments. And with this film you get that in spades. Not to mention the most beautiful sprawling coastal country home I think I’ve ever seen. The characters are well created and empathetic and the central father-son relationship is very well done. I really enjoyed it, so it’s definitely a good thing for this week.

You can see the trailer on YouTube here, but be warned, it seems to contain most of the film!

Three: Being the Tooth Fairy.

This week my daughter lost her second tooth. She’s one of the last in her class to lose teeth and so is very excited about it. Last night, armed with a bit of glitter, I was the Tooth Fairy. I love her belief in the Tooth Fairy. And the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas, come to think of it. It’s just such a magical thing in a world of grey seriousness. Father Christmas doesn’t appear to have any kind of budget, being magical and all, which is a bit of a problem. I’m still working on that, and preparing the kids not to expect everything they’re mentioning. But, thankfully the Tooth Fairy just brings a pound. And some fairy dust, obviously…

Over at Leeds&Me, Isobel shares her Three Good Things for this week.  I’m trying not to be jealous of her Elton tickets…

What are your good things this week?

August 28, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Six

Hello! After a week of holiday, Three Good Things is back for the usual dose of positivity amidst a busy week. It’s a pretty brief post this week, because I’m still recovering from a week in a yurt (which I’ll tell you more about on Friday) and am surrounded by laundry that I really should do something about.

So without further ado…

One: Collective nouns.

The first thing bringing me joy this week is collective nouns. I know, it’s perhaps not quite what you were expecting from Three Good Things. But I love the English language for collective nouns, especially those for animals and birds. There appears to be several variations for some animals, in many cases where it’s a group in a different situation, such as a hive of bees and a swarm of bees. We’ve all heard of a pod of whales or a pack of hounds but how about a shrewdness of apes? Some other favourites of mine are a glaring of cats. A business of ferrets. A murder of crows.  And I defy anyone not to smile at a flamboyance of flamingos. If you’re ever stuck for something to do, I highly recommend looking up collective nouns. It’s most entertaining!  Here’s a parliament of owls. We made them this week out of loo roll inners. I’m becoming quite the loo roll art expert…

A Parliament of Loo Roll Owls!

A Parliament of Loo Roll Owls!

Two: Cheese!

Second up this week is a new cheese, discovered by me, and lots of other people, during a tour of the Wensleydale Creamery on our holiday. It’s called Bishopdale, and it’s a cheddar. But, oh what a cheddar. Utterly gorgeous. Sadly, only available from the Creamery shop, not even online. So, a regular trip to Hawes is going to be needed. Ah well. Any excuse for a trip to the Yorkshire Dales! Alas, I have no photo to share with you because I’ve eaten it all. Sorry about that. But you can all imagine what a block of cheese looks like, can’t you?

Three: Playmobil silo.

My third thing this week is the most utterly perfect toy I’ve ever found for my son. Like many young boys, my son is a huge fan of farms. Tractors, combine harvesters and other machinery feature high on his list of loves. But absolutely top of the list is grain silos. I know. Don’t even ask. I have no idea why.  Before our holiday last week, I told the kids that, rather than buying loads of holiday rubbish, I’d buy them one decent toy each. And my son wanted a toy grain silo. Cue a spot of panic, until I came across the Playmobil catalogue and lo and behold, a grain silo. Thank goodness for Playmobil!

Now, if this was a weekly ranting post, I’d tell you all about how it comes with a bag of teeny, tiny plastic grain that gets spilled all over the floor every time he plays with it, and that are soon to be put in the bin and replaced with red lentils that I can just vacuum up. But its not a ranting blog post, so instead I’ll concentrate on telling you that he loves his grain silo so much that he takes it to bed with him alongside his toy monkey. And that makes me very happy indeed.

Toy grain silo. Weird, but he loves it!

Toy grain silo. I know, its weird, but he loves it!

So, those are my Three Good Things this week. What are yours?

Don’t forget to visit Hello Kirsty and Mummy Plum  to see what they’ve chosen as their Three Good  Things this week too.

August 14, 2013

Three Good Things: Week Five

Hello and welcome to week five of Three Good Things!

One: My tomatoes.

My first good thing this week is the first home-grown cherry tomato of the year. Earlier this year, I sowed a whole packet of seeds that promised to be a new variety of tomato that was small enough to sit on a windowsill. The grand plan was for me to grow them all and then share with the folk who come to the Sage and Thrift cookbook swap.

Things didn’t quite go according to plan when most of the seeds turned out to be some mysterious brassica (they all look the same at seedling stage!) and only three tomato plants. So I didn’t have enough to give any away. However, the two plants I still have left are doing really well. They’re petite, study and have a healthy crop of fruit that has just started to ripen. I ate the first tomato very ceremoniously yesterday and it was lovely. So, I’ll have a go at growing these again next year and hope that I get the tomatoes I’m promised! The mystery brassicas, by the way, have been planted on the allotment and are romping away. They may well be brussels sprouts…

Spot the first ripening tomato!

Spot the first ripening tomato!

Two: Scones in the Lake District.

I had a camping microadventure last week, and I’m going to blog about it separately, but there are a few things that really stood out for me. And one of them was this moment. At the risk of sounding like an Enid Blyton character, food always tastes especially nice when eaten outdoors. And when I feel as though I’ve really earned a treat by doing some exercise, it’s absolute heaven. So these freshly-made and still warm scones, eaten after climbing Castle Crag in The Lake District, were truly a high point of this week!

Giant cream tea...

Giant cream tea…

Three: Borrowing a tent.

The last thing that has made my week is a tent. Or, rather more specifically, the loan of a tent. Without which I couldn’t have had the microadventure that has given me lots of happy memories, made a huge improvement to the way I am feeling and set in motion a plan for the rest of the year. As I said above, I’ll tell you more about the trip later this week, but for now, huge thanks go to my marvellous, tent-lending friend Lyndon, without whom I wouldn’t have woken up  here…

Beats waking up at home...

Beats waking up at home…

Now, do go and see what Three Good Things  A Hell of a Woman, Mummy Plum, Asbestosbitch and Nyssapod have chosen this week and let me know what yours are!

Three Good Things is taking a break here next week, as I’ll be spending the week in a Mongolian Yurt at Bivouac. Hopefully, I’ll have lots of adventures to share with you on my return though…