The Best Ever Salad

Spring Salad

I am a recent salad convert. The salads of my past were sad, uninspiring things, and as such I avoided them. Particularly in restaurants. Who orders a salad in a restaurant?! A fool, that’s who. Something has switched for me, though – and I think this salad might be the culprit. Far from forcing it down in the name of health, this salad makes me want to devour it daily. No limp lettuce or too-crunchy croutons. Now I’m craving salad regularly – the fresh flavours, the delicious dressings and, a little bit, the feeling of smug satisfaction.

Spring Salad

This salad is good for you. Boy, is it good for you. Body and soul. Using the very best of British springtime produce, there are plenty of crunchy green veggies in there, complimented by the saltiness of the parma ham, the slight punch of mustard and the zing of lemon. It’s all in the textures, too. Really crisp radishes, slightly charred tenderstem broccoli, creamy mozzarella. If this is starting to sound like a love letter, I guess that’s because it kind of is. I love this salad. I love it for lunch. I love it served on a giant platter as a starter for four. I love it for dinner, with crusty bread to mop up the dressing. I love it when I’m eating it, and I love it when I’m not. I want it everyday. This really is the best ever salad. 

Spring Salad

The Best Ever Salad
Serves 2
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  1. 1 ball of mozzarella
  2. 250g purple-sprouting or tenderstem broccoli, trimmed
  3. 1 small soft-leaved lettuce, washed & leaves removed
  4. 5-10 radishes, sliced
  5. 6-8 slices parma ham
  6. olive oil
  7. zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
  8. 1 big squidge honey
  9. 1 tsp. wholegrain mustard
  10. seasoning
  1. Drain the mozzarella and leave to come to room temperature.
  2. Toss the broccoli with some olive oil and seasoning until lightly coated. Heat a large frying pan and gently fry the broccoli until warm and cooked through, but with a little bite - around 4-5 minutes.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate or platter and cover with the broccoli. Scatter over the slices radishes and tear over the mozzarella and parma ham.
  4. Mix together the lemon zest, juice, honey and mustard. Whisk in around 50ml of olive oil and season to taste - it should be sweet and sharp. If it gets too oily, add more lemon juice and mustard.
  1. Serve with crusty bread. There should be enough for 2 for a light meal, or 4 as a starter or snack.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
Amy Elizabeth

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Weekend Link Love

blue flowers

(Photo by Shannon Richards)

This week has been wonderful. Tiring but wonderful. I don’t think I’ve stopped to breathe all week, but it’s been so full of fun things. On Tuesday, the girls and I went to watch Pitch Perfect 2. It was everything I wanted and more – Rebel Wilson is a total hero and the finale made my well up. On Thursday I was coffee and cheese tasting as part of Leeds Indie Food Festival with Emma, and then Friday saw me on a date night with Paul at the newly opened Pieminister.

Of course, that was nothing compared to the weekend. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Leeds Feast, soaking up the sunshine and snacking on street food. It was one of the best events I’ve ever been to, and I was totally walking on air afterwards. I am so happy to live in a city where wonderful things like this happen regularly. There were so many happy faces, stuffed with delicious food, and it was just lovely. After a quick change at home, we were off to Stu’s birthday barbecue with all of my favourite people. More food, more drink, more happy people. It’s enough to get you drunk on contentment. 

Today I’m having lunch with my Dad, whose made the trip up to Yorkshire especially, and then vegging on the sofa with Paul and Tuna, catching up on telly and getting ready to do it all again! What have you got planned for your Sunday? 

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Book Club

book chair

I have a new reading chair. It’s comfy and yellow and just perfect for curling up in. I am trying to resist throwing all my clothes on it at the end of the day, so that it remains free when I have a spare minute for reading. That, I predict, will last all of a fortnight. 

I’ve not been sharing all the books I’m reading with you here, otherwise this would become a dedicated book blog and there are others doing the whole book-blog thing far better than I can. I am recording everything on Goodreads and it’s amazing how many of the books I’ve read since January that I have already forgotten about. There are a few that really stand out, that I have absolutely loved, but far more than fade into obscurity within a few months. You can’t really know how you’ll feel about a book until it’s over, right? You win some, you lose some, in all things. Books especially. 

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

This book has an intriguing premise, but a difficult one. Aysel is looking for a suicide partner online and finds Roman, who is determined that they should set a date for the deed in just a few weeks time. As they get closer to the date, and each other, one starts to get cold feet… I’m not sure how ‘realistic’ (for want of a better term) this book is in its portrayal of suicidal teens and the ending was perhaps a little predictable (not always a bad thing) but, for a book based around suicide, it was actually pretty sweet. 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 

This book is lauded is genius, and I can understand why, but I didn’t love it in the way that I wanted. Reading the blurb, it felt like something that would be right up my street but I found it clunky and although it was interesting to read a book which explored gender, it felt like something was missing in the portrayal of Callie. There was a disconnect between Callie as a narrator of the novel, and Callie as a character, about whom we learn little other than his/her hermaphroditic status (Eugenides has explained his use of the word hermaphrodite rather than the more accepted intersex as being part of the Greek classical tradition). I wanted it to be two stories – the story of Callie’s incestuous grandparents, and the story of Callie; although it was written in the Greek epic style (a little joke about Homer in the introduction did amuse the classicist in me) it felt too long and disconnected. There were moments of brilliance – the courtship with The Object and Callie’s relationship with Julie – but I wasn’t as wow-ed as I wanted to be. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

How has it taken me so long to read this book? Having had an interest in feminist literature (and simply feminism itself) for almost 10 years now (gosh…), numerous friends, teachers and articles have recommended this book to me but I have never gotten around to actually reading it. I think I was put off by the ‘science fiction’ description, and my previous experience of Atwood’s work, which as been mixed (loved The Penelopiad – again, the classicist in me was rejoicing – but wasn’t so enthused about The Blind Assassin). I’m admonishing myself now though, because I absolutely loved it. I loved the characters, the intrigue, the way it kept us guessing, the implications. I love how dystopian fiction like this throws into sharp relief issues that we are dealing with in the right here, right now. I wanted a little more closure at the end, and a little bit more explanation of how the world ended up like it is in the novel, but overall I was absolutely blown away. A total must-read. 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

I’ve read this before, back when I was doing The Color Purple (my favourite book of all time) for A-Level coursework. Counting the years out, I realise how long ago that was, and I had actually forgotten a lot of what happens. This book documents the first part of Maya Angelou’s life, from some amazing, life-affirming moments to some heart-breaking ones, as well. As with all of Maya Angelou’s work it is wise and wonderful, and I loved it. 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

If you’re looking for a real page-turning this Summer, then this is it. In the first sentence we learn that Lydia, beloved daughter and sister of the Lee family, is dead, but the whys and wherefores are kept a secret. Looking back over Lydia’s life, and the life of her parents, you watch how events lead up to her death with that car-crash horror that keeps you hooked until the end. Exploring family tension, racial difference and the power of secrets, this is an excellent read; although at times the author over-eggs the pudding a little bit (you’ll see what I mean) rather than working issues in subtly, I was left reeling at the end. 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

This is the loveliest book I’ve read this year. It’s just so sweet, and funny and light. The perfect corollary to so much else that I’ve been reading recently. Following the story of socially-inept genetics professor Don as he attempts to find a wife, this book is full of mishaps, capers and misunderstandings, just like any good rom-com. If you’re looking for a book that will make you smile from ear to ear, this is it. 

What have you been reading recently? Share your recommendations with me! 

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A Trip to Kielder

Kielder Water Boat

Kielder Water in Spring

‘Little and often’ is the secret to my happiness at this stage of my life. Whilst I know many people experience ‘wedding come down’ in the weeks following their big days, I’m already excited about the next few things we’ve got planned. I choose weekends away and regular fun experiences over blowout two week holidays just once or twice a year. I am impatient by nature, so having to wait 6 months for the next big thing brings me down rather than buoys me up. It’s far better, for me, to have something to look forward to every couple of weeks. Our trip to Kielder was one such event – taking place just a couple of weeks before our wedding, which was perfect timing. You can’t stress about table decorations when you’re in the middle of the forest in the sunshine. In fact, you can’t really stress about anything. 


The whole thing was Joe’s idea; he wanted to go to Kielder Observatory, and we decided to make a proper weekend of it, staying in the nearby Kielder Lodges. It’s a gorgeous part of the world, completely cut off from the rest of civilisation by virtue of winding roads (which wound through endless fields of baby lambs, much to my delight) and lack of phone signal.

Our trip to Kielder Observatory was first on the agenda so, just before 11pm, we dutifully put on hundreds of layers as instructed by the website and jumped in the car, winding our way up a seemingly endless track to the Observatory itself. It was pitch black and freezing cold. Dar from the big domes and scientific instruments that I was expecting, Kielder Observatory looks a lot like a high-tech shed. There was a wood-burning stove and mugs of hot chocolate, and blankets to curl up under on the viewing deck. It was really kind of magical. 

The night was unfortunately cloudy for the most part, but we learnt all sorts and got to hold some crazy space dust that had landed on earth (it was metallic and so awesome!). I fell a little bit in love with the incredibly enthusiastic Geordie astronomer – it is my favourite thing when people are passionate about something niche – and we had a thoroughly good time. The clouds parted briefly so we did get to have a look at the stars through a fancy telescope, which was pretty incredible. When you live in a city, you see a couple in the night sky on a good night but there are thousands – and the pitch black at Kielder meant you could see it all! When we left at 2am I was exhausted but totally buzzing. 

bird of prey at kielder

birds of prey at kielder

The excitement of the weekend wasn’t over yet, of course, and after a massive lie in and a bumper breakfast we set to exploring. Nick and Helena found their happy place at the Birds of Prey display, and we investigated Kielder Castle (which wasn’t much to look at but had a cute cafe. And then it was time for my favourite part of the weekend – the walk around Kielder Water!

kielder water 2  

Most people will tell you that I am not outdoorsy, and they would be right. But when the conditions are right I am more than happy to pull on my walking boots – and this was perfect. The sun was shining, the scenery was beautiful and I was with some of my favourite people in the whole world. What a dream. Of course, you can’t walk around the entire thing (or you could, but it would take you hours!) so we planned a short little jaunt. I practically skipped the entire way, beaming. It was so gorgeous and life feels so magical when you’re walking in such a beautiful place. I am grateful that I get to do things like this, and that we live in Britain which is chock-full of surprising, stunning places like Kielder. I could have walked twice as far as we did, giddy as I was, but I was over-ruled by the group who wanted to get to the pub (fair enough) so we took a shortcut back. 

kielder water 6

The rest of the weekend was for eating large amounts of delicious food, drinking wine and playing Cards Against Humanity. It was truly perfect – and I would recommend it highly for a bit of rest and relaxation! 

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Weekend Link Love

New York

[Photo by Alyssa Smith]

Hey friends! It feels like forever since we’ve had a little catch-up and shared some link love, but I am back with a vengeance (and with a bumper set of links for you, grab your cuppa now!). Obviously it’s been a very hectic few weeks for me – I got married! That was pretty ace. It was a super fun day and I got to wear a sparkly dress and marry Paul and eat cake. Can I tell you a secret though? As fun as it, and our subsequent mini-honeymoon in Copenhagen, was – I am quite glad to get back to normal. I thrive on routine and structure. I am already a boring married lady, and I am totally fine with it. In fact, the afternoon after we got back from Copenhagen, we went to IKEA and bought a chair. And then the next day I decluttered our whole bedroom, which brought me almost as much joy as sipping cocktails at Sticks n Sushi. Almost. 

This week has been a return to Leeds life, and I’ve basically been skipping around I’m so happy. It is a true joy for my everyday life to feel like a treat, and I hope this feeling lasts forever. I’ve been making some plans for fun things in the future, getting back into running and giving Tuna lots of scruffles to make up for leaving her with a stranger for a week. A stranger to her, not to us, I might add! On Thursday Emma and I went to the opening of The Liquorist on Greek Street; it’s a replacement for and an improvement on The Living Room with some lovely design touches – it’s worth popping in if you’re after a happy hour cocktail or two. We also gorged ourselves silly at Cielo Blanco, which was a great way to spend a Thursday evening! 

What have you all been up to, then? Tell me about your lives! 

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Crochet Workshop at Baa Ram Ewe, Leeds

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

One of my goals for this year was to learn how to crochet. Being a child of the Internet era, I dutifully took to YouTube to find some tutorials – and found myself completely stumped. I knew that I’d need a teacher’s gentle guidance to help me stumble through the first few clumsy stitches at least, so it was with great fortune that the wonderful wool shop Baa Ram Ewe moved in just across the road from me a couple of months ago. Was it fate? I like to think so. 

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

I roped along my friend Tash who, as a member of a sewing circle is far more crafty than me, and pottered along to the shop on a sunny Saturday ready to learn everything I could about crochet. If you like to knit or crochet, then Baa Ram Ewe is total heaven. It’s a dreamy place, stacked high with every colour yarn you could imagine and I could happily browse for hours, but on this occasion I had my mission. We were ushered into their back room, given our name tags and waited happily for tuition! 

Crochet Books at Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

It turns out that Tash and I were the only real novices of the group, having never picked up a crochet hook in our lives. The others, most of whom identified themselves as grandmothers who wanted to pass on the craft to their grandchildren (#lifegoals), were there to refresh their skills rather than learn from scratch – with one lady crocheting almost a whole glove whilst we struggled with the basic stitches. We were not disheartened, though, and the teacher was very patient as we tied ourselves in knots. Although we were pretty much the only true beginners, she took us through everything – from different yarn types, to how to hold the hook and the first few basic stitches. 

Learning to Crochet at Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

It was a long day, and it was tough to concentrate the whole time. 6 hours of crochet is enough for anyone, but I am proud to say that I walked out having learnt enough to continue on my own at home, which is exactly what I was aiming for. The workshop definitely equipped me with the basic skills and knowledge, and I’ve since been using this delightful book to improve on what I’ve learnt. If anything, I’m slightly addicted and have temporarily abandoned my knitting needles to get stuck into some crochet projects. My first, dishcloths, was not adventurous but I surprised myself by making them extra neat (which, in knitting, took me years!) and I’m planning on a cushion next. 

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

If you’re a Leeds resident and into a bit of crafting, I would definitely recommend checking out Baa Ram Ewe’s workshops. The ‘How to Crochet’ class cost me just £40 for a whole day, including all the materials needed and a lovely little tote bag, which feels like a bargain to learn a new skill. They’ve actually got tonnes of options, and I’m tempted by their ‘Beyond the Basics’ knitting course, as well. Maybe one day I’ll be able to knit something that isn’t a square. A girl can dream… 

Knitted Elephant Tea Cosy at Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

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The Best Pub Gardens in Leeds

Bunting at The Mustard Pot

It’s almost pub garden season! I don’t want to get too optimistic here, but the sun is starting to make some appearances so it’s time to plan your pub trips. There’s nothing better than a British summer afternoon spent sipping cider in a sunny pub garden. It’s an institution for a reason. Here’s my pick of the best pub gardens in Leeds…

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen

The roof terrace at Belgrave has to be seen to be believed. It’s uber-cool, with graffiti, beach huts and re-purposed seating. On busy afternoons, they pop on some tunes and open the rooftop bar (no more climbing stairs!) but get there quick because everyone who’s anyone is there.

The Mustard Pot

My favourite place for a summer afternoon – The Mustard Pot is a traditional pub garden in all the best senses. It’s picturesque, there’s usually bunting and Pimms, and plenty of dog-watching opportunities. I don’t think there’s anywhere else I would rather be on a sunny, lazy Sunday.


Like most other things about RARE, their beer garden bit of a surprising gem situated right in the city centre. It’s a little bit of escapism, where you can enjoy their innovative cocktails. Just don’t tell anyone else about it – it’s the worst best kept secret in Leeds!

Stew & Oyster

Right on the river, the outside space at Calls Landing gets full very quickly as soon as a hint of sunshine is seen. For a good reason – it’s a relaxing place to while away the time as you sip on a large glass of wine.

The Original Oak

Slap-bang in the centre of student central, The Original Oak has a sizeable garden where you can drink cheap beer and put the world to rights. The place to recapture your youth.

Nation of Shopkeepers

More of a courtyard than a garden, this little enclave at Nation in the heart of town is a cute place to while away a couple of hours in the sunshine. Pro tip: It’s also a pretty good vantage spot for Leeds Pride, when that comes around.


Again, not strictly a garden – but the roof terrace at Angelica is one of the most perfect places to go on a sunny afternoon. Dress up, wear your biggest sunglasses and take advantage of the glam vibes with a fancy cocktail.

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What I Want to Remember


(Photo by Emma

My phone going off about a million times in the morning with congratulatory texts (and some organisation bits). 

My Mum crying when the flowers were delivered. And then pretty much constantly all day! 

Michelle and my Mum blowdrying my dress after I accidentally spilled water on it, just before we left… 

A lovely lady from the hotel lending me her pink, spotty umbrella. 

Feeling all that nervous energy, waiting to go into the ceremony. Nothing prepares you for that. 

Having a Vicar of Dibley moment whilst repeating the vows, cutting off the registrar. Clearly been to too many weddings – I know them off by heart! 

Taking selfies on the Town Hall steps with Emma. 

Paul trying to fish out the confetti that had got caught between the layers of my dress. Keeping it classy… 

Being told over and again that it was the most organised and on time wedding that people had been to. Everything went smoothly, and for that I am so grateful. 

Getting a round of applause when we arrived at Left Bank. It looked so beautiful all lit up! 

Glasses of Prosecco being handed to me all night long. What generous guests we had. 

Helena rushing over to give me a touch up halfway through the official photos. No shiny T-Zone for me. 

The bridal party posing boy-band style on the LOVE letters. 

Jumping both the food and the bathroom queue. There are definitely privileges to being a bride! 

Climbing into the pulpit to do my speech and being met with an almost-standing ovation. If I wasn’t crying before, then I certainly was then! 

Stu doing an airpunch whenever Stu Casa was mentioned in the speeches. 

Paul doubled up with embarrassment during the Best Man’s speech. It wasn’t all that bad… 

Having delicious cuddles with baby Lydia, who made it to the wedding at just 2 weeks old. We were totally matching (she was wearing a pink onesie). 

The rush towards the cheese cake as soon as we had cut it. It was a bit of struggle to get through the layers… 

Spying people wearing our ‘Team Groom’ and ‘Team Bride’ badges. 

Throwing the bouquet to a very willing group of people (and witnessing the minor tiff that the outcome caused…). 

Seeing my beautiful bridesmaids descending on the dance floor during the first dance. They were total stunners. 

Watching my Great Uncle Jim spinning some moves with various bridesmaids throughout the night. 

Singing Let It Go very loudly with Paul and my two nieces. 

Deciding to dance to Taylor Swift instead of taking advantage of the evening food. I’m a little bit sad I didn’t get to try anything, but sometimes you’ve just got to Shake It Off! 

Teresa unsuccessfully trying to convince my brother to dance all night. 

Doing a tequila shot with my University friends. 

Twirling endlessly to Don’t Stop Believing, as the final dance of the night. 

Paul wearing his wedding ring to sleep, because he didn’t want to take it off. 

Waking up to a million Facebook notifications and photos – they’ve not stopped coming since! 

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(Photo by Leigh Kendell)

Living it up in Meanwood over the Easter weekend. 

Eating an entire giant Lindt bunny all myself. 

Stressing about all things wedding. 

Getting excited about all things wedding, too… 

Cheering for Sheffield Uni at their Varsity Ice Hockey match. 

Gazing at the stars at Kielder Observatory. 

Bouncing around Kielder Water in the sunshine. Sometimes I can be outdoorsy… 

Spending hours in the hairdressers. Full highlights are not quick! 

Cooking a delicious Lamb Kleftiko for friends over Easter. Definitely one to make again! 

Learning to crochet at Baa Ram Ewe. 

Crocheting everything in sight! I’ve definitely got the bug. 

Driving more often. I think I’m getting the hang of it… 

Craving salad. Probably because of that Lindt bunny. 

Watching Gone Girl. I think I preferred the movie to the book, which never happens. 

How about you?

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An Update


Hey friends, how’s it going? You might have noticed that things are a bit quiet around here at the moment – and I am blaming that all on The Wedding. We’re getting married a week on Saturday (so soon!), so I’ve had to start doing all the jobs and chores that I completely ignored for the first 17 months of planning this thing… On top of an increasingly busy work life and some social bits and pieces here and there, it hasn’t left much time for blogging. I don’t want to abandon this space, but at the same time it has been nice to have some weekends where I’m not worrying about getting blog stuff done. Running a blog and posting even semi-regularly takes up an awful lot of time and brain space, so I think I’m going to be adjusting how things work around here to give me more time for Real Life (such as it is). We’ll see how that goes, once I’m back off honeymoon. I just wanted to drop in and say hello, and see what you’ve all been up to! So, what have you been up to? Here’s a few things that have been filling my days: 

  • I went to a crochet class at Baa Ram Ewe and it was excellent – I’ve been practising my crochet ever since! 
  • I freaked out about wedding stuff a lot. Mostly because no one had RSVP-ed. Never again, my friends. Never again. 
  • I went to Kielder Observatory and shivered a lot and looked at the stars through a telescope. It was pretty cool. 
  • I put on my walking boots and walked around Kielder Water in the sunshine. Can I do that every weekend, please? 
  • I spent waaayyy too long reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Have you read it? 
  • I picked all my favourite songs for our wedding playlist and relived the glory years of 00s hiphop. 
  • I’ve spent all my spare money on a Spring wardrobe – including a denim dress from Oasis that I never want to take off. 
  • I had a fantastic meal with my favourite girls at The Hungry Bear. There was a lot of wine and it was good. 
  • I made an excellent Lamb Kleftiko over the Easter weekend. I’m still dreaming about it (and the potatoes that went with it). 
  • I’m getting excited about asparagus season. It’s my favourite season. 
  • I’ve been to about a million wedding dress fittings. It’s almost done, and I’m excited to wear it. It’s sparkly! 

And that’s about it! How about you? 

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