Our Leeds Engagement Photos

Paul and Amy by Jenna Woodward Photography

Photos by Jenna Woodward Photography

 

Paul and Amy by Jenna Woodward Photography

My love for Paul and my love for Leeds feels inextricable. I would love both of them separately, I am sure, but they are so tied together in my heart. Without Paul, I would never have even thought to move to this amazing city, and my life would be so different. I fell in love with Paul in Leeds; I fell for him first and the city second as it became a backdrop to everything we did together. Neither of us is from here, but the city suits us so well and I sometimes think we could never move from right here, this flat, this place. I know that we will, but I doubt it will be far. I’m too in love with Leeds. So it was super important to me that our wedding reflected both us and our city. 

Paul and Amy by Jenna Woodward Photography

P&A-34

So, you can imagine that I am absolutely head over heels for these gorgeous photos that Jenna and Ewan took of us. Aren’t they just dreamy? We started off at Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, making the most of their picturesque, hipster roof terrace, which afforded endless nooks and crannies to snap away in, before wandering down Briggate (to some weird looks…) and through the Victoria Quarter. We couldn’t have taken them anywhere other than Leeds city centre – and whilst it’s lovely to have nice photos of the two of us, it’s equally fantastic to have photos that make the city I love look so amazing. I don’t know whether we’ll live here forever, but Leeds has been such a big part of our story, and I’m so happy we have these photos to remember that. 

Paul and Amy by Jenna Woodward Photography

 

 

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Weekend Link Love

seagulls

(Photo by Oliver Berghold)

How good is the long weekend? I’m writing this on Saturday and there are still TWO WHOLE DAYS before I have to go back to work. Tomorrow I’m cooking a fancy dinner for a couple of friends, which I’m very excited for. There are welcome cocktails. There are three courses. It’s rare that I get to go all out like that. This is why I need a proper dining room, so I can start a supper club and get to do this all the time.

Other than that, we’re just powering through a lot of wedding admin this weekend. It’s getting so close, and although I am most definitely excited, I am done with all the to-do lists and the pile of jam jars in my living room. Planning a wedding is a lot less fun than you are led to believe at the beginning. 

How are you spending your Easter weekend? 

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My Netflix Recommendations

netflix logo

(Photo Source: Slate

I’m not sure how we ever lived without Netflix. What did people do when they couldn’t watch a whole series in one sitting? It doesn’t bear thinking about. Whilst we don’t get quite the breadth of shows here in the UK as in the US (*sniff* Gilmore Girls…) there’s definitely plenty to be getting along with. I am definitely more of a TV watcher than a film buff; I don’t have the attention span to sit through a two hour movie, but give me a gripping show I can chain watch for days on end and I am so there. Here’ sa few of my favourites, in case you’re looking for something to binge on… 

Orange is the New Black 

I’m pretty sure if you’ve not heard of ‘Orange is the New Black’ you’ve been living under an Internet-less rock. It’s still worth mentioning though, since it’s pretty much the best show I’ve ever seen. The story follows Piper as she enters a women’s prison on a 10 year old drug charge (she’s since become a proto-typical WASP), but although she is the main focus of the show, you also get peeks into the lives of so many of the other inmates. It’s beautifully done, totally compelling and shows a fantastic diversity of characters. More shows about women by women, please! 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

 Okay, I know I said OITNB is pretty much the best show I’ve ever seen, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer actually IS the best show I’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s a little bit dated now – no mobile phones, special effects leave something to be desired, the questionable 90s fashion… – but the show still stands strong. Following the adventures of a 16 year old girl who just happens to be a vampire slayer (in case the title didn’t give it away…), as she navigates high school, friendship, love, parents and the supernatural. It sounds cheesy. It sometimes is, but it’s also witty, moving, and sometimes a little bit scary. It’s Joss Whedon, through and through. I cry and laugh at this show in equal measure. If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favour and get to Netflix right away! I promise, even if you’re sceptical, you will love it. I’m pretty sure this show is what made me a feminist… 

Orphan Black 

I am beyond happy at the moment, because it has just been announced that season 2 of Orphan Black is on Netflix so I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. This show is totally addictive, if a little ridiculous at points. There are so many twists and turns, it’s hard to keep up and the cliffhanger ending to season 1 is a total killer (hence my excitement for season 2!).  In the opening scene, you watch as the main character – Sarah – runs into someone who is her exact double, just as she is about the jump in front of a train… (the double that is). You’ll be hooked from that moment on, I promise. 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 

There’s been so much chat about this show online in the past couple of weeks, and with good reason. Written and produced by Tina Fey, one of my favourite ladies of all time, and starring a lot of the 30 Rock cast, it has that same surreal humour of 30 Rock, which I love. It’s bright and colourful, it’s slightly absurd, it’s heart-warming, it’s very dark in places (in a fun way), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is simple brilliant. The eponymous Kimmy moves to New York after being rescued from an underground bunker where she’s been kept as part of a cult, and you get to watch as she navigates this world that she always believed was gone. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and the supporting characters are absolutely wonderful – especially her flamboyantly gay room-mate, Titus Andromedon. If you need some light relief, this is most definitely it. 

Episodes 

I missed Episodes when it was first on, but we recently got a bit addicted after finding it on our Netflix queue. Partly because Matt LeBlanc is absolutely fantastic, playing a parody version of himself – I’m a little bit in love with him. The story follows a British couple, who also write a hit TV comedy in the UK, who have moved to LA at the behest of a big-time producer to make a US version. There’s a lot of miscommunication, as the show gets bastardised by the Americans, and it has that frustrating quality that so much British TV does, with people not quite saying what they mean and getting into scrapes as a result, but it’s very funny and definitely worth a watch. 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 

Paul has raved about this show for years, but I was very sceptical – partly because he described it as a show about the worst people ever. He’s not wrong, but it’s actually really funny. ‘The gang’ are a bunch of truly narcissistic, downright evil people, but they fail at everything as a result of their extreme narcissism and laziness. The characters are excellent, and I love how they resist the traditional sitcom happy ending. Danny Devito stars in later episodes, which is also excellent. They own a failing bar in Philadelphia but are constantly trying to get rich, labouring under the impression that they are all much smarter and better looking than they are. It sounds odd, I know, but watch a few episodes and you’ll be chain-watching them in no time. 

What are your Netflix recommendations? 

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March

plants

(Photo by Death to the Stock Photo

Experiencing a bit of writer’s block. 

Feeling very loved at my hen do. 

Cutting out hundreds of paper hearts. 

Baking hot cross buns (unsuccessfully…). 

Making my own gyoza (more successfully…).

Playing with a baby kitten (but still loving Tuna the best).

Recording more podcasts with Emma – you can listen to us on The High Tea Cast

Posing awkwardly for engagement photos in Leeds city centre. 

Enjoying impromptu dinners with some of my favourite girls. 

Spilling soy sauce down my white shirt at Little Tokyo. 

Loving my new Naked 3 palette. So many pretty colours. 

Recovering from a nasty cold. Hopefully the last of the year. 

Shivering … because our boiler has broken. 

Eating lots of salad. Feeling smug about it, too. 

Reading food magazines. It’s nice to see food photography on paper. 

Waking up to bright mornings. I have never been so grateful for sunshine. 

How about you? 

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Weekend Link Love

grapes

(Photo by Maja Petric

Life has gone into overdrive over the past couple of weeks, and it’s not left much space in my brain for blogging. We’re just under a month away from the wedding, which means spending free time tying twine around jars and chasing people for RSVPs. It’s not so much fun. But there are definitely some exciting parts. My hen do was last weekend, and it was so lovely to see everyone – it’s the greatest joy to watch your friends making friends with each other. We also had our engagement shoot with Jenna and Ewan, and although it was slightly awkward and chilly, the photos are wonderful. I’m excited to share them with you! On top of that, work has been full throttle for weeks, and then there’s all that pesky socialising to be done. I shouldn’t complain, really, but I am definitely looking forward to the four day weekend for a little bit of R&R. Have you got any plans for Easter? I think I’m going to cook some lamb and binge watch Orange is the New Black. 

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This Much I Know For Sure

sparkler

(Photo by Morgan Sessions)

I am 25 years old. I like to think that I know a thing or two by now. There are plenty of things I know that won’t turn up on Internet lists, and probably plenty of things that you know too that aren’t there either. The world is full of knowledge, collected from years at school and University, or from simply being a curious human who wants to know more about the world. Those facts are easy to grasp, to read from textbooks or to hear from lectures, to corroborate and collaborate until you understand. There are truths, however, which are harder to get hold of – that take time and experience to learn. We probably don’t spend enough time learning those things, compared to the facts and figures which dominate our education. I certainly don’t know as much about life as I do about the early Roman emperors or Foucault’s panopticon. And I don’t know all that much about either of those things. 

But this much, I know for sure: 

1. Nothing good happens after 1am. 

Go home. Don’t succumb to FOMO. Nothing good has ever come from staying out past 1am, and it never will. 

2. Only boring people get bored. 

My Grandad, who is 79 today incidentally, taught me this and I’m pretty sure he has never been bored a day in his life. The world is full of things to discover and do, and I am more afraid that I’ll never have enough time rather than that I’ll have too much and get bored of it. 

3. Packet hair dye is never worth it. 

I have never really liked a dye job that I’ve done myself. As a blonde, packet hair dye is very much the enemy – it’s so tempting, but can go so wrong and does so much damage to your hair. I have learnt to pay the extra to get my hair done professionally, or to go without. 

4. Never read the comments. 

Never. 

5. Happiness is so much more about your outlook than about what actually happens to you. 

Obviously, if you are in the midst of a full-blown tragedy then there’s not a lot you can do. But for the most part, having a positive attitude towards life, towards other people and to the occasional mishaps that happen along the way will do wonders for your happiness. It has changed my life to think this way, to give other people the benefit of the doubt and to not be cynical. I still have my moments of melodrama, don’t get me wrong, but happiness breeds more happiness for sure. 

6. Related: You can’t change events but you can change how you react to them. 

As a control freak, this is something I find very hard, and is something I am working on all the time. You have no control over life’s many twists and turns, but you can control how you react when they happen. I would do well to remember this. 

7. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. 

Yep, it pays to be nice to people. A smile goes a long way to getting what you want – although that’s not the only reason to be nice to people(!). I’m not sure I believe in karma, but who would risk it? 

8. If something’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right. 

Another one that I should give a hat-tip to my Grandad for, and another one that I could do with remembering every now and again. I am impatient, and so often want to be finished with something or find it frustrating when I’m not the best right away. But if something is worth doing, then it is worth giving your full attention to and seeing it through. 

And that’s what I know for sure. 

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Mini Ginger Shortbread Biscuits

Ginger Shortbread Biscuits

I don’t have anything inspiring to say about these biscuits. I’m not sure anyone ever has anything inspiring to say about biscuits. What I will say is that – as with all things, as I am fast learning – it is so much easier to make delicious biscuits than you think. I am really trying to get over my idea of what baked goods will be a lot of faff, and therefore not worth making (compared to, say, brownies which are both quick and delicious). The crunchy, crumbly texture of these biscuits is definitely worth the effort and actually it doesn’t take too long to knock these up and stick them in the biscuit tin. A little bit of crystallised ginger adds a welcome warmth to the buttery biscuit, and they go very well with a cup of tea. You can’t ask much more from a biscuit than that, can you? 

Ginger Shortbread Biscuits

Mini Ginger Shortbread Biscuits
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Ingredients
  1. 125g unsalted butter
  2. 55g caster sugar
  3. 180g plain flour
  4. 1 tsp. ground ginger
  5. 30g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  2. Sift in the flour and stir. Add the ginger (ground and crystallised) and combine until the mixture starts to come together into a dough. This part can be a little tricky, so if it's still looking a little crumbly, you can get your hands involved and press together.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until around 1cm thick. Cut out using a small round cutter (around 2 inch diameter) and lay onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before placing in a pre-heated oven at 190C for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Take your biscuits out when they're golden brown, and remove to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with a bit more caster sugar before serving.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Weekend Link Love

boat

(Photo by Kiran Valipa)

Whilst I’m sure you weren’t pining for my absence, it feels good to be back! I took an unplanned hiatus last week because blogging on top of everything else would have just been too much. Life is ramped up to full throttle at the moment: we’re less than 7 weeks from the wedding, so we’re tying up all the loose ends there; I had a bit of a crisis re: next week’s hen do, with a small mishap sending everything awry for a few days; work is super busy and of course, all the regular life stuff is still finding it’s way into the melee. I’m excited for the wedding, but I think I’m even more excited for the few days in Copenhagen afterwards when I can relax, read and stuff myself full of food and wine. Proper time off is most definitely needed. But enough about me. How are you? 

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Adventures in Bread Baking

Bread

I am a perfectionist, and don’t often like to start new things if I know there’s a good chance of failure. That is especially true when it comes to cooking & baking; I’m pretty sure my sense of self is tied up in a messy way with my ability to shine in the kitchen, so I tend to stick to easier dishes and bakes to minimise against disasters (and tantrums). That’s not to say I’m immune to kitchen fails – we won’t mention the grey salted caramel cheesecake… – but I’ve often not attempted something with a perceived level of difficulty. That’s all to change this year; as I mentioned on Monday I am attempting to hone my skills and try new things – often finding that they weren’t as difficult as I once thought. Case in point: bread. 

Flour for making Bread

Bread Dough

Freshly baked bread is truly a thing of beauty – far from the insipid, uninspiring packet loaves that we’re used to. I have turned my hand to bread baking a couple of times in the past, but with little success. This is most definitely a science – there’s no just leaving it to chance with bread. However, I want to master bread baking (as much as you can master such a thing) this year, so I armed myself with Brilliant Bread by James Morton (recommended to me by Rachel) and actually read the introduction and instructions properly. As with all things, a bit of patience and attention to detail make a big difference – and I’ve successfully baked half a dozen white loaves. Paul has become a bit addicted, devouring almost the entire thing each time – which is probably for the best since the bread is nowhere near as good the next day, suitable only for toasting, and totally rubbish by day two. Such is the curse of fresh bread; the pleasure is great but only fleeting. 

Bread Dough

I can highly recommend this book to other novice bread bakers – it’s so easy to follow and understand the process, which has helped me enormously. Although each loaf is quite a big undertaking – 3 and a half hours from start to finish – you only spend about 15 minutes of that actually in the kitchen, so you can get on with other bits & pieces in the meantime. I’ve been standing my dough on a chair next to the radiator to help it rise, and it really is a wonder to behold. You look away for half an hour and it doubles in size, seemingly by magic. Unlike cakes, dough feels like (and sort of is) a living, breathing thing. Although the recipe I’ve been using doesn’t call for much kneading, I can’t help myself. The elasticky dough is so satisfying to throw around. In fact, my niece and I spent quite a long time prodding, poking, pulling and kneading a ball of bread between us – she was absolutely fascinated by the way that it worked, in the wonderful way that kids are, and I wasn’t far behind! 

Bread and Butter

My next task is bread rolls; my first batch were not a roaring success; although they were edible the sizes were mis-matched and the crust was a little too dark. I also don’t think they had enough chance to rise. It’s safe to say I’m totally addicted to bread-making – and totally over my fear of bread failure! 

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Book Club

book club

I have been powering through my 100 books reading challenge, but in the last few weeks I’ve come to a bit of a halt. It feels like life has been super busy the past couple of weeks – and so many people I know have said the same – that reading is getting pushed aside for other tasks. The point of this challenge, though, was to make that time for reading, to make it a part of my life, so this week I’ve been resolving to set aside time before bed to get through some more of my ‘to-read’ pile. It’s so much better for me than endless episodes of TV and it helps my brain switch off, which is sorely needed at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get captivated by a story and get back into my stride in no time. 

Stardust, Neil Gaiman 

I’ll be honest and say that, although I am a big fan of the movie, I didn’t know that it was based on a book – and by Neil Gaiman of all people, whose work I have heard so much about but which I have never had chance to pick up myself. I usually like to read the book before I watch the movie or, as I did with this, I spend the whole time trying to work out the differences – and there were many. That said, this is a fantastic book – and fantastical, with plenty of imaginary folklore and mystical doings. It’s witty and heart-warming, with brilliant moments of tension. I raced through it and would thoroughly recommend for a touch of escapism. 

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, Susannah Calahan 

Quite the opposite to escapism, Brain on Fire is harrowing and alarming – the true story of a journalist who ‘went mad’ in just a month, going from normalcy to violent episodes, seizures and paranoid delusions in the space of a few weeks. The book charts the beginning of her illness, through her time in hospital and her eventual recovery (which, although you know it’s coming since she wrote the book, still feels on edge throughout as you watch her family go through it with her). It’s both interesting and terrifying; there’s a little bit of mystery as she is continuously mis-diagnosed until the true cause is determined and treated, but it’s worrying to think about – there were no signs before this happened, so it’s certainly not one for hypochondriacs to read! 

Yes Please, Amy Poehler

The Internet has been raving about this book for weeks, and I absolutely devoured it as soon as I got my hands on it. Everyone was right, it’s excellent and full of pearls of wisdom. I have long admired Amy Poehler’s work – she is obviously very talented and successful – and although I have read in various anecdotes (particularly in both Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling’s books) that she is a lovely person on top of all that, I was still (pleasantly) surprised at just how kind and gracious she is. I know it’s her book so she gets to decide how she comes across, but it felt very genuine, and was corroborated by the bits and pieces written by others and inserted into the book. This is just a lovely, funny book and definitely one worth reading – her mantra ‘good for her, not for me’ needs to be taken up in force – and I like to think that since we share so much else – short stature, blonde hair, the name Amy – that I might one day grow up to be just as wonderful as Amy Poehler. A girl can dream. 

Her, Harriet Lane 

A bit of a psychological thriller, Her focuses on the life of two women – Emma and Nina – the former a struggling stay at home mum of young children, the latter a glamorous artist who befriends her. However, this isn’t the first time the two have met, and Nina’s desire to insert herself into Emma’s life has another motive and a nefarious bent – both of which are revealed as the book goes on. Although it’s gripping at first as you try to solve the mystery and the characters are excellently written, I found the eventual ending to be very disappointing and the motivation behind Nina’s actions to be flimsy at best. I wanted more from the story, which I felt very unsatisfied by. 

The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan

This book was unlike anything I’ve read for a long time – in a very good way. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to reading – sticking to what you know and love – but this was a little departure from my usual style and I’m so glad I picked this up. Telling the stories and secrets of four mothers and four daughters, exploring the mother-daughter relationship and what it means to be a Chinese immigrant in the USA, I found this book very moving as well as fascinating. It was a little difficult to keep track of all of the different stories and threads that wove through as the stories shifted in time and place, but each story was wonderfully told and incredibly compelling. 

Wild, Cheryl Strayed 

I finished this just yesterday, with tears streaming down my cheeks. At first I was sceptical of this book, which tells the true story of how Cheryl Strayed hiked a big chunk of the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother. I think I’m weary of ‘finding yourself’ narratives – but once I was stuck into it, I forgot to be sceptical and allowed myself to be swept along through Cheryl’s trials and tribulations. She beautifully wove the stories of the difficulties of hiking such a gruelling trail with stories about her life, before, during and after her mother’s death. Although I felt the elation as she came to the end of her journey, for me what was most striking was the stories of kindness she was shown along the way, of human’s infinite empathy, compassion and connection with one another. I’ll be watching the movie, for sure. 

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