Making Pasta at Leeds Cookery School

Pasta Making at Leeds Cookery School // Amy Elizabeth

I am a self-taught cook, for the most part. I have occasionally been shown a trick or two by someone with more skills than myself, but mostly I have worked out from trial and error how to make the meals in my repertoire. I like to think I’m pretty good, but there is always room for improvement – and that’s where cookery classes and courses come in. It’s been on my wish list to go to a cookery school for a long time, but they are often prohibitively expensive and so it’s always been relegated down the list in favour of other pursuits, but I suspect that is all about to change with the opening of Leeds Cookery School. 

Pasta Making at Leeds Cookery School // Amy Elizabeth

Based just outside of the city centre at The Old Fire Station, Leeds Cookery School is part of the charity Zest – Health for Life, who support vulnerable people and those living in disadvantaged areas of the city and 100% of their profits will be going towards making the charity sustainable and helping them carry out their work in Leeds. There’s a real mix of classes from beginner’s introductions to more specialised lessons from expert chefs, from cooking the perfect steak to how to run a supper club (both relevant to my interests, FYI), bread-making to making the perfect roast dinner. And with prices starting at just £45.00 for an after-work class, it’s an accessible way to improve your skills that also makes you feel a bit smug for basically donating to charity. 

They very kindly invited me down to try out their pasta making class and I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. In a little over two hours, we were given all the basics to make tagliatelle with a creamy mushroom sauce and it was the perfect primer to trying it at home (as soon as I buy that pasta maker I’ve had my eye on!). We went from flour and eggs to perfectly al dente pasta, with almost no incidents. Other than when my pasta strips all got a little stuck together… but I know how to fix that next time! Everyone was super friendly (this is Yorkshire, after all) and the class was pitched perfectly; you only needed a very basic knowledge of cooking to understand what was going on (no fancy chef’s terms here!) and there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions about everything from pasta making to which knives you need in your kitchen arsenal. 

Pasta Making at Leeds Cookery School // Amy Elizabeth

It turns out that pasta making is a very satisfying way to spend an evening; anything cooked from scratch always tastes better than the ready-made counterpart but that’s even more true for pasta. I was a little smug as I devoured my homemade pasta at the end of the evening, and I am definitely going to give it a go on my own now that I have a little bit of knowledge behind me (although they do say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing – come back to me when both me and my kitchen are covered in flour and pasta dough…). I can’t imagine this will be the only time I will be a student at the Leeds Cookery School, either; I’ve already got my eye on some of the classes they are currently running and I know there will be some more exciting ones around the corner, for sure! 

Pasta Making at Leeds Cookery School // Amy Elizabeth


Pasta Making at Leeds Cookery School // Amy Elizabeth

Disclaimer: I attended the Leeds Cookery School for free but I was already checking out their classes before the invite very handily dropped into my inbox as they seemed like such a bargain – and I was right! 

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Cheap & Free Things to Do in Leeds


January can feel like such a bummer after the decadence of December. Budgets. Healthy Diets. Exercise. It’s hardly twinkly lights and champagne, is it? But it doesn’t have to be all bad – here’s some fun things you can do in Leeds that will fit with your New Year budget and help you explore this amazing city we live in! 

Take a Walk 

If we’re lucky, January will throw us some sunshine – and I’m not sure there’s anything better than bundling up in cosy layers and enjoying the crisp air on a sunny winter’s day. There are plenty of places to take a scenic walk in Leeds; my personal favourite is Roundhay Park for the excellent puppy-watching opportunities (so cute!) but I also love the dramatic ruins of Kirkstall Abbey. You can also saunter along the canal for more of an urban landscape, or take a visit to Rodley Nature Reserve to discover Leeds’ wildlife. Meanwood Valley Urban Farm is also a great day out if you’ve got kids – it’s a couple of quid but totally worth it to feed the animals and explore their gardens. 

Enjoy Some Culture 

Leeds is chock-full of museums and galleries, and I’ve barely stepped foot in any of them – much to my shame. If you’re at a loss one afternoon then there are plenty of options – Leeds City Museum, Leeds Art Gallery, The Royal Armouries to name but a few. My favourite is the Gallery at Munro House, which is attached the Café 164 so you can grab a cup of coffee and a slice of cake (their apple flapjack is amazing) whilst you enjoy the art. The Tetley is also worth a look and they often have free events on. 

Grab a Bite 

Whilst eating out can get pricey, there are plenty of places to grab a cheap meal in the city – and you might find a new favourite! The obvious choice is Trinity Kitchen, where you can sample some of the best street food for under a tenner, but venture further afield and you’ll find some other great eats like Café Moor, Fuji Hiro, or Dough Boys pizza at Belgrave Music Hall, which is half-price if you know what time to go. If you’ve got a little more money to spend, both Shear’s Yard and Blackhouse have 50% off food in January if you book in advance – a total bargain. 

Test Your Knowledge 

Any pub worth its salt has a good pub quiz, and if you don’t go overboard on the booze then it can be a cheap night out. Plus, if you play well you could go home richer than you started out – some of the jackpots are pretty hefty! I like the pub quizzes at The Mustard Pot, Outlaws Yacht Club and The Pour House but you’ll find one local to you with no problem. If you’re really feeling the pinch, the pub quiz at The Hop is free and comes with a complimentary supper. You can’t say fairer than that! 

See a Show 

The Brudenell Social Club is one of the coolest places in town, and one of the cheapest. They have a full programme of live music and tickets are rarely more than a fiver, so if you fancy something a bit different then head over to Hyde Park and relive your student days. 

What are your favourite cheap and free things to do in Leeds?

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84 Things To Do When You’re Bored



Only boring people get bored, my Grandad always says. I like to think he’s right, because I haven’t been bored since 2006. The world is so full of wonder and possibility – you could do something different every day and never be done.

We are so spoilt – we have so many choices when it comes to what we should fill our days with. The problem with too much choice, however, is that it can be overwhelming – we become paralysed with the possibilities and can’t think of activities to fill our time. Better to be bored, than to face up to everything that’s out there.

Let me help you out. Here’s a list of 84 different things you can do next time you’re bored. Cross every one off and then make your own. Indecision, be damned!

1. Start a blog. Share your bad self with the world.

2. Make a quilt. This one’s on my list for when I get my sewing machine back.

3. Bake a cake. Lemon drizzle, chocolate, fruit cake – whatever takes your fancy.

4. Buy a magazine (or download one, you crazy cyber chick) and read it cover to cover.

5. Paint your nails in a rainbow of colours.

6. Go for a walk. Just go where the wind takes you …

7. Celebrate the independent businesses in your area by popping in for a coffee

8. Write a thank you note. Make it heartfelt and pop it in the post.

9. Visit your grandparents. They love you.

10. Plan your dream dinner party. Then invite people round and make your dream into a reality.

11. Make a mixtape. Share it with someone you love.

12. Try to beat your top score on Tetris.

13. Clear out your wardrobe and donate a bag of clothes to charity.

14. Watch a marathon of your favourite show. Or that show you’ve been meaning to watch but have never sat down to enjoy. Orange is the New Black, anyone?

15. Practice yoga. Perfect your downward dog.

16. Take a luxurious bath with candles and a glass of wine.

17. Call your parents. Or the person (people?) who have been parental figures in your life.

18. Play tourist in your own town and visit a monument or museum you’ve never got around to going to.

19. Learn how to do a fishtail plait. Or a different fancy hairstyle you’ve always admired.

20. Infuse some gin or vodka and get a head start on your Christmas presents.

21. Leave a bunch of happy post-it notes around the house for other people to find.

22. Learn 5 new things from Wikipedia. Or go old school and pick up an encyclopaedia.

23. Practice your cartwheels.

24. Make some baguette pizzas with whatever you have in the fridge.

25. Learn to knit. Or knit something, if you already know how.

26. Re-read your favourite book.

27. Plan your outfits for next week so you can have an extra five minutes in bed each morning.

28. Put on your cheesiest album or playlist and have a solo dance party.

29. Bake some bread.

30. Decide on your next adventure abroad. Make a budget or a plan to get your there by this time next year.

31. Go for a run.

32. Take pictures of your cat/dog/hamster/baby. Whatever the cutest thing is in your life. Give them funny captions and post them on Facebook.

33. Read up about a current affair that you don’t understand properly. Get informed.

34. Play innuendo bingo.

35. Write a secret on a postcard and send it to PostSecret.

36. Throw away everything in your cupboard/fridge/freezer that’s out of date. Donate anything you won’t eat but is still very much in date to your local food bank.

37. Practice your stand-up routine.

38. Learn how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in 10 different languages. See how many you remember this time next week.

39. Reach out to your dream mentor.

40. Have a one-person pyjama party. Eat ice cream and watch a chick flick.

41. Meditate.

42. De-tangle all your necklaces.

43. Write or edit a Wikipedia entry on your favourite subject.

44. Re-paint the walls of your bedroom.

45. Exfoliate.

46. Write to your MP about an issue that you’re passionate about in your area.

47. Do 100 sit-ups. Try not to cry.

48. Support an independent designer by buying something from Etsy.

49. Re-connect with a friend on the other side of the world and start a Google Hangout.

50. Dye your hair.

51. Go and buy yourself a bunch of flowers from a real florist. Not from the supermarket. You’re totally worth it, girl.

52. Make pasta from scratch. Cook it and cover it with cheese. Enjoy!

53. Plant a seed.

54. Set a goal. Make a plan to get there. Start working on it.

55. Go to the park and swing on the swings, or slide down the slide.

56. Write a list of all the ways in which you are awesome. Pin it somewhere you will see it every day.

57. Send snapchats to all of your friends. Wait and see what you get back.

58. Watch 30 Rock. It always cheers me up.

59. Go for a round of crazy golf. Or, set up a crazy golf course in your back garden.

60. Draw yourself as a superhero. Work out what your superhero name and power would be.

61. Fly a kite.

62. Re-vamp your CV or brush up your LinkedIn profile. Even if you’re super happy with your current job, it’ll remind you of what a bad-ass you are.

63. Start a Project Life album.

64. Hang some shelves and arrange your favourite things on them.

65. Pay for the person behind you at the coffee shop/ice cream parlour/pub. Spread the love.

66. Write a poem. Express yourself.

67. Repair any clothes you’ve been meaning to fix for ages. Sew on buttons, darn holes, take things to the dry cleaners.

68. Decide who would play you in the movie of your life. Write a cast list.

69. Sell something on eBay.

70. Make a playlist for every occasion.

71. Look up your favourite TV show from when you were a kid on YouTube. Be amazed.

72. Offer to walk a friend’s dog.

73. Write a love letter. To your other half, to your crush, to yourself. Whoever.

74. Go on a road trip.

75. Make your own ‘Word of the Day’ calendar.

76. Print out your favourite photos and frame them. Don’t leave them trapped on the Internet!

77. Make an origami swan. Make a whole flock in different sizes and colours.

78. Practice doing the splits. You’ll make it one day!

79. Bake some cookies and share them with your colleagues or your neighbours.

80. Babysit.

81. Make some friendship bracelets. Post them to your friends, wherever they are in the world – everyone loves getting post!

82. Count up all the change laying around your house. Pay it into the bank. Feel rich.

83. Go for a bike ride.

84. Make a list of things to do next time you’re bored. The world is truly your oyster.

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50 Things To Do On A Rainy Day

Cute rain print from Cosas Minimas Etsy Shop

So it’s been raining solidly in Leeds for two days now. We’re on flood warning. When the weather is like this, the temptation is just to stay indoors and sleep until the sun comes back. But we live in Britain, and rain is par for the course. So rather than getting depressed by the greyness and the dampness of the world outside, here are a list of things to fill the time and lift your spirits!

1. Bake some bread. Pretend you’re on the Great British Bake Off

2. Have a bath, bonus points if you light some tea lights.

3. Make some soup. Watch this space for a Mexican-inspired vegetable soup recipe.

4. Plan a holiday – real or fantasy.

5. Build a fort.

6. Paint all your nails a different colour.

7. Have a wardrobe clear out. Donate things to charity.

8. Learn to crochet.

9. Dye your hair. Check out these tips for candy coloured hair.

10. Start a blog. I recommend as a good starting point.

11. Make a mixtape. Either with a real life tape, or try 8tracks for a digital version.

12. Sew on any buttons which have come loose on your clothing.

13. Hold a wine tasting.

14. Watch an old weepie movie. Or a new weepie movie.

15. Read a new book. Or an old favourite. Check out my Book Club for recommendations.

16. Write a letter to a far away friend or relative

17. Knit a scarf. Or a jumper if you are better at knitting than me!

18. Start a scrapbook. Or a collage if a scrapbook is too much commitment.

19. Read through your old magazines and then recycle them

20. Make a cheese board. Check out these tips from A Beautiful Mess.

21. Take cute pictures of your pet. Write ‘I Can Haz Cheeseburger’-style captions to go with them.

22. Make a Pinterest board of sunny pictures. Or of autumnal colours to really get in the mood.

23. Write a list of things you are thankful and grateful for.

24. Make up a new cocktail. Or make a favourite one (try a Caiprinha, for a taste of sunshine)

25. Watch retro kids cartoons on YouTube. I recently rediscovered Sailor Moon, and it was as good as I remembered.

26. Write a poem.

27. Make a budget (I know, but we all need to do it!)

28. Bake a bunch of Toblerone Brownies. Or any other kind of brownie you fancy.

29. Learn the Gangnam Style dance. And then practice until you’ve got it nailed.

30. Read through the archives of your favourite inspirational blogs. Be inspired.

31. Do 50 push ups.

32. Make a luxurious brunch of pancakes, bacon and maple syrup.

33. Instagram a bunch of self portraits. Pretend you’re on Next Top Model.

34. Try a new make up look. Youtube has some great tutorials.

35. Plan your outfits for the rest of the week. Iron them if you feel like it.

36. Watch a scary film and hide behind your popcorn.

37. Learn how to say please and thank you in 20 different languages.

38. Bake a pie. There’s no better time to eat pie than when it’s raining.

39. Go outside in your wellies and splash in some puddles.

40. Moisturise your whole body in something that smells of vanilla and cocoa butter. Or your own favourite flavour.

41. Meditate.

42. Do a spring (autumn) clean. A Thrifty Mrs has some great tips.

43. Try Internet Dating.

44. Do some de-cluttering.

45. Search for a new job. Or think about ways you can work for a promotion at your current one.

46. Learn a dramatic monologue, just in case. Extra points for Shakespeare.

47. Discover a new boxset. Have you tried 30 Rock? I hear Dexter’s pretty good as well.

48. Do a rain check on social media channels

49. Alphabetise everything – CDs, books, tins of soup…

50. Make your Christmas list.

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