A Whole New Look

So, as you may have noticed - I've given this little blog a bit of a makeover!

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Since we're coming up to a whole new year, it felt like the right time for a whole new look, especially since I want to get a bit more serious about my blog in 2018. I have leant on it quite heavily in the past few months for a creative outlet, and it really does bring me joy so I want to carve out time and space for blogging more intentionally next year. My plan is to commit to blogging three times a week, but that may be a little ambitious as Benjamin starts to get on the move, and I go back to work. I know that it can easily veer from being something that adds joy to my life to something that brings stress if I let it, so whilst it's going to be higher on my list of priorities, I'm also going to be conscious not to let it become a burden. 

My new look feels a whole lot more 'me' - monochrome just really isn't my style, however much I try - and the brightness and all of the beautiful photos that Jenna took for me are giving me a lot more inspiration. Hopefully you'll also enjoy the new look and a few of the new features around here, as I've given everything a bit of a spruce. There will definitely be teething problems; I am still going through and recategorising and tagging posts to make them easier to find and I'm sure there are plenty of broken links that need my attention but I am happy with where we are. 

You may also have noticed the little 'Podcast' button up there; this is really a 'launch before you're ready' situation as I've not really even got started but I want to actually commit and be held accountable so I am putting it out there in the Universe that I am starting a podcast. All the details are here and you can sign up to my newsletter if you want to be the first to know when it's available for your listening pleasure. 

Hopefully I'll be seeing you around these parts more often! You can always drop me a line on Twitter, Instagram or via email if you want to chat (or if you spot anything that seems a bit wonky with the new look!). 

Shop Local in Leeds This Christmas

Buying Christmas presents is simultaneously my favourite and least favourite part about the holidays. On the one hand, finding something that you know your loved one will enjoy and cherish is such a lovely feeling, but on the other... actually finding it can be so tricky. The good news is that if you're a Leeds local (or even if you're not), the lovely indie businesses of Leeds and the surrounding area have got all of your shopping needs covered this year - and with so many hosting their wares on Etsy, you don't even have to get off the sofa. It's really a win-win-win. You support lovely business owners and makers, you buy something your favourite people will love and you can do it all whilst drinking mulled wine under a blanket, for the most part. Here's my pick of some of the best...

Onetenzeroseven

Sophie is a real champion of indie businesses, and introduced me to pretty much everyone else on this list so she deserves all of the good things. She makes bright, colourful accessories and homewares designed to bring a little bit of joy into your life (and in this case, into your gift-ee's life). I love her tea-cup print scarf and these super cute Yorkshire coasters.

Sootie Limetree

Okay, have you ever seen anything more adorable than these little hand-knitted cuddly toys? I'm absolutely in love with this Bowie-inspired bunny and this chubby little narwhal is killing me. If you've got a little person to buy for, look no further than this dreamy shop.

ItsBalderston

Amy is an absolute gem of a human and her illustrations are just delightful. A lot of her work is custom so they're also extra special. If you know someone who's soft on their fluffy friend then a pet portrait might be just the ticket, and her personalised name bouquets are a really thoughtful gift for your favourite people.

Elsie & Nell

If you like your Christmas presents with a little bit of sass, then this is the shop for you. Elsie & Nell sell accessories with empowering slogans with fun typography - perfect for daughters, nieces and friends. This feminist-friendly slogan make-up bag and coin purse would be top of my list!

Little Magpies

Your new (and not so new) mama friends are bound to love one of these lovely teething necklaces. Now that Benjamin is grabbing everything in sight to put in his mouth, I appreciate mine more than ever, as it helps me feel put together even when I am anything but! This monochrome one is a safe bet but you can also design your own if you've got a colour scheme in mind!

Craftiosity

A craft box might just be the perfect gift for your crafty friend. You can choose a specific craft you think they'll enjoy (like these cute clay pots) or buy them a subscription so they get a surprise in the post. You'll be giving them the gift of a little time to themselves and potentially a new hobby, which is a pretty good present if you ask me.

HORD

Is there a cooler gift than a customised, handmade leather hip flask? No, no there's not. For the person who has everything (except a cool leather hip flask, obviously) presented with a bottle of their favourite booze. Your gift giving skills will go down in history with this one.

3 Ways to Jazz Up Your Soup #TheWayWeMakeIt

This post is in association with Cully and Sully

3 Ways to Jazz Up Your Soup // Amy Elizabeth

In my head, I'm a Nigella-esque domestic goddess who makes everything from scratch and always has something in the fridge or cupboard ready to go at every meal time. In reality, I am *sometimes* that person but I am just as often someone who is grabbing a slice of toast in between caring for a baby, or dashing to the local shop for a meal deal to eat al desko. Despite my best intentions, I haven't prepared lunch to bring to the office in at least a year (because I just can't face the sadness of leftovers reheated in the microwave) and although I pour over cookbooks with nourishing salads and mouth-watering sandwiches, I am inclined to neglect lunch in favour of handfuls of snacks snaffled from the cupboard throughout the day. Basically, I'm a lunch-based mess.

And so, whilst I dream of being the kind of person who makes all their own soups, I know that it's actually a lot more feasible to grab something ready-made. Cue Cully and Sully, who sent me a bunch of their delicious soups to try out this week, thus upping my lunch game immeasurably. Their fresh soups are the perfect thing to have on hand if you're busy but need something tasty for your lunch; they're the perfect one person portion and you can even throw them in the freezer so you can stock up without resorting to tinned numbers, which tend not to be so flavourful and sometimes don't have quite the wholesome ingredients of fresh soup like Cully and Sully. They're basically the next best thing to making your own.  

Whilst soup is pretty tasty on its own, if you're reaching for the same flavours time and time again you can end up with lunch fatigue (yet another problem I have when it comes to bringing my own lunch to work). So there are a few ways you can jazz up your pre-made soup to give yourself a little variety and convince your colleagues (or your baby, in my case...) that you're some kind of lunch wizard. 

Cream + Greens + Nuts & Seeds

3 Ways to Jazz Up Your Soup // Amy Elizabeth

Any tomato-based soup works well with a little swirl of something creamy. I used soured cream, but creme fraiche or double cream both taste just as good. Throw in a handful of rocket or spinach to wilt down whilst you're heating through your soup (this works much better on the hob than in the microwave, sadly) for a little extra greens and then top with some toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds (or both). That bit of extra crunch and creaminess will have you craving another bowl almost immediately. 

All the Carbs

3 Ways to Jazz Up Your Soup // Amy Elizabeth

Sometimes I find soup isn't as filling as I like, so bulk it out with some extra carbs to avoid mid-afternoon hangriness. I added some pearl barley into my Cully and Sully Chicken & Vegetable Soup, and the texture works really well with soup, but equally you could add rice, pasta shapes, rice noodles or even some giant couscous into your soup as you see fit. Serve with crusty bread because there's nothing better than carbs on carbs. 

Extra Veggies + Fresh Herbs 

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Taking a little bit of time and adding a few little extras to your soup is, in my eyes, a form of self-care. It takes your soup from 'hurried lunch on the go' to 'I want the tastiest thing possible to eat'. Whilst this Smoked Haddock & Salmon Chowder would be delicious on its own, a handful of tinned sweetcorn thrown in whilst you heat it up, and a sprinkling of fresh parsley just gives it a little bit of extra pizazz - and don't you deserve a little extra pizazz in your life?