22 December 2011

Merry Christmas, from Leaff x

This is our very last post of 2011, and we wanted to send out a big, warm thank you to all of our readers, clients, and friends, for all of your support throughout the year.

As most of you will know, we are looking forward to launching Leaff's shop in the New Year. If you haven't already done so, please pop on over to our shop page, to register your interest, for a friendly nudge when the shop goes live.

Finally, a special thank you to all of you who have registered so far, and congratulations again to all of our 15 winners of our Christmas give-away (as pictured above).

As we mentioned to those of you who were not so lucky, we wished that we could have given all of you
a gift, but we will be looking to treat our customers as often as possible, and there will be more give-aways to come in the future.

We are now closing Leaff for the Christmas break, and will be re-opening on Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

Wishing each and every one of you a warm and magical Christmas....

Kate x

21 December 2011

Wedding #7 - Our Honeymoon

A very happy Wedding Wednesday to you all, on what is the very last in our series of wedding posts.

If you have missed the rest - or any at all - of our past posts, you can catch up here:
The Venue, Attire, Beauty, Flowers & Decor, Cake & Favours, Our Big Day.

Meeru Island, Maldives

It was day 3 of being a married couple, and we were all set to jet away to our dream location for honeymoon - the Maldives. I had fantasised for as long as I can remember, about visiting the islands.
My Grampy had told a me all about the time that he had spent there while at war, when I was just a child, and since we lost Grampy soon after, it had always felt like a place that I was destined to go. So, you can imagine my elation when we found a package within budget - utter surprise and delight!

We flew with Emirates, and our flight was over two legs - the first from Birmingham to Dubai, and the second from Dubai to Male. The Emirates planes were the biggest that we had been on - or even seen, and we were unsure of exactly how we were going to take off! Once in Male, we set aboard a speed boat, for an hours journey to our island of Meeru - that was great for getting to see the other islands dotted around the ocean, as we sped by.

After a welcome cocktail, we checked in to our jacuzzi beach villa, and it was just fantastic. As you can see from the pictures, the room was very modern, and our favourite bit - the bathroom - was out of this world. It was half covered, half uncovered to the outdoors, so you could shower under the stars. Our garden came complete with sun-beds in both the shade and full sun, and of course, a jacuzzi.

Despite being extremely jet-lagged, we were up at the crack of dawn on our very first day, to explore the island at sunrise, and we were certainly very glad we did!

It took us a total of 35 minutes to walk all the way around the island, which was uncanny. We breathed in the fresh, tropical air; we lay and took stock, in awe of the beauty and of just how lucky we were; and we interacted, transfixed, with the wildlife that we had only ever seen on television before.

The sea was teaming with wildlife in the shallows at that time of day. As you can see above, there were manta rays, sharks, sting rays and random purple jellyfish (which we later found out were very poisonous), all floating around, just waiting to be seen. We were stood ankle deep when we took these shots, so you can see just how shallow they came.

The little crab that I am holding was one of millions that littered the beach. There were also transparent crabs, which were really hard to see, until they began sprinting from under your feet, so you had to be so careful not to tread on them. We loved the crabs, they were so funny, and so sweet.

The last photo shows the local workers that cleared the beach of washed up seaweed an coral every morning, and every evening. Their dedication to keeping the island looking at its best was really inspiring. They didn't just do it because it was part of their job, but because they loved their island, and cared about it deeply. This is something that we noticed about every single worker on the island.

Most days were spent enjoying the array of delicious foods and drinks, getting lost in book after book, bathing in the gentle rays of the afternoon sun, and exploring the island. Late afternoon usually called for a cocktail in the jacuzzi, while watching the fruit bats fly over head and settle in the palm tree that hung over our garden. We were mesmerised by the bats.

We had a few days of rain, but since we love any kind of extreme weather, we were happy to enjoy the experience - any rain in the Maldives is torrential, and therefore exciting!

In the evenings, we enjoyed interesting drinks at the many different bars dotted around the island - each of them very intimately lit. To give you some perspective, we were given a torch to help us to get about at night.

Half way through the holiday, we opted to go on a 2 day cruise around the ocean, to a couple of fellow islands. The first was a tiny, deserted island, which took about 2 minutes to walk across (first photo, second row). From here, we were kitted up with snorkelling gear, and were taken out along the reefs with our instructor. What we saw was out of this world. It was so deep that it felt as close to flying that we could ever imagine. We saw the most magical reefs, of the most vibrant colours imaginable. We have all seen it on the television, but honestly, being there is entirely different. The fish - the species that we saw - were magnificent, and it was an experience that we will never forget.

That evening, after what was a surprisingly exhausting day of snorkelling, we headed back to the boat
for a sunset party. The crew popped open the champagne, and set everyone up to fish off the side of the boat. As anyone who knows me would expect, I was sat high up on deck, with my hands over my eyes, politely declining to get involved. I'm not too sure that the crew ever did understand what I meant when
I said that I felt unable to kill a fish. It is what they do in order to eat, on a daily basis. Luckily my lovely husband was feeling much the same, so we sat back and enjoyed the sunset with our champagne.

Our cabin on the boat was amazing - complete with en-suite bathroom, and an amazing window out to sea. It was so great to stay in - such an experience - but on the last night, our nerves were tested as we set anchor amidst a storm. It seemed to be passing at first, and the crew were so upset at the prospect of us not enjoying the boat, that they took us to visit another local island, which tourists rarely got to see. It was a working island, so it was very run down, and the people who lived on there were only the workers themselves. That evening, the locals got together and played for us at their local community centre. When their not working, they enjoy playing a variety of instruments together, and so they just started jamming for us. They were really very good, and took it ever so seriously. When we got up to dance,
it encouraged them to relax and they began to lose themselves in the music. It was a great experience. Unfortunately for us, the storm returned with a vengeance later that night, and we genuinely feared for
our lives! I remember lying there, white knuckled, next to Jay, as we slid up and down the bed with the motion of the boat, as it violently swayed, and got lifted feet off the surface and dropped again by the monstrous waves, and thinking, 'if we survive, this is going to be a great story'.

Needless to say, when we woke the next morning, we felt both relieved and liberated by our experience. To top off what was an unexpected and extraordinary trip, we were joined on our journey home by the biggest group of wild dolphins I could have ever hoped for. There was around 50 of them, surrounding
the boat - some flinging themselves out of the water, putting on quite a display, and some swimming
right alongside us, in reach. I was so elated that I had an almighty urge to fling myself over board. Dolphins have always been my very favourite of animals, for as long as I can remember, and although I
have seen wild ones before, it was always the odd one at a fair distance, and nothing like this. Among all of the amazing and magical things that we had seen and experienced on that trip, it was the dolphins that brought me to my knees.

Back to Meeru, and after the whirlwind adventures of the cruise, we were in need of a little comfort.
There were two spas on the island, but the over-water-spa, was the superior, and where we were lucky enough to indulge. We had already had a free welcome massage on arrival, but being a massive spa fan, I wanted more that those 15 minutes.

So, during our final week at Meeru, I indulged in an aloe body cocoon treatment. This began with a foot treatment, on the private deck of my treatment hut, where I could see nothing but endless ocean ahead of me. I was then led to lay on a traditional spa bed, which had a floor window directly below where my face poked through, so I could watch the sea life as the mighty strong therapist did her magic. My entire body was massaged with the most beautiful oil, smothered in cool aloe vera, and wrapped up tight in blankets. I then enjoyed a warm oil head massage, and a luxury shower, before being finished off with
a layer of tropical lotion. The aim of the treatment was to nurture the skin after sun exposure, so this felt like a perfect way to end the holiday.

Before the treatment began, I was given a gorgeous lemon water, which tasted like the best lemonade I had ever had, and to end was a spicy ginger tea, which we both fell in love with.

As we left the spa that evening, we were surprised by an army of crabs, that were gathered, bathing in the warm evening shallows. It was an amazing sight!

Sunset on Meeru island was perhaps the most breath taking part of our days. The pastel colours that it began to cast; finishing with the sky ablaze with fiery vibrancy. It was hard to believe that what we were seeing was real, as we strolled along the beach and bathed in the glory.

Among the beauty that filled my head on our honeymoon, Leaff wasn't far behind. I allowed myself to reflect on our achievements so far, and to dream about my aspirations for the future. I must say, as I looked out, humbled by the enormity of the beauty and wonder, I felt certain that they were all accomplishable.

I hope you have enjoyed my wedding posts over the last 7 weeks, and I hope you feel inspired by what
I have ended them with.

Our honeymoon package was booked through Thomas Cook Signature. You can read more about Meeru Island here.

14 December 2011

Wedding #6 - Our Big Day

Well it is finally here - the post that many of you have been eagerly awaiting, and the post that I have been most anxious about - the big reveal. A very happy Wedding Wednesday to you all....

Photographer: Richard Barley
Venue: The Swan Hotel (Bibury, Gloucestershire)
Florist: Jayne Pugh (David Austin Roses used)
Make-up: We Are Make-up Artists (MAC make-up used)
Hair: Laura Leigh (hair roses from Jayne Pugh)
Chair Covers: The Chair Tailor (and Brides Mum)
Candelabra & Plinths (hired): Jayne Pugh
Brides Dress: Just For You Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses: Elderberry Bridesmaids (included bags)
Grooms/Groomsman Suits: Slaters (full outfits)
Brides Shrug: House of Fraser
Brides Jewellery: Debenhams

Just a couple of things to say....

A few of the photographs above were by wedding guests, but the vast majority are the professional shots by Richard Barley.

There are some things that I could not find pictures of - like our amazing pianist, Steve Christie. He played me down the aisle, throughout the ceremony, and throughout the breakfast, and he was unbelievable. The best non-famous pianist (who really should be) that I have ever come across - you can take that from someone who used to play herself. Highly, highly recommended, so please go and visit his site and have a listen.

I have tried to cover everything here, but if anyone has any questions, please fire away and I will do my best to help.

Lastly, for those of you who perhaps missed our previous wedding posts, you can check them out here: The Venue, Attire, BeautyFlowers & Decor, and Cake & Favours.

Next week will be our last Wedding Wednesday post, which will cover Our Honeymoon. Complete with breath-taking pictures, and destination details.

12 December 2011

Xmas Give Away (Spreading the Xmas Cheer!)

As some of you may have already heard through our tweets and Facebook posts, we have been hard at work the last month, on some Christmas treats...

Some beautiful, letterpressed Christmas cards, and beautiful they are too. Designed by Leaff, and letterpressed by the lovely Martin at Tilley Print

Not wanting to give too much of the design away just yet, we have specifically only shown the creation of the cards, and some glimpses, here.

The treats were designed as 'teasers', ahead of the launch of our shop in the New Year. They were handed out in person to local businesses, and posted out to a selection of inspirational companies, to show our support and spread the Christmas cheer.

We did however make a few extra, in order to offer our lovely audience the chance to win a pack of their very own. There are no questions to answer, no pressure to follow us on Twitter and no insistence to like us on Facebook; all you have to do, is head over to our Shop and give us just a few details. If you are lucky enough to be one of the first 15 people to do so, then a Christmas treat will surely be on it's way to you!

Good luck!

07 December 2011

Wedding #5 - Cake & Favours

It is week 5 of Wedding Wednesday already? Where has the time gone! This week I am covering
Cake & Favours, which includes beautiful cake designs and an array of favour ideas.

If you missed one or more of our last 4 wedding posts, fear not, you can easily catch up with them
here: The Venue, Attire, Beauty and Flowers & Decor.

The following mood boards were created as a personal project during the planning of our wedding, 
and therefore, I was predominantly screen grabbing any images that I found inspiring. I have done 
my absolute best to go back through and locate their sources, but where sources, designers, stylists, artists or photographers are unknown to me (and if you find your work on here) please contact me 
and I will add a credit immediately.

Unfortunately, just like last week's post, I was unable to find the exact locations of where any of the following images were found. I can confirm again that a lot of them would have come from Style Me Pretty, but I cannot account for which ones exactly, and where the others were found. Forgive me!

Cake Designs

Since we already had our eyes on a local baker for our cake, we didn't need to do any shopping around for a supplier.

Laura Elizabeth Cakes are an amazing little company, based in the heart of Worcester. They create
a huge array of cake designs and styles, from traditional tiered wedding cakes, to less of the traditional shapes and sizes. They also do an impressive range of flavours - again, some traditional and some intriguing (certain conversation-starters!). As if this isn't already enough to have you rubbing your hands together, they also have some very inspiring designs in their portfolio, which quite literally had me squealing.

So, after an amazing cake tasting session at Laura Elizabeth, and a whole load of research for inspiration, we managed to get a design together that was just right, and left them to make the magic happen. They really didn't disappoint - it was literally the most perfect wedding cake we could have ever hoped for; it was out of my dreams.

We opted for a combination of flavours for our cake. We had settled on having a single tiered light fruit cake with marzipan, with a mixture of lemon cupcakes and apple & cinnamon cupcakes. Combined with our breakfast, the food followed an autumnal theme, which was perfect for our October wedding, where
all of the flavours complimented each other. They were all absolutely delicious.

Needless to say, we really couldn't recommend Laura Elizabeth enough, so do pop on over to their website and read more about them.

Favour Ideas

If you are anything like us, we were after less of the usual and more of the fun and unique for our favours, and as you can see from these visuals, there is a lot that you can do. From seeds and plants
to homemade jams and sweet bars, it is certainly possible to let your imagination run wild.

For our own favours, we wanted to give our guests something unexpected and something that would excite them. We loved the idea of homemade jam, as we had actually recently made a batch as Xmas gifts for family, and really enjoyed it, but with a million other things to do and such little time on our hands, it just wasn't possible for us. At any rate, we weren't sure that jam would be as interactive as
we wanted. So, in the end, we decided to do a little sweet bar of our own.

Each guest had a little note on their name placing, to thank them and tell them to go and fill up a bag
of sweets for themselves, to enjoy. We didn't have any children at the wedding, but it was a mixture of friends and older family, so the idea was to loosen people up, by giving them the common feeling of reliving their childhood; carefree, and able to enjoy the small pleasure of devouring a pick 'n' mix. It was certainly a conversation starter for everyone, as they reminisced about the sweets that they loved to buy when they were small. It created a really happy and excitable atmosphere.

There are lots of sweet bars that you can hire out, but they are a couple of hundred pounds. We decided to save some money and enjoy putting our own together, and all in all it came in at around £50 - although there was only a total of 35 of us, as it was a very intimate wedding. That was for 3 glass vase bowls and 2 glass bowls from IKEA, a sweet scoop and tongs from Amazon, sweet bags from eBay (plain and ready to decorate), a mixture of 5 different sweet combinations from local sweet shop Zendels, and ribbon, card & string to decorate.

The 5 different bowls held 5 different mixes of sweets; Fruit Jelly Mix, Sour Jelly Mix, Hard Boiled Mix, Retro Mix and Chocolate Mix, so there was something for everyone. As for those with dietary requirements, we had 2 diabetics at our wedding, and it was no problem at all, as we did a special sweet bag for each of them, using special diabetic chocolates from Thorntons, and they loved them!

Well, I think that I have just about exhausted the subject of Cake & Favours, and I really hope that you have gained lots of inspiration from this post. If you have any questions, or ideas of your own, please share them in the comments box, so that everyone can benefit from them.

As I am sure you are well aware, next week is the big reveal - I can't believe how quickly it has come around! So, I will be sharing our photo's from our big day itself, with details of all of our wonderful suppliers. Eeek! Should I be this nervous?!

Until next week, we wish you a very happy and inspirational Wedding Wednesday!

06 December 2011

Your Valued Feedback...

Just a quick nudge in the direction of our facebook page, where we have just posted a very important question.

We would be eternally grateful if you could all (yes, each and every one of you) spare us just a few seconds to pop on over and leave us your extremely valued feedback. It will help us to improve our
blog, which will in turn provide you with more reading pleasure, so it is a win-win situation!


I know that a lot of you are shy about getting involved, but we would love to hear from all of you - sincerely - no matter who you are or where you are from.

Thank you all again for following us, and we hope that with your feedback, we can provide you with
more and more of the things that you love most.


05 December 2011

Malvern Theatres: As you read it...

A few weeks ago, one Thursday evening, we went over to Malvern Theatre for a free event, called As you read it. It was a bit of an experiment on their behalf, as they seized the opportunity to get more use from the theatre by staging budding, unpublished writers and their short stories.

They asked writers aged 16 and over to submit a short story, which a panel of judges then selected 8 winners from, to perform to the audience at Malvern Theatre. As a lover of writing and words myself, I was intrigued.

We went along with no expectations, but just to have a nice evening out, and everything ended up being a bit of a surprise. It was fantastic! Every story was a pleasure to hear, and we sat transfixed the whole time.

Our favourite of all the stories, were Whisper In The Wind, by Fay Wentworth, Get Me To The Church On Time, by John Jinks and The Revelation, by Tana Durham, although all of them were fantastic.

Fay told of a tale where a young girl, bereaved by the loss of her Grandfather, visits her local church, which transforms before her and takes her to a place much like heaven, where she learns that his soul lives among the things that surround her. It was a charming, heart warming story, enhanced completely by the authors soft, delicate voice - it was beautiful.

John told us of another bereavement - this time an elderly man who had lost his wife. It was uplifting and humorous as he portrayed the different relationships between each witty character, and the endearing relationship between the grieving husband, and his much loved, deceased wife. Again, it was heart warming, and told brilliantly by an utterly charming author.

Lastly, Tana, who took us on an entirely different journey, into the world of a well-to-do married couple, who were rekindling their love through discovery of their daring side, at a time in their lives where things had perhaps grown tired. It was a magical story of the power of adventure, and how the littlest things we do can make such a difference. To be bold every once in a while, try something new, and feel alive.

We really hope that there are going to be more of these performances to come, as we enjoyed it so much, and judging by the turn out, it drew quite a crowd that seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

We will be keeping an eager eye out for the next one, and you can too, at www.malvern-theatres.co.uk.

01 December 2011

Welcome, Winter...

As some of you may notice, Leaff has undergone a transformation over-night. We have bloomed from Autumn yellow to Winter red, in celebration of the new season.

Winter 2010 - Fond memories of the magical winter that we had last year.

And, as if it were planned to coincide, today is the very special day that marks the beginning of Worcester's magical Christmas Fair...

Christmas Fair, Worcester, image from Visit Worcester.

If you haven't been before, you are certainly missing out; inspiring crafty stalls, intriguing foods, traditional roast chestnuts, festive hot mulled wine...even a carousel ride! So, make sure you get
down to show your support - local businesses will too, be joining in the fun.

The fair is running from today (1st December) until Sunday 4th December.
Download the leaflet from Visit Worcester here, or the full programme here.

Hope to see you there!
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