Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Easiest Banana Bread Recipe


Sunday, 16 September 2018

Studio Life: August 2018

August was a big month for Sighh & I. I moved into the new Newcastle city centre flat with my boyfriend and excitedly put together my own designated studio (aka second bedroom, once the bed and chest of draws were negotiated away). Jack took a week off work to sort the place out, which helped as everything I ordered seemed to arrive on a different day. This all happening at the same time as the largest sale I've had in years was something to navigate, as was dragging sacks of envelopes through the cardboard strewn corridors of our flat... but it was all finished in just over a week. And then graduate life really began! Well, partly. August has felt like a battle between me being so excited to start my new life and genuinely incredibly happy, while also definitely procrastinating and doing things very slowly, in summer mode. Anyway, here's what I did, according to my overflowing camera roll...


Thursday, 23 August 2018

My Best of Leeds

OH I have grown very attached to this city. I walk around feeling at home, and maybe more than most students as I stayed through each summer, truly accepting the place I studied to be the place I lived. Being the bougie foodie that I am, my mission from the September of first year was to seek out all the best hangouts and eatouts and eatins and drink-coffee-and-work-for-hours-eries. Three years on, and 21,000 steps later (this Tuesday), here is the mother list, broken up into appropriate titles so we don't get overwhelmed.

This post is written with students in mind, specifically LAU, Leeds and Beckket which share the same-ish proximity. However I'm not directing anyone into the rowdiest dwellings of the city, come on, it's me. Really, this could have been several blog posts but I wanted to create a proper resource to keep in your bookmarks and check back to instead. 

Walking around the city centre after running errands, I was always stuck trying to figure out where to go work. Understandably, I never found many spots that had the right ambiance, plug socket to chair distance and staff understanding that you yes you require a table for one, no menu and a latte. My favourite places may be a little out the way, but if that's a problem there's no lack of Prets, Starbucks and Caffe Neros. 

Union Coffee House   LS1 3BB
On Great George Street, this is a relatively short walk from the main uni campus and city centre. I've escaped to write many an evaluation here. With a calm vibe, great menu and very comfy seating I find it easy to concentrate. Their homemade chunky soups are heavenly in the colder months, too.

Fettle LS1 3BR
Scandi as fuck. A very I'm-getting-important-work-done spot. Their menu also looks incredible, so you can congratulate yourself on every new paragraph.

An absolute favourite of mine to work in, just down the road from uni and on the way home for many students in Hyde Park/Headingley. Loads of seating, ample plug sockets and a very tasty and Instagramable menu. Love it. It has a sociable vibe but that sort of creates the illusion you're hanging out with people while typing an essay in the corner.


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Big Ass Sighh Sale

Out with the old, in with the new. That's my mantra for this sale - even though there isn't a great deal of new and ready on the horizon just yet... JUST yet.

I went to university to develop my style, which I knew was stagnating. Back in 2014/15 I was making things that sold very well (by the standards of a 18 year old) however I knew I wasn't quite ready and had so much more to develop and learn before I could confidently fly the nest. And now, thank god, I have actually seen a progression in my design style and general industry know how. I've been ITCHING, YEARNING, to graduate and get on with it!

Throughout my 3 years at uni I brought out several new product lines, but eventually had to focus on my degree and let Sighh shred water until the FMP came and went. This means although the well loved items have stuck around, they don't really represent my style any more, and it's time to say goodbye.



Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Repeat Pattern Tutorial

Since launching my very first phone cases I've been questioned for design tips & tricks by fellow aspiring designers (well I guess I better start calling myself an actual professional now!!) who also want to turn their ideas into beautiful products but don't quite know how.

Once you have a repeat pattern, you can paste it into any product template and send it off to print. I've actually always made my existing products' patterns organically (example from the archives), but wondered how on EARTH people could be bothered to do that for wallpaper or hundreds of meters of fabric. I now think back to that time I tried to make 3m of patterned Christmas wrapping paper by eye with copy & paste. Well *cough* it turns out designers do not do that. Queue one of the only days at uni I thought the £50k might be worth it. 

I'm honestly surprised how many college students still say they haven't been introduced to Photoshop & Illustrator (we'll be dealing with Photoshop in this tutorial so I'm afraid you need to at least have your 30 day free trial running!). But even then, I've found there is SO much you can do that you don't even know to ask how to do. You know? That's why I'm happy to start adding to my 'Design Tips' Instagram highlight. I would LOVE to see my favourite illustrators doing the same, because once you've left design school and you no longer have that community to learn from, what can you do but fester in your own techniques?

WELL. You can seek out tutorials like this, and I also have another (very good) recommendation at the end of this post, so scroll on!

Saturday, 14 July 2018


Recently there has been a surge in (public) popularity for true crime - probably stemming from the infamous Serial podcast where millions got hooked on the did he/didn't he story of Adnan Syed. I think that's what started it for me too. These days at any silent interval - be it walking to the post office, cooking dinner or sat down designing - you'll find me listening with two ears or one eye to the story of an unsolved disappearance or a solved and fucking mental murder. Podcasts, books, Youtube & Nextflix - I'm over it all! In this post I'm going to share a few of the Youtube channels that I think are killing it at true crime.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Leeds Arts University Degree Show 2018

Next month I'll be graduating from Illustration at Leeds Arts University. Omg. I've been to the degree show each year, and wanted to continue the tradition of blog posting my personal highlights. This year I've tried to show the breadth of style on my course, as I know so many younger students may be interested in considering studying at LAU. Once I've managed to gather my thoughts I hope to write a few reflective posts about my three years here, so look out for that, but for now here are some pretty pictures!


Sunday, 18 March 2018

2018 Vibes

Included: Alice Catherine & Lizzy Hadfield, Image sourced from Pinterest


Since moving to Leeds for university, I've somehow lost my love and confidence for dressing. Wearing the same rotation of jeans, jumpers and trainers daily has decreased my self confidence and left me bored and unexpressed. In my gap year I got a job at Urban Outfitters for a couple of reasons, including the fact I had a load of great outfits but absolutely no reason to leave the house, and it was depressing. I'm not joking.  I get a lot of confidence out of looking my best (so shoot me) meaning this stagnation has sapped a lot of who I am out of the way I present and hold myself in public. Don't get me wrong, denim and jumpers are a crucial part of my wardrobe, but they'll be less for hiding from now on.

In 2018 I hope to invest in key, statement, wearable pieces that transform bland outfits into ones that have personality, and help me be myself. You don't have to be as eccentric as the lady who only wears the colour green to say this. Find the boots that make you strut the way you've always wanted to strut and the funky undershirt that allows you to wear deep plunge necklines without fear.

A sub goal is to reduce impulse buys and curate a wardrobe of investment pieces that feel me.

Included: Images sourced from Pinterest, Sighh greetings card, Photo by Joy Felicity Jane, Illustration by Josefina Schargorodsky


I have witnessed a distinct development in my personality over the last 3 years, since leaving college. My social anxiety became horrendous, slowly improved, disappeared, gradually crept up, hit me like a fucking train, ebbed away with infrequent jabs and now finally... it doesn't feel like a problem any more. I have gained so much empathy and interest in those around me instead of shutting *everyone* out, expecting them to have bad intentions and hate me anyway. I have listened to activists on social media and truly opened my eyes and changed my opinions and become more critical of what I see, as well as open minded. However, I've also lost some of the key attributes of my old self that I valued. My huge passion and determination to achieve my goals and my self assured knowledge of what I wanted and getting rid of what and who didn't match it. My independent self. 

I took that brilliant Myers Briggs test (would recommend) before uni and was an INTJ, but had changed into another (which I've forgotten) by 2nd year. A key symptom, I realised, was that I couldn't make decisions. From choosing my projects at uni to what to eat in a restaurant, I didn't trust my own judgement and flitted between options wasting time until someone helped. I became almost mute in social situations because I didn't think I had a valid input, or I'd get it wrong. I'd also changed from a Ravenclaw to a Hufflepuff on Pottermore. I just didn't sign up for this as a side effect of fixing the parts of myself I didn't like. 

However, 6-9 months ago I realised all of this, and since then I have seen improvements. I guess this is all part of growing up and developing an identity and personality. Transforming from a naive teenager into an increasingly aware small adult as been difficult and confusing. But as mentioned, I think I'm coming out the other side now.  

In 2018 I hope to I want to live life for me, not the acceptance of others. I am in the process of accepting that what other people think of me is not always under control, and not always my fault. Other people's behaviour doesn't make me a bad person. All I can do is go through life with good intentions. I want to have faith that I will gravitate towards people who are genuine and supportive, with morals aligned to mine. I want to give my all to people who won't throw it back, but if they do, I don't want to take it personally. I want to be my own happy bubble that floats around, bumping into other people's bubbles and sticking to the good ones. 

If my only excuse is fear of what others will think, I want to go ahead and do the thing anyway.

In 2018 I also want to make a consistent effort to stay connected to my friends and family. Whenever I go home or have a long phone call with one of my sisters I leave feeling full of love. I'm so glad that we've grown up and hit the stage where we can be friends rather than arch enemies. I would willingly share makeup with both of them, now. My friends from home are really special. We've always been able to go long periods without talking and stay just as close, but I really want to be in more regular contact now. I want to be involved in their lives real-time rather than catching up on what's happened every 6 months over coffee.


2018 is going to be a big year for every area of my work life as I graduate this summer. I'll then be thrust into the world once more, ready to be 100% and completely in control of my life. Can't wait. Literally can't fucking wait.

However before I'm thrust from the system, I want to experiment with everything I hope to do freelance work for after graduation. I went to uni to become more confident in specific areas and I don't think I've actually achieved that. I really need to venture into something other than product design - my big comfy comfort blanket.

Importantly, I need to get more on top of the business side of my business. Have my accounts up to date, as well as important dates updated in my calendar. And get the most out of my accountant, who costs a lot. The truth is it's been incredibly challenging to even keep my head above the water over the past (almost) three years of university, balancing a business on my own. I've had to neglect it in order to focus on my degree, so the general mechanics are rusty and ignored, but I'm determined to resuscitate the shop and brand after graduation. I worked so hard to build Sighh up - and I see it as the backbone of my career.

In 2018 I want to develop and establish my brand. Illustrator, foodie and friend. Taking on jobs and putting things out there that represent what I want to be and do.


Friday, 2 February 2018

Easy Miso Courgette and Fried Rice

If you're weaning yourself off eating so much meat, you might be finding it difficult to find that extra thing to put on your plate... to make it a 'meal'. A lot of life long meat eaters probably have the 'meat, veg, carb' mindset, so taking one part away can leave a hole that you itch to fill.

During Vegetarianuary I had to think up ways to stop me missing that significant element of a meal that meat has always been. I found that eating veggie for a prolonged period forced me to change how I viewed a meal - it doesn't have to follow the formula of 1/3 meat, 1/3 veg and 1/3 carb. But sometimes you want that extra element, and there is a lot you can do for replacements.

Yes this courgette could be chicken, but it's very good as not chicken. It adds the 'main' element to a meal like this which is what you might be missing, and the miso topping is incredibly flavourful and filling. I first tried it with aubergine at a really fancy Japanese restaurant and couldn't stop thinking about it. Determined to make my own I ventured to the shops only to find no aubergines in sight. Luckily, it's just as nice with courgettes, and as they tend to come in packs of three I've had this meal all week, haha!


1 Courgette or Aubergine
3+ tbsp of Miso Paste 
Soy sauce
Chopped Spring onion

Brown miso paste is preferable as it's a lot stronger, but if you use white miso just add in more soy sauce. Honey and powdered ginger (to taste) would work really nicely as extra ingredients.

Half the courgette lengthways, then cut a hash all along the flesh to give space for the topping to sink in later. Grill for 30 minutes, or until well done. In the meantime mix up the topping ingredients, leaving the spring onion out for garnishing. When the courgette is done, spread a thick layer on top and grill for a further 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped spring onion.

Cooked rice of choice
1/2 medium white onion
1/2 bell pepper
1-2 chopped garlic
1/2 finely chopped fresh chilli or powder to taste
1 egg
1-2 chopped spring onion
2 tsp (or to taste) soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Fried rice is a really really simple, easy meal that everyone should know how to do. But until this summer, at the ripe age of 21, I did not, and I assume some of you won't either. I like to use microwave bags of rice for this but if you cook it yourself it will be miles cheaper. Sesame oil is an optional extra but v nice. This can make one or two portions depending on how much rice you add.

Chop the onion into decent chunks, and the same with the bell pepper. Fry them on a high heat with your chosen oil. Chop the garlic and pepper and add them in, then once everything looks browned add the cooked rice. Stir in the soy sauce until everything is coated, then move everything to one side and crack in the egg. Move quickly because the egg will harden fast. Scramble it into little chunks, then once it's all cooked mix it into the rice. Don't mix raw egg into the rice, you want the scrambled texture. Mix in half the chopped spring onion before serving, then top with the rest.

I'm so happy about this dish. It's very straightforward and I know it will be a great meat-free pick me up when I want tasty, tangy food. If you make it, please let me know! :) I really enjoy food content and sharing meal ideas! 

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