Tuesday, 30 June 2009

simple summer supper

I popped into Waitrose at the weekend and, as always, walked out with things I really didn't need but couldn't resist ie two artichokes. Then I had to think a whole supper around them when I had nothing in particular in the fridge. But with the sun out and our vegetable patch just about coming to fruition I came over all Sarah Raven. It's amazing what you can find in the garden, and after a bit of foraging I returned to the kitchen with some baby beetroot, 2 courgette flowers, some mint, parsley, some sage leaves and 3 mangetout.

I've been trying to pluck up courage to make Sarah's (Hardaker not Raven) Sage and Anchovy Tempura but since setting a pan of oil on fire while trying to deep fry some poppadums many years ago I've had a fear. Yesterday I braved it and fried not only the tempura but the courgette flowers (stuffed as per the Matthew Rice recipe in Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook - absolutely delicious), and I didn't have to call the fire brigade. This went nicely with the artichoke and lemon mayonnaise, a beautifully coloured salad made with the baby beetroot, feta chese and mint and some homemade foccaccia.

Hubby was very pleased to return from an unsuccessful but hot trip to Cribbs Causeway to find this little feast of seasonal food waiting for him and, slightly surprised, washed it down with some ice cold lager.

Monday, 29 June 2009

aprons of the vintage world unite

We're sailing pretty close to the wind with this post as it's now the end of June and apron month is coming to a close. Promised a month, ago here are the photos of fellow bloggers in their pinnies at the Vintage Fair. We were thrilled to see that our theory that pinnies and aprons are still very much in use was clearly evident, and I don't think we were the only one's who enjoyed putting faces to names and blogs, and really meeting people we had met in cyber space.

Above in a great, retro pinny is Liz the washer woman, who had a great collection of vintage clothes for sale and we met amid cries of 'oh, you're the washer woman'.

This is Hen of HenHouse who had a lovely collection of things for sale on her stall including a wonderful vintage eiderdown which I fell in love with. I'll be returning to her at the next fair as I've decided that the girls are going to get eiderdowns as Christmas presents (Baby will be in a bed by then, I can't believe it, but it presents a case for redecorating the girl's room). Her blog is fantastic and she obviously has the same calling to Cath Kidston that I do!

I loved this 'apron' worn by Christine Nullmeyer of the seagarden in Cornwall. In fact it's an old curtain tied around her waist. I absolutely adore the vintage rose fabric, and the way it goes with her handmade bag. Funnily enough I was reading through some ancient copies of Country Living recently and came across an article about Christine in the April 2002 edition, I felt rather chuffed to have met her in person! And I bought a fab jar of fabric bits and old buttons from her. See this post

You must visit the magical website of Claire (above) made in pixieland and her blog, elfie and me loved by my children as we're a family of Magic Faraway Tree fans and her world of pixies and fairies are just like the creatures you'd expect to meet in The Enchanted Wood. Her stall was covered in her cards and illustrations of life in pixiesland.

And last, but not least, this is Viv of Hensteeth, who I met last year (on a course on making papier mache dolls run by Julie Arkell). I was drawn to her beautiful purses so didn't realise it was her stall I was admiring at first. I love the way she mixes embroidery, interesting fabrics and old photographs.

I hope you enjoy looking at these blogs, all are inspirational and as I said it's nice to put a face (and a pinny) to blog. And if you're interested in visiting the next Vintage Fair it's at Chipping Sodbury Townhall on Sunday 14 November.

(photos by Sarah, text by Jo)

time for sharing

It's less than 2 weeks till my sister's big day and the pressure is mounting. As my sister and mother top up their tans on a Spainish beach I'm acting as 'UK Communications Officer', whilst frantically trying to create confetti, think about packing for a holiday and a wedding, and organising hubby's birthday. Time for blogging has become an indulgence but there are a few things I've come across recently that have I wanted to share - including this flower 'arrangement' by my little girl!

I've been doing some online window shopping and came across Lapin & Me. There are endless, different goodies to buy - I just don't know where to start (or stop) and I loved everything but the stationery selection is fab. Their shop is on Columbia Road, London, famous for it's Flower Market. I went years ago, but I'd love to go again now, there seem to be loads of really good shops there now.

And here are a couple of blogs for you to have a look at. I mentioned Persephone Books a while ago and a friend of mine has drawn my attention to their blog which has lots of interesting pictures with snips of information perfect for those wanting a quick intellectual fix. Meanwhile another friend has recently created this blog for Noble Macmillan. Don't you just love the photography.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

tobacconist farm shop

Last week I went shopping with my parents to a farm shop in their village which they have been positively raving about. We took the vhildren and the lovely owner Lucy gave them a tour of the animals and let them in the pig pen to see an enormous mummy gloucester old spot. It was really great and the children are despreate to go back. Anyway as a fan of the whole shop local thing, I thought Lucy deserves a big plug for what shes doing and I think she is going to be Gloucestershires answer to H F-W, only more glamorous!!
So heres a little about what you can get from down on the farm from Lucy!
Plants start from 50p and I have herbs, lettuce (many sorts), brassicas, french beans, tomatoes including cascading ones for hanging baskets and more. I have new peas, sweetcorn and late runners coming through in a couple of weeks for those that like to fill gaps or succession plant. I have beef, frozen! venison burgers and sausages for the weekend. I now also stock Cotswold Charcoal, which is produced from the wood clearing at the Arboretum, Westonbirt (brilliant for B-B-Q's). I will have free range corn fed chickens available at the end of the month. I always have eggs. The new season flowing plants (late Summer/Autumn) will be ready mid July. I will stock some sauces and Chutney's made by a girl called Bonnie from Cirencester, Days apple juice (friends of my sisters), sowing/harvesting charts, seeds and some great aprons/teatowels made by a friend www.pintuck.co.uk, oh and vegetables, from us and other local producers. The web site is under construction, we have a holding page at www.tobacconistfarm.co.uk which has map details. Contact details are 01453 883534 or better mobile 07854 750473 email, lucy or info @tobacconistfarm.co.uk.

I bought a dozen of the most delicious fresh free range eggs, a couple of frozen wild ducks and a piece of scrummy brisket which I pot roasted for 4 hours with an onion a sprig of thyme a glass of water and a glass of wine 120 degrees, it was so delicious - why don't we cook more of the cheaper cuts more often I wonder. Cooking brisket this way makes the most fab gravy and I am rather ashamed to say we scoffed 12 enormous yorkshires between 2 adults 1 child and a toddler - its no wonder I can't lose weight is it!!
Anyway I would like to encourage any local readers to head over and support Lucy in her new venture.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

pinny party

our lovely friend - one of the claires (B!!) has been an honorary friday guest at stitch and bitch. She has made 11 lovely pinnies for her daughters birthday party. All the guests took home a perfect cupcake apron with her name stamped on it and a pocket made from the cupcake wrapper. Aren't they amazing?

here are the pinnies that each girl took home.

and thse were the goody bags - fantastic.

Too hot to handle

Today has been a slow, hot, sticky day and baby has spent a lot of time sleeping. As a result the little girl and I were able to spend some quality time together in the kitchen. Inspired by cakes made by a friend of Sarah's we headed into the garden and picked some rose petals and violas and 'frosted' them before using them to decorate these fairy cakes - Camilla's were much more beautiful and presentable but you should get the idea!

Then, as it remained too clammy to do anything that required much effort, we decided to make some fruit kebabs to serve with ice cream for tonight's supper.

Very simple but much enjoyed.

Friday, 19 June 2009

girly star cushions

I have had a week of stitching nightmares, which included cutting a hole in a lovely pink paisley bag for a very nice customer. there was much swearing and gnashing of teeth!! anyway I did manange to finish a gift for sam and one for jeska which have been languishing in my studio for several weeks. I also uploaded my star cushions onto NOTHS, so just need their approval and hopefully the till will ching!!
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Thursday, 18 June 2009

eat your greens

we seem to have alot of greenery that we can't keep up with at the moment, so one of my favourite things to do with it is to turn it in to 'spanokopita' - i am sure I have spelled that completely wrong! anyway its a Greek greens and cheese pie. And I make a inauthentic version like this. chop an onion and fry in olive oil with garlic, thyme and a pinch of chilli flakes, salt and pepper. add a huge pile of mixed greenery - i use spinach, kale, beetroot tops, chard,wild garlic. wilt down and then drain and chop. mix in crumbled feta (i use a whole pack if i am baking it in a brownie tin (approx 12" x 7") I sometimes add a beaten egg or some cream cheese - it depends what is lurking in the fridge!! add a big handful of chopped mint and dill if you have it and mix it all together. liberally butter a tin and line with a couple of layers of filo pastry - not too many or it will be wodgy (thats my mums word!) butter each layer of pastry where it overlaps and this will keep it nice and crisp. spread your cheese and green mix into the tin cover with a sheet of buttered filo and flop the overhanging pastry over - buttering as you go (a pastry brush and some melted butter is easiest). bake at about 180 for 20-30mins and serve warm but not hot. YUM!!
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Wednesday, 17 June 2009


With the change in weather I've had a chance to sit down and think about the questions we were tagged with by Lobster & Swan.

By gum , it's difficult when you're put on the spot!

Q whats your favourite colour?
A I Love Pink - although I hardly ever dress my girls in it!

Q whats your favourite clothing in your wardrobe?
A pyjamas

Q whats your dream job?
A Something that would justify my having my own spacious, light and airy, well organised and well stocked studio

Q whats the last thing you bought?
A Some really stinky cheeses and a white fig confit from Paxton and Whitfield to take to supper last night

Q what are you listening to right now?
A We're scrolling through the ipod to find something I can admit to, with no luck

Q whats your favourite ice cream?
A a good chocolate icecream

Q whats your favourite fruit?
A I don't know, anything

Q what inspires you?
A Studio Seven

Q who is your favourite designer?
A Given the amount of stuff I own by her it must be Cath Kidston

Q do you admire anyones style?
A I love Tricia Guild's bold and colourful style, but I'm not brave enough to adorn my house with it

Q describe your personal style?
A Light, natural, neutral, attention to detail, well tailored, classic with a twist - or at least that's what I'd like to be

Q whats on the walls of your bedroom?
A Pictures of the children, hooks with loads of bags and quite a few cobwebs

Q what language would you like to learn?
A Spanish (in the next 3 weeks) and french so I can communicate with my siblings's partners's families (are you with me?)

Q what are you wearing today
A denim short collutes, flip flops and a slouchy grey Jack Wills v-neck jumper

Q whats for dinner?
A leftover mash, baked beans and sausages - the kids have had friends to play

Q what would you eat for your last meal?
A a greek salad, whitebait, chips and an ice cold amstel - with my family in a Greek taverna by the sea

Q what do you think of the person who tagged you?
A Hmm, as well as being a fab designer she's a great cook/hostess, a good friend and a fantastic influence on me (that's Sarah by the way)

Q if you could have a house paid for and furnished anywhere in the world what/where would it be?
A Brittany. A decent sized, but not too large, whitewashed, airy, antique french style, rustic farmhouse. Nice garden with home grown veg, on the edge of a village so I could cycle to the boulangerie for my croissant, near to the beach, but easy access to Paris and the Eurostar.

Q what is your favourite magazine?
A I love it when my subscription to Country Living drops through the letterbox, but when I'm given a good copy of Selvedge I'm in seventh heaven

Q if you had £100 what would you spend it on?
A I'd go to hobby craft

Q What is your current obsession?
A the blog

Q if you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour where would it be?
A Paper Source in America - I've never been but how I dream.....and then if I had a spare 5 mins (though I doubt I would) I'd pop into Anthropologie. Have been there before and lurved it

Q what are you going to do after this?
A bed, with a hot milk and my Country Living

Q what are your favourite movies?
A casablanca

Q what is your favourite quote (for now)
A 'Play it again Sam'

Q whats your favourite book?
A The Secret Garden, I love MM Kaye's biographies of her life as a child in British India and Salmon Rushdie's Midnight's Children

Q do you collect something?
A I'm quite good at throwing away clutter due to size of our house so I don't really think I collect anything, apart from magazine clippings. But I'm beginning learn from Sarah - hence Mr P's exasparation! (ref Sarah's answer to the same question)

Q whats the most important rule for life?
A Be happy with what you are doing

Summertime, and the living is easy

And as a result I've been neglecting the blog.

Following a wonderfully relaxing weekend in Wiltshire (good food, large gardens to keep the children entertained, reading the weekend papers in straw hats, admiring the vegetable patch and catching up with good friends) Monday saw Boy's first Sports Day. The girls and I cheered him on in amazing heat and we were all shattered by the end of the day.

My sister has been over pulling together the final UK details of her wedding so yesterday we had a girly day in Bath. First Mum, Sis and I all had our hair cut and coloured before heading to Jamie Oliver's new(ish) restaurant to enjoy some Italian antipasti on the terrace. I love Bath in the Summer the honey coloured stone buildings always look so warm and inviting and there is a great vibe - especially at the moment before the tourists pour in in their masses! Then (after making the kid's supper - reality check!) I had a girly supper with friends, drinking fizz and eating more antipasti in their garden.

It's no wonder I haven't sat in front of the computer for a couple of days. Another baby has been born and I still haven't made any of the gifts I planned, I've got oodles of things to be doing and making before THE wedding - now only 3 weeks away, and I still haven't read my new edition of Country Living.

Thank goodness the rain has returned today!

Monday, 15 June 2009


A number of people have asked for directions to the wholesale flower market at Bristol. It is quite easy to find and I have added a google map link for you below. Sadly due to the recession there aren't as many vendors as there once were, however those that are still there are very good. They also sell lots of high quality plants but you usually have to buy them by the tray, great if you are doing a lavender hedge or lots of tubs of geraniums.

">googlemap bristol wholesale flower market

also a really good florist sundries wholesaler is SPF on chapel street round the corner from the flower market. you can get all of your oasis/vases / candles as well as any number of other goodies here.
Alice if you email me I can give you some info on which places I would buy from and where to avoid.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

something for the weekend

I think I was looking for a crochet flower tutorial somewhere in blogland when I happened across a very nice blog called skip to my lou. Anyway I also found a link to a baked donut recipe which I thought would be a fun thing for the children to do this morning. (turns out less fun for the mummy who is still getting flour out of her flipflops and every crevice of the kitchen!!!) Also knowing the lovely mr h's fondness for a fresh donut, i thought he deserved a nice treat to come home from work to.the recipe is here at 101 cookbooks or go via this page of skip to my lou. Following on from the recipe she does a fantastic tutorial on making fun felt play donuts.

then I found some more felt food tutorials via apartment therapy ohdeedoh, a good fun weekend project I think.

these are originally by the ikat bag.
I will most probably not be making felt donuts, I will be making the rosettes for winners of our village flower and produce show. And remaking for the second time something I started weeks ago for a fellow blogger!

Thursday, 11 June 2009


i seem to be drawn to birdie images at the moment - i am seeing them everywhere, I know birds are an 'on trend image' (I hate that term it reminds me of my days in retail!!) Anyway I happened accross this on one of my favourite reads ohdeedoh - a supernice kids design blog - but uber slick.
anyway I rather thought that there was endless milage in the idea of these little fake budgies being attached to things - I would probably go more chandelier and less drum shade in shape, but a lovely fun idea for a kids room - or i am also thinking christmas too (i know its not even july yet!!!)by the way our friend in cirencester - lexi loves.... sells allsorts of birdies and butterflies. they are also widely available online.

Monday, 8 June 2009


yesterday I posted my tagging Q &A and now I am tagging you lovely people.
you need tho answer the questions and post them on your blog, you can swap a question you don't like for a new one. then tag some fellow bloggers!

becky and steph - though sam might have already tagged you two

Sunday, 7 June 2009

pretty in pink

A couple of weeks ago I had the most disastrous morning of stitch and bitch, I don't know if the coffee was too strong, but I spent half a morning sewing very badly and the other half of the morning unpicking all my work. The aim of the morning had been to make a make up bag as a birthday gift for my god daughter. I had already bought this tasteless dressing-up beauticians outfit and decided to add some make up and bits to make a deliciously pink and naughty present (my little girl has been in tears over this present - it's just not fair that I'm giving it to someone else).

Eventually I plucked up the courage to start again and now it is ready to be posted to a little girl who will hopefully love it as much as my little girl does.

And while on the topic of beauticians and given that it is apron month I thought I'd show you this website I came across, Jesse Steele Salon, that provides aprons with a twist (trade only). They describe them as 'retro-chic, vintage-inspired', I loved their quirkiness and the pictures made me smile.


we were tagged a week ago by the lovely Jeska of Lobster and Swan. Anyway I took it to devon to do on the beach and mr h who is normally the most tolerant person on the planet got fed up eith me asking him the questions and then butting in with my answers that I didn't do it, so i have done it now in an off the cuff manner......

Q whats your favourite colour?
A green particularly peapod, mimosa, apple….but I also like blue… and chocolate….and that funny nude pink…..

Q whats your favourite clothing in your wardrobe?
A my new noa noa skirt and any cashmere jumper – so snuggy

Q whats your dream job?
A owning a lovely little boutique band b that is child friendly and filled with joyful little details which bring a smile to peoples faces.

Q whats the last thing you bought?
A my noa noa tulle skirt, oh and a load of buttons and vintage bits from vintage to Victorian.

Q what are you listening to right now?
A unfortunately – the cricket (I’d like to say cool music!!)

Q whats your favourite ice cream?
A really good vanilla….or chocolate….or coffee….

Q whats your favourite fruit?
A English strawberries

Q what inspires you?
A everything and anything.

Q whats on the walls of your bedroom?
A nothing at the moment except farrow and ball slipper satin, soon though there will be my chinoiserie grande wallpaper and lots of photos of the children.

Q who is your favourite designer?

A probably Nina Campbell, she is so very very good at what she does, she is also a very thoughtful person.

Q do you admire anyones style?

A nina Campbell and cath kidston, because they have both stayed totally true to their design ethos.

Q describe your personal style?

A I don’t have any style I need a visit from trinny and suzannah to get me out of stripey long sleeve t shirts, jeans and converse pumps!!

Q what language would you like to learn?

A Italian

Q what is your favourite quote (for now)

A “bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love” - morcombe and wise

Q what is your favourite magazine?

A selvedge, living etc, country living, small (online)

Q if you had £100 what would you spend it on?

A Diptyque candles.

Q What is your current obsession?
A the seaside (and slug removal)

Q what are you wearing today
A pyjamas – it is Sunday!!!

Q whats for dinner?
A jamie oliver sticky chicken, new potato and sweet cherry tomato tray bake woth salad from the garden.

Q what would you eat for your last meal?
A a really rare good rib eye steak with chips, salad and béarnaise sauce or beans and cheese on toast.

Q what do you think of the person who tagged you?
A incredibly talented, someone who I would like to sit down and have coffee and cake with, and I think perhaps she is wasted behind a desk!

Q if you could have a house paid for and furnished anywhere in the world what/where would it be?
A a clapboard new England style beach shack anywhere on the Cornish coast with porch and cream woodburner please!!

Q if you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour where would it be?
A shopping in Delhi

Q what language would you like to learn?
A Italian

Q what are you going to do after this?
A hope the cricket has finished!!

Q what are your favourite movies?
A some like it hot, the holiday, the wizard of oz, Madagascar!!

Q whats your favourite book?
A sarah raven the garden cookbook

Q do you collect something?
A buttons, old flowery teacups, paisley eiderdowns, old linen……. You can see why my house is a mess and mr h gets exasperated can’t you.

Q whats the most important rule for life?
A nothing really matters except the people you love.

Friday, 5 June 2009

small magazine

I love it when small magazine plops in to my googlemail inbox. its like an online kiddy version of selvedge - another favourite publication. Anyway when it arrived through the ether last week I thought there was much inside it to share.
I particularly liked this from the red thread. A sydney based company owned by artist and blogger Lisa Tilse.
- especially as after our trip last week to the vintage handmade fair Jo and I have fabric bits and bobs coming out of our ears (and we are determined to have our friend the lovely Kath making things by the end of the summer with needle and thread!!!)

you can subscribe (free) on line to small magazine here, I recommend it, its quite international in its style, and very lovely. Happy weekend everyone there will be more from small magazine and others over the weekend.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

perfect pinny

I'm so chuffed with myself. Not only have I managed to make an apron before the end of the week (and wrap and post it), but it was so easy that I decided to make a corsage as well. The idea being that while you are doing the preparation for a dinner party you can use the basic pinny and then when the guests arrive you can jazz it up with the corsage (ok white is not the most pratical colour for this, but then if you spill a big splodge of tomato sauce you can cover it with the flower and no one will any the wiser).

I have to thank Amy Karol's book bend-the-rules sewing for the pattern (if you can call it that). It is her Amazing Tea Towel Apron. If you haven't got the book it is worth buying, I've made a couple of other things including a tea cosy, and this and this smock. The photos are bright and fun, the designs are fab but, as the name suggests, they are not labour intensive and you get quick results. This apron must have taken 5 minutes (I didn't use a tea towel but I did ignore the option to add darts). Now there is no excuse for you not to make your own.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

vintage handmade fair

oh we did have a lovely day!!! 4 children offloaded on the lovely mr.h and off we skipped a carful of ladies to Chipping Sodbury town hall to the vintage hand made fair. Jo and I were like kids in a sweetie shop we didn't know where to look first, stripy sheets, paisly eiderdowns, vintage buttons, lovely crochet oh the list was endless. I managed to spend a small fortune, I will show you some pictures of my purchases later in the week (I am away printing new childrens range at the moment - more of that soon). It was so wonderful to put some faces to favourite names in the blog world. We were especially thrilled to see so many pinnys and we will be poting some photos of the lovely blog ladies in their pinnies soon as june is apron month here at hardakerandpope. Anyway for now heres a few pictures (I don't know how but I managed to take only a few - too busy chatting!!). And an apology to Harriet who after 3 hours looked like she had lost the will to live!!!!