Sunday, 30 January 2011

flower power

Last week I did something I didn't ever think I would do! After the debacle of snow cutting short Baby's Teddy Bear's tea party last year I decided to avoid entertaining at home for her 3rd birthday party. The problem is that there is not a huge choice of venues for toddlers parties in the middle of winter so I ended up apologising to the mum's as I invited 9 little girls to join baby at a soft play centre. However I do have to eat my hat slightly as, of course, the girls all loved it and it was so easy to organise.

Me being me I did have to have a few homemade touches though. Rather than use the invites provided I made my own. Baby wanted a princess pink party so I blew up a load of pink balloons, made some princess hats for them to wear whilst eating their party lunch, of course there were princess pink fairy cakes and I sent them all home with a flower lollipop. These lollipops were a huge success, even before the children realised that they were actually edible. I've been wanting to make them ever since I saw them in a Martha Stewart Kids Craft book Sarah brought me back from the US ages ago

To make them yourself:

Cover the lollipop in paper

Cut out 4 heart shaped petals (roughly 2 inches x 1 inch) and punch a hole in the V of each heart

Push the lollipop sticks through the holes and arrange the petals and glue them in place

Friday, 28 January 2011

mood board charcoal and grey with a hint of red....

this weeks mood board customer is looking for a smart teenage bedroom for her son. but she wants something that he can grow with and something that isn't a blokey room! she was originally looking at the blue stars and semaphores designs, however i think we have ended up down a more sophisticated road! when we were talking about the stars fabric I asked her what colour she was doing the walls, and she told me either a very pale grey or shaded white, so i suggested looking at the possibility of charcoal fabric or natural linen.
Lots of people are put off using black and white because it can look harsh and stark. However used carefully as an accent in a mainly neutral palette it can be a stunning decorating choice. Above and below are 2 different boards using essentially the same 2 colours but different tones of them. Th board above uses a scandi grey white as the neutral backdrop, and below uses a more creamy tone for the neutral backdrop, and a very different (but both beautiful) look is achieved.
Our customer also wanted to introduce a tiny shot of colour and rather liked the idea of a vintage red, so my first stop was my favourite colour guru Katherine of Snippet and ink. Now I know these are two wedding boards and you are probably thinking why am I using a wedding website as inspiration, but inspiration comes in unusual places and Katherine has a great eye for unusual colour combinatons (if you are getting married any time soon, check out her lovely site as you will be filled with fab ideas).
anyway what i love about these two boards is that a little tiny accent of colour is introduced , yet overall the feel is neutral/grey (i think the addition of a tiny hint of duck egg is rather lovely too!)

well moving back from sophistication to teenagers , below are some ideas for  'boy - i -fying' your lovely sophisticated charcoal and natural room! a black and white collage or a black and white photo print wallpaper are two decorating solutions which offer impact as well as style

a chalk board wall is cool idea for a teen feature wall.

photo print roller blinds or wallpaper make a strong design feature.

my ideas for  my customer were to paint her walls her chosen neutral, then go for natural linen curtains edged with a border of charcoal stars or scarlet if she decides on a hint of accent colour. then a roman blind in charcoal star fabric. i would go for white bedding  and some of my favourite skinny oblong cushions in 2 different sizes of charcoal and scarlet stars.

 for a smarter tailored look she could go for a battered vintage linen with 2 stripes of velvet ribbon  in french grey and charcoal stitched down the leading edge and a charcoal star roman blind , introducing no accent colour at all,

then when her son is all grown up and moved out she can turn it in to a spare room by adding a pretty print in another shade of charcoal, such as a toile.

images from tinek, pottery barn, atlanta barlett easy elegance, snippet and ink, martha stewart
all fabrics available from sarah hardaker ltd (inc photoblinds and wallpapers)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

weekend reading

beautiful eye candy here, i found this lovely online magazine via 100layercake, a place i always visit when in need of a little inspiration! published by jeanette lunde and she also writes a beautiful blog here .  i am sighing wistfully at this point as i dream of a house that doesn't have piles of 'stuff ' everywhere! (not beautiful stuff - general day to day stuff - like parts of a toy, and piles of filing and the box for a dvd - minus the dvd....and so it goes on... ).

Anyway then, I couldn't stop reading the blog, so you have ended up with a visual treat today because there are so many lovely pictures....aaahh another wistful sigh and some motivation for a clearout!!
enjoy x
 i really love all of the white wood, with little shots of colour and pattern.
 gorgeous calender

 fabulously simple decor for a little girls party

happy weekend

Thursday, 20 January 2011

interior decorating

Many moons ago, I had the pleasure of working with the amazing interior decorator Nina Campbell. She is a truely inspiring lady, and possibly one of the best interior decorators anywhere. She sells her fabrics through Osborne and Little and uses them all the time in her decorating projects. Anyway over the last few weeks I have had a number of phone calls from customers who need a little help with their decorating choices, now I am no Nina Campbell, but I thought it might be quite fun to start a series of decorator mood boards for any customers who need some inspiration.

So we are going to kick off with some inspiration for a family wanting to redecorate their teenage daughters room. She had chosen the polka dots in denim, but her and her mum wanted something to work with them, and they didn't really want a girly girly pink room. So I suggested a Jack Wills type vibe (very loosley jack wills-ish, not an homage!)
I felt the room needed a nod to girliness without being pink princess, so i have introduced a dash of fuchsia for trims.

Considering I sell wallpaper for a living, i seem to often gravitate towards neutral walls. The great thing about a good neutral base, is that it is a fabulous blank canvas on which to hang accents of colour.
so going back to our teenage girls bedroom, I am suggesting a neutral wallcolour and then use the denim polka dot for a blind, and vintage linen curtaind trimed with a deep border of polka dot, cover the seam with velvet ribbon or ric rac in fuchsia, and stack a pile of cushions on the bed and maybe a couple of big floor cushions in a mix of polka dots, stars, and union jacks.
I am rather partial to a skinny oblong cushion at the moment, and I think they look particularly nice in pairs on a bed, so this young lady could have 2 polka dot ones with her initials , with a pairl of smaller vintage union jacks in front.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Birdie picture

When we do our courses we hang up examples of our work around the room to inspire and show what you can achieve with your new found skills. Well yesterday I was approached in the frozen veg section of the supermarket (Monday morning shopping is always a very social affair) by a friend who had been on one of our courses and remembered seeing a picture she wanted to try and recreate for a new baby and I promised her I'd show it on the blog.

In fact I did a post about these birdies here but the photo isn't very good so here are some more to help anyone else who wants to make one of these birdie pictures as a gift. It uses a mixture of applique and hand embroidery stitches (including French Knots) so it should be a breeze for anyone who has been on one of our courses!

For those who haven't we've plenty more planned and are just waiting to confirm exact dates.
Any requests for a particular course please let us know and we'll see what we can do.

PS I'm sorry, the picture isn't much better than the original

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

escape to the sun

Well, I don't know what has happened to the last month. For me the chaos of Christmas and New Year was enough to deal with and I was looking forward to the respite that January usually brings. However with baby's 3rd birthday on the Bank Holiday Monday and the arrival of an 8 week old puppy two days later the return to school has not brought all the free time I was hoping for.

One thing we have found time for is our New Year ritual of ignoring the dull, grey days outside and planning the year ahead and the various holidays we would like to go on! We obviously wont be going to Stockholm, Brittany, Prague, Istanbul, Geneva, Paris, Greece, Gozo and Morrocco this year. In fact we'll be lucky with a trip to the Lake District but there is nothing wrong with dreaming of the sun!

But back to reality and tonight I'm out to supper to celebrate a friends birthday and I've been asked to take some food, specifically this aubergine salad. It truly transports you to balmier climates and the aromas that fill the kitchen whilst you cook it are amazing. I love it for the fact it is far better made at least a day in advance, getting tastier every 24 hours and I often incorporate it as part of a huge meditarrenean style feast with a slow roast lamb and a selection of food from one of my favourite cook books, Falling Cloudberries, by Tessa Kiros (I did this for my sister's hen night).

Sarah and I were introduced to this recipe by one of our NCT group (we were very lucky to have had an NCT group full of good cooks!). It was originally a Delia Smith recipe, but I've adapted it to make it quicker to make, as follows:

You need:
1 aubergine
1 can tomatoes
1 onion
some garlic
olive oil
1 teaspoon of allspice berries
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
some fresh mint, flat leaf parsley and coriander

  1. Cut the aubergine into small cubes, cover in olive oil and roast in the oven till cooked (40 mins to an hour)
  2. Dry roast the cumin seeds and allspice berries (in a saucepan on the hob), when they start jumping around take them off and bash them into a powder in a pestle and mortar
  3. Fry onions, garlic and chilli till soft
  4. Add tomatoes, aubergine and crushed spices, then salt, pepper and fresh herbs
  5. simmer for 5 mins then store in the fridge over night
Serve with Greek Yoghurt and flat breads and imagine you are somewhere else.

Monday, 10 January 2011

happy and sad

Food is like an eternal panacea for me, i think sometimes I was born either in the wrong religion or the wrong country, I should be an Italian mama or a Jewish mother, because when it all goes horribly wrong I cook. the last few months have been a little bit like a sick comedy drama, where some mornings I have hardly dared get out of bed for fear of what horrors will befall the day. we have lost people really dear and had a roller coaster of a cancer diagnosis for my mother in law, just when we thought surely nothing else.... the dog died. The only way I have been able to carry on is to cook. my family and Mr H's  have been stuffed with food..............When his father died I filled his mums freezer with tasty little portions of casseroles, pork ala normande - pork slowly simmered in cider, apples, prunes and creme fraiche. when the cancer diagnosis hit, I started filling everybody with antioxidant filled salads, toasted nuts and bright winter fruits, but mostly I have baked (and baked and baked). there is something so calming about spending  time making food for those and with those you love.. i have baked Mr H'S favourite ameretti morbiddi  - just like the ones we ate with his father in the little cafe bar up the road from the vicarage in Taormina  Sicily. I took solace in Sarah Raven and baked Walnut bread, then spent a day tweaking it with dried figs and more nuts to make it even more delicious. I baked sticky toffee pudding , rich with squidgy dates and dripping with hot toffee sauce another favourite of the people i love most in the world. So you see, thats where i have been, I am sorry I have been away for so long.....but I have got lots to catch up on in hte next few weeks x