Do you do gifts for Valentine’s Day? I always think that whether it be birthdays, Christmas or otherwise, one of the worst presents you can receive is something to keep. I’m firmly with William Morris, who said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’, and the same should definitely apply to gifting. I know that probably sounds a bit ungrateful, but ornaments and house bits are so personal, it’s so difficult if you get something that’s not really you, but then you’re kind of lumbered with it, and have to display/use it because, well, it was a gift! Here at number one, our standard gifting rule is that your gift must be something useful: something to eat (see my gorgeous strawberry and Cointreau layer cake, for example), something that they can use (like toiletries or scented candles), something that they can experience (like tickets or restaurant vouchers), or even just a voucher for somewhere you know the recipient loves to shop. So in that spirit, here are a few of my favourite bits of Valentine’s Day loveliness especially chosen for you and your beloved:
Here at number one, we say everything with cake. Passed an exam? Congratulations, here’s a cake. Miserable because it’s cold and rainy? Have some cake. Birthday? Christmas? Just because? It’s always cake. So when the lovely people at Denby asked me to create something special to celebrate their latest collection, Natural Canvas, and, as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, well, it had to be a cake, right? A romantic one. And you can’t honestly get more romantic than this strawberry and Cointreau layer cake with coconut cream: it’s light, fluffy, fruity and sweet, whilst managing to be just a teeny bit intoxicating, a bit squishy, and more than a tad eat-with-your-fingers messy . The perfect match.
As a nation, I don’t think Holland crops up that much as a destination when we’re planning our next family holiday, but this little stretch of land across the channel offers a lot more than the cultural riches of Amsterdam. It’s easy to reach by train, plane or ferry and boasts long stretches of coastline, rugged woodland, excellent cycle routes and some of the best theme parks in the world. The holiday parks are numerous and really high quality, so if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration for the summer holidays, here are my top five holiday parks in Holland.
Okay, if you’re not on Instagram you probably won’t know what on earth I’m talking about when I mention jungalow style, so I’ll explain. One of my favourite websites, The Jungalow, is home to the gorgeous Justina Blakeney, a designer who lives in LA at her heavenly, stylish home, The Jungalow. Justina’s designs are full of bright colours and beautiful patterns, and The Jungalow is a mine of fabulous inspiration: quirky hand made pieces, loads of plants, colour and lush prints. I adore everything about Justina’s ‘new Bohemian’ Jungalow style, and although Bedfordshire’s a pretty long way from LA, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all bring a little bit of jungaliciousness (that’s a word, right?) into our lives, is there? With The Jungalow as my inspiration, I set out on a mission to find a few bright accessories to give our kitchen a bit of a spring update.
I’m addicted to succulents. So much so that it’s getting a bit ridiculous. If, like me, you’re one of those people that always kills house plants, then succulents might be for you. They take barely any looking after, and they’re quite happy for me to go on trips and don’t require anyone to look after them while I’m away (which is just as well as my lot can barely manage to feed themselves, let alone look after anything else). Just a disclaimer here: I’m no expert (many look very similar – I can’t, for example, tell my Echeveria from my Pachyveria) but this is just my trial and error, learned over time method. Yes, there have been some casualties along the way – but hey, that’s another thing about succulents – the small ones are really cheap, so it’s not the end of the word. My succulents all seem pretty happy and none of them die any more, so I must be doing something right. Here’s my easy guide on how to look after indoor succulents, including how to repot, water, and care for them long term. Onwards!
When you’re on a family holiday, dining out can be a bit of a flash point. Firstly, it’s going to account for a large part of your budget (especially if, like me, your children eat like rabid wolves), and secondly, everyone has different ideas about what they want – whereas you might want to sit and sip a cocktail while pondering the delicious items on the menu, your teenagers might well want to grab a burger and go. We always try to do a wide selection of dining when we’re away that suits everyone, mixing fast food with some more upmarket dining, and we always seek out anything quirky or unusual. We found some incredible places to eat during our trip to Amelia Island and thought we’d share the best of the best with you:
I’ve never really been a chunky jewellery person, bar the odd feathery bit of boho jewellery on the beach. I love sweet, delicate pieces: a sliver of gold around the neck that catches the light, or a flash of glitter in the ear caught just as you push your hair back. This weekend’s wishlist features the absolutely stunning range from Rachel Jackson London available at John Lewis.
We get through tons of granola here at number one. Mr E and I both like it for breakfast, and the boys scoff enormous bowls of it whenever they’re hungry and often when they come in last thing at night, so it’s really important to me to buy great quality granola (we’ve all bought those ones that are a bit – well, ‘sawdusty’, haven’t we?). I use granola in quite a few different ways, and I thought I might share them with you. So here are a few different breakfast ideas using our fave Nature’s Path granola, including these really easy and yummy coconut and chia seed granola bars, plus the chance to win a lovely gift for you too!
I’ve always thought that music and food go hand in hand, but that could just be because we’re all huge music lovers in this house and, with the boys both studying music production, you can imagine there’s always a pretty strong baseline booming out of one room or other here at number one. If I’m in the kitchen, the radio will always be on. For me, the kitchen is the warmth and heart of our home, and it’s important to me that it’s filled with fun, bright colours and delicious treats, and there’s often someone having a little boogie around, so you can imagine how much we’re loving the new Sainsbury’s #fooddancing ad – it was basically just made for us – food and music are both just simple pleasures, and the kitchen’s the perfect place for a bit of dancing! If you haven’t seen it yet, the advert features families dancing around their kitchens while cooking and comes with a pretty catchy tune too:
I think when the weather is cold and bleak (let’s face it, January’s not the greatest month is it?), it’s even more important that there’s fun, laughter, music and good food all around, so to warm us up, I cooked up a delicious, warming spiced berry, rhubarb and lime crumble from the Sainsbury’s website:
Berry, rhubarb and lime crumble
You will need:
50g porridge oats
50g golden caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, diced
125g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g rhubarb, roughly chopped
500g frozen black forest fruits, defrosted
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
½ tsp cinnamon
Firstly, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Weigh out the oats, caster sugar, butter, flour (I used a tiny bit more than the recipe suggests as I made one large crumble rather than four small ones), then rub them together, adding the vanilla in as well, until you get a breadcrumby texture.
Then just slice the rhubarb and add to the defrosted fruit along with the lime zest and juice and the cinnamon. Either pile into a large bowl, or divide into four smaller bowls, and sprinkle with the crumble topping.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve with custard or double cream.
Now isn’t that worth dancing for?!
Recently, you’ll remember, I shared my little Florida secret with you – a deliciously quirky and lovely little barrier island just off the coast of northern Florida called Amelia Island. The boys and I spent a wonderful week there making some treasured memories together, and I wanted to tell you a bit more about what we got up to. We sat down and had a little head to head and came up with our favourite five things to do when you’re out and about on Amelia Island. And guess what’s number one…?
I’m SO ready for some lovely spring fashion. It doesn’t matter that it’s still grey and chilly outside, it’s so exciting to see some new season gorgeousness start to appear to cheer up all these long January days. One of my favourite brands, hush, has released a few gorgeous pieces as a taster of the full spring collection, and I’m loving the modern shapes. I think more and more for me, my clothes choices aren’t about being ‘fashionable’, but more about them being modern classics that I can mix and match with items already in my wardrobe. As I get older, I have much more idea about what suits me, and buying new pieces is all about quality, great material and wearability. Here are my favourite from the hush spring pre-collection:
It’s SO cold!! I know we should probably all be ‘clean eating’ or whatever it is that we all do to make ourselves feel even more miserable’ at this time of year, but for me, mornings start best when they involve baked goods and a bucket of tea. These vanilla breakfast muffins use real butter and that old fashioned ‘wet into dry’ method. Feel free to add whatever you like to the recipe: chocolate chips are a favourite here. I like to add blueberries, then top the muffins with a sprinkling of granola, which makes them feel extra breakfasty. Remember, with a muffin recipe, you need to assemble the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients, then stir the wet into the dry, making sure you don’t overmix (a bit of flour visible is absolutely fine).
Every year, as you know, I write a round-up post looking back at all my travel experiences from the last year. I’m so lucky to have a job where I get to travel, and the photographs from my travels really are some of my most treasured possessions: mementos of experiences, people and places that I’ll keep forever (and happy memories are something we all need today, ‘Blue Monday’, traditionally the most depressing day of the year!). One of the things that always strikes me is how my blog photography has changed (hopefully for the better). I recently spotted the CEWE Photoworld ‘Top Ten Most Instagrammed Places’ campaign and it made me even more determined to keep travelling the world, and try to tick a few more off them off my list. It also inspired me to compile a list of a few of the things that I’ve learned over the years: little tips and tricks that I keep in mind when I’m travelling. Now, I’m no photographer (I’m mostly #iphoneonly), and I’m still on a bit of a learning curve when it comes to photos, but I genuinely think that these few things have helped me improve. So here are my top ten blog photography tips. See what you think:
If you’ve been following me on my social media channels over the last week, you’ll know that I’ve got a secret to share: an island so rich in history, so naturally lush and beautiful, so authentically old Floridian that everyone should visit. Situated just off the coast of the north eastern edge of Florida near the border with Georgia, what this quirky little barrier island lacks in size, it makes up for in character; with a chequered history and a beauty that will steal your heart. Say hello to Amelia Island.
You know that hush is one of my favourite brands, so I’m always extra excited when there’s a hush sale on as it’s a chance to buy some really well made, quality additions for your wardrobe at a great price. In line with my new year of living thoughtfully, I’ll only be buying things that I really, really need, but if you’re in the market for a few key pieces, here are my top buys:
Do you have a proper night time ritual? As part of my new 2017 promise to myself to live a more thoughtful life, I’ve decided that stumbling into bed after too many glasses of wine is just not going to cut it. The lovely chaps at John Lewis have launched a brand new wellbeing campaign for 2017, to encourage us all to be a little kinder to ourselves: to exercise, recharge, and nourish our bodies, and it’s inspired me to take a look at my night time beauty routine. January is a great time to try new skin and hair care as there are often loads of lovely gift sets in the sale too – the perfect way to try out something new and discover some new favourites before buying the larger sizes.
- The best rides at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida March 21, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: Mother’s Day beauty with M & S March 18, 2017
- Soft iced buns with chocolate orange drizzle March 16, 2017
- Celebrating Mother’s Day with John Lewis March 14, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: a nude that won’t make you blush March 11, 2017