You know Mr E, he loves a bit of upcycling. Now the wall has been taking down between the kitchen and the dining room, I’ve obviously lost all the kitchen cupboards that were on that wall. Hence, I’m always complaining about not having enough storage in the kitchen, so wasn’t at all surprised when he appeared one night with his latest Ebay find: a tall, pine unit with a cupboard and lots of shelves. It looked absolutely perfect, the only problem was that it was a pretty hideous shade of orange. As we discussed colours, I mentioned that I’d seen some really dark grey interior finishes recently, and that I really wanted shades of granite and khaki for the kitchen, with accents of copper that have been dominating my Pinterest for a while now.
Picture the scene: it’s Friday night, we’ve both had a hectic week and we’re slumped, finally, in front of the TV, bra off (me), joggers on (him), and both boys out with friends. It’s the perfect opportunity for us to head out to dinner together, just the two of us. We discuss options and various restaurants we quite fancy, but it would mean getting dressed and putting make up on and driving/taxis and whatever and there’s a good film we both fancy on the telly, and delicious wine in the rack. What to do? We don’t have the luxury of many takeaways that deliver here, plus that option can be expensive (and frankly not always great), and although I love to cook, sometimes the thought of getting creative in the kitchen when I just want to chat and sip wine with Jim while we catch up after a busy week means I’d love an easier, but still delicious alternative. This week we’ve been trying The Supper Club range, a collection of premium luxury ready meals new to Sainsbury’s, so we popped the Red Thai Chicken Curry in the oven instead.
Are we allowed to talk about spring yet? I’m SO ready. I’m one of those people who loves to have something to look forward to, and at the moment, it’s new buds on the trees, longer days, beams of sunlight shining through the window, and maybe even a little bit of spring cleaning. To inspire us, I’ve chosen a few fresh new interior pieces from M&S in a pretty palette of blue and white, which should help to cheer up even the most miserable of January mornings!
Welcome to the first weekend wishlist of 2018! I’m in a positive frame of mind at the moment, and I have loads of plans for updating our home. I want to create a cosy, calm home that’s a retreat for us all – first order of the day will be a massive declutter (that goes for my wardrobe too – more of this later), and then maybe a fresh coat of paint (I’m thinking about saying goodbye to the blue wall in the kitchen and replacing it with a more stylish Scandi-inspired grey), as well as repainting the chairs in more muted tones. I want our home to be enhanced with fresh greenery, pale wood, clean lines, soft textures and elegant functional furniture (I’m after a perfect, mid-century inspired chair for an empty corner in the lounge at the moment). Here are a few of the Scandi inspired home updates that I’ve got in mind:
I really enjoy writing this round-up post – traditionally my last one before Christmas. I probably say more or less the same thing every year (don’t panic! It’s just a big roast dinner), but as usual, remember that it’s your Christmas too. Grab a few willing helpers to make some Christmas cookies, or whip up some of my perfect frozen whipped cream hot chocolate and have a little prep-party on Christmas Eve (it’s amazing how much you can get done the night before). Need a little inspiration? Read on for my top tips and recipes for Christmas dinner and beyond: fresh ideas, old favourites and more!
I’m obsessed with everything Scandinavian (some of you may know that I’ve just written the recipes and contributed some of the food photography for a book called Nordic Style for Viking Cruises along with Liz Jarvis and Sara Malm – super proud!). I especially love how the Scandinavians do Christmas, and, knowing that Homesense often have extra special bits and pieces from around the globe, I headed to my nearest store to find some inspiration for a Scandi Christmas, and a few bits for some special Scandi Christmas cookies.
One of the best parts of Christmas for me is choosing all the lovely wrapping paper and cards. For some people, obviously I’ll just choose the ‘robin in snow’ variety, but for my friends and family, I’m always looking for great quality, quirky cards and wrapping with a bit of a cheeky edge – and I’ve definitely found it in Love Layla Designs, a fab, family-run small business from Yorkshire who have the most original tongue in cheek, fun Christmas designs. For this weekend’s wishlist, step away from the boring snow scene and come and discover some of my favourite Love Layla Designs:
Recently, an enormous box arrived at English Towers with a lovely note from the folks at Kenwood: ‘we know you love cooking, so would you like this beautiful Kenwood Chef Elite?’ Seriously generous, right? But I didn’t rush to open it, because, well, I’ve got a mixer already that I’ve had for ages and love, and on the box it looks all complicated and new-fangled, not homely and quirky like mine. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, though, and because everyone kept complaining that there was a huge box on the kitchen floor, I opened it up and popped it onto the kitchen counter. Well. Cue choirs of angels singing and all that jazz, because this thing is beautiful. Seriously, I sent a pic to Mr E and he replied ‘erm, wow. It really goes in our kitchen’. To give it a thorough test, though, and make sure it has brains as well as beauty, I attempted some Christmas crumble muffins with my sleek and shiny new baby. Here’s how I got on:
You know that friend: she always looks amazing, even just in jeans, and of course she has a lovely, welcoming home, a gorgeous wardrobe and impeccable taste, and that all just makes festive pressie buying a bit – well – difficult! I came across this very dilemma recently when the lovely chaps at John Lewis asked if I’d like to do a pressie swap with the effortlessly stylish Sara, who writes the beautiful lifestyle blog, Notes from a Stylist. I mean, ARGH! Luckily, not only is Sara very lovely and friendly, but it turns out we also have lots in common: teenage kids, yummy food (bring on the roast dinners), a love of interiors, stationery, twinkly things, beautiful flowers and lovely smells. Of course, there are also things we don’t have in common: mostly the fact that I have no style whatsoever, which is why I was reading her blog and following her in the first place – to pick up some tips. So how on earth do you choose festive gifts for a stylish friend? Well…
I adore candles. When I’m writing, I’ll often have a scented candle lit next to me while I type. I find it quite soothing and I love filling the room with delicious scent, although I’ve had to stop leaving them lit around the house (let’s not mention that time I turned the entire downstairs loo black by leaving a Halloween Yankee Candle burning all night – yes, it had to be redecorated). You know I love everything about the autumn, and I always get excited to see beautiful new scented Christmas candles appearing online and in the shops. Here are a few of my favourites:
You know that I’m a complete Halloween addict. I love all the little bits and bobs that come out around this time of year, and yesterday I was nosing around John Lewis, intending to buy a few baking bits to make my spiced chocolate skeleton gingerbread men (more of these in a second). They have some absolutely gorgeous gifts, decorations and treats for Halloween this year and I ended up buying rather a lot of that stuff too (I mean, mini pumpkin fairy lights, come on!).
Since arriving back from Orlando on Thursday, we’ve really noticed how autumnal it seems to have become in just that short period. Our gorgeous parrotia tree, experiencing its first autumn in the garden, is now aflame with orange, coral and red, showing off its glorious, glowing colours every time I’m at the kitchen sink, and there’s a new nip in the air that I’m certain wasn’t there when we left. Still, I’m happy to be spending a few days snuggling at home before I jet off on my next adventure, and top of my weekend wishlist are some delicious, autumnal interiors: scented candles, soft throws, plump cushions and more (I need all the comfort after the trauma of waving Charlie off to university). Here are a few bits I’m loving right now:
You all know I love Anthropologie: I love the quirky collections of kitchenware (I have far too many Anthro mugs), and the ranges of clothes that will almost guarantee you’ve got something great quality and original in your wardrobe. As far as I know, apart from the lovely kitchen things, bed linen, and towels, etc, Anthro has never really ventured into the realms of furniture, but oh, they’ve done it now and it is spectacular, with the introduction of their brand new partnership with none other than Liberty: they of the fabulous floral print and the beautiful, must-visit mock-Tudor store on Great Marlborough Street (built from the wreckage of HMS Hindustan and HMS Impregnable – I don’t know why I retain useless information – I just do). Anyhoo, Liberty’s iconic prints have now found a new home in this wonderful collaboration with Anthropologie. And oh, it’s breathtaking. Dive in to Liberty for Anthropologie:
Since we’ve knocked through the kitchen/dining room, my kitchen is one of our favourite spaces. It’s not flashy (we couldn’t afford new units so we just changed the worktop, tiles and – finally this year – the flooring), but it’s so light and bright now, and along with our brightly painted, upcycled kitchen table, chairs and wall units (thanks to Mr E) it’s happy and homely too. I’m always on the lookout for cheerful, quirky things, so here’s my summer kitchen roundup, including some really rather lovely sale items!
I’m currently obsessed with everything pineapple and I fear my fever is getting worse, not better. Everywhere I look (mostly on Instagram, admittedly), pineapple symbols and patterns are adorning everything from swimwear (see the evidence here) to sofas and most things in between. I’ve seen pineapple earrings, pineapple lip balms and of course, I love my pineapple trainers. Yes, friends, pineapples are no longer just for pizzas (I never did that, honestly) and it’s time to put your hands up and admit that you’re a bit of a devotee of pineapple perfection. It’s not just me, surely?
So remember a while ago (actually about a year ago) I talked about the positive life plan? It stemmed from a lovely conversation with my friend Erica, and was a bit of a life-affirming exercise in which we discussed aspects of our life and added our thoughts about them (adding the rule that everything had to be positive). I now have a notebook especially for the plan, and update and add bits to it all the time (I’m pretty much a notebook nut – my whole life revolves around notes and to do lists and little snippets of things I’ve copied down).
- Fast & Furious – Supercharged at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida April 24, 2018
- Weekend wishlist: chic dressing for sunny days April 21, 2018
- News: Virgin Holidays and North America’s first dolphin sanctuary April 19, 2018
- Discovering the Caribbean on board Viking Sea April 17, 2018
- Easy mini Bakewell tarts April 14, 2018