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3 Interior Design Commandments

June 4, 2017

My head is full to the brim with houses right now. For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, you have missed out on the saga of the last month – we’ve found a new home and are moving 202 miles away to a little town in the Snowdonia National Park. Bet you didn’t see that coming, right?

This new house has a lot of expectations on its shoulders. Not only our hopes and wishes of what our new life will be like, but practical expectations too. I will be working there, living there, it will be my sanctuary when I feel alone in a new town, and it will be a sometime hotel to the family and friends we insist on coming to stay.

So what goes into this new home, and the planning and design of the rooms and atmosphere, are more important than the last time we moved. How am I going to make this house a home, and how can I help it fulfil all the duties I expect of it?

Inspired by Blogtacular x West Elm I’m starting with the furniture we need, and how I want it to make me feel in this new chapter of my life. I’ve picked out some West Elm goodies that would feature in my #dreamwestelm makeover, but are nonetheless inspiring the aesthetic of our new home.

In our old house, it always felt a little like we were camping out. It always felt…temporary. A classic case of a house that had been rented out for decades, with only the bare minimum of work and updating done to it – there were cracks in the plaster, paint flaking off in chunks and peeling woodchip wallpaper. No matter how much I spread around my trinkets and spruced with flowers, the walls were still crumbling away from the persistent damp.

Our new home, however, is freshly refurbished with the counter tops of dreams and beautiful pine doors. An old Welsh miner’s cottage, it sits at the end of a teeny narrow terrace, has zero straight walls or angles and is built with huge thick grey stone. There are ferns growing out of the back wall and perfect views of the mountains from the window. So it’s pretty dreamy (not quite a farmhouse with an orchard, but still dreamy).

But still there’s work to be done to make it our own. Here are my three commandments for designing this house, and I’d love to know any you’d add in the comments.

It shall be light and airy

While the walls are painted a light magnolia (of course), I am conscious that this house will be prone to darkness. The Welsh climate isn’t known for its year-round sunshine, and with old thick walls come small windows and slate floors and sills.

I therefore want to avoid bulky furniture, dark woods and general clutter that will steal the light. Given that it’s a design aesthetic made to deal with limited light, I’m heading down the Scandinavian route when it comes to theme. Simple accessories, block colours, and light, mid-century style furniture are what I’m coveting. I’m hoping this look will also help keep the decks a bit clearer and make me commit to that clean-lined aesthetic.

West Elm Ladder Shelf Media Console

Image via westelm.co.uk

Case in point is West Elm’s Ladder Shelf Media Console. When you rent you can’t just be drilling holes all over the place, so you end up with a lot of bare wall, or big bookcases. These open shelves make use of that space without being bulky or light-stealing (and just imagine the shelfies…).

There will be quality over quantity

We moved into our last house very quickly, and we needed to buy a house full of furniture in a matter of weeks. As such we bought cheap and cheerful, and I think that is part of the reason it never felt homely. A cheap MDF coffee table is never going to feel as precious and stable as real wood with a gorgeous patina.

I think we underestimate that in our homes and furniture. Just how much effect they can have on our mood and well being. So I’m keen, where I can, to buy things that aren’t going to make me feel temporary, that will make me joyful and content. I’m going to be a little prone to loneliness as it is, so I want to be surrounded by things that build me up not bring me down. Things that I love, things with a little heart and soul, things which I can be confident in and things I can feel good about.

Each room will have it’s own purpose

At some point it became necessary, or fashionable, for rooms to have multiple functions – see kitchen-diner and bedroom-office. Of course, needs must in small and urban homes, but in our old home we really took it the extreme. We had a bathroom-utility, the lounge was a living-dining-exercise-office room and our bedroom tripled up as the attic and laundry room.

None of which was particularly zen or calming and led to a general feeling of mess and chaos all over the place. This is something I’m desperate to get away from.

I want every room to have a purpose. Moving into an area of much lower house prices has meant we’ve got a third bedroom, which has opened up a world of opportunity. In the old attic on the top floor of the house are the two rooms with the best views and light. My vision for up here is to have a floor of creativity. One of the rooms will be Dan’s room, where all his 60s and 70s vinyl can be displayed and played to his heart’s content (and maybe I’ll do a sneaky bit of yoga in there too).

The other room is going to be my office. It was really important to me to have boundaries now I’m going to be working for myself from home and I wanted to make sure I had a room to work in so the living room could be a laptop-free zone. This is the lightest room in the house, so as well as my writing and marketing work I’ll be doing the crafts I’ve been longing to take up and doing all my photography in here.

The #dreamwestelm Makeover

I’m focusing on this creativity floor for my #dreamwestelm makeover (it’s mainly just my office but I don’t want to be completely selfish now…😉).

Desk

I need a small desk – the bigger the desk the more space there is for me to dump piles of paper and photo props. I can’t choose between these two: I love the clean lines and openness of the of the Mid-Century Mini Desk (and it’s photo backdrop potential, obvs), but I’ve wanted a bureau-style desk since I was really little and the Mid-Century Mini Secretary is the stuff of my childhood dreams (yep, I was that kind of kid). Which would you choose? Maybe I need two desks….

 

Mid Century Mini Desk Acorn

Image via westelm.co.uk

 

West Elm Mid Century Mini Secretary

Image via westelm.co.uk

Seating

A spinny chair that looks and feels like an armchair – need I say more? I can just see myself in the winter months, wrapped in a blanket cradling a cup of tea, gazing out of the window trying to spot the mountain top through the mist. Given my persistent back problems it is doubly important for me to have a good quality, supportive chair to work in, and the Helvetica Office Chair comes a gorgeous dark grey, so winning (and spinning) all round.

Helvetica Upholstered Office Chair

Image via westelm.co.uk

Storage

Storage is key for me in our new house. In order to keep the clean uncluttered lines I crave I need to, well, keep the lines uncluttered. That means having furniture I can hide all my props and papers behind, while displaying only some key favourite items.

West Elm Fishs Eddy Sideboard

Image via westelm.co.uk

The Fishs Eddy Sideboard (above) combines practical storage with the lightness I’m looking for – the white and tonal greys lighten up the whole piece and slot just perfectly into the Scandi theme (and also you all know how much I love grey). Similarly the Modern Narrow Tower bookcase is just the right size for slotting into our weird angles while keeping it all airy.

West Elm Modern Narrow Tower

Image via westelm.co.uk

Textures

I still want to keep this space homely and cosy – I want a little soft feminity among the light wood and storage. I love decorating with texture, I think it’s the easiest way to create interest and comfort, so I’m looking for textures to complement my already huge wool blanket collection.

West Elm Mural Collection Abstract Rug

Image via westelm.co.uk

I’m looking at the Mural Collection Abstract Rug (above) with its pinky browns and greys to bring luscious softness, braided baskets for extra storage (and photos, of course), plus a statement planter to inject some energising greenery. All to be paired with my favourite prints from indie makers, and, if I ever get around to it, some homemade bits and pieces too. First on the list is a lovely textural cork board…

West Elm Braided Baskets

Image via westelm.co.uk

West Elm Mid Century Turned Wood Leg Planters

Image via westelm.co.uk

 

I’d love to hear what design commandments you have for your home, and any tips for creating boundaries in your home. And, most importantly, which of the two West Elm desks you prefer…

Interiors Simple Pleasures

Decorating Your Home With A Coastal Vibe – with Happy + Co*

May 15, 2017

I love bringing the outside in and am always collecting little natural things on walks and holidays to dot around our home. Lichen, sticks, dried flowers and interesting foliage all make their way here to sit in jars and pots. Having lived my life as far away from the sea as you can pretty much get, the coast has always had a romantic, windswept allure to me.

Consequently, most of my favourite natural scavengings have come from the sea: driftwood, shells, but most of all, pebbles. I have a real thing for pebbles. I look for interesting colours, a beautiful smooth surface to rub my thumb against, and a shape that tells its story from the sea to me.

So when I found the Pebble cushion by Happy + Co*, I pretty much imploded with how perfect it was for our coastal living room. Inspired by this piece, I thought I’d share some of my tips for introducing a coastal vibe to your home.

Continue Reading

Simple Pleasures

The Art of Beautiful Storytelling – with Jules & James*

May 4, 2017

I’m a little bit covetous, I think it’s one of the hangovers of being an only child. I like to have things to myself, Gollum-like. One such thing is a new podcast discovery, Jules and James, which I’ve been secretly listening to and not telling anyone about. Enough of that now, time to show the world.

The Jules & James podcast is an indefinite conversation beginning with a wrong number, and through the episodes you eavesdrop gloriously on two artists in different cities, and the stories they have to tell. That’s a ‘you had me at hello’ moment, right?* Continue Reading

Simple Pleasures Simple Self

14 Beautiful Untranslatable Words

April 1, 2017

With the worldwide domination of ‘hygge’, and the increasing prevalence of its little sister ‘fika’, untranslatable words, particularly from Scandinavia, are rather in vogue. On our little island we are quick to borrow traditions, cuisines and language from other cultures – hence why we haul in our German Christmas trees, enjoy a curry and speak a hybrid latinate-Francophone-Germanic language. It is, in my opinion, what makes us interesting (not to get all Brexit on the subject, of course..).

But our quickness to borrow tends to make things all about us – how we can use and adapt it, how it relates to our culture and lives. What I love about some of these untranslatable words is how much they are a part of the place from whence they came. Like the word ‘Hanyauku’, from a Namibian language, which is the feeling of walking on tip toes across hot sand. That’s never a word we would come up with in the British Isles. Similarly, Japan, whose capital Tokyo has more Michelin-star restaurants that Paris and New York combined, has ‘Kuidaore’ – to eat yourself into bankruptcy.

Of course there are many words that have meanings so universal that it is quite a wonder that we haven’t adopted them already. There are romantic, soulful words, like ‘Mamihlapinatapai’ from Tierra del Fuego, which means ‘the wordless look between two people who both desire something, yet are equally reluctant to initiate’. The word itself may be a bit of a mouthful, but perhaps it speaks to our British emotional backwardness that this sentiment that we all know so well, has no English name. Similarly, Germany has ‘Fernweh’ – a homesickness and longing for a place you’ve never been.

Not all these universal words have such sophistication, of course. In Georgian, the word ‘Shemomedjamo‘ means ‘to continue eating past the point of being full because the food tastes so good’ – I experience this on an almost daily basis, WHY is there no English word for this?! Others include the Filipino word ‘Gigil’ (the overwhelming urge to squeeze or pinch something very cute) and Sweden’s ‘Tidsotimist’ (a person who is always late because they think they have more time than they have). One of my favourites following a recent trip to the hairdressers is the Japanese word ‘Age-otori’ – to look worse after a haircut.

Dotted through this post are pictures with other words that I’ve taken a particular liking to – here’s a list of them altogether:

Waldeinsamkeit
(German)
– the feeling of being alone in the woods
I think we all have our own version of this feeling – and what’s so lovely about it is that it will have a slightly different meaning for every different person.

Komorebi
(Japanese)
– sunlight filtering through trees
Of course there needs to be a word for this.

Mångata
(Swedish)
– the glimmering, roadlike reflection the moon creates on water
This is the word that inspired this post. It was so romantic, so evocative, so in tune with nature and the earth – I just loved it.

Sobremesa
(Spanish)
– the time after lunch or dinner spent talking to the people you shared the meal with
How wonderfully Spanish to have a word for this part of communal eating and socialising – it is also one of my favourite parts of a meal (because when the food’s there I do have a habit of silently ploughing through it ignoring my companions. Sorry).

Tsundoku
(Japanese)
– the act of buying a book and leaving it unread, often piled together with other unread books
This is basically the definition of me – this house is brimming with unread books, so I can totally relate. Seriously, this one made even my long suffering boyfriend snort with irony.

Meraki
(Greek)
– to do something with soul creativity and love; when you leave a piece of yourself in your work
This really speaks for itself – it encapsulates everything I love about the maker community and independent, local producers. Well done Greece.

Aware
(Japanese)
– the bittersweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty
Quite a deep one to end on, but I liked how linked it is to the English meaning of ‘aware’ – showing how we are all perhaps not so dissimilar.

Have you picked up any favourite untranslatable words? Or if English isn’t your first language, I’d love to know if you have any favourite English words 🙂

 

Simple Pleasures

5 Simple Blogs About Comfort

March 17, 2017

As you know, this winter on Simple & Season was all about comfort. But of course, concepts and ideas about comfort differ wildly from person to person. So I invited some of my favourite simple bloggers to write about comfort on their own blogs. Here are some of my favourite posts they created…

A Hand Rolled Beeswax Candle DIY by Gathered Threads

Janice has a beautiful blog and Instagram, she has a real way with images and an aesthetic I just love (not to mention old furniture to die for). I love this post about making beeswax candles for a lot of reasons – the fact that it’s so easy, Janice’s sensory descriptions, and the fact that her daughter nonchalantly has her face painted as a cat throughout like it’s no big deal. However, I especially love that it’s a craft perfect for these days of March where it’s not quite winter and not quite spring, perfectly bridging the seasons.

A Comforting and Seasonal Soup by The Freckled Field Notes

I ate soup for lunch every day for about 6 weeks in January and February. There’s something about stirring a silky handmade soup with a wooden spoon that makes me feel giddy. Sian’s Broccoli, Almond and Mint soup looks like it ticks all the decadent boxes.

DIY Knitted Slippers (For Beginners) by Happy and Hygge

If, like me, you’re a wannabe knitter, then Emily promises that these slippers are ludicrously simple to make (and they look perfect for prancing about in too!). This post also has some really good tips for getting a little more comfort into the office and your desk, for those of us who seem to spend more time in our office chairs than our own homes.

What I’m Reading And A Date With The Blind Date Book Club by Mascara and Mud

Cerys perfectly sums up the difference between idealised comfort and the comfort of reality. One thing that is for sure, however, is that curling up with a good book is the ultimate in simple cosiness. She also introduces us to The Blind Date Book Club, which sounds like the best idea.

A Creative Challenge for 2017 by Chaos and Coffee

Clare had a refreshing attitude to New Year’s Resolutions, vowing not to ask too much of herself, nor to try and change herself just because it was January. Instead she decided to do a creative challenge to try more crafts this year and do the things she’d wanted to for years. Very inspirational, and I can’t wait to see how she gets on!

Simple Pleasures

The Beauty of Winter Trees, with Jord

February 28, 2017

I’m feeling a little bit sorry for the trees. We all wax lyrical about their golden autumn leaves, we look out for their spring blossom and laze under their leafy shade in the summer. But in winter, they’re somewhat neglected. We all stay in on our cosy sofas wrapped up in blankets while they shiver nakedly outside, where chilly dog walkers walk by with their heads down and not so much as a glance.

Maybe because it’s because I spend a lot of time in my day job writing about the natural beauty of wood, or maybe it’s because I’m trying harder to look up and out, but I’ve been finding the bare trees very inspiring this season.

Without their summer finery you can see the eccentricities of their shapes, the crooks and forks that they have been brow beaten into forming and their angular silhouettes against the white winter sky. You can appreciate all the energy it’s taken for them to force themselves up through the canopy to the light overhead. You can see how their life has turned, with fallen down branches and dead sections bursting with new sprouts, or the squirrel scampering up to its nest in a high up hollow. Resilient old things, trees.

***

As regular followers on Instagram will know, I have a thing for collecting sticks and other forest-y bits – as I sit and write this I am surrounded by the best part of a woodland (not even really exaggerating). So when Jord got in touch*, I was excited to have a little piece of forestry to take with me everywhere.

In the past I’d always been a little cynical about wood watches – were they a gimmick? Would they actually be comfortable? Are they a little too tree-huggy, even for me?! While Jord’s site had enough inspiration to allay that last fear, the only way to find out about the first two was to try it for myself.

I went for Jord’s newest design, the Reece, for the simple reason that it won the eeny-meeny-miny-mo competition. I totally couldn’t choose. Then it arrived in the most gorgeous box – and if there’s one thing I love more than sticks its boxes. Worth it just for the packaging.

So, issue one. Was it a gimmick? When you have it in your hands, turning it over and between your fingers, you can feel the quality. It’s heavy, and the watch face looks, well, like a proper watch.

jhhIssue two, comfort. Shockingly, it’s just as comfortable as any other watch. No heavier, no more bulky. I’ve never worn jewellery as I don’t like the feel of metal against my skin – it’s either too cold or gets warm and sticky in the heat. The constant temperature and state of the wood bracelet was an unexpected tonic to this. The only comfort issue I have is the fact that I have really small wrists so it’s slightly annoying that there aren’t half links to remove, but I don’t mind it slightly sliding along my wrist.

If you’d like a Jord wood watch of your own, you can enter my giveaway for either a $100 or $25 Jord gift card  – expires midnight on the 19th March!

Are you going to look at winter trees differently for the rest of the season?


*I was sent my Jord luxury wooden watch to review, but the views are 100% mine and from the heart

Crafts Simple Pleasures

An Introduction to Botanical Dyeing, with Botanical Threads

February 25, 2017

Throughout my Instagram explorations some of my favourite accounts are those run by makers: not only do they post beautiful photographs, but they’ve actually made the things they’re posting – a double whammy of creativity.

One of the makers I’ve got to know is Alicia from @botanicalthreads. She makes scarfs, tea towels and other textiles using natural plant dyes she makes herself. It seems like such a perfectly slow craft – taking time over the stove, hours worth of dyeing and setting, the waiting to see how it will turn out. I was fascinated by the fact that it was something that people could actually just do in their kitchen.

So I caught up with Alicia to find out more about botanical dyeing, get clued up on her process and tips
and find out how to get started in your own kitchen this weekend…

The Basics

What is botanical dyeing?

Botanical dye is a dye that is made using part or all of a plant. For example rosemary and lavender produce a dye from their leaves, the madder plant produces a dye from its roots, and the dye from avocados is extracted from their stones and skins. The dyes can be extracted just by soaking the plants in hot water, though sometimes they need the addition of chalk or iron to enhance the colours.

How did you get into botanical dyeing?

During the day I work as a gardener for the National Trust and I first came across botanical dyeing in a gardening book. I then spent the next 3 weeks collecting carrot tops from the vegetable garden at work and made my first dye: a lovely green colour that I dyed a canvas bag with.

Unfortunately I discovered that carrot top dye is not in the slightest bit colour-fast and within a few days the green colour had faded to almost nothing, so this led me to spend a long time researching and practising techniques.

The Fun Stuff

Describe your process from avocado to scarf:

Before I dye it, I treat the fabric with soya milk which acts as a natural fixative between the dye and the fabric. I soak the fabric several times and after it has dried a final time I leave it for at least a week, to let the the soya milk properly settle into the fibres.

To make the avocado dye I heat either the skins or stones (they make different colours so don’t mix them) in water and leave them to soak for several days, until the water turns a deep shade of pink/red. Avocado dye is high is tannins so the colour sticks to the fabric quickly. To achieve the lightest shades of pink sometimes the fabric only needs to be in the dye pot for 30 seconds.

After dyeing, I always leave the fabric for at least a week, before ironing it to fix the colour and washing it to get rid of any excess dye.

Are there any safety precautions you need to take?

It’s important to remember to keep food away from your dyeing area and to keep separate utensils and pots specially for dyeing. It’s also important to keep the room well ventilated when you are dyeing and avoid inhaling the fumes from a pot when your lift the lid to check. Just because you a working with natural products doesn’t mean that they are harmless – some of the worlds most powerful drugs are created from plants, remember!

What plants can you use to dye?

I think the most fail safe plants to dye with are avocados as these tend to produce consistent colours (pink/peachy-pink) and are light-fast and colour-fast on fabrics. Eucalyptus procures a nice peach shade but does sometimes take a really long time to extract the colour from the plant.

Rosemary and lavender produce shades of grey and have the benefit of making the whole house smell delicious when they are heated. If you give yourself time to experiment a little you can discover so many amazing shades. Admittedly you will come across a lot of beiges but there are some surprises out there.

What are your favourite plants to dye with?

My favourite plants to dye with are avocado and rosemary because they produce my favourite colours: pink and grey. I am such an avocado addict, I eat on average about 6 a week so luckily I have a constant supply of dye material. I’m a currently experimenting with a few natural dye extract powders which allows me to dye with plants that are hard to grow in England. I’m really excited about the new colours I can now produce.

I’ve always been baffled that avocados dye things pink. How can you tell what colour a plant will turn?

If I’m completely honest I have no idea why avocados dye things pink. I think it may be a little above my understanding of science! There isn’t really an easy way to tell what colour a plant will produce. Some plants produce a dye the colour of their flowers and with some things like beetroot or berries it is obvious, but with a lot of plants you will only really find out by experimenting.

The Experience

What is it that you love about botanical dyeing?

I really love plants and to me it’s a new way to connect with nature. There’s something really nice about creating beautiful things from natural ingredients, especially in the chemical filled world that we are living in. It makes me look a the world in a different way and I feel like I am keeping up a forgotten art. This is what we did before we created chemical dyes.

The beautiful thing about botanical dyes is that they can be unpredictable: the age of the plant, the soil that it is grown in, the water used for making the dye and how the plants have been stored can all affect the colour of the dyes. Sometimes this can mean a subtle shift in tones, whereas other times this can mean a totally different colour is produced (for example, goldenrod flowers produce a yellow if they are open and a green dye is produced if the plant is used before it is flowering).

Is it an easy afternoon activity or are there lots of set up costs and timings to consider?

Plant dyeing is so easy to start (you don’t need any specialist equipment), but it is a slow process – don’t expect to have a finished pieces of dyed material in a few hours. The fabric takes several weeks to prepare in the soya milk, the plants can often take a week (or more) to produce a dye and then fabric often has to be left to soak in the dye for several days. I always have lots of different projects on the go, all at different stages in the dyeing process.

Does it help you to think and live more slowly?

Oh yes definitely! Because the actual dyeing process is so lengthy it really makes me enjoy the process, not just the finished piece. And then there’s the weeks and weeks of waiting for a specific plant to be in flower so that I can use it for dye making!

What are your tips for anyone thinking of having a go at botanical dyeing?

I only have one tip really, and that’s just to get out there and do it. Have fun, experiment and see what you come up with.

I am inspired by so many people that I have found on Instagram. @rebeccadesnos has a great book that I wish I had discovered at the beginning of my dyeing journey, and @gregoriafibers uses the most gorgeous colour combinations in her yarns.

What’s in store for Botanical Threads this year?

I’m currently experimenting with natural dye extract powders to produce a wider range of colours, which I want to combine in interesting and new ways to what I’ve done in the past. Avocado dye will always be at the heart of Botanical Threads so I am concentring on colours that harmonise with the pinks that avocados produce.

In terms of new products I have so many ideas and custom requests from people that it’s hard to know where to begin. In the pipeline are cushions and table linen to compliment my polka dot tea towels such as linen napkins and table cloths. I professionally studied Fashion Design at the London College of Fashion so I have plans for some wearable Botanical Threads items soon too.

 

I highly recommend following Alicia on Instagram @botanicalthreads – all the gorgeous photos in this post are hers. Her store is at www.botanicalthreads.co.uk, but keep checking back as she sells out quickly!

Have you ever had a go at botanical dyeing, or have you been inspired?

Crafts Simple Pleasures

16 Things To Do With Dried Flowers, from the Instagram Community

February 16, 2017

I always feel a little sad about cut flowers. Of course they’re beautiful and all, but I always feel slightly wasteful and guilty for cutting them down in their prime and eventually throwing them out. If only there was a way to keep them for longer…

When I posited this thought on Instagram, I received lots of great ideas of things to do with dried flowers from the community. So good, in fact, that I had to share them with you!

Whether you have a glut of dried flowers or your looking for a new craft, take a look at the awesomely creative ideas below…

16 Things To Do With Dried Flowers

@ashley.ulmer: Once I let me petals dry completely, I grind them up and add them to homemade incense…I mix them with any leftover bit of sage, lavender and bbits of other stuff to be burned!

@foreadventure: We love throwing them in the bath with sweet almond oil then SOAK

@gail.watson.photo: How about dipping them in wax? When completely immersed they will keep for quite awhile. Very ethereal and pretty too.

@composedconfusion: I always try and keep them if I can. I think they still look as beautiful as when they were first picked, just different.

@two_mad_girls: I have two jars of rose petals that I have also put a couple of drops of rose oil into. Every now and then I open the jar and have a sniff but I don’t really know why I’m keeping them

@wearestardustuk: Wedding confetti! My sister is getting married in May and we are all collecting petals.

@pandora_lotte: I love to press them and keep them on a sketchbook for inspiration or send them away with letters.

@thefamilywardrobe: A press is usually best but any big heavy book will do and always put a sheet of paper between the flowers and the pages to avoid staining.

@mich.elle.imagery: I bet they would look wonderful in a marble tray of some sort.

@jadeandlime: Garlands

@alexandra_p_hobson: I just put them between the pages of my books and diaries

@eatpraygrow: Hang them upside down with string

@beetsandbirch: I’ve been pressing mine to add into snail mail

@maison_natural_linens: I keep my dried flowers in a bowl for display, I too don’t like throwing them out.

@littleblessingsart: I would make flower wreaths and give away to little girls, to remind them that they are like flowers too.

@marinobambinos: My best friend pressed flowers from her bouquet in my wedding as a gift for me.

 

I’d like to grow this list even more! What tips would you add?

Simple Pleasures

Inspirational Reads – Creative Countryside

January 17, 2017

Sometimes we all fall a little short in the inspiration stakes. Times when it can be easier to slob out on the sofa with a takeaway rather than get outside or cook from scratch. And that’s ok. But to help you re-kick start your simple lifestyle, there’s inspirational reads: blogs, magazines and books full of ideas and interesting people to get you back on your chosen track.


Creative Countryside Journal

An online journal and quarterly print magazine, Creative Countryside is run by real life Superwoman Eleanor Cheetham. Eleanor is seriously living the dream on a lovingly restored farm in Lincolnshire with her husband, where they plan to hold courses and WWOOF-ing placements (see Chalk House Farm.) The Creative Countryside magazine is due to launch later in the year, once Eleanor has had her baby!

All images reproduced with permission from Eleanor Cheetham.

The Concept

Stories, nature, folklore, adventures. It is a celebration of the seasons, for those who strive for simple living and ‘who walk outside in the rain’. Full of inspiration, country crafts, traditions and nature. Perfect for us, basically.

The Contents

The Creative Countryside online journal has a delicious mix of thoughtful pieces, matter of fact slow living tips from Eleanor’s experience and broader inspirational pieces to keep you going. All the words are complemented by beautiful photography that just feels…still. The whole site is completely calming and puts you in a pretty zen place.

Perfect for…

Kicking off your wellies on a Sunday, curling up with blankets and cake, and sinking into. Whether you’re a simple living newbie, or seasoned chicken keeper, you’ll find it inspiring and beautiful in equal measure.

 

Go to Creative Countryside to read the journal and sign up to the newsletter, and follow on Instagram.

Interiors Simple Pleasures

Getting The Most From Your Candles

December 13, 2016

It is peak candle season right now. Whether you’re getting down with the hygge trend or you’re covering every surface in a bid to banish the winter darkness, no doubt you’re spending more time striking matches that at any other time of year. It is, however, during this high concentration of candle-burning, that I remember how annoying they can be, not burning equally or dropping little black bits everywhere. How do you take care of and get the most out of your candles.

A few weeks ago my friend and I went to a candle making workshop which turned out to be in a Turkish lady’s kitchen in a council flat in Kew. And yes, it was exactly like the set up to the surrealist comedy sketch it sounds like. I did, however, learn a few good tips for keeping my candles ship shape.

The First Burn

It turns out that the first burn is really important. The first time you light a candle you need to burn it for three hours, which is the opposite of what I’ve always done as I didn’t want to ‘waste’ the candle. The long first burn ensures that the wax melts evenly, stopping that tunnelling you get where the majority of the wax sticks to the sides while the wick burns away in a shallow pool at the bottom.

Trim the wick

Trim the wick down to a couple of millimetres above the wax before you light it. Not only does it stop those big black lumps dropping into your beautiful candle, but ensures that the ratio of wax to wick is correct, reducing soot and that flickering flame.

Getting rid of air bubbles

Have you ever bought a candle in a nice glass jar only to get it home and there be big air bubbles and gaps between the wax and the glass. These don’t affect the burning, but they don’t look especially great, especially if you’ve spent a lot of money on a candle. This is caused by the wax contracting in the cold, so all you need to do is warm up the glass. Gently blow it with a hairdryer or hold it over a steaming kettle and the wax will expand to fill the gaps and look just as perfect as when you bought it.

 

Do you have any candle care tips? What are your favourite candle scents?