SO, we’ve finally moved. Our new home is an Edwardian farm workers’ cottage, which needs a lot of work. All we’ve done so far is paint the walls white, fit some essential peg rails and sand all the floorboards, which I then treated with Danish lye and oil by hand (it nearly killed me but was well worth the effort). This house might be an ongoing project since fitting in DIY around work is proving impossible as per – but since it took us five years to decorate and renovate our last house, I’m prepared for the long haul!
With baskets of greenery
pinched obtained from the nearby fields and hedgerows, today we made fresh wreaths. I used these 16-inch diameter wreath bases with floristry foam so the wreaths would stay fresh for the whole festive period. Happy Christmas!
I’m thrilled to announce that my new interiors book, Chic Boutiquers at Home, will be published by Ryland Peters & Small in October (2015).
(Thanks to The Future Kept for this lovely photo.) I was fortunate enough to meet the characters and creative forces behind leading online stores around the world (in USA, England, Wales, Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark) and shoot their beautiful homes (with talented photographer James Gardiner) for a series of inspiring case studies.
From battling blizzards in Brooklyn to exploring Copenhagen’s meat-packing district, we had plenty of adventures and met lots of friendly people along the way.
The result is part-decorating book, part-shopping directory – a smörgåsbord of fascinating interiors from a new generation of online style gurus who do much more than just sell homewares; They inspire and delight their customers, too, offering glimpses into their gorgeous homes and covetable lifestyles.
Chic Boutiquers at Home is packed with plenty of ideas to use in your own home and a wealth of tempting new online shops to explore. If you dream of selling online yourself, the final ‘How to Launch Your Own Online Shop’ chapter is crammed with invaluable practical advice, including comparisons of popular online shop hosting platforms such as Big Cartel and Etsy and insider advice from the experts.
You can find out more or pre-order on Amazon.
Found this little vintage herb guide in a secondhand bookshop in Wales recently. It’s the perfect prop of course, but also contains some hilarious chapters where the author can’t conceal their disdain for certain herbs. For example, Sweet Cicely is not one of his favourites, but instead of leaving it out altogether, he simply writes:
Oh for the days when scientific books were a bit less, well, scientific.
June has been HECTIC. In between deadlines, trips, shoots and stress, the cutting patch in our back garden has been keeping me sane. The sweet peas are thriving and I’m able to fill a jam jar a day with flowers – the more you pick, the more they grow. This year, I planted an old-fashioned ‘heirloom’ mix of bi-colour, highly-perfumed sweet peas and a lot of my favourite Matucana ones, too, which have piercing violet and crimson petals and a strong, sweet fragrance. Apparently, Matucana was first introduced into Britain in the 17th century by Sicilian monk, Franciscus Cupani, so it’s an ancient variety, but a good one.
This house is just around the corner and I admire it every time I pass. Peach and wisteria mauve – what a winning combination. I love it when people match their front door colour to flowers.
These rather lovely hand-painted wooden birds belonged to my husband’s grandmother. Now, they’re propped up on a shelf in our home. They’re labelled, rather smartly, as: Some Indian Birds – and I’m relieved to see that they’re ‘approved by the Government of Mysore’, which sounds awfully official. I love the coral-coloured paper box almost as much as the birds themselves. Now I know what ‘The Southern Red Whiskered Bulbul’ looks like. Just in case.
This year, I managed to catch the wild garlic before it flowered and went bitter. (Last year’s attempt was a sad hashtag foraging fail, which involved ‘grassy’ meals, much scraping-out of jars and a fair amount of swearing.) Luckily, my savvy mother-in-law knows a secret foraging spot in a Cotswold wood, so, at the weekend, my team of un-willing volunteers and I merrily filled several carrier bags with fresh leaves. I used Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s excellent recipe, which includes walnuts instead of pine nuts and – instead of tasting weird and semi-poisonous like my previous attempts, it’s delicious! It’s best stirred through pasta or smeared on bruschetta, but you can use it for seasoning other dishes, too. It’s basically potent garlic flavour, captured in a jar. Thank goodness it’s actually edible for once.
And so, to the fields of Oxfordshire. If you want rhubarb, tulips, fresh eggs or pickled onions, hurry – while stocks last.