Ate, Food

A Recipe For Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Bundt Cake.

Lemon & Thyme Bundt Cake

 

The tableware and linen used in this post were kindly gifted by The White Company.

I don’t know that any taste signifies the arrival of summer quite like the sharp, fresh kick of lemon. Combine that flavour and vibrant colour with a cake and you’ve got yourself the perfect addition to a sun-drenched weekend. Perfect for making ahead for a leisurely picnic, this play on the traditional lemon drizzle cake combines the subtle taste of fresh thyme with the satisfying crunch of pistachio.

I’ve opted for a painfully Instagram-worthy bundt tin, but it will work just as well in a large springform tin too if you’ve chosen to live life without a bundt. I however love a good bundt. Excellent word that, bundt.

 

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon Drizzle Bundt Cake

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Bundt Cake

450g Plain flour
200g Soft unsalted butter
3 Unwaxed lemons
45g Roughly chopped unsalted pistachio kernels
290g Caster sugar
Fresh thyme
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 large eggs
250ml buttermilk
150g icing sugar

2.5 litre capacity bundt tin, or a 20cm cake tin

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees / 170 degrees fan. Place a baking sheet in the oven at the same time; you’ll place the bundt tin on this when it goes in. This little tip comes courtesy of Nigella herself, so it’s an essential.

Grease your bundt tin with sunflower oil dabbed onto some kitchen towel. Make sure you get the oil into every last crevice of the bundt tin. You can also use a spray oil. If you’re using a regular circular tin, line with greaseproof paper as you would normally.

Take a healthy bunch of fresh thyme and remove the leaves from the stalks. I won’t lie, it’s a fiddly job. I suggest taking a large bowl to the sofa and settling down to watch some Ina Garten whilst you work. You’ll need around 4 tablespoons of leaves, plus extra for decoration.

Once back in the kitchen add the sifted flour, bicarb and baking powder to a bowl and combine.

In a second bowl add the butter, 250g of the caster sugar, thyme leaves and the grated zest of two lemons, reserving the third for decorating the cake later. Using an electric mixer mix the butter until creamy.

Take the eggs one at a time and mix into the sugar mixture until fully combined and creamy. Now it’s time to add in the buttermilk and flour mixture. Do this in stages, a third of the flour, followed by a third of the buttermilk, mixing thoroughly between each third. When everything is combined add in the juice of one of your lemons and mix.

Pour the mixture into your tin and gently tap this on the work top to remove any air pockets. Place in the oven on top of the hot baking tray for one hour.

When the cake has been in the oven for forty minutes start making your drizzle. In a pan place the remaining 40g of caster, the juice of your second lemon and a splash of water. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.

At the hour mark check on the cake, inserting a skewer or small knife to check if it’s done. If the knife comes out clean, it’s all done.

With the tin resting on a wire cooling rack gently slide a skewer or fine knife into the cake repeatedly to create small holes. Don’t go too deep, you shouldn’t reach the top of the cake, but make sure you go at least 3/4 into the cake. Now spoon over the drizzle, concentrating on the holes you’ve created. It’s likely there will also be a central crack running along the cake, perfect for spooning more drizzle down. If you’ve gone for a regular cake tin just create holes in circular patterns throughout the base. Leave to cool.

If you greased the tin well the cake should easily slide out when you flip it on a wire wrack. (Fingers crossed.) Zest your remaining lemon and pop to one side. Slice and juice the lemon and combine with the icing sugar in a bowl, adding water in small amount until you have a thick yet pourable icing mixture. Use a spoon to pour this over the bundt cake, letting it trickle down the sides.

Scatter over the remaining thyme leaves, lemon zest and chopped pistachio kernels as the finishing touch and leave to one side whilst the icing sets.

Serve with Earl Grey iced tea.

 

The White Company Summer Collection

|1| Artisan Side Plate, £10 |2| Striped Cotton Napkins, £25 |3| Oversized Handmade Platter, £55 |4| Jute Woven Placemat, £12

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Interiors, My Home

How To Create The Perfect Gallery Wall.

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

 

It’s easy to forget that in this world of highly stylised homes that not everything goes right first time, our homes are as much a case of trial and error as our haircuts or our choice in jeans might have been. There will be times it goes wrong and there will be times you wish to eradicate from existence. My dining room’s gallery wall is testament to the fact that sometimes it just doesn’t go right.

Despite following all of the steps that I’m about to outline below, it was wrong. The layout was unbalanced, the frames too close together and the imagery just wasn’t very cohesive. I’m, perhaps unsurprisingly, a visual person. I see things perfectly in my mind and then when the reality doesn’t allign with that image in my head I get rather angry. The gallery bugged me from day one. I hung the final picture, I stepped backwards, looked up at the afternoon’s work and hated every last bit of it.

Despite this it managed to stay for a full year, mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to readdress it until now.

 

How To Hang A Gallery Wall  How To Hang A Gallery Wall

 

The ground work.

Have an aim. If that aim is for a multi-coloured, eclectic gallery including all sorts of tones and imagery; then great! Spend time collecting the objects and artwork that will fill that space and create the look you want. Find them over time, let the collection evolve. Clicking ‘add to basket’ on a selection of prints from the same online store may well give you a very cohesive, stylish gallery wall, but it won’t give you a very personal one. Spend time saving things, printing out photos you like, ripping out pages from things and save them up.

If your aim is for something deliberately cohesive then define what exactly that means. Is it all one tone you’re looking for, or all one theme of imagery perhaps? Once you know the sort of colour spectrum you want the gallery to go through you can source the imagery to fill it with or in some cases adapt imagery that doesn’t suit to be something that does. Quite often I’ll simply convert an image to black and white through Photoshop and send off for it to be printed. As you might expect most of the imagery included in my gallery wall is rather monochromatic. No-one is shocked by this.

 

Kate Moss Gold Vogue Cover

 

Go on a hunt.

When it comes to sourcing for your gallery wall – think outside the box. The internet is filled with retailers of typography prints, but so are the magazines you’ve kept in stacks around your house for the past few years. Buy vintage magazines from eBay (French Vogue is perfect for beautiful typefaces, not to mention editorial images), collect postcards from exhibitions you go to and even rip images out of catalogues if you find them appealing. It might not be apparent from first inspection but a lot of the images that fill the gallery wall in my hallway are actually taken from Toast catalogues.

 

Gallery wall

Gallery wall layout

 

An impartial and unsponsored view on frames.

So you’ve sourced your collection of images and miscellaneous items. It’s time to frame. As a general rule of thumb if I’m looking for a coloured frame, ie black in most cases, it will likely be a cheaper purchase. The oak frames however I would tend to spend a little more on to avoid any plastic looking ‘wood’ creeping in. Your eye will automatically go towards the wooden frames over the solid black, so if possible it’s a good idea to focus your budget on these.

The majority of the black frames I use have been sourced from IKEA or Desenio, with the solid oak frames that feature throughout my flat being from Habitat.

It’s true they’re more expensive, heavier (Habitat’s tend to come with glass rather than perspex in) and all together a bit more of a mission to hang due to their weight, they are beautifully made, sturdy and built to last. My favourite range, Rona, has unfortunately now been discontinued, so I’ve been making do with the Trieste and Ontario ranges instead.

If you find your images are all a little on the smaller side then make them all the more of a feature by double mounting them, allowing you to place the image within a much larger frame. For mounts I always use The Picture Gallery & Framing Centre. You can select the card, the thickness, the colour and the precise dimensions of the mounts you’ll require, all for an incredibly reasonable price. Doubling up on the mounts is a great to vary the scale of the frames in your gallery without purchasing huge images.

You’ll probably have noticed that I don’t tend to frame all of my artwork, some is simply taped to the wall with Washi tape, sourced from eBay in various colours and designs. Working like this allows your wall to really adapt and change over time. If I find a postcard I love it will likely find itself included in a gallery somewhere, as might a page from a magazine or even a label from a piece of clothing I’ve got. To me working like this just makes everything feel a little more personal and a little less formal!

 

Keira Knightley Interview Cover

 

Start on the floor.

Clear some space and lay all of your frames and images down on the ground. Play around with layout and placement of everything, if you’re using different coloured frames it’s a good time to start spreading them out evenly. You might find you need some more landscape images, or some smaller pieces.

 

Gallery wall layout

 

Find the centre.

If you’re filling a section of a wall rather than a full wall then mark the wall’s dead centre (or at least the centre of the area you want to focus the gallery on) and fan out from that point. It doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but it should be balanced.

 

Gallery wall layout

 

Mock it up.

Once I have a rough idea of the kind of layout I want from laying everything out on the floor, I draw round each frame on brown paper and cut it out. At this point it’s a good idea to also mark on the paper exactly where you’ll need a nail to be hammered in. Then when everything is in place you can hammer it straight through the paper then simply rip it off.

When each frame is cut out of paper start sticking them to the wall with masking tape to mimic the layout on the floor, using your central point as a guide. Here you can start to work on the spacing between the frames. I don’t measure the spacing between the frames but would roughly keep it the same, varying it between smaller frames if they’re going to be sitting as part of a group within the gallery itself.

I definitely recommend doing this on a morning and going about your day, checking back in over the course of the day. The first draft of the layout is very rarely the one I end up going with. Over the course of the day I’ll unstick and move the shapes closer together, higher up or off the wall entirely until I feel I’ve reached the perfect layout.

Thanks to the handy nail marks you made before taping the paper to the wall you can now quickly hammer in the nails for everything, ripping out the paper as you go. Easy.

 

Sunspel Sunset Postcard

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

 

Nothing’s permanent. 

As my own wall proves, it can easily be changed if it isn’t right. Using the Washi tape allows me to shift and alter the wall over time, adding more things as I find them but also taking things away to leave more space or even be replaced by a freshly framed fine. Let it evolve over time and allow it to become personal. Everybody can have the perfectly manicured gallery wall from glossy online store but only you’ll have the gallery you piece together over time.

 

Washi Tape

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

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Ate, Cook, Food, Recipe

A simple recipe for banana & oat bread.

Simple banana bread recipe

 

It’s come to my attention over the years that folk are rather peculiar when it comes to bananas. The single hint of brown upon their skin and half the population is repulsed and couldn’t possibly consider touching them. Package those browning bananas in the form of a cake however and they’ll happily gulp it down. This banana bread recipe never fails to find a happy audience.

 

Simple banana bread recipe

Simple banana bread recipe

 

Over the years I’ve tried and tested many, many banana bread recipes. As is the way with most recipes, this one has evolved over time to include bits and pieces of others, hints and tips lifted from everywhere from Martha Stewart to BBC Good Food. Along the way I decided to add in the oats and cinnamon although neither are required if you’re averse to either. I’ve also used everything from buckwheat flour to brown rice flour to produce the loaf, all with great success. The only flour I wouldn’t recommend using is coconut due to its habit of draining just about every last drop of moisture out of anything it comes into contact with.

After the loaf is baked and the flat smells of beautifully sweet bananas and cinnamon I tend to slice it straight away, sending all but three slices to the freezer in a zip lock bag. Three always seems like the appropriate amount to leave for yourself. Saturday, Sunday and the Monday pick me up. The loaf freezes perfectly and can just be defrosted slice by slice as you need it.

 

Simple banana bread recipe

 

Whilst it may seem a very odd thing to do, I recommend serving it toasted and slathered in peanut butter. I know, toasted banana bread may sound a little obscure, but I promise you it’s heavenly. Drizzle with honey, stew some fruit in a pan with some maple syrup to make a simple compote, or lightly toast and butter it. It’s up to you.

 

Banana & Oat Bread

4 Ripe Bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 tbsp coconut oil – melted and left to cool slightly
110g coconut sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
180ml almond milk, unsweetened
130g ground almonds
110g oats
200g spelt flour
3 tsp baking powder

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan) and line a standard 9×5 inch loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

The bananas should be as ripe as possible, brown speckled and soft. Break them into a bowl and mash them with a fork. Add in the honey, vanilla, egg, coconut oil, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon and almond milk and combine until you’ve got a lovely banana-scented glop.

Add in the oats, spelt flour, ground almonds and baking powder and mix until combined. The mixture won’t be your usual smooth cake batter due to the oats and lumps of banana, so don’t worry. Tip into the loaf tin and pop into the centre of the oven for an hour. It may need a little longer but keep checking from the hour mark. The cake should be golden brown on top but still nice and moist (awful word and rather repulsed to be using it here, but I am all the same) inside.

If you want to check slide in a skewer or knife, it should come out relatively clean, although not perfectly clean as it might for your regular sponge cake. Transfer, in the tin, to a cooling tray and leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin and leaving to cool completely.

 

Simple banana bread recipe

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Design, Interiors, My Home

Styling Scandinavian Design Classics With Amara

This is a sponsored post produced in collaboration with Amara.

 

Ferm Living Ripple Carafe

 

Styling and the process involved in creating an image has always been what I enjoy the most about working on the blog. When I decided to leave London and head back to the North East I left behind a job where doing just that was my day-to-day and pretty much something I took for granted. Now, with that a lifetime away, whenever the opportunity to really play with products and creating imagery arrises I’m always incredibly excited. Never more so than when Amara offered me the chance to style my favourite pieces from their incredible range.

A few years ago I decided to consciously alter the way I consumed things, stepping away from purchasing anything too trend-driven. I like to think the interiors of our home should evolve and progress over time, rather than being subject to entire clear outs when it turns out salmon pink is no longer the colour du jour. I started the year with the idea that I was going to try and make the good decisions and applied that approach to the approach here. Classic pieces that would never be subject to the whims of a trend, or worse still, boxed up and moved to the ‘spare bedroom of shame’ once my affections had wained.

 

Hay Concrete Flower Pot

Hay Brass Tray

Niki Jones Harlequin Cushion

 

If you’ve ever found yourself on the Amara site you’re probably aware of the incredible selection of brands they edit collections from. HAY, Normann Copenhagen, Ferm Living, MENU; it’s a veritable feast for anyone harbouring Scandinavian ambitions. Without delay the first category I found myself in was that of Danish brand Skagerak. They’re a label I’ve been following for quite a few years now, constantly saving and pinning images of their elegant designs. Their ethos is to create products that will span a lifetime if not longer. Sustainably sourced and beautifully crafted from the finest materials, everything is relatively quiet in its appearance. Saying something looks quiet is most definitely wrong, but that’s exactly how I’d describe it.

The Georg Stool: the stool that launched a thousand Instagram posts. It’s just as perfect in person as it is sitting on the accounts of some of Denmark’s finest tastemakers. I’m aware this could sound rather odd but if you ever find yourself within touching distance of the stool, feel it. It’s so beautifully shaped, smooth and tactile underneath. It’s exactly how a piece of furniture should be for me. Immaculately executed and built to last.

 

Skagerak Georg Stool

Skagerak Georg Stool

HAY concrete flower pot

 

Ferm Living’s ripple carafe and stacking glasses have been on my hit list for quite some time too, equally as perfect for a mid-afternoon G&T as they are filled with water for your bedside. You can decide which.

 

Niki Jones Harlequin Cushion

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table

 

You can explore my full Amara edit and see how I styled them in my own home as part Amara‘s shoppable Home Inspiration gallery. If you haven’t already taken a look, you’re missing out.

 

Amara Scandinavian Edit

 

|1.| Ferm Living Ripple Carafe |2.| Ferm Living Ripple Tumblers |3.| Vitra Eames House Bird |4.| Hay Brass Tray |5.| Skagerak Georg Stool |6.| Skagerak Norr Tray |7.| Serax Bowl |8.| Hay Glass Container |9.| Hay Large Glass Container |10.| Anglepoise Type 75 Desk Lamp |11.| Niki Jones Harlequin Cushion

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Design, Interiors, My Home

Goodbye Blue, Hello Grey

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

Sometimes the reality of an idea isn’t quite as amazing as the image you’ve had filling your head.  Despite looking absolutely perfectly and seeming like an excellent idea in your head, some ideas just don’t pan out. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, if anything for me it’s only made me more aware of what my own style is. Sometimes you have to venture out of your comfort zone only to confirm exactly what it is you love.

I’m a big believer in visual balance and proportions – if you’re familiar with my Instagram you’re probably are of exactly how much I like (mostly white) space around objects. Visually it’s important to me for things to be balanced with the space around them. My living room’s chimney breast is flanked by two almost identical alcoves, one contained a black television unit whilst in the other sat a large bookcase I had the grand idea of painting in Little Greene‘s Basalt. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s a really beautiful shade of teal blue, pictured below. (Please excuse the less than minimal styling on this one…)

 

IKEA Hemnes Bookcase Painted In Little Greene Basalt

 

“Blue?!” I hear you say. Yes, blue.

I had it in my head for months before moving into the flat that I wanted a large teal blue bookcase. I’m not quite sure why, perhaps I’d seen some similar in an image somewhere, but in my head it was going to be perfect for the space. It would be the only real colour within the room; a bit of a decor curve ball. The colour was beautiful and I certainly don’t regret that aspect of the decision, but it just never sat right within the room.

The black fireplace beside it, along with the black TV unit made the entire wall heavy and clunky. The only three dark things in the room sat in a row and it pushed the whole room out of balance. All of the heavy aspects sat on the one wall, severely weighting your eyes in one direction when you were in the room.

 

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

I bought the bookcase, IKEA’s HEMNES in natural pine, knowing I would be painting it straight away. It’s a sturdy piece of furniture despite the disappointingly flimsy veneer backing panel. With the wood being untreated painting it wasn’t exactly an easy task. A coat of white and three coats of Basalt later, it was done.

As soon as I pushed it back into the alcove I knew it wasn’t right. Sometimes you just know it. Instantly. In the end I left it that way for the best part of a year, cropping it out of most images of the room. Last week, whilst taking some time off from the day job, I decided it was time to update it to something far more familiar; grey. I’m all for a healthy dose of grey. This time around I opted for Little Greene’s Gauze Deep, kindly provided for the project by Little Greene. Narrowing down the vast shades the brand produce was a lengthy process that involved lots of thoughtful gazes at hurriedly painted swatches. All of which turned out to be very, very similar.

 

Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

A thick coat of white paint went on first to ensure the Basalt was blocked out, before a single coat of the Deep Gauze.

I’ve always found Little Greene’s paint to be the best out there and that’s an opinion formed without payment from anyone and actually a conclusion I came to many years before this blog was even a concept. The fact I managed to get away with just one liberal coat of the paint was incredibly welcome. You don’t realise exactly how long it takes to paint every last nook and cranny of a bookcase.

The jury is still out on whether I should have put a top coat or matt varnish on to project it from any scuffs. I have issues with shiny or glossy surfaces and much prefer things to appear absolutely matte, so I actually opted for eggshell to paint the piece. It has such a lovely flat finish so I’m loathe to add any form of sheen to it with a varnish, although I’m sure three months down the line when there’s scuffs, marks and soot-lines from the various candles and matches that fill the shelves, I’ll be regretting this decision.

 

IKEA Hemnes Bookcase in Little Green Deep Gauze

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

Styling wise I won’t even pretend to disguise the fact I painstakingly selected the books that could remain on the shelves. I did indeed literally judge every book by its cover. I’m all for a colour coded bookshelf.

I’ve been really trying to live without so many objects around, mostly born out of the desire to have a much more minimal interior. To the top and bottom of the bookcase you’ll see two beautiful handmade baskets from Artisanne. Inside each you’ll find a plethora of matches, candles, candle holders, spare buttons, tape measures and around nine tubes of hand cream, but from the outside? Beautiful baskets.

You’ll find both the Small Round Basket and the Small Alibaba Basket on their site now.

 

The White Company Pomegranate Candle

Artisanne Woven Basket

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

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Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

The Contemporary Lighting Edit

MENU JWDA MARBLE TABLE LAMP

Image credit: Utility Design

 

I have strong opinions about lighting. I’ve been known to have strong opinions about a number of things related to interiors it’s true, but lighting is a particularly large issue for me. Last week on an Instagram post it became apparent I’m not the only one however – always a nice thing to discover. Contemporary lighting is tricky all round.

Each room in my home has light fitting that I’ve spent a great deal of time selecting, they can be hard to get right. We call these the ‘big’ light. A great way of adding a bit of a statement into a room, there are some amazing options out there right now. All of that being said, I absolutely wouldn’t resort to living by the light of the ‘big’ light unless there was no other option. That was sadly the case for me in my dining room where two weeks ago I went on a bit of a crazy smashing spree and managed to obliterate a porcelaine and concrete lamp I’d picked up in The Conran Shop sale a few years back.

It was a sad moment, not just because it meant the lamp was no longer with us, but because it meant the ‘big’ light was terrifyingly the only option.

 

 

I live life by lamp light, interspersed with a plethora of flickering candles. It’s just nicer that way – softer and friendlier if that’s possible?  The last time my living room’s ceiling light was turned on was over the Christmas period whilst I set about wrapping some particularly fiddly presents. It’s a technical light. It’s there for technical assistance. It isn’t there for ambiance.

Whilst looking to replace the smashed lamp I came across a great piece from John Lewis’ Design Collection. An opal orb sitting atop a brushed brass and concrete base. It’s perfect, it’s contemporary and it’s brilliantly priced at £65. The diffused glow it gives off is enough to light up my living room on an evening, which is where it’s actually ended up despite the fact I needed a lamp for the dining room.

 

Image credit: Debenhams

 

Both looking for and deciding on a lamp proved to be a tricky task. Being a bit of a not fully committed minimalist, I have specific tastes. The design needed to be simple, with a neat silhouette but at the same time not look like it belongs in a 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s the hard part. Why is so much contemporary lighting design on the high street produced in mirror-like chrome?

Featuring a distinct lack of polished chrome and a heavy dose of brushed brass, I’ve compiled an edit of the best contemporary lighting I came across whilst scouring the internet for the perfect replacement.

 

 

Minimalist Table Lamps

|1.| Doshi Levien for John Lewis Lamp |2.| J by Jasper Conran Lamp |3.| MENU JWDA Marble Lamp |4.| John Lewis Design Project Lamp |5.| HAY Pion Lamp |6.| J by Jasper Conran Task Lamp |7.| A by Amara Marble Lamp |8.| Flos Copycat Lamp

 

Minimalist Floor Lamps

|1.| John Lewis Grayson Lamp |2.| French Connection Floor Lamp |3.| French Connection Tube Lamp |4.| Flos Floor Lamp |5.| Habitat Kuriko Lamp
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Interiors, My Home, Shop

Starting Afresh. Three Ways I Welcome In The New Season.

Spring, noun
The season after winter and before summer, when the weather becomes warmer, leaves and plants
start to grow again and flowers appear.

 

Bloom & Wild Piper

 

When January draws to a close everything starts to feel different. Spring is technically almost two months away but still everything feels like it shifts into the new season. The final remnants of Christmas are treated to the shame of the 70% off sticker and the new season collections lie in wait for January pay cheques to clear; it’s coming.

I’ve always loved Winter, but I’m also always happy to see it start to give way to something new. Come February the Winter fatigue is very much in full swing. I start to change things over. The blankets that are folded neatly over the arms of the sofa are stowed away in the hope they won’t be required again until the autumn, the heating takes a step down and the curtains are taken down and washed ready for the sun to sail through them when it finally manages to scrape past the rooftops of the houses in front of mine.

I might not be able to arrive home to my flat bathed in light just yet but I might as well be ready for it.  The start of the new month seems like the perfect time to talk about the simple little things I change to trick myself into thinking those bright Spring days are a little closer than they actually are.

 

Bloom & Wild Piper Spring Bouquet

Bloom & Wild Piper

 

Flowers can change everything instantly – they’re the easiest way to make it feel like spring’s arrived. In winter my mantlepiece tends to be filled with gigantic bunches of eucalyptus or simple white roses. Once February arrives you’re more likely to find jars of hyacinths chopped from their bulbs before they fall to their floppy end mounting up on the surfaces, along with ramshackle collections of vases and jars filled to the brim with blooms.

As I type this my mantlepiece is currently playing host to an orchestra of vases I’ve collected over the years, each filled with the soft pink and green hues of The Piper bouquet from Bloom & Wild. I’ve chosen to group the vases together, but realistically one letterbox bouquet is enough to fill a vase for each room in the flat. I think we get ourselves into the habits of thinking everything needs to be arranged in a single vase sitting in the centre of the coffee table. I’d rather flowers were everywhere, even if it’s just one or two in a tiny bud vase sitting on the side table.

Never underestimate the power of flowers in a room. Also never underestimate the glory of beautiful bouquets than can be posted through your letterbox.

 

Bloom & Wild Indie Bouquet

Bloom & Wild Indie Bouquet

Bloom & Wild Indie Bouquet


If you walk into my flat during the winter months you’ll likely be met by darker, musky scents that make you feel like there’s a log fire burning and maybe some mulled wine on the go. You’d smell that because there’s a plethora of candles and diffusers about the place designed to evoke those exact scents. After Christmas has been and gone I want everything to start to smell crisp and fresh, so the somewhat ceremonial switching over of the scents takes place.

 

The White Company Linen Diffuser

Bloom & Wild Piper

 

This month I swapped over the deep mossy diffuser I had in the dining room with The White Company’s latest fragrance, Linen. Now when you walk into the flat your nose will be met by the soft scent of neroli and eucalyptus. When you walk past it and that breezy scent of the Mediterranean catches you, it’s absolutely perfect. Like a sunny afternoon spent lazing about in the sun.

For spring, The White Company have also looked to embody the luxury and comforting nature of everyone’s favourite thing, Cashmere. It’s warm and cosy without any of the heavier notes that fill winter’s fragrances, making it exactly right for February. I genuinely believe the scent of a room is just as important as its colour or furniture. For me when I think back to places I’ve been I always remember how it smelt. So if someone leaves my home thinking it smelt like cashmere? I’m okay with that.

 

The White Company Cashmere Candle

The White Company Cashmere Candle

 

Generally January is a month of tightening your belt and praying for your bank account to once again enter the world of positive numbers. In February I say you treat yourself to some small luxuries. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant purchase by any means, but after the mammoth task that was January, you deserve something just for you. If a candle or a huge bunch of spring blooms isn’t for you, try treating yourself to fresh bedding.

 

The White Company Easy Iron Bedding

 

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, or maybe it’s just because of the sheer volume of cool I possess, but very little ever makes me as happy as fresh bedding. There is nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning nestled beneath fresh sheets whilst the sun rises behind your curtains. February is when I treat myself to fresh bedding, although due to budgetary constraints I’ve kept it to just fresh pillowcases this year. White, naturally.

Team the crisp new sheets with a bedside table stacked with scented hyacinths and a freshly lit candle. It’s all your February could need.

 

The White Company Cashmere Candle

|1.| Stoneware Vases, The White Company |2.| Glass Plantpot, ARKET |3.| Cashmere Scented Candle, The White Company |4.| Linen Diffuser, The White Company |5.| Washed Linen Pillowcases, H&M |6.| Glass Bulb Vase, H&M |7.| Glass Bud Vase, H&M

 

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Ate, Food, Recipe

A Recipe For Cashew, Coconut & Date Energy Balls.

Cashew, Date & Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

 

January can be a little tough on the old soul. After the buzz and lights of Christmas it can seem a drained. Everyone seems to exist in the a constant state of remorse for each and every chocolate, piece cake and cocktail that passed their lips in December. There’s no judgement here, I’m one of those who uses January as a way to kick start a better way of eating too.

Life shouldn’t be without the joy and comfort or a sweet treat, especially not come a cold January evening. That’s why these energy balls are perfect. To clarify, they won’t shrink your waist line, remove the bags under your eyes or cause you to become a supermodel over night. They will however provide a little something if your steamed fish and slippery mound of spinach hasn’t quite hit the spot.

You will require a modicum of self restraint, that should also be clear. They might be free from refined sugar and anything nasty, but they’re still a treat. (That means one or two. Not eight.)

I’ve made these energy balls before with the zest of a lemon and can confirm they’re just as good, if you find yourself more inclined to sharper flavours.

 

Cashew, Date & Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

Cashew, Date & Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

Cashew, Coconut & Date Balls

90g raw, unsalted cashew kernals
7 Medjool Dates (or 10 normal dates)
4 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 generous tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional, naturally)
Pinch of salt

There’s no real science to the making of the balls; melt the coconut oil gently in a pan and leave to one side to cool. Start with your cashews in the food processor and blitz them until they form a lumpy rubble but aren’t quite ground.

Add in the salt, chia seeds (if using), 2tbsp coconut, coconut oil and pitted dates. If you want to add in the lemon, grate in the zest here also.

Give everything a good blitz until it starts to form a sticky rubble. Grab two plates, on one spread out the remaining 2 tbsp of desiccated coconut and on the other top out the rubble and begin shaping it into balls by pressing tightly and rolling them in your hands. The mixture should make around 20 in total. Try to make them about the size of a large truffle.

Roll each date in the plate of coconut to fully coat them. Pop the energy balls in the fridge for an hour or so before sampling the fruits of your minimal labour.

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Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

Good Decision #1. The Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table.

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

2018 is going to be the year of the good decision. I’ll be applying that logic to pretty much everything. It’ll be particularly prevalent within my home as I spend the year putting my disposable income to one side in the hope of being in a position to start looking at buying my first home come January 2019. This year if I’m going to spend money on something for my home then it has to be something built for my future: a piece I know I’ll never tire of.

Christmas money is not a thing I find myself with often, my family is big on the present and I’m fine with that as that’s precisely how I am too. This year however, some came my way. I know what you’re thinking, I could have popped it into my savings account for my deposit, but I didn’t. It was intended for a gift so a gift it became.

The Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table has been on my list for quite some time now. I’ve lost count of the amount of times it’s been added to my basket. On December 27th I took the plunge and finally ordered it from the sale at istome. Naturally I went for white, though the pale grey did give it a good run for its money, honest.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

Before the block table’s arrival my living room had started to feel a little bit cluttered. I have very minimalistic tendencies and tastes, but at the same time I have that rather annoying habit of liking things and therefore thinking I have to have them, regardless of wether I a) need them or b) feasibly have room for them. The room had become a little too busy towards the end of last year; some good decisions were needed.

The nesting set of three oak tables I’ve had for about eight years now we’re a gift from my mum when I moved into my first unfurnished property. There’s a sentimental part of me that wants to hold onto them but there’s also the sensible part of me that knows they take up too much room and don’t particularly fit in with the way my interior has evolved. With the blessing of my mum they will be finding their way to eBay in the search of a new home, the money from which will go straight into my savings account. Promise.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

Essentially the minimalist version of a drinks trolly, the Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table is a dream on wheels. Powdered steel and solid ash, it’s exactly what I wanted. It took all of two minutes to screw together and joyfully lead to several minutes of pushing it around the room like it was 1962 and about to offer people a Snowball.

Designed by Simon Legald back in 2012 and filling Nordic design hashtag feeds ever since, the table call be wheeled about in just about any direction you’d like. For now it will live comfortably in my living room, but in the future it may find itself anywhere. I suppose that’s the idea of these good purchasing decisions – buying things I’m confident I’ll always have a home for.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

ARKET Matches

 

Now the table is perfectly positioned beside the sofa, ready to receive a cup of tea and no doubt several magazines. It’s only January 7th I’m aware, but I can’t help but feel this is a good decision to start with. An investment piece I’ve had my eye on for years; versatile and adaptable.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

It’s the first of a few changes I plan on making in the room in order to strip it back and pair it down. The large bookcase I so painstakingly painted in Little Greene’s Basalt Blue will be turning a pale shade of grey to make it less imposing, along with a large proportion of the objects that have accumulated around the room being boxed away, redistributed or listed on eBay. The large empty wall behind the sofa will also finally be receiving the linen wall hanging I’ve been talking about creating for two years. Well, it will be once I’ve decided on a design. It would seem that is much easier said than done.

Watch this (large white) space.

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Ate, Christmas, Made, Recipe

A Last Minute Gift. Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti.

Last year I made a pact with myself to start making more of the presents I was giving in an attempt to reduce the amount of things I bought at Christmas. It’s not that I don’t love the huge array of things out there to buy, but that it just feels so much more satisfying to give someone something you’ve had a part in creating. It doesn’t need to be something grand or all that elaborate, I think it’s just nice for it to be something you spent time on.

 

Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

Each year I make large batches of chutney to include with my friend’s and family’s Christmas presents. I try and do this a few months in advance to a) get it out of the way, b) make use of particular fruit being in plentiful supply and c) allow the flavours to mellow. As Christmas starts to draw closer and the presents start to be given I like to add some kind of baked good in there too.

Through trial and error over the year I’ve settled on biscotti being the perfect gift. Some years I’m in the mood for something citrusy and others for something involving a little more chocolate. (Next year’s is going to be chocolate orange, I’ve already decided.)

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

It keeps perfectly well for days and when combined with a tin of tea leaves, a bag of freshly roasted coffee or a bottle of something is the perfect last minute gift for someone. No matter how hard we try there’s always someone we didn’t think we’d see but now seemingly will or maybe even someone who got you a present you entirely weren’t expecting. This is where the biscotti and the coffee come in.

This year I played around with adding herbs to the mix before finally settling on Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio. When you’re done simply add a good handful to a bag, tie up with string and add a label.

 

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

 

These little brown paper bags are from IKEA and perfectly match the wrapping paper I went with this year. If you’re into your wrapping you can take a closer look at that here.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti

150g plain flour

125g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 lemons

100g dried apricots

150g unshelled (and unsalted) pistachios

A handful of thyme sprigs

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan.

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. Once this is done set it to one side and roughly chop the apricots and pistachios – you want to be able to see the colours from both as you slice the biscotti. Pick the leaves from the sprig of thyme and add them to your flour mixture and stir in the apricots and pistachios.

In a separate bowl lightly beat eggs and milk together before adding to the dry mix. Fork through until it starts to clump together before getting your hands in and bringing together into a dough. If it feels a little too sticky add a fraction more flour.

Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and need briefly to make sure all of your fruit and nuts are combined. Split the dough into two equal balls, roll into a fat sausage and place each on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Once it’s on the sheet you can perfect the shaping, don’t worry. You’re looking for them both to be around 20cm long and 6cm or so wide. The mixture should be playable so shape as you will.

Bake the biscotti in the oven for 25-30 minutes. In this time you’ll see it will have risen and spread out slightly, along with taking on a soft golden colour.

Remove from the oven and careful transfer the loaf to a chopping board by just picking up the greaseproof paper. With a serrated bread knife cut the loaf diagonally into 1cm thick slices.

When both loaves are slices, lay the pieces out flat on the baking trays and return to the oven. As you do turn the temperate down to 130 degrees fan and bake for 10 minutes before flipping the biscotti over and baking for a further 5 minutes.

When you take the biscotti out of the oven it should be firm and crisp but when pressed still retain a slight toast-like texture when pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool down before packaging up the biscotti in little bags or glass jars.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

 

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