Christmas, Fashion & Style, Shop

The millergrey Christmas Gift Guides 2018. Him, Her, Them, You

 

Full disclosure here: I start my Christmas shopping in January. In fact if truth be told, I never really stop it. Throughout the year I pick up pieces as and when I see them, as ideas pop into my head or as I’m visiting somewhere. For some the very idea of that is enough to turn the stomach I’m sure.

I love Christmas. I always have. I love buying presents, I love wrapping presents and I love giving presents. Generally if someone receives a present in my family it’s indirectly come from me, being that I’ve been tasked with my entire family’s Christmas shopping since I was a kid.

So without further ado, I put forward my gifting advice for the season ahead. The millergrey Christmas Gift Guide 2018.

 

Him.

 

I’m all for monogramming. I’m all for dapper pyjamas. Combine the two I’m near ecstatic. Soho Home’s festively green robe (1) can be personalised with initials embroidered to the chest and positively reeks of gentlemanly cool.

Anything from Jo Malone London and I’m happy personally. This Whisky and Cedarwood (2) cologne is by far my favourite. The bottle’s a beauty too. Mast Chocolate (10) doesn’t just taste amazing, it looks amazing. Stack them up, tie in a velvet bow and please even the most design-conscious folk.
House Doctor recently launched this Instagram-worthy metal toolbox (3). If you’re the kind of person to furiously yell at the fact you keep finding DIY implements around the house (yet continue to redo just about every room in your house) let’s at least give them somewhere aesthetically pleasing to be returned to upon said yelling.

 

 

|1.| Ned Bath Robe, £75 |2.| Whisky & Cedarwood Cologne, £120 |3.| Metal Tool Box, £42 |4.| Leather Card Holder, £25 |5.| Roll Neck Jumper, £79 |6.| Toast, Hash, Roast, Mash, £13 |7.| Bluetooth Speaker, £45 |8.| Gypsy Water Shower Gel, £34 |9.| Leather Tote, £125 |10.| Gourmet Chocolate Bar, £7.95 

 

Her.

 

Gucci Soho Disco Bag (3), just ‘cause. Slouchy Arket Knit (9), again just ‘cause. My love of personalised things at Christmas is apparent. This wool sleep mask from Soho Home (6) can again be embroidered with up to three initials, whilst these leather stick-on letters from Anya Hindmarch (2) are just plain fun. If she’s the type to also love a good notebook or diary, I’d suggest a nice new leather one to go alongside them. If you’re buying jewellery, keep it classic and keep it timeless. This beautiful circle necklace from Daisy London (above) is as classic as they come.

Diane Keating’s coffee table tome, The House That Pinterest Built (4), is an excellent piece of evidence that sometimes time spent on social media is indeed productive. Elevate their commute with this incredibly stylish travel mug from Royal Doulton (7). The red plastic number they bought whilst food shopping may be practical, but it certainly isn’t as chic is it?

I like the idea of passing on your love for something; so why not gift someone your favourite book and tell them exactly why you love it on the tag. If they never read it, it’s unlikely to have cost you a fortune. If they do, maybe they’ll love it too. Out Of Africa (10) is one of my personal favourites, I’ve passed it on to several people over the years.

 

|1.| Estee Lalonde Necklace, £99 |2.| Leather Letters, £15 each |3.| Soho Disco Bag, £805 |4.| The House That Pinterest Built, £30 |5.| Facial Cleanser, £40 |6.| Wool Sleep Mask, £12 |7.| Travel Cup, £25 |8.| Linen Bath Robe, £34.99 |9.| Slouched Jumper, £135 |10.| Out of Africa, £7 |11.| Candle Set, £35

 

Them.

Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II (4) is a beautiful book. If they’re keen cooks it’s a wonderful walk through a year of eating. Complete the gift with some organic olive oil (9) and artisan coffee (5). I couldn’t create a gift guide without a few nods to the environmental issues I continually push; this Soho Home jute shopping bag (8) is truly one of the classiest reusable bags around. Fill it with foodie treats and add a tag.

People say candles or diffusers can be a boring gift, I couldn’t agree less. Make sure you take some time to think about the kind of scent they’re going to like; this Goop candle (7) smells like roaring fires and incense.

 

 

|1.| Martini Gift Set, £145 |2.| Coffee Maker, £40 |3.| Reed Diffuser, £59 |4.| Kitchen Diaries II, £17 |5.| Brazilian Coffee, £5.50 |6.| Jacquard Thow, £55 |7.| Church Candle, £66 |8.| Jute Tote, £12 |9.| Organic Olive Oil, £35 |10.| House Bird, £155

 

 

You.

The festive season is a busy one. You spend all of your days buzzing around thinking about everyone else, so it’s important you treat yourself every now and then again too. This edit might also come in handy if you’re looking for those little extras to send someone’s way as a subtle hint.
Long soaks in the bath, preferably with a book or an episode or two of Brothers & Sisters are my favourite. Goop’s G’Nite bathsalts (11) my turn your bath a strange camel colour, but the results are stellar. Susanne Kaufmann Winter bath oil, included in this kit (1), is what Christmas would smell like if it were a liquid. Christmas Eve in the tub sorted. Bring the Broken Heart Gin (6).

You’ll need a party outfit (or two) so buy separates to mix and match and make the most of what you have. This sequin skirt from Zara (9) is epic and will inevitably also serve you well when that friend announces their birthday is ‘Great Gatsby’ themed next year.

Going to be spending a lot of Christmas Day in the kitchen? Give yourself a fancy pants apron (10), let’s elevate the gravy stains.

 

 

|1.| Bath Oil Set, £21 |2.| Orange Bitters Cologne, £96 |3.| Colour Block Jumper, £69 |4.| The Christmas Chronicles, £9.99 |5.| Reindeer Biscuit, £3.99 |6.| Broken Heart Gin £37.80 |7.| Cocoa Mask, £20 |8.| Handmade Face Earrings, £15 |9.| Sequin Skirt, £49.99 |10.| Cotton Apron, £25 |11.| G’Nite Bath Salts, £30

 

Stuck for ideas?

If you know someone’s a reader, or perhaps even that they want to be reading more than they are, books are one of my favourite presents to give. Each year I deliver my Grandma and Mum a stack of books I’ve spent the year buying for them. It’s a relatively inexpensive way of giving a gift that has a lot of thought behind it, showing you’ve spent time selecting things you think will interest  – Grandma likes anything to do with the war or European history, whilst Mum generally gets a selection of the ones I’ve seen winning awards or receiving amazing reviews!

Keep your eyes on sites like The Works, quite often you’ll find them do five books for £10. Place them in a nice neat stack and tie in a bow. Go all out and add in some cashmere bed socks and some gourmet hot chocolate, their own personalised winter start kit.

 

 

I always like to provide a baked good or homemade chutney with presents. Handily enough you’ll find the recipe for a quick and easy biscotti here. Baked a few days before, fill a jar and write a little note. They’ll be good for a week or two if the container’s air tight.

Don’t underestimate the pre-made gift. A whole host of brands are now producing ready made gift items; from chocolate filled baubles to sleep inducing sprays concealed in patterned crackers. They’re a great (and easy) way to add something a little extra to a gift.

 

Recently I discovered Evolve Beauty via Deliciously Ella’s Instagram. Their Radiant Glow Mask features in the You edit above, the same product that is also included in this beautiful little cracker, £20. It’s made of Cocoa and coconut and whilst it might take ALL OF YOUR MIGHT to not just eat the thing, the results are great. The brand’s organic and ecological credentials make it a firm favourite of mine.

And now to wrap them. Looking for some ideas? Check out last year’s wrapping guide, crafted with paper from IKEA. Cheap, chic and sure to look perfect beneath the tree.

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Design, Interiors, My Home

My Bedroom Plans. Moving Away From The Minimal.

When I first moved into the flat here I decorated simply to make things more to my liking than they presently were, rather than each room ever being a fully realised idea or concept. If truth be told, I’m just not that kind of thinker. I’ve typically always tried to let things evolve over time after the initial white-painting spree was completed. That way it gives you chance to work out what it is you need over time, gradually building up the room to a fully evolved space.

After painting the living room white I immediately moved onto the room I’d chosen as my bedroom, again painting it white simply to banish the magnolia. Technically I live in a three bedroom flat, with what is used as my living room intended to be the master bedroom. That was never going to work for me. For starters it’s too large. Secondly it houses the flat’s only original fireplace; it had to be the living room. I opted for the slightly larger of the two other rooms for my bedroom. It is by no means a big room and that’s kind of how I like it. I don’t like bedrooms to be huge and filled with things – I like them small and cosy, neat and peaceful.

After the white paint had been sloshed over each wall I built the simple white metal bedframe I’d ordered from John Lewis (because truthfully it was the cheapest I could find that wasn’t some kind of garish chrome), moved in the bedside table and chest of drawers I already had and hung a few pictures. In my head at the time it was a sort of temporary measure. The drawers, whilst being partly made of actual real life solid oak, had succumbed to the fate that all IKEA products equipped with drawers do all the same, despite the lack of chipboard. The bottoms fell out and they were rendered all but useless. In the back of my mind I knew I’d change everything at some point… but three years later and I still haven’t.

I’ve never really doubted that I’m a type of minimalist at heart: the bedroom in its current state is perhaps the biggest evidence of this. My wardrobe lives in the spare bedroom, so furniture and ‘things’ are pretty scarce in the room. A few months ago I made the decision to buck my ideas up and start work on deciding exactly what it is I wanted a bedroom to be, thinking from the ground up.

Did I want a colour on the walls? Did I want a wardrobe in there? What sort of beds do I actually like? Having never had to think about it previously I quickly came to realise that in the efforts to make everything not magnolia I lost my own taste a little. I love white, don’t get me wrong, but if this wasn’t a rental flat and it didn’t have to remain ‘neutral’ then I’m not sure I’d actually have entirely white rooms.

Are you shocked?

I’ve been in the flat so long now I’m no longer worried about straying from the neutral colours of white or beige. If my landlady dislikes it, I’ll paint it back. It’s a small room. So, exactly what do I want to do in the room? That’s the million dollar question. I am certain I wasn’t something a little softer in its look and feel, with natural elements carefully weaving their way into the minimalism. It’s never felt cold to me but in reality it actually is cold. The winter months are pretty icy thanks to badly fitted windows and a heating system that isn’t regulated by a thermostat. My options are on and off.

And so, the plans. I made several moodboards. Very unlike me. The interior world loves a good moodboard, however for me they’ve never held too much fascination. Likely due to many years spent being made to produce them through college and university…

 

 

The Bed. 

After much deliberation, I think I’m a wooden bed kind of person. Fabric beds fill me worries about dust mostly, padded headboards make me flinch somewhat and the idea of Divan bed just brings back University room nightmares. So an Ercol-esque wooden bed seems like the best option here, allowing plenty room for storage beneath it also. Not cheap and not that easy to come by it would seem. Made.com’s Penn Bedframe in Oak seems to be about the best (achievable) example of what I’m thinking of.

 

 

Although given any budget, Ercol’s Shalstone Bedframe would likely be getting my hard earned pennies.

 

The Floor.

I was lucky enough to work with the lovely people at Artha Collections earlier in the year, receiving a hand woven Arrow rug as part of the partnership. It’s beautiful – cosy, warm and just the right size. That will absolutely be staying and has in part actually dictated the ideas I’ve had for the room as a whole.

 

 

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

The Drawers.

The bottom of these drawers have been sellotaped, nailed, glued and screwed. It’s time to cut my losses and get rid. IKEA HEMNES, you’ve been a loyal friend these past five years, but no. You’re out. The monochrome striped handles (an amazing Zara Home find a few years back) however, may be staying on whatever comes in to the replace them.

 

The Bedside Table.

I’m so torn. I love this piece. I wanted it for months; pinning it to boards, bookmarking it, attempting to save for it… and then it went. Gone. Only to reappear three months later in M&S’ final reductions for the bargain price of £102, instead of the original £450 price tag. For that reason alone I want to keep it, but no. I’m being bold here. If a better option occurs, it’s gone. Maybe.

 

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

The Walls.

From the moodboards I’ve been creating grey seems to be a common theme, shockingly. The jury is out on whether or not I want a grey bedroom however. Neutral tones, whilst being very prevalent in the ideas here, aren’t something I feel comfortable with painting a wall in. In short, I just don’t know as yet. There’s a lot of pinning still to be done here clearly, although The White Company is constantly assisting in this task..

 

 

I’ve also always loved the soft putty-like grey of this project from the beautiful blog Avenue.

 

 

I do know that I want the walls to be much less minimal then they are currently. That much I’m sure of. I don’t want anything quite so statement as a gallery wall but I find myself drawn towards images of bed frames encased in large-scale artworks, generally always sitting on a picture ledge. That looks like it’s the route I’m going down. Choosing the artworks for the space is however something I know will take me months on end.

 

The Lighting.

Here I’m more certain of my tastes. I’d like a wall mounted bedside light, angled over towards the bed. The only problem I face here is that it can’t be wired in but instead must be one that plugs in and is simply wall mounted. This does narrow down the options quite heavily it seems, but aesthetically, I feel I’ve nailed what it is I’d like at least. Half way there.

 

 

Watch this space. One distinctly less minimal bedroom coming your way soon. Ish.

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Christmas, Shop

The Edit. This Year’s Best Luxury Advent Calendars.

Luxury Advent Calendars

 

My family isn’t overtly religious, but there’s enough of an undercurrent of belief there with my mum to mean as a child we had the kind of Advent Calendars that didn’t contain a foil wrapped chocolate treat behind each square but rather a picture of an object vaguely related to the Nativity. “Oh look Mummy, it’s a sheep!”

As we got older my Grandma would buy me and my brother a chocolate calendar each year (mum was livid) and finally we were able to experience the odd tasting milk chocolate that only a Woolworth’s Advent Calendar can ever really give you. Now, as an adult of 31, I’m unashamed to say I buy my own each year. Generally always Milkybar.

If you’re a little bit more sophisticated in your purchasing habits than I, 2018’s luxury advent calendar options are epic. If you needed any help in deciding exactly which one to treat yourself to, or perhaps which link you need to send on to your other half, look no further. I’ve got you covered.

 

The White Company

Beauty Advent Calendar, £150
Available from Wednesday 17th October

The White Company’s 2018 offering is more than a little bit epic. Behind each door you’ll find a treat from their extensive fragrance, beauty or skincare ranges. I’m not one to ruin a surprise but that includes everything from votive candles of their latest scent, Ginger, to Eau De Toilettes, lip balm and facial cleansers. Last year’s didn’t stick around for long so it’s probably best you get sending that link across to where it needs to go to…

 

The White Company Advent Calendar

 

John Lewis & Partners

Beauty Advent Calendar, £165
Available now

The packaging on John Lewis & Partner’s 2018 calendar receives my full seal of approval. As does the fact it includes treats from Diptyque, REN, Laura Mercier, This Works and even HERMÈS. The only down side here is the fact each treat sits within in an unsealed drawer. There’s not a chance I wouldn’t be peeking pre-December 1st.

 

John Lewis Beauty Advent Calendar

 

Green & Black’s
Luxury Chocolate Advent Calendar, £10.99
Available now

If you’re going to go chocolate, go chocolate. Green & Black’s Luxe edition has already been purchased and sits in my spare bedroom at present, nestled atop a pile of Christmas presents. Yup. I have already started shopping and there is already a pile.

 

Green & Black's Advent Calendar

 

 

Diptyque – exclusively available at Selfridges

Luxury fragrance Advent calendar, £320
Available from Monday 15th October

Yes, that is a £320 Advent Calendar. Festive perfection unfortunately does not always come cheaply. Behind the 25 doors you’ll find 15 votive candles of the brand’s most popular candles (including Baies, my all-time favourite) as well as body creams and perfumes. It most definitely isn’t for those looking to have a thrifty Christmas, but if you feel you deserve a daily dose of Diptyque, much like with the daily dose of gin, we won’t be judging.

 

diptyque advent calendar

 

 

John Lewis & Partners

Gin & Tonic Advent Calendar, £95
Available now

I would probably go as far as to say I despise the taste of both gin and tonic so this one is well and truly not for me, personally. It is however perfect for the 99.9% of the population who seem to be gin worshippers. There’s potentially something a little incorrect about receiving a miniture bottle of alcohol each morning, so perhaps open it on an evening after you return from work? Granted that will make for a boozy December, but there’s no judgment here. Do as you must.

 

Gin Advent Calendar

 

Jo Malone London

Luxury Advent Calendar, £300
Available from 1st November at Jo Malone London Boutiques & Online

When it comes down to it, Jo Malone London will always have been heart. As saccharine as it may sound, as a brand it’s just one I invest into wholeheartedly. Their array of fragrances teamed with their stylish delivery of just about every single aspect of their offering gets me every time. Their epic Luxury Advent Calendar is filled with their most famous creations; colognes, votive candles, body cremes, you name it and it’s present. All beautifully presented in the classic Jo Malone London Townhouse.

 

Jo Malone London Advent Calendar 2018

Kikki.K

Stationary Advent Calendar, £90
Available now

I know many a person for whom the thrill of a new notebook is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Kikki.K’s addition to the Advent Calendar edit provides notebooks, candles, pens and more. For me personally, no matter how perfectly brass-toned it may be, a paperclip is perhaps not what I’m looking to get come December 15th. But that’s just me.

 

kiki.k advent calendar

 

 

Kiehl’s – exclusively available at Selfridges

Kiehl’s x Bannecker Advent Calendar, £110
Available from Monday 15th October

I think this could be the one for me. The product of a collaboration with artist Andrew Bannecker, the calendar features just about every cult product in the brand’s repertoire. If you’re duo I’d say this is one of the most shareable of the bunch. As a general rule Kiehl’s products are wonderfully unisex, although the dedicated men’s collection does make an appearance in there too. Be smart however. There’s 25 days, make sure you look after number 1 and select to open the odd numbers.

 

Kiehl's Advent Calendar

 

 

Net-A-Porter

25 Days Of Beauty Advent Calendar, £150
Available now

Very little ever compares to the luxury of shopping with Net-A-Porter. Their arsenal of beauty and skincare brands is unparalleled, so it’s no wonder their addition to this year’s advent calendar offering is suitably spectacular. Behind each door you’ll find a product by one of their bestselling brands. From Scandinavian shampoo to Eyeko eyeliner, you’re bathroom and your make-up will thank you in equal measure.

 

Net-A-Porter Advent Calendar

 

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Design, Fashion & Style

Elevating The Design Of The Everyday With Rado

      

This is a sponsored post produced in collaboration with Rado.

 

 

A few months when I was first approached by Swiss watchmakers Rado to work with them I was quite intrigued as to exactly why they felt millergrey would be a good fit for their brand. I can’t claim to have known too much about the brand prior to working for them; I knew they produced beautifully minimal timepieces, but other than that I couldn’t have elaborated for you.

What swayed me into wholeheartedly agreeing to work with them was their unwavering passion for design, in all its forms. The Rado Star Prize – a worldwide search to find and support the finest up-and-coming design talent – offers students and fledging designers alike the chance to have their work showcased on a Global platform. 2018’s lucky winner actually hails from here in Newcastle and currently studies where I also spent four years training, Northumbria University.

 

Rado Ceramica Watch

Rado Ceramica Watch

 

Whilst the blog’s main focus is on that of interior design I’m fascinated by the way we apply our tastes to the objects and items that fill our life. Should we approach the selection of a water bottle or watch with any less precision than we would in selecting the sofa for our living room? Ultimately these objects become part of our day-to-day life, so in my eyes each and every piece we pick should be selected with care and individuality. I think this is perhaps where Rado resonated so well with me. A watch sits on our wrist for the entire day, touching our skin for its duration. It should be a piece we have a connection with, surely?

A few years ago, when asked to describe my personal style, I said it was a sort of ‘soft minimalism’. Clean and angular, muted and monochrome… but the edges were rounded. There was a softness to it all. At least that’s what I hoped it was. I genuinely feel like Rado’s timepieces are exactly that. Over the past few months I’ve been able to explore different designs from their range, selecting ones that appealed to me and my aesthetic and incorporating them into my photography.

 

 

Rado Ceramica Watch

 

This, the last piece in the collaboration, features the Rado Ceramica. It’s a sharply geometric piece, softened with a matt grey finish. It’s solid and present, but inconspicuous and effortless at the same time. The design team picked the grey-tone for it’s universal appeal, believing a watch doesn’t need to be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ in the traditional sense, but that the strength of its design and timeless nature will appeal to and work for just about anyone who may happen to try it on. That’s a concept I’m all for.

 

Rado Ceramica Watch

 

If you’re keen on interior design than it’s likely you’ve heard of Bethan Gray. Her incredible pieces of furniture have found themselves on so many of my Pinterest boards over the years, combining beautiful touches of wood with brass studded details. Together Bethan and Rado have produced a limited edition timepiece, the Rado True Thinline Studs. It’s a thing of absolute beauty and limited to only 1,001, so if you’re in the market for a watch as elegant as your interiors, you’d best act fast.

If you’d like to find out more about Rado and their approach to design, you can visit their site here.

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Ate, Cook, Food, Recipe

A Recipe For Plum & Star Anise Jam

Plum Jam Recipe

Growing up we had two trees at the bottom of our garden: an apple tree that brought us small, bitter fruit and a plum tree that delivered nothing short of a tonne of plums every single year. Each year my mum would take the plums, stew them and turn them into a simple crumble. There was a lot of fruit and not so much crumble, not the kind of ratio I enjoy. Stewed fruit isn’t for me at the best of times, let alone when it’s the only desert available for the foreseeable future. Our freezer would be piled high every September. Up until last month I hadn’t touched a plum since, now there’s jars and jars of plum jam stacked on my shelves.

Whilst reading the Observer Food Monthly I came across a recipe for a plum and star anise frangipani from Gill Meller’s latest book. It seemed like the perfect thing to use up the plums that arrived with my latest Abel & Cole box; an originally unwelcome result of having not selected plums on my ‘never send’ list. It changed my opinion on the plums, so props to Gill. The combination of the plums with the aniseed-like flavour of the star anise (again not a flavour I would have enjoyed previously) works so well. You can find the recipe for the tart here.

 

Gill Meller Plum & Star Anise Tart

 

Warm and comforting, the deep purple plums are completely brought alive by the Star Anise.. I decided to combine both flavours into a plum jam, spiking it with a hint of ginger along the way to really deliver the most comforting of winter jams. Spread liberally on crumpets or freshly toasted sourdough, or better yet, swirl through a cosy bowl of porridge on a lazy winter morning.

I’ve made this plum jam twice now and both times it yielded four large jars. I always like to ensure I’ve got six sterilised and ready to go however. You never know. The hexagonal jars used here are from Wilko and are always my jam jar of choice!

 

Plum Jam Recipe

 

A note on sterilising jars.

Nigella says she considered jars fresh from the dishwasher as sterilised and ready to use, so I’m inclined to agree. She knows her stuff. If you don’t have a dishwasher however, wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water and leave to dry fully. Pop your oven on to a medium heat (150 C or so) and place the dried jars onto a baking tray and pop in the oven for ten minutes or so. For the final few minutes add in a second baking tray with the lids spread out on also. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. This will keep the jars warm until you’re ready to fill them with your jam.

 

Plum Jam Recipe

Ingredients 

1kg of de-stoned and quartered firm plums
850g caster sugar
3 star anise
1sp ground ginger
120ml fresh lemon juice (around 3 medium lemons)

Method

Pop a side plate into the fridge to chill.

To a large heavy bottomed pan add the plums, sugar, ground ginger, lemon juice and 100ml of water.

Place the star anise (use just 2 if you’d like the flavour to be a little more subtle) into a pestle and motor and grind to a powder. You can also pop them into a sandwich bag and thoroughly bash with a rolling pin.

Before adding the ground star anise to the pan with the other ingredients tip them into a sieve to remove any of the larger chunks. You can grind these down again and repeat.

Bring everything to a boil before turning the heat down to maintain a slow simmer. Stir regularly until the sugar is fully dissolved and then intermittently for 40-50 minutes to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan. The fruit should break down but not become entirely liquid, as well reducing quite significantly in volume to be thick and treacle-like.

At the 40 minute mark take your plate from the fridge and grab a teaspoon of the jam and pour the plum jam onto the plate. Leave to set for a minute or so. Push your finger through the jam, if it wrinkles and moves away from your finger, it’s ready. If sliding your finger through the jam doesn’t meet any resistance and it remains still very much a liquid, keep it on the heat for a little while longer, clean the plate and return to the fridge, trying the process again in a few minutes.

When you’re happy tip the jam into a jug, remove the jars from the oven and distribute the mixture evenly between the jars, filling them up to just below the neck. Don’t fill them right up the top, there needs to be a gap. Pop the lids on immediately and tightly close.

The jam should keep for quite some time, so if you’re making it now, feel free to stash it away for impromptu Christmas gifts!

 

Plum Jam Recipe

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Interiors, Shop

The Scented Candle Edit. My Four All Time Favourites.

The White Company Autumn Candle

 

When I last did an ‘Ask Me Anything’ Story on Instagram the most commonly asked questions were all about scented candles; ‘What’s my favourite scent?’,  ‘Which brand is the best?’ and ‘Is it worth paying a little bit extra?’. I’ve talked about how important I think smell is in our homes on the blog before but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put it all in one place.

On an evening, whether we’re in the middle of summer or the deepest, darkest depths of winter, there is always at least one candle burning in my flat. There are baskets and boxes filled with different options and I’m lucky enough to be sent some beautiful candles as gifts, which is mostly how I end up discovering new brands and exploring new scents.

 

Jo Malone London Incense & Embers Candle

 

I’m a big believer in buying in quality pretty much across the board. It isn’t always the case that you get what you pay for, but with candles I genuinely think it’s worth it. They contain a higher level of perfume and oils and generally only improve upon being lit. My problem with a lot of the cheaper candles from say H&M for example is that they may well smell amazing in the vessel, but light them and that’s it. They don’t scent the room, they don’t linger in the air. It’s a cheaper, synthetic scent that has been added.

Perhaps to some it could be a little excessive, but I have a rule that I should never be without my favourites. As soon as the last burn of one is done, I order another. So, to answer your question, here are my absolute favourite scents…

 

The White Company – Autumn
£20

Generally I lean towards a fruity scent, which is probably why I love this one so much. It’s sharp and crisp – pears, quince, musk and amber – and as the name probably suggests, perfect for the autumn. The White Company generally release the candle in August, before it removing it around November time, so stock up!

The standard candle is a little smaller than your average Jo Malone and so are available for less. At their price-point they’re amazing value for money, always burning perfectly and never tunnelling. (The odd technical name given to a candle when it burns down from the wick in a column, leaving unmelted wax up the sides!)

 

The White Company Autumn Candle

 

Jo Malone London – Incense & Embers
£47

Potentially my favourite candle, ever. It was created to evoke the feeling of a fire that’s about to go, with notes of nappa leather, black pepper and smoky incense. I think people often think this one if going to be really heady, almost church-like. It’s absolutely not. It’s the best candle for the winter night’s, especially if like me you aren’t lucky enough to have a open fire or log burner. It’s comforting and cosy.

 

Jo Malone London Incense & Embers Candle

 

 

Diptyque – Baies
£47

There is always a Baies candle in my home. It’s actually very similar in its scent to my favourite cologne, Jo Malone’s Blackberry & Bay. It’s floral without being overpowering or obnoxiously so, thanks to the sharp cut of the blackcurrant.

Brand wise, for me Diptyque come out on top for the level of scent they deliver. You don’t even need to light a Diptyque for it to have scented your room. In that sense they’re almost a diffuser, only intensifying when you do light them. Occasionally they can burn a little oddly, that’s one my gripe here. If it happens and you notice a wax build up unevenly to one side, light the candle and wrap it in tin foil, leaving enough foil to create a sort of cone above the vessel. It should help to distribute the heat better and melt the remaining wax. At this point you can also look to pull the wick back into the centre if it’s noticeably gone to one side.

 

Diptyque Baies Candle

 

Cire Trudon – Positano
£78

So, yes, it was the all-white design that first lead me to this candle, I won’t lie. It’s the product of a collaboration with Giambattista Valli and is absolutely the perfect candle for the summer. I don’t have a garden so when it’s a warm, balmy evening in July, this is what I light. Orange blossom, jasmine and magnolia. If you close your eyes and just sit there, wine in hand, you could mostly definitely be in Positano.

Fun fact for you, Cire Trudon have been making candles since 1643 and were responsible for creating the scented candle as we know it today. They supplied the court of Versailles, including Marie Antoinette herself. They actually produce a candle shaped to resemble her head should you find yourself in the market for a light-able bust of a highly unpopular monarch.

 

Cire Trudon Positano Candle

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Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

Making A Difference with Artha Collections

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

For a while now I’ve been exploring how possible it is to purchase products for the home that have a reduced effect on our environment and actively promote change. I believe we all have a responsibility to ensure we have as little impact on the planet as possible, along with an even more important responsibility to ensure we buy with our brains and support sustainable manufacturing.

At the same time I believe you shouldn’t need to sacrifice any element of style in order to do so.

Over the past few years our attitude towards conscientious homewares has definitely changed, there seems to be a much greater appetite for it now, something I’m incredibly happy about.

For the most part  the highstreet doesn’t seem to want to get behind the idea, either ignoring the issues entirely or hiding behind tiny capsule collections that come branded as being conscientious whilst really only making up 1% of their offering.

Finding the pieces and brands that do offer something more evolved isn’t easy, which is something I would like to try and assist with on millergrey. Perhaps it isn’t an issue that everyone concerns themselves with, but whilst I have a space like this blog I’d like to know it was helping in promoting those brands who are making a difference.

 

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to work with Artha Collections through Positive Luxury, an incredible collective of progressive brands who challenge the mass produced nature of the fashion, homeware and beauty industries and champion a selection of brands to trust.

Artha work with highly skilled artisans around the world to produce handmade homewares, offering women a chance to select their own working hours in order to ensure they can provide an income for their families without adversely affecting their home life.

The rug that now offers my feet a cosy place to land every morning was created by a single weaver, with its design adapted from traditional rugs in Ndbele tribal villages. When it arrived it seemed a shame to be relegating it to the floor, despite looking perfectly at home.

 

Artha Collections Arrow Rug

 

I’ve been toying with the idea of redoing my bedroom for some time and think the arrival of the Arrow Rug may just have confirmed that plan. As soon as I had unpacked it and rolled it out on the floor I knew it had to make it to a wall. Exactly how I turn it into a wall hanging is something I’ve been investigating via the medium of Pinterest ever since.

The plans for my bedroom makeover are something for another post (I might even moodboard, who knows), but for now the rug is making each day that little bit comfier in the room as it currently is.

If you’d like to find out a little bit more about Artha Collections and Positive Luxury you can visit their site.

 

Artha Collections

|1.| Arrow Rug |2.| Khullu Throw |3.| Petal Row Cushion |4.| Petal Row Cushion |5.| Storage Basket |6.| Karakul Rug

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Ate, Cook, Recipe

A Recipe For Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, With Jewelled Quinoa & Tahini Dressing.

Vegan Butternut Squash Salad

 

One of my many mottos in life is to never arrive empty handed. Whether it be flowers, wine or some kind of baked treat, I like to arrive places having made an effort. A psychologist would probably say it had something to do with a desire to be liked, but I can tell you quite definitely that isn’t high on my list of essentials. I just really like to cook.

This weekend over on Instagram I posted an image of my addition to a ‘low-key’ BBQ. The first thing you should know about me is that ‘low-key’ doesn’t really wash with me. The story resulted in so many messages asking for the recipe I decided to apply some quantities to it and write it up here. The recipe is a great vegan or vegetarian option for a BBQ and can be made ahead, making things much easier. Enjoy.

Ingredients

For the quinoa
300g quinoa (soaked in cold water overnight)
Vegetable stockpot or cube

For the dressing
4 tablespoons tahini 
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper
Juice of half a lemon

For the salad
1 butternut squash
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pomegranate seeds
1 small tin of sweetcorn
80g kale – tough stalks removed

 

Cooking the perfect quinoa:

Soak your quinoa (in a jug to make it easy to pour into a sieve later) in cold water overnight.

Before using it, pour out the water and rinse it thoroughly under the cold tap. In a small pan mix freshly boiled water with a vegetable stock cube/pot, add the quinoa with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 10-12 minutes. Soaking the quinoa reduces the cooking time needed so keep checking on it, it should be unravelling into spirals but still have some bite when you taste it, it shouldn’t be mushy.

When it’s done, tip out of the water and then leave in the pan, with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper draped over the top before placing the lid on. Pop to one side to cool.

For the salad:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (175 fan).

Slice your butternut squash into 1cm rounds, removing the seeds as you get to the bulbous part. Slice each in half to make half moons, leaving the skin on. When the rounds are thin this easily cooks and adds some texture.

In a bowl toss them with olive oil and seasoning before spreading out on a baking tray. Spread them out as much as possible to allow them to roast. Pop in the Center of the oven and roast for twenty minutes. In the bowl you used to toss the squash add the kale and do exactly the same, lightly coating the kale in any remaining olive oil and seasoning, strewn about the roasting tray with the squash and return to the oven for five minutes.

Watch carefully as the kale can so easily burn, you want it crispy, almost like a crisp or seaweed. When it’s ready remove and leave to cool.

Tip the drained tin of sweetcorn into a preheated griddle pan. You shouldn’t need any oil. You want the corn to begin to blacken and Char at the edges, so keep shuffling around in the pan before leaving to one side when done.

For the dressing:

Add the tahini, crushed garlic, seasoning, oil, juice of a lemon and water to a bowl and mix together. Add more water and mix thoroughly until your dressing is pourable. If it looks like it’s curdled just add more water and keep mixing.

To serve fork through the quinoa and pile onto your serving plate, strew with squash, kale, and charred sweetcorn before drizzling the dressing over liberally. Finally add the pomegranate seeds and dig in.

 

Vegan Butternut Squash Salad

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Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

The Secret To A Getting A Good Night’s Sleep This Summer.

   This is a sponsored post produced in collaboration with Bedroommood.

 

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

 

Ah, sleep. That ever elusive must-have we can never quite seem to get enough of. I’m forever envious of those who can fall asleep in any situation, position or condition. Children included. I am the polar opposite of those people. Rarely do I manage to obtain six hours sleep a night, let alone the eight hours we’ve all been drilled into believing is essential in order for our bodies and minds to function correctly.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably noticed a lot of sleep related talk of late, and it turns out you wouldn’t be the only one to have noticed it. For full disclosure, prior to receiving an e-mail entitled ‘Dan, we’d love to sleep with you’, I had never heard of Bedroommood. I’m all for a clever piece of marketing. Bedroommood invited me to rest my head on their sheets and spend a night with them, firmly believing their inclusion in my bedtime routine would result in me receiving a good night’s sleep.

In the summer months the precious six hours sleep I do get become broken, restless and ultimately pretty unsatisfying. After displaying some rather irritable behaviour and becoming sick of finding ways to stifle a yawn at my desk, I took Bedroommood up on their offer and set about exploring exactly what we can do to get a good night’s sleep in the ever changeable British summertime.

 

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

 

1. The Sheets.

Bedding seems as good of a place to start as any. In the simplest of terms, you should keep it cotton. Cotton allows the skin breathe and remains cool to the touch, where as manmade fibres such as polyester prevent your body from breathing, working to trap in the warm air, resulting in all of that unpleasant tossing and turning.

I can’t profess to be a bedding expert and prior to exploring Bedroommood‘s range I wasn’t overly familiar with the thread count of my existing sheets. What I can tell you is the 100% Egyptian Cotton Percale Sheets I opted for have a thread count of 300. What I have come to learn from this is that 100% Egyptian Cotton Percale with a 300 thread count roughly equates to a kind of heaven on earth scenario.

There’s a gentle crease and soft, dry handle to the sheets that perhaps the photos will simply never do justice to, but when you’re cocooned inside them and about to drift off, that’s exactly what you need. It can be hard sometimes to understand if a blogger is genuinely enthusiastic about a product or simply following guidelines provided by a brand, however I can say with all honesty, these sheets are a thing of beauty.

Most importantly they have actually helped, since changing over my sheets I’ve had some of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months. Keen to start to understand why it might be, I checked the care label of the bedding I most frequently use. 40% polyester. Often its included in a fabric’s yarn to reduce the level of ironing needed, so watch out for ‘easy care’ options as generally this would donate the inclusion of a manmade fibre. Instead just roll with the artfully creased look of percale!

 

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

2. Switch Off.

Once the stage has been set in metres of luxurious cotton it’s time to prepare yourself for the main event. Switch Off.

It’s hard to do I know, but spending the hour before you plan on going to bed reading a book, flicking through a magazine or simply getting on with some mindless chores around the house is an hour well spent. Scrolling through our phones or catching up on Love Island causes our brains to stay alert with the colour and lights its being presented with. (Yes, even Love Island causes some stimulation to the brain.). Switch off, climb into your luxuriously plumped bed, reach for a book from the stockpile you now keep by the bedside table, light a candle and relax.

 

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

 

3. Cut The Caffeine.

I remember once watching an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where she proclaimed never to drink a cup of tea or coffee after 3pm and even that was rare, it should always be something you drink in the morning to allow it to leave your system before your head hits the pillow. Now I’m not the kind of guy to disagree with Oprah, so I follow that rule rigidly.

Instead go for a chamomile or one of the plethora of sleep-inducing wonder teas you’ll now find in your local supermarket, and swap out your afternoon pick me up coffee for something punchy like a ginger and lemon infusion.

 

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

 

4. Enjoy The Routine.

This is probably going to be the most controversial point here, but when your alarm goes off? Get out of bed. Don’t lie there and snooze until you’re late and having to brush your hair on the bus. Ultimately this dedication to getting up will pay off in undisturbed sleep. Our bodies understand routine, it’s a simple fact. The more you wake up and get out of bed at the same time, the more your body will allow you to sleep peacefully until it knows its time to get up. Think of it sort of like the night before a holiday and you wake up constantly to check the time and make sure you haven’t over slept. Training your body to the time it needs to get up over time alleviates that issue, it knows what’s coming. After a few weeks you’ll find you naturally wake up before your alarm goes off, with the sleep before hand having been unbroken.

 

Bedroommood Percale Bedding

 

5. Treat Yourself.

Until July 31st Bedroommood are offering millergrey readers 20% off orders with the code DAN20 which is pretty lovely if you ask me.

I went for the 100% Cotton Percale Bedding Set in White, with the 100% Cotton Percale Sheet and two additional pillowcases in Light Grey. (If the site appears in Euros, just flip the currency option to the right hand side into GBP.)

If you do decide to give them a try I’d love to hear how you got on – leave me a comment or head over to @_millergrey on Instagram and let me know how you slept. I’m all ears. Unless it’s after 10pm, then I’m sound asleep, with my phone face down on the bedside table.

 

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Design, Interiors, Shop

H&M Home Launch Their First Furniture & Lighting Collection.

H&M Home Metal Side Table

 

H&M’s arrival into the world of homeware has been a relatively quiet one. When H&M Home initially launched back in 2010 it admittedly wasn’t quite what I was hoping for; a little too frou-frou for my tastes after hoping for a touch of Scandinavian minimalism. Arguably that was my mistake, it isn’t as if the brand’s clothing lines embody the spirit of Scandinavian design – they save that for sister brands COS and Arket.

Over the past eight years however H&M Home has done exactly what their clothing lines; adapted, evolved and shifted with the times. In the same time our interest in homeware and the way we live within our own spaces has shifted dramatically, led largely by platforms like Instagram and Pinterest allowing the consumer to see inside the average person’s home, stealing elements of their style along the way and applying it to their own homes.

Now it’s somewhere I find myself checking regularly for new arrivals and ultimately purchasing from too. Top tip, look out for their 100% linen bedding and table cloths come sale time. Bargain.

With that in mind, H&M Home have ventured into the world of furniture and lighting for the first time with their Autumn 18 collection, firmly taking aim at the some of the moment’s key trends. Much like their approach to their clothing collections, H&M have taken influence from designs most of us have been pinning for months, bringing them in at a far more achievable price point. Put simply, I spy minimalism, rustic lighting, marble surfaces and powder coated metal.

The minimalist black metal side table is something I’ve been after for years, so much so there’s an entire folder for them in my Instagram ‘saved’ images. The textured footstool (the word ‘pouffe’ makes me feel queasy) is sadly yet to surface online but I’ve got my beady eyes on it. I sit writing this on my sofa, my legs awkwardly crossed to balance the Mac. I very clearly need a footstool.

You can shop some of the pieces on the UK site now, with the rest of the collection set to launch over the coming weeks.

 

H&M Home Wooden Stool

Wooden Bench, £79.99

 

H&M Home Metal Tables H&M Home Metal Side Table

Metal Side Table, £79.99

Wool Pouffe, £79

H&M Home Launch Furniture

Metal Wall Shelves, £24.99 / £34.99

 

H&M furniture collection

Bamboo Pendent Light, £49.99  Wool Pouffe, £79

H&M Home Launch Lighting

H&M Home Light Shade

Bamboo Pendant Light, £69.99

 

H&M Home Launch Furniture

Metal Table Lamp, £79.99

H&M Home Launch Lighting H&M Home Stool

Wooden Stool, £69

All images courtesy of H&M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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