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5 Ways To Get Yourself In The Festive Spirit.


This is the part of the festive season where you wonder how it all arrived quite so quickly. Surely it isn’t only two weeks away? You planned to make chutney, sip mulled wine whilst watching Home Alone and dance around the tree to Wham. Well, it’s fast approaching and if you’re not careful you’ll forget to enjoy it under the pressure of trying to get everything done. You should always enjoy Christmas. It’s time to get into the festive spirit.

No matter how busy or manic you might be, if you don’t enjoy the season and the extra time and attention you to get to spend on those that mean the most, then you’ve kind of missed the point.


1. Set The Scene. The 4 Best Christmas Scents.


It likely won’t come as a surprise to you that I’m a big believer in the power of scent. You name an occasion, situation or mood and I’ve got a candle for it. Christmas is one of those occasions that comes alive with a scent. A smell can evoke so many things and I’m not sure thats ever more apparent than at Christmas.




1. Winter, The White Company

A true classic of the genre. Warming, festive and in the nicest possible way, potent. On the 1st of December, as I extract the baubles from their dusty holiday home beneath the bed, this is the candle I light. It is to all intense and purposes Christmas in candle form.


2. Orange Bitters, Jo Malone London

I’ve said it many times now, but it remains as true as ever. I like to smell like a fruit. Orange Bitters is that kind of warm zesty scent that makes you think of a gooey chocolate orange liquor rather than a blossom filled orchard. It’s a little less traditional but in no way any less festive.


3. Ambre, Diptyque

Perhaps you don’t like cinnamon and spice. Some people have a real aversion to those scents. Ambre is warm and smokey, without being overbearing. It isn’t overtly festive but cosy and caring, perfect for those who want to dabble in something wintery without feeling like they’ve ventured into a spice rack.


4. Skog, Skandinavisk

If you find yourself longing for the scent of  real Christmas then Skog could be the answer to your prayers. There are many fir tree scents out there; all with varying levels of pine. For me they can often smell a little like toilet cleaner… Skog is quite light in comparison. Fresh and clean. If someone was to create a candle that portrays being in a snow covered pine forest in the Swedish countryside, this would be it.



2. Don’t Rush. Wrap A Present A Day.


I think why most people dislike wrapping presents is due to the fact they try to fit the task into the day before Christmas, haphazardly trying to find the end of the Sellotape as they clumsily attempt to render the shape of a teddy bear unrecognisable with shiny paper. Stop. Take your time. You have two weeks. A present a night and you’re likely done.

If you’ve already bought some presents then sit down on a quiet evening, put on a Christmas film or a rerun of The Vicar Of Dibley and enjoy it. It should be a pleasant job. You’ve bought someone a gift, this is your chance to celebrate what you’ve done.

If you’re not the most talented wrapper, fear not. YouTube arrived for a reason. If you search for it you’ll find videos on everything from tying the perfect bow to wrapping a cylindrical shape.



3. Take Some Time. Write Some Cards.


Sending Christmas cards has sadly become something very few do now. Personally I’ve never stopped. Over the years the quantities have most definitely decreased but still, every single year I sit down with a mince pie and a book of ridiculously over priced stamps and I write my cards out. A lot of the people I send cards to aren’t those who I see all that often so it always feels nice to write out a kind message of well wishes, more than likely finished with a comment about having to meet up soon, despite the fact we never quite got round to it this year. 

It’s a nice task. It feels calming to write something I always feel? To nearly write an address on a perfectly white envelope before positioning a jolly red sticker in the corner. It’s a lot art, I say we bring it back. 

This year my cards have come from Mark + Fold, a small British brand I absolutely love. You’ll be able to see more of them very soon.




4. Plan Ahead. The 4 Christmas Cookbooks You’ll Have For Life.



Planning makes me happy, as does making a good list. The act of planning the Christmas dinner, writing the list of things to do and the things I’ll need to buy is one of my favourite parts of the season. I make a pot of coffee and I settle down with my books, Post It noting every page that catches my eye.


The Christmas Chronicles, Nigel Slater.

This book requires some time spent with it. It’s filled with recipes but it is more than that, it’s a book to be read. It walks you through the season right from October and finishing in early January. Last year I made the Christmas Cake recipe from this book, it’s a little unorthodox in that it doesn’t feature a single spice, but it’s incredible. I made it again this year and shipped off bundles of it to my family. The toasted hazelnuts and sour cranberries are perfect against the sweet icing I lavish on top.


Nigella Christmas, Nigella Lawson.

Yes, she does advise buying a huge plastic bin to brine your turkey in. That is undeniable, but once you move past that it’s a book filled with dishes I come back to year after year. It’s a tradition in my house that New Year’s Day features Nigella’s Gleaming Maple Syrup Cheesecahke. It’s not overly sweet and the base is peppered with crispy pecan nuts; it’s the perfect antidote to the night before.


Delia’s Happy Christmas, Delia Smith.

The reason I love to cook is Delia Smith. I watched her religiously as a child and still have the huge tome my mum bought me for my eight birthday. It’s one for the most traditional of Christmas dinners, your fail safe. Cranberry sauce, classic stuffing recipes – it’s all here. Truth be told this isn’t really my style of cooking anymore… but it just captures the traditional family Christmas so well. If you need to brush up on the basics of preparing the perfect roastie, this is the book for you. 


Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook, Jamie Oliver.

I’ve always been a little jealous of Christmas at Jamie’s house. It always seems so big and full of life, so many people crammed around the table and sloshing gravy about the place. In a way this is the polar opposite to Delia Smith’s book; everything is modern and updated for the way we eat now. The deserts are pretty epic here, especially if your family has a strong aversion to Christmas Pudding. I can’t vouch for it being a vegetarian, but each year I make Jules’ Gravy from this book and each year it goes down a storm. 





5. Take To The Kitchen. Give Something Homemade.


Last year I set myself the challenge of making my friend’s and family’s main presents myself, in addition to my usual round of jam, chutney and biscotti. It was a task I won’t be setting myself again anytime soon, I’m not sure I’ve ever had quite such a stressful Christmas. Flannel pyjamas for long limbed folk, monogrammed dressing gowns for best friends and leather shopping bags for mothers, I tried it all. It nearly broke me.

As a result I try to take it a little easier with the homemade gifts now. Each year I deliver overflowing tins of biscotti (a handy and easy little recipe for which you’ll find here), chocolate truffles, honeycomb pieces and ramshackle piles of shortbread biscuit. Generally they’re placed inside glass jars from IKEA and all in all cost little more than a fiver. There’s just something about receiving a homemade gift that feels so special. Someone spent time on it just for you. It’s almost as satisfying as making a gift for someone.  

Pistachio Biscotti Recipe
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Christmas

The Christmas Gift Wrapping Guide: 2018 Edition

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

Most of you know will know by now that to me the wrapping of a present is just as important as what’s inside. Aside from decorating the tree, Christmas gift wrapping has to be one of my favourite tasks of the entire year.

After last year’s semi-rustic brown paper wrapping scheme I wanted something really different for 2018. There was a brief moment everything almost went green. Very brief, but it was there. I found the paper, I could see it all taking shape in front of me… and then I came back to earth. I’m not ready for that level of colour just yet. So, as you may probably have guessed from the abundance of imagery, this year’s scheme is entirely monochrome.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

Choosing The Paper.

It all began back in September when I spotted this textured white paper arrive on The White Company’s site. White paper is tricky, not many shops actually do it without it being drenched in glitter, something I can’t say I’m a fan of – see ‘A word on glitter’ below for further details.
When I’m deciding how to wrap my presents generally I pick a hero wrapping paper that’s a little more expensive, in this case the textured white one and then look to find ones that compliment it. Usually this means a trip to IKEA, I’m a big fan of their wrapping department. The black craft paper you see here is from IKEA, priced at £1.75 for 5 metres. You can also find great little boxes and packages for those difficult to wrap shapes. If you’ve never thought to check IKEA for your wrapping needs, you’ve been missing out.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

To wrap the presents I alternate between the white textured paper and the black one, so there’s a good variety going on. Every now and then there’s a hint of another paper, generally left over ends of rolls I might have in my Wrapping Paper Basket, which yes, I do unashamedly own.

Generally each present also has a ‘belly band’ of contrasting wrap. Dreadful term for it but there you go. To make these I simply fold a contrasting piece of paper into a long strip and then fold over the cut edges. Stick in place with clear ‘Magic Tape‘. Don’t go to all the effort of making your wrap incredible and then stick on some horrid shiny tape people. Think of the big picture.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

Ribbons & Twine.

I always purchase my grosgrain ribbon from eBay. It is simply the cheapest way to do it. Here there are two different grosgrain ribbons, a 6mm and a 10mm. I layer them over the top of each other usually, so it’s nice to have a contrast both in colour and sizes. The grosgrain used here comes on a 25 metre roll with prices from £2 a roll. Buying you ribbon from high street stores is likely going to cost you a fortune, eBay is a great way of helping you keep costs down.

The monochrome twine was a last minute addition. It all felt like it was missing something, so back to eBay I went. It won’t appear on every present, but it’s a nice little addition that brings both colours together perfectly. It’s also very handy for adding on your gift tags and any little extras you might want to add.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

The fun bits.

This is where the fun really is. Once your presents are wrapped and you’ve negotiated the tricky task of tying bows with double ribbons, you can start to add all the amazing little extras that will make them really unique. Last year I included origami paper stars with my presents (you can find out more about how I did those here) and my gift tags were luggage tags stamped with the recipients name.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

2018 however, is a little more jazzy. I’ve been a prolific buyer of Christmas tree decorations over the years, unable to say no to a pretty bauble should my eyes rest on one. There’s too many to feasibly use even on my gigantic tree, so I decided to put them to good use, adding a glass bauble here and there with some twine. You’ll also see my origami talents have been put to good use again. I used up scraps of white paper from last year to do this, but if there’s an expensive paper you have your heart set on but simply don’t want to have to buy rolls and and rolls, it’s a great way to incorporate it still.

The little glass baubles here were from H&M Home. They’re not online currently but I’m sure you’ll find them in store if you take a trip!

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping

 

I also used the twine to thread porcelain stars to the bows, writing the recipients name on the underside in gold pen so they could perhaps be used again. The porcelaine stars I used here are from Hobbycraft and have ended up on my gifts purely out of a change wander into a store.

They have been created to support the charity Together For Short Lives, with half the sales of each and every star going to the charity to help families and children for whom Christmases will sadly be in short supply. They’re sold out online currently but they are still available in store if you have one locally.

 

monochrome christmas gift wrapping monochrome christmas gift wrapping


A word on glitter.

You’ll notice that there is some white glitter paper used in the wrapping scheme here. I bought it a few years ago from The White Company and due to glitter going absolutely everywhere when you unrolled it, didn’t really use it. Glitter on paper actually stops it from being recyclable. At the time this wasn’t something I knew.

I decided it shouldn’t go to waste and have used it here simply to not be wasteful. It’s something to keep in mind however as you choose your paper this Christmas period, even the faintest hint of glitter or foil and all those mounds of discarded paper come Christmas Day have to go in the bin rather than the recycling.

Last year I used a series of three brown printed papers from IKEA to create a really striking, cost effective way of making your presents the best dressed. That paper is still available on the site so it’s just as relevant now as it was then! If you need some further inspiration you can check it out here.

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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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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, Fashion & Style, Food

The Picnic Edit. Tackle National Picnic Week In Style.

National Picnic Week

 

This week, if you didn’t happen to be aware, is National Picnic Week. Yup, there is indeed a week dedicated to the art of picnicking. Rather perfectly it falls in the same week as the longest day and the official start of British Summer Time, so there seemed like no better time to compile a list of picnic tips and picnicware essentials.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that nothing we purchase should be truly disposable. I try to apply that logic to all situations, even picnics. If you can’t invest in something reusable then you’ll find some amazing biodegradable or recyclable options out there. After all, the very idea of a picnic is to enjoy eating outside in nature, so the less impact you can have it on whilst you’re there enjoying it, the better!

 

National Picnic Week

 

Invest in a good blanket.

In my experience the best picnic blankets are those backed with a waterproof layer. A beautiful wool blanket is all good and well but come 7.30pm on those damp. dewey evenings it isn’t going to be your friend. If you can invest in a quality blanket and picnicware and they should hopefully see you through years of picnicking action.

If you’ll be taking children (or just particularly messy eaters) there are some great wipe-clean options out there too, although these do come with a word of warning. Should you be wearing something that will have your legs coming into direct contact with it, this most definitely will not be pleasant for anyone involved. Think back to those awful lightweight kagools your mother used to make you wear in the wet summer months and I’m sure you’ll get an idea of the discomfort that lies when things are wipe clean.

 

Go all out.

No matter how good your picnic blanket is the chances of it offering much in the way of comfort are slim. Bring some cushions. Everyone’s rears will thank you for it.

 

Bag it up.

Picnic baskets are beautiful things. Beautiful yet bulky and vaguely impractical things. Personally I opt for a tote bag. I can hang a tote bag easily, I can fold it up and I can put it a drawer, I can even use it for my weekly food shop. What I can’t use for a midweek trip to Sainsbury’s however is a large four-man wicker picnic basket. I’m nothing if not practical when it comes to storage.

 

Keep it glassy.

Wine in plastic cups with rip off lids may indeed seem extremely practical, but bottles of wine however are infinitely more stylish, let’s not kid ourselves. Picnics should be an event; a celebration of Britain finally enjoying weather worthy of a picnic! Such celebrations should not involve lukewarm wine in a plastic cup, half of which you inevitably slosh down yourself as you attempt to rip off the lid.

 

 

The Picnicware Edit

 

|1.| Floor Cushion, £6.99 |2.| Floor Cushion, £8.99 |3.| Wool Picnic Blanket, £35 |4.| Striped Paper Cups, £4.50 |5.| Wool Picnic Blanket, £90 |6.| Woven Basket, £45 |7.| Melamine Plates, £18 |8.| Glass Bottle, £1 |9.| Melamine Beakers, £14 |10.| Wooden Cutlery, £9

As Featured In Imagery:
The White Company Wool Picnic Blanket, £90
The White Company Rattan Tray, Part of Set, £75
The White Company Striped Cushion, £35

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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, 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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Christmas, Interiors, Shop

Life without tinsel. The Contemporary Christmas Edit.

Vintage Glass Christmas Baubles

 

As a child our Christmas trees were what you might call ‘eclectic’. A riotous collision of decorations crafted from lolly pop sticks and Dairylea containers, with vivid green ornaments we’d received with the Happy Meals at McDonald’s. You know the ones, Christmas baubles emblazoned with The Hamburglar and Ronald himself. When I think back to the Christmas trees of my childhood it isn’t without fondness, there’s just a little tinge of shame in there also.

We always had the best time decorating the tree each year, all three of us doing it as a family whilst listening to the one Christmas CD we happened to own. My brother and I would fight over who got to throw the shiny silver strands of ‘Angel hair’ over the branches, and kick up a stink if we weren’t the one to place the star atop the tree. Whilst the fondness for the task is still very much there, the enjoyment of a chaotic array of colours and the zealous use of tinsel is most definitely not. Over the years those decorations have been lost to clear outs and decoration culls, making way for a precise colour scheme that presents an all together more adult version of Christmas at our family home.

My own tree is a collection of baubles and ornaments I’ve collected over the years I’ve been living outside of the family home. I like to think of the tree as something that evolves over time, the collection of decorations something that expands each year as you add in something new to the mix.

 

Copper Glass Christmas Bauble

 

I like objects to have a memory or event attached to them. I’ve often said I can pinpoint events and times in my life to items and objects and perhaps none more so than the glass items that hang from the branches of my Christmas tree. This year I visited Berlin for the first time and returned with three handcrafted baubles from a little boutique in Mitte. Each time I hang those decorations on the tree I’ll think about where I found them and how they came to end up on the tree. There’s only one of each (due to budgetary constraints), which does generally break my rules of three, but in a way, I quite like that. They’ll stand alone against the crowd.

None of this is to say I am in anyway averse to the purchasing of a bauble from the high street. Trees should be eclectic, even when there’s a scheme in place. Shockingly my tree isn’t an all-white affair but rather a clash of metallic tones. Coppers, brass, matt silver and clear glass… with one of two grey decorations in there for good measure. There’s odd baubles picked up in the January sales from the John Lewis home department and hand-painted shell spheres from Toast that were excitedly unearthed in an Outlet; all sitting alongside the more token ornaments that arrive to the branches with a memory in tow.

A tree is a work in progress. Each year buy something new and add to the scheme. Look further afield than your usual High Street giants and you might find the most amazing little pieces. Most importantly of all, remember that tinsel is not something I can in any way endorse. Even ironically. It’s time in the festive spotlight is over.

 

The White Company Glass Christmas Decoration

The White Company’s Spun Glass Baubles feature tiny strands of spun glass beneath a perfect glass sphere.

 

Gold Christmas Decorations

 

Stylistically I sit between the traditionalist and the contemporary camps. I avoid anything that might be considered ‘twee’ and too traditional, yet I’m not quite ready to commit to life fully as a Christmas minimalist. There’s beauty to be had in a really minimal Christmas that’s for sure, but I just can’t help but want a little bit more excess. It is Christmas after all.

If you find yourself leaning towards the more contemporary of schemes, then you’re in luck. I’ve pulled together an edit of my favourite contemporary ornaments. Go forth and invest in something you’ll treasure for years to come.

 

Contemporary Christmas Bauble Edit

|1.| IBen Bach Studio Brass Ornaments |2. & 3.| Ferm Living Brass Ornaments |4.|H&M Home Glass Baubles |5.| House Doctor Brass Decorations |6.| The Conran Shop Glass Bauble |7.| Zara Home Matte Baubles |8.| COS Die Cut Decorations

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My Home

Green ambitions.

As a child I had a thing for gardening. I imagine it was spurned on by the arrival of Ground Force on our screens which in turn would lead to a rather strange summer where I took it upon myself to buy Gardener’s World magazine each month. I convinced my mum to let me dig up lawns to create flower beds, only to then not have any plants to fill them with and move on to creating a rockery from the only pebbles I had managed to claim from our drive way.

Only one of my houses after that has ever given me a garden. It was a ground floor flat in Ealing that I dubbed ‘The Cottage’. Seemingly ordinary from the outside, inside was original Victorian floorboards and drafty panelled doors. At the end of the truly tiny kitchen was a barn-like door onto a garden covered in roses. They trailed down the iron pillars that supported upstairs’ balcony and all along the fence. In the summer it was like a kind of heaven in that garden. I had pots of geraniums and herbs everywhere, a little table to sit out at with my breakfast and a rickety wooden bench that was positioned perfectly to sit in the evening sun. I miss that garden.

There are so many things to love about my current home and in some ways it’s absolutely perfect. In others, sadly it isn’t. There is no outdoor space here to spend the summer in, no beds to plant up and no lawn to lie in on a Sunday afternoon. The only bit of space I have is the tiny concrete path that leads from my front door to the gate. Presently that space is occupied by a series of terracotta pots filled with lavender and herbs. It really is a tiny space but it’s now a little greener at least.

Inside, things are getting just as green. My dream is to one day have a vegetable garden with a fully stock of herbs that will service my busy kitchen. It’s a dream that’s quite a way off at the moment, but for now my window sill is filled with basil, rosemary, thyme and bay. I’m almost loathe to snip anything from them to cook with, they’re so small and unestablished, rather defeating the object of having them. But they sit there, their soft scent filling the room when the sun hits the glass.

|1.| IKEA BITTERGURKA Watering Can |2| The White Company Chartwell Planter |3| Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Herb Pot

 



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