Tag

The White Company

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

Leave a comment
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

Leave a comment
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

 

Leave a comment
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

Leave a comment
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

 



Leave a comment