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Showing posts with label hide. Show all posts

04: Inspiration - Nature in the Home - Collections by Caroline South...

I am delighted to have Caroline South as my final 'inspiration' of the Spring/Summer series of #Natureinthehome.  I have followed Caroline's blog (Scraps of Us) for many years now, and have always found her images and in particular her collections incredibly inspiring.  I hope you do too...

Please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?
I'm Caroline and I'm mum to Archie 3 and Elizabeth 6. From a young age I have always loved being creative, taking photos, drawing and making.
Since having children my main passion has been for recording and documenting them growing up and our adventures, which I share on my blog and Instagram. In addition, I love making making memory books and am constantly taking notes of the things they say.
As a family we love to get out and about as much as possible. We live just a few minutes from the beach so spend many hours there exploring and searching for treasures.

I love your garden mood board series, how did this idea come about?
I came across the garden mood boards on Karin A photography blog and just loved the idea. It's a monthly link up where you record the flowers and foliage found in your garden. The idea of recording a visual diary of what is growing throughout the seasons in this way really appealed to me. 
As you will probably notice my preferred way to display objects is to show them organised neatly, often using linear and symmetrical layouts. With this in mind I chose to show my garden mood boards in this way.

You have just started a new series called 'collections' could you tell us a little about that?
We always end up with little collections of bits and bobs, things we have picked up at the beach, park or just in the garden. Things brought home in buckets, bicycle baskets or stuffed in pockets.Treasures like sea glass, stones with holes, feathers, seed pods, leaves and fur cones..... or if it's Archie a piece of moon rock or a dinosaur fossil!
I thought I would start photographing all of our finds that we accumulate as a way of remembering and documenting them mostly through Instagram. Following this I decided to start a monthly blog series with the hope that others may join in and share their own collections. 

You have a love of nature, that is evident in your photography, can you tell us where this love began?
I grew up on the Isle of Wight, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, fields, beaches and forests. I spent lots of time with my family walking along the beaches looking for shells and sea glass or through the woods with my drawing pad and pencils in hand! 
I now explore the West Sussex coastline with my own children and have passed on my love of exploring for treasures to them.

I love how creative you are, where does your inspiration come from?
I guess my inspiration comes from all around me, from nature itself and the shapes of objects to the colours and how these compliment each other. The changing seasons and variety of flowers, fruits and wildlife that can be found in my garden give me inspiration that is constantly evolving. 
I keep my photos simple to focus on the colours, shapes and forms of objects or landscapes. I often use a lot of white space or contrasting colours so the objects are not lost in the background detail. I like capturing everyday moments of the kids growing up and take inspiration from this too.  

What is your favourite time of year?
I would have to say summer! I love the long days, being able to wander along the beach with the kids in the evenings, paddling in the water or watching the sun setting over the sea. I love the bright colours of the flowers and that they are so abundant at this time of the year. I love the school free days of the holidays, spending more time with the kids, having adventures or just lazy days spent at home in the garden.
That said I do try and appreciate the changes that come with each season, the crisp days and beautiful colours of autumn or the first blooms and new growth appearing in spring.

How do you like to display nature in your home?
We have an ongoing display on our kitchen windowsill of all the current bits and pieces we find on our adventures. The kids are always adding to it. Taking pictures of these things is a good way to keep a record so I can clear if off occasionally and make way for new finds!
Sometimes special things get placed on the mantelpiece or in bowls - like the sea glass, I'm also partial to taping objects to the wall too!
We are currently making a section of our garden into a beach area. I like the idea of having a space to keep our finds that make their way home, especially the larger pieces like lengths of rope, driftwood or washed up floats.

Finally, what is your favourite flower?
It is hard to pick just one but I love the bright colours of poppies growing wild and hydrangea, the different colour variations in the flowers, through to the dried skeletons left behind in the autumn.

Thank you Caroline!  Everything here resonates with me so much.  I have a collection of sea glass on the mantel, bowls of shells everywhere... I must start to make collection photographs too.  

02: Inspiration - Nature in the Home - Kirsten Rickert

A while ago I came across Kirsten Rickert's incredible instagram feed, and fell in love. Her beautiful, dreamy, evocative images of her daughters, nature and art are so incredible I just had to share them with you.  I am delighted that Kirsten agreed to a little interview, I know you will love her work just as much as I do...

Please could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?
You will find me in the garden, woods, or in a field of wildflowers. I always have busy hands, making, creating and foraging for collected natural treasures. I grew up in an alternate area of subtropical Australia, when I left home I travelled around the world solo for many years. I started university in my mid twenties, studying fine art. I finished my degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Then I had babies! We now live just outside of Manhattan where I spend my time homeschooling our two daughters. My role of mother comes first, woven into this role I am a freelance artist, writer and photographer, contributing to magazines internationally. I am also trying to write a book! 

You have a love of nature, that is evident in your photography, can you tell us where this love began?
I was very fortunate to grow up in a part of the world that is like paradise. My mother's family have farms and many hours of my childhood were spent roaming paddocks, playing in the dam and creek, jumping off waterfalls and beach combing. As a child I did not know how lucky I was, I did not know any different. Years of traveling as an adult brought home to me just how fortunate I was to grow up in this area. There are many beautiful places in the world, but I realised that a place where you can grow a massive variety of fruit and vegetables all year round and I place with untreated clean/fresh water, and incredible diversity of plants and animals is really a special place. Over time it sinks in that these are the things that really matter, not just for me, but everyone. The area I grew up in also has a lot of alternate thinkers and environmentalist, so you could say my love of nature was in the air I breathed. My family worked very hard to have the land that they have and I am so very grateful for my childhood spent on it. It was very simple, and basic and humble, and my family were not rich in money, but I look back now and think wow, I was blessed I was to have a connection to this land, the plants and the animals. 

You have traveled the world, where do you consider home?
Home is Australia, this area I talk about above, on far north coast of NSW. One day we will return. My family are waiting for us to hurry up and move back! In my dreams we build a home and settle for good on my Aunt and Uncle's property in the rain forest. In the meanwhile I have easily have made myself at home in other places along the way. 

I love how creative you are, where does your inspiration come from? 
Looking out my window, the environment and my daughters. I really try and be inspired by what is happening right before my eyes. I am also inspired by things I see happening in the environment that I wish were not happening. Like the decline of the honey bees, chemicals being sprayed on crops, monoculture, genetic modified food, poor treatment of animals, excessive consumerism, plastic, and basically the earth's resources being misused...all of these things fuel my passion to create for change. I am conscious to use my creativity in a positive way that adds something to life, but does not cost the earth greatly. We all want beauty in our life, but to me something is only beautiful if it is good from the roots, if it comes from a good place, with good conscious intention/decisions. I was thinking earlier today as I was sorting some shells how much I dislike those white store bought starfish you see in homes. To me, when I see them sitting in windows and on coffee tables, I don't think "What a lovely seaside trinket" I think of those poor starfish being mass harvested from the ocean, killed and then bleached! Three things that are really actually terrible. It makes my wonder why people would want that "energy" in their space. A souvenir like that, to me does not convey a good experience. I am always surprised that people do not use their imaginations to consider how things end up in a store for sale. Anyway...with that said, my goal is to source things and create in a gentle way, as much as possible. 

What is your favorite time of year? 
Well each season appeals to me for one reason or another, I find something to look forward to with each change the weather brings. I love the change of season, I get excited like a child. I grew up with only two seasons, summer and what might be considered Autumn and so this experience of living in the north east of America has been a treat as there are really distinct seasonal changes. It has been a novelty and a great source of inspiration. I suppose if I have to choose, it would be spring, for the flowers and that wonderful feeling of awakening and new life after a long winter, it is such a celebration..ooohhh but I love Christmas time too! 

You involve you daughters in most of your creative projects, do they help you in the making? 
Yes, the girls are always involved one way or another, and I see this deepening as they get older because they seem to be getting more and more involved. Beyond helping me forage and collect and be my models, I ask them to share their creative opinions too. They give me feedback and together we discuss what we think works. I love that we work together. It is one of the great experiences of homeschooling, they are learning and creating right along with me. 

You use a lot of plants & flowers in your art, where do source your supplies? 
Generally I use whatever I can find abundant and free in the environment. Things growing in my garden, or things I see while out walking. I work with found seasonal flora, sticks, rocks, feathers, or any other natural items that I stumble across or that stands out to me. Like for instance the other day our neighbour trimmed his trees and the girls and I collected all of the cuttings and then the next moment I was laying the leaves all over our attic floor...I needed to work with the leaves, they were just sitting there and I was compelled to make them a creative medium so that they were not wasted! If you go for a drive with me in the country side I will pull the car over and stop a zillion times to look at things growing along the side of the roads. My children are very patient! If I am not working with things from nature, I look for recycled materials that are also free and abundant, like cardboard! 

Do you have any tips for my readers on how to display nature in the home? 
Hmmm... I do not know that displaying nature in my home is my strong point. We certainly have a large collection of found things from nature, but I do not think we display things in the best possible way. We have moved a lot the past few years and we often talk about moving back to Australia so I have not invested in household furniture or put much thought into decorating, because our situation is temporary. We have lots of collections in baskets and bottles and things sitting along the fireplace mantle. I think if I knew we were settled then I would apply my creativity to displaying/decorating within our home with more enthusiasm. 

Finally, what is your favorite flower? 
Oh I do not have one favorite! Certain flowers definitely evoke emotion and memories for me, I grew up with subtropical flowers and now live in a very different climate. I would say I have favorite flowers depending on the geography, climate and season. I could not possibly choose just one. All flowers are beautiful in there own way, but it is the combination of scent and the beauty and the nostalgia that pulls the heart strings... from my childhood it would be gardenias, jasmine, frangipani...more recently with the change of geography and climate I have fallen in love with cherry blossoms, roses and iris. Oh I love flowers, there are so many more I want to add to the list! 

Thank you Kirsten!  You are such an inspiration, you have certainly inspired me to get out there, a create works of natural art... I might start with a mandala this weekend.  

I wholeheartedly agree with the starfish thing. I must admit I have one, it was a gift from my grandmother, so although it's a horrible thought what happened to the starfish and the process, I can't bear to part with it because it came from her!  Taking items from nature, should be a free flowing process, never taking much, nor anything living (shellfish etc).  I think that you, Kirsten, do it with such grace, and mindfulness, we should all follow your lead.

How do you sleep?

Image via Cup of Jo
Our bedroom is in the attic.  Low ceilings, required a low bed.  We bought a cheap one from Ikea years ago, when we vacated the master bedroom and gave it to our growing sons.  The bed is ok. Does what it needs to do. But it is without a headboard.

I know there is a huge trend at the moment for no headboards.  Masses of messy pillows and cushions adorn unmade beds in photo shoots. BUT I love Jo's bed.  I love the pillows all neatly stacked against that big mustard coloured squishy headboard.  I can imagine sitting there reading a book, with a glass of wine next to me.  Or curled up with the kids reading Harry Potter.  It's a grown up bed and I want to be grown up!

Yes, I want that bed.  Headboard, lights, pillows, bison... et al.

How about you, do you have a headboard?

This post was written in association with Carpet Right.  All words are my own.

Treasured possessions...

I have many treasured possessions.  Just on that shelf alone there are books from when I was a child passed down to me by family, my matryoshka dolls which I had for my 8th birthday, a fir cone from the New Forest holiday a few years ago, the Buddha from travelling in South East Asia... and so on.

But the most treasured possession there has to be my iron & resin sculpture by Carol Peace.  For years I swooned over Carol's work.  It was love at first sight at the open studios at Spike Island.  A huge female form in a yoga pose stood outside Carol's studio.  That was it... in love!

Years later, seeing her work develop I longed to own a small piece of hers.  Back in 2006 our oldest son Charlie was born. Later that year at Christmas, Dan gave me a small but heavy box to open.  Inside was this beautiful sculpture of Carol's.

My heart burst.  I cried big love tears.  He said we might not be married, but this is how he feels about us. I couldn't wish for more. So there it is, other than my family, my kids scribbles and masterpieces... this beautiful sculpture is my most treasured possession.

John Lewis Insurance is currently hosting a fabulous competition to win £500 of John Lewis vouchers (I want them so badly!).  All you need to do to enter is to submit an image of your treasured possession or family heirloom, and then in six words describe why it matters to you. (obviously I can't write six words, might have to have a re-think!).  Just enter the competition over here.

Best get your skates on as the competition closes on the 25th March.  Just think £500 of John Lewis Vouchers... what would you buy?

This post was written in association with John Lewis Association.  All words and images are my own.

Joules tunic dresses for S/S14...

joules tunic dresses ss14

joules tunic dresses ss14 by lou-archell featuring a blue dress

What glorious weather we have had this weekend.  So warm and Spring like!  Giddy with sunshine I kicked on my sandals, hurrah!, only to be confronted with the perennial problem of the Spring wardrobe.  What do I wear on sunny mild days, but is still warm enough to cope with the light chill of a March breeze.

Recently, I spotted the floral dress above on Pinterest and thought how pretty it is. So hopping over, I discovered such lovely tunic dresses from Joules perfect for Spring. 

I don't think I'll wear mine at the allotment though!  What do you think?

This post was written in association with Joules.

The sofa - our family island...

Our sofa, much like all families, is our island.  Our place to sit together, to hug, relax and be.  There we tell stories, admit secrets, play lego, recuperate from illnesses, snuggle with popcorn, work, and be still.  The sofa can be a boat sailing on the seven seas, a plane, a hideout from zombies.  A place to rest after a hard day, to watch movies and sleep.

The sofa takes a battering, daily.  Spills are mopped, toast crumbs swept, and cushions plumped.  Our sofa is old.  We got it 5 years ago, a lucky freecycle find.  Originally from Ikea it fits our home, just. (I won't go into the details of half the door frame coming out to fit it into the lounge!).  As much as I love it, I think it's time to upgrade.  To something a little more stylish.  The boys are getting older and hopefully more responsible in their actions (although I do find my cushions chewed and thrown on the floor daily!).

I've been looking around and came across Willow and Hall.   A small British company making beautiful sofas by hand.  I am thinking of getting one of their sofa beds, to encourage friends and relatives to visit more.  I particularly love the Elmley Sofa, the only problem is choosing the fabric.  I veer from grey linen to teal velvet and back again. It's a decision I cannot make!!

 What do you think?  Linen or velvet? Help!

This post was written in association with Willow&Hall

Google nexus - blogging on the run...

My usually tool at home that I use to access the internet, blog and generally time waste is my Laptop.  Sturdy, big and good for my day to day use.

But when I am out and about and need to have my internet fix, my phone was the only thing available, until now,

Since Christmas I am now a lucky user of a Google Nexus.  And quite frankly I am in LOVE.  It is small, sleek and streamlined, this little beauty fits neatly into my handbag and weighs nothing.  Not only that, apps can be downloaded easily from the Google Play store.  I have constant request for Angry Birds!

Argos have a great range of tablets, I spent a while reading up on which one would suit our needs, and the Google Nexus came out on top.  A large screen, great performance and looks smart too.  The boys (Dan included) cannot put it down, we are thinking of drawing up a rota on who's day it is to use it! 

I now can easily meet clients, talk through Blog Design packages without dragging my cumbersome laptop around with me.  Perfect!

This post is in association with Argos.

Childrens tablets - a review...

Leappad Ultra
As a family we had made the decision early on that computers and games consoles would not be a part of our children's lives until they were of a certain age. I didn't want my kids to become plugged in and zoned out.

But once we read a little on the benefits educationally that some tablets can have we started to have a re-think.  We kindly sentby Argos the popular kids tablets to try out.  The Leappad Ultra and the Vtech Innotab 3s.  Both brand new and high spec.  With millions of apps to choose from, all been carefully selected by a board of educationers and with the child's development in mind.  No big shoot em up games here (which is what we were worried about).  The LeapPad Ultra in Green is available from Argos here.

Innotab 3s
Before giving to the boys we chose specific apps which we felt suited their learning ability.  A mix of reading, history, maths and of course good old platform style gaming.  Learning without knowing they are!  Apps are easily sourced and downloaded by parents on both Leapfrog and Vtech websites.  Some are free and others can be a much as £15 per app.  Pricey, but I think those ones are probably worth it, with a lot of content to keep them coming back for more.  The VTech InnoTab 3S available at Argos online here.

The boys, squealed with absolute delight when opening the toys.  Christmas certainly came early.  Both agreed to playing with our rules.  Not to nag for the toys.  Only to play after homework and reading has been done. And to give the toys up after the allotted time.  So far so good.

We have noticed an improvement in Charlie's reading.  And the fact they can both go off and have a little escapism from each other is a bonus too.  If you, like we were, are a little cautious at getting a tablet or games console for your kids, then the LeapPad or Innotab are the way to go - a great introduction to computers.

Written in association with Argos.  Argos kindly sent us these products to review.

GIVEAWAY! - Thorntons Christmas Hamper...

Image via here
I love chocolate! Who doesn't?  I was recently sent by Thorntons a hamper of chocolate for the boys.  It was their Snowman hamper, like the film.  The boys love that film, they watched it every year with their Grandma when they were very small.  So choosing this hamper I thought would bring back lots of lovely memories.

In it I received 2 large Snowmen, 2 Snow dogs, 2 selection boxes, 2 small snow men and 2 packs of milk chocolate shapes.  All beautifully packaged in a large lidded box (which I shall use for Christmas Decoration storage after Christmas).

Dan helped himself to a small snow dog, he said the white chocolate was creamy and delicious.  Ahem!  I did say it was for the boys!!!  I am going to keep the rest for stocking fillers and to give to the boys Cousins as extras with their presents.

Thorntons have a large range of Christmas chocolate hampers available for delivery this Christmas here.

The lovely people of Thorntons are giving away to one Littlegreenshed reader a Christmas Hamper of their choice!

Yep!  You too can devour deliciousness this Christmas.  Christmas and Chocolate are meant to be!

All you need to do is complete the following form...

Good luck.  Giveaway ends on Tuesday 17th December (so you can receive it in time for Christmas).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Written in association with Thorntons Chocolate. We were kindly gifted a hamper for Christmas.

Decorating for Christmas...

Image via Notcutts
This Sunday it is the start of Advent, the calendar will go up and from then onwards Christmas is a series of traditional and magical events.  Every year I can't resist treating the home to a new Christmas bauble, garland or candlestick,  it's part of the magic, choosing a new Christmas decoration.  In next coming weeks, little bits and bobs will make an appearance.  Like greenery and the odd bauble or two.  But, I like to wait til the middle of December til I fully go wild.  

I love the idea of a gradual change of home furnishings.  The addition of lights is a must, as are throws, and candles.  Today I hauled 12 large sacks of wood into our dining room and filled the empty fire place with them.  It instantly feels like Christmas, they are there for both aesthetic reasons and our winter fuel.

Oh yes - Christmas is nearly here, and I love it!

This is a sponsored post.

Decorating for Christmas / Winter...

Christmas lights & antlers -
Image via Pinterest
With just over a month til the big day, I am thinking of decorating the home.  You might remember my post about it last year, I can't 'officially' decorate until after the 14th December (Dan's Birthday) - so the tree, and major Christmas elving will happen then.

But for now I am trying to bring light into the home, a little Winter makeover to cosy the place up.  I love this image above.  Stag antlers, festooned with fairy lights.  In past years I've tried to source a set of antlers of my own, but the price is way outta my league, and for the rest of the year they might look out of place in my house.

So, I've been searching around for an alternative and discovered this brilliant cardboard stag head from Uncommon Goods.  Uncommon Goods is a Brooklyn based company with a great range of Christmas gift ideas. I am thinking that the cardboard stag head, draped in glowing lights will look pretty cute in the boys bedroom and can then be packed away in the Christmas box until next year. Perfect teamed with a couple of these little ply snowflake too!.

this is a sponsored post.

Room for everyone, with Ikea...

As a family we LOVE to have friends and family round for lunch.  But in homes such as ours, space is always a problem.  We live in a small 2 up 2 down Victorian Terrace.  Our dining space comfortably seats 6, so when we have friends round with their children, sometimes we need to make room for up to 8 or 9 people.

Each time, with a little bit of juggling, bringing my desk from the studio down, and finding chairs from the garden, we do manage.  But that's all part of the fun.  It makes the preparation more of an occasion. 

When I saw this little film 'Dinner with the Lims and Ikea', I thought, ha!, that's us!  Bringing chairs and tables from around the house.  But with Ikea, there is a lot more thought and care with how each item is used.  I am already thinking of great ways to store and arrange the furniture.  With Winter coming, I think more Sunday Roasts will be made, and more people coming.

How do you manage with lots of people for lunch?

this is a sponsored post in association with Ikea.

91 Magazine...

All images were kindly given with permission by Caroline Taylor
Today sees the launch of Issue 6 of 91 Magazine.  A beautiful on-line lifestyle magazine created by Caroline Taylor of Patchwork Harmony.  

91 Magazine was launched in October 2011, a quarterly online magazine, published by interiors and lifestyle brand, Patchwork Harmony.  This latest Issue is jam packed with helpful tips on setting up your own business, beautiful interiors, delicious recipes and how to's on craft.  It really has some fantastic ideas to celebrate Spring and Summer.

I love the styling in these images... I want to sit at that table and drink tea, make and then eat that pie and I am going to steal the idea of using washi tape on jam jars for a pretty vase.  

To read the Spring/Summer issue please have a look over here.  

little shed...

Yesterday I received a phone call from the allotment site chief, saying our little shed has had it's door pulled off and the inside looks ransacked.
I thanked her for letting me know - but actually it was left in that state the last time we were there!  We don't keep anything of any value in there, all tools come home, the only thing would be a load of canes, string and a broken parasol.
But the bad thing is - my little shed has lost it's door.  She said it was broken up badly as the vandals had kicked it in.
I think we are going to have to fork out (like my allotment pun!) for a new one.  Wooden sheds aren't the cheapest of things, but hey ho, we do need to have some where to store our gardening junk and importantly to shelter from the rain & have a brew.
And yes, I shall paint it green again.

this is a sponsored post

A room of my own...

Image via here
When Dan and I moved into the house we live in now, it was the first home we ever owned. A place to call our own (not going to mention the massive mortgage!).
It was a complete wreck, the previous owners loved purple, swirly carpet and artex ceilings - yep it was a 'changing rooms' disaster zone.
We slowly began to gut this little Victorian Terrace, starting with the bathroom, lounge and bedroom.  Add the to chaos of building work, 5 weeks later I gave birth to Charlie.

Work stopped.

We lived in the badly decorated home, no carpets, a kitchen without a single drawer?!  But it was cool, we had our home and we had our baby.  Charlie grew and when he was 8 months we moved him into his newly decorated nursery in the box room.  Life started to get back to 'normal', renovations resumed, tackling the dining room and kitchen.

Within in months I was pregnant again with Rufus.  Our home improvements took a more urgent turn. Another child - oh my where is it going to sleep?  So we knocked through the kitchen/dining room and converted the loft.  

A 20 month old toddler, an 8 month pregnant mum and an exhausted Dad.


But, at the end of all this.  Dan and I have a lovely little home and two boys who now share our old bedroom at the front of the house and we have escaped to the loft.

Oh yes!  In the evening when all is quiet, we can retreat up two flights of stairs to our little piece of heaven.  Our space is sparsely decorated, white, wood floors and large VELUX® windows.  Dan chose the largest VELUX® windows we could afford to let maxium light in.  We can lie on our bed at night and stare at the stars, or close the VELUX UK blinds and listen to the rain gently tapping on the windows.  

The only downside is sometimes the hot air balloons fly over our house and once or twice the people in the basket have had a good view of me getting dressed!  ahem!

Yep - our loft room is ace.  Where do you go to escape?

this is a sponsored post

Mothers Day...

Image via Here
It's Mother's Day in the UK this Sunday.  It comes round quickly doesn't it?

I seem to spend most of my time looking at lovely gifts for my own Mum, forgetting that I am also a Mother too.  I think it is because my boys are too little to actually go out and buy me something themselves (although that is no excuse as their Daddy could do it with them).  I will be happy with a hand made card, a cup of tea in bed and a good cuddle.  Saying all that, I will be self gifting myself something though!  I am so worth that!

My local Florist is incredible.  Daily on the school run I am seduced by small bouquets of pastel hued hydrangeas tied up with twine and jam jars filled with the happy colours of ranunculus grace the corner on my local high street.  The sun always seems to shine there, those nodding daffs waving hi as I pass.  Yes I will most definitely be treating myself to a some floral treats this weekend.

My own mum will be staying with my Nan on Mother's Day for the weekend, a good few hours away.  So I am thinking of sending them both something via parcelforce.  My mum and Nana both love plants and gardening.  The highlight of the gardening year is a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in May.  So with this in mind I have bought them both a pack of sweet pea seeds, pretty slate name tags to mark rows of seeds in the soil and both a garden diary to record what has been planted and where.  A pair of gardening gloves and a new trowel each.  I've packaged them up in a little baskets, which I found at the flea market the other weekend.  Altogether a lovely little gift for gardening lovers!

I chose Parcelforce as it worked out much cheaper than using normal postal services, and they will collect directly from my door without me having to queue for ages in the post office.  Perfect!

What are you planning to buy your mother for this Sunday?
Or do you self gift?  Please tell me it's not just me!

this is a sponsored post

Dreaming of setting up camp...

Image via here
As the weather is finally warming up (I actually wore my sandals out today!), I am dreaming of camping holidays and cooking over an open fire.
Last year when on holiday in Cornwall we had most meals on the beach.  A little barbecue, cooking asparagus spears wrapped in pancetta, corn on the cob and sausages... yum!

This year we are most definitely off camping again, possibly trying to get away abroad.  France maybe, now that would be an adventure!  I cannot wait.  I love the smell of woodsmoke and hearing my kids running wild around the tents.. (maybe my neighbours don't but I do!).

I've been looking at some recipes on-line and this one looks delicious, quick and easy.  I need to   cook  something that my boys will devour with gusto!

Campfire Fried Eggs with Potato & Bacon Hash

serves 4


1lb of potatoes
8 oz of sliced bacon
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
3 spring onions, chopped


1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender, drain.
2. Cook bacon in a cast-iron skillet over a campfire or on a medium-high heat on a camping stove, turning occasionally until crisp.  Remove bacon, let cool slightly and crumble.
3.  Add potatoes to the skillet, lightly smash using the back of a spoon and cook until just starting to brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir crumbled bacon into the potatoes.  Push the hash to one side of the skillet.
4. Working in batches, and adding oil if needed, crack 2 eggs into skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook until desired.  Stir in the spring onions into the hash.
5. Serve eggs with hash.

Recipe via here.


What recipes do you love to cook over the camp fire?

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Spring finds...

I cannot wait for Spring!  I've had fresh flowers in the house weekly since mid January... needing their sunny colours to brighten a grey cold day.  Recently I've been looking at chalky pastel hues in home wares, minty greens, pops of pinks, sunny yellows, echoing the spring blooms and new leaves that I crave.  Remember my post of yesterday, that pink vase!

You might remember last year I took part in the Most Wanted Autumn Home Styling Challenge, when I found cosy home wares for under £80. You can see my Autumn ideas here.  Well, VoucherCodes have once again asked me to come up with ideas for updating your home for Spring.. 

What is more Spring like than pastel shades.  I've had my eye on that Moose Coat Hanger for a while.. it's pretty special!
I hope you like it!

1. Black Dot Tea Towel by Oelwein via Etsy, 2. Pink Eames Eiffel Chair via Ebay, 3. Aerial Pendent Lamp, Habitat, 4. Grey Apple Cushion by Studio Meeze via Etsy, 5. Moose on the Loose by All Lovely Stuff, 6. Abstract Art Circles 3 Print by Ammiki via Etsy, 7. Stripe Hamman Towel by Toast, 8. Circus Triangle Cushion by Butterscotch and Beestings vis Etsy, 9. Cloud Cutting Board by Snug.

How do you start your day?

Image via here
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  If this is the case, then why am I not thinking more on variety and flavours just as we would an evening meal?  I must admit I am stuck in a rut and opt for the same variety of Bran flakes with bananas, the boys usually have a selection of 'kids' style cereals and Dan has toast.  Dull isn't it?

So recently I've been thinking of better ways to enjoy my first meal of the day.  The people at Jordans Cereal kindly sent me some of their Super Berry Granola to try.  It is packed with crunchy pieces of oatmeal and delicious blackcurrants, blueberries, cranberries and crunchy almonds.  Over the past few days I've mixed it up a little having it some days with milk and other days with natural fat free yoghurt and banana chopped up.  I am converted!

Dan on the other hand is still enjoying his toast (that man loves marmalade!) but he is also taking to work an Absolute Nut breakfast bar.  A treat he says!  Poor love have I been neglecting him! 

My next project - is to get a juicer.  
What do you have for breakfast?  I need inspiration!

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Warming breakfasts...

With Pancake day coming up in a couple of weeks (Tuesday 12th February), I am thinking of trying something a little different to the usual lemon and a sprinkle of sugar.

Recently I have been looking on-line for pancake day recipes for some inspiration.  As a family we tend to have pancakes for breakfast at the weekend - a nice leisurely Saturday morning.  My boys will spread a thick layer of Nutella on their pancake and then roll it up to eat with their hands.  Sticky and chocolatey just how they like it.  That is ok for them, but I'm looking for something a little more special, and healthier!

I've come across some great recipes like this one:
Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes - (makes a lot of pancakes.  enough for four.  about 24 small pancakes)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
butter, shortening, or vegetable oil for frying
maple syrup for serving
In a small bowl combine granulated sugar and lemon zest.  Rub together with your fingers until sugar is fragrant.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the lemon sugar.  Set aside.
In a separate bowl (or you can use a large liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine.  If a few lumps remain, that’s no problem.  Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.
Place a griddle, or a nonstick saute pan over medium heat.  Add a bit of butter, shortening, or vegetable oil to the pan.  A teaspoon of fat will do for a n0nstick saute pan, a bit more fat may be necessary for a griddle.  Dollop batter onto hot pan.  For small pancakes, I use about 2 tablespoons for each pancake.  For larger pancakes, I use about 1/4 cup of batter.  Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top.  Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.
Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 150 degrees F) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve.  Serve with
butter and warm maple syrup.

Doesn't that sound wonderful!  Although I may replace the buttermilk for soya and fry in a small amount of olive oil.  If you don't like the sound of this just a plain one will do.  For information on how to make pancakes there are some great tutorials out there too.

Yum - roll on the weekend!

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