• Artist in residence: Forecast

    by  • 20/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country Homes & Interiors, Artist in residenceSarah Hough, our Artist in residence at Country Days, has been having some end-of-year fun with cones. ‘I’ve been trying to get to know this fir cone as apparently they can tell you the weather,’ she smiles. ‘It didn’t seem to want to speak to me so I looked out of the window instead!’

    To see more of Sarah’s work, head over to her website here.

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    Festive touches

    by  • 20/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Ready_moodboard3

    With the big day just around the corner, it’s still not too late to add those special finishing touches to your home. Here at Country Days we’ve been busy putting together this moodboard to inspire you to create your own unique look this Christmas.

    Team traditional reds and greens with crisp whites by mixing a selection of cosy knits and quirky pieces for a modern country look. Finish by styling up your mantle piece with woodland-inspired stockings and lavish winter greenery.

     

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    Carols by candlelight

    by  • 19/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Carols by candlelight | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors With just days to go and excitement reaching peak levels, there’s nothing lovelier, or more Christmassy, then a jolly carol or two. Here’s some seasonal sing-a-longs hitting the high notes for us this weekend…

    Carols by Candlelight, Cambridge
    21 December, 6.30-8pm
    Cambridge’s carolling scene is best known for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols held at King’s College. But, with tickets in such high demand, we suggest a quieter service held in Cambridge’s oldest building: the beautifully atmospheric Leper Chapel. Mince pies and mulled wine will be served and it’s free to attend.

     Carols at Treak Cliff Cavern, Peak District
    20 & 22 December, 2-3pm
    Attend a concert with a difference – carolling inside a cavern is not something you do every day! Little ones will also enjoy a guided tour and a present from Santa himself. Admission is £10 for adults, £5 for children and under 5s go free. To book, call 01433 621487.

    Christmas Celebration, Cornwall
    22 December, 7-8pm
    Wrap up warm and join Sterts Singers in a candlelit concert at Sterts open air Theatre. With a mix of traditional carols and festive songs, there’s something to get everyone in the mood. Mince pies and mulled wine are available from the bar (open from 6:30pm), admission for adults is £6 and £3 for children.

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    Bake and decorate Shortbread Biscuits

    by  • 18/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country HOmes and Interiors, Christmas shortbread biscuitsIt’s time to get baking something extra special for Christmas. Shortbread is a classic country recipe but by cutting festive shapes such as stars, trees, circles and decorating them with nuts, such as almonds and hazelnuts, and sprinkles and icing you can make them look really special. Arrange them in a little decorative box and you have the perfect homemade gift too.

    Makes 22-24

    150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    25g ground rice

    125g firm slightly salted butter, diced

    ½ tsp rose extract

    75g caster sugar

    Small handful of unblanched almonds

    Decorations, such as white icing, white sugar sprinkles, edible pearls, gold food colouring, chocolate and nuts

    1 Put the flour, rice and butter in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the rose extract and sugar and blend to a firm paste. Wrap and chill for at least
    30 minutes.

    2 Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 3. Grease 2 baking sheets. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 5mm thickness. Cut out festive shapes and space slightly apart on the baking sheets. You could cut out stars from the middle of some rounds or press almonds onto others. Make holes with a skewer if required.

    3 Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until just turning pale gold around the edges. Re-mark the holes with a skewer if necessary. Cool the biscuits on a wire rack.

    4 Decorate the biscuits – see picture for ideas.

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    Twinkling tealights

    by  • 17/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Anna Perring | Country Days | Country Homes & Interiors We’re adding a bit of sparkle to our mantles, sills and table displays this Christmas with these handcrafted porcelain tealights from Luna Lighting – aren’t they pretty? Designer maker Anna Perring talks us through the making process…

    What made you want to become a designer?
    My parents were both wonderfully creative people. My father was a gifted painter and sculptor and was forever making things for the house and restoring furniture.  My mother is passionate about interior design and, as a great seamstress, made all my clothes as child. There was always a great deal of creative energy going on around me and I guess it just stuck.

    Why did you choose lighting in particular?
    I have always found it impossible to take the fairy lights down after Christmas and then one June I was on holiday in Tuscany and became entranced by the daily dusk dance of a thousand fireflies in the hedgerows. I came home determined to recreate the magic!

    Describe the making process involved.
    My tea lights are first thrown on the wheel in fine ivory white porcelain, then when the cylinders are firm but not dry I make tiny holes with a variety of pins and cutters. Once dry, they are sponged smooth ready for the first bisque firing, then glazed and re-fired to 1260 degrees centigrade so that the porcelain vitrifies and becomes translucent when lit from within.

    What is your favourite part of the design process?
    Translating an idea into a final piece is hugely satisfying when it works – it doesn’t always!

    Describe your favourite country Christmas moment.
    A snow covered landscape, the scent of mulled wine, a log fire and a room full of friends and family. Heaven.

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    Dreaming of a white Christmas?

    by  • 16/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Country dining room Country Days Country Homes and Interiors

    Prepare your country dining room for a festive feast with a decorating scheme that exudes Scandi style.

    Naturally, the pièce de résistance should be the table setting and Christmas is a good excuse to go to town! A colour palette of crisp whites and subtle greys is an instant way to create a winter wonderland feel – here, a tablecloth with graphic stars is teamed with bowls and elegant etched glassware (all from GreenGate). Make sure guests sit comfortably through Christmas dinner with slouchy cushions – try snowflake designs as shown here, with the odd fur cushion thrown in for a magical mid-winter touch.

    Finally, oversized pendants with opulent shades and candles will help create a welcoming ambience.

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    What’s your favourite Christmas tree?

    by  • 15/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country Homes & Interiors, Christmas treeHere at Country Days, tales of Christmas tree buying from local pick your own farms has been hot on our lips this morning as we compare size, shape and needle drop!

    The Douglas and Nordman firs got the thumbs up for holding their needles well, the blue spruce was a favourite for its stylish shade, but the number one consensus from all of us was that there’s nothing like the smell of a Nordic spruce tree. With its rich and resinous fragrance it really does say Christmas!

    What’s your favourite?

     

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    Style up a light

    by  • 14/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Style up a light using Country Homes & Interiors blog instructions

    Get everyday lamps and lighting in on the Christmas act and style them up to add a festive glow to the proceedings. We love this pendant shade idea, as featured in our January issue, which uses already hanging over-the-table pendants, to add to the wintery woodland look of the table setting. To make loop the pedant light cables around and over a silver birch branch to hold in place horizontally over the table then add ivy swags and bauble decorations to finish.

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    Christmas dining & entertaining buys

    by  • 13/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Occa Home country Homes & Interiors product EditHere at Country Days we’ve teamed up with Occa-Home, one of our favourite online destinations for country-loving brands, to shortlist our very own edit of Christmas dining and entertaining buys.

    Check out why we’ve hand-picked these buys (above), for creating the perfect frosted country look this Christmas:

    Toast the season with elegant long stemmed wine glasses, we love the silver polka dot detailing on this design, £19 each, Lene Bjerre.

    Keep refreshments topped up with this beautiful floral porcelain jug, in striking dusk-blue tones, £41, Lene Bjerre.

    This hammered stainless steel Sauce pourer & Trowel set is just the thing for adding an extra special touch to serving cranberry sauce with Christmas dinner, £29, Culinary Concepts.

    Dress the table with a delicate hint of mint with this 100% cotton tablecloth, £75, Lexington.

    To shop for these buys and more visit our page here to take advantage of the exclusive 20% saving!

     

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    Enjoy a magical winter light display

    by  • 12/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    christmas light displays | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors See gardens, parks and harbours in a different light this festive season as colourful displays illuminate their dark skies and lovely grounds. Here’s our top three not to be missed this month…

    Prinknash Bird & Deer Park, Gloucestershire
    3-6pm, 13–14 and 19–24 December 2014
    Watch from the warmth of the visitor centre balconies as the famed waterfowl at this family-friendly park are lit up in all their colourful splendour. As if illuminated swans weren’t appealing enough, there’s also a Santa’s Grotto, Nativity display and resident Rudolph to keep little ones entertained.

    Mousehole Harbour Lights, Cornwall
    5-11pm, from 14 December–3 January 2015
    In December 1963, local artist Joan Gillchrest hung up strings of coloured bulbs along the quay to get this tiny fishing village into the Christmas spirit. Inspired by this act of festivity, villagers have been adding lights year on year, resulting in a stunning display including fluorescent whales, sea serpents, fishing boats and much more!

     Stockeld Park, Yorkshire
    10.30am-8.30pm, until 6 January 2015
    Follow the 1.2km trail through the enchanted forest and see ancient woodland come alive with theatre, fantasy and a host of spectacular light effects. Meet mystical characters along the way, and have a go at creating your own magical sounds on musical instruments dotted along the path – great fun for adults and children alike!

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    Bake a Winter Spice Cake

    by  • 11/12/2014 • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country Homes and Interiors, Winter spice cakeWe love the warming taste and aroma of Christmas spices, such as cinnamon and star anise. Combine them in this rich and buttery seasonal cake with the luxurious surprise ingredient of white chocolate. For a really pretty finishing touch, simply decorate the cake by placing a doily on the cake as a stencil and shaking on icing sugar. This cake is perfect served with a cup of tea on a cold afternoon or cut into small slices and served with mulled wine at a drinks party.

    Makes a 20cm square cake

    225g slightly salted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

    4 whole star anise

    225g caster sugar

    ½ tsp ground cinnamon (try grinding your own, we used fresh Ceylon sticks, £8 for five, Cinnamon Hill, cinnamonhill.com)

    2 tsps vanilla extract

    4 medium free-range eggs, beaten

    350g self-raising flour

    150g white chocolate, chopped

    4 tbsps full-fat milk

    For the decoration

    Icing sugar and a doily (Party Porcelain Gold, £4 for 24, Talking Tables)

    1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 3. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin. Grease the paper. Break the star anise into pieces and, using a coffee or spice grinder, grind to a powder with 25g of the sugar. Tip into a bowl.

    2 Add the remaining sugar, cinnamon, butter and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a spoonful of the flour if the mixture starts to curdle. Add the flour and stir in gently until almost combined, then add the chocolate and milk and stir again until just combined.

    3 Turn into the tin and level the surface. Bake for about 1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

    4 To serve, dust with icing sugar using a doily as a stencil. (We adapted a doily by adding a cut-out star.)

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