• Video: fun desk buys

    by  • 28/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Looking for some home office inspiration? We’re big fans of all things quirky when it comes to our desk decor, the little things that make you stop and smile from time to time.

    How could you not love a ‘quackers’ tape dispenser, for instance? Watch our latest video to find out more about our selection of fun finds to cheer up the everyday…

    Thank you to Neptune, Hobbycraft, Garden Trading, Berry Red, Nordic House, Vanessa Arbuthnott, Butlers and Next for all your help.

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    Fancy biscuits

    by  • 26/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_Faulkner03-0073 rgb

    Here at Country Homes & Interiors magazine everything stops for afternoon tea. There’s quite a bit of competitive baking going on so when the lid sprung off the cake tin recently to reveal these pretty lemon meringue sandwich biscuits there was much oooing and aahing among the team. It’s amazing what you can do with a little bit of lemon curd and some icing sugar – as someone commented, these look like fancy French patisserie but are in fact so easy to do even the most challenged cook could run them up.

    Makes 12 (definitely not enough if the girls are coming round – we suggest doubling the quantities)

    For the biscuits:
    250g plain flour
    100g rice flour
    250g salted butter, softened
    75g golden caster sugar finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    1 egg yolk

    For the filling:
    200ml double cream 3 tablespoons lemon curd
    4 meringue shells, crushed

    1 Sift the flours into a pile on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre and add the butter, sugar, lemon zest and egg yolk. Gradually work in the flour using your fingertips until the mixture comes together to form a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes until firm.

    2 Preheat the oven to 150˚C (300˚F), gas mark 2, and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Dust the work surface with a little flour and roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. Cut into discs with a 6cm round cutter and place on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

    3 Bake the biscuits for about 30 minutes until a pale golden colour, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    4 Meanwhile, whisk the cream to soft peaks then fold through the lemon curd and crushed meringue. Spoon the mixture on to half of the biscuits then sandwich with the remaining plain biscuits. Use a doily as a template and sprinkle over some icing sugar to create a hand-crafted effect.

    Recipe from Tea and Cake with Lisa Faulkner (Simon and Schuster, £20)

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    Visit a poetic landscape

    by  • 26/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    High Cup Nick

    With brighter days in sight and the earliest signs of spring appearing, it’s time to head outdoors for a dose of creative inspiration! Visit one of these beautiful locations among countryside, coast and hills which have given rise to some of Britain’s most romantic verse…

    Cumbria
    W H Auden was moved by the dramatic landscape of the Pennines including Eden valley, Dufton and Alston Moor. The spectacular slopes and U-shaped valley of High Cup Nick (pictured) remain popular today with painters, poets and photographers.

    The Wye Valley
    Bordering England and Wales, the magnificent Wye Valley offered a treeside rest for William Wordsworth in 1798. Lured by the musicality of mountain spring waters and this pastoral landscape he was moved to pen Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey.

    Nottinghamshire
    Lord Byron composed many of his greatest works at his ancestral home, Newstead Abbey, where today’s visitors can see the poet’s letters, portraits and furniture plus evidence of an oak tree he planted in the magnificent gardens in 1798. Visitors in June can also look out for events at Nottinghamshire’s Byron International Festival.

    Perthshire
    And follow in the footsteps of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns, who trod the path to the steep gorge and gurgling Falls of Moness, leading to poetry through song with The Birks O’Aberfeldy. Listen out, you may still hear his voice lilt from the trees…

    The little birdies blythely sing,
    While o’er their heads the hazels hing,
    Or lightly flit on wanton wing,
    In the birks of Aberfeldy…

     

    Where will you visit to write your greatest poem? We would love to hear…

    Looking for more weekend ideas and inspiration? Sign up to Country Post a weekly newsletter from us to you every Friday.

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    Handmade and beautiful

    by  • 25/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Peris and Corr group

    From an inspiring setting on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, Dyfrig Peris and Jennie Corr of Peris & Corr hand print their eclectic designs onto must-have cushions, lampshades, ceramics and stationery. The range includes bold patterns based on traditional Welsh blankets, hand-drawn typography and hand-painted motifs. We asked them to stop by for a quick chat…

    What made you want to become designers?
    We both studied Fine Art painting at university. Designing and printing our own products was a way of continuing to be creative after graduating.

    Describe the design and making process.
    All of our designs start off in sketchbooks – we draw everything by hand then scan and clean them up on the computer but try to keep a hand-drawn feel.

    What inspires you?
    Snowdonia’s amazing scenery and interesting wildlife is all around us. When we started out we used drawings of animals and plants in our designs, but these days the countryside influence in our work is more to do with colours. Paintings, fine-art prints and mid-century patterns inspire us, too.

    What’s the essence of your designs?
    We try and keep our designs as simple as possible. We spend a lot of time drawing and are always drawn to the most simple and bold designs.

    What do you love about what you do?
    Being able to design and create everything in-house is great, plus we have the freedom of being self-employed. If it’s a nice day we can just take the afternoon off and go for a walk or bike ride.

    What’s your business ethos?
    It’s important that we source all our products as ethically as possible, only using FSC-certified recycled paper for our notebooks and natural or organic fabric for our textile products. We print using water-based inks.

    What’s next?
    We hope to move to a new, bigger workshop in the next few months so we can get a new printing table that will allow us to print fabric by the metre.

     

     

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    Get in the mood with spring greens

    by  • 24/02/2015 • 1 Comment

    Country Hallway Country Days Country Homes and Interiors

    Here at Country Days we’ve spotted those first early shoots and now we’re so in the mood for spring…

    Pave the way for warmer days by packing in punches of spring green as soon as you walk through the door. Choose a pretty paper for a feature wall in a country hallway – this delightful design, Aviary Garden from Laura Ashley, depicts birds perched on leafy branches.

    If you fancy adding extra splashes of colour, use a toning green fabric for curtains and bench cushions. And if you’re feeling super brave, pick a stair carpet in the same shade. Team your scheme with lots of white to keep the look light and airy.

    Fresh greens work beautifully with classic country painted furniture, so a console table in soft grey is ever so useful for parking all those vital odds and ends.

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    Create a tabletop terrarium

    by  • 22/02/2015 • 0 Comments

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    Bring the outdoors in during the winter months with your very own indoor garden. Simple to make and easy to maintain, tiny open-air terrariums are a beautiful addition to desks, dining tables, or any well-lit spot.

    To make, spread a thin layer of gravel across the bottom of a glass vase, bowl or jar and over with activated charcoal, available from your local garden centre. Top with a generous layer of soil and pop in your favourite houseplants  – we find small, slow-growing succulents work best. Get creative with finishing touches; why not try a blanket of moss or some decorative pebbles?

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try. Or for more country crafts, recipes and room ideas, why not try our new Country Home Ideas app?

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    Video: pretty cushions

    by  • 21/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Cushions are an easy way to update a decorating scheme, adding pattern and colour instantly. With country style being a big trend on the high street, it’s now easier than ever to find beautiful cost effective designs to dress your home.

    We love traditional embroidery for adding an extra decorative touch, watch our latest video to see our hero buys from the high street.

    Thank you to Neptune, Hobbycraft, Garden Trading, Berry Red, Nordic House, Vanessa Arbuthnott, Butlers and Next for all your help.

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    Visit an artisan country coffee shop

    by  • 20/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Artisan coffee shop | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors With the cold snap set to stay, there’s nothing  like a cup of delicious artisan coffee to warm the soul. Head out this weekend to one of our top three country coffee shops, chosen by us for their special house blends, snug corners and scenic surroundings.

    Lempicka Café, East Yorkshire
    This charming little café is enviably located in the pretty market town of Beverley, with its charming narrow streets and vintage arcades. Every cup of coffee is made using freshly ground beans sourced from local independent roaster; James from the Blending Room. We recommend the house blend for the best in seasonal flavour – top it off with a home baked scone for the ultimate weekend treat!

    Wendy’s Coffee Barn, Cornwall
    Situated on the outskirts of the beautiful coastal town of St Agnes sits Wendy’s Coffee Barn, housed in a rustic converted barn surrounded by Cornish countryside. The freshly ground coffee is made with beans from local roasters, Origin, less than 20 miles away. Relax on sofas in the cosy Coffee Snug with a cup of their current house blend (aptly named Farmer 30).

    Farrington’s Farm Shop and Café, Somerset
    As well as serving top-notch coffee and tasty homegrown meals, this family-friendly farm shop café is renowned for its wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. A range of speciality coffees, as well as organic milk, are supplied by local producers and served by trained baristas in the Udder Room, complete with exposed beams, countryside views and a lovely logburner.

    Where’s your favourite country coffee shop? We’d love to know…

    Looking for more weekend ideas and inspiration? Sign up to Country Post, a weekly newsletter from us to you every Friday.

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    Heavenly cake

    by  • 19/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    marmalade and plum cake

    Frosting and icing, layering and sandwiching, whipping and drizzling – sometimes all you need is an all-in-one style cake in a tin. It’s just so much faster from mixing bowl to mouthful. This marmalade, plum and hazelnut cake is just the thing, the sweet fruit combining perfectly with a zippy tang of marmalade (Marmalade Week kicks off on Saturday 28th @MarmaladeAwards – there’s no better time to be making your own). Serve up a slice of this with a nice cup of tea or alternatively as a dessert, with some Greek yoghurt or ice cream on the side.

    50g soft unsalted butter
    50g golden caster sugar
    1 tablespoon of your favourite marmalade
    6 plums

    For the cake:
    100g hazelnuts
    175g soft unsalted butter
    125g golden caster sugar
    50g light or dark muscovado sugar
    2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
    3 large eggs
    2 tablespoons marmalade (see above)
    100g plain flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    100g polenta

    1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. In a small bowl and using a wooden spoon, mix the 50g of butter and 50g of sugar together until smooth, then chop the tablespoon of marmalade in a cup using scissors and stir that in too. Spread this mixture over the base of a buttered and base-lined 20cm springform tin.

    2 Next, halve and de-stone the plums and place them on the sugary butter, cut side downwards – this will be the top of your cake once it is baked. Whiz the hazelnuts in a food processor until ground. Then mix with all the rest of the cake ingredients and a pinch of salt – use a mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer or a free-standing mixer. Once thoroughly combined, spoon the cake mixture on top of the plums and smooth the top with a knife.

    3 Put the tin on a baking tray and bake the cake for 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, loosely covering the top with foil after about 45 minutes to prevent it from over-browning. Leave the cake to cool in the tin before releasing it and inverting it on to a flat plate or board.

    Recipe taken from Marmalade: A Bittersweet Cookbook by Sarah Randell is published by Saltyard, £20, and is also available as an ebook.

     

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    Meet furniture designer Katie Bonas

    by  • 18/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Katie Bonas | Country Days | Country Homes and InteriorsIn 2010, Katie Bonas made the move from London to the scenic Cotswold countryside, with an aim to starting her own business designing, restoring and upcycling vintage furniture. She now lives in a lovely family cottage with her husband, daughter and three energetic Labradors; Lussa, Islay and Scrabble! We love her latest Country Collection – it combines the elegance of French-inspired furniture with a contemporary rustic style.

    What makes your business special? 
    Research shows that antique furniture is 16 times greener than their modern counterparts, meaning upcycled furniture is the ultimate in eco-chic! We carefully source our vintage pieces and give them tender loving care, transforming every piece of furniture by hand, whilst keeping the integrity of their history intact.

    What’s your favourite piece?
    When every original piece is hand-picked it’s difficult to choose a favourite! My new Country Collection has been a real labour of love and is something I am incredibly excited about. It has the elegance of French-style furniture combined with contemporary country style – a look I just love. It blends so well with different interiors and colour schemes.

    What’s your work space like?
    My rural showroom based in Yanworth, Gloucestershire is my haven. It’s a large barn in warm yellow stone that houses my office, my workshop for paint courses and of course the showroom for people to browse my upcycled furniture and homewares.

    What do you love about the countryside?
    My whole life, business and personal, is tied to the countryside. I live, work and play against the backdrop of some of our country’s most stunning landscapes and draw daily inspiration from my rural surroundings.

    Describe your favourite country moment.
    I enjoy pottering about in the woods with the dogs at my side for hours on end!

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    Love pantry-inspired fabrics

    by  • 17/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Country dining room Country Days Country Homes & Interiors

    Hurray it’s Pancake Day, and food is very definitely on our minds here at Country Days, so not surprisingly this distinctive collection of gorgeous fabrics from Prestigious Textiles, called Pickle, caught our eye.

    These jolly fabrics depicting vintage labels, dinky flowers and a fruity patchwork – all with evocative names such as Pantry Antique and Bramley Marmalade – are guaranteed to bring a splash of colour and character to any country kitchen or country dining room.

    Because they make such a style statement, they work best against a subtle backdrop – try an all-white scheme as shown here. Then team with retro furniture and industrial-style lamps for an on-trend vintage feel.

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    Artist in residence: Winter woods

    by  • 16/02/2015 • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country Hoems & Interiors, Artist in residenceCountry Days’ Artist in residence, Sarah Hough, has been out walking in the dark  woods of Dorset with her sketchbook. ‘This night-time drawing is called Quietly,’ she tells us. ‘I like to quietly retreat into the shadows.’

    See more of Sarah Hough’s atmospheric sketches here.

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