• Archive for April, 2012

    First lilac

    by  • 30/04/2012 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    I got very excited this weekend about seeing the first lilac coming out. Despite the dreadful rain, it was lovely to see this darker red variety peeping through a large hedge as I walked along a local lane yesterday…

    Dark lilac

    The dark red lilacs

    Read more →

    Getting crafty with embroidery

    by  • 27/04/2012 • Country craft, Country style • 4 Comments

    I recently had the pleasure of attending an embroidery weekend at the Bedruthan hotel, set in the beautifully scenic Mawgan Porth in Cornwall. The extremely talented Lou Gardiner (below), showed us exciting new ways to bring embroidery into the modern day and give it the contemporary cool factor.

    Lou’s work is so inspirational – there was something mesmerizing about watching her in action, drawing using a sewing machine. If you’re not familiar with her brilliant work, I urge you to take a look. In addition to the original embroidered and appliqué artwork her designs have been reproduced as beautiful prints and cards with modern country motifs.

    The course was so much fun, I came away not only a whole lot wiser about the realms of embroidery, but also with a fab piece of artwork to decorate my home.

    If you’d like to have a go at expressing yourself with embroidery you can book on Lou’s next course, Machine embroidered art, 6th to 8th July from £324 per person for a two-night break.

    Get creative with a embroidery, alongside Lou Gardiner.

    Get creative with embroidery, alongside Lou Gardiner.

    p.s If you’re out and about you may also want to visit the Crafts council’s Collect exhibition to see Lou’s new work on display.

    Read more →

    Foraging in a Cornish cove, then lunch

    by  • 26/04/2012 • Country food, Country moment • 1 Comment

    Lunch at The Gurnard’s Head

    This time last week I was in Cornwall, enjoying the balmy delights of glorious spring days with blue skies and hedgerows filled with wild violets, primroses and bluebells. Admittedly there was a very slight chill in the evenings which warranted piling logs on the fire but spring had definitely arrived and there was much talk of the drought… I certainly wouldn’t be eating lunch alfresco if I was there now. After an interesting morning spent foraging for samphire and edible seaweeds in a ‘secret’ Cornish cove, we headed to the award winning Gurnard’s Head at Zennor for lunch. Chef Bruce Rennie makes much of locally foraged ingredients and at this time of year you will find wood sorrel, hogweed shoots, primrose flowers and three cornered leeks on the menu, plus of course the ubiquitous ramsons (wild garlic) which is threatening to take over the Cornish hedgerows – unlike many plants, the advice is to pick as much as you can. Other Gurnard’s Head highlights include locally caught seasonal fish such as mackerel, megrim sole and hake served with early new potatoes, plus of course spider crab and brown crab. If you are ever down St Ives way, lunch or dinner here is a must but be sure to book ahead. And don’t miss out on the puddings – the chocolate brownie is inspired with the addition of juicy raisins and comes with a scoop of local clotted cream but hey you are on holiday.

    The eclectic dining room

    The May issue of Country Homes & Interiors is packed with delicious recipes that use wild ingredients – as soon as the rain stops why not head out for the hedgerows and see what you can find…

    Read more →

    Make a paper windmill

    by  • 25/04/2012 • Country craft, Country style • 1 Comment

    Country Homes & Interiors’ latest do-it-yourself project shows you how to make your own decorative paper windmill or pinwheel.

    You can use double-sided paper or two sheets in alternate shades to create a two-tone effect. We used paper from Hobbycraft and pretty Cath Kidston stickers from Quadrille.

    The windmills make great table decorations for outdoor parties and you can tailor the colours or patterns to complement your place settings or table linen. The kids will love them too!

    The windmills are easy to make from cut and folded squares of paper.

    The windmills are easy to make from cut and folded squares of paper.

    Use a decorative sticker to hold the blades of the windmill in place and a map pin to secure to a dowelling stick.

    Use a decorative sticker to hold the blades of the windmill in place and a map pin to secure to a dowelling stick.

    If you like this idea, we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try…

    Read more →

    White country bathroom

    by  • 24/04/2012 • Country style • 3 Comments

    I love the elegance and simplicity of this inspirational white bathroom. The statement double ended roll top bath, from the new Victoria range by Heritage Bathrooms, is a contemporary take on a classic design with simple lines and a crisp white finish. Positioned in front of the window, it allows you to enjoy beautiful views while bathing. Painted floorboards and window shutters add to the country feel and a retro touch is added with a wall of off-white brick-style tiles. The perfect place  for a soak, don’t you think?

    The new Victoria freestanding roll top bath measures H580mm, W640mm and L1600mm. Prices start at £1,650.

    Read more →

    Charlotte Vohtz, Green People

    by  • 23/04/2012 • Country business, Country style • 1 Comment

    I’m delighted to say that Charlotte Vohtz, founder of Green People, will be the Country Homes & Interiors guest speaker at the Creative Country Business course to be held on 11 and 12 June. Charlotte started her multi award-winning business in organic beauty in 1997 having moved from her native Denmark to the UK. Charlotte is a passionate and charismatic entrepreneur and will join Doug Richard of School for Creative Startups and his team in showing you  how to turn your dreams of starting a business into a reality.

    Charlotte’s motivation for creating an organic beauty company came from wanting to help treat the eczema and allergies that her daughter Sandra suffered as a small child.  After much personal research, it became clear that focusing on a more natural and holistic way of treating children’s allergies and skin problems was the best approach…and Green People was born. Today this motivation continues with the addition of Oy! Organic Young – a collection of fresh and funky products for teen skin, which uses only the best, certified organic, natural and fairly traded ingredients that protect and enhance the beauty of young skin.

    Charlotte Vohtz

    Charlotte-Vohtz started her business from her kitchen table in Sussex

    The business has seen extraordinary growth since its modest beginnings over 15 years ago when it was run from Charlotte’s kitchen in Sussex.  Today the company offers more than 140 products, with over 100 of these Certified Organic by the Soil Association, Organic Food Federation or EcoCert.

    For a full course agenda, amazing extra benefits and to book, go to www.creativecountrybusiness.co.uk. Plus save £100 off the course fee by quoting COUNTRYHOMES at the checkout.

    Read more →

    New treats from Papermash

    by  • 20/04/2012 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Being a self-confessed stationery geek, I love the simple joys that come from paper treats. Whatever the occasion you can’t beat a sweet notelet to leave messages, a stamp to personalise a card or a pretty sticky tape to beautifully finish gift-wrapping.

    Here at Country Homes & Interiors we’re big fans of Papermash, the online emporium of all things pretty in the world of paper crafts. The collection has gone from strength to strength, since launching two and a half years ago. Now featuring more decorative treats than ever – from cheery party cups and colorful paper pom poms to feel-good designer prints, all of which are sure to make you smile.

    Here are just a few of my favourites from the new collection.

    From top left; Pastel floral washi tape, £9.75 set of 3; Boxed stamp set, £12; Honeycomb tissue balls, £3.50 each; ABD paper cups, £9.50 set of 30, all Papermash.

    From top left; Pastel floral washi tape, £9.75 set of 3; Boxed stamp set, £12; Honeycomb tissue balls, £3.50 each; ABD paper cups, £9.50 set of 30, all Papermash.

    Smile print by Kerry Layton, £22.50, Papermash.

    Happy Friday! Smile camera print by Kerry Layton, £22.50, Papermash.

    Read more →

    Wild garlic

    by  • 19/04/2012 • Country food • 1 Comment

    Wild garlic

    Pick the long, thin leaves of wild garlic to bring a wonderfully subtle, tangy flavour to sandwiches, salads, stir-fries and soups.

    I have masses of wild garlic growing in the garden – it seems to spread like mad. You can also forage for it in woodland because, in among the bluebells, you’ll find one of nature’s best spring greens. The chances are you will catch its scent on the wind. The dark green leaves form dense groundcover and there’s no mistaking them because of the smell. A burst of white flowers indicates the end of the growing season.

    Country Homes & Interiors lifestyle editor Sarah Wilson suggested making this Potato and wild garlic leaf soup…

    Serves 4 to 5

    25g butter

    1 tbsp olive oil

    1 onion, chopped

    1 small leek, trimmed and roughly chopped

    ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed

    500g well flavoured floury potatoes such as desiree, cut into small chunks

    1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

    15g wild garlic leaves, tough stalks removed

    4 tbsps crème fraiche

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Extra sprigs of edible flowers and fresh chervil, to garnish

    1 Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and leek and fry very gently until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel seeds, potatoes and stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook gently until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

    2 Tear the wild garlic leaves into pieces and add to the pan with the crème fraiche. Blend the soup either using an immersion blender or food processor. Reheat gently, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve scattered with sprigs of fresh chervil and edible flowers.

    For more wild foraging recipes, see A Taste of the Wild in the May issue of Country Homes & Interiors (on sale now).

    Read more →

    Say it with words

    by  • 18/04/2012 • Country style • 4 Comments

    There’s been a massive boom in the written word as a decorative motif recently. Whether it be sentimental sayings and phrases carved in wood on swing seats, printed on teacups and textiles such as cushions and tea towels as well as on posters and accessories such as rubber stamps and pencil cases. It’s a nice way to create an ambience, or set the scene at home and let your loved ones know how you feel without even being there!

    If you love the written word then you can obviously find it anywhere and everywhere. Old love letters and the backs of vintage postcards translate into fabulous wallpaper designs, such as the one shown here. Old maps and music scores can be equally as decorative and the beauty of these designs is they are subtle and nostalgic. If you don’t fancy wallpapering a whole wall then how about framing a page from an old song sheet or an out of date map?

    Wallpaper, ref 313000, £305 per roll, Brian Yates.

    Wallpaper, ref 313000, £305 per roll, Brian Yates.

    Read more →

    Country-style living room

    by  • 17/04/2012 • Country style • 1 Comment

    There never seems to be enough room on the sofa when you have friends round, so I thought this modular design from Kate Pearson’s house, which we featured in our April issue, was the perfect solution. Kate has softened its contemporary clean lines with pretty cushions and added beautiful accessories such as a Mora clock (my favourite type of clock), a tripod lamp, porthole mirror, elegant shelf and, of course, the giant model yacht, to draw the eye away from what could be an overwhelming piece of furniture. It’s a beautiful living room that manages to combine comfort, practicality and style. What do you think?

    Read more →