• Archive for June, 2012

    Create your own moodboard

    by  • 29/06/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    I’m often asked how we come up with ideas for the lovely decorating stories that we feature in Country Homes & Interiors every month. It’s a mixture of seeing new collections and knowing what works best to make a beautiful country home.

    Moodboards are our starting point, they’re a great way of finding everything you need and pulling them together to visualise how a room or theme will look as a whole.

    I love the brilliant new moodboards on Housetohome. It’s easy to use and a fun way to embrace your inner interior designer, allowing you to play with over 4,000 images. You can also share your moodboards on Housetohome and with friends on Facebook and Twitter.

    This week, with Wimbledon in full swing, I’ve been inspired to create a moodboard celebrating the joys of being outdoors.

    My Wimbledon inspired moodboard.

    My Wimbledon inspired moodboard.

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    Summer cocktails – from the heart of Somerset

    by  • 28/06/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Godminster Blush Elderflower Champagne Cocktail

    Summer evenings demand suitably themed cocktails and with elderflowers still in the hedgerows thoughts turn to very English drinks. I’m a huge fan of Godminster (http://www.godminster.com) the organic dairy farm in Somerset that makes some of the best cheese around. Imagine my delight when I discovered their range of artisan ‘Spirit Vodkas’. There’s something for everyone – choose from sloe, rhubarb, quince, horseradish, blackcurrant or elderflower. Here are two cocktails created using the Elderflower Vodka Spirit, which is made on the farm using pure English vodka gently infused with elderflower. The cocktails are very simple to make and deliciously refreshing on long summer evenings…

    Serves 1

    1 sugar cube

    1 – 2 drops Angostura bitters (optional)

    40ml pomegranate juice

    25ml Godminster Vintage Elderflower Vodka Spirit

    100ml Champagne or Prosecco

    Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne glass, and add the angostura bitters if using. Pour in the pomegranate juice and Godminster vintage elderflower spirit drink, top up with Champagne or Prosecco and serve.

    Godminster Aromatic Garden Cocktail

    Serves 1

    1 rosemary sprig, leaves stripped off

    1/2 lime, cut into wedges

    40ml Godminster Vintage Elderflower Vodka Spirit

    150ml cloudy apple juice


    Muddle together the rosemary sprig and lime, then shake together with Godminster vintage elderflower spirit drink, apple juice and ice. Strain into a martini glass and serve. Cheers!

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    How to make tie-top curtains

    by  • 27/06/2012 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Country Homes & Interiors’ latest sewing project features in our out-very-soon August issue. These simple curtains have a tie-top heading and are made in the elegant Clarke & Clarke fabric Delphine. We love its delicate monochrome floral design, which adds a subtle touch of pattern.

    Have a go at making these because they really are easy – no heading tape, no linings, no curtain rings. All you do is tie them to a curtain pole to hang.

    Choose full-length curtains for an elegant touch; sill length for a practical solution; or make them café-style for the kitchen.

    Use a facing strip to cover the ties and reinforce the top of the curtain.

    Illustration Michael A Hill

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

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    Small country kitchen

    by  • 26/06/2012 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Compact kitchens can be equally as lovely as large ones as this one demonstrates.  I love the relaxed country feel – the character of the distressed freestanding units, the open shelving that’s handy for storing recipe books and cookware, the hanging rack that keeps utensils easy to hand and the retro-style glass pendant light. The on trend French Grey engineered wooden flooring from UK Flooring Direct finishes the scheme off beautifully, adding a practical as well as a contemporary touch.

    French Grey engineered wooden flooring from UK Flooring Direct

    French Grey engineered wood flooring, from £34.59 a sq metre, from UK Flooring Direct

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    Pick your own strawberries

    by  • 25/06/2012 • Country food, Country moment • 2 Comments

    ‘What was the best thing about your weekend?’ someone asked me when I got into work this morning. ‘Mmmm…the warm, delicate smell of just-picked strawberries,’ I replied. The local soft fruit farm has just opened its gates and, as soon as the sun shone on Sunday morning, I was down there like a shot.

    There is something about the experience of being on your knees in a whole field of strawberry plants and discovering the most beautiful shiny red fruits nestled underneath the thick leaves; never touched by anyone else but me and just waiting to be chosen. It gave me that zing of excitement that sums up June.

    Back at home, the kids ate them ‘just as they come’ while I made a Strawberry trifle. Happy days!

    Strawberry picking

    Strawberry picking - a real simple pleasure

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    Behind the scenes at Multiyork

    by  • 22/06/2012 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Are you sitting comfortably? Have you ever wondered how the comfy armchair or sofa you’re sat on was made? Until last week I hadn’t really given it much thought – that was until I visited Multiyork in Thetford, Norfolk.

    I was given a guided tour behind the scenes to see the whole process from cutting fabric to frame making, right through to the  wrapping of each order – seeing where the magic happens! It was fascinating to see just how much hard work goes into each piece, with skilled crafts people taking tremendous pride in the making of every item.

    Multiyork really is all about creating a tailor-made piece to love and cherish in your country home ­­– all designed and produced here in the UK. I personally love this generous Verona armchair, perfect for curling up with a good book.

    Verona chair covered in , from £809, Multiyork.

    Verona chair covered in Linwood Kilim Shirvan, from £809, Multiyork.

    Behind the scenes at the Multiyork factory in Thetford.

    Behind the scenes at the Multiyork factory in Thetford.

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    Perfect food for lazy weekends

    by  • 21/06/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Last week I went to a baking masterclass hosted by inspirational Great British Bake Off winner Jo Wheatley. It was great meeting her as she is absolutely lovely and also a mine of information – I came away feeling I’d learned heaps of stuff. Jo’s just brought out a new cookbook that’s exclusive to Sainsbury’s and it’s become my absolute go-to when looking for ideas – both for new recipes and old favourites. We’re off on our big annual picnic on Sunday with family and friends and I’m taking two of these Italian style loaves as one definitely won’t be enough. And for my sweet contribution, you can’t beat these shortbread biscuits. Both recipes are so easy to do and the finished results travel well…

    Picnic Loaf - make sure you take two

    Makes 1 large loaf

    1 jar of roasted peppers in olive oil

    2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves

    340g strong white flour, plus extra for kneading

    7g easy-blend/fast-action yeast

    1 tsp caster sugar

    1 tsp salt

    200ml water, warmed

    100g sun-dried tomatoes, drained

    150g mozzarella (not buffalo), drained

    4 sprigs of rosemary

    1 Drain the peppers and reserve the oil. Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil and half of the basil leaves into a pestle and mortar and pound until lightly crushed. Leave for 30 minutes to infuse.

    2 Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Strain the basil infused oil into the flour, then slowly add 200ml of the water and mix until you have a soft dough. Knead either by hand for 10 minutes or in a free standing mixer fitted with a dough hook for 6 minutes. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, place in a large, oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

    3 Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1 minute to knock back and then roll into a 40 x 20cm rectangle. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then scatter the remaining basil leaves, roasted peppers and sun-dried tomatoes on top. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and scatter evenly over the dough. Fold the shorter ends of the rectangle over and roll into a tight Swiss roll spiral. Carefully transfer the roll to the tray with the seam on the underside. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

    4 Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Brush the loaf with the oil and push the rosemary sprigs into the top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown, turning the temperature down to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 after 10 minutes. Cool and then cut into thick slices to serve.

    New take on an old classic - Pistachio and Orange Shortbread

    Makes about 18

    60g unsalted pistachios, shelled

    225g unsalted butter, softened

    100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

    225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    60g semolina

    zest of 1 orange, finely grated

    1 Whizz the pistachios in a food processor and tip into a bowl. Add the butter, caster sugar, flour and semolina, and using your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the grated orange zest and work until the mixture comes together.

    2 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very gently until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

    3 Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough out to a thickness of about 4mm. Using heart-shaped cutters, stamp out cookies and arrange on lined baking trays. Gather any dough off cuts into a ball and re-roll to make more cookies. Chill for a further 30 minutes.

    4 Meanwhile preheat the oven 170°C/325°F/ Gas Mark 3. Bake the cookies on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15–18 minutes or until pale golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle with caster sugar then transfer to wire racks to cool.

    At the masterclass with Jo

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    Country Homes & Interiors Garden Party

    by  • 20/06/2012 • Country business, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    I just wanted share these lovely pictures from our annual Country Homes & Interiors Garden Party. Held at the beautiful Chelsea Physic Garden in London on Monday, friends and clients joined myself and the team to celebrate another year of exceptional results for the magazine. It was also a delight to meet and announce the winners of the Country Homes & Interiors Country Business of the Year competition 2012. See our facebook page for more pictures.

    Guests gather at the Country Homes & Interiors Garden Party

    Champagne and afternoon tea nibbles are served

    Country Homes & Interiors advertising team smiles for the camera

    Editor Rhoda Parry chats with Natasha Cubitt from Handpicked Collection (left) and Business Talent sponsor Linda Eziquiel

    Editor Rhoda Parry with Country Business of the Year 2012 winner Juliette Brown Fordham of Hayloft Foods

    Inside the marquee, guests enjoyed the speeches

    Head of Marketing Ellen Wiffen ensures everyone leaves with a gorgeous goody bag

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    Coastal living

    by  • 20/06/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    We took a trip to a beautiful sandy beach to produce our wonderful, sunshine-filled beach house decorating story, July issue, p54-61, based on coral motifs and driftwood with punchy azure accents. Even if the weather has been temperamental this summer we can at least let you imagine the sun kissing your skin, the ocean breeze, and sand between your toes with a bit of escapism through our pages, into a world of breezy relaxation and inspiring decorating ideas for coastal dining, verandah lazing, and afternoon siestas in a muslin draped four poster bed. Lovely

    Tablecloth in, Atlantic, ref `F3805/012, col natural, £95 a metre, Brockham collection, Colefax and Fowler.

    Tablecloth in, Atlantic, ref `F3805/012, col natural, £95 a metre, Brockham collection, Colefax and Fowler.

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    East Coast style dining room

    by  • 19/06/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Sandra and Ad Verweij wrote in to us some four years ago with photos of their house but for various reasons we couldn’t go and photograph it until last year. Even then, the shoot seemed jinxed – I waited at Schipol airport for photographer Brent Darby to fly in only to receive a phone call from him saying he wasn’t allowed to fly from London to Amsterdam because he had just under three months left on his passport!

    Thankfully a few weeks later, with new passport, Brent did make it and the result is the stunning feature in Country Homes & Interior’s July issue. I think you’ll agree it was worth the wait.

    Sandra’s love of relaxed East Coast style and combining old and new is evident throughout the house. Her elegant kitchen diner is the heart of the home, where everyone gathers to chat around the lime washed table, and sit in comfy grey wicker chairs.

    Sandra has a real eye for detail and I loved the accessories she used throughout the house. And my absolute favourite item had to be the antique food cupboard that fitted in to the scheme beautifully and provided handy storage.

    Sandra and Ad's kitchen diner has a relaxed East Coast theme

    Sandra and Ad's kitchen diner is decorated in relaxed East Coast style

    The antique food cupboard is stylish and practical

    The antique food cupboard is stylish and practical

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