• Archive for July, 2012

    Idyllic country house

    by  • 31/07/2012 • Country style • 1 Comment

    One of the loveliest houses I have visited for Country Homes & Interiors has to be Sarah and Matthew Pike’s 18th century  farmhouse. Sarah told me about the very first time she saw the house, which is situated in a quiet Sussex valley. She and Matthew loved the pretty approach and immediately thought ‘this is the one’, and I could understand why as its setting and gardens are absolutely idyllic.

    Sarah has decorated throughout in a classic style  that perfectly suits the house’s vernacular architecture – from farmhouse furniture in the kitchen to quintessential floral fabrics in the beamed living room. Be inspired by more photos of Sarah’s lovely house in the September issue of Country Homes & Interiors, on sale 2nd August.

    The traditional style living room overlooks the beautiful garden

    Antique furniture in the hallway is combined with a vintage suitcase, riding boots, walking sticks and tweed caps, all ready for country pursuits

    Read more →

    Stunning outdoor fabrics

    by  • 27/07/2012 • Country moment, Country style • 2 Comments

    With the sun shining this week, it’s time to venture outdoors and relax in our beloved gardens. Perfectly suited for all your fabric needs is the new outdoor UV Pro collection from JAB Anstoetz. Come rain or shine the clever UV resistant technology makes these pretty fabrics suitable for all weather – they won’t fade in the brightest of sunshine and they will stay waterproof in a rain shower.

    Ideal for refreshing the cushions on your garden furniture, the upholstery fabrics are available in a variety of soft summery colours; pinks, blues and greens, with the plains being complemented by coordinating stripes and geometric prints.

    UV PRO outdoor fabric collection, prices from £52.50 a metre, JAB Anstoetz.

    UV PRO outdoor fabric collection, prices from £52.50 a metre, JAB Anstoetz.

    Read more →

    Just the thing for days like this…

    by  • 26/07/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Mmmm… Green & Black’s ice creams

    When the weather is like this my thoughts do turn to a shady spot in my garden which works well accessorised with a good book and a cool drink but there are occasional perks to being cooped up in the office while everyone else is outside enjoying the glorious sunshine. Here we were yesterday melting in the heat at Country Homes & Interiors HQ when those thoughtful people at Green & Black’s sent over a big cool bag with a selection of their cinema tubs of ice cream to help cool us down… Our favourites were the White Chocolate with a Raspberry Swirl, Vanilla with a Swirl of Caramel and Crunchy Hazlenuts and, of course, the bittersweet Dark Chocolate. Be sure to stock up your freezer as you will be needing a regular supply of ice cream over the coming days…

    Made with real Bourbon vanilla

    Read more →

    How to sew a Roman blind

    by  • 25/07/2012 • Country craft • 4 Comments

    We’ve made lots of Roman blinds at Country Homes and Interiors over the years, but this one, which appears in our September issue, is our favourite so far.

    It’s made in a wonderfully striking fabric called Up the Garden Path by Vanessa Arbuthnott that will turn any window into a focal point. You need all the usual bits and pieces to make it, plastic rings, eyelets etc, but it really is easy to do – just take a look at our step-by-step instructions.

    Choose an oversized pattern in a natural shade for impact.

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

    Read more →

    Beamed country kitchen

    by  • 24/07/2012 • Country style • 2 Comments

    Wouldn’t you just love to pour yourself an elderflower cordial in this beautiful country kitchen before heading out into the garden to enjoy the summer sun?

    This handmade kitchen has been cleverly designed by Harvey Jones around the architectural features – simple Shaker style units offset the wooden beams while the mixture of oak and painted cabinetry breaks up the run, adding warmth and character.

    Old and new are combined with stainless steel appliances on either side of a traditional style larder cupboard. I love the way the stone flooring pulls all the tones together, providing the perfect finishing touch.

    The Harvey Jones Shaker kitchen starts at £17,000

    Read more →

    High flying birds

    by  • 20/07/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Details of a new launch have just arrived which brought a smile to my face. Lincolnshire based Posh Birds (“All our ladies enjoy the finer things in life”) is a new range of superior eggs just hitting the shelves now. There are four types of egg in the wonderfully named range. The Bronze Queens are glossy chocolate brown eggs which produce exceptional results when simply boiled. The pale Blue Baroness with its dense creamy yolk is perfect for poaching, while the Speckled Princess quail’s eggs are wonderful in canapes and salads. Finally, the Ivory Duchess duck’s egg with its rich full flavoured yolk makes the very best light and fluffy sponge cakes. We decided to give the Bronze Queen eggs a test run with an easy recipe for Madeleines and, who would have guessed it, they just flew off the plate…

    Read more →

    Elegant country garden furniture

    by  • 20/07/2012 • Country moment, Country style • 1 Comment

    Despite the weather being unpredictable, it’s still the time to be thinking about garden furniture for hosting summer parties.

    For its first outdoor garden furniture Laura Ashley has taken inspiration from the Edwardian era, with traditional looking slatted solid teak wood and wrought iron bench, table and chairs making up the new Windsor collection.This handcrafted collection rejuvenates a classic style of outdoor furniture – it reminds me of the benches by a cricket pavilion, perfect to add a touch of elegance to any country garden.

    They also have a complete range of melamine picnicware, food covers, floral seat pads and tablecloths to dress up the table for outdoor dining and entertaining.

    Windsor table, £425; Windsor bench, £400; Windsor chair, £195, Amelie seat pad, £20; Floral food cover, £15; Flower printed glass and tumblers set, £26; Melamine picnicware, from £4, all Laura Ashley.

    Windsor table, £425; Windsor bench, £400; Windsor chair, £195, Amelie seat pad, £20; Floral food cover, £15; Flower printed glass and tumblers set, £26; Melamine picnicware, from £4, all Laura Ashley.

    Read more →

    Delicious tray bake for the summer holidays

    by  • 19/07/2012 • Country food • 1 Comment

    School’s out and with the long days of the summer holidays stretching ahead comes the opportunity to get baking with your children. Forget the mess and get stuck in – a dusting of icing sugar in the cutlery drawer never hurt anyone. My children love to chop and stir – and of course sample as they go. They also love going to pick your own fruit farms, so this traybake recipe is right up their street – just imagine the fun you can have squishing those blueberries. It comes from Me, You & the Kids Too (£14.99, Duncan Baird), which is packed with inspirational recipe ideas for feeding a family (we interviewed the author, Planet Organic founder Renee Elliott, in our August issue, out now – there’s not much she doesn’t know about healthy eating).

    Apple and Blueberry Tray Bake

    Serves 4

    300g fresh or frozen (defrosted) blueberries
    300g apples, cored and chopped
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1 tbsp cornflour
    150g porridge oats
    50g buckwheat flakes
    110g cane sugar
    1 tsp baking powder
    2 tsp fine sea salt
    6 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4 and grease a 19 x 26cm baking tin with oil. In a large bowl, mix the blueberries, apples, lemon juice and cornflour and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the oats, buckwheat flakes, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the oil, vanilla extract and 150ml water and mix until well combined.

    2 Spread the oat mixture in the bottom of the baking tin and smooth the surface with a spatula. Pour the blueberry mixture over the top and smooth the surface again. Bake for 50 minutes until the top is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, then refrigerate for up to 3 days – if it lasts that long…

    Read more →