• Archive for November, 2014

    Meet Donna Wilson

    by  • 12/11/2014 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments

    Style Setter Donna Wilson | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors

    Originally from Scotland, Donna Wilson set up her London-based company in 2003, selling her signature knitted creatures. Since then, her business has grown and grown, and she now supplies to countries worldwide. She’s best known for knitted homewares such as cushions and throws, and has recently released a jolly collection of  jumpers – just in time for Christmas!

    When did you realise you wanted to become a designer? 
    I think it was at quite a young age, I was always drawing and making things, and was always most happy with a pencil in my hand. My grandma tried to teach me to  knit and crochet when I was really young, but I didn’t have the patience – even now I’m still the same, I prefer to machine knit!

    How do you start your design process? 
    I usually do sketches in a notebook. They look like little cartoons, tiny bodies with huge exaggerated heads! I get their look and idea on paper first, then start knitting. Usually they turn out very much like the drawings but occasionally I’ll make some out of the scraps or off cuts – sometimes these rejects are just as successful as the planned ones!

    What do you love most about what you do?
    Designing. I’ve been spending the last few weeks making mood boards, sketching and trying things out on the machine, and I remember why I love it. Being creative is a fantastic feeling, and I’d recommend anyone to give it a go.

    What is your favourite season?
    Definitely Autumn! Something happens to me when the season changes – I seem to relax more. I love the crisp blue skies, the leaves, the bright stark light and the fact that I can wear wool again!

    What five things couldn’t you live without? 
    Sketchbook, stapler, music, colourful paints and the sea.

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    Love an easy-on-the-eye bedroom

    by  • 11/11/2014 • Country style • 1 Comment

    country bedroom Country Days Country Homes and Interiors

    The architecture of a country house often speaks for itself, and to such an extent that the room scheme needs to be decided around it. This country bedroom uses a palette of gentle neutrals and faded fabrics to enhance the exposed stone walls of the cottage and create a calming easy-on-the-eye scheme.

    A hero piece, such as the four poster (minus canopy to maximise the light), introduces a dramatic focal point, while a pretty frilled valance evokes a classic cottage feel. A combination of scrubbed pine and painted vintage furniture adds time-worn character to the look.

    For more rooms from this pretty country house visit http://bit.ly/1qZVDjm.

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    Collecting native nuts

    by  • 10/11/2014 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Country Days, Country Homes and Interiors, Chestnuts

    Here at Country Days, we love this time of year for the Sweet Chestnuts that can be picked freely from country footpaths, open parks and wild places. According to Tom Petherick in the Telegraph on Saturday, ‘Hazels, walnuts and chestnuts are showing record yields’ this autumn thanks to our mild spring. It’s the pleasure of finding and collecting native nuts that brings much of the joy, then hot-footing home to roast them in chestnut pans on open fires. Perfect served with a sprinkling of salt!

    Tell us what you’ve been collecting…

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    Make a winter blind

    by  • 09/11/2014 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Make a winter blind following Country Homes and Interiors blog's easy instructions

    Come the cold winter months window spaces become a prime place to add drama or a focal point to a room. Fabric can be a great space filler at a window and, if used as a blind, can bring colour, character and personality with pictorial designs and patterns. This charming roman blind is featured in our December issue and is made with a Kerry Joyce fabric available from Redloh House and  features woodland creatures and leafy motifs, typical of our winter landscape. A neat red border at the bottom which both draws the eye and lends a smart finish. A roman blind by definition is an elegant style to choose at a window and operates with a simple string and loop system on the reverse that is easy to make even for a lesser experienced seamstress. To have a go and make your own roman blind why not click here and follow our simple instructions.

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

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    Create a cosy home

    by  • 08/11/2014 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ugg homewares on Country Days blogThere’s no denying the comfort of UGG’s sheepskin lined footwear and fashion accessories. Now you can introduce the same snuggly feeling into your home thanks to their expanded range of cosy homewares.

    The new collection features sumptuous sheepskin rugs, for warmth underfoot when boots come off; gorgeously soft mohair throws in timeless muted colours and tactile cushions inspired by the beloved Bailey Button boot – tailored in rich suede with a luxurious wool trim and the signature button detail. Prices start from £70.

    All in all it’s a collection sure to leave your country home feeling as warm as toast this winter!

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    Experience a firework spectacular!

    by  • 07/11/2014 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    7Nov14 Country Post | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors Grab coats, hats, scarves and sparklers, we’re celebrating Guy Fawkes Night in traditional feel-good style this weekend. Indulge in toffee apples, roasted marshmallows and fairground rides, before watching the night sky light up with glorious colour at one of our top three firework displays.

    Royal Victoria Country Park Fireworks Night, Southampton
    Saturday 8 November
    Enjoy a beautiful firework display in a stunning setting, overlooking Southampton Water. Little ones will delight in miniature train rides, and there’s fun for all the family at the fair. Refreshments are available and the Cedar tearooms will remain open until 7.30pm – great for escaping the cold! Display starts at 7.30pm.

    Bat Walk and Fireworks, Renfrewshire
    Saturday 8 November
    Combine a breathtaking firework display with a lesson in bats at Finlaystone Country Estate. On a guided walk around the grounds, you’ll have the opportunity to hear the ultrasonic sounds of these nighttime creatures by using a bat detector, before being treated to a delicious barbecue and a pyrotechnic show to remember. Call 01475 540 505 to book.

    Shoreham Beach Family Bonfire, West Sussex
    Saturday 8 November
    Swap muddy fields for sandy shores at this unique bonfire party. Join a procession along the beach towards the local church, where entertainment and good food awaits. Take in the striking sight of a big bonfire lighting up the coastal skyline, before the fireworks begin at 7.15pm.

    Hosting your own bonfire party? Make sure it goes with a bang by downloading our FREE 10-page special, complete with a feast of recipes and ideas, including Homemade Pheasant Burgers, warming Mulled Cider and a simple tutorial for gorgeous leaf lanterns. Click here to download.

    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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    Citrus drizzle cake

    by  • 06/11/2014 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Drizzle cake

    A drizzle cake always disappears first from the table at a fête or bake sale. This one has limes and clementines added to the lemons for the most citrusy kick of all. Cornmeal or polenta adds a golden glow to the sponge, but if you prefer you can substitute the same amount of plain flour. A slab of this will make your day complete.

    Makes 12 large squares

    For the cake
    225g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
    2 lemons
    2 limes
    1 clementine
    200g caster sugar
    4 free range eggs, room temperature
    125g plain flour
    125g fine yellow cornmeal or quick-cook polenta
    ¼ tsp salt
    2 tsp baking powder
    125g lemon-flavoured or plain whole yoghurt

    For the topping
    100 g caster sugar, or granulated for extra crunch

    1 Preheat the oven to 180°C 160°C fan/gas 4. Grease a 23cm  shallow square tin with butter, then line it with baking parchment. Finely grate the zest from all the fruit, taking care not to remove the bitter white pith. Put 2 teaspoons of the mixed zests in a large bowl with the butter and sugar, saving the rest for later. For a straight-up lemon cake or lime cake, simply use the zest and juice from one kind of fruit (you’ll need 4 teaspoons zest and 80ml juice).

    2 Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and pale. Scrape the sides of the bowl down every now and again with a spatula, so that every last bit gets mixed in.

    3 Crack the eggs into a measuring jug. Pour one egg into the bowl, then beat it into the creamed mixture until completely combined, fluffy and light. Add the rest of the eggs one by one, beating well each time. If the mixture starts to look slimy, add 1 tablespoon of the flour and it will become smooth again. Thoroughly mix together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, salt and baking powder, then sift half of it on top of the egg mixture. Using a spatula or a large metal spoon, fold it in until the batter is thick and fairly smooth.

    4 Fold in the yoghurt in the same way, then sift over and fold in the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, level the top, then give it a sharp tap on the work surface to help remove any bubbles that can sometimes appear in this cake. Bake for 20 minutes, or until it is golden and has risen all over, then turn the oven down to 160°C 140°C fan/gas 3. If it’s browning too much on one side, quickly and carefully turn it around. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch, or it passes the skewer test. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for a few minutes.

    5 Meanwhile, squeeze the juice from 1 lemon, 1 lime and half the clementine, to make about 80ml. Poke 20 or so holes all over the cake using a fine skewer or a cocktail stick. Mix the sugar for the topping into the juice (do not let it dissolve), then spoon it over the surface of the still-warm cake, making sure that the sugar looks thick and evenly spread.

    6 Leave to cool completely. The sugar will become crisp and sparkly once the syrup soaks into the cake. Cut into squares to serve. If making the cake a day ahead, leave it loosely covered or in a roomy container with a little air for breathing. This will keep the sugary crust crisp.

    Recipe from What to Bake and How to Bake It by Jane Hornby (£19.95, Phaidon Press). Photograph Max and Liz Haarala Hamilton

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    FREE 10-page Bonfire Night special

    by  • 05/11/2014 • Country food, Country moment • 1 Comment

    Country Days, Country Homes and Interiors, Bonfire night specialLooking for warming seasonal recipes for tonight and this weekend? Get set for a feast of feel-good food with our Fireworks Night recipes and ideas! Click here and download our FREE 10-page Bonfire Night special. It includes delicious recipes, such as Cumberland Sausage and Pear Butter, Homemade Pheasant Burgers, Vegetarian Chilli, Mulled Cider, Toffee Popcorn and more.

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    Passion for pattern?

    by  • 04/11/2014 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country Living Room Country Days Country Homes and Interiors

    If you’re feeling the chill in the air at the moment and itching to sit by a roaring fire, try decorating your country living room in a cosy colour palette that epitomises autumn and makes you feel toasty just looking at it.

    Here at Country Days, we’re loving the trend for mixing and matching patterns, especially in cheerful toning shades. Decoratingwise, nothing warms up colder days like plaids and tartans, and here, the hero checked armchair works beautifully with the statement archive print wallpaper and cushion fabric depicting bird and flowers (all from Laura Ashley). Perfect if you’ve a passion for pattern!

    Balance the look with a co-ordinating chair in a small-scale checked fabric and team with mellow wooden flooring and a jute rug for a homely, rustic edge.

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