• Archive for September, 2015

    Love pretty prints

    by  • 30/09/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    taraDesigners and lifelong friends, Kate and Jo established their business, Katey and Josephine, in 2012. After dropping their children off at school they step into their ‘business shoes’ (i.e. slippers!), put the kettle on and get to work, designing stylish home textiles and accessories from their studio in Yorkshire…

    How did Katey and Josephine come about?
    Way back in 1984, we met at school, aged 7, and have been friends ever since, enjoying many art and textiles lessons together. In 1998 we talked about owning our own business and selling our homemade wares, but life got in the way. It wasn’t until 2012 that we decided to really make a go of it.

    Describe the design process.
    Our starting points are very varied, and that’s what keeps it interesting for us. For example, we may stitch, collage, draw, or paint, to create the initial design. We scan in these designs in order to rework them digitally, finishing with a digital pattern that may then need to be adapted – we always consider the end product and how the design is translated onto it.

    What inspires your designs?
    Having been friends for so many years, our interests and likes are often very similar, and so our inspiration is often very similar too. We love colour, pattern, natural features, unusual ways of seeing things and discovering art in the mundane. We also enjoy finding inspiration in local galleries, art and architecture.

    What’s the secret to a happy partnership in business?
    30 years of friendship!

    How do you choose your manufacturers and why?
    It is important to us that all our products are ‘Made in the UK’. We like to visit our manufacturers and build a relationship with them – this can only help to create quality products that we are proud of. Many of our manufacturers are family-run businesses and so there is a mutual appreciation and support for how small businesses run.

    What’s your favourite countryside moment?
    Living in Yorkshire there are many that we have shared together, but we both have very happy memories of climbing Snowdonia together in the late 90s. It was a stunning autumnal scene with amazing views

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Authentic, fresh and friendly.

    Read more →

    Love a cosy country living room

    by  • 29/09/2015 • Country style • 1 Comment

    autumnal country living room

    Neutral backdrops are perfect for introducing seasonal colour, and here’s a country living room that oozes cosy autumnal loveliness.

    Choosing a pair of sofas and positioning them opposite each other adds symmetry to a room and increases the sociability factor. It also makes for extra toastiness when situated on either side of the fireplace.

    An upholstered footstool in between adds a decorative touch, as well as providing a practical place for displaying items or for a tray of hot drinks.

    What really lifts the scheme is the mix of beautiful fabrics in the same warm tones. From the Devonshire collection by Prestigious Textiles, the fabrics speak for themselves and comprise designs including an embroidered Jacobean trail,  sprigs of blossom and a woven stripe that work beautifully together on upholstered furniture, curtains, cushions and throws.

    Make the focal point of the room a fire with a wooden surround for extra warmth and and team with painted furniture for a classic country look that exudes elegance.

    Read more →

    Wild apple windfalls

    by  • 28/09/2015 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Wild apple windfallCountry Days donned its forager’s hat this weekend and was out and about picking wild apples from local woods and walkways. These haphazard fruit trees are those that have grown from seed rather than a named nursery cultivar that has been grafted onto rootstock. It means you don’t know what variety they are or how good they will taste, but there is real pleasure in knowing that someone walked that way a good few years back, tossed an apple core and now there is a lovely tree laden with its offspring.

    The secret to collecting these apples is to cut one open and smell the apple to see how sweet it is and note how dense it is. Back home, chop and slice carefully to remove any unwanted beasties. Then pop in a dish with masses of brown sugar and a cinnamon flavoured crumble.

    Food for free at its best! What have you been picking this month?

    Read more →

    Video! Craft a twig plant marker

    by  • 27/09/2015 • Country craft, Country Videos, Modern Country Maker Videos • 0 Comments

    In the latest episode of Modern Country Makes, discover how to make rustic plant markers using foraged twigs… and a potato peeler! We used mini alphabet stamps (£2 from Hobbycraft) to print the names. Label up herb pots and window boxes in your country kitchen, or use in flowerbeds and veg patches for a practical yet stylish way to keep track of what’s growing.

    Fancy giving it a go? Click here to watch the video in full screen mode.

    Read more →

    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – pickle and preserve picks

    by  • 26/09/2015 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_jammin'Don’t get in a pickle! Turn your orchard harvest in to a scrumptious array of jams, jellies and chutneys with the help our essential kitchen buys…

    Prepare your produce with the right kit. Peel, de-stone and chop your ingredients ready for a delicious homemade batch with this Small Wooden Kitchen Board, £42.50, from Summerill & Bishop (top left). Made from sustainable British hardwoods, this beautiful platter can be used to chop ingredients or present food.

    Bubble and stir with classic cookware. This Maslin Pan, 9L, £48, from David Mellor (top right), features handy graduated metric and imperial markings on the inside – with a flanged rim to assist pouring. It’s encapsulated base ensures even heating throughout the pan – just be careful not to burn yourself!

    Fill sterilised jars with jewel-coloured preserves and label with love. The charming 100% Homemade jars, £7.87 for 4, from Garden Trading, mean that you can share out the harvest and won’t have to hand over all of your tasty delights at once!

    With your prized pickles and preserves prepped, produced, and perfectly packaged – share with friends and family as homemade foodie gifts, or store in the pantry for a year-round taste of summer.


    Read more →

    Step inside a writer’s country house

    by  • 25/09/2015 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Shaws Corner | Writers Home |National TrustWhether you’re a budding author or love literature, be inspired by a visit to one of our celebrated author’s homes in Hertfordshire, Cumbria and West Yorkshire. Get a glimpse into their creative lives with elegant house interiors surrounded by personal treasures and outdoor scenery which influenced the settings in their novels.

    Read more →

    Trout and leek pie

    by  • 24/09/2015 • Country food • 0 Comments


    It’s British Food Fortnight! And what better way to celebrate than with a delicious, comforting pie. We’re just coming to the end of the season for trout while leek season has just started so look out for fresh and green, small to medium-sized leeks instead of large ones which may be tougher and woodier. Together with the pastry, this makes a heady, hearty combination!

    Serves 6

    600g trout fillets, skinned and stray bones removed
    Salt and black pepper
    50g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    400g leeks, chopped
    4 tbsp chopped parsley
    500g pack all-butter puff pastry
    1 tbsp clear honey
    1 tbsp grainy mustard
    1 organic egg yolk

    1. Season the trout on both sides with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the fillets lightly on both sides to seal. Remove from the pan and add the leeks. Fry for a few minutes to soften before stirring in the parsley. Drain and leave to cool.
    2. Preheat the oven to 230°C, Gas Mark 8. Butter a baking sheet. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until roughly 33cm square. Position half the fillets down one half of the pastry, about 2cm in from the edge. Spoon over half the leeks and put the remaining fillets on top. Spoon over remaining leeks. Mix together the honey and mustard and drizzle over the leeks.
    3. Mix the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon cold water and use to brush the edges of the pastry. Fold the pastry over the filling, pressing down around the edges to seal. Trim then transfer to the baking sheet using a large fish slice. Brush the egg yolk mix all over the pastry. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score shallow diagonal lines over the top.
    4. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 200°C, Gas Mark 6 and cook for a further 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and deep golden. Transfer pie to a serving plate and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
    Read more →

    Knit with alpaca wool

    by  • 23/09/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupKerry Lord (bottom right) set up TOFT in 2006 selling hand-knitted yarns sourced from alpaca and sheep farms in the UK –including her own! Since then this unique country business has gone from strength to strength; Kerry and her happy team now offer workshops, craft kits and a haberdashery supplies, as well as a fashionable knitwear range hand-knitted by dedicated craftspeople across Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

    Where are you based?
    On an alpaca stud farm in a picturesque location on the side of a reservoir in Dunchurch, rural Warwickshire. It’s just a stone’s throw from the water!

    What inspires your designs?
    I am inspired by my son’s and our customers’ reactions. There’s nothing more satisfying than reading all the adventures and stories as my designs are remade, gifted and received by people all over the world.

    Tell us about your alpaca herd.
    We now have over 250 alpacas at the TOFT farm. Each year we have over 50 births; between May and September is the best time to come and visit – we have a lovely little coffee shop, too!

    What makes your company different?
    Every hat knitted, or elephant crocheted from TOFT farm has a fantastic story. Every ball of wool is spun from only the highest quality fleeces, which makes the yarn – and project it’s used for – very special.

    How do you hope to nurture creativity in people?
    We specialise in developing knitting and crochet kits for beginners. The more people protest at being ‘terrible at crafts’ the more determined we become to show how easy it is! We run hundreds of workshops a year at our on-farm studio for all skill levels and they’re busier than ever!

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Organic, prolific and lighthearted.

    Read more →

    Effortless elegance

    by  • 22/09/2015 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Country kitchen diner

    Here at Country Days, we’re loving this gorgeous light and airy beamed barn room that makes for a stunning country kitchen.

    It’s a scheme that has fabulous farmhouse style at its heart, but with a contemporary edge that’s perfect for a modern country look.

    The hero piece is undoubtedly the statement oak-topped kitchen table with elegant sculpted legs (the Avernus from Graham and Green) as it combines rustic style with French chic. Seating up to 10 people, it’s ideal for family dinners and informal entertaining with friends.

    Introduce a modern look by teaming with a mix of retro chairs – from Eames-style designs to bistro cafe chairs in white and galvanised steel (all from Graham and Green). They inject an informal feel that’s just right for casual dining.

    Stick to the pared-back theme with a chic and simple utilitarian pendant (the Pentagon pendant bundle from Graham and Green), but make sure the room doesn’t become too minimal by softening with linen Roman blinds for an extra nod to rustic flair.

    Read more →

    Let’s talk about wool!

    by  • 21/09/2015 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Ready_140709_CHI_Cosy_Up _Shot06_038FIRE

    Did you know there are over 60 different breeds of sheep in Britain, more than in any other country? And what about the benefits of using wool in interior design? From its health and  ecological credentials to more practical considerations…

    Come and join Country Homes & Interiors and British Wool to find out about this and much more in our informal panel discussion Using Wool in the Modern Country Home at Heal’s Tottenham Court Road store on Thursday 8 October from 6 – 8:15pm.

    Meet Rhoda Parry, Editor of Country Homes & Interiors, and Bridgette Kelly, Consultant Interior Textiles Director for the Campaign for Wool, as well as three leading industry experts as they discuss the do’s and don’ts behind creating a cosy autumnal home and guide you in the diverse application of this much loved fleece.

    Starting with a drinks reception, the evening promises to offer an enjoyable insight into wool and its benefits in the modern country home.

    For more information and to book tickets, which cost just £12.50, visit heals.com.

    Read more →