• Archive for December, 2015

    Happy holly days

    by  • 14/12/2015 • Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    Happy Holly DaysHere at Country Days, we know that you can’t beat the traditional country classics at Christmas time. Holly and its pops of red berries are always a favourite in our festive decorating style book, so it’s good to make use of fresh or faux. We like to display it in outdoor areas for an authentic and natural look. It works especially well against the dark grey exterior paints that are so popular at the moment.

    Happy Holly Days

    A holly tree makes a cheery sentinel at the front door wrapped in a rustic Scandi-style hessian sack. Put one either side for extra symmetry and a grander entrance. You can also hang holly cuttings from thick red garden twine or ribbon with wooden dolly pegs as a woodland-style bunting! Intersperse with baubles or string with lights for extra sparkle. Holly Tree, £20; Traditional Present Decoration, £2 for 6; Assorted Traditional Baubles, £5 for 20; Mini Real Christmas Trees from £3, Tesco.

    Happy Holly Days You can also wind fresh holly along a length of strong floirst’s wire to create a garland. If you can’t get hold of the real thing, we love the authentic look of the 6ft Green Holly Garland, £19.99, from Dobbies. Add its Twig Double Star Hanging Decoration, £4.99, and Twig Double Heart Hanging Decoration. £4.99 for added interest.

    How are you using holly this holiday? We’d love to know…

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    VIDEO! Make a matchstick jar

    by  • 13/12/2015 • Country craft, Country Videos, Modern Country Maker Videos • 0 Comments

    With roaring fires and tea lights aplenty, Christmas is a busy season for the humble matchstick! In this week’s Modern Country Makes video, we show you how to make this pretty storage jar; not only does it look pretty on mantles, a sandpaper lid for striking means it’s practical, too! We used mini Kilner jars (from 99p, John Lewis) and burnished metallic paint; the two combined give an elegant and shimmery finish that reflects flickering light beautifully. Thank you to John Lewis, Fred Aldous and Hobbycraft for all your help. 

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Christmas crockery buys

    by  • 12/12/2015 • Country style • 0 Comments

    emma-b-newTake the pressure-cooker off producing a show stopper turkey this Christmas with extra special china to dress, wow and add infectious merriment around the dinner table…

    We’ve rounded-up a super fun and festive edit of gorgeous dinner-ware to help you, nearest and dearest share, laugh and feast in finest yule-time merriment!

    Do your Christmas cake masterpiece justice by displaying it in all its glory on beautiful serveware. This new Christmas Joy Cake Plate, £49.95; and side plate, £17.95, both from Emma Bridgewater are just the ticket!

    NOTHS_READYImpress holiday guests and get the table talking with quirky Christmas china! This one-of-a-kind Stag plate set, £45 for a pair, by Yvonne Ellen at Not On The High Street, features a unique festive stag and owl illustration across both. This striking design details beautiful gilt gold around the edges for added luxury and is lovingly produced on home soil using the finest bone china.

    sophie-newAdd some Christmassy spice to your dining table with an extra-lovely porcelain collection guaranteed to enhance seasonal magic! This festive twelve piece Winter print dining set, £152.50, from Sophie Conran is inspired by the traditional English spongeware technique. Merry and jolly in whimsical red and green colours – it’s the perfect pick for beautiful and timeless appeal. (This set includes x4 mugs, x4 side plates and x4 dinner plates).

    No matter your roasting prowess – be rest assured that spirited celebrations will be adored for years to come with the help of these tabletop hero buys!



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    Our favourite place to shop… Chichester

    by  • 11/12/2015 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Chichester Cathedral

    At the gateway to the South Downs National Park and in easy reach of Bosham harbour and  West Wittering beach, this cathedral city in West Sussex offers the perfect backdrop to a fun and festive shopping trip! We also love it for its Roman walls, Tudor market cross and 900-year-old cathedral which presides over the centre with its magnificent spires and cloisters.

    Head to the weekly Wednesday and Saturday markets with more than 200 stalls to browse.  There’s also a farmer’s market on the first and third Friday of the month with all produce coming from a 30-mile radius: source meat, fruit and veg, eggs, fish, cheese, honey, cakes, chutneys and plants plus festive goodies.

    The main shopping thoroughfare runs along pedestrianised East Street and North Street offering many high-street brands and market stalls towards the the buttercross, and independent shops on the fringes. Our favourites include interiors shop Thru the Looking Glass,which offers a stylish collection of crafted furniture from British and international designers; and Hutson & Grey for its gorgeous country-style furniture, paints and gifts. If you love vintage style, the One Legged Jockey Shop is the perfect place to rummage for clothing and accessories. For festive gifts, source new, secondhand and antiquarian books from Kim’s bookshop, stylish bags from Harrington’s Leather Goods , and Jack Wills clothing is worth a visit for the shop’s architecture alone.

    Foodie places
    Families will love the hive of activity and friendly welcome at The Barnyard farm shop, garden centre and coffee shop; or look out for Albert Roux’s favourite sausage maker O’Hagan’s at the local markets and its award-winning sausage shop at The Woolpack Inn. Find British cheeses, chutneys and artisan breads at the Cheese & Chutney of Emsworth market stall in Chichester or the shop in Emsworth. Feeling peckish? Take the short drive to Chichester Harbour and watch the world sail by as you enjoy delicious seafood, real ales and magnificent views all year round at the cosy Crown and Anchor pub

    Festive events
    Chichester Christmas Market offers more than 50 stalls of artisan crafts, foodie and garden gifts near the market cross. From now until 13 December.

    Chichester Cathedral offers several Christmas carol services in December, plus a Nativity scene from 18 December to 11 January where children can find the three kings as they make their way around the cathedral to the crib.

    Where is your favourite town to shop this season? We would love to hear more about it…

    Want more inspiration for weekends in the country? Sign up for your weekly Country Post!

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    Raspberry and blackcurrant meringue log

    by  • 10/12/2015 • Country food • 0 Comments


    A melt-in-the-mouth marshmallowy meringue smothered with creamy Greek yogurt, delicious blackcurrant curd and tangy raspberries to add to your festive table. Enjoy!

    Serves 12

    5 large egg whites
    150g golden caster sugar
    2tsp cornflour
    25g icing sugar, to dust
    500g fat free Greek yogurt
    340g blackcurrant curd
    200g raspberries

    To decorate
    Holly leaves
    Extra icing sugar, to dust

    1 Heat the oven to 150°C, Gas 2. Line a 30cm x 20cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
    2 Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then gradually add in the caster sugar until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Whisk in the cornflour.
    3 Spread the meringue evenly in the prepared Swiss roll tin. Bake for 1 hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
    4 Lay a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface and sprinkle with sieved icing sugar. Turn the meringue upside down onto the sugar-dusted paper and peel away the baking parchment.
    5 Spread Greek yogurt over the meringue. Spoon over the blackcurrant curd and sprinkle on the raspberries.
    6 With one of the long ends of the meringue closest to you, lift the baking parchment paper to carefully roll into a roulade. Lift onto a serving plate with a palette knife. Decorate with holly leaves. Dust with icing sugar to serve.


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    Meet Kate Sproston

    by  • 09/12/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupFrom stockings to garlands, Kate Sproston’s embroidered Christmas decorations and accessories are perfect for creating a festive country feel in your home. These stunning resuable crackers (above) are made from beautifully rustic linen fabric – we love that you can fill them with your own treats! Read on to find out what surprising item one of Kate’s previous customers chose…!

    How did you get into embroidery?
    My mum has always been into crafts. She makes curtains, knits and cross stitches, so I’ve always been around fabrics and thread! As a child I was never happier than when I was drawing, so embroidery seemed a natural progression for me.

    Describe the design process.
    All my designs start off as a sketch, which I then transfer onto the computer. The program I use converts the drawing to stitch. It’s then loaded onto a digital machine and embroidered. Each product is constructed and produced using a sewing machine – I love my trusty old Bernina!

    What inspires you?
    Nature is a big inspiration for me, along with history, illustration and stories, too. As a child I was always leafing through my mum’s National Geographic magazines. Apparently I loved all the green and gold images!

    Which of your products do you love the most?
    It’s got to be my reusable woodland crackers. I love to hear what gifts my customers have filled them with. I know one lady who included a baby scan picture – she gave it to her mum to open on Christmas day and surprised her with the news of her first grandchild!

    What do you love about most about a country Christmas?
    One of my favourite things is returning from a frosty walk and snuggling up by a roaring log fire. It’s so warm and cosy, regardless of how bleak it is outside! I also love to give and receive handmade gifts. It’s nice to know something has been created especially with you in mind. I really appreciate the time and effort that goes into making it.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Illustrative, country and detailed.

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    Christmas is coming…

    by  • 08/12/2015 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country Christmas dining room

    Feeling festive? Then you’ll love this rustic country dining room that has more than a hint of cabin chic and epitomises cosy celebrations.

    Rustic accessories instantly introduce a charming casual informality – go to town with tree stump side tables for guests to put down their drinks and lay a hessian cloth on the table for the ultimate in homespun hip. Big up the cabin feel with faux fur throws draped over dining chairs. Natural decorations really finish off the look so festoon a ring with foliage and hang above the table.

    Enhance the toasty feel with a contemporary woodburner adding a glow to the proceedings and a brightly coloured patterned rug bringing instant cosiness underfoot.

    Wall panelling can feel formal, but this one has been given a contemporary update with a lick of grey paint – try a shade such as Mole’s Breath by Farrow & Ball for a similar effect.

    Of course, the tree has to be the star of the show and beautiful decorations in classic gold and red really bring it to life  (tree, decorations, wrapping paper, crackers, candle holders and candle all from House of Fraser).



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    Love the humble pine cone

    by  • 07/12/2015 • Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    Love the humble pine coneFrom practical to pretty, the forest pine cone is an enduring feature in the winter country home, especially in the run-up to Christmas. If you’ve been out on a festive forage, be sure to dry out cones first to let their layers open up and get rid of any creepy crawlies. Either air-dry for a couple of days or bake them in the oven for an hour.  Ready-Pine-Cones-2Here at Country Days, we love to pile them into decorative bowls or arrange around candles as a table centrepiece. Style your settings with neutral linens, wooden platters, porcelain tableware and a hint of traditional Burleigh.

    Love the humble pine coneOr why not create your own pine cone firelighters. We love the way that blogger Kate’s Creative Space does it.

    How do you decorate with pine cones? We’d love to hear…

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    Craft a gardener’s gift

    by  • 06/12/2015 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_CRAFTGive green-fingered friends something to grow and tend this Christmas with specially selected seeds and plant markets in a decorative pot.

    Begin by placing your chosen seeds into separate marked envelopes. Gather the envelopes together and secure with ribbon and a wax seal – we used a hot wax gun for ease and to create even-sized seals (available to buy, £10, Hobbycraft). Pretty up small pots with paint; use one colour for the first layer, then dry-brush with another colour for a decorative effect. Allow to dry, then decorate with layers of ribbon and hessian using double-sided tape. Add lettering to a plant marker with alphabet stamps, then assemble as shown.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Christmas wreaths

    by  • 05/12/2015 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_Liberty Winter wishes to one and all! Your holiday visitors will soon be flocking and knocking so get ready to put on the most merry of welcomes. This week we’ve rounded-up a gorgeous trio of seasonal wreaths to dress your entrance to impress!

    Enchant visitors upon arrival with a stunning Christmas wreath decorating your front door. This stylish White Berry Wreath, £39.95, from Liberty, features an abundance of snowy white rosehips bursting out of glossy, green leaves – the perfect festive statement! This beauty could also be hung above a mantlepiece or used as a centrepiece on the dinner table to wow holiday guests.

    Ready_Cox & CoxIf you’re a lover of luxurious details then look no further than this delightful Fresh Christmas Wreath, £120. Made exclusively for Cox & Cox by artisan florist Flowers By Passion, this scented blue pine lovely is crafted using a sumptuous array of seasonal foliage, copper and mink baubles, frosted pine cones and miniature copper bells – it’s the ultimate touch of rustic razzle dazzle!

    Ready_Rastall & DaughtersFor something a little different, this unique Leaf Wreath, £35, from Rastall & Daughters, is super simple to assemble and adorably charming on the eye! Keep it plain, modern and simple, or customize with your choice of paint, newspaper or other art materials – keen crafters get busy!

    No matter what your wreath style preference, be sure to make a cracking Christmas entrance with a beautifully festive design!

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