• Wind a woolly heart decoration

    by  • 08/01/2017 • Country craft • 0 Comments

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    While away a winter evening by using wool oddments and remnants to make country-style heart decorations, a tactile addition to table settings.

    Begin by cutting heart shapes from a sheet of thick card – our hearts measured about 5cm across. Next, start winding wool around the heart shape, taking care to catch the end as you wind the wool to secure. Continue to wind the wool until the whole card is covered and you have achieved a generously padded look. Snip and tuck the wool end into the back of the decoration by pushing in with a bodkin.

    If desired, you can add an extra element by winding a few more loops of wool in a contrasting colour around the decoration, tucking in the loose ends as before. We used the hearts to create napkin ties by stitching on to string with a sprig of rosemary.

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    Meet Nathalie Bond

    by  • 04/01/2017 • Country business • 0 Comments

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    Our resolution for the year ahead is to be more mindful of our health, happiness and wellbeing, and what better way to start than by discovering more about all-natural skincare and candle brand Nathalie Bond Organics.

    How did your business come about, Nathalie?
    When I fell pregnant with my first born, Alfie, I became really aware of the concerns around the various chemicals contained in beauty products and candles. As an avid candle burner, I was intent on finding a solution! Andy, my business partner and husband, suggested that we try making our own organic range of candles, and so began our journey.

    Where are you based?
    In the beautiful peak district, Sheffield to be exact. Our business operates from home, we have a workshop and a garden office at present.

    Describe the design and making process.
    All our products are produced by hand from start to finish using 100% natural and organic ingredients that are not only effective, but pretty good for the planet too. Our cold processed soaps are the lengthiest product to make; the curing process can take up to six weeks!

    Do you have a favourite product?
    I love our Peppermint & Eucalyptus scrub, it’s so invigorating and fresh. It’s particularly great for skin as it exfoliates and moisturises at the same time.

    What’s next for you?
    The whole premise behind our brand is stripped back beauty and fragrance so we’ll never be a company that offers hundreds of products, but we’re planning some additions to the range for the New Year. Watch this space!

    Did you make a New Year’s resolution?
    To work saner hours!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Colourful, homely and quirky.

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    Merry Christmas!

    by  • 25/12/2016 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    ready_shot-07Merry Christmas from the Country Days team, we hope your stocking this morning was as jam-packed as this one!

    Wishing you all a jolly holiday full of happy times, delicious food, and most of all, good cheer. We’ll be back on the 3rd January – see you in the New Year!

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    Raise a glass!

    by  • 21/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    ready_groupWhat better excuse than the festive season to enjoy a bubbly tipple or two? As well as producing their own collection of wittily etched glassware, Becky Broome and her husband and business partner, Kristian, engrave bespoke messages to lend a personal touch to special occasions. Cheers!

    Tell us how the business started.
    I knew from an early age that I wanted to run my own company. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so it must be in the blood. Kristian and I liked the idea of bringing something fun to important milestones and occasions, such as a glass of bubbly to remember for years to come.

    What’s your favourite design and why?
    It has to be our Hip Hip Hooray champagne glasses (£90 for four, Not On The High Street). They add meaning to any celebratory toast, from Christmas and birthdays to welcoming in the New Year.

    What inspires you?
    That magical moment between the recipient and giver when a present is opened. There’s a light-hearted happiness that runs through our collection, which never fails to please. We love making people chuckle, and our pithy phrases always seem to do just that.

    What makes your company special?
    Our customers often buy our pieces as gifts, and a lot of love and care go into choosing something they think their loved ones will like. We want them to know that love and care have gone into the making of their order, too. We’re also proud to say that all our glassware is hand-etched in our Cheshire studio, not mass-produced outside the UK.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Simple, witty and fun.

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    Present festive bottles in pretty tea towels

    by  • 18/12/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

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    Bottles are notoriously tricky to wrap. Rather than sticking them in a plain bottle bag, why not opt for this clever tea towel packaging tip? A two-for-one gift idea that’s just as easy to do and looks so stylish! Here’s how…

    Lay the tea towel face down and put the bottle centrally on top (choose heavier cotton or linen tea towels for a luxurious look; Jazz striped tea towel, £10:99 for 2, Linen Me, Jingle Bells tea towel, £10, Plum & Ashby). Draw the middle points of the side edges of the tea towel to the bottle and secure with sticky tape. Cut a length of string ready to use. Use both hands to draw the front and back of the tea towel up and around the bottle, carefully shaping any folds for neatness.

    Hold in place with one hand and wrap the piece of string around the bottle neck to keep the ends of the tea towel in place and tie off. Take your choice of decorative twine, ribbon or string and wrap around the bottle top, knotting off at the back. Finish with a label featuring printed wood decorations.

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    Cheese, Chutney & Antipasti Tart

    by  • 15/12/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments

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    With party season in full swing, make use of leftover cheese, chutney and antipasti with this simple but delicious tart. The perfect quick dish to whip up when some friends or family turn up unexpectedly!

     

    500g block puff pastry

    1tbsp milk
    4tbsp chutney or onion marmalade

    125g your favourite cheese (feta or strong cheddar work especially well), crumbled

    175g mixed antipasti, eg. olives, roasted red peppers and sun-blushed tomatoes

    Green salad, to serve

     

    1. Heat the oven to 200°C. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to the thickness of two £1 coins. Trim the edges with a sharp knife to make a 27cm square and mark a border 1cm from the edge. Brush the border with milk. Prick the middle section with a fork and bake for 15 mins until golden.

     

    1. Press down the risen middle section with a fish slice and dot with chutney. Scatter over the cheese and antipasti, then season with pepper. Bake for a further 12 mins until the cheese has melted. Serve with a big green salad.

     

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    Meet Milly & Pip

    by  • 14/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

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    Milly & Pip was founded in 2008 by designer Ali Millard. From her studio in Derbyshire, she creates personalised gifts, cards and keepsakes using appliqué and recycled materials. These cute stockings (top, £37; bottom right, £19, both available from Not On The High Street) have a little pocket at the front to put letters to Santa, a lovely festive tradition for kids – and big kids, too!

    How did Milly & Pip come about?
    After 16 years working as a childrenswear designer I decided to take a career break, during which I began to make personalised gifts for friends. I was eventually approached by a local gift shop and also discovered Not On The High Street – an online ‘marketplace’ for creative small businesses. After a few months of selling, I realized I could really be successful.

    What’s your workspace like?
    I work in what was once an old wooden stable block. We knocked the original building down (before it fell down!) and built a workshop in its place, complete with stable doors as a nod to its past.

    What inspires you?
    I love the idea of tradition – our stockings are timeless and can be used year after year. I also take a lot of inspiration from life in the country.

    What makes your products special?
    Every single item is handmade to order using found and recycled materials, so no two products are the same. We’re also passionate about sourcing from the UK and as local as possible, mostly within 20 miles of our workshop!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Classic, modern keepsakes.

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Getting cozy in front of an open fire and sharing drinks with friends, family and neighbours.

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    Give gifts in hand-stitched parcels

    by  • 11/12/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

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    Make the wrapping just as exciting as the present itself with a cute hand-stitched parcel. We show you how…

    Begin by wrapping your gift in bubble wrap or tissue paper to prevent sharp edges tearing the wrapping paper. Place your wrapping paper face down and put the gift on top. Draw the desired shape around, allowing enough extra space to fit around the gift and for the stitches. Cut out an and use as a template to cut another shape to match.

    Using a bodkin, thread with string or twine and begin to stitch the shapes together, around 2cm in from the edge, leaving a long thread end at the start. When halfway around, insert the gift then continue to stitch. When complete, tie off the ends in a knot or bow and add a hand-stamped label. For extra detail, insert a layer of decorative paper cut just larger than the template.

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    Snuggle up under a cosy throw

    by  • 07/12/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

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    Creative couple Rimsky and Vilija are the founders of So Cosy, a designer-created range of bespoke blankets, throws and cushions, made from the finest alpaca, merino and sheep wools – the name says it all!

    How did So Cosy come about?
    Our company began with no name, on a market stall in Spitalfields market. With a very enthusiastic reaction to our first ranges, it soon became obvious that we had an amazing product. The passion within us just grew and grew, and eventually we decided to leave our day jobs and focus solely on the business. As well as our online shop, we also have a regular stall at St Albans market in Hertfordshire, where we’re based.

    What inspires you?
    British country life and interiors. We strive not to be fashionable, but timeless in our designs: a balance between traditional and modern.

    What makes your brand special?
    We have, and always will be, an ethical brand. We believe in keeping the manufacture of our pure alpaca throws within Peru to help the local economy and we only use natural dyes to colour our products.

    What’s coming up in 2017?
    We’re very excited about our new outdoor blanket range. New Liberty print fabric combined with 100% alpaca wool shawls and scarves have been introduced to great acclaim and we’ll be developing this range further.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Classic modern twist!

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Snuggly cuddles in front of the fire under one of our blankets… what could be better?

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    Herby Scotch eggs with sage & lemon

    by  • 06/12/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments

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    For the ultimate winter warmer snack or starter, we’re going with these delicious Scotch Eggs we found in Yeo Valley Family Farm’s ‘The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook’ (Quadrille £20) written by Sarah Mayor. With their crispy breadcrumbs and runny yolks, these are already a Country Homes firm favourite.

     

    Makes 8

     

    8 large free-range eggs

    30g butter

    100g finely chopped shallot or onion

    Finely grated zest of 2 small lemons

    ½ tsp ground mace

    2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

    700g good pork sausage meat

    Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

     

    For the breadcrumb coating:

    50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    3 large free-range eggs, beaten

    150g fresh white breadcrumbs or Japanese panko crumbs

     

    1. Lower the eggs into a pan of boiling water and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Remove from the pan and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking, then peel.
    2. Melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan, add the shallot or onion and fry gently for 5-6 minutes until soft but not browned. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Add the lemon zest, mace, sage, sausage meat and some salt and pepper and mix together well. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball, using lightly floured hands.
    3. Lay a large sheet of clingfilm on the work surface and lightly dust it with flour. Lay a ball of the sausage meat on top, lightly dust with flour then cover with more clingfilm and roll out into approximately a 14cm disc. Wrap the sausage meat around the egg and press the edges together to seal, making sure there are no gaps and cracks. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan to 180ºC. Roll the Scotch eggs in the flour, knock off the excess then coat in the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs, pressing them on to give a good coating. Deep-fry for 8-9 minutes until crisp, richly golden and cooked through. Drain briefly on kitchen paper and serve with a crisp mixed salad.

     

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