Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Christmas Window

I'm now in the Serious Run-Up to Christmas and am fully House-Decorated, Nativity-Play-Attended, Card-Delivered, Christmas- Party-Thrown and have just the annual Wrapathon to attend to this evening. And then, I hope, unless I'm missing something very major {Gah! Where's the tree?!}, these last few days can just be fun and frivolously exciting, as we stir the children into galactic levels of excitement and anticipation. I do wish it was Christmas every day.

When I saw these photos over at Skin and Blister (who is running a brilliant ShareAdvent series that I am simply gobbling up) I just had to email and ask if I could share them with you.
{Thanks, Anna!}

They are taken around the Spitalfields Market area of London.

It was this photo that had me welling up a wee bit.

Isn't that window amazing?

Something about the grittiness of the area, the building and the heavily industrial quality of the architecture contrasts perfectly with this incredible message of hope. Not limited to the rich rulers and intellectual elite, Almighty God came in the form of a vulnerable, tiny, little baby, also for the weak, the tired and the worn-out.

May you have a truly Merry Christmas.

Images via Skin and Blister

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Thursday 13 December 2012

Christmas Country Cottage Tour

The Christmas pixies have visited our house. The Christmas tree is up, be-baubled with a whole plethora of decorations from the loo-roll nativity our eldest bought home from nursery many years ago, to the treasured favourites from when I was a little girl myself. 

Yes, tradition is my middle name at this time of year. 

And today's Christmas House Tour from Country Homes and Interiors mixes that traditional Christmas feel with Modern Country stylishness to perfection. 

Yes to gentle neutrals, a big nod to pared-back interiors but no stinting on full-on Country warmth, brought in largely through those gorgeous touches of red, sprinkled generously throughout the house. 

This is a look that would have looked as lovely ten years ago as it does today...and will in another ten years, I should imagine. Perfect for a traditionalist like me, who can never bear to throw a single Christmas knick-knack away....when I buy Christmas-style, I buy for life...

Images via: Country Homes and Interiors

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Monday 10 December 2012

Large Lights: Getting Your Home Ready For Christmas

Lighting can make or break a room. If your house feels in the doldrums then just look at these rooms for inspiration. See how the lighting lifts them into the stratosphere style-wise.

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Looking at the basics of your home BEFORE you decorate for Christmas allows your special festive pieces to shine out, out, out.....but if the foundations aren't in place then the extra layer of Christmas sparkle can just create clutter....and, you know, there's no faster way to make it onto Santa's Naughty List than clutter, no matter how prettily it sparkles.

Hotel  Monteverdi Tuscany 8

Large lights bring the room right into centre-stage, whilst creating atmosphere and warmth at the same time. Multi-tasking at its best. So what's a girl to do?

Keep her eyes peeled for eons for just the right piece? Check, check, check...it's just not happening...aaaargh!

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Or choose her very own bespoke shade and feel every inch a princess?

In the New Year, I'll be revealing all. 
*excited squawks*

Images via: Skeppshoman,  Hotel Montiverdi, 79 Ideas, Nicety

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Friday 7 December 2012

Book Review: Nigellissima

Part of Getting Your Home Ready For Christmas, for me, is cooking up a storm. It helps in making our home somewhere that our family loves to be, which, in turn, makes me feel happy. 

I don't think it would be an understatement to say that when I heard Nigella was bringing out a new book, Nigellissima, my squeals could be heard echoing around the whole of England.

And, not only was there a Nigella book in the offing, but it just happened to be launched when I was discovering quite how lovely Italian cooking can be. I was working my way through Gennaro Contaldo's Easy Italian when the news cam through that THE NEW BOOK was to be Italian-inspired. Huzzah!

{Let me start with a slight niggle before I get on with the serious business in hand: the photo on the front is waaahaaaaay too air-brushed. Nigella is one of the most beautiful people in the world. Are we really at the stage where we think even that level of gorgeousness needs perfecting? I guess we are. Sad face.}

Now, let me get off my soapbox, and dive into the pages of Nigella's ninth book of loveliness, Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration.

The recipe I'm showing you here is Nigella's Quick Calabrian Lasagna. It's not completely straight-forward, in that there's more preparation time needed than ordinary lasagna (but perhaps far less needed than the full-on Calabrean version, who knows?!); however, it is completely delicious.

The inclusion of mozarella and eggs ensure that the lack of cheese sauce doesn't matter. Or, at least, the new version tastes so yummy that you don't notice a lack of anything.

As an aside, isn't peeling eggs one of the nicest jobs in the world? So bizarrely satisfying feeling the hard shell cracking to reveal the warm rubberiness beneath.

The first time I made this, I did have to keep checking which layer came next during the assemblage. Is it the ham, or the lasagna? Aaah, no, it's the mozzarella again. But, on subsequent occasions, it's come as easy as ABC.

And when the meal comes steaming out of the oven, wafting your home with it's warm and comforting smell? You can stand back and admire your Italian-inspired awesomeness.

 We all had seconds and we all fell back in our chairs, and were all fully and satisfyingly yummified.


There are oodles of recipes in here that make Nigellissima worth buying, including a whole chapter on Christmas. If you're feeling nervous then have a go at the hazelnut chocolate cheesecake - pip-squeakingly easy and oh-so-good!

Ultimate verdict: Nigellissimahas a well-earned place on my recipe-book shelf. Probably on the fancier end of my cooking style, which definitely leans towards the homely, but none the worse for that. Nigella's lyrical prose and drool-worthy range of recipes absolutely gets my vote.

And how could I do a post on anything Nigella-related without mentioning my all-time favourite recipe book: Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities?  Just getting this book down each November, planning, again, what we'll be eating, fills my heart with Christmas happiness. Is that angels singing?

Did you notice my new favourites from Polie Pottery? That jug? That lasagna dish? {from here and here, if you fancy dropping hints to Santa} Love. Love. Love.

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Wednesday 5 December 2012

How To Gild With Gilt Cream...

Gilding creates a fantastically festive feel, perfect for this time of year, and can be a surprisingly cost-effective way of adding warmth to your home (a little gilt cream goes a very long way) with a bit of creative know-how. 

But where would you find that kind of help? Ahaaaaaaaa.....

I'm over at the Relics of Witney blog today, taking you through the process step by step {ahem,...including trouble-shooting for what to do if it all goes horribly wrong}.

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Monday 3 December 2012

Kate Middleton Is Pregnant!!

You know I'm a big fan of Kate Middleotn, right? Remember all the posts I did on her lovely Modern Country looks? Well, they'll be more fashion posts coming up for Kate because.....Kate Middleton is pregnant. Hurrah!!

The palace officially confirmed the news today, saying: 

"Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby. The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Harry and members of both families are delighted with the news."

This is, of course, a biiiiig deal, as the child will be next in line to the throne after Prince William....and, apparently that's true whether the baby is a boy or a girl. David Cameron has said: "Put simply, if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were to have a little girl, that girl would one day be our queen." 

Apparently, Kate was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital today with very bad morning sickness. The palace confirmed: "As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, Her Royal Highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter." 

Wishing the very best of luck for a brilliant pregnancy and a healthy, bouncing baby.

To see all style posts for Kate Middleton, click here!

Images via Glamour, Huffington Post, unknown

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Wednesday 28 November 2012

Giveaway: £288 Frame Emporium Mirror!!!

You can win your very own version of this utterly gorgeous mirror! Frame Emporium have agreed to make another of these mirrors for one lucky reader, which would normally retail at £288. Woah!!

I can picture your eyes glinting with pleasure, let me give you more details...

The mirror has a wooden base frame, which is finished 
with a lovely dark greige Bole and distressed gilt touches. 

Then, within a central channel, a series of antiqued mirrored rectangles have been set. These are hand-made, which involves cutting the pieces in plain glass and silvering them (using real silver). Frame Emporium's top-secret formula is applied to the back of the newly formed mirror surface, which eats into the silver making it look aged. 

The finished mirrored pieces are attached to the frame. A central bevelled mirror is then placed into the frame to complete the masterpiece.
It's hard to convey how stunning this Frame Emporium mirror is to look at. I absolutely love mine. It's had a million and one compliements already - a real head-turner.

How to enter:

All you have to do is to click here
{where you will be asked to Like Frame Emporium's Facebook page and answer the easiest question in the world...}

Simple, huh? Whatchoo waitin' for?

{STOP PRESS: There have been some people who haven't been able to enter because of technical difficulties or no Facebook access...if that's you then email me at 


with Frame Emporium Competition in the subject header and your entry will be counted!}

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Monday 26 November 2012

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...

Look at this gorgeous mirror! Isn't it a beauty?
{It's from Frame Emporium}

To make your home look its very best at this time of year, it's essential to get in as much light as possible. Our dining room is dark, dark, dark but placing a large mirror opposite the French doors magically floods the room with daylight.

It's so easy to be distracted by the end-result with decorating for Christmas that you forget about getting the foundations right first. That's why I've started this series about Getting Your Home Ready For Christmas. 

Once the basics are in place, your Christmas decor will be look be able to sparkle its little socks off.

My favourite way to squeeze every last drop out of the frankly very little sunlight we get at this time of year is to use mirrors. It's extraordinary how much difference they can make to a dark room.

This mirror is by Frame Emporium, who have been manufacturing mirrors in the UK since 1970. It's absolutely stunning. Best of all, YOU could win one of your own this Wednesday!

Although Frame Emporium are based in London, if you want to see their huge range of designs in person, they also have a fantastic online shop...very useful if you're not popping-in distance.

They sell a vast mix of different mirrors but also, and this is what got my heart skipping a beat, Frame Emporium make bespoke pieces and can incorporate their antique glazing techniques, producing pieces which are designed to mimic old mercury-silvered glass.  

The process is largely done by hand to give a very organic feel to the finish, and are by far the most authentic-looking I've seen.

So tell me, would you like your very own stunner? You would? Then be sure to swing by on Wednesday when you'll have the chance to win your very own!

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