Wednesday 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!!

A very, very Happy New Year to you all, my Modern Country lovelies! Here's to another year full of the best inspiration for Modern Country interiors, gardens, crafts and fashion! 

hertfordshire 6

I'm very excited for 2015: this New Year feels warm and welcoming and exciting and full of opportunity! I can't wait to take you along with me....

Image via CrushCulDeSac

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Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

We have a splendidly exciting few days ahead of us here in our corner of the Cotswolds. My favourite of the whole year. Cards have been written, presents have been (mostly!) wrapped, and our kiddiewinks are being whipped up into a frenzy of excitement via twinkling lights, stocking hanging, gathering around Christmas films and lots of friends and family....

Enjoy every moment, my poppets!
I'll see you in the New Year!

Image via akadesign

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Tuesday 23 December 2014

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday!

For me, Christmas is a highly private time of year, which is why I've not shared a festive house tour {sorry!}. I see it as time to hunker down with my family and close friends, in the warm glow of the Christmas tree, and enjoy the cosy sense of togetherness.

Just before my final post (tomorrow), I wanted to share my new favourite LED lights...I've seen a lot of takes on these, and mostly they come up looking pretty cold. These, though, are gorgeous! Twinkly, warm and lovely!

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Monday 22 December 2014

Book Reviews: Madhouse Cookbook and No-Bake Baking

I have two must-have recipe book reviews to tempt you with today! I find that having a big family + loving to have friends round = some slightly fraught moments!! In the run up to Christmas, there are lots of occasions when run to a few trusted recipe books. Today, I wanted to share two of those with you...

The first is the Madhouse Cookbook: Delicious Recipes for the Busy Family Kitchen, which fits in to where author Jo Pratt is in her life from day to day...and it shows. That's not to say that she really does live in a madhouse, but rather that she obviously understands what it means to have to produce a varied, healthy, realistically-priced meal each and every day for a family. However, very importantly, the recipes are delicious, and the quality of the ingredients is in no way compromised.

There have been other recipe books that promise to do the same but, in my opinion, I've found that none of them are as good as The Madhouse Cookbook.

The book is divided into three sections: Monday To Friday Survival, The Busy Weekend, and Cling Onto Your Social Life. Each of these is then split into sub-categories so you know exactly where to turn when the pressure is on: for example, 'Quick Prep - Leave To Cook' and 'The Need For Speed'.

The book has lots of really good, and original ideas of how to stretch the recipes further, as well as thoughts on how to use leftovers, which I LOVE!! 

Another great thing is the index, which allows you to look up recipes by their key ingredient. Perfect for those evenings when you're struggling to use up items in the fridge.

Jo Pratt has clearly been there, done that with a busy household...Madhouse Cookbook is one of best survival guides out there!

The second book I'm reviewing today is a must-have in the sometimes hectic run up to Christmas. I absolutely adore this time of year...but there can be slightly fraught moments when I realise I've got extra guests for tea and need to rustle up something fast.

That's where No-Bake Baking: Easy, Oven-Free Cakes and Treats comes in! Now, I have to say up-front, that this is not a book to get if you're on any kind of diet because it's literally jam-packed full of VERY sweet treats! BUT it's just genius at helping to whizz up a great-looking desserts when you're flagging a little at the end of a long day, and realise that you've still not made pudding for tonight's guests (been there?!).


The recipes themselves vary from the extremely easy (basically an assemblage of elements!) to the slightly tricky. Chapters are separated into: Biscuits, Cakes, Slices and bars, Cheesecakes, Pies and tarts, Sweet treats, Iced Dreams and Desserts.

As I said, probably not the best thing for your teeth but a life-saver at this busy time of year.

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Thursday 18 December 2014

Book Review: Giftwrapped by Jane Means

I'm a late developer when it comes to the art of gift-wrapping. Yes, I was always wowed if I received presents that were exquisitely presented but it's only in the passed few years that I've realised how achievable it is, with a little thought and a well-stocked craft cupboard, to add significant zhush to your bestowing. And that's why, just in time for that Christmas wrapping bonanza, today's post is a book review of Giftwrapped: Practical and Inventive Ideas for All Occasions and Celebrations by Jane Means.

Jane Means is a wrapping guru extraordinaire. She raises the presentation bar by a few hundred feet but somehow manages to convey her obvious talent in a way that is both inspiring and encouraging.

Published by Jacqui Small, Giftwrapped takes you through the whole range of packaging problems (bottles, clothes, circular tins)...with fantastic and gorgeous solutions.

Jane means teaches gift-wrapping (as well as selling an enormous range of want-it-now ribbons and papers) for a living, and her skill at demonstrating a variety of techniques (bow-tying, pleating, bouquet-encasing) shines throughout the book.

You'll be relieved to know that Giftwrapped is not a plea to spend hundreds of pounds on fancy extras...plenty of the ideas here are free...for example, adding little sprigs of rosemary to your ribbons. These little touches, alongside your new-found wrapping prowess will make you feel like Modern Country crafting royalty!

Covering everything from baby shower presents to making the perfect labels, Giftwrapped has the power (with a little help from you!) to transform so-so offerings to breathtaking beauties.

{Get your copy of Giftwrapped by Jane Means here.}

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Monday 15 December 2014

A White Christmas: Home Tour

This weekend, we had the most wonderful time putting the final touches to our Christmas decorations. The mild but crisp weather allowed us to enjoy a very festive walk, admiring Christmas lights as we went.

I love to see how other people do Christmas. And, if ever there was a Modern Country interior to persuade me to go all white, with hints of the softest greys (and lots of green for a suitably Modern Country Christmas!) then this, surely, must be it...

A chic white home office with a gold mirror

Can I just take a moment to 'Oooh' at this gorgeous girls' bedroom?

All that greenery, particularly the wreaths at the windows, feels so stylishly festive, doesn't it?

A thoroughly Modern Country Christmas home!

Images via Skona Hem

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Friday 12 December 2014

Modern Country Nails: MoYou Nails Review

{MoYou Nails Review: Two Special Nail Varnishes (in Nude and Razzle Dazzle Rose), Three Stamping plates: 1136975Scraper and Stamper set}

I had a lovely jaunt out to the Country Living Fair a couple of weeks ago. One stall in particular stood out as being a gorgeously contemporary twist on the time-honoured tradition of beautifully varnished nails. I always think perfectly presented nails are one of those things that literally adds polish to any Modern Country get-up, don't you? 

One of the ladies on the MoYou Nails stand persuaded me to have my nails done. Not that I needed much persuading! A manicure for free? Yes please!

I was expecting another humdrum product but Oh. My Goodness. I've never seen anything like it. I've had so many questions about how I managed to get these gorgeous images onto my nails that I thought a review was needed!

MoYou Nails sell stamping plates and nail varnishes online and in stores (Debenhams, Fenwick and Bentalls) to enable you to print images onto your nails...or sunglasses, mirrors, mobile phones, windows.... There are over 1500 designs to choose from. That was not necessarily a plus! I spent aaaaages narrowing down the designs I wanted!! 

First Impressions

The varnishes are gorgeous - beautifully vibrant, opaque colours, and apply well. The opacity means that they are on the thick side, which makes them ideal for stamping but a little harder to work with for base coats. 

The stamp and scraper come together. The stamper is easy to use -  squishy and a good size and the scraper does it's job well...though I'd prefer it a little bigger and squishier and it took a while of playing around to get the images to pick up properly. However, its the stamping plates that really stand out.

They come in little individual packets (see left hand of the image above). You need to remove the packaging (middle), and then peel of the blue covering (right) to reveal the mirrored surface with exquisitely etched images. The plates seem very good quality: pleasingly heavy, and the images are very clear.

Using The Products

First, I applied this MoYou Special Nail Polish in Nude. I really love the colour...but, as I said above, it was a little on the gloopy side. However, it did get a great solid covering in more or less one coat and dried quickly.

Once the polish had hardened, I picked out the first stamping plate (113).

The process is simple.
1) Apply a little of the varnish onto the image of your choice.
I love the bright cerise of Razzle Dazzle Rose against the gentle Nude.

2) Use the scraper at a 45 degree angle to scrape of the excess. This leaves the polish in the etched parts.

3) Press the stamper pad over the image.

4) Roll the stamper over your nails from one side to the other to make sure that the whole image is transferred....{MCS tip: start with a straightforward design and experiment with different angles. It takes a while to be able to line up the images to appear exactly where you want them!}

Next up is my favourite....look at that chandelier!! 
Modern Country L:O:V:E!

You do have to be fairly quick to make sure that the varnish doesn't start drying on the plate...but it's definitely worth taking the time to get the placement just right. It's hard to hide any mistakes!

Lastly, I wanted to try a little extra creativity. I applied TWO varnishes onto this little owl. 

The Razzle Dazzle Rose, and another purple varnish that I already had. Then I repeated the same scraping and stamping process, which definitely gets easier each time I try....and it turned out beautifully two-tone...and so cute!!

Overall Impressions

I was truly blown away by the experience at the Country Living Fair...but, remember, they were absolute pros at using the products. I have to say it has taken a fair bit of practice at home to learn to get it looking right....but now I've had that practice...and compliments aplenty (not least from my daughters!),  I can't wait to get extra MoYou Nails plates to add to my collection! 

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