A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

Pretty and Easy to Make Willow Easter Nests

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What have you got planned for Easter? KatchUp, the private photo sharing service for friends and family, invited me to share some of my favourite Easter activities over on the Katch Up blog today, along with lots of other bloggers, so do check the guide out. One of the ideas was an Easter Nest, so I am sharing a full tutorial here today. You might remember I reviewed Katch Up earlier in the year, it is beautiful space to collect and share your favourite photos with friends and family.

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My sister in law and I were just talking about how we really must gather up all our Easter Photos, we have a yearly ‘egg roll’, another family tradition you can also read about over on Katch Up – we need somewhere to pool our pics of this event over the years.

Making Easter nests is a lovely craft, for adults or children.

How to Make Easter Nests

These Easter nests make a wonderful table centre piece. They were inspired by a visit to the Judith Blacklock flower school, which has really inspired me to get creative with foliage. Last week I shared the flowers I arranged, this week I thought I would share how to make an Easter nest, an idea I spotted in Judith’s book. Now this is my version, but full credit to Judith for putting the idea in my mind.

All you need is pussy willow, green gardening wire, a small piece of material, a pastil bag of rolled up newspaper, some foliage from the garden, mini eggs and scissors.

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Over the summer my daughter and I made willow headresses at Camp Bestival, so the principle was similar. Soak the pussy willow, it seemed fine just in a vase of water overnight, but you can immerse it all if it seems too rigid. Warm it gently with by smoothing your fingers and thumb along it and tease it into a bend, if you try to just bend it without warming it, it will break, creating a sharp corner.

Knot the ends like this…

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We made a series of hoops like this, it is hard to tuck the willow buds through, so after a while we decided we would concentrate on the bottom half of the willow and leave the pretty tops for decorating at the end.

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I gave up at this point, it was all looking like it would never come together, but when I came back a few hours later, my daughter was sat there and had piled them up, plus someone had remembered that we had green gardener’s wire.

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We used a mixture of honeysuckle cuttings from the garden and green wire to weave it all together. Very roughly, but Judith had said that Hebe was a great plant for foliage, and for disguising thing you don’t want people to see. So I was confident we could hide it!

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We added some sprigs of rosemary, foliage and pussy willow tips to hide the messy bits. The first time we put the material and eggs in, they all fell through…

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So we wove a wire bottom. I think florists make proper wire structures you can use for this, but there was a misunderstanding between me and the florist’s son who was standing in, and I came home with ring oasis instead which I realised when I got home, wasn’t really what I had in mind.

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We stuffed an old carrier bag in the bottom to fill in the space and added some material on top. I wanted to keep it natural, and use hessian, but sadly there was none to hand, so we used this pretty floral fabric instead.

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And of course, the exciting bit, adding the mini eggs.

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My daughter wants to put it in the garden, so real birds can nest in it, I wanted it as a table centrepiece, but we both agreed that mini eggs rule.

Happy Easter, check out my other Easter ideas over on KatchUp and have a fab Easter whatever you do!

My Home Rocks: Vibrant and Bright

I love these white ones to the left of the fireplace and am constantly moving my knickknacks around on them.

I am really excited to have another blogger’s home to share today for My Home Rocks, well actually today we are getting an in-depth look at one room. I loved this as I picked up some great tips and inspirations reading this, and I am sure you will too.


My Home Rocks: Vibrant and Bright

Welcome to my living room, a place where the tots play and Mr P and I sit back in our cozy sofas working or reading away. It’s one of my favourite rooms in the house so I am here to share it with all of you.

My living room has been an on going project for a while now. I first decorated it at nine months pregnant, hormonal, in a rush, a week after we moved in. My biggest advice is never do any of those things together. You will pick colours for the sake of it and décor you could care less about just because you are in rush to have a place to sit when your new baby arrives. Better yet never plan to move a few weeks before your due date. It will save you in the future of redecorating like me.

I have finally redecorated it after almost four years of staring at colors and furniture I hated. Now, it’s my favourite place in the house and I think the kids are pretty fond of it too now that there is a corner for them to call their own and play at.

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I switched the dark colours of reds and blacks to vibrant and bright yellows and blues. This rug is a treasure to me and took me forever to find the right colour and size that I wanted for my new living room. I am a huge fan of the poufs. They are great to put your feet up or use as a side table. The yellow toy box was an old chest that still needs one more coat of paint but I painted it yellow myself. I love doing like diy projects like this myself.

I love these white ones to the left of the fireplace and am constantly moving my knickknacks around on them.

I love these white shelves to the left of the fireplace and am constantly moving my knickknacks around on them. I have cotton & cable lights hanging from the corner, which drape over the kids’ kitchen corner. They love switching them on in the evenings and playing in the kitchen unit underneath. I have a small love for stags too, they are dotted about my house in various styles and sizes.

I couldn’t pinpoint one style that is my favourite for my home. Each room has it’s own look and own feel about it. I think homes should display the inhabitant’s personalities and our home is finally doing just that.

A big mirror is a must above a fireplace. It helps bright in the natural light and make the room appear bigger.  I painted this ‘love’ ornament, which used to be red, but I wanted to bring more coral into the room to match my throw cushions and coral was hard to find so I got creative.

A big mirror is a must above a fireplace. It helps bright in the natural light and make the room appear bigger. I painted this ‘love’ ornament, which used to be red.  I wanted to bring more coral into the room to match my throw cushions and coral was hard to find so I got creative. You can see I painted one wall a light grey and left the others all white. I love an accent wall even if it’s a light color.

I spend hours here snuggled up people watching out the window or reading various books to the kids.

The light floods in through the front window making photographing impossible but here you can make out the vibrant and bright cushions I have places on our cream sofa. I opted for a darker cream while the kids are still so young but someday I would love to see light grey or cream sofas in this room. I love cushions that are various patterns and styles and never match! I used two sets of curtains, a solid blue one to pull the color to the walls and window treatments but a sheer white one to allow more light into the room.

I spend hours here snuggled up people watching out the window or reading various books to the kids. We have a joke in our house that this is “Momma’s couch” and the other is Daddy’s. Somehow I think we just choose our spots to sit and it’s remained the same since. I think everyone must have “their” spot in their house that they go back to time and time again.

Above the side sofa I have a collage of our family summer trip last year to America

Above the side sofa I have a collage of our family summer trip last year to America. This used to be a black frame and I just used the grey paint from the far wall to paint over it and reuse. I love recycling old décor into new décor with just a little paint! Never throw anything out it can always be reused.

White furniture is great for making a room appear bigger and lighter.

 

I have the white sideboard and tv units in this room again to brighten it up. White furniture is great for making a room appear bigger and lighter. This room used to be so dark and dingy with dark décor and dark wood furniture. It’s made a massive difference changing it. I use little tokens to pull corals, blues, and yellows throughout my shelves.

This room gets used more than any room in the house so it’s only fitting that it be my favourite and finally a design that can reflect our personalities as a family. The kids have a corner to for their toys and kitchen unit and I have space that keeps my books and knickknacks safe behind glass doors. Even better the room has so much more light coming in now and light makes everyone happier!


 

I am sure you are itching to learn more about the person who lives here. This is a beautiful room and I love the idea of upcycling ornaments to tie in with a new colour scheme.

The owner of this gorgeous home, is Jenny Ripatti-Taylor. Originally from America, Jenny lives with her husband and two children in NW England. You can find more of Jenny’s love for interiors at Let’s Talk Mommy and do follow her on Instagram & Twitter. She’s in Venice right now, do check out her pics!

Get Jenny’s Gorgeous Look at Wayfair

vibrant and colourful

Pouf Ottomans, Mirror, Love ornament, rug, red cushion, yellow cushion, frame, zig zig cushions

What inspired YOU about today’s home? Please share in the comments or join the conversations #myhomerocks @pennyalexander_ @WayfairUK @letstalkmommy

To be featured on #myhomerocks, please contact me using the email/social icons at the top of the left sidebar.

My Home Rocks at A Residence

 

Find of the Week: Spring Duvet Sets

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There are daffodils in the garden, I keep waking up to sunshine, spring is definitely here. Now I’ve cracked the hallway and nearly finished the kitchen, I think it is time to move to the bedrooms. I have a duvet set to giveaway too.

New duvets are such a quick way to inject new life into a room, I’ve picked out some of my favourite spring duvet sets. I love this Kirstie Allsopp Jocelyn design above, modelled on blue china plates.

For something more Scandinavian, try Brooklyn based Lotta Jansdotter, the Cal Duvet set, below, looks great with all sorts of accent colours, I love the red and the mustard in this picture. Lotta’s smart, organic pattern designs have earned her international acclaim.

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Sneak in some butterflies, in this very feminine, but blue, butterfly print duvet by Catherine Lansfield, but be quick this one is in the sale £16.99 for a King. Last time I mentioned one of Catherine’s duvets it went out of stock, but the stag duvet looks to be coming in again very soon. It is cotton, and a real bargain.

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Or some rabbits, perfect for Easter, yellow and grey continue to be on trend in the Cecile set by Kirstie Allsopp.

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This Vallila Hehku Duvet Set comes only in single sadly, but would be perfect for teens or tweens.

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For a riot of spring colour, go for something from fashion deisgner Zandra Rhodes who says ‘I love that by dressing up the bed you are dressing up your entire bedroom.’ This would put a spring in your step in the morning.

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Or for a more nautical feel, how about blue stripes?

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Giveaway

One lucky winner can choose a new duvet cover set up to the value of £50, from WayfairUK. All the sets included here come in at £50 or under and there are lots more too.

To enter

1. Visit the WayfairUk site, look at the duvets and comment below with your favourite of the spring duvet sets

2.  Follow the rafflecopter instructions and why not check out the my other giveaways too?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be selected at random. The prize as described above, is the winner’s choice of duvet set up to the value of £50, the prize is non refundable and non exchangeable and supplied by Wayfair UK. Winner will be notified by email and have one week to respond, after which time a redraw will take place.  UK entry only.

Goodbye Old Flat!

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One afternoon in 2002, after weeks of flat hunting in South London, we suddenly found ourselves looking round a place with more than enough room to swing a cat, in fact there was enough room to have a whole party in the kitchen. So for that reason, we went ahead and bought it.

We had three happy years there, before we left the big city behind, to find fortune (and ante natal classes) in suburban Nottingham, and so rented out our flat to two Polish brothers.

Last week we sold our old flat, to a lovely couple, so I thought it would be fun to share some pictures. Mr A took the one above, when he popped down to London to check it was all okay earlier this month.

Being before the day of blogging and camera phones, we have just a handful of photos of our actual time living there. This gorgeous high quality image below is Mr A in the kitchen when we moved in. Note the wine, on the table – we needed it! The place needed work, including a full rewire. It was so exciting having our own place, that we didn’t seem to care about living in a building site for months.

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We moved in the summer, but I remember at Christmas we were still living with exposed floorboards and half painted walls. The Christmas tree was forever being knocked over, but we still cooked a New Years Day roast for all our friends.

This is the same view of the kitchen as we left it. We chose the Art Deco look in keeping with the Edwardian house, but funny how things date isn’t it? That table belonged to my brother who lived with us for a year. I always remember it having his decks on, before we nicked it as a kitchen table. I will also never forget waking up to Mr A and my brother asleep on the sofas under the curtains, which I hadn’t managed to hang properly, which they had drunkenly mistaken for blankets.

Saying goodbye to our first home-4

Below, is another shot of the kitchen when we first moved in, before we actually had a kitchen fitted. Got to love that green and orange colour scheme. We were young, I don’t think we even noticed the flat didn’t really have a kitchen, just a sink, and a leaking gas stove.

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When we ripped out this fire surround to put in a kitchen, we found an original cast iron fireplace boarded up behind it, which was really exciting. We found a home for it elsewhere, as we needed to make space for a new cooker.

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Mum took this photo above, see back then it just didn’t occur to us to take a photo of us in the flat. Reminds me, the world has gone photo mad. We originally painted the walls in the kitchen the same colour as our favourite bar down the road, on reflection, like the bar, I think it looked better in the dark, or maybe this was the first coat. A Polish tenant, very politely called me to ask if he could paint it magnolia, at his own expense. I loved those tenants, they were there for the first four years we rented the flat, they always fixed things themselves.

This is how it is now, a much blanker canvas!

Saying goodbye to our first home-5

And this is where that old fireplace finished up, in the living room, after the broken gas fire was removed. It isn’t actually cemented in at this point, that took a few months to get round to doing, hence the Czech puppets hanging off it from a holiday to Prague. Although, Mr A even bought a workbench and DIY books when we moved in, and made shelves either side.

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After a bit of research we found these tiles, much more in keeping with the house’s Edwardian style, and painted the turquoise ones black to match.

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When we moved to Nottingham, we fell in love again with a house with a very similar living room. Our eye for home furnishings has improved somewhat too.

Tulips in a pringle tub on the mantlepiece, makes an easy vase, perfect for supporting tulips!

Mr A forgot to take a picture of the bathroom, I used to love the tiles as they were original red and green arts and crafts tulips. Sadly they were a pain to keep clean and I never quite worked out how to restore them.

So lovely looking back, now it is time to look forward. Selling a home can be stressful, and this took 4 months, but in the end we ended up chatting to our buyers quite a lot over email and it was a very amicable sale.

I said goodbye to the flat years ago, I cried so much the last night I had in the flat, I was an emotional wreck, 7 months pregnant, preparing to leave London, the flat and my teaching career. But in all the years it has been rented I have never been back, it felt too sad.

So I was really touched to get this picture of these two on Friday, I actually cried – happy tears though. Just look at these excited faces.

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Seeing this picture gave me absolute closure on that lovely flat. I am so pleased these two have chosen it as their new home. Meet Russ and Lorn, who also blogs at Sauna, Spa, Steam. I hope you will be very happy here and have great fun, as we did, making it feel like home. Go for it, out with the old, in with the new!

They are busy planning a wedding, so do check out the blog, new home, wedding on the horizon – such an exciting time to be blogging. We moved in newly engaged and planned our wedding round that kitchen table too.

Looks Like Russ is very at home already, meanwhile… Lorn has already discovered Streatham’s sauna might not be quite the kind of experience she can cover on her blog. Although, I have to say, instead, check out the Turkish bakery, and the veggie cafe which I miss, and my brother tells me there is now an amazing pizza place, and the Irish Pub always did a mean roast.

And if you ever want to return and do a My Home Rocks – we would be especially excited to go through the keyhole once more!

Mastering the art of flower arranging

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Thanks to Capture by Lucy who left this book lying around…

Who doesn’t get a bunch of flowers and inwardly panic at the thought of transferring them to a vase? I know I do.

Recently, I went to a flower arranging course with Judith Blacklock, at her beautiful flower school tucked down a cobbled street behind the hustle and bustle of Knighstbridge. That’s my creation above, isn’t it rather lovely? Turns out flower arranging is a really rewarding, therapeutic and restful pursuit.

Although, we were flower arranging at a blogging network event organised by Gorkana – a lovely way to socialise, but a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. I was so determined to make my arrangement look like Judith’s it was hard to keep track of conversation too, fortunately we had some lovely tea breaks in the courtyard.

Judith Blacklock Flower School

All the gang! Picture thanks to Gorkana

Today I want to share one of the inspirations from that day. I’ve been trying some ideas from Judith’s book, I cannot wait to share the Easter nest we made, but I am starting simple today. I met a friend after my course, who immediately asked what kind of vase to put tulips in. Judith’s book, which I came away with a copy of, had the perfect solution.

I put it to the test this Mother’s Day, when my mother in law gave me these lovely tulips. All you need is an old pringles tube.  Simply, wrap it in gift wrap,  or whatever you have to hand. I used brown paper and some of the paper the tulips came in. Six days later and my tulips are still looking neat and haven’t nose dived as they usually do. These are also perfect for kids to decorate and give as gifts and a great trick when you run out of vases!

Tulips in a Pringle Tub

On reflection I could have put more effort into the tulip arranging, sorry Judith

 

My mantlepiece is making me feel spring like, the coat of paint in the living room helped massively too! The other blooms on the mantlepiece are from Glorious Twelve, a friend here in Nottingham who finds the most gorgeous English, vintagey flowers for weddings and special occasions. Mr A ordered me some for Mother’s Day.

Tulips in a pringle tub on the mantlepiece, makes an easy vase, perfect for supporting tulips!

Mother’s Day mantlepiece

Have a closer look, they are amazing. The roses look really pink here, but sat on my desk today, they are much more mauve or lavender, I don’t think I have ever seen purple roses. I have a whole new appreciation for blooms!

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Blooms by Glorious Twelve

 

Isn’t it lovely to see a bit of spring in the air? Do you like or fear flower arranging?

Thanks very much to Britmums, Gorkana, Judith and team for a fantastic morning – it was wonderful to meet some lovely bloggers and PR folk. The rest of the Wayfair team were really sad they couldn’t make it.

 

Popcorn Balls

Popcorn Balls make a great snack while watching your favourite films-2

There is nothing better than snuggling up to watch your favourite films with these popcorn balls, so very moreish and much more exciting than popcorn alone. They can be themed for different occasions, from choc and nut for grown ups, to green, sweet bejewelled balls for kids or children’s parties. We tried them plain and simple At Emily from A Mummy Too‘s house a few months ago, and were hooked, so when Cake Boss offered to do a Giveaway on A Residence to celebrate Buddy’s new book, and we spotted this a recipe on the Cake Boss website, we had to have a go, and decided to add some delicious variations of our own.

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Chocolate chip and peanut popcorn balls

 

Popcorn Balls make a great snack while watching your favourite films-3

Green, haribo specials and pink popcorn balls

Ingredients

You will need 50g butter, 20 large marshmallows or 2 cups, 10 cups popcorn (if you don’t have an official American cup then think teacup size), half a cup of salted peanuts and half a cup of chocolate chips.

We used chopped up haribo (because someone ate all the jelly tots I bought) and put food colouring in the green ones. Pink marshmallows give a pink tint.

 

Method

Here’s what you do! Leave them to set a while  – they are really moreish, but taste best when set.

 

Variations

Add sweeties instead of nuts and chocolate.

Add raisins.

Dunk half the ball in melted chocolate and leave to dry on greaseproof paper.

Add cranberries, white chocolate and pistachios and dip into white chocolate for a winter ‘snowball’.

Play with food colouring in the marshmallow mix. Add green for Halloween slime balls. The Cake Boss recipe adds Candy Corn, an American Halloween sweet, which you can order online.

 

Cake Boss supply WayfairUK with some fab and funky bakeware and cake decorating kit. Check out the amazing Cake Boss giveaway while you are here…

Be A Cake Boss

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Cake Boss is an American reality TV show set in Carlo’s Bakery in New Jersey.  I really love the sound of it, apparently you can catch it on TLC in the UK.  It follows the lives of the Valastro family, their employees relationships and of course their cake baking exploits and secrets, and what an amazing Italian American legacy the bakery has.

Carlo’s, originally opened by Carlo Guastaffero in 1910, was acquired by Bartolo Valastro Sr. in 1964. Since the untimely passing of Bartolo Sr. in 1994, matriarch Mary Valastro and her children Grace, Maddalena, Mary, Lisa and master baker Bartolo Jr. “Buddy” Valastro have expanded the business with the help of their spouses.

The new Cake Boss book, Baking with the Cake Boss, contains over 100 of Buddy’s best recipes and decorating secrets. We had a brilliant time choosing a recipe to bake from the book. I loved reading about the stories and history of the recipes. You can find out how we got on with our Cake Boss recipe here.

Cake Boss also happen to be WayfairUK’s baking and cake decorating equipment suppliers, so to celebrate I have a fantastic bundle of goodies to give away. Yep, you really can be a Cake Boss too.

Imagine the fun you can have baking cookies, in shapes, letters and icing them. Or how about using the cutters to cut out icing?

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I love this bunting design….so pretty, simple and effective. There are lots of secrets to baking and decorating cakes and cookies in the book. Buddy’s cakes have been voted the best in America, so he knows what he is talking about.

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Giveaway

Be A Cake Boss!

Cake Boss have donated one set of all the items you see here, plus, this is the magical bit – ALL the Valastro family secrets in the form of Buddy’s book.

To enter just follow the rafflecopter instructions below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions 

The winner will be selected at random. The prizes, as pictured above, are non refundable and non exchangeable and supplied by Cake Boss. Winner will be notified by email and have one week to respond, after which time a redraw will take place.  UK entry only. Closes 11.50pm on April 14th 2015.

Listed at Prizefinder and Superlucky

5 trends from London Fashion Week 2015 for the home

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Christopher Kane

 

I always say I am not one to follow trends, but then I find a home idea creeping in to my mind, and realise it must have stemmed from somewhere. Sometimes it is places I have travelled to, things I have seen in other people’s homes, or sometimes just spotting an object online sparks an idea. Inspiration is everywhere after all. But I never really thought the outlandish outfits on the catwalk had anything much to do with homes. Well not my home anyway.

So I thought I would put it to the test, with the catwalk trends from London Fashion Week for Autumn/Winter 2015. What could I see draped on my sofa, hanging at my pad, or strutting down my hallways? I think I have found five trends from London Fashion Week 2015 perfect for the home.  Let me know which you could see in your home.

 

Grey and Yellow

London Fashion Week trends most likely to turn up in your living room-6

Temperley

This colour palette was seen at Temperley and Orla Keily, it already translates really beautifully into the home, bit of a chicken and egg/cheat here, as Orla does homewares too. You can see her influence in lots of homewares. I love all the shapes, textures and patterns above and below. I could easily see the Temperley coat hanging where my curtains are, and the dress and cardi made into cushions.

I think the Orla jumper would make a lovely cushion, and the skirt would upholster a fine looking arm chair.

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Orla Keily

Joking aside. Yellow picks grey up beautifully. I’ve been coveting this noticeboard for a while, which leads me neatly into…

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Geometry

 

London Fashion Week trends most likely to turn up in your living room

Christopher Kane

We’ve seen a lot of this trend already in the home, geometric shapes, although they have been around forever, are enjoying a renaissance in very simple, minimalist form. Zig zag lines bring energy, and geometric shapes can be really energising and beautiful in rooms as I blogged about here. However, I like the more abstract and colourful blocks here.  I could definitely snuggle up in this if it were a throw on my sofa, or even my whole sofa, couldn’t you?

 

Lace and Fur

London Fashion Week trends most likely to turn up in your living room-3

Ryan Lo

Ryan Lo had lots of lace and fur, great for adding some texture and warmth for Autumn/Winter 2015, as long as its fake fur. I had a window shop at Wayfair UK and I especially like the lace wallpapers, this feather throw tickled me too.

Fur and Lace

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Antonio Berardi’s rich patterns

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Antonio Berardi

Antonio was born in the UK to Sicilian parents and he blends the colourful, free flowing patterns of Sicily with traditional Savile Row tailoring. His dresses were super silky. I think a riot of Sicilian colour, in a silk cushion is just what UK homes need. Number four (bottom right is a real bargain too).

Floral Cushions
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Bold colours

London Fashion Week trends most likely to turn up in your living room-4

Christopher Kane

Christopher Kane went for bold colours, lots of tangerine orange, a little bit of warmth in your wardrobe, and in your home in the Winter months.

Splash of Orange

 Mug Rug, Pot, Chair

Which ‘trend’ would work in your home?

 

Photo Credits – London Fashion Week

Find of the Week – Zig Zags

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I’ve snuck in a theme rather than an object this week, because once I start trying to find one thing, its friends emerge. This week it is zig zags.

Zig zags are popping up everywhere, part of a geometric trend, although anything this simple has to have lots of longevity. London Fashion Week saw lots of geometric lines, and zig zags, which means we can continue to see them in homewares too.

Zig zags remind me of being little, and energetic. It must be the onomatopoeic sound of the words and the fact that as adults we tend to think zig zagging is a very inefficient way of travelling. As a kid, its the best thing. I love the colours and the pattern of the memo board above.

The bean bag is a fun addition, but the zig zag pattern keeps it stylish too.

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Zig zags look great in homes though. This basket might not look practical as a bin but I love the zig zag effect, and I think it would be perfect for recycling wastepaper.

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This Zanzibar lantern is so pleasing to the eye.

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You might also like the zig zag rugs

Do you have any zig zag lines running through your home life?

Great Books for Grown Ups

Now I’ve waved my kids off to school in World Book Day costumes we scrabbled together last night, I thought I would take 5 mins to reflect on some books for grown ups I’ve enjoyed lately. I’ve been trying to make a bigger effort to switch off from screens and read at bedtime, and to let my kids see me reading too.

Here are some books for grown ups I have enjoyed, and some my friends and blog readers have suggested over on facebook too. Sometimes it is just a case of finding the right book to get you out of a rut.

We are all completely beside ourselves

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Can’t tell you too much about this book as part way in a big secret is revealed that makes sense of Rosemary’s troubled life. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. Fascinating subject matter, which again I won’t spoil, you just have to read it!

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

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My favourite author by miles, my Mum introduced me to her and I’ve always loved the way she sees the world and the wonderfully satisfying ways in which she plays with time and interweaves characters lives. Life After Life takes on World War Two, Atkinson reaches dizzying heights of interwoven layers of story. An absolutely incredible book that made me reconsider war from so many, very human angles.

 

The Deaths Mark Lawson

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A present from my brother and his wife. Skillful social commentary, but also makes you think twice about those who seem to ‘have it all’ Great premise too, four families live in an idyllic Cotswolds village, one family is found dead at the start, it takes another 300 pages to work out which family and why. A very, very clever thriller.

 

The Rosie Project

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Liz from The Mum Blog suggested this. I devoured it. A genetics professor with unconventional social skills sets out to find a wife using scientific methods with hilarious consequences. The tone is pitch perfect, witty and touching in nearly equal measure.

 

The Woman Who Stole My Life  – Marian Keyes

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While not usually a fan of chick lit I make a complete exception for Marian Keyes. She knows how to create the most believeable family set ups and funniest characters , whose self depreciation makes them totally likeable. While this wasn’t my favourite of her books, it was just what I needed to get me out of non reading rut and back into reading. Marian spoke very openly about her depression and having followed her as an author since my 20s, I will always have a soft spot for her.

Also on my pile, as recommended by friends and blog readers

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, As recommended by Donna, Ordinary Cycling Girl

H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald by Emma my yoga teacher, who also went to Uni with Helen.

My Struggle. Karl Ove Knausgaard by my friend Martha who says they are the books of this decade for her.

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, as suggested by my friend Nikki.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, winner of the 2013 Man Booker, as suggested by Lucy of Wonderthrift

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, as suggested by Vicky of The Owl and the Accordian

Wild: The Journey from Lost to Found (about the woman who walks the Pacific Crest Trail) by Nancy from Glorious Twelve wedding florists, ironic given at the time we were attempting to walk more than a km of Wollaton Park with our reluctant families.

I’m told the The Goldfinch very gripping by Helen who I used to teach Drama with, while others are struggling with it being a long book.

What have you read recently that you’ve enjoyed? What have you given up on? I have been trying the new Bridget Jones, but it is quite a different book to the first two, or maybe I am not ready to accept, like Bridget I have grown up?

Happy World Book Day!

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