Tuesday 29 November 2011

Cupboard Love

In my quest for a clutter free (or at least clutter-tidy) home I'm always on the lookout for good storage...

So I was very happy to bring this cupboard home from Kempton market back in the Summer. I got to finally unpack boxes of china that had lain untouched for two years.

It also, usefully, has a hidden section, perfect for toys... and when the doors are closed the less attractive kid-related muddle is out of sight.

But the top two shelves are mine to play with...

Our Astier de Villatte and my jumble of tea-cups (as I mentioned back here, I have a little problem with teacups and mugs).

Of course the reality a couple of months later is that as much as I still love the cupboard, it is now overflowing with all sorts of random stuff (seen here) and the toys which are meant to be contained in the bottom section just spill out into the kitchen...
I just can't fight the clutter.

At least when I really need some peace and quiet I can shut the doors on these two as well.

Friday 25 November 2011

Which White?

Isn't this crazy. A ridiculous modern malaise.

Making a decision between four whites.
It just makes me realise how ***** lucky I am.
Two beautiful, healthy children, a roof over my head (and a lovely roof at that). Fantastic family and friends... lets face it this list could go on and on (I just deleted a long ramble which ended in 'free health care').
I just wanted to introduce some perspective (to myself, really) I've been getting stressed about the house renovation stuff, Coco's birthday and a million other things that really don't matter.

Hope you all have a happy Monday!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Look what's cooking

At this moment I'm waiting for this baby to finish cooking.

This is cabbage soup; doesn't sound very appealing I know (when we told my parents this is what we were feeding them when they stayed last year they nearly got in the car and went home again)!
But, trust me, this is a very hearty, warming and surprisingly meaty tasting bread & cabbage soup. In this case made with Cavelo Nero straight from the garden. Jamie would be proud.

It smells good. It's 9.15pm and after a very long day, which started soon after 5am I'm hungry.

PS Hugh is always encouraging me to do 'mini posts' as I get stressed when I haven't updated my blog (I'm still striving for the five-posts-a-week goal), and I was moaning about dinner not being ready... so this seemed like quite a good exercise in time filling blogging... although now the soup is ready it looks even more of picture than it did 10 minutes ago!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Today I Will Be...

... continuing to make party bags...

in my attempt to be a bit more eco (and cheap!) the four year olds are getting a poppy seed pod...

I wonder if they will be appreciated?

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Mug for a Mug

I really love mugs.

This is a new addition to my mug family.

I got it for my birthday after saying something like "There's a mug that's right up my street at Anthropologie" to Hugh. He dutifully went off and correctly identified it, which wasn't that hard, as I love a teacup just as much as a mug - not to do his achievement down too much!
He said he did hesitate before buying it as it was a little on the large side, which I concur... but now I'm just splitting hairs really.

It's designed by Molly Hatch and there are three other lovely mugs in the range (plus some vases I think from a bit of online research...) oh dear, can I resist buying more mugs, when clearly, unless I'm going to open a tea shop, I really don't NEED them?

Sunday 13 November 2011

Sunny Sunday At Columbia Road...

There are occasional advantages of having children waking you at the crack of dawn on a Sunday. Sometimes you just go with the flow, haul yourself out of bed, open the blinds, see its a gorgeous day and get out and enjoy it... which is exactly what we did today.

We headed across town for a little East London fix at Columbia Road flower market.

We were early enough to get coffee and bacon butties without having to queue.

This little dog had it's eye on Coco's pain-au-chocolat!

I snuck away while the others watched some buskers and did some window shopping... I might have popped into Ryantown... but mainly I was on the hunt for things in preparation for Coco's birthday next week.

We did part with some cash, in exchange for some bulbs and a couple of climbers for the garden... (Alliums, snow drops, bluebells and snakes head fritillarys).

The strange thing was that once we'd got back home, had lunch (and obviously faffed around a bit - my loved one is very good at faffing) we ended up planting the climbers in the dark and the bulbs are still sitting on the kitchen table. Not loving the short winter days. Gardening in the dark has a few advantages*, but having tried it, I'm not sure I'd whole-heartedly recommend it.
But we'll try to learn from the positive messages seen today...

*The main advantage to gardening in the dark is that you can't see the slugs, but then that could be seen as a disadvantage.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

The Other Side of Apple Mountain

Last night we used up the last of the mountain of apples that my sister bought us from her apples trees in Wales. This apple cake recipe is pulled out every year. Photocopied a long time ago from an Islington Cookbook which my Auntie contributed to. In fact this is the second apple cake we've made in the last couple of weeks.

Our kitchen however is hiding a dark secret, well not that dark, but anyway... despite its smart exterior we are down to student-type levels of equipment. I had to resort to using one of Henry's baby bottle to measure out ingredients. One measuring jug was lost on a camping trip in the summer and the other broken. We are also without our trusty electric whizzer which sadly died, leaving us with no means to make a smooth soup. And I broke the cafeteria the other day. I feel a Christmas list coming on...

So, if you have the means and the inclination here is the recipe for Katrina's Apple Cake, it's yummy:

2 eggs
225g sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
100ml oil
3 tablespoons water or juice
350g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
6-8 apples thinly sliced and mixed with 125g brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in oil. Add liquid alternately with dry ingredients and beat until just smooth. Spoon half of the batter into lightly greased 23cm pan. Spread evenly. Add apples. Cover with the remaining batter. Bake at 350F/180c/gas mark 4 for 50-60 minutes until nicely browned.

Recipe says "Equally delicious with cherries or plums of blackberries." Which I expect it is.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

The Nearly Four Year Old's Party Invitations

In a couple of weeks I'll be the proud mother of a four year old... no longer a babe in arms, or a cute toddler, too big for a push chair but riding bike instead. We've weathered the terrible twos and are just about surviving the 'why' phase.

On Bonfire Night when we were trying to get her to hold a sparkler she asked, very earnestly, 'What are we doing this for?
The irony of warning your children about fire and hobs and then making them hold a sparkler.

Anyway, these are her party invitations. The event she's been play-acting and looking forward to pretty much since her last party 11 months and two weeks ago.

They had to involve pink. Of course. And flowers... so there you go.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Interiors Interlude

We've had a lot of angst/decision making and tooing-froing round these parts recently.

We thought, for a moment, that it might be worth us letting our house, living somewhere smaller and more... um, low maintenance but to do that we need to finish all the unfinished bits. DIY just isn't happening with two little people around. We are going round in circles somewhat.
But we ARE, dare I commit this to the virtual page, going to try to finish* our house by Christmas. There, said it.
By hook or by crook** it must be done. Then the new year can be DIY free.

So today, I'm allowing myself a little fantasy moment about our house... while it's still a bit of a blank canvas with so much possibility. My 'I want' list (in perfect spoilt brat style)!

An Alcove Bed

Remodelista (via pinterest) & Apartment Therapy

This really is a bit of a fantasy... Hugh comes up with all the practical issues of the bed ending up a bit cold. Boo. I just think it would be so cute... My friend recently told me how she spent a long time trying to convince her Mum to make a cosy bed for her on a high shelve in a wardrobe. I think her Mum's answer was no.
I read this account of an alcove bed on apartment therapy ages ago, it's just one of those little stories that's stuck with me.

A Splash of Yellow

From pinterest with no source... sorry!

Our colour palette is leaning very much towards muted greens, so I'm not quite sure where the splash of yellow will fit in... I like this hallway bench too.
I've just started reading the blog Little Green Shed, and Lou had some great yellow inspiration over there the other day.

Industrial Heavy Metal - AKA Beautiful Storage

Tine K via Bodie and Fou blog & a no source pinterest image (agh!)

I know it's all very 'trendy' but I am partial to a bit of industrial furniture - or ideally a lovely old haberdashery shop fitting - lots and lots of drawers to keep all my 'stuff' in. I've looked at so many. The Voice of Doom (Hugh) is often on hand to point out all the down sides of pieces of knackered furniture that have impractical drawers and rickety frames.

Beach Hut Style

Artemis' shed from Junkaholique & Grand beach hut style via 1st option

I have slightly vague but happy memories of days spent at my grandparents beach hut. Knitted tops over slightly damp swim suits, wet hair, sand between my toes on a wooden floor, hot cups of tea and building HUGE sandcastles with enornous garden spades. They had to give it up in the end as it got damaged every winter, and they were getting too old to deal with it. I hope someone else is enjoying it now.
I'd love to create a beach hut feel somewhere in the house... we have some wood paneling in our bathroom, but I think a bit of fifties, utilitarian is needed somewhere... I feel a butler sink coming on.

Painted (cheap) Shelving

This ikea photo has been all over the web... but I love the idea. Especially if it was 'flexible'. I am still planning on painting the insides of the wine boxes that are mounted on Coco's bedroom wall.

A Plate Wall

Place to bloom, via pinterest & Lottie Loves

I had lots of plates on the wall in our old house, I really want to get them and the new additions up on the wall in our kitchen. The problem with beautiful fresh plaster though is that you really have to psych yourself up to 'damaging' it (in my experience anyway).


Svenskt Tenn Wallpaper

I'm a bit fan of pattern. I can't wait to get this wallpaper up (I bought this when I was feeling a bit overexcited over a year ago). I'm also hoping that we can wallpaper inside a cupboard somewhere. There's just something very appealing about hidden pattern.

Clusters of lights

images; from etsy seller BootsNGus & Bodie and Fou

One light hanging all on it's own sometimes just looks a bit lonely.

So many more ideas... compiling this post has taken ages - multiple tabs of beautiful inspiring interiors... might have to do #2 another day.

*of course, the definition of 'finished' has yet to be determined
**Just had to google the origins of by 'hook or by crook'... quite an interesting diversion.