Friday, 27 November 2015

shop: houseology

I've written before about Houseology; they sent me this lovely Garden Trading lamp to review a while ago, and since discovering them, they've become one of my favourite online interiors stores. With brands such as Falcon, By Nord, Cable and Cotton, The Linen Works, Marimekko, Ercol and Ferm Living (basically, all my favourites!), they cover bed and bath, furniture, lighting, home decor and cookware - pretty much everything, for every room and every style.

As well as selling heaps of lovely gifts (think fragrances, leather goods, fine wines and something nice for all the tea and coffee lovers) for Christmas, Houseology are also offering extra reductions on their sale category for Black Friday. Full of gloriously thick knitted blankets, beautiful bedding, soft faux fur cushions and a variety of home accessories, any overnight guests will be able to cosy up in comfort this festive season - so if you're trying to add some warmth to your spare room (or you're like me, and you just LOVE blankets!), look no further than my top sale picks.

From top left:
By Nord Bed Linen, Was £167 Now £93 // Bloomingville Knitted Blanket, Was £149 Now £59.50 // Kinto Couture Plant Pot Knit, Was £19.95 Now £12 // Eichholtz Hurricane Lantern Was £198 Now £126 // HS Eton Cushion, Was £43 Now £30 // OH Faux Fur Cushion, Was £55 Now £35 // Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Tea Cup and Saucer x 4 Was £84 Now £46.50 // Culti Stile Candle, Was £49 Now £19.50 // GreenGate Grands Magasins Jug, Was £33 Now £16.50 //

This is a collaborative post.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

give: super giant chunky crochet scarf tutorial

If you're dying to give something handmade this Chistmas, but you're not keen on getting tangled in twine or spending hours up to your elbows in mod podge, don't panic - this massive, overly chunky, super soft crochet scarf works up in an evening and although it looks like a complicated stitch, it's not.

Made from the moss stitch (not the same as the knitted version, by the way), it's constructed lengthways, so the pattern runs across rather than down the scarf. After the initial foundation chain, the only stitches you need to know are double crochet (dc) and treble crochet (tr) - it's literally that easy. (The main reason I love it is because it looks reeeeaaally complicated, but it's not! Ha!)

You will need:
Roughly 5 balls of super chunky yarn (I used Cygnet Super Chunky in Barley)
10mm crochet hook
A large wool needle
Sharp scissors

To make:
Chain 101 (100 plus 1 turning chain)
Foundation row: *1dc, 1tr* in the first two chains. Repeat * to end. Turn.
Row 1: Ch1, *1dc, 1tr* in the first two stitches. Repeat * to end. Turn.
Rows 2-12: Repeat row 1.
Finish off and weave in ends.

I told you it was easy! You can adjust the length by simply adding or reducing the number of chains, BUT moss stitch has to be made up of an even number of stitches, plus one for your turning chain. To make it wider or narrower, just stop crocheting when you feel it's big enough, then fasten off.

To add on the fringing, cut several pieces of yarn roughly the same length, then fold one in half and feed it through a gap in the stitches. You'll have a loop on one side, and two loose ends on the other side; feed the ends through the loop and pull tight, then repeat until you've filled the end of your scarf with lovely fringing. If you're feeling fancy, you could trim them into a point, or chevrons!


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

shop: the hambledon

Hurrah! Christmas starts here!

First up on my 'shop' series is the wonderful, the lovely, the amazing treasure trove that is The Hambledon in Winchester. Located in one of the most beautiful cities in the South (so many historic buildings and green spaces!), you can find them tucked away by the cathedral, surrounded by a gazillion lovely places to eat and drink (handy!)

The shop is amazing all year round, with shelves packed full of lovely things; Falcon enamelware jostles for space with the softest of table linens and miniature glass bottles, tables are stacked with copies of wonderfully thick cookbooks and interiors tomes, and walls are festooned with garlands, fanwheels and bunting. There's ladieswear and accessories and beauty, menswear, bags, flowers and partyware. Childrens toys, beautifully illustrated books and the crispest sheets of lovely wrapping paper. It is, at all times, one of my favourite places to shop. But at Christmas, it's something else.

At Christmas, the fairy lights come out. At Christmas, there are buckets of foliage dotted about, and wreaths hung merrily on the wall. There is a brightly coloured display behind the till, made up of gift wrapping and decorations, giant fanwheels and tiny boxes topped with pompoms. At Christmas the upper floor is turned into a twinkly, sparkling wonderland; glittery ornaments hang delicately from a tree, while beautifully wrapped gifts in a rainbow of colours are piled beneath. There are snowglobes and miniature trees, decorations for the tree and decorations for the table. Sugary treats nestle on shelves; sumptuous Turkish Delight dusted gently with icing sugar, soft marshmallows and endless bars of chocolate in a variety of flavours.

What's even better is that The Hambledon sell all of these Christmass-y treats online, so if you're not local, or you can't make it to the shop in time, you can still snap up some goodies. Hurrah! In case you're having trouble deciding what you absolutely can't do without, I put together a little guide to make things a bit easier for you.... (hint, hint, Husband!)

(From top left)
Festive Mallow Pop, £3.95 // Moon and Stars Boxed Tags, £9 // Rose Turkish Delight, £9.95 // Large Arrow Ornaments, £9.95 // Glitter Heart Tree Decoration, £3.75 // Snowflake Cookie Cutters, various prices // Large Neon Crackers, £17.50 //

Monday, 23 November 2015

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas....

So, we're into the last week of November, and things are about to get a whole lot more festive around here. Over the next few weeks, posts are mostly going to be divided into three groups: shop, make and give. I've been writing and photographing craft and crochet tutorials, gift ideas and guides to the best places to shop for your home and loved ones this Christmas; I love the festive season, but I always try to put the emphasis on homemade things and trying to shop a bit more independently - hopefully you'll find some inspiration in there somewhere!

I've decided to kick things off with a little Christmas mood board - I love decorating the house at Christmas, but I''m not really into the modern bright colours, I like to keep everything a bit more natural. Last year I went hunting through the woods for foliage and berries, but got a bit fed up with having to replace them so often (berries tend to shrivel after a few days), so this year I'm going to mix in some fake ones (gasp!). I'm really picky about fake foliage though, and it has to look as real as possible - everything in the collage above is from John Lewis, and they're pretty convincing. Wild Damson in Petersfield do an amazing selection of this sort of thing, so that's where I'll be heading. My idea of a good festive lounge is a comfy sofa (we're not in the market for a new one, but I found this little beauty at Sofa Sofa - I love the shape, the wooden legs and the lovely high arms. Perfect for nesting in!), plenty of greenery, berries, pine cones and dried fruits, cosy blankets and lots of candles. Oh and the tree, obviously!

1. Two-pack Christmas decorations, £6.99, H&M
2. Lucca 3-seater sofa, £349, Sofa Sofa
3. British made 100% wool blanket, £49, The Future Kept
4. Jormaepourri midwinter dried fruit hanger, £3.50, John Lewis
5. Lantern, £19.99, H&M
6. Midwinter red berry, cone and rosehip wreath, £25, John Lewis
7. Queen Anne's lace spray, £4, John Lewis
8. Berry garland, £25, Marks and Spencer
9. Paisley print hot water bottle cover, £35, Toast
10. Hand poured botanical candle in Hibernate, £12, The Future Kept
11. Cones and berries, various prices from a selection, John Lewis
12. Baubles, £4 for ten, IKEA

This is a collaborative post.

Friday, 20 November 2015

styling the seasons: november

The Styling the Seasons challenge for November was to produce a seasonal flatlay, that is, a photo taken from above. I'm a big fan of the flatlay, and most of my Instagram pictures are taken like this, so I really enjoyed this month.

The lovely pots, split oranges and dried limes were from an early festive selection from Wild Damson, while the berries and foliage were hacked cut gently from a tree in someones garden  overhanging the pavement. I mostly use fake berries for arrangements in the winter, because while it's nice to go out and find those lovely plump ones, they soon turn all shrivelled and sad - and I'm far too lazy to keep changing them every few days.

The next Styling the Seasons will be December, which I'm particularly excited about - I'm heading off to some of my favourite shops over the weekend to find some lovely little bits and pieces ready for festive decorating. I think we're going to go for a real tree this year, if I can persuade Ali that picking up pine needles every five minutes isn't really all that bad!

Styling the Seasons is run by Katy from Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte from Lotts and Lots - anyone can join in via blogs, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #StylingtheSeasons.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

the welsh house

A few weeks back, I found myself with a coat over my pyjamas, bobble hat pushed firmly down over my bed-hair, wellies sinking slowly into the mud as I tried my hardest to capture the spectacular beauty of a rural Welsh sunrise. Seed heads were waving merrily in the breeze, the sun was forcefully pushing its way through the clouds and the only sound I could hear was the chirping of grasshoppers. As the wind whipped through my tangled hair, I thought, 'I could get used to this'.

I don't start every Sunday morning outside in my pyjamas, but then I (sadly!) don't start every Sunday at Bryncyn in Camarthenshire. Owned by the wonderfully friendly Dorian, this little haven started life as a delapidated old stone cottage; nowadays it's a building where the traditional meets the contemporary, combining original features and lime-washed walls with an impressively light and airy modern extension which houses the kitchen. And we were lucky enough to be spending the weekend in it.

We loved Bryncyn, every inch of it, every second we were there. The huge sofa that we all gathered on to watch a film and read our books, wrapped up in blankets, heads sinking into the cushions. The fire which crackled and danced and entranced the kiddos, throwing shadows on the wall and enveloping us in that glorious warmth that you only get from a real fire. The vastness of the kitchen and the space for a proper Sunday breakfast, boiled eggs and coffee bathed in dappled sunlight. The details; dried seed heads and dusky hydrangeas arranged in stoneware vases, coupled with vintage reels full of string and twine, just begging to be used. The beds that we sank into at the end of the day. (And on a more practical note, the heated towel rail - a small piece of unexpected but very welcome luxury!)

We did everything I could possibly have wanted to do while we were there; we explored the local area, driving down some of the hairiest roads and sharpest bends I've ever seen, before rewarding ourselves with fish and chips. We ate them in the car, parked on the quay as the sun set over the water, seagulls whirling overhead; hands damp with vinegar and smeared with ketchup. We sank into the sofa together, watched films on our laptop and enjoyed just being in each others company - two small blonde heads nestled contentedly between Ali and I, tiny toes curling in the heat of the fire, fingers sticky with chocolate. I knitted and crocheted, turned the pages of Modern Rustic magazine in between chapters of I Capture the Castle, not noticing the time ticking by; there was no traffic, no internet, no television and no hurry for anything. Just quiet.

On the morning we left, Ben cried. He didn't want to leave, he said, he loved it there. I felt the same, and we decided to make our normal life a bit more like our weekend at Bryncyn; more time for each other, less time for the noise of the outside world. It was our stay here that prompted my break from blogging and social media recently - I realise now that although I love the internet (who doesn't?!) I need to step away from it regularly to stay sane, and to keep on top of things. I'm just gutted that I can't do it every weekend in the Welsh countryside!

We were generously invited to stay at Bryncyn for the purpose of this review, however as usual, all words and thoughts are my own. I really can't recommend the cottage highly enough - if you want more information, head over to The Welsh House where you can find out more and make a booking.
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