Monday, 17 July 2017

The Lavender Fields in Hampshire

Next up in the 'Photos I Took Last Summer But Never Got Round to Posting' series - The Lavender Fields in Hampshire. To be fair we drove past the other day, and they look pretty much exactly like this now, so if it weren't for all the growing those pesky kids have done, these could have been taken last week. 

The Lavender Fields is one of my favourite places to visit in the early summer months; apart from the endless rows of purple stems, there are also towering sunflowers - and then there are the wildflowers. A huge expanse has been dedicated to cornflowers and poppies, nigella, marguerite and scabious; Californian poppies nod in the breeze, their bright orange petals fluttering delicately. I grow wildflowers in our garden every year, not only because they look so glorious, but also because they're heaven for bees and butterflies - the bee population is in serious decline, and so if there's anything we can do to help, I think we kind of have to.

The kiddos love it every time we visit, and spend ages pottering up and down the rows of flowers, talking to the bees and spotting all the insects. Every five minutes, one of them will say, 'what's that one?' and I'll have to get my phone out and start googling insects. Great fun!

To get to the fields, you have to drive through the rest of Hartley Park Farm Business Park, and there is the most BEAUTIFUL shop that sells Kantha robes and woven rugs and all sorts of lovely goodies (I can't remember the name, sorry!). Far too expensive for us, but I always spend some time stroking the stock anyway!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Summer Inspiration - The Beach

Finally! A post! I've not blogged for a while; I've been busy with work, and my Dad had a stay in hospital, followed by a big move to a nursing home - he has Alzheimers, and although we know it's the best thing for him (he's receiving exceptional care; the food is amazing, and he spends his days in a sunny conservatory overlooking the huge garden. They also subscribe to the thinking that animals are beneficial to elderly people with mental health issues, and since he's been there they've had two doggy visits, and an afternoon with birds of prey. How cool is that?!), it's been a really difficult time. But things are starting to settle down now, so I've finally found the time to edit some photos and write a post - about our adventures last summer!

It was a long winter; it feels like a lifetime ago that we were spending days and nights on the beach, gathering around fires and leaping around in the dunes, building dens in the woods and picking veg out back in the garden. But the weather this week has been beautiful, the garden is flourishing and the long holidays are just seven weeks away - so I thought this would be a good time to start posting about last summer. Maybe think of it as an inspiration post?!

We spent a LOT of time at the beach; long, sticky days and balmy evenings spent building sandcastles, foraging for treasure (read: shells) and toasting marshmallows on sandy campfires. I like the beach in the winter, but I LOVE it in the summer; the roar of the ocean, the sand between your toes and that delicious feeling of being wrapped in a warm blanket when the sun appears from behind a cloud.

Seven weeks to go. I cannot WAIT.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Grand Entrance

One of the worst things about living in a rental house is that there are real restrictions on what you can and can't do, decor-wise. We're really lucky with our landlords, in that they're pretty flexible, and let us make as many changes as we like - as long as we pay for it, and we don't, for example, paint the whole house black and knock any walls down.

We've done major things in the kitchen; we've retiled, and replaced worktops, changed flooring and ripped out cupboards in favour of open shelving. We've painted every room white, and plastered (Ali learned how to plaster from YouTube videos, and he's actually really good at it!) over horrendous artrex, ripped up old carpets and resealed the bath. The only thing we've not done anything to so far, is the front door - until now. The one we have is brown, has really big cracks in it, and just looks really old and tired; at the moment, we're trying to decide between painting it and replacing it.

Colour vs Neutrals

I used to be absolutely desperate for a yellow front door - mustard, to be exact - and came pretty close to just running down to B&Q and buying the cheapest exterior paint I could get my hands on. But as time has gone by, I've also hankered after one in teal, one in red and one in crisp white, so I'm pretty glad this is something I've never gotten round to! I mentioned in my lounge makeover post that my tastes have simplified, and I'm more drawn to calm neutrals and soft colours these days, so I think if we do reach for the paint, it will be a beautifully stony grey colour; think something Farrow-and-Ball-esque, but a bit more budget friendly.

Safety and Security 
I never thought there would be a day when I'd choose practicality over style, but apparently, it's here. Our current door has three bolts, a manual lock and a chain - but to be honest, the rest of it is so flimsy they're pretty pointless. If we owned the house, we'd probably invest in a more modern, hi-tech door, like the Spitfire doors from Team Frames Trade; fully customisable, they come in a wide range of colours and styles, and offer brilliant add-ons, such as spy-hole camera, built-in lighting and even fingerprint recognition. I'm a bit of a nervous nelly when I'm at home alone in the evenings, so the idea of having a front door that combines unbeatable security with style is one that appeals to me massively!

Plants and Greenery

Anyone who has been reading a while, or follows me on Instagram, will know that I've got a bit of a thing for plants. When we first moved into our house, I wanted a trellis with climbing roses, clematis and wisteria, window boxes, shrubs and hanging baskets. Our front garden is the size of a postage stamp, and after five years I've finally come to terms with the fact that it's never going to look like something from Country Living - so I'm opting for filling our little porch with little pots of greenery. Simple, effective, year-round colour!

This is a collaborative post.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Lounge Makeover with Comfort Works

Crikey, we're a week into February, and this is my first post of the year - shameful! I've been so busy with work, and little projects around the house that I've not really done anything blog-worthy for ages - we have finally finished giving our lounge it's little makeover though. At last!

Until the last couple of years, my interior style used to be 'more-is-more'. More patterns, more fabrics, more pictures, more lamps, more stuff - if you want to see our lounge from our previous flat, click here (seriously, those pictures make me twitch every time I look at them. So. Many. Things.) and from August last year in our current house, click here (still so much stuff!) I've done so many decluttering sessions, I've lost count - I've finally got to the point where I don't walk into the room and feel like my things are trying to suffocate me though, so I reckon we're done!

My favourite thing of all has to be the sofa covers; they were sent to us by the lovely folks at Comfort Works, a small company based in Australia who specialise in making covers for IKEA sofas. We've had our Karlstad sofa for about five years now, and it's wearing incredibly well, so I had no interest in buying a whole new one - by the time I got round to actually thinking about buying new slipcovers (I wanted some lighter ones, to help brighten up our dark lounge), IKEA had stopped selling the sofa, and obviously the replacement covers. So when Comfort Works got in touch and asked if I'd like to try out theirs, I jumped at the chance.

Firstly, I've got to comment on the absolute mind-blowing choice available on the Comfort Works website; eight fabric styles (everything from delicate light cotton to tough leather, and even luxurious velvet), with several shades in each category, options for everything from seams to ties and armrest protectors, and even the chance to add on some fancy new mid-century style legs (ours are the Bailey legs).

Secondly, they are the absolute perfect shade of grey - exactly what I was looking for - and they're remarkable resilient. Ours are the Heavy Duty covers in Kino Ash, and they definitely live up to their name; when I shot these pictures, they'd been on the sofa for about two months, and the covers had been dived on, dribbled on, sat on, laid on and spilt on. They'd been covered in chocolate, popcorn, squash and biscuit crumbs, and still they look perfect. Any marks or stains came away in seconds with a baby wipe, and the fabric dried back to it's original colour, leaving no trace of what had been there before. I honestly cannot rate them highly enough for durability - in fact, I think they're a better quality than the ones that came with the sofa!

I didn't realise before just how much difference changing the covers on a sofa could make; our whole lounge is brighter, lighter and seems much bigger than before. Plus, they're so much more stain resistant, which means less washing for me. Hurrah!

I'm also really in love with our coffee table; we found it for £25 on Gumtree, which is a brilliant bargain considering it's solid wood. It's got a tiny little drawer, which the kids love to stash things in, and the previous owner had already painted the legs in a dark blue-grey Farrow and Ball paint. Very kind of them!

We've added plants and a print, removed cushions and LOADS of books, and I made a wallhanging by adding fringing to a panel of moss stitch crochet - I did want to make a weaving to go in that space, but I've not got round to making the loom yet, so....!


Sofa Covers: Comfort Works
Blanket: The Future Kept
Cushion: eBay (try searching for 'Kilim cushion' or 'Aztec cushion'
Lantern: Wild Damson (now closed). Similar at IKEA.
Clay Plant Pots: Wilkinsons (painted myself)
Mountain Cup: The Future Kept
Enamel Candle Holder: Workshop Living
Cavallini & Co Botany Print: Willow and Stone
Small Plants: IKEA
Mug: Luke Arthur Wells (sold out)
Coffee Pot: Utility
Spoon: The Good Times Homestore
Large Plants: B&Q
Basket with Plant in: Closet and Botts
Coffee Table: Gumtree
Dining Table and Chairs: Gumtree
Table Runner: IKEA

Many thanks to Comfort Works for generously gifting us the sofa covers - which we would definitely have bought anyway! All words and opinions are, as usual, my own.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas, Everyone

This year I decided to scale back Christmas massively - last year, I spent a ridiculously large amount of time working on blog posts and tutorials, trying desperately to finish handmade gifts and ending up a sweaty, stressed mess, surrounded by piles of withered foliage and forgotten craft projects. This year, I just thought, 'nope', and so everything has been beautifully simple.

I didn't get involved in wreaths this year, and instead I made a simple wallhanging with foliage, dried orange slices and my beloved wooden stars (which are reused every year without fail!) - I decided not to go overboard with decorations either, choosing to add candles to every available surface and popping up fairy lights wherever I could (including the kitchen shelves!).

I have to be honest, it's been much more enjoyable - we've watched films and eaten food and I've had an awful lot of naps. I've read books and pottered about on the internet and planned craft projects for early next year, and for the first time ever since having children, all my gifts are wrapped and ready before 1am on Christmas morning!

Whatever you're doing this year, enjoy every second, and don't forget to switch off and relax - a very merry Christmas to all of you. See you in 2017!

PS Our gorgeous, wonderful sofa covers are from Comfort Works - we've given our lounge a mini makeover, but due to our ridiculously big Christmas tree, you can't see much in the photos above! I'll be doing a proper post early in January, so keep an eye out.
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