When I last blogged, I had no idea that it would be such a long time until I wrote again - the last month has been a chaos of Easter Holidays and bank holidays, school events, sunshine and gardening (we're aiming to be self-sufficient in vegetables during the summer months, eek), a LOT of work deadlines and tonsillitis (me, ugh). There hasn't been a spare minute to do anything, and on the odd occasion that I did find myself with a free hour, I chose to either spend it with the kiddos or on the sofa, eating things.
One thing I did manage to do in the depths of illness was read a little; I've discovered a great new gardening magazine called Home Farmer, which is full of growing advice, vegetable tips and recipes (there's a bit about chickens as well, but I skipped that. One day, maybe!), and I've been reading a few books as well. I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of Living Life Beautifully, which tells the story of the amazing Cabbages and Roses brand; glorious photography combined with some great anecdotes and insider information - what's not to love?
I first discovered Cabbages and Roses when I was given a book called Vintage Crafts for Christmas one year; written by co-founder Christina Strutt, I quickly fell in love with everything from the gentle styling to the delicate fabrics, and have since spent way too many hours poring over the website (the current lookbooks are incredible, check them out!). Think rustic-vintage chic meets rural-heaven, with the most incredibly beautiful yet simple clothes thrown in for good measure; I pretty much just want to climb into the website and live there.
Living Life Beautifully manages to combine two of my favourite book genres; interior inspiration and biography. If I'm really interested in a brand, I want to know everything about them, from how they got going in the first place to how many sugars they have in their tea - it's part fascination, part nosy parker on my part to be honest, and I'm happy to report that this book satisfied all my curiosities about Cabbages and Roses. It starts with a chapter on how the business was born, and meanders through the early years with some fantastic quotes and anecdotes; I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their relaxed approach to setting up a retail company, 'We were muddly, and we certainly had no idea about anything to do with business', and discovering that it really is a family affair - the sons and daughters of both co-founders are heavily involved in various aspects of Cabbages and Roses, from the designing process to the styling and photography.
As much as I enjoyed reading about the company, I have to say that for me, this book was all about the images. Page after page of large, gloriously beautiful photographs of so many different things; hidden corners of the shop itself, inspirational objects and close-ups of the most exquisite fabrics all jostle for space on the deliciously thick pages. After the initial chapter comes, for me, the best bit - home tours of all the key people involved in the business; I'm a huge interiors fan, and automatically gravitate towards anything related to homes, gardens, design and furniture, so to be able to actually see inside the homes of the key people involved in the business was great. Not only did it serve as a huge amount of inspiration (I particularly loved art director Angus's collection of vintage glass bottles, and his plant in an old fire bucket), but it was also great to see exactly how their own styling preferences varied from the way things are done at Cabbages and Roses.
I honestly can't recommend this book enough - I've got a few interiors books, and this is by far my favourite; I've read it from cover to cover, and also picked it up several times since just to flick through when I've had a few minutes. The beauty of it really is that while it tells the story of a business, it also manages to inspire and fire the imagination at the same time - a winning combination in my eyes.
I read most of it parked in my workroom (the conservatory) in the old rocking chair, with a large mug of tea and some rather lovely carnations by my side. Living life beautifully indeed!
Disclosure: I was sent a review copy free-of-charge, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.