Friday, 30 August 2013

recycled home + futurustic blog

I've always loved eclectic interiors; shelves filled with old trinkets from charity shops, mismatched florals, mid-century modern furniture and wood, lots of wood. Cath Kidston, but a bit less.... chintzy. I didn't even know there was a name for the style I liked, until I stumbled across the incredible Futurustic blog on Twitter - a whole site dedicated to beautiful modern rustic design. 

Owner Rebecca Proctor has also written a few books on various subjects, and as soon as I clapped eyes on 'Recycled Home', I knew it was something I needed to add to my bookshelf. When it arrived, I fell in love immediately; 144 pages of fantastic home projects showing you how to make everything from a scrap wood bath caddy to handmade lampshades, projects that are actually useful and I could really see myself having a go at. The styling and photography are beautiful, and the book is full of inspirational images that wouldn't look out of place on Pinterest. I strongly urge you to buy a copy!

The Futurustic blog is now one of my firm favourites, and once you've visited you'll understand why. Snippets of Rebecca's home and children sit alongside posts about contemporary fashion and unique design, and I've discovered loads of other amazing websites and designers through her writing. Find the Futurustic blog here, and then pop off to your nearest independent bookseller, and grab yourself a copy of 'Recycled Home'. (This is in no way a sponsored post - I just really love the book and blog!)

The last two images are courtesy of the Futurustic blog.

Thursday, 29 August 2013


When they brought Instagram to the Android operating system, I was one hugely happy camper. I'd never found the funds to be able to join the iPhone gang, but felt like I was really missing out, so when it came along I got involved straight away.

1414 posts later (see? Utterly addicted), I've now got myself an iPhone, and edit everything in my beloved VSCO cam app. These are some of my absolute favourites, and I almost prefer them to my Canon efforts - I think they look brighter and cleaner, somehow. Ahh well, perhaps VCSO will make a desktop app for PC users one day (hint, hint!).

I'm on Instagram as OwlandAccordion if you want to follow along - at the moment it's all about flowers, the outdoors and upcyled wood!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

if you're fond of sand dunes, and salty air

This summer has been glorious, especially in comparison to last years total rainfest. We've spent hours in parks, on the beach and driving through winding country lines, we've lain on sun dappled blankets and soaked up the warmth of the rays. There's been artisan coffee, homemade cake and homegrown vegetables, farmers markets, historical houses and tea factories. We've meandered, hiked, raced and driven, and collapsed into our beds exhausted but fulfilled. It's been a good few weeks.

My biggest regret is that we didn't get to go camping. We weighed up the pros and cons, and decided that with Daisy so young, and Ben so hyperactive, it would be pretty much a recipe for disaster, so it's on the list of things to do for next summer. I'm dreaming of the Just So Festival, and possibly Bestival or Womad (especially after reading the wonderful posts by Hannah and Lou), peaceful campsites, washing in streams and abandoning technology for days on end.

One of my absolute favourite trips of the summer was the day we packed up the car, and headed out to West Witterings for breakfast on the beach. We arrived at 7am, when everything was still bathed in hazy morning sunshine; the sand was cool under our feet, and the only people around were two young girls who emerged from their tent, stretching and yawning, as we arrived. We ate brioche and drank hot coffee from a flask, flew our trusty old kite and ran wild across the dunes, before embarking on a lengthy beach-combing expedition. We left just before lunch, as people started to arrive with their loud radios and cases of beer, feeling glad we were travelling in the opposite direction to the people queuing for miles to find a parking space. It was a good day.

Friday, 23 August 2013

flora and fauna

I've been playing with my camera this week, experimenting with the manual setting, and messing around with editing software. I've become quite obsessed with flowers, to the point that I'm considering taking an evening course in floristry - my Mum trained as a florist, so it'd be quite nice to continue in her footsteps.

Happy weekend, lovelies.

Monday, 19 August 2013

southsea coffee

If I could live in a shop or cafe, Southsea Coffee would be it. Original antique floorboards, reclaimed wood constructed into tables, soft grey walls and the most incredible chalkboard wall for kids (and adults!) - it's basically my idea of heaven. Add in the fact that they make the best flat white in town, that the sandwiches are made from divine Bread a la Mer loaves, and that the cakes are phenomenal, and you've got yourself pretty much the perfect place to spend any morning afternoon day. Oh, and the toy box at the back of the shop is pretty neat too.

Check them out over on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

green fingers

I'm not sure, given the amount of gardening fails I've had this year, whether 'green fingers' is that appropriate for a post title, but hey ho. There's probably been a few failures for every success, from seeds that refused to germinate to the courgette plant that after producing eight mini courgettes, decided to succumb to the dreaded leaf mildew - an evil disease that basically rots the leaves, and then the stems and fruit of your beloved plants. I tried everything suggested on Twitter, from a washing-up liquid spray to a seaweed tonic, but nothing worked. It's a sore point.

I've learned a lot this year, namely:

1. Start your seeds off early. Like, really early. February is ideal, because germination takes time, particularly if you're relying on the weak winter sunlight, and a Spring that refuses to arrive.

2. However much you're planning on sowing, double it. Half of them could fail, or you could knock them off of the window sill, and then you'll find yourself peering at seedlings when everyone is harvesting their earlies. Ahem.

3. If you're a beginner, don't attempt too much. I frequently forgot what I'd sown where (because I forgot to label them), and was perplexed by a huge amount of garden related problems and diseases that I either couldn't identify, or couldn't work out the cause of. Keep it simple, a few flowers and a couple of different edibles.

4. Consider what you're growing for. I had visions of an abundant garden, full of vegetables, fruit and flowers that would make us self sufficient throughout the Summer months, and provide us and all our friends and family with cut flowers. In reality, after the germination failures, the seedlings that inexplicably died and the things that just flatly refused to grow, the harvest was pretty meagre. We've had:
  • Enough strawberries for two puddings, for us and my parents. 
  • Two rounds of rainbow chard that went into a new potato and chard curry, from the River Cottage Veg Everyday book.
  • Enough chantenay carrots for one meal, for two adults and two children.
  • Heaps of potatoes.
Erm, that's it so far. That said, we've got about fifty runner beans on the plants, loads of unripe tomatoes and most of the potatoes are still waiting to be dug up. Still, self-sufficient it isn't, and I now feel like I might have been a bit over ambitious with our space - the excitement of having a garden took over any rational thought, and instead of choosing a few things to grow a lot of, I chose to grow a small amount of everything. I'm not sure where my brain was when I thought I'd be able to grow a few months worth of carrots in one small pot - it's always worth reading up on the plants to find out roughly how much fruit you're going to get from them. Because otherwise you could find yourself trying to work out how to stretch six strawberries between four people.

5. Sow, and sow again. One round of sowing lettuce seeds isn't going to last you very long, even if they are the cut-and-come-again variety - I never really got into the whole successive sowing thing (I always forgot, or just didn't have the time), but will definitely be trying to master it with the Kale and winter salads during the colder months.

I was growing for a few different reasons; to be more sustainable, so our food had 100% traceability, to encourage Ben to explore the world of gardening and nature, and to raise his awareness of the environment. Although I didn't end up with enough tomatoes to turn into chutney, or enough raspberries to use for jam-making (we actually didn't get any raspberries on the plant this year, but I later discovered that you often have to wait up to two years before the fruit appears), I still consider the little we have had a success. As they say, every little helps, and if everybody had a go at growing just one thing, we could drastically reduce the way we rely on supermarkets and their horrendous packaging. We try to shop in farm shops as much as possible, but we have to drive at least fifteen minutes to get to any around here, and with two children under five, that isn't always practical. I'm STILL weighing up the veg box options - does anyone have any recommendations?

Despite the many failures and the few successes, I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in the garden this summer; there's nothing as therapeutic as lining up pots and sowing seeds in the afternoon sun, or watering the garden in the early evening and breathing in the heady scent of lavender and strawberries. Aces. I spent a lot of time sitting on the concrete steps with mugs of steaming tea in the chilly morning air, just peering at flowers and marvelling at their petal shapes and structures, or poring over gardening books and magazines. These were my favourites:

The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler
The Thrifty Gardener by Alys Fowler
My Garden, The City and Me by Helen Babbs
The RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening
Spotted Pigs and Green Tomatoes by Rosie Boycott

The Edible Garden
Country Living
Permaculture Magazine

Web Resources and Blogs
Alys Fowler's Gardening Column in the Guardian Online
The City Planter
Vertical Veg
You Grow Girl
Longest Acres

There are probably a gazillion more, but stupidly I didn't make a note of them, so these are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. I'd also like to say a quick thank-you to everyone who I plagued on Twitter with my stupid gardening-related questions - I'm about to sow the Winter crops, so I'll speak to you soon.....

Friday, 16 August 2013

and so, to bed

1. & 2. Room for three // 3. Bedside reading // 4. H&M cushion and vintage bed linen // 5. The best lamp I've ever found // 6. Plants, florals and vintage tins // 7. Vintage jewellery // 8, 9 & 10. Making Daisy feel at home // 11. Enamel teapot // 12. Radiator shelf made from wood found behind someone's house. (I think it might have been a piece of a pergola!)

We've been in this house for over a year now, and I've been putting off doing any room-tour type posts because a) nothing ever gets finished and b) nothing is ever tidy enough to photograph. Our bedroom has been especially difficult - the house only has two bedrooms, so the kiddos are going to have to share eventually but until then, Daisy is still in with us. It's a pretty small room, so it's not as airy and spacious as I'd like, especially with her cot in the corner, but I'm a firm believer in working with what you've got so we've made the best of it. (This doesn't stop me trawling Bolaget or Pinterest, and sighing over wooden floorboards and sash windows, though!)

We thought that even though Daisy's only got a corner of our room, it should still be hers, so we've brought the shelves from the conservatory upstairs to keep some of her toys and books on, and given her a little gallery wall above her cot. She can reach the shelves from her cot, so the idea is that when she wakes up at the crack of dawn, she'll poke her little hand through the bars of her cot and grab a toy. She'll be entertained, and we'll still be sleeping, hurrah! (I do realise that in reality, this is never going to happen - things will fall on the floor, she'll be shouting, and it will end up in the Husband and I jabbing each other in the ribs hissing, "it's your turn," while wrestling over the quilt. Keeping it real, y'all.)

I saw the shelf-over-the-bed idea on Pinterest, around the same time as my houseplant obsession took over, so it seemed like an obvious choice to decorate the wall behind our bed. The bed itself has been a huge, ongoing nightmare, that we've only just resolved. Our original bed was too big to fit in the room, so we bought a new one, but it was so hard that I ended up losing feeling in one side of my body. In the end, we took it back and got a normal divan with storage from our local bed shop, with a mattress so soft it's like sleeping on a cloud. We paid quite a lot for ours, but the double mattresses at Furniture Choice are exactly the same and about half the price - they also do a great range of bunk beds (I spend a lot of time looking at bunk beds at the moment!) which we'll have to start thinking about buying soon.The pillow cases are vintage from eBay, and the amazing Aztec blanket and cushion are from H&M home - their range of homewares at the moment are really lovely, and well priced as well (read: not extortionate).

My other favourite part of the room is the little radiator shelf made from scrap wood. We rescued some plant pots a while ago from behind someone's house, and there was this little pile of wood sitting sadly next to them, so we gathered it all up together and took it home. They were covered in some sort of awful red-brown paint, but after a bit of sanding and elbow grease, came up with a lovely rustic finish - we've got about ten of them, so I'm thinking maybe some picture shelves, or front facing bookshelves for the kiddos room (when they eventually share...).

It's not perfect, and to be honest, I'm already looking for a different lampshade, but it's calm and tidy and peaceful, and more importantly, it functions well as a room for two-and-a-half people. And you can't argue with that.

This post was written in collaboration with Furniture Choice.
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