Christmas Decorating with Sainsbury's Home.

Do you use the same Christmas decorations, year in year out, or do you like to upgrade every Christmas? If you’re anything like me then you’ll like the best of both worlds - to keep all of your old favourites and then add a few new pieces each year.

This Christmas, Sainsbury’s Home have come up with three exciting new ranges - Winter’s Mist, Santa’s Town & Very Merry and Woodland Christmas - so you’re bound to find something that will fit right in with your existing favourites.

Winter’s Mist

The Winters Mist range is all about whites and silvers. It’s a paired back, fresh and natural look with hints of green. It’s a timeless look but it never dates or looks old fashioned and, as it’s so natural and simple, it’s easy to mix and match pieces of Winters Mist with other looks.

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My favourites from the Winters Mist range are the Star Candles. I absolutely love the silvered glass container which both reflects the candle light and allows the glow of the candle to show through - the best of both worlds and perfect for creating a grown up sparkle on your Christmas table. The star shape too is an absolute classic and will add interest to any existing glass or star shaped decorations you already have.

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A also particularly love the faux eucalyptus garland and wreath which are a great way of decorating your table or draping around the house. It goes with the Winter’s Mist look but can be used to add greenery to any Christmas look. The benefit of faux of course is that it last all Christmas without wilting, as real foliage would, and you can use it year after year.

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No Christmas is complete without christmas crackers of course and these silver and white dinner crackers will complete the Winters Mist look perfectly.

Santa’s Town and Very Merry
The Santa’s Town and Very Merry range is great fun and perfect for adding to your collection if you have children or are a dog lover. The colours are a bright and playful take on the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and white with a splash of turquoise.

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The decorations can be used to hang on your Christmas tree of course or you could put a twist on tradition by using them as napkin rings,

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To add to your Santa’s Town & Very Merry look you could use traditional candles or you could use these gorgeous and fun light up cloches which are obviously safer than candles.

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I’ve used Bingo Christmas Crackers to style my grown up Very Merry look or you could use these Selfie Game Crackers if you’re entertaining children instead.

Woodland Christmas

The Woodland Christmas range is all about my favourite Christmas look - a rustic, foraged Christmas. There are lots of use of different wooden textures, dried and woody foliage and greenery. It’s the easiest Christmas look to achieve as lots of the accessories can be obtained simply by foraging in your local park or woods. Colours are muted greens, browns and rusts and it’s a very soothing, grown up look.

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To help you to achieve this look use rustic accessories such as the Sainsbury’s Home mini Christmas tree, Woodland wreath and Woodland baubles.

Complete your look candles in your Christmas wreath with these tartan Christmas crackers.

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So whatever your taste, Sainsbury’s Home has Christmas accessories to suit or to add to your existing collection.

Christmas Decorating Trends with Barbour

One of our favourite Christmas traditions is the annual watching of Raymond Briggs The Snowman. The book is 40 years old this year, I have been watching the animation of it every year from childhood and now I continue to watch it with my parents and my own children.

This Christmas, Barbour – glorious British outerwear brand and veritable institution of rural life, - have partnered again with The Snowman and created a campaign with a twist on the original story. 

I was inspired by this partnership to look outside to rural life this Christmas season and bring some of the outdoors indoors. Natural colours, such as greens, rusts and taupes, and wooden textures have been a huge trend recently, along with plants and botanicals, It’s been all about bringing the outside inside and making the home feel at one with nature.

Foraging for Decorations.

There’s nothing I like more than gathering ivy, logs, pine cones, berried branches and leafy twigs on a long walk in the countryside and then decorating my home with the foraged foliage. Another beauty of this trend of course is that most of it costs very little - or even nothing - as long as you know where to look - and remember take a set of secateurs with you!

Foraged foliage wreath.

 Foraged wreath by The Wildgirls.

Foraged wreath by The Wildgirls.


Pine Cone Wall Hanging

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Christmas Florals

Another popular trend that is also in keeping with the ‘outside inside’ theme is the move towards using flowers all year round. Florals have been big news in fashion in recent years and this, together with the improved quality of faux and dried flowers, has meant that flowers are not just a summer theme any more. Bedecking a Christmas tree with faux flowers and using floral embellishments for wrapping is a growing trend and a refreshing change from baubles and tinsel.

Floral Christmas Tree

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Dried Flower Wrapping Embellishments

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Tartan Christmas Table.

Tartan, of course, is a Christmas trend that will never go out of fashion. It’s timeless and traditional and also lends itself well to the ‘outside inside’ theme. Foliage, berries and greenery always look very handsome and majestic when styled with tartan. Use tartan as bows in your tree, ribbon for your wrapped Christmas gifts or as a tablecloth for your Christmas dinner table.

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Whichever theme or trend you decide on for styling your Christmas, it’s always more fun to create it with family and friends and make it part of your family tradition, just like watching The Snowman with your family every year.

This is blog post is part of a paid partnership with Barbour. As always, all views are my own.











Christmas Wrapping with Primark

Christmas is rolling around again with it’s parties, meals and gifts and all the expense that goes with it!

However, wrapping your gifts and making them look wow really doesn’t have to be expensive! Primark recently asked me to try out their Christmas gift wrap range so I popped into my local Primark in Cheltenham for a lovely browse and picked up all of this delicious wrapping for under a tenner. I tried to pick a good mix in order to suit all tastes.

 Primark Wrapping Paper - 10 metre rolls - £1.50 - £2 per roll.

Primark Wrapping Paper - 10 metre rolls - £1.50 - £2 per roll.

Elf

The Elf wrapping paper is perfect for wrapping gifts for kids (young and old!) and is £2 for a 10 metre roll. I wrapped my gift, added red ribbon and then, picking up on the Elf theme and colour scheme, added red, yellow and green Pom Poms to the gift tag. These poms poms are available from any craft store and you just simply glue them in with PVA glue. In the film ‘Elf’, the elves love to eat candy canes so I used this motif to add something extra to the gift wrap too. The candy cane Christmas tree ornament featured here is from Primark, it you can buy the sweet versions inexpensively online. The added bonus of these of course is that the recipient of the gift receives extra gifts as part of the wrapping.

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Gold.

Gold wrapping paper is always a classy statement and you can make it even classier by adding ribbon and evergreen embellishments.

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Simply snip some evergreen from your hedge or the local park - it will last for ages. I also used a tag and gold stickers from the Primark range to make a personalised label - Mums always love that sort of thing.

 Fir Tree.

I love the Nordic look and bringing the outdoors indoors and Primark’s Fir Tree wrapping paper is a great one if you like this too. For this wrap, I used inexpensive garden twine instead of ribbon for a rustic look. I then popped out and snipped some dried cow parsley and grasses that grow abundantly on roadside verges. I tied a few bits of the dried foliage together with the garden twine and taped it to the gift.

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Silver.

Silver is another timeless classic that can be brought up bang to date with monochrome embellishments. For this gift I added black photo corners to the wrapped parcel and inserted a photo of myself to my mum, but you could add a picture of you and the recipient enjoying a happy moment together during the year. The photos can be in black and white to keep with the monochrome scheme, or have it printed in colour if you prefer. It’s a great way of using some of this photos on your phone camera roll and again the wrapping becomes part of the gift.

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The camera bauble is also from Primark.

So, it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to make your Christmas gift wrap look more expensive than it actually is - get crafty with additional stationary or get outside with your secateurs - it’s fun!

This blog post is part of a paid partnership with Primark but, as always, all views are my own.

How I Chose my Love Your Home Sofa

 Love Your Home Ottilie Sofa in Dove Stain Resistant Velvet.

Love Your Home Ottilie Sofa in Dove Stain Resistant Velvet.

Everyone thinks that choosing a new sofa is one of the more fun things about styling your home. We all have our own ideas of a ‘dream sofa’ and getting to that stage of a home or room renovation where it’s time to choose the sofa often marks the end of the stressful (and often boring bit) where it’s been all about getting the electrics right and deciding on the height of the skirting boards (yawn).

However, choosing that sofa can also be pretty tricky. There’s so much on offer and there’s so many boxes to tick. Where to start? Well, I think the best place to start is with this question - is it going to be a 5, 10 or 20 year sofa? In other words, how long do you want this sofa to last? This will depend on your current circumstances of course - are you a student or a space starved millennial? Are you planning on having kids in the near future or are you in a rental that you’re not allowed to decorate? This will help you to define the colour (trendy or timeless), fabric (washable or more luxurious), style (trendy or traditional) and price range that you go for.

I’m not a 5 year sofa girl and never have been. I like my furniture to work hard for my money plus, with recycling and zero waste on everyone’s agenda, I don’t want to buy anything that I’ll be chucking out in 5 years time. Even when I bought my first (tiny) house I didn’t buy a new sofa - I bought a second hand one from a friend.

So my natural frugality, together with the fact that I needed a sofa that’s going last at least 10 years anyway, was my guiding force. I needed it to be practical as I have three adolescent children at home and - guess what, folks? - they’re any less messy than they were as toddlers! OK they’re not smearing rusks into the furniture any more but they are still spilling their drinks and dropping ketchup soaked chips all over the place. And the dog isn’t much better!

I was so ready for a bit of luxury though and have lusted after a velvet sofa for years. Obviously velvet is not compatible with the lifestyle of my household as described above but I’d been really excited to read about Stain Resistant Velvets at Love Your Home. Not only does it not bruise or show water marks, you can wash the seat cushions covers in the washing machine at 40%. As Love Your Home say themselves ‘The Stain Resistant Velvet really is perfect for families with children and pets, who want that luxurious look while remaining practical’. Hellooooo - it has my name all over it. It also has a very high Martindale rub test of 100,000 of you’re into statistics like that.

 Massive range of colours and fabrics at Love Your Home

Massive range of colours and fabrics at Love Your Home

So that was the fabric chosen. Now for colour. I’m really into naturals and neutrals as you may have noticed from my Instagram account. This not because I dislike colour, quite the opposite actually, I love all colour and find it difficult to settle on one. I would very happily choose a pink or yellow sofa, or the gorgeous rust colour that’s on trend at the moment, but I KNOW I’d get bored with it in a few months. This is why I go for neutrals - I know myself and will simply add coloured cushions and accessories to accent the sofa rather than going for a solid colour block.

 Ottilie Sofa in Turmeric Mohair Velvet.

Ottilie Sofa in Turmeric Mohair Velvet.

Neutral colours comprise of whites, blacks, taupes and greys and I chose Dove a pale warm grey. My thinking was that it was just dark enough to disguise any marks but light enough not to dominate the room. Dark colours are obviously very practical but also make a piece of furniture seem bigger and more dominant. I wanted to keep the room airy. I also chose grey, as opposed to taupe, to contrast with the old pine floorboards we have in the house. This contrast shows the floorboards off to their best advantage whereas a taupe sofa next to the floorboards would have looked wishy washy. Lisa Dawson and I always say on our Styling Your Home workshops to make the most of what you house offers you first, i.e. original features, natural light and proportions. In my case the original Victorian pine floorboards and the high ceilings are a much loved feature of my house and I wanted a sofa that would compliment them.

 Grey is a brilliant foil for natural wood tones.

Grey is a brilliant foil for natural wood tones.

The next choice to make was the style of sofa. We wanted something that all 5 of us can snuggle up on and we also know we loved the chaise style sofa. Love Your Home has many styles on offer and I genuinely love them all. I opted for the Ottilie Chaise Corner Sofa because it was large enough for all the family but the proportions are relatively dainty - the arms are slim, for instance - which makes it look less dominant and keeps the airy look I was looking for. Also is allows for more lounging room! The airy feeling is also helped by the colour choice and the tall legs (rather than a solid base) which makes the sofa look like it’s floating.

So those are the reasons I chose the Ottilie in Dove Stain Resistant Velvet. And I chose Love Your Home to work with after a long search for a sofa company that ticked off all of my following requirements:

- Superb quality sofas - all of the elements of the sofa structure look and feel top quality. Fabrics are sourced directly from third-and-fourth generation European mills, and the method for making them stain resistant occurs in the dying and not afterwards.

- Large choice of styles and fabrics - the choice is varied but not overwhelming and you can choose up to ten free fabric samples ahead of making your choice.

- Sustainability - the frames are made with sustainably-produced beechwood.

- Beautiful designs - there simply isn’t a single unstylish design in the whole range.

- Reasonable prices - nothing eye watering here!

- Excellent customer service - from start to finish the service is friendly, helpful and reliable and you get a no quibble 14 day return guarantee if you’re not completely happy.

But Love Your Home also do another pretty unique thing - they let you tweak the dimensions of their standard sofa designs. We tweaked the length of our Ottilie sofa - standard sizes are 250cm and 310cm but we had it made to 280cm to perfectly fit the available space in our front room. As well as tweaking dimensions, you can also have it made in a fabric supplied by you, and you can also tweak things like finish, stitching, piping, cushion pads, fabric mixes or upholstery.  Being able to specify a personalised sofa this way is also a brilliant thing as an interior designer and would usually cost a lot more than the 10% that Love Your Home charge.

So, even though sofa shopping can be tricky, my sofa journey with Love Your Home was nothing but a pleasure. Their showroom in Godalming is a beautiful hidden gem but if you can’t make it there, then their website is brilliantly easy to navigate.

Finally, although our sofa was #gifted, I did loads of research on sofa brands before I approached Love Your Home. Their brand was the only one that really offered the personal service I was looking for as well as quality furniture. The owners Leigh and Abi are passionate about their business and have had long careers steeped in style and design. I honestly wouldn’t recommend their products and service if I wasn’t convinced of it’s high quality. If you’re looking for a new sofa then check them out - I won’t be looking anywhere else for sofas for the forseeable!





The Kitchen Garden at Nova Food

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Nova Food is a super cool food destination in the heart of Victoria, SW1. Just two minutes' walk from Victoria Station, it brings together some of London's most exciting eateries including Timmy Green, Shake Shack, Franco Manca and Aster.

Until 8th September, Nova Food has transformed into a botanical haven with the launch of a new immersive pop-up, The Kitchen Garden.

Londoners and visitors alike are invited to come and explore the five unique zones that will make up this calming sanctuary in the city:

·         The Herb Garden, home to a variety of beautiful and aromatic plants which nod to  Nova’s culinary offering

·         The Lavender Lounge, a quiet reflective space for Londoners to unwind

·         The Secret Garden, a hide-away corner for fitness and wellbeing activities

·         Shed Sessions, a showcase of the amazing brands on offer in Nova Food, with pop-ups and workshops throughout the three week activation

·         The Centre Stage, where locals and commuters can enjoy performances from the comfort of a deckchair

The garden has been brought to life with a host of activities to help people relax and recharge, helping to restore busy Londoners’ health and wellbeing. These include:

·         A programme of meditation classes hosted by Re:Mind;

·         A vegan discussion panel hosted by Nova’s newest resident, 1Rebel;

·         Exclusive performances & Q&A’s from the stars of London’s best-loved musicals;

·         Live music to wash away those evening commute blues;

·         Weekend yoga life drawing classes with Yogi illustrator Kate Philipson;

·         Themed cocktails and wine tasting from some of your favourite bars and restaurants;

·         Inspiring shed makeovers by moi; 

·         Mindful gardening and relaxation workshop with Claire Ratinon.

To celebrate the event, I was invited to style up three sheds in keeping with the mindful and healthy living theme of The Kitchen Garden. 

The first shed is called ‘Woodland Summerhouse’ and is designed as an escape from the hustle and bustle of London life. Dine with friends amongst nature and let the aromatic lavender, eucalyptus and rosemary around the shed help you to de-stress and relax. 

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The second shed is a bar called ‘Botanical Escape’.  Enjoy a drink surrounded by lush and aromatic greenery, designed to make you feel like you’re in a magical woodland oasis.

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The third shed is a bar called ‘Rustic Coastal Escape’.  Enjoy a relaxing drink surrounded by delicate dune grasses and rustic coastal plants and textures such as dried hydrangeas, seagrass and oyster shells, a refreshing antidote to the London cityscape.

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All the sheds are designed as calming escapes from city life and will be used as pop up venues by Nova Food retailers throughout the event.

Ticketed events will cost just £5 per person, with all proceeds going to The Cardinal Hume Centre, a local charity which provides support to local homeless people and families in need.

A full schedule of activities can be found here on The Kitchen Garden events page, where you can also book your place onto our special activities. For more information, check out Instagram by searching @createvictoria and #TheKitchenGardenNova.

The Kitchen Garden Schedule

Opening times:

·         Monday to Friday: 10am to 8pm

·         Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 7pm

Upcycling with Aldi

I'm a massive fan of Aldi - I do all my food shopping there and I pride myself on the both the speed of my packing (I can beat the check out staff!) and always managing to get the weekly shop in for under £100 - pretty good for a family of five (and I really need to get out more I know)!  Anyway, £100 for the weekly shop is generally achievable as long as I've managed to avoid what I call 'The Aisle of Temptation' - that's the aisle in the centre of every Aldi store where that weeks special buys are displayed. Special buys comprise of things like sports equipment, gardening equipment or camping equipment and so on, depending on the season. Well this week, I'm afraid, you're going to have no chance of avoiding 'The Aisle of Temptation' because as from today it's UPCYCLING week and Aldi are selling affordable versions of everything you need to upcycle a piece of furniture  - from fabric to power tools, they've got it all.

To mark upcycling week, Aldi asked me and three other bloggers to upcycle a piece of furniture using some of their upcyclng range. They also threw in the challenge of then selling the upcycled item and donating the money to the charity Teenage Cancer Trust.

As posh coffee at home is becoming such a big thing, I decided to up-cycle a console table and change it into a Home Barista Station! So, I purchased an inexpensive but good quality console table in plain white.

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The console had a glossy finish so I sanded it down with my Aldi Detail Sander

 Let me at those power tools! 

Let me at those power tools! 

This gives a smooth surface and provides a good 'key' for the paint to adhere too. I then painted the console with two coats of Aldi Chalk Paint  - White.

 It's all in the preparation. 

It's all in the preparation. 

I then lightly sanded the console again after the second coat of paint using fine grit sandpaper.

 Since turning 50, Dee was finding she was having to massively up her exfoliation game.

Since turning 50, Dee was finding she was having to massively up her exfoliation game.

I then removed the existing chrome handles with the Aldi 3.6V Pivot Handle Screwdriver and sprayed them copper with Aldi Decostyle Spray Paint. I also bought six chrome cup hooks and sprayed them copper too.

 Begone, boring chrome. 

Begone, boring chrome. 

Whilst the copper items were all drying, I painted the console table with Aldi Chalk Paint - Dove.

 Rob had 40 fits when Dee failed to put newspaper down to protect the floor.

Rob had 40 fits when Dee failed to put newspaper down to protect the floor.

When this was dry, I sprayed the top of the console table with two coats of Aldi Decostyle Stone Effect Spray Paint - Dark Stone.

 This is cool stuff!

This is cool stuff!

 Cardboard floor protection down now. 

Cardboard floor protection down now. 

I then gave the whole unit a coat of Aldi Furniture Wax.  This hardens to make a much more durable finish.

 Very important stuff.   

Very important stuff.

 

Once this was dry, I re-attached the drawer handles using the Aldi 3.6V Pivot Handle Screwdriver. I also attached the 6 cup hooks.

 Not my hairy hands.

Not my hairy hands.

To finish the Home Barista Station, I up-cycled some old pots and jam jars to use as straw and sugar holders, with a variety of Aldi paints and sprays.

 No use crying over spilt milk.

No use crying over spilt milk.

And here's the finished item! A Home Barista Station! Well, a useful cupboard to all of your coffee paraphernalia together at least. And new faffing opportunities as well!

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I're really enjoyed up-cycling this piece and trying out all of the Aldi kit. I was particularly impressed with the power tools - really good kit for the price and they come with lots of accessories too!  I didn't get to use the staple gun, the fat quarters or the stencilling kit but I'm sure I'll find a use for them soon!

The Home Barista Station is for sale now and all proceeds will be donated to Teenage Cancer Trust. If you'd like to bid, DM me via Instagram Dee Campling with your bid by Tuesday 31st July 10pm and the highest bidder wins! (Immediate payment via Paypal needed, buyer to collect or arrange courier from Cheltenham.)

This blog post was sponsored by Aldi UK, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Affordable Art Fair

As a long time homeowner and interior stylist, I'm passionate about decorating homes in a way that makes the owner feel happy and relaxed and that also doesn't break the bank. There's absolutely no need to spend a fortune on any interior item - the key is to work out your core style, become confident with that style and spend money only on items that suit your core style. This discovery of your core style is usually a journey involving trial and error, but more importantly, it's about developing an awareness of what really makes your heart sing and why. 

 What's your core style -  a perfect example of eclectic interior style here at Artist Residence, London, with some kickass art on the walls too.

What's your core style -  a perfect example of eclectic interior style here at Artist Residence, London, with some kickass art on the walls too.

I'm not an art expert by any means (I got halfway through an Open University Art History degree before abandoning it to have children) but exactly the same rule applies to buying art in my opinion - buy what makes your heart sing. In recent years the availability online of posters and prints has gone through the roof and, at the same time, the trend for gallery walls has really taken off with people buying prints galore to add to their gallery walls. And those gallery walls are getting bigger and bigger - growing as far and as fast as the homeowners confidence grows in their own style.

 Go as big and bold with your gallery wall as your core style allows. Propping art against the wall and displaying sculpture on the floor? That's fine too!

Go as big and bold with your gallery wall as your core style allows. Propping art against the wall and displaying sculpture on the floor? That's fine too!

But did you know that for the same price as many posters and prints you can buy a piece of original or limited edition art? In recent years the Affordable Art Fair has been bringing art to a far wider audience at their regular art fairs held around the world. The fairs are beautifully curated and displayed and are a visual feast for the eyes. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the choice, there's plenty of friendly help available from AAF staff and gallery owners. The price range of the art on offer is wide but there are many pieces for under £500 and under £250. The Affordable Art Fair asked me to come along to their London Hampstead fair last week and choose some art for £250. Here's a couple of the many pieces that jumped out at me while I was browsing around the beautiful marquee.

 Hanging Around 1  - Victoria Heald. Oil and Acrylic on board. 61cm x 61cm.I love how this ordinary, casually dressed person is suspended against a glamorous gold backdrop.

Hanging Around 1  - Victoria Heald. Oil and Acrylic on board. 61cm x 61cm.I love how this ordinary, casually dressed person is suspended against a glamorous gold backdrop.

 After Modigliani by Hock Tee Tan. Chinese Ink and Oil Pastel. 80cm x 110cm.

After Modigliani by Hock Tee Tan. Chinese Ink and Oil Pastel. 80cm x 110cm.

After much browsing and debate, I chose two pieces of limited edition art with my £250 voucher.

 Lips by Andrew J Millar. 24 carat gold leaf on Polaroid.

Lips by Andrew J Millar. 24 carat gold leaf on Polaroid.

I chose this limited edition by Andrew Millar partly because I have always loved collage and I've never before seen the effect he's achieved with gold leaf and Polaroid.

 Detox III  - Marcelina Amelia.

Detox III  - Marcelina Amelia.

I chose this Marcelina Amelia limited edition partly for it's simple but bold lines and the enigmatic half face.

But mostly I chose those pieces because the ideas behind each of them connected with me. A while ago I read this blog post on choosing art by Lorraine Aaron of Curious Egg and she sums it up perfectly:

'You are the most qualified person to decide what art goes into your home. It's up to you to decide if you are interested in the idea or not - that's what makes buying art so subjective because we're all interested in different things. When that idea connects with you it's like magic and it creates a little spark. Every time you look at the artwork, the connection will recharge and you'll know that it holds within it someone's personal message that you received in your own way'.

Because of this I already know that I'll love and treasure these pieces for longer than if they were just prints. And they didn't cost much more than a print.

 The chosen pieces in my home. The Marcelina Amelia piece needs framing!

The chosen pieces in my home. The Marcelina Amelia piece needs framing!

Another beauty of the Affordable Art Fair is that you can now buy the art that's shown at the fairs all year round on the Affordable Art Fair website shop . There are over 6000 pieces available from the shop and you can filter your search in any way - by  price, colour, genre to name but a few. I heartily recommend an undisturbed romp around the website to see what catches your eye and resonates with you. Read the story behind the art.  I've made a start for you with my Top Ten Edit. In the unlikely event that you don't like the art you've chosen once it's in situ, the Affordable Art Fair offers a 14 day free returns policy. 

I really loved my insight into the Affordable Art Fair. I think it's briliiant that both established and emerging artists have this platform to grow from, and that people now have easy access to all sorts of art whatever their budget or interior style.

This blog post was sponsored by AAF but as always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Emma Mattress

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A while ago Emma Mattress asked me if I'd like to try one of their mattresses in the size of my choice.  As we were redecorating our daughters room at the time I asked for a single one for her as her old mattress was well overdue a replacement. 

I'd never actually heard of Emma so while we were waiting for the mattress to arrive I did a bit of research into Emma and discovered the following:

  • Emma was founded in 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany.
  • Emma matresses are made in the UK.
  • Emma mattresses were voted 'Best Buy 'Mattresses 2017 by Which Magazine.

The mattress arrived quickly after ordering  - it's rolled up in a box and really easy to carry and unpack.

We let it unfurl for a couple of hours and then installed it in my daughters room.Straight away the bed looked cosier.

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Not only did it look cosier - lying down on it was a revelation. I've honestly never laid down on anything comfier! To me, the mattress delivers that elusive holy grail - the perfect softness but at the same time very supportive. I immediately regretted not asking for the king sized version of the mattress for myself and looked into how Emma had achieved designing such a comfortable mattress.

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Emma have managed to make the most comfortable mattress ever by combining layers of memory foam, cold foam, pocket springs and Airgocell. This combination adapts itself to your body type and gives the maximum amount of comfort. It also keeps you cool. It's like sleeping on a highly supportive cloud!

Anyway, I was so impressed that I emailed Emma and asked them if they would consider collaborating with me on a king sized mattress for my own bed. Luckily for me they said yes and one is winging it's way to me as we speak!

The beauty of Emma too is that they offer a 100 night trial to see if you're happy with it. A mattress is a big investment and a good one can make a huge difference to your well being. If you've spent a lot of money on one that's not helping you rest, then that's a big cost both financially and healthwise. I know I operate far much better in my day if I've slept well the night before. In the unlikely event that the Emma mattress is not for you then you can send it back within the first 100 days for free for a full refund. I don't think you can get a better guarantee than that!

Anyway, my daughter is really enjoying sleeping on her Emma mattress and I often find her reading in bed now as it's just the comfiest place in the house for reading. I can't wait for my Emma mattress to arrive too. Emma have given me a discount code to share with you DEE110 which gives you £110 off any size mattress. Click here to go straight to their website.

This blog post was sponsored by Emma but, as always, I would never accept a collaboration with a brand I didn't truly believe was of a very high standard.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner in Winter with Denby Pottery

January - the one month of the year when I think it's perfectly acceptable to hibernate as much as possible. It's cold outside, it's not light until 8am and it's dark again by four. You can't go anywhere without donning lots of layers and it seems to take much longer to get to places when the weather is dark, freezing and wet. It's so much easier to stay in but it's also very easy to stay in too much and get down in the dumps. I think it's much better to embrace the season and make the most of what it has to offer with bracing walks in the countryside followed by cosy get togethers and meals, indoors by the woodburner, with friends and family.

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I'm lucky enough to live in the beautiful Cotswolds and there are picturesque walks starting pretty much from my doorstep. We wrap up super warm with jumpers, coats, scarves and hats and pop on our walking boots or wellies. My husband's favourite motto for life is 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes' and off we trot, regardless of the weather. We also have a dog, Ted, who is not at all fussy about the weather - he just wants to get out there! We round up friends and family and their children and convince them to come with us. Children are much better at long walks when they have the company of other children we've learnt (by bitter experience!)

 Photo: The Cotswolds by @cotswoldsgent

Photo: The Cotswolds by @cotswoldsgent

Denby Pottery has been making tableware for over 200 years so they definitely know what they're doing! And it's always a pleasure to serve food to your guests on good quality crockery - it makes your guests feel more welcome and special. Quality crockery like Denby also helps to elevate the look of the food to the next level - always useful when you're cooking is as average as mine! I tried the Denby Natural Canvas Range and I love it's elegance and simplicity. It also mixes and matches with all of our other crockery and glassware.

 Denby 'Natural Canvas'.

Denby 'Natural Canvas'.

When we get back from our walk, usually cold and wet, it's really preferable to have dinner waiting with no further effort needed and the best way to achieve this is by leaving a casserole cooking slowly in the oven. I've been using the Denby 'Halo' 26cm Cast Iron Casserole to cook chicken casseroles in the oven while we're out. Left on a low heat for a few hours, this cast iron casserole dish cooks the food perfectly and then keeps it hot on the table while you're serving up (and serving up seconds, hopefully!). It's good looking enough to be left out on the dining table.

Here's one of my recent successful receipes - Coq Au Vin. It serves six and can all be thrown in the cast iron casserole dish and cooked slowly on a low heat in the oven for three hours.

6 medium chicken breasts

1 bottle Merlot

12 shallots

150ml chicken stock

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp tomato puree

250g mushrooms

2 Rosemary sprigs, 2 Thyme sprigs.

 Denby 'Halo' Casserole

Denby 'Halo' Casserole

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Fresh air, good food and good company really are the perfect way to keep the winter blues at bay and Denby make it both beautiful and easy with their good looking but practical tableware. 

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Cuckooz - Hoxton.

I recently stayed at the Cuckoos property in Hoxton. Cuckoos are a collection of serviced apartments dotted around London with an emphasis on it being a home from home. I think I've probably spoken before about how I can't bear to stay anywhere ugly. I can't work out the point of spending a lot of money on staying somewhere that is not as nice as your own home! It should always be at least slightly better (I know that sounds so pompous!) and so I was delighted when I heard that Cuckooz properties are all designed by interior designers,

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Sure enough, as soon as you walk into the apartment, you feel immediately at home and positively energised by the decor. The Hoxton apartment was designed in collaboration with Camille Walala, a French artist known for her powerfully positive digital print. Her signature tribal pop style certainly puts a smile on your face and gives the apartment such a fresh feel.

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The master bedroom is large and spacious, with french doors onto the patio, plenty of storage space and a wondrous en suite bathroom. And Camille Walala's decor carries on through the whole apartment to the second bedroom which is also amply sized. Everywhere was spotlessly clean.

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The main bathroon is next to the second bathroom and is amply stocked with lovely Bamford products. The decor is all pulled together by the spacious and imposing hallway.

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The playful black stripes were all painted by hand and are a brilliant example of how to create a striking look without spending a lot of money.

Hoxton itself has a vibrant arts and entertainment scene and has mostly shrugged off it's rough and ready image associated with it's past.

We loved staying at this Cuckooz apartment in Hoxton - it was beautifully  decorated and furnished with everything you might need. The surrounding area is so interesting and well worth a visit in it's own right, or as a springboard into central London with it's excellent transport links. I'd stay here again in a heartbeat.