Friday, 28 June 2013

Our daily bread

Hello dear readers and welcome to new followers!

As you can see I've changed my blog background.  I felt the black, although glamourous and twinkly, was sometimes difficult to I've reverted to the background I used on my previous blog.  I love the watery wash of colour, which I sometimes feel reflects exactly what is going on inside of my head!

My week has been busy.  My middle daughter left for a two month trip to South Africa and the house is considerably quieter without her larger than life presence!

I've been doing a lot of foodie related posts lately - I hope you don't mind...
I love sharing my baking with you.
 I love the idea of making and baking your own bread.  I don't mean throwing it all in a bread making machine and switching the switch, I mean kneading, resting and kneading again and then baking.
It just takes me back to grass roots, how it must have been for women the world over, when most of them grew their own meals and certainly baked their own daily bread.

So this week I've been experimenting because I've only made one other loaf of bread in my life, and it was a recipe from Jamie Oliver's first book, The Naked Chef.

I found a blog called THE FRESH LOAF and I decided to try out his recipes. 
 (It's not only a website, it's an interactive forum where you can leave queries about your bread baking, have them answered and really get to grips with baking bread).
It all came about because I don't really enjoy eating supermarket loaves and my absolute favourite bread is FRENCH BOULE and I was looking for a recipe to make it.

You can just imagine how delicious this bread is!

Turns out the French Boule is for the more experienced baker involving starters etc, so I turned my hand to the easier loaves, lesson one and two on the website!

The dough after 10 minutes of kneading

 After 90 minutes of proving

The loaf - so proud!

The result!

I know life is short and for some, life is way, way too short to bake your own bread!
But it didn't really take that long, 10 minutes of kneading, then put it somewhere warm for 1  1/2 hours and go do something else and then knock it back and leave to rest again...finally you bake it.  The kneading was great - very therapeutic, muscle inducing, a real workout for the arms!

If you do want to bake your own bread
try this recipe - lesson one:


I know it's only bread, but it went down a treat!  Much tastier than any bought bread you will ever buy and without any additives, only flour, water, yeast and salt!

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Dear followers, as you can see I am no techie genius...but I am now on Bloglovin in readiness of 1 July....I've copied many of your blogs over today and will continue to do so until I have you all there.

photo from my daughter's birthday on Sunday.

Happy week!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Dining rooms

Our weather down south has been variable lately and it seems summer has already departed and so my focus is on interior spaces.

I realised going through my blog posts, that I've seldom done a post on dining rooms.
Sometimes it seems like the dining room is obsolete and has been replaced by open plan kitchen/diners.
 A sad room just off the kitchen which collects clutter and looks unloved and a bit like nobody lives there.  No character, no colour and no thought put into the decor.  Small wonder then that nobody wants to eat in there!  

Everything in interior spaces is personal and we all have different tastes and we all use our spaces depending on the size of the family, whether there are children, whether we live formally or more casually, whether we entertain or not.

 But what's the KEY to a great dining space?

A few pointers to keep in mind if you want to change your dining room into somewhere you want to hang out!

  • Don't buy a dining room set with matching chairs unless you're going the formal route
  • Don't go beige
  • Add oversized interesting lighting
  • Add colour either to walls or fabric on chairs
  • Add a statement rug
  • Add great wall art


slightly rustic...




Have a great week!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Flowers and cake!

Hello dear readers! Hope you all had a lovely weekend!
We've had a busy week which started on Wednesday night with preparations for a community meeting afternoon tea on Saturday and ended on Sunday with my eldest daughter's 24th birthday. A birthday in our house is always an opportunity to get together for a family lunch and a huge amount of spoiling.   This is the last birthday in our family until next year.

These flowers come from my friend Irene's garden.  One day I'll do a post on her garden, it's so magical!  My daughter is a real girly girl and she loves pretty feminine things, so I decorated the table in country flowers with a pink theme and faux butterflies.  My other daughter made her sister a chocolate birthday cake.


Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Sunday, 16 June 2013


Yesterday was my birthday.  And most unusual for me, I spent it gardening.  
I don't know my weeds from my plants, but I love pretty gardens and inspired by all those bloggers who have such beautiful cottage gardens I decided it was time to get creative.  A dear friend of mine, who is also an avid gardener spent the day digging and planting with me, hoping her garden magic would rub off on me.  If you were in England yesterday you would know that the wind was blowing a gale, so not a good day for gardening but we decided weeks ago that we would plant a garden on my birthday so despite the wind and threatening rain, we buttoned up and got on with it, helped along with cups of tea and delicious Victoria sponge (I forgot to take a pic of the cake!)

We planted foxgloves, lupins, nemesis, lupinus, geraniums, London Pride, Lavatera Silver cup, and repotted mint, sage and chives into smaller pots, freeing up my terracotta pots for more larger plants I've yet to buy.

On Friday I went thrifting with a purpose.  I was specifically looking for an old chair to add visual interest to the garden and perhaps an old vintage watering can as well.  Lady luck was on my side and I found not only an old dilapidated chair and a working watering can, but a lovely metal trellis/plant holder to put up on the wall with brackets for pot plants.  These herbs below need to be replanted into large container pots.

From pieces of old wood, a frame was made for a makeshift potting table, and I am waiting to find some pieces of worn wood for the table top.  Here's a pic of the trellis, but I'll show you the entire potting table once I've found my wooden planks, in the meantime, I've made a makeshift one.

I've planted rocket and dill in seed trays, hoping that it's not too late for them to take root and my Sweetpea seedlings are inside the house until they are a little stronger and I can plant them in the garden. I've learnt about slug pellets, food for plants and preparing the soil but I've still got such a long way to go...and will my nails ever come clean again??

I'm now on the hunt for a metal stand, like this one... (you see unintentionally my interiors radar is zoned in on the decorative aspect of gardening instead of the actual planting!).  The one below is at quaint little coffee shop owned by a Brazilian/French husband and wife team.  Their tiny courtyard restaurant is so inspirational...a space surrounded by potted hydrangeas, climbing roses and herbs which are used in their dishes.

I've had such a great day!
I never guessed gardening could be such fun!

Have a great week!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Eclectic look

Hello everyone, hope you are all having a wonderful week!

I thought I would talk about eclectic interiors, seeing that it seems to be the buzz word right now.

Actually eclectic interiors have been around long before the word become fashionable in design circles.  Centuries ago, humble abodes were filled with the eclectic look.  Ordinary people didn't have a choice.  Custom made furniture was expensive to have commissioned and they just made do with what they had.   It was only the very wealthy who had the means to commission craftsmen to make up pieces of elaborate furniture.  They were keen to show their prosperity by having identical pieces of furniture made up, like dining room chairs, and dressers etc for displaying their many pieces of bespoke china.  

The ordinary working folk just filled their homes and cottages with hand me downs or gifts from family and well wishes when they set up home. A rustic old chair sourced here, an old table thrown out of some Lord and Lady's kitchen became the elements that made up the inviting but humble kitchen of years gone by. 
Some of us having been 'doing eclectic' for years, long before we knew the meaning of the word!

In recent years there's been a leaning towards a less formal approach to designing and a more casual feel to our spaces.  Although of course there is method to the madness of putting disparate pieces of furniture from different centuries together and ensuring it all looks like it just happened accidentally!

The British love the eclectic look but there are many others who also enjoy decorating this way.
Not sure where this comes but our roots seem to suggest that we feel more comfortable with worn in objects.  
Perhaps it's something to do with nostalgia for times past.   We are so enamoured with our history, that it becomes part of our present and our future.

We are just not too comfortable with a completely formal look.
It puts us on edge.

But for those of  you (me included) who enjoy a muddle of choice pieces arranged together to form a cohesive whole (my own words!) - a few eclectic spaces across the globe to encourage you to mix it up a little!






And my own eclectic style board:

Have a great day!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The gardens

Just lately I've been enjoying a few cycle rides.  Fortunately the weather is playing along and when I see the weather is fine and sunny I hop on my bike for a ride.  

Friday I spent some time in the Victorian rock garden, in Southsea.  
It was built in the 1920s and still survives today.  It's a beautiful tranquil spot just behind the promenade and there are lots of benches where one can sit and read and just enjoy the buzzing of the bees and the birdsong. 
 Unfortunately I am not much of a gardener so I don't know the names of these beautiful flowers.

Rose Garden

My cycle view on the way home.  
To the left just behind the green hill is Henry VIII's castle.  The Mary Rose, his ship, sank just off these shores in 1545.

Friday was also the anniversary memorial of the D-Days landings, and our small seaside town was full of proud war heroes who had come from afar to honour those who had fallen alongside them in Normandy.  I cycled by just as the press arrived, but it somehow didn't seem right to stop and take a photograph.  The one below is from The News.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Saturday Musings and Italian Almond Cake

Every once in a while I deviate from my usual interior post.

This is one of those times.
Saturday was a splendidly sunny, if rather windy day.   Some days you have to plan a get together, other times it simply falls naturally into place.  Saturday was like that. When family gather either to fix the garden shed rooftop, to help mend a puncture on your beloved bicycle or pop in just to say hello, it always seems perfect to round it all off with a good piece of cake and a delicious coffee.  Time to catch up as we munch cake and talk about the week gone by.

This such a delicious alternative to the usual cake made with flour and whole eggs and is one of the easiest cakes I've ever made!
Do try it!

Italian Almond Cake

This is from my book Nigellissima and you'll find the recipe here

Have a great week!