Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas Flowers

Arley Hall This week I am writing my end of term essay for uni and so I haven't been a garden visiting and the weekend was spent at a medieval fayre........Looking back to last year, I never shared the floral extravaganza that I went to at Arley Hall in Cheshire. Each room is filled with flower displays so creative and the feeling is unbelievably festive. There are also Christmas trees, see last year and a little shop that sells jams and chutneys made from the produce of the estate and garden. It's an event I really recommend and it's on the 3rd December!

Now back to my history books and time to get writing that essay.

Christmas flowers Arley Hall seasonal faffing pillar candles winter twigs and moss french stained glass Arley Hall sitting room time and moss Latham roof Arley Hall lights and flowers stately home at Christmas flowers on the mantelpiece glass domed ceilng Arley Hall drawing room at Arley Christmastime Arley Hall Christmas Tree Arley Hall family portraits pink floral arrangement Christmas wood panelling books and leaves Arley Hall sundial

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Winter styling ideas with a Scandi feel

I think winter home styling might be my favourite for it's all glowing lights and nesting with layers and the snug feeling of relaxing in the cosy rooms you have created. The style that I instantly think of is Scandinavian and that fresh simplicity but warmth and that word which I used to love s much but now it's everywhere.......hygge *screams!*

But although the word hygge is now ingratiatingly overused, I still love the ethos and above all I love Scandinavian and winter style and try to recreate elements of it in my own home for Christmas.
Scandinavian snow flakes
Image source
Natural decorations:
Add lots of greenery, wooden decorations and pine cones. This weekend I purchased a small fir tree for the windowsill, a sprinkling of glitter and a little red pot, it may not be snowing outside but I have that wintry feeling. Think of gathered fir and conifer shaped onto wire wreaths and mossy pots of hyacinth. A trip to a local florist or supermarket at this time of year can yield inexpensive greenery to decorate the home with. Zinc tubs of holly and a single fir branch in a glass bottle are so simplistic yet very effective.
greenery wreaths in a window
One Kindesign
My favourite, a gentle source of light for the room from tea lights in lanterns to dinner candles and pillar candles arranged in all sorts of displays using greenery. You can really creative with the moss, pine cones, fir and holly - collect some from a winter's walk or the garden. Sometimes as I'm out and about I'll see bundles of holly being sold on a country lane with an honesty box. Children in the house, be safe and use battery tealights and candles or strings of fairy lights. 
Simple candles for Christmas

Textiles and furniture
A new throw or a new statement piece for the room. Look at designer chairs and homeware to brighten a room up, layer with knitted blankets. I love the crisp feel of reds and whites together for Nordic inspired rooms. The shops are full of cushions with snowflake detail and festive colours in which you can add to a sofa or a bed for a quick seasonal update.
Taverne Agency

The tree of course!
Christmas is on its way and this weekend will be time for me to put the tree up. I'd like to have a smaller tree and pop it in a bucket this year, decorate simply with warm white lights for a simplistic look. I love the dinky trees that you can pick up from the Christmas markets or from the local shops. If you have the room, a tree in the kitchen or the hallway looks really cute and is a pretty welcome for guests. I have a mini tree at the front door which was a bargain supermarket buy that has grown so pot grown trees are worth the investment for future years. 
Small Christmas tree in a kitchen
Willow Decor
Kitchen treats
Frosted cookies in jars and cinnamon sticks add prettiness to gorgeous Christmas scents to the kitchen. Bake a batch of pepparkakor biscuits - orange zest, ginger, brown sugar..... get the cookie cutters out and then ice them with white icing in delicate designs. Each year we like to ice a gingerbread house and I like to leave it a little while, so beautiful as a decoration in the kitchen that I hate to eat it.
Frosted cookie in jars
Vibeke Design
At Christmas market you will find stalls selling lots and lots of these paper lantern stars, different colours, golds and silvers,  and intrinsic paper-cut designs. A Swedish tradition and you could try to make your own to hang in a window. An inexpensive way to bring a hint on Scandinavia to your home

Swedish stars
Planete Deco

*Featured post

Monday, 28 November 2016

A little bit of hair history

Since starting my history post grad I've become interested in so many aspects of history and have become fascinated with some of the people I've read about from royalty to average folk too - what did they wear, what did they do for a living and how did they spend their time. 

How people looked is a particular fascination and one of them is the wigs and the weird and wonderful styles but where did it all start?

Louis XIII of France set the trend for wearing wigs back in 1624. Suffering from premature baldness he had a whole variety of wigs made, such was hair a sign of  status and power, he didn't want to be seen with thinning hair. Hence the long curly wigs and these set a trend within the French court to follow suit and the wig became a familiar sight. The trend found its way over to England with King Charles II and the people followed suit as an expression of wealth.

Portrait of Louis XIII Wikipedia 

Wigs also became practical, head lice in the 17th century was an issue so having your head shaved in order to wear a wig meant that the lice inhabited your wig instead that you could remove an easily pick them out or if the problem got so bad, the wig maker would boil the wigs for a fresh start. Starch powder scented with lavender, orange and orris root (from the iris plant) was used on the wigs to keep away lice and disguise the smell of not being able to clean the wigs very easily.

Wig powder was white and this created a trend of the powdered bright white wig for men - some wigs becoming part of culture with judges and barristers today still wearing them today. 

However, in 1795 the introduction of a tax on hair powder set the trend into decline. What a shame as the variety of wigs must have certainly have been a wonderful sight.
A wig maker powdering a wig in 1775  Museum of London
Popular styles of wigs, hugely flamboyant for the men in the 1700's.

Wig styles 1700's 

From The British Museum © The Trustees of the British Museum. A beau 1700. A beau 1791.

In Tudor times Queen Elizabeth I had worn red wigs as it is said that she lost hair after contracting smallpox but whether this is true or not cannot be verified. However portraits of her certainly show that she wore a wig, probably as a fashion statement and these kept her well know red locks into old age. 
Queen Elizabeth I Wikipedia 
If we skip to Victorian times and look again at the issue of balding we see their marvellous array of hair tonics for curing baldness. Lyon's Kathairon was one such tonic sold in glass bottles and was supposed to restore hair. Other unusual ways to cure baldness Victorian style were rubbing an onion or tea onto your head. Not surprisingly these did not work.

How fortunate we are in the modern era with the latest research into hair replacement. What would Louis XIII make of looking up new techniques and the FUE hair transplant cost. Individual hair follicles are implanted into the head called Follicular Unit Extracting and this has been offered as a permanent solution to hair loss. Amazing stuff and a long way from huge flouncy wigs being the only option or the so called snake oil cures of the 19th century.

All through the centuries we care about how we look and the it's an interesting to see that ultimately people are the same, as I read through history it brings me closer to the people I am reading about because perhaps many of their thoughts would have been much the same as mine. 

*Collaborative post

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Autumn walled garden at Attingham Park

Attingham Park walled garden Where to start with how I feel when I find a walled garden. The promise of horticultural secrets behind the brickwork, the feeling of history, the sense of escape and gaining some enlightenment. They are always clever and meticulous in their design and I find myself noting down ideas in my mind as I walk around - ooh I love that plant label or ooh look at that heirloom beetroot. Old veg varieties with great names like cosmic purple and golden ball. I imagine men with flat caps pushing their barrow around, whistling and off to turn the heated compost.

Here at Attingham Park, Shropshire there's been an exhibition around Digging for Victory, an insight into food production and the staff here during the First World War. The pumpkin scarring was a homage to the wartime phrases - the seeds of victory are the fruits of peace....
Also, how the women took up gardening roles during the war and today all the gardeners here are women.
woman's land army poster autumn flower garden Voluptuous quince and her never tried but sounds wonderful offering of jelly.quince chard in November fennel red everlasting flowers Could almost be Mr McGregor on the walking in the garden Tomato wigwams, must try this neat and ordered approach.tomatoes growing up a frame swede growing The dishes on the endives are to blanch them, as are the bound-up chicory. This is to produce a milder flavour.blanching endives blanching chicory by tying the leaves The flower beds still have plenty going on for November and a chalk sign tells us that these are used in the grand house and the veg are taken to the tea room. Just beautifully planted and if only I could keep my allotment as neat, especially at this time of year. It fills me with inspiration and a renewed interest in next year being the perfect growing season but also shows just how much work a garden and plot is, so I shouldn't be too hard on myself. The powerhouse of the walled garden supplying a huge estate can surely be replicated a little by me: mini plot to semi-detached?pink flowers autumn Wonder what they do with these poster once the exhibition has finished - oh would I love that one on the left for the garden wall.

A great aunt of mine was in the Women's Land Army and the exhibition has prompted me to find out more. There are The Landswoman magazines online to look through, very excited about finding them and can't wait to have a proper look through for more of an insight.

I'm pretty sure that I would have been a land girl with my spade and barrow, singing a tune as I walked to the compost heap....
walled garden wartime posters wind fallen apples
The Landswoman publication

For more garden tales go to How Does Your Garden Grow @ Mammasaurus, 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Christmas at HomeSense

a tale of two Christmas parties Welcome guests into your home for a Christmas party, whether it's a family gathering or a sophisticated soiree for the adults. HomeSense have some wonderful decorations to help transform your home into the Christmas that you desire.......

glitzy Christmas party at home Take off your winter coat and step into a glittering home filled with glamour and glitz. From shimmering baubles that reflect the glow of the fairy lights to shiny platters piled high with decadent chocolate treats. The glassware is out and filled with bubbly and dinner candles add atmosphere to the room. This look is all about drama. Modern geometric baubles for a contemporary look. Layer the metallic tones up;  bronze  or rose gold which have been popular this year with traditional gold and silver. All the beauty of a  luxe Christmas interior for less with items from HomeSense. The gold candelabra is such an elegant focal point for a dinner table or mantle, a timeless piece. Shiny glamour at HomeSense
Gold drop bauble £2.99//Gold bauble £2.99//Bauble tree £14.99//Copper candle £4.99//Metal platter £12.99// Gold cutlery set £9.99// Copper bauble £2.99 //Gold candleabra £49.99 All HomeSense

red Christmas party invitation printable
A family party with heaps of traditional feeling, shimmering Christmas decorations and a homely feel. Eclectic pieces added to over the years and unusual baubles that bring back memories. The classic colours of red and gold with some natural elements too like foliage and wood. A party where everybody is singing cheesy Christmas songs and getting excited about swapping presents. Bring on the Yule log and get the party games going. 

Pretty lanterns with tealights in line the window ledges and the fire is lit, shake the snow globe and dream of sugar plum fairies. This Christmas selection from HomeSense will give you a magical festive season. I particularly love the Nutcracker soldier, such a traditional item and we love listening to The Nutcracker Suite at this time of year.
HomeSense Christmas decorations White star lantern £3.99// Red beaded bauble £2.99// Egg bauble £9.99// Santa snow globe £9.99// Wooden Nutcracker soldier £12.99// Wooden snowflake £7.99// Decorative silver trees £19.99// Festive fruits wreath £9.99// Medium gold reindeer £149.99 All HomeSenseHomeSense Family Christmas
We visited HomeSense at the Trafford Centre but you can find your nearest store here.

The store was an absolute winter wonderland of ideas and I was so spoilt for choice - snow globes, lanterns, hundreds of decorations for every theme. The foodie area was amazing too, you could stock up on all those goodies for the Christmas party - olives, chocolates, Christmas coffee, continental treats. The home furnishings to add to the seasonal look are great, throws with Scandinavian flair and Santa cushions plus more scented candles than I've ever seen. You can absolutely sort all of Christmas out in HomeSense and the staff were helpful too. You can spend so much time in the store, stock is updated frequently and you might need to have a good look around, as I did walking in circles half the time - shall I have the silver lantern or the gold lantern, then my son took a liking to a musical snow globe.....

One of the items I purchased was this unusual metal lantern which reminded me of a little Norwegian elf house, isn't it cute. I've a couple of other items too that I'll show you later this week. 

Do you intend on having any Christmas parties at home this year and how do you decorate your home for the season? 

* I received a voucher to experience the HomeSense Christmas feeling, words are my own honest opinion.