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 path.man 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. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Winter patio dressing

rattan garden pots

It's started to get really chilly this week and I switched into winter mode. Looking out of the window at the tree branches stark against grey skies, piles of  leaves on the ground and frosty mornings I thought I need to start tidying the garden so it looks pretty and sparkling for winter.

Because of limited time  I chose to tackle the patio first. The frames I'd grown beans on needed tidying away, my son's outdoor toys putting to rest until spring and a few tender plants needed the warmth of the play shed or wrapping in some fleece - this winter I don't want to lose any plants to the cold. It can start to look a little bare with most plants dying off  -  but I do still have some pink roses blooming! However, everything else was looking a little shabby.

Fortunately I was sent some rattan plant pots, contemporary and gorgeous, ready for planting up with some winter flowers and mini shrubs.  They are a set of three, small, medium and large, and are in a chocolate brown colour; the largest is actually really tall at 90cm, then the middle one is 55cm high and the small one is 45cm. As soon as I opened the box I could tell they were great quality but then I wondered - how much soil are these going to take to fill....? BUT each pot has a plastic pot that sits perfectly inside and this is a lot shallower than the rattan pot. Then I wondered about drainage holes so my plants don't get waterlogged, no problems as each pot has a small stopper that you unscrew - so neat! That plastic insert pot then rests on a aluminium frame inside the main rattan pot. Easy to put together and then ready to plant up. So.....lets go plant shopping.
white hellebore I'd popped into Lidl one evening and found a pack of white Hellebores, also called the Christmas or Lenten rose. They are a perennial which is super as it makes more of a bargain investment for the garden and are a pretty splash of festive white for a winter garden.

On the way back from our day out in Shropshire we had needed some wood for the fire at home and there at the little village store was a trolley of pink Sweet Williams for a couple of pounds, so they were added too. Finally some Euonymus in a pack for about £7.99, different varieties and some have gone into the window boxes.
Chocolate rattan pots Rattan Direct The tallest pot is a bit of an interim planting situation as the height of the pot really lends itself to something more structural so what I want is a small Christmas tree from the markets when we go in the next fortnight. Or perhaps some Christmas Box ( Sarcococca confusa) would look equally as beautiful and give off a scent too, The three pots look great together and once the rest of the patio is clear I want to have them in a row across the dividing wall. Winter in the garden can be so pretty and there is plenty that you can plant for interest, the RHS  provides useful advice on what to choose for containers.

My new pots are pretty sturdy so I hopefully won't have to worry about the wind that gusts its way down the side of the house blowing them over. The rattan is a high quality weave in a lovely deep brown colour that will not fade in the sun. Rattan Direct also sell all kinds of styles garden furniture in a range of colours - bistro and dining sets, loungers for the distant memory of summer! and conservatory furniture plus accessories. The great thing about synthetic rattan is that it is weatherproof  and will not rot in the wet. Perfect for my northern weather!

The three rattan pots are selling for £169 on a special offer, you are kept really in touch with their delivery which is quick and the pots were packaged well. A high quality item to invest in for patio glamour and inspiring me to make our outside area lovely for next year.

winter plant ideas pink Sweet Williams I'm very pleased with the rattan pots and they're a classy addition to the patio. I'm going to pop some bulbs into them this week as I suddenly thought how lovely they'd look in spring with some dark Queen of the Night tulips in them and then in summer, growing salad in the smaller pots would look striking with the green against the chocolate brown. Now to admire them from the kitchen door as it's getting even chillier.......
snowy pots and lantern

*I was sent the rattan plants pots from Rattan Direct for the purpose of the review, words and opinions are my own honest views.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

A cosy Christmas Gift Guide

For the depths of winter cosy treats are required, to wile away the dark days at home. Time to stock up on comforting supplies for yourself or a Christmas gift for friends or family. After the hectic build up to Christmas these items will help you relax and enjoy the season, snuggle up by the fire and grab your favourite book and these lovely items. 

How about a cute cushion, Archie Puppy with his soulful eyes and jolly bow-tie will make a squishy back rest and a place to lay your tired head. It will look very festive and cheery on the sofa too. A lovely pressie for a pooch lover. £16

Look at soft dressing gowns to keep the chills away. A perfect present for anyone at Christmas ans practical too. I also like slankets like the fleecy bear one but I've also got my eye on a luxurious black gown and need to remember that I should be shopping for other people......

Throws are an ideal pressie too for cosying up. In our house one of the dogs always claims them but there would be no chance with the seasonal one I've found, a Nordic Sherpa fleece for £18, gorgeous Scandi style. 

Brew up the kettle and have a cup of tea in this fox mug. I know a few people who love woodland style and this would be ideal. Bargain gift for £10

Thinking of clothes to relax in at home, ladies sportswear is a good place to look for lounging items that will keep you warm and make a great gift for your trendy sporty mate. I like the Nike Sportswear Advance 15 Cape in a rich dark red colour. £60

For a little light to read by and super trendy interior style, I love the Hello Light Box. So popular this year and a great feature for a wall bringing some light into the winter months. £128

Who doesn't love a Yankee Candle and this one called Bundle Up had me feeling all Christmassy from just the colourful image on the front. Think of being out in the snow with your childhood friends with mittens on and winter coat. The jar candles make such a thoughtful present and they last for ages - I even reuse the jars afterwards and pop tealights in them in the garden for a frosty evening twinkle.. £19

Wintery Pine Needle Lights will bring a cosy glow to the room, like little min Christmas trees shining they are so cute and I'd love this across the mantle well into February for a ongoing winter display. £12

🎄Happy Christmas cosy lounging 🎄

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Leaf kicking

playing in autumn leaves Attingham Park entrance little leaf kicker courtyard house Attingham Park dog waiting autumn fungi Autumn Days carved apple woodland walking leaf kicking wild mushrooms cows in the autumn
I'd been thinking about leaf kicking days and crisp air. I'd been thinking about how much my son loves crunching through those leaves with wellies and scooping armfuls up. So, that's what we did.

An autumn carpet, warm clothes and a dry day with all but that slight mist that seems to linger all day. Across the field of cows and through the woodland and along the pathways. Running and cheering and the nearby cows did not mind,  just carried on grazing and looking every so often from under the canopy of trees.

The wellies were making a debut, Star Wars ones for that is all that they had in his size but they look smart and kept little feet dry as they scudded and scampered in the amber heap of leaves. A time to do so for you can blink at this time of year and suddenly it is winter and sludge and bare trees. Today though, cold air biting, mushrooms springing up from logs and mellow happiness.