January 21st, 2014
Bird images are a design classic, and these cushions are a great way of bringing a touch of spring to your living room, bedroom or conservatory. Whether your taste is for realistic, cute, quirky or kitsch, there’s sure to be something in our top ten picks to help you feather your nest. In fact, why not spread your wings a little and indulge in a whole aviary of our avian classics?
1. Retro bird cushions, Magpie
These gorgeous 1950s-inspired cushions come in lovely muted colours such as sea green and mid blue, and are available in four designs: robin, thrush, wagtail and blue tit. Each cushion features a different and complementary design on the back as well, so you get two for the price of one. £20 each from Magpie.
2. Applique bird cushion, Aspace
Unashamedly cute, this appliqued cushion featuring a trio of patchwork birds is almost too ‘tweet’ to be true. A perfect accessory for a little girl’s room, it’s £28 from children’s furniture specialist Aspace.
3. Embroidered owl cushion, Barbara Coupe
This beautiful embroidered owl has such a friendly, cheeky expression it’s a shame to sit on it! The classic design in black and white will complement any décor, both traditional and modern. £65 from Barbara Coupe.
4. Canary cushion, The French Bedroom Company
We love the strong, striking colours of this silk-cotton blend cushion, £60 from The French Bedroom Company. It would make a real statement against white bed linen, or mix it with other brightly coloured cushions and pile it on a sofa for an opulent Oriental look.
5. Eagle Cushion, Story North
This stunning, realistic eagle will be a real talking point. Designed by Danish company by nord Copenhagen, you can almost hear the swish of the wings as the bird of prey hovers just before the dive. Available from Story North, £85.
6. Peacock cushion, Living It Up
The jewel colours and simple design of this ‘Patrick’ cushion make it a firm favourite. and while it would suit any room in the house, we think it would work particularly well in a conservatory or summerhouse. The tail is made from real peacock feathers, giving it a lovely tactile feel. £35 from Living It Up.
7. Owl cushion, Hunkydory Home
Another bright statement piece, this quirky owl is printed onto white canvas for maximum durability. Designed by British illustrator Lucie Sheridan, the cushion costs £26 from Hunkydory Home.
8. Lovebirds Cushion, Naken Interiors
If you prefer clean, contemporary designs then this Lovebird cushion is for you. Printed onto organic white cotton, it would make a lovely Valentine’s or anniversary present, or just a little treat for the house. £54 from Naken Interiors.
9. Humming bird cushion, Alison at Home
If your tastes run more to the exotic, how about this beautiful humming bird design? Based on botanical illustrations, the design is full of colour and movement. £34.50 from Alison at Home.
10. Grouse cushion, Cotswolds Trading
This classic linen cushion features a watercolour illustration of a grouse. The reverse is made from houndstooth check fabric for a quality finish, and the whole result is understated and elegant. £32.50 from Cotswolds Trading.
January 17th, 2014
If your nesting instinct is kicking in, and you’re looking for new furniture or home accessories, then take advantage of buying during sale time. Here are this week’s Fab Friday Bargains.
Start the day with freshly brewed coffee, drunk from a Sabre Mademoiselle turquoise espresso cup. It’s made from porcelain and is now only £1.88 (was £6.25) from Amara.
Relax in comfort, on a large Sienna sofa, in the linoso steel colour. It’s reduced to £879 (was £1,100) at John Lewis.
Give your lights a designer look, with a half glazed lamp shade, designed and made in the UK by Nick Fraser. The faceted terracotta pendant shade is dip glazed on the outside, and white inside. It’s now £19 (was £49) at Toast.
Revive the look of your furniture by changing the handles. The compass design knob is now £3.95 (was £6) at Anthropologie
Liven up your wall, with a limited edition print of captain puffin. It’s now £20 (was £25) from Vicky’s World.
Never miss the bus or train in the morning again, with the help of a talking alarm clock. It’s a must-have wake-me up accessory, at only £5 (was £10) at Habitat.
Add the crisp and refreshing scent of clean cotton into your home, with this Yankee Candle clean cotton signature range reed diffuser. It’s now £8 (was £13) from Very.
Extra discount deal
* Get an extra 20% off all sale items from Anthropologie, by quoting “EXTRA20” at the checkout.
January 16th, 2014
There’s something luxurious about sinking down onto a velvet sofa. We’ve been hankering after the Graham and Green velvet sofas for some time and now they’re in the sale, couldn’t help but drool over them again.
They’re available in a lovely selection of colours and designs, including rich purples, vibrant pinks and moody blues. If velvet doesn’t set your heart a flutter, other fabric finishes are available too.
There’s the 50s inspired Della sofa, with its dainty tapered legs:
Or the Deep Dream sofa, designed by Jamie Graham, that looks like it would envelop you with cosiness:
Both look glorious – stunning statement pieces of furniture, with plenty of comfort and practical use ahead of them.
January 14th, 2014
A combination of the wintery weather and the post-Christmas blues mean we’re been feeling a bit chilly this month, so it’s off to the kitchen to whip up a batch of our favourite warming recipes.
For a winter’s breakfast, it’s got to be porridge, the ultimate comfort food. There are heaps of variations, so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste, and it’s easy to make. It’ll take about five minutes, so start it off as soon as you come down in the morning, then by the time you’ve made a cup of tea it’ll be ready to go.
You’ll need 50g of porridge oats and 350ml of water per person. Put them both in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir until the water comes to the boil. Turn the heat down, and simmer for about four minutes until the porridge thickens. Serve to taste with brown sugar, golden syrup, Greek yoghurt, fresh berries, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or whatever you like. For a creamier taste, replace half the water with milk.
To serve your porridge in style, treat yourself to one of these gorgeous stoneware bowls (above), £12.50 from Drift Living.
Or how about these Bohemian breakfast bowls, £35 for a set of four from Berry Red?
For lunch, may we suggest this incredibly easy vegetable soup? It’s great for using up odds and ends of vegetables, and you can flavour it however you want. To serve four, you’ll need two large onions, six to eight carrots, a couple of parsnips, two large potatoes and a litre of vegetable stock.
Slice the all vegetables into chunks, and gently fry them with butter in a large saucepan until they take on some colour. Add the stock, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. When the vegetables are tender, transfer the soup to a food processor and puree until smooth. If it’s a bit too thick, add a little more stock and adjust the seasoning. To jazz it up a bit, serve with a drizzle of cream, a few chopped chives, some croutons and some crusty bread. You can add pretty much any vegetables you like, but keep away from bitter tasting veg such as winter cabbage and sprouts. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, shallots, leeks and broccoli all work well.
Add a little dash to a plain soup by serving it in these cute polka dot soup bowls, complete with lids and their own spoon. £6.99 each, from My Gift Tree.
Create the perfect blend with this cheerful red Guzzini G-Plus blender. Was £70, now £63 from Red Candy.
For the perfect warming meal, try our easy chicken curry. For four people, you’ll need:
- two large, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
- 3 tablespoons readymade masala paste
- 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Crush the ginger and garlic together in a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Fry the onion and chilli in the oil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down add the masala paste and the ginger paste and cook everything together for a couple of minutes.
Add the chicken, chilli powder and turmeric and cook until the chicken is coloured and sealed. Then add a little boiling water and cook over a low heat until the chicken is tender, adding more water periodically if it looks a little dry. Serve with plain rice.
Guaranteed to cheer up a grey day, these handmade and hand painted Lulu plates (above) cost £21.50 each from Boutique Provençale.
Create your own curry pastes and spice blends with this personalised marble pestle and mortar. From £29.99, Getting Personal.
January 12th, 2014
January in the UK isn’t always the most cheerful of months; the excitement of Christmas is over, and spring is still a long way off. Now’s the time, though, to finish up the last of those lingering garden jobs and have a final tidy up before the growing season. If you don’t already make your own compost, this is also a great time to get started as compost made now should be ready to use in the autumn.
First you’ll need either a compost bin or a heap. Heaps are fine, but are messier than bins and harder to keep under control. Bins can be homemade or purpose-bought, and should be sited in a well-drained, level area and placed directly on the soil.
We like this wooden easy-access compost bin, from garden specialists Primrose – it’s affordable (£26.95 to £39.95, depending on size), and features removable slats so that you can fill it easily.
What can be composted?
Compost is a mixture of kitchen and garden waste, and you can also add small amounts of paper and cardboard. The trick is to keep a good mixture of ‘green’ waste (vegetable peelings, used tea bags, coffee grounds, grass cuttings) and ‘brown’ waste (wood shavings, shredded leaves, paper, cardboard, woody plant stems, crushed egg shells). The ideal compost ‘recipe’ is to use half brown and half green.
Keep this stylish caddy, available in slate, ivory, apple green and cream, in your kitchen as fill it as you cook. £20 from Lily and Lime.
To start off a brand new heap, use grass cuttings, straw or, if you can, a layer of horse manure to give a bit of bulk.
What can’t be composted?
Cooked food scraps shouldn’t be composted, as they’ll break down slowly and attract pests (you may be able to put cooked scraps out for the birds, though). Raw meat or fish or cat litter are also unsuitable.
The ‘cool’ heap compost method
This is the easiest way of creating compost, and really just means adding bits of waste and scraps as you along, and trying to keep the balance roughly right. Compost made in this way is very nutritious, but may take a long time to be ready to use.
The ‘hot’ heap compost method
If you need to speed things along a bit, you can take your cool heap pile and accelerate it. Fork the heap into a container, and between every few forkfuls, water the contents of the bin to keep it damp. When the bin’s full, cover it and leave it for a few days, and you should find it gets hot.
At this point, give the contents a really good mix to let the oxygen get to the middle of the pile and kickstart the composting process. You can repeat this step several times if you like, the more times you do it the less time the compost will take to be ready.
If that all sounds a bit too much like hard work, how about this tumbling composter, £78.95 from Primrose as above? Just load it up, and turn the handle for well-mixed compost.
When to use compost in your garden
With the cold heap method, you’ll probably find that the bottom of the pile is ready before the top, so you can just start using it from the bottom. When it’s ready, compost should be dark brown, crumbly and have a faint earthy smell.
With a hot heap, all the compost will be ready at once. The best time to use it in the garden is spring or autumn, and you can use it to enrich existing soil, pot plants or grow seedlings.
January 10th, 2014
The January sales have brought with them plenty of homeware bargains. If it’s new cushions you’re after, here are five fab Friday bargains that fit the bill for funky designs, cushiony softness and tempting prices.
1. Celebrate your love of biscuity goodness and get 20% off novelty biscuit cushions. Choose from Party Ring, Jammy Dodger or Custard Cream designs. They’re now £17.60 each from Lisa Angel Homeware and Gifts.
2. Not just a pretty picture, this is a cushion with an actual moon scene on it. The silk cushion features a photographic image from a real NASA lunar landing in space. It’s now half price and is £15 from John Lewis
3. Relieve memories of the wonderful Fab lolly, with a cushion by Martin Winscombe. It’s reduced to £28 at Debenhams.
4. Liven up your sofa with a cushion cover made from a fabric design featuring images from Mexican La Lotteria cards. It’s got 20% off and is now £14.40 from Twentysevenpalms.
5. Sit back and rest your head on the tape measure cushion, by designer Ben de Lisi. It’s got a massive 70% off the original price and is now only £6.60.
January 8th, 2014
This little chappy probably comes under the ‘things you didn’t know you needed’ category of kitchen gadgets. Not just a cute looking fella, this squirrel will chop and grind nuts for you – clever, huh?
Designed for use with pre-shelled nuts, all you need to do to get perfectly chopped nuts with ease is pop in some shelled nuts, tilt back the squirrel’s head and turn his bushy tail.
And, voila, the result is perfectly chopped nuts in the jar beneath.
This fun and useful squirrel nut grinder is available from Oliver Bonas, where they’ve chopped a chunk of its price in the sale.
January 6th, 2014
If you’re anything like us and feel like the new year has arrived quicker than we’d expected, perhaps you’re not entirely organised yet either. If you’re still in need of a 2014 calendar, here are some lovely options available. The bonus for being somewhat disorganised is that you may even manage to snag a bargain too!
Bubble wrap calendar
We love bubble wrap! It’s so satisfying popping the bubbles. Now you can pop a bubble everyday, with the rather novel bubble wrap calendar.
It’s a brilliant idea! There’s 20% off and it’s available from Incognito.
Designer Gail Kelly’s 2014 calendar features 12 black and white tree linocut designs, originally hand printed on Irish linen. An array of native trees are covered, each depicted with some fascinating facts, so you can learn something new each month.
The calendar is £8 from Gail Kelly Designs.
Rob Ryan calendar
The 2014 calendar by designer Rob Ryan features 12 intricate and characteristic designs from this much loved artist. It’s £5.02 from his Mister Rob store on Etsy.
The typographic wall calendar by Rosie Robins is available in a choice of three designs – the original typographic option, one aimed at typographic food lovers or the typographic garden lover’s calendar. All three are nicely produced and currently have 20% off.
January 1st, 2014
Fancy a cuppa?
Whether you’re a fan of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, you can never have enough mugs. If you fancy treating yourself to a new mug or two, then here’s a selection of fun mugs that are all reduced in price in the sales.
You Are Super Amazing mug, now £6.30 from Supercaliprintfantastic
Florence red stripe mug, now £3 at Whittard
Pacman heat change mug, now £5 from Urban Outfitters
Ben de Lisi number patterned mug and coaster set, now £6.65 from Debenhams
Hand knitted cosy mug, now £14.40 from Linda Bloomfield
Denby white floral Kiesha mug, now £6 from Debenhams
Bear design mug, now £7 at Graham and Green
Just My Type mug, now £2.99 at Lakeland
Personalised take out travel mug, now £12.80 from 3 Blonde Bears
December 31st, 2013
Are you a fan of the Great British cup of tea? An essential component to making perfect tea is the good old teapot.
If you fancy brewing up your favourite beverage during 2014 in a new teapot, all these beautiful designs are currently reduced in price in the sales.
All of these teapots are special in their own way, but we particularly love the indigo weave teapot, which has a lovely textured effect to it. In addition, the Hello, Is it tea you’re looking for? gets our vote as the teapot that makes us smile most.
Spots teapot, now £13 at John Lewis
Indigo weave teapot, now £20 at Whittard
Is it tea you’re looking for? teapot, now £44 from Mr Teacup
Monsoon Cosmic tea pot by Denby, now £25.20 from Debenhams
Bodum Marcel tea press teapot, now £51 from Selfridges
The magpie teapot, now £28 from Bitten London
Bloom teapot, now £12 at John Lewis
Florence red stripe teapot, now £10 from Whittard
Badger and hedgehog design teapot, now £36 from Mellor Ware