Etsy Picks: Christmas Cards

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Our pick of this years Crimbo Cards. Head over to Etsy to view the full festive collection…

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Our Favourite: Nordic Interiors

We’re heading off to Finnish Lapland in a few weeks’ time, thanks to the nice folks at Thomson Holidays. As well as checking in to say ‘hi’ to Old Saint Nick, we’re also going to be exploring the activities that Lapland has to offer for the (marginally) more grown-up traveller.

To get us in the mood, we’ve been looking at Nordic-inspired decor to cosy up our living spaces, now that November is coming into full force here in Blighty. The wild and windy weather and dark evenings are making it far more appealing to stay holed up inside, so it feels like we should make the most of it and embrace the Nordic spirit….

Our-Favourite-nordic-interiors

1. Skog Poster 48 euros  |  2.  Nordic Nights Hot Water Bottle £12 |  3. Danish Geometric Pots from £24 | 4. Golden Magritte Bookends £30 | 5. Copper Trim Chopping Board Set + Stand £71  | 6. Gran Tray, Green/white 42 euro | 7. Wooden Storage Boxes from £16  | 8. Ströva, Soft toy £12  |  9. Senior, Casserole with lid £30 | 10. Bears Mugs – Set Of 4  £4 | 11. Faux Fur Throws £35 (incl p&p)

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M&S Breton Cider: The Sweet Taste Of France

Bottle and glass of marks and spencer Breton cider

Ooh la la!  Everyone likes a bit of French fizz in their life, but this is fizz of the apple variety; a light sparkling Breton cider courtesy of British stalwarts,  Marks and Spencer.

It’s not a typical cider – it clocks in at a mere 2%, so only very lightly fermented giving a sweet, gentle taste with a delicate sparkle.  It has a lovely honey colour and the taste is of a slightly alcoholic fruit juice, so it goes down very easily indeed (but with minimal hangover the next day!).

As an introduction to French cider, there are better examples out there (and it wouldn’t win over any fans in the beardy, scrumpy loving fraternity), but it’s no alchopop either, and sure to please anyone at a gathering that wants to take it easy on the booze.

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Etsy Picks: Office Chic

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Head back to the office in style after the summer holidays with our selection of Etsy picks (see the full treasury over here on Etsy)

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Homemade Weddings: A Magical, Musical Marriage…

Hello Walls: Homemade Weddings, the Bride and Groom

Mr & Mrs Parkes-Nield on their wedding day.

Back in 2012, in the middle of the Far Out Stage at Greenman Festival, South Wales, Sophie and Chris were awaiting Adam Buxton’s arrival on stage when the interval music began to play. LCD Soundsytem’s ‘Someone Great’ travelled through the speakers…and Chris chose this moment to propose to Sophie. The photo is probably a bit of a giveaway but yes, she said yes.

They’re a musical couple – Sophie, a folk fanatic and violin player, and Chris, a singer-songwriter and accomplished guitarist. They met back in 2006 when Sophie answered Chis’ ad for a violinist to join the band, Air Cav*. So of course when it came to planning for the big day, music was naturally a key component.

I’ve known Sophie for a number of years now and was privileged enough to be invited along to the wedding (I may have also been responsible for designing the wedding invitations so that probably left her with no choice but to invite me – perk of the job, I say.)

 

Homemade weddings folky invite graphic design

Homemade weddings folky invite CD case

The musical thread was established as early as the invitation, in the guise of a CD, landed on the doorstep with lyrics from folk song ‘Searching for Dams’ on the front – “We join our hands in wedding bands and married we shall be.”

The wedding took place in June 2014 at Bo Peep Farm in Banbury, Oxfordshire (they skipped 2013 due to Sophie’s irrational aversion to odd numbers). A beautiful venue, the ceremony was held onsite in Dovecote Barn – an impressive 18th Century conversion, and then the revelry continued as we moved onto a neighbouring field – 15 acres of land to do with what they wished. A marquee was erected and straw bales were scattered and similar to Kath’s wedding at York Maze, guests could camp over, saving them the expense of a hotel – this time the bride and groom joined in the camping fun too, albeit in a slightly more comfortable ‘Emperor Bell Tent’. Being a thrifty Yorkshire lass I was more than happy to pitch up  – but boy I wish I hadn’t had those last few ciders…tent plus early morning sunshine is not great for hangovers.

 

Hello Walls: Homemade Weddings Honeymoon Tent

It was an absolute blast – they’re such a great couple and I feel honoured to be able to feature their day as part of our Homemade Weddings series, sharing with you some of the personal touches that made it such a genuine and complete day.

 

Hello Walls homemade weddings. Bunting and Guitar card case

Preparations began right away in advance as Sophie started to hand sew 150 metres of bunting, a mighty task for which friends and family members were roped in to help with. Floral fabrics in blues, pinks and purple hues, the decorations were bound for the edges of the marquee where the reception was held – a simple way of creating a celebratory and welcoming feel to the space.

Sophie recalls “I really did go bunting mad. Pinking shears and thread lived permanently at the foot of my sofa as I made reams of the stuff for almost two years straight. I was pretty pleased to finally finish.”

All the effort was worth it as it’s still in use today – a length of it now draped across the fencing of the front garden of their new house together. The rest is loaned out, upon request, for various occasions including a 1st Birthday party, mine and Sophie’s 30th birthday celebrations and, most recently, for the hen party of one of her bridesmaids. It also made its way to Wales, back to the Green Man Festival and decorated our communal gazebo.

 

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The Front Doors of Axbridge: Delightfully Different

 

The Front Doors of Axbridge

The front doors of Axbridge: delightfully different

Axbridge is a small town in Somerset, it’s a pretty charming place – all the houses are tightly packed together but none of them alike either in period or size. They do all have one thing in common though – a beautiful front door. Of course they’re still pretty varied but all equally delightful. When me and Kath visited last year (for our fauxglasto weekend) we couldn’t resist going out for a wander, camera in hand, to document the scene.

From the Medieval studded door of the butchers, to the baby blue gateway hiding the secret garden, to the understated elegance of April Cottage’s entrance peering from behind the chrysanthemums. Each one has it’s own appeal.

It was also what spurred me on to finally invest in my own front door and I’m pretty confident my Manchester house could now stand proud among it’s Southern Axbridge counterparts.

 

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Rowen and Wren: Elegant and Distinctive Homewares

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Rowen and Wren have one of the most beautifully photographed homeware collections of any online shop.  The covetable vintage accessories; the backdrops of deep slate blue paint and whitewashed walls; I would happily move in to their online world if it existed.

As you’d expect from such a carefully crafted visual style, the collection itself is exquisitely tasteful, and it’s one of those shops where you can’t really go wrong if you’re looking for a gift.  Anyone with any sense would be happy to welcome something from Rowan and wren into their home.

Their collections do span a range price-wise, and some items are outside my personal budget, but there are also some really affordable gems, and it’s also a great place to look for well crafted antique-style hardware (think burnished brass, copper and nickel).

Liz has picked some of her favourite bits and pieces below….

Rowen and Wren homewares mason cocktail shaker recipe book

The Mason Shaker Cocktail book £18.

My other half bought me a Mason Shaker for last years Birthday but I fear my bottom of the bottle, back of the cupboard concoctions may not pass muster. I am buying this. If I remember I will let you know how I get on…

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M&S Somerset Oak Matured Cider: A Proper English Vintage

Two bottles of marks and spencer cider

M&S know how to make cider look classy don’t they?  I can almost see these bottles being drooled over in one of their adverts (this is not just cider…).  Anyway, I heartily approve of the innards as well as the exterior, as the clever chaps / chapesses at Marks’ have outsourced these own brand ciders to the quality Somerset cider makers Sheppy’s.  Sheppy’s are a real deal cider maker, who have actual orchards, know their stuff and have a presence at many a cider festival.

It’s a medium dry cider, and it strikes a nice balance of a bit of dryness and depth without drying your mouth out.  I hadn’t come across an oak matured cider before (I thought that kind of thing was for wines and whiskies), but it’s not just a gimmick.  There’s an oakiness in the smell and although it’s still full of juicy apple flavour, it gives it an interesting bit of complexity.  Definitely one to savour and not gulp.

As usual with the interesting stuff, it clocks it at the higher end, alcohol wise (7.4%), so I wouldn’t recommend a session on it, but worth seeking out to support a fine British cider maker.

Union Jack bottle tops on cider

p.s. lost my tasting notes for the Dabinett apple cider, so will have to buy that one again at some point to give my verdict…

 

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Etsy Picks: Sweetheart of the Rodeo

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Giddy-up on over to Etsy to see the full collection of picks

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Lost in a Scandinavian Forest

At this moment, if I could be anywhere I’d ask to be transported to the Swedish countryside. Perhaps Småland or Södermanland but I’d definitely be staying in a little red cabin (faluröda hus) positioned by a lake and surrounded by trees. Right now the forests are a lush green colour, so green they’re almost blue and the trees tower above you, giant and cartoon-like, shooting upwards like a fletching at the tail of an arrow…

…I’m not sure I can delve any further into this fantasy without risking severe ‘iwantaholiday-itus’. Instead I will share with you my favourite Scandinavian forest inspired accessories which will help to bring a touch of this picture perfect scene into your home.

Scandinavian Forest Accessories

 

1. Hansel and Gretel nursery print £25.00 , 2. Moomin Green Garden Mug £14.95, 3. Green Finnish Tree Fabric  £24.95/m, 4. Green Moorland Cushion £28.00, 5. Talking tree hexagon pot stand $31, 6. Gran Tray €43, 7. Big Matches $8, 8. The Fir Tree £8.99, 9. House in the Forest $219, 1o. Bear of Few Words Print, £10

 

 

 

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