Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Five Steps To Five Bunches

When I pick a bunch of flowers from our green grocers, the garden or, thanks to Bloom & Wild, receive them through the letterbox, I like to spread them across as many rooms in my home as possible. A room just feels different with fresh flowers in don't you think?

So when The Florence arrived this week, that's exactly what I did.
I challenged myself to stretch just one bunch of beautifully wild and whimsical flowers across 5 different size containers. Here's how I did it.

1. I laid out the bunch to see what flowers and foliage were included.

2. I selected different size vases to suit the flowers and foliage.
3. I worked out what type of bunches I wanted. I went for a wild bunch, a bright bunch and something that had as limited a pallette as possible.
4. I tried to stick to a 'two thirds' rule as much as possible.  A little trick I picked up at the SISTERHOOD CAMP (oh so much to tell you!) which suggests that you should have two thirds flowers, one third vase so they look in proportion. You can turn this rule on it's head and have smaller blooms, so long as the vase is roughly two thirds bigger. Keeping to these general proportions is the key (I hope I've managed it!)
5. I found homes for the blooms around the house. This bunch found a home by our fire but was quickly moved to enjoy in my office.
The Florence has been created to celebrate The Chelsea Flower Show. It's wildflower feel is the perfect nod to the great British garden. It's available to order until June 17th so if you want to give this 5 vase challenge a go too, hop over here to snap yours up.

As usual we have the show on series link and are enjoying catching up in the evenings this week. It's always a great inspiration to get out in the garden! Have you been watching too, which show garden is your favourite so far?

Friday, 20 May 2016

Blousy Blooms and Something Sweet

Cooking food straight from the ground is something that significantly marks out the Summer months for me. It starts here in this, my favourite month of May. Flowers too are one of my favourite and prettiest pointers to the seasons and no other bloom bellows Summer than the blousy and beautiful Peony.
So, when The Eloise arrived from Bloom & Wild Flower Delivery yesterday I knew straight away that I wanted to share it with you as part of my #stylingtheseasons post for this month. Along with a little something sweet for you to try.

Just like all other Bloom & Wild bunches I've received, The Eloise has not dissapointed. Pulling the protective netting away from the carefully wrapped buds, was like watching a flower bloom in slow motion. The buds have since started to open up and as the petals have loosened have revealed a citris yellow inside which matches the foliage so beautifully. The Peony season is such a short one, so I'll be enjoying these beauties until that moment when a sudden nudge sees all the petals fall in one go. 
Seasonal living and revisiting traditions as the months pass is something, that as a family, we cherish. Some of my highlights from last year were moments when we sat down to the simplest of lunches (Broad Bean, Feta and Pea salad), picked just hours before. Every year since before Wilf was born we've picked and made Elderflower cordial and enjoyed drinking it for as long as it lasts. When he was just a few weeks old I remember a light, evening dog walk, making our way across fields to pick the flowers whilst our tiny babe slept on Sam's chest. That particular year my parents kindly offered to do the making as they were around to help out a bit, "you pick, we'll make" they said, sounded good to me.

We're busy down on the allotment at the moment but the only thing ready to harvest is rhubarb, and lots of it! Determined not to get overwhelmed by gluts of fruit this year, and in attempt to turn as much of the pink stuff into something as quickly as possible, this week I turned my attention to cordial.

I must confess that this recipe is not my own, perhaps I'll have a go at some plot recipes later this season, but for this I plucked the simplest I could find from a quick google search. Consider this more of a recipe review then if you will.
You can find the recipe via the RHS site here, but for ease, I've noted it for you below.

3kg chopped rhubarb
150ml water
Caster sugar

Slowly cook the rhubarb with the water, in a large pan, until it is soft and mushy. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes or so. 

Strain the fruit through a muslin bag (jelly bag) into a pan, avoiding squeezing the bag as this will cloud the juice. I left mine to strain over night and was surprised at how much came through even though it was only dripping slowly when I went to bed. 

For every litre of juice you have, add 750g sugar and 75ml lemon juice. Heat until just below boiling point to dissolve the sugar, then bottle into sterilised bottles.

This can be diluted to enjoy with cold water, the kids have been LOVING it although it's super sweet so they're on rations! However, I'm most excited about trying it in something a little stronger and a lot more bubbly. This bottle (a gift) and another much larger one will be packed into a basket today and is coming with me to The SISTERHOOD Camp (see @sisterhoodcamp on Instagram for more). Where it will be poured into tall glasses, shared and enjoyed with new friends around a campfire. I can't wait!
Do you have any seasonal recipes or favourite flowers for May? Do share them below, I'd love to hear from you and let me know if you give this recipe a go too!

Wishing you a lovely weekend. x

Thank you to Bloom & Wild Flower Delivery who kindly gifted The Eloise. You can find their full range of #letterboxflowers here.   

Monday, 16 May 2016

Finding The Simple Things

As seems to be customary at the moment, the past month has been a busy one. In the space of 1 short week at the end of April we spent time in three beautiful English counties - Norfolk, Kent and Sussex, enjoying quality time with family, celebrating with life long friends and spending time with brand new ones.

Home life in Cardiff has continued as busy as ever, with the added pleasure of plenty more time being spent in the garden. The hyper shrieks induced by hose fights have marked the start of a summer of (very wet) fun. Rain has brought blossom to the ground and we've seen the veg, flowers and lawn shoot up in a matter of days, I've barely been able to keep up with weather!

In amongst all of this I've been determined as ever to find space for quiet times, for creating and capturing special moments, and I wanted to share a few of the things that have helped me to do this, in this post today. I hope you enjoy reading.

The Simple Things 
I've seen this magazine appear in many a post on Instagram and, from the front cover and title alone, knew it would be my cup of tea. I managed to snap up a great subscription deal and when it arrived the day before our holiday to Norfolk, knew it would provide the perfect reading material.

It's packed full of inspiring articles, beautiful photography of places I'm know itching to explore, interesting columns, recipes and projects.

It has a great Miscellany section towards the back which I couldn't stop myself from reading out loud on holiday. Yes, I'm sure it's annoying and people aren't really that interested in hearing what you're reading, but who doesn't want to know the origins of Earl Grey tea, how to get rid of moths or what to do with Asparagus. 

Unlike other glossy lifestyle magazines that I (admittedly) just flick through, picking out the odd article and otherwise just looking at the pictures, I have more or less read this cover to cover now and can't wait for the next issue to arrive through our letterbox. If you're interested you can find more about the magazine here.

A Facial - Home and Away
Last month a best friend of mine and I booked in to have a facial at the Liz Earle counter at our local John Lewis store. At £15 I thought the 30-40 minute facial was a great deal but when I discovered that money could then be redeemed against a purchase afterwards, decided it was an opportunity not to be missed. What I didn't expect was that the facial, which was done in a private treatment room, was a full on 'me' time, could-almost-fall-asleep, relaxing experience. I was able to enjoy the whole thing with no hard sell and was then talked through the products used when we were back at the counter. 

I've fallen for Liz Earle skincare products in a big way, I love how natural they are, that they're produced on the Isle of Wight and how they smell like they've come straight from a spa. Once I'd quizzed the therapist on all the products she'd used and the order she'd used them, I made sure I was armed with the products needed and was determined to carry out more mini facials at home. OK, I can't say that I've quite managed the weekly facial that I'd promised myself, but my Mother-In-Law was very complimentary of the one I gave her on our holiday. That bonding time (over a glass of bubbly while Sam and his Dad were at the pub) was worth countless mini facial I could do for myself. 

Skincare has become something I've committed myself to and these products are certainly helping me to slow the clock I've seen ticking across my face over the past few years (read 'post kids'). Top of my list this week is to book myself another facial when they're next available at the counter in July. If you're interested in finding out more then get in touch with your local counter or visit the Liz Earle website here.

The National Trust 

One of the gifts that we received for our wedding present, which even in just 7 and half years has given us days and days of fun, was a Lifetime Membership to The National Trust. Sam's parents told us how much they've enjoyed their membership over the years and, very generously, gifted us with that same opportunity for our own family. Now, whenever we're away on holiday or without a plan to spend a day when we're at home, we'll look up to see what's happening at our closest Trust property.

When we were in Norfolk and wanted to do some exploring and find somewhere the kids would enjoy, we didn't have to look much further than Felbrigg Hall. As with most Country Estates the house was steeped in history with intriguing stories of previous owners. Of course our time in each room was limited to the patience of a 2 and a 3 year old, mildly entertained by the 'children's boxes', carefully designed to feed little imaginations. Wilf asked questions along the way and then quickly hurtled into the next room with one of us closely behind. Towards the end of our self guided tour we narrowly missed an embarrassing incident involving a very large stuffed owl and a glass box.....I can't tell you how big my sigh of relief was when it was caught just in time!
The kids were given the chance to burn off their cream tea fueled energy in the magnificent walled garden. Free to run up and down as fast as they could along the gravel paths lining the vegetable garden, their visit was topped off with  a stop at the most charming miniature shed and raised sand pit. Without a word needing to be said, they took to their work purposefully filling barrows of sand and moving it on to the next pit.

Our day was finished off with a game of tag, the simplest of games played through a willow tunnel but one which will stay with me for a very long time. 

You see it truly is the simple things, the little moments that, whilst fleeting, are what you remember when you look back on the busy times in life. The moments when you take a bit of time out for yourself, or the ones you spend in the company of your favourite people, running, exploring and catching boxes of stuffed birds together, that will have you smiling the most.

I look forward to seeing what things lie ahead of us in the month ahead, whatever they are, I look forward to sharing them with you. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

A Tutu, Chocolate Cake and Tea Cosy

Well hello May! My favourite month, the one where Spring stretches it's wings and were the Summer sun starts to wink. The one where Wilf and I get to celebrate birthdays, just three days apart.

April past in a flash, a delightful month with lighter evenings, the remnants of Easter eggs and the arrival of colour in the garden again. It was a busy month for us but ended with a lovely week away which was the perfect break for us all. 

Which brings me nicely to today's news. I am delighted to share with you my favourite posts for this month's My Thursday Breaktime. I've teamed up with the utterly lovely Rachael from Hobo Soy Candles who is kindly giving away prizes to TWO runners up as well as a super favourite.
Rachael's stunning range of soy candles smell divine and the crisp, classic packaging (in tins and jars) is spot on.  I'm so pleased to stock a couple of tins in my shop, how could I resist picking the Coconut and Grapefruit candles?! You can find a full range on the Hobo Soy Candles website here

On to this month's favourites...
 Congratulations to Suzanne (@suzannemass) and Abbey (abbeybrooke81) who shared these lovely shots this month. I love how Suzanne's little one is completely captivated, I know another little girl who has a penchant for wellies, tutus and fairy wings too! Abbey's photo, well chocolate cake and flowers...let's just say I could hop right in to this one thanks. 

My favourite post this month was this stunning shot by Elizabeth @eliza_charlie_tilly 
I kept coming back to it in the gallery, drawn to the warmth of the colours, table, and flowers, not to mention the tea cosy. Now that's a proper breaktime essential right there! Congratulations Elizabeth, a Candle set will be winging it's way to you. 

Please can you all drop me a line with your address details so your prizes can be sent out.

Thank you as always to everyone who takes the time to share their breaktime moments. There's an ever increasing number of great Instagram hashtags to join in with these days, which makes me even more proud that #mythursdaybreaktime celebrated its first birthday in April. 

I'm planning a dip into a brand new book for my breaktime today, and when I say dip, I mean probably just the first paragraph while I sip luke warm tea (let's be honest!) However brief your moments, make sure you take them, enjoy them and recharge through them. 

Until next time,